One former Conservative minster tells Sky News Nadhim Zahawi is “toast” after Rishi Sunak launches an investigation into the Tory Party chair’s tax affairs.
Richard Sharp, the chairman of the BBC, will appear before the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee to face questions about the nature of his appointment.
A letter sent to Mr Sharp by the acting chair Damian Green on Tuesday summoned him to be questioned by the committee on 7 February.
It says: “The committee intends to cover the issues raised in your pre-appointment hearing and any developments since then.”
Mr Sharp was given the job of BBC chair after allegedly helping former prime minister Boris Johnson to secure an £800,000 loan.
He has denied there was a conflict of interest – an assessment which he says was shared by Cabinet Secretary Simon Case.
Meanwhile, both the BBC and the commissioner for public appointments are now looking into Mr Sharp’s appointment.
The PM’s spokesman was today asked if Downing Street is comfortable there was no conflict of interest.
They said they were confident there was a rigorous appointment process, and that it was correctly followed.
You can read more here:
By Jennifer Scott, political reporter
Labour shadow minister Alex Davies-Jones is being investigated by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards over allegations of “paid advocacy”.
Sky News understands it relates to a question the MP for Pontypridd & Taff Ely asked in the Commons in November, where she praised the work of the British Council and their team in Japan.
The organisation, which promotes British culture around the world, had covered the costs for her to visit the country at the end of October to see their work, totalling £2,947.60.
We understand Ms Davies-Jones declared the interest in line with what she believed to be the rules, but wasn’t aware that the reference could not be made within six months of the trip.
She has self-referred to the commissioner and is understood to be cooperating fully with the investigation.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has announced funding for 800 new homes for rough sleepers and homeless young people in the capital.
The pledge came as he visited a Crisis at Christmas service in east London that has been extended during the cold snap, and met people who have recently been sleeping rough.
The mayor has been allocated around £75m for up to 800 new homes for Londoners who are rough sleepers with complex needs, and for homeless young people and those at risk of homelessness.
The announcement came as Mr Khan toured Crisis at Christmas in Newham on Tuesday.
Services typically end shortly after the new year, but for the second year in a row City Hall has partnered with charities Crisis and St Mungo’s to continue the initiative over the coldest weeks of January.
Staff told the mayor how all of the beds available for rough sleepers had been filled, and that service users are often vulnerable, grappling with mental health difficulties or struggling with migration-related problems.
Mr Khan said: “On behalf of all Londoners, I also want to thank Crisis and St Mungo’s for their tireless efforts supporting some of the most vulnerable in our city.
“We can’t do this alone, and to end rough sleeping in our capital, particularly amid the cost-of-living crisis, the government must intervene to prevent the circumstances that lead to people sleeping rough before thousands more are forced to face a winter on the streets.”
The money for the new homes comes from a national budget of £270m, and charities, housing associations and other bodies will be able to bid for the funding later this year.
David Lammy, the shadow foreign secretary, has delivered a lengthy speech at Chatham House in London today – where he was accused of defending a “hard Brexit”.
The MP said Labour would “fix the Tories’ bad Brexit deal” if voted into power at the next election, but not everyone in the audience was convinced.
One attendee accused him of defending a “hard Brexit”, to which Mr Lammy said the referendum arguments need to be put to bed more than six years on.
He said relations with the EU need to be “normalised” before any further progress can be made, but that Brussels wants to see a united approach in Britain.
Addressing a question which referred to Labour’s Brexit policy as “stupid”, Mr Lammy said: “It is easy to make those assertions but we… shouldn’t revisit the arguments that divided our nation.
“We are determined in office to govern for everybody, not just those who take a particular view.”
In his 30-minute speech at Chatham House, Mr Lammy said Britain would “not rejoin” the EU, the single market or customs union under a Sir Keir Starmer premiership.
But he said the party would take action to reverse the “damage” the current UK-EU trade deal is doing to the British economy, while also restoring European relations.
He added: “It has been a central principle of British strategy for centuries that we should never find ourselves isolated in our own continent.
“But that is exactly what this government has done.”
The shadow cabinet minister said Labour is “not afraid” to speak about the “damage the government’s bad Brexit deal has done to our economy”.
Responding to his comments, the Foreign Office said it is “focusing on promoting our values with a broader range of countries to help them become more resilient against threats, including from climate change, disease and hostile states”.
Chief political correspondent Jon Craig explains the controversy surrounding Nadhim Zahawi’s finances – and why there is mounting pressure for the former chancellor to resign.
Video produced by Jasmine Kaur, digital politics producer
Simon Thompson, the chief executive of Royal Mail, has been summoned to parliament by a committee of MPs who say they have concerns that his previous evidence to them was not “wholly accurate”.
The Communication Workers’ Union has accused Mr Thompson of attacking their workers and hollowing out the Royal Mail amid a bitter industrial dispute between Royal Mail and the CWU.
Mr Thompson appeared in front of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee last week – an appearance you can read more about here.
During the hearing, he was warned several times about concerns from the MPs over the veracity and directness of his responses.
Writing today, the BEIS Committee chair Darren Jones said: “Following the session, I received a significant amount of correspondence from Royal Mail employees across the country, challenging some of the statements you made to the committee.
“The committee is now not confident that all the answers you gave during the session were wholly accurate.
“The committee has therefore decided to recall you to give further oral evidence at the earliest opportunity.”
Royal Mail chairman Keith Williams has also been invited to appear before the committee.
Mr Jones identified a number of claims that Mr Thompson made that were of concern for the committee, which include:
The MP also reminded the Royal Mail boss of a promise to write to the committee about what advisers are helping the company, and evidence on whether customers are likely to experience more delays to letters rather than parcels.
Over the weekend, it was confirmed that Conservative party chairman Nadhim Zahawi had settled a tax matter with HMRC.
While the exact numbers are not clear, it was reported to be an estimated £4.8m, including a 30% penalty.
Sky News wanted to put this number into perspective.
According to a report from the think tank TaxPayers’ Alliance, this means that Mr Zahawi paid the taxman the average lifetime tax contributions of four households in order to settle the matter.
The TPA report suggested that an average household pays £1,101,255 over the course of a lifetime, including 40 years working and 15 years retired.
The £1.1m figure goes into the reported £4.8m settlement a total of 4.36 times.
It is “disappointing” that politicians have failed to resolve the challenges facing the social care sector, the Archbishop of Canterbury has said.
Speaking to political editor Beth Rigby, Justin Welby described the issue of how to plug the gap in social care funding as “one of the most fundamental questions affecting our country, morally and ethically”.
The archbishop said he believes the rate of tax all individuals pay must be increased to cover rising costs in the social care sector.
He said increased funds are “going to have to come from taxation, which means from all of us” but stressed that “it has to be seen to be just and fair to meet the values we want as a society”.
You can read more from the interview – which you can watch in full in this week’s Beth Rigby Interviews… – here
A Labour MP has told the Commons of how two children were “collected” from outside a hotel in his constituency.
Peter Kyle, the MP for Hove, was speaking during an urgent question to the Home Office about young asylum seekers leaving hotels – read more in our post at 13.09.
Mr Kyle said it was “ignorant” to say that these hotels were specialist facilities, and that having visited them he had found some of them “extremely vulnerable”.
He spoke of how on one occasion Sussex Police “pursued a car that had collected two child migrants from outside this hotel”.
“When they managed to get the car to safety they released two child migrants and they arrested one of the members who was driving it, who was a gang leader who was there to coerce the children into crime.”
Immigration minister Robert Jenrick, who was representing the government during the urgent question, said that he would like Mr Kyle to join him on a visit to the hotel so they could review the situation – which he had been assured was satisfactory.
Penny Lancaster has been left feeling “deflated” after the government rejected a trial for menopausal leave.
Mrs Lancaster, an ambassador for the charity Wellbeing of Women, said women will reduce their hours, decline promotion and even quit their jobs if employers do not accommodate “extreme symptoms.”
She highlighted brain fog, depression and hot flushes that feel “like a panic attack” as some of the worst among them.
Talking to Sky News, Mrs Lancaster said proper guidance and support has been “life-changing” for her.
“My doctor thought I was suffering from depression and I was prescribed antidepressants but in fact, they didn’t help; they made things worse.
“In the end, I was diagnosed and it was, in fact, the menopause.
“I was luckily put on HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy) and it has been life-changing.
“So more women need that guidance and help and particular support in the workforce.”
The TV personality and model, who is also a special police constable with the City of London Police, said her employer puts on coffee mornings and exercise programs.
She said it made a difference “being able to have that open dialogue in [what] normally is a very male-orientated place.”
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