Dominic Raab bullying allegations: Sunak expected to receive report within hours – UK politics live

Sunak expected to receive Raab bullying report later this morning

Rishi Sunak is expected to receive the report into the Dominic Raab bullying allegations later this morning, my colleague Aubrey Allegretti reports.

I’m told the Dominic Raab report is now nailed on for arriving today.

Expectation in Downing Street is PM will get it around 11:30am – so when we see the findings and response depends on how long he takes to make a decision.

— Aubrey Allegretti (@breeallegretti) April 20, 2023

Key events

Sunak has received Raab bullying report and is ‘carefully considering’ its findings, No 10 says

Rishi Sunak has received the report into the allegations that Dominic Raab bullied officials and is “carefully considering” its findings, Downing Street has said.

The Tony Blair Institute has said the new amendments to the illegal migration bill being proposed by the government (see 9.35am) won’t make the legislation any more practical. In a statement, Harvey Redgrave, the thinktank’s immigration specialist, said:

The asylum system is broken and we have yet to see a workable government plan to fix it. Internal Tory debate on the illegal migration bill won’t address its fundamental flaws. Without return agreements the pledge that nobody coming over the Channel will be able to claim asylum is undeliverable. And while the government will try to portray these new amendments as tough, we already know the prime minister is unwilling to take the UK out of the ECHR. Doing so would shatter our reputation and amongst other things undermine the Windsor framework.

As TBI has previously said, if the government is serious about preventing illegal migration then they should focus on clearing the backlog, increasing the number of returns, introducing a system of digital identity verification and opening up safe and viable routes for asylum claims.

Penny Mordaunt, the leader of the Commons, told MPs this morning that the final day of debate on the illegal migration bill will take place on Wednesday next week. That is when the new amendments (see 9.35am) will be debated.

Why ASCL teaching union’s decision to ballot members over strike action should concern ministers

Sally Weale

Sally Weale

Today’s announcement by the Association of School and College Leaders that it is to hold a formal ballot for national strike action for the first time in its history (see 9.49am) marks a significant development in the ongoing dispute between teachers and the government.

Up until now only members of the National Education Union (NEU) have taken strike action in England, with five more days of strikes planned for later this term. In addition a fresh ballot is to be held to provide the NEU with a mandate for further strike action up until Christmas.

ASCL, which represents many traditionally more cautious and conservative secondary school heads, was the only one of the four main education unions to hold off from a formal ballot last year over teacher pay erosion. Their decision to now go ahead after 87% of voting members rejected the government’s latest pay offer, on a turnout of 56%, marks the growing frustration and strength of feeling across the entire sector.

The government offer of a £1,000 non-consolidated payment for 2022-3 and an average 4.5% rise for 2023-4 has been rejected by all the education unions and the prospect of further disruption in schools involving more unions is growing.

While earlier ballots failed to reach the required threshold under strike legislation, the NASUWT teachers’ union has already warned the government it plans to ballot members over strike action and the National Association of Head Teachers is considering taking a similar step.

Libby Brooks

Libby Brooks

Easter recess is over and it’s the first FMQs session for new leader Humza Yousaf since the arrest of two key SNP figures as part of the ongoing police investigation into the party’s finances.

It’s also the first session since presiding officer Alison Johnstone introduced strict new entry requirement for members of the public wanting to view FMQs from the chamber gallery, following weeks of disruption by climate protesters.

One way or another, climate is on the agenda today, after a new report from the Audit Commission found that the Scottish government’s plans to tackle global heating were “vague” and risked missing its own targets for reducing emissions to net zero by 2045, originally set by Yousaf’s predecessor Nicola Sturgeon.

Liz Kendall, the shadow social care minister, has told ITV that the Dominic Raab bullying report should have been published more quickly, and that Raab should have been suspended while the inquiry was being carried out.

‘Why has it taken five months, why hasn’t he been suspended in the meanwhile, these are serious allegations’

Labour’s @leicesterliz criticises Rishi Sunak’s handling of bullying allegations made about Dominic Raab, as a report into the claims is expected imminently

— ITV News Politics (@ITVNewsPolitics) April 20, 2023

BMA says junior doctors’ demand for 35% pay rise not ‘set in stone’

The government has said it will not hold talks with junior doctors about pay, and how to resolve the dispute that has led to strikes, until the British Medical Association “moves significantly from its unrealistic position of demanding a 35% pay increase”.

But this morning Prof Philip Banfield, chairman of the BMA council, insisted that 35% was not “set in stone” as its demand. He told the Today programme:

People are tied up on this 35% figure. There is no number that is set in stone here, it is the principle of restoring pay that has been lost in its value.

In order to discuss what that means and how that is achieved, it needs people to sit around the table. This government does not want to sit around the table. It does not want to have any kind of independent arbitration of this because it’s worried that it might cost it money.

The BMA has been calling for a 35% pay rise for junior doctors because it says this is what would be required to return their pay to the level it was in 2008. But it has also said 35% is not a precondition for talks.

Banfield in the Today programme responding to a call from the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges for the dispute between the government and junior doctors to be referred to an independent arbitrator, like Acas.

The BMA has backed this idea, but the government has said it does not want to involve a third party.

Sunak expected to receive Raab bullying report later this morning

Rishi Sunak is expected to receive the report into the Dominic Raab bullying allegations later this morning, my colleague Aubrey Allegretti reports.

I’m told the Dominic Raab report is now nailed on for arriving today.

Expectation in Downing Street is PM will get it around 11:30am – so when we see the findings and response depends on how long he takes to make a decision.

— Aubrey Allegretti (@breeallegretti) April 20, 2023

Braverman doubles down on her controversial claim about role of British-Pakistanis in grooming gangs

Suella Braverman, the home secretary, has used an article in the Spectator to dismiss claims that her recent comment about people in UK grooming gangs being mostly British-Pakistani were racist, or wrong. Even Tories were alarmed by her language.

In the Spectator she says:

The pursuit of truth is a good lodestar for the right policies. If we are to address the injustice of the grooming gangs scandal we must be willing to acknowledge the role that ethnicity played in covering it up. To say the overwhelming majority of perpetrators in towns such as Rotherham, Telford and Rochdale were British-Pakistani and that their victims were white girls is not to say that most British-Pakistanis are perpetrators of sexual abuse. The former is a truth, one that made authorities reluctant to confront the issue. The latter is a lie, the speaking of which would be a disgraceful prejudice. I know that my motives will be questioned – such is a politician’s lot. But there are lines that we must not cross. If everything is racist, nothing is. Casually accusing me of racism for speaking plain truths distorts the meaning of the term, and does a great disservice to all of us working to combat racism …

There is something peculiar about this political moment, where those of us advancing unfashionable facts are beaten over the head with fashionable fictions. I suppose the ethnicity of grooming gang perpetrators in a string of cases is the sort of fact that has simply become unfashionable in some quarters. Like the fact that 100% of women do not have a penis.

But Braverman is defending something she did not actually say. No one accused her of saying that most British-Pakistanis are child abusers, and no one disputes that some of the biggest grooming scandals in recent years involved British-Pakistanis.

What was objectionable about Braverman’s comment, in an article for the Mail on Sunday, was that all grooming gangs were largely British-Pakistani. She said:

There are four critical facts about the grooming gangs phenomenon. Each must be acknowledged and addressed in turn if we are to eradicate these gangs and bring justice to their victims …

Second, the perpetrators are groups of men, almost all British-Pakistani, who hold cultural attitudes completely incompatible with British values. They have been left mostly unchallenged both within their communities and by wider society, despite their activities being an open secret.

This is wrong. The Home Office itself published a report in 2020 saying research has found that group-based CSE [child sexual exploitation] offenders are most commonly white”.

Suella Braverman
Suella Braverman Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

ASCL teaching union to ballot members nationally on strike action for first time

The Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) has said it will hold a formal ballot for national strike action in England for the first time in its history “over the school funding crisis, the erosion of teacher and leader pay and conditions, and consequent staff shortages which are undermining the education system”.

The union’s executive committee of senior elected members met yesterday afternoon and unanimously decided to move to a formal ballot on strike action, PA Media reports.

Geoff Barton, the general secretary of the ASCL, said:

ASCL has never before formally balloted at a national level and this is clearly a very significant step. The fact that we have reached this point reflects the desperate situation regarding inadequate funding, long-term pay erosion, teacher shortages, and the intransigence of a government which we can only conclude does not value the education workforce or recognise the severe pressures facing the sector.

We have made every effort to resolve this matter through negotiations prior to reaching this point. Unfortunately, the government’s offer has failed to sufficiently address pay and conditions, and, critically, did not provide enough funding for even the meagre proposal it put forward. Following the rejection of the offer by all education unions involved – ASCL, NAHT, NEU and NASUWT – the government has made no effort to reopen negotiations and has said only that the issue of pay will now revert to the school teachers’ review body.

The conclusion of the executive committee is that the government has left us with no option other than to conduct a formal ballot for national strike action.

The ballot will be held during the summer term at a date to be decided and if members opt to strike, the union said action would be expected to take place during the autumn term of the next school year, PA reports.

In an article for its website, Chris Mason, the BBC’s political editor, says most people in government assume Dominic Raab will resign, or be sacked, when the report into the bullying allegations about him is published. Mason says:

Speaking to senior folk in government privately, most assume that Mr Raab – who is also justice secretary – is “toast” as one figure put it to me.

“The breadth of this, the number of people complaining, surely he can’t survive?” said another.

“He’s got to be done for, so many people think he’s a nightmare,” one minister told me.

“How does he go home to his wife and kids when there have been so many headlines about him about this stuff?” another said. “To his credit, mind you, he manages to. He’s been getting on with things.”

Plan to let UK ignore European court injunctions blocking migrant deportations could be defeated in Lords, peer suggests

The government’s illegal migration bill, which will stop people arriving in the UK illegally from ever claiming asylum here and allow them to be detained and deported, was already billed as the toughest piece of immigration legislation introduced for decades. Now it is about to get tougher.

The bill is due to have its final day of debate in the Commons next week and, according to a report by Matt Dathan in the Times which has been confirmed by government sources, the government will accept two amendments that would significantly tighten its already-draconian provisions (which ministers have accepted might prove incompatible with the European convention on human rights). Dathan writes:

The government has agreed to amend its illegal migration bill to allow ministers to ignore interim injunctions from the European court of human rights that attempt to stop a deportation flight. Known as rule 39 orders, they have been branded “pyjama injunctions” by Conservative MPs after a judge from the Strasbourg court suspended the first scheduled deportation flight to Rwanda last June late at night.

The government had previously only committed itself to introducing the power to ignore last-minute injunctions if ministers failed to persuade the Strasbourg court to reform rule 39 orders.

A second concession offered to the rebels will also prevent UK courts from granting injunctions to stop migrants being deported, apart from in very limited circumstances. The Home Office has agreed to amend the bill to ensure that the only way in which a migrant who arrives illegally can avoid being removed from the UK will be by proving they face a “real risk of serious and irreversible harm” in the territory to which they are being deported.

These amendments are a concession to around 60 Tory backbenchers, led by Danny Kruger and Sir Bill Cash, who want to stop the government being constrained by the ECHR. It is thought that Suella Braverman, the home secretary, largely supports what they are trying to do.

THE TIMES: Judges lose power to block migrant flights #TomorrowsPapersToday

— Neil Henderson (@hendopolis) April 19, 2023

Another group of Tories on the liberal wing of the party have been calling for amendments to the bill to protect child migrants and establish more safe and legal routes for asylum seekers hoping to come to the UK. According to Dathan, there will be a concession to them too. He reports:

The Home Office is expected to bring forward an amendment that would commit it to publishing its plan for new legal routes for refugees within six months of the bill passing into law. It is also about to make a commitment to introduce stringent safeguards to protect unaccompanied child refugees.

Rajeev Syal and Nadeem Badshah have more on the concessions here.

This morning Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, a former lord chief justice and a crossbench member of the House of Lords, said that allowing the government to ignore rule 39 orders would be an “immensely serious step” and one that “sets an extraordinarily bad example”.

These interim injunctions do not “in any way detract from the importance of a judgment being made by a court”, he said in an interview with the Today programme.

Thomas said that, when the bill went to the Lords, peers were likely to object this provision because it would amount to allowing the government to ignore the rule of law. He told Today.

Many people would say having the power to ignore a court order is something – unless the circumstances were quite extraordinary – this is a step a government should never take because it is symbolic of a breach of the rule of law.

Report into Dominic Raab bullying allegations expected to be published today

Good morning. After months of waiting, Dominic Raab, the justice secretary and deputy prime minister, seems likely to find out today whether he will be sacked over the claims that he bullied civil servants. The outcome of the investigation into those allegations is expected to be published today, alongside the decision from Rishi Sunak as to what will happen next.

As Aubrey Allegretti, Pippa Crerar and Jessica Elgot report, if Raab is cleared, some civil servants working in the Ministry of Justice are expected to resign.

Here is the agenda for the day.

10am: Amanda Pritchard, NHS England’s chief executive, gives evidence to the Commons public accounts committee on improving mental health services

11.30am: Downing Street holds a lobby briefing.

Noon: Humza Yousaf takes first minister’s questions at Holyrood.

Keir Starmer is in Belfast.

If you want to contact me, do try the new “send us a message” feature. You’ll see it just below the byline – on the left of the screen, if you are reading on a PC or a laptop. (It is not available on the app yet.) This is for people who want to message me directly. I find it very useful when people message to point out errors (even typos – no mistake is too small to correct). Often I find your questions very interesting too. I can’t promise to reply to them all, but I will try to reply to as many as I can, either in the comments below the line, privately (if you leave an email address and that seems more appropriate), or in the main blog, if I think it is a topic of wide interest.

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