No 10 rules out ID cards to tackle Channel migrant crisis

Rishi Sunak, the Prime Minister, is pictured in Downing Street on November 30 - Wiktor Szymanowicz/Anadolu Agency
Rishi Sunak, the Prime Minister, is pictured in Downing Street on November 30 - Wiktor Szymanowicz/Anadolu Agency

Downing Street has ruled out introducing identity cards to tackle the migrant Channel crossings crisis.

A new report published today by the Centre for Policy Studies think tank recommended introducing mandatory ID cards as part of a raft of new measures to combat the crossings.

Suella Braverman, the Home Secretary, wrote the foreword to the report which has prompted speculation about which measures, if any, the Government could adopt.

No10 today insisted the Government has no plans to bring in ID cards. Asked if they are off the table, the Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman said: "You will know the Prime Minister was asked about this and made clear there are no plans to bring in ID cards. That hasn’t changed."

The report also recommended the introduction of indefinite detention of all asylum seekers who enter the country illegally.

You can follow the latest updates below.

04:00 PM

That is all for today...

Thank you for joining me for today's politics live blog.

I will be back early tomorrow morning.

03:14 PM

Mark Harper to face grilling by MPs

Mark Harper, the Transport Secretary, is due to face a grilling by MPs later this week.

The Transport Select Committee has announced Mr Harper will appear in front of it on Wednesday morning.

Mr Harper is likely to be asked about the Government's response to industrial action on the nation's railways ahead of more strikes later this month.

02:44 PM

New Labour MP takes seat in Commons

The new MP for the City of Chester has taken her seat in the House of Commons after Labour held the constituency in a by-election last week.

Samantha Dixon took the oath in the Commons chamber this afternoon as business began.

02:37 PM

Labour doesn't want to abolish private schools, Sir Keir Starmer insists

Labour is not interested in abolishing private schools, Sir Keir Starmer has said as he insisted they add "a huge amount" to Britain.

Sir Keir came under fire in a row about aspiration last week over his party's policy to end tax breaks enjoyed by fee-paying institutions.

The Labour leader has said this would raise £1.7 billion, which would go towards improving standards in state education.

You can read the full story here.

02:20 PM

Labour will continue nominating peers to House of Lords

Labour will continue to nominate new peers to the House of Lords despite pledging to abolish the upper chamber, Sir Keir Starmer has suggested.

Asked if he will continue to nominate peers, Sir Keir said: "Everyone wants a functioning House of Lords until it is abolished and replaced by a second chamber.

"Members of the House of Lords do really important jobs in scrutinising legislation, so everybody should want the best people we can possibly have in the existing House of Lords. That doesn’t mean it is defensible and doesn’t need to be abolished."

01:47 PM

Starmer argues no need for referendum on abolishing House of Lords

Abolishing the House of Lords, as proposed by Labour, would clearly be a fairly seismic decision.

But Sir Keir Starmer has argued a mandate for the move could be secured from a general election as he suggested there would not need to be a referendum on the specific issue of constitutional reform.

Sir Keir said: "Look, we will go into the election setting out in clear terms what the mission is for the next Labour government. If we are elected to government then we have the mandate to carry out those missions."

01:29 PM

Plaid Cymru criticises Labour's plan for constitutional reform

Liz Saville Roberts, Plaid Cymru’s Westminster leader, has labelled Labour’s plan for constitutional reform "a damp squib" for Wales.

She said: "By offering more powers to Scotland than to Wales, Labour is once again showing how much they are in awe of SNP-run Scotland while taking Labour-run Wales for granted.

"Scotland is rewarded while Labour is content for Wales to make do and mend with piecemeal powers. Not only does this report not go far enough, but it also backtracks from previous Labour promises – the 2017 Labour manifesto having promised the devolution of policing to Wales."

01:09 PM

Ex-Lord speaker says Labour plan to abolish upper chamber is a 'step forward'

Lord Fowler, the former Lord speaker, has backed Labour for setting out a policy on scrapping the House of Lords as he said the issue should be settled by voters.

He told Times Radio that he personally is "in favour of an elected house". He said: "I think that what it would enable is to put the issue to the people and to allow them to choose between having an elected house and an appointed house.

"What it also enables is that the government, who have been remarkably silent on this whole issue for the last decade, to put together a policy.

"What is their policy? It can't possibly be to retain what we have, everything in every detail that we have at the moment. So I think it is a step forward."

12:45 PM

PM defends House of Lords after Starmer labels it 'indefensible'

Sir Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, said this morning that the House of Lords is "indefensible" as he set out plans to abolish the upper chamber (see the post below at 08.11).

Downing Street has now defended the House of Lords.

The Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman said: "The House of Lords plays an important and valuable role in scrutinising and revising legislation.

"You will know the Government is committed to looking at the role of the Lords but that needs to be done with very careful consideration and looked at in the round so we will continue to keep that under review."

12:40 PM

No10 rules out ID cards to tackle migrant Channel crossings crisis

A new report published today by the Centre for Policy Studies think tank recommended introducing mandatory identity cards as part of a raft of new measures to tackle the migrant Channel crossings crisis.

Suella Braverman, the Home Secretary, wrote the foreword to the report which has prompted speculation about which measures, if any, the Government could adopt.

No10 today insisted there are no plans to bring in ID cards.

Asked if they are off the table, the Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman said: "You will know the Prime Minister was asked about this and made clear there are no plans to bring in ID cards. That hasn’t changed."

12:28 PM

Downing Street leaves door open to toughening anti-strike laws

The Government published its Transport Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill in October. It would set a minimum service level which would be required during strikes on the transport network in order to reduce disruption caused by walkouts.

Downing Street was asked at lunchtime if Rishi Sunak could tighten the anti-strike legislation to make it apply to other public services. No10 left the door open to the move.

The Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman said: "You will know that our focus on legislation with regards to strikes is on minimum service levels.

"The Bill we introduced in October is the first step in achieving this. We are keeping under review what is the right balance with regards to strikes. We won’t hesitate to bring forward changes if we judge they are required."

12:21 PM

No10 urges RMT to 'think again' on pay offer

Downing Street has urged the RMT union to "think again" after it rejected a new pay offer for rail workers from train operators (see the post below at (08.36). No10 said "there is still time" to avoid industrial action.

The Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman said: “I think we continue to urge the RMT to think again. There is still time. They have been offered an improved new deal by the train operators.

“It is worth a four per cent increase both this year and next. That is a change from what was offered before which was a three per cent one year deal.

“The proposal also backdates to the beginning of the current financial year meaning staff would go into Christmas having the knowledge that they will receive an improved backdated pay rise early in the new year.”

11:41 AM

Analysis: Starmer struggles to excite with devolution plan

There is plenty in Sir Keir Starmer's blueprint for a "New Britain" to get Westminster-types talking, most notably the pledge to abolish the House of Lords.

The issue of devolution and who is best placed to make decisions is an interesting one and it obviously has big ramifications for how the UK is governed and how effective that governance is.

But it is not exactly an exciting issue and voters are unlikely to be wowed or won over by Sir Keir's pledges to reduce "centralisation".

The Labour leader attempted to explain why the proposed reforms matter but it did rather end up sounding like a think tank policy discussion: Very worthy but not especially inspiring.

11:26 AM

Starmer on hereditary peers: 'The sooner we can abolish them the better'

Sir Keir Starmer, pressed on whether he would move within his first few weeks as prime minister to abolish hereditary peers, told reporters that “the sooner we can abolish them the better”.

One of the headline proposals from a new report on reforming the UK is to abolish the House of Lords, ideally within the first term of a Labour Government.

The Labour leader said: “The sooner we can abolish them, the better. I think the last Labour government went further than any previous government down that road and I’d be surprised if there’s anybody that can make a halfway sensible argument for hereditary peers. So, of course, that needs to be done."

11:13 AM

Starmer rejects 'sticking plaster' approach to reform in UK

Sir Keir Starmer rejected a “sticking plaster” approach to reform of the UK, as he unveiled his party’s plans to decentralise power away from Westminster.

He told an event in Leeds: “Whenever any politician sets out on an answer to the underlying issue, the medium and long-term, every journalist says ‘but I want an answer to what’s going to happen in the next few weeks’, and we go on and on and on. We’ve been doing this for 12 years.”

He added: "This is absolutely central to answering the everyday questions and issues that people are facing and less of a sticking plaster, more of the actual solutions to the problem."

10:43 AM

Labour opposes new laws to restrict right to strike

Sir Keir Starmer suggested Labour would oppose any attempts by the Government to introduce further legislation to clampdown on public sector strike action.

He said: "On the question of where the Government goes next on strikes, look, I don't think more legislation restricting the right to strike is the right way forward.

"I think the Government should fix the underlying problems. I think the Government has been sitting on its hands throughout these disputes rather than resolving them."

Sir Keir Starmer and Gordon Brown greet each other at an event in Leeds this morning - Danny Lawson/PA
Sir Keir Starmer and Gordon Brown greet each other at an event in Leeds this morning - Danny Lawson/PA

10:37 AM

Sir Keir Starmer unable to guarantee Lords reform in Labour first term

Sir Keir Starmer was unable to guarantee that a Labour government would scrap the House of Lords during its first term in government.

Asked the question during a press conference in Leeds, Sir Keir said: "I asked for this work to be done because I fundamentally believe this is the change we need to bring about in our country and therefore it will be the driving mission of the next Labour government."

He added: "We will now have a period of consultation to refine, to test, but also to make sure that we can answer the question when and how are you going to implement. And if you are going to make such a big transfer of power away from Whitehall to lots of places across the country, then we obviously need to have that discussion about how is that going to be done because this is not going to be a talking shop."

Sir Keir repeated his line from earlier this morning that he wants the reforms to be implemented "as quickly as possible".

10:30 AM

Gordon Brown: Political battleground in Scotland is 'changing forever'

Gordon Brown, the former Labour leader, was asked about Nicola Sturgeon's plan to use the next general election as a "de facto referendum" on Scottish independence.

He suggested that the election could not be fought on just one issue. He said: "Just as in 2016 a lot of people voted for Brexit because they thought that was their only chance of change. In 2014 a lot of people voted for independence because they thought that was the only change on offer.

"We are changing that entirely today. We are breaking new ground. The ground on which the battle is fought in Scotland is changing forever because what we are saying is we are offering change within the UK that will benefit Scotland as against change by leaving the United Kingdom which we think will do damage to Scotland.

Gordon Brown, the former prime minister, addresses an event in Leeds this morning - Danny Lawson/PA
Gordon Brown, the former prime minister, addresses an event in Leeds this morning - Danny Lawson/PA

"That is going to be the debate from now on in. Not independence versus the status quo but change within Britain versus change by leaving Britain."

He added: "When you come to the next election it may be that the Scottish National Party will have a one line manifesto and want a one issue general election but I tell you this, we have done a huge amount of research on Scottish public opinion and people want a better health service immediately, people want living standards improved immediately, people want jobs for young people immediately, people want better housing immediately and people of course want change in the way that we are suggesting immediately.

"That is going to be the issue on which we fight. We are offering a plan for economic, social, political and constitutional reform, not a one issue election."

10:23 AM

Sir Keir Starmer defends timing of devolution announcement

It was suggested to Sir Keir Starmer that unveiling a plan for devolution and scrapping the House of Lords at a time when the nation is facing numerous immediate challenges like the cost-of-living crisis could lead to accusations of being "out of touch".

The Labour leader rejected the suggestion and insisted his proposed reforms are "vitally important".

Sir Keir argued that "this could not be more relevant".

Sir Keir Starmer addresses an event in Leeds this morning - Danny Lawson/PA
Sir Keir Starmer addresses an event in Leeds this morning - Danny Lawson/PA

10:20 AM

Labour leader pledges 'biggest ever transfer of power from Westminster'

Sir Keir Starmer said Labour's proposed reforms on devolution would deliver the "biggest ever transfer of power from Westminster to the British people".

The Labour leader said his proposals would "rebuild trust by reforming the centre of government, clearing up sleaze".

Sir Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, is pictured at an event in Leeds today - Danny Lawson/PA
Sir Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, is pictured at an event in Leeds today - Danny Lawson/PA

Outlining his pledge to scrap the House of Lords, he said Labour would replace the current set up with a "new smaller democratically elected second chamber".

This would not only be "less expensive" but it would also ensure all of the regions and nations of the UK are represented in Westminster.

10:16 AM

Sir Keir Starmer claims Westminster 'hoards power'

Sir Keir Starmer is now on his feet in Leeds as he unveils Labour's plan for a "New Britain".

The Labour leader said that places like Leeds are "being held back" by a political system which "hoards power in Westminster".

He said that the UK has one of the most centralised political systems in Europe and that in recent years the centre "has not delivered".

Sir Keir said he believed many voters up and down the country are "crying out for a new approach".

10:12 AM

Gordon Brown pledges to remove 'dead hand of centralisation'

Gordon Brown said that Labour's message is one of "opportunities for all, unfair privileges for no one".

He said Labour would "end the stand off between local and national" politics as he claimed the party is "not the old establishment in waiting" but a new government in waiting which is "ready to transform Britain".

Mr Brown said he believed Labour's proposed reforms will "give people hope" and will remove "the dead hand of centralisation".

10:09 AM

Gordon Brown demands 'irreversible transfer of power'

Gordon Brown said that Labour's report on greater devolution and increased prosperity will bring an end to the "long era of the man in Whitehall some how knowing best".

The former prime minister said the proposals he has drawn up would see 638 job centres transferred to local control while 200 colleges of education would also be handed over to local control.

Mr Brown said there needs to be an "irreversible transfer of power" and there has to be a change to the way in which decisions are made.

10:05 AM

Gordon Brown praises Starmer as they launch blueprint for 'New Britain'

Gordon Brown, the former prime minister, is speaking at an event in Leeds as he and Sir Keir Starmer launch Labour's blueprint for a "New Britain".

Mr Brown started by praising Sir Keir as he said the Labour leader is "best equipped, best qualified to be the next prime minister of the United Kingdom".

The former premier said Sir Keir will "take this country into the future".

10:00 AM

What are the key recommendations in Labour’s blueprint for a ‘New Britain’?

- Abolish the "indefensible" House of Lords and replace it with an elected upper chamber. It would be "smaller, more representative and democratic".

- Clean up politics by clamping down on MPs’ second jobs. A new "powerful" anti-corruption commissioner would be created to root out criminal behaviour in British political life.

- Create a "New Britain" by rebalancing the economy to drive up living standards in some of the most deprived areas and giving more local control over decision-making.

- Create new regional industrial clusters to boost growth and improve job opportunities, with an estimated 50,000 civil service jobs being transferred out of London.

- Extra powers for Scotland and Wales, with restored and strengthened devolution in Northern Ireland.

09:54 AM

House of Lords 'not acceptable' in a democracy

Lisa Nandy, the shadow levelling up secretary, said the current House of Lords is "not acceptable".

The Labour frontbencher told Times Radio: "We think that in a democracy, it is not acceptable to have a body that is unelected and unaccountable to the public.

"We want our public institutions to be far more responsive and this report today, a commission on the future of the United Kingdom, is reporting to Labour, we're going to pick up those recommendations, and we're going to make them work."

09:32 AM

Starmer 'hopes' to scrap House of Lords in first term in power

Sir Keir Starmer said he hopes a Labour government would be able to abolish the House of Lords in its first term - but he continued to be unable to give a firm commitment or a guarantee (see the posts below at 08.48 and 08.13).

He told Sky News: "What we’re going to do after today is now consult on those recommendations, test them, and in particular, look at how can they be implemented.

"Because what I want to do, to answer your question, is to make sure that the talking bit – which is how do we now implement this – carries on now, but by the time we get to the election, we can get to the delivery bit. And everything within the report is intended to be deliverable."

Asked if he hopes to abolish the House of Lords in Labour’s first term, he said: "Yes, I do. Because when I asked Gordon Brown to set up the commission and do this, I said what I want is recommendations that are capable of being implemented in the first term."

09:19 AM

Pictured: Jeremy Hunt goes for a morning run in Westminster

Chancellor of The Exchequer Jeremy Hunt seen running this morning in Westminster - Nigel Howard Media
Chancellor of The Exchequer Jeremy Hunt seen running this morning in Westminster - Nigel Howard Media

09:17 AM

Labour leader 'not interested' in abolishing private schools

Sir Keir Starmer said he does not want to abolish private schools, but argued their existing tax breaks cannot be "justified".

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: "Is it fair to have a tax break for private schools at the same time as state schools are really, really struggling? I think the answer to that question is no.

"But let me be clear, I’m not talking about, nor am I interested in, abolishing private schools."

08:56 AM

Starmer: 'No case' for rejoining EU single market

There is "no case for going back to the EU or going back into the single market", Sir Keir Starmer has said as he emphasised Labour has no intention of softening its stance on Brexit.

The Labour leader told BBC Radio 4 Today that he does not believe returning to the single market would boost the UK’s economic growth as he argued there could still be a "better Brexit".

Asked if being part of the single market would boost economic growth, he said: "No, at this stage, I don’t think it would. And there’s no case for going back to the EU or going back into the single market."

Sir Keir argued trade has "gone down" because "the deal that we’ve got is not a very good deal", adding: "Do I think, just to take your question head on, that going back into years of wrangling, years of uncertainty, is going to help our economy? No, I don’t."

08:48 AM

'Exactly what happens when is part of the discussion'

Sir Keir Starmer said discussions are pending on when "exactly" Labour would seek to abolish the House of Lords.

He said earlier this morning that he wanted to replace the upper chamber with an elected house as quickly as possible (see the post below at 08.13). He has now suggested it is up for "discussion".

Asked if he would want to make the move in the next Parliament if he becomes prime minister, he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “Yes, I want to abolish the House of Lords. Obviously after today we’re going to have a consultation about implementing the recommendations in the report.

"I want the discussion about implementation to take place before the election so that we can get on at the election and put into place the recommendations. Exactly what happens when is part of the discussion about implementation."

08:46 AM

Starmer suggests no way back for Corbyn

Sir Keir Starmer said he does not see how Jeremy Corbyn can stand again to be a Labour MP in his current seat of Islington North.

Mr Corbyn had the Labour whip removed over his response to the equalities’ watchdog’s report into anti-Semitism and currently sits as an independent.

Asked if he believes his predecessor as party leader will be the Labour candidate for the constituency at the next general election, Sir Keir told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: "I don’t see the circumstances in which that can happen.

"We’re going through various constituencies at the moment. The ones we’ve selected for first are the ones that are the most marginal. So we’re working through the constituencies but, as I say, I don’t see the circumstances in which Jeremy Corbyn will stand at the next election as a Labour MP."

08:36 AM

Sir Keir Starmer urges 'both sides' to 'compromise' in rail dispute

Sir Keir Starmer said "both sides need to compromise" in the ongoing rail dispute after the RMT union rejected a new pay offer last night. The decision means strikes scheduled for later this month are still due to go ahead.

Asked what the offer to unions should be, the Labour leader told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: "Both sides need to compromise, both sides need to finish the negotiations and the Government needs to drive them forward.

"The Government’s been sitting on its hands in this. That’s not good enough. And I think if you look at the example of Wales, you can see that with a different approach this could be resolved."

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08:20 AM

Labour wants decisions made 'as close to people as possible'

Much of Labour's big report on the UK's future is focused on devolving more powers and spreading prosperity to the country's regions.

Sir Keir Starmer summed it up this morning by saying that he wanted to "let people with skin in the game have a much greater say over what happens in their area".

He told BBC Breakfast: "I want to ensure that so far as possible decisions about people are made as close to them as possible and that includes the revenue, that includes the money.

"So no more silos, this money to be controlled centrally, only for these purposes. Much more flexibility, much more empowerment for local authorities, local areas, so we can actually get our country moving forward."

08:13 AM

Sir Keir Starmer unable to guarantee Lords would be scrapped during first term

The main question around Labour's pledge to scrap the House of Lords is when the policy would actually be implemented.

Sir Keir Starmer was unable this morning to guarantee that it be done during the first term of a Labour government.

Asked the question during an interview on BBC Breakfast, the Labour leader said: "I am very keen that all of the recommendations in the report are carried out as quickly as possible. So we will now have after today a process of consultation, testing the ideas with a view to how do we implement them. It would be surprising to have a report of this size if we didn’t then consult those affected. So, how do we implement this?

"But to be very clear and in answer to your question, the reason we are having the consultation now before the election was because I am absolutely determined that an incoming Labour government will be a government of delivery, therefore I want the consultation out the way before the election and then I want to get on with delivering.

"And all of the recommendations in the report, including the recommendation in relation to the House of Lords are deliberately written in a way that means they can be implemented within the first five years of a Labour government.

"Obviously there is a discussion to be had about how and when every bit is implemented but the reason we are doing the consultation now is because I am determined we will deliver."

08:11 AM

Sir Keir Starmer: House of Lords is 'indefensible'

Sir Keir Starmer said the House of Lords is "indefensible" and must be replaced with an elected upper chamber.

The Labour leader told BBC Breakfast: "Yes. Look, I think the House of Lords is indefensible. Anybody who looks at the House of Lords would struggle to say that it should be kept so we want to abolish the House of Lords and replace it with an elected chamber that has really strong missions, so for example looks after devolution, actually makes sure that our politics works.

"So yes, we do need to abolish the House of Lords."

08:09 AM

Good morning

Good morning and welcome to today's politics live blog.

The main event this morning will be Sir Keir Starmer unveiling Labour's big new report on devolution and future prosperity.

The report has been put together by Labour's commission on the UK's future, headed by Gordon Brown, and one of its main recommendations is to abolish the House of Lords and replace it with an elected upper chamber.

Sir Keir is holding a press conference at 10am in Leeds and he has also been on the morning broadcast round to roll the pitch.

I will guide you through the key developments.