Politics latest: Starmer issues 'very clear' message for Putin; poll reveals Tory leadership favourite (2024)

Key points
  • Starmer has 'very clear' message for Putin
  • Beth Rigby:PM will ask allies for extra defence spending - but accused of 'playing with fire' for delaying UK's decision
  • Mark Stone: Lucky Starmer looks a lot stronger than other leaders at NATO summit
  • Tory leadership contest: Who has the members' support?|How could the contest unfold?
  • Listen to Politics at Jack and Sam'sabove as you scroll - andtap hereto follow
  • Live reporting by Ben Bloch


New environment secretary Reed summons water bosses for urgent talks

By Mark Kleinman, city editor

The new environment secretary has summoned the bosses of most of Britain’s water companies for urgent talks amid signs that Labour will take a tougher approach to regulating the industry.

Sky News has learnt that Steve Reed will hold talks with executives from all 16 of the suppliers in England and Wales, including Thames Water, Yorkshire Water and Severn Trent.

The meeting will take place on the same day that Ofwat, the water industry watchdog, will publish draft determinations on companies' investment plans for the next five years.

The rulings, which will be made final by the end of the year, will be closely watched by investors in the privatised industry because of their implications for the suppliers' balance sheets.

Thames Water, which said itcould run out of money next Maywhen it reported annual results on Tuesday, is in the most precarious position of the 16 companies.

Temporary nationalisation remains a possibility for Britain's biggest water company, although Sir Keir Starmer's administration has already said that it does not intend to pursue such an outcome.

In opposition, Mr Reed - now Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs - pledged to push for criminal sanctions against water company executives who failed to prevent sewage contaminating Britain's waterways.

A source close to Mr Reed said: "The last Conservative government weakened regulation allowing the sewage system to crumble and illegal sewage dumping to hit record levels.

"The election of this Labour government is a reset moment for the water industry.

"In the coming weeks and months, this Government will outline its first steps to reform the water sector to attract the investment we need to upgrade our infrastructure and restore our rivers, lakes and seas to good health."


A new politics has begun - but rows and divisions will soon emerge among MPs

By Darren McCaffrey, political correspondent

If you wanted to gain a sense of how our politics has changed since last Thursday - yesterday was it.

As MPs gathered in the new House of Commons, the electorate got a first glimpse of the UK's new political landscape.

The government benches heaved with Labour MPs for the first time in more than 14 years.

When I say heaved, it was packed with the Commons - deliberately built post WWII to be too small - unable to accommodate the 412 Labour members of parliament.

They sat on the stairs, many stood at the back, others were forced upstairs to the gallery.

It was a different story on the Conservative benches, glum of face - at one stage MPs were told to bunch together to make it look busier.

And the Liberal Democrats, with their record-breaking 72 members (the most for a third party in more than 100 years) have supplanted the SNP, who have been consigned to seats towards the back.

This parliament does not just look different from a party point of view but, as Sir Keir Starmer pointed out in his first speech as prime minister, from the despatch box, the most diverse too.

Of the 650 elected last week, 335 have never been an MP before. Some 263 members are female - more than 40% for the first time.

Ninety MPs are from an ethnic minority background - 14% - up from 66 in the last parliament.

Then there are the new, if familiar faces too, an emotional Diane Abbott who is now mother of the House and of course, Sir Lindsay Hoyle was very happy to be dragged back to the Speaker's chair.

Jeremy Corbyn has been returned, and there are now four Green MPs.

But it will take a little getting used to watching Nigel Farage, on the floor of the House, exchanging words with the new prime minister, Sir Keir.

Yesterday was full of pleasantries, frankly excitement and, at times, bewilderment among the new members.

Our new politics, with such a large parliamentary Labour Party, will be different - but be in little doubt the rows and divisions which define this place won't take long to emerge.


How could the Tory leadership race unfold?

After the Conservative Party lost the general election, Rishi Sunak announced he would resign as leader "once the formal arrangements for selecting my successor are in place".

So how could the next leader be selected?

1922 committee

The body that governs Tory party leadership races is their backbench committee of MPs, the 1922 Committee.

Last night, Tory MPs elected a new chair - Bob Blackman.

Decisions can now be taken about the timeframe and process of the leadership contest - although it is unclear when that will happen.

Rishi Sunak's role

As it stands, the former PM remains leader of the party and leader of the opposition. He has appointed a shadow cabinet and will fulfil the constitutional requirements of the role - for now.

Mr Sunak could agree to stay as party leader until a permanent successor is selected - in which case he will continue to carry out the opposition leader role, including facing Sir Keir Starmer at PMQs.

But he could choose to step down before the contest is concluded, which he seemed to suggest in his resignation speech.

That would mean an interim leader would have to be chosen (that could fall to Oliver Dowden, who is the interim deputy leader - or Tory MPs could choose someone else entirely).

Will the party members have a say?

There is a broad consensus among Tory MPs that members should get a vote on who the new party leader should be.

Short vs long

Some Tories have proposed the contest should be short, so the new leader can be in place to challenge the Labour government as soon as possible - particularly when they present their first budget in the autumn.

The new 1922 committee chair told Sky News yesterday that his colleagues have expressed "a range of views" - but a consensus appears to be emerging that a long leadership contest is the right thing to do to ensure there is full debate on which direction the party should take.

It could mean that nominations for the new leader don't even open for a number of weeks, and then MPs could whittle down the number of candidates - or not, and members could choose between multiple people.

There have been suggestions that the contest should not conclude until after the party's conference in early October, like when David Cameron won back in 2005, so that the contenders effectively audition in front of the membership.


Shadow minister: We should take our time to choose our next leader

After the Tories' devastating election loss, eyes are turning towards the leadership contest to elect Rishi Sunak's successor.

We asked shadow defence secretary James Cartlidge for his view on how quickly a new leader should be chosen.

He replied: "I think the view of colleagues is that we, within reason, we want to take our time, make sure we make the right decision."

The "millions" who usually vote Conservative but chose not to last Thursday "will expect us to reflect, to look at what happened".

He went on: "People were exasperated. But they want to see us take the time to make the right decisions so that our new leader has a positive alternative to Labour come the next general election."

Mr Cartlidge did not want to say who he will support as the next leader, saying there are "several colleagues who've got a very good background".

He added: "It's not just about the people, it's about, you know, what are the policies? Because I think the big thing is we've got to reconnect with the British public."


Tories: Not raising defence spending immediately is 'damaging for the armed forces'

We've just heard from the shadow defence secretary, James Cartlidge, and he said that Sir Keir Starmer not setting a date for reaching defence spending of 2.5% of GDP will be "damaging for the armed forces".

He lamented that the new PM "had an amazing opportunity" to announce that he was raising defence spending at the NATO summit in Washington DC that kicks off today.

"I think this would have been a really powerful signal to send. Instead, it's created delay, and I think that it could be damaging."

Challenged on the fact that the Tories did not raise defence spending to 2.5% of GDP when in office, he said they went in to the election with a "clear, funded plan" to do so.

Back in 2010, the Conservatives actually cut defence spending, and Mr Cartlidge said that at the time, "there was a letter left that there's no money left", and so they"had to prioritise sorting out the public finances".

He went on to say that when Rishi Sunak was chancellor, they announced the biggest uplift in spending since the Cold War.

But pushed by Sky's Kay Burley on the fact that the Tory government chose not to raise spending to 2.5% of GDP, he pointed to the sharp rise in inflation, driven by the war in Ukraine, which pushed up equipment prices.

He went on to say that there is "pressure on the current equipment planning" due to those inflated prices, and so the new PM's decision not raise defence spending immediately will leave "some really difficult decisions" around defence procurement.


Tory leadership: Badenoch has double the support of Braverman among members

By Tim Baker, political reporter

Kemi Badenoch has twice as much support among Conservative members to be the next party leader as the next candidate, new polling suggests.

A survey from the Party Members Project run out of Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) and Sussex University, carried out by YouGov, asked 725 members for their views.

Once the "none" and "don't know" responses were removed, Ms Badenoch had the support of 31% of those questioned.

She was followed by Suella Braverman on 16% and Tom Tugendhat on 15%.

Reports suggest support for Ms Braverman among Tory MPs is waning, while Ms Badenoch is said to have dressed down Rishi Sunak and his general election strategy in the first Conservative shadow cabinet meeting.

The full list of results is as follows:

  • Kemi Badenoch: 31%
  • Suella Braverman: 16%
  • Tom Tugendat: 15%
  • Jeremy Hunt: 12%
  • James Cleverly: 10%
  • Robert Jenrick: 7%
  • Priti Patel: 6%
  • Victoria Atkins: 2%

It is worth noting Jeremy Hunt has already ruled himself out of the race.

Read the full details from the poll here:


UK 'expects' all allies to continue supporting Ukraine

Donald Trump could be elected as US president in November, and he has previously cast doubt over whether the country should provide funding for Ukraine's defence.

As Sir Keir Starmer and NATO allies head to Washington for a key summit today, we asked armed forces minister Luke Pollard if he was concerned about a drop in support for Ukraine if Trump wins the US presidential election.

He replied: "We want all our allies to be supporting Ukraine. That's our expectation.

"And we'll work with every single one of them, regardless of political stripe, to make sure they do so, because Ukraine's security is all our security.

"It's important for the United Kingdom, as indeed it is for the United States, that Russia does not win in Ukraine, because if they do win in Ukraine, they won't stop with Ukraine."

He added that keeping the world safe means every country and NATO "supporting that effort".

"They are, and I expect them to continue to do so," he said.


When will the UK raise defence spending to 2.5% of GDP?

Sir Keir Starmer has refused to say when the UK will raise defence spending to 2.5% of GDP as he heads to NATO to urge other allies to raise their own spending.

We've just been speaking to armed forces minister Luke Pollard, and we asked for a bit more clarity.

He told us: "We've committed to increase defence spending to 2.5%, and the first step in that is a strategic defence review that will look at the capabilities that we need to deter the aggression that the UK and our allies are facing.

"That strategic defence review will be launched next week.

"We need that review to set out, importantly, what we want to spend that increased defence spending on, and in what sequence that will be spent."

Mr Pollard said the review would conclude "within the next year".

"We need it to be as urgent as we can. That's why we will be delivering this at pace, as fast as we can," he added.

He agreed with Sky's Kay Burley that the money to improve our defence capabilities is needed now - but explained that the defence review was needed to decide where that new money should be best spent.

Burley then put to him that the Labour Party didn't do any homework before arriving in office, which is why another year was needed.

He rejected that, saying: "In opposition, you don't get access to the classified briefings or the intelligence that would be required to set out what size and shape our armed forces should be."

On a more immediate basis, the minister said the government was addressing the "retention and recruitment crisis" to ensure joining the armed forces was easier, and their housing was improved.


Politics at Jack and Sam's: Keir meets Joe

Sky News' deputy political editor Sam Coates and Politico's Jack Blanchard are back in your podcast feeds with their guide to the day ahead in politics.

They discuss what's on the table at the prime minister's first NATO meeting and dinner with Joe Biden, whether the rumours are true that Labour could introduce digital ID cards, and what is really the new government's number one priority. Plus, who is leading in the ongoing Tory leadership race.

👉Tap here to follow Politics at Jack and Sam's wherever you get your podcasts👈

Email Jack and Sam:jackandsam@sky.uk


Mark Stone analysis: Lucky Starmer looks a lot stronger than other leaders at NATO summit

The UK is in a relatively unusual position as Sir Keir Starmer jets off for his first NATO summit as prime minister.

Given the struggles of Joe Biden, Emmanuel Macron, and some other Western leaders, ourUS correspondent Mark Stonesays the prime minister comes to Washington DC looking relatively strong given his enormous election win.

"Politically he is in a much stronger position than many colleagues he will meet," says Stone, who'll be at the summit.

Sir Keir will be among the leaders of the 31 other NATO members for a summit being described "as the biggest event of its kind for three decades" given the ongoing war in Ukraine.

Stone says that sometimes in politics "timing is luck" - "and it's certainly luck for Starmer that so soon after he took office, he is in Washington".

He'll also meet Joe Biden at the White House while he's in town.

Politics latest: Starmer issues 'very clear' message for Putin; poll reveals Tory leadership favourite (2024)
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