Kemi Badenoch says death threats have ‘intensified’ since publication of Nadine Dorries book – UK politics live


Kemi Badenoch says death threats have ‘intensified’ since publication of Nadine Dorries book

Kemi Badenoch has said she has received more death threats since the release of The Plot, Nadine Dorries explosive book on the downfall of Boris Johnson.

In The Plot: The Political Assassination of Boris Johnson, Dorries put forward elaborate conspiracies about those at the top of government and claimed a sinister cabal called “the movement” have “set out to control the destiny of the Conservative party” for 25 years.

Badenoch made the comments in a profile interview with The Times. While being interviewed, the business secretary showed journalist Janice Turner a phone message from her Westminster office manager reporting a death threat to the police.

These threats have intensified, she said.

She [Dorries] thinks she’s just writing stuff, but people who have that kind of mindset latch on to it.

If you get the unhelpful coalition of mental health issues and propensity to violence, then you read the Nadine Dorries conspiracy theory and decide you want to kill someone, it’s very, very nasty.

She pointed out that Dorries, who blames Badenoch for abetting the downfall of Johnson when she resigned as cabinet minister, claimed in The Plot that the minister is being manoeuvred by powerful men and portrays her as a puppet of Michael Gove.

“As if I have no thoughts and no opinions of my own,” Badenoch said, complaining that her best speeches are attributed to him. “Like they’re saying, ‘She’s not that bright. It’s some man who is doing this.’”

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Helena Horton

Helena Horton

The government must increase fines on utility companies that dig up pavements for roadworks, then pour in concrete rather than fixing the mess, a government adviser has said.

Telecoms and water companies are creating “street scars” in a “wasteful process” that is marring British high streets, Nicholas Boys Smith, who chairs the Office for Place in the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has said in a report.

He uses the term “street scars” to describe black or grey slabs of concrete that disfigure the paving of streets and pavements, examples of which can be seen all over the UK.

Boys Smith told the Guardian: “It’s a ridiculous and wasteful process. One set of workers turn up and ruin the road. And then, if you’re lucky, months later another set turn up and put it back together again.”

The government adviser, who runs the thinktank Create Streets, blamed the privatisation of utility companies for the number of street scars.

Keir Starmer called on the prime minister to resolve the dispute with junior doctors and end the strike.

He told broadcasters:

I don’t want these strikes to go ahead. I don’t think anybody who uses the NHS wants the strikes to go ahead, I don’t think the doctors want them to go ahead.

What I do want is for the government to get in the room and negotiate and bring this to an end.

Around Christmas time they were dancing around saying ‘well, there may be a deal but we won’t go in the room first’. I thought that was pathetic.

We now learn from officials that it is the prime minister himself who is personally blocking deals which could resolve this issue.

I think the public will be frustrated, bordering on angry now, with the prime minister for letting this drag on for so long. Resolve it.

Keir Starmer was pressed on Labour’s shadow justice secretary Shabana Mahmood’s claim that the party has seen a “loss of trust” from Muslim voters over its stance on the war in Gaza.

He told broadcasters:

I think everyone can see that the conflict in the Middle East has caused great concern across the country, and in the end I think we all want to see the same thing. The terrible terrorist attack on October 7 – 27,000 people now have been killed in Gaza – that’s intolerable, many of them children.

So we have to get to a ceasefire, a sustainable ceasefire, and that means stopping the fighting, creating the space for humanitarian aid to get in, which is desperately, desperately needed, getting the hostages out and creating the first step of the process, the only way this will be resolved, which is a two-state solution.

You can follow our liveblog on the Middle East crisis here:

Keir Starmer defended his decision to extend the windfall tax on oil and gas companies.

He told broadcasters:

What I have done is go to Aberdeen and talk to the oil and gas industry for a two-day intensive discussion about the transition that we want to make, which is going to have to be made. They know that, they’re investing a huge amount in renewables.

What they want is a government that is going to work with them on that transition and that is why the British jobs bonus is so important, because I want to ensure that as we transition we get the new jobs of the future and don’t lose any jobs.

So yes I’ve been having those discussions with them, very productive discussions, because I want to ensure that those jobs in Scotland are preserved and we add further jobs too.

Starmer says British public ‘appreciate’ Labour being ‘straight’ with them over major U-turn

Keir Starmer said he believes the British public “appreciate” Labour being “straight” about its plans for the economy, after the party announced a major U-turn on its green spending pledge.

Speaking on a trip to the West Midlands, the Labour leader said:

Every family knows that they’ve had to adjust their plans. We’ve now had to adjust our plans.

And I think the British public appreciate us being straight and saying because of the damage the Tories have done, we can’t now do everything that we wanted to do.

I would much rather be straight with the British public than make a promise I can’t keep.

Asked whether there was anything he could guarantee would be in the party manifesto come the election expected this year, Starmer said:

Since we announced the green prosperity plan, we’ve made a number of very important commitments to gigafactories, to tidal development, to Great British energy… national wealth fund… all of the commitments I’ve made on outcomes, they all remain, and they’re fully costed.

He added:

What we’re not going to do is make further announcements of further investment. Everything we’ve announced so far… all of that remains.” about its plans for the economy, after the party announced a major U-turn on its green spending pledge.

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Amelia Hill

Amelia Hill

Raising the state retirement age to 71 would condemn millions of middle-aged people to misery as they get older, Britain’s biggest independent organisation of older people and a former pensions minister have said.

The National Pensioners Convention (NPC), which represents more than 1.15 million members, said the proposals “in no way reflects the harsh reality of getting older in the UK”.

The general secretary, Jan Shortt, said: “These proposals will affect everyone currently in their early-50s and younger, and will considerably add to the one in four pensioners already living in poverty. They will condemn even more people to a miserable retirement, as well as increasing pressure on already struggling public services.”

Shortt said the proposals favoured only higher-income groups because although the number of people living longer had been increasing, the number of those living with ill-health – and therefore not able to work longer – was also rising.

She said:

Making those already living with ill-health wait even longer to claim their pension will only increase poverty and the demand on already-creaking services, such as health and care.

Ros Altmann, the former pensions minister, agreed.

She said:

Raising the state pension age to 71 should be unconscionable. Only the top 10% of the UK population stay healthy into their early 70s, so cutting costs by making unwell workers wait longer, favours the well-pensioned, higher paid.

Chronological age is too inflexible as a unique criterion of eligibility for a state pension, which is part of every worker’s social contract. In addition, neither the NHS nor the UK labour market are prepared for this policy – the former because of the big health differentials across the country and the second, because it is rife with ageism.

Read the full story here:

Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting said Rishi Sunak bears responsibility for the latest planned strike by junior doctors.

He said:

Rishi Sunak is personally blocking a deal with the junior doctors.

He bears responsibility for the cancelled operations and appointments desperate patients will face once again.

This can’t go on. Patients are desperate and staff are worn out.

If the Conservatives have given up on governing, they should step aside so Labour can get the NHS back on its feet.

Kiran Stacey

Rishi Sunak has criticised local councils for putting up council tax too much, even as authorities struggle to cope with funding shortfalls that have left several on the brink of bankruptcy.

The prime minister criticised councils in England for requesting permission to raise council tax by more than 5% as they look to balance their budgets amid a national crisis in local authority funding.

Council leaders looking to raise tax by more than the 5% cap either have to be granted permission from central government or hold a local referendum on doing so. Bedfordshire is the only council ever to have held such a referendum, holding a vote in 2015 in which local residents rejected the idea of higher tax rates.

This week the government granted permission to a series of councils to raise taxes by more than the 5% cap, including Thurrock, Woking, Slough and Birmingham. Ministers refused to allow Somerset to do the same, however, as council leaders there look to close a £100m budget deficit.

Sunak told BBC Radio Somerset:

It’s important that councils manage the cost of living for their residents, and councils that are asking the government to just allow them to whack in incredibly high council tax rises – [that] is not right.

We can strike the balance between councils raising the money they need, but making sure they don’t unnecessarily burden people.

Read more here:

Junior doctors in England to strike again after pay talks break down

Andrew Gregory

Junior doctors are to stage fresh strike action in England for a 10th time after talks between their union and the government broke down again.

Ministers, health officials and representatives from the British Medical Association (BMA) had been locked in negotiations for weeks since last month’s record six-day stoppage, trying to find a resolution to the pay dispute.

But the Guardian understands a last-ditch meeting on Thursday between Victoria Atkins, the health secretary, and the BMA failed to result in any immediate solution to end the stoppages. As a result, the BMA’s junior doctors’ committee has voted unanimously for another five days of strikes this month.

Junior doctors in England will strike from 7am on 24 February to midnight on 28 February.

The decision was announced a day after the latest NHS figures revealed that 7.6m health treatments were waiting to be carried out in England at the end of December, relating to 6.37 million patients.

The announcement from the BMA will alarm medical leaders and NHS bosses, who are becoming increasingly concerned about the deteriorating health of many of those stuck on waiting lists.

The Guardian revealed last month a warning from health officials that thousands of cancer patients could die early if ministers and junior doctors did not urgently resolve their bitter pay row.

On Thursday, the latest performance statistics showed more than a third of cancer patients in England were facing potentially deadly delays, with thousands of people forced to wait months to begin treatment.

Earlier this week Rishi Sunak was accused of personally holding up a deal to end doctors’ strikes despite warnings from the health department and NHS England that waiting lists would continue to soar unless the dispute was resolved.

Read the full story here:

Junior doctors ‘not ready to be reasonable’, says health secretary

The planned strike action by junior doctors shows that they are not “ready to be reasonable,” Victoria Atkins has said.

In a statement, the health and social care secretary said:

I want to find a reasonable solution that ends strike action. This action called by the BMA junior doctor committee does not signal that they are ready to be reasonable.

We already provided them with a pay increase of up to 10.3% and were prepared to go further. We urged them to put an offer to their members, but they refused. We are also open to further discussions on improving doctors’ and the wider workforce’s working lives.

I want to focus on cutting waiting times for patients rather than industrial action. We have been making progress with waiting lists falling for three months in a row.

Five days of action will put enormous pressure on the NHS and is not in the spirit of constructive dialogue. To make progress I ask the Junior Doctors Committee to cancel their action and come back to the table to find a way forward for patients and our NHS.

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