LONDON, November 7, 2022–Politics latest as Rishi Sunak heads to COP27. He will raise the number of people crossing the Channel as he meets Emmanuel Macron for the first time as PM. Boris Johnson has also spoken at the climate summit, while back in the UK nurses ballot to strike.
Rishi Sunak has confirmed that the Conservative Party is investigating Sir Gavin Williamson over messages he sent to former chief whip Wendy Morton.
Speaking from COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, Mr Sunak has said the messages cabinet office minister Sir Gavin sent were “not acceptable”.
When asked how Sir Gavin can stay in post, Mr Sunak said: “There’s an independent complaints process that’s being conducted at the moment.
“It would be right to let the process conclude before making any decision about the future.”
The prime minister’s official spokesman earlier said he had full confidence in Sir Gavin.
Sunak Meets Macron
Rishi Sunak and Emmanuel Macron have met face-to-face for the first time since Mr Sunak was appointed prime minister.
The pair shook hands as they met in Sharm el-Sheikh at the COP27 summit.
Mr Sunak is going to raise the migrant crisis with Emmanuel Macron, Sky News has been told.
Rishi Sunak’s diplomatic whirlwind at COP27 is continuing, after he met the leaders of Italy and Kenya.
Mr Sunak was all smiles as he posed for a picture with President William Ruto of Kenya at Sharm el-Sheikh.
After the meeting, the UK government announced the pair had agreed to “fast track” 500bn Kenyan Shillings – £3.6bn – of investment in Kenya.
Mr Sunak also met Giorgia Meloni, the newly elected prime minister of Italy.
A Downing Street spokesman said: “The leaders had a positive discussion on a range of shared issues and priorities, including tackling illegal migration and people smuggling gangs.”
Family ‘pinning hopes’ on Rishi Sunak getting captive British-Egyptian back to UK
The family of a British-Egyptian writer who is imprisoned in the north African nation say they are “pinning” their hopes of Rishi Sunak getting him home.
Alaa Abd el-Fattah has been on a full hunger strike since 1 November, and went on a water strike yesterday.
Mr Abd el-Fattah has been arrested and detained numerous times in Egypt, having most recently been sentenced in 2021 for “spreading fake news”.
Rishi Sunak sent a letter to Mr Abd el-Fattah’s sister this weekend, in which he said COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh was “another opportunity to raise your brother’s case with the Egyptian leadership”.
Mr Sunak added: “I will continue to stress to President Sisi the importance that we attach to the swift resolution of Alaa’s case, and an end to his unacceptable treatment.”
Mr Abd el-Fattah’s sister, Sanna Seif, is in Sharm el-Sheikh to raise the profile of her brother’s case.
She said: “Prime Minister Sunak sent me a powerful letter on the weekend.
“I think he intends to do everything he can to save Alaa, we’re pinning our hopes on him.
“I really believe that if he makes this an urgent political priority, my brother will be on the next flight to London.”
Sunak agrees on ‘importance of working together’ with EU over Northern Ireland Protocol
Rishi Sunak and the president of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen have agreed on “the importance of working together” on the Northern Ireland Protocol.
Mr Sunak and Ms von der Leyen had their first face-to-face meeting today at COP27.
A Downing Street spokesperson said: “On the Northern Ireland Protocol, the prime minister reiterated the need to find solutions to the very real problems it had created on the ground in Northern Ireland.
“They agreed on the importance of working together to agree a resolution.”
The protocol has created a trade border in the Irish Sea between Northern Ireland and Great Britain.
Its presence has triggered the collapse of the Northern Irish Assembly, as the DUP refuse to allow an executive to be formed with the protocol in place as it is.
Previous Conservative prime ministers this year have indicated they were prepared to unilaterally withdraw from parts of the protocol, despite warnings such a move would breach international law.
This would be done with the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill, which is currently making its way through parliament, despite criticism from Brussels.
Former Tory whip ‘surprised’ Gavin Williamson was reappointed to cabinet
A former Tory MP who served as deputy chief whip under Gavin Williamson is “surprised” her old boss was reappointed to cabinet under Rishi Sunak.
Anne Milton was deputy chief whip from 2015 until 2017. Mr Williamson was chief whip from 2016 until 2017.
Speaking to Sky News, she said: “The use of information as leverage against MPs has no place in modern politics.
“The whips office has an important pastoral role to play and this cannot be carried out if information is used against MPs. I am surprised he was appointed as a minister.”
Ms Milton lost the Tory whip in 2019 over Brexit, and subsequently lost her seat in the general election that year.
Mr Williamson has been under fire over messages he sent to former chief whip Wendy Morton.
This morning, The Times reported that a minister is claiming Mr Williamson used details of her private life to try and influence her while she was a backbencher.
Sunak has ‘full confidence’ in Gavin Williamson after ‘unacceptable’ texts
Rishi Sunak has “full confidence” in Gavin Williamson, who is facing a bullying probe and calls to stand down over messages he sent to a former chief whip.
The prime minister’s official spokesman was asked if Mr Sunak backed Mr Williamson – to which he replied “yes”.
The row centres on messages that Mr Williamson sent to Wendy Morton when she was chief whip under Liz Truss.
Ms Morton complained to the Tory Party, and former party Chairman Sir Jake Berry said he had told Mr Sunak about the matter before Mr Williamson was appointed as a Cabinet Office minister last month.
Mr Sunak has previously said the messages were “unacceptable”.
Asked how Mr Williamson can still be in post, the spokesman – a government employee as opposed to a Tory Party one – said: “Well, as you know, there is a process going on I think.
“Obviously, that’s run by the Conservative Party so it’s not one for me.
“I think the prime minister has said that it’s right to let that process happen and he’s welcomed that Gavin Williamson has expressed regret about those comments, which he doesn’t think are acceptable.”
He repeated Mr Sunak’s claim that the PM “knew there was a disagreement” involving Mr Williamson when he was appointed, but did not know “the substance” of the messages.
Asked when a new ethics adviser would be appointed – a post vacant since Lord Geidt resigned from Boris Johnson’s government in June – the spokesman said the process is “ongoing”.
Sunak continues to meet world leaders… including getting their contact details
COP27 is the first time Rishi Sunak has been meeting and greeting world leaders as prime minister.
Earlier, we reported how he met with Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission (8.48am post).
Mr Sunak bumped into Ulf Kristersson, who – like the UK PM – only came to power last month as prime minister in Sweden.
Beijing criticises UK government visit to Taiwan
Beijing has criticised the UK for sending a trade minister to Taiwan.
Greg Hands is visiting the island this week – to the anger of the Chinese Communist Party.
Beijing claims Taiwan is part of the People’s Republic of China, while Taiwan considers itself an independent nation known as the Republic of China.
Mr Hands’ visit is the first in-person trip by a UK government member since the pandemic, and Number 10 is hoping he can use talks with President Tsai Ing-wen to “tackle barriers to trade and promote UK expertise in areas like offshore wind and hydrogen”.
The summit marks the 25th annual UK-Taiwan Trade Talks.
Zhao Lijian, a foreign ministry spokesman from the Chinese Communist Party, said the UK should “earnestly respect China’s sovereignty, uphold the one-China principle, stop any forms of official contacts with Taiwan and stop sending wrong signals to Taiwan independence separatist forces”.
The UK’s £8 billion trade partnership with Taiwan has risen 14% in the last two years, according to the Department for International Trade, with UK exports to Taiwan going up by 12% during that period.
Source Sky News wrote the original article