Labour has criticised prime minister Boris Johnson after reports said he had failed to attend recent Cobra meetings.
Angela Rayner, Labour’s deputy leader, said:
Boris Johnson has gone missing in action again. He’s back to his old tricks of skipping important Cobra meetings. Where’s the plan for the delivery of essential services and how people will be kept safe at work, on transport, in schools, hospitals and care homes?
The public will have no confidence in this zombie Conservative government responding swiftly and decisively to this national emergency as this disgraced prime minister prepares to party while Britain boils. If he still can’t take the responsibility of the job, he should leave right now.
Daytime temperatures on Saturday are predicted to be around 27C in London, 26C in Cardiff, 23C in Belfast and 21C in Edinburgh, PA reported. On Sunday, it could reach 30C in the capital, 27C in Cardiff, 24C in Belfast and 23C in Edinburgh.
Temperatures are forecast to increase by several more degrees on Tuesday – up to the mid-30s for much of England and Wales.
Here are some images from last night’s Channel 4 debate.
The Cabinet Office minister Kit Malthouse will chair a meeting of the government’s Cobra civil contingencies committee to discuss the impending heatwave, a government spokesman has confirmed.
It will be the second Cobra meeting Malthouse has led on the issue, with temperatures expected to reach as high as 40C in some parts of the UK early next week.
Good morning, I’m Tom Ambrose and I’ll be with you throughout the rest of the day to bring you the latest updates from Westminster and beyond. Follow me on Twitter @tomambrose89.
Penny Mordaunt – the current bookmakers’ favourite – struggled to either impress or land any significant blows on her opponents in last night’s debate.
However, in an interview with the Telegraph, she has been keen to defend her record.
She told the paper:
Look at what I’ve done. The first job that I had in government, I managed to bring the firefighters’ dispute, pensions dispute and strikes to an end. Other ministers didn’t.
I managed to get real international leadership for this country and make a tangible difference to people’s lives on the issue of disability, as well as changing perceptions of our government, in that respect.
In the 85 days I was at the MoD, I brought in some things which have had a radical change in terms of our command structure and the fact that men and women of our armed forces are never, ever going to be paid less than the living wage again.
I do get stuff done. Paymaster general, I rewrote our nation’s resilience strategy, brought the first ever One HMG defensive cyber strategy together, gripped issues that have been kicking around Whitehall for yonks, such as getting a compensation scheme for those poor souls affected by the infected blood scandal. You know, I could go on.
That’s it from me for now, my colleague Tom Ambrose is taking over.
Meanwhile, away from leadership debate, the former education recovery commissioner, Sir Kevan Collins, has accused the government of burying its head in the sand over the loss of learning among children in England due to Covid, warning the problem will not just “go away”.
He expressed regret about lost opportunities after the government rejected his ambitious £15bn plan for recovery, including an extended school day for all, and warned that the flagship national tutoring programme (NTP) was in danger of becoming little more than “a few kids in the corner doing a bit of tutoring”.
Speaking a year after Covid restrictions were finally lifted on what the government called “freedom day”, Collins voiced concern about a tax-cutting arms race in the Conservative leadership contest, which he warned would result in cuts to education spending.
Collins resigned from his job as education catch-up tsar in June last year in protest at the prime minister’s decision to scale back recovery plans, warning the new offer did not come close to meeting the needs of children whose education was thrown into chaos by the pandemic. The government has so far pledged around £5bn in catch-up funding for schools and colleges.
In an interview with the Guardian, Collins said he remained convinced the country was underinvesting in education overall, and warned that the evidence emerging in recent months about the impact of lost learning suggested that the NTP, set up with great fanfare to help left-behind children catch up, was not delivering.
Some polling from Opinium on last night’s debate:
Key takeaways from the leadership debate
The five candidates still standing for the leadership of the Conservative party were in action in a TV debate broadcast on Channel 4 on Friday night. Here are the five key takeaways:
Tom Tugendhat was the only one able to answer freely
Given the opportunity to answer “yes” or “no” to the question “is Boris Johnson honest?”, Tom Tugendhat was the only person able to do it. He got warm applause for simply saying: “No.”
Kemi Badenoch came closest, saying “Sometimes”. Rishi Sunak, Penny Mordaunt and Liz Truss all refused to be drawn into the one word answer, and prevaricated.
Τugendhat essentially played the role of the minority party candidate in a multiparty debate, free to just speak his mind, call out the hypocrisy in everybody else, all the while safe in the knowledge there’s virtually zero chance he will end up elected.
Truss has a delivery mantra problem
Truss tried to focus again and again about delivery in every department, saying that her trade deals with Australia and Japan had been considered impossible, and that she had stood up to Vladimir Putin. But it all felt heavily scripted from her.
Badenoch and Tugendhat felt more off the cuff, and Sunak was a more fluid performer here than he has been on the radio over the last 48 hours. Truss felt rigid and dogmatic.
Sunak’s Treasury experience is a potential asset – but not with party members
In a crucial exchange that was mostly Sunak v Truss, the foreign secretary told the former chancellor that Covid was a once-in-a-century occurrence, and that the government should look accordingly at paying it back over a longer term. Sunak was clear, saying: “The best way for people to have money in their pocket is to get a grip of inflation.”
Again and again during the debate he demonstrated a better command of the numbers and Treasury brief, but you still ended up with the feeling that a man instinctively fiscally conservative is being pushed into a corner and portrayed as a leftist for not wanting to cut taxes
You can read more here:
What happened in the debate?
In an often difficult night for all the candidates – former chancellor Rishi Sunak; foreign secretary Liz Truss; Penny Mordaunt, the trade minister and bookmakers’ favourite; the former levelling up minister Kemi Badenoch; and the backbencher Tom Tugendhat – not a single member of the audience of floating voters raised their hands when asked if they trusted politicians.
In a long section on trust, the candidates were asked whether Johnson was honest. “Sometimes,” said Badenoch, while Mordaunt talked about “really severe issues”, and Truss spoke of “mistakes”. Tugendhat won applause by saying, simply: “No.”
In a separate show of hands after a debate on energy bills just three people said they felt politicians were doing enough to help people. When asked at the end of the debate if it had made them more likely to vote Conservative, only 10 of the audience raised their hands.
Mordaunt and Badenoch clashed with visible enmity about the former’s views on trans rights. When Truss declined to back up her version of events about policies in the government’s equalities office, Badenoch said: “Come on Liz, tell the truth.”
Mordaunt, meanwhile, asked about negative briefings about her from some of the other camps, refused to say she trusted the other candidates.
Tory candidates ‘scratching each other’s eyes out’ – Starmer
Last night, the five remaining candidates to become the next Conservative leader, and therefore prime minister, went head-to-head in a live TV debate.
The debate saw open arguments over tax and identity politics – and none of the five candidates was willing to say that Boris Johnson is honest.
Coming hours after Liz Truss sought to reinvigorate her faltering campaign with a sudden announcement of new tax cuts costing more than £20bn a year, Rishi Sunak the ex-chancellor, openly ridiculed his former colleague’s plans during the Channel 4 broadcast.
You can read my colleague Peter Walker’s full report of the debate here.
Meanwhile, the Labour leader, Sir Keir Starmer, has dismissed the acrimonious Conservative leadership race as a “travelling circus”, in which the candidates have demolished their party’s economic credibility by promising billions of pounds of unfunded tax cuts.
He tells the Guardian’s political editor the party “has got no sense any more of what it stands for”.
“That’s why you have all these candidates scratching each other’s eyes out, taking lumps out of each other,” he said.
We’ll bring you all the latest UK political developments throughout the day, as they happen.