Politics news - latest: More questions over Dominic Raab bullying allegations; Rishi Sunak supporters see 'very narrow path' to victory at next election (2023)

Key points
  • Top civil servant dragged back into Dominic Raab bullying row
  • Rob Powell: Number 10's response has striking similarities to handling of Nadhim Zahawi affair
  • What you need to know about the Raab controversy|Who is cabinet secretary Simon Case?
  • Beth Rigby:There's little warm glow around Rishi Sunak's leadership - but supporters see 'very narrow path' to victory at next election
  • The U-turns and scandals of his premiership so far
  • Another headache looms for PM as BBC chairman and former adviser set to be grilled by MPs
  • Live reporting by Tim Baker


Cummings and Davis clash over Brexit

Brexiteers are once again arguing over who was responsible for Brexit negotiations not panning out quite as hoped.

Today's episode stars David Davis and Dominic Cummings.

Mr Davis was Brexit secretary under Theresa May, but resigned after she laid out her plans for negotiations at Chequers.

Dominic Cummings was part of the campaign to leave the EU, and helped Boris Johnson's rise to power as PM amid the political turmoil of the endless Brexit votes in 2019.

In an interview with The Telegraph today, Mr Davis says that civil servants and Whitehall did a "c*** job" of negotiating Brexit - partly because they "sympathised" with the EU.

Mr Davis has previously said that he was cut out of negotiations by Mrs May's Downing Street.

In response to the article from The Telegraph, Mr Cummings tweeted: "Says the [clown] who *literally* cancelled meetings so he could lie on the sofa reading Biggles books & thought triggering A50 fast, directly contrary to what Vote Leave said in referendum, [would] be a triumph.


"Officials had to grapple with the *extreme* uselessness of Tory MPs."

A50 is a reference to Article 50, the formal mechanism for a member state leaving the EU.

Theresa May triggered this in March 2017, formally starting negotiations with the EU.


WhatsApp group used by Truss-supporting MPs whirs back into life

A WhatsApp group once used to support Liz Truss' leadership campaign has begun to see several MPs joining once again, sources have told Sky News.

The former prime minister is said to be on manoeuvres with fellow like-minded MPs ahead of the March budget to lobby the government for tax cuts, and the revival of this WhatsApp group demonstrates there is still an appetite for deregulation and a smaller state among some MPs.

The Conservative Growth Group - a group of Tory MPs who still believe in Ms Truss's vision for the UK - appears determined to turn up the pressure on the prime minister - with sources familiar with the WhatsApp group telling Sky News: "There's a lot going on behind the scenes."

However, a member of Ms Truss's team has denied any knowledge of movement within WhatsApp groups linked to her previous campaign.

(Video) In full: The Take with Sophy Ridge

As the backbench 1922 Committee of Conservative MPs celebrated its 100 year birthday on Tuesday, some Conservative backbenchers raised their concerns regarding the high tax burden with the chancellor.

Speaking to Sky News after the meeting, Sir Edward Leigh said he had suggested to Jeremy Hunt that he make reducing taxes a top priority.

"I said 'you can't wait until the general election. People are depressed. You've got to give them hope.

"You've got to say: 'We made the right decisions in September, therefore that's given me room in this budget to cut taxes, whether it's corporation, personal or fuel".

Next month the chancellor will outline his plan for growth and prosperity, having already warned that now is not the time for tax cuts while inflation is still the Treasury's priority.

But while economic growth remains minimal and is projected to go into decline, this faction of the Conservative Party is likely to get louder as the budget looms.

The next general election is at the forefront of the Conservative Growth Group's mission, but with a deepening cost of living crisis, public sector budgets squeezed and a modest number of supporters, it appears unlikely for now they will have their demands met.


Runners and riders to replace Zahawi as Conservative Party chair

Speculation is continuing about who will replace Nadhim Zahawi as Conservative Party chair after he was sacked over his tax affairs last weekend.

These are the runners and riders for the role:


Watch: Scandals from Sunak's 100 days as PM

Yesterday marked Rishi Sunak's 100th day as prime minister.

From Suella Braverman to Nadhim Zahawi, a series of scandals have plagued the PM.

Watch below as political correspondent Amanda Akass goes through what has happened since Mr Sunak took office in October.


(Video) Dominic Raab faces bullying allegations | The News Agenda

Who is striking in 2023, when and why

Tuesday saw the UK's biggest day of industrial action in more than a decade as teachers, university staff, train drivers, civil servants, bus drivers and security guards all went on strike.

But this is far from the end of the industrial action, with train drivers walking out today and tens of thousands of workers set to stage further walk outs in the coming weeks and months.

Read more about the upcoming strikes - and why the industrial action is taking place - here:


Union boss warns rail strikes could last until 2026

Strikes by train drivers could continue for another three years, a union boss has warned.

Train driver members of Aslef and the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) have walked out today in a long-running dispute over pay and conditions.

This has left large parts of the country with no services, as operators such as Avanti West Coast, CrossCountry, Northern and Southern are not running any trains.

Aslef general secretary Mick Whelan told LBC radio that train drivers have not had a pay rise in four years.

Asked how much longer union members can financially sustain striking, he said: "I think we're in this for the long haul. How long is a piece of string?

"If we don't get a pay rise for four years will it be five, will it be six, will it be seven?

"Will it be stupid to stop this now then restart it some time in the future, because you'd lose any impetus that you've gained?"

He told LBC that Aslef has made no progress in negotiations with the Rail Delivery Group, which represents train operators, during six months of strikes.

Asked about the prospect of a deal being struck during further talks on 7 February, he said: "We want a resolution. My people don't want to be losing money, they don't want to be standing out in the cold."

You can follow updates on the strikes in our dedicated live blog here:


In case you missed it...Sky News obtained the seating plan for the Tory 1922 Committee centenary dinner

Happy birthday to the most important closed shop in British politics.

The 1922 Committee - an exclusive club comprising all backbench Conservative MPs renowned for defenestrating British prime ministers - is 100 years old.

There might not seem to be much to celebrate right now in Tory politics, yet almost all of them, along with partners, peers, ex MPs - and the odd donor and strategist - were shipped off to the Hurlingham Club in West London for a black tie dinner.

London Playbook reported an evening of Champagne, seared beef fillet and quips about men in grey suits and normally that would be the limit of transparency of such an event.

Now Sky News has obtained the seating plan - the full guide to who was invited, and - more importantly - who was placed where.

Now you too can find just how importantly the 1922 executive rank your MP by who they were placed alongside - there were 50 tables for the great, the good and the rest.

Of course, some guests may not have turned up, and Machiavellis - of which the 1922 has a few - may have moved around some of the name tags. But this is a good guide to last night's plan.

Rishi Sunak was at table four, sat alongside the chef d'orchestre for the evening Sir Graham Brady.

Also on table four was Sir Lynton Crosby, whose protege Isaac Levido is running the Tory election campaign, and veteran Conservative donor, philanthropist and author Lord Ashcroft.

Former 1922 chairman Archie Hamilton was also there, as was Lord Strathclyde a former leader of the Lords.

There was no apparent sign of deputy prime minister and man in the news Dominic Raab nor of recently departed cabinet minister Nadhim Zahawi. Boris Johnson is currently in the United States.

One interesting name is Tory donor Maurizio Bragagni on table six.

Mr Bragagni, who has given £650,000 to the party, said Sharia law was the "de facto law" in some English towns and cities, in an online article and described London as "worse than any African metropolis".

Last year a Tory spokesman said the party "in no way whatsoever condones these unacceptable comments".

Table six also lists ex-leader Lord Howard and 1922 exec member Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown.

(Video) Heated Debate On How Rishi Sunak Can Help With Cost Of Living Crisis | Good Morning Britain


Another headaches looms for Sunak as BBC chair and former adviser set to be grilled by MPs

The next step in the saga of Richard Sharp's appointment as BBC chairman is set to take place on Tuesday.

It comes following reports almost a fortnight ago that Mr Sharp helped facilitate a loan for Boris Johnson worth £800,000 before being appointed to the role at the broadcaster.

The controversy concerns events before Rishi Sunak became prime minister.

Mr Sharp was an adviser to Mr Sunak when he was chancellor during the COVID pandemic and the par worked together at Goldman Sachs in the early 2000s:

Now, the chair is set to be quizzed by theDigital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee next week.

Announcing the evidence session, the committee said: "The DCMS Committee will question BBC Chair Richard Sharp following media reports about his appointment."

Mr Sharp had to appear before the committee before getting appointed, and the cross-party nature of the panel has been used by his defenders to counter claims of a conflict of interest.

But speaking last week, the SNP's John Nicolson - who sits on the committee - said the MPs did not have "all the facts".

(Video) Full exchange: Ian Blackford says Rishi Sunak ‘as bad’ as Liz Truss during PMQs

Simon Case, the embattled cabinet secretary, once again crops up in the narrative.

Mr Sharp said he and Mr Case had a "discussion" about "avoiding conflict, and the perception of conflict".

The pair "had the judgment that I'd avoided a conflict or a perception of conflict," The BBC chair said.

Mr Sharp and Mr Johnson have denied they made financial arrangements together.


Sunak's first 100 days: What polling tells us about how the public views PM's performance

by Alan McGuinness, digital politics assistant editor

While they are liable to change and provide a snapshot of sentiment at one particular time, opinion polls are a useful tool when judging the performance of a prime minister.

This is especially the case when you look at the trends over time.

So what do the polls from Rishi Sunak's first 100 days tell us about how he is perceived to have fared?

In short, while there have been steps in the right direction, the PM is facing a big challenge to ensure he is still in office after the next general election due in 2025.

When it comes to the overall performance of the Conservatives, the party has recovered its standing in the polls somewhat, having seen its numbers fall heavily in the wake of Liz Truss' mini-budget that saw her premiership cut short after just 45 days.

But Labour still retains a healthy poll lead and it seems the party is on course to win the next election.

The government's net approval rating has also increased, but two of Mr Sunak's more recent predecessors were performing better on this score after their first 100 days:

And what of the PM's own approval rating?

He may have outlasted his most recent predecessor, but Mr Sunak knows he is going to have to engineer some turnaround to ensure he lasts as long as the likes of Boris Johnson and Theresa May.


Sunak's survived in Number 10 twice as long as his predecessor - but it's not been a smooth ride

Rishi Sunak may have already outlasted Liz Truss by quite a margin, but the 100 days he's been in office have not been short of scandals.

Our political correspondent Amanda Akasslooks back at the rockier moments of PM's tenure so far:

(Video) Rishi Sunak drowning in sleaze | The News Agenda


1. Andrew Pierce | Friday 27th January
2. Nana Akua | Saturday 21st January
3. Patrick Christys | Thursday 26th January
4. Bev Turner Today | Wednesday 25th January
5. Cross Question | Watch again: Martin Sorrell, Jackie Doyle-Price, Richard Thomson and Zoe Williams
6. Dan Wootton Tonight | Wednesday 23rd November
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