Net zero sum game — How to discipline Conservative children — Sausage fest MPs – POLITICO

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Good Monday morning. This is Emilio Casalicchio here for the first half of this week.


NET ZERO SUM GAME: The Conservative leadership contest still seems to be in full swing this morning, with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and his former rival Boris Johnson competing on the world stage over who can save the climate harder. The two Conservative bigwigs are in Sharm El-Sheikh for the COP27 summit to deliver separate talks about saving the planet — with the former taking a fiscal approach, including a list of new spending commitments, and the latter urging a fightback against “defeatism” on the environment. It’s reassuring to see no one breaking character.

The big question from COP is … How was Gavin Williamson not invited to deliver a big speech? Let’s hope he hasn’t been “pussed about” again. More on Gav below.

Timings of the titans: Johnson gets to speak first, with an address at 8.45 a.m. U.K. time at a New York Times event. It should be possible to work out a livestream via this link. Sunak meanwhile is speaking at 4 p.m. U.K. time. His speech should be livestreamed on the official COP website here — but as is often the case with these big global entities, the website is kinda confusing. Let’s hope it appears on news channels if the tech doesn’t pull through. 

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Spreading the Rishis: In his speech, the PM will set out tens of millions of pounds to help fight climate change, including £65 million for green tech innovation and £150 million for protecting rainforests and natural habitats. He will also call on world leaders to meet the promises made at the previous summit in Glasgow, if anyone can remember what those were.

One problem is … we have no clue whether the U.K. is delivering on its big-ticket promise to help poorer nations fight climate change. Ol’ Bozza promised an annual £2.3 billion for developing countries, but the most recent figure on what’s being spent is from 2020 (£1.3 billion) so it’s impossible to know if the target is being hit. Rob Merrick has the story in the Independent, while the Guardian goes big on the global failure to meet climate finance demands. 

To bequeath or not to bequeath: Nevertheless, Sunak will pledge to do the right thing for the world, albeit using language in decline since the 1850s: “By honoring the pledges we made in Glasgow, we can turn our struggle against climate change into a global mission for new jobs and clean growth. And we can bequeath our children a greener planet and a more prosperous future.”

In the other blue corner: Not on his hols for a change, BoJo will warn that the spike in fossil fuel prices in the wake of Russia’s war in Ukraine has created a “corrosive cynicism” about reaching net zero: “We must end the defeatism that has crept in since last year, we must end Putin’s energy blackmail, we must keep up our campaign to end global dependence on hydrocarbons, and if we retain the spirit of creative and promethean optimism that we saw at Paris and Glasgow, then we can keep 1.5 alive.” Never change, Boris.

Social distancing latest: The pair are still not planning to meet, Downing Street confirmed last night. But here’s hoping for an awkward stop-and-chat in a corridor somewhere. In an interview with the Sun’s Natasha Clark in the plane over to Egypt, the PM said he might “bump into” Johnson and insisted: “There is no hatchet to be buried!” A likely story. There’s lots to chat about if the pair do catch up, with I’m a Celeb back on the box and Gavin Williamson no doubt being “f*cked over” for not getting invited to some event or other. 

Guaranteed meetings: Sunak will however be bumping fists with his bezzie French President Emmanuel Macron (who might even be enough of a friend to do a deal on tackling the small boats chaos) and new Italian PM Giorgia Meloni. Sunak will record a clip for broadcasters after the bilats and will jet back to the U.K. tonight. 

Would love to be in the meetings: Shadow Climate Minister Ed Miliband is this morning setting out plans to boost jobs in green industries via “net zero industrial clusters” around the U.K. “There is a global race on for the jobs of the future — and Britain under the Tories is falling behind,” Miliband insisted in comments released overnight. In a variation on the theme, Labour leader Keir Starmer is visiting a university in London to highlight green tech research and will appear in a TV clip this afternoon.

Speaking of Ed: The Mail goes big  on “red Ed” suggesting the U.K. might end up stumping up climate change reparations to developing nations … just as the Tele splashes on the government backing a discussion on the same thing at COP. 

NOW READ THIS: POLITICO’s Ryan Heath gives the COP summit short shrift in this piece. “This is the inconvenient truth: Governments are undermining the Paris climate agreement just seven years after they signed it,” Ryan writes. Gulp. Also for POLITICO, Karl Mathiesen investigates how climate became a new frontline in the culture wars, and Sara Schonhardt lists five tensions that could derail the COP summit. 


NOT ANGRY, JUST DISAPPOINTED: Rishi Sunak issued broadsides against both loutish WhatsApper Gavin Williamson and celeb-wannabe Matt Hancock in his Sun interview with Tash Clark. 

ON GAV: The PM was somewhat muted about the obnoxious and threatening messages William sent to Chief Whip Wendy Morton about not getting a spot at the queen’s funeral (as revealed in the Sunday Times), although he insisted the behavior was “not acceptable.”

Still: Sunak said he stood by his decision to appoint Williamson, who has been sacked from two Cabinet roles in the past and has a reputation in Westminster for being not the nicest bloke in the world. The PM also used the get-out-of-jail-free card of pointing to the supposed CCHQ probe into the matter. “There’s a process happening. It’s right to let that conclude,” he insisted.

Which begs the question If the behavior was not acceptable, what is there to wait for? Sunak is the boss and has the chance to demonstrate a break with the scandal-laden Johnson era when all the wrong ‘uns got forgiven. Yet Williamson (who did not comment when approached last night) remains in post despite admitting to sending the texts. 

The problem for Sunak is … The floodgates might be about to open on Williamson. He seems to have made enough enemies.

Indeed: Ministers Playbook spoke to last night said the messages to Morton were classic Gav. “He believes slander and bullying is part of normal political games,” one said, arguing Williamson wouldn’t have liked seeing a woman in his old chief whip role. Another minister added, witheringly: “Lots of us were upset at not being invited to the funeral but you have to recognize at those moments it’s bigger than you.”

And lo: The Times reports on its front page that, as chief whip in 2016, Williamson made comments about the private life of a female MP while he spoke to her about her criticism of the government. She interpreted the comments as a threat. Allies of Williamson told the paper he raised the matter in the interests of “pastoral” care. 

Integrity latest: Williamson and Morton should kiss and make up to help put factional Conservative wars to bed, fellow MP Harried Baldwin suggested. The candidate to become chair of the treasury select committee told Radio 4’s Westminster Hour last night. “There have been some deep gashes in terms of the parliamentary party over the summer and we need to resolve those, forgive us our trespasses and move on and just deliver that manifesto.”

A better idea: Baldwin also said Sunak should reappoint an ethics adviser, after Johnson spared himself the trouble. 

AND ON HANCOCK: Sunak said he was “disappointed” that the former Cabinet minister chose to appear on the I’m a Celeb game show to eat tarantula balls or whatever it might be, rather than do his job as a local MP. “It’s incumbent on politicians to earn people’s respect and trust,” Sunak told Clark. “They do that by working hard for their constituents, as the vast majority of MPs do. That is why I was very disappointed with Matt’s decision.” The Sun chose that line for its splash. 

The Hancock defense: A spokesperson for Hancock noted the much-anticipated plans to raise awareness about dyslexia on the show, and insisted the MP is still available to dip into constituent matters despite being 10,000 miles across the world and in an opposite time zone to West Suffolk. 

A taste of Nads: Former Cabinet minister and free spirit Nadine Dorries offered a pearl of her wisdom last night in response to the Sun front page. She said she would much rather Sunak “rapped” Williamson for “sending bullying text messages to a female colleague” than take aim at Hancock for going on a TV show, adding: “Bullying is NOT excusable.” Playbook doesn’t remember Dorries taking a stand when Boris Johnson protected Priti Patel over her treatment of officials. But politics is politics, of course.


BAD SANTA: Rishi Sunak vowed to be Santa rather than Scrooge at the upcoming budget … even if it doesn’t sound too plausible. Natasha Clark asked him to choose between the two during her Sun interview en route to COP27. “Santa — my kids wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m very pro Christmas,” Sunak said … in a response that’s somehow a straight answer and a complete dodge at the same time. 

But but but: The Guardian and the i newspaper report this morning that the tax-and-slash package set to be unveiled next week could now amount to £60 billion, including at least £35 billion in cuts. 

Apologies but … the papers are once more teeming with speculation about what could be in the budget. Playbook’s advice is to just wait for the actual thing. But in the interests of public service, Steven Swinford in the Times has the most detailed readout this morning on what could be coming down the track.

HMT SpAd speaks: Unofficial Sunak adviser George Osborne warned the PM last night to keep his mitts off plans for new rail infrastructure in the north. “Abandoning Powerhouse Rail would be a betrayal of the north,” Osborne told the Andrew Neil show on Channel 4. 

Nice little saving scheme: The government is spending almost half the foreign aid budget within Britain, due to a loophole that means it can fund migrant processing and refugee schemes at home. Those costs have rocketed due to the small boats crisis and the war in Ukraine, Lara Spirit and Oliver Wright report in the Times. Don’t forget, the foreign aid budget is already running at 0.5 percent of GDP rather than the usual 0.7 percent.

BLEAK WINTER: New polling released last night for the More in Common campaign group found 75 percent of the public are worried about the cost-of-living crisis (more than double those who said the same 12 months ago), with 40 percent cutting back on Christmas presents ahead of the festive season. Ministers could always attempt to spin a win on having less Chinese-manufactured Christmas landfill.

Bleaker winter: A troubling 17 percent of adults have nothing in savings, according to the government-backed Money and Pensions Service.

Booming winter: FTSE 100 bosses saw average wage rises of 23 percent in 2022 as a result of their massive bonuses. The FT has more.


BIG D ENERGY: Senior women in trade are still waiting for responses from the political parties after their complaint that the Commons trade committee is 100 percent male (not to mention almost all white) went unanswered. “We regret that the current membership of the international trade committee does not reflect the diversity of the topic it sets out to scrutinize,” read the complaint, which was spearheaded by EY trade chief Sally Jones and revealed by POLITICO’s excellent, charming and GSOH U.K. trade team last week. 

Not a sausage from the sausage-fest: The letter went to the whips of the parties on the committee (Conservative, Labour, DUP and SNP) as well as to SNP chair of the panel, Angus MacNeil. But Jones told Playbook she had heard “not a sausage” back since. 

Left on read: MacNeil did acknowledge receipt of the letter in the House of Commons last week, which he said was “calling for more women” to be on the committee. A single one would be a start. 

How this works: Aside from the role of chair, committee memberships are decided via internal elections within the parties. But Playbook refuses to believe the whips have no influence over the outcome — since nothing in politics ever does. That’s the line though … so it will be down to one of the 11 members of the trade committee to resign their seats for any hope of adding a female perspective to the team. 

Bear in mind: Trade liberalization increases women’s wages and economic equality, Jones writes in this blog on the topic. The World Bank reckons developing countries that double their manufacturing exports can see women increase their share of total wages from 24 percent to 30 percent. Worth thinking about, at least. 


HOUSE OF COMMONS: MPs sit from 2.30 p.m. for defense questions. Barring urgent questions or statements (massive hacking from Indian contractors, anyone?), the Commons will then move onto the second reading of he Social Housing (Regulation) Bill, before an adjournment debate on the governance and financial sustainability of football clubs in England.

COMMITTEE CORRIDOR: New HMT perm sec James Bowler is up at the Treasury committee at 4 p.m. to discuss the creation of a U.K. infrastructure bank. Could enterprising MPs get a few in about the Trussonomics debacle? Elsewhere, Housing Minister Felicity Buchan appears before the relevant committee to discuss reform of the private rented sector at 4.30 p.m.

HOUSE OF LORDS: Sits from 2.30 p.m. to see former MP Hugo Swire made a peer. After questions, it’s the second reading of the trade documents bill — a big one for the trade nerds out there (Playbook knows who you are).

DON’T TELL THE CHINESE: Speaking (again) of trade, DIT Minister Greg Hands is heading to Taiwan for talks with Taipei — in a move that will no doubt rile Beijing. Britain and Taiwan will sign a memorandum of understanding about increasing collaboration on tech and innovation, while Hands will encourage Taiwanese leaders to keep making and exporting their all-important semiconductors; the vital chips that have been lacking on the global market. 

As if to soften the blow on Beijing: Bloomberg‘s Kitty Donaldson and Alberto Nardelli report that Sunak won’t go harder on China in the upcoming rewrite of the integrated review of foreign and defense goals, which his predecessor Liz Truss wanted to do.

Also foreign matters: The government is refusing to release a report about the impact of allowing rich Russians to purchase British visas — despite now-Home Office Minister Tom Tugendhat calling for its publication before he took the job. Geraldine Scott has that one in the Times. 

MANSTON LATEST: Home Office insiders hope the migrant population at the crisis-hit Manston processing center will once more reach 1,600 before midnight tonight — which is the normal maximum number the service is meant to house. The population stood at around 1,700 last night, a Whitehall insider told Playbook. 

OWN THE LIBS: Lib Dem leader Ed Davey is on a BBC broadcast round this morning after delivering his big speech to the grassroots at their fall conference. He’s hoping to go big on housing help, after calling for a £300 per month support payment for mortgage-holders. The Lib Dems are peddling new internal polling data this morning showing more than a quarter of owners are worried about losing their homes as a result of interest rate rises — which Davey will dub the “Conservative property penalty.”

Excursion plans: After his media round in Salford, Davey will continue his tour of blue wall seats that the Lib Dems came second in at the last election, including Hazel Grove and Cheadle.

LUCAN PLAY AT THAT GAME: A facial recognition expert reckons he’s found the long lost Lord Lucan in Australia. It makes the Mirror splash. 

PLASTIC NOT FANTASTIC: MPs on the environment committee this morning call on the U.K. to ban the export of plastic waste by 2027 amid concerns over Britain’s contribution to “irreversible and shocking” environmental and human health impacts.

(OWN) GOAL! MPs are allowed to attend the World Cup in human-rights-basket-case Qatar this November but PM Rishi Sunak is steering clear, the government confirmed. 

HUME GAME: An official portrait of the late former MP David Hume will be unveiled in parliament later. It will hang in Portcullis House. But how did Hume come to be chosen over Gavin Williamson? Very poor and sends a very clear message, as Gav would put it.

BIGGEST THRILL OF THE DAY: The latest EU-U.K. Parliamentary Partnership Assembly is taking place in London. For the one or two readers who don’t know, that’s the group of MPs and MEPs who meet once every six months and is absolutely, definitely not a talking shop. Expect a press briefing in Portcullis House.

Guest speakers: New Europe Minister Leo Docherty is due to address the meeting, as is European Commission Vice President Maroš Šefčovič. In comments released overnight, Docherty said despite challenges over Brexit, “the U.K. and EU are effective allies where it matters most” — i.e. in standing up to Vladimir Putin over Ukraine.

SPEAKING OF UKRAINE: The threatening language from the Kremlin is forcing Ukrainians to prepare for nuclear escalation, Sergei Kuznetsov reports from Kyiv for POLITICO.

THE RUSSIAN GAS HABIT EUROPE CAN’T QUIT: European leaders have boasted about cutting their reliance on Russian gas since Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine — but as POLITICO’s Charlie Cooper reports, EU liquefied natural gas imports from Russia have actually increased by 46 percent this year.

NOT NOW, BIRD FLU: New rules come into force across England this morning so that poultry and captive birds must be kept inside to prevent bird flu spreading further than it has.

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Business Secretary Grant Shapps broadcast round: Sky News (7.05 a.m.) … BBC Breakfast (7.20 a.m.) … Times Radio (7.35 a.m.) … LBC (8.20 a.m.) … Today program (8.40 a.m.).

Shadow International Trade Secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds broadcast round: Times Radio (7.45 a.m.) … Sky News (8.05 a.m.) … LBC (8.20 a.m.) … Bauer Media clip recording (8.30 a.m.) … TalkTV (8.50 a.m.) … GB News (9.05 a.m.) … ITN clip recording (9.20 a.m.).

Lib Dem leader Ed Davey BBC broadcast round from Salford: BBC Breakfast (7.12 a.m.) … BBC Radio Manchester (7.40 a.m.) … BBC Radio London (8.20 a.m.) … BBC Radio 5 Live (8.40 a.m.).

Also on the Today program: Executive Secretary of the United Nations Climate Change Secretariat Simon Stiell (8.10 a.m.).

Also on Sky News: Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon (7.30 a.m.) … Former Lib Dem MP Lembit Öpik (8.30 a.m.) … Ukrainian Ambassador Vadym Prystaiko (9.20 a.m.). 

Also on Times Radio Breakfast: British Chambers of Commerce boss Shevaun Haviland (7.05 a.m.) … Jamaica Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett (7.30 a.m.) … U.K. Chief Vet Christine Middlemiss (9.05 a.m.) … Former COP spokesperson Allegra Stratton (9.35 a.m.).

Nick Ferrari at Breakfast (LBC): Baroness Shami Chakrabarti (7.05 a.m.).

Julia Hartley-Brewer Breakfast Show (TalkRadio): Former Brexit Party MEP Ben Habib (8.20 a.m.).

Cross Question with Iain Dale (LBC, 8 p.m.): Conservative MP Caroline Dinenage … Shadow Leader of the Commons Thangam Debbonaire … Former Tony Blair adviser John McTernan … The Sun’s Noa Hoffman

PoliticsLive (BBC2 12.25 p.m.): Conservative MP Tom Hunt … Shadow Justice Secretary Steve Reed … i newspaper Policy Editor Jane Merrick … Former Conservative SpAd Salma Shah

Reviewing the papers tonight: With Carole Walker on Times Radio from 10.30 p.m. are former Downing Street comms director Jonathan Haslam and journalist Emma Woolf.

**A GUIDE TO THE U.S. MIDTERM ELECTION: The United States is entering a crucial midterm election that may provide a glimpse into what is to come in the 2024 presidential election. Subscribe to POLITICO Playbook, the only daily newsletter you need to keep up with the most important campaign news in the U.S. and the election results’ global impact. Know what the insiders know, read Playbook. SUBSCRIBE TODAY.**


(Click on the publication’s name to see its front page.)

Daily Express: Keeping Triple Lock Is ‘Matter Of Tory Principle.

Daily Mail: Red Ed: UK Must Pay Climate Change Damages.

Daily Mirror: Pic of Aussie OAP EXACT match for Lucan.

Daily Star: Coco’s Pants On Fire.

Financial Times: US works up plan for companies to fund emerging nations’ fossil fuel switch.

HuffPost UK: The financial trauma of IVF.

i: Biggest-ever nurses strike ‘would hit A&E patients.’

Metro: Bonfire Night Of Mayhem.

PoliticsHome: Rishi Sunak Stands By Gavin Williamson Despite Investigation Into Abusive Messages.

POLITICO UK: What election? EU sleepwalks into US midterms.

The Daily Telegraph: Britain opens door to climate reparations.

The Guardian: Revealed: UK and US failing to pay ‘fair share’ of $100bn climate fund.

The Independent: World still on course for 1.5C target, insists Sunak.

The Sun: Rishi Raps Celeb Hancock.

The Times: Billions more spent in UK will count as foreign aid.

**On November 9 at 4 PM CET, join our expert reporters in a POLITICO Pro Transatlantic Briefing Call as they decipher what the mid-term results mean for US allies. Our experts will walk you through on how a power shift could redefine the transatlantic relationship. This Pro Briefing Call is exclusively open for everyone to join. Register here.**


WESTMINSTER WEATHER: 🌧🌧🌧 Quite shite. Rain with the odd attempt at sun. Highs of 15C though, so not all bad.

NEW GIG: Former top HMT press officer Elin James Jones starts this morning as head of communications for NatWest Chief Exec Alison Rose. 

INVITE FOR TORIES: The New Social Covenant Unit — a pressure group about families, communities and the nation ¯_(ツ)_/¯ that MPs Danny Kruger and Miriam Cates have launched — invites Conservative MP to hear author Yoram Hazony give a talk about conservatism at 6.30 p.m. in committee room seven. Playbook is assured that Gavin Williamson is more than welcome to join.

BIRTHDAYS: Kettering MP Philip Hollobone … North Wiltshire MP James Gray … Stoke-on-Trent South MP Jo Gideon … Shadow Universities Minister Matt Western … BBC Deputy Political Editor Vicki Young … Crossbench peer and former Trade Minister Stephen Green … ITV Africa correspondent Penny Marshall … New Statesman columnist and former editor Peter Wilby.

Celebrated over the weekend: BEIS Director of Comms Abigail Morris had her birthday on Saturday. 

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Emilio Casalicchio

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