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By EMILIO CASALICCHIO
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WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING: Donald Trump used a weird press conference at Mar-a-Lago to confirm he’s running again for the White House. After walking out to a tune from Les Misérables, the former president declared that “America’s comeback starts right now.” A 20-minute ramble later, Trump finally confirmed what we all expected. Here’s POLITICO’s write-up.
Good Wednesday morning. This is Emilio Casalicchio, with Eleni Courea sending in dispatches from Bali.
DRIVING THE DAY
WELCOME TO BIG SCHOOL: Rishi Sunak will face the Indian prime minister and the traveling press pack this morning after overnight crisis meetings triggered by a fatal explosion in Poland caused by a suspected Russian-produced missile, now thought to potentially have gone astray after being fired at by Ukrainian forces. The PM’s highly anticipated bilat with China’s President Xi Jinping, meanwhile, isn’t going ahead.
What we know so far: It’s still not quite clear where the missile that struck Poland a few miles from the Ukrainian border came from — at first fingers were pointed at Russia, but overnight, U.S. officials told AP that initial findings suggested it had actually been fired by Ukrainian forces at an incoming Russian missile. Bellingcat’s Eliot Higgins noted that from pictures of the debris it looked like it had been an air defense missile, potentially of the S-300 type that Ukraine has. Sunak and his G20 allies in Bali are in the thick of the efforts to find out and agree a response. POLITICO has the latest here.
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What the coming hours look like for Rishi: The Russian missile that made a surprise appearance on Polish soil has left Sunak’s schedule subject to change. But at the moment the PM’s plan looks like … a press conference with the traveling hacks at about 8.30 a.m. … bilats with Indian PM Narendra, Australian PM Anthony Albanese and Indonesian President Joko Widodo … before heading out on the trip home.
Xi bilat canned: A spokesman for the PM said the meeting with China’s Xi — billed as the first of its kind in nearly five years — was no longer happening because of the movements to schedules caused by the missile strike in Poland. No. 10 wouldn’t be drawn on the question of which side pulled out of the meeting, which two sources tell Eleni had originally been requested by Downing Street.
Instead: Sunak and Canadian PM Justin Trudeau will be holding a conference call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy today after speaking to Kyiv’s foreign minister this morning. Sunak and Trudeau met in Bali earlier today and made short statements to the press.
A few minutes ago … Sunak’s spokesman said there was “need for more investigation” to “establish the facts” before any conclusions could be drawn about the origins of the missile. “None of that changes what we know has happened, which is a substantial missile attack into Ukraine from Russia targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure,” he said.
Pathetic fallacy: A couple of hours ago, while the PM was making his way from bilateral meetings to record a round of interviews with broadcasters, the skies over the luxury Balinese resort where he has been staying — which had been clear blue earlier that morning — clouded over and opened in torrential rain, Eleni reports.
While you were sleeping: Sunak attended an emergency summit convened by U.S. President Joe Biden with a select group of G20 leaders about the incident in Poland (pic here and resulting G7 statement here) … visited what looks to be an amazing wooden walking route through rather a wet forest … held a bilateral meeting with Biden … attended a meeting about digital transformation … and attended the G20 closing event.
Oh, and … Sunak also spoke to Polish President Andrzej Duda on the phone to show support and offer to help work out what happened.
RISHI AND JOE: Sunak and Biden held their bilat in an open-air room under cover of a thatched roof and surrounded by a fishpond and tropical plants. At the top of the meeting, Sunak told the U.S. president: “It’s a great honor to have the opportunity to sit down with you. I think the partnership between our countries is unique and enduring. And of course, it’s bigger than any two individuals. I’m proud to have stewardship of it at the moment.” Both Sunak and Biden called Russia’s invasion of Ukraine “barbaric.”
No. 10 readout: A spokesman for the PM said “the Prime Minister and President Biden both agreed on the importance of sustained engagement in the Indo-Pacific region and pointed to the AUKUS pact as an example of that. The Prime Minister outlined the UK’s Indo-Pacific priorities, including joining the CPTPP trade bloc. The leaders looked forward to working together to take forward cooperation between the UK and the US on areas including trade, defence and upholding the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement.” The two leaders spoke for about 40 minutes, according to No. 10.
WHAT WE KNOW ABOUT THE MISSILES: The picture is still taking shape. On Tuesday explosions in Przewodów, a village near the border between Poland and Ukraine, killed two people, with Poland stating that a “Russian-produced” missile was to blame. There’s footage of the blasts which has been geolocated, visible in this helpful Twitter thread. It happened as Russia launched a huge missile attack on Ukraine, damaging infrastructure and impacting the electrics in neighboring Moldova. The Polish government sent out investigators to the area and summoned the Russian ambassador. Russia denied shooting a missile into Poland and said on Telegram that the claims were a “deliberate provocation to escalate the situation.” The incident splashed most U.K. newspapers.
WHAT NATO ALLIES SAY: German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said a full investigation of what happened with the missile is necessary, POLITICO’s Stuart Lau writes in to report from Bali. Speaking about his meeting with Biden and the other G7 and NATO allies on the sidelines of the G20, Scholz said: “It is important that everyone now does together what is now necessary, namely: to carefully clarify and to make sure that it is made clear that these unchanged aggressions against Ukraine and this terrible, brutal warfare must be stopped.”
Ankara urges deescalation: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who did not attend Biden’s emergency meeting despite also being in Bali for the G20, insisted “I need to respect the declaration made by Russia which stated that this incident has nothing to do with them.” Erdoğan said he would talk to Russian President Vladimir Putin as soon as he returned home from Indonesia, and would “try to convene Russia and Ukraine on the negotiating table.”
Erdoğan said: “I don’t think we should insist that this missile is launched from Russia — I think this would be an escalation.” He also added that he had had a bilateral meeting with Scholz, and claimed the Germans had received information that the missile strike was “maybe … a technical mistake.”
Jaw-dropper: Asked why he didn’t show up to the Biden-led mini-NATO meeting, Erdoğan turned curt: “We are not obliged to attend unimportant meetings.”
Worth following: Poland-watching journo in London Jakub Krupa was tweeting all the verified information he could get his hands on last night in this thread.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT: Poland has called a meeting of NATO ambassadors today, after Duda spoke with the alliance’s boss Jens Stoltenberg last night.
Chalmed, I’m sure: Malcolm Chalmers, the deputy director general at the Royal United Services Institute, told Playbook last night that if NATO nations do conclude the missile was a direct hit from Russia, the alliance will have difficult decisions to make. “Even if it was accidental, the Russians will draw lessons from the nature of the response,” he explained. “The dilemma NATO leaders will have is that no response whatsoever might be seen as sending a signal to Russia that they can take further such action without response. But making a response raises the risk of escalation.”
Options, options: Aside from (gulp) “kinetic action,” Chalmers said NATO could go with diplomatic protestations or break precedent in its support to Ukraine — for example giving some kind of military assistance it has so far refused to offer.
TALKING TO INDIA: Home Sec Suella Braverman might want to plug her ears for a bit while Sunak and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi shake on a migration deal as part of their face-to-face meeting. It will see up to 3,000 visas granted to degree-educated Indian nationals between 18 and 30 to work in the U.K. for up to 24 months and vice versa. Suella will be making sure they do in fact return home once their visas run out. Eleni has a write-up of that.
AND THEN, THE AUSSIES: The Sunak meeting with Albanese could be an awks one after former minister George Eustice urinated all over the trade deal London struck with Canberra, and after POLITICO revealed Sunak appears to be in tacit agreement with Eustice, seeing as he plans to go slower on future trade deals rather than rush into things like his predecessors did.
Oh, and there’s more: The big CPTPP trade pact the U.K. hopes to join (and which the Aussies are part of) could inflict another crushing blow to Britain’s food and farming industries, according to internal government data seen by my POLITICO colleague Graham Lanktree. The government analysis predicts joining the trade bloc could wipe hundreds of millions off the value of Britain’s semi-processed food and agriculture sectors when new members join the pact. But tobacco, booze and cars are expected to do well out of the deal, so that’s all good then.
Perfect fodder for … the press conference Sunak should be delivering in about an hour and a half.
TAKING THE FALL: Just one more sleep to go until the Autumn Statement, meaning readers will be free from endless newspaper briefings about what will be in it. This morning, the Mail’s Jason Groves reports that tax-free allowances for ISAs and other savings products will remain frozen, while the Telegraph is expecting measures to help the long-term sick back into work in a bid to ease inflation.
ROW-A-BREWING: In the Times, Steven Swinford reports that the Conservative backlash has begun over plans to allow councils to impose big hikes on local taxes.
DON’T LOOK NOW: U.K. inflation rose to a 40-year high of 11.1 percent in October, according to figures that came out in the past few moments. The latest rent stats and house price stats are due at 9.30 a.m.
GET WIND OF THIS: Climate campaigners will be watching the budget for any new signals about Sunak’s net zero credentials, after his wobble over attending COP27, my POLITICO colleague Charlie Cooper reports. Among their most pressing concerns is Sunak’s decision to keep in place an effective ban on onshore wind which Liz Truss (briefly) had been set to lift. But new polling, shared with Charlie by the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU), suggests Sunak might not be in step with the electorate on this one, seeing as 77 percent of respondents would support the construction of a new wind farm in their area.
Where the wind blows: But despite public support, two-thirds of Sunak’s MPs believe wind farms would be opposed by their constituents, according to a separate YouGov survey, also commissioned by the ECIU. Former Communities Secretary Simon Clarke said the new polling showed onshore wind was more popular with voters than many realize.
PLAYBOOK’S ANDREW MCDONALD WATCHES HANCOCK SO YOU DON’T HAVE TO: Matt Hancock gets to cotch in his red chair for another 24 hours in the I’m A Celeb camp after dodging another gruesome trial. On last night’s episode, the unwhippable MP appeared to be enjoying life in the jungle — bragging about his excellent sleep in the leadership RV, taking part in a dance class and perfecting his catwalk. Where’s all the kangaroo penis we were promised?
Missing Matt: His stock could even be growing among the campmates, after his Bushtucker Trial stand-ins Boy George, Chris Moyles and Babatúndé Aléshé managed a pathetic three stars out of 11 in their challenge — far fewer than our Matt has been bringing home. The resulting meal of a few crocodile feet (with toenails) didn’t look particularly appealing. The dinner could get even worse tonight, seeing as the snake-charming MP won’t be taking part in the so-called Boiling Point trial.
NEWSLINE ALERT: During a grilling from Loose Women’s Charlene White, Hancock revealed that he privately encouraged Boris Johnson to endorse Rishi Sunak during the latest leadership contest. He said he texted the former PM: “You know, I think you’re wonderful but it’s not your time. The best thing for the country is that you should back Rishi.” The Indy has a write-up. Shame Sunak hasn’t shown is gratitude … or even watched Hancock once during his jungle adventure.
Number of dyslexia mentions: One.
Nah just kidding: Still zero.
Number of planes flying overhead calling for Hancock to leave the jungle: Err, one — thanks to the COVID Bereaved Families for Justice campaign. A spokesman for Hancock said the MP “continues to support the COVID inquiry.”
Also not impressed is … Parliamentary Standards Commissioner Kathryn Stone, who told MPs she had received dozens of complaints about Hancock going on the show. One member of the public wrote to her that Hancock was “waiting for a buffet of animal genitalia” while veterans observed remembrance Sunday. The things people do for dyslexia, eh.
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TODAY IN WESTMINSTER
BRACE FOR THE NON-DOM GAGS: It’s another battle of the deputies this afternoon as under-fire Justice Secretary Dominic Raab faces Labour’s Angela Rayner for PMQs. Raab is expected to defend himself against the ever-growing allegations about his aggressive behavior toward colleagues. An insider told the Mail’s Jason Groves the Cabinet minister will “robustly” defend himself and accused civil servants raising complaints of “sour grapes.” Another pal of the DPM told the Times: “Perhaps some civil servants had been allowed to become lazy under previous ministers and weren’t used to Dom wanting results.” Feels like this isn’t helping.
It goes Dom and Dom: Civil Service World hacks Jess Bowie and Beckie Smith have spoken to a former senior MoJ official who said Raab has a habit of “intimidating and belittling civil servants.” Others said Raab created a “culture of fear” during his previous stint at the department and would shut down senior officials in meetings. “He was known as a bully in the department,” the former official said. Some said his recent announcement of a zero-tolerance attitude to bullying felt like “gaslighting.” A spokesperson for Raab denied all this, of course.
Nevertheless: MoJ officials have decided that Raab needs a senior civil servant in the room to supervise his meetings, the Guardian’s Pippa Crerar reveals.
BROKEN BRITAIN LATEST: There’s a good chance of a ministerial statement from housing sec Michael Gove this afternoon on the ruling that toddler Awaab Ishak died after being exposed to mold in his housing association home. In a TV clip last night, Gove said the case had “shone a light on what needs to change” and insisted new legislation will ensure housing associations are held to account. He insisted the blame cannot be put on the Conservative government for slashing council funding since 2010.
The thing is: People have been living in disgusting mold-infested council or housing association homes for decades all over the U.K. and their repeated complaints are forever ignored. Top campaigner Kwajo Tweneboa raised the profile of the issue over the past 12 months with videos like this one, while ITV has also been pressing the case. But still councils tend to ignore residents for as long as possible — which in some cases means forever.
Now read this: Last August, Stephen Topping of the Manchester Evening News went to the estate Awaab Ishak lived on — after the toddler died — and found an unforgivable state of affairs in numerous other flats too.
HEALTH OF THE NATION: Health Secretary Steve Barclay will address the NHS Providers conference just after 9 a.m. this morning. Look out for comments on NHS strikes. The government brief overnight is that he will promise more 999 workers to help deal with the winter “storm.”
Pre-speech reading for Steve: A nurse working in the Midlands has written up an example shift for the Times. “Would I want my family member treated like this? No,” the nurse writes. “I feel I have failed before I’ve even had chance to get my scrubs on.”
Salt in the wound: Nurses, paramedics and midwives face real wage cut of more than £1,500 if the government imposes 2 percent public sector wage rises, according to new number crunching from the TUC out this morning.
WORLDS COLLIDE: Culture Secretary Michelle Donelan will address a [checks notes] wrestling conference this morning (10.15 a.m.) in Portcullis House. The former WWE employee is the star speaker at the Atlee Suite event hosted by the APPG on wrestling. “I happen to have spent a lot of time in the world of wrestling myself before getting into politics, and actually, the two are not that dissimilar,” the Cabinet minister will quip. “The big personalities, the grappling, the constantly trying to throw the opposition off balance …” Donelan worked in marketing and comms for WWE, with big names like John Cena, Sheamus, Wade Barrett, Randy Orton and The Miz. Eeeeeeeeuuuuurghh, What a Rush!
LABOUR LAND: Labour is holding an event at Bloomberg tonight for some extended hobnobbing with corporate leaders. A shadow Cabinet minister said it was about proving Labour wants to be “friends” with the City. Keir Starmer, Angela Rayner, Rachel Reeves, Ed Miliband and Yvette Cooper are all expected to attend.
NEW PROBE: The international development committee announces this morning that it will investigate whether spending aid cash on refugees in the U.K. is a good idea.
HAPPENING TODAY: Higher Education Minister Robert Halfon is given a speech at a Times Higher Education event at 10 a.m. at the Hilton London.
CAUGHT IN THE MET: London Mayor Sadiq Khan will answer questions at the London police and crime committee from 10 a.m. about his sacking of Met chief Cressida Dick, after a review found he committed an “abuse of the power conferred upon him” over the incident. Watch the session here.
MUNI MUNI MUNI: Former Boris Johnson aide Munira Mirza speaks at an LSE event tonight titled “abolishing the political class.” The event, which will consider the work of thinkers through the ages, runs from 6.30 p.m. to 8 p.m. More details here.
CONSTITUTIONAL REFORM KLAXON: Former senior mandarin Philip Rycroft has a new paper out for the IfG proposing constitutional changes such as requiring a two-thirds majority in the Commons to repeal constitutional law.
HOUSE OF COMMONS: Sits from 11.30 a.m. with Scotland Office questions, followed by PMQs. After any UQs, statements and a ten minute rule bill on protecting teenagers from Labour’s Alex Norris, MPs will debate the National Security Bill.
On the national security bill: A number of Conservative MPs are looking to amend it over concerns that it could contain loopholes and could damage civil liberties. There’s also an amendment, which has won support from three members of the intelligence and security committee, to introduce a public interest defense allowing civil servants to expose wrongdoing without going to jail.
Last Commons note: The Lib Dems will present a bill to parliament after PMQs aimed at forcing a vote on the Australia and New Zealand trade deals. Good luck, as they say, with that.
COMMITTEE CORRIDOR: The NI affairs committee has an interesting-sounding session on religious demographic changes in Northern Ireland with academics (9.30 a.m.) … Employment support charities and groups representing disabled workers will give evidence on the government’s Plan for Jobs at the DWP committee (9.30 a.m.) … The Lords environment committee will question the Office for Environmental Protection Chair Glenys Stacey and CEO Natalie Prosser (10 a.m.) … Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey faces a grilling at the Treasury committee (2.15 p.m.) … The women and equalities committee will hear from former footballer Fern Whelan on inequality in football (2.30 p.m.) … and the joint committee on human rights will be looking at the rights of asylum seekers in the U.K. with Chief Inspector of Prisons Charlie Taylor among the guests (3 p.m.). Full list here.
HOUSE OF LORDS: Sits from 3 p.m. with questions on Russia’s influence in Georgia, anti-depressants and the spread of avian flu before peers scrutinize the Public Order Bill at committee stage.
On the public order bill: Labour is putting forward an amendment to ensure police forces know not to arrest journalists doing their jobs — as happened on the M25 last week. Amendment sponsor Vernon Coaker is on LBC (whose journo Charlotte Lynch was arrested) at 8.50 a.m. to discuss it.
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Kay Burley: Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Jonathan Ashworth (8.20 a.m.) … Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavský (9.30 a.m.).
Nick Ferrari at Breakfast (LBC): Former Republican Congressman Joe Walsh (7.20 a.m.) … Labour peer Vernon Coaker (8.50 a.m.).
TalkTV Breakfast: Former U.K. Ambassador to Russia Roderic Lyme (8.05 a.m.) … Labour MP Tony Lloyd (8.20 a.m.)
Times Radio breakfast: Former Deputy Secretary of Defense for Europe and NATO Jim Townsend (7.05 a.m.) … MEP Riho Terras, a former commander of the Estonian defense forces (7.35 a.m.) … Jonathan Ashworth (7.45 a.m.) … Former Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind (8.05 a.m.) … Alina Frolova, former deputy minister of defense in Ukraine (8.15 a.m.) … Clare Gerada, South London GP and president of the Royal College of GPs (8.20 a.m.).
GB News breakfast: Jonathan Ashworth (9 a.m.).
Nicky Campbell (Radio 5 Live 10 a.m.): Tory MP Angela Richardson, Shadow Commons Leader Thangam Debbonaire and Lib Dem MP Richard Foord.
Politics Live (BBC Two 11.15 a.m.): Tory MP Mark Garnier … Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar … Novara’s Ash Sarkar … Former Tory SpAd Anita Boateng … Shadow Education Secretary Bridget Phillipson.
Cross Question with Iain Dale (LBC 8 p.m.): Tory MP Ben Bradley … Greens co-leader Carla Denyer … FDA General Secretary Dave Penman … Former government LGBT adviser Jayne Ozanne.
Peston (Twitter 9.30 p.m. and ITV 11.15 p.m.): Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg … Shadow Treasury Minister Tulip Siddiq … TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady … Resolution Foundation chief Torsten Bell … Comedian David Baddiel.
Reviewing the papers tonight: Sky News (10.30 and 11.30 p.m.): The Mirror’s Kevin Maguire and Mail columnist Sarah Vine … talkTV (10.20 p.m.): Labour MP Carolyn Harris and the Sun’s Harry Cole.
TODAY’S FRONT PAGES
(Click on the publication’s name to see its front page.)
Daily Express: Tragic death of boy from mould shames Britain.
Daily Mail: Universities are told to ‘decolonise’ maths and computing.
Daily Mirror: Russian bombs hit Poland.
Daily Star: Humpy grumpy.
Financial Times: Sunak urges bosses to curb their pay and look after staff.
HuffPostUK: Is Ukraine war about to escalate?
i: Putin’s war spills into Poland.
Metro: ‘Russian missiles’ hit Poland.
PoliticsHome: Dominic Raab created a ‘culture of fear’ by belittling’ civil servants, sources say.
POLITICO UK: NATO to hold crisis talks after ‘Russian-made’ missile hits Poland.
The Daily Telegraph: Russian missile strikes Poland.
The Guardian: Russian barrage strikes Ukraine amid claims missiles hit Poland.
The Independent: Russia accused of missile strike on NATO country.
The Sun: I keep our baby Angel’s ashes, I talk to him all the time.
The Times: Russians blamed for fatal strike on Poland.
WESTMINSTER WEATHER: ☁️☁️☁️
FRIENDLY REMINDER FOR THE LADS: Those attending posh gentlemen’s clubs must wear the right shoes or risk not being allowed to enter, as ITV Political Editor Robert Peston almost found out before a member of staff rescued him.
NEW OLD GIG: Playbook hears former Downing Street SpAd Myles Stacey is back in No. 10 working on external affairs and outreach.
AU REVOIR: EU Ambassador João Vale de Almeida has waved goodbye to the U.K. after two and a half years here as Brussels’ first ever diplomat in the role. Here’s his goodbye tweet.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Labour peer and fundraiser Waheed Alli … Tory peer Giles Coschen … Lib Dem staffer Rebecca Grubb.
PLAYBOOK COULDN’T HAPPEN WITHOUT: My editor Zoya Sheftalovich, reporter Andrew McDonald and producer Grace Stranger.
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