Migration moment — This Morning with Rishi — Price cap slashed – POLITICO

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Good Thursday morning. This is Eleni Courea.

JUST IN: Ofgem has slashed the price cap on energy bills by £1,206 to £2,074 from July — offering some respite to U.K. households struggling with soaring costs in the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

That said: MoneySavingExpert Martin Lewis said last weekend that households wouldn’t feel “any real benefit” with bills remaining way higher than they were before Russia began restricting gas supplies to Europe. Meanwhile, gilt yields have soared to levels not seen since then-PM Liz Truss’ disastrous mini-budget, in response to higher-than-expected inflation figures.


THE MOMENT IS HERE: At 9.30 a.m. today the Office for National Statistics will publish the U.K.’s net migration figures for 2022.

Playbook readers will know … that these stats, due to show a significant surge in legal migration, have been feverishly anticipated for weeks by Tory MPs, ministers and advisers fearful of a voter backlash.

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On top of that: Home Office figures today will show the number of work and study visas hit a new record of almost a million in the first quarter of 2023, the Times and Daily Mail report — demonstrating that high levels of net migration continued into this year.

Grasping the nettle: PM Rishi Sunak is lined up to appear on ITV’s This Morning after the ONS figures are out. It’s an interesting choice of program given Sunak has performed well against tough inquisitors like Andrew Neil but is relatively untested at softer formats that can throw up unexpectedly uncomfortable questions.

It’s also interesting … given This Morning is reeling from the dramatic fall-out between one-time dream team Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby. According to MailOnline today’s show will be presented by Alison Hammond and Craig Doyle (himself a stand-in to the stand-in for Dermot O’Leary, who’s getting a lie-in after turning 50 on Wednesday). There’s a joke about the PM being used to unhappy work environments in there somewhere.

Speaking of unhappy work environments: Home Secretary Suella Braverman has no planned media appearances and will spend today in internal meetings. Naturally this has raised eyebrows among Tory MPs.

ICYMI: Braverman is safe in her job for now, after the PM exonerated her without an inquiry into claims she sought special treatment on a speeding awareness course. A cynic might say keeping Braverman helps mollify the Tory right at a difficult time and keeps a useful lightning rod on immigration.

Beyond cynicism: A Cabinet colleague of Braverman’s describes her as “Rishi’s resident sh*t sponge” to the Telegraph’s Camilla Tominey. The Times’ Sean O’Neill has a good profile of Braverman tracing her political ascent. A Whitehall source tells him that “when Rishi reappointed her as home secretary [i]t was like Fatal Attraction when Glenn Close rises up out of the bath at the end — nobody could believe it, nobody could believe she was back.”

No update yet … on the future of Braverman’s SpAd who flatly denied the speeding story to the Mirror’s John Stevens.

ALL THAT SAID: The PM’s allies insist that claims of Tory parliamentary party volatility are greatly exaggerated, after last night’s Commons votes to strip out Lords amendments to the Retained EU Law Bill sailed through with no government rebels. A Tory official said that leading Brexiteer rebels approached the whips on Thursday night to thank them for their work.

ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE COMMONS: Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper will record a pool clip responding to the ONS figures at 11 a.m. and Shadow Immigration Minister Stephen Kinnock is touring morning broadcast studios to promote Labour’s pledge to bar employers from recruiting foreign workers unless they pay them the going industry rate, which gets decent pick-up in today’s papers.

Twisting the knife: Kinnock has an op-ed in Tory bible the Telegraph promoting the policy — while Nigel Farage tells the paper’s Planet Normal podcast that Labour now has the “upper hand” on migration.


IN ANTICIPATION OF TODAY … Ministers have sought to get on the front foot by announcing steps to restrict international students’ ability to bring family members to the U.K. Downing Street insists it’s relaxed about today’s figures, having already set out how it intends to bring legal migration levels down.

Also worth noting: No. 10 expects the ONS figures will include more than 100,000 Ukrainian refugees and Hongkongers arriving under government schemes.

Tell that to … the Common Sense Conservatives group of Tory MPs chaired by John Hayes, who will demand a meeting with Sunak to tell him he’s not doing enough on this issue, according to the Express’ David Maddox.

Why MPs are worried: The Brexit vote was in a large part about controlling immigration — so some Tories are fearful that Leave voters will be up in arms over the fact that since Brexit, legal migration has only increased. One Tory MP told Playbook: “The anger will become clear when we’re knocking on doors in our constituencies this weekend.”

Notably: At 9.30 a.m. the ONS will also publish a report of alternative ways of counting net migration amid calls in some quarters for students to be excluded from the figures.

NOW READ THIS: In her piece today, my colleague Esther Webber speaks to people from across the conservative spectrum who are worried that years of saying one thing and doing another have left the party with a credibility gap. “We pretend that ‘take back control’ is something completely abstract,” warns Rachel Wolf of PublicFirst, an author of the 2019 Tory manifesto, “but a huge part of it was about taking back control of immigration. That’s what a lot of people voted for.” 

WHAT TO EXPECT: There will be lots of discussion on what further steps the government might take to bring legal migration levels down. The Mail’s David Barrett reports Home Office ministers may look to limit foreign graduates to six months’ of work in the U.K. … while Justice Secretary Alex Chalk told the Sun and the Times that former prisoners can plug labor shortages and reduce the need for foreign workers.

While we’re on that: The Telegraph splashes on benefits and has an op-ed from former Tory Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan-Smith saying ministers should incentivize people on long-term sickness benefits to return to work — and end reliance on cheap foreign labor.

DON’T FORGET SMALL BOATS: Sunak views solving illegal migration as key to winning this argument, Katy Balls writes in her Spectator column. She writes that the Court of Appeal’s verdict on the lawfulness of Rwanda deportations is expected in the coming weeks but that even in the earliest scenario flights wouldn’t start taking off until September.

Ironically: Balls reports ministers are considering asking European judges in Strasbourg to overrule the U.K. Supreme Court if it ultimately strikes down the Rwanda scheme.

LOOK AWAY NOW: If none of the above works, the Tories could pledge another Europe referendum — this time on U.K. membership of the European Convention on Human Rights, Balls writes. A figure close to Sunak suggests to her that the PM could even campaign to leave the ECHR, “casting it as a point of high principle, democracy and sovereignty.”

THIRTEEN YEARS OF TORY TARGETS: Playbook’s ace reporter Noah Keate has dug into the history of unmet Tory net migration targets, starting with David Cameron’s now-infamous pledge to “take net migration back to the levels of the 1990s — tens of thousands a year, not hundreds of thousands” in the 2010 Tory manifesto … a promise that was repeated virtually word-for-word in the 2015 manifesto … and was backed by Theresa May, who pledged to “reduce and control immigration” in her 2017 manifesto and reiterated that “sustainable net migration is in the tens of thousands” line. Despite Brexit, the government never got anywhere near to meeting that ambition.

Enter Boris: The “tens of thousands” promise was finally ditched by Boris Johnson, who instead pledged in his 2019 election manifesto that there would be “fewer lower-skilled migrants and overall numbers will come down” from the 245,000 level they were at. Liz Truss didn’t get round to setting her own target during her brief time as PM.

Fast forward to now: Rishi Sunak pledged last week to bring net migration down below the level he inherited — which was 504,000 in the year to June 2022.

At a glance: The word immigration appeared three times in the 2010 Tory manifesto … a whopping 28 times in the 2015 manifesto … 16 times in the post-Brexit referendum 2017 manifesto … and 11 times in the 2019 manifesto, per Noah’s count.

WONK WATCH: U.K. in a Changing Europe is running a Twitter space from 2 p.m. with a panel of experts reacting to the ONS stats … and the Institute of Government has a report arguing Sunak should be ready to break the “crisis-prone” Home Office into separate departments with responsibility for migration and policing.


PANDEMIC PROBLEMS: The COVID inquiry is turning into a massive headache for the government, which must now respond to a legal notice from its chair, Heather Hallett, demanding unredacted versions of Boris Johnson’s WhatsApp messages and diaries dating from the pandemic.

Catch-22 (again): Refusing the request carries the prospect of criminal sanctions … while acceding to it would lead to the publication of quite a lot of sensitive government material and could spark fresh claims from Johnson’s allies of a vendetta against him. The Times reports officials are hoping to broker a compromise with Hallett before her deadline of next Tuesday — but aren’t ruling out a judicial review of her demands.

It comes after … Johnson’s furious accusations of a witch-hunt after the Cabinet Office referred potentially lockdown-breaking events in his ministerial diary to the police. Since the Times story broke, multiple papers including the Telegraph and Guardian have reported that the events in question concern gatherings in No. 10 and not just Chequers.

Today’s briefing war: The Mail’s Jason Groves has seen a letter sent to Johnson by the Commons privileges committee saying there had been “an assessment by Government Legal Department as to events/activities which could reasonably be considered to constitute breaches of Covid Regulations.” A “friend of Mr Johnson” accused the Cabinet Office of having “lied on the record” — a claim it denied, saying it was the Government Legal Department that carried out the assessment.

June verdict: The Guardian’s Aubrey Allegretti reports the privileges committee met on Wednesday and received legal advice it was safe to proceed with its report on whether Johnson misled parliament despite his fresh referral to police. Allegretti hears the plan is to publish the report by the end of June — while the FT similarly reports these latest developments should only delay things “by a week or two.”

WHAT MPS ARE SAYING: Sky’s Sam Coates has been leaked Tory WhatsApp messages which give a pretty good sense of the opposing Tory camps. After Tortoise’s Cat Neilan reported suggestions of no confidence letters, Jackie Doyle-Price messaged colleagues saying “FFS – who on earth is spouting this bonkersness? Are you determined to turn our party into a skip fire?” and was backed up by Anne-Marie Trevelyan, Sally-Ann Hart, Kevin Foster, James Sunderland and Simon Hoare.

In response: Andrea Jenkyns — of Boris festival opera-singing fame — hit back: “It is interesting some of those commenting were happy to speak out publicly against the Boris and Liz administrations. So maybe less sanctimony and hypocrisy. Clearly many in the party are unhappy. But those at the top are not doing anything about this to bring people together.”

Who is actually backing Boris Johnson? There’s a bit of a dearth of Tory MPs going on the record to defend the former PM (let alone to call for his reinstatement). Playbook’s list of the half-a-dozen sitting MPs who were on the Conservative Democratic Organisation conference agenda a couple of weeks ago gives you a sense of who some of the diehard loyalists are.

Numbers will dwindle … when the three MPs ennobled in Johnson’s honors list stand down to take up peerages. Said honors list is expected to be published within weeks and the Guardian notes there is pressure on Sunak to block it. The Telegraph’s Ben Riley-Smith reported that Johnson’s allies are threatening to trigger the three potentially difficult by-elections sooner to cause trouble for Sunak.

MORE INCENDIARY CLAIMS … on the latest episode of Guto Harri’s Unprecedented podcast for Global Player. Harri claimed he told Johnson that ‘we’re going to order a drone strike … [to] take Sue Gray out’ to calm down the “literally hysterical” PM the night before her Partygate report. (Harri stressed this proposal was “not serious.”)

Speaking of Gray: The Times’ Henry Zeffman points out that this week’s developments raise fresh questions about Gray’s report, which brushed over potentially significant alleged events such as the so-called ABBA party in Johnson’s Downing Street flat on the night of Dominic Cummings’ resignation. He notes drily that “if Gray were a Labour Party agent determined to use the parties to finish off the prime minister, she was somewhat ineffective.”

In the wake of all this: Sunday Telegraph Editor Allister Heath declares in a column today that “the woke blob is about to achieve its greatest triumph: its final takeover of Britain” … claims that “followers of Gramsci have seized control of virtually all institutions” … and urges the Tories to end the civil service in its current form and employ management consultants “on short-term, performance-related contracts” to turn Britain into Ron DeSantis’ Florida (more on him in a bit). As they say … it’s a take.

An alternative take: Justice Secretary Alex Chalk said in his interview with the Times’ Matt Dathan and the Sun’s Natasha Clark at HMP High Down that he didn’t recognize Dominic Raab’s claims of “civil service activism” trying to block the government’s agenda.


AI ROUNDTABLE: Rishi Sunak and DSIT Secretary Chloe Smith met the chief execs of OpenAI, Google DeepMind and Anthropic on Wednesday evening to discuss how AI can be developed and regulated safely and effectively. They discussed “the risks of the technology, ranging from disinformation and national security, to existential threats” and “possible avenues for international collaboration on AI safety and regulation,” according to the Downing Street readout.

ON THE NO. 10 GRID: Steve Barclay is unveiling plans to give people the choice to receive NHS treatment at hospitals with shorter waiting lists. The Telegraph has a write-up.  

SCOOPLET — AID WOES: The independent aid watchdog’s ability to scrutinize government spending has been hindered by the FCDO merger, its head Tamsyn Barton has warned today. In a foreword to ICAI’s annual report shared in advance with Playbook, Barton said “it has not been easy to deliver on our mandate” and that the FCDO and DFID merger had created “significant corporate challenges,” including a review which attempted to compromise the watchdog’s independence.

In more detail: “We have faced greater challenges in accessing information, carrying out our country visits, dealing with a continually changing cast of interlocutors, and having to use FCDO’s IT, finance and HR systems which have been dysfunctional for most of the time,” Barton wrote — adding that things have got better in the past year.

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STARMER IN SCOTLAND: Keir Starmer stayed in Edinburgh overnight and will visit a town in Fife today to meet businesses owners, staff and residents. He will remain in Scotland until Friday afternoon, campaigning in Glasgow and Rutherglen.

Leaders in focus: Matt Chorley’s Times Radio airs its monthly focus group conducted by James Johnson from J.L. Partners at 11 a.m. This week they spoke to seven swing voters from Rother Valley, Eastbourne and Wakefield who all said they thought the government should bring down immigration levels and generally had unfavorable views of both Sunak and Starmer.

ROVING REEVES: Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves held talks with U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen in Washington on Wednesday in a sign the Biden administration is preparing for a potential change of government, the Sun’s Ryan Sabey reports.

MANDY ON THE SINGLE MARKET: New Labour architect (and former EU commissioner) Peter Mandelson told La Repubblica’s Antonello Guerrera that Labour should not seek to rejoin the EU single market. “If you enter the single market, you’re effectively rejoining the European Union without a vote, without a say over any of its policies or rulemaking. I mean, you run the real risk of being a regulatory satellite of the European Union, governed by Brussels but with no say in what Brussels says and does,” he said.


STRIKE UPDATE: Around 1,400 Unite members working at Heathrow Airport, including security guards, will stage a 72-hour walkout lasting until Saturday. Airport officials insisted no flights will be canceled — the i has more details.

BEFORE WE HEAD INTO RECESS: Keep an eye on the ministerial statements listed for Thursday — MPs break for recess this afternoon so it’s typically “take out the trash” day for the government.

PESTMINSTER CRACKDOWN: MPs accused of serious criminal offenses could be banned from parliament under proposals Playbook’s Rosa Prince hears are due before the Commons next month. The proposals have been strengthened to apply in cases where MPs are arrested rather than waiting until they are charged. Rosa hears a Commons vote on them has been provisionally penciled in for June 12 — read the full story here.

SEPTEMBER SITTING SURVIVES: Sword-wielding Commons leader Penny Mordaunt is tipped to announce a September date for the Commons’ return this morning — despite a push by parliamentary authorities for the pre-conference sitting to be scrapped.

R&R recess rumble: The idea of extending summer recess into October was floated again to give more time to mend the crumbling estate, four people tell my colleagues Dan Bloom and Esther Webber. One told Esther a three-month summer recess could become the “new normal” as — with full-scale restoration of the estate in limbo — officials are relying on “some half-baked idea that all the serious renovations can be done every recess between now and the heat death of the universe.”

That said: The often-mooted idea of nixing September sittings — which were made permanent after the expenses scandal — always gets spiked because of the terrible optics of giving MPs a three-month “break.”

On top of that: One parliamentary geek said doing so this year could have delayed the king’s speech to December, given the time needed for ping-pong on contentious bills that are going through the Lords. And an MP lamented to Dan: “We only started because David Cameron wanted to show the public we were actually working. But work isn’t just in the chamber.”

As for Penny’s sword: It’s proven an unexpected hit among visitors to the Jewel House at the Tower of London, according to the BBC.

NATCON CRITICISM: Tory MP and vice chair of the antisemitism APPG Andrew Percy criticized speeches made at last week’s National Conservatism conference, telling Jewish News: “We have not gone through very painful years of anti-Jewish hate on the left of politics to see that replaced by antisemitism on the mainstream right of politics.”

SW1 EVENTS: David Frost is delivering the climate skeptic Global Warming Policy Foundation’s annual lecture today where he’s expected to claim that “pushing for net zero on the current timetable and with current methods involves unacceptable costs to the economy and to individuals” … and Policy Exchange is hosting a discussion of Ukraine from noon.

HOUSE OF COMMONS: Sits from 9.30 a.m. with DEFRA and attorney general questions followed by Commons leader Penny Mordaunt’s business statement … and then the main business is two backbench debates on a recognition of the Ukrainian Holomodor and tackling Islamophobia. Labour’s Mick Whitley has the adjournment debate on the accommodation of asylum seekers off the Wirral peninsula.

WESTMINSTER HALL: Debates from 1.30 p.m. on visa arrangements for inshore industry fishing crews (led by the DUP’s Jim Shannon).

On Committee corridor: DESNZ Permanent Secretary Jeremy Pocklington and Treasury Permanent Secretary James Bowler are among those before the public accounts committee discussing Bulb Energy (11 a.m.) … and NEU General Secretary Mary Bousted is before the Lords’ education for 11-16 year olds committee discussing that topic (11.15 a.m.).

HOUSE OF LORDS: Sits from 11 a.m. with oral questions on the impact of the rise in food prices on low-income families, parole board recommendations for prisoners from January to March and advising franchise train operators whether to discontinue the provision of Wi-Fi for passengers … and then the main business is the ninth day at committee stage of the Online Safety Bill followed by statements on the criteria for launching an investigation into a potential breach of the Ministerial Code and changes to the student visa route.

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LIB DEM WORLD: Ed Davey heads to Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s patch in Surrey, where his party made gains in the local elections. Davey will visit a proposed oil drilling site in the Surrey Hills — which Hunt opposed as a backbencher and which there is now legal action over — and a river which has suffered from sewage discharges.

IN GERMANY: Transport Secretary Mark Harper is in Leipzig to chair an International Transport Forum meeting on Ukraine, before holding a bilat with the Ukrainian deputy transport minister. At the summit the U.K. handing over the presidency of the ITF to Lithuania.

TEESSIDE PROBE: The Yorkshire Post splashes on Leveling-Up Secretary Michael Gove ordering an independent investigation into corruption claims at the Teesworks redevelopment project, the former steel site in north-east England forming part of the Teesside freeport. Gove stopped short of ordering the National Audit Office to intervene, instead announcing a panel of experts would be appointed by him, a decision Shadow Leveling-Up Secretary Lisa Nandy called “bizarre.” The FT has a write-up.

It comes as … The Northern Echo reports Nolan Gray, the man in charge of the Teesside Freeport, is to quit. He says he has achieved his main goal of setting up the freeport.

RON’S RUNNING: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis launched his presidential bid with a glitchy Twitter spaces session hosted by Elon Musk. The Independent has the video. U.S. President Joe Biden tweeted the donations page for his re-election campaign and said: “This link works.”

BIG BEN GOES GLOBAL: A shrine to London containing replicas of the Elizabeth Tower and parliament opens today in Macau, with David Beckham flying in for its launch. Part of a £1.6 billion resort titled The Londoner, it aims to offer tourists the best of London without having to actually go to London. The i has the story.

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Shadow Immigration Minister Stephen Kinnock broadcast round: Times Radio (7.35 a.m.) … LBC (8.05 a.m.) … Sky News (8.20 a.m.) … GB News (8.45 a.m.).

Today program: Ofgem CEO Jonathan Brearley (7.10 a.m.) … MoneySavingExpert Martin Lewis (7.50 a.m.) … Tory MP John Hayes and former Confederation of British Industry boss Paul Drechsler (8.10 a.m.).

Also on Times Radio Breakfast: Jonathan Brearley (7.50 a.m.) … John Hayes (8.05 a.m.).

Also on Nick Ferrari at Breakfast: Former Met Police Commander for Specialist Operations Roy Ramm (7.05 a.m.) … Green Party peer Jenny Jones (7.10 a.m.) … Met Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner for Special Operations Matt Twist (8.20 a.m.).

Also on Sky News Breakfast: Former Justice Secretary Robert Buckland (9.30 a.m.) … Tory MP Daniel Kawczynski (9.45 a.m.).

Also on GB News Breakfast: Former Michael Gove SpAd Charlie Rowley (6 a.m.).

TalkTV Breakfast: Tory MP Geoffrey Clifton-Brown (7.05 a.m.) … Former Tory MP Angela Knight (7.20 a.m.) … Former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith (8.05 a.m.).

This Morning (ITV1): Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

Politics Live (BBC Two 12.15 p.m.): Tory MP Tom Hunt … Labour’s Sarah Jones … Good Law Project Director Jolyon Maugham … Broadcaster Timandra Harkness.


POLITICO UK: They got Brexit done. So why are UK Tories still angry about immigration?

Daily Express: Coming to UK! Car plant deal worth billions.

Daily Mail: Top cop in VIP ‘abuse’ probe faces misconduct charges.

Daily Mirror: Simply the best.

Daily Star: Simply the best.

Financial Times: Gilt yields soar near ‘mini’ budget levels as inflation data disappoints.

i: New interest rate rise ahead to break ‘core inflation.’

Metro: ‘Medieval’ killer caged.

The Daily Telegraph: Millions on jobless benefits do not have to seek work.

The Guardian: Clamour for PM to scrap Johnson’s honors list.

The Independent: The battle for Boris’ secret WhatsApps.

The Sun: You were simply the best.

The Times: Whitehall clash over Johnson’s Covid diary.


POLITICO Europe: Spain’s Socialists have a Sánchez problem.

The New Statesman: The Tory Crack-Up — Will Lloyd inside the dark new factions intent on taking over the Conservative Party.

The Spectator: Ukraine’s next move — Mark Galeotti on what’s to come.


WESTMINSTER WEATHER: Sunny intervals and 20C highs.

MEA CULPA: Playbook on Wednesday mistakenly said DSIT was recruiting a director of communications — when the job ad was at DESNZ.

IN MEMORIAM: This week’s Spectator runs a tribute to former Low Life columnist Jeremy Clarke from Boris Johnson — who once edited the magazine.

SPOTTED: Around 200 people gathered on the rooftop of Carmelite House on Victoria Embankment for the launch of former Downing Street aide Cleo Watson’s hotly anticipated satirical political novel “Whips” (published today by Corsair).

Sipping Champagne were … Former Prime Minister Theresa May … Ministers Lucy Frazer, Alister Jack, Simon Hart, Claire Coutinho, Helen Whately and Stephen Parkinson … No. 10’s Amber de Botton, Nerissa Chesterfield, Liam Booth-Smith, Will Tanner and Jean-Andre Prager … former No. 10 aides from a succession of Tory administrations including Fiona Hill, Olivia Booth-Smith, Oliver Lewis, Chloe Sarfaty, Lucia Hodgson, Ellie Lyons and Lizzie Loudon … beckbench MPs Alok Sharma and Siobhan Baillie … Peers Anne Jenkin, Hugo Swire, Liz Sugg, Michael Dobbs and Virginia Bottomley

And breathe: … Hacks Katy Balls, Tim Shipman, Ben Riley-Smith, Christopher Hope, Harry Yorke, Claire Ellicott, Natasha Clark and Charlotte Edwardes … Ex-SpAds James Starkie and Lynn Davidson … Tory strategist Isaac Levido … Former Whitehall Permanent Secretary Helen MacNamara … Hanbury’s Paul Stephenson … Onward’s Sebastian Payne … Researcher Dolly Theis … Doctor Xand van Tulleken … Directors Stephen Frears, Thomas Guard and Benjamin Carron … Writers William Nicholson and Sasha Swire … Producer Jonathan Cavendish … and Watson’s doting husband Tom Haggie.

Also spotted … at the Southbank Center for the launch of London Mayor Sadiq Khan‘s book “Breathe: Tackling the Climate Emergency” (published today by Hutchinson Heinemann), in conversation with LBC’s James O’Brien: Shadow Ministers Florence Eshalomi, Naz Shah, James Murray and Tulip Siddiq … MPs Dawn Butler and Rupa Huq … Labour peer Gail Rebuck … Hacks Tim Donovan, Ross Lydall and Simon Harris .. Former Labour MP Ed Balls … Councillors Georgia Gould, Mete Coban, Bashir Ibrahim and Asif Hussain … Ex-Sadiq Khan Adviser Leah Kreitzman … Southbank Centre Chair Misan Harriman … Campaigner Rosamund Adoo-Kissi-Debrah … Academic Frank Kelly … The Center for London’s Nick Bowes … Unison’s Marcela Benedetti … and OnLondon’s Dave Hill.

Also spotted … at the Next Gen Tories Drinks with Tory MP Bim Afolami: CCHQ Political Adviser Emily Fielder … Former Leader of Maidenhead Council Simon Dudley … Economic Secretary to the Treasury Andrew Griffith’s Chief of Staff Josh Fennell … The Guardian’s Aubrey Allegretti … The Express’ Christian Calgie … PoliticsHome’s Caitlin Doherty … The ECIU’s Alasdair Johnstone … Next Gen Tories Co-Founders James Cowling and Matthew McPherson … and political communications adviser Laura Dunn.

NEW GONGS: International development organization ONE is asking MPs to nominate their local schools and constituents for its new Global Changemaker Awards. These seek to recognize the public’s work in making the U.K. a force for good, with winners chosen by a cross-party group of parliamentarians.

THIS IS PROBABLY MADE UP BUT: Someone went on Reddit to claim they’d interviewed a senior U.K. politician who said some highly incendiary stuff and then sent legal letters seeking to withdraw consent for the interview. The Reddit user (whose throwaway account appears to have been deleted) claimed they ran a podcast with a five-figure listenership.

NEW GIG: Nicole Watson joins the House of Commons research and information team as a part-time senior energy researcher.

JOB ADS: CNN is hiring an associate producer for its news products … the FT wants a freelance senior content editor … and Good Morning Britain is hiring an output producer.

BOOK BUFF: “Letters for the Ages: The Private and Personal Letters of Sir Winston Churchill,” edited by James Drake and Allen Packwood, is released by Bloomsbury Continuum … and writer Otto English’s “Fake Heroes: Ten False Icons and How they Altered the Course of History” is released by Welbeck.

CULTURE FIX: The Philharmonia Orchestra joins forces with the Bach Choir at the Royal Festival Hall from 7.30 p.m.

TV GUIDE: The first episode of Strike: Inside the Unions, charting the beginning of the historic wave of strikes, is on BBC Two at 9 p.m.

BIRTHDAYS: Poplar and Limehouse MP Apsana Begum … Former Paymaster General Geoffrey Robinson … Former Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt … Tory peer Gloria Hooper … Lib Dem peer Mike Storey … and former Labour spin doctor Alastair Campbell.

PLAYBOOK COULDN’T HAPPEN WITHOUT: My editors Zoya Sheftalovich and Joe Stanley-Smith, reporter Noah Keate and producer Dato Parulava.

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Eleni Courea


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