Northern Ireland assembly members will return to Stormont in a last-gasp bid on Thursday to restore the Northern Ireland executive before fresh assembly elections are called.
It comes after the Northern Ireland secretary, Chris Heaton-Harris, held last-ditch talks with the region’s party leaders to try to restore devolved government and avert an assembly election.
The sitting at Stormont will see an attempt to elect a new speaker – a prerequisite before an executive can be appointed – but that bid is set to fail as the DUP will use its veto to block it.
The special sitting comes just hours ahead of a deadline for calling another election. A six-month legislative time frame to form an administration expires just after midnight early on Friday.
If no ministerial executive is put in place, the UK government assumes a legal responsibility to call another election and Heaton-Harris is expected to do so, tipping Northern Ireland into further uncertainty.
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More from Conservative party chairman Nadhim Zahawi, who said the foreign secretary James Cleverly was not telling people to “dial down the gay” at the Qatar World Cup when he said gay football fans should show “a little bit of flex and compromise” and to “respect the culture of your host nation”.
Cleverly was yesterday criticised after he said Qatar, which criminalises homosexuality, was willing to make compromises to allow people it would normally persecute to attend the tournament. He said:
One of the things I would say for football fans is, you know, please do be respectful of the host nation. They are trying to ensure that people can be themselves and enjoy the football, and I think with a little bit of flex and compromise at both ends, it can be a safe, secure and exciting World Cup.
Speaking to Sky News today, Zahawi was asked if Cleverly was saying people should “dial down the gay” while at the football tournament, which starts next month. He replied:
No he wasn’t – absolutely not. He was saying the policies of the government of Qatar are not our policies, nor would we condone them.
Gay football fans should not have to compromise on their sexuality, Zahawi told LBC radio. He said:
Of course you are safe to go to the World Cup. No one should have to compromise at all in my view. I am very proud of what we have done in the UK.
We use every opportunity when we engage with the Qatari government to share with them how we do things here. They have had a different historical journey but football is a celebration of diversity. I am sure the Qataris completely understand this as well.
No one should need to compromise on their sexuality or their preference whatsoever.
The Conservative MP and former member of the intelligence and security committee (ISC) Mark Pritchard said a “breakdown” in trust between MI5 and the home secretary, Suella Braverman, must be “sorted asap”.
A report by the Daily Mail last night claimed Braverman was investigated by national security officials earlier this year as part of an MI5-linked inquiry into a security breach relating to a British spy.
The investigation found “no conclusive evidence” of the identity of the leaker. The newspaper said Braverman, who was attorney general at the time, was seeking an injunction against the BBC to stop it from identifying a spy accused of using his position to terrorise his former partner.
The shadow home secretary, Yvette Cooper, described the allegations as “extremely serious”. She added:
There needs to be an urgent investigation into the home secretary’s security breaches, including these new allegations while she was attorney general.
The prime minister needs to say whether he knew about these allegations when he reappointed her. Ignoring warnings about security risks when appointing a home secretary is highly irresponsible and dangerous.
The Tory party chairman, Nadhim Zahawi, said it would be “unwise” for the government to make an announcement on the pensions triple lock before the autumn statement on 17 November.
Downing Street yesterday declined to commit to keeping the triple lock on state pensions in place, and said the decision would be “wrapped up into the fiscal statement” on 17 November.
Zahawi told Sky News:
It would be unwise of me to pre-empt the autumn statement. This government is about responsibility and sustainability.
What I would say to pensioners watching this morning is both the prime minister and the chancellor are very much aware – and I’m going to state the obvious here – pensioners are uniquely unable to work to add to their income or improve their income.
He said Rishi Sunak “always protected the most vulnerable” as chancellor. He told Times radio:
I am stating the obvious here, but uniquely pensioners cannot add to their income by taking on more work and therefore we have to be clear in how we make sure we help the most vulnerable in our society, including those pensioners, but I won’t pre-empt the autumn statement.
The shadow foreign secretary, David Lammy, has called for the home secretary, Suella Braverman, to be sacked and a full inquiry opened into her ministerial code breach.
The role of home secretary is the “most serious job you could have in our state”, Lammy told Sky News, describing her position in the role as “very fragile”. He said:
This is a person who makes judgments about terrorism and counterterrorism, who makes judgments about very serious offenders, whether they should be allowed out of prison. For that reason, it’s someone for whom, I’m afraid, judgment is critically important.
The former Conservative party chairman Jake Berry claimed Braverman had been responsible for “multiple breaches of the ministerial code”. He also indicated that the UK’s most senior civil servant, Simon Case, had been consulted and had ruled that the rules had been broken.
Lammy said Braverman was “rightly” sacked for these breaches, adding:
The question is, why was she brought back? What was the advice of the cabinet secretary to the prime minister when he suggested that she should be brought back? He should share that advice, but it’s clear to me that she should be sacked and there should be a full inquiry into what’s gone on.
Asked if he agreed with the chairman of the Conservative party, Nadhim Zahawi, who said politicians deserve a “second chance”, Lammy replied:
A home secretary making decisions about terrorism isn’t allowed to make mistakes.
Good morning. Conservative party chairman Nadhim Zahawi has defended Rishi Sunak’s reappointment of Suella Braverman less than a week after she was forced to resign for a security breach.
The prime minister is facing a growing backlash over his decision to reappoint Braverman, who was forced by his predecessor Liz Truss to quit last week for breaching the ministerial code.
Zahawi argued that Braverman had admitted her “mistake” and resigned “immediately”, a characterisation that has been disputed by government officials. He told Sky News today:
She admitted her mistake, she resigned. A new prime minister came in, looked at the information and decided that he wants to give her a second chance. It think that is the right decision. Redemption is a good thing.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme:
She fell on her sword, she didn’t try to ride it out and try to hang on to her job. This prime minister looked at the details of this case and he believes in second chances and he’s giving Suella Braverman a second chance. I believe in redemption, as I’m sure many of your listeners would do as well.
Sunak’s reappointment of Braverman faced fresh questions last night after a former Tory party chairman claimed the home secretary was responsible for “multiple breaches of the ministerial code”.
Jake Berry, who sat in the cabinet alongside Braverman at the heart of Liz Truss’s government, said she was responsible for a “really serious breach” after sending confidential information to a private address, sending it to an MP, attempting to send it to the MP’s wife and then accidentally sending it to a member of parliamentary staff.
He also indicated that the UK’s most senior civil servant, Simon Case, had been consulted and ruled that it had broken the rules.
Sunak told MPs on Wednesday that Braverman had made an “error of judgment” and had recognised her mistake, adding:
That’s why I was delighted to welcome her back into a united cabinet that brings experience and stability to the heart of government.
Here is the agenda for the day.
09.30am. Office for National Statistics releases its weekly economic activity and social change data, and its latest crime figures for England and Wales.
09.30am NHS digital figures on GP appointments, NHS workforce and staff absences in England.
09.30am. Cabinet Office questions to the chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Oliver Dowden.
10.30am. Commons leader Penny Mordaunt has the weekly business statement, followed by backbench business debates on the national food strategy and food security, and guaranteeing the right to maintain contact in care settings.
11am. Questions in the Lords on public space protection orders, the Zimbabwean government’s detention of the country’s members of parliament and on COP26.
11.45am. A statement on the resignation and reappointment of the home secretary.
12pm. The Northern Ireland assembly recalled for special sitting.
3pm. Westminster Hall has a debate marking World Menopause Day.
I’m Léonie Chao-Fong and I’ll be taking you through today’s developments in British politics. Feel free to drop me a message if you have anything to flag, you can reach me on Twitter or via email.