Rishi Sunak not attending Cop27 is ‘standard practice’, says Therese Coffey
Rishi Sunak has ditched a Tory leadership campaign pledge to fine patients who miss GP and hospital appointments, backtracking on plans health leaders had warned would “make matters worse”.
On his first public visit as prime minister, to a hospital in Croydon, Mr Sunak pledged to put “fairness at the heart” of the “difficult decisions” his government will take as it seeks to “fix” the economic “mistakes” he admitted had been made by his party.
The PM insisted it was “right” for him to focus on domestic challenges, denying accusations of a “massive failure of climate leadership” by opting not to attend the Cop27 summit, on the same day the United Nations warned there remained “no credible” pathway in place to rein in global temperature rises to 1.5C.
Meanwhile, his spokesperson said King Charles was still advised by No 10 not to attend the event – contradicting claims hours earlier from environment secretary Therese Coffey that it was “up to” the monarch whether to travel to Egypt.
Sunak insists he is ‘confident that our party is ‘united’
Rishi Sunak has insisted that the Conservatives are “united” as he comes towards the end of his first week as prime minister, following fears in the days prior to his effective coronation that his party could be torn asunder by infighting.
Asked by reporters whether the instability of recent weeks has anything to do with Brexit or whether there was an ongoing “civil war” within the Conservatives, Mr Sunak said: “I am confident that our party is united. It is united behind delivering on the promise of the manifesto that we were elected on, with very strong support, in 2019.
“What does that manifesto say? It says we want to have a stronger NHS, that we want safer streets, that we want better schools, that we want to protect our borders and that we want to level up the economy across our country.
“That is what unites and excites all Conservatives, that is what excites me, and that is what I want to deliver for the people of this country.”
Andy Gregory28 October 2022 14:03
‘A pity you don’t pay them more’: Sunak confronted by NHS patient over nurses’ wages
Rishi Sunak has been confronted by an NHS hospital patient during his first public visit as prime minister.
Catherine Poole, a 77-year-old patient who is recovering from surgery, challenged the PM over falling real-terms nurses’ pay, telling him: “You need to pay them.”
When Mr Sunak said his government was trying,” she told him: “You are not trying, you need to try harder.”
Andy Gregory28 October 2022 13:56
PM denies missing climate talks is ‘leadership failure’
The prime minister denied his absence at Cop27 was a failure of leadership, arguing it was right for him to focus on economic challenges at home.
He said he was “really proud” of the UK’s record on tackling climate change, adding: “The leadership we have shown on the climate is unmatched almost along the world.”
He added: “It’s important to me that as Prime Minister we leave behind an environment that is better for our children and grandchildren. I’m very passionate about that. I’m very personally committed to it.
“I just think, at the moment, it’s right that I’m also focusing on the depressing domestic challenges we have with the economy. I think that’s what people watching would reasonably expect me to be doing as well.”
Jane Dalton28 October 2022 13:30
Sunak does not deny he was warned over Braverman job
Rishi Sunak has declined to deny suggestions that officials warned him against reappointing Suella Braverman as Home Secretary and said she raised the issue with him before he gave her the job.
Asked about the reports while at Croydon University Hospital, the Prime Minister said: “The Home Secretary has acknowledged the mistake, she’s recognised she made a mistake, she’s taken accountability for that and that’s the right thing.
“Now, as I said in Parliament earlier this week, she raised this topic with me when I discussed reappointing her as Home Secretary and I’m confident that she’s learned from her mistake.”
He insisted he did not regret the appointment, saying: “No, as I have said, she’s accepted her mistake and learned from it, and I’m confident of that.”
Jane Dalton28 October 2022 13:22
Watch: Sunak warns of ‘difficult decisions’ to fix economy
Rishi Sunak warns of ‘difficult decisions’ to be made to fix economy amid cost of living crisis
Jane Dalton28 October 2022 13:13
Sunak dodges question on nurses’ pay
Rishi Sunak has dodged a question about nurses’ pay during a visit to a hospital.
Asked whether he was happy that nurses were not getting a real-term increase in pay, amid fears of industrial action, he said: “It is brilliant to be here at Croydon Hospital, to see the great work of the doctors and nurses here.
“One of the priorities for my Government is going to be tackling the Covid backlogs and supporting the NHS.
“We face lots of challenges as a country, but I am confident that we can fix the economy and deliver on the promise of the 2019 manifesto, including having a stronger NHS.”
Jane Dalton28 October 2022 12:59
PM U-turns on plan to fine patients who miss appointments
Rishi Sunak has backed down on a Tory leadership campaign pledge to fine patients who miss GP and hospital appointments £10.
A No 10 spokeswoman said: “The PM wants to deliver a stronger NHS and the sentiment remains that people should not be missing their appointments and taking up NHS time.
“But we have listened to GPs and health leaders, and have acknowledged that now is not the right time to take this policy forward.”
Jane Dalton28 October 2022 12:55
Public expect PM to be at home, No 10 insists
The government remained “absolutely committed” to leading international action on climate change despite Rishi Sunak’s absence at Cop27, No 10 has said.
A Downing Street spokeswoman suggested the public would expect Mr Sunak to be in the country dealing with the “serious economic challenges” facing the UK, rather than at the summit in Egypt.
Asked about culture secretary Nadine Dorries’ assertion that it was wrong for Mr Sunak not to attend, she said: “The government remains absolutely committed to leading international and domestic action to tackle climate change and to protect nature.
“We are facing serious economic challenges. The Prime Minister is focused on dealing with those issues, and the public, I think, would also expect him to be in the country… dealing with those and ahead of the autumn statement.
“But we’re also very clear that the public should also judge us by our actions and we are forging ahead of many other countries on net zero, for example.
“We will, of course, also be represented at senior ministerial level with the Foreign, Business and Environment Secretaries all due to attend alongside the Cop President.”
Jane Dalton28 October 2022 12:46
‘Standard practice’ for palace and government to discuss Cop27 attendance, says No 10
Here is more detail on the comments from No 10 referenced in our current headline, suggesting that King Charles has been told not to attend Cop27.
“As is standard practice, government advice was sought and provided under a previous PM, and it was unanimously agreed that it would not be the right occasion for the King to visit in person,” said Rishi Sunak’s spokesperson.
“I’m not aware that that advice has changed but obviously any confirmation of the King’s travel would be for the palace.”
Asked if there are any plans for the conversation between the palace and the government to reopen, she said again that she is not aware the advice has changed.
Andy Gregory28 October 2022 12:31
Sunak vows to put ‘fairness at the heart’ of efforts to ‘fix’ his party’s economic mistakes
Rishi Sunak has promised to put “fairness at the heart” of the “difficult decisions” the government will be making in the months ahead, during his first public visit as prime minister.
“I acknowledged that mistakes have been made and part of why I’m now prime minister is my job is to fix them – and I’m confident that we can,” Mr Sunak told broadcasters at Croydon University Hospital.
“The chancellor has already said of course difficult decisions are going to have to be made. And I’m going to sit down and work through those with him. But what I want everyone to know is that we need to do these things so that we can get our borrowing and debt back on a sustainable path.
“That’s important because it means that we can get a grip of inflation. If we do that, it means we can limit as best as possible the increase in interest rates, which is important.
“But as we do that, I want people to be reassured, we will always do it with fairness at the heart, we will protect the most vulnerable and ensure that we can continue to grow the economy in the long run.”
Andy Gregory28 October 2022 12:18