Politics news - latest: Sky News obtains seating plan for top Tory dinner; the daunting challenge that lies ahead for Rishi Sunak (2023)

Key points
  • Sam Coates obtains seating plan for top Tory dinner - this is what it tells us
  • Rishi Sunak marks 100 days as prime minister
  • Tamara Cohen:Sunak's allies say he 'inherited a horror show'
  • Amanda Akass: He may have survived twice as long as Liz Truss, but it's not been a smooth ride
  • What polling tells us about how the public views his performance
  • PM's time in office so far in numbers
  • Mhari Aurora: WhatsApp group used by Truss-supporting MPs whirs back into life
  • Number 10 reacts toBeth Rigbyreport that PM knew of Dominic Raab allegations before appointment
  • What you need to know about the controversy
  • Live reporting by Tim Baker

18:03:19

WhatsApp group used by Truss-supporting MPs whirs back into life

A WhatsApp group once used to support Liz Truss' leadership campaign has begun to see several MPs joining once again, sources have told Sky News.

The former prime minister is said to be on manoeuvres with fellow like-minded MPs ahead of the March budget to lobby the government for tax cuts, and the revival of this WhatsApp group demonstrates there is still an appetite for deregulation and a smaller state among some MPs.

The Conservative Growth Group - a group of Tory MPs who still believe in Ms Truss's vision for the UK - appears determined to turn up the pressure on the prime minister - with sources familiar with the WhatsApp group telling Sky News: "There's a lot going on behind the scenes."

However, a member of Ms Truss's team has denied any knowledge of movement within WhatsApp groups linked to her previous campaign.

As the backbench 1922 Committee of Conservative MPs celebrated its 100 year birthday on Tuesday, some Conservative backbenchers raised their concerns regarding the high tax burden with the chancellor.

Speaking to Sky News after the meeting, Sir Edward Leigh said he had suggested to Jeremy Hunt that he make reducing taxes a top priority.

"I said 'you can't wait until the general election. People are depressed. You've got to give them hope.

"You've got to say: 'We made the right decisions in September, therefore that's given me room in this budget to cut taxes, whether it's corporation, personal or fuel".

Next month the chancellor will outline his plan for growth and prosperity, having already warned that now is not the time for tax cuts while inflation is still the Treasury's priority.

But while economic growth remains minimal and is projected to go into decline, this faction of the Conservative Party is likely to get louder as the budget looms.

The next general election is at the forefront of the Conservative Growth Group's mission, but with a deepening cost of living crisis, public sector budgets squeezed and a modest number of supporters, it appears unlikely for now they will have their demands met.

17:41:41

Former chancellor's 'fetish' warning for government as it works out kinks of regulatory divergence from EU

Lord Lamont has deployed some rather colourful language in the upper chamber as he issued a Brexit warning to Rishi Sunak.

The long-standing eurosceptic, who was chancellor from 1990 to 1993, told fellow peers that while it was important for Britain to have the power to diverge, this should not just happen for the sake of it.

Lord Lamont said divergence can be important for new technology and he criticised fellow members of the European Affairs Committee for "clinging to the idea" of sticking to the EU's rules.

He told the Lords: "One of the subjects on which there was a lot of debate in our committee was that of divergence - to what extent regulation should be allowed to diverge from the previous model in the European Union?

"Some members, I think, of the committee were particularly apprehensive about that and clinging to the idea that we should remain aligned in regulation.

"My view is that we certainly shouldn't make a fetish of divergence - we should not diverge for the sake of divergence.

"But I think it is important to have the power - the parliamentary power - and the freedom to diverge, but these decisions should be driven by industry and commerce.

"And I think divergence is very important for new technology."

Lord Lamont made the remarks during a debate in the upper chamber on post-Brexit trade with the EU.

Responding for the government, foreign minister Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon told peers: "Notwithstanding our departure from the European Union, our relationship remains strong.

"Nowhere has it been demonstrated at its finest than through our unity of response to Russia's illegal war in Ukraine and that continues to be the case."

He added: "The government has processes in place to monitor the economic and business impacts of regulatory divergence between the UK and EU and whether this divergence is EU or UK led."

17:00:01

Sunak's survived in Number 10 twice as long as his predecessor - but it's not been a smooth ride

Rishi Sunak may have already outlasted Liz Truss by quite a margin, but the 100 days he's been in office have not been short of scandals.

Our political correspondent Amanda Akasslooks back at the rockier moments of PM's tenure so far:

16:30:01

What you need to know about the Dominic Raab bullying allegations

After days of headlines about the tax affairs of the now former Tory party chairman Nadhim Zahawi, Rishi Sunak is facing fresh questions about another member of his top team.

Dominic Raab, the deputy PM and justice secretary, is facing a total of eight formal complaints about his conduct across a number of government departments.

Mr Raab has denied wrongdoing, while a number of Conservative colleagues have described him as an "excellent and considerate boss".

One report has suggested the true number of formal complaints is far higher - and Mr Sunak is facing tough questions about whether he knew about the bullying allegations against his deputy before appointing him.

As the controversy continues to rumble on, this is what you need to know about the investigation into Mr Raab:

16:18:45

Further strike date by Royal Mail workers announced

Royal Mail workers will stage another strike on 16 February, the Communication Workers Union has announced.

It is part of a long-running row over pay and conditions.

16:00:01

From Zahawi and Raab to seatbelt gaffe - the U-turns and scandals of Sunak's first months as PM

Rishi Sunak's first three months as prime minister have been far from plain sailing.

Significant storm clouds are hanging over the government as the prime minister looks to overturnLabour's commanding lead in the polls.

DespiteMr Sunaktrying to distance himself from the turbulent premiership ofBoris Johnson, rows over propriety and standards have continued.

Here, Sky News looks at the scandals and U-turns during his time as PM - includinghis sacking of Tory chairman Nadhim Zahawi:

15:30:01

Who is striking in 2023, when and why

Tuesday saw the UK's biggest day of industrial action in more than a decade as teachers, university staff, train drivers, civil servants, bus drivers and security guards all went on strike.

But this is far from the end of the industrial action, with tens of thousands of workers set to stage further walk outs in the coming weeks and months.

Read more about the upcoming strikes - and why the industrial action is taking place - here:

15:18:12

World likely to be 'more dangerous and unstable' for 'decade or two' - defence secretary

The foreign and defence secretaries have been meeting with their Australian counterparts this week, and have been speaking at a news conference in Portsmouth this afternoon.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and Foreign Secretary James Cleverly were present alongside Australia's foreign minister Penny Wong and Australia's defence minister and deputy prime minister Richard Marles.

Mr Wallace has said the world is "more dangerous and unstable", and will likely remain that way for "a decade or two".

He was responding to a question about what he wanted to see in this spring's budget.

Mr Wallace said that while the current funding envelope runs for another two years, he would still be negotiating to get money to protect his department against inflationary pressures.

He said he wanted to see the Treasury recognise "that as the world gets more dangerous and unstable, defence should continue to get a growing proportion of spend" as it did in the autumn statement.

He added: "By my point is - the direction of travel is the world is more dangerous and unstable and likely to remain so for a decade or two.

"And I think it's just about changing that perception."

This long-term commitment is more important than the next two years and the pressures of inflation on his budget, Mr Wallace said.

14:45:01

Runners and riders to replace Zahawi as Conservative Party chair

Speculation is continuing about who will replace Nadhim Zahawi as Conservative Party chair after he was sacked over his tax affairs at the weekend.

These are the runners and riders for the role:

14:15:01

Sunak continues to resist Johnson's calls for fighter jets to be sent to Ukraine

Former prime minister Boris Johnson has been using a tour of the US to call for the West to send F-35s and Typhoons to sent to Kyiv to counter the Russian invasion.

He made his latest call during a speech at the Atlantic Council in Washington DC on Wednesday, saying the West must 'allow Ukraine to finish the job';

But these calls are continuing to be resisted by Number 10, with Downing Street potentially not welcoming the interventions of one of Rishi Sunak's predecessors.

The matter came up again today at a regular briefing with journalists.

Mr Sunak's spokesman said it would take years to train pilots to fly the jets, although they stressed that Downing Street will continue to listen to Ukraine and assist it.

"We will continue listening to the Ukrainians and consider what is right for the long term," the spokesman said.

"But it's helpful to understand the situation, that the fastest training programme for a new pilot is approximately 35 months.

"The current UK fast jet training programme takes five years."

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