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Truss faces fresh questions over ‘Fizz with Liz’ champagne dinner – follow live

Truss faces fresh questions over ‘Fizz with Liz’ champagne dinner - follow live
MPs must declare any gifts, benefits or hospitality with a value over £300

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Tory leadership race: Liz Truss insists U-turn over regional pay policy shows she is ‘decisive

Liz Truss is embroiled in fresh controversy after a leaked email left her facing questions over why she did not declare thousands of pounds spent on schmoozing Tory MPs in the run up to her bid to succeed Boris Johnson.

Around a dozen Conservative MPs attended a so-called “Fizz with Liz” champagne dinner hosted by the foreign secretary at Mayfair members club 5 Hertford St last year.

The event was paid for by club owner, multimillionaire aristocrat Robin Birley.

When The Independent asked why Ms Truss has not declared the function – worth an estimated £3,000 – in the Commons register, where MPs are obliged to disclose hospitality worth more than £300, her spokesperson denied she had organised it.

It had “nothing to do with her,” they said. Ms Truss was merely one of a number of Conservative MP guests invited by “organiser and host” Mr Birley, the spokesperson said.

However, this account is disputed by other MPs present who told The Independent that she was the host and not Mr Birley, who “turned up briefly to say hello”.

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Interest rates ‘should have been raised a long time ago’

An ally of Liz Truss said she would review whether the Bank of England’s current arrangements are “fit for purpose” if she becomes prime minister.

Attorney General Suella Braverman told Sky News: “Interest rates should have been raised a long time ago and the Bank of England has been too slow in this regard.”

She added: “Liz Truss has made clear that she wants to review the mandate that the Bank of England has, so that’s going to be looking in detail at exactly what the Bank of England does and see whether it’s actually fit for purpose in terms of its entire exclusionary independence over interest rates.”

Ms Braverman rejected criticism that Ms Truss’s tax-cutting plans would further drive up inflation.

“People say ‘we can’t afford to cut taxes’, Liz thinks – and I agree with her – that we can’t afford not to cut taxes,” she said.

<p>Attorney General Suella Braverman (Oli Scarff/PA)</p>

Attorney General Suella Braverman (Oli Scarff/PA)

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Sunak calls for compensation over hosepipe bans

Tory leadership contender Rishi Sunak wants to look at introducing compensation if a hosepipe ban is a direct consequence of water companies’ failures.

The former chancellor told The Daily Telegraph he would consider introducing the measure, with hosepipe bans coming into force in parts of England as months of dry conditions push the country towards drought.

“It is unacceptable for water companies to impose restrictions on their customers when they fail to stem leaks,” he said.

“We need tougher financial penalties on the companies that are not investing enough to stop water being wasted.”

South East Water became the second water company to restrict use of hosepipes and sprinklers with a ban within Kent and Sussex from Friday August 12 until further notice.

Southern Water announced the first hosepipe ban of the year last week on Hampshire and the Isle of Wight from this Friday.

Mr Sunak’s rival Liz Truss, meanwhile, said such bans should not have to happen.

A spokesman for her campaign told the Telegraph: “We shouldn’t be in a position where hosepipe bans have to happen.

“More needs to be done to make sure water companies fix leaks and waste across their networks.

“As prime minister, Liz would look at how best Ofwat could hold those water companies with the worst track record to account, so that hard-working people across the country are not restricted on their water use over the summer months.”

The spokesman said Ms Truss believed desalination could help shore up water supplies into the future, adding that communities would be given the final say on planning permission.

The moves to curb water use come after England has seen the driest eight-month period from November 2021 to July since 1976, when much of the country struggled in extreme drought.

Last month saw a record-breaking heatwave and the driest July in records dating back to 1836 for south east and central southern England.

For England as a whole, last month was the driest since 1935, Met Office figures show.

The country could be in drought this month if the dry conditions continue, the Environment Agency has warned.

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Truss’s plans for economy and public finances “dangerous”

A senior supporter of Rishi Sunak warned that Liz Truss’s plans for the economy and public finances were “dangerous”.

Mel Stride, chairman of the Commons Treasury Committee, told BBC Radio 4’s Today: “What we must do now is avoid stoking the inflation and making the problem even worse.

“One of the ways you can make the problem very significantly worse is by coming forward with large-scale, tens of billions of pounds’ worth, of unfunded tax cuts.”

He added: “The big decision, fiscally, here is around tax. You have to do it in a measured way and at the right time but not start coming forward with tens of billions of unfunded tax cuts right now.

“I think that would be really quite dangerous.”

He insisted Mr Sunak would “absolutely not” concede despite polls suggesting he was a long way behind Ms Truss.

Mr Strike claimed there was a “huge disconnect” between the polls and the situation on the ground where “there is a huge amount of support for Rishi”.

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Tory memers doubtful of major election win under Sunak, poll shows

Under a fifth of Tory members believe the most likely outcome at the next general election is a Commons majority if Rishi Sunak succeeds Boris Johnson in No 10, according to a new poll.

Two-and-a-half years after the outgoing prime minister won the Tories’ biggest majority since Margaret Thatcher, the survey by YouGov found the Conservative faithful were doubtful of a major electoral success.

The figures for Mr Sunak – the former chancellor – are most stark, with just 19 per cent of those polled suggesting the “most likely” result after the next election would be a Conservative majority in the Commons.

Thirty-three per cent thought the most likely scenario was a hung parliament with a Tory-led government while 23 opted for a Labour-led government and 14 per cent for a Labour majority – the first in over a decade.

Our political correspondent Ashley Cowburn reports:

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Javid accuses Sunak of sleepwalking into a high-tax economy as he endorses Truss

Former chancellor Sajid Javid has endorsed Liz Truss as he warned that Rishi Sunak’s economic plans would lead Britain “sleepwalking into a high-tax, low-growth” economy.

Mr Javid and Mr Sunak quit within an hour of each other last month, triggering a string of resignations that finally brought Boris Johnson’s time as prime minister to an end.

But writing in the Times, Mr Javid criticises his friend’s stance as he backs his rival to win the keys to Downing Street.

Mr Sunak has argued that tax cuts can come after soaraway inflation has been brought under control.

Kate Devlin reports:

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‘Ravaged’ social care sector needs more money before year is out – MPs

England’s “ravaged” adult social care sector urgently needs more money from government before the year is out, MPs have warned.

A cash injection and a long-term plan is needed to help the sector meet immediate cost pressures and become sustainable over the coming years, the Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (LUHC) Committee said.

The cross-party committee said the pressures of the coronavirus pandemic have exacerbated underlying challenges of rising demand, unmet need and difficulties in recruiting and keeping staff.

Rising inflation and increases in the National Living Wage and the National Minimum Wage are also adding pressure.

The committee, which held an inquiry into the long-term funding of adult social care, said the “message rang clear” that adult social care “does not have enough funding either in the here and now, or in the longer term”.

Read more here:

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UK ‘not on course’ to become science and technology superpower, warn peers

Ministers are set to fall short in their promise to turn the UK into a “science and tech superpower” by 2030, according to a cross-party group of peers, who described the government’s science policy as “inconsistent and unclear”.

The House of Lords’ science and technology committee said the commitment was at risk of becoming “an empty slogan” without a “laser focus on implementation”.

The peers also expressed concern over the government’s failure to appoint a new science minister after George Freeman resigned and vacated the position on 7 July. A replacement is not expected to be appointed until the Conservative Party elects a new prime minister.

They called on Boris Johnson’s successor, due to be announced early next month, to prioritise appointing a minister for science, research and innovation to a cabinet-level position.

Our senior news correspondent Samuel Lovett reports:

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MPs urge reform of laws that give cohabiting couples ‘inferior protections’

“Urgent” reforms are needed to current laws which leave cohabiting couples receiving “inferior protections” despite a shift in social norms, a cross-party group of MPs has suggested.

The Commons Women and Equalities Committee warned that many people believe in the “so-called common-law marriage myth”, often leaving women vulnerable to a “lack of legal protection on family breakdown” or the death of a partner.

The MPs’ report, entitled The Rights Of Cohabiting Partners, noted that cohabitation “is the fastest growing family type” in England and Wales, adding: “In 2021 there were around 3.6 million cohabiting couples in the UK compared with 1.5 million in 1996.”

It added: “Whereas married couples and civil partners in England and Wales have certain legal rights and responsibilities upon divorce or death, cohabitants receive inferior protections.

Notwithstanding the legal reality, many people believe in the so-called ‘common-law marriage myth’, which is the erroneous belief that, after a certain amount of time of living together, the law treats cohabitants as if they were married. On family breakdown, cohabitants must rely on complex property law and trusts principles.

Commons Women and Equalities Committee

PA

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UK ‘not on course’ to become science and technology superpower, warn peers

Ministers are set to fall short in their promise to turn the UK into a “science and tech superpower” by 2030, according to a cross-party group of peers, who described the government’s science policy as “inconsistent and unclear”.

The House of Lords’ science and technology committee said the commitment was at risk of becoming “an empty slogan” without a “laser focus on implementation”.

The peers also expressed concern over the government’s failure to appoint a new science minister after George Freeman resigned and vacated the position on 7 July. A replacement is not expected to be appointed until the Conservative Party elects a new prime minister.

They called on Boris Johnson’s successor, due to be announced early next month, to prioritise appointing a minister for science, research and innovation to a cabinet-level position.

Our senior news correspondent Samuel Lovett reports:

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‘Refugee minister appeals to councils to help Afghan refugees’

Refugees minister Lord Harrington appealed to councils to help house the 10,500 Afghans currently staying at hotels across the UK, according to a letter seen by the BBC.

Marwa Koofi, 21, fled Kabul, Afghanistan when the city fell to the Taliban in August last year and has lived in two hotels over the last 12 months.

She said the year has felt “wasted” and has recently been split up from family members after three of them were moved from a hotel in Selby, North Yorkshire to one near Crawley, West Sussex.

“I stayed in a hotel for 11 months, I don’t want to stay in a hotel for another 11 months,” Ms Koofi, who is set to study International Relations at King’s College London in September, told the PA news agency.

“I have wasted a year because my hotel (in Selby) was in a location where I couldn’t do anything.

“When I think back to the year, I just see it as a blank – it’s nothing, I haven’t done anything.”

More in this report: