Brexit deal’s ‘fundamental tenets’ will not be reopened, says immigration minister – UK politics live | Politics

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Danker has been complimentary about Rishi Sunak, but in his speech he has taken a swipe at Sunak’s two predecessors.

Danker thanks the conference’s sponsors for continuing to stick with the CBI “despite Peppa Pig” – referring to Johnson’s much mocked speech to the conference last year.

And he said the mini-budget announced when Liz Truss was PM “gave growth a bad name”.

Rishi Sunak to address CBI in Birmingham

Rishi Sunak will be giving a speech at the CBI conference in Birmingham. He was due to start at 10.15am, but they are running a few minutes later.

Tony Danker, the CBI director general, is speaking now. There is a live feed at the top of the blog.

He pays tribute to Sunak for the way he stood he stood up for his beliefs during the Tory leadership contest in the summer. He is referring to the way Sunak continued to opposed Liz Truss’s plans for unfunded tax cuts, even when it became clear they were popular with Tory members.

Danker also says, in its dealings with Sunak when he was chancellor, the CBI found him to be a man of “integrity and conviction”.

Scotland’s health secretary Humza Yousaf says providing NHS services on basis of ability to pay ‘abhorrent’

Humza Yousaf, health secretary in the Scottish government, has ruled out introducing charges for some wealthier patients in the Scottish NHS. He was responding to a BBC report saying that NHS leaders in Scotland have discussed the option.

As PA Media reports, the document, seen by BBC Scotland, details a September meeting with high-ranking health officials that were given the “green light” by NHS Scotland chief executive Caroline Lamb to discuss reform of a service which finds itself in crisis. PA says:

One of the suggestions, according to the report, would result in a “two-tier” system, where some people would pay for care.

One suggestion in the minutes is to “design in a two-tier system where the people who can afford to, go private,” the BBC reports.

Other suggestions included changing the “risk appetite from what we see in hospitals” by setting a target of discharging patients to their home for treatment within 23 hours.

But the minutes of the meeting accept that “it is not gold standard but what other countries can do without an NHS”.

Leaders also considered a review of the cost of long-term prescribing of drugs, pausing the funding of new drugs, applying a charge for freedom of information requests and sending patients home for care, according to the document, while saying there was a 1 billion hole in the service’s finances.

It would no longer be possible, the leaders said, to “continue to run the range of programmes” offered by the health service.

Responding to the story, Yousaf said:

Our National Health Service must be maintained to the founding principles of Bevan – publicly owned, publicly operated and free at the point of need.

The provision of health services must always be based on the individual needs of a patient – and any suggestion that this should in some way be based on ability to pay is abhorrent.

Prescription charges are a tax on illness, they were scrapped by this government and they will not be returning in any shape or form.

And here are some non-Brexit lines from Robert Jenrick’s morning interview round.

  • Jenrick, the immigration minister, said the UK government had no intention of introducing charges for the NHS. He was responding to a BBC report saying NHS leaders in Scotland have discussed the possibility of getting the rich to pay for treatment as a means of addressing the NHS funding crisis. Jenrick said:

We certainly don’t have any intention to introduce charges to the NHS.

(In the Tory leadership contest in the summer, Rishi Sunak proposed getting people to pay £10 if they missed a second GP appointment. He has since abandoned this idea.)

  • Jenrick said the man who died at the Manston processing centre for asylum seekers is not thought to have died of an infectious disease. But he could not give any further details, saying this was a matter for the coroner. He also said there were currently 300 people in the camp. It can house up to 1,600 people.

  • Jenrick, a former housing minister, said he thought some housing associations had become too large. Asked about the death of Awaab Ishak as a result of mould in a housing association property in Rochdale, he said:

Housing associations, I think, in some cases have moved away from their charitable and social purposes, and have become too large, not sufficiently focused on the interests and needs of the resident.

Jenrick says ‘fundamental tenets’ of Brexit deal will not be reopened

In his interviews this morning Robert Jenrick, the immigration minister, also ruled out pushing for a Swiss-style deal with the EU. Echoing the firm denial issued by No 10 yesterday, after the Sunday Times story was published (there was no denial ahead of publication), Jenrick told TalkTV:

We have a settled position on our relationship with the European Union, that’s the deal that was struck in 2019 and 2020 – and that’s the one that we intend to stick to.

That sets out the fundamental position that we don’t want to see a return to free movement, we don’t want to have the jurisdiction of European judges in the UK, and we don’t want to be paying any money to the European Union.

Of course there will be things on which we can improve our relationship – trade, security, migration are all key topics, and the prime minister wants to have the most productive relationship possible with our European friends and neighbours.

But there’s no question whatsoever of us reopening the fundamental tenets of that deal.

And he told Sky News:

Money, free movement, jurisdiction of European judges: these are really important things that were discussed at length within the Conservative party, within the country, a few years ago.

We chose our position. I think it’s broadly the right one, because we did that for a reason.

Does that mean the Sunday Times just got it wrong? No. The report seems to have been inspired by an interview that Jeremy Hunt, the chancellor, gave to the Today programme on Friday. He said that the government wanted “unfettered trade” with the EU (a phrase used by Theresa May when she was negotiating her own Brexit deal, which was closer to the Swiss version than Boris Johnson’s) and he said he was confident that “over the years ahead we will find outside the single market we are able to remove the vast majority of the trade barriers that exist between us and the EU”. (Johnson himself denied that his deal did put up non-tariff trade barriers, even though it obviously did.)

Caroline Wheeler, the Sunday Times political editor, and one of the authors of the story, has defended her report.

The Sunday Times does not publish important stories like this unless they are impeccably sourced. As you know, the government response is often influenced by a need to manage the warring tribes of the Conservative Party.

— caroline wheeler (@cazjwheeler) November 20, 2022

Here is the key extract from the Sunday Times story citing senior government sources.

In private, senior government sources have suggested that pursuing frictionless trade requires moving towards a Swiss-style relationship over the next decade. However, they insist this would not extend to a return to freedom of movement.

“It’s obviously something the EU would never offer us upfront because they would say you are trying to have your cake and eat it but the reason I think we will get it is because it is overwhelmingly in the businesses interests on both sides,” one said …

Ministers are confident that the EU’s approach to relations with the UK is thawing as the continent faces the challenges caused by soaring inflation and the conflict in Ukraine.

“I think we will be doing everything we can proactively within our power to make changes to improve things when it comes to the EU,” one source said.

“The bigger picture on this is the EU seeing something which they weren’t expecting, which is massive support for European security from the UK with respect to Ukraine and they can see we are serious about being sensible grownups with the biggest military in Europe doing our bit.

“I think there is a very good way through this with more trust that we were ever going to have with either Boris Johnson or Liz Truss.”

Take out the reference to Switzerland, and there is not such a big gap between what this source is suggesting, and what Jenrick is saying.

In a good analysis of the story, Eleni Courea in her London Playbook briefing for Politico says that report echoes Hunt’s thinking, but that it is not yet clear whether Sunak thinks the same way.

We may get some clues when he addresses the CBI within the hour.

UK will not ease immigration barriers to plug skills shortages, Jenrick says

Tony Danker, the CBI director general, may not be asking for a Swiss-style Brexit deal, but he does want more immigration. In his interview on the Today programme, he said the government should expand the shortage occupation list – the list of jobs for which foreigners can easily get work visas, because employers cannot find Britons to fill them. He told Today:

When you look at the OBR report on Thursday, they said the only thing that’s really moved the needle on growth is by allowing in a bit more immigration.

The reason why it’s so important is we have literally over a million vacancies in this country, we have 600,000 people who are now long-term unwell, who aren’t coming back to the labour market any time soon.

That’s why we have to get this shortage occupation list – the list of people that we’re really missing that we aren’t going to get in Britain any time soon – and we have to get them to plug the gap while we re-calibrate the labour market in the medium term.

I’m afraid it’s one of those levers that does help you grow, doesn’t cost money, but I recognise it’s a tough political choice for Conservative politicians.

But Robert Jenrick, the immigration minister who was doing the morning interview round for No 10, said the government did not agree. As my colleague Peter Walker reports, Jenrick said the government was still committed to reducing net migration.

CBI chief Tony Danker joins Tory Brexiters in saying government should not seek Swiss-style Brexit deal

Good morning. Rishi Sunak is addressing the CBI conference this morning, where it is normal for prime ministers to take questions after they have delivered their speech. Sunak is likely to be asked about yesterday’s report in the Sunday Times that started with the intro:

Senior government figures are planning to put Britain on the path towards a Swiss-style relationship with the European Union.

The report is now being denied, but you might have assumed that it would have gone down well with the CBI, which was strongly opposed to Brexit in 2016 and which continues to argue that the way Brexit has been implemented is harmful to business. But even the CBI isn’t calling for a Swiss-style Brexit deal. Tony Danker, the CBI director general, has joined the many Tory Brexiters who reacted with alarm to yesterday’s story in saying that the government should not be aiming for a Swiss-style deal. He told the Today programme this morning:

I’m a bit puzzled about the whole Swiss thing. It took them about 40 years to get to the Swiss arrangement. Currently, we’re not even implementing Boris’s deal. Let’s implement Boris’s Brexit deal, that still has some growth in it, by the way, that’s all come to a freeze, and let’s forget the discussion about Switzerland for now.

Asked if a Swiss-style Brexit deal would be a betrayal of Brexit, Danker replied:

All I want to do is implement Boris’s deal. Currently we’re not implementing Boris’s deal. We’ve got we’ve got an impasse because of the Northern Ireland protocol. There’s lots of freezing of our science relationships, of our recognition of our qualifications, of easier travel across Europe. Those things will give us some growth. But it needs the Europeans and the British government to get round the table and solve the protocol.

There’s a landing zone there. If we fulfil the agreement on the protocol, we’ll start to open up some of those other other economic benefits from Boris’s trade deal.

Danker is speaking at the CBI conference just before Sunak. As my colleague Graeme Wearden reports on his business live blog, Danker will argue that last week’s autumn statement did not contain a plan for growth.

Here is the agenda for the day.

10.15am: Rishi Sunak speaks at the CBI conference in Birmingham.

11.30am: Downing Street holds a lobby briefing.

2.30pm: Michael Gove, the levelling up secretary, takes questions in the Commons.

4.15pm: Gove gives evidence to the Commons levelling up committee.

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Tony Danker, the CBI director general.
Tony Danker, the CBI director general. Photograph: Tayfun Salcı/Zuma Press Wire/Rex/Shutterstock