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Julian Lewis kicked out of Tories for ‘working with Labour’

A Tory MP has been kicked out of the Tory party tonight for ‘working with Labour and the opposition’ after he beat Boris Johnson’s pick Chris Grayling to the chairmanship of the powerful Intelligence and Security Committee.

Dr Julian Lewis secured the role despite widespread expectation that Mr Grayling would receive the backing of the Conservative-dominated Intelligence and Security Committee.   

In a dramatic Westminster coup tonight, the Tory leadership took swift retribution against the Eurosceptic MP for New Forest East and removed the whip. 

It is widely believed Boris Johnson wanted former transport secretary Mr Grayling to become the chairman of the body which oversees the work of MI5, MI6 and GCHQ. 

A senior Government source said the removal of the whip was because the MP was ‘working with Labour and other opposition MPs for his own advantage’.

Opposition parties lined up this evening to condemn the move against Dr Lewis as ‘grubby’ and ‘psychopath politics’.

Labour former frontbencher Chris Bryant said: ‘It’s a momentous failure of intelligence when a PM takes months to handpick Intelligence and Security Committee members so as to deliver the Chair he wants and they refuse to do his bidding. To then chuck the new chairman out of the party is to lose control/the plot.’ 

Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner branded the move against Dr Lewis ‘grubby’.  And the SNP’s Angus MacNeil commented: ‘We are in the world of psychopath politics… This is utterly jawdropping!’ 

Mr Grayling had been No10’s candidate for the role but a Labour and SNP ‘coup’ is said to have allowed fellow Tory Julian Lewis to secure the top job instead

Chris Grayling, MP, drives his car through the House of Commons gates this afternoon, smiling and expcting to become the new Head of the Intelligence and Security committee. However, in a surprising development, he was beaten by Dr Lewis

Chris Grayling, MP, drives his car through the House of Commons gates this afternoon, smiling and expcting to become the new Head of the Intelligence and Security committee. However, in a surprising development, he was beaten by Dr Lewis

But the committee members voted instead for former defence select committee chairman Dr Lewis.

It is thought Dr Lewis had only nominated himself for the role this afternoon after it became clear he would have the backing of all four Labour and SNP votes. 

With the Conservatives enjoying a majority – with five out of nine places on the committee – there had been concern at Westminster that the Tory members would be ‘whipped’ to support Mr Grayling despite concerns about his expertise.

Former national security adviser Lord Ricketts warned that Mr Grayling – who earned the nickname ‘Failing Grayling’ during a chequered ministerial career – does not ‘match up’ to the authority and reputation of former chairs.

Following Dr Lewis’s success, Lord Ricketts said the body was now in the ‘hands of someone with much wider experience of defence and security’.

The Tory leadership took swift action against Dr Lewis after he worked with the opposition to secure himself the chairmanship of the powerful Intelligence and Security Committee

The Tory leadership took swift action against Dr Lewis after he worked with the opposition to secure himself the chairmanship of the powerful Intelligence and Security Committee

As well as Mr Grayling and Dr Lewis, the members of the ISC are Tory MPs Theresa Villiers, Sir John Hayes and Mark Pritchard, Labour MPs Dame Diana Johnson and Kevan Jones, the Labour peer Admiral Lord West and the SNP MP Stewart Hosie.

Mr Johnson has faced criticism over the delay in appointing the committee which has not met since the last parliament was dissolved in November last year.

The committee has yet to publish its long-awaited report into Russian interference in UK politics after Mr Johnson refused to clear it for release before last year’s general election.

A committee source said: ‘This was a secret ballot but clearly for him (Mr Grayling) to lose, some Tories decided not to vote for him.’

Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman Alistair Carmichael said Mr Johnson had appointed ‘yes men’ to the ISC but ‘true to form, however, failing Grayling has been undone in his bid to be chair’.

‘I hope we now have a committee with real teeth that can hold this Government to account,’ he added.

‘That starts by publishing the report into Russian interference of our democracy before the summer recess so MPs can scrutinise it fully.’ 

Mr Grayling, the former transport secretary, was Downing Street’s pick to take charge of the parliamentary body.   

Labour's deputy leader Angela Rayner (pictured) branded the move against Dr Lewis 'grubby'

Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner (pictured) branded the move against Dr Lewis ‘grubby’

Mr Grayling had nominated himself yesterday and was said to not be expecting a challenge. 

The former Cabinet minister had been widely expected to win the role after it became clear that he was Number 10’s preferred candidate.  

A parliamentary source told Sky News: ‘Someone lays out a red carpet for you and you manage somehow to trip over it and set it on fire.’

The ISC, which is tasked with scrutinising the work of the UK’s intelligence services, has not been convened since December 2019 after it was dissolved for the general election. 

It elected its members from across the House of Commons and the Lords earlier this week. 

Now that it has a chairman it will be under pressure to quickly publish a long-awaited report into Russian interference in UK democracy.  

SNP defence spokesman Stewart McDonald MP said: ‘This is another total shambles from the Tory government, which has failed to put in place a functioning Intelligence and Security Committee for more than six months since the election.

‘With his abysmal record of failure as a Tory minister, Chris Grayling is the only man who could lose a rigged election but it is right the committee has elected a chair and it should now get on with the crucial job of ensuring scrutiny and oversight of security matters, after months of delay.’

Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman Alistair Carmichael said Mr Johnson had appointed ‘yes men’ to the ISC but ‘true to form, however, failing Grayling has been undone in his bid to be chair’.

‘I hope we now have a committee with real teeth that can hold this Government to account,’ he added.

‘That starts by publishing the report into Russian interference of our democracy before the summer recess so MPs can scrutinise it fully.’ 

Rishi Sunak hints at looming tax rises to put government’s books on a ‘sustainable’ footing after watchdog warns the UK debt mountain could be up to £1TRILLION bigger in just five years’ time amid coronavirus crisis

by James Tapsfield, Political Editor for MailOnline

Rishi Sunak delivered another strong hint that tax rises are looming today as he insisted the public finances will need to be put back on a ‘strong and sustainable’ footing.

After the OBR warned about spiralling national debt from the coronavirus crisis, the Chancellor said he would need to take action to balance the books over the ‘medium term’. 

But despite the government watchdog stating that tax hikes and spending cuts are inevitable, Mr Sunak also appeared to shut down his options by echoing Boris Johnson’s vow that income tax, National Insurance and VAT will not increase before 2024 – in line with the Tory election manifesto.

The comments came as Mr Sunak gave evidence to MPs on the Commons Treasury committee this afternoon. 

The OBR warned yesterday that the government faces a gap of at least £60billion in its finances – equivalent to as much as 12p on the basic rate of income tax – as it poured cold water on hopes of a ‘V-shaped’ bounceback from coronavirus. 

It said GDP will fall by up to 14 per cent this year, the worst recession in 300 years, with national debt bigger than the whole economy. 

Underlining the scale of the hit, government liabilities could be £710billion more than previously expected by 2023-4. That is equivalent to nearly £11,000 for every man, woman and child in the UK.

If the ‘downside’ scenario comes to pass the national debt could be roughly £1trillion higher by 2024-25. 

Meanwhile, Boris Johnson insisted he does not have a ‘magic wand’ to save jobs today as he admitted that a wave of redundancies is looming. The PM said ‘no-one should underestimate the challenges’ the UK faces after the government’s watchdog warned four million people could be on the dole queue by next year.

After the OBR warned about spiralling national debt from the coronavirus crisis, Chancellor Rishi Sunak said he would need to take action to balance the books over the 'medium term'

After the OBR warned about spiralling national debt from the coronavirus crisis, Chancellor Rishi Sunak said he would need to take action to balance the books over the ‘medium term’

Public debt will soar as the UK reels from the coronavirus crisis, according to the watchdog's central scenario today. By 2023-4 the liabilities will be around £660billion higher than forecast in March before the chaos hit - and that does not include an extra £50billion from the mini-Budget

Public debt will soar as the UK reels from the coronavirus crisis, according to the watchdog’s central scenario today. By 2023-4 the liabilities will be around £660billion higher than forecast in March before the chaos hit – and that does not include an extra £50billion from the mini-Budget

And the  Bank of England warned that the UK economy is set for an ‘incomplete V-shaped’ recovery from the  coronavirus crisis with a bounce back likely to stall at the end of 2020 because of rising unemployment. 

Output might not return to last year’s level until the end of 2024, according to the estimates. Accounting for inflation, the country will still be 6 per cent poorer in 2025 in the gloomiest outcome. 

Meanwhile, unemployment could peak at 13 per cent in the first quarter of 2021 – which would mean more than four million people on the dole queue. 

That would be significantly worse than the 11.9 per cent jobless rate from 1984, and the highest since modern records began in the 1970s. The ‘central’ forecast is that 15 per cent of the 9.4million furloughed jobs will be lost.  

Challenged by the committee that tax rises will be needed in the Autumn Budget to stabilise the government’s finances, Mr Sunak said: ‘I can’t comment on future fiscal policy. But more broadly I would agree that strong and sustainable public finances are important.

Boris Johnson

Keir Starmer

Boris Johnson (left) insisted he does not have a ‘magic wand’ to save jobs as he clashed with Sir Keir Starmer (right) at PMQs today

The OBR's downside scenario sees unemployment rising to more than four million next year - with a rate higher than seen in the 1980s

The OBR’s downside scenario sees unemployment rising to more than four million next year – with a rate higher than seen in the 1980s

Output might not return to last year's level until the end of 2024, according to the new OBR estimates. Accounting for inflation, the country will still be 6 per cent poorer in 2025 in the gloomiest outcome

Output might not return to last year’s level until the end of 2024, according to the new OBR estimates. Accounting for inflation, the country will still be 6 per cent poorer in 2025 in the gloomiest outcome

The OBR suggested the national debt will be bigger than the whole economy in all but the most optimistic scenario

The OBR suggested the national debt will be bigger than the whole economy in all but the most optimistic scenario

‘It is something I believe in… That is something that over the medium term we will want to return the public finances to.’

He added later: ‘There are tough choices ahead, that is clear. There are some tough choice to come.’ 

Boris Johnson admits jobs WILL be lost after OBR watchdog warned 4MILLION could be on the dole queue by next year 

Boris Johnson insisted he does not have a ‘magic wand’ to save jobs today as he admitted that a wave of redundancies is looming.

The PM said ‘no-one should underestimate the challenges’ the UK faces after the government’s watchdog warned four million people could be on the dole queue by next year.

A dire assessment from the Office for Budget Responsibility yesterday also suggested public debt will rise by around £700billion over the next five years as a result of the coronavirus crisis. 

Pressed by Sir Keir Starmer at PMQs over what he would do to help prop up firms struggling to survive, Mr Johnson stressed the huge support being provided by the state.

But he said: ‘We cannot, I’m afraid, simply with a magic wand ensure that every single job that was being done before the crisis is retained after the crisis.’

Sir Keir also demanded to know what ministers were doing to prepare for a second spike of coronavirus in the Autumn. 

The premier shot back: ‘Not only are we getting on with implementing the preparations for a potential new spike, but he will know that the Government is engaged in record investments in the NHS.’

 

Pressed on whether the Tory manifesto ‘triple tax lock’ would be honoured, he said: ‘Our ambition is to deliver on all the priorities that we set out…. I always agree with the Prime Minister.’

Mr Sunak stressed that a famous rule that economies struggled when debts were above 90 per cent of GDP had been written in a time when interest rates were not as low.

Extraordinarily, the government sold £3.8billion of gilts today at negative interest rates – meaning that those who bought them will get less back in 2023 than they paid. The success of the auction is partly a sign of the weakness of the economy with low inflation, but also demonstrates there is high demand to lend the government money. 

Earlier, Mr Johnson insisted he does not have a ‘magic wand’ to save jobs today as he admitted that a wave of redundancies is looming.

The PM said ‘no-one should underestimate the challenges’ the UK faces after the OBR warned four million people could be on the dole queue by next year.

Pressed by Sir Keir Starmer at PMQs over what he would do to help prop up firms struggling to survive, Mr Johnson stressed the huge support being provided by the state.

But he said: ‘We cannot, I’m afraid, simply with a magic wand ensure that every single job that was being done before the crisis is retained after the crisis.’

Sir Keir also demanded to know what ministers were doing to prepare for a second spike of coronavirus in the Autumn. 

The premier shot back: ‘Not only are we getting on with implementing the preparations for a potential new spike, but he will know that the Government is engaged in record investments in the NHS.’

At PMQs, Sir Keir said the Government’s decision not to provide sector-specific support to those most at risk ‘could end up costing thousands of jobs’.

Sir Keir said: ‘Over the last few months we’ve supported many of the economic measures announced by the Government but the decision last week not to provide sector specific support to those most at risk could end up costing thousands of jobs.

A shocking longer forecast from the OBR suggests that national debt will be more than five times the size of the economy by 2070

A shocking longer forecast from the OBR suggests that national debt will be more than five times the size of the economy by 2070

Official figures showed GDP grew by 1.8 per cent in May, although it is still nearly a quarter lower than before the draconian coronavirus restrictions were imposed. In this chart 100 represents the size of the economy in 2016

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has laid out a bewildering array of spending and loans to try to prop up the country during the crisis

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has laid out a bewildering array of spending and loans to try to prop up the country during the crisis

‘One of the sectors, aviation, has already seen huge redundancies. BA have announced 12,000 redundancies, Virgin, 3,000, easyJet 1,900.

‘If the Government’s priority really is to protect jobs, why did the Chancellor not bring forward sector specific deals that could have done precisely that?’

Mr Johnson replied: ‘No one should underestimate the scale of the challenge that this country faces and that is why the Chancellor has brought forward a range of measures which by the way he supported last week.’

But he added: ‘Let’s be absolutely clear, British Airways and many other companies are in severe difficulties at the moment and we cannot, I’m afraid, simply with a magic wand ensure that every single job that was being done before the crisis is retained after the crisis.

‘What we can do and what we are doing is encouraging companies to keep their workers on with the Job Retention Scheme, with the Job Retention Bonus and with a massive programme in investing in this country, a £600million investment programme in this country to build, build, build and create jobs, jobs, jobs.’ 

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