UK politics live: Security minister Dan Jarvis says Tories ‘hollowed out’ armed forces as Reed vows to ‘clean up’ water industry

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Starmer meets with Senate leaders and German chancellor during visit to Capitol Hill

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Security minister Dan Jarvis has accused the Conservative government of hollowing out the armed forces during their time in power.

Mr Jarvis claimed the new Labour cabinet will carry out a review into the armed services “very quickly” to put in place the right resources to tackle the “the threats our country faces”.

Environment secretary Steve Reed announced the first step of a reform of the water sector and vowed to “to clean up” the industry to prioritise customers and the environment.

In Washington, Sir Keir Starmer is set to meet world leaders and discuss long-term support for Ukraine’s entry process into the Nato alliance and protection from any potential interference from a Donald Trump presidency.

It comes as the prime minister hailed the UK’s relationship with the US describing the bond “stronger than ever” during his first face-to-face visit with president Joe Biden at the White House.

During the meeting, Joe Biden called the US and UK the “best of allies” and backed Sir Keir’s ambitions to take the UK back closer to the European Union.

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Unseated Jonathan Ashworth hits out at rival Shockat Adam

Unseated Labour MP Jonathan Ashworth has hit out at independent candidate for Leicester South Shockat Adam.

The former shadow minister lost his seat to Mr Adam, who criticised the Labour government for its stance on Palestine.

Mr Ashworth accused the independent candidate’s campaigners of “bullying and intimidating” him during the general election.

He told Sky News: “I’ve never known a campaign of such vitriol, such bullying, such intimidation.

“I’ve never seen a member of parliament, Shockat Adam Patel, get elected on the basis of a foul and obnoxious lie that I was responsible for genocide, that I had the blood of Gazan children on my hands.”

In response, a spokesperson for Shockat Adam told Sky News: “Shockat was elected by a diverse coalition of voters in Leicester South.

“He is focused on delivering for his constituents, and will not be distracted by sour grapes from a beaten rival whose divisive politics were resoundingly rejected at the ballot box.”

(Sky News)

Salma Ouaguira11 July 2024 09:58

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Tory MP warns against merging with Nigel Farage’s Reform UK

Tory MP Gareth Davies warned against a possible deal with Nigel Farage as the party “enabled a Labour government who will increase taxes and increase immigration”.

It comes after a poll revealed half of Conservatives would back merging with Reform UK forging a right-wing alliance.

He told Sky News the solution is to rebuild trust among voters, adding: “Those people left us at this election, and they didn’t just go to Reform – we lost voters to other parties as well, like the Liberal Democrats.” 

Asked whether the party could merge with Reform, the former minister replied: “Any party that has an affront to conservatism is not a party I think we should bring in.

“They’ve actively tried to destroy the Conservative Party.. so that’s not something I think we should entertain.”

Salma Ouaguira11 July 2024 09:47

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Tories ‘back in government quicker than some think’, says MP

Despite a bruising general election defeat, Tory MP Gareth Davies is convinced the Conservatives will be back in Downing Street.

The MP for Grantham and Bourne told Sky News: “I think we can hold this government to account effectively. And I think we can be back in government quicker than maybe some people think we can.”

Asked about the upcoming Tory leadership contest, Mr Davies said Rishi Sunak will remain at the front “for now” so the party can reflect on the millions of voters lost.

He added: “Millions of people didn’t vote for the Labour Party, and millions of people did still vote for us. And so on behalf of them, we have to push this Labour government, who we believe are trying to roll the pitch to raise taxes.”

(Sky News)

Salma Ouaguira11 July 2024 09:40

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Laura Trott claims Tories ‘strengthened the economy’ after economy announcement

Shadow chief secretary to the Treasury Laura Trott has said May’s increase in gross domestic product shows the action the Conservative government took has “strengthened the economy”.

It comes as the Office for National Statistics said the UK’s gross domestic product (GDP) increased by 0.4% in May.

Ms Trott said: “Today’s figures show that the steps we put in place whilst in government have strengthened the economy.

“These figures also prove Labour are inheriting an economy turning a corner, after the many difficult decisions we took in government.

“We will keep Labour to the promises made in the campaign not to raise taxes on working people. As Rachel Reeves, the new Chancellor, herself recognised, the books were open.”

(PA Wire)

Salma Ouaguira11 July 2024 09:25

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Steve Reed announces first step of water industry reform

The new environment minister told private water companies in England and Wales they must ensure funding is ringfenced for infrastructure upgrades.

In a statement, Mr Reed also told Ofwat “to ensure that when money for investment is not spent, companies refund customers, with money never allowed to be diverted for bonuses, dividends or salary increases.”

He said: “We will never look the other way while water companies pump sewage into our rivers, lakes and seas. This unacceptable destruction of our waterways should never have been allowed, but change has now begun so it can never happen again.

“Today I have announced significant steps to clean up the water industry to cut sewage pollution, protect customers and attract investment to upgrade its crumbling infrastructure. That change will take time. Over the coming weeks and months, this Government will outline further steps to reform the water sector and restore our rivers, lakes and seas to good health.”

Salma Ouaguira11 July 2024 09:15

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Security minister claims Tories ‘hollowed out’ armed forces

The new security minister Dan Jarvis has accused the former Tory government of hollowing out the country’s armed forces.

He promised the new Labour cabinet will carry out a review into the armed services “very quickly”.

He told Sky News: “The prime minister and my colleague, defence secretary John Healey, have made a commitment that a review will be initiated very quickly. It’s important that we follow the process and look carefully at the nature of the threat our country faces, and the resources that will be required to be put in place.

“It is an important process and it will take a period of months. The British army is now smaller than any point since the Napoleonic war. We need to do this properly. Our armed forces have been hollowed out in recent times.

“Challenged that current plans suggest it might take a year to get a review in place, when army leadership says it could be done in a matter of weeks, Jarvis said “We’re not in the business of cutting corners. We need to look at the complex nature of the threat that we face.”

Mr Jarvis added: “Call me old fashioned, but I believe in process. I believe in doing things properly. And that’s what this government will do. We will do things properly. There will be a comprehensive process of review, and then we will make sure that the correct resource is allocated to meet the findings of that review.”

Salma Ouaguira11 July 2024 09:12

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Labour pledges ‘reset moment’ for water companies amid hike in water bills

Environment minister Steve Reed is set to meet water bosses in Downing Street where he will reiterate his commitment to prioritise customers’ interests and the environment.

It comes as Ofwat gave suppliers provisional permission to hike household bills by an average of £94 over five years.

A source close to the secretary told the BBC, the Tories “weakened regulation allowing the sewage system to crumble and illegal sewage dumping to hit record levels”.

They added: “The election of this Labour government is a reset moment for the water industry.

“In coming weeks and months, this government will outline its first steps to reform the water sector to attract the investment we need to upgrade our infrastructure and restore our rivers, lakes and seas to good health.”

New Environment Secretary Steve Reed will meet representatives from water firms (Tejas Sandhu/PA)
New Environment Secretary Steve Reed will meet representatives from water firms (Tejas Sandhu/PA) (PA Wire)

Salma Ouaguira11 July 2024 08:50

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Wes Streeting launches ‘warts and all’ probe into state of NHS

Wes Streeting has ordered a “warts and all” probe of the state of the NHSto tell “hard truths” about what needs fixing.

He has appointed Lord Ara Darzi, a health minister in the last Labour government, to carry out the review and ordered officials to hand over whatever information is needed.

Writing in The Sun, Mr Streeting said: “Honesty is the best policy, and this report will provide patients, staff and myself with a full and frank assessment of the state of the NHS, warts and all.

“It’s going to take time to turn the NHS around – we were honest about that before the election. Sticking plasters won’t be enough to heal it. It will require fundamental reform.”

Our political correspondent Archie Mitchell has more:

Salma Ouaguira11 July 2024 08:50

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UK’s commitment to Nato is ‘unshakeable’

The strength of the economy is “fundamental” to the process of increasing defence spending but the UK’s commitment to Nato is “unshakeable”, the security minister has said.

Asked whether the Government would raise defence spending even if growth is not forthcoming, Dan Jarvis told LBC: “Well, I think we do need to increase military spending.

“There’s a cast-iron guarantee that we’ll get to that 2.5% figure… clearly, in the end, the strength of the economy is fundamental to all of this.

“We’ve had positive news this morning, but our commitment to Nato is unshakeable. Our commitment to 2.5% of GDP is absolutely cast iron, and we will get to the point as quickly as we possibly can but it needs to be informed by the process of review that will be initiated very shortly.”

Prime Minister of Bulgaria Dimitar Glavchev, Prime Minister of the Netherlands Dick Schoof, Victoria Starmer, Prime Minister Sir Keir Starmer, Amelie Derbaudrenghien and Prime Minister of Belgium Charles Michel, watch a ceremony on the South Lawn of The White House to mark the 75th anniversary of NATO at the annual summit in Washington DC
Prime Minister of Bulgaria Dimitar Glavchev, Prime Minister of the Netherlands Dick Schoof, Victoria Starmer, Prime Minister Sir Keir Starmer, Amelie Derbaudrenghien and Prime Minister of Belgium Charles Michel, watch a ceremony on the South Lawn of The White House to mark the 75th anniversary of NATO at the annual summit in Washington DC (Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire)

Salma Ouaguira11 July 2024 08:43

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Labour minister says ‘unfair’ to accuse Starmer of hypocrisy over defence spending

The security minister said it is “unfair” to accuse Sir Keir Starmer of hypocrisy as he presses other Nato countries to honour the 2% of GDP defence spending pledge while the UK reviews its own funding.

Dan Jarvis said “these things should be done properly”, as he was pressed on the Prime Minister’s insistence that an assessment of the armed forces must be carried out before a decision is made on raising the budget.

When it was put to him that there was a “whiff of hypocrisy” in Sir Keir urging other allies in the bloc to honour spending commitments, he told LBC: “I think that would be unfair, Nick, if you don’t mind me saying.

“The Prime Minister has made a cast-iron guarantee that we will get to the point where we are spending 2.5% on GDP on our defence capabilities, but we think that these things should be done properly.”

Asked whether defence spending could potentially be cut instead, Mr Jarvis said: “I personally think it’s inconceivable that the British Army would go down, but that is precisely why you need a proper process at work to look at the capabilities that you have.”

Salma Ouaguira11 July 2024 08:34

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