Keir Starmer has unveiled a shake-up of the Labour party’s campaign machinery, my colleague Pippa Crerar reports. She says this includes the departure of Sam White, his current chief of staff. White used to work as a special adviser to Alistair Darling when Darling was chancellor.
A leading economist has said the government will need to abandon the unfunded tax cuts in the mini-budget if it wants to end the uncertainty in the financial markets that led to today’s emergency Bank of England intervention,
Mohamed El-Erian, president of Queen’s College, Cambridge, and chief economic adviser to Allianz, the German finance company, told the World at One that the financial system was currently on “very shaky ground”. He explained:
When the yields, the interest rates on government bonds, become disorderly, the mortgage market starts having problems, which is what we’ve experienced.
When the mortgage [market] starts having problems, people start worrying about their own economic future, so they start to change their behaviour.
And if you’re not careful, the average person will not just worry about whether their kids can be better off, they will worry about whether they can maintain their own standard of living. And then you can trigger a self-reinforcing economic decline that is very difficult to reverse.
Asked what the government should do, El-Erian said Kwasi Kwarteng, the chancellor, should reverse the mini-budget. He said:
We need to go back to first principle. The major cause for this instability is the government announcing very large unfunded tax cuts. What they’ve gone back on only impacts about 5% of what they’ve announced. I see no alternative but the government saying we will not cut taxes now, we may cut them in future.
And the alternative that has been talked about, of spending cuts to compensate for tax cuts, that alternative actually would cause significant damage. And the markets will not swallow the alternative of spending cuts.
El-Erian said it was particularly important to reinstate the planned corporation tax increase, and abandon the plan for the early cut in the basis rate of income tax. When it was put to him that Kwarteng could not survive such a big U-turn, he replied:
That’s a political judgment. What I can tell you is that [Kwarteng] will find it very difficult to operate in an environment in which he does not go back. Once you unleash what are called the bond vigilantes. Once you unleash the instability in the bond market, unless you contain it quickly, it creates damage.
Just look at what has happened for the last two weeks. The Bank of England intervened. It contradicted its own anti inflation policies in order to stabilise the market, and it didn’t take long for market disorder to return.
Asked about government claims that the tax cuts will stimulate growth, El-Erian said:
Very few people believe that the tax cuts in themselves will stimulate growth and they certainly will not stimulate growth in the midst of financial turmoil.
What will stimulate growth is the structural reforms that aim at higher productivity and aim at a more efficient economy, and those should stay. The government should not threaten them by pursuing something else that causes financial turmoil.
Asked what would happen if the government did not act before 31 October, when the medium-term fiscal plan is due to be published, he replied:
I say the markets will stay very nervous. Interest rates will remain high, mortgage markets will stay disrupted, and consumer and business confidence will work. And all that ultimately means not just lower actual growth, but lower potential growth. And that goes counter to what the government is trying to do.
There will be two urgent questions in the Commons today. Tobias Ellwood, the chair of the defence committee, has tabled a UQ for the defence secretary on Ukraine, which will be heard at 3.30pm, and Theresa Villiers has tabled a UQ to the foreign secretary on the protests in Iran following the death of Mahsa Amini.
That means the debate on the health and social care levy (repeal) bill will not start until around 5pm.
Back in the supreme court, Dorothy Bain KC, lord advocate, told the court on behalf of the Scottish government that, without a ruling from the court to resolve the issue of whether Holyrood has the legal power to bring forward an referendum bill, she would not be able to “clear” the introduction of such a bill herself. PA Media says:
Bain said there was a ‘genuine issue’ that was unresolved, adding: ‘The issue is one of exceptional importance to the people of Scotland and the UK.’
She also said there was a ‘risk’ that a referendum bill could be introduced by an individual member of the Scottish parliament and said this underlined the need for a ruling from the court on the legal issues.
Bain added: ‘I am seeking legal certainty at this stage … In my assessment it is in the public interest.’
She also said the circumstances which had led to the reference being made to the court were ‘highly exceptional’.
As my colleague Jessica Elgot reports, the prime minister’s official spokesperson (he is called Max Blain, but he prefers to be called the spokesperson because he’s a mouthpiece, not a public figure) has been briefing journalists about what happens at Liz Truss’s cabinet meetings without being in the room himself. This is not how it used to happen. Under previous prime ministers, the PM’s spokesperson did attend as an observer.
Liz Truss told cabinet ministers at their meeting this morning the growth plan (the formal title for the mini-budget) was “a shared endeavour” that all departments would have to contribute to. In a read-out, Downing Street said:
The prime minister said the growth plan was a shared endeavour involving all departments with further work ahead of the medium-term fiscal plan at the end of the month.
Truss also told ministers that the government would “bring forward legislation on minimum service levels to reduce the impact of strike action and help reduce disruption to businesses and commuters”, No 10 said.
At the Downing Street lobby briefing the prime minister’s official spokesperson also insisted that the government was committed to the measures in the mini-budget, despite this morning’s emergency intervention by the Bank of England. The spokesperson said:
The prime minister is committed to the growth measures set out by the chancellor. The prime minister remains confident that the measures set out will deliver growth in the economy.
As the Telegraph’s Jack Maidment reports, the Bank’s intervention was not even discussed at the main cabinet meeting, according to the spokesperson.
The spokesperson also claimed the fundamentals of the UK economy are strong, Adam Bienkov from Byline Times reports.
At the lobby briefing the spokeperson was only briefing on what happened at the main cabinet meeting. There was a political cabinet beforehand, which as a neutral civil servant he was not involved in and would not comment on.
But Steven Swinford from the Times seems to have had a leak of what was said at political cabinet. See 11.28am.
The Labour MP Sam Tarry has issued a statement about the vote to deselect him taken by his local party last night. He does not commit to challenging the result legally, but he says he wants to take some time to consider what he does next, and he calls on Labour to give details of how votes were cast electronically.
My colleague Jessica Elgot has the full story here.
Liz Truss told her cabinet ministers this morning that they should be attacking Labour as part of the “anti-growth coalition”, Steven Swinford from the Times reports.
This is from Patrick Maguire from the Times with background which he says is relevant to the departure of Keir Starmer’s chief of staff, Sam White.
Keir Starmer has also paid tribute to Sam White, who is leaving his post as Starmer’s chief of staff. Starmer said:
Sam has played an incredible role taking our operation to the next level. Under his leadership the team has become better and stronger. He’s hired some outstanding people and leaves behind a powerful legacy. A great deal of what’s been achieved over the last year wouldn’t have happened without him. I want to thank him for his frank advice, unstinting loyalty and all his support to me during some challenging times.
With the merger, running the leader’s office becomes a smaller role than Sam signed up for and we both agree as we’re making this change, now is the right time to go. I hope we’ll work together again in the future.
And White said, in a statement released by the party:
It’s been a privilege to serve both as chief of staff and senior adviser to Keir. I’m proud of the work we’ve done and the progress we’ve made. The next phase of the campaign needs a different structure, but we part very much as friends with the intent to work together again in the future. You’ll find no greater champion for a Starmer government than me. Britain needs a Labour government and Keir will be the outstanding prime minister we deserve.
This is what the Labour party has said about the restructuring announced by Keir Starmer to staff earlier today. (See 10.17am.) In essence, key functions of the the leader’s office (LOTO in Labourspeak – the leader of the opposition’s office) and party HQ are being merged. Labour says:
Labour announces restructuring of key roles from the leader’s office into the party as they move to an election footing.
Keir Starmer today told Labour party staff that we are moving to a general election footing following our successful conference and in light of the Conservative implosion.
In an all-staff call alongside the general secretary, the Labour leader thanked party staff for their hard work this year with the successful elections in May, a busier than usual summer with Tory leadership, and a great party conference. He said he “truly appreciated the sacrifices and commitment of party staff”.
Keir Starmer said: “I can’t tell you how confident it makes me feel knowing that behind us we have such a brilliant team. The government’s collapse has given us a huge chance. The instability means they could fall at any time. Because of that we need to get on an election footing straight away.”
The Labour leader warned that “this is not time for complacency or caution” but that the party needed to “seize the opportunity we have and show the British people we are the party that can lead our country forward. These changes to the structures of the party that will move us on to that election footing. We’ve been planning this for a while but the scale of the Tory collapse has brought it forward.”
David Evans [Labour’s general secretary] made clear that no jobs are at risk as a result of this. The new structures will support the fact that we are on an election footing. That means policy and communications will move into Party HQ reporting to the general secretary.
Among the changes, Sam White appointed chief of staff last summer to build the operation leaves in the merger.
In his message to Labour staff announcing a restructuring of the campaign machinery (see 10.17am), Keir Starmer said the party had to “get on an election footing straight away”, my colleague Pippa Crerar reports.
https://www.theguardian.com/politics/live/2022/oct/11/liz-truss-conservatives-tories-kwasi-kwarteng-brexit-latest-updates Starmer’s chief of staff to leave job as Labour leader unveils major party shake-up – UK politics live | Politics