Rishi Sunak said the NHS can “get on with job” of tackling ambulance queues outside the nation’s A&E departments after the Government gave the health service billions of pounds of extra funding.
The Prime Minister acknowledged the issue of bed-blocking but said an £8billion package of support set out at the Autumn Statement would “tackle some of these problems”.
Speaking during a visit to the Erasmus Darwin Academy in Burntwood, Staffordshire, Mr Sunak said: “One of the most important things we need to do is support people to move out of hospitals back into their homes, back into their communities, and that’s why the money that we have put in is going to go and support social care.
“And if we can do that, and we can start doing that very quickly, then that will really help alleviate some of the pressure on ambulances waiting outside hospitals.
“I know that the NHS are committed to delivering on it. We’ve given them significant funding so they can get on with the job.”
Mr Sunak had earlier used a speech at the CBI’s annual conference to promise to “radically innovate” the way things are done in the NHS.
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PM: 'NHS is the country’s most important public service'
Rishi Sunak described the NHS as the country's "most important public service" after he was asked if his plans for the health service would help a patient who needed care after suffering a fall.
The Prime Minister said: "It’s absolutely important to me and to the Government that people get the healthcare they need.
"I know the NHS is the country’s most important public service. I come from an NHS family, it’s in my blood.
"And that’s why last week, in spite of the difficult decisions that we had to make elsewhere to tackle inflation, we prioritised putting extra money into the NHS and social care so people can get the care they need as quickly as possible."
Health Secretary welcomes Covid jabs milestone
Data published this afternoon showed that 15million Covid booster vaccinations have now been administered this autumn.
Steve Barclay, the Health Secretary, welcomed the milestone being hit "ahead of the busy festive season".
He said: "It’s fantastic to see over 15 million people have had their Covid booster ahead of the busy festive season. As Christmas approaches, it’s important all eligible people get their jabs and play their part in keeping them and their loved ones safe – while also protecting the health service as it enters a potentially challenging winter.
"I’m so grateful for the hard work of NHS staff and volunteers who have been working tirelessly to get jabs in arms. I’ve had both my Covid and flu jabs and the experience was quick and easy, so if you’re eligible, please do not hesitate in taking up the much-needed protection."
PM says NHS has been given 'significant funding' amid fears over winter pressures
Rishi Sunak was asked about the Government’s plans to tackle the annual winter pressures faced by the NHS during a visit to the Erasmus Darwin Academy in Burntwood, Staffordshire, this afternoon.
The Prime Minister said: "I think we all recognise that the NHS is grappling with some of the challenges that we’re still dealing with from Covid, and waiting long for ambulance times is one of the examples of that.
"That’s why last week we announced £8 billion of extra funding for the NHS and social care to help tackle some of these problems.
"One of the most important things we need to do is support people to move out of hospitals back into their homes, back into their communities, and that’s why the money that we have put in is going to go and support social care.
"And if we can do that, and we can start doing that very quickly, then that will really help alleviate some of the pressure on ambulances waiting outside hospitals. I know that the NHS are committed to delivering on it. We’ve given them significant funding so they can get on with the job."
Nicola Sturgeon: NHS founding principles 'not up for discussion'
NHS bosses in Scotland have discussed charging the wealthy to access healthcare in a potential "betrayal" of the founding principles of the health service, it has emerged (you can read the full story here).
Nicola Sturgeon today said the founding principles of the NHS are "not up for discussion".
Responding to the story, Scotland's First Minister said: "The founding principles of the National Health Service are not up for discussion."
"It’s democratically elected governments who decide the policy basis of the National Health Service."
Pictured: Rishi Sunak joins a design technology class during visit to school in Staffordshire
Mark Drakeford defends attendance at World Cup
Mark Drakeford, the First Minister of Wales, has defended attending the World Cup in Qatar as he said he wanted to "represent Wales" on the world stage.
Asked about his attendance at the event, Mr Drakeford told the BBC Radio 4 World at One programme: "In the end, I am the First Minister of Wales, I think that comes with some responsibilities to represent Wales on a rare occasion when Wales as a country appears on a platform such as that of the World Cup.
"I say everywhere I go, Wales is an open and inclusive country that wants people to live their lives as they would choose to do so."
Irish Taoiseach: UK 'correct' to delay Stormont election
The UK Government was "correct" to defer a fresh Stormont election, the Irish premier has said.
Taoiseach Micheal Martin said an election in the midst of talks between the UK and the EU on the Northern Ireland Protocol would be "polarising" and lead to "deeper entrenchment".
"I think it’s correct to pause to give the talks process between the United Kingdom Government and the European Union every opportunity to come to a resolution," Mr Martin said.
The UK Government has said it will call an election in the new year if there is no breakthrough on restoring powersharing at Stormont.
No10: 'We have significant labour market inactivity in this country'
Downing Street has said businesses were being encouraged to invest in Britons rather than rely on migrant workers.
The Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman said tackling the issue of small boats crossing the Channel was “the key issue to address before we can start talking about overall reductions of net migration”.
He added: "I think on legal migration, the Prime Minister has been clear that he wants to bring migration levels down over time and have a system that works best in the UK’s interests.
"That’s why we have the points-based system, it’s why we’re encouraging businesses to invest in British people. We have significant labour market inactivity in this country and we’re taking steps to encourage more people to help that fill the vacancies we need.
"Clearly with our system, and control over our system, we are able to ensure we get the right type of people, the right skills, coming into it to fill some of those vacancies as required."
Nuclear test veterans to be recognised with new medal
Thousands of people who took part in the UK’s nuclear test programme will receive a medal recognising their service following years of campaigning for the honour, the Government has announced.
An estimated 22,000 veterans and civilians will be eligible for the Nuclear Test Medal, which has been introduced to mark the 70th anniversary of the nation’s first atomic test, Downing Street said.
Rishi Sunak described the decoration as "an enduring symbol of our country’s gratitude" for those involved in the test programme.
He said: "I am incredibly proud that we are able to mark the service and dedication of our nuclear test veterans with this new medal."
No10 insists Cabinet in agreement on Brexit
Everyone in the Cabinet is in agreement on Brexit and concerns among Tory MPs that the UK could pursue a Swiss-style deal with the EU are "unfounded" because it is not going to happen, Downing Street has said.
Asked if all Cabinet ministers shared Rishi Sunak's view (see the post below at 11.06), the Prime Minister's Official Spokesman said: "Yes. The position of the Government is unequivocal."
Asked if Mr Sunak will be speaking to Tory MPs who are annoyed at the idea of the Brexit deal being softened, the spokesman said: "I think any concerns would be unfounded given the very unequivocal position the Prime Minister set out just a few minutes ago."
Taking the knee a 'decision for the teams', says No10
Downing Street said it would respect the decisions of teams on taking the knee at the start of World Cup games in Qatar.
"It’s a decision for the teams in the first instance," the Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman said. "We will respect their decision."
Rishi Sunak is unlikely to be able to watch England’s World Cup opener against Iran as he is carrying out a series of engagements in the Midlands, No10 said.
No10 shares FA's 'frustration' over Fifa armband threat
Downing Street said it shared the Football Association's "frustration" after Fifa threatened "sporting sanctions" including bookings if England captain Harry Kane wore a rainbow armband during the team's opening match against Iran this afternoon.
England backed down after Fifa's threat and the armband will now not be worn.
The Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman said: "We share the FA’s frustration with Fifa’s decision on this which puts players in a very difficult position. It is, ultimately, a decision for the FA.
"On LGBT rights more broadly, clearly Qatar’s policies are not those of the UK Government and not ones we would endorse."
No10: PM and Chancellor entirely in agreement on Brexit
Downing Street has insisted that Rishi Sunak and Jeremy Hunt are in total agreement on Brexit.
Asked if Mr Sunak and Mr Hunt are entirely aligned on the issue, the Prime Minister's Official Spokesman said: "Absolutely. I think you heard the Chancellor say last week that we will pursue any options outside of the single market and you have got the very clear comments from the Prime Minister."
PM insists Tories are still the 'party of business'
Rishi Sunak has insisted the Conservative Party is still the party of business after the Government faced criticism over some parts of its Autumn Statement.
Asked if he is "still prepared to say explicitly that the Conservatives are the party of business", the Prime Minister told the CBI's annual conference: "Yes, unequivocally. You heard it in my speech. It is important that government creates the conditions for stability, for making usre that we tackle inflation.
"But that is just the foundation. All of us collectively need to build on that foundation and what my role is, what the Government 's role is, is to ensure that we can unlock all of the things that we want you to do and what you all want to do."
Rishi Sunak 'unequivocal' that UK will not seek Swiss-style deal with EU
Rishi Sunak has moved to try to kill off reports that the Government could seek a Swiss-style post-Brexit deal with the European Union.
He told the CBI's annual conference: "On trade, let me be unequivocal about this. Under my leadership the United Kingdom will not pursue any relationship with Europe that relies on alignment with EU laws.
"Now, I voted for Brexit, I believe in Brexit and I know that Brexit can deliver and is already delivering enormous benefits and opportunities for the country, migration being an immediate one where we have proper control of our borders and are able to have a conversation with the country about the type of migration that we want and need."
Rishi Sunak's 'number one priority' is tackling illegal migration
After concluding his speech, Rishi Sunak faced questions from the media and he was asked if he was listening to business calls for looser immigration rules to boost the UK workforce.
He said that his "number one priority" is tackling illegal migration which he said "undermines trust in the system".
Turning to legal migration, Mr Sunak said he wants the UK to become a "beacon for the world's best and brightest".
PM: 'We must be honest with ourselves'
Rishi Sunak said that he wanted the UK to be able to attract and welcome the "best and brightest" people from across the world. But he said the British people must have "trust and confidence" in the immigration system.
He told the CBI annual conference: "But we must be honest with ourselves. Part of the reason we ended the free movement of labour was to rebuild public consent in our immigration system.
"If we are going to have a system that allows businesses to access the best and brightest from around the world, we need to do more to give the British people trust and confidence that the system works and is fair.
"That means tackling illegal migration and that is what I am determined to do."
Rishi Sunak hails 'silver bullet' of education
Turning to skills, Rishi Sunak said he wanted to "end once and for all this mistaken idea that learning is something you finish at the age of 18".
He said he wanted people of any age to be able to access education and skills training.
"I believe in the very core of my being that education is the closest thing we have to a silver bullet in public policy," he said.
"It is the most transformative thing we can do for our people."
PM pledges to 'radically innovate how we do things' in the NHS
Rishi Sunak said that as Prime Minister he will "always protect an NHS free at the point of use" and at the Autumn Statement "we didn't cut the funding for health and social care, we increased it by £8 billion".
Mr Sunak said that "better care requires innovation" and part of that is about better drugs, treatments and utilising new technologies.
But he argued that the way the UK will really improve care is to "radically innovate how we do things" in the health service.
Rishi Sunak pledges to be world leader in innovation
Rishi Sunak said it is up to the private sector to take the lead on driving economic growth.
Addressing business leaders at the CBI annual conference, the Prime Minister said the Government will help but added: "But more important than what government does is what you do. It is private sector innovations that really drive growth."
The PM said the Government will take advantage of the UK's "post-Brexit freedoms" to create the best "pro-innovation regulatory environment in the world".
PM pledges to 'harness innovation to drive economic growth'
Rishi Sunak said that "innovation" is "critical" to his mission of making the UK more prosperous.
He said driving innovation will be the "defining focus" of the Government and he wants it to "permeate every aspect of what we do".
The Prime Minister said he wanted to "harness innovation to drive economic growth".
Rishi Sunak 'not just here to solve problems'
Rishi Sunak, the Prime Minister, is now addressing the CBI's annual conference in Birmingham.
Addressing business leaders, Mr Sunak he knows that "things are tough right now". Pointing to his record as chancellor, he said that he had been "bold, decisive and radical".
Turning to the Autumn Statement, he said that it is a plan to "grip inflation and balance the books".
He said: "I am not just here to solve problems, I want to build a better country."
Rishi Sunak wishes England and Wales good luck at the World Cup
— Rishi Sunak (@RishiSunak) November 20, 2022
'Labour shortages are vast'
Tony Danker, the CBI director general, said that sometimes politicians make decisions which are not pro-growth for perfectly legitimate reasons.
But he argued that in order to "confront stagflation" it is "time to kick the tires on those political choices".
Turning first to immigration, he said that "labour shortages are vast", adding: "Let's be practical, let's have a new deal on immigration."
CBI boss: Government must act as 'great unlocker'
Tony Danker, the director general of the CBI, said "we need to go for growth" as he set out a three-pronged plan to do just that.
He said the first must is to have "greater business ingenuity" and the second is that the Government must act as "the great unlocker of private sector investment".
Thirdly, he said the Government must set out "pro-growth rules, not anti-growth barriers".
CBI boss praises PM over Autumn Statement
Tony Danker, the director general of the CBI, has praised Rishi Sunak and Jeremy Hunt over their Autumn Statement.
Mr Danker said that "aggressively getting inflation down is the right thing to do". He praised Mr Sunak and Mr Hunt for "taking the tough choices needed to achieve it".
But he also said that "growth is good" and is a precondition for a stable and prosperous society.
Rishi Sunak set to address CBI annual conference
Rishi Sunak is due to address the CBI annual conference in Birmingham shortly.
The conference has the slogan "Go For Growth" and the PM is expected to focus on the theme of innovation.
Brexiteer MPs to discuss Swiss-style reports
Senior figures in the European Research Group of backbench Brexiteer Tory MPs are due to hold their regular Monday meeting later today.
They will be discussing the claims that the Government is considering seeking a Swiss-style Brexit deal with the European Union.
Theo Usherwood, LBC Radio's political editor, reports:
ERG holds its regular Monday meeting later in Westminster.
Senior member tells me they'll go "completely and utterly berserk" if there were any move towards a Swiss-style arrangement.
"For many of us, it's the defining issue of why we are in politics."
— Theo Usherwood (@theousherwood) November 21, 2022
Talking of Switzerland...
The UK and Switzerland have just agreed to a three-year extension of their Services Mobility Agreement which allows UK professionals to work in Switzerland for up to 90 days a year without the need for a visa or work permit.
The agreement comes ahead of negotiations on a new trade deal between the two countries which are expected to kick off next year.
Kemi Badenoch, the International Trade Secretary, said: "The UK and Swiss economies are both services powerhouses and closely aligned. Today’s agreement is a win-win for both sides. From financial services in Edinburgh to cyber security in Wales, the deal ensures UK businesses capitalise on the huge opportunities on offer.
“This is just the beginning. I am excited to launch negotiations on an ambitious, future-facing trade deal with Switzerland that will boost our already incredibly strong trading relationship, worth £39 billion last year.”
Business chief tells Government to 'forget' Swiss-style deal 'for now'
Tony Danker, the director general of the CBI, said he wants the Government to focus on implementing Boris Johnson's Brexit deal amid suggestions ministers could seek Swiss-style trading arrangements with the EU.
Mr Danker told the BBC: "I am a bit puzzled about the whole Swiss thing. It took them about 40 years to get to the Swiss arrangement. Currently we are not even implementing Boris's deal.
"Let's implement Boris's Brexit deal that still has some growth in it by the way that has all come to a freeze and let's forget the discussion about Switzerland for now."
He added: "All I want to do is implement Boris's deal. Currently we are not implementing Boris's deal. We have got an impasse because of the Northern Ireland Protocol.
"There is lots of freezing of our science relationships, of 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."
'Sport is separate from politics to an extent'
Immigration minister Robert Jenrick said "sport is separate from politics to an extent" when asked about Iran and Qatar’s participation in the World Cup.
Asked how he will feel watching England play Iran this afternoon, he told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: "Well, I’ll be cheering on England as you’d expect.
"But you’re right to say that Iran is an authoritarian regime. And there are a number of things about the way it treats its own people and it conducts malign activities in the region and elsewhere in the world that we’re deeply troubled by.
"That doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy the football in the spirit that tournaments like this should be conducted in. The UK is very wide-eyed to the problems of the Iranian regime."
Asked if both Iran and Qatar are "sports washing" their respective reputations through the World Cup, he said: "Well, sport is separate from politics to an extent."
'We wouldn't go back to the things that have already been decided'
There would be no return to freedom of movement under a Labour government, a shadow minister has said.
Tulip Siddiq, the shadow Treasury minister, told Sky News: "We won't go back to freedom of movement."
Asked if Labour would agree to restart payments to the EU to secure closer trade links, she said: "We wouldn't go back to the things that have already been decided. So in terms of freedom of movement, in terms of the options that were on the table... that deal has been done, people voted and no, we won't be going back to that."
Labour accuses Tories of making 'huge mess' of Brexit
Tulip Siddiq, Labour's shadow Treasury minister, accused the Government of making a "huge mess" of Brexit amid suggestions it could seek a Swiss-style deal with Brussels.
She told Sky News: "We have actually been very clear from the summeer onwards about our Brexit deal but let's just be clear about the fact that this deal is the Conservatives' deal and they have made a huge hash of it.
"After talking constantly about getting Brexit done, they have ramped up very divisive rhetoric with our closest trading poartners, they made a huge hash of the Northern Ireland Protocol, they also signed a deal with Australia that ministers themselves are now trying to avoid.
"So for us the truth is they talked about getting Brexit done but they didn't actually get anything done and they have made a huge mess."
CBI boss says increased immigration can 'plug the gap' in UK workforce
Increased immigration must be used to "plug the gap" in the UK workforce as businesses struggle to fill job vacancies, Tony Danker, the director of the Confederation of British Industry, has argued.
He told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: "When it comes to immigration, it’s quite interesting, 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."
He made the comments ahead of a CBI conference which gets underway this morning.
Government has 'no intention of introducing charges to access NHS'
The UK Government has no intention of introducing charges to use the NHS in England, Immigration minister Robert Jenrick has said after the BBC reported health service chiefs in Scotland have discussed asking the wealthy to pay for treatment.
Mr Jenrick told TalkTV: "I haven’t seen the story about Scotland. We certainly don’t have any intention to introduce charges to the NHS.
"There is an issue with people still not coming forward post-pandemic with conditions and the NHS has been surprised by people’s reluctance to present themselves for a range of different conditions."
Minister backs Harry Kane wearing 'OneLove' armband
The Football Association has been told by Fifa that it risks "sporting sanctions" which include a yellow card for Harry Kane if the England captain wears the "OneLove" armband at the World Cup fixture against Iran later today (you can read the story here).
Robert Jenrick, the immigration minister, this morning said it would be "perfectly right" for Kane to wear the armband as he backed the move.
Asked how he would feel about the armband being worn, Mr Jenrick said: "I am fine with him wearing that. I think it’s a decision for Harry Kane. He is the captain of the team, he has been a great captain. I think we all respect him, willing the team on.
"It is a decision for him whether he chooses to do that and we as a country obviously and rightly have high values when it comes to LGBT community freedoms and it is perfectly right for a British team to make that clear when they play overseas, particularly in a country that doesn’t uphold the same standards."
Minister rules out restarting payments to EU for closer trade links
The Government has "no intention" of restarting payments to the EU to secure a closer trading relationship, Robert Jenrick has said.
It has been suggested that the UK could resume paying Brussels in order to bolster the existing trade deal. But the immigration minister told Sky News: "We’ve no intention of doing that.
"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."
Minister tells businesses to focus on domestic workforce amid calls for more migrant workers
Immigration minister Robert Jenrick said British employers should look to the "domestic workforce" if they are seeking "lower-skilled labour" as he insisted the UK is committed to cutting net migration.
It comes as the boss of the CBI business group is set to use a speech today to urge politicians to end arguments over Brexit and use immigration to solve worker shortages in a bid to boost growth.
Mr Jenrick said the Government disagrees with the CBI on the need for more immigrant workers, telling Talk TV: "We want to bring down net migration. It’s something that is, as you say, very important to the British people and we’re on the side of the British people."
He added: "If British employers are looking for lower-skilled labour, then the first port of call should be the domestic workforce."
'No question whatsoever of us reopening the fundamental tenets of that deal'
Robert Jenrick, the immigration minister, said there is "no question whatsoever" of the UK "reopening the fundamental tenets" of the original Brexit deal agreed with the EU.
He told Talk TV: "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."
Minister categorically rules out Swiss-style Brexit deal
Robert Jenrick, the immigration minister, has categorically ruled out the UK seeking a Swiss-style relationship with the European Union.
Asked if the UK is going to do a Swiss-style deal with Brussels, he told Sky News: "No, we are not. We have a settled position. There was a long debate as you well recall and there were respectable arguments on both sides as to the degree of relationship that we had with the European Union but we chose one in 2019, in 2020 when Boris Johnson signed the deal with the European Union which was very clear.
"There wouldn't be jurisdiction of European judges in the UK, we wouldn’t be paying money to the European Union and there wouldn’t be freedom of movement and those fundamental principles are the ones that will govern our relationship going forward.
"I don’t know where the story came from in the Sunday papers. It is not one that we recognise and we are going to stick with the relationship that we have secured.
"That doesn’t mean that we are not interested in improving our trading relations with the European Union or indeed in my sphere our security and migration partnership with the European Union… but we are not going to reopen the discussions that we had a few years ago. We have a settled view and we are moving forwards on that basis."
Good morning and welcome to today's politics live blog.
Brexit is back and leading the political news amid suggestions the Government could look to soften the UK's deal with the EU and seek Swiss-style arrangements.
The Government is denying the reported move but Tory Brexiteers are nervous and are seeking cast iron assurances that there will be no backsliding.
Rishi Sunak, the Prime Minister, is due to deliver a speech at the CBI conference this morning so the issue may well come up then. The pressure will continue to grow on the PM to clarify the situation until he speaks publicly on the matter.
I will guide you through the key developments.