Labour "Ready" To Work with Business, Rishi Sunak Uses Private GP, Tory MP To Stand Down
Labour leader Keir Starmer told businesses that Labour is “ready” to work with them (Alamy)
6 min read
Labour leader Keir Starmer has told business leaders that his party is “ready” to work with them in his address at the CBI conference in Birmingham.
Starmer’s speech follows Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s address to the Confederation of British Industry yesterday, where he promised the government wants to focus on “innovation” and, recommitted to ending free movement of labour.
The Labour leader today used his speech to tell businesses that the Labour Party is ready to form a partnership with them.
“Labour is ready to give Britain the clear economic leadership it needs ready to work with you to drive our country forward,” he said.
“Not just a pro-business party, but a party that is proud of being pro-business.
“This is a different Labour party, and there's no going back. We're ready for partnership.”
Starmer set out Labour’s three top business priorities as economic stability, skills, and green growth.
Starmer brandished a printout of the government’s industrial strategy, and read out that it said “archived” at the top of the page, accusing the Conservative government of “archiving Britain’s growth”.
Referencing former prime minister Boris Johnson’s infamous Peppa Pig speech at the CBI conference last year, Starmer said we “cannot ignore” the lessons of the last two years, which has seen the pound falling to record lows and soaring public debt.
“They put our public finances in a perilous position and wasted the chance to transform our potential,” he said, adding that the government has created an economy with “weak foundations” and that “Britain needs a new business model”.
The policies set out by Starmer included his commitment to scrapping business rates and increasing the capacity of the NHS with more doctors, nurses and health visitors, as he said the crisis facing the NHS is an “economic crisis”.
On migration, Starmer said he expects business to bring forward a “clear plan” for better pay, conditions, and investment in new technology.
He told businesses: “Dialogue is a part of the partnership, and negotiation with trade unions will be part of it.
“Our common goal must be to end the British economy of immigration dependency and start investing more in what is already here.”
Rishi Sunak uses private GP
The prime minister is registered with a private GP practice that charges £250 for a half-hour consultation, as pressure on the NHS ramps up and patients see record waiting times for appointments.
The Guardian revealed Rishi Sunak uses a private clinic in west London that guarantees all patients with urgent health concerns will be seen “on the day”.
Unlike most NHS GPs, the clinic offers evening and weekend appointments, as well as consultations by email or phone.
In his speech at the CBI conference yesterday, Sunak said: “I grew up in an NHS family, it’s in my blood.
“And as your prime minister, I will always protect an NHS free at the point of use.”
Sunak was questioned during the summer Conservative leadership campaign on whether he and his family used NHS services, and he said: “You wouldn’t expect me to talk about my kids’ medical history, but of course we use the NHS.”
At the recent COP27 climate summit he dodged questions over whether he used a private GP.
Downing Street has declined to comment on his decision to use a private practice.
MPs reject guidance on Christmas party expenses
MPs can put Christmas party food and non-alcoholic drink on their expenses for the first time, but politicians from multiple parties have condemned the advice and insisted they will not be using it.
Guidance issued to MPs stated that the cost of refreshments and decorations for Christmas parties can be claimed on expenses, meaning the taxpayer would be paying for the festivities.
According to guidance from the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA), alcohol cannot be included in these claims.
MPs were told by IPSA to be mindful of the cost of living crisis, with guidance saying claims "should represent value for money, especially in the current economic climate" – but many have rejected the guidance and said they will not be claiming their own parties on expenses.
Labour MP Jess Phillips called the guidance “stupid”. “Just want to say no one asked for this, no one I know will use it," she wrote.
“The guidance wasn't made by MPs and yet we will be pilloried for it. I think it's really irresponsible to issue this guidance as if MPs have been clamouring for it when I've literally never heard anyone do that.”
She said she will throw a Christmas party for her staff, but at her home where she will pay for all the food and drink.
Foreign Secretary James Cleverly shared Phillips' views, and the SNP's Stewart McDonald called it an "absurd" ruling and called on IPSA to reverse the "universally unwelcome" advice.
Dominic Raab to be challenged by committee
Justice Secretary Dominic Raab will be quizzed by the justice select committee on the courts backlog, amid allegations that he bullied staff in the Ministry of Justice.
Raab, who is also deputy prime minister, is awaiting a formal investigation into the bullying complaints against him.
He will be put before the select committee at 2.30pm, where it is likely that opposition MPs will also challenge him on the personal allegations.
Former work and pensions secretary to quit as Tory MP
MP for Norwich North and former cabinet minister Chloe Smith has announced she will stand down at the next election as she feels it is “the right time to step back, for me and my young family”.
Smith will not seek re-election, having won her Norwich North seat from Labour and then held it a further four times. A general election must be called before the end of 2024.
“I have been honoured to be Norwich North’s MP. It’s a fantastic job for a fantastic place, and it’s a particular privilege to be able to represent Norwich and Norfolk where I come from,” Smith in a statement posted on her constituency website on Tuesday.
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