Top Stories: Dominic Raab Row Deepens, Liz Truss Plots Comeback, Childcare Pressure For PM
Simon Case reportedly knew of formal complaints about Dominic Raab (Alamy)
Pressure continues to mount on Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to address what he knew about Dominic Raab bullying allegations after it was reported that top civil servant Simon Case was aware of complaints.
According to The Times, cabinet secretary Simon Case was personally told of a written complaint about the justice secretary's conduct months before he was given a leading role in Rishi Sunak's cabinet as deputy prime minister.
In November it was reported that Case, who works closely with Sunak, was informed by other top officials about Raab's treatment of junior staff and that he had taken steps in response to try and improve his behaviour.
The claim will increase calls for Sunak to give a detailed explanation of what and when he knew about complaints made against Raab, with Downing Street saying the Prime Minister was "not aware of any formal complaints" before appointing Raab.
But opposition parties have demanded Sunak give a full account of any knowledge he had about potential bullying claims, formal or otherwise. Raab has repeatedly denied the allegations.
On Sunday Sunak sacked Conservative Party chair Nadhim Zahawi from his Cabinet after an independent ethics probe found he had breached the ministerial code over his tax affairs.
Speaking on Thursday, Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey said the allegations against Raab were "hugely serious" as he urged Sunak to suspend Raab while the investigation into his conduct was being carried out.
Rishi Sunak says he will release his tax returns "shortly"
The Prime Minister has committed to publishing his tax returns "shortly" after Nadhim Zahawi's financial affairs reignited calls for better transparency over senior minister's financial arrangements.
Sunak has also seen increased scrutiny over his own tax affairs since it was revealed that his wife, Akshata Murty, had non-dom status that exempted her from paying tax on all of her wealth in the UK. She has since relinquished the status and agreed to a larger UK tax bill.
On Thursday Sunak told TalkTV he was prepared to be "transparent" and that the documents were "being prepared" after he confirmed last week that the detail would be published.
"The tax-filing deadline's just passed, so they're just being prepared and they will be released shortly," he said.
Labour had been putting pressure on the Prime Minister to publish his tax returns, with shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves suggesting an incoming Labour government could make it mandatory for ministers to release their tax returns.
She said she would be "comfortable" for senior ministers to routinely publish their tax returns, following revelations that Nadhim Zahawi had been forced to pay a fine to HMRC for making errors in his accounts.
Tory MPs form childcare reform pressure group
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt is facing pressure from his own backbenchers to use the budget to cut childcare costs to help parents get back to work.
The group, led by Stroud MP Siobhan Baillie, has reportedly been meeting regularly to discuss ways to lobby ministers to improve childcare, including changing subsidies and relaxing employment regulations.
Speaking to the Guardian, Baillie said: “I am absolutely clear that the chancellor cannot say nothing about childcare at the budget. It is an important part of the discussion over economic inactivity.”
Robin Walker, who chairs the Commons education select committee, said there was a "groundswell of opinion" that more had to be done to reduce childcare costs, with Britain having the third highest cost among developed countries.
Walker added: "Everyone agrees that childcare needs to be made to work better, even if they have a range of opinions on how to do so."
While Hunt has said he wants to help the "economically inactive" back into work, there has been no specific mention of young parents.
A Department for Education spokesperson told the Guardian: "We recognise that families and early years providers across the country are facing financial pressures and we are currently looking into options to improve the cost, flexibility, and availability of childcare, ensuring that any plans we bring forward focus on improving outcomes for children."
Liz Truss is planning a political comeback after prime minister catastrophe
Former prime minister Liz Truss is reportedly planning a political comeback just over 100 days since she was ousted from Downing Street as a result of her disastrous mini-Budget which created economic chaos.
According to Sky News, a WhatsApp group used by Truss's leadership team has been revived to rally support for a fresh Tory campaign to call for tax cuts in the upcoming budget, a key plank of Truss's economic agenda.
One member of the group told Sky News there was "a lot going on behind the scenes" ahead of the Budget, but a former member of Truss's team denied knowledge of the plans.
Truss is also reportedly planning a further intervention on China when she attends a conference in Toyko later this month with former leaders of Australia and Belgium.
The former prime minister is expected to urge world leaders to take a tougher stance on China, especially around growing threats to Taiwan.
Sunak has said he wanted to ditch the "grand rhetoric" around China, and that he hoped the UK could have a "pragmatic" relationship with the country whilst also calling out the country over human rights abuses and growing authoritarianism in response to protests in the country.
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