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Top Stories: Inflation Falls, Labour Apologises For Antisemitism, MoD In "Uphill Battle" Over Budget

Price growth has slowed year-on-year to January, the ONS said (Alamy)

6 min read

Inflation slowed in January, according to official figures, but remains near record-highs with rates still higher than ten per cent.

Inflation was recorded as 10.1 per cent in the year to January, down from 10.5 per cent in the year to December, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said. 

Food prices and energy bills are among the main drivers for overall inflation, the ONS said, but petrol prices and the cost of restaurants and hotels are among the price rises that have started to slow. 

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt welcomed the falling figures, but said the “fight is far from over”. 

“High inflation strangles growth and causes pain for families and businesses – that's why we must stick to the plan, halve inflation this year, reduce debt and grow the economy," he said. 

Labour's shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves warned that households will be hit by “a further economic blow” in the coming months. 

“With inflation still close to a 40 year high, people will be asking if 13 years of Tory government has left them and their family feeling better off? The answer will be no," she said.

“Despite Britain’s enormous potential, in April households will be hit by another economic blow when energy prices go up. 

“Labour would be bringing in a proper windfall tax on oil and gas giants now to stop energy bills going up in April. 

Halving inflation is one of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s five pledges that he made at the start of this year. 

Keir Starmer marks 'fundamental' changes to Labour as EHRC wraps up monitoring

The equality watchdog is winding up its monitoring of the Labour Party, having been satisfied with changes made over antisemitism. 

In 2020, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) found that the party had breached equalities law during Jeremy Corbyn’s time as party leader. 

EHRC chief Marcial Boo has now said that the monitoring process has been wrapped up.

He said: "We were satisfied that the party had implemented the necessary actions to improve its complaints, recruitment, training and other procedures to the legal standards required,"  

Writing for The Times this morning,Keir Starmer said that the party is “heading in the right direction” and challenged those who do not agree with his leadership or decision making that “nobody is forcing you to stay”. 

He said that the changes he has made to the party have been “permanent, fundamental, irrevocable” and added: “There are those of you who don’t like that change, who still refuse to see the reality of what had gone on under the previous leadership. 

“To them I say in all candour: we are never going back. 

“If you don’t like it, nobody is forcing you to stay”. 

Corbyn had the Labour whip suspended in November 2020 in the wake of the EHRC report, after he suggested that “the scale” of antisemitism in Labour had been “overstated” by people in the party and the media. 

In a press conference this morning, Starmer also confirmed that Corbyn would not be able to stand for Labour at the next election

"What I said about the party changing, I meant it, and that’s why Jeremy Corbyn will not stand as a candidate at the next election,” Starmer said. 

Minister warns of "uphill battle" ahead of Budget

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has suggested that he faces an “uphill battle” with the Treasury to secure further defence spending in March's budget, but he hopes that he will be able to “insulate” defence from economic pressures. 

Speaking to Sky News this morning, Wallace said that he has “lots” of meetings lined up with Chancellor Jeremy Hunt to try and make his case and “come to a deal” over the Ministry of Defence before next month’s Budget. 

He told Sky News this morning that he has “been in this game long enough” and added: “But it is always an uphill battle with the Treasury no matter what department you’re in. 

"It’s the right thing that a secretary of state will argue for an increase to meet their priorities and of course between now and the Budget I have lots of time and lots of meetings with the Chancellor to make sure that we try and come to a deal on it."

Former soldier Wallace said: “I am not going to conduct the negotiations in public but obviously we are going to try and make our way through this so that between now and the next spending review which is in two years’ time we can insulate defence from many of those pressures."

Nicola Sturgeon resigns as Scottish First Minister

Nicola Sturgeon has announced her resignation as the First Minister of Scotland. 

Speaking at Bute House in Edinburgh this morning, the SNP leader said that the time is "right for me, for my party and for my country" and has asked party officials to begin the process to appoint her successor. 

She described the decision as "really hard" but described the role as the "very best job in the world" and said it has been a "privilege beyond measure" to serve since 2014. 

She said that the decision was not a reaction to "short term pressures" but is one she has been "wrestling" with for some weeks and "comes from a deeper and longer term assessment".

"Is carrying on right for me?," she asked. 

"And more importantly is me carrying on right for the country, for my party and for the independence cause I have devoted my life to?"

 

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