Grant Shapps does not rule out RAF planes being used for deportation flights to Rwanda – UK politics live

Estimated read time 4 min read

Good morning. Yesterday Richard Holden, the Conservative party chair, plonked himself on the moral high ground yesterday, issuing a statement attacking Keir Starmer for ignoring the “serious ethics scandal” around Angela Rayner. He is looking rather less principled today in the light of extraordinary allegations in the Times about Mark Menzies MP.

Our write-up of the story is here. According to Billy Kenber in the Times, CCHQ (which means Holden) knew about the Menzies allegations more than three months ago, but did not suspend him until the Times published his story. Menzies says he strongly disputes the allegations made in the story.

Grant Shapps, the defence secretary, was on media round duties for the government this morning. He said that there should be a proper investigation into the allegations, but the Menzies sounded like “potentially somebody who’s quite troubled”. It is not clear if the story will move on much today, and for legal reasons there is a limit to how much we can say, and so the story won’t feature much in the blog today. If people start commenting on it directly BTL, comments may get closed.

In his interviews, Shapps was also asked about the government’s Rwanda policy. The government had been hoping to get its Rwanda bill onto the statute book this week but last night the Lords voted again to insert two safeguards opposed by the Commons and, instead of getting MPs to vote again on the bill today, ministers have postponed the next debate until next week.

In his Times Radio interview, Shapps claimed that this showed Labour did not want the bill to pass, and that it wanted small boat arrivals to continue. He said:

Labour have once again locked the ability for parliament to pass this law. Labour don’t seem to have an answer [to the small boat problem], they don’t seem to want it [the Rwanda policy] to happen. It’s directly at Keir Starmer’s door if they don’t go [ie, if asylum seekers are not send to Rwanda].

Labour sources say they do expect the bill to become law, and that it could have become law this week if ministers had scheduled more “ping pong” debates last night or today.

In his interviews Shapps also confirmed that RAF planes could be used for deportation flights to Rwanda.

As PA Media reports, it is understood RAF Voyager aircraft could be deployed after the Home Office failed to find an airline that would charter the flights. Downing Street has drawn up plans to order the Ministry of Defence to repurpose at least one of the leased aircraft for this, according to The Times.

Asked about this on Sky News this morning, Shapps said:

We will do whatever we need to do to make sure that we can get these flights off, whether they are charter flights or other kinds of flights.

Here is the agenda for the day.

9.30am: Lucy Frazer, the culture secretary, takes questions on the Commons.

10.15am: Kemi Badenoch, the business secretary, speaks at the CityUK conference in London.

11.30am: Downing Street holds a lobby briefing.

11.30am: Oliver Dowden, the deputy prime minister, gives a speech at Chatham House.

12pm: Humza Yousaf, Scotland’s first minister, takes questions from MSPs at Holyrood.

Afternoon: William Wragg, the MP who recently resigned the Tory whip after admitting divulging colleagues’ phone numbers to a stranger threatening him on WhatsApp, is due to speak in the Commons, opening a backbench debate on access to redress schemes.

Afternoon: Màiri McAllan, the Scottish government’s climate minister, is due to make an announcement to MSPs ditching a greenhouse gas target for 2030.

Also, Keir Starmer, Rachel Reeves and Ed Miliband are doing a visit today in the north-east of England to promote Labour’s plans for investments in ports. And David Cameron, the foreign secretary, is a the G7 foreign ministers’ summit on the Italian island of Capri.

If you want to contact me, do use the “send us a message” feature. You’ll see it just below the byline – on the left of the screen, if you are reading on a laptop or a desktop. This is for people who want to message me directly. I find it very useful when people message to point out errors (even typos – no mistake is too small to correct). Often I find your questions very interesting, too. I can’t promise to reply to them all, but I will try to reply to as many as I can, either in the comments below the line; privately (if you leave an email address and that seems more appropriate); or in the main blog, if I think it is a topic of wide interest.


You May Also Like

More From Author