Sunak says ‘all sides should show restraint’ after Iranian attack on Israel – as it happened

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voted down the original 10 Lords amendments. On 20 March peers voted, in effect, to put seven of them back in.

Tonight MPs are expected to vote for government amendments removing six of them. For technical reasons, the government cannot just vote down the final one (exempting victims of modern slavery from deportation to Rwanda) without collapsing the bill under the double insistence rule, and instead it has tabled an alternative amendment proposing an annual report into how the Act affects modern slavery victims. In the Lords this is likely to be viewed as a very minimal, and largely cosmetic, concession.

The government does not seem minded to offer more, meaningful concessions to peers. At the No 10 lobby briefing the PM’s spokesperson told journalists:

We’ve always been clear that the bill, as previously through the House of Commons, is the right bill to get flights off the ground.

Asked if Rishi Sunak had a message for peers, the spokesperson said:

This week parliament has the opportunity to pass a bill that will save the lives of those being exploited by people-smuggling gangs.

It is clear that we cannot continue with the status quo which is unfair and uncompassionate. Now is the time to change the equation against gangs and unite behind the bills.

After tonight the bill will return to the Lords tomorrow. It is expected that at that point peers will again vote down the government amendments, and vote again to insert a handful of extra safeguards into the legislation, but the “ping pong” process is expected to end on Wednesday, with peers ultimately accepting the will of the elected chamber, which is what almost always happens on these occasions.

the Cass review into gender identity support for young people that was published last week.

In her opening statement, Atkins used much stronger language than Hilary Cass herself did last week when she set out her findings. Atkins that that this was “an area of public policy where fashionable cultural values have overtaken evidence, safety and biological reality” and she declared: “This must now stop.”

Atkins said that since 2009 there has been an enormous increase in the number of children seeking medical help because they were questioning their gender, and more than half were teeenage girls. In 2022 more than 5,000 children and young people were referred to gender identity clinics and almost three quarters were female, she said.

Atkins said this increase was driven by “a number of factors”, but at its heart it was “driven by a myth”. She went on:”

This was myth was that, for children and young people grappling with adolescence, who were questioning their identity, their sexuality or their path in life, that the answer to their questions was inevitably to change gender to solve their questions of unease, discomfort or distress.

And this near uniform prescription was imposed on children and young people with complex needs without full and thoughtful consideration of their wider needs, including, as is set out in the report, conditions such as neurodiversity, experiences such as childhood trauma or experiences of mental health conditions, or indeed discovering who it is that they may one day fall in love with.

Indeed, the response from some of the people who should have protected them, some of the clinicians in charge of their care at the Tavistock clinic, was almost always to put them on an irreversible path, blocking puberty, then the prescription of cross-sex hormones and onto surgery as an adult.

In other words, such professionals were not asking the right questions of themselves or their patients.

Atkins said parents who questioned whether the interventions being offered to their children were the right ones were let down. And she suggested the people most let down were the young people “who have gone through the pain of detransitioning only to find out that the so-called reversible treatments they were offered are not, in fact, reversible”.

Liverpool, Joe Anderson, who has been left in limbo after his arrest three years ago, PA reports,

Anderson was arrested in December 2020 on suspicion to commit bribery and witness intimidation, as part of a wider corruption investigation. He was suspended from the Labour party and temporarily stepped down from duties, before announcing that he would not seek re-election in 2021.

Anderson has always denied wrongdoing and he is yet to be charged with any crime, but Merseyside police say investigations are ongoing.

In a rare intervention in the Lords, Heseltine said this afternoon:

The mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, was arrested on serious charges, including fraud and bribery. That was three years, four months ago. He lost his job, his reputation and his income. No charge has been laid since then. Does the minister think that’s justice?

Home Office minister Lord Sharpe of Epsom replied:

An investigation involving Mr Anderson remains ongoing and it would, therefore, be inappropriate to comment while that remains the case. The police are rightly independent of government and decisions concerning investigations are operational ones for the respective police forces to make.

Anderson was leader of Liverpool city council in 2012 when it decided to award Heseltine the freedom of the city in recognition of the way he championed regeneration in Liverpool when he was a minister in Margaret Thatcher’s cabinet.

House of Lords.

UPDATE: Graeme Cowie, a policy specialist at the House of Commons, says Truss is wrong.

3 observations.

By law, judicial members of JAC cannot be a majority.

The LCJ, by law, can’t sit on a panel to select next LCJ and can only nominate 1 of the 5 panel members.

The Lord Chancellor still has the power to reject or require reconsideration of the panel’s selection.

by not allowing the Queen to take his call.

At that point parliament had more than two years to run, and it was clear that the Conservative party would be able to choose a replacement capable of commanding a Commons majority.

In theory the king can also refuse a request of an election under the Lascelles principles, which says the monarch can say no if three conditions apply: that parliament is still functioning, that an election would harm the economy, and that another PM would be capable of running a government. But in the current circumstances arguably none of these conditions would apply and so, following constitutional convention, the king would almost certainly allow an election to go ahead.

4.17pm.) Starmer did allude to this in his response to Rishi Sunak, telling MPs:

We must proceed calmly, carefully and with restraint. Because if diplomacy takes centre stage, and it must, then we also need to be clear, diplomatic premises should not be targeted and attacked, that is a point of principle.

Given that Starmer has been reluctant to criticise Israel during the war, this is worth noting. Here’s a comment from Paul Waugh, the political commentator who came close to being selected as Labour’s candidate for Rochdale ahead of the recent byelection.

Significant. @Keir_Starmer on Iran/Israel: “If diplomacy takes centre stage, and it must, then we also need to be clear diplomatic premises should not be targeted and attacked. That is a point of principle.”
Clear signal Israel was wrong to bomb Iranian. consulate in Damascus

when she said recently that the government has been told by its lawyers that Israel is in breach of international law.

Sunak says he is happy to address this directly. He says the UK’s position on arms export licences for Israel has not changed and that the current position (allowing exports) is in line with the latest legal assessment.

Israeli destruction of the Iranian embassy in Damascus in his statement. And he says Keir Starmer did not raise this point either. He says Kay Burley on Sky News is the only person to have raised this with a government minister. (See 12.07pm.)

Sunak criticises Galloway for not condeming the Iranian attack. And he says there is “no equivalence … whatsoever” between what Israel did and what Iran did and “to suggest otherwise it’s simply wrong”.

Ben Wallace, the Tory former defence secretary, says Ukraine is also being threatened by Iranian-made drones. He says Israel has refused to support Ukraine. Given that the RAF acted to support Israel, will the PM urge Israel to help Ukraine at its moment of need?

Sunak says he will pass on this point when he speaks to the Israeli PM.

Suella Braverman, the Tory former home secretary, said she visisted Israel two weeks ago. She says since 7 October Iranian-backed Hezbolla has fired 4,000 rockets into northern Israel. She asks why the government has not proscribed the IRGC.

Sunak says the government does not comment on potential proscription decisions. But the government does take the threat from Iran seriously, he says.

Mhairi Black, the SNP’s deputy leader at Westminster, starts by condemning the acts of violence perpetrated by Iran.

But she says if acts of violence by Iran are to be condemned, acts of violence by Israel should be condemned too. And she says that, if sending hundreds of missiles and drones was disproportionate as a response to “an isolated attack on an embassy”, then what is happening in Gaza is also disproportionate as a response to the Hamas attack of 7 October.

In response, Sunak said it was wrong to imply an “equivalence” between Iran and Israel.

Sunak is replying to Starmer.

On the point about the IRGC, he says he and other G7 leaders agreed yesterday to work on further measures to counter Iran and its agencies. He goes on:

It was agreed that we should coordinate those actions and that work is now underway, and obviously at the appropriate time I’ll will update the house.


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