Politics latest news: Nicola Sturgeon publishes tax returns and urges Rishi Sunak to do the same

Nicola Sturgeon today published her tax returns for the last six years as she put pressure on Rishi Sunak to follow suit.

The Scottish First Minister said in a statement: “I previously committed to being open and transparent to the people of Scotland about my own earnings. Today’s publication makes good on that commitment.

“These documents show clearly that my sole source of income is my job as First Minister – the office which I have the immense privilege of holding.

“I hope other party leaders – including the Prime Minister – will follow suit in an effort to promote transparency in public office.”

The most recent return for Ms Sturgeon lists a total income of £140,496 from her employment as an MSP and First Minister.

Mr Sunak has pledged to publish his tax returns but is yet to set a date for doing so. He said in a recent interview that the information will be published “shortly”.

You can follow the latest updates below. 

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11:32 AM

Truss intervention ‘the last thing the country needs right now’ – Starmer

Sir Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, claimed Liz Truss’s return to the political fray is the “last thing that this country needs right now”. 

Speaking to broadcasters in Bristol, Sir Keir said: “I have to say, my heart sunk at the idea of former prime ministers taking the stage to tell us about what they did. They did huge damage to our country and to our economy.

“And there are millions of people across the country still paying the price for the failures, well, 13 years failure of this Conservative government, so what the country needs is for us to move forward. We’re not going be able to do that until we have a general election now and a fresh start under Labour.

“But the former prime ministers’ contest of who was the biggest failure is just about the last thing that this country needs right now.”

11:19 AM

Sir Keir Starmer on NHS strikes: Ministers are ‘sitting this one out’

Sir Keir Starmer has accused the Government of “sitting this one out” when it comes to negotiating with striking nurses and ambulance staff. 

Speaking to broadcasters during a visit to Airbus in Filton, near Bristol, the Labour leader said: “The widespread strikes today are a badge of shame for the Government. Nobody wants to see these strikes, nobody wants to be on strike – the last thing nurses want to do is to be on strike.

“What they do want is a Government that can show leadership, get around the negotiating table and settle this dispute. Before Christmas, the nurses made clear that if the Government was to get in the room and talk to them about pay, they wouldn’t be on strike.

“I think many people listening to this will be absolutely flabbergasted that the Government is still sitting this one out, not showing any leadership in the middle of a cost-of-living crisis, making the situation much worse than it otherwise would be.”

11:12 AM

David Lammy: ‘UK must play its part’ after earthquake in Turkey and Syria

10:41 AM

Nicola Sturgeon publishes tax returns

Nicola Sturgeon has published her tax returns for the last six years. 

The Scottish First Minister said in a statement: “I previously committed to being open and transparent to the people of Scotland about my own earnings. Today’s publication makes good on that commitment.

“These documents show clearly that my sole source of income is my job as First Minister – the office which I have the immense privilege of holding.

“I hope other party leaders – including the Prime Minister – will follow suit in an effort to promote transparency in public office.”

The most recent return lists a total income of £140,496 from her employment as an MSP and First Minister.

The decision will put pressure on Rishi Sunak to name a date for publishing his tax returns. The Prime Minister has pledged to release the information.

10:39 AM

Union chief claims Rishi Sunak ‘choosing strikes over talking’

Rishi Sunak is “choosing strikes over talking”, the general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing has claimed. 

She told Times Radio: “Patients in the NHS are getting a raw deal every day of the week. Care is unsafe and it’s at risk… the support for our nursing staff is strong. 

“The Government should not expect this to diminish and our members are willing to forgo another day’s pay to get this Government to do the right thing, and it cannot be in vain. 

“This is in the hands of the Prime Minister. I sent that out in a letter to him on Saturday night, and I await his response, but he really really needs now to put an urgency to this, get round a table, negotiate and call off these strikes. He’s choosing strikes over talking.”

10:32 AM

Government has made it ‘loud and clear’ it will not discuss pay – RCN chief

Pat Cullen, the general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said the Government had made it “loud and clear” that it is not willing to discuss pay for the current financial year.

She told Times Radio: “The Government needs to meet me halfway… I’ve had three meetings with [Health Secretary] Steve Barclay. On the three occasions, he has made it loud and clear, we will discuss anything but pay. 

“It’s been weeks now, weeks since I’ve heard from any government minister, knowing that there’s two days of action happening.”

10:23 AM

Pictured: Nurses at a picket line outside the Royal Marsden Hospital in London

10:21 AM

Liz Truss set to reignite China row with Rishi Sunak

Liz Truss will call for a tough approach to the threat posed by China in her first speech since leaving Downing Street, in a fresh challenge to Rishi Sunak.

The former prime minister is due to deliver a speech in Japan on February 17, in which she will warn that the threat posed by China is not being taken seriously enough.

It is set to reignite a Tory leadership campaign row between Ms Truss and Mr Sunak over who would take the toughest stance against Beijing.

You can read the full story here. 

09:58 AM

Rishi Sunak pledges UK help after earthquake in Turkey and Syria

09:47 AM

Dominic Raab is ‘at the top end of the robustness scale’, says Sir Robert Buckland

Sir Robert Buckland, the former Cabinet minister, said he would put Dominic Raab “at the top end of the robustness scale” after the former acknowledged they had a “disagreement” about the Justice Secretary’s proposed British Bill of Rights (see the post below at 08.44). 

Asked where he would put Mr Raab on a one to 10 scale, Sir Robert told LBC Radio: “Well, I think he is at the top end of the robustness scale, I don’t think anybody would deny that in dealings with him.

“I don’t know. I have not been a minister in the same department with Dominic. I can’t comment about the substance of these allegations, we have got to let due process take its course and he will be judged according to that, I am sure.” 

09:32 AM

Minister’ ‘Extremely difficult’ to revisit nurses’ pay for this year

Health minister Maria Caulfield suggested it would cost “billions of pounds” to reopen this year’s pay settlement for nurses in England because the Government would then have to do the same for other public sector workers.

She told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme the “door is firmly open” to further talks with health unions regarding next year’s pay process.

Asked whether there is a “possibility” that negotiations could include looking at 2022/23 pay, she said: “The Secretary of State and the Prime Minister have been clear that that would be extremely difficult to do because it wouldn’t just be for nurses – you would have teachers saying ‘Could we open this year’s pay settlement?’, you’ve got ambulance drivers, rail workers…

“There is a range of public sector workers who would also want the same request. Across the board, you’re talking about billions of pounds to pay for that, and we want to put that into frontline services, as we are doing now.”

09:03 AM

Pictured: Nurses on a picket line outside St Thomas’ Hospital in central London

08:59 AM

Nation faces ‘constant cycle’ of NHS strike action

There will be a “constant cycle” of NHS strike action until the Government commits to proper negotiations on pay, a union boss has said. 

Sharon Graham, general secretary of the Unite union, said: “What we need is the talks to happen with Rishi Sunak or/and Stephen Barclay on pay, we can get an offer and then we can put that off to the members.

“That’s what needs to happen. Until that happens, we are in this constant cycle of having strike action, which obviously nobody wants.

“Our members do not want to be on strike. They want to be at work serving the country.”

08:57 AM

NHS boss predicts ‘hugely disrupted’ day across the health service

NHS services will be “hugely disrupted” today as a result of nurses and ambulance workers both walking out, the deputy chief executive of NHS Providers said. 

Saffron Cordery told Sky News: “I think it’s going to be a hugely disrupted day across the NHS, it’s going to be incredibly challenging.

“With both nurses and ambulance staff out on strike today, and nurses again tomorrow and we’ve got physiotherapist later in the week and some ambulance staff again on Friday, We’re planning for an incredibly disrupted week.”

She added: “What we previously had with industrial action has been, for example community nursing staff being able to plug the gaps left when ambulance staff are out on strike, but obviously with nurses and ambulances out today, that’s going to be incredibly difficult.” 

08:52 AM

‘There is always a risk’

Health minister Maria Caulfield said patients could be put at risk “the longer that strikes go on”.

Asked on Sky News whether nurse and ambulance staff striking in England were “putting lives at risk”, Ms Caulfield said: “There is a risk to patients the longer that strikes go on. So if your operation is cancelled the first time, there is probably a minimum risk. If that’s cancelled time and time again because of ongoing strikes, then patients become more poorly and there is always a risk.

“And with ambulance strikes, if someone’s having a heart attack or a stroke, that does increase someone’s risk the longer that response time is.”

08:47 AM

Pictured: Boris Johnson braces the cold for a morning run

08:44 AM

Sir Robert Buckland acknowledges ‘disagreement’ with Dominic Raab

Dominic Raab allegedly tried to get Sir Robert Buckland sacked as Welsh secretary in August last year after the latter publicly criticised the former’s proposed British Bill of Rights in an article for The Telegraph, according to a story in The Times today. 

Sir Robert this morning acknowledged that he had “a disagreement” with Mr Raab over the article but they have “moved on now”.

When asked whether it was true that Mr Raab said Mr Buckland would have to be sacked or resign if the article were published, the Tory MP told LBC Radio: “I don’t want to rake back through the coals of what happened last summer. Dominic and I have a disagreement about his bill of rights, clearly he wasn’t going to agree with the article that I did write in The Telegraph.

“I was talking about the Government to come – that is the Government post-Boris Johnson, and felt that it was entirely appropriate to do that.

“There are robust disagreements in politics. I’m old enough and ugly enough to hold my own corner, and Dominic is known for his robustness as well. There was a disagreement, but we’ve moved on.

“I very much hope that the bill of rights is radically reformed, by the way, and that we have a more measured set of reforms, and that debate will carry on.”

08:31 AM

Government cannot afford ‘inflation-busting pay rises’ for NHS staff – minister

The Government cannot afford the “inflation-busting pay rises” being demanded by health unions, a health minister has said. 

Maria Caulfield, who is a nurse, told GB News: “I’m an RCN member myself, so I sit in both camps, if you like. Absolutely, I have a lot of sympathy.

“But we also have a responsibility to the taxpayer and we’ve followed an independent process with the pay review body that unions signed up to and were very happy with the settlement last year.

“And it is difficult for us now if we are to give a pay (rise) to nurses, we would have to look at teachers, ambulance drivers. We just can’t afford inflation-busting pay rises that the unions are currently demanding.”

08:28 AM

Minister responds to Liz Truss: ‘Where we can cut tax, we will’

Westminster continues to react this morning to Liz Truss’s return to the political frontline after the former premier penned a 4,000 word essay for The Telegraph about her time in No10 (you can read the full piece here). 

Her defence of her tax-cutting agenda has sparked much debate in Whitehall and has put the pressure on Rishi Sunak over his aversion to cutting taxes in the immediate future. 

Maria Caulfield, a health minister, was asked for her opinion this morning and she told GB News that the Government will “look at reducing tax further” only when inflation has fallen. 

“I think as Grant Shapps said yesterday I think as Conservatives we are all wanting to see people keep more of the money they earn through low taxation and if you look when we first came into government in 2010 we raised the tax threshold, it was around £6,000 now you have to be earning over £12,500 before you pay tax, the same with National Insurance,” she said. 

“So where we can cut tax, we will. But the biggest enemy to every household at the moment is inflation and whether you get a five per cent pay rise or a ten per cent pay rise that is completely swallowed up at the moment by inflation and inflation busting pay rises will not fix that. 

“So we have to get inflation down, it is one of the PM’s top priorities to halve that, just as Margaret Thatcher did when she came into government and once we get inflation down we can absolutely look at reducing tax further.”

08:18 AM

Health minister suggests NHS strikes will put lives at risk

Maria Caulfied, a health minister, has appeared to concede that today’s NHS strike action will put lives at risk. 

Asked the question during an interview on GB News this morning, Ms Caulfield said the walkout will make things “very difficult” and strikes always “have an impact on patients”. 

She said: “I think it is going to be very difficult. Obviously we have put in as much preparation as possible, working with NHS Trusts again to minimise disruption to patients and to make sure that for urgent and emergency care that there are backup services in place. 

“But obviously any time that there is disruption to NHS services it does have an impact on patients, particularly with ongoing strikes.”

08:16 AM

Pictured: Ambulance workers strike in Liverpool

08:14 AM

NHS losing ‘significant numbers’ of nurses to agencies over pay – RCN chief

Poor pay levels in the NHS are prompting “significant numbers” of staff nurses to quit and go to work for an agency instead, the general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing said. 

Pat Cullen accused the Government of “short-termism” as she criticised ministers for failing to make more money available for pay rises. 

Asked if the NHS is losing nurses to agencies, she told ITV’s Good Morning Britain programme: “Yes, we are. Significant numbers. For a number of reasons. Simply because they can earn an extra few pounds we are losing those nurses out of the NHS, giving up their NHS contracts to do that. 

“And again, that is the short-termism of this Government who pushed nurses to that position.”

08:11 AM

Rishi Sunak must ‘step up and step out’ to resolve NHS strikes

Rishi Sunak must “step up and step out” to stop further strikes in the NHS, the general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing said this morning. 

Pat Cullen told ITV’s Good Morning Britain programme: “They are standing up for their patients and listen, today the Prime Minister must step up and step out and resolve these strikes for the people of this country and for nursing staff.”

08:07 AM

Royal College of Nursing chief accuses Rishi Sunak of ‘punishing’ nurses

Pat Cullen, the general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, has accused Rishi Sunak of punishing nurses as tens of thousands of nurses and ambulance workers in England walkout today in what is expected to be the biggest strike in NHS history. 

Speaking to ITV’s Good Morning Britain programme, Ms Cullen said: “I wrote to him on Saturday and again I am waiting on a response and I haven’t got one and I think that says a lot given that he knows that we are taking strike action today and tomorrow. 

“I said to him look, that he can stop the strikes happening, he can get round a table and start talking to me. It is now weeks since I have heard from anyone in his government, knowing that today and tomorrow is happening. 

“I did say clearly to him that he must start to talk to me. He is punishing nurses now in England. These nurses are now paid the worst across the UK when you look at what has happened in Wales and Scotland. Is that fair? It most certainly isn’t.”

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