Published:

Don’t panic, urges No 10 after BP cuts fuel delivery

“Boris Johnson has urged people not to panic buy after BP was forced to ration fuel deliveries and ministers considered contingency plans to put soldiers on standby to drive petrol tankers. BP is restricting deliveries to dozens of petrol stations because of a shortage of lorry drivers. At least 50 of the oil giant’s 1,200 service stations around Britain are understood to be missing at least one grade of fuel and several have temporarily closed while the company prioritises motorway sites. Britain has no shortage of petrol or diesel, but Hoyer, BP’s contractor, is struggling to get enough drivers to transport it to forecourts. According to ITV News, Hanna Hofer, BP’s head of UK retail, told a government meeting last week that the situation was “bad, very bad”.” – The Times

  • Pumps at between 50 and 100 forecourts understood to be offline at any one time – FT
  • Army on standby as drivers warned – Daily Express
  • Petrol panic-buying begins – Daily Mail

Comment:

  • The spectre of the Seventies haunts the Tories – James Forsyth, The Times

Tories fear voter backlash from rising cost of living

“Rishi Sunak, UK chancellor, is under growing Tory pressure to soften the impact of rising living costs this winter, with one senior MP drawing parallels with the pain suffered by households in the 1970s and 1980s. Sunak is feeling political heat on an almost daily basis, with families facing sharp rises in energy bills, higher food prices and — according to the Bank of England on Thursday — inflation heading above 4 per cent. The warning by BP on Thursday that it had “temporarily” closed some of its petrol stations because of a shortage of tanker drivers has heightened concerns among Tory MPs that the country is heading into a dark few months. For now Sunak is holding the line against calls for more financial support for families in next month’s Budget — arguing that rising wages and a buoyant jobs market are cushioning the impact of rising prices.” – FT

  • Universal Credit cut could be softened after worried ministers hand Sunak a package of options – The Sun
  • Chancellor under pressure to raise benefits – The Times
  • Johnson says bosses need to start paying their staff more – Daily Mail
  • Government bows to pressure for delay to digital tax reforms – FT

>Today: Sam Hall in Comment: Energy prices. We should urgently wean ourselves off gas and not give up on Net Zero.

Kwarteng vetoes subsidies for gas supply giants to take on rivals’ clients

“The government has ruled out paying large suppliers to take on the customers left behind by the collapse of smaller rivals after the gas crisis claimed its largest casualty earlier this week. Kwasi Kwarteng, the business secretary, told MPs in the House of Commons that he could “categorically” rule out any subsidies or grants for larger energy suppliers. The statement appears to pour cold water on the hopes of some supply giants that they may be able to increase the size of their customer base at the expense of failed smaller rivals with financial help from the government. The UK’s biggest energy suppliers have held meetings with Kwarteng since the weekend to discuss the plans to help the supply market weather the record gas surge, and some are understood to have called for cheap government loans to help shoulder the cost of taking on customers from insolvent rivals.” – The Guardian

  • ‘Winter of discontent’ feared as energy firms go bust – Daily Telegraph
  • Business Secretary branded ‘complacent’ for suggesting the weather could ease the crisis – Daily Mail
  • Bank of England warns gas prices will help push inflation over 4 per cent – Daily Mail

Multibillion-pound plan to build UK nuclear power plant

“Ministers are backing a multibillion-pound plan to build another large-scale nuclear power plant in Britain to ease pressure on electricity supplies as the country moves towards net zero. The government is in discussions with the American nuclear reactor manufacturer Westinghouse about a proposal to develop a new plant on Anglesey in Wales. The project would be in addition to a second nuclear plant at Hinkley Point, Somerset, which is under construction, and a proposal for a new reactor at Sizewell, Suffolk, that is at an advanced stage of planning. If it gets the go-ahead the new plant at Wylfa would be able to generate enough electricity to power more than six million homes and could be operational in the mid-2030s. Ministers are understood to be increasingly concerned that existing nuclear projects will not provide the power needed to meet carbon reduction targets.” – The Times

  • Energy boss says he ‘finally gave up’ on building off-shore gas storage unit after years of rejection from ministers – Daily Mail

Johnson warns thousands will ‘suffer’ unless face-to-face GP consultations are brought back

“Boris Johnson last night said people were ‘entitled’ to see their GP in person – as he warned that thousands would ‘suffer’ unless face-to-face consultations were reinstated. Speaking to reporters in the US, the Prime Minister said in-person appointments were vital in ensuring life-threatening conditions were picked up early. And he firmly rejected a warning from the head of the Royal College of GPs that face-to-face appointments may never return to pre-pandemic level. Before the pandemic, about 80 per cent of consultations took place in a doctor’s surgery – but as of July, the figure stood at just 57 per cent. A poll for the Daily Mail today shows 85 per cent of people believe they should be able to have a face-to-face consultations if they want one.” – Daily Mail

  • No exemptions to ‘no jab, no job’ rule for care home staff – Daily Telegraph

More:

  • National insurance hike to hit NHS and care staff with £900m tax bill – The Guardian
  • Fluoride will be added to drinking water – The Times

Equalities minister under fire for writing she does not ‘care about colonialism’

“The equalities minister, Kemi Badenoch, has been criticised after leaked messages revealed she claimed not to “care about colonialism”, amid warnings that Conservatives could haemorrhage support from the black community. Badenoch, whose brief was recently expanded to include a junior ministerial position in the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, reportedly wrote: “I don’t care about colonialism because [I] know what we were doing before colonialism got there. They came in and just made a different bunch of winners and losers. “There was never any concept of ‘rights’, so [the] people who lost out were old elites not everyday people.” The leaked WhatsApp messages were revealed by VICE World News this week, and were posted on a group chat called Conservative Friends of Nigeria.” – The Guardian

  • Rising star dragged into Empire row – The Sun

More:

  • Truss accused of treating equalities role as ‘side hustle’ – The Guardian

Truss pushes for Britain to join Trans-Pacific trade area on visit to Mexico

“Liz Truss will push for Mexico to back the UK joining a major international trade pact today as she visits the country. The new Foreign Secretary is continuing her travels after attending the UN General Assembly in New York alongside Boris Johnson. She will be hoping for better news in Mexico City, after Joe Biden poured cold water on the UK’s hopes of a quick trade deal with the US. Briefing from senior government figures over a fallback option of joining the US-Mexico-Canada trade area was also humiliatingly derided by experts. Instead Ms Truss is expected to use her latest trip to focus on the snappily-named Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). She will also discuss plans to improve the existing bilateral deal between the UK and Mexico, which was rolled over after Brexit.” – Daily Mail

  • Her aides slam ‘ridiculous’ Raab after he ‘demands to keep use of grace-and-favour Chevening’ – Daily Mail

More:

  • Tory MP hit with sanctions by China says his daughter is being barred from visiting Hong Kong – Daily Mail

>Yesterday:

Sunak set to tighten UK financial regulations after Greensill scandal

“Chancellor Rishi Sunak has ordered two immediate reviews of UK financial regulation related to the collapse of Greensill Capital as he accepted some recommendations from a report by a committee of MPs into the scandal. Greensill, which collapsed in March 2021, employed former prime minister David Cameron as an adviser. The company had a “symbiotic relationship” — in Cameron’s words — with GFG Alliance, a metals group now being investigated by the Serious Fraud Office. MPs and others have also questioned why Lex Greensill, founder of the company, was given an unpaid advisory role within Whitehall by the Cameron government in 2012 — where he pushed “supply-chain finance”, a form of factoring.” – FT

Channel crossings hit new monthly record putting Patel under renewed pressure

“Home Secretary Priti Patel is coming under renewed pressure to stop the Channel boats after September set a new monthly record for migrant crossings — with nearly a week still to go. Almost 500 landed on Wednesday, meaning 3,872 arrivals this month so far. It already beats the record set in July. This year’s total is 16,303. Dover MP Natalie Elphicke warned of possible Channel deaths this winter. She told The Sun: “The French must do more to stop boats leaving in the first place. “Boats should be turned around.” Home Office officials admit just one per cent of small boats will be pushed back by elite new jet ski squads. Dan O’Mahoney — appointed by Ms Patel to tackle illegal crossings — said: “This is a complicated issue requiring changes to our laws.”” – The Sun

  • Ministers stand firm on jailing pregnant women – The Guardian

Starmer faces Labour conference storm over rules changes

“Keir Starmer is facing a Labour conference storm after Sadiq Khan refused three times to back his overhaul of party rules – and a 12,000-word pamphlet setting out his ‘vision’ was derided. Sir Keir has enraged left-wingers and unions by pushing to scrap the current ‘one member, one vote’ system for electing leaders. Instead he wants to return to a version of the old arrangements, where trade unions, MPs and party members each get a third of the voting power. Critics complain that probably would have meant Jeremy Corbyn losing in 2015. Shadow communities secretary Steve Reed suggested in interviews this morning that the proposals will be put to conference, which starts this weekend, despite the opposition.” – Daily Mail

  • Khan and Burnham won’t back reforms – The Times
  • Labour leader sets out political ethos in essay that eschews references to ‘socialism’ – FT

More:

  • Labour councillor arrested four times over Insulate Britain’s motorway protests – The Times

Fraser Nelson: Starmer must learn from Rayner or face life in the political wilderness

“As the Labour members gather in Brighton for their conference this weekend, they face some awkward questions. What on earth does Sir Keir stand for? And if his party members don’t know, how do they expect anyone else to find out? In just a few minutes on Wednesday, Rayner made more interesting points than Starmer did in an argument so vacuous that, in places, it reads like a spoof. He has called for a “contribution society” with ten characteristics, each more meaningless than the last. Who, now, is not on the side of “hardworking families”? Who would deny that “the economy should work for citizens”? We published his essay on The Spectator website and halfway through, offered a bottle of champagne to whoever had read that far. No one claimed it.” – Daily Telegraph

He’s branded ‘weak on crime’ for saying he would let off Class A drug users with just a warning

“Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer was branded “weak on crime” tonight for saying he would let off Class A drug users with a warning. The ex-top prosecutor said it was “probably the right thing to do” after Scottish lawmakers said, in a bid to cut death rates, users of hard drugs will be given a talking to instead of being nicked. Earlier this week Lord Advocate Dorothy Bain told Members of the Scottish Parliament coppers should only give addicts warnings in a bid to lower hard drug death rates. While Sir Keir admitted drug laws should not be relaxed he appeared to agree with the controversial policy. Home Secretary Priti Patel blasted Sir Keir in a tweet… Scotland logged a record 1,339 drug-related deaths in 2020 – by far the highest rate in Europe – with the Scottish government pledging to make it a “national mission” to cut fatalities.” – The Sun

  • Labour leader backs Scotland over softer laws on drug possession – The Times

More:

  • SNP shamed as Sturgeon’s Health minister ‘off the hook’ over ministerial ‘breach’ – Daily Express

>Yesterday:

Labour to give first-time buyers exclusive access to new properties

“Labour plans to slash affordable rents and give first-time buyers exclusive rights to purchase new-build homes for six months, it will announce this weekend, as it bids to steal the Conservatives’ claim to be “the party of homeownership”. Lucy Powell, shadow housing secretary, will say a government led by Keir Starmer will restrict to 50% the number of properties in a development that can be sold to overseas buyers, which in some city locations has created “ghost towers” as investors leave homes empty. Labour also wants to give councils powers to force landowners to sell vacant sites to build new housing at lower prices than the compulsory purchase system currently allows. The policy package will be announced at Labour’s conference in Brighton and amounts to a direct challenge to Michael Gove – the secretary of state for levelling up, housing and communities. Labour claims his decision to pause unpopular planning reforms has left the government without a strategy for meeting its housebuilding targets.” – The Guardian

  • Locals will get first dibs – The Sun

>Today: Alex Morton in Comment: Five ways in which we can Get Housing Done. And why Gove is the man for the job

News in Brief:

  • The Trudeau bubble deflates – Blair Gibbs, CapX
  • The man who destroyed Labour – James Kirkup, UnHerd
  • Can Germany move beyond Merkel? – Wolfgang Münchau, The Spectator
  • “No debate” no longer an option – Ellen Pasternack, The Critic