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Rishi Sunak ‘in Cabinet row over extra Universal Credit cash’

Downing Street has insisted it is ‘not the right and proper moment’ to decide if a £20-a-week Universal Credit increase should be kept in place after Boris Johnson told Tory MPs to abstain on a crunch Labour vote tonight.  

The Government rolled-out the extra cash last year to help families through the coronavirus pandemic but the policy is due to expire in April. 

The Prime Minister’s Press Secretary, Allegra Stratton, said at lunchtime that a firm decision has not yet been taken on whether the increased payments will be extended. 

She said Chancellor Rishi Sunak will ‘come forward when he thinks the time is right’ to deliver a final verdict, with ministers having hinted that moment will be the Budget on March 3. 

Labour will try to force a symbolic vote on keeping the payments this evening after holding an opposition day debate on the matter.  

But Downing Street has labelled the move a ‘political stunt’, with Mr Johnson telling Conservative MPs to abstain. 

The PM has claimed Sir Keir Starmer is ‘playing politics’ and accused Labour ‘trolls’ of ‘intimidating and threatening’ Tory MPs on the issue. 

Mr Johnson said similar votes in the past had been ‘misrepresented’ by Labour and he did not want to risk that happening again. 

However, a number of Tory MPs are still expected to rebel and vote with Labour.  

Mr Sunak is said to be at the centre of a Cabinet row on whether to extend the payments.  

The Chancellor reportedly wants to scrap the increase because he believes that if it remains in place there is a risk it could become permanent at a cost to the Treasury of approximately £6billion per year. 

Tory MPs have demanded Mr Sunak keep the extra payments until the UK is clear of the Covid-19 crisis while Cabinet ministers, led by Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey, are also urging him to look at extending the policy. 

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is reportedly facing a Cabinet row over whether to extend a £20-a-week increase in Universal Credit payments 

Boris Johnson has instructed Tory MPs to abstain when Labour forces votes on Universal Credit and free school meals today

Boris Johnson has instructed Tory MPs to abstain when Labour forces votes on Universal Credit and free school meals today

Boris Johnson compares Labour ‘trolls’ to Trump supporters ‘inciting hatred’ as he accuses them of ‘intimidating and threatening’ Tory MPs over Universal Credit vote

Boris Johnson has accused Labour ‘trolls’ of ‘intimidating and threatening’ Tory MPs on the crunch issues of Universal Credit and free school meals. 

Labour is set to force symbolic votes on the two issues in the House of Commons this evening but Mr Johnson has instructed his Conservative MPs to abstain. 

He reportedly said similar votes in the past had been ‘misrepresented’ and he did not want to risk that happening again. 

Labour will hold opposition day debates in a bid to force the Government to keep a £20-a-week increase in Universal Credit in place and to demand the extension of the free school meals programme. 

The votes that follow the debates are not binding but Mr Johnson has told Tory MPs that he is wary of what could happen if his colleagues were to vote against the motions. 

According to The Sun, Mr Johnson told Tory MPs in a WhatsApp message sent yesterday that he knew many would be ‘thirsting to give battle’ to Labour.

He continued: ‘But after the shameful way in which they used their army of momentum trolls last time to misrepresent the outcome and to lie about its meaning and frankly to intimidate and threaten colleagues – especially female colleagues – I have decided not to give them that opportunity.’ 

Mr Johnson accused Labour of ‘playing politics’ and of ‘inciting the worst kind of hatred and bullying (of a kind seen sadly across the Atlantic)’.

Ms Stratton sought at lunchtime to explain Mr Johnson’s decision to tell Tory MPs to abstain on today’s vote. 

She said: ‘He is asking people to abstain because today is not the right and proper moment for the Government to be talking about Universal Credit and the £20 uplift.

‘We have always said, the Chancellor has said repeatedly, that he will be coming back to the House in due course with his decision on what should be done with the £20 uplift that is due to end at the end of March.’

Asked why the Government does not simply make a decision now, Ms Stratton said: ‘The Chancellor is constantly filtering the latest up to date information on the economic and health context.

‘That is what he has been doing throughout the pandemic. He has always said he and the Prime Minister will do whatever it takes. That remains true.

‘He is monitoring that data and will come forward when he thinks the time is right.’

She added: ‘We haven’t said whether or not we will continue [with the uplift]. The Chancellor will be coming forward in due course.’ 

Mr Johnson would not be drawn on whether the policy will be extended, telling the BBC during a visit this afternoon:  ‘I think you have heard me say that we will want to support people throughout the pandemic.

‘We want to make sure that people don’t suffer as a result of the economic consequences of the pandemic.

‘When you look at what the Government has done to provide £280billion worth of support, the furlough scheme, the bounce back loans, colossal investment, probably more than most other comparable countries.

‘I don’t think you could fault the Government for supporting people. We will continue to do that.’ 

Sir Keir labelled Mr Johnson’s decision to tell Tory MPs to abstain ‘pathetic’. 

He told ITV’s Lorraine: ‘If he’s going to call it a stunt, he should probably come with me to a food distribution centre to see these families this morning and explain to them what is a lifeline to them is a stunt, because it certainly isn’t from their point of view.

‘I actually think in their heart of hearts, quite a lot of Tory MPs know that cutting this money to people who desperately need it in the middle of a pandemic is the wrong thing to do, they know that, they probably want to vote with us but because of the tribal way we do politics, they can’t.

‘The Prime Minister’s now saying in answer to the question: ‘Do you think this uplift should stay or not?’ he’s saying: ‘I don’t want to say yes and I don’t want to say no, so we’re going to abstain’. He’s got no view on whether it should stay or not – that’s pretty pathetic.’

The Times reported that Mr Sunak, Mr Johnson and Ms Coffey met on Friday to look at alternatives to the Universal Credit uplift but no decisions have been made.

One option which is said to be under consideration is to replace the increased payments with a one-off payment of £500. The uplift is currently worth more than £1,000 a year.  

A final decision is not expected to be announced until Mr Sunak delivers the Budget on March 3. 

A Whitehall source suggested Mr Sunak will be isolated in the Cabinet if he does try to scrap the extra payments, telling Politico: ‘The Chancellor is about to find himself on his own. Read the room Rishi.’        

But allies of the Chancellor have pointed to the cost of keeping the policy as they argued it cannot continue indefinitely. 

One Tory official said: ‘As conservatives, we know that work is the best way out of poverty. It’s time we reminded ourselves of that.’ 

However, Labour has highlighted that many Universal Credit claimants are already in work. 

Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner tweeted: ‘2.2m recipients of UC are *working* & 70% of children in poverty are in working families. The problem is poverty pay.’ 

The Government is under pressure from its own backbenches to keep the extra £20-a-week payments in place. 

The Northern Research Group, which consists of 65 Tory MPs from the north of England, north Wales and Scotland, has called for the payments to be kept until lockdown restrictions have been lifted. 

Speaking on behalf of the NRG, Conservative MP John Stevenson said: ‘The £1,000 uplift to universal credit has been a real life-saver for people throughout this pandemic. 

‘To end it now would be devastating for the 6million individuals and families who are already struggling to stay afloat.

‘Equally, replacing the current system with a £500 one-off-payment which is half the amount people have been receiving and would exclude the estimated 800,000 people expected to become unemployed in the second quarter of 2021 after the job retention scheme stops will not be sufficient.

‘It would see many people falling through the gaps and would damage our economic recovery.

‘That is why the NRG are once again calling on the Chancellor to extend the Universal Credit uplift until restrictions are lifted, to ensure that individuals and families who have been worst affected by this pandemic are supported through our recovery with the security they need.’

Mr Johnson has accused Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer of 'playing politics' on the issue of Universal Credit

Mr Johnson has accused Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer of ‘playing politics’ on the issue of Universal Credit

Tory former work and pensions secretary Stephen Crabb said he intends to vote with Labour, arguing that withdrawing the increase ‘will cause hardship to families’.

Mr Crabb told the BBC it will be the first time he has rebelled against the Tory party whip.

‘I just feel very, very strongly that the current Treasury plan, which is to withdraw that additional amount of money at the end of March, will cause hardship to families, there’s no question about that,’ he said.

Senior Tory backbencher Robert Halfon, who chairs the Education Select Committee, said Universal Credit has been ‘invaluable for millions of people during the lockdown’.

‘Depending on what the Government says later, I am most likely to vote for the Labour motion unless the Government makes it absolutely clear it will be extending,’ he told the BBC.

Labour will hold the opposition day debate this afternoon in a bid to force the Government to keep the payments and to demand the extension of the free school meals programme. 

The votes that follow the debates are non-binding but Mr Johnson has told Tory MPs to abstain because he is wary of what could happen if they vote against the motions.

According to The Sun, Mr Johnson told Tory MPs in a WhatsApp message sent yesterday that he knew many would be ‘thirsting to give battle’ to Labour.

He continued: ‘But after the shameful way in which they used their army of momentum trolls last time to misrepresent the outcome and to lie about its meaning and frankly to intimidate and threaten colleagues – especially female colleagues – I have decided not to give them that opportunity.’ 

Mr Johnson accused Labour of ‘playing politics’ and of ‘inciting the worst kind of hatred and bullying (of a kind seen sadly across the Atlantic)’.

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Headlines UK London

Ex-Goldman Sachs banker Richard Sharp who used to be Rishi Sunak’s boss will be next BBC chairman

Multi-millionaire ex-Goldman Sachs banker Richard Sharp, who used to be Rishi Sunak’s boss, will be the next BBC chairman, according to reports.

Mr Sharp is set to be announced for the £160,000-a-year role as soon as Thursday, according to Sky News.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has reportedly signed off the selection, which is likely to be announced by Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden.

Mr Sharp will replace Sir David Clementi – who has held the position since April 2017 and is due to step down in February.

Ex-Goldman Sachs banker Richard Sharp who used to be Rishi Sunak’s boss will be the next BBC chairman, according to reports

Mr Sharp has spent much of the past year as an unpaid adviser to the Chancellor of the Exchequer (pictured), who he was once the boss of during his long career at Goldman Sachs

Mr Sharp has spent much of the past year as an unpaid adviser to the Chancellor of the Exchequer (pictured), who he was once the boss of during his long career at Goldman Sachs

Mr Sharp has spent much of the past year as an unpaid adviser to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who he was once a superior of during his long career at investment banking giant Goldman Sachs.

Mr Sharp, who is said to have amassed a fortune north of £100million during his career, also spent six years as a member of the Bank of England’s Financial Policy Committee before leaving the post last March. 

He was parachuted in to oversee the Chancellor’s Covid economic rescue package earlier this year.

The 64-year-old boasts ‘a reputation as a sharp, independent thinker and a safe pair of hands’, according to colleagues.

He reportedly donated hundreds of thousands of pounds to the Tory party at a fundraising dinner in 2013, though he is not thought to be a Conservative party member.

Alongside his financial work, Mr Sharp also has experience in the arts.

He chaired the Royal Academy of Arts Trust for several years and founded Kyra, a Gen-Z YouTube channel. 

Mr Sharp entered the race for the role earlier this year after former Chancellor George Osborne ruled himself out of the job.

Former Daily Telegraph editor, Lord Charles Moore of Etchingham, once considered the leading contender, also pulled out of the race on ‘personal’ grounds.

Veteran broadcaster David Dimbleby had reportedly considered throwing his hat in the ring.

According to reports earlier this year, Mr Johnson, with whom Mr Sharp is close having worked with him during his time as Mayor of London, is understood to be in favour of appointing a Tory-supporting chairman for the broadcaster.

Mr Johnson is reportedly said to want to stop what he believes is a growing left-wing bias at the corporation.

The prestigious role will involve maintaining the broadcaster's independence and overseeing the function of the organisation

The prestigious role will involve maintaining the broadcaster’s independence and overseeing the function of the organisation

Mr Sharp will replace Sir David Clementi - who has held the position since April 2017 and is due to step down in February

Mr Sharp will replace Sir David Clementi – who has held the position since April 2017 and is due to step down in February

The job advert was posted online last year with an increased salary in a bid to attract a wider range of candidates.

The prestigious role will involve maintaining the broadcaster’s independence and overseeing the function of the organisation. 

The appointed chairman will work closely with recently appointed BBC director-general Tim Davie.

Mr Davie has already launched a social media crackdown on BBC staff demanding they do not ‘express a personal opinion on matters of public policy, politics, or controversial subjects’.

He is also looking at new funding models for the corporation, amid speculation ministers could look to replace the traditional licence fee model in the future.  

The new appointment will be to replace current chairman Sir David Clementi, who is stepping down from the role in February.

Sir David was a British business executive and a former Deputy Governor of the Bank of England before taking on BBC role.

He was preceded by Baroness Rona Alison Fairhead – a business chief who recently served as as Minister of State at the Department for International Trade.

She was the last Chairwoman of the previous governing body, the BBC Trust, before its abolition in 2017.

The Trust was replaced by current governing body, the BBC Board.

Categories
Bollywood

Neetu Kapoor shares Rishi Kapoor’s pic from Mera Naam Joker: ‘Today would have been his 50 years in Indian film industry’


Actor Neetu Kapoor took to Instagram to share a special commemorative picture of her husband late Rishi Kapoor. She mentioned how he would have completed 50 years in the Indian film industry.

Sharing it, she wrote: “Mera naam joker released on 18th dec. 1970 .. today would have been his 50 years in the indian film industry #rishikapoor.” The picture was a collage from Rishi as a child star in Mera Naam Joker to his most recent avatar. It showed the gradual change in the kind of films he did too – from social drama, romantic films and finally powerful character roles. Karan Johar, who helped Rishi rediscover himself in a negative role with Agneepath, commented: “My absolute favourite actor of all times.” Manish Malhotra dropped a number of heart emojis.

 

Neetu’s various posts show her struggle with her loss. On her father-in-law late Raj Kapoor’s birth anniversary, she posted a throwback picture from the time of her wedding and had written: “Remember n miss both of them !!!”

Back in June, she had shared another throwback with Rishi, as middle-aged couple, and had written: “Big or small We all have a battle to fight in our heads you may have a huge house with all the luxuries and still be unhappy whereas have nothing n be the happiest it’s all a state of mind !! All one needs is a strong mind n hope for a better tmrw !!! Live with gratitude ,hope ,work hard !!!! Value your loved ones as thats your biggest wealth.”

Sharing another throwback from their younger days, she had written: “Wish me luck as you wave me goodbye.Cheerio, here I go on my way. With a cheer, not a tear, in your eye. Give me a smile, I can keep for a while. In my heart while I’m away.” In the time after Rishi’s death, her kids – Riddhima Kapoor Sahni and Ranbir Kapoor – have been her pillars of strength.

Also read: Kareena Kapoor confirms Varun Dhawan and Natasha Dalal’s engagement, he says they would have liked a live-in relationship

Neetu signed up for a film after a long time with Jug Jug Jeeyo, which also stars Anil Kapoor, Varun Dhawan and Kiara Advani. She was getting back to films after a gap of nearly eights years and was clearly apprehensive about facing the camera. The film’s shoot began in November in Chandigarh. Earlier this month, Neetu, Varun and the film’s director Raj Mehta tested positive to coronavirus, while Anil and Kiara did not. The duo have since recovered and the team will reportedly re-assemble in Chandigarh on December 19 to shoot the remaining portion of the film.

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Rishi Sunak extends furlough scheme to end of April

Rishi Sunak today raised fears coronavirus curbs could drag on longer as he dramatically extended the furlough scheme for another month.

The Chancellor said the huge bailout will now continue until the end of April to give businesses ‘certainty’, while firms will be able to access loans until the end of March.

He also confirmed that the Budget will take place on March 3 as he sets out out the ‘next phase’ of the Government’s Covid-19 recovery plan.

The move on furlough – likely to add another £5billion to the Government’s debt mountain – is an ominous sign that restrictions could be kept in place for longer than had been hoped, with Boris Johnson previously suggesting that life could be approaching normal by next Spring.

It came amid fury today as Matt Hancock plunged another swathe of Tory home counties heartlands into draconian coronavirus restrictions and denied a downgrade to Manchester – leaving 38million people facing the toughest Tier 3 from Saturday. Downing Street today refused to rule out a third blanket lockdown in England,.

Mr Sunak had already pushed back the close of furlough from October, which was expected to add another £30billion to the government’s costs.

He is now facing huge pressure to provide more support for the self-employed.

The Chancellor said: ‘We know the premium businesses place on certainty, so it is right that we enable them to plan ahead regardless of the path the virus takes, which is why we’re providing certainty and clarity by extending this support, as well as implementing our Plan for Jobs.’ 

Under the furlough scheme the Government will continue to pay 80 per cent of the salary of employees for hours not worked until the end of April.

Employers will only be required to pay wages, National Insurance Contributions (NICS) and pensions for hours worked; and NICS and pensions for hours not worked.

In another day of high drama in the coronavirus crisis:

  • A total of 109,167 people tested positive for Covid-19 in England at least once in the week to December 9, according to the latest Test and Trace figures;
  • Covid-19 case rates are rising in all but one region of England, according to the latest weekly surveillance report from Public Health England; 
  • Some hospitals are deferring non-urgent procedures as they deal with coronavirus patients; 
  • The government has announced that pupils will return to classrooms in secondary schools in England later in January amid the spike in cases, with online learning filling the gap; 
  • Priti Patel said people should report neighbours who are flouting Christmas bubble rules – but only if they are having ‘raves’;  
  • The Welsh Labour Government has been blasted for ‘another staggering cock-up’ after a computer maintenance glitch led to 11,000 coronavirus cases being missed from the nation’s official tally; 
  • French President Emmanuel Macron has tested positive for Covid-19 and is self-isolating. 

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said the huge coronavirus furlough scheme will now continue until the end of April, while firms will be able to access loans until the end of March 

Government borrowing could be close to £400billion this year and is set to continue at eye-watering levels into the mid-2020s, as this OBR chart shows

Government borrowing could be close to £400billion this year and is set to continue at eye-watering levels into the mid-2020s, as this OBR chart shows

How much does the furlough scheme cost? 

The Treasury estimates costs of a billion pounds a month for every million workers on the furlough scheme.

The Bank of England has said it expects 5.5million people to be furloughed, suggesting a bill of  approximately £5.5billion a month.

The Resolution Foundation think-tank says the monthly cost could be even higher at £6.2billion a month.

The latest Tier changes  

MOVING TO TIER 3 

Bedfordshire 

Buckinghamshire

Berkshire

Peterborough

Hertfordshire 

Surrey apart from Waverley 

Hastings and Rother

Portsmouth, Gosport, Havant

MOVING FROM TIER 3 TO TIER 2 

Bristol, North Somerset

MOVING FROM TIER 2 TO TIER 1

Herefordshire 

Matt Hancock faced fury today as he plunged another swathe of Tory home counties heartlands into draconian coronavirus restrictions and denied a downgrade to Manchester – leaving 38million people facing the toughest Tier 3.

The Health Secretary was branded ‘ridiculous’ as he delivered the grim news for England amid growing fears over a surge in cases.

Announcing the review of the tiers in the House of Commons, he said large parts of the South East will go into Tier 3, including Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, Peterborough, the whole of Hertfordshire, Surrey with the exception of Waverley, Hastings and Rother on the Kent border of East Sussex, and Portsmouth, Gosport and Havant in Hampshire. 

He also dashed hopes that restrictions could be eased on Manchester, the Tees Valley and parts of the Midlands, in what local leaders branded a ‘kick in the teeth’. 

Mr Hancock did say Bristol and North Somerset will be moved down to Tier 2 in a glimmer of good news.

Herefordshire is also being shifted to Tier 1 from midnight on Saturday morning. 

But it means around 38million people, or 68 per cent of the population, will now be subject to the top bracket – including the Queen at Windsor Castle. 

In further bad news, the government has announced that millions of secondary pupils in England will have their return to classrooms delayed by up to a week, with lessons online to reduce the risk of spread.   

Mr Hancock told MPs: ‘We must be vigilant and keep this virus under control… We’ve come so far, we mustn’t blow it now.’

He added: ‘This is a moment when we act with caution.’ 

Mr Hancock said case rates in the south of England were up 46 per cent in the last week while hospital admissions are up by more than a third, adding in the east of England cases are up two thirds and hospital admissions up by nearly half in the last week.

He also batted away complaints from low-infection areas of Kent about the blanket status for the county, urging residents to ‘behave like they have the virus’. ‘It is the area of the country that has the biggest problem,’ Mr Hancock said. 

London, along with parts of Essex and Hertfordshire, have already been upgraded into the harshest level of curbs – which mean pubs and restaurants can only serve takeaway – after seeing sharp rises in infections. 

Health experts had urged Boris Johnson not to lower Tier 3 areas into Tier 2 but ministers were also warned of growing unrest in cities under the toughest restrictions.  

While Tier 2 areas in Oxfordshire, East and West Sussex, Brighton and Hove and Northamptonshire have all seen a rise in infections in the last seven days, cities such as Greater Manchester and Leeds have seen their rates drop.

Greater Manchester’s night-time tsar Sacha Lord said the decision to keep it at the highest level was a ‘kick in the teeth’. Manchester council leader Richard Leese branded it ‘unbelievable’.

What are the Tier 3 rules? 

  • Indoor entertainment venues such as cinemas, theatres and bowling alleys must close;
  • Pubs, restaurants and cafes must close except for takeaway;
  • Shops and hairdressers and salons will be allowed to remain open; 
  • Groups of six will be allowed to meet outdoors only; 
  • Crowds at live events will be banned;
  • People should avoid travelling out of, or into, Tier 3 areas unless it is unavoidable;
  • People from separate households cannot meet indoors and the rule of six applies outside. 

Worryingly for Mr Johnson, Conservative 1922 committee chair Sir Graham Brady also slammed the decisions. He said his Altrincham & Sale West seat had lower rates than Bristol, which has been downgraded. ‘My constituents have behaved responsibly,’ he told Mr Hancock. ‘What exactly do we have to do to be moved out of Tier 3?’ 

Conservative MP for Stevenage Stephen McPartland said it was ‘ridiculous’ his area was being escalated. ‘Totally unacceptable & clearly shows I was right to vote against a second lockdown & tier system,’ he said.

‘Government accepted on Monday that tiers should be imposed on a district basis instead of this unbalanced county-wide approach.’ 

Tory MP for North West Leicestershire Andrew Bridgen said it was ‘disappointing news’ that his constituency would stay in Tier 3. Mr Bridgen had been asking for his area to be decoupled from Leicester, which has much higher infection levels.

‘It is disappointing news for my constituents who have worked so hard to suppress the virus,’ he said. 

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) said the extension of the furlough scheme would bring ‘some much-needed certainty and respite’ for businesses.

Rain Newton-Smith, the organisation’s chief economist, said: ‘In the middle of a tough winter, this will bring some much-needed certainty and respite for businesses.

‘Stable employer contributions and an extension to the Job Retention Scheme until the end of April will mean the scheme continues to protect people’s livelihoods.

‘And with cashflow difficulties still at the forefront of the minds of many business owners, continued access to Government-backed loans through to spring will bring great comfort.’

But shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds accused Mr Sunak of ‘last-minute decision-making’.

She said: ‘Once again the Chancellor has waited until the last possible minute to act, leaving businesses in the dark with less than 24 hours before they have to issue redundancy notices.

‘Rishi Sunak’s irresponsible, last-minute decision-making has left the UK with the worst recession of any major economy.’

Before the announcement, Mr Sunak gave a fresh hint at looming tax rises warning that letting huge borrowing carry on would be ‘morally, economically and politically’ wrong.

The Chancellor said failing to tackle the structural deficit created by the coronavirus turmoil would leave the UK exposed to ‘future shocks’.

In an apparent shot across the bows at Boris Johnson’s free-spending instincts, he also cautioned that it could be catastrophic for the Conservatives as there would not be ‘much difference between us and the Labour Party’.

Nearly 38million people are set to be under the highest tier of restrictions in England by the weekend

Nearly 38million people are set to be under the highest tier of restrictions in England by the weekend

The government released a narrative explanation of why its decisions were made for each area of the country

The government released a narrative explanation of why its decisions were made for each area of the country 

Millions of school pupils face having post-Christmas return delayed

Millions of secondary school pupils in England will have their return to school delayed by up to a week after the Christmas holidays amid a Covid crisis in the classroom.

Downing Street confirmed that the planned January 4 and 5 restart would now be ‘staggered’ with the use of online lessons, with full face-to-face learning beginning on January 11.

It came as figures showed more than half of schools in England had coronavirus cases during the first two weeks of November’s lockdown and those aged 12-18 have the highest infection rate of any age group.

The move comes just days after Education Secretary Gavin Williamson took legal action against London councils which wanted to close schools early before Christmas.

Asked in an interview with the Spectator magazine about the huge scale of borrowing – which could be close to £400billion this year and is set to continue at eye-watering levels into the mid-2020s – Mr Sunak said it was not enough to rely on interest rates staying at historic low levels. 

‘It is not sustainable to borrow at these levels. I don’t think morally, economically or politically it would be right,’ he said.

Mr Sunak added: ‘Running a structural deficit years into the future, with debt rising? 

‘That’s not building up the resilience you need to deal with the future shock that will come along, and someone else will be sitting in my chair.

‘We now have had two of these things in a decade: who knows what the next shock will look like?’ 

Laying out the political threat from continuing to run up the tab, the Chancellor said the Tories could not give the impression that ‘rising debt is fine.

‘If we think borrowing is the answer to everything, that debt rising is fine, then there’s not much difference between us and the Labour Party,’ he said. 

‘I worry about what that means for us politically down the line.’

Referencing former Cabinet minister Lord Hague – whose Richmond constituency he inherited – Mr Sunak also suggested action will be needed well before the next election.

‘William Hague always tells me you can’t fatten a pig on market day,’ he said.

In an apparent shot across the bows at Boris Johnson's free-spending instincts, Mr Sunak cautioned that accepting ongoing borrowing would mean there is not 'much difference between us and the Labour Party'

In an apparent shot across the bows at Boris Johnson’s free-spending instincts, Mr Sunak cautioned that accepting ongoing borrowing would mean there is not ‘much difference between us and the Labour Party’

Mr Sunak was also asked about the idea of a one-off wealth levy to fill the coronavirus black hole in the finances.

Last week the Wealth Tax Commission floated a 1pc tax spread over five years on those with personal wealth of more than £500,000, saying it could raise £260billion.

However, Mr Sunak sounded sympathetic to critics who warned it would punish asset-rich, cash-poor families and force house sales.

While admitting he had yet to read the report, the Chancellor said: ‘I think that’s right, in the sense that we’re a party that believes in aspiration.

‘Actually, we should be celebrating aspiration.’ 

‘I’m in tears, completely drained’: Business owners in areas going into Tier 3 Covid lockdown are ‘absolutely devastated’ as pubs, restaurants, theatres and more are forced to close

Devastated business owners are up in arms over the extension of Matt Hancock’s Tier 3 curbs across vast swathes of southern England amid rising coronavirus cases.

Around four million people are being moved into the toughest restrictions from Friday, with local restaurateurs, hoteliers and theatre owners forced to either remain closed or shutter their premises over the Christmas period.

Thousands of planned family festive trips to Legoland and LaplandUK in Berkshire, as well as Center Parcs in Sherwood, have now been thrown into jeopardy as cancellations loom on the horizon.

Warner Bros Studio Tour in Watford has already closed in anticipation of the move to Tier restrictions and is extending its refund period to cover all visits from December 16 to January 3 inclusive.  

MPs and councillors blasted the Health Secretary’s ‘bizarre’ and ‘ridiculous’ clampdown, while hospitality chiefs warned Tier 3 restrictions will plunge businesses already on the brink into ‘despair and heartbreak’.

Large parts of the east and south of England will go into Tier 3, including Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, Peterborough, Hertfordshire, Surrey with the exception of Waverley, Hastings and Rother on the Kent border of East Sussex, and Portsmouth, Gosport and Havant in Hampshire.

It means around 38 million people, or 68 per cent of the population, will now be subject to the top bracket – including the Queen at Windsor Castle. 

A high-end steak restaurant in Berkshire is having to cancel all 80 bookings from now over Christmas until January 1 at an estimated cost of £12,000.

The Herd restaurant in Pangbourne, which is part of the Elephant hotel, opened on December 3 in line with Tier 2 restrictions after it closed its doors during the second national shutdown – at a cost of thousands of pounds in anti-Covid kit.

It now has to close its doors indefinitely, destroy festive family plans by cancelling restaurant and hotel reservations, kick guests out of the hotel from Friday, and put all its 25 restaurant staff back on furlough.

‘It’s pretty scary’: Peterborough restaurateur fears he will shut doors for good and fears toll closure will take on his family 

Paul Sharma opened 2020 World Buffet in Peterborough just two days before the first lockdown in March and since then has endured a stop-start nine months.

Now, after being placed into Tier 3 today, he fears he’ll have to shut his doors for good, as the financial impact begins to take its toll on his young family.

He told MailOnline: ‘These are really tough times, and it’s pretty scary to be honest.

‘We’re a buffet restaurant so it’s difficult to offer a takeaway service, or if we did it would cost too much.

‘It’s a big place, we can get nearly 500 people inside, and over the Christmas period we had about 100 bookings a day lined up which we’ll now have to cancel.

‘The fixed costs and staff salaries cost about £25,000 a week and apart from during Eat Out to Help Out, which we really benefitted from, we’ve only made £5,000 or £6,000 a week.

‘We have 27 full-time and part-time staff at the moment and luckily the furlough scheme is being extended but if we want to stay open I’ve still got to pay the running costs and the debt is starting to mount.

‘For me personally, it’s a bit scary because I’ve got two kids, aged eight and 11, and the family relies on me because we have no other source of income.

‘We’ve had just £3,000 in government help since the start of the pandemic, but we need a lot more than that if we’re going to survive.’

General manager Chris Lowe told MailOnline the move to Tier 3 is costing the restaurant an estimated £12,000 and the hotel around £5,000.

He called locking down ‘a nightmare’, adding: ‘I know that the Government are probably trying to do the right thing, but closing everything again during the Christmas holiday is going to be disastrous.

‘We’ve had to basically ruin Christmas plans for families travelling into the area to visit their friends and families. Many of them now have nowhere else to stay, so their holidays are all up in the air because of this.

‘Locking down is a nightmare, local businesses – restaurants, pubs, hairdressers, corner shops – they’re all losing money, and lots of it.’ 

Pub landlord David Cairns said he’s had to cancel bookings to the Tap in Portsmouth on Christmas Day, calling it ‘a bit s***’. Speaking to MailOnline, he fumed: ‘If you have to save lives you have to save lives, but I’m gutted. 

‘It’s going to have a massive effect on my business. The week from Christmas to New Year is a crucial period for us and brings a lot of revenue.’ 

Steve Banfield, who runs The Brown Bear pub in Hertfordshire, said he is ‘resigned’ to the sudden move to Tier 3, telling MailOnline: ‘It’s hard not to think sometimes that they’re trying to decimate the pub industry.

‘I really feel frustrated for the locals who like to come down to the pub at the end of the week, have a pint and chew the fat with their friends.

‘We’ve had a few cases down here, and it’s probably because when people have alcohol they don’t follow social distancing. But what fun’s a pub if you can’t relax with your mates and suspend reality for a moment?’ 

An incensed pub landlord in Peterborough said that Tier 3 coronavirus restrictions ‘effectively cease all trade’ as he believes that people will not order takeaway pints from his venue over the Christmas holiday. 

Andrew Ruddy of the Ruddy Duck Peakirk said that constantly reopening and closing this year is a ‘huge waste of money’, and admitted that his biggest worry was rent.

‘I think hospitality is being blamed for the spread despite the fact there’s no evidence that it spreads in pubs,’ he told MailOnline. 

‘In a way, going into Tier 3 is a relief for us because trying to operate in Tier 2 was just not viable. We don’t benefit from grants in the same way, and we chalked out thousands of pounds to make the place safe.

‘It’s all been a huge waste of money, and now we have literally no income coming in – we’re having to use grants to cover our bills and our rent.’  

The Herd restaurant in Pangbourne is having to cancel all 80 bookings from now over Christmas until January 1 at an estimated cost of £12,000

The Herd restaurant in Pangbourne is having to cancel all 80 bookings from now over Christmas until January 1 at an estimated cost of £12,000

David Cairns, 35, landlord of The Tap in Portsmouth, told MailOnline: 'I've got a lot of people booked for Christmas Day and now I've got to tell them they can't come - and that's a bit s***'

David Cairns, 35, landlord of The Tap in Portsmouth, told MailOnline: ‘I’ve got a lot of people booked for Christmas Day and now I’ve got to tell them they can’t come – and that’s a bit s***’

The Kings Theatre in Portsmouth announced that it was postponing all performances of its Dick Whittington pantomime from Friday into the New Year. Above, cast members perform Jack and the Beanstalk at York Theatre Royal on December 2 in York

The Kings Theatre in Portsmouth announced that it was postponing all performances of its Dick Whittington pantomime from Friday into the New Year. Above, cast members perform Jack and the Beanstalk at York Theatre Royal on December 2 in York

Tearful and devastated small business owners are up in arms over the extension of Matt Hancock's draconian Tier 3 curbs across vast swathes of southern England

Tearful and devastated small business owners are up in arms over the extension of Matt Hancock’s draconian Tier 3 curbs across vast swathes of southern England

Large parts of southern England will go into Tier 3, including Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, Peterborough, Hertfordshire, Surrey with the exception of Waverley, Hastings and Rother on the Kent border of East Sussex, and Portsmouth, Gosport and Havant in Hampshire

Large parts of southern England will go into Tier 3, including Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, Peterborough, Hertfordshire, Surrey with the exception of Waverley, Hastings and Rother on the Kent border of East Sussex, and Portsmouth, Gosport and Havant in Hampshire

‘I’ve got to get rid of 400 potatoes!’: Southsea landlady has to bin stock as area is plunged into Tier 3

Ally Vernon, who has been landlord of the award-winning Lawrence Arms in Southsea for 10 years, expected to be fully booked for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, serving a total 60 customers at a time.

But since the region was ratcheted up to Tier 3, she is now looking to offload 400 potatoes that will otherwise go to waste.

She told MailOnline: ‘We did plan stuff inside the restrictions to give people that little bit of Christmas, especially for lonely people who may not have someone to spend it with.’

Luckily the forced cancellations will not leave Ms Vernon incredibly out of pocket as she has not bulk bought large amounts of stock.

‘Businesses since the last lockdown don’t hold as much stock,’ she said, adding that people are ‘more aware’ that the situation could suddenly change as it has today.

‘But I do have an abundance of potatoes and cheese, and will be making a call to the local food bank as I don’t think the customers over the next two days will be able to manage all that.’

At the Lawrence Arms she employs a total six staff, but only two have returned to work while the rest remain on furlough.

‘The staff have been really keen to continue working,’ she said. ‘The pub is a very sociable place and a good place to work.’

However the constant changes to the rules have forced her to completely overhaul the pub this past year.

She told MailOnline: ‘I’ve found myself changing the business over a cup of tea in my pyjamas. In March we were a wet-led pub that showed Sky Sports to Pompey fans on a Saturday to serving evening meals.’

Since Portsmouth’s Tier 3 fate was announced for Saturday earlier today, she said: ‘My phone hasn’t stopped ringing since midday. People want their last pint of 2020.’

Pub landlady Lili Collier at the Broad Street Tavern in Wokingham said that hospitality venues across England are ‘being punished for being open’.  

She told MailOnline the pub, which reopened on July 30 to ensure it was fully Covid-compliant and closed for the second national shutdown, paid close to £10,000 for an outdoor marquee – only to be forced to close a third time. 

The landlady of seven years said: ‘It would be nice if we had a bit of notice. We spend all this money on food and drinks and we have to throw it away, it’s such a waste – especially as there are people going down to their food banks just to find something for that night. 

‘We want to know what the right thing is to do here. We haven’t ever complained, we have followed all the rules, all the Government’s requirements, and now we are being punished for being open. We don’t understand if the Christmas bubbles apply anymore, it’s all a mess.’ 

Simon Dennis, who works at a family-owned restaurant in Luton, revealed that his manager rang him in floods of tears with frustration at the move to Tier 3.

‘Just had my restaurant manager on the phone in tears. Open, close, open, close. Make your minds up,’ he tweeted. 

‘No business can operate like this. And £2,000 for being closed in November! Didn’t even cover half my rent. Going to be nothing left for 2021. Do more’.

A mother in Peterborough who models for Buzz Talent agency said she is ‘absolutely devastated’ by the move. ‘Peterborough is moving into Tier 3 meaning I have to close my business again and I’ve had no financial support at all,’ she tweeted. 

‘We only opened in September and we’ve spent most of the time closed’.  

The owner of a mobile bar called Webster’s Bar Box in the south east of England said she is ‘gutted, heartbroken and had enough now’.

‘Tier 3 means my little pub business has to close again tomorrow,’ she tweeted, adding: ‘I’m in tears, completely drained.’

The Kings Theatre in Portsmouth announced that it was postponing all performances of its Dick Whittington pantomime from Friday into the New Year.

‘Sadly, Friday 18 December at 7pm will be our final performance until Portsmouth comes back out of Tier 3,’ a statement said.

‘We’re so proud of what we have achieved staging our first Pompey Panto and are devastated that the show must be closed over Christmas while we’re in Tier 3.’ 

The luxury four-star Gibbon Bridge Hotel in the Forest of Bowland, Lancashire, announced that it would have to remain closed as the region is not being brought out of the Tier 3 restrictions.

It added that it is ‘disappointed’ that it is not be able to ‘honour’ Christmas reservations, tweeting: ‘Our region is remaining in Tier 3. 

‘While this is entirely out of our hands we can’t tell you how disappointed and sorry we are not to be able to honour your Christmas reservations or be part of making the festive season a bit more special for you. Take care and see you soon.’  

UKHospitality warned that placing more areas into Tier 3 will ‘ruin Christmas for those businesses entering and continued despair and heartbreak for those hard-pressed businesses that had hoped they might move into Tier 2′.

Its chief executive Kate Nicholls told MailOnline ‘what was already looking like a bleak Christmas is now looking like a total write-off’. 

Tearful and devastated small business owners are up in arms over the extension of Matt Hancock's draconian Tier 3 curbs across vast swathes of southern England

Tearful and devastated small business owners are up in arms over the extension of Matt Hancock’s draconian Tier 3 curbs across vast swathes of southern England

How many people will be in each tier when new allocations take effect? 

Tier 1 – 906,374 

Tier 2 – 17,488,082

Tier 3 – 37,892,505 

‘Businesses will have bought stock which will now go to waste and more people will lose work at a stressful time,’ she claimed.

‘Hotels are now facing a deluge of short-notice cancellations because of the tightening of restrictions. What was already looking like a bleak Christmas is now looking like a total write-off.

‘This will be a bitter blow for businesses that would have been hoping to make the best of a difficult Christmas period. 

‘The increased restrictions, effectively a total shutdown for most, will make it even more difficult for businesses to salvage what little they can from what should be a busy period.

‘More financial support most be forthcoming if we are to have any hope that these businesses will survive. They can trade their way out of danger next year only if they are still around to do so.’ 

The Campaign for Pubs warned of ‘a widespread fear and anger shared by publicans who now find themselves in uncharted territory’.

Its spokesman Alastair Kerr told MailOnline that ‘for the many publicans who were in Tier 2, who now find themselves in Tier 3, it is devastating news – especially a week before Christmas, whch should be a busy trading time’.

What criteria do the government use to allocate tiers? 

  • Case detection rates in all age groups
  • Case detection rates in the over 60s
  • The rate at which cases are rising or falling
  • Positivity rate (the number of positive cases detected as a percentage of tests taken)
  • Pressure on the NHS

‘It is clear that the hospitality sector cannot keep on opening up only to be told to close down again with none or very little economic support from the Government,’ he added. 

The British Beer & Pub Association said that ‘permanent closures, lost livelihoods and the destruction of valued community locals is sadly inevitable’ with the move to Tier 3. 

Chief executive Emma McClarkin said: ‘The update on tier restrictions announced today is not the shift in the right direction that our sector desperately needed and hoped for. 

‘More regions being placed under Tier 3 restrictions means more closed businesses, leaving the future of Britain’s pubs truly hanging by a thread this Christmas.

‘It is clear that it is going to be longer than we thought until our pubs can open properly and be viable businesses again.  

‘The UK Government can and should follow the lead of Wales, which is providing pubs facing similar restrictions and closure with four times more financial support than those in England. Some pubs in Wales will receive even more than that.

‘The Prime Minister and Chancellor have no excuses. They must now secure pubs and jobs by giving locals in England the same support as those in Wales. Without such support, a wave of pub closures is guaranteed at a time when they should be leading the economic recovery.’

It means around 38 million people, or 68 per cent of the population, will now be subject to the top bracket - including the Queen at Windsor Castle

It means around 38 million people, or 68 per cent of the population, will now be subject to the top bracket – including the Queen at Windsor Castle

Covid-19 deaths have also risen 14 per cent week-on-week, with 612 new victims reported today compared to 533 a week ago. It is the second day in a row that daily infections rose by more than 50 per cent after 18,450 positive tests were announced on Tuesday

Covid-19 deaths have also risen 14 per cent week-on-week, with 612 new victims reported today compared to 533 a week ago. It is the second day in a row that daily infections rose by more than 50 per cent after 18,450 positive tests were announced on Tuesday

Tory MP for Stevenage Stephen McPartland said that it is ‘ridiculous that we are being dragged into Tier 3’.

He tweeted that the move is ‘totally unacceptable’ and ‘clearly shows I was right to vote against a second lockdown and tier system’.  

‘Government accepted on Monday that tiers should be imposed on a district basis instead of this unbalanced county-wide approach,’ he added.

Gerald Vernon-Jackson, the Liberal Democrat leader of Portsmouth City Council, said the decision to put the Hampshire city into Tier 3 was ‘bizarre’ when other authorities that required care provided by the city’s Queen Alexandra Hospital had not been moved up.

He said other local authorities such as Fareham and Winchester City were within a mile-and-a-half of the hospital.

‘It’s not unexpected but I am slightly surprised as we have been told the problem is the Queen Alexandra Hospital, which doesn’t just serve Portsmouth, just a third of its intake is from Portsmouth and two-thirds from others around including areas which are within a mile,’ he said.

‘The Government’s ability to get things right seems to be not great but the Government has made a number of bizarre decisions, so it’s no surprise they have made another one.’

The leader of Surrey County Council has said residents and businesses will find most of the county moving into Tier 3 ‘very disappointing news’ at the end of an ‘exceptionally difficult year’. The area of Waverley will remain in Tier 2.

Tim Oliver said: ‘We need to take swift action to save lives and stop our crucial NHS services from being put under even more pressure.

‘We all need to be extremely vigilant, including residents in Waverley, as the situation can change quickly and we want to prevent them going into Tier 3 in the new year.’

He urged people to follow the bubbles guidance over Christmas and added: ‘There is hope on the horizon with the rollout of the vaccine across the county, starting with the over-80s.

‘But it will take time and we cannot let our guard down. The coming weeks will be a challenge to us all, but it is crucial that we reduce the spread of this virus and get through the winter as safely as possible.’

Cllr Peter Marland of Milton Keynes Council claimed the local authority had no prior notification of moving into Tier 3.

‘We were missed off the statement in Parliament. Utter shambles,’ he tweeted. ‘For clarity on Covid-19 matters we are in NHS England East and grouped with Bedfordshire (we think)’.

Will you have to close your business when you move from Tier 2 to Tier 3? Tell us about your experience by emailing – [email protected] 

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Rishi Sunak’s wife is richer than the Queen: Her shares in family’s tech firm are worth £430million


Rishi Sunak’s wife has shares in her family’s tech firm that are worth £430million, making her one of Britain’s wealthiest women.

Akshata Murthy and her relatives hold a multimillion pound portfolio of shareholdings which the Chancellor, who met his future wife while studying at Stanford University, California, has not declared in the register of ministers’ interests.

The assets make Akshata richer than the Queen, who is estimated to be worth £350million, according to the Sunday Times Rich List.   

The latest revelation comes after Mr Sunak faced demands to reveal details of his financial interests last month, after it emerged he set up a ‘blind trust’ when he was made Chief Secretary to the Treasury in July last year.

But critics said there was still risk of conflict as Mr Sunak – reputed to be the richest MP – is aware what he put into the trust. 

Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s wife Akshata Murthy (pictured together at their wedding) has shares in her family’s tech business worth £430million, making her richer than the Queen – according to the Sunday Times Rich List

He became a household name after he married Akshata Murthy, the daughter of the billionaire founder of a staggeringly successful IT company. Pictured: The couple at the wedding with Murthy's parents

He became a household name after he married Akshata Murthy, the daughter of the billionaire founder of a staggeringly successful IT company. Pictured: The couple at the wedding with Murthy’s parents

Sunday Times Rich List details The Queen's worth to be an estimated £350million

Sunday Times Rich List details The Queen’s worth to be an estimated £350million

Sunak’s wife is the daughter of an entrepreneur in India, co-founding technology company Infosys – in which she owns 0.91% shares, totalling £430million. 

Her family are also said to have a joint venture with Amazon worth £900million a year and shares in the firm running Jamie Oliver in the UK and burger chain Wendy’s in India. 

Before becoming Chancellor, Sunak was better known in India than he was in Britain, after he became a household name when he married Akshata, the daughter of a self-made billionaire. 

After taking a first in Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Oxford, Southampton-born Sunak travelled on a Fulbright scholarship to Stanford University in California where met his future wife.

It was revealed last month that when taking on ministerial duties the Chancellor set up a 'blind trust', meaning he did not know where his assets were being invested. Pictured: Sunak with his wife, Akshata, and their children

It was revealed last month that when taking on ministerial duties the Chancellor set up a ‘blind trust’, meaning he did not know where his assets were being invested. Pictured: Sunak with his wife, Akshata, and their children 

Sunak is locally he is dubbed the 'Maharaja of the Dales' (pictured, their magnificent Georgian manor in North Yorkshire)

Sunak is locally he is dubbed the ‘Maharaja of the Dales’ (pictured, their magnificent Georgian manor in North Yorkshire)

Rishi Sunak, pictured with his wife Akshata Murthy, was better known in India than Britain before he became Chancellor

Rishi Sunak, pictured with his wife Akshata Murthy, was better known in India than Britain before he became Chancellor

At the time, Akshata’s father’s company was worth around £2billion and is today valued at around £33.3billion.

The couple married in 2009 in her home city of Bangalore in a two-day ceremony attended by 1,000 guests.

Before entering politics, Mr Sunak, who is now a multi-millionaire in his own right and a graduate of £42,000-per-year Winchester College and Oxford University. 

During his time in business, he worked in California, India and Britain for various investment firms including Goldman Sachs. 

He later set up his own business, Theleme Partners, in 2010 with an initial fund of £536million. 

After taking a first in Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Oxford, Southampton-born Sunak travelled on a Fulbright scholarship to Stanford University in California where met his future wife (pictured with her family, second from right)

After taking a first in Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Oxford, Southampton-born Sunak travelled on a Fulbright scholarship to Stanford University in California where met his future wife (pictured with her family, second from right)

By setting up the 'blind trust' it means he does not have to disclose fuller details of his investment portfolio. Pictured: Sunak with his wife and children during the recent election

By setting up the ‘blind trust’ it means he does not have to disclose fuller details of his investment portfolio. Pictured: Sunak with his wife and children during the recent election 

The new Chancellor of the Exchequer is pictured with his wife, Akshata, and their two children during a Santa run

The new Chancellor of the Exchequer is pictured with his wife, Akshata, and their two children during a Santa run 

While building the hedge fund he spent a couple of days doing voluntary work for the Conservatives – which was when he decided he would like to go into politics full-time. 

Every year they throw a summer garden party for local villagers at their magnificent Georgian £1.5million manor house in Kirby Sigston, just outside Northallerton, Yorkshire – leading to Sunak being dubbed the ‘Maharaja of the Dales’.  

Sir Alistair Graham, a former chairman of the committee on standards in public life, said the Chancellor appeared to have ‘taken the most minimalist approach possible’ to divulging information.

He told The Guardian: ‘Perhaps Rishi Sunak should carefully read the “Seven principles of Public Life” to make sure he is fulfilling the two principles of “Honesty and Leadership”.’ 

But a Treasury spokesman said Mr Sunak had ‘followed the ministerial code to the letter in his declaration of interests’.

It follows Mr Sunak facing demands to reveal details of his financial interests last month, after it emerged he set up a ‘blind trust’ on becoming a minister.

The Chancellor deployed the arrangement, meaning that he does not know how his assets are being invested, when he was made Chief Secretary to the Treasury in July last year.

The couple married in 2009 in her home city of Bangalore in a two-day ceremony attended by 1,000 guests

The couple married in 2009 in her home city of Bangalore in a two-day ceremony attended by 1,000 guests 

Before entering politics, Mr Sunak, who is now a multi-millionaire in his own right and a graduate of £42,000-per-year Winchester College and Oxford University graduate

Before entering politics, Mr Sunak, who is now a multi-millionaire in his own right and a graduate of £42,000-per-year Winchester College and Oxford University graduate 

But critics said there was still risk of conflict as Mr Sunak – reputed to be the richest MP – is aware what he put into the trust.

It also means he does not have to disclose fuller details of his investment portfolio. The presence of the trust was revealed in the latest register of ministerial interests.

It came as other official documents revealed that he did not take his salary for five months when he joined the Treasury last year. He waived the £34,000 top up to his MP’s salary until just before Christmas.

Theresa May also attracted controversy as she made a similar move when she became Prime Minister in 2016.

And in the mid-1990s the Tories attacked Tony Blair as it emerged he used a blind trust, when leader of the opposition, to fund his office.

Former standards tsar Sir Alex Allan, who quit his role last week after Boris Johnson overruled his conclusion that the Home Secretary Priti Patel breached the ministerial code, is said to have signed off on Sunak’s disclosures.



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Rishi’s ready for his close up! Hoodie-clad Chancellor prepares for Spending Review


Rishi Sunak has released new carefully posed pictures as he ran through his lines ahead of tomorrow’s Spending Review announcement.

The Chancellor was wearing his favoured grey hoodie as he worked through documents in his red box in his flat above 11 Downing Street.

Other catalogue model-style snaps, released by the Treasury today, show him in the offices of the central London house with team members.

It comes ahead of his Spending Review announcement where he is expected to ready billions of pounds more for infrastructure, the NHS and defence.

The Chancellor is seen wearing his favoured grey hoodie as he worked through documents in his red box in his flat above 11 Downing Street

The pictures show Mr Sunak pointing as he addresses colleagues from behind a desk, as well as posing with two Union flags with his glasses on and hoodie removed

The pictures show Mr Sunak pointing as he addresses colleagues from behind a desk, as well as posing with two Union flags with his glasses on and hoodie removed

He is pictured posing with two Union flags with his glasses on and hoodie removed in other snaps

He is pictured posing with two Union flags with his glasses on and hoodie removed in other snaps

Pictured: The Chancellor

Another of the carefully taken photographs shows him pontificating over a document on his red box

Another of the carefully taken photographs shows him pontificating over a document on his red box

The pictures also show Mr Sunak pointing as he addresses colleagues from behind a desk, as well as posing with two Union flags with his glasses on and hoodie removed.

And another sees the Chancellor swap the pullover for his suit jacket as he is handed a document by a member of his staff.

The images are from Simon Walker at the Treasury, a photographer who Mr Sunak pinched from the Times newspaper who is thought to be on £60,000-a-year.

One of the pieces of art on show is by Australian-born British painter Henry Lamb, titled Girl Knitting, Portrait of Felicia, the Artist’s Younger Daughter which was made in 1949 and bought by the government in 1957.

Another is of a black man by Scotsman John Ronald Craigie Aitchison, who is best known for his many paintings of the Crucifixion.

But the picture hanging in 11 Downing Street shows the artist’s friend Alton Peters wearing a maroon velvet suit, with purple handkerchief in his breast pocket, a spotted bow tie and a crisp white shirt.

The painting, made in 1983, shows the model with his lips partly open to reveal a gold tooth which was made by a piece of gold leaf applied to the canvas’s surface. 

And another sees the Chancellor swap the pullover for his suit jacket as he is handed a document by a member of his staff

And another sees the Chancellor swap the pullover for his suit jacket as he is handed a document by a member of his staff

He practises his Spending Review announcement - which comes on Wednesday - during the pictures. One of the pieces of art on show (top right) is by Australian-born British painter Henry Lamb, titled Girl Knitting, Portrait of Felicia, the Artist's Younger Daughter which was made in 1949 and bought by the government in 1957

He practises his Spending Review announcement – which comes on Wednesday – during the pictures. One of the pieces of art on show (top right) is by Australian-born British painter Henry Lamb, titled Girl Knitting, Portrait of Felicia, the Artist’s Younger Daughter which was made in 1949 and bought by the government in 1957

The images are from Simon Walker at the Treasury, a photographer who Mr Sunak pinched from the Times newspaper who is thought to be on £60,000 a year

Pictured: Mr Sunak

The images are from Simon Walker at the Treasury, a photographer who Mr Sunak pinched from the Times newspaper who is thought to be on £60,000 a year

One photograph shows the Chancellor having a late-night session reading through his red box

One photograph shows the Chancellor having a late-night session reading through his red box

Social media users have poked fun at the selection of snaps, with some questioning his sartorial choice of a hoodie and a tie.

One man wrote: ‘Gutted we’ve got the same lamp as Sunak, but at least I don’t wear a hoodie over a shirt and tie.’

Broadcaster Andrew Neil even weighed into the debate, posting on Twitter: ‘Who wears a tie with a hoodie.’ Meanwhile another journalist photoshopped the image so the Chancellor’s grey hoodie had his signature on it.

Another person asked how the photographer made Mr Sunak, who is thought to be 5ft 6in, look so tall.

Next to a picture of him behind a table, they wrote: ‘We know that Rishi Sunak is a small man, so what is going on here? A small desk? Is he standing on a box?’

One more social media user questioned the choice of art on the walls, commenting: ‘Spending cuts abound, can’t even afford a decent painting.’

The Chancellor, dubbed ‘Dishy Rishi’ for his good looks, has previously defended ‘Brand Rishi’, which has seen his online following explode.

He said in July he wants to get the Government’s message across and that if it means ‘they poke fun at me in the process’ then ‘so be it’.

The minister had been mocked for posting graphics and soft-focus pictures overlaid with his signature and artistic text on social media.

He also posted moody snaps ahead of his Winter Economy Plan in September and released snaps after visit to a Wagamama during Eat Out to Help Out in July.

But he told the Today programme earlier this year: ‘This is about communication, and the way we communicate is changing.

‘We’ve seen a change in how people engage with the way they get their news, and the way they get their information.

‘I’m keen to try and get our message across to as many people as possible and engage them, and if that means they poke some fun at me in the process so be it if it means they’re talking about what we’re doing and debating it.’

The Chancellor will use the spending review on Wednesday to push ahead with huge investment on schools, hospitals, colleges and prisons to meet election pledges.

He has signalled tax rises will be put off until the ‘fog of uncertainty’ caused by the pandemic has lifted.

The respected Institute for Fiscal Studies said this week they might not happen until 2025, after the next election.

But the foreign aid budget is likely to be trimmed by at least £4billion under plans to ‘temporarily’ jettison the vow to spend 0.7 per cent of national income on aid.

And Mr Sunak is set to press ahead with a pay freeze for five million public sector workers, despite strike threats from the TUC.  

IFS chief Paul Johnson said he would be surprised if Mr Sunak moved to tax rises any time soon

IFS chief Paul Johnson said he would be surprised if Mr Sunak moved to tax rises any time soon

But he ruled out wider spending cuts, saying: ‘You will not see austerity next week, what you will see is an increase in Government spending, on day-to-day public services, quite a significant one coming on the increase we had last year.’

In a series of interviews ahead of this week’s comprehensive spending review, the Chancellor acknowledged that the pandemic had triggered an ‘economic shock’ that would require tough decisions on tax and spending in future.

But he played down reports that major tax rises could be brought in as early as the Budget next spring.

Mr Sunak said he was already ‘doing the work’ on a costly new scheme to ‘incentivise’ employers to take on extra staff in the New Year. 

And officials were working on a ‘range of other schemes’ designed to copy the success of Eat Out To Help Out.

Treasury officials are looking at potential tax hikes in future, including cutting pension tax relief for higher earners and raising capital gains tax.

Middle-class may be hit by pensions relief raid

The Chancellor is mulling over reviving plans for a raid on middle-class pensions that would save him £4billion a year – amid £2.08trillion of national debt.

Mr Sunak is said to be ‘very attracted’ to a 25 per cent flat rate of pensions tax relief.

Under the current system, those saving for a pension receive relief at the same rate as their income tax. It means basic rate taxpayers receive relief at 20 per cent and higher rate taxpayers at 40 per cent.

Pensions experts yesterday said the proposed raid could be awkward as doctors would be hit – as the Treasury also threatens to freeze public sector pay.

Mr Sunak will unveil his spending review on Wednesday. Meanwhile the British Medical Association claims that more than £10billion in extra NHS funding is needed – just to tackle the care backlog caused by coronavirus.

But asked about potential tax rises yesterday, Mr Sunak said: ‘There’s an appropriate time to get public finances on a sustainable track. 

‘Right now the right economic response is to focus on tackling the virus. 

‘It wouldn’t be right to try and make them now in the fog of enormous economic uncertainty.’ 

IFS chief Paul Johnson said this morning that he would be surprised if Mr Sunak moved to tax rises any time soon, with the costs of servicing debt at very low levels, although they were likely to be needed in the ‘long run’.

‘It is even possible they might come after the next election,’ he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, pointing out that most increases came in the year after a poll.

‘It is not something that is super urgent as we come out of this crisis.’ 

This week Mr Sunak will publish forecasts suggesting the UK is on course for a budget deficit nudging £400billion – almost three times the level seen at the height of the financial crisis.

The Treasury said Mr Sunak would unveil an extra £1.25billion for new prisons, taking the total to £4billion over the next four years. 

This will create 18,000 additional places.

Hundreds of millions of pounds is set to be earmarked for the target of recruiting 20,000 police officers, beyond the £750million announced last year.

School spending will increase by £2.2billion, up from £47.6billion to £49.8billion in the next financial year, with a promise that 50 school building and repair projects will be carried out annually over the course of this parliament.

Mr Sunak will also reaffirm existing commitments, including the hiring of 50,000 new nurses, the delivery of 50million extra GP appointments and £3.7billion for long-term investment in 40 hospitals.

Asked yesterday if he needed someone to fine the PM when he spends too much, Mr Sunak joked: ‘I like that idea. I should take his credit card away.’ 

Meanwhile, plans for a freeze on public sector pay continued to generate outrage from trade unions yesterday. 

Nurses and doctors are set to be exempted due to their heroics during the pandemic. 

But asked about possible strike action, TUC general-secretary Frances O’Grady told Sky News: ‘Governments only seem to recognise the true value of labour when it’s withdrawn… nobody can rule anything out at the moment.’



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Rishi Sunak warns against accepting a post-Brexit EU trade deal ‘at any price’  


Rishi Sunak warns against accepting a post-Brexit EU trade deal ‘at any price’ with both sides reaching for an agreement as he says the UK economy will prosper ‘in any eventuality’

  •  He spoke today amid ongoing talks between both sides in search of a deal
  • Told the BBC UK has been consistent, adding: ‘we will prosper in any eventuality’ 
  • Added: ‘We should not be going for a deal at any price … the wrong thing to do’

The UK should not accept a post-Brexit trade deal with the EU  ‘at any price’, Chancellor Rishi Sunak said today.

The Chancellor insisted that he had confidence in the British economy ‘in all circumstances’ to do well after the transition period ends on December 31.

He spoke today amid ongoing talks between both sides in search of a deal, with disagreement still outstanding over fishing rights and state aid rules.

A deal is said to be 95 per cent done, but it is the last 5 per cent which have been at the centre of a tug-of-war for months.     

Mr Sunak told the BBC’s Andrew Marr: ‘I think we’re making progress in the talks and I remain hopeful that we can reach resolution.

‘I think we’re being entirely reasonable with our requests and have been consistent and transparent through this process about what’s important to us. But we will prosper in any eventuality.’

He continued: ‘In the short-term specifically, and most immediately, it would be preferable to have a deal because it would ease things in the short-term.

‘I think the most important impact on our economy next year is not going to be from that, it’s because of coronavirus.’

He added: ‘We should not be going for a deal at any price, that would be the wrong thing to do and I think there are things that are important to us in these negotiations, and we’ve been entirely, as I said, reasonable, consistent and transparent.’

The Chancellor insisted that he had confidence in the British economy ‘in all circumstances’ to do well after the transition period ends on December 31

Speaking to Sophy Ridge on Sunday about the state of the trade deals, Nathalie Loiseau, a former Europe minister under Emmanuel Macron, said: 'I am a politician, I am neither optimistic or pessimistic'

Speaking to Sophy Ridge on Sunday about the state of the trade deals, Nathalie Loiseau, a former Europe minister under Emmanuel Macron, said: ‘I am a politician, I am neither optimistic or pessimistic’

The Chancellor also said that the UK wants the ‘same treatment’ as other countries in their dealings with the EU.

He said: ‘We just want pretty much the same treatment as most other countries that do trade deals with the EU get.

‘So, hopefully we can find a constructive place but I’m very confident about the British economy in all circumstances when I think longer term.’

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen on Saturday, meanwhile, indicated that there had been ‘better progress’ towards reaching an agreement.

Today a French MEP has said that British politicians should refrain from using ‘rhetoric or vocabulary’ to describe the EU as adversaries, as Brexit negotiations continue.

Speaking to Sophy Ridge on Sunday about the state of the trade deals, Nathalie Loiseau, a former Europe minister under Emmanuel Macron, said: ‘I am a politician, I am neither optimistic or pessimistic.

‘We will do everything we can to get a good deal, whether it is possible under this time pressure, honestly I don’t know. I will not tell you we are nearly there because there are still big divergences.’

Ms Loiseau said ‘clarity’ was still needed on both sides for negotiations to be concluded.

‘We are offering an unprecedented partnership with the UK, but this comes with clarity and commitments, and so far they are missing,’ she said.

‘We are partners, we are not meant to be adversaries.

‘I would like to see UK politicians refraining from using rhetoric or a vocabulary as if we were adversaries fighting against each other.

‘We are struggling to build a strong partnership for our future. This is what we owe to our fellow citizens on both sides.’



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‘I should take his credit card away’: Economic hawk Rishi Sunak jokes about Boris Johnson’s spending


‘I should take his credit card away’: Economic hawk Rishi Sunak jokes about Boris Johnson’s desire to turn on the spending taps as he prepares to outline coronavirus economic plans

  • The Chancellor made the quip ahead of spending review on Wednesday 
  • Mentioned elf-on-the-shelf toy which makes sure his two children are behaving
  • Asked if PM needed one, said: ‘ I like that idea. I should take his credit card away’

Rishi Sunak has joked that he should confiscate Boris Johnson’s credit cards because he wants to spend too much money.

The Chancellor made the quip as he prepares to reveal how he plans to start balancing the UK’s books and recover from the pandemic in his spending review on Wednesday.

He hinted that taxes could rise in the spring and warned that Britain is experiencing an ‘economic shock’ that must be paid for somehow, in an interview with the Sunday Times.

The Chancellor is set to outline a £100billion plan for long-term infrastructure investment and a £3billion package of new spending to support the NHS in recovering from the pandemic.

But in the interview ahead of his spending review on Wednesday, he mentioned Rocky, an elf-on-the-shelf toy who comes out every December to make sure his two children are behaving.

Asked if he should get one to watch over the Prime Minister and fine him when he spends too much, he joked: ‘I like that idea. I should take his credit card away.’

Today, in an interview with Times Radio, he stressed: ‘The credit card thing was very much a joke. We have an incredibly close relationship’. 

However, the two men are known to have clashed over the best way out of the coronavirus economic quagmire. 

The PM has moved to over-rule his chancellor in recent days to plough more money into green economic projects and the military. 

The Chancellor made the quip as he prepares to reveal how he plans to start balancing the UK’s books and recover from the pandemic.

The two men are known to have clashed over the best way out of the coronavirus economic quagmire

The two men are known to have clashed over the best way out of the coronavirus economic quagmire

In an interview ahead of his spending review on Wednesday, he mentioned Rocky, an elf-on-the-shelf toy who comes out every December to make sure his two children are behaving

In an interview ahead of his spending review on Wednesday, he mentioned Rocky, an elf-on-the-shelf toy who comes out every December to make sure his two children are behaving

Mr Sunak has suggested he could impose a public sector pay freeze in his spending review, but insisted the nation will not see a return to austerity next week.

He is due to announce a multibillion pound plan to invest in long-term infrastructure projects and fund the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, on Wednesday.

Mr Sunak insisted it is not the time to impose tax hikes ‘in the fog of enormous economic uncertainty’, but he did not rule out capping the salaries of millions of public sector workers.

He has said some combination of spending cuts and tax rises are anticipated following the crisis but added it is a ‘question of timing’ while the economy is in difficulty. 

It comes as Downing Street soared to a record borrowing high of £22.3billion last month, with the UK expected to hit £350billion for the year amid the pandemic.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies previously warned £40billion would need to be raised through taxes and spending cuts in order to pay back the cash.

Paul Johnson, director at the Institute for Fiscal Studies, said the amount borrowed during the pandemic was ‘the most ever outside of the first and second world wars’, but said more may still be needed in the coming years.

He told the Andrew Marr Show that the UK’s position would eventually become ‘unsustainable’ and that taxes would need to be raised, but that this would likely not happen in the short-term.

‘We’re probably looking into the middle years of the 2020s but we need a clear route to doing that,’ he said.

‘We don’t know at what point this becomes unsustainable but as and when it does, and if it does, the consequences really can become dreadful.

‘The big judgment, and it’s a terribly tough one, is when to start taking that action.’

Asked if the public should accept tax increases, Mr Johnson said: ‘I think that’s right.

‘I don’t think it’s right to scare people with the idea that this is going to happen immediately and I think it’s absolutely right the Government is clear it will do what it needs to do in the short run to support jobs and the economy.

‘Getting the message right is really important.’



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UK Economy: Rishi Sunak to rewrite Treasury’s rules to help North


Rishi Sunak is set to rewrite Treasury’s rules to ‘level up’ the North: Chancellor will use spending review to ensure investment in infrastructure previously skewed towards London and South East

  • Rishi Sunak set to abolish the Treasury’s ‘Green Book’ rules on public investment
  • Critics say the rules have favoured pumping investment into wealthier areas
  • Treasury says new rules are being planned that would support ‘levelling up’ plans

The Chancellor is to tear up notorious Treasury rules blamed for starving the North of England of investment.

Rishi Sunak will use his comprehensive spending review next week to abandon decades of Treasury orthodoxy blamed for skewing investment in infrastructure and the economy towards London and the South East.

The move is part of a drive to underline Boris Johnson’s ‘levelling up’ agenda and will be accompanied by the promise of tens of billions in investment.

Measures will include £1.6billion for local roads next year to tackle potholes and deal with congestion pinch points.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is set to tear up Treasury rules next week that have been blamed for starving the North of investment

A Treasury spokesman said the spending review would also deliver a ‘massive down-payment on a number of flagship infrastructure programmes, including fibre broadband, flood defences and key transport schemes’.

A new National Infrastructure Plan setting out transport schemes across the country will also be published. 

And a ‘shared prosperity fund’ will replace billions of pounds of EU funding, with local communities given a greater say in its allocation.

Mr Sunak will also confirm plans to relocate 22,000 civil service jobs out of London and the South East in the next decade, with the Treasury establishing a ‘Northern headquarters’ next year.

Mr Sunak will be abandoning the Treasury's 'Green Book' rules, which favour spending that produces short-term financial gains. Critics say the regulations have unfairly benefited wealthier parts of the UK, leaving parts of the North and Midlands, like Rochdale, pictured, behind

Mr Sunak will be abandoning the Treasury’s ‘Green Book’ rules, which favour spending that produces short-term financial gains. Critics say the regulations have unfairly benefited wealthier parts of the UK, leaving parts of the North and Midlands, like Rochdale, pictured, behind

Other key priorities in the spending review will include investment in education, with a focus on driving up standards in left-behind areas. 

But the most significant change may be the abandonment of the Treasury’s ‘Green Book’ rules which have governed public investment for decades.

The rules favour spending that produces short-term national gains in GDP. 

Critics say this unfairly benefits wealthier parts of the country including London and the South East over the North and Midlands.

A Treasury spokesman said Mr Sunak would publish new guidance designed to ‘support levelling up by ensuring that projects are being assessed first and foremost on how well they deliver policy objectives rather than focusing on a purely economic assessment that doesn’t consider who benefits’.

All new spending commitments will also have to be vetted to see how they affect different parts of the country.

Mr Sunak said last night: ‘We are absolutely committed to levelling up opportunities so those living in all corners of the UK get their fair share of our future prosperity.

‘All nations and regions of the UK have benefited from our unprecedented £200billion Covid support package. And after a difficult year for this country, this spending review will help us build back better by investing over £600billion across the UK during the next five years.’

A Treasury spokesman said Mr Sunak would publish new guidance designed to ‘support levelling up,' under-funded parts of the North, such as Liverpool (pictured)

A Treasury spokesman said Mr Sunak would publish new guidance designed to ‘support levelling up,’ under-funded parts of the North, such as Liverpool (pictured)

The move comes amid concern that the Prime Minister’s election-winning pledge to ‘level up’ opportunity across the country has been knocked off course by the pandemic.

Ben Houchen, Tory mayor of Tees Valley, warned this week that ‘patience is wearing thin’ among new Conservatives in the North who are desperate to see change.

In an article on the Conservative Home website yesterday, Mr Houchen said Mr Johnson’s government ‘reset’ had to focus on the North.

He added: ‘If a reset means a return to the Notting Hill set’s 2010 vintage policies, with their almost slavish devotion to the Green Book and its bias towards investments in London and the South East, then it also means abandoning the North’s new Blue Wall. 

‘I know voters in the Tees Valley and similar regions won’t stand for this.’



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Anupam Kher gets emotional on meeting Neetu Kapoor without Rishi Kapoor: ‘Our shared tears made bond of those moments stronger’


Anupam Kher got emotional as he met Neetu Kapoor in Chandigarh, where she is shooting for her upcoming film, Jug Jug Jeeyo. He reminisced about their meetings in New York with her husband, the late Rishi Kapoor. Rishi died in April after a two-year battle with leukemia.

Taking to Instagram, Anupam shared old photos of the three of them together. “Dearest @neetu54!! Meeting you last night in Chandigarh without #RishiJi triggered off so many memories of us together in New York. Our shared tears made the bond of those moments stronger. These pics are a reminder of how #ChintuJi had a larger than life persona,” he wrote.

“I am so happy that you are working. You have made him the happiest person by doing so. We, your friends are always there for you. Remember ‘There are some relationships which are like a pause button on a tape recorder. They always start from where you left them!’ Love and prayers. #Memories #Pics #ChintuJi @riteishd @geneliad,” he added. One of the pictures also featured Riteish Deshmukh and Genelia D’Souza.

 

Also see: Step inside Sonakshi Sinha’s redesigned personal floor inside family bungalow Ramayan

Earlier, Neetu, who is returning to the big screen with Jug Jug Jeeyo after several years, shared a behind-the-scenes photo from the sets and revealed that she was ‘feeling a little scared’. In the caption, which was addressed to Rishi, she wrote, “Back on set after so many years. To new beginnings and the magic of the movies. I feel YOUR love and presence. From mom, to Kapoor Sahab, to Ranbir always being with me .. now I find myself all by myself, feeling a little scared but I know you are always with me #JugJuggJeeyo #RnR.”

Jug Jug Jeeyo also stars Anil Kapoor, Kiara Advani, Varun Dhawan and Prajakta Koli. Neetu was last seen in the 2013 film Besharam, which also starred Rishi and their son, Ranbir Kapoor.

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