General election will now be 'de facto referendum' on Scottish independence, says Nicola Sturgeon - live updates

Jeremy Hunt - Handout/PRU/AFP via Getty Images
Jeremy Hunt - Handout/PRU/AFP via Getty Images

Jeremy Hunt opened the door to the possible abolition of non-dom tax status as he defended his tax rises to MPs on Wednesday afternoon.

The Chancellor revealed he had asked the Treasury to look at the impact of closing the loophole, which allows those who have made Britain their long-term to avoid paying UK tax on their overseas income for up to 15 years.

Mr Hunt questioned estimates that the move could save the Exchequer £3 billion per year or other figures "being bandied around", and said he would rather wealthy people "stayed here and spent their money here".

Asked on the exact amount it would raise, he told the Treasury select committee: "Well, I've asked the Treasury to look into that."

Sir Keir Starmer grilled Rishi Sunak over non-dom status at Prime Minister's Questions on Wednesday lunchtime, with Labour having previously committed to abolishing it.

05:59 PM

That's all for today...

Jeremy Hunt insisted he wanted to cut income tax rates further down the line as he opened the door to a review of non-dom tax status during a grilling from MPs.

Facing the Commons Treasury select committee, Mr Hunt regretted the "instability" of the mini-Budget but insisted the twin shocks of the pandemic and Vladimir Putin's war in Ukraine were to blame for the current state of the UK's public finances.

The Chancellor described £54 billion from oil and gas giants as a "reasonable contribution", while stressing: "I am absolutely against windfall taxes that aren't real windfalls, because I don't want to deter investment."

His instruction to officials to look at how much money closing the non-dom loophole would raise could move the Tories into new territory, but his comments about wanting wealthy people to spend their money in the UK rather than emigrating suggests he may be ready to take on Labour over what has proven a heated topic.

Join my colleague Jack Maidment early tomorrow for all the latest news, analysis and insight.

05:43 PM

Hunt opens door to abolition of non-dom status

Jeremy Hunt opened the door to the possible abolition of non-dom tax status as he defended his tax rises to MPs this afternoon.

The Chancellor revealed he had asked the Treasury to look at the impact of closing the loophole, which allows those who have made Britain their long-term to avoid paying UK tax on their overseas income for up to 15 years.

Mr Hunt questioned estimates that the move could save the Exchequer £3 billion per year or other figures "being bandied around", and said he would rather wealthy people "stayed here and spent their money here".

Asked on the exact amount it would raise, he told the Treasury select committee: "Well, I've asked the Treasury to look into that."

Sir Keir Starmer grilled Rishi Sunak over non-dom status at Prime Minister's Questions on Wednesday lunchtime, with Labour having previously committed to abolishing it.

05:21 PM

Analysis: Few surprises as Hunt doubles down on Autumn Statement

After two days of swiping from the Tory backbenches and former members of Liz Truss's cabinet over the Autumn Statement, Jeremy Hunt went into a further grilling keen to double down on his plans.

There were few surprises from the Chancellor as he admitted he regretted the "instability" brought about by Ms Truss's mini-Budget, but reaffirmed his commitment to cutting income tax over time.

He did reveal he has asked Treasury officials to cost up the potential consequences - for better or worse - of changes to the controversial non-dom tax rules. Any movement on the policy would be seen as a victory by the Labour Party, with Sir Keir Starmer now raising it most weeks at Prime Minister's Questions.

And Mr Hunt also hinted the current support around both pensions and benefits would not necessarily remain in place at future fiscal events, suggesting there may be further "difficult decisions" to come.

For an agenda which sees £24 billion worth of tax rises, and £30 billion of spending cuts, Mr Hunt has escaped virtually unscathed, with little by way of active rebellion in his own party. But there will plenty of MPs, as well as businesses and of course members of the public, anxious about whether he will be able to achieve one of the long-term aims of what was announced on Thursday - economic growth.

05:02 PM

Jeremy Hunt insists windfall tax is on 'real windfalls'

Asked by Andrea Leadsom if he approved of retrospective taxes, Jeremy Hunt said: "In general, no."

He said he would write to Dame Andrea with an answer as to whether windfall taxes were retrospective.

Mr Hunt described £54 billion as a "reasonable contribution... I am absolutely against windfall taxes that aren't real windfalls, because I don't want to deter investment."

On whether it would reduce investment in the UK, he responded: "I very much hope not, because, you know, our oil and gas industry employers, 116,000 people, more than a third of them in Scotland, they are a very important part of our transition to net zero."

The Chancellor said "the starting point" had to be a fairly designed windfall tax, in a way that is "genuinely taxing the profits people weren't expecting to make - and the way this is being structured is that if you invest, you don't have to pay these windfall taxes".

04:58 PM

New: Fuel duty decision coming in spring budget

A fuel duty decision will be made "in the spring budget", Jeremy Hunt has told MPs.

Asked about income tax threshold freezes and the squeeze on middle earners, Mr Hunt flagged "very specific things" targeted at the highest earners.

"The distributional analysis shows that people on lower incomes benefit most from the measures, the decisions that I took.

"But I did decide, yes, that I would prefer to do this by extending for two more years the freeze on thresholds... because over time, when we can afford to, I would like to reduce [the] headline rates, so I didn't want to go in the opposite direction.

"Among my many failings, to say that I increased tax 'stealthily' is not one I think you can really say. I've been completely open with people that taxes went up by £25 billion and I spelt out where that was happening."

04:53 PM

'We are very aware of shortcomings in the planning system'

Jeremy Hunt was grilled on the Theresa Villiers amendment to abolish mandatory housebuilding targets, and whether the Government was "backing down" on putting those targets into position.

"Are you going to face down the rebels in order to help growth, or are you going to give into them?" Angela Eagle asked. "And if you give into them how can you claim that the Government can make the right decisions for our economy and tackle the housing shortage if it's not going to stand up to this kind of pressure?"

Mr Hunt told MPs: "What I will say is we are very aware of the difficulty that young people have getting onto the housing ladder, and we are also very aware of shortcomings in the planning system.

"And I think the root problem that I as Chancellor have to look at is the way that incentives are not aligned across the planning system. I think that we do need to ask ourselves why it is that the way our planning rules work often sets local communities against the national need to build more houses, and how we can improve that. And I'll certainly be looking at that."

Asked about the impact on economic growth of lower housing supply if that was what happened: "We are always keeping that under review. It's a very, very important part of macroeconomic policy."

04:46 PM

Hunt blames 'two big shocks' for economic situation

Jeremy Hunt was asked by Maria Eagle, the Labour MP, about the effects of the mini-Budget on "our economic prospects and our international reputation".

"I wish we hadn't had that level of instability, but I produced an Autumn Statement that is designed to restore economic stability and consistency of economic policymaking, and I hope we can turn a page on all that instability.

"It's not something anyone would wish for, but I would say if you look at what the OBR are saying, if you look at what the OECD are saying, the primary cause for the economic challenges we face are the two big shocks of the pandemic and an energy crisis.

"I wish we hadn't had that instability, but I think it's wrong to say that the economic issues we're dealing with are primarily as a result of that."

Noting British economic growth would be the highest in the G7 this year, Ms Eagle responded: "Are you suggesting we do this every year as a growth plan?"

04:43 PM

Jeremy Hunt defends higher education system

Patricia Hewitt's review of the NHS would "help us move in the right direction", Jeremy Hunt told the select committee as he referenced his concerns about the health service having "more targets than we need".

On whether higher education spend should be reduced and balanced towards further education, Mr Hunt denied looking at it in "quite that binary way... I think HE is one of our great success stories".

"I would like to see the same revolution in quality in FE as we've had in HE".

04:37 PM

Jeremy Hunt: Defence spending needs to increase

Pressed by Tory MP John Baron on whether education and NHS spending increases would be "sufficient" to improve services and stave off predicted school staffing cuts, Jeremy Hunt said: "I hope so".

He cited comments by Amanda Pritchard, who heads up the NHS, suggesting the extra money would be sufficient.

Asked why he did not commit to increasing defence spending in the Autumn Statement, Mr Hunt replied: "We did see very clear that both I and the Prime Minister believe that defence spending needs to increase... I think my views on that are on the record.

"But I think it's very important when you're responsible for taxpayers' funds that you need to know what you're buying."

He recalled the uplift in defence spend as part of the Integrated Review and pointed to the work underway to consider its contents going forward.

04:30 PM

Hunt: 'Absolutely more we can do'

Jeremy Hunt called for "everyone's help" in ensuring a long-term, green supply of energy for everyone.

"We have to work together to insulate ourselves from those threats" from Vladimir Putin's war on Ukraine, he said, "but that means working closely with countries like Norway, the European Union, the United States so we can deal with those challenges together".

He emphasised the need for energy to come from "friends and allies we can trust".

On Sizewell C, the Chancellor admitted "we need to do what we can to improve that track record" and stressed previous delays were why renewables also formed a major part of the plans set out in the Autumn Statement.

He confirmed there was "absolutely more we can do" in the run up to an announcement by Grant Shapps, the Business Secretary.

04:18 PM

Business support will remain generous, says Jeremy Hunt

Asked about what form "targeted" energy support for businesses would take, Jeremy Hunt noted the package this year was going to cost around £18 billion.

"We will have a scheme that is generous next year, not on that scale but we will have generous support for businesses next year.

"We are particularly thinking about businesses that might be vulnerable to those high prices, so smaller businesses in particular and also larger businesses in energy-intensive industries."

04:13 PM

Thinking will change around benefits and pensions, suggests Chancellor

Jeremy Hunt was asked about extra energy support being linked to benefits and the "unintended consequence" of linking support to Universal Credit - a disincentive when it comes to people working more hours.

"I recognise those concerns, and if we have those higher energy prices for the long term, if they're here to stay, we've been talking about the forecast before, then I don't think doing that support through the benefits system is the optimal way of doing it."

Mr Hunt added: "I think the challenge we had, or have, if we want to help people quickly, the benefits system is a way we can do that. We know who everyone is, we have a good idea of their circumstances... so it is an efficient way to get people help quickly.

"But what I said in my comments in the Autumn Statement was while we'll be using that system this year and next year, from April '24 we want to work towards a social tariff or social discount approach, whereby we reach all people equally on low incomes."

Asked if may also impact his thinking on the pensioner benefit, which is also currently universal, Mr Hunt replied: "Yes."

04:06 PM

'We want to stamp out all fraud, wherever it is'

The Government is doing "everything we possibly can" to crack down on fraud, Jeremy Hunt has told the Treasury select committee.

Asked why more money had been allocated to tackling benefit fraud than tax fraud when the latter has a higher yield, Mr Hunt said: "We want to stamp out all fraud wherever it is, because there shouldn't be any at all.

"In the case of DWP it is a more intensive process, with on average smaller sums of money. But where there is fraud we should stamp it out and I think that applies in all areas of Government spending."

04:01 PM

Jeremy Hunt: We must defer to 'fair and independent' public sector pay process

Jeremy Hunt said the process around public sector pay was "ongoing" across departments, insisting money had been allocated to departments "recognising what the pay awards are likely to be".

"I just don't know what those numbers are at the moment because we've had this very big growth in inflation.

"We're going through a process to work out what those numbers should be, bearing in mind the recent increase in inflation."

Asked if he would agree to meet with the unions to discuss public sector pay issues, Mr Hunt replied this was a matter for secretary of states and said Steve Barclay had engaged "very frequently with the RCN, which I think is very important".

"What we have to do is to respect the PRB process, because that's fair and it's independent."

He said he would be "very happy" to meet with the head of the TUC trade union.

03:37 PM

Jeremy Hunt 'very concerned' about tax burden

Jeremy Hunt was told that after the Autumn Statement the UK's tax burden is heading for its highest sustained level since the Second World War. The Chancellor was asked what impact he believes that tax burden could have on economic growth.

He told the Treasury Select Committee: "I am very concerned that if taxes are too high it makes it difficult to be a modern, dynamic economy..."

He said that as a Conservative he believes in bringing taxes down. He said one way to bring down taxes is to reduce the amount of interest that has to be paid on Government debt and to do that inflation must fall.

03:15 PM

Chancellor defends delay to social care reforms

Jeremy Hunt has defended his decision at the Autumn Statement to delay implementing the Government's social care reforms, including a cap on costs, by two years.

He told the Treasury Select Committee: "It was a delay in implementing a manifesto pledge on the basis of the extreme circumstances we had with the pandemic."

Mr Hunt said he believed the two year delay was the "balanced decision to take in the circumstances".

The Chancellor was told that by delaying implementation beyond the next general election in 2024 there is a risk that the reforms may never actually happen.

"I understand people might have those concerns," he said.

03:07 PM

Jeremy Hunt 'does not support' Swiss-style Brexit deal

Jeremy Hunt, the Chancellor, said he does not, nor has he ever, supported the UK seeking a Swiss-style Brexit deal with the EU.

He was asked at the start of his appearance in front of the Treasury Select Committee this afternoon if a story about the UK seeking such a deal had originated in the Treasury.

He said he and the Government "support the Trade and Cooperation Agreement" signed by Boris Johnson and "we would not contemplate, I do not support, I have never contemplated, any agreement which means moving away from the TCA".

Asked if the Treasury was the source of the original story in The Sunday Times about a Swiss-style deal, Mr Hunt said: "The answer is no because it is not my position."

02:34 PM

Tory MP says immigration minister should 'consider his position'

A Conservative MP has suggested Robert Jenrick, the immigration minister, should consider resigning.

Mr Jenrick represented the Government in the House of Commons this afternoon during an urgent question about the Government consulting councils before selecting hotels for "contingency asylum accommodation".

Philip Hollobone, the MP for Kettering, raised a case in his constituency and told the Commons: "The situation is now so bad and chaotic that the minister should consider his position."

Mr Jenrick said: "I would be happy to make some enquiries and come back to the gentleman."

02:17 PM

Rishi Sunak appoints senior lawyer to conduct Raab probe

A senior lawyer has been appointed by Rishi Sunak to look into complaints of bullying behaviour made against Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab.

Commercial and employment law specialist Adam Tolley KC will look into the claims made against Mr Raab after two formal complaints were submitted about his conduct.

Downing Street has indicated Mr Tolley’s remit could extend to other allegations about Mr Raab after a series of claims related to his time as foreign secretary and his first stint in the Ministry of Justice.

Mr Raab has said he is "confident" he has "behaved professionally throughout".

01:50 PM

Pictured: Rishi Sunak welcomes Cyril Ramaphosa to No10 for talks

Cyril Ramaphosa is greeted by Rishi Sunak upon his arrival in Downing Street this afternoon - Justin Tallis/AFP
Cyril Ramaphosa is greeted by Rishi Sunak upon his arrival in Downing Street this afternoon - Justin Tallis/AFP

01:39 PM

Labour rules out election deal with SNP

Sir Keir Starmer’s spokesman has ruled out Labour agreeing to hold another Scottish independence referendum in a deal to reach Downing Street after the next election, writes Ben Riley-Smith. 

“There will be no deals going into the election, no deals coming out of the election”, the spokesman said in a briefing with journalists after Prime Minister’s Questions. Explicitly asked by The Telegraph if Labour was categorically ruling out promising another independence referendum to get power after the next election, Sir Keir's spokesman replied “correct”.

There has been speculation that if there is a hung Parliament after the next election, expected in 2024, then Labour could seek to do a deal with the SNP, which backs independence, to form a government.

The firm stance in part reflects the electoral difficulties Ed Miliband faced about questions of a deal with the SNP which were posed during the 2015 election campaign.

Mr Miliband, then the Labour leader, waited days before he categorically ruled out a deal as the Tories repeatedly asked the question. David Cameron, then the prime minister who won an unexpected Commons majority in that election, later credited the attacks with helping the Tories win seats in England.

01:22 PM

No10: 2014 independence vote was 'once in a generation' event

Rishi Sunak will "look to" avoid another Scottish independence referendum while he is Prime Minister, Downing Street said.

Asked whether Mr Sunak could rule out another vote while he is in office, his press secretary told reporters: "I think that would be something that we would look to do."

She stressed there had been a "once-in-a-generation referendum not too long ago and that result should be respected".

01:19 PM

No10 sticking to housebuilding target amid Tory row

Downing Street said it remains committed to the target of building 300,000 homes a year amid a Tory row on the subject (see the post below at 09.21).

The Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman said: "That commitment remains. When it comes to housing, we want to build more homes in the right places, we are committed to that goal, which is by the mid-2020s.

"We recognise that coming out of the pandemic that is a more challenging situation but we remain committed to that."

01:11 PM

Labour: Scottish politics 'paralysed' by 'constitutional grievance'

Labour's shadow Scotland secretary Ian Murray said Scottish politics has been "paralysed" by the "constitutional grievance" over independence.

He told the House of Commons: "We are deeply disappointed and angry that the politics in Scotland is paralysed by this constitutional grievance.

"It’s now time for all of us in Scottish politics to focus on the problems facing our country, from rocketing bills to the crisis in our NHS, and I wish they had such passion for doing that.

"I fear that wouldn’t happen after the First Minister has announced that she will turn the next general election into a de facto referendum."

01:04 PM

SNP: Indyref2 ruling raises a 'massive question of democracy'

Ian Blackford, the SNP's leader in Westminster, said there is now a "massive question of democracy" that needs to be answered in the wake of the Supreme Court's ruling on Indyref2.

In an urgent question in the Commons, he said: "It is right that the UK Government answers questions today and answers them quickly because this morning the Supreme Court dealt with the question of law. There is now a massive question of democracy.

"Some of the Westminster parties are already wildly celebrating this morning’s decision. But I think it is safe to say that their thoughtless triumphalism won’t last very long because this judgement raises profound and deeply uncomfortable questions about the basis of the future of the United Kingdom.

"The biggest question of all is how the Prime Minister can ever again repeat the myth that the United Kingdom is a voluntary union of nations?"

12:47 PM

Scottish Secretary urges SNP to stop focusing on 'constitutional division'

There is now an urgent question in the House of Commons on the Supreme Court's ruling on Indyref2. It was sought by the SNP.

Alister Jack, the Scottish Secretary, is representing the UK Government.

He told MPs: "We welcome the court's unanimous and unequivocal ruling which supports the United Kingdom Government's long standing position on this matter.

"People want to see the Scottish Parliament and the Scottish government focused on issues that matter to them, not on constitutional division."

12:33 PM

Theresa May tells SNP to 'end its obsession' with independence

Theresa May, the former prime minister, said Scotland "is a proud nation with a unique heritage" and it is a "valued member of our family of nations".

Addressing Rishi Sunak in the House of Commons during PMQs, she said: "Does my right honourable friend agree with me that this morning's Supreme Court decision gives the Scottish nationalists, the SNP, the opportunity for once to put the people of Scotland first and end its obsession with breaking us apart?"

Mr Sunak said: "I think my right honourable friend put it very well."

12:26 PM

SNP: PM 'doesn't even have a personal mandate to sit in No10'

Ian Blackford, the SNP's leader in Westminster, said that "if elections matter then mandates matter" and that the current Scottish Parliament has the "biggest majority for an independence referendum in the history of devolution".

He said: "The Prime Minister doesn't even have a personal mandate to sit in 10 Downing Street. What right does a man with no mandate have to deny Scottish democracy?"

Rishi Sunak replied: "When it comes to Scottish democracy, I am pleased that the Scottish Government has one of the most powerful devolved assemblies anywhere in the world and I was pleased, very shortly after becoming Prime Minister, to be the first Prime Minister in over a decade to attend the council, to sit down with the First Minister, to explore ways in which we can work together with the Socttish government to deliver for the people of Scotland.

12:19 PM

Rishi Sunak responds to Supreme Court ruling on Indyref2

Rishi Sunak said the people of Scotland want us to be working on fixing the major challenges that we collectively face" as he responded to the Supreme Court's judgement during PMQs.

Ian Blackford, the SNP's leader in Westminster, told the PM: "The Prime Minister has every right to oppose independence. He has no right to deny democracy to the people of Scotland.

"If the Prime Minister keeps blocking that referendum, will he at least be honest and confirm that the very idea that the United Kingdom is a voluntary union of nations is now dead and buried?"

Mr Sunak replied: "We respect the clear and definitive ruling of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom. What I would say to the honourable gentleman I think that the people of Scotland want us to be working on fixing the major challenges that we collectively face, whether that is the economy, supporting the NHS or indeed supporting Ukraine.

"Now is the time for politicians to work together and that is what this Government will do."

12:14 PM

Recap: Sturgeon says general election will be 'de facto referendum'

12:13 PM

PM accuses Starmer of having 'no answers'

Sir Keir Starmer accused the Government of giving "tax breaks to the super rich" as he urged Rishi Sunak to scrap the non-dom tax status.

Mr Sunak said that the Government's economic plan is designed to "deliver confidence and stability to our economy".

Talking about Sir Keir's attacks, the PM said: "There is no answers, there is no substance because there is no plan."

Rishi Sunak addresses the House of Commons at PMQs today - PA
Rishi Sunak addresses the House of Commons at PMQs today - PA

12:10 PM

PM accuses Labour leader of engaging in 'gesture politics'

Sir Keir Starmer told Rishi Sunak that the UK is set to be the "first into a recession and the last out". He said that "for a decade they have let the economy drift aimlessly".

The Prime Minister accused Sir Keir of "peddling fairytales and gesture politics".

12:06 PM

Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer clash over economic growth

PMQs is now underway in the House of Commons.

Sir Keir Starmer said: "Britain faces the lowest growth of any OECD nation over the next two years. Why?"

Sir Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, addresses the House of Commons during PMQs today
Sir Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, addresses the House of Commons during PMQs today

Rishi Sunak hit back and said that the UK this year has the "fastest growth in the G7" and "we are getting on to deliver more growth".

The Prime Minister said that if Labour is serious about economic growth Sir Keir should "get on the phone to their union paymasters to tell them to call off the strikes".

11:55 AM

SNP to launch 'major campaign in defence of Scottish democracy'

Nicola Sturgeon told reporters in Edinburgh: "I will be asking our national executive committee to convene a special party conference in the new year to discuss and agree the detail of a proposed de facto referendum."

She said her party will now "launch and mobilise a major campaign in defence of Scottish democracy".

Nicola Sturgeon, the SNP leader, is pictured during a press conference in Edinburgh today - Jane Barlow/PA
Nicola Sturgeon, the SNP leader, is pictured during a press conference in Edinburgh today - Jane Barlow/PA

11:53 AM

Nicola Sturgeon: SNP will use next general election as 'de facto referendum'

Nicola Sturgeon has made clear she intends to use the next general election as a "de facto referendum" on Scottish independence.

She said: "We must and we will find another democratic, lawful and constitutional means by which the Scottish people can express their will.

"In my view that can only be an election. The next national election scheduled for Scotland is of course the UK general election, making that both the first and the most obvious opportunity to seek what I described back in June as a de facto referendum."

The SNP leader said it is now "necessary to agree the precise detail of the proposition we intend to put before the country".

11:48 AM

Sturgeon will not go 'cap in hand' to UK Government

Nicola Sturgeon said Holyrood legislating to hold a referendum was just "one possible route" to Scottish independence.

She said the UK Government could still change its mind and decide to grant Holyrood permission to hold another vote. She said that "I stand ready at any time to reach agreement with the Prime Minister".

But she added: "What I will not do however is go cap in hand. My expectation in the short term at least is that the UK Government will maintain its position of outright democracy denial.

"That posoition is in my view not just unsustainable, it is also utterly self-defeating. The more contempt the Westminster Establishment shows for Scottish democracy, the more certain it is that Scotland will vote Yes when the choice does come to be made.

"As for that choice, and for the avoidance of any doubt, I believe today... that a referendum is the best way to determine the issue of independence. The fact is the SNP is not abandoning the referendum route, Westminster is blocking it."

11:42 AM

Sturgeon: Indyref2 ruling 'raises profound and deeply uncomfortable questions'

Nicola Sturgeon said that "this is not the outcome I hoped for" but "it does give us clarity" and will allow for the planning of next steps.

The SNP leader said that the Supreme Court's ruling "raises profound and deeply uncomfortable questions" about the future of the Union.

11:37 AM

Nicola Sturgeon: Route to independence 'must be lawful and democratic'

Nicola Sturgeon is holding a press conference in Edinburgh as she responds to the Supreme Court's ruling on Indyref2.

She said: "While I am obviously very disappointed by it, I do accept and respect the judgement of the court."

Ms Sturgeon said "the route we take must be lawful and democratic for independence to be achieved".

11:26 AM

Ruth Davidson responds to Supreme Court's Indyref2 ruling

Ruth Davidson, the former leader of the Scottish Tories, said she expects the SNP to try to "leverage" the Supreme Court's decision on Indyref2 "for further grievance".

She tweeted: "While this ruling isn't surprising, its unanimity & clarity is welcome. No doubt the SNP will try to leverage this ruling for further grievance.

"If only the huge effort, capacity & resource spent bidding to rerun the original vote had been put into health, education & the economy."

11:23 AM

'It remains the case it could be value for money and it could not be'

Britain has paid Rwanda £140 million but the Home Office’s top civil servant is unsure whether the Government's stalled asylum policy represents value for money.

Home Office permanent secretary Matthew Rycroft told MPs on the Home Affairs Select Committee: "I keep that judgment under constant review, as you would expect, and the circumstances have not changed sufficiently for me to change my judgment which, from April, was that we did not have evidence it would be value for money.

"The UK has paid £120 million plus an additional £20 million for set-up costs to the government of Rwanda and it remains the case it could be value for money and it could not be."

11:11 AM

SNP MP suggests party could 'force an early Holyrood election'

Angus Brendan MacNeil, an SNP MP, suggested his party could seek to "force an early Holyrood election" to give the Scottish people a say on independence following the Supreme Court's ruling this morning.

He told Sky News: "Luckily we have got plan B, to use elections... what we can do is we can have a debate about whether we want to use a Westminster election which has its difficulties because the media of course will be focused on what is happening in England, it is the larger part of the UK, we can leave it to the Holyrood election or we can say this is too long to wait under the yoke of Tory cuts and austerity and we can force an early Holyrood election, solely on the matter of independence and let the Scottish people speak."

The next scheduled Holyrood election is not until May 2026.

11:05 AM

Suella Braverman blames people smugglers for Manston overcrowding

Suella Braverman said she did not want to “point the finger of blame” at any home secretary for the recent overcrowding at the Manston processing centre in Kent, instead blaming people who cross the Channel in small boats.

The Home Secretary told the Commons Home Affairs Committee: “I’m not going to point the finger of blame at any one person, it’s not as simple as that.”

Asked again, she said: “Listen, I don’t think it’s helpful to point the finger of fault at anyone.”

Pressed further, she countered: “I tell you who’s at fault, it’s very clear who’s at fault, it’s the people who are breaking our rules, coming here illegally, exploiting vulnerable people and trying to reduce the generosity of the British people – that’s who’s at fault.”

11:00 AM

Pictured: Pro-independence supporters gather outside Holyrood

Scottish independence supporters gather outside the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh this morning - Chris Strickland
Scottish independence supporters gather outside the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh this morning - Chris Strickland

10:59 AM

Scottish Tory leader welcomes 'clear and unequivocal verdict' from Supreme Court

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross said today's ruling by the Supreme Court had confirmed the Scottish Government's case was a "waste of time and money".

He said: "I welcome the Supreme Court’s unanimous judgment that the constitution is a matter reserved to the UK Parliament, and that Nicola Sturgeon’s referendum bill would not be legal.

"This was a clear and unequivocal verdict delivered by the highest court in the country – and the SNP Government and their supporters must respect it.

"Nicola Sturgeon insisted on taking this case to the Supreme Court at the cost of hundreds of thousands of pounds to the Scottish taxpayer – and this ruling confirms that it was a waste of time and money. The Scottish people have made it clear in poll after poll that they don’t want another referendum next year."

10:51 AM

Alister Jack urges Holyrood to focus on 'issues that matter most' to Scottish voters

Alister Jack, the Scottish Secretary, has urged Holyrood to focus its "attention and resources on the issues that matter most" to Scottish voters as he responded to the Supreme Court's ruling on Indyref2.

Speaking on behalf of the UK Government, he said: "We note and respect the unanimous ruling from the Supreme Court today.

"People in Scotland want both their governments to be concentrating all attention and resources on the issues that matter most to them. That’s why we are focussed on issues like restoring economic stability, getting people the help they need with their energy bills, and supporting our NHS.

"Today alone, 11.6 million UK pensioners – around one million in Scotland – are starting to receive up to £600 to help with their energy bills this winter.

"As the Prime Minister has made clear, we will continue to work constructively with the Scottish Government in tackling all the challenges we share and face."

10:38 AM

Alex Salmond: 'You can postpone democracy but you cannot deny it'

Alex Salmond, the former first minister and Alba Party leader, said: "The decision of the Supreme Court today is the result of a bad gamble that hasn’t paid off. What should have happened was the Scottish Parliament should have passed the legislation for an independence referendum and forced the UK Government to be the ones that challenged it.

"Real Parliaments don’t ask for permission to implement their democratic mandate. Although the verdict is hardly a surprise it now begs the question of what is the democratic route for Scots to determine their own future?

"Unionists should beware in their glee as the lesson of history is that you can postpone democracy but you cannot deny it.

"The Scottish Government now has the responsibility to find a way forward. They have led the national movement down a complete blind alley to the Supreme Court which astonishingly has gone as far as rejecting Scotland’s right of self determination. That’s what happens when you go to the wrong court with the wrong question."

10:22 AM

Nicola Sturgeon: 'Scottish democracy will not be denied'

10:19 AM

Nicola Sturgeon 'disappointed' by Supreme Court ruling

Nicola Sturgeon said she is "disappointed" by the Supreme Court's ruling. She said the ruling had "exposed as myth any notion of the UK as a voluntary partnership".

She tweeted:

10:16 AM

Anas Sarwar: 'We must now focus on the problems facing our country'

Anas Sarwar, the Scottish Labour leader, said Scotland must now "focus on the problems facing our country" after the Supreme Court's ruling.

He said: "It was right for the Scottish Government to seek legal clarity on this question. The Supreme Court's answer was clear and I thank them for their speedy work in this case. We must now focus on the problems facing our country, from rising bills to the crisis in our NHS.

"There is not a majority in Scotland for a referendum or independence, neither is there a majority for the status quo. One thing is clear, there is a majority in Scotland and across the UK for change. A Labour government will deliver the change that Scotland and the whole of the UK needs."

10:11 AM

Labour: Supreme Court decision must be respected

Ian Murray, Labour's shadow Scottish secretary, said the Supreme Court's decision should be respected – and insisted Labour could offer the change needed by the people of Scotland.

"The UK Supreme Court has made their decision and we should respect that and thank them for their work," he said.

"The people of Scotland do want and need change regardless of their views on the constitution. Change is coming with a UK Labour government at the next election."

10:07 AM

What happens next after Supreme Court ruling?

Nicola Sturgeon is expected to hold a press conference in Edinburgh later today when she will set out her next steps after the Supreme Court ruled she cannot hold a referendum without the permission of the UK Government.

Ms Sturgeon wanted to stage a vote on October 19 next year but that now looks impossible.

The SNP leader has previously said her plan B is to use the next general election as a "de facto referendum", arguing she could open independence negotiations with the UK Government if nationalist parties get more than 50 per cent of the popular vote.

Pro-Scottish independence campaigners gather outside the United Kingdom Supreme Court this morning - Peter Nicholls/Reuters
Pro-Scottish independence campaigners gather outside the United Kingdom Supreme Court this morning - Peter Nicholls/Reuters

10:00 AM

Supreme Court rules Holyrood does not have power to hold Indyref2

The Supreme Court has ruled that Holyrood does not have the power to legislate to hold a second referendum on Scottish independence without the permission of the UK Government.

Lord Reed, the President of the Supreme Court, said: "The court unanimously concludes that the proposed Bill does relate to reserved matters. Accordingly, in the absence of any modification of the definition of reserved matters by an order in council under section 30 of the Scotland Act or otherwise, the Scottish Parliament does not have the power to legislate for a referendum on Scottish independence."

09:51 AM

Supreme Court 'does have the power' to rule on Indyref2 case

Lord Reed, the President of the Supreme Court, said the court had decided that "it does have the power" to decide the question it has been asked on whether Holyrood can legislate to hold a second referendum on Scottish independence.

09:47 AM

Supreme Court ruling on Indyref2 unanimous

The Supreme Court ruling on the holding of a second independence referendum in Scotland is about to be made.

The court heard immediately that the judgement is unanimous.

09:39 AM

Supreme Court set to rule on Indyref2 case

The Supreme Court is set to announce its decision on whether the Scottish Parliament has the power to legislate to hold a second referendum on independence without the permission of the UK Government.

The judgement is due to be announced at 9.45am. It could have major implications for the future of the UK and whatever the decision is, it is likely to trigger a massive political battle.

09:21 AM

Ex-Cabinet minister issues housebuilding warning to Tory colleagues

Rishi Sunak was last night forced to delay long-awaited planning reforms after dozens of Tory MPs threatened to rebel. MPs were due to vote on Monday on his plans for mandatory, centrally-set targets to build 300,000 homes a year.

But a total of 50 Conservative MPs - including eight former Cabinet ministers - signed an amendment to the Levelling-Up and Regeneration Bill which would have abolished the targets. The vote has now been pulled.

There is now a rumbling row among Tory MPs on the issue of housing, with Simon Clarke, the former levelling up secretary, warning that a failure to build enough homes could spell electoral doom for the Conservative Party.

He tweeted:

09:17 AM

UK sending helicopters to Ukraine for first time

Britain is sending helicopters to Ukraine for the first time, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has announced in an escalation of support for Kyiv’s resistance against Vladimir Putin.

Three former British military Sea Kings will be provided, with the first already in Ukraine. They are the first piloted aircraft to be sent by the UK since the Russian President’s invasion began in February.

Mr Wallace also said an extra 10,000 artillery rounds are being sent to help Ukraine secure the territory it has recaptured from the invading forces in recent weeks.

The fresh support comes after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced £50 million more in defence aid as he visited Kyiv over the weekend.

09:08 AM

'Ultimately we need a deal in place'

Yvette Cooper, Labour's shadow home secretary, said people have a right to campaign for a fair pay deal but that ultimately a deal is needed as she responded to the latest planned strike action on the nation's railways.

She told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: "We recognise people have got a right to do everything they can to campaign for a fair pay deal, and they will continue to do so.

"And people have a right to withdraw their labour and to strike as part of that, and we’ll always support people’s right to be able to do that, but ultimately we need a deal in place, and that is what we’ve been calling for."

She said she wants the Government to "get its act together on this".

08:48 AM

Cabinet minister defends lavish banquet at Buckingham Palace

A Cabinet minister has defended the lavish banquet laid on last night as part of South African President Cyril Ramaphosa’s state visit to the UK at a time of hardship for millions of Britons.

Buckingham Palace guests dined on grilled brill – a delicate flat fish – followed by pheasant from the Windsor estate and, for dessert, iced vanilla parfait with caramelised apples.

Work and Pensions Secretary Mel Stride said the visit will help boost trade and growing the economy is the prize which matters – "whether it’s pheasant on the plate or pie and mash".

Guests at the State Banquet at Buckingham Palace, London, last night during the State Visit to the UK by President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa - Aaron Chown /Reuters
Guests at the State Banquet at Buckingham Palace, London, last night during the State Visit to the UK by President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa - Aaron Chown /Reuters

Asked about the timing, with people struggling with the cost of living, Mr Stride said: "I would see it in terms of engaging with our most important trading partner on the continent of Africa, with whom we have very important ties of history and trade and economics.

"What really we want to come out of this is a stronger and healthier UK economy – and that benefits everybody.

"I think, whether it’s pheasant on the plate or pie and mash, I think if that can be achieved, then that’s the biggest prize."

08:36 AM

'At every general election there are a number of people who step aside'

Two Conservative MPs yesterday announced that they will be leaving politics at the next general election. Chloe Smith, the former work and pensions secretary, and William Wragg, an arch-critic of Boris Johnson and Liz Truss said they will be standing down.

Ms Smith is 40 and Mr Wragg is 34. Their decisions have prompted speculation that some Tory MPs are opting to stand down rather than face an election the Conservative Party is currently predicted to lose.

Mel Stride, the Work and Pensions Secretary, argued this morning standing down is just a part of life in Westminster and it is a decision many MPs make.

He told Sky News that "at every general election there are a number of people who step aside" and Ms Smith and Mr Wragg are not the only "younger people that have decided not to fight a forthcoming election".

Sitting Tory MPs have been given a deadline of December 5 to decide whether they will contest the next election. Labour is said to have set a similar deadline.

08:22 AM

'We are not cynical people'

It was suggested to Mick Lynch that "it doesn't really matter to you what the British public thinks about" the ongoing industrial action on the nation's railways.

The general secretary of the RMT union rejected the suggestion, telling ITV's Good Morning Britain programme: "We are not cynical people. Our members live in these communities, they are ordinary working men and women, they don't get paid when they are on strike and they make a sacrifice in order to defend their terms and conditions."

He said that "across this economy" people have had their terms and conditions "ripped to pieces".

"That is what is happening in this economy and that is what we are defending and most workers in this country want to see a restoration of that job security and decent terms and conditions."

08:15 AM

Mick Lynch defends timing of Christmas strike action

Mick Lynch, the general secretary of the RMT union, has defended the timing of the planned rail strikes in December and January.

Told that he appeared to be "The Grinch" ruining Christmas, he told ITV's Good Morning Britain programme: "There is no good time to have a strike. We have left the Christmas period strike free deliberately.

"We cannot leave this action to go cold. We have not been on strike for two months, we moved other dates to facilitate important public and national events.

"If we just leave it they will impose the changes. Network Rail have already issues a statutory redundancy notice for 3,000 jobs and they will impose that if we do not resist what they are doing and come to a compromise."

07:59 AM

'Judge him by his actions'

Rishi Sunak should be judged by his actions in supporting the NHS, a Cabinet colleague said following reports the Prime Minister is registered with a private GP practice.

Work and Pensions Secretary Mel Stride said Mr Sunak’s medical arrangements were a private matter for him.

Mr Stride told Sky News: "Judge him by his actions, and the Health Secretary’s actions, on the NHS… In that very difficult Autumn Statement which had a lot of very hard choices that had to be made, two things really stood out.

"One was an increased commitment to funding education but the other was the health service and social care, which actually got quite a lot of money in the near-term.

"So, the commitment that we have to the NHS is absolutely central to this Government. That is something that’s very much driven from the top by the Prime Minister."

07:57 AM

People relying on food banks is 'not right', says Mel Stride

People having to rely on foodbanks is "not right", a Cabinet minister has said.

Mel Stride, the Work and Pensions Secretary, said that "through time" the Government wants to reach the point where "nobody needs to use a foodbank".

Told that there are reports of civil servants using foodbanks, Mr Stride told Sky News: "Clearly anybody in a position where they need to use a foodbank, [that] is not right and is something that through time one would hope that we will get to a point where nobody needs to use a foodbank.

Mel Stride, the Work and Pensions Secretary, is pictured in Downing Street yesterday - Dan Kitwood/Getty Images Europe
Mel Stride, the Work and Pensions Secretary, is pictured in Downing Street yesterday - Dan Kitwood/Getty Images Europe

"What the Government recognises is that as with other countries around the world, we have been really hit very hard by first the pandemic and then of course by the war between Ukraine and Russia and the impact that that has had not just on energy actually, but on food stuffs and other products as well which has created a lot of inflation.

"Given that backdrop we can't do everything but we are doing the absolute maximum that we can whilst getting inflation down and getting the economy righted so we can get growth and prosperity moving into the future."

07:47 AM

Cabinet minister: 'Deep constitutional issues' at heart of Indyref2 debate

Mel Stride said there are "deep constitutional issues" at the heart of the debate on whether Holyrood can legislate to hold a referendum on Scottish independence without the permission of the UK Government ahead of the Supreme Court's decision at 9.45am.

The Work and Pensions Secretary told Talk TV: "There are deep constitutional issues here as to what is a reserved matter in the opinion of the Government and what is a devolved matter in the opinion of those that have brought forward this particular issue i.e. who is it that has the constitutional ability to call a referendum.

"I don't want to pre-judge what is going to happen at 9.45am this morning when the Supreme Court opines on that. I think we need to wait and see and then ask the questions once that judgement has been made."

07:43 AM

Transport Secretary to hold talks with rail union leaders this week

Mark Harper, the Transport Secretary, will hold talks with rail union leaders later this week, according to his Cabinet colleague Mel Stride.

The Work and Pensions Secretary told TalkTV: "The Secretary of State is actually meeting the rail union leaders later this week so there isthat dialogue occuring.

"But the essential discussions have to occur between the rail operating companies, Network Rail and the unions and they really should be engaging more on that, working things out between them more vigorously in my view, than simply rushing off and going into strike action.

"So there needs to be a lot more talking to try and get there."

07:39 AM

Mel Stride: Strike action designed to cause 'maximum disruption'

Mel Stride, the Work and Pensions Secretary, has warned strike action planned on the nation's railways in December and January has been designed to create "maximum disruption".

Speaking to Talk TV, he said: "What we need is more talking from the unions with the employers and less announcements of strikes… the consequence of this for families up and down the country, some of them quite serious incidentally, people trying to get to medical appointments for example, as well as the family reunions you have mentioned.

"It could be pretty profound. If you look at the timing of these strikes, they are designed to create maximum disruption across the Christmas period.

"What we need is the unions to continue to engage with the employers and also with Network Rail in order to come to a sensible solution."

07:38 AM

Good morning

Good morning and welcome to today's politics live blog.

It promises to be an incredibly busy day in Westminster with big moments in the diary for morning, lunchtime and the afternoon.

The Supreme Court is due to announce its decision on whether Holyrood can legislate to hold a second referendum on Scottish independence without the permission of the UK Government at 9.45am.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman is due in front of the Home Affairs Select Committee at about the same time, ahead of Rishi Sunak's fourth PMQs clash with Sir Keir Starmer at noon.

Then this afternoon Jeremy Hunt will face the Treasury Select Committee for a grilling on his Autumn Statement. That will start at 3pm.

I will be on hand to guide you through the key developments.