Politics latest: Asylum backlog hits new high – as Labour claims decision-making has slowed despite PM's vow (2023)

Key points
  • Asylum backlog hits record high - as decision-making 'slows'
  • Car collides into Downing Street gate - what you need to know
  • Video: Moment before silver car crashes on Whitehall
  • Joe Pike: All calm outside gates that protect heart of power
  • Net migration figure hits new peak despite Tory manifesto pledge
  • Beth Rigby:'Take back control' is an easy slogan to create but fiendishly hard to implement
  • Live reporting by Faith Ridler


'No government should ever be content to see a recession' - Labour

Nick Thomas-Symonds, the shadow international trade secretary, today told Sky News that no government "should ever be content to see a recession".

It comes after Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said he is comfortable with Britain being plunged into recession if that's what it takes to bring down inflation.

In response, Mr Thomas-Symonds said: "No government should ever be content to see recession.

"What we are seeing I'm afraid are the consequences of all the failed and wasted years of Conservative government.

"People are still dealing with the consequences of this Tory chaos.

"Frankly, this government has no credible plan to restore growth."

He added that the Tories "do not stand on the side of working people".

The Labour MP said that to provide economic stability, you need political stability.

But the Conservatives are in "chaos", Mr Thomas-Symonds said.


'Astonishing betrayal': Tories face backlash for scrapping animal welfare bill

The government has been accused of an "astonishing betrayal" after scrapping its flagship animal welfare bill over fears it would be forced into a vote on hunting.

Farming minister Mark Spencer confirmed the long-awaited legislation - aimed at banning live animal exports and introducing powers to tackle puppy smuggling - will not progress through parliament.

The Conservative 2019 manifesto promised to bring in new laws to protect animal welfare, including tougher sentences for animal cruelty.

Mr Spencer insisted these commitments will be kept by introducing the measures individually before the next general election - expected by the end of 2024.

He also announced the launch of a new animal sentience committee, and a consultation on new financial penalties of up to £5,000 for those who commit offences against animals.

But campaigners and Conservative MPs have lashed out at the decision to abandon the bill - which had already suffered long delays since it was first introduced in June 2021.

You can read more from our political reporter Faye Brown below:


Johnson allies lament 'false claims by former advisers' - as they 'accuse Cabinet Office of wasting police time'

It's been an incredibly busy week in Westminster, and former prime minister Boris Johnson has today continued to hit back at new claims of rule breaking.

It has been reported that Mr Johnson has been referred to the police over fresh allegations of lockdown rule breaches, this time in Chequers.

A number of new claims were alleged in the media this morning:

  • The ex-PM's representatives told POLITICO that they believe the claims are part of a "briefing campaign that is trying to deliberately manufacture false claims about events at Chequers and Downing Street";
  • It is alleged this so-called campaign "is being run by former advisers who are now willing to say anything about Boris in an attempt to discredit him, even if it is a total lie".
  • This statement ended with a thinly-veiled threat: "These individuals should watch themselves carefully as there are revelations about their own conduct to be made."
  • The Express reports that allies of Mr Johnson are accusing the Cabinet Office of wasting police time by referring the former prime minister over alleged rule breaking;
  • The Times reports that Mr Johnson had planned to publish a photograph of a family lunch in the Number 10 garden - that was handed to police - to show he did not break the "rule of six";
  • However, the newspaper claims the photograph pictured Mr Johnson's sister, late mother and son Wilfred close to each other than was permitted;
  • Mr Johnson told the newspaper that "all these events were completely lawful based on advice from lawyers".


Sky News Daily podcast: What net migration figures mean for the UK

Net migration to the UK rose to 606,000 in the 12 months to December 2022, the highest number for a calendar year on record - despite a Tory 2019 manifesto commitment to "bring overall numbers down".

The figures, published by the Office for National Statistics, show that most people arriving to the UK last year were non-EU nationals.

The body attributed a "unique year" for migration to "world events" including the war in Ukraine and unrest in Hong Kong.

On the Sky News Daily, Niall Paterson breaks down the numbers with Sky's data and forensics correspondent Tom Cheshire and picks through the fallout in Westminster with political correspondent Ali Fortescue.

Plus, Madeleine Sumption, director of the Migration Observatory at Oxford University, explains how what the government says actually impacts the number of people that come to the UK.

Click to subscribe to the Sky News Daily wherever you get your podcasts


Leaked documents 'show 3,000 asylum seekers could be deported per month under new law'

Here are some interesting potential details on the Illegal Migration Bill, which emerged in The Guardian overnight.

It has been claimed that upwards of 3,000 asylum seekers could be detained and deported per month under the highly divisive legislation.

Leaked briefing papers on the implementation of the Home Office-backed bill, obtained by the newspaper, reportedly suggest that once in place, the legislation could see the removal of 3,163 asylumseekers each month from January.

The documents were allegedly prepared for Justice Secretary Alex Chalk and the Ministry of Justice permanent secretary Antonia Romeo.

The briefing is believed to be a draft and had not been seen by the minister.

A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said: "We do not comment on leaks."

The documents reportedly warned Mr Chalk that the UK could face judicial review proceedings if legal advice is not provided to those detained under the Home Office plans.

The briefing is quoted as telling the minister: "You will have a statutory duty to secure that legal aid is available to this cohort... not addressing capacity issues could mean that there are not sufficient legal aid providers to carry out this work.

"This could be challenged by way of judicial review."


Exclusive: Chancellor comfortable with recession if it brings down inflation

By Ed Conway, economics and data editor

Jeremy Hunt has told Sky News he is comfortable with Britain being plunged into recession if that's what it takes to bring down inflation.

The chancellor said that he would fully support the Bank of England raising interest rates higher, potentially towards 5.5%, as it battled higher-than-expected prices.

Asked by Sky News whether he was "comfortable with the Bank of England doing whatever it takes to bring down inflation, even if that potentially would precipitate a recession", he said: "Yes, because in the end, inflation is a source of instability.

"And if we want to have prosperity, to grow the economy, to reduce the risk of recession, we have to support the Bank of England in the difficult decisions that they take.

"I have to do something else, which is to make sure the decisions that I take as chancellor, very difficult decisions, to balance the books so that the markets, the world can see that Britain is a country that pays its way - all these things mean that monetary policy at the Bank of England (and) fiscal policy by the chancellor are aligned."

The comments came after market expectations for the eventual peak of UK interest rates leapt dramatically, followinghigher-than-expected CPI inflation data this week.

You can watch more from Conway's interview with Mr Hunt below:


Asylum decisions fell sharply after PM promised to clear backlog - Labour analysis

Asylum decisions taken by the Home Office have fallen by 18% quarter-to-quarter since December, Labour Party analysis has found.

New government figures also reveal that less than 1% of small boat arrivals in the last year have had a decision, the party said.

Additionally, more than three quarters of all small boat asylum applications since 2018 are still awaiting a decision.

In December 2022, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak vowed to "abolish the backlog of initial asylum decisions by the end of next year".

But data shared by Labour says that the backlog is now at a record high of 172,500 - whilst the number of asylum grants and rejections fell between December 2022 and March 2023.

It comes after the latest immigration figures yesterday saw net migration hit a new high of 606,000 in the year ending December 2022.

Yvette Cooper, the shadow home secretary, said: "The prime minister's plan on small boats is in tatters. He pledged to increase asylum decisions, but they have fallen.

"He pledged to reduce the backlog, but it has gone up. He pledged to hire more caseworkers, but numbers are falling.

"Rishi Sunak and Suella Braverman are out of touch and out of ideas."


What happened outside Downing Street last night?

As we reported live yesterday afternoon, a car crashed into the gates of Downing Street in central London on Thursday - with one man arrested.

If you're just joining us - let us get you up to speed on what happened:

  • A silver Kia car crashed into the gates of Downing Street at around 4.20pm yesterday;
  • The car was immediately surrounded by emergency vehicles;
  • The Metropolitan Police confirmed there were no injuries;
  • Counter-terrorism police are not involved in the investigation at this stage, it is understood;
  • Rishi Sunak was inDowningStreet at the time of the collision, but departed after the crash - as he had planned;
  • One witness said he heard a "bang", then saw police pointing Taser guns at a man;
  • A man was arrested at the scene on suspicion of criminal damage and dangerous driving;
  • Cordons were erected around Whitehall, with police officers blocking access to the street from outside the Ministry of Defence;
  • It was quickly reopened to cars.

You can watch the moment of impact in the video below:


Good morning!

Welcome back to the Politics Hub, where we'll bring you live updates from the heart of Westminster.

It's the first day of recess - but here is what's coming up:

  • Questions will likely continue after a car hit the gates of Downing Street last night, leading to the arrest of one person. Rishi Sunak was inside Number 10 at the time - but no injuries were reported;
  • Jeremy Hunt has told Sky News that he is comfortable with Britain being plunged into recession if that's what it takes to bring down inflation;
  • Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer is out and about in Scotland today, visiting local business owners as the run-up to the next general election picks up speed;
  • Transport Secretary Mark Harper is at the International Transport Forum, where he is expected to give an address to policymakers;
  • We'll be speaking to Labour's Nick Thomas Symonds at 8.05am.

We'll have all the latest right here, as it happens.


That's all for today

Thank you for joining us for what has been a very busy day in politics.

Here's a roundup of what happened today:

  • A man was arrested after a car crashed into the gates of Downing Street, triggering a huge security response;
  • Figures released today showed that net migration hit a record high of 606,000 people in 2022;
  • The energy price cap fell significantly on the heels of falling gas and electricity prices;
  • The government scraped its flagship Animal Welfare Bill in favour of passing the measures in smaller pieces of legislation;
  • Ministers failed to move a motion to suspend COVID rule breaking MP;
  • Woking council placed in special measures due to £2bn debt;
  • Tributes were paid to former Tory MP Karen Lumley, who has died aged 59.

We'll be back from 6am with the very latest from the heart of Westminster - do join us!

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