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As it happenedended1706173143

Sunak news – live: Starmer says PM being bullied by party as senior Tories slam Simon Clarke’s ‘foolish’ coup

Simon Clarke claims Rishi Sunak’s ‘uninspiring leadership is the main obstacle to our recovery’

Britain under Tories is ‘longest episode of Eastenders ever,’ says Keir Starmer

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has claimed Rishi Sunak is being “bullied” by his own MPs and he used PMQs to mock the prime minister after a fresh Tory civil war erupted.

Sir Keir said Mr Sunak was “endlessly” fighting with his own party and that the more “they slag him off behind his back, the louder they cheer in here”.

It comes after Liz Truss ally Sir Simon Clarke claimed the Conservative Party could face “extinction” unless the prime minister resigns.

Sir Simon, who served in the Treasury under Mr Sunak, made the intervention in the Daily Telegraph to urge his colleagues to sack the PM ahead of the looming general election, arguing he “has sadly gone from asset to anchor”.

Tory MPs have rounded on Sir Simon’s attempted coup, branding his move against Mr Sunak as “foolish” and “facile”. A senior Conservative MP told The Independent Sir Simon was “flying a kite that’s already broken” and they did not expect fellow right-wingers to join his rebellion.

However, the Conservative Democratic Organisation – led by allies of former prime minister Boris Johnson – are demanding a leadership vote for fear of “electoral disaster”.

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Rishi Sunak and Sir Keir Starmer trade personal insults during bruising PMQs

Rishi Sunak is being “bullied” by Tory MPs as they take part in the “longest episode of EastEnders ever put to film”, according to Sir Keir Starmer.

The Prime Minister countered by branding Labour leader Sir Keir a “human weathervane” and attacked his work as a lawyer as the pair traded personal insults in the House of Commons.

Mr Sunak arrived in the chamber to loud cheers from his MPs, just hours after former Cabinet minister Sir Simon Clarke called for him to be replaced as leader to avoid a Conservative “massacre” at the general election.

Richard Wheeler reports:

Rishi Sunak and Sir Keir Starmer trade personal insults during bruising PMQs

The exchanges took place after former Cabinet minister Sir Simon Clarke called for Mr Sunak to be replaced as Tory leader.

Tara Cobham24 January 2024 14:00
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No 10: Simon Clarke is 'one MP'

No 10 described Sir Simon as “one MP” who was "in a different place to some other MPs", reports Politics and Whitehall Editor Kate Devlin.

However, Downing Street would not be drawn on whether or not they thought he was a ‘lone wolf’.

But they said his intervention would not “distract us” Mr Sunak from getting on with “what matters to people".

Kate Devlin, Politics and Whitehall Editor24 January 2024 14:20
1706107143

Simon Clarke ‘wasting everyone’s time’, says Sunak ally

Senior Sunak allies said Sir Simon Clarke’s push against the PM had already fizzled out, with no-one new on the right calling for Sunak to be replaced, reports Political Correspondent Adam Forrest.

One senior figure told The Independent: “Clarke is wasting everyone’s time. It’s going nowhere.” Another called Sir Simon was an “outlier”, saying they were confident he was not be followed by other MPs on the right.

Adam Forrest, Political Correspondent24 January 2024 14:39
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Robert Jenrick will not be joining Clarke rebellion

The Independent understands that Robert Jenrick – who led the recent right-wing rebellion over the Rwanda bill – will not be joining Sir Simon Clarke in calling for Rishi Sunak to be replaced, reports Political Correspondent Adam Forrest.

Liz Truss does not back Sir Simon’s intervention either. So it does not look like it will be building any head of steam.

The Independent understands that Robert Jenrick (left) – who led the recent right-wing rebellion over the Rwanda bill – will not be joining Sir Simon Clarke in calling for Rishi Sunak to be replaced (PA Archive)
Adam Forrest, Political Correspondent24 January 2024 15:00
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Clarke rebellion ‘not shared by significant number’, says 1922 Committee source

Another senior Tory – source close to the 1922 Committee – told The Independent that Sir Simon’s actions were “entirely self-destructive and not shared by any significant number of people in the party”, reports Political Correspondent Adam Forrest.

Senior Tory Tobias Ellwood told The Independent: “The scale of backlash against Simon Clarke’s comments has been significant by its scale and reach across all wings of the Party.

“I suspect this may deter others from following such a reckless call for yet another leadership campaign so close to a general election.”

Adam Forrest, Political Correspondent24 January 2024 15:20
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Boris-backing group back Simon Clarke’s call

The Conservative Democratic Organisation – led by allies of former prime minister Boris Johnson – have claimed many grassroots Tories are effectively “on strike” because of disillusionment with Rishi Sunak, reports Political Correspondent Adam Forrest.

The group’s chairman, former MEP David Campbell Bannerman, said: “Urgent change is needed. Sunak unfortunately has had his chance – and blown it.”

"Members demand a leadership vote as soon as possible so we can turn things around and avoid electoral disaster. We need new management.”

Adam Forrest, Political Correspondent24 January 2024 15:31
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Britain under Tories is ‘longest episode of Eastenders ever,’ says Starmer

Sir Keir Starmer has said Britain under the Tories is the “longest episode of EastEnders ever.”

Speaking at Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, 24 January, the Labour leader said: “Safely ensconced in Westminster they get down to the real business of fighting each other to death. The country forced to endure their division and chaos, the longest episode of Eastenders ever put to film.”

It comes as the Conservatives faced more party infighting this week with a senior Tory calling for Rishi Sunak‘s resignation.

Holly Patrick reports:

Starmer: Britain under Tories is ‘longest episode of Eastenders ever’

Sir Keir Starmer has said Britain under the Tories is the "longest episode of EastEnders ever." Speaking at Prime Minister's Questions on Wednesday, 24 January, the Labour leader said: "Safely ensconced in Westminster they get down to the real business of fighting each other to death. The country forced to endure their division and chaos, the longest episode of Eastenders ever put to film." It comes as the Conservatives faced more party infighting this week with a senior Tory calling for Rishi Sunak's resignation.

Tara Cobham24 January 2024 15:45
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Simon Clarke push against PM ‘odd and unhelpful’, says Kwasi Kwarteng

Former chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng has criticised Sir Simon Clarke’s “unhelpful” call for Rishi Sunak to be replaced, reports Political Correspondent Adam Forrest.

The key Liz Truss government figure – a close ally of Sir Simon and the former PM – told Times Radio the right-wing rebel was a “lone voice”.

“I don’t agree with Simon. I think it's the wrong time to change leader...and I think to change the leadership now, without a general election, would be very unwise.”

The only way that we’re going to avoid a total disaster is by staying united and backing the leader. It was an odd intervention … He’s very much a lone voice on this. And I think that it was an unhelpful intervention on his part.”

Tara Cobham24 January 2024 16:00
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Labour MP accuses Sunak of having ‘blood of thousands of innocents on his hands’

Rishi Sunak was accused of having “the blood of thousands of innocent people on his hands” over his response to the Israel-Gaza war by a Labour MP.

Tahir Ali (Birmingham, Hall Green) claimed in the House of Commons that the Prime Minister had “boldly stated” confidence in Israel’s adherence to international law despite documents suggesting the Foreign Office had concerns.

The Labour leadership has distanced itself from his comments, with a party spokesman branding them “clearly inappropriate”.

Ben Hatton reports:

Labour MP accuses Sunak of having ‘blood of thousands of innocents on his hands’

Tahir Ali also called for the Prime Minister to commit to demanding an immediate ceasefire and ending of UK’s arms trade with Israel.

Tara Cobham24 January 2024 16:15
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Who is Sir Simon Clarke?

“Get a f***ing grip” is not the reaction Sir Simon Clarke will have been hoping for from fellow Tory MPs when he launched a putsch against Rishi Sunak on Tuesday night.

The long-standing ally of Liz Truss said his party risked an election “massacre” unless the current prime minister is ousted and that Mr Sunak has gone “from asset to anchor.”

His plan to replace Mr Sunak was given received short shrift in a Tory WhatsApp group, with the previously mentioned sweary riposte reportedly sent by Tory minister Andrew Bowie.

Joe Middleton reports:

Who is Sir Simon Clarke? The MP mocked for trying to start a rebellion against Sunak

The long-standing ally of Liz Truss said his party risked an election ‘massacre’

Tara Cobham24 January 2024 16:30

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