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    Labour says GB Energy will fix cost-of-living crisis with clean power

    Get the free Morning Headlines email for news from our reporters across the worldSign up to our free Morning Headlines emailLabour is pledging it will get working within months of election victory to build clean power that will “turn the page” on the cost-of-living crisis.Sir Keir Starmer will warn that “family financial security depends on energy security”, accusing the Tories of failing to make Britain resilient, as he launches the logo and website for Great British Energy at an event in Scotland with Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar.Labour’s pledge to set up a publicly owned company to invest in domestic power sources – part of the party’s six-point “first steps” policy – aims to tackle the cost-of-living crisis by cutting energy bills.Early investments by Great British Energy will include wind and solar projects across the UK, as well as making Scotland a world leader in new technologies such as floating offshore wind, hydrogen and CCS, Sir Keir is pledging.Labour plans to fund the company, which will be headquartered in Scotland, through a windfall tax on big oil and gas firms, with an initial £8.3 billion capitalisation over a parliament.The plan has been endorsed by former chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance, who wrote in The Times: “The prize is huge, lower energy bills, good jobs, more innovative businesses, energy security and climate leadership.”“If we choose to go slowly, others will provide the answers and we will ultimately end up buying the solutions rather than selling them. Getting to a clean power system fast and with appropriate technologies is an investment, not simply a cost.“And being self-sufficient in energy will mean that our country is never again left so exposed by our dependency on an unstable international fossil fuel market.“This is a challenge that we should not shrink from and say it is too hard, but roll up our sleeves and give it everything we have got.”It comes in the wake of the energy price shock which saw costs soar in the aftermath of the Covid pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.Labour says that in the last two years a typical family paid £1,880 more on energy bills than they would have done if prices had stayed the same, while the government spent £94 billion of taxpayers’ money on capping energy costs.The party says the Office of Budget Responsibility has warned that if the UK remains dependent on gas, families and taxpayers could see a repeat of the recent crisis, and accused the Tories of leaving households at risk of a £900 annual energy price spike.Great British Energy will kickstart our mission for clean power to lower bills and boost our energy independence. Ed MilibandSir Keir said: ”Family financial security depends on energy security.“The pain and misery of the cost-of-living crisis was directly caused by the Tories’ failure to make Britain resilient, leaving us at the mercy of fossil fuel markets controlled by dictators like Putin.“It doesn’t have to be this way. Our clean power mission with Great British Energy will take back control of our destiny and invest in cheap, clean homegrown energy that we control.“We will turn the page on the cost-of-living crisis. The choice at this election is clear: higher bills and energy insecurity with the Conservatives, or lower bills and energy security with Labour.”Ed Miliband, shadow energy security and net zero secretary, said: “Great British Energy will kick-start our mission for clean power to lower bills and boost our energy independence.“It’s time to move on from the Tories’ bone-headed opposition to clean energy, for which British families are paying the price.“The choice at this General Election is clear: higher bills and energy insecurity with the Conservatives, or lower bills and energy independence with Labour.”Claire Coutinho, energy security and net zero secretary, accused Labour of an unfunded promise with its plans for Great British Energy, that would cost taxpayers, and attacked the party’s moves to stop new oil and gas licences in the North Sea, claiming it would hit jobs.“By sticking to the Conservatives’ clear plan, energy bills are at the lowest point since 2022, but we must go further.“That’s why we are taking bold action to guarantee the future of the energy price cap, as we back new nuclear power and offshore wind, keeping bills low and ensuring families are not lumbered with the cost of reaching net zero,” she said.The Green Party said Labour’s plans do not go far enough, and fail to address energy efficiency through home insulation and the electrification of home heating.Party co-leader Adrian Ramsay said: “We need real change if we are to meet the demands of the climate crisis. These Labour plans do not deliver it.“Compared to Labour’s original commitment to spend £28 billion a year on green investment, this announcement of just £8.3 billion over the course of the parliament looks tiny and is nowhere near enough to deliver Labour’s promise of ‘clean electricity’.”Friends of the Earth’s head of policy, Mike Childs, said: “Labour’s pledge to develop the UK’s enormous homegrown renewable energy potential is great news that will help to power the transition to a green economy that we so urgently need.“But the party mustn’t rest on its laurels just because it has one strong green policy. We’re yet to hear how it intends to tackle the enormous carbon pollution created by transport and heating our homes, for example, which can be addressed by rolling out a nationwide programme of insulation, funding the switch to heat pumps, and delivering a true public transport renaissance.”He called on all parties to strengthen their green commitments.Alasdair Johnstone from the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit said: “The UK has spent £100 billion on gas during the energy crisis of the last couple of years, placing a burden not only on bill payers but also tax payers as bills were subsidised.“With prices set to go up again in October, there will be a need to insulate from more gas price volatility. This means using less gas and more British renewables along with insulating homes so they leak less heat.“Recent polling showed that the public think that the best long-term solution to the energy crisis is to decrease dependence on gas and transition to renewable energy.”Max Wakefield, co-director of climate charity Possible, said: “Lifting the ban on onshore wind is one the quickest and best things an incoming government can do for the climate and our country.“It’s clean, it’s cheap, it’s popular and it will bring down bills as a homegrown renewable energy source.” More

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    Rishi Sunak’s Rwanda flights plan is not credible, damning report by MPs finds

    Get the free Morning Headlines email for news from our reporters across the worldSign up to our free Morning Headlines emailRishi Sunak has been dealt a huge blow after parliament’s most influential committee concluded that the Home Office “does not have a credible plan” for sending asylum seekers to Rwanda. The unanimous report by the Public Accounts Committee from a cross-party group of MPs with a Tory majority said it had “little confidence” in the Home Office’s ability to implement the Rwanda plan. The Rwanda deportation flights have long been Mr Sunak’s solution to “stopping the small boats” and ending the flow of asylum seekers to British shores. His early attempts to get flights off the ground to the East African nation had been thwarted by a Supreme Court ruling and he was forced to fight for months against a right-wing Tory rebellion and resistance in the Lords to get emergency legislation through to allow them to go ahead.The plan is a key plank in his attempt to see off the threat from Nigel Farage’s Reform Party of splitting the vote on the right in the general election. But Mr Sunak had already been damaged by having to admit that it would not be possible to send any flights before the election on 4 July.Rishi Sunak has made stopping the boats a key pledge More

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    Election headache for Rishi Sunak as UK population grows by 685,000 in past year

    Get the free Morning Headlines email for news from our reporters across the worldSign up to our free Morning Headlines emailThe UK’s population grew by 685,000 people in 2023, a drop from record high net migration in 2022, official estimates show. The latest figures, published a day after Rishi Sunak called a surprise general election on July 4th, will feed the debate about immigration – a key campaign battleground. The Office for National Statistics said that it was too early to tell if the 10 per cent drop in net migration year-on-year was the start of a permanent trend, but pointed to signs that fewer people are applying to come to the UK on health care worker and student visas. Net migration to the UK hit a record 764,000 in 2022. Despite the provisional 2023 figures representing a 10 per cent drop year-on-year, they are still historically high.The 2023 figures mark the third year running that overall net migration has exceeded the pre-Brexit, pre-Covid levels of roughly 200,000 to 300,000. Migration experts at the University of Oxford said that the small drop from 2022 was fuelled by lower immigration on humanitarian visas, such as Ukrainians and Hong Kongers, and fewer non-EU students. Rishi Sunak has pledged to bring down net migration to the UK More

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    ‘We’re not allowed to bring our baby from Ukraine’: Refugees refused after sudden UK rule change

    Get the free Morning Headlines email for news from our reporters across the worldSign up to our free Morning Headlines emailA Ukrainian refugee couple who fled to the UK have been refused permission for their two-year-old daughter to join them after the government suddenly changed its sponsorship rules, The Independent can reveal.Oleksandra and Yaroslav were offered shelter from Russia’s war under the Homes for Ukraine scheme in April 2022, leaving newborn Anna with her grandparents in Kyiv until they were settled in the UK with work and their own home.But after finally overcoming the hurdles of finding accommodation and setting up their own marketing business in the UK, the couple’s submission in April for the toddler to join them was refused by the Home Office, after rules for the schemes allowing Ukrainians to do so were tightened overnight in February.“Now it seems like it’s impossible to bring Anna,” Oleksandra told The Independent. “I was almost there – and I wasn’t expecting [the legislation] to change. I’m very sad and frustrated, I don’t know what to do and how to react. If I am not able to bring Anna, we will be forced to leave everything and go somewhere else. “I spent a lot of time building up the business, finding proper accommodation, and when we came here we didn’t have anything – our business in Ukraine was closed and we didn’t have any money. So it’s not a good situation.”Despite the Home Office insisting that the new rules do not prevent children joining their parents, charities warn the changes have created “unintended consequences” which could leave hundreds – if not thousands – of Ukrainians separated from their loved ones.The “deeply shocking” failure “betrays our commitment to Ukrainians”, warned Labour peer Lord Dubs, who himself arrived in the UK as a six-year-old fleeing the Nazis.“We pay lip service to how much we want to help Ukraine and the Ukrainians, then in practice we don’t do it,” he told The Independent. “The most fundamental thing is parents should be allowed to have their children with them – absolutely fundamental – and I think the government should be ashamed of itself.”The Refugee Council has also urged the government to amend its new policy More

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    Rishi Sunak must allow visit from UN food inspector due to increasing levels of UK poverty, 85 charities write

    Get the free Morning Headlines email for news from our reporters across the worldSign up to our free Morning Headlines emailMore than 80 charities and civil society bodies have called on Rishi Sunak to reverse a decision to block a UK visit by the UN inspector on food poverty until after the election. Mr Sunak’s government has told the UN special rapporteur on the right to food that he cannot visit the UK until next year. Professor Michael Fakhri, who uses his role to study hunger and food insecurity in countries around the world, asked to make a formal visit to the UK more than 20 months ago. His request was denied in April by the minister for food, farming and fisheries, Sir Mark Spencer, who said a visit would not be feasible this year, denying the UN inspector the chance to conduct his research during the current parliament. Food and human rights charities and civil society organisations have now written to Mr Sunak to ask that the decision be reversed. In a letter signed by 85 groups, including Amnesty International, Just Fair, and the Food Foundation, the charities wrote: “We believe now is an opportune time for a country visit by the UN special rapporteur on the right to food due to the increasing levels of poverty, food bank use, and reports of hunger that have remained persistent for a number of years and became more pronounced during the Covid-19 pandemic and cost of living crisis”. A volunteer at Bonny Downs Community Association food club during a March visit as part of Sainsbury’s and Comic Relief’s campaign to raise awareness of food poverty in the UK More

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    Boris Johnson turned away from polling station after forgetting photo ID

    Get the free Morning Headlines email for news from our reporters across the worldSign up to our free Morning Headlines emailBoris Johnson fell foul of legislation he introduced himself as prime minister when he was reportedly turned away from a polling station after failing to take photographic identification.Mr Johnson, who quit as PM after three years in 2022, had been trying to cast his vote in the local elections in South Oxfordshire, according to Sky News.But polling station staff had to turn the former Conservative Party leader away because he could not produce any ID, Sky said. Showing a document with a photo identifying the voter has been compulsory since the Elections Act 2022 took effect a year ago.For live coverage of the local elections, and the results, follow our live blog by clicking hereElections are taking place in 107 local authorities across the country, with 2,636 seats up for grabs.A spokesperson for Mr Johnson did not deny he had failed to bring ID, adding he did manage to vote on Thursday.In 2021, the then prime minister and Tory leader said: “What we want to do is protect democracy, the transparency and the integrity of the electoral process. And I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask first-time voters to produce some evidence of identity.”In 2019, Johnson did not need ID to vote but this time he apparently forgot about his own law More

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    Sunak insists Rwanda flights will be in the air by July, ‘no ifs, no buts’

    Get the free Morning Headlines email for news from our reporters across the worldSign up to our free Morning Headlines emailRishi Sunak has pledged to get flights to Rwanda in the air by July, despite the threat of legal challenges and delays even if he does manage to force the controversial asylum bill through parliament overnight. The prime minister insisted asylum seekers will be sent to the east African nation in 10 to 12 weeks “come what may” and that regular trips will take place over the summer.But he faced an agonising final hurdle of ping-pong between MPs and the House of Lords, and the upper house will spend the evening trying to exact two key amendments. MPs and campaigners warned that Mr Sunak’s flagship policy, if successfully passed, could still be set back by legal challenges from individuals, as well as the civil service union which is concerned about breaching international law.Labour condemned the hundreds of millions of pounds already spent on the scheme as an “extortionate gimmick”, while former home secretary Suella Braverman said so few people would actually end up in Rwanda that it would not work as an efficient deterrent.Kicking off a long day of political wrangling, Mr Sunak threw down the gauntlet to peers in a surprise press conference on Monday, saying: “Parliament will sit there tonight and vote, no matter how late it goes; no ifs, no buts, these flights are going to Rwanda.”Lords have been trying to force the government to exempt Afghans who supported British troops overseas from being deported to Rwanda. They had also pushed an amendment that would make sure a monitoring committee assesses Rwanda to be safe before flights take off. The government has so far refused to cave to pressure and include the changes to the bill. MPs rejected both amendments in their first vote on Monday evening. Labour peers will rally this evening in support of the suggested amendments, leaving the cross-bench peers with the power to further delay the bill or let it pass. Sunak threw down the gauntlet to peers in a surprise press conference More

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    Nicola Sturgeon’s husband Peter Murrell charged in police probe into SNP finances

    Get the free Morning Headlines email for news from our reporters across the worldSign up to our free Morning Headlines emailThe husband of Scottish former first minister Nicola Sturgeon has been charged in connection with embezzlement of funds from the SNP following a Police Scotland investigation into the party’s finances.It is understood that Peter Murrell, who was chief executive of the party for more than 20 years, has resigned his SNP membership.The 59-year-old, who was taken into custody on Thursday morning, had been previously arrested on 5 April last year at the couple’s home in Uddingston near Glasgow.The couple’s home was searched last year (Andrew Milligan/PA) More