Live politics updates: Illegal Migration Bill to return to the Commons; Ministers to find out if they have met key police recruitment target (2023)

Key points
  • Home Secretary: 200-300 Brits evacuated from Sudan in last 24 hours
  • PM 'confident we are on the cusp' of hitting police target
  • PM must stand up for civil service after Raab's attacks, says ex-Foreign Office chief
  • Ed Miliband: 'A con is not an answer' to the problem of illegal migration
  • Diane Abbott's letter was 'unacceptable' and it's right that she is suspended - Ed Miliband
  • Labour targets Sunak in new attack adas parties clash over sewage
  • Arrested SNP official backtracks over £100,000 motorhome
  • Sturgeon speaks of 'worst nightmare' as she faces reporters
  • Live reporting by Ben Bloch


ICYMI: Nicola Sturgeon says SNP crisis beyond her 'worst nightmares'

Nicola Sturgeon has admitted she could not have imagined "in her worst nightmares" the controversy currently engulfing the SNP.

The former Scottish first minister refused to comment on the £100,000 campervan removed from outside her mother-in-law's home and denied the police investigation was the reason behind her decision to step down.

Read what she told reporters here:


Ed Miliband: Diane Abbott's letter 'unacceptable' and it's right she is suspended

As you will recall, Diane Abbott was suspended from the parliamentary Labour Party on Sunday after she wrote a letter to The Observer newspaper suggesting that Jewish, Irish, and GRT people do not suffer from racism.

The shadow environment secretary, who is himself Jewish, tells Sky News: "I think what she said was quite wrong. There can't be hierarchies of racism. Some people are more subject to racism them others.

"It was wrong and she should never have said it. She has accepted that she should never have said it."

He adds: "I think it's right that the Labour Party has taken action and suspended her. There's going to be an investigation into it.

"I think the tragedy is that Diane's got a proud history of fighting racism and being a trailblazer for fighting racism."

Pushed on whether he is happy to sit with Ms Abbott on the Labour benches, Mr Miliband says: "Of course I'm happy to sit next to her."

"What she said was completely wrong and unacceptable. I know Diane well. I don't think it's who she is actually."

He agrees with Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer that what Ms Abbott said was antisemitic, and adds it's right the party investigates it.

"It's a decision for the Labour Party to make about whether Diane is a candidate [at the next general election], but what she said was completely unacceptable."


(Video) Sophy Ridge on Sunday: Oliver Dowden, Jonathan Ashworth, Ed Davey and Andy Haldane

Ed Miliband: 'A con is not an answer' to the problem of illegal migration

Asked what aspects of the Illegal Migration Bill the Labour Party supports, the shadow environment secretary tells Sky News: "The Bill's not going to work, Kay. We don't support the Bill.

"The Bill says that anyone who comes over on a small boat is going to be detained and returned within 28 days. But it's not clear where they're going to be returned to."

He says return agreements with many countries have not been struck yet, and adds there's no plan to deal with the backlog of asylum claims.

"A Bill was passed a year ago by the government that they said would stop the small boats - 45,00 people came over; only 1% of those claims have been dealt with," he says.

He continues: "Thirdly, this Bill doesn't deal with the criminal gangs which actually are the source of this.

"Instead it has gimmicks like the Rwanda policy which is never going to meet the problems that we face."

Mr Miliband says the UK should invest in cross-border action to tackle the gangs, as well as a fast-track system for processing asylum claims and negotiating return agreements.

"This Bill's ineffective, but it's also unethical because it's trying to lock up children."

He insists that Labour wants to stop the small boats: "It's not good for our country, it's not good for the people coming over on the small boats - they're being exploited by the people traffickers.

"A gimmick, a con is not an answer."

He accuses immigration minister Robert Jenrick of trying to "stir up division" with his rhetoric.

"What we want from government is not megaphone statements - we want actual action," he adds.


Ed Miliband: 'You need secure borders and you need a proper system in place for dealing with asylum'

Asked what should happen if Sudanese people arrive at Dover and try to cross the Channel to come to the UK, the shadow climate change secretary tells Sky News: "It's much better to tackle these problems at root.

"The first priority is to get British citizens out, and I'm glad the government is doing that, and this is obviously a very anxious time for the people who are there.

"The second priority is to work with other countries to see if the ceasefire can be extended.

"But the truth about this is that conflicts elsewhere in the world do have impacts on us, and that's why you need secure borders and you need a proper system in place for dealing with asylum on all those things.

"I'm afraid the Bill being debated today in the House of Commons is not it," he adds.

Asked about the German government's criticism of the speed of the UK's evacuation efforts, Mr Miliband says: "This is a complicated situation.

"As in any of these kind of circumstances, after the event we'll want to see what kind of lessons can be learned."

He adds that the US has not evacuated its citizens yet.

Pushed on the German government's criticism, Mr Miliband says: "I'm not in the business today of getting into criticising the government.

(Video) Robert Jenrick delivers a statement to Commons on housing asylum seekers – watch live

"I'm in the business of saying we need a plan from the government to get British citizens out as quickly as possible in this ceasefire window.

"After the event, let's try and learn lessons about whether different routes could have been taken," he adds.


Watch live: Ed Miliband speaks to Sky News

Ahead of the Illegal Migration Bill returning to the Commons this afternoon, shadow climate change secretary Ed Miliband speaks to Kay Burley:


What's the latest on the Sudan evacuation this morning?

The UK's evacuation mission is very much under way, with Britons largely being evacuated from an airstrip near Khartoum to RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus.

There is a ceasefire in place, but there are still pockets of violence around the country.

Here is what you need to know this morning:

  • All UK nationals were told to make their way to the airstrip near Khartoum yesterday evening.

  • The first British civilians to be rescued from Sudan have arrived in Cyprus, its foreign ministry has said. About 40 people were onboard the flight, which has landed at Larnaca Airport shortly before 7pm last night.

  • The Home Secretary told Sky News that between 200 and 300 Britons have been evacuated so far (see post at 7.10am).

  • Hospitals in Khartoum are "quickly running out" of food, water, first aid and beds, according to the British Red Cross. The humanitarian situation in the country was "desperate" even before the conflict and the situation "will become catastrophic", medics warned.

  • A total of 1,687 evacuees of 58 nationalities arrived at the King Faisal base in Jeddah in Saudi Arabia. Among them were 46 Americans, 40 Britons, 11 Germans, four French, 13 Saudis, 560 Indonesians, 239 Yemenis and 26 Turks - plus other nationalities.

For the very latest on the Sudan crisis, follow our dedicated live blog here:


Costs for asylum hotels could increase by £7.5m a day due to Tory bill - Labour

The cost of asylum hotels could increase by millions per day due to the Illegal Migration Bill, the Labour Party has claimed.

Analysis by Labour is said to have shown that spending on hotels for asylum seekers could rise to more than £4bn a year.

It comes as the controversial bill returns to the Commons later today.

The Home Office is currently spending £6m per day on hotel accommodation for asylum seekers, a Labour statement said.

Almost 50,000 people are currently in hotels on top of approximately 57,000 in long-standing asylum accommodation.

The Illegal Migration Bill changes the law so that people who arrive after 7 March will still be placed in asylum accommodation, but will not "ever" have their case for asylum assessed, Labour said.

The party added that although government ministers have promised that people will be removed from the country, Rwanda is expected to take only a couple of hundred people.

According to government forecasts, around 53,000 people will be subject to the bill's provisions this year.

The Home Office is drawing up plans for "huge numbers" of new hotels as well as bases and barges as a result of the bill, Labour said today.

Shadow climate climate change secretary Ed Miliband will be speaking to us about this live at around 8.05am.

(Video) Home Secretary discusses the Anti-social Behaviour Plan and Illegal Migration bill


Home Secretary: 'We've seen political correctness get in the way of common sense policing'

Asked about policing and if the government will hit its recruitment target, Ms Braverman told Sky News: "We're confident that we're on track to reach our manifesto pledge of 20,000 new police officers.

"If we achieve that goal, we will be in excess of 2010 numbers.

"We will be at record levels. We will have the highest number of police officers in history in England and Wales.

"I think that's a huge achievement by policing, a huge achievement by the Home Office actually, and actually a great achievement for the British people and public safety."

She denied the UK has an "inexperienced police force" due to the pace of recruitment, saying the UK has invested £3bn in the recruitment effort and "proper training" has been delivered.

"Even accounting for attrition and people leaving the force, we are confident we'll still be in excess of any level we've seen before," she said.

Asked about a previous statement that police should not "pander to political correctness", Ms Braverman said: "Whilst our police officers are brave and excellent on the whole, I think there has been a tendency for the public to grow weary of some of the timewasting behaviour that police have been engaged in.

"I don't want police to be involved in debates on social media about gender.

"I don't want the police to be shying away from tackling really important issues like grooming gangs because of political correctness."

She said she wants police to use stop and search powers "because that's an effective tool to reduce violence and save lives".

"In some instances, we've seen political correctness get in the way of common sense policing," she said.

(Video) PMQs: Rishi Sunak answers questions in parliament as inflation at 10.1% in March – watch live


Home Secretary: Judges overruling government removal decisions 'totally unacceptable'

Suella Braverman was asked by Kay Burley about the illegal migration Bill that returns to the Commons this afternoon.

She said: "People who are coming here illegally are breaking our laws. they are criminals and they don't have a right to be here."

She said that entering the UK illegally is "at odds with our values".

"You don't have a legal right to be in the United Kingdom," she added.

The home secretary said people should apply for visas and official permission to come to the UK, and "not on a boat, surreptitiously, dangerously, fatally so, where they're being exploited by evil people, smuggling gangs".

Asked about the clause that would limit the ability of the courts to challenge the government's decisions on removals, Ms Braverman said: "We've introduced some clauses to enable a greater decision making power on the part of the home secretary so we avoid a scenario we saw last June whereby the home secretary made a decision to relocate people from the United Kingdom, people who had arrived here illegally, to Rwanda.

"English courts had upheld that decision, and at the 11th hour, a judge in Strasbourg, pursuant to an opaque process whereby the United Kingdom was not represented, undermined that decision.

"That's totally unacceptable from a democratic point of view, and we have introduced a clause that enables the home secretary to consider the case on its individual merits and have a discretion to possibly avoid that scenario replaying again."


Home Secretary: 200-300 Brits evacuated from Sudan

Suella Braverman has told Sky News since the evacuation of Britons from war-torn Sudan started around 24 hours ago, approximately 200 to 300 people have been evacuated.

"We expect there to be approximately 200-300 people who have been relocated from Sudan in the last few flights," she told Sky News.

She said over 1,000 personnel from the RAF, armed forces, and Border Force are working on the operation.

Defending the speed of the evacuation, Ms Braverman said we have a "larger cohort" than many other countries.

Asked why Britons have to make their own way to the airport, Ms Braverman insisted the government is doing all it can to evacuate people, saying that everything being done has been subject to serious security assessments.

"I'm not going to sit here in a studio in London and dictate what should be happening there on the ground," she said.

Asked what will happen if people fleeing the war in Sudan turn up at Dover to cross the Channel, Ms Braverman said: "There is no good reason for anybody to get into a small boat to cross the Channel in search of a new life in the United Kingdom."

Asked if refugees will be able to seek asylum in the UK, the home secretary said the correct way to request help is via the UN Refugee Agency.


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