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‘Harsh but fair’ – Italy’s far-right deputy PM Matteo Salvini praises Sunak’s illegal migration bill

Angela Giuffrida

Italy’s deputy prime minister, Matteo Salvini, has praised Rishi Sunak’s anti-immigration measures as “harsh but fair”.

In a post on Instagram, Salvini, leader of the far-right League, quoted a tweet by Sunak, translated into Italian, in which Sunak said: “If you arrive illegally in the UK, you can’t claim asylum; you can’t benefit from our modern slavery protections; you can’t make spurious human rights claims; you can’t stay”.

Beneath the post, Salvini wrote:

Words from the UK prime minister. Harsh but fair.

Instagram post Photograph: Matteo Salvini’s Instagram

Salvini, who turned 50 today, will attend a cabinet meeting later today in Cutro, the Calabrian town close to where 72 people are confirmed to have died in a shipwreck.

The meeting comes as debate rages over whether the immigration policies of Giorgia Meloni’s government contributed to the tragedy. The cabinet is expected to toughen measures against people smugglers while loosening bureaucracy for foreign workers to enter Italy via legal routes.

Matteo Salvini
Matteo Salvini. Photograph: Mauro Scrobogna/LaPresse/REX/Shutterstock

Key events

No 10 says Sunak does not see civil servants as part of ‘activist blob’ blocking government policy

Downing Street has said that Rishi Sunak and Suella Braverman do not view civil servants as part of an “activist blob” that stopped the government from implementing its policies to cut small boat crossings.

The Conservative party made this claim in an email sent out on Tuesday to supporters, purportedly written by Braverman. Yesterday the party said that was a mistake, because she had not seen the text, or approved its wording.

Asked about the email at today’s lobby briefing, the PM’s spokesperson said:

It doesn’t represent her views and certainly does not represent the views of the prime minister.

Gary Lineker won’t face any disciplinary action from the BBC over his tweet comparing the goverment’s language about asylum seekers to Nazi rhetoric, the Sun’s Noa Hoffman reports.

A BBC source said: “We have spoken to Gary and he won’t face any disciplinary action.

“From our perspective the situations has been resolved now and we want him to get back to what he’s best at, which is being a brilliant sports presenter.”

— Noa Hoffman (@hoffman_noa) March 9, 2023

Éric Zemmour, the French far-right commentator, supporter of the “great replacement” theory that Muslim immigrants are replacing native Europeans and candidate for president in last year’s election (he came fourth), has also praised Rishi Sunak’s new asylum policy.

In a tweet yesterday, Zemmour said:

The message is clear. In the UK, illegal immigrants are not welcome and will receive no preferential treatment.

Congratulations to the British prime minister who, unlike Macron’s government, has chosen to protect his people against submersion by migrants.

Le message est clair. Au Royaume-Uni, les clandestins ne sont pas les bienvenus et n’auront aucun traitement de faveur.

Bravo au Premier ministre britannique qui, contrairement au Gouvernement de Macron, fait le choix de protéger son peuple contre la submersion migratoire. https://t.co/VfAWW1Q1EX

— Eric Zemmour (@ZemmourEric) March 8, 2023

‘Harsh but fair’ – Italy’s far-right deputy PM Matteo Salvini praises Sunak’s illegal migration bill

Angela Giuffrida

Italy’s deputy prime minister, Matteo Salvini, has praised Rishi Sunak’s anti-immigration measures as “harsh but fair”.

In a post on Instagram, Salvini, leader of the far-right League, quoted a tweet by Sunak, translated into Italian, in which Sunak said: “If you arrive illegally in the UK, you can’t claim asylum; you can’t benefit from our modern slavery protections; you can’t make spurious human rights claims; you can’t stay”.

Beneath the post, Salvini wrote:

Words from the UK prime minister. Harsh but fair.

Instagram post
Instagram post Photograph: Matteo Salvini’s Instagram

Salvini, who turned 50 today, will attend a cabinet meeting later today in Cutro, the Calabrian town close to where 72 people are confirmed to have died in a shipwreck.

The meeting comes as debate rages over whether the immigration policies of Giorgia Meloni’s government contributed to the tragedy. The cabinet is expected to toughen measures against people smugglers while loosening bureaucracy for foreign workers to enter Italy via legal routes.

Matteo Salvini
Matteo Salvini. Photograph: Mauro Scrobogna/LaPresse/REX/Shutterstock

Gary Lineker says he stands by asylum tweet, and does not regret sending it, despite getting talking-to from BBC boss

Lucy Frazer won’t be happy. (See 10.40am.) Interviewed by reporters leaving home this morning, Gary Lineker said that he had had a conversation with the BBC’s director general, Tim Davie. He would not reveal what was said. “We chat often,” was all Lineker said.

But Lineker did not look chastened. In fact, he was smiling like a Cheshire cat. Asked if he regretted sending his tweet, he replied “No,” and, asked if he stood by what he said, he replied, “Of course.”

BREAKING: Gary Lineker says he stands by his comments after he criticised the government’s Illegal Migration Bill as “immeasurably cruel” and compared language used to announce it as “not dissimilar to that used by Germany in the 30s”https://t.co/UYxDZtltHk

📺 Sky 501 pic.twitter.com/so92tbrHeh

— Sky News (@SkyNews) March 9, 2023

Forbes and Yousaf neck and neck amongst SNP voters on who would make best first minister, poll suggests

Kate Forbes and Humza Yousaf are neck and neck amongst SNP supporters in the contest to be the next party leader, although Scottish voters overall would prefer Forbes, new polling suggests.

Channel 4 News commissioned the polling from Ipsos, ahead of a televised debate it is holding in Glasgow tonight.

SNP members will choose between Forbes, the Scottish finance secretary, Yousaf, the Scottish health secretary, and Ash Regan, the former community safety minister, to replace Nicola Sturgeon as party leader and first minister.

Ipsos did not poll party members, but it surveyed people who voted SNP at the last Holyrood election and 33% said Yousaf would be the best first minister, 32% Forbes and 10% Regan.

Amongst Scottish voters as a whole, Forbes is the most popular candidate. The poll found 32% of people saying she would be the best first minister, with Yousaf on 24% and Regan on 8%.

But the poll also found that one voter in three either said that none of the candidates would make the best first minister, or that they did not know.

Left to right: Ash Regan, Kate Forbes, and Humza Yousaf at an SNP hustings in Johnstone yesterday.
Left to right: Ash Regan, Kate Forbes, and Humza Yousaf at an SNP hustings in Johnstone yesterday. Photograph: Andy Buchanan/AFP/Getty Images

Visa rules will be relaxed to make it easier for foreign workers to come to the UK to take up jobs in the construction sector, the Financial Times reports. It says:

In the week that Rishi Sunak, prime minister, announced a crackdown on migration by illegal routes, the government has quietly been clearing the way for more overseas workers to come to the UK as it searches for ways to boost growth.

The process will start in the construction sector, with the adding of key jobs to the government’s “shortage occupation list”, people close to the discussions say.

The government’s migration advisory committee (MAC) has recommended that bricklayers, roofers, carpenters, plasterers and people working in the construction trade generally should be among those added to the list.

Being on the “shortage occupation list” means foreign construction workers will be able to come to the UK to take up jobs paying a minimum of £20,480 a year, instead of £25,600 a year, the current minimum threshold for a skilled worker needing a visa.

Boris Johnson criticised for making millions while rarely appearing in Commons

Boris Johnson has been urged to stick to his job as an MP and save the speeches he charges private companies millions of pounds to hear for the House of Commons, my colleague Aubrey Allegretti reports.

Culture secretary Lucy Frazer says she’s ‘pleased’ BBC will be speaking to Gary Lineker about asylum policy tweet

Lucy Frazer, the culture secretary, has told MPs that she is “pleased” the BBC seems minded to reprimand Gary Lineker for a tweet saying language used by the government about asylum seekers is “not dissimilar to that used by Germany in the 30s”.

The Match of the Day presenter’s tweet triggered fierce criticism from Tory MPs, and BBC sources say the corporation intends to have a “frank conversation” with Lineker about his impartiality obligations under its social media guidelines.

Asked about the row during culture questions, Frazer said:

As somebody whose grandmother escaped Nazi Germany in the 1930s, I think it’s really disappointing and inappropriate to compare Government policy on immigration to events in Germany in the 1930s.

It’s important for the BBC to maintain impartiality, if it is to retain the trust of the public who pay the licence fee.

The BBC is operationally independent and I’m pleased that the BBC will be speaking to Gary Lineker, to remind him of his responsibilities in relation to social media.

Frazer was responding to a question from Sir John Whittingdale, the former culture secretary, who said said “the requirement to be politically impartial must cover all those who are presenters on the BBC, including the highest paid”.

MPs to vote on illegal migration bill on Monday, Penny Mordaunt tells Commons

Penny Mordaunt, the leader of the Commons, has just told MPs that the second reading debate and vote on the illegal migration bill will take place on Monday next week.

The Conservative MP Pauline Latham, who represents Mid Derbyshire, has announced she will stand down at the next election, the BBC reports. Latham, 75, is the 24th Tory to say they will quit at the election, according to this Daily Mirror tally.

Bridget Phillipson, the shadow education secretary, has been giving interviews this morning ahead of her speech later. On Sky News, in response to a question about Boris Johnson’s outside earnings (which account for 85% of the total outside earnings declared by all MPs, according to Sky News), she said the Conservative party was “rotten from top to bottom”.

As well as citing Johnson neglecting parliament, she also mentioned the Dominic Raab bullying allegations, argued that Rishi Sunak must have known about them when he appointed Raab to cabinet, and referred to Suella Braverman being reappointed home secretary despite having broken the ministerial code.

The second reading of the illegal migration bill will be on Monday next week, Christopher Hope from the Telegraph reports. We should get the formal confirmation from Penny Mordaunt, leader of the Commons, at 10.30am.

Rishi Sunak is not hanging around with his illegal immigration crackdown.
I am told the second reading – when Labour MP will vote against the plans – is on Monday.

— Christopher Hope📝 (@christopherhope) March 9, 2023

Labour says government’s childcare policy ‘fails everyone’ as reports highlight ‘affordability blackspots’

Good morning. One of the arguments being used by the Tories against Labour in recent days is that Keir Starmer did not make stopping small boats one of his top five priorities (or “missions”). It’s true; he didn’t. But Starmer has included childcare in his five missions (it is part of breaking down the barriers to opportunity), and this topic, which does not feature on Rishi Sunak’s list of five pledges, is top of the news agenda today.

There are two reports out essentially saying the same thing; provision in England is dreadful.

A report by Nesta, a social policy thinktank, identifies “affordability blackspots” for childcare. It says:

The median pre-tax cost of an hour of childcare in England is just under a third of the average hourly wage. London is England’s affordability blackspot where an hour of childcare in some London boroughs costs nearly half the average hourly wage. Pressure from the cost of childcare is not restricted to London, however. An hour of childcare in Manchester, Leicester and Herefordshire costs significantly less than an hour of childcare in London, but the median wage is also lower. As a result, childcare in these areas is as expensive relative to income as some of the most affluent parts of the capital.

And a report by Coram, the children’s charity, says there has been “a sharp drop in childcare availability across England over the past year, with only half of local areas reporting sufficient childcare for children under two”.

There is more on both studies here.

Later this morning Bridget Phillipson, the shadow education secretary, will deliver a speech on childcare. The government offers 30 hours of free childcare in England for children aged three and four, but Phillipson will say that, because the government subsidy does not cover the actual cost to providers, the policy has actually pushed up prices, because providers have to recover their costs by charging more for paid-for hours. She will say the Tory policy “fails everyone” and promise reform.

According to an extract released in advance, she will say:

The childcare model the Conservatives have built fails everyone, denying parents the ability to work the jobs they’d like, to give their children the opportunities they’d like, and is not of the quality that staff want to provide.

In the Britain the Conservatives will leave behind, tweaking the system we have will not deliver the ambition or scale of reform we are going to need.

Labour’s missions must be central to breaking down the barriers to opportunity in this country. To breakdown those barriers, our Mission commits to reforming the childcare system: that will be my first priority.

Here is the agenda for the day.

10.30am: Penny Mordaunt, the leader of the Commons, makes a statement to MPs on next week’s business.

11am: Bridget Phillipson, the shadow education secretary, gives a speech on childcare. She will say Labour will overhaul the government’s flagship childcare scheme, promising parents of young children 30 hours of free childcare a week if the party is elected at the next election.

11.30am: Downing Street holds a lobby briefing.

After 11.30am: MPs hold a debate to mark international women’s day (which was yesterday).

12pm: Nicola Sturgeon takes first minister’s questions at Holyrood.

I’ll try to monitor the comments below the line (BTL) but it is impossible to read them all. If you have a direct question, do include “Andrew” in it somewhere and I’m more likely to find it. I do try to answer questions, and if they are of general interest I will post the question and reply above the line (ATL), although I can’t promise to do this for everyone.

If you want to attract my attention quickly, it is probably better to use Twitter. I’m on @AndrewSparrow.

Alternatively, you can email me at andrew.sparrow@theguardian.com.

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