Beth Rigby Profile picture
Political Editor, Sky News
Birger Leth Profile picture Mark Sayers Profile picture Tony Williams Profile picture 3 added to My Authors
16 Jul
Julian Lewis statement via PA
1/ PM doesn’t get to pick ISC chair
2/ He did not give undertaking to support Grayling
3/ Given Govt explicitly denied it was trying to parachute candidate in, it’s ‘strange’ to have whip removed for failing to vote for ‘preferred’ candidate
ISC: ‘The Committee has unanimously agreed this morning that it will publish the Report on Russia prepared by its predecessor before the house rises for the summer recess.

There will be no further comment’
Read 2 tweets
29 May
I was surprised when Vallance spoke of 8,000 new infections-a-day in the context of PM’s remarks on lifting lockdown, given that the lower the rate of new cases, the more effective track & trace
I asked Hancock & Vallace about track/trace & whether govt wanted to drive down cases or allow tolerable level of transmission in community on Apr 23. Vallance said gives govt advice on what rate of new cases needed for track/trace to work. But didn’t disclose it
And this is what Hancock said on track and trace in context of new cases. (Full transcript of press conference if you want to read in full rev.com/blog/transcrip…)
Read 4 tweets
27 May
NEW: Told that deputy chief whip Stuart Andrew had a Zoom call with new intake today. Told scores of MPs attended. Told MPs critical of No 10’s handling of the Cummings affair. Call last over an hour 1/
Told by an MP who was on call that colleagues has made it clear to DCW if anything else came out or something was wrong in statement Cummings made on Monday, he would have to go or be sacked 2/
But also told that there were “very few” MPs who called for him to go. MP (who very unhappy) told me there’s a feeling now that the damage is already done. @tamcohen reported on Sat that 2019 intake were “absolutely livid” but only 2 have publicly since called for DC to resign 3/
Read 4 tweets
23 May
Another scoop via @PippaCrerar. Cummings spotted with his wife in Houghall Woods near family’s Durham home 2 weeks after the first sighting.

Fellow walkers said they were taken aback to see the PM’s senior official so far from London at the height of the lockdown on April 19.
Cummings seen in Durham Apr 5 when self-isolating away from his London home

He was pictured back at Downing Street on April 14

On April 19 he was seen back in Durham at a local beauty spot

On April 12 he was seen by a witness at Barnard Castle, 30 miles from his parents home
Read 2 tweets
22 May
Great scoop by @PippaCrerar. Defence of Cummings begins. Went to parents as he & wife ill & needed help w son. Colleagues point to quote from Dep CMO Harries (Apr 10) where she spoke of accessing family support in ‘exceptional circs’ of parent illness. No 10 fronting this out 1/2
But there is also this. March 18 (day govt took decision to close schools, PM said “I also need to remind parents that, as we have already advised, children should not be left with older grandparents, or older relatives...” (full quote in transcript)
gov.uk/government/spe…
Labour. “If accurate, PM’s chief adviser appears to have breached lockdown rules. Govt guidance very clear: stay at home & no non-essential travel. People do not expect there to be one rule for them & another for Mr Cummings. No 10 needs to provide a very swift explanation”
Read 6 tweets
11 May
Govt 50-page “Covid-19 Recovery Strategy”
- It sets out “plan to rebuild UK for a world with Covid-19. It’s not a quick return to ‘normality’. Nor does it lay out an easy answers. And, inevitably, parts of this plan will adapt as we learn more about this virus” Thread 1/
It clear only LT-term solution is vaccine or drug-based treatment
- “While we hope for a breakthru, hope is not a plan”. Vaccine/treatment could be yr away
- In a “worst case scenario, we may never find a vaccine”
- We must countenance situation where we’re in for long haul 2/
PM: Current arrangements don’t provide enduring solution - the price is too heavy to our way of life, society, econ, LT public health.
- This plan seeks to return to life to as close to normal as poss, for as may people as poss, as fairly as poss, in a way that protects NHS 3/
Read 21 tweets
22 Apr
Raab ‘corrects’ Starmer and points out that capacity is at 40,000 and says the govt are working with commercial partners to get to 100k.

Starmer: I didn’t need correcting because I pointed out the actual test figure which is 18k. Ouch #PMQs
Starmer: Testing gap not Q of demand. Care workers want tests but no easy access. “It’s not about driving up demand its about getting tests where needed”

Raab: It is about demand..but he’s right to say it is about destruction & we’re working to make sure we can distribute
Read 2 tweets
9 Apr
Daily data (April 8) via @IslaGlaister
- So grim. 938 people died. Total deaths 7,097
- Growth rate slowed for 6 days now. Days for deaths double 4.4 days (was 2.7 on March 23 -day PM ordered lockdown)
- Sadly we still not at peak & likely to see higher numbers in coming days 1/
Also are people dying of other causes because not accessing hospitals?
I noticed how NHS’s Powis urged people to go to hospital if non-Covid emergency at presser y’day
Data from Scotland (via @IslaGlaister) shows deaths from all causes in wk to April 5 60% higher than 5-yr av 2/
Daily data (via @IslaGlaister)
- 83% new deaths in England
- Balance shifting. London accounted for over a fifth of UK daily total. Wk ago it was a third
- Two trusts in Midlands reported highest number. New Nightingale hospital opens in Birm Fri. 500 beds, up to 2k capacity 3/
Read 5 tweets
8 Apr
Daily data (to April 7) via @IslaGlaister
- Grim news as 786 more deaths. Total now 6,159
- Better news is growth rate slowed again. Now taking 4 days for deaths to double for first time since the outbreak began
- Despite that, we due to reach 10,000 deaths at wkend. Hugely grim
Daily data via @IslaGlaister
- Regional breakdown shows more than half of all deaths in England (51%) have been London/Midlands NHS Regions.
- London almost 20 deaths per 100,000 people. Midlands has 11 per 100,000. SW is the lowest – 5 deaths per 100,000. 2/
Critical care bed data via @IslaGlaister
- Govt data shows capacity up 30% over 2 wks (+ more being built)
- Data also suggested wide regional variance. Isla worked out bed capacity per 100,000 people across regions. All except London below England’s overall rate of 8.6 per 100k
Read 4 tweets
26 Mar
Data via our @IslaGlaister to March 25.
- 9,529 cases now in UK. Increase of 1,452. Largest increase yet but similar to previous day. No clear pattern yet
Via @IslaGlaister
Wales 150 new cases (total 628)
Now 20 cases per 100k people - highest ratio bar London
309 in Aneurin Bevan Uni Health Board area. It’s director said it has cluster of cases & seeing same pattern as Italy. Warns without huge effort NHS will be overwhelmed
Data via @IslaGlaister
- Total UK deaths to 465, up 43
- 10% increase is smallest numerical daily increase since Fri
- First time deaths have taken longer than 3 days to double - the key measure of whether virus is slowing
- Too early to say if encouraging sign or blip #COVID19
Read 5 tweets
17 Mar
Going through the emergency bill. Main measures
1/ regulators to emergency register medical staff. Could include retired docs/nurses or students
2/ retired social workers back onto registers
3/ workers allowed to take emergency voluntary leave. UK wide compensation fund 1/
- Suspension of rules preventing NHS staff returning from retirement from working more than 16 hours/wk
- Relaxation of rules for schools & nurseries on child/teacher ratios/school meal standards
- Powers for home sec to close ports/airports
- Powers to ban events/gatherings 2/
- Powers to close schools and nurseries
- Powers to detain people if suspected of having coronavirus
- Expand list of who can register death to include funeral directors
- Councils could be given option to extend operating times of crematoriums 3/
Read 4 tweets
4 Nov 19
On @skynews tonight. Excl i/v with @margot_james_ on her decision to stand down
- Out of step with party on Europe issue. Local party made it clear they didn't want her to stand
- Won't commit to voting Tory in #GE2019. "I'd like to reserve judgement.. I am hopeful I will be" 1/
@SkyNews @margot_james_ Excl with @margot_james_
- Worried about the vitriol Brexit has unleashed & the abuse & bullying in politics. "We need to make sure women get the support they need to stand & sort out the abuse"
- Says there is "too much of a macho culture" around No 10 and CCHQ 2/.
This is what @margot_james_ said about her decision to stand down. Local associate made it clear they didn’t want her stand & she didn’t want to find herself in opposition to the mainstream of party. “I’m not a natural rebel” Report on @skynews 10pm
Read 5 tweets
30 Oct 19
SKY VIEWS: Strap yourselves in for the most unpredictable & important election since 2WW. 2 of the last 3 GEs produced hung parliaments (as did the last Dec poll in 1923 when Baldwin won the most seats but lost power) It’s make or break for BJ & Brexit too news.sky.com/story/sky-view…
Fitting this most tumultuous year ends in a once-in-century event, a Dec elex. In 1923 one Baldwin won most seats but lost power after MacDonald formed Lab govt with support from Libs. A cautionary tale that cld become PM’s reality in 6 weeks' time? This election a huge gamble 2/
Unpredictable because it could be the election in which Brexit identities trump party ones in a country that already has highest voter volatility of modern times. 49% of voters switched btwn parties in last 3 elex. You can see why LDs/SNP/Brexit Party wanted pre-Brexit poll 3/
Read 5 tweets
22 Oct 19
Today first time MPs may vote for a Brexit deal 3 yrs after vote to leave EU
Challenges on timing & substance
- On substance: Key moment c7pm when MPs vote on 2nd reading of bill. Do MPs in principle support it? (After this come amendments but it an imp first hurdle) 1/
On timing. Key vote 7.30pm. The programme motion, when MPs decide whether to vote down the govt breakneck speed 3-day timetable. Many MPs very cross about all of this (as per my railroad tweet last night). IF govt loses this, PM’s Oct 31 deadline to leave (with deal) gone 2/
So... IF win 2nd reading but lose prog motion. No 10 then a choice whether to press on with deal or pull bill & try to pivot to No Deal. (Which you’ll know us now not it it’s gift after PM formally requested Brexit extension on Sat evening) 3/
Read 7 tweets
13 Oct 19
This v interesting from @tconnellyRTE. Sides still miles apart on customs. EU concerned about UK proposals to keep NI in UK customs territory, but operating EU's rules & procedures. Complex, not yet properly worked out, no precedent for a dual customs system in one territory. 1/
@tconnellyRTE Johnson didn't flesh out any detail in short cabinet call (about 20 mins) today. (PM told cab 'I'm not going into any detail because it will leak') Cabinet expected fuller update at Tues meeting. PM said negotiations ongoing, Wirral meet positive but sill a lot of work to do 2/
@tconnellyRTE Johnson didn't flesh out any detail in short cabinet call (about 20 mins) today. (PM told cab 'I'm not going into any detail because it will leak') Cabinet expected fuller update at Tues meeting. PM said negotiations ongoing, Wirral meet positive but sill a lot of work to do 2/
Read 5 tweets
9 Oct 19
SKY VIEWS: How might the next 3 weeks play out? Parliament can, and should, take back control. Having laid down a law to block a No Deal, MPs should be ready to finish what they have started & remove the PM. Many fear an election but the deadlock must end
news.sky.com/story/sky-view…
SKY VIEWS: Cabinet in dark as to how PM intends to obey law & leave Oct 31st. Is he bluffing? @IanBlackfordMP “petrified” BJ will engineer a ‘crash out’. Hear some LDs ready to give Corbyn 1st shot at caretaker gov. MPs must take back control & take BJ out news.sky.com/story/sky-view…
Read 2 tweets
4 Sep 19
Strap in for another extraordinary day
- 12pm BJ’s 1st ever PMQs
- 12.45pm Javid’s spending round
- 3pm MPs take control. Debate/vote on blocking No Deal Brexit (voting starts c7pm)
- Then 90min debate & vote on PM’s motion for early GE. Vote exp’d 9-11pm. All on @skynews
How may it play out...
- MPs vote to stop No Deal & vote against GE
Govt options?
- Some Brexiteers say PM cld refuse to give bill royal assent. (Parly sources say this ‘unthinkable’... *heard that before*)
- Govt lay bill for GE. Need simply majority (BJ minority govt of -41)
Read 2 tweets
26 May 19
Special @skynews EU elex show 9pm. Anchor @adamboultonSKY with @sarahobolt @michaelthrasher @dljennings.
I’ll be in studio, @lewis_goodall on screens
Covering the counts are @KateEMcCann @joncraig @RaynerSkyNews @TomSkyNews,
@laurabundock @jamesmatthewsky across UK.
Join us!
And in Europe we’ll have our Brussels team @skynewsmichelle and @Stone_SkyNews live in the European Parliament as the results come in from around the 27 EU nations >> news.sky.com/story/eu-elect…
EU elex: North East 1st to declare c10.15pm.
- Brexit party triumph banked
- Tory pain(source: always knew it’d be terrible)
- Lab trounced too: Watch for Wales where Lab’s won every national elex since 1918 (apart from 2009 EU elex Tory win) Tory source says Lab done v badly
Read 15 tweets
3 May 19
Good morning! Here is a wrap of local elections trends (caveat 1000s seats still to go)
* Brexit backlash for Tories & Labour. Tories heavy losses (-380 seats/11 councils). But v bad for Labour too. Votes not coming to them. Ominous
* Lib Dem & independents big winners 1/
Tories suffer Brexit backlash. Lost 15 councils/ -270 seats (15 councils)
* LDs taking seats off Tories lost in 2015 with gains in SW (Bath, NE Somerset, Taunton)
* Bad night but not total bloodbath
* Pain in Tory shires, PM to Wales/Scot to address activists there 🤷🏻‍♀️ 2/
V bad night for Lab, esp in pro-Brexit north. Net loss of seats & councils
*At this point in cycle you’d expect govt losses to go to main opposition. But party struggled; won Trafford but lost control of Wirral, Bolsover Hartlepool
* Big blow 4 positioning as govt-in-waiting 3/
Read 5 tweets
11 Oct 18
Sky Views: Ending austerity is PM's big Brexit con > Designed solely to push Chequers through her own party, the PM has given Corbyn not just an open goal but an empty pitch on which to play the Tories news.sky.com/story/sky-view…
The No 10 narrative will go like this: ‘Vote down Chequers and risk economic Armageddon’ (complete with some scary Treasury modelling on what a No-Deal looks like)
The whips will then use the prospect of economic Armageddon to press wobbling Brexiteers - and Labour MPs - to vote with May on Brexit
Read 4 tweets
10 Oct 18
DUP abstains. DUP source; this was designed to be a warning shot. ‘Weren’t trying to hurt govt but to show them that we won’t necessarily follow them through the voting lobby’
DUP met with the chief whip today. Told the meeting was frank and @JulianSmithUK left in no doubt that DUP requires the PM to keep promises made for NI in order for them to keep theirs
And..... on the matter of voting down the Budget & withdrawing from confidence & supply deal, DUP source suggests that PM ‘could go because she can’t hold together her govt, and someone else could take over’ >> that’s pretty, er, punchy.
Read 3 tweets