Ben Riley-Smith Profile picture
Political Editor, The Daily Telegraph. Help present BBC R4’s Week in Westminster. First book, THE RIGHT TO RULE, is out. Order below!👇
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Feb 6 4 tweets 1 min read
🚨BREAKING: Rishi Sunak preparing a small reshuffle to be announced as early as tomorrow. To replace Nadhim Zahawi but also go wider. Plans for a wider reshuffle may explain why it’s been more than a week + still no Zahawi replacement

Have been calls for Dominic Raab to be suspended while the bullying investigation carries on. (He’s always denied wrongdoing)

Source close to Raab says they’ve heard nothing
Jan 6 9 tweets 2 min read
EXC: A major reduction in the energy bills support package for businesses is due next week

Current package is £18bn for six months

New package to be c. £5bn for a year, so £2.5bn per six months

That’s a big drop. Plus prices will no longer be capped.… For weeks we’ve been waiting to hear what the Government’s plan is for helping companies with energy costs beyond March.

It is expected to be announced early next week. Telegraph can reveal details of the plan that is awaiting final sign-off.
Jan 4 5 tweets 1 min read
Rishi Sunak’s 5 promises are largely in line with current expectations. The OBR forecasts inflation to drop sharply this year. Growth is expected in 2024. Passing a law on small boats with a majority of around 80 is more than doable. The debt falling pledge… 1/5 …appears only to be over the medium term, so just needs forecasts to say it’s happening in year 5 to achieve. And ‘waiting lists falling’ is open to definition - there are many different ways to cut the numbers (eg Sunak said Tories have already eliminated 2yr waits). BUT…2/
Dec 13, 2022 6 tweets 2 min read
One big political declaration from Rishi Sunak today - clear the asylum case backlogs by end of 2023

Is rare in politics, an explicit target that can be categorically checked. (Avoided for NHS backlogs)

Case backlogs soaring. 126k in June. Homework marked before 2024 election. Image Sunak wording - “we expect to abolish the backlog of initial asylum decisions by the end of next year”.

Come end of next year much may depend on how “initial” is defined.
Dec 13, 2022 5 tweets 1 min read
Sunak's five-point small boats plan

1/ A new 'small boats command'
- Policing of Channel 'too fragmented'
- NCA folk, intel, etc coming together
- Use of drones, surveillance
- 700 new staff
- Doubling of relevant NCA funding 2/ Extra help for immigration officers
- Allowing them to focus on enforcement
- Increase raids on 'illegal working' by 50%
- Tackle bank account use by those here illegally
- Restart data sharing re bank accounts
Oct 24, 2022 7 tweets 2 min read
🧵Did Boris Johnson really get to 100 Tory MPs? The Rishi Sunak number crunchers believe not. Quick thread on why… 1/… They started by taking the most generous possible interpretation of everyone’s support. Such as the Guido Fawkes list, which merged public endorsements with private backers. 2/
Oct 20, 2022 4 tweets 1 min read

There could be a Tory leadership coronation

If only **one** candidate gets over the 100 Tory MP threshold then they're Prime Minister on Monday. Tory members only get a say if two or three candidates get over the 100 MP threshold. (Maximum of three - there are only 355-odd Tory MPs).
Oct 14, 2022 7 tweets 2 min read
🧵 What a day. So how bad are things really with Tory MPs? After many calls, I think it’s worth making these six points about plotting, Liz Truss and what comes next… 👇 1/ Not a single of the 360-odd Tory MP is publicly calling for Liz Truss to go (unless I’ve missed). There are many yard sticks for Tory coups and that’s one. Different to late stage Boris. Will give No10 something to hold onto.
Oct 6, 2022 6 tweets 2 min read
🚨EXCLUSIVE. I’ve identified the full list of new peers about to be created by Downing Street any day now.

Brexiteers, Tory donors, the former Daily Mail editor. Far more new Tory than Labour Lords. (Subject to last minute changes).

Full story:… This is not Boris Johnson’s resignation honours list.

It’s the more regular political peerages which he drew up and has been in the pipeline for months.

Final list is with No10. Publication due within days. Late changes possible - some tweaks have been made since earlier in yr.
Sep 27, 2022 7 tweets 2 min read
Kwasi Kwarteng held a call with Tory MPs about the mini-Budget and market jitters tonight. A kindly MP who took notes has given me some highlights. The below not disputed by Treasury source. Key bits… 1/ Chancellor admitted the markets have been volatile but said they’re “settling down” now. Said volatility was in part due to traders not knowing everything that was coming in his mini-Budget, leading to a frustrated reaction. But stressed he was not “complacent”. 2/
Sep 26, 2022 6 tweets 2 min read
🚨BREAKING: The Treasury just issued a statement promising a plan to bring down government debt will be revealed on Nov 23.

Also supply side reforms + spending limits pledged.

It’s a move to reassure markets after the £ dropped to its lowest ever level against $ this morning. The plan to make sure “debt falls as a share of GDP in the medium-term” will be set out in what’s now dubbed the ‘Medium-Term Fiscal Plan’.

It’s coming on November 23. The OBR will also give its first full forecast of the Truss premiership (and the impact of its policies) then.
Sep 7, 2022 8 tweets 2 min read
🚨BREAKING: The fracking ban will be scrapped **tomorrow**. Planning requests for new drilling expected within weeks. Major change in UK energy rules. More in @Telegraph. The change can be implemented pretty rapidly. Legislation not needed - just a written ministerial statement. Moratorium has been in place since 2019 but soon to be no more.
Sep 6, 2022 4 tweets 1 min read
Once the future becomes the past what happened sometimes gets seen as always inevitable.

But here are 3 counterfactuals for the Tory leadership race to consider… would they have changed the outcome?… 1/ What if five Tory MPs switched support from Truss to Penny Mordaunt in the final voting round?

That’s all it needed to put Mordaunt through to face Rishi in members ballot. She had been second in all the earlier rounds. The thinnest of margins put Truss into the final 2.
Sep 5, 2022 6 tweets 2 min read
Some bits of intel on Liz Truss team’s energy package plans…

1/ They’re looking at freezing energy bill all the way to 2024, when the next election’s expected.… 2/ Why? Matches their thinking that energy bills will stay high into 2024. Matches hope to go big early + not repeat interventions. Is what energy firms want. Kwasi today wrote about helping families through winter 22/23 *and* 23/24.
Aug 10, 2022 7 tweets 2 min read
💥NEW: After a day of escalating briefing wars between the Tory leadership camps, another twist tonight…

Kwasi Kwarteng and Simon Clarke go public to accuse their old cabinet pal Rishi Sunak of resisting Brexit reforms. Plus some fierce other swipes.… Kwarteng + Clarke on Sunak:

“He talks about cutting EU regulations, yet dug his heels in as chancellor against efforts to do exactly that and realise the benefits of Brexit. We both saw it in Cabinet…”

Two specifics:
- Going slow on Solvency II
- Urging caution on NI Protocol
Aug 9, 2022 4 tweets 1 min read
Talked to three ex-government insiders who have been contacted by Harriet Harman / intermediaries as part of her partygate inquiry

All three claim Boris Johnson misled Parliament. One will give evidence, two others weighing up. (PM denies he misled MPs)… One source on PM/partygate:

“On the facts, he was definitely at lockdown-breaking events and he knew they were happening and therefore what he said to the House was knowingly inaccurate.”

Another: “absolutely, damn well he did” mislead MPs

A third: PM “knew what was going on”
Aug 2, 2022 11 tweets 3 min read

Voting for the next Prime Minister has been delayed after GCHQ warned cyber hackers could change people’s ballots

Tory HQ forced to scrap plans to let members switch votes later in race over security fears. Means ballots still not sent out… The original plan from CCHQ was for all Tory members to be able to vote and then later change that decision if desired (by post or online).

But… that created a risk that at any point hackers could change a load of votes… potentially causing chaos in the democratic process.
Aug 2, 2022 4 tweets 1 min read
BREAKING: Liz Truss campaign has junked a proposal for regional pay boards for civil service / public sector less than 24 hrs after announcing.

“...there will be no proposal taken forward on regional pay boards for civil servants or public sector workers.” Here’s the full spokesman quote confirming the regional pay boards idea has been binned.
Jul 31, 2022 7 tweets 2 min read

Rishi Sunak has promised to slash the basic rate of income tax from 20% to **16%** if he becomes PM

Would be done by the end of next parliament. Costs £18bn, paid by extra revenues from growth.

Big moment in the campaign. Truss camp accuses him of a tax “u-turn” Sunak camp says move = the biggest income tax cut for three decades - since the Lawson reforms in the late 1980s in Thatcher’s premiership.

They’re arguing it’s consistent with past position as 1) tax cuts would only come once inflation is down and 2) not paid by borrowing.
Jul 19, 2022 4 tweets 1 min read
NEW: Tom Tugendhat backers are trying to block Liz Truss from the final two by boosting Penny Mordaunt.

Some who want Rishi to be PM may back Penny today to block Truss’s path. One says many who voted for Tugendhat are “anyone but Liz”.… One of the 31 MPs who voted for Tugendhat tells me:

“Lots of them are in the ‘anyone but Liz’ camp. Liz has weirdly allowed herself to become the continuity Boris plus ERG candidate, which is a strange place for Liz to be. For today, I think a lot of people will vote for Penny.”
Jul 7, 2022 13 tweets 3 min read
Right. Here’s how Boris reached his decision to quit, per those who talked to him today. 1/ The PM woke this morning with a moment of clarity.

After being absolutely defiant last night he slept on it and decided first thing he should go.

He was up writing his resignation speech by 6am (before the rest of the nation was awake). 2/