December 1, 2022

Sunak says government working ‘incredibly hard’ to ensure to autumn statement delivers fairness and compassion

Q: The autumn statement is going to be tough for people. Why do they need to accept what is happening?

Sunak says inflation is people’s number one concern. It eats into people’s living standards. He wants to get it down, and limit the increase in mortgage rates.

That will require difficult decisions, he says.

He says over the summer people got a glimpse of what can happen when you do not get these things right.

But the decisions will be based on fairness and compassion. He says he thinks people will see that the government has “strived incredibly hard to deliver fairness, to deliver compassion”.

UPDATE: Sunak said:

I want to tell people that the decisions that we’ll be making tomorrow will be based on fairness. They’ll be based on compassion.

And I am confident that, when people see the set of decisions in the round when the chancellor has delivered his statement, they will see that we have strived incredibly hard to deliver fairness, to deliver compassion, and put the UK on a positive economic trajectory.

Key events

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Sunak tells Biden he wants NI protocol dispute resolved before 25th anniversary of Good Friday agreement next year

Rishi Sunak has set next year’s 25th anniversary of the Good Friday agreement as the new deadline for a resolution of the dispute with the EU over changes to the Northern Ireland protocol.

In a briefing after Sunak’s meeting with Joe Biden, the US president, earlier, the PM’s spokesperson said Sunak referred to the anniversary during the meeting and “ensuring that we get a negotiated settlement that protects the Good Friday agreement by then”.

The spokesperson said Biden did not specifically asked Sunak about the Northern Ireland protocol bill, which is still going through parliament. The bill would allow the UK to ignore parts of the protocol, and Brussels says that if it becomes law, negotiating an agreement on reforms to the protocol will become much harder.

But the two leaders did discuss the situation in Northern Ireland in general, the spokesperson said. “They both expressed their commitment to protecting the Good Friday Agreement,” she said.

In its own readout from the talks, the White House said Biden and Sunak “affirmed their shared commitment to protecting the gains of the Belfast/Good Friday agreement”.

Rishi Sunak holding his bilateral meeting with Joe Biden.
Rishi Sunak holding his bilateral meeting with Joe Biden.
Photograph: Alex Brandon/AP

Sunak’s meeting with Xi Jinping cancelled as G20 leaders discuss Poland missile strike

Here is the story from my colleagues Jessica Elgot and Aletha Adu about the cancellation of Rishi Sunak’s planned bilateral with the Chinese president, Xi Jinping.

Sunak says tackling inflation his number one priority

And here are the main points from Rishi Sunak’s press conference.

We should all be clear: None of this would be happening if it weren’t for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. This is the cruel and unrelenting reality of Putin’s war.

  • Sunak accused President Putin of showing “utter contempt” for the international order. Referring to the Russian missile attacks on Ukraine yesterday, he said:

That was happening at a time when the G20 was gathered trying to find resolution to some of the world’s challenges and the same time Putin was raining down indiscriminately that volume of missile attack. I think it shows utter contempt for the international rules-based system.

  • Sunak said that the war in Ukraine was a threat, not just to global security, but to the global economy as well. (See 8.33am.) Everyone in the world was affected, he said.

The persistent threat to our security and global asphyxiation has been driven by the actions of the one man unwilling to be at this summit – Vladimir Putin. There isn’t a single person in the world who has not felt the impact of Putin’s war.

With more news of inflation today, it’s the number one thing that’s on people’s minds. It’s the thing that’s causing most anxiety, opening up bills, seeing the emails come in with rising prices. And that’s why it’s right that we grip it.

As my colleague Larry Elliott reports, the UK’s annual inflation rate has hit a 41-year-high of 11.1%.

I want to tell people that the decisions that we’ll be making tomorrow will be based on fairness. They’ll be based on compassion.

And I am confident that, when people see the set of decisions in the round when the chancellor has delivered his statement, they will see that we have strived incredibly hard to deliver fairness, to deliver compassion, and put the UK on a positive economic trajectory.

  • He confirmed that, in his talks with President Biden, the pair did not discuss a UK-US free trade deal. But Sunak said they did discuss trade generally, and he said he was “filled with optimism about our ability to do more trade with the US”. At one stage Brexiters said that a free trade deal with the US would be a major, post-Brexit boost to the economy, but recently the government admitted there is no prospect of anything being negotiated in the short or medium term.

  • Sunak refused to accept that Brexit was a significant factor behind the UK’s economic dificulties. Asked if he accepted that Brexit was “in any way” responsible for Britain’s problems, Sunak did not say that he did. In his reply, he did not mention Brexit at all – although he did allude to it when he spoke of “idiosyncratic things” being a factor in particular countries. He said that at the G20 summit it was clear that countries all around the world were facing economic trouble. That was because of Covid and the war in Ukraine, he said.

So that’s the global economic context. That is what’s dominating what’s happening. Every country is going to have idiosyncratic things but those are the overwhelming dominating factors that are leading to the economic challenge that we’re facing at the moment.

  • Sunak confirmed that, in future, he wanted to prioritise quality over speed when negotiating trade deals. He made the comment in response to a question about George Eustice’s criticism of the free trade deal with Australia, and Sunak seemed to be accepting Eustice’s argument – that because Liz Truss was determined to conclude a deal quickly, as international trade secretary, she gave away too much to Australia.

Rishi Sunak holding his press conference in Bali.
Rishi Sunak holding his press conference in Bali. Photograph: Reuters

Here is the broadcaster Piers Morgan’s take on the Rishi Sunak press conference.

Watching @RishiSunak press conference live from Bali. Whatever you think of him, it’s reassuring after the last few shambolic years to now have a Prime Minister who at least looks & sounds serious & statesmanlike, and seems to know what he’s talking about. pic.twitter.com/afK6O1D7u0

— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) November 16, 2022

Q: How is the UK going to work with other countries to implement the proposals in the G20 communique?

Sunak says the communique is “substantive”, “comprehensive” and “action orientated”.

A lot of positive things have come out of the summit that will be carried forward by the Indian presidency, he says.

And that’s it. The press conference is over.

Sunak refuses to accept Brexit signficant factor behind UK’s economic difficulties

Q: Do you accept Brexit has made the economic situation worse? And do you agree with George Eustice that the trade deal with Australia is a dud?

Sunak says global factors are mainly behind the economic situation. He does not address the point about Brexit.

On trade, he says every trade deal has good and bad points. In future he does not want to sacrifice quality for speed, he says.

(Eustice says the Australia deal was bad because Liz Truss rushed it.)

Sunak says government working ‘incredibly hard’ to ensure to autumn statement delivers fairness and compassion

Q: The autumn statement is going to be tough for people. Why do they need to accept what is happening?

Sunak says inflation is people’s number one concern. It eats into people’s living standards. He wants to get it down, and limit the increase in mortgage rates.

That will require difficult decisions, he says.

He says over the summer people got a glimpse of what can happen when you do not get these things right.

But the decisions will be based on fairness and compassion. He says he thinks people will see that the government has “strived incredibly hard to deliver fairness, to deliver compassion”.

UPDATE: Sunak said:

I want to tell people that the decisions that we’ll be making tomorrow will be based on fairness. They’ll be based on compassion.

And I am confident that, when people see the set of decisions in the round when the chancellor has delivered his statement, they will see that we have strived incredibly hard to deliver fairness, to deliver compassion, and put the UK on a positive economic trajectory.

Q: In one interview yesterday you said inflation was your number one priority. In another you said it was illegal immigration. Which is it?

Sunak says tackling inflation is his number one priority.

Once the UK has a stable economic foundation he is confident it can move ahead.

We need to get a grip on inflation first, he says.

He says the G20 communique released today made the same point.

Illegal immigration is the next priority after that, he says. He says, after the autumn statement, it is the issue he has been spending most time on.

He says the deal with France shows the first fruits of that effort.

Q: [From ITV’s Anushka Asthana] When you were woken up at 5am, did that bring home to you how this war could spread?

Yes, says Sunak. That is why he spoke to the Polish president. And he spoke to President Zelenskiy of Ukraine too.

He says the G20 leaders were trying to find solutions to these problems as Russia was deploying more than 80 missiles against Ukraine. That shows “utter contempt” for the international system.

Sunak is now taking questions.

The BBC’s Chris Mason asks what he would say to people worried the war in Ukraine could provoke a global conflict.

Sunak says they are still establishing the facts as to what happened yesterday. That is happening as we speak, he says.

Sunak says economic stability and confidence are at the heart of the government’s agenda.

The autumn statement tomorrow will show how the government is putting the country on a positive trajectory, he says.

Sunak says Russia’s war in Ukraine is threat not just to global security, but to global economy

Rishi Sunak is speaking at the start of his press conference.

He says Vladimir Putin launched indiscriminate attacks on civilians in Ukraine yesterday.

The UK is steadfastly behind Ukraine, he says.

As long as the war goes on, it poses a threat to the security of the UK and the world.

And it is devastating for the global economy, he says.

Two-thirds of G20 members are currently experiencing inflation rates over 7%, and the IMF predicts a third of the world’s economy will be in recession this year, or next.

At a time when countries are tentatively emerging from the ravages of the Covid-19 pandemic, households across the world have been hit by punishing price rises and are facing an uncertain future.

Good morning. Rishi Sunak is still at the G20 summit in Bali, but as a result of the missile that landed in Poland, the G20 also turned into a G7/Nato summit. My colleague Patrick Wintour has the latest here.

Sunak has had a bilateral meeting with Joe Biden, the US president. But his planned bilateral with the Chinese president, Xi Jinping – which would have been Xi’s first face to face meeting with a UK PM for almost five years – was cancelled.

Sunak is due to hold a press conference at 8.30am. Speaking earlier, asked about reports that the Polish deaths may have been caused by a missile fired by the Ukrainians as part of their air defences, Sunak said:

I think the most important thing to recognise is the reason Ukraine is having to use missiles is to defend its homeland. It is having to defend its homeland against an illegal and barbaric set of strikes by Russia.

Here is the agenda for the day.

8.30am: Rishi Sunak holds a press conference in Bali.

9am: Steve Barclay, the health secretay, speaks at the NHS Providers conference in Liverpool

12pm: Dominic Raab, the deputy PM, faces Angela Rayner, Labour’s deputy leader, at PMQs.

After 12.30pm: MPs debate the remaining stages of the national security bill.

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Rishi Sunak sitting with Joe Biden (left) at the emergency meeting of G7 leaders in Bali.
Rishi Sunak sitting with Joe Biden (left) at the emergency meeting of G7 leaders in Bali. Photograph: Leon Neal/PA

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