Politics latest: Car that crashed into Downing Street towed away as cordon lifted (2023)

Key points
  • Car collides into Downing Street gate - one man arrested
  • Video: Moment before silver car crashes on Whitehall
  • Witness describes 'panic and people running away'
  • In full: Metropolitan Police statement
  • Joe Pike: All calm outside gates that protect heart of power
  • Car towed away as Whitehall returns to normal
  • Net migration figure hits new peak despite Tory manifesto pledge
  • Beth Rigby:'Take back control' is an easy slogan to create but fiendishly hard to implement
  • Live reporting by Ben Bloch, and (earlier) James Robinson, Faith Ridler and Katie Williams


That's all for today

Thank you for joining us for what has been a very busy day in politics.

Here's a roundup of what happened today:

  • A man was arrested after a car crashed into the gates of Downing Street, triggering a huge security response;
  • Figures released today showed that net migration hit a record high of 606,000 people in 2022;
  • The energy price cap fell significantly on the heels of falling gas and electricity prices;
  • The government scraped its flagship Animal Welfare Bill in favour of passing the measures in smaller pieces of legislation;
  • Ministers failed to move a motion to suspend COVID rule breaking MP;
  • Woking council placed in special measures due to £2bn debt;
  • Tributes were paid to former Tory MP Karen Lumley, who has died aged 59.

We'll be back from 6am with the very latest from the heart of Westminster - do join us!


Tomorrow's papers today

It's been another very busy day in politics today, and although parliament is now in recess for 10 days, government business never stops.

Let's take a look at the political stories on tomorrow's front pages:

The Times leads with tens of thousands more patients to be signed up for clinical trials as ministers promise drug companies better access to the NHS.

It also reports on the dramatic events at Downing Street this afternoon.

Ministers stand accused of losing control over immigration to the UK after figures hit a record high last year, says the Daily Mirror.

"Will anyone stop these eco-clowns?" asks the Daily Mail as it reports on protesters from Just Stop Oil and Animal Rising demonstrating at the Chelsea Flower Show. The paper hits out at the authorities for not stopping the protests.

The Guardian reports that more than 3,000 asylum seekers could be detained and deported from the UK every month to enforce Suella Braverman's asylum bill, according to leaked documents.

The Daily Telegraph leads with borrowing costs reaching levels not seen since the mini-budget under Liz Truss, threatening a new mortgage shock for homeowners.

It also reports on fears that the WHO could be handed powers to "force the UK into lockdown" as part of a new pandemic treaty.

A short while ago, government minister Andrew Mitchell told Sky News that the government supports the treaty being negotiated, but that it will "never" cede sovereign powers to the agency (see post at 22.52).

The Daily Express leads with an exclusive from the prime minister, who has told the paper "we must and will cut the number of people moving to the UK".

Ministers are considering a sweeping reform to the fund that protects savers in company pension plans, according to the Financial Times.

The i paper reports that Britain is on course to become Europe's second-largest population for the first time on record.


UK would 'never' allow WHO treaty to 'prevents the UK from taking decisive action'

Reports have emerged this evening that the World Health Organisation (WHO) could be given the power to impose lockdowns on the UK as part of a new "pandemic treaty" that is currently being negotiated.

According to The Telegraph, ministers fear that signatory countries would be mandated to follow the agency's instructions in the event of a pandemic.

The newspaper reports that Conservative MPs have written to ministers to express alarm that the WHO could become an international authority rather than specialised advisory agency.

This evening, the minister of state for development and Africa has told Sky News that the government supports the treaty being negotiated, but that it will "never" cede sovereign powers to the agency.

Andrew Mitchell, told Sky News: "The UK is supportive of the pandemic treaty currently being negotiated by national governments, which could speed up the sharing of data on new pandemic threats so we are able to respond quickly in the event of future pandemics.

"We're clear that we would never agree to anything that crosses our points of principle on sovereignty or prevents the UK from taking decisive action against future pandemics.

"I think that is what our constituents would expect and that’s our position."


Chancellor: UK determined to compete for green investment as battery announcement awaited

By Ed Conway, economics and data editor

Britain is determined to compete in the global race for green investment, the chancellor has told Sky News, days before the expected announcement that Jaguar Land Rover owner Tata will build a major new battery factory in the country.

Jeremy Hunt said that he was prepared to deploy subsidy money from the government's £1bn war chest to help support these big green projects, despite warning only last month about the dangers of new subsidies.

It came as he unveiled a host of new measures, worth a combined £650m, designed to help encourage the life sciences and pharmaceuticals sector in the UK.

The Tata chairman is due to visit Downing Street next week to confirm that the Indian industrial giant has chosen Britain over Spain as the location of its new battery plant, which will serve its car business in the UK, as well as Europe.

The competition between the nations was hotly fought, and the Tata package is understood to be worth around £500m, including support on a range of matters, most notably energy costs.

"I can't talk about any commercial discussions," Mr Hunt said.

"But what I can say is that we understand - the prime minister and I - that we're in a global race to attract investment, and we will always do what it takes to make sure the UK remains competitive."

Read the full story here:


Opposition MPs say Boris Johnson allies planned to block Margaret Ferrier suspension

A little earlier today, we reported that the government had not proceeded with a motion to suspend MP Margaret Ferrier from the Commons for 30 days (see post at 16.14).

You may recall that in the autumn of 2020, the then-SNP MP broke COVID rules by speaking in the Commons and travelling back home on public transport, despite having tested positive for the virus.

After an investigation, the Commons Select Committee on Standards recommended that she be suspended from parliament for 30 days, and that was supposed to be approved by a vote in the Commons earlier today, but the motion was not moved by the government.

This evening, there are accusations from opposition MPs that the government decided to pull the vote because Boris Johnson supporters were planning to vote it down.

This was supposedly due to fears that it would set a precedent for a vote on any punishment that could be recommended by the privileges committee for Mr Johnson, who is currently under investigation for allegedly misleading the Commons over partygate.

The Labour chair of parliament's privileges committee, Chris Bryant, said this evening: "The government apparently suddenly heard that Boris Johnson supporters were going to vote down the motion. So they suddenly pulled it.

"I’m afraid all this shenanigans does is bring the House of Commons further into disrepute," he said.

And Labour's shadow Scotland secretary, Ian Murray, said: "A grubby backroom deal between Ferrier, nationalists and some Tories, who don't want Boris Johnson to suffer the same fate, has prevented the democratic process from taking place."

But a strident Boris Johnson ally, Tory MP Brendan Clarke-Smith, told Sky News this evening that the claims are "ludicrous".

He said: "To be honest, it would have probably been unfair to have had a vote on something so important when it’s a day before recess and most people had already left due to a one-line-whip."

Government sources say the vote was pulled because the Commons was not quorate - meaning not enough MPs were present for a vote on the motion to be valid.

It is understood that the vote will be rescheduled for after recess.


Ministers put Woking council in special measures due to £2bn debt

Woking borough council in Surrey has been placed into special measures by the government amid fears of financial collapse due to a series of risky investments of nearly £2bn.

A government review revealed that "as of December 2022 the Council had debts of £1.9 billion, with plans to increase it to almost £2.4 billion by 2024/25".

It is now "the most indebted council in England compared to its financial size", and is in "the most challenging financial position of any local authority in England."

The levelling up department ordered a review of the council, and found that it is failing in its duties under the Local Government Act 1999 to ensure proper functioning of the council so that it can provide the necessary services to residents.

The review described the scale of the problem as "unprecedented", and said there is "no realistic route to the council returning to financial sustainability alone."

"The Council will need to undertake significant service transformation and consider their future operating model."

As a result, the levelling up department has determined the council "has failed to provide assurance that it is taking the necessary actions to comply with its best value duty and address the serious issues noted in the review."

It has decided to appoint commissioners "to oversee specific functions" of the council, such as financial governance and commercial decision making, as well as lookng at its operating model and ensuring the structures are appropriate.

"There is a pressing case for urgent government action to protect the interests of the residents and tax-payers of Woking, and the public purse," local government minister Lee Rowley wrote in an update to parliaments.

The commissioners will therefore remain in place for a year, or even longer should levelling up secretary Michael Gove deem it necessary.


Farage claims net migration would have been lower on his watch

Nigel Farage has defended his claims during the Brexit referendum that net migration could be reduced to 50,000.

The former UKIP leader was speaking to the Beth Rigby Interviews programme following the release of the latest net migration figures.

Mr Farage claimed, had he been in power, he would have reduced net migration down to around 30,000.

Asked what he would specifically target to reduce net migration, Mr Farage took aim at the salary requirement for a skilled worker visa - which he said was set at "minimum wage".

According to the government website, people need to be paid "at least £26,200 per year or £10.75 per hour" to qualify for such a way into the UK - although it would need to be more if the average earning for your sector is higher.

Asked by Beth if this meant he would accept worker shortages to lower migration, Mr Farage said: "If that meant there was a realistic chance of people finding somewhere to live?

"A school for their kids to go to that was local people getting access to the National Health Service, then? Yes, of course."

You can read more about the interview below or watch it live and in full on Sky News right now.


What is security like at Downing Street?

Downing Street is one of the most heavily protected places in the UK.

Barriers were first used to prevent access to the road in 1920 and were periodically removed and reintroduced for the next 69 years depending on the perceived threat level.

However, since 1989 a security checkpoint marked by large black gates at either end of Downing Street has been in place, introduced amid fears of attacks by the IRA.

Following an IRA mortar attack in 1991, security was further tightened.

The street is constantly patrolled by armed police from the diplomatic protection group.

There is also usually at least one police officer stationed outside the door of Number 10.

To get through the gates, people have had to show a pass to one of the officers.

There are also extensive security devices and cameras on the street.

Despite the extensive security, protests outside the gates are still allowed, as it is viewed as an important part of the UK's democracy.

However, full details of the protection measures in place around Downing Street and Number 10 have not been made public for security reasons.

In response to a Freedom of Information request regarding security around Downing Street, the Metropolitan Police said: "To disclose details of the number of officers deployed, particularly in relation to a specific site or at a specific time, would provide details of policing tactics and resources used in relation to security and protection operations.

"This would allow those with a criminal or extremist intent to gain an operational advantage over the MPS and therefore undermine the safeguarding of National Security and compromise our law enforcement functions."


Latest from Downing Street: Cordon has lifted and car that crashed into gates towed away

Back to the big story earlier of a car crashing into the gates of Downing Street at around 4.20pm this afternoon.

Sky News correspondent Rachel Venebles reports from Downing Street that the cordons have now been lifted and Whitehall is open as normal.

Shortly before 8pm, the car was towed away from where it came to rest after hitting those iconic black gates head-on, and after police conducted a forensic investigation at the scene.

Downing Street is closed to media this evening - who normally have access onto that famous road - as police enquiries continue.

Watch the very latest update from Rachel Venebles here:


'Take back control' is an easy slogan to create but fiendishly hard to implement

Back in 2016, in the run-up to the EU referendum and as Leave campaigners promised to "take back control" of our borders, chief Brexit cheerleader Nigel Farage promised the British people that leaving the European Union would allow the UK to cut net migration to below 50,000, writes Sky News political editor Beth Rigby.

He wasn't the only one to promise to drive migration down. David Cameron and Theresa May promised to cut net migration to the "tens-of-thousands" while Boris Johnson promised in 2019 to reduce the net migration from the-then 226,000 a year.

Instead, seven years after the UK voted to leave the European Union, net migration has hit a record high of 606,000 in the year to December 2022, while illegal migration has quadrupled from just over 13,000 in 2018 to more than 52,000 last year.

Out of control might be a better three-word slogan for the current state of affairs that puts huge pressure on the Conservative government that now owns this mess.

Because it's easy to make the promise but fiendishly hard to keep it.

Read Beth Rigby's full analysis here:


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