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New Tory chair says Lee Anderson will be ‘fantastic asset’ as deputy – UK politics live | Politics

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Scottish MP Stewart McDonald fears emails hacked by Russia-linked group

The SNP MP Stewart McDonald has spoken about his emails being hacked, because he fears they were stolen by a group linked to Russia and will be published. My colleague Emily Dugan has the story here.

Sunak says UK will start training Ukrainian pilots to fly Nato-standard jets

Here is our story about Volodymyr Zelenskiy, the Ukrainian president, visiting London today.

And this is what No 10 has said about the UK now offering to train Ukrainian pilots to fly the sort of fighter jets used by Britain and other Nato countries.

As part of today’s talks, the prime minister will offer to bolster the UK’s training offer for Ukrainian troops, including expanding it to fighter jet pilots to ensure Ukraine can defend its skies well into the future.

The training will ensure pilots are able to fly sophisticated Nato-standard fighter jets in the future. As part of that long-term capability investment, the UK will work with Ukraine and international allies to coordinate collective support to meet Ukraine’s defensive needs.

He will also offer to begin an immediate training programme for marines.

And here is a statement from Rishi Sunak.

President Zelenskiy’s visit to the UK is a testament to his country’s courage, determination and fight, and a testament to the unbreakable friendship between our two countries.

Since 2014, the UK has provided vital training to Ukrainian forces, allowing them to defend their country, protect their sovereignty and fight for their territory.

I am proud that today we will expand that training from soldiers to marines and fighter jet pilots, ensuring Ukraine has a military able to defend its interests well into the future. It also underlines our commitment to not just provide military equipment for the short term, but a long-term pledge to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Ukraine for years to come.

Last year Nato countries were nervous about supplying Ukraine with fighter jets because they were worried this would be seen as an escalation by Russia. Over time the debate has shifted, and recently No 10 has been arguing that there would be no point supplying Ukraine with planes such as the UK’s Typhoon because it would take too long to train pilots to fly them. Now that training is on offer, the argument against supplying jets is weakening.

This is a victory of sorts for Boris Johnson, who has been arguing that Ukrainian pilots would quickly learn to fly Nato planes if they had them.

New Tory chair says Lee Anderson will be ‘fantastic asset’ as deputy – but declines to defend his past comments

Good morning. Volodymyr Zelenskiy, the Ukrainian president, is visiting London today to meet Rishi Sunak and give a speech in parliament. In a significant announcement, No 10 has also said the UK will start training Ukrainian pilots to fly the jets used by Britain and other western countries. My colleague Geneva Abdul has more details on our Ukraine live blog.

In other news, Greg Hands, the new Conservative party chair, has been doing a media round. There have been two lines of note.

  • Hands described Lee Anderson, the controversial new Tory deputy chair, as a “fantastic asset” – but declined to defend some of his past remarks. Asked if he agreed with Anderson that nurses were only having to use food banks because they could not budget, Hands said: “I’m not gonna give a running commentary on things that may have been said in the past.”

“Lee Anderson is a fantastic asset for the party. He is a man of great integrity.”

New Conservative Party chairman @GregHands tells #TimesRadio he won’t give a “running commentary” on the controversial things his deputy Lee Anderson has said in the past about food bank users.

— Times Radio (@TimesRadio) February 8, 2023

Rishi Sunak will probably use a similar line at PMQs if, as seems likely, he gets asked to defend some of the shockers from Anderson’s back catalogue.

The next 18 months will see us win or lose the next general election.

In an interview with LBC this morning, Hands said he could not see circumstances where the election would be held this year. And, although it could be delayed until January 2025, he said a January election would be “unlikely”. People would not welcome an election campaign over Christmas, he said. When it was put to him that that meant the election was likely in about 18 months, he said the “strong expectation” was that it would be in 2024.

Here is the agenda for the day.

9.45am: The supreme court issues its judgment on a legal challenge arguing that the Northern Ireland protocol is illegal.

Morning: Volodymyr Zelenskiy, the Ukrainian president, meets Rishi Sunak in Downing Street.

12pm: Rishi Sunak faces Keir Starmer at PMQs.

After 12.30pm: The government is publishing the Shawcross review into the Prevent programme.

Afternoon: President Zelenskiy addresses parliament.

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 [email protected]


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