UK politics: Truss warns Vladimir Putin over Ukraine after MI6 chief says Russia poses ‘acute threat'

LIVE – Updated at 15:04

UK politics: Truss warns Vladimir Putin over Ukraine after MI6 chief says Russia poses ‘acute threat’
© REUTERS Britain’s Foreign Secretary Truss meets with Israeli Foreign Minister Lapid, in London

Liz Truss has warned Vladimir Putin against making the “strategic mistake” of invading Ukraine as she railed against Russia’s “malign activity”.

The foreign secretary was speaking during a Nato summit in Latvia, where she was also pictured riding a tank in the style of Margaret Thatcher. Meanwhile, the head of SIS has said he believes Russia poses an “acute threat”.

MI6’s Richard Moore also warned on Tuesday of China’s “large-scale espionage” against the UK and its allies, and signalled his organisation would have to work more openly with technology companies to stay ahead of the game.

Mr Moore added that as criminals and hostile governments built up AI and quantum computing capabilites, making the job of secret agents more difficult, Britain would need to “tap into” the expertise of tech firms and “become more open to stay secret”.

The pace of technological advance outstrips the speed at which spies ordinarily assess the people they do business with, he said in an interview with the BBC.

Key points

  • China mounting ‘large-scale espionage’ against UK and allies, says MI6 chief
  • Labour reshuffle spat rolls on
  • Liz Truss warns Vladimir Putin on Ukraine

MI6 chief warns about threat of Chinese ‘debt and data traps’

10:50 , Jon Sharman

The head of the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) has warned of China’s increasingly “assertive” stance in global affairs, and use of “debt traps and data traps” to secure influence.

Richard Moore, known to spies as C and who oversees the UK’s foreign intelligence apparatus, gave a rare broadcast interview on Tuesday morning, writes yours truly.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that while he believed that free societies possessed an advantage over authoritarian ones, “we need to be very robust in fighting our corner” and leverage “the entrepreneurial animal spirits” within science and techonology to keep pace with Beijing.

UK politics: Truss warns Vladimir Putin over Ukraine after MI6 chief says Russia poses ‘acute threat’
© Provided by The Independent

MI6 chief warns on ‘assertive’ China in rare broadcast interview

Labour reshuffle spat rolls on

10:54 , Jon Sharman

Top figures in Labour are still at each others’ throats over yesterday’s reshuffle.

Angela Rayner’s team complained the deputy leader had been blindsided by Keir Starmer’s changes to his front bench, though Sir Keir’s side disputed it.

Today, Lisa Nandy – who was moved to the “levelling up” brief from foreign – said she had not spoken to Ms Rayner since the party’s reshuffle was announced.

She told BBC Breakfast: “I have been too busy getting a team together and putting a plan together.”

She added: “I have been through a lot of reshuffles over the past 11 years.

“I think that the leader makes the decisions, the gaffer picks the team, that’s how it goes and that’s how it has always gone.

“Frankly, I couldn’t care less about the circus of who’s in, and who’s out, who’s up, who’s down, who knew, who didn’t.”

Ms Nandy is now shadowing Michael Gove, the levelling up, housing, communities, and local government secretary.

In her BBC interview, she added: “It’s a very long title that Michael Gove has concocted for himself. But essentially the job is to deliver on the broken promises of the last 11 years.”

Jacob Rees-Mogg accuses ex-cabinet secretary critics of hypocrisy for taking ‘nice jobs’ in private sector

11:13 , Jon Sharman

Commons leader Jacob Rees-Mogg has accused former Downing Street officials of hypocrisy for offering warnings on sleaze while taking “nice jobs” upon leaving office, writes Adam Forrest.

It follows an open letter from every living ex-cabinet secretary urging Boris Johnson to get behind widespread standards reforms at Westminster.

But Mr Rees-Mogg dismissed the advice of the “saintly” former top civil servants who have taken “well-paid” roles after stepping down from government.

UK politics: Truss warns Vladimir Putin over Ukraine after MI6 chief says Russia poses ‘acute threat’
© Provided by The Independent

Jacob Rees-Mogg accuses ex-cabinet secretaries of hypocrisy for taking ‘nice jobs’

Beijing mounting ‘large-scale espionage’ against UK, says MI6 chief

11:23 , Jon Sharman

MI6 chief Richard Moore has warned that China’s intelligence officers are mounting “large-scale” spying operations against the UK and its allies, in a speech previewed earlier this morning.

Speaking at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, Mr Moore said China’s growing assertiveness posed a “serious challenge” to global peace.

He said there is a real risk that Chinese “over-confidence” could lead to conflict.

“The Chinese intelligence services are highly capable and continue to conduct large-scale espionage operations against the UK and our allies,” he said.

“Beijing’s growing military strength and the party’s desire to resolve the Taiwan issue, by force if necessary, also pose a serious challenge to global stability and peace.

“The Chinese Communist Party increasingly favour decisive action justified on national security grounds. Beijing believes its own propaganda about Western frailties and under-estimates Washington’s resolve. The risk of Chinese miscalculation through over-confidence is real.”

Chinese espionage activities included “targeting those working in government, industries or research of particular interest to the Chinese state”, Mr Moore said.

He added: “They also monitor and attempt to influence over the Chinese diaspora. Chinese intelligence officers seek to exploit the open nature of our society, including through the use of social media platforms to facilitate their operations.

“We are concerned by the Chinese government’s attempts to distort public discourse and political decision-making across the globe.”

France says UK ‘not taking its share’ of asylum seekers and Channel push-backs will not be accepted

11:33 , Jon Sharman

#icymi

The UK is “not taking its share” of asylum seekers and France will not accept planned operations to force small boats out of British waters, its interior minister has said.

Gerald Darmanin told a press conference that thousands of people were crossing the English Channel in dinghies because “they have no other way” of reaching the UK, writes Lizzie Dearden.

He said that France would not accept pushbacks at sea, or joint patrols involving British authorities to stop boats from being launched.

UK politics: Truss warns Vladimir Putin over Ukraine after MI6 chief says Russia poses ‘acute threat’
© Provided by The Independent

France says UK ‘not taking its share’ of asylum seekers

Truss warns Putin over Ukraine

11:52 , Jon Sharman

Liz Truss has warned Vladimir Putin it would be a “strategic mistake” for Russia to launch an incursion into Ukraine.

As Nato foreign ministers gathered in Latvia, the foreign secretary said: “We want a world where freedom and democracy don’t just survive, they thrive.

“To this end, we will stand with our fellow democracies against Russia’s malign activity.

“We will support Ukraine and stability in the western Balkans, to safeguard their security and build their economic resilience.

“We have seen this playbook from the Kremlin before when Russia falsely claimed its illegal annexation of Crimea was a response to Nato aggression. Nato is an alliance forged on the principle of defence, not provocation. Any suggestion that Nato is provoking the Russians is clearly false.

“Any action by Russia to undermine the freedom and democracy that our partners enjoy would be a strategic mistake.”

Earlier, Richard Moore, the SIS chief, had said Russia’s moves on Ukraine were proving to be a “chronic problem”.

He told the BBC: “From time to time we get sort of crises around Ukraine as we worry about build-up of troops and what President Putin’s intentions might be, and therefore it bears very careful watching and it bears very careful signalling to the Russians about, you know, the price that they would have to pay if they intervened, as they did in 2014.

“And, at the same time, frankly, being very clear that again there’s not an adversarial sort of agenda here. We’re not trying to encircle Russia, we’re not trying to prevent it from pursuing its legitimate interest.”

Opinion: Keir Starmer finally has a shadow cabinet that looks like a plausible alternative government

12:11 , Jon Sharman

The puzzle was always why Keir Starmer left Yvette Cooper on the back benches in the first place, writes John Rentoul.

I suspect it was partly because he took too much advice from Ed Miliband, whose partnership with Ed Balls, Cooper’s husband, was a difficult one.

But Miliband’s influence is on the wane, as suggested by his loss of the shadow business secretary half of his previous role, leaving him shadowing Alok Sharma on climate change.

UK politics: Truss warns Vladimir Putin over Ukraine after MI6 chief says Russia poses ‘acute threat’
© Provided by The Independent

Keir Starmer finally has a plausible alternative government | John Rentoul

Full story: Lisa Nandy denies Keir Starmer humiliated Angela Rayner with timing of frontbench reshuffle

12:30 , Jon Sharman

Lisa Nandy has dismissed claims that Keir Starmer snubbed Angela Rayner with the timing of his frontbench reshuffle, insisting it does not matter “who knew” about it, writes Rob Merrick.

Allies of Labour’s deputy leader were furious that the shake-up began as she was making a key speech on a sleaze crackdown – and that she first read about it in a newspaper.

UK politics: Truss warns Vladimir Putin over Ukraine after MI6 chief says Russia poses ‘acute threat’
© Provided by The Independent

Lisa Nandy denies Keir Starmer humiliated Angela Rayner with timing of reshuffle

Downing Street pushes back against Jennie Harries’ Covid-19 advice

12:34 , Jon Sharman

Downing Street has set itself against Jenny Harries’ advice to avoid unnecessary socialising over the Christmas period.

The head of the UK Health Security Agency had suggested people keeping to themselves this winter could help slow the spread of the new omicron variant of coronavirus.

Asked if Dr Harries’ view was shared by Boris Johnson, the PM’s spokesperson told reporters: “No. Our advice to the public is as set out at the weekend.

“We have put advice out on face coverings and on inward travellers and those who are identified as having the omicron variant of coronavirus. Beyond that we haven’t set out any further guidance to the public.”

Asked if people should follow what he was saying or what Dr Harries was saying, the spokesperson said: “The public should follow the guidance as set out by the government and indeed the prime minister at the weekend.”

What time is Boris Johnson’s speech today?

12:42 , Jon Sharman

Boris Johnson is set to hold a Downing Street Covid briefing on Tuesday amid concerns over the spread of the omicron variant.

The address, due to take place at 4pm, comes after the government introduced new measures to tackle the spread of omicron, which was first detected in the country over the weekend.

Boris Johnson’s popularity takes a hit among Tory faithful, survey shows

12:52 , Jon Sharman

Boris Johnson’s popularity among members of the Tory faithful has taken a hit after weeks of division in the party over a myriad of issues, writes Ashley Cowburn.

It follows the toxic row over sleaze in politics after the botched attempt to prevent Owen Paterson’s suspension from the Commons, scaled-back plans for social care reform, rows over funds for rail infrastructure and concerns over the cost of living.

UK politics: Truss warns Vladimir Putin over Ukraine after MI6 chief says Russia poses ‘acute threat’
© Provided by The Independent

Boris Johnson’s popularity takes a hit among Tory faithful, survey shows

UK needs ‘another great surge’ of effort to hold omicron at bay, says PM

13:11 , Jon Sharman

Boris Johnson has said the UK needs “another great surge” of effort in order to protect against Covid-19.

Speaking on a visit to a GP surgery in north London, the PM said a “huge amount of progress” had been made against the delta variant of coronavirus, but he said “we now have this question about the omicron variant”.

Speaking to broadcasters, he said: “Is it going to be hard work? Yes, it is. But I know that people can do it. What we need to do is delay the seeding of omicron in this country.”

But he said there was not any change in guidance “about how people should be living their lives”.

Earlier Dr Jenny Harries updated cabinet on the latest coronavirus developments, along with England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty and chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance.

No 10 said Dr Harries told ministers there were 14 confirmed omicron cases but “more were likely to be found in the coming days”.

“While further time is needed to study the characteristics of this variant and with work ongoing at Porton Down to assess it, both [Prof Whitty and Sir Patrick] emphasised that getting a booster vaccine was the best way to gain protection against new and existing variants,” the PM’s spokesperson said.

Bailout for vital UK science and medical projects in danger from post-Brexit clash

13:30 , Jon Sharman

Tens of millions of pounds will be spent on rescuing UK science and medical research projects at risk from a damaging post-Brexit dispute with the EU, writes Rob Merrick.

The threat to grants from the flagship £80bn Horizon Europe programme – which pools talent and ideas to achieve breakthroughs – appeared have been lifted when the UK agreed to remain part of it.

UK politics: Truss warns Vladimir Putin over Ukraine after MI6 chief says Russia poses ‘acute threat’
© Provided by The Independent

Bailout for UK science and medical projects in danger from post-Brexit clash

France accuses UK of ‘quasi-modern slavery’ as new Channel crisis proposals put forward

13:49 , Jon Sharman

A senior French minister has accused the UK of an economic model of “quasi-modern slavery” amid the ongoing row over small boat crossings in the English Channel, writes Adam Forrest.

France’s Europe minister Clément Beaune called on Boris Johnson’s government to “change legislation” and crack down on migrants being able to work in Britain without legal paperwork.

“There is, let’s say it, an economic model of … quasi-modern slavery, or at least of illegal work that is very strong,” he told BFMTV.

UK politics: Truss warns Vladimir Putin over Ukraine after MI6 chief says Russia poses ‘acute threat’
© Provided by The Independent

France accuses UK of ‘quasi-modern slavery’ amid Channel crisis row

Full story: Liz Truss warns Vladimir Putin against ‘strategic mistake’ of Ukraine invasion

14:08 , Jon Sharman

The UK’s foreign secretary Liz Truss has warned that Russian leader Vladimir Putin against making a “strategic mistake” by launching an invasion of Ukraine, writes Adam Forrest.

The minister accused Moscow of “malign activity” in the Balkans, as Nato allies gathered in Latvia to consider how to respond to Russia’s military build-up near the Ukrainian border.

Suggesting the Kremlin was stirring up tensions, Ms Truss said: “We will support Ukraine and stability in the western Balkans … we will stand with our fellow democracies against Russia’s malign activity.”

UK politics: Truss warns Vladimir Putin over Ukraine after MI6 chief says Russia poses ‘acute threat’
© Provided by The Independent

Liz Truss warns Vladimir Putin against ‘strategic mistake’ of Ukraine invasion

No 10 rejects France’s ‘quasi-modern slavery’ claims

14:18 , Jon Sharman

Downing Street has dismissed a claim by French Europe minister Clement Beaune that the UK had an economic model of “quasi-modern slavery” involving illegal work.

Boris Johnson’s official spokesperson said: “We don’t agree with that. Of course, in a broader sense we have acknowledged that we do need to fix our broken asylum system so that we can stop this parallel illegal route being exploited and break these criminal gangs who are exploiting vulnerable people.

“That’s why we are driving through the changes in our Nationality and Borders Bill.”

The spokesman added: “We have a strict regime and all those seeking to work in the UK must show documentary evidence of their right to do so before an employer can hire them.”

MI6 chief reveals why he only writes messages in green ink

14:37 , Jon Sharman

The head of MI6 has revealed he only writes in green ink, whether on paper or on his computer, in homage to a tradition established by the very first ‘C’, who set up the intelligence service over a century ago.

Richard Moore, the chief of the Secret Intelligence Service, confirmed the tradition continued in a rare interview on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Tuesday morning, writes Tim Wyatt.

The first C – the code name used by every head of MI6 – was Sir Mansfield Smith-Cumming, a naval officer who set up Britain’s first foreign intelligence agency in 1909.

UK politics: Truss warns Vladimir Putin over Ukraine after MI6 chief says Russia poses ‘acute threat’
© Provided by The Independent

MI6 chief reveals why he only writes messages in green ink

Conservative MPs go maskless in debate on making public wear masks

14:51 , Jon Sharman

A number of Conservative MPs were spotted in the House of Commons not wearing face masks, during a debate on the regulations which mean that from today, people in England must wear the coverings in certain situations.

Maggie Throup, the vaccines minister, opened the debate and was seen accompanied by several maskless MPs.

They included Graham Brady, the chair of the 1922 Committee.

UK politics: Truss warns Vladimir Putin over Ukraine after MI6 chief says Russia poses ‘acute threat’
© Provided by The Independent (Parliamentlive.tv)

Government education funding puts levelling-up into reverse, IFS claims

14:59 , Jon Sharman

#icymi

The government’s approach to education risks pushing levelling-up efforts in the “opposite direction” according to a new report from think-tank, the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS).

There is no end to austerity for large swathes of the education sector, despite suggestions that education is a key tool in the government’s flagship levelling-up drive, writes Anna Isaac.

Yet plans to increase spending also mean deprived schools will get less cash than better off institutions. This will crank up divides between students’ life chances rather than making them more equal, the IFS said.

UK politics: Truss warns Vladimir Putin over Ukraine after MI6 chief says Russia poses ‘acute threat’
© Provided by The Independent

Education funding puts levelling-up into reverse, IFS claims

End of live coverage

15:00 , Jon Sharman

Tuesday’s live politics coverage has now ended. Thank you for following along.

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