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Sunday, Dec 04, 2022

Sunak reintroduces fracking ban; questioned on Braverman appointment

Sunak reintroduces fracking ban; questioned on Braverman appointment

Britain’s new Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has reintroduced the Conservatives’ moratorium on fracking in England. It reverses his predecessor Liz Truss’s decision to lift the ban in areas where there was local consent.
The controversial technique for recovering gas and oil from shale rock was halted in 2019 after concerns about earth tremors.

It follows Sunak’s first Prime Minister’s Questions as premier, where he was grilled by Labour Leader Keir Starmer and other MPs.

Starmer accused him of making a “grubby deal” to reappoint Braverman as home secretary just six days after she resigned over data breaches.

Sunak responded that Braverman “made an error of judgment”, has apologized, and he’s delighted to have her back in Cabinet.

Starmer also questioned Sunak’s pledge to protect the most vulnerable in society to which Sunak said the government would always protect the most vulnerable, as he said it did during the COVID pandemic.

The Labour leader reiterated his call for a general election. Sunak responded by making reference to Starmer’s past calls for a second Brexit referendum.

Earlier the government said it would delay announcing its plan to repair the UK’s finances from Oct. 31 to 17 Nov. 17.

The prime minister’s official spokesman confirmed the move after the new PM was pressed on the issue by Green Party MP Caroline Lucas at his first Prime Minister’s Questions.

He told the Commons he “stands by” the 2019 Conservative Party manifesto and insisted his government would deliver on what was agreed at the UN COP26 Glasgow climate talks.

But Downing Street is not committing to increasing defense spending by 3% of GDP by 2030 — which Truss had pledged.

The prime minister’s spokesperson said the issue would be set out at a “future fiscal event” referring to the chancellor’s autumn statement, now due on Nov. 17.

No decisions have been made on defense spending or significant spending as is custom ahead of a fiscal event, he said, adding that energy bill support will continue throughout the winter.

Ahead of PMQs, Sunak’s new-look Cabinet met for the first time in Downing Street.

On his first day at the helm, the PM culled nearly a dozen of Truss’s top-tier ministers, before reviving the careers of ousted frontbenchers.

His appointment at Downing Street calmed the markets after a turbulent few weeks in the wake of Truss’s and her chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng’s mini-budget.

As Sunak took the keys to Number 10, the cost of government borrowing dropped and the pound rallied to the highest level since before the chaos.

Boris Johnson’s loyalists who stayed close to Truss were among the 11 ministers who were out of government, while Sunak rewarded allies with Cabinet roles.

But his appointment of Braverman raised eyebrows after she was returned as home secretary six days after launching an attack on Truss, when she was forced from the role over a breach of the Ministerial Code.

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