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FirstFT: Truss government in chaos as home secretary quits

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UK prime minister Liz Truss’s government was plunged into disarray after Suella Braverman was forced to quit as home secretary yesterday and party discipline collapsed in the House of Commons.

Tory MPs exchanged recriminations over Braverman’s ousting and openly rebelled against the government’s plans to resume shale gas fracking.

For hours, it was unclear whether Wendy Morton, the chief whip, had quit before Downing Street announced shortly before 10pm that she would be staying in place after all.

Labour MPs claimed Tory whips tried to physically push rebel MPs into voting with the government against an attempt to ban fracking, with Chris Bryant, chair of the Commons standards committee, saying MPs were “manhandled” and “bullied” into the corridors used to cast votes.

The extraordinary scenes came shortly after Braverman was ousted over what she described as only “a technical breach” of security rules. She was replaced by Grant Shapps, the former transport secretary sacked by Truss last month and an ally of her leadership rival Rishi Sunak.

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1. Ukraine ‘shocked’ by Republican threats to limit aid Kevin McCarthy, the top US House Republican, suggested that his party could limit the “blank cheque” for Kyiv if it took control of Congress after next month’s midterm elections. Ukrainian officials called on Washington to continue providing bipartisan support.

“We were shocked to hear these comments of Mr McCarthy, honestly” — David Arakhamia, head of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s party in Ukraine’s parliament

2. UK to curb unions’ ability to shut down transport during strikes The government will present legislation today that would enforce a “minimum service level” even during industrial action, hamstringing trade unions’ ability to disrupt the UK’s transport network. The bill would deliver on a 2019 Tory manifesto pledge.

3. ECB and Spain set for clash over bank tax The European Central Bank is preparing to issue an opinion on Spain’s proposed windfall bank tax, which critics say violates EU rules. Socialist prime minister Pedro Sánchez wants to use the levy to raise €3bn to cushion the impact of surging energy prices, but private lenders warn the tax could be destabilising.

4. Midsized banks worry debt rules jeopardise lending The chief executives of 13 UK lenders, including TSB, Metro Bank and Paragon, have urged the Treasury to amend equity and debt thresholds that they say will prevent them from lending up to £62bn over the next five years. The banks are set to meet city minister Andrew Griffith today.

5. US health officials probe Boston University’s Covid research The Financial Times has learned that the National Institutes of Health is investigating a controversial study at Boston University, where scientists created an artificial form of Covid-19 in a laboratory. The artificial strain killed 80 per cent of mice that were exposed to it.

The day ahead

European Council meeting A gathering of EU heads of state begins in Brussels with the war in Ukraine, energy crisis and economy high on the agenda.

Economic data France publishes its October business confidence survey, while in the UK, GfK releases its consumer confidence report for the same month. Germany has September PPI inflation data.

Earnings American Airlines, AT&T, Nokia, Pernod Ricard, Philip Morris, Schroders, Union Pacific and Vivendi release quarterly results today. See our full list here.

What else we’re reading

Is DeSantis a Trump without the drama? Florida governor Ron DeSantis opted for a restrictions-light response to the Covid-19 pandemic that made him a conservative hero. Since then, he has harnessed a combination of intellect and calculated hostility to outsiders, elites and the media to become the potential standard bearer of America’s populist movement.

Florida governor Ron DeSantis
If Florida’s governor is re-elected, he could challenge the ex-president’s hold on the Republican Party © Alicia Devine/Tallahassee Democrat/AP

Can Big Oil prove the case for carbon capture? Despite decades of research and investment, the carbon capture and storage industry has never lived up to its promise. A wave of political and industrial backing could change that, with President Joe Biden’s pledge to make the US economy net-emissions free by 2050 and Big Oil promising to spend big.

Corporate China shut out of Xi’s party congress Private-sector attendance at China’s Communist party congress has fallen by almost 50 per cent since President Xi Jinping assumed power in 2012. The party has pledged to crack down on “disorderly expansion of capital” in an effort to reduce wealth inequality and ensure “common prosperity”.

In praise of the long and luxurious sleep The irritating “smug sleeper” seems to be able to survive — thrive, even — on precious little sleep. But “nine-hours-a-night” Jemima Kelly writes that scientific evidence suggests she is wise to value her shut-eye.

Give traditional packaging the sack We’ve all tried wine from a box or a bag, but what about olive oil or even wall paint? Forward-thinking companies are getting creative by doing away with traditional packaging.

Fashion

On a search for the perfect suit, Annachiara Biondi discovers that finding a professional ensemble that is both comfortable and within budget involves some trial and error. For more fashion and style news sign up for our FT Weekend newsletter.

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