Isabel Hardman

Isabel Hardman

Isabel Hardman is assistant editor of The Spectator and author of Why We Get the Wrong Politicians. She also presents Radio 4’s Week in Westminster.

Parliament’s Rafah rage

It’s been a while since the Commons has had so much anger in it as it did during the urgent question on Gaza. The anxiety and criticism of Israel in Rafah wasn’t confined to the usual group of opposition MPs, but came from across the House. The anger wasn’t just directed at Israel, but at

Isabel Hardman

Jeremy Hunt snaps at Rachel Reeves over National Insurance

Rachel Reeves may have been getting attention for her accusation that the government is ‘gaslighting’ the public over the state of the economy, but this afternoon she ended up being accused of spreading fake news. The ‘gaslighting’ line came from a speech in the City of London this morning, after which Reeves then popped up

Tories aren’t panicking – they expected a drubbing

Unsurprisingly, the overnight results from the local elections have been very bruising for the Conservatives. Local election results day is often quite formulaic, though, given there are always predictions of a ‘bloodbath’ for one party or the other for months ahead of polling day. This means that the losses can be priced in to the

Do Tory MPs really believe Rishi Sunak can win the election?

Could Rishi Sunak be about to win the next general election? That suggestion, made at Prime Minister’s Questions today by one of his backbenchers Bill Wiggin, was so unrealistic that the ministers sitting next to Sunak, including Scottish Secretary Alister Jack, couldn’t stop themselves from giggling. Mind you, Wiggin seemed to think that a primary

Will the Tories’ mental health focus backfire?

17 min listen

As figures now show there are 2.8 million people claiming out-of-work benefits, Rishi Sunak gave a speech looking at welfare reform. But with more and more people off work for mental health related issues, could the Tories’ focus backfire if the public think they’re trivialising mental health? Also on the podcast, a look ahead to

Isabel Hardman

Why Sunak is not for turning in his fight with junior doctors

Those waiting for the local election results before they look for evidence of Rishi Sunak’s fightback are running late: the Prime Minister has spent the past few weeks making announcements designed to keep his party happy and remind them that they’re supposed to be fighting Labour, not one another. There’s the defence spending announcement, the

The benefits bill won’t improve without an NHS turnaround

How much can Mel Stride really do to cut the benefits bill? In the Commons today, the Work and Pensions Secretary argued that the ‘disability benefit system for adults of working age is not consistently providing support in the way that was intended’, and that it was now time for a ‘new conversation’ about how

Has Angela Rayner redeemed herself?

10 min listen

With Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer away, Oliver Dowden and Angela Rayner stepped in for PMQs today. Questions quickly turned to the long running row about Rayner’s tax affairs. Did she redeem herself?    Also, the prime minister has announced further UK military spending, confirming it will rise to 2.5% of national income by 2030.

Isabel Hardman

Rayner outsmarts Dowden at PMQs battle of the deputies

Few politicians have looked more pleased with a joke than Oliver Dowden did with his first offering at Prime Minister’s Questions today. He was deputising for Rishi Sunak, who is in Berlin, while Angela Rayner stood in for Keir Starmer. Labour’s deputy leader decided to address the police investigation into whether she broke electoral law

Commons sends Rwanda Bill back to the Lords

The Commons has just voted on the latest ping of the Safety of Rwanda Bill pong, after peers sent back just one amendment, which would prevent Rwanda from being declared a safe country for asylum seekers without the Secretary of State making a statement to parliament having considered the verdict of an independent monitoring committee.

MPs need a proper HR service

The most damning bit of the lurid Mark Menzies case is that the Conservatives had been aware of the allegations for three months before they story broke this week – but only stripped him of the whip yesterday. It’s not a particular surprise, though: for years it has been clear that the whips office holds

Sunak’s Truss problem

11 min listen

The day after her book was published, Rishi Sunak faced down questions from Keir Starmer and Labour members at PMQs about Liz Truss. While he had his replies at the ready, the questions underscored the main issue for Sunak: how should he deal with his predecessor?  Also on the podcast, there is more inflation news

Isabel Hardman

Sunak had a strong comeback to Starmer’s Truss attack at PMQs

Today’s Prime Minister’s Questions was a classic knockabout between Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer clearly written by their respective attack units. Both came armed with the sort of material you’d expect for a scrap: the Labour leader had a ‘rare unsigned copy’ of Liz Truss’s book, while the Prime Minister wanted to talk about Angela

Parliament votes for smoking ban

In the past few minutes, the Tobacco and Vapes Bill has passed its second reading by 383 votes to 67, with at least six Conservative ministers voting against the legislation. It was a free vote, but it is still a striking thing to see a cabinet minister – in this case Kemi Badenoch – going

Isabel Hardman

What Liz Truss got right

It’s easy to laugh at Liz Truss bringing out a book, much harder to ask whether there are points she makes that Westminster can actually learn from. The former prime minister obviously has a self-awareness problem which leads her to blame her failures on anyone and everyone who happened to be around at the time.

Isabel Hardman

When will the Rwanda ping-pong end?

MPs once again rejected all the changes made by peers to the Safety of Rwanda Bill last night, with the ping-pong continuing this afternoon. There were six votes yesterday on amendments the Lords wanted to keep in the bill, and a pointed weariness from Home Office minister Michael Tomlinson at the start of the debate.

Rayner promises to quit if convicted

Angela Rayner has this evening announced that she would quit if convicted of breaking electoral law, saying: ‘If I committed a criminal offence, I would of course do the right thing and step down. The British public deserves politicians who know the rules apply to them.’ This line follows the announcement earlier today that Greater

Has Rishi Sunak failed on the NHS?

13 min listen

One of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s five promises is to cut NHS waiting lists. However, even he’s admitted progress is slow, with new data showing key targets on waiting lists have been missed. Can Sunak ever solve the NHS problem?  Elsewhere, Lee Anderson has been telling us about the price of friendship, revealing he won’t

What are the conclusions of the Cass Review?

12 min listen

Today we have had the Cass Review, a landmark report into gender services for children in England, authored by paediatrician Hilary Cass. She concludes that medical interventions were being made on the basis of ‘remarkably weak’ evidence and that there is a lack of a holistic approach to those questioning their gender. How big of