Picture by Simon Walker / No 10 Downing Street

Sunak’s domestic woes deepen

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Good afternoon and welcome back to Politics@Lunch — returning today alongside the House of Commons, which sits from 2.30 pm after the traditional two-week Easter recess.

The main piece of parliamentary business today will be a ministerial statement, delivered by the prime minister, on the possibility of dangerous escalation in the Middle East. The statement, entitled “Iran/Israel Update”, comes after Rishi Sunak confirmed on Sunday that British jets were involved in deterring the Iranian attack on Israel, which saw the country targeted with some 300 drones and missiles.

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On his first morning media round as foreign secretary today, Lord Cameron urged Israel “not to escalate” the situation and to “think with head as well as heart”. He told Sky News that Iran had suffered a “double defeat” by both failing to inflict damage on Israel and revealing itself as a “malign influence” in the region.

We have more on Cameron’s broadcast comments here — including his insistence that he will not return as PM “under any circumstances”.

It is oft-suggested that crises on the international stage can rally support around a prime minister domestically — be that among parliamentarians, their party grassroots and/or the public at large. But the deteriorating situation in the Middle East is having no such effect on Sunak’s standing on the home front; as MPs return to the commons chamber and parliamentary tea rooms today, there is little sign of the mood music improving for No 10.

Rather, Iran’s drone attack on Israel yesterday is set to reignite calls in the Conservative Party to proscribe Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) — a perennial topic of controversy for Sunak’s foreign policy hawks.

On top of this, newly released Home Office data shows a total of 534 people crossed the Channel in “small boats” on Sunday. It brings the cumulative number of arrivals by small boats in 2024 to a provisional total of 6,265. With MPs readying to send the Safety of Rwanda Bill back to the House of Lords for what is expected to be the final time this evening, it presents Sunak’s rebels with another chance to express their misgivings about his flagship illegal migration plan.

Meanwhile, Liz Truss is conducting something of a media blitz today with her new book, Ten Days to save the West, set for publication tomorrow. Speaking to LBC in an interview airing this evening, the former PM insisted she is “not ruling out” running for the Conservative leadership again. (We have more on Truss’ comments in our “Lunchtime soundbite” section below).

Then, to cap off a tricky first day back at school for Rishi Sunak, ConservativeHome’s latest survey of party members has placed the prime minister on a record low net satisfaction rating of -27.7. In total, a record 12 cabinet ministers were in negative ratings. More on that here.

Let me know your thoughts on today’s topics by emailing josh.self@politics.co.uk or reaching out on Twitter/X here. And have a great rest of your day.

Lunchtime briefing

Rishi Sunak’s popularity with Conservative Party members at record low, according to survey

Flexible working and unpaid leave key to getting underemployed back to work

Cameron rules out No 10 return under any circumstances: Sunak has ‘phenomenal brain’

Mapped: All the MPs standing down at the next election as total hits 100

Lunchtime soundbite

‘I certainly think there should be a proper investigation into what happened in September 2022. And the actions the Bank of England took’

— Former PM Liz Truss says she believes Bank of England governor Andrew Bailey should resign over his reaction to her government’s 2022 “mini-budget”. Asked on LBC if she thought Andrew Bailey, the governor of the Bank of England, should retain his position, Truss replied: “No, I don’t.”

Now try this

Rwanda: Charities plan legal challenges to removals as law set to pass
BBC News reports.

I told Kwasi: “I am being threatened with a market meltdown. This is f***ing serious”
The Daily Mail has been given exclusive extracts of Liz Truss’ new book, Ten Years to Save the West.

Vaughan Gething hints Wales wants cash boost under Labour government
The new first minister of Wales speaks to PoliticsHome.

On this day in …

Polling analysis: The full extent of Britain’s division brutally revealed

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