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Good Friday morning. This is Rosa Prince with Eleni Courea en route to India.


TOUCHING DOWN IN NEW DELHI: In the next couple of hours Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will arrive in New Delhi for a whistlestop 48-hour trip to take part in the G20 summit. Sunak — the U.K.’s first prime minister of Indian descent — and his wife Akshata Murthy will be greeted with a ceremonial welcome including traditional dancers on landing in the Indian capital.

Psyched up: Cradling a cup of tea on the plane, the PM held a late-night press huddle with a pack of hungry reporters (quite literally as dinner hadn’t been served yet). “It’s special because I’m visiting a country that is very near and dear to me,” the PM said. “I haven’t been back for a few years … I saw somewhere I’ve been referred to as India’s son-in-law, which I hope was meant affectionately! I’m excited to be back. It’s nice to have Akshata with me as well.” 

Flying through a war zone: Journalists busily trying to file these quotes overnight were held back when the WiFi connection dropped for more than an hour as the PM’s plane flew over Ukraine.

On today’s agenda: Sunak will meet children doing after-school activities including playing football, learning coding and taking literacy classes at the British Council and record a broadcast clip around lunchtime U.K. time. He will be interviewed by Indian broadcaster ANI in the afternoon. Picture desks, stand by for some heart-warming snaps of the couple with cute kids and lush backdrops.

**A message from Google: Google’s Be Internet Legends programme helps children learn five key skills needed to be safer online through interactive materials that make learning fun. Teachers and students are invited to join a Back to School assembly, in partnership with Parent Zone, on 14th September. Find out more.**

But the main event will be … A bilateral meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, scheduled to take place on the margins of the summit on Saturday, which could be critical for talks over a long-coveted trade agreement. 

Crunch time: Sunak faces “a political decision” on whether to press ahead with a slimmed down trade deal, my colleague Graham Lanktree reports — as Modi works to “bounce” the U.K. into a rapid agreement ahead of next year’s Indian election. Playbook’s Eleni Courea is part of the traveling press pack and will be bringing readers the latest.

Trade offs: Graham and Eleni report that there is hope an agreement can be reached before the end of the year, with potential domestic wins for both sides. One senior business representative is quoted as saying: “Modi is less interested in the deal itself, and more about the geopolitical message that it sends about India’s place in the world.” For Sunak, a deal would give him something to point to when voters question the wisdom of Brexit.

Win-win: The two sides are said to be looking at reaching a core deal on tariff reductions with some services access, while negotiations on complex issues like data flows and social security payments by short-stay visa holders are spun out over a longer timeline. It’s the visa aspect of the deal which most of the British papers focus on, including the Telegraph which splashes on the claim that Sunak will refuse to relax visa rules.

AS FOR THE SUMMIT: Over the weekend, the PM will speak in G20 sessions on climate and on emerging technologies and hold bilats with other leaders. Asked by Eleni whether he planned to speak to Chinese Premier Li Qiang (who is attending in President Xi Jinping’s place), Sunak said: “He’s there so — there’s a range of people that I’ll be expecting to try and speak to. Just more generally, that’s the point in these things.” 

As for the Russians: With President Vladimir Putin skipping the G20 for the second year in a row, Western nations want to use the summit to further isolate Moscow over its war in Ukraine. Asked if China was making an agreement on language at the summit more difficult, Sunak said: “We’re not there yet … we’ll continue to make the case for … what Russia is doing is wrong, why it’s right to support Ukraine.” He added: “The fact that Putin is not there demonstrates his isolation.” He vowed to tell Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov — who is attending in Putin’s stead — about “the consequences of their actions and highlighting the damage they are doing.”

No pain, no grain: Downing Street announced overnight that the U.K. would hold an international summit in November on food security, focused on alleviating the impact of the disruption to Ukrainian grain exports. 

Not now, coronavirus: G20 organizers have been crossing their fingers and toes hoping the leaders actually make it to the summit, given a new wave of COVID-19 is sweeping the globe. U.S. President Joe Biden is due to arrive today, having apparently dodged the lurgy after his wife Jill tested positive earlier this week. Spanish PM Pedro Sánchez wasn’t so lucky and is having to miss the summit.

VERY CLEVER: Foreign Secretary James Cleverly has the morning round to discuss all this — full timings below.

Ouch: Shadow Foreign Secretary David Lammy said Sunak would arrive at the G20 “as a minnow on the global stage” and suggested he was using the trip for “personal networking and Instagram content.” 

HOUSEKEEPING NOTE: No Lobby briefing today while the PM is gallivanting in India — Lobby resumes as normal Monday.


CfDs DOA? Expected in the next few moments — the results of the fifth contracts for difference (CfD) allocation round, the government’s flagship scheme for getting long-term financial support to renewable energy … and it looks likely to be a very bad day for one of the U.K.’s most important power sectors: offshore wind, my POLITICO colleague Charlie Cooper messages to say.

Offshore no-show? Earlier this week, Charlie reported profound industry concerns that, amid soaring supply chain costs, the price offered for offshore wind projects under this year’s CfD round was simply too low to be viable for most projects to bid. It now appears that no offshore wind projects — zero — will be getting CfD support in this auction.

Investment blow: Nathan Bennett, head of public affairs at RenewableUK, told Charlie there is indeed “a chance we might not see any” offshore wind projects. If so, the U.K. will “miss out on billions of pounds worth of investment and job creation opportunities,” he said.

£1 billion hit: Number-crunchers at the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit reckon that, if this comes to pass, British bill payers will miss out on savings worth £1 billion. Their analysis is here.  

COUTINHO’S FIRST CRISIS: It’s not a great news story for week one of new Energy Secretary Claire Coutinho’s tenure, with criticism from industry that the government simply got it wrong by setting the so-called administrative strike price for offshore wind too low.

It’s also bad news for … The government’s target of achieving 50 gigawatts of offshore wind power by 2030 — a vital milestone on the route to clean electricity by 2035 and ultimately the 2050 net-zero goal.

Wind in their sails: Opposition parties can be expected to seize on the results. A Labour aide told POLITICO: “This is an energy security disaster for the government. It means that we are going backwards on what is meant to be the crown jewels of the U.K. energy system.”

BUT BUT BUT … It’s not all doom and gloom. Prices offered for solar and other technologies were more generous, industry insiders say. Any solar project that bid will “probably” be successful, Chris Hewett, chief executive of Solar Energy UK, said. 

STILL BUZZIN: Science Secretary Michelle Donelan has an op-ed in City AM hailing the Horizon deal announced Thursday. She concludes: “We have taken another, truly momentous, step in our mission to make Britain a science and tech superpower, and I am confident that our country is ready to seize the moment.”


MAZEL TOV: Labour leader Keir Starmer is visiting a Jewish primary school in Hendon this morning, ahead of Rosh Hashanah next week. He’ll meet pupils from Year 6 and discuss how his own family will celebrate the Jewish New Year. Starmer’s wife, Victoria, is Jewish and the couple are members of London’s Liberal Jewish Synagogue. Jeremy who?

WHAT LABOUR WANTS TO TALK ABOUT: Labour’s main attack today focuses on what it says are weak business investment rates under the Conservatives. Shadow Business Secretary Jonathan Reynolds said: “Britain is a great place to start and grow a business. But, after 13 years of failure from the Conservatives, business investment is the lowest in the G7 and international competitors are overtaking us.”

THE PATH TO THE MANIFESTO: In his latest Times column, which Labour spinners seem increasingly to be using as a conduit to disseminate LOTO intel, Patrick Maguire reveals the agreement signed off at the party’s National Policy Forum at the start of the summer will be published next week. He also has some nice insights into Sue Gray’s first days in her role as Starmer’s chief of staff.

JUST HOW GREEN IS KEIR STARMER? According to the people who know him best — greener than you think. POLITICO’S Charlie Cooper (him again) has a long read on the Labour leader’s political instincts on all things green, and what they might tell us about a potential Starmer government.

Not uninterested: Unlike Rishi Sunak (who Zac Goldsmith recently accused of being “uninterested” in environmental issues) Starmer has a green hinterland, says solicitor Mark Stephens, a former colleague of Starmer who still counts the Labour leader as a friend. “There’s always been this ideal [in him] that there was a real need for green. I think he will be our first green prime minister.”

Au contraire: Others disagree. “I don’t trust him one bit,” said James Schneider, who served under Jeremy Corbyn. Schneider points to Labour watering down its £28 billion a year green investment pledge, which he argued “shows that they are quite happy to backtrack on green policies.” Starmer is unwise to shut out the grassroots climate movement, Schneider added. “He hectors and lectures climate protesters — it’s like an unpopular stepdad who has lost control of the kids.”

Green policy, repackaged: Whatever Starmer really thinks, the leader’s office is determined to sell its net-zero plans not as a moral imperative but as a cost-of-living bonus and an engine of economic growth. The rationale for that is clear, said Rob Ford, polling expert and professor of political science at the University of Manchester. Green policies are pretty popular, Ford pointed out, but “moral framing” for environmental issues caps the appeal to the most progressive third of the electorate. “They are in the bag for Labour anyway,” he said. 

But but but … Focus on jobs, bills and investment and you start to speak to 70 percent of voters, people who are “fairly indifferent to the moral argument, but really engaged by the economic argument,” Ford explained. “It’s a vote maximizing thing … It’s very Starmer.”


QUEEN REMEMBERED: Downing Street put out words from Rishi Sunak overnight to mark the first anniversary of the death of Queen Elizabeth II. He said: “With the perspective of a year, the scale of her late majesty’s service only seems greater.”

PARLIAMENT: Not sitting.

TRIALS OF BEING AN EX PM: To mark the anniversary this week of Liz Truss taking office and Boris Johnson standing down, my POLITICO colleague Aggie Chambre has a really lovely episode of the Westminster Insider podcast. She asks what on earth former prime ministers get up to after Downing Street — and if they should, in fact, be doing something else. She speaks to former Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng about the “emptiness” top politicians feel on being ousted from office. Plus political biographer Anthony Seldon takes Aggie through the history of former PMs, Unherd journalist Tom McTague talks Tony Blair and POLITICO’s own Annabelle Dickson describes tracking down Boris Johnson in Dallas.

STILL (STILL) ON THE RAAC: The RAAC row rumbles on. National World reports that schools affected by the crisis are launching online fundraisers to cover costs, while the TUC has called on the government to produce a national risk register of RAAC affected public buildings. The Mirror has more.

Potty mouth: Education Secretary and bubbly concrete adversary-in-chief Gillian Keegan makes it into Popbitch and the Times diary, which both recount another sweary outburst made by the then care minister when she took umbrage at her portrayal on the front of The House magazine.

MANHUNT CONTINUES: As the hunt continues for terror suspect Daniel Khalife, Peter Walker of the Guardian describes Britain’s crumbling, overcrowded jails. Chief Inspector of Prisons Charlie Taylor told Sophy Ridge on her Politics Hub show that Wandsworth jail, which Khalife bust out of Wednesday, should be shut down. “Ultimately, it’s not a suitable prison,” he said.

CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE: The FT’s splash suggests pensioners are in for an 8 percent boost to incomes in line with rising wages, thanks to the triple lock, while the Express’s front reckons the triple lock is in peril following IFS stats showing that the scheme could add £45 billion to public finances by 2050.

IN THE DOGHOUSE: Social media firms must remove animal cruelty content or face the threat of fines under a change to the Online Safety Bill — via the Guardian.

MISSING FRAUD SQUAD: Large gaps remain in the government’s understanding of its exposure to fraud and corruption with billions in expenditure lost without knowing how or where, a Public Accounts Committee report argues.

PRETTY VAPID: The Tories accepted a £350,000 donation from Supreme 8 Ltd, a company which sells vaping products with names like Cotton Candy Ice, despite the government pledging to crackdown on vapes aimed at children — the i’s Jane Merrick has the scoop. A Tory spokesperson told Playbook “We are not anti-vaping and the government is taking steps to increase penalties for vendors who sell vapes to children and closing loopholes on promotional offers.”

Dodgy sums: The Tories pushed back over Labour’s press release about the latest donation stats, saying that when public funding — or short money — is stripped out, the Conservatives pulled in more.

**Enter the “room where it happens”, where global power players shape policy and politics, with Power Play. POLITICO’s brand-new global podcast will host conversations with the leaders shaping today’s and tomorrow’s ideas, moderated by award-winning journalist Anne McElvoy. Sign up today to be notified of the first episodes in September – click here.** 


JUST BEYOND THE M25: The home counties are set to be most at risk from climate change due to a “deadly cocktail” of the highest number of over-65s and the highest temperatures, an Autonomy think tank report finds.

EUROPE FLOODS: At least 18 people have died with hundreds rescued after Storm Daniel caused torrential rain and flooding in parts of Greece, Turkey and Bulgaria — via ITV News.

GABON COUP LATEST:  Raymond Ndong Sima has been named head of Gabon’s transitional government following the military coup last month in which President Ali Bongo was deposed — Al Jazeera has further details.

IN MEXICO: Mexican human rights activists welcomed a ruling by the country’s supreme court that decriminalized abortion — the Guardian has more.


Foreign Secretary James Cleverly broadcast round: GB News (6.45 a.m.) … GMB (7.05 a.m.) … Sky News (7.20 a.m.) … LBC (7.35 a.m.) … Today program (7.50 a.m.).

Shadow Industry Minister Sarah Jones broadcast round: Sky News (8.10 a.m.) … Times Radio (8.35 a.m.) … LBC News (8.50 a.m.).

Also on GB News Breakfast: Former Tory MP David Mellor (8.15 a.m.) … HM Chief Inspector of Prisons Charlie Taylor (9.05 a.m.).

Also on Nick Ferrari at Breakfast: Prison Officers’ Association General-Secretary Steve Gillan (7.05 a.m.) … Met Police Commissioner Mark Rowley phone-in (8 a.m. to 8.30 a.m.) … former Cabinet Secretary Mark Sedwill (8.50 a.m.) … former Downing Street SpAd Rory Geoghegan (9.05 a.m.).

Also on LBC News: Prison Officers’ Association National Chair Mark Fairhurst (7.20 a.m.) … Lib Dem leader Ed Davey (7.40 a.m.).

Also on Times Radio: Former Head of Security at Wandsworth Prison Ian Acheson (8.10 a.m.).

TalkTV Breakfast: Tory MP James Sunderland (9.05 a.m.).


POLITICO UK: Liz Truss’ sacked chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng speaks of “emptiness” after Downing Street.

Daily Express: Yet again … threat to triple lock.

Daily Mail: Warring Royal brothers still 100 miles apart.

Daily Mirror: Thank you for your love.

Daily Star: Doddy didn’t become a ghost, diddy?

Financial Times: Pensions poised for fresh jump as “triple lock” matches wage growth.

i: Fugitive terror suspect’s escape investigated as possible prison “inside job.”

Metro: M-way chaos in hunt for “terror spy.”

The Daily Telegraph: PM refuses India’s plea for visas in trade talks.

The Guardian: Escape of terror suspect prompts prison cuts row.

The Independent: Was it an inside job? Soldier on run had “help” to escape jail.

The Times: Baby deaths “cover-up” investigated by the police.


The Economist: The new Middle East — the promise and the perils.


EU Confidential: The team looks ahead to what policies will dominate the news in the coming months with special guest Vjosa Osmani, president of Kosovo.

Westminster Insider: POLITICO’s Aggie Chambre explores what prime ministers get up to after leaving office.

Plus 6 of the other best political podcasts to listen to this weekend:

Encompass: Paul Adamson hears from the FT’s Peter Foster about his book — What Went Wrong With Brexit – And What We Can Do About It.

Jimmy’s Jobs of the Future: Jimmy McLoughlin meets Andy Parsons, photographer to four prime ministers from David Cameron to Liz Truss, about capturing political life through the lens.

Leading: Rory Stewart and Alastair Campbell interview Lib Dem leader Ed Davey about his time in the coalition government and the prospect of working with Labour leader Keir Starmer.

On the Couch: Lucy Beresford is in conversation with Culture Minister Stuart Andrew about World Suicide Prevention Day on Sunday and the role of government of combating loneliness.

Pod Save the UK: Coco Khan and Nish Kumar speak to recently appointed Shadow Culture Minister Chris Bryant about Westminster behavior and life in parliament.

The Prospect Podcast: Ellen Halliday talks to Elena Gordon, the mother of Russian opposition politician and British national Vladimir Kara-Murza, who has been sentenced to 25 years in a maximum-security Russian penal colony.


WESTMINSTER WEATHER: The September heatwave continues with sunshine and light winds, peaking at 32C on Saturday.

SPOTTED … at a celebration of the U.K.’s cultural and creative sectors in the newly-reopened National Portrait Gallery: Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer … DCMS Ministers Stephen Parkinson, John Whittingdale and Stuart Andrew … DCMS SpAds Meg Powell-Chandler, Neil Reilly and Pierre Andrews … HMT policy adviser Kristen McLeod … former Downing Street advisers Robbie Gibb, Michael Salter-Church and Craig Woodhouse … Courtauld Gallery Chair John Browne … Sir John Soane’s Museum Chair James Sassoon … Natural History Museum Chair and former Chief Scientific Adviser Patrick Vallance … Arts Council England CEO Darren Henley … Historic England Chair Neil Mendoza … Creative Industries Council Co-Chair Peter Bazalgette … Tate trustee Anya Hindmarch … Channel 4 Chief Executive Alex Mahon … and former ballet star Deborah Bull.

NEW GIG: Alicia Fitzgerald joins HuffPost UK’s lobby team, having previously worked at

QUIZ MASTERS: Congrats to Shadow Attorney General Emily Thornberry’s aides Rory Evans, Beatrice Barr, Alex Evangelou, Arianna Araghi and Labour veteran Damian McBride for winning the NFU MPs’ staffer quiz in Westminster last night under the team name Rishi Sunak’s Overactive Chopper. Kudos to the NFU staff for adding a “guess the Playbook headline” round too — kinda meta when Playbook PM’s Emilio Casalicchio was reading the questions.

CULTURE FIX: Break Out Culture, hosted by Tory peer Ed Vaizey and journalist Charlotte Metcalf, returns with the duo speaking to V&A Museum Chair Nicholas Coleridge.

PARTY LIKE IT’S 1997: The Spectator will hold a party at Labour conference for the first time since the party was anywhere near government.

DON’T MISS: A year after the death of Queen Elizabeth II, ITV1 broadcasts the 2006 film The Queen, starring Helen Mirren in the eponymous role and Michael Sheen as former Prime Minister Tony Blair, at 11.25 p.m.

DIARY NOTE: Sunday Times Pol Ed Caroline Wheeler‘s book Death in the Blood: The inside story of the NHS infected blood scandal, published by Headline, is released on September 21.

VISUAL AND AUDIO TREAT: Last Night of the Proms at the Royal Albert Hall commences on Saturday evening, dominating the BBC’s schedule from 7 p.m. on BBC Two and 9 p.m. on BBC One. In the Telegraph, Tory peer David Frost frets about whether the event is safe with the Beeb.

LISTEN TO: Defense Secretary Grant Shapps is the subject of Radio 4’s Profile, broadcast on Saturday at 7 p.m. and repeated over the weekend.

NOAH’S CULTURE FIX: The Father and the Assassin opens at the Olivier Theatre at 7.30 p.m., showing until October 14 … and Accidental Death of an Anarchist closes at the Theatre Royal Haymarket on Saturday at 7.30 p.m.

NOW READ: Redfield & Wilton Strategies has an interesting analysis about the prospect of a net-zero referendum … and Onward’s Sebastian Payne writes in the i that the U.K.’s re-entry into the Horizon program highlights the benefits of a bespoke approach on policy areas between the U.K. and EU after Brexit.

BIRTHDAYS: Former Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell … Shadow Health Minister Karin Smyth … Barking MP Margaret Hodge … East Devon MP Simon Jupp … Former Labour and Change U.K. MP Joan Ryan … Crossbench peer Norman Warner … Labour peer Bernard Donoughue … The Times’ Patrick Kidd … Evening Standard Deputy Political Editor Jitendra Joshi … U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders.

Celebrating over the weekend: Shadow Science, Innovation and Technology Secretary Peter Kyle … Former Treasury spinner James Chapman … Lib Dem peer Bill Bradshaw … the Civil Aviation Authority’s Dave Shaw … the Prime Minister from Love Actually Hugh Grant … Keir Starmer’s Chief of Staff Sue Gray … Former Rutherglen and Hamilton West MP Margaret Ferrier … Lib Dem peer Lorely Burt … Lib Dem peer John Thurso turns 70 … Shadow Foreign Affairs PAd Gavin Cowings.

PLAYBOOK COULDN’T HAPPEN WITHOUT: My editor Jack Lahart, reporter Noah Keate and producer Seb Starcevic.

**A message from Google: Kids today are growing up in a digital world, so giving them the knowledge to make good decisions online is essential. Aimed at 7-11 year olds, Google’s Be Internet Legends programme is designed to help children learn five key skills needed to be safer online. Recent research by IPSOS Mori found that kids are twice as likely to show a better understanding of internet safety after taking part in the programme. Our interactive materials make learning fun, including the adventure-filled Interland. In this free online game, children can explore four levels as they learn about thinking before they share, spotting signs of a scam, protecting passwords and respecting others online. Programme resources can all be found on the website and teachers and students are invited to join a special Back to School assembly, in partnership with Parent Zone, on Thursday 14th September. Find out more.**

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