London x London

Posted on 14th June 2023 Categories Things to do

By: Author Julianna Barnaby

Want to Visit the Houses of Parliament on a Tour? Here’s How…

Want to Visit the Houses of Parliament on a Tour? Here’s How…

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Planning to visit the Houses of Parliament and not sure where to start? Check out this step by step guide to the types of tours, ticket prices and what to expect before you go. 

The Houses of Parliament are more than just an iconic London landmark. They function as the heart of British power. 

Set in the Palace of Westminster, a Victorian Neo-Gothic affair on the banks of the Thames, the 1000+ rooms of the palace count among them two of the most important locations in UK politics – the House of Commons and House of Lords. 

Little wonder then that visiting the Houses of Parliament is one of the first things that people think of when visiting London. 

Who wouldn’t want to take a peek at the innards of authority, the place where decisions that shape the lives of British citizens are made on a daily basis? We certainly did for sure. 

Visiting Houses of Parliament

Having taken a Houses of Parliament tour previously, we can honestly say that it is one of the most fascinating things we’ve done in London full stop. This coming from a team that spends a lot of time researching and writing about London, and who’s as reticent to give out high praise as Scrooge was to give out money before his Christmas Carol transformation. 

In other words – you should totally go. 

The difficult thing is knowing where to start. That’s why we’ve written this guide to walk you through the options for visiting with and without a tour, the different kinds of Houses of Parliament tours available, where to get tickets and what to expect when you do. 

Do I Have to Book a Tour to Visit the Houses of Parliament? 

Usually, no. But it’s best to book in advance or you risk being turned away. 

There are several ways that you can usually visit the Houses of Parliament without booking a tour – the main ones are: 

  • Watch a debate or a committee

Watch Prime Minister’s Questions 

  • Watch Minister’s Question Times in the House of Commons or House of Lords 
  • Book onto one of Parliament’s special events or talks.

You do not have to book tickets for the first three, although it is advisable to book tickets for Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) as it is very popular and you are not guaranteed entry without a ticket. 

We will go into more detail on each of these in the section “Visiting the Houses of Parliament Without a Tour” below if you want to know more info but we thought it was worth dealing with the tours first as this is what we’ve been asked most questions about.

Choosing Which Houses of Parliament Tour to Book 

There are several different types of Houses of Parliament tour that you could go on – we’ve given you a breakdown of each of them as well as options for how to get your hands on tickets and (where relevant) lead times for each.

Houses of Parliament Guided Tour

Guided Tour

This is a 90-minute guided tour of the Houses of Parliament for which you have to pay. 

The tours are usually held on weekdays when Parliament is not in session and most Saturdays throughout the year. They go at a slow pace, allowing you to soak in the architecture and history of the buildings. 

These tours also held in French, Spanish, German and Italian on selected dates.

Cost: £32 for adults, £16 for kids, £26 for concessions, Disabled visitors are charged as per the above but an essential companion is free. 

How to Get Tickets: For the latest information on when these tours will return, click here .

Parliament audio tour

Rather take things at your own pace instead of going on a group tour but still want to explore the Palace of Westminster? You should consider an audio tour. 

The 90-minute audio tour provides a wealth of information about the buildings and the politics that happen within Parliament’s walls – in audio and video formats. 

It’s also available in a much wider range of languages than the guided tours and there are different versions for children and adults. 

Cost: £25 for adults, £9 for kids, £18.00 for concessions, under 5s free. Disabled visitors are charged as per the above but an essential companion is free. 

How to Get Tickets: Get your tickets for Parliament before they sell out here .

Private Guided Tours 

Parliament guided tour

Want to explore in a private group? Book a private guided tour. 

On the face of it, the £500 fee looks pretty steep but when you consider that it covers up to 10 people for a completely tailored tour, it doesn’t actually look so bad after all.

You’ll have to enquire about this privately as you can’t book online, but the tours generally begin first thing in the morning (Monday to Wednesday) and last around 75 minutes. 

Cost: Starts from £500 per group of up to 10 people 

How to Book: For bookings of 10 people or more, contact [email protected]

How to Take a Tour of the Houses of Parliament for Free

Exterior of Parliament

Did you know that UK residents can visit the Houses of Parliament for Free?

Scrap that, if you’re a UK resident, you can take a Democratic Access Tour of the Houses of Parliament for Free. 

We’ve taken one of these tours and it was riveting – 75 minutes of sights and information that had every single person fixed on every word our tour guide Sean had to say. 

The locations you cover during the tour depend on what’s happening on the day  – we were lucky enough to visit both houses (we literally squeaked into the House of Lords just in time). 

The tour is informative and educational, walking you through the daily business of MPs while they’re in the houses, the procedures that govern them and showcases the highlights of the Palace of Westminster along the way. 

We cannot recommend this enough – if you’re a UK resident and capable of getting to London, do it. 

The decisions that are made here influence every aspect of your life – not in an obscure and difficult to define fashion, but directly and with significant impact. Taking the time to understand how it works is never going to be a bad idea. 

How to Get Tickets: 

You have to be a UK resident to book one of the Houses of Parliament free tours. You’ll need to book through your local MP or a Member of the House of Lords to book up to six months in advance. 

There are often last-minute Houses of Parliament tickets available (within the next seven days) – you can email Parliament to book a space on one of them, or pop into the Ticket Office in front of Portcullis House. 

More information can be found here

Behind the Scenes Houses of Parliament Guided Tour 

Medieval Hall

This tour isn’t run by Parliament itself and is significantly more expensive than the standard guided tours we included above. 

So why are we listing it? Because it’s a much more in-depth and intimate tour that allows you to really immerse yourself in the world of Parliament past and present. 

In the course of two hours, you explore sections of the Palace of Westminster – including several places that aren’t covered by the other tours. 

This is really a tour for those who want to get down to the nitty gritty of the history and architecture of the Houses of Parliament and want to do it as part of a smaller group. 

Cost: £65 Adults, £59 Children (4-12), Infants three and under are free. 

How to get Tickets: Book online on Get Your Guide

Take a Virtual Tour

Can’t make your way to Parliament right now? Don’t stress. You can take a virtual tour of the buildings online. You’ll walk your virtual self through the corridors of power. It’s not the same as being there in person, but at least you don’t have to get off the sofa. 

Cost: Absolutely free. Hurrah.

How to get Tickets: Book online here.

Visiting the Houses of Parliament Without a Tour

Houses of Parliament and Big Ben

Now you’ve got a good grasp of the kinds of tours that you can take of the Houses of Parliament, We’re going to walk you through the ways that you can usually visit Parliament without a tour. 

It’s probably worth noting that you’re not allowed to just walk around the Palace of Westminster unguided (unless you’re doing an audio tour), so if you want to look around the buildings and learn about their history, a guided or audio tour are the only ways to do it. 

Watch a Debate or Committee 

Parliament Tour

MPs in the House of Commons and Peers in the House of Lords debate issues and proposed legislation on a daily basis – all of which anyone is able to view from the public galleries of the respective houses. 

In addition to this, both houses also hold committee meetings examine issues in detail on subjects large and small – all of which are open to the public. 

Though the waiting times vary dependent on the popularity / contentiousness of the subject, you are normally able to just turn up and hop into the queue for both debates and committee meetings.

The visitor attendants can give you a good idea of how long you can expect to wait when you arrive. 

How to Get Tickets: Not ticketed, just turn up and queue . 

Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) happens every Wednesday at 12pm when Parliament is in session.

Even before the explosive events of the past few years, PMQs has always been the most popular event at Parliament, which is why it’s a ticketed event. 

How to Get Tickets: Contact your local MP to request a ticket. If you’re not a UK resident or you haven’t booked a ticket in advance you can turn up on the day and try your luck but the pool of seats available is small. Not currently running but keep your eyes peeled on the website.

Watch Minister’s Question Time

This happens in both the House of Commons and the House of Lords – generally at the beginning of the day Monday to Thursday and you can go and watch it from the public galleries of the respective houses. 

Cost: Free 

How to Get Tickets: You can contact your local MP to request a ticket or turn up on the day. Minister’s Question Time can be popular, but it’s generally OK to turn up on the day. Not currently running but check the website for updates.

Book a Special Event or Talk

There’s so much going on at Parliament – they really take their role of educating the public about aspects of life in Parliament, the history of the buildings and issues we face as a country.

The only problem is… only a select number of people know about them, buried as they are in an obscure section of Parliament’s website. 

Now,  you know that we’re full-on geeky (we’ve learnt to embrace it), but the subject range is fascinating. These are the kinds of talks that if you put them on TED Talks millions of people would be watching them, but when it’s Parliament… they’re hardly the talk of the town.

Don’t get us wrong – they still sell out but when’s the last time you saw them on a list of interesting things to do in London this week. It’s a shame – we want to thoroughly encourage you to go and check out the calendar and book onto any that interest you. 

At the moment, these talks are all virtual. Current ones on the calendar include The Elizabeth Tower’s Conservation and How UK Parliament Works – a great place to start if you’re looking to learn more about Parliament.

Cost: Varies – most are free

How to Get Tickets: Check the Calendar of Upcoming Events and book tickets (mostly free) online.

Houses of Parliament and the Palace of Westminster: Frequently Asked Questions

They actually refer to the same place. The Palace of Westminster, where the Houses of Parliament are based today, actually used to be a royal palace: Henry VIII was the last monarch to use it as such.  These days, it’s no longer a royal palace and serves as a meeting place for the House of Commons and House of Lords, together: the Houses of Parliament.

Yes, you can go into the Houses of Parliament – either on a tour, to go and see a debate or committee, to watch Prime Minister’s Questions or Minister’s Questions, to attend a talk or event or to go and petition your MP.  You can’t, however, just walk around and see the inside of the Palace of Westminster unguided. 

Yes, you can visit the Houses of Parliament for free by going to watch a debate, Prime Minister’s Questions or Ministers Questions in the appropriate house. You can also book a spot on one of the free Democratic Access Tours run by Parliament on a frequent basis. 

It depends on which tour you book. The free tours of the Houses of Parliament are around 75 minutes while the paid guided tours last for 90 minutes. They also recommend allowing at least 90 minutes for the self-guided audio tour. 

No, there is no formal dress code for visiting Parliament… but it is illegal to enter Parliament wearing a suit of armour, just in case you were thinking of doing that. 

You can take photos in Westminster Hall and St Stephen’s Hall in the Houses of Parliament if you’re visiting but no, you can’t take photos in the rest of the Palace of Westminster.

Yes, the buildings are old but they’ve been updated to make them accessible to everyone. From ramps to information in sign language and tours specially tailored to people that need a little more help than others, it’s all there for you.  What’s more, for the tours and such, essential companions can go free. 

You can find more information about parliament’s accessibility here

Yes, you can! Parliament’s Jubilee Cafe is open from 9:00am to 5:45pm Monday to Wednesday and 10:00am to 5:45pm Thursday to Saturday. They do a selection of refreshments, sandwiches and such in case you’re peckish.  Alternatively check out our guide to Westminster for some good food nearby.

Unlikely, but possible. Obviously whoever the Tories have chosen as our leader for the month that you happen to visit will be present at PMQs – if you can get a ticket to that – but most of the time they will be working from No. 10, around the corner – or off in a foreign country doing important diplomatic work. 

Map of the Houses of Parliament, London 

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Visiting London's Houses of Parliament

TripSavvy / Taylor McIntyre

The Parliament of the United Kingdom is one of the oldest representative assemblies in the world. Parliament consists of the House of Commons and the House of Lords. The site of the Houses of Parliament is the Palace of Westminster, a royal palace and former residence of kings on the River Thames . Edward the Confessor had the original palace built in the 11th century.

The layout of the palace is intricate, with its existing buildings containing nearly 1,200 rooms, 100 staircases, and well more than two miles of hallways. Among the original historic buildings is Westminster Hall, now used for major public ceremonial events. The iconic Big Ben , a symbol of London, rises above the Parliament buildings. 

Getting There

Dennis K. Johnson / Getty Images

The Houses of Parliament are directly opposite the London Underground's Westminster station exit. You can't miss Big Ben as you leave the station. Use  Journey Planner  to plan your route by public transport.

Stop for Lunch or Dinner

There is a cafe inside the Houses of Parliament where you can stop once you are inside the building after your tour, but if you want to have lunch before your visit you have several convenient options. The ​Central Hall is a two-minute walk from the Houses of Parliament and has a peaceful cafe on the lower ground floor. The cafe is open daily and serves a full English breakfast, sandwiches, salads, hot lunches, and desserts, cakes. 

Another great little-known location for a cuppa is the Supreme Court, which is on the other side of Parliament Square and has a free permanent exhibition and a basement cafe worth knowing about.

Houses of Parliament Tours

David Murray / Getty Images

Tours of the Houses of Parliament last an hour and 15 minutes, and tours start every 15 minutes. You'll be in a group of about 20 people with a Blue Badge qualified guide. The tours are usually at their busiest in the afternoon so try to get there in the morning for a chance at a smaller group if you would like more opportunities to ask questions.

Tours are available every Saturday all year and during the summer recess of Parliament in August and September, when Parliament is not in session, or as the Brits say, does not sit. During the recess, you can take a tour from Monday to Saturday. There are no tours on Sunday or on bank holidays. Check the dates for the summer recess on the official website when you are making plans for a tour.

Tours include the chambers of both the House of Commons and the House of Lords, plus highlights such as the Queen's Robing Room, the Royal Gallery, Central Lobby, and St. Stephen's Hall. A bit of bad news: You won't be able to take photos except in Westminster Hall.

Seeing Parliament in Action

WPA Pool / Getty Images Europe

If you just want to turn up and go to the public galleries to watch a debate and maybe history being made, you can simply join the public queue outside St. Stephen's Entrance, but there is usually a one- or two-hour wait in the afternoons. To keep your waiting time down, it's best to arrive at 1 p.m. or later. The House of Commons Information Office can let you know in advance what is to be debated on specific days in the House of Commons. The public gallery is open when the House is sitting (​check the website for official times).

You can also sit in the public gallery and watch the House of Lords, which usually has a shorter waiting time.

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How To Visit the U.K. Parliament in 2024: Tickets, Hours, and Tours

Eddie Saint-Jean Last Updated: October 26, 2023

The U.K. Parliament in London has a fascinating history dating back to 1215 when disgruntled barons made King John sign the Magna Carta making him subject to the rule of law. This paved the way for the beginnings of Parliament in 1265 under Simon De Montfort. Getting into the Houses of Parliament is not straightforward, so we’ve put together this guide to help you plan. Here’s how to visit the U.K. Parliament.

Pro Tip:  Planning what to do on your trip to London? Bookmark this post in your browser so you can easily find it when you’re in the city. Check out our  guide to London  for more planning resources, our  top London tours  for a memorable trip, and the  top things to do in London .

Visiting the U.K. Parliament: What We’ll Cover

The U.K. Houses of Parliament, also known as the Palace of Westminster, has a long history with many interesting traditions that are still maintained today. The popular Guy Fawkes Day originates from events that took place here in 1605 when the Catholic zealot Guy Fawkes tried to blow up the Houses of Parliament.

While it is possible to visit the Houses of Parliament, you cannot simply walk in and wander around due to strict security. In this guide, discover what you need to know to visit the U.K. Parliament. Here’s what we’ll cover:

  • Opening hours and tickets
  • How much time to budget for your visit
  • What to see at the U.K. Parliament
  • Facts and history of the U.K. Parliament
  • Places to eat nearby

U.K. Parliament Opening Hours and Tickets

View of Palace of Westminster UK parliament from across the Thames river in London

Despite its high-profile politicians and tight security, visitors are allowed inside Parliament for specific purposes: guided tours, certainly, as well as Committee Room events, parliamentary debates, or Prime Minister’s Questions. But its high security means you cannot just wander around unguided or without a specific invite or ticket.

Opening Hours:

The U.K. Parliament or Palace of Westminster is open Monday to Friday from 9 am to 5 pm.

You have a choice of guided tours and multimedia tours. Multimedia tours allow you up to 90 minutes inside Parliament buildings using their audio guides. The guided tours last 75 minutes. All tours mostly take place on weekdays and Saturdays.

Also, access is more likely during Easter, summer, and Christmas, when Parliament is not in session. Still, visits are allowed at selected times even when Parliament is in session. You can book time slots for either multimedia or guided tours as long as they are between 9 am and 4:15 pm.

Contact the ticket offices at Portcullis House, Victoria Embankment for further information on guided tours in French, Spanish, Italian, and German, all of which are available on selected dates. 

Visits Without Tours:

There are three options. Firstly, you can watch the Prime Minister’s Questions or Minister’s Questions without a guide. These take place in the House of Commons and House of Lords.

Secondly, you can see a parliamentary debate or a committee at work. Thirdly, there are parliamentary talks, events, petitions, and Private Members’ Bills where visitors are permitted.

The guided tour costs £32 for Adults, while Young Adults (16 – 18 years old) pay £26. Concessions (Over-6os, students, and U.K. Armed Forces) are £26. Children (5 – 15 years old), £16; Children under 5 get in free.

For the multimedia tour: Adults pay £25, Young Adults (16 – 18 years old) pay £18, Children (5 – 15 years old) pay £8, and Children Under 5 get in free. Concessions are £18.

Note: U.K. residents can book both these tours for free.

Address: Palace of Westminster

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How Long To Spend at the U.K. Parliament

Short answer: 75 minutes for a guided tour; 90 minutes for the multimedia tour.

Your tour includes visits to the House of Commons, the House of Lords, and Westminster Hall. This talk covers the history of the building, the creation of Parliament, and the democratic and legislative processes within Parliament today. Since both tours are for set times, you’re unlikely to run over.

However, if you’re attending a separate ticketed parliamentary event, it all depends on the times for the event itself.

What To See in and Near the U.K. Parliament 

People walking in Parliament Square London with Churchill statue in foreground

  • Commons Chamber: Prime Minister’s Question Time, Parliamentary debates
  • The Lords Chamber: Question Time, Debates, and Legislation Work
  • The House of Lords Committee Rooms: Select Committee work
  • The Parliamentary Archives 
  • The Churchill Arch
  • Statues in the Palace
  • The Speaker’s Chair
  • The Royal Gallery
  • Central Lobby
  • The Cloisters
  • Parliament Square (includes statues of Nelson Mandela, Ghandi, and Winston Churchill)
  • Auguste Rodin’s sculpture The Burghers of Calais (in Victoria Tower Gardens, next to Parliament)

Facts and History of the U.K. Parliament

Interior view of Westminster Hall at the Parliamentary Estate in London showing its beautiful roof.

  • The Houses of Parliament are also known as the Palace of Westminster. 
  • Westminster Hall was built in 1097 by William II, son of William the Conqueror. It was the biggest and grandest hall in Europe at that time. It’s the oldest building in the Houses of Parliament.
  • The first English Parliament was held in 1265, when French nobleman Simon de Montfort, Earl of Leicester, led a group of rebellious barons seeking representational democracy and the curbing of Henry III’s absolute power. 
  • The medieval parliament burned down in 1834. The fire destroyed most of the Palace of Westminster. 
  • Oliver Cromwell was sworn in as Lord Protector in Westminster Hall. He was anti-royal but was sworn in wearing regal-looking robes. 
  • In 1605, a zealot Catholic called Guy Fawkes tried to blow up the Houses of Parliament. He was caught in the House of Lords basement with barrels of gunpowder.
  • The Queen is banned from the House of Commons. This convention was introduced in 1642 after King Charles I entered the Commons with soldiers to try and arrest five MPs for treason.
  • A parliamentary official with the title Black Rod has the Commons door ceremoniously slammed in his face before the Queen’s Speech. After this ritual, he bangs on the door three times with his rod. This traditional act occurs when he summons MPs from the Commons Chambers to hear the Queen’s Speech. The slamming of the door represents the independence of the Commons.

Places To Eat Nearby

There’s a café in the Palace of Westminster. But you’re just as likely to find healthy, filling snacks and meals—and perhaps rub shoulders with politicians—in the nearby cafés and restaurants. For more options, check out the full list of best restaurants nearby .

Jubilee Café : £££ | Coffee Shop —This café in Westminster Hall has a selection of snacks, paninis, and sandwiches, plus pastries, sweets, and cakes. The quaint English Jubilee cream tea is a visitor favourite, but there’s also barista coffee and other beverages.

Riverside Café : ££ | River Views —This is a short but soul-lifting walk through parklands known as Victory Tower Gardens, and then over Lambeth Bridge. The café has the best views of Parliament and the Thames river compared to other eateries in the area. It serves a full English Breakfast, of course, as well as pizza, burgers, baguettes, salads, and hot and cold beverages.

The Cinnamon Club : £££+ | Former Victorian Library —There’s an elegant and exclusive atmosphere to this classy Indian restaurant. The curry, seafood, and soup dishes have a gourmet touch. Traditional English game such as venison is served in an artisanal Indian culinary style. There are a few menu surprises, too, like snake!

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UK Parliament: Multimedia Tour Dates and Times

Multimedia tour of the palace of westminster.

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Ukrainian first lady considers Hunka matter 'resolved'

Olena zelenska says parliament's recognition of man who fought for nazi unit was used by russia for propaganda.

Olena Zelenska sits in front of a laptop wearing wireless earphones, with a Ukrainian flag in the background

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Ukrainian first lady Olena Zelenska believes Ukraine and Canada have put the Yaroslav Hunka affair behind them, she said in her first public comments on the matter since her visit to Canada last fall.

In a Canadian exclusive interview, Zelenska said it was unfortunate the vetting process allowed for a standing ovation in the House of Commons for Hunka — a Ukrainian Canadian who fought with a Nazi unit during the Second World War — during Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's visit in September. 

Speaking through a translator, Zelenska told CBC News chief correspondent Adrienne Arsenault this week that Ukraine's delegation had no input into who was invited to Parliament. 

"Of course, we couldn't control who would be invited to the Canadian Parliament. We couldn't give our guidance," she said.

"It's bad that we conducted our research afterward, and not the people who had invited him to Parliament."

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She said she wasn't sure if a formal apology had been given. 

"I can't say for sure, but I think that yes, at the official diplomatic level, this matter was somehow resolved," Zelenska said.

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Ukrainian president's wife on Hunka controversy

She also highlighted how Russia used the incident as a propaganda tool.

"Indeed, this is yet another example of Russia using every opportunity to discredit us," she said. "Any moment, any chance."

Life-or-death situation

The interview comes nearly two years after Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Defence experts say the country is facing a shortage of ammunition and troops , and new aid from the United States and European Union has been  slow in coming . 

Zelenska said that aid to Ukraine is a matter of life and death for the country's civilians and soldiers. 

"I would really like to wish for all politicians who make any decision to remember that they are not just making a political decision," she said. "At that moment in time, they are deciding the fate of every Ukrainian child, woman or man." 

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'Every political decision has Ukrainian lives at stake,' says president's wife

One critical element of military protection is air defence, Zelenska said. 

"We need air defence systems to protect our cities," she said. "If they are not in place, there is no protection. There is no normal life, no hope that people will stop dying."

Canada announced plans to donate a $406-million surface-to-air missile defence system  last January, but a year later, it is still not clear when it will be delivered.

'Parenting cannot be done over the phone'

Zelenska also spoke about how the constant bombardment of Ukraine's major cities, such as Kyiv, Odessa and Kharkiv, has uprooted Ukrainians' lives over the past two years.

She spoke candidly about the everyday family things that Ukrainian families — including hers — no longer get to experience.

visit house of commons

Zelenskyy's family cherishing every moment they get together

"We're trying to squeeze out all the positive emotions that we can get from every moment when we are all together," she said. "Of course, we miss peaceful family dinners when we don't have to keep track of time."

She also reflected on how her husband's job continues to impact her children's upbringing. 

"I would like their father to be able to give them more of his attention," she said. "We just simply miss conversations. Parenting cannot be done over the phone." 

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Ukrainian president's wife fights against 'fatigue and fatalistic thoughts'

Despite the challenges Ukraine is facing, she said there is also determination to keep fighting for the future of the country.

"Our soldiers are fighting now so that our children will not have to fight."

Watch the full interview with Olena Zelenska tonight on The National: 9 p.m. ET on CBC News Network and CBC News Explore, and 10 p.m. local (10:30 p.m. NT) on CBC and Gem.

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Rishi Sunak

Rishi Sunak’s Rwanda deportation bill passes third reading in Commons

Flagship policy passes committee stage after tense lead-up in which Tory divisions came to the fore

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Rishi Sunak has survived a damaging row over his flagship Rwanda bill after a Conservative rebellion melted away and dozens of rightwing MPs balked at further undermining the prime minister’s authority.

After a crucial 11th hour meeting of more than 45 Tory rebels, the group’s leaders concluded that defeating the bill by voting alongside Labour during an election year could risk collapsing the government.

Just 11 Conservative hardliners , including the former home secretary Suella Braverman and Robert Jenrick, the former immigration minister, voted against the legislation, which passed by 320 votes to 276, a majority of 44.

There was relief in Downing Street that after days of chaos and infighting at Westminster, during which dozens of Tories rebelled to support amendments to try to toughen up the legislation, the bill has eventually passed its final Commons hurdle.

Sunak now faces further bruising battles with peers who are already threatening to amend the Rwanda deportation plan in the House of Lords to make sure that it complies with international law.

MPs vote against Jenrick's amendment to Rwanda bill – video

The legislation will then face a series of legal challenges from individuals threatened with deportation to Rwanda. Government lawyers have suggested there is only a “50/50” chance of the first flight taking off before an autumn general election.

The Guardian understands that the Home Office has already selected the first 100 people who will be deported. Officials said the cases had been selected because there were no obvious grounds for appeal.

Despite his gamble to face down the right of his party paying off, Sunak has been left weakened by the resignations of two Conservative party deputy chairs , Lee Anderson and Brendan Clarke-Smith, and scores of his MPs arguing that the policy will not work.

He suffered a further rebellion on Wednesday as 61 Tory MPs voted for an amendment, drafted by Jenrick, that was designed to block last-minute injunctions from European judges. The amendment was ultimately rejected by MPs by 65 to 536.

The shadow home secretary, Yvette Cooper, told MPs on Wednesday evening: “This chaos leaves the prime minister’s authority in tatters – he’s in office but not in power. No one agrees with him on his policy. And the real weakness is that he doesn’t even agree with it himself.”

At prime minister’s questions, Sunak vowed that he would “get a grip” on the small boats crisis. Yet Downing Street did not deny reports that the Home Office has lost contact with more than 4,000 people earmarked for removal to Rwanda.

The government had announced a number of “sweeteners” to make the bill more acceptable to Tory MPs, including a planned change to Whitehall rules meaning civil servants must ignore Strasbourg judgments halting Rwanda deportation flights.

MPs vote in favour of government's Rwanda bill – video

However, unions condemned the plans , which mean that Home Office staff removing asylum seekers will be told to implement last-minute injunctions from the European court of human rights only if ordered to do so by a minister. Three civil service unions said this would mean that senior mandarins and border force staff would have to choose between breaking international law, disobeying the instructions of a minister, and resigning.

Ministers had already announced plans to expand court capacity and recruit 150 new judges to fast-track asylum appeals under the Rwanda bill. The most senior judge in England and Wales, Sue Carr, spoke out after the announcement , saying the deployment of judges should be “exclusively a matter for the judiciary”.

However, ministers were unable to offer the concessions to harden up the bill as a result of warnings from the 100-plus One Nation group of centre-right MPs that they could not tolerate attempts to make the legislation even more hardline.

During the second day of debates over the amendments, Jeremy Wright, the former Conservative attorney general, said it would be a mistake for the government to imply that international law does not matter.

“What [the government] cannot properly do is set themselves up as judge in their own cause on questions of international law. This house would be wrong to pass a bill that suggested that they could,” he said.

In the Commons, Braverman had pleaded with colleagues to vote against the bill, telling them: “This is our last chance to fix this problem. If we get it wrong, the British people will not forgive us.”

Tory rebels even drafted their own Rwanda bill, which they said would block all migrant appeals against deportation without breaching international law.

A total of 11 Tory MPs voted against the bill, including former cabinet minister Simon Clarke, veteran Tory Bill Cash and New Conservatives leaders Miriam Cates and Danny Kruger. A further 18, from both wings of the party, abstained.

However, the majority of Tory rebels came to a different conclusion. “I can’t walk through the voting lobbies with Keir Starmer when there’s an election around the corner and especially on the issue of migration,” one told the Guardian.

Others were concerned that blowing up the Rwanda plan by voting against third reading of the bill would immediately throw the government into chaos and leave the Tories facing electoral oblivion. The Tory MP Bob Seely said: “We kill the bill tonight, we can all go and look for new jobs, so that is what we are facing.”

Tim Loughton, a former minister, warned Conservative MPs who intended to vote against the bill to “stop and consider before they pull the pin out of another grenade”, arguing that although it was not perfect, it was “the only show in town”.

One Tory rebel source, speaking after the last-minute meeting, told reporters: “The majority of those people who spoke in the room have decided to back the bill at third reading. A small number of colleagues will vote no on a point of principle. But the overwhelming likelihood is that the bill will pass probably quite comfortably this evening.”

There were farcical moments in a day of drama, as when Rwanda’s president, Paul Kagame, suggested that the UK’s plans to bring in its deportation plan were taking too long . He told the World Economic Forum in Davos: “There are limits for how long this can drag on.” Asked by journalists if he was following the debate in London, Kagame was blunt: “It is the UK’s problem, not ours.”

Keir Starmer in House of Commons

His government has received around £240m from the UK as part of the deal, with a further £50m expected later this year. Kagame suggested this could be returned if Sunak failed to get the deportation scheme off the ground.

“The money is going to be used on those people who will come,” he said. “If they don’t come, we can return the money.”

However, a Rwandan government spokeswoman later said the country has “no obligation” to return any of the funds paid, but if the UK requested a refund, “we will consider this”.

She made clear that this would apply only to a portion of funds that were specifically allocated to pay for support for migrants. Senior Home Office officials have so far refused to say how much more money the UK has already agreed to pay Rwanda under the initial five-year deal.

Enver Solomon, the chief executive of the Refugee Council, said the bill would result in thousands of desperate people disappearing in the UK to avoid being deported. “It’s time for the government to admit that the Rwanda plan is entirely unworkable and will only cause more human suffering.

“The reality is that the government’s plans are pushing desperate people into unsafe and dangerous situations. We fear many of them will disappear, facing the risk of abuse and exploitation to avoid being sent to Rwanda.”

  • Immigration and asylum
  • Foreign policy
  • Conservatives
  • Rishi Sunak
  • House of Commons

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Setback for Sunak’s Rwanda bill pledge as peers reject his call for haste

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Sunak pressures Lords to pass Rwanda bill and denies Tory split on issue

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Sunak’s plan to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda receives first parliamentary defeat

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Why so tetchy, tech bro? Rish! doesn’t take well to Rwanda fantasy being challenged

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‘We are just being used’: asylum seekers react to passing of Rwanda bill

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UK’s Rwanda bill is a ‘step towards totalitarianism’, says Lord Carlile

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The Rwanda bill passing could be just the start of Sunak’s troubles

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PMQs live: Sunak faces Starmer for first time since call to quit - with Tories set for 'watershed moment' within weeks

Rishi Sunak is facing Keir Starmer at PMQs for the first time since he was told to stand down by former cabinet minister Sir Simon Clarke, who warned the Conservatives face "clear electoral consequences" if he stays for the general election expected later this year.

Wednesday 24 January 2024 11:43, UK

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  • Sunak facing first PMQs since call to resign
  • Tory MP told PM to quit with warning of electoral 'massacre'
  • Serena Barker-Singh: Tory infighting gives Starmer another gift
  • 'What everyone knows but won't say out loud' - Tory source tells Beth Rigby
  • By-elections next month could be 'watershed moment' for PM
  • Clarke told to 'keep quiet' after newspaper article
  • Jon Craig: Attack more kamikaze than mutiny... for now
  • Sky News Daily:  Houthi strikes - does Britain have an endgame?
  • Pledge tracker: Is Sunak keeping his promises?
  • Live reporting by  Faith Ridler

Rishi Sunak has just left Number 10 on his way to Prime Minister's Questions, which will kick off in the Commons at noon.

Here, the prime minister will face questions from Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, the SNP's Westminster leader Stephen Flynn and a number of backbench MPs.

Former Tory deputy chairman Lee Anderson has admitted he should have voted for the Rwanda bill after quitting his role to back amendments aimed at toughening up the law.

Mr Anderson said he would take back his job as Tory deputy chairman if asked to do so by the government.

The MP said he should have been "brave" and voted with the government in the third reading of the Rwanda bill, rather than abstaining.

He had originally intended to vote against the legislation when the amendments failed, but said he could not follow through.

"To go through the 'no' lobby… was an emotional thing, really. I felt like I was letting my party down," he told The Telegraph.

"And also, I thought that I probably should have voted for it because if the bill would have been killed on that night, there was nothing else, there was no Plan B. 

"There was nothing else. It was either vote for a bill that might succeed or vote against a bill and have nothing."

However, with hindsight, Mr Anderson said he should have "accepted democracy" and voted with the government.

It's getting hard to remember a PMQs where the prime minister hasn't had to face the leader of the opposition while wrestling with a crisis in his own party.

The latest Conservative drama started last night when a senior backbencher and former cabinet minister - Sir Simon Clarke - called for Rishi Sunak to step aside.

In a damning Telegraph article, Sir Simon, who worked with Mr Sunak at the Treasury during Boris Johnson's premiership, said the PM had gone from "from asset to anchor" and warned the party faced an electoral "massacre" under his leadership.

He was not mincing his words - but for now, he remains one of only two rebels who have publicly called for the Mr Sunak to resign from office.

While that's not likely, it again chips away at an already bruised prime minister - the latest Tory infighting cutting across the unity he had hoped to rely on going into an election year.

Expect to hear Sir Keir Starmer reference that gift he's been handed at PMQs - Rishi Sunak, for the third week in a row, starting on the back foot.

The new year is upon us, and the political party leaders are working hard to convince the public to back them in the upcoming general election.

But while the latest opinion polls will likely be a source of new year cheer for Labour, Conservative MPs will be feeling a distinct lack of goodwill.

The Sky News live poll tracker - collated and updated by our Data and Forensics team - aggregates various surveys to indicate how voters feel about different political parties.

Labour is sitting on an average of 44.4%, with the Tories on 24.7% - a roughly 20-point lead.

In third are the Lib Dems on 10%, followed by Reform on around 9.7% and the Greens on 5.9% - with the SNP on 3.2%.

See the latest update below - and you can read more about the methodology behind the tracker  here .

One year ago, Rishi Sunak made five pledges for voters to judge him on.

The prime minister met his pledge to halve inflation by the end of 2023 - even though there was a surprise increase in the 12 months to December - leaving four pledges outstanding.

When it comes to the NHS, while both waiting lists and waiting times are shrinking slightly, the waiting list is still longer than in January last year, and the junior doctor pay dispute has not been resolved.

And as the Rwanda plan divides the Tory party, small boat crossings continue.

So, with the general election approaching, how is the prime minister doing on delivering his other promises?

You can see the progress for yourself below.

Sir Keir Starmer has said Labour would oversee a "total crackdown" on the availability of knives on British streets, promising a comprehensive ban to tackle knife crime.

The Labour leader hit out at ministers' delay in bringing forward a promised ban on zombie-style knives, pledging to instead extend the ban to a wider range of weapons and toughen current rules on serration and length.

The government put forward plans to ban some zombie-style knives in August last year, but this has yet to be implemented.

An announcement on legislation to enforce the ban is expected shortly.

Sir Keir said the Conservatives are "letting a generation down" by failing to fulfil "grand promises of action".

"The number of these deadly weapons on Britain's streets is terrifying, and unacceptable," he said.

"For years, the Tories have made grand promises of action, but by failing to bring a proper ban on these killer knives and to crack down on online sales to kids, they're letting a generation down.

"The tragic cost is being felt by too many. Young people are being killed or maimed, and communities are blighted by fear."

By Jennifer Scott , political reporter

Transport Secretary Mark Harper has said he will look at plans to revive the northern section of HS2 through private investment with "an open mind".

Speaking at a Conservative Home conference in central London, the minister said he and Rishi Sunak had given a "commitment" to the Tory mayor of the West Midlands, Andy Street, to examine any proposal he brought forward - after the government decided last year to scrap the leg between Birmingham and Manchester.

Mr Harper confirmed that Mr Street and Labour's mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, had now commissioned a study into how it could be done through partnerships with business, following reports over the weekend.

And while the transport secretary said he was "somewhat sceptical" about whether the private sector could take on the project without cash from the public purse, he promised to meet the two regional leaders, adding: "I will listen to them."

You can read more from Sky News below:

We've just been hearing from Home Secretary James Cleverly, who has responded to ex-minister Sir Simon Clarke's call for Rishi Sunak to resign.

Mr Cleverly said it would be "foolish" for the Tory party to indulge in infighting as a result of this.

He added: "I know Simon very well, I like him and respect him. I could not disagree with him more on this particular issue."

The minister said Mr Sunak was succeeding in his efforts to reduce inflation and cut the number of people arriving on small boats.

"He is absolutely determined to drive this government further in the delivery of the plan," the home secretary said.

"And if we were to do something as foolish as have an internal argument at this stage, all it would do is open the door for Keir Starmer and Keir Starmer has no plan, would undo all the good work, take us right back to square one.

"So I'm going to stick with the plan. I'm going to stick with the prime minister and I'm going to keep working on behalf of the British people."

A second major wave of airstrikes has been carried out by American and British forces on Houthi targets in Yemen in response to the group's attacks on merchant ships in the Red Sea.

The first round of strikes did not deter the Houthis from continuing to attack shipping and the prime minister was pushed in the House of Commons today on what Britain's long-term strategy would be if the Houthis keep up their attacks.

On this episode of the Sky News Daily , Niall Paterson is joined by military analyst Michael Clarke and Sky's international affairs editor Dominic Waghorn to analyse the latest decisions made in the conflict.

Plus, Sky's deputy political editor Sam Coates discusses the politics behind the strikes and what the endgame looks like on home soil.

Click to subscribe to the Sky News Daily wherever you get your podcasts

Unavoidable hidden charges for online consumers, a practice known as drip pricing, is to be banned under a wider transparency drive.

The Department for Business and Trade (DBT) said additional fees, which are only revealed late in the checkout process and cost customers £2.2bn a year, must be included in the headline price under the planned Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill.

The measure will affect things like tickets for trains and the cinema but not optional fees, such as airline seat and luggage upgrades.

The crackdown will also see fake reviews added to a list of banned business practices, with website hosts to be accountable for information on their pages.

New rules on grocery pricing also aim to make costs clearer for shoppers.

You can read more from Sky News in the link below:

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    Everyone is welcome at UK Parliament. Read information to help you plan your visit including how to find us, disability access, security and facilities. We're excited to be welcoming visitors back to UK Parliament in person, alongside our online events.

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    The Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill was introduced in the Commons on 7 December 2023 and had its second reading on 12 December.. The bill's purpose is to "prevent and deter unlawful migration, and in particular migration by unsafe and illegal routes, by enabling the removal of persons to the Republic of Rwanda" under a controversial relocation treaty.

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