Cabinet ministers denies PM lied to parliament over Partygate
Conservative former minister Tobias Ellwood says Boris Johnson should “show leadership” by giving MPs the chance to back him in a vote of confidence.
Asked about the ongoing Partygate saga, which last week saw the prime minister fined for breaking his own coronavirus laws, Mr Ellwood told bbc breakfast that now was the time for a vote on Mr Johnson’s future.
“Unfortunately, many MPs continue to be very, very concerned by where we’re going,” he said, adding: “If I was the prime minister, I would show leadership here, recognize this requires crisis management as such, and say that ‘these are difficult times, I will give you the opportunity to support me through an actual vote of confidence’.”
It comes as Mr Johnson is expected to make a “full-throated apology” to MPs on Tuesday in his first statement to the Commons since he was fined by the Metropolitan Police for attending a birthday bash – thrown in his honor – in the Cabinet room in June 2020 while strict Covid restrictions were in place.
Speaker: MPs to vote on Thursday over claims Johnson lied to parliament
Lindsay Hoyle, the Commons Speaker, has kicked off this afternoom’s proceedings by announcing that multiple MPs have written to him about the prime minister.
This includes Keir Starmer, the Labor leader, he says.
Sir Lindsay says it is not for him to police the ministerial code, and that he has no jurisdiction over it, “even though a lot of people think I have”. It is also not his role to consider if the PM has committed to contemplate, he tells MPs.
But, having taken advice “from the clerks of the House”, he says he has decided to allow this request to take precedence “accorded to the issue of privilege”.
As a result, Sir Keir can table a motion for Thursday. “Scheduling the debate for Thursday will, I hope, give members an opportunity to consider the motion and the response to it,” he says, adding:
“I hope this is helpful to the House.”
Sir Lindsay made the statement ahead of Boris Johnson’s scheduled speech to the Commons, where he is due to apologize after being fined by police for breaking his own Covid laws.
Sam Hancock19 April 2022 14:48
PM wrong to use Brexit to justify ‘delinquent’ Rwanda plan – senior Tory
Former Brexit minister David Davis has accused Boris Johnson of “moral delinquency” over the government’s decision to send asylum seekers to Rwanda.
The senior Conservative MP condemned the PM for using Brexit to justify the plan to fly cross-channel migrants to East Africa.
It comes after MR Johnson invoked his pledge of “taking back control” of borders, claiming that offshore processing is an “innovative approach made possible by Brexit freedoms”. But Mr Davis said:
“The freedoms of Brexit should be about innovations justifying British exceptionalism on the basis of moral leadership – not moral delinquency.”
Sam Hancock19 April 2022 14:38
PM will attempt to persuade, but not lecture, India to loosen Russian ties
No 10 has released some details of Boris Johnson’s upcoming trip to India this week, where he will encourage Narendra Modi to loosen ties with Russian president Vladimir Putin.
The PM will not seek to “lecture” his Indian counterpart, despite concerns within the government that Mr Modi has not been strong enough in condemning Russia’s actions in Ukraine, Downing Street insisted.
It added that Mr Johnson will promise to work with India and other countries in a similar position to reduce their dependence on Russian fossil fuels and defense equipment.
At Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting, Mr Johnson told ministers the UK had a “deep and long-lasting partnership” with India which he would seek to expand.
The PM will meet Mr Modi in New Delhi on Friday.
Ahead of the trip, Nick Thomas-Symonds, the shadow international trade secretary, said Mr Johnson must secure commitments on climate change and labor standards in supply chains. “Otherwise, people will – rightly – see this as a vanity trip to distract from the prime minister’s law-breaking and failure to tackle the cost-of-living crisis,” the Labor frontbencher insisted.
Sam Hancock19 April 2022 14:23
UK should put clocks forward extra hour to save on energy bills – Lib Dem peer
Tory ministers are being urged to put British clocks forward an extra hour to help alleviate the pressures caused by Britain’s worsening cost of living crisis.
The Liberal Democrat peer John Lee said moving to Central European Time would help reduce household bills as it would maximize daylight in the evenings.
It comes as inflation reached its highest level in 30 years and energy bills continued to rise, aisha rimi writes.
“Double summer time would be relatively cheap, it wouldn’t really cost the government anything of significance as far as I’m aware,” Lord Lee said, adding he would call on the government to consider its position on the suggestion when the House of Lords returns from recess later this month.
Sam Hancock19 April 2022 13:55
No 10 refuses to back minister’s claim PM’s fine ‘like parking ticket’
Boris Johnson’s spokesperson has refused to support Northern Ireland secretary Brandon Lewis’ claim that the fine levied on the PM for breaking lockdown rules was similar to a parking ticket (see post from 10.09am). Asked if the PM agreed with what Mr Lewis said, the No 10 official said:
“On this issue the prime minister will be making a statement to the house and I think, as much as possible, it’s right that parliament hear from him first rather than from me.
“He’s talked about understanding the strength of feeling about this issue, which is why he has apologized, and fully respects the outcome of the police investigation.”
Pressed on whether Mr Johnson agreed with the analogy, the spokesperson said only that he had not asked the PM about this.
Asked if the PM is one of the many people who feels he “fell short”, the spokesperson said Mr Johnson would be setting out his views himself later.
We’ll post live updates when Mr Johnson addresses MPs in the Commons at around 3.30pm.
Sam Hancock19 April 2022 13:45
Watch: Jacob Rees-Mogg’s comments about British concentration camps in Africa resurface
Jacob Rees-Mogg’s comments about British concentration camps in Africa resurface
Emily Atkinson19 April 2022 13:20
PM urges ministers to encourage officials back to Whitehall offices
Boris Johnson is urging minsiters to return the number of officials working in Whitehall to pre-pandemic levels.
“Clearly the prime minister feels that it is important that we make best use of taxpayer-funded departments which are not returning, currently, to the levels we saw before the pandemic,” his spokesperson said.
“This is not simply just about value-for-money for taxpayer-funded buildings, but also it’s a benefit to the staff – particularly junior staff who benefit from face-to-face working – and obviously we know there are benefits that can help , therefore, delivery for the public as well.
“So, it’s right that we continue to push for a return to pre-pandemic levels.”
The spokesman acknowledged there was not enough desk space for all civil servants to be in the office permanently.
“We do want to see the buildings being used at full occupancy,” the spokesman said.
Emily Atkinson19 April 2022 13:13
Tory and Brexit supporters back far-right Marine Le Pen to become French president, poll reveals
The National Rally (RN) – formerly National Front – leader is backed by 37 per cent of Tory voters at the last election, while just 24 per cent support the centrist Emmanuel Macron, writes our deputy political editor Rob Merrick.
The margin is even greater among Leave voters at the 2016 Brexit referendum, who prefer Ms Le Pen over the current president by 35 per cent to 19 per cent.
Emily Atkinson19 April 2022 13:05
UK to seek out alternative energy and defense supply options for countries reliant on Russia
The PM is looking to provide countries like India with alternative sources for their energy supplies and defense equipment in a bid to break the Russian monopoly, No 10 has said.
Boris Johnson’s official spokesperson said the Cabinet were briefed on the matter, which he hopes to set in motion with the help of other Western allies, ahead of his imminent visit to India to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“When it comes to India and other democratically-elected countries we think the best approach is to engage with them constructively, to try to broaden the alliance of democratic states against Russia,” the spokesman said.
“We want to provide alternative options to countries which are perhaps more dependent on energy and security. That is the approach we think will be most effective.
“We do not think that pointing fingers or shouting from the sidelines are effective ways of engaging with democratically-elected countries.”
Emily Atkinson19 April 2022 12:57
War in Ukraine entering ‘attritional’ phase, Cabinet told
The war in Ukraine has entered an “attritional” phase which could span several months, ministers have been warned.
At this morning’s weekly meeting of the Cabinet, the prime minsiter told those present that Ukraine still holds a “perilous” position, while President Putin has been “angered by defeats but determined to claim some sort of victory regardless of the human cost”.
Boris Johnson’s spokesperson said they were also briefed by a senior national security official, who said that Moscow would aim to exploit its troop number advantage but “Ukraine had already shown that this was unlikely to be decisive on its own”.
He said there were some signs that Russia had not learned lessons from previous setbacks in northern Ukraine and there was evidence of troops being committed in a piecemeal fashion.
Reports of poor Russian morale were also relayed to ministers, “with claims of some Russian troops and even units refusing to fight”, he added.
Emily Atkinson19 April 2022 12:43