Boris Johnson says ‘no evidence’ on ‘blackmail’ allegations
Boris Johnson is being encouraged to publish “all” of Sue Gray’s findings when her report into rule-busting parties at No 10 during Covid restrictions is released, due next week.
It comes amid fresh claims about one drinks event, held at No 10 the night before Prince Philip’s funeral last April, with reports suggesting staff partied for six hours until 1am. However, the PM and his remaining supporters have repeatedly insisted all parties should wait for the outcome of Ms Gray’s report before making any judgements on his position.
Angela Rayner, Labour’s deputy leader, said “all accompanying evidence” must be disclosed after senior civil servant Ms Gray presents her report to the PM. The Guardian reported this week that some evidence, including emails, text messages and transcripts of interviews, will not be made public, though. Under the terms of reference of the internal inquiry – set by the government – it made clear only the “findings” of the probe will be revealed.
The PM is currently at Chequers, his country retreat, calling up wavering Tories to try and persuade them against triggering a vote of no confidence in him, according to The Times.
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Sam Hancock22 January 2022 11:22
Govt accused of ‘complete abandonment of moral compass’ amid blackmail claims
The chairman of the Commons sleaze committee Chris Bryant has claimed he has spoken to “about a dozen” Tory MPs threatened by whips, as hit out at the government’s “complete abandonment of any kind of moral compass”.
The Labour MP’s remarks came after the Conservative MP William Wragg — who first made the incendiary allegations of “blackmail” by government whips — said he will meet with and officer from the Metropolitan Police to discuss the claims next week, reports our political correspondent Ashley Cowburn.
Mr Wragg claimed on Thursday that the prime minister’s Conservative critics were receiving threats to “withdraw investments” from constituents, as well as “intimidation” from No 10 staff.
Sam Hancock22 January 2022 11:12
In images: Another tough week for Boris Johnson
Sam Hancock22 January 2022 11:07
Labour vows to fix ‘broken system’ of water companies dumping sewage
Labour has vowed to fix the “broken system” which has allowed water companies to cut the sums spent on keeping rivers clean from raw sewage while paying out huge dividends to shareholders, reports Adam Forrest exclusively.
Households in England have paid out up to £138 a year over the past decade to cover the cost of dividends at the country’s biggest water providers, according to Labour analysis of the firms’ financial figures. Sir Keir Starmer’s party also highlighted research showing that England’s biggest water companies cut investment in the wastewater and sewage network by more than £520m since the 1990s.
Jim McMahon, shadow environment secretary, told The Independent: “The system is clearly broken and the government is refusing to listen to Labour’s calls for higher fines for water companies … as well as a proper plan for reducing raw sewage being discharged.”
Sam Hancock22 January 2022 10:32
Tory MP ‘cautions little bit of calmness’ amid blackmail claims
Let’s hear from another Tory MP now. Bob Seely was asked this morning if he thinks going to the police over claims that Conservative MPs were intimidated is the right course of action.
He told Times Radio: “William has to do what he wants. Personally, I have a very good relationship with the whips, and at times I don’t vote with the government, and I don’t recall ever being threatened by them once.
“So, I do think one is at risk of taking some of these things out of proportion.”
Pressed on whether he believes it is right that the claims are investigated properly, he added: “Well, I do think we need some calm heads and what is occasionally said in the heat of the moment does not necessarily mean you have to get the police involved.
“I would caution a little bit of calmness from all sides in this, I really would.”
Sam Hancock22 January 2022 10:14
PM told to publish Sue Gray’s No 10 party report in ‘entirety’
Boris Johnson is under pressure to ensure all evidence in the Sue Gray report into rule-busting parties at No 10 during Covid restrictions is published in its “entirety”.
While some Tory backbenchers have openly called for the PM to resign, many are reserving judgement until the inquiry, which is expected next week, is published.
But in a row over the publication of the document, Angela Rayner, Labour’s deputy leader, stressed that “all accompanying evidence” must be disclosed after Ms Gray, the senior civil servant, presents her report to the prime minister. It comes after The Guardian reported that some evidence, including emails, text messages and transcripts of interviews, will not be made public.
Ashley Cowburn, our political correspondent, has all the details:
Sam Hancock22 January 2022 09:34
ICYMI: Watch ex-Tory MP describe Johnson ever being elected as ‘distrubing’
Rory Stewart says it’s ‘very disturbing’ that Boris Johnson was ever elected
Sam Hancock22 January 2022 09:23
PM’s brand ‘permanently damaged’ by partygate, Tory peer says
Boris Johnson’s brand has been “permanently damaged” by the No 10 parties row, a Tory peer has said, after a destabilising week for the PM.
Speaking to The Independent, Lord Hayward said that while it was “not impossible” for the prime minister to win a second majority at the ballot box for the Conservatives, it now appeared “unlikely”.
The elections guru suggested Mr Johnson could still reap the electoral rewards from a “vaccine bounce 2.0”, however, with the booster campaign continuing and Covid restrictions being eased across England, reports our political correspondent Ashley Cowburn.
Sam Hancock22 January 2022 09:13
Labour: If true, No 10 blackmail claims ‘misconduct in public office’
More from Chris Bryant now, who claimed during his BBC Radio 4 Today interview that if reports of blackmail in the government are true, officials have been acting unlawfully.
“What I have said to all of those people is that that is misconduct in public office,” he said, adding simply: “It is illegal.”
Explaining his position on the latest scandal for Boris Johnson, the Labour MP said: “We are meant to operate as MPs without fear or favour. The allocation of taxpayer funding to constituencies should be according to need, not according to the need to keep the prime minister in his job.
“The levelling up funds that have been introduced in the last two years are an open opportunity for government ministers to corruptly hand out money to some MPs and not to others.”
Sam Hancock22 January 2022 09:10
Police blame capacity for lack of partygate investigation
On that note, police commissioners have said officers don’t have enough manpower to investigate alleged past violations of Covid laws.
The Metropolitan Police has faced demands to explain how officers guarding Downing Street could have been unaware of the “bring your own booze” garden gathering on 20 May 2020, while the rest of the country was under strict lockdown, report Lamiat Sabin and our home affairs editor Lizzie Dearden.
Yesterday, police and crime commissioners did not comment on the scandal embroiling Boris Johnson, but said forces had a general policy not to launch retrospective investigations into alleged violations of emergency coronavirus laws.
Sam Hancock22 January 2022 08:54