No 10 apologises to Queen for parties on eve of Prince Philip’s funeral
Cabinet secretary Simon Case should provide “urgent” answers about “unprecedented” allegations that No 10 staff were pressured to delete evidence of illegal parties in Downing Street, Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner has said.
Her letter to the top civil servant comes after after two sources told The Independent they had been advised by a senior staff member to “clean up” their phones of anything that could “look like a party”, and follows a series of fresh revelations this week.
No 10 was forced to apologise to Buckingham Palace on Friday after reports of two parties held on the eve of Prince Philip’s socially-distanced funeral, while a further report alleged that regular “wine time Friday” gatherings continued in Downing Street despite coronavirus restrictions.
In a bid to save his premiership, in the face of exclusive polling indicating 70 per cent of voters believe he should resign, sources have told The Independent that the prime minister has launched “Operation Save Big Dog” – drawing up a list of officials who could offer their resignation after Sue Gray publishes the findings of her inquiry into the matter,The Independent understands.
Majority of Tory Party members want Boris Johnson to go, poll suggests
Some 53 per cent of Tory Party members want Boris Johnson to resign, according to a poll by the ConservativeHome website.
Just under 43 per cent of the more than 1,000 people surveyed believe he should not resign now, while less than four per cent said they didn’t know.
Andy Gregory15 January 2022 14:37
Exclusive: Labour asks top civil servant to probe claims No 10 staff pressured to delete party evidence
Labour has called for “urgent” answers about “unprecedented” allegations that No 10 staff were told to delete evidence of illegal parties in Downing Street, our economics editor Anna Isaac reports.
The party’s deputy leader, Angela Rayner, has written to the cabinet secretary, Simon Case, asking him to confirm no records related to the Partygate investigation, including electronic messages, have been destroyed.
Her letter, seen by The Independent, also asks Mr Case to confirm if any request to remove evidence has been made by senior officials or special advisers of junior officials.
It follows a report in The Independent in which two sources claimed a senior member of staff told them to “clean up” their phones of anything that could “look like a party” after early reports of gatherings while Covid restrictions were in place in December last year.
You can read the full exclusive report here:
Andy Gregory15 January 2022 14:10
Partygate ‘rage’ will be ‘nothing’ compared to cost-of-living crisis backlash, TUC chief warns
The public “rage” over the Partygate scandal will pale in comparison to that felt over the intensifying cost-of-living crisis, the general secretary of the Trades Union Congress has told the Fabian Society, LabourList’s editor reports.
Andy Gregory15 January 2022 13:45
Telegraph editorial suggests end of Boris Johnson’s premiership could be near
An editorial in The Telegraph today – which, according to Dominic Cummings, is considered by Boris Johnson to be his “real boss” – points to a not-too-distant future in which Mr Johnson may no longer be in charge.
Citing an interview with recently resigned Brexit negotiator Lord Frost, the editorial states: “If the Conservatives are to come through, whoever is in charge, they must reaffirm and champion the principles of growth and, above all, liberty.”
Warning of “sensible Conservative instincts being jettisoned” it added: “Doing so comes at a very real cost, as the prime minister may be about to find out.
“It is clear he instinctively felt outside Downing Street parties were perfectly sensible. Ironically, he may now be punished not because he was wrong, but because he was right, but still imposed the wrong path on the rest of the country.”
Andy Gregory15 January 2022 13:27
NHS chief hits out at ‘club Downing Street’
Stories of parties at No 10 during lockdown resemble “club Downing Street”, an NHS chief has suggested.
NHS Confederation chairman and crossbench peer, Victor Adebowale said: “At the end of the day, you know the NHS is something that we all protect, we all think it’s the jewel in the crown of public services, and to find that what appears to have been going on is something along the lines of club Downing Street while we’ve all been protecting our loved ones is a huge shock.”
He told Times Radio: “Leadership in the time of crisis needs to be clear and it needs to lead by example and we haven’t had that.”
He also suggested that comparing breaches of Covid rules by people who make the rules and by the general public was like “comparing apples with lemons”, adding: “I’m sure there were there were around the country, small breaches, many of whom actually got fined, and people were being fined – but this is very different from the people in No 10, the very seat of our government.”
Andy Gregory15 January 2022 13:10
No 10 party revelations adding to mental health stress, Starmer claims
The Partygate scandal has “added to mental health stress”, Sir Keir Starmer has suggested.
He said: “I think, by the way, the scandal of partygate, for want of a better word … what’s happened in recent weeks, where it has become obvious that while the vast majority of the British public were obeying the laws the government made, the government and the prime minister were partying in Downing Street.
“I think that has added to mental health stress because so many people are now asking themselves, ‘Why on earth did I do that then, while they were doing what they were doing?’.
“So I think that, before the pandemic, we had mental health issues which have got worse during the pandemic in greater ways than we’ve really understood, particularly in young people. And I think the last few weeks in relation to partygate has just made the situation worse.”
Our policy correspondent Jon Stone has more details on the Labour leader’s speech to the Fabian Society conference today:
Andy Gregory15 January 2022 12:54
Opinion | The Met is only investigating a Black politician’s lockdown party – why?
Writing for Independent Voices, our race correspondent Nadine White points out that while more than a dozen rule-breaking parties have now been alleged to have taken place across Whitehall, the only one currently being investigated by the Metropolitan Police Service is that of Black politician Shaun Bailey.
She writes: “The point is that the Met cannot afford to erode the confidence of Black people – more than it already has – at a time when trust in policing is extremely low.”
Read her thinking in full here:
Andy Gregory15 January 2022 12:37
Amid calls for his resignation, one voter has given a less than favourable suggestion for the necessary course of action facing the prime minister.
Woman says Boris Johnson ‘needs a kick up the a**e’ on Channel 4 news
Andy Gregory15 January 2022 12:22
Boris Johnson could still mount comeback, Tory MP suggests
If anyone can turn a situation around, Boris Johnson can, a Tory MP has suggested.
Asked whether the PM is best-placed to lead the Tories into the next election, Colonel Bob Stewart said: “Right at the moment he is, because I can’t see anyone else doing it. The one thing about Boris Johnson is, if anyone can turn a situation around, he can, and he’s proved that in the past.”
Pressed on that assertion, he said constituents of varying political persuasions he had spoken to this morning had made a similar point, adding: “Look, we dropped – apparently – 10 or 11 points in the polls within the last week.
“The polls and public opinion is very volatile. It can swing the other way too. The question is, which I believe is possible, can Boris Johnson do it as prime minister? And I believe he quite possibly could change the polls back again. But what I think now is there must be no more mistakes. No more mistakes.”
Andy Gregory15 January 2022 12:15
Boris Johnson ‘needed puppy gate’ to keep him in isolation
One person who worked for Boris Johnson has claimed his staff were forced to go to extraordinary lengths to stop him from mixing with others during his second period in Covid isolation.
Speaking to The Times, the source said: “I remember we had to create a ‘cat run’ for him to get down from the flat to his office so he wouldn’t come into contact with people.
“The idea was we could talk to him through the open door. But he kept on coming out so we put two chairs across the door like some kind of puppy gate.
“There was a pattern throughout. He just simply did not think about following the rules. They were not for him.”
Andy Gregory15 January 2022 11:51