Boris Johnson must resign if he broke ministerial code, Scottish Tory leader says.mp4
Boris Johnson should resign if he broke the ministerial code over the refurbishment of his Downing Street flat, the Scottish Tory leader has said, amid a growing list of allegations of Conservative “sleaze”.
Douglas Ross admitted that the prime minister should step down if rules were broken, after he made the same demand of SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon earlier this year.
It came as the Tories’ lead at the polls appeared to take a dive this weekend following a month of scandals for Mr Johnson’s governemnt.
In a new poll conducted for The Observer, the Tory lead fell from 11 points to five points with just days to go before this week’s local and devolved elections.
Among the latest allegations of “sleaze” are claims that Conservative donors were asked to pay for questionable costs including the fees for Mr Johnson’s nanny, as well as for his personal trainer.
According to The Sunday Times, one unidentified Tory MP received a complaint from a supporter who said they were asked to pay for childcare for Mr Johnson’s one-year-old son, Wilfred.
The donor was reported to have told the MP: “I don’t mind paying for leaflets but I resent being asked to pay to literally wipe the prime minister’s baby’s bottom.”
Meanwhile, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has defended the Government’s decision to slash aid in response to the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
Speaking on Sky’s Sophy Ridge On Sunday, Mr Raab said the government needed to “find savings” to cope with the impact of Covid-19.
“We’ve had to make this extremely difficult decision to reduce and find savings in the aid budget, that’s because of the impact Covid has had,” he said, adding: “I’ve found the process of making those savings very difficult but, of course, you’d expect that.”
Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s family has ‘heard nothing’ to confirm £400m fee report
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s family has “heard nothing” to confirm the rumours that the government is preparing to pay to free her from Iranian prison, Labour MP Tulip Siddiq has said.
“I am aware there are news reports circulating about the debt being paid to #FreeNazanin. I have spoken to her family and they have heard nothing confirming any of these rumours,” Ms Siddiq, who is the MP for Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s constituency, said.
“It was however welcome to hear Dominic Raab refer to her torture this morning on Marr. I hope the government is doing all it can to get the hostages home.”
Conrad Duncan2 May 2021 15:22
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe to be released from prison ‘when UK pays £400m fee’
British-Iranian national Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe will be released from prison when the UK pays an outstanding £400 million military debt, Iranian state TV has reported.
Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe has already served a five-year prison sentence after being detained on charges relating to national security in 2016.
Our reporter, Chantal da Silva, has more on this breaking story below:
Conrad Duncan2 May 2021 15:08
Johnson urged to call off Tory threats to elections watchdog over ‘cash for cushions’ row
Boris Johnson is under pressure to call off Conservative threats to abolish the UK’s elections watchdog while it investigates the ‘cash for cushions’ row over the refurbishment of the PM’s Downing Street flat.
Labour and the Liberal Democrats have said the Electoral Commission must be allowed to conduct its probe “independently and without fear or favour”.
Our Whitehall editor, Kate Devlin, has the full story below:
Conrad Duncan2 May 2021 14:47
Opinion: ‘How a reinvigorated Environment Bill would set an example to the world’
The UK needs to show leadership in order to urgently meet air pollution limits set by the World Health Organisation, according to Labour (Co-op) MP Geraint Davies.
“Now, more than ever, the public will not accept that things can’t be done, or have the economy used as a shackle to prevent the introduction of progressive environmental and health policy.”
You can find his full piece below:
Conrad Duncan2 May 2021 14:36
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is Iranian ‘hostage’, Raab admits
Dominic Raab has admitted that Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is effectively being held hostage by Iran, with the foreign secretary asserting that her treatment amounts to “torture”.
Speaking on the BBC’s The Andrew Marr Show , the foreign secretary said Zaghari-Ratcliffe was being “subjected to a cat and mouse game” by Iran.
Asked if it would be fair to describe her as a hostage, he said: “I think it’s very difficult to argue against that characterisation.”
“It is clear that she is subjected to a cat and mouse game that the Iranians, or certainly part of the Iranian system, engage with and they try and use her for leverage on the UK,” he said.
Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British-Iranian dual national and mother of one, was sentenced to a fresh one-year jail term on Monday and given a travel ban in Iran for the same amount of time on a new charge of“spreading propaganda against the regime”.
Already, she has served five years in prison after she was arrested on national security charges at Tehran airport in 2016 while making her way back to the UK.
Her family has maintained that she has been detained by Iran in an attempt to force the UK to pay a long-running debt dating back to the 1970s.
Asked about the debt on Sunday, Mr Raab said: “It’s not solely about that.
“That is not actually the thing that’s holding us up at the moment, it’s the wider context as we come up to the Iranian presidential elections and the wider elections on the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) which, inevitably from the Iranian perspective, the two are considered in tandem.”
“Nazanin is held unlawfully, in my view, as a matter of international law. I think she’s being treated in the most abusive, tortuous way. I think it amounts to torture, the way she’s being treated,” he said.
Chantal Da Silva2 May 2021 14:20
SNP on track for Holyrood majority, poll suggests
Nicola Sturgeon is on track to win a “knife-edge” majority in the Scottish Parliament election on Thursday, a new poll suggests.
Conducted for The Herald by BMG Research, the new poll’s findings suggest that the SNP could be set to win 68 seats, while other projections show the Alba Party taking two seats, with the regional distribution of its support considered.
The poll’s findings also suggested that the Greens could pick up nine seats, leaving Holyrood with 79 pro-independence MSPs out of 129.
“There is no question that the SNP will be returned as the largest party in Holyrood next week, but their prospect of a majority remains on a knife-edge,” Robert Struthers, head of polling at BMG, told The Herald.
“With little movement since our last poll in mid-March, there is no real evidence that any party has gathered significant momentum ahead of voters casting their ballots next week,” he said.
The poll saw 1,023 Scots aged 16 or over surveyed between 27 and 30 April.
Chantal Da Silva2 May 2021 14:10
Raab dismisses claim Tory donor was made to pay PM’s childcare as ‘tittle tattle’
Dominic Raab has said he has “no idea” if a Conservative donor was asked to pay for a nanny for Boris Johnson’s young son as he dismissed the claim as “tittle-tattle”.
Speaking on Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday, Mr Raab spoke in defense of the prime minister ahead of a string of allegations of Conservative “sleaze”, including accusations that donors were made to pay for Mr Johnson’s nanny and personal trainer.
Asked about the allegations Mr Raab said: “I have no idea, you don’t have conversations like that with the PM.”
“I can’t comment on every little bit of gossip that’s in the newspapers,” he said. “The last thing you asked me about I think is an example of tittle-tattle.”
The Cabinet minister further declined to deny reporting in The Sunday Times that a second invoice for renovations of the Prime Minister’s Downing Street flat may have been paid by a Tory donor.
“There are three reviews now I think into this and I think the right thing for me to do is not add political commentary that could otherwise prejudice those reviews but to respect the integrity of them,” he said. “So I’m not going to offer you I’m afraid any more commentary or if you like chatter on the various different reports and speculation that I see in the Sunday papers.”
Chantal Da Silva2 May 2021 13:59
Cutting aid budget ‘difficult,’ but necessary, Raab says
Cutting the aid budget has been “very difficult”, but necessary, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has said.
Speaking with Sky’s Sophy Ridge On Sunday, Mr Raab said the budget needed to be reduced in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
“We’ve had to make this extremely difficult decision to reduce and find savings in the aid budget, that’s because of the impact Covid has had, the biggest contraction we’ve seen in the economy for 300 years, a budget deficit double what we saw in the peak of the financial crisis in 2008-2009,” Mr Raab said.
“I’ve found the process of making those savings very difficult but, of course, you’d expect that,” he added.
The foreign secretary’s comments came amid strong backlash over the decision, with the United Nations warning that the world’s most vulnerable children would “suffer the consequences” of the Government’s decision to cut Unicef’s UK funding by around 60 per cent.
Warning that it was “deeply concerned” by the decision, the UN children’s fund called on ministers to restore aid funding by the end of the year.
Meanwhile, Labour shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy said slashing the funding was an “extraordinarily short-sighted” move.
“It doesn’t make any sense and absolutely undermines our moral authority on the world stage,” she told Ms Ridge.
Chantal Da Silva2 May 2021 13:39
Sturgeon must rethink stance on Salmond’s Alba Party, former SNP minister says
Nicola Sturgeon must give “serious consideration” to joining forces with other pro-independence parties, such as Alex Salmond’s Alba, after the Holyrood election, a former SNP cabinet secretary has said.
Former health secretary Alex Neil said there was “no reason we should not be pursuing our constitutional demands” while also focusing on tackling the coronavirus pandemic following Thursday’s Scottish parliament election.
Mr Neil, who is stepping down as an MSP, served in government under Ms Sturgeon and her predecessor Alex Salmond.
Although Ms Sturgeon has made clear she will not work with her former mentor, Mr Salmond has said his new party can help create a “supermajority” for independence in the Scottish parliament.
However, Mr Neil and another retiring SNP MSP, Gil Paterson, believe the party must rethink its opposition to Alba’s proposal for talks on independence to start immediately with Westminster if Holyrood has a majority of members who support Scotland leaving the UK.
“Whilst we must continue to deal with the immediate issues regarding the coronavirus pandemic, there is no reason why we should not also be pursuing our constitutional demands at the same time,” Mr Neil said.
“To fully recover economically from the pandemic we will need the tools that only independence can give us to do that successfully.”
Conrad Duncan2 May 2021 13:17
Johnson backs taskforce to tackle ‘malicious’ pet thefts
Boris Johnson has thrown his weight behind a taskforce aimed at tackling pet theft to ensure that those “malicious” enough to steal a dog face criminal conviction.
In a piece for the Mail on Sunday, the prime minister said that those “cynical and nasty enough” to steal pets as part of organised gangs were likely to be willing to commit other crimes.
Our reporter, Joanna Taylor, has the full story below:
Conrad Duncan2 May 2021 13:02