Today’s daily politics briefing
Labour’s Sir Keir Starmer has claimed the Conservative Party are “hopelessly distracted by sleaze and scandal” ahead of the final weekend of campaigning for local elections across the UK.
The leader of the opposition’s comments come after a string of scandals implicating the Tories – including concerns around the lobbying activities of former prime minister David Cameron, and allegations that flat renovations undertaken by Boris Johnson were paid for with a loan from the Conservative Party.
Writing in the Northern Echo, Sir Keir said: ““The Prime Minister may not know the value of the pound in his pocket, but we know you do. The least people should be able to expect from their government is that taxpayers’ money is spent wisely.”
Conservative Party staff have been told they have one week to hand over all communication related to renovations of the PM’s flat in 11 Downing Street or face criminal consequences, according to reports.
The Times and The Sun reported all Conservative Party staff received an email from human resources about the Electoral Commission’s inquiry into how the redecoration work was funded, which told them: “You are put on notice that this is a criminal investigation.”
It comes as Nicola Sturgeon has slammed a “Brexit betrayal of fishing” after talks collapse over access to Norwegian seas, sparking anger.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer also said fishing communities had been “betrayed by the prime minister” after the talks broke down earlier this week.
The failure to reach a deal means fish and chip shops will be selling Arctic cod imported from Norway rather than landed in Britain, UK Fisheries said.
Good morning and welcome to our rolling coverage of UK politics.
Zoe Tidman1 May 2021 08:01
Tory staff ‘told to hand over flat communications’
First off, reports have suggested Conservative Party staff have been given one week to hand over all communication related to renovations of Boris Johnson’s flat in 11 Downing Street or face criminal consequences.
Separate inquiries into how the redecoration work was funded are being carried out by the head of the Civil Service Simon Case, the independent adviser on ministers’ interests Lord Geidt, and the Electoral Commission.
The Times and The Sun reported all Conservative Party staff received an email from human resources in the name of Alan Mabbutt, a senior official and registered legal officer, about the Commission’s inquiry which told them: “You are put on notice that this is a criminal investigation.”
The email instructed that all communications had to be provided to the investigation by 7 May.
The Times added that Mr Mabbutt said if staff “knowingly falsify, conceal, destroy or otherwise dispose of information” then they “could be committing a criminal offence of perverting the course of justice”.
Zoe Tidman1 May 2021 08:02
Fishing communities ‘betrayed’ afted collapse of post-Brexit talks
Elsewhere, the collapse of post-Brexit fishing talks has sparked anger.
Hull West and Hessle MP Emma Hardy told The Independent the failure of talks was a “devastating” blow for jobs and incomes in the city, while Sir Keir Starmer said fishing communities had been “betrayed by the prime minister”.
The collapse of talks over access to Norwegian seas spelt the end of the UK’s distant-water fishing industry after hundreds of years.
Andrew Woodcock and Emily Goddard report:
Zoe Tidman1 May 2021 08:20
‘Brexit betrayal of fishing’ – Sturgeon
Sharing The Independent’s front page on the collapse of fishing talks, Nicola Sturgeon said there had been a “Brexit betrayal of fishing”:
Zoe Tidman1 May 2021 08:40
Tory lead drops in wake of flat controversy
The Daily Mail has run a poll finding the Tories have seen their lead drop to one point over Labour, with the newspaper’s political editor saying the PM’s popularity “suffers in the wake of the Downing Street flat affair”:
Zoe Tidman1 May 2021 09:08
PM meets with postmasters
Boris Johnson said he spoke to postmasters yesterday “about the terrible impact the Post Office Horizon IT dispute has had on their lives”.
He tweeted an image of their virtual meeting:
Zoe Tidman1 May 2021 09:41
‘Farrago of nonsense’
The PM is facing several inquiries into how he funded his Downing Street flat refurbishments – including one which has reportedly ordered Tory staff members to hand over all communications on it within a week.
Earlier this week, Boris Johnson branded controversy over his lavish flat makeover a “farrago of nonsense”.
Rob Merrick, our deputy political editor, has more on the PM’s comments on the affair:
Zoe Tidman1 May 2021 10:02
Boris Johnson ratings drop in poll on who would make best PM
A new poll by Survation suggests Boris Johnson’s popularity has fallen in recent weeks – which has seen the flat controversy, as well as one over text exchanges with James Dyson.
However, he was still put above Sir Keir Starmer by respondents asked who would make the best prime minister.
Zoe Tidman1 May 2021 10:20
‘Hundreds of crewmen have no work
Here is a reminder of what UK Fisheries said earlier this week, after the collapse of the Brexit fishing talks:
“The UK government has failed to land a fishing access deal with Norway that would have allowed the British distant-waters fleet to keep working.
“Consequently the UK has no rights to fish in Norwegian sub-Arctic waters in 2021 and hundreds of crewmen have no work.”
Zoe Tidman1 May 2021 11:01
What were the fishing talks about?
The breakdown in post-Brexit fishing talks – which has been slammed as a “betrayal” – involved access to Norwegian seas.
Britain was forced by Brexit to renegotiate its access deal with Oslo, which had previously been guaranteed by an EU-Norway agreement as part of the Commons Fisheries Policy.
The collapse of talks on Thursday means British vessels have no rights to fish in Norwegian sub-Arctic waters in 2021.
Hundreds of fishermen and support staff face being left without work and fish and chip shops across Britain will be selling Arctic cod imported from Norway rather than landed by UK ships.
Andrew Woodcock and Emily Goddard have more information:
Zoe Tidman1 May 2021 11:24