Labour’s shadow attorney general Emily Thornberry joins PoliticsHome’s Eleanor Langford and Adam Payne on this week’s episode of The Rundown, and asks “where is Boris Johnson’s lawyer?” after Downing Street wrangled over whether ‘partygate’ fine recipients broke the law this week.
Thornberry has challenged her opposite number Suella Braverman to set out the legal advice she has given to Boris Johnson on partygate.
Johnson is facing fresh allegations this week of having misled parliament with the December 2021 claim that no laws had been broken at the time of the events, after the Met Police issued 20 Fixed Penalty Notices to government officials involved in lockdown-breaching parties in Whitehall and Downing Street.
“That morning while he [the PM] was preparing for PMQs, the attorney general went into Downing Street to give him advice before he went to parliament,” Thornberry explained.
“So what did she ask him? How did she establish whether or not he had broken the law, or if people had broken the law? Or if rules had been broken? Was she in on that? Did she agree that it was the right thing to do? On what basis did she ever advise that it was okay?
“She should tell us”.
This week’s episode drops as key changes likely to exacerbate the cost of living crisis come into effect – namely the rise in National Insurance contributions, and new, much higher energy costs.
Thornberry told PoliticsHome she’s already hearing fear on the doorstep about bills rising, with one constituent talking her through her latest water charges, worried about how she would pay it.
While Downing Street was plunged back into party drama this week, we saw an incredibly significant vote on abortion in parliament.
During the pandemic, the department of health temporarily allowed early medical abortion pills to be taken at home. It was previously illegal to take the first dose outside of a clinical setting.
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The government wanted to end the temporary measure in August, but an amendment to the health and care bill passed in parliament to make the measure permanent. This will reduce obstacles to early medical abortion, which is considered safer than the surgical procedure.
Thornberry explained why she voted to make the measure permanent and how she held her own personal “unofficial whipping operation” shouting “pro-choice this way!” after MPs were given a free vote on the issue.
Plus she tells us which former Cabinet minister used to ask her which was the right way to vote on women’s rights.