Boris Johnson latest: PM eyes ‘revenge reshuffle’ if he survives Partygate
Related video: President tells MP not to raise Boris Johnson’s Muslim comments in parliament
Boris Johnson could seek a cabinet reshuffle in July if he survives the Partygate scandal, with a well-placed MP saying The Independent: “Boris is someone who rewards loyalty and there are a lot of people who have very obviously failed to show that.”
Those who support the Prime Minister believe the delay in the publication of Sue Gray’s final report into the anti-lockdown events at No 10 has helped divert attention from the campaign to oust him – and that he will survive a vote of confidence from MPs, even if fined by the police.
It comes as it was revealed that a Metropolitan Police officer responded to a silent alarm accidentally set off on one of the No 10 parties, but took no action. Met Assistant Commissioner Steve House told the London Assembly Police Committee that an officer involved in the incident “has been contacted” as part of the ongoing investigation.
When asked why officers tasked with protecting Downing Street had failed to prevent alleged breaches of the law, Sir Steve said: ‘If we find officers knew what was going on and should have intervened, we will do a follow-up on this.”
Follow live updates below
President tells MP not to discuss Boris Johnson’s comments about Muslims
Parliament is ‘not the appropriate place’ to raise concerns over Boris Johnson‘s comments about Muslims, the president has said.
At Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, Labor MP Imran Hussain said Mr Johnson was ‘no stranger to derogatory remarks about Muslim women’.
As if about to ask a question, Mr Hussain went on and said ‘let me ask the Prime Minister…’ before being interrupted by Commons Speaker Lindsay Hoyle .
Our political correspondent Peter Jon has the full story here:
Andy GregoireFebruary 23, 2022 9:27 p.m.
Diane Abbott: Funny how conservatives only care about civil liberties when it comes to Covid
Labor MP Diane Abbott written for Independent Voices:
“The announcement of the lifting of the Covid restrictions has been enthusiastically received by Tory MPs. That was the whole point. Our Prime Minister does not care about public health; he only cares about consolidating his position within his own political party. A police investigation, as well as the threat of a vote of no confidence, still weigh on his head.
“He has shown that he will literally do anything, even endanger people’s health, to keep his backbench MPs happy and himself in his job.
“Tory MPs have repeatedly shown that they have no interest in the freedom and civil liberties of trade unionists, black people or working people in general – but strangely, as far as Covid is concerned, that is all they speak.”
You can read his reflection in full here:
Andy GregoireFebruary 23, 2022 8:56 p.m.
Nearly half of British voters oppose Russian sanctions if they cause energy prices to spike, poll finds
More than a third of Britons think Boris Johnson’s current sanctions on Russia don’t go far enough, according to a new poll, as the PM comes under pressure from Labor and some of his own Tory MPs to go further away.
A snapshot poll of 1,018 adults conducted online by Ipsos on Tuesday found respondents were roughly even on whether the penalties were strong enough.
Some 34% said they didn’t go far enough, 35% said they were about right and 11% thought they went too far.
Although 61% said they supported the government imposing sanctions on Russia, that figure fell to 49% if the measures led to higher energy prices in the UK.
Andy GregoireFebruary 23, 2022 8:26 p.m.
Boris Johnson holds weekly call with Queen despite having Covid
The Queen held her weekly telephone audience with Boris Johnson despite Covid-19, Buckingham Palace has said.
The 95-year-old monarch canceled virtual hearings on Tuesday as she continued to suffer from mild cold symptoms, after testing positive on Sunday.
There will have been plenty to discuss, with the government dealing with the escalating crisis in Ukraine and the prime minister remaining embroiled in the Partygate saga.
Andy GregoireFebruary 23, 2022 7:35 p.m.
Write in your daily life View of Westminster newsletter, our chief political commentator John Rentoul argues:
“The idea that British democracy has been subverted by Russian money is one of those strange conspiracy theories that seems to be widely respected among people whose hostility towards Johnson has deprived them of the power of logic.
“If President Putin wanted to influence the last UK election, wouldn’t he have subsidized Jeremy Corbyn, who thinks Putin has legitimate security concerns in Ukraine, rather than Johnson, who has at least tried to lead the response international movement aimed at deterring Putin from military action?
“Is Starmer really suggesting that Johnson is soft on Putin because his party has received donations from supporters of the Russian president?”
You can sign up to receive his evening round-up of the latest developments in British politics via this link.
Andy GregoireFebruary 23, 2022 7:09 p.m.
Sadiq Khan has warned that easing congestion charging hours in London is ‘a mistake’
The Mayor of London has been criticized for his decision to bring back the congestion charge to pre-pandemic times, allowing motorists to travel into central London after 6 p.m. without having to pay.
Congestion charging hours have been temporarily extended from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. weekdays in June 2020 as an emergency measure to encourage more walking and cycling and clear roads for key workers.
The hours returned to 7am-6pm on Monday, although the cost remains the same at £15 instead of back to £11.50 – a move Mr Khan hopes will prevent traffic from piling up excessively.
My colleague Maryam Zakir-Hussain has more details here:
Andy GregoireFebruary 23, 2022 6:33 p.m.
Restoration work to save ailing Palace of Westminster ‘could take 76 years’
Restoring the Palace of Westminster without finding a new home for MPs could take up to 76 years, with the repair bill reaching £22billion, according to a new report.
The exorbitant cost of repairing the Unesco World Heritage site appears in an initial assessment of the House of Parliament’s restoration and renewal program for the actions needed to save the palace – which highlights a range of possible scenarios for carrying out the work.
The cheapest option would involve a “full settling” of the palace for 12-20 years, with the work costing between £7-13billion. In this scenario, the report estimated that restoration would take between 19 and 28 years.
If MPs were to maintain a ‘continuous presence’ in the palace, but where ‘all essential and highly desirable functions could be accommodated but in a more condensed space’, he found that the works would cost more and take longer.
If business initially remained in the House of Commons before eventually being moved to another space in Westminster, presumed to be the House of Lords, the cost of restoration could reach £18.5billion and take 26-43 years.
And in a third possible scenario, in which MPs sit in the Commons as usual, the work is estimated to cost between £11bn and £22bn and take between 46 and 76 years.
Our political correspondent Ashley Cowburn has the full story here:
Andy GregoireFebruary 23, 2022 6:13 p.m.
Wes Streeting apologizes for Harold Shipman’s jibe
Labour’s shadow health secretary has apologized for a remark referring to Harold Shipman that he shouted from the Commons benches.
After Boris Johnson said he asked the public to show personal responsibility in dealing with the coronavirus, the Guido Fawkes website claimed Wes Streeting shouted: ‘Personal responsibility? After that ? Harold Shipman on the front bench?
But Mr Streeting tweeted: “I did NOT say that. What I said was: ‘lectures from you [Johnson] on personal responsibility? After that ? Harold Shipman on medical ethics?!’
“I accept that it was not in good taste, so I’m sorry about that.”
Andy GregoireFebruary 23, 2022 5:51 p.m.
Government will have ‘no credibility’ until Tory ends Russia-linked donations, Labor says
The government will have “no credibility” in the fight against Russian aggression in Ukraine until the Conservative Party accepts Russia-related donations, a Labor MP has claimed.
As MPs debated the fight against illicit funding linked to the Russian state, Dame Margaret Hodge called on the government to provide donations from Russian-backed donors to organizations like Transparency International.
“Until the Conservative Party does this, it will have no credibility in the anti-corruption argument,” she said.
Earlier, Downing Street dismissed criticism of donations made to Tories by people of Russian origin, saying it is ‘wrong and discriminatory to tar them with the same brush’ as many criticize Putin’s regime.
Andy GregoireFebruary 23, 2022 5:11 p.m.
Boris Johnson dodges question of government scrapping foie gras and fur import ban
Boris Johnson dodged a question over reports that objections from Cabinet ministers have seen the government suspend plans to ban imports of fur and foie gras under the Government’s Animals Bill to the ‘foreigner.
New Brexit Opportunities Minister Jacob Rees-Mogg is said to be opposed to restricting products, on grounds of personal choice, while Defense Secretary Ben Wallace thinks getting hold of hats would be difficult in bearskin for the soldiers of the Guard. .
In the House of Commons on Wednesday, Labor MP Kerry McCarthy linked the policy change on the two luxury goods to the cost of living crisis, asking Mr Johnson:
Labor’s Kerry McCarthy earlier asked the Prime Minister in the Commons what he thought it looked like ‘when we’re in a cost of living crisis with our constituents struggling to put food on the table so that Cabinet ministers “threw their toys out of the pram because they want to eat foie gras or wear fur”.
But Mr Johnson avoided answering the question directly, responding in a way that avoided mentioning politics. Our political correspondent Peter Jon has the full story here:
Andy GregoireFebruary 23, 2022 4:47 p.m.