Blog: Boris Johnson news – live: PM under mounting pressure as Labour calls for probe over flat refurb ‘cover-up’ – The Independent

Johnson denies saying he would rather see ‘bodies pile high’ than enter another lockdown

Boris Johnson is under mounting pressure today as Labour has called for an investigation into a possible “cover-up” over the funding of the prime minister’s refurbishment of his Downing Street flat.

Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner said a probe was needed to determine whether Mr Johnson’s former press secretary Allegra Stratton “knowingly misled” journalists over the funding of the refurbishment .

Meanwhile, No10 failed to deny on Tuesday that the PM told aides he would rather let coronavirus “rip” than impose a second lockdown.

Mr Johnson reportedly argued during a government debate in September that lockdowns were “mad” due to the severe impact on the economy, The Times reported.

The prime minister’s official spokesperson this afternoon said that the reports “distort” Mr Johnson’s actions, and that he was focused “on saving lives and livelihoods” during the pandemic.

However, when asked if he denied the comment had been made by Mr Johnson, the spokesperson did not say.

It comes amid a growing furore after a number of sources were reported to have told how Mr Johnson said he was prepared to let “bodies pile high” rather than order a third shutdown.

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Opinion: ‘Did Boris Johnson say it or didn’t he – who cares when the bodies really are piled high in their thousands?’

It does not matter whether or not Boris Johnson said his alleged “bodies piled high” comment as the consequence of his decision to delay lockdown on three occasions led to thousands of preventable deaths anyway, according to our political sketch writer Tom Peck.

“And so here we are on Day Three of Did Boris Johnson Say Something Execrable About Piling Up Dead Bodies? The latest is more or less unchanged. He says he didn’t. An on the record government spokesperson says he didn’t. But the BBC and ITV have spoken to people who say they heard him say it, and they would, hypothetically speaking, testify under oath that he did so.

“So the question now is not simply, Did Boris Johnson Say Something Execrable? But Did Boris Johnson Lie About Saying Something Execrable? Both of which lead to the inevitable follow up question: Does it Really Matter?”

You can find his full piece below:

What matters is whether the prime minister delayed the first lockdown, and indeed the second and the third ones, simply because he is so ideologically opposed to the idea of them

Conrad Duncan27 April 2021 17:42

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Who are the candidates standing for mayor of London this year?

Londoners will head to the polls next week for the capital’s long-delayed mayoral election as incumbent Sadiq Khan hopes to win a second term.

However, some voters will still be wondering, who are the other challengers for the role and what are their key policies?

Our reporter, Tim Wyatt, has more details below:

Meet the people running against Sadiq Khan to be next mayor of London

Conrad Duncan27 April 2021 17:16

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No 10 says Conservative Party funds ‘not being used’ for flat refurbishment

Downing Street has denied that Conservative Party funds are being used to cover the refurbishments to Boris Johnson’s flat.

“Any costs of wider refurbishment this year beyond those provided for by the annual allowance have been met by the prime minister personally,” a No 10 spokesperson said.

“Conservative Party funds are not being used for this.”

The lack of past tense in that statement has understandably caught the attention of political journalists…

Conrad Duncan27 April 2021 16:53

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Why has Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal caused UK milk and cream exports to plunge?

Milk and cream sales to the EU have slumped 96 per cent as a result of Brexit-related trade barriers, figures released this week have shown.

Our reporter, Tom Batchelor, has taken a closer look at what is causing this sharp decline:

Dairy shipments collapse by as much as 96 per cent. Experts say extra red tape and delays are to blame

Conrad Duncan27 April 2021 16:41

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Labour calls for investigation into possible ‘cover-up’ over Downing Street flat

Labour has called for an investigation into whether Boris Johnson’s former press secretary Allegra Stratton “knowingly misled” journalists over the Downing Street flat refurbishments.

The party’s deputy leader Angela Rayner wrote to cabinet secretary Simon Case urging him to look into the possibility that information about the funding of refurbishment was withheld as part of a “cover-up”.

“As a special adviser, Allegra Stratton is bound by the Civil Service Code which sets out standards of integrity and honesty required from public officials,” Ms Rayner said.

“Therefore, I would urge you to build into your review an investigation into whether the former press secretary knowingly misled journalists and the public, or was misled herself by senior members of the government who seem intent on a cover-up.”

Conrad Duncan27 April 2021 16:29

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Dominic Raab refuses to release advice that overseas aid cut is lawful and hints it could be extended

Dominic Raab has refused to release legal advice to back his claim that the government’s £5bn-a-year overseas aid cut is lawful – as he hinted it could be extended.

Baroness Sugg – the Tory minister who quit in protest last year – urged the foreign secretary to publish his legal opinions, after some senior lawyers warned he is acting unlawfully.

The Independent’s deputy political editor Rob Merrick has the details

Asked if cut longer than one year will break law, foreign secretary replies ‘I don’t think it is quite as straightjacketed as that….’

Joe Middleton27 April 2021 16:11

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Foster downplays suggestions DUP leadership is under threat.

Arlene Foster has played down suggestions her leadership of the DUP is under threat.

The Belfast News Letter has reported that several DUP constituency associations have written letters expressing concern at her decision to abstain on a recent Assembly vote on a motion calling for a ban on gay conversion therapy that did not incorporate a specific mention of protections for religious practices.

The paper also referred to internal discontent at Mrs Foster’s handling of the Brexit process, amid anger being directed at the DUP from some within the broader unionist and loyalist community for the emergence of an Irish Sea border.

Mrs Foster was asked whether her leadership was in question on a visit to a youth centre in Belfast on Tuesday afternoon.

“Stories on leadership come up from time to time, and it’s one of those times,” she said.

“So we’ll just deal with it and move on because I’ve bigger things to do, including getting us through this Covid pandemic, including listening to the concerns of working-class communities.

“These stories come up from time to time. This is no different.”

Joe Middleton27 April 2021 15:56

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UK does not have ‘surplus doses’ of vaccines to send to India, No10 claims

Downing Street has said that the UK does not have “surplus doses” of vaccines to send to India as the nation struggles to cope with a deadly surge of coronavirus infections.

The Foreign Office said 200 ventilators from Britain’s surplus medical supplies arrived in Delhi on Tuesday in the first shipment since Boris Johnson pledged support to India.

The assistance for the country’s health system will be much welcomed as it struggles to deal with a surge in 320,000 new cases on Tuesday and 2,771 reported deaths.

But India is also reportedly struggling to produce and deliver vaccines quick enough, as a wave of cases is driven by highly virulent new strains.

Asked if the UK would send vaccines to India, Downing Street noted that the Government committed to send excess doses to other nations through the Covax initiative.

“Right now we are moving through the UK prioritisation list for our domestic rollout and we don’t have surplus doses, but we will keep this under review,” the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said.

Joe Middleton27 April 2021 15:39

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MPs and peers call on fast fashion giants to step up living wages for garment workers

A cross-party group of more than 100 MPs and peers have signed a joint letter to the CEOs of fast fashion giants ASOS, Boohoo and H&M to demand living wages for the garment workers in their supply chains.

The letter, signed by 67 members of the House of Commons and 37 members of the House of Lords, urged the retailers to do more to prevent workers from being “exploited by a race to the bottom”.

Kate Ng has all of the details on this exclusive story.

Exclusive: Demand for better wages comes after 8th anniversary of Rana Plaza garment factory disaster in India

Joe Middleton27 April 2021 15:30

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Dodds calls for transparency in funding of PM’s flat

Labour’s shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds had called for transparency about the funding of the flat at Downing Street.

She told reporters in Westminster: “I think a lot of people would look at what’s taken place here with the Prime Minister’s flat really with incredulity.

“I have to say I really like John Lewis myself, I don’t really see a big problem with John Lewis.

“Ultimately, what’s this about? It’s about that issue of one rule for them and another rule for everybody else.

“Sixty thousands pounds is a lot of money to do up a flat, it appears that wasn’t enough and that’s why these questions are being raised in the first place.

“I would be astonished if that amount of money wasn’t enough to do up a flat.”

Joe Middleton27 April 2021 15:17

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