Blog: Boris Johnson news – live: ‘Nothing to see here’ on flat payment, PM says as May’s former aide lands BBC role – The Independent

Boris Johnson claims there isn’t ‘anything to see’ on funding flat refurb

Boris Johnson has today dismissed the ongoing row over the funding of his Downing Street flat refurbishment, telling reporters today: “I don’t think there’s anything to see here.”

Mr Johnson said that the controversy over his lavish flat makeover was a “farrago of nonsense” – and insisted that he “loves John Lewis”.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer claimed Mr Johnson’s failure to answer a simple question – who initially paid for the luxury renovations – had become “farcical,” adding: “What is he hiding?”

The PM has been accused of creating a “toothless” sleaze watchdog, after No 10 said Mr Johnson remains the “ultimate arbiter” on whether Lord Geidt can launch inquiries. The opposition said it amounted to the PM “marking his own homework”.

Sleaze claims appear to be having no impact on the polls, as a new BMG survey for The Independent has the Tories up two points on 39 per cent. The latest Scottish independence poll shows support for a breakaway at its lowest level since the last general election.

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RBS HQ would move from Edinburgh to London in event of Scottish independence, says bank chief

The Royal Bank of Scotland has said that it would move its headquarters from Edinburgh down to London in the event that the country voted to leave the UK, says the boss of its parent company.

The chief executive of the NatWest Group, Alison Rose, said that the bank’s balance sheet was too large for an “independent Scottish economy” while noting that the issue of an independent Scotland was one for the Scots to decide themselves.

‘Our balance sheet would be too big for an independent Scottish economy’

Joe Middleton29 April 2021 15:25

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Exclusive: Government ‘wasted’ £38.4m on Test and Trace contract with Dubai-based multinational

The government has been accused of wasting taxpayers’ money after a multinational company headquartered in Dubai was paid £38.4 million for a Test and Trace contract that was dropped soon after it had been awarded.

Ecolog International, which offers supply chain services in a number of industries, was originally approached last summer to help the UK meet its testing targets.

The Independent’s science correspondent Samuel Lovett has the details

Exclusive: Ecolog was reimbursed with taxpayers’ money after the decision was made to cancel a preliminary contract – though government has not explained why it dropped arrangement

Joe Middleton29 April 2021 15:04

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Theresa May’s former director of communications appointed to BBC board

Sir Robbie Gibb, a former communications director at No 10 under Theresa May, has been appointed to the BBC’s board.

It is understood that Sir Robbie, who had a 25-year career at the BBC before spending two years in Downing Street under the Conservative prime minister, was appointed by the Government.

Since leaving frontline politics, Sir Robbie has written articles criticising the broadcaster.

“The BBC has been culturally captured by the woke-dominated group think of some of its own staff,” he wrote in the Telegraph last year.

“There is a default Left-leaning attitude from a metropolitan workforce mostly drawn from a similar social and economic background.”

Sir Robbie Gibb previously criticised BBC for being ‘culturally captured by the woke-dominated group think of some of its own staff’

Joe Middleton29 April 2021 14:49

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‘I think a puff of wind would blow him over at the present moment’ – Salmond

Alba Party leader Alex Salmond has said a “puff of wind” could currently blow Boris Johnson over.

Mr Johnson has been under fire in recent weeks over a number of issues, including the recent announcement by the Electoral Commission of an investigation into how the refurbishment of his Downing Street flat was funded.

The former Scottish first minister questioned whether Mr Johnson will still be in office in two weeks, adding that he does not believe the prime minister will be as steadfast against granting another independence referendum as he has made out.

Mr Salmond told STV: “People keep telling me what an immovable object Boris Johnson will be, I think a puff of wind would blow him over at the present moment.

“I’m not even sure he’ll be in Downing Street in two weeks’ time.

“I don’t think moving Boris Johnson on the independence referendum is going to be as difficult as people feel it is, but if you don’t start that process you’re never going to finish it.”

Joe Middleton29 April 2021 14:34

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NHS chief to step down

Sir Simon Stevens is to be made a peer after he steps down as chief executive of NHS England at the end of July, the government confirmed this afternoon.

In a statement through NHS England, Sir Simon said: “Joining the health service in my early twenties was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, followed three decades later by the privilege of leading the NHS through some of the toughest challenges in its history.

“The people of this country have rightly recognised the extraordinary service of NHS staff during this terrible pandemic, as well as the success of our Covid vaccination deployment.

“As the pandemic recedes in this country, the NHS’s track record in advancing medical progress in a way that works for everyone rightly continues to inspire young people to join one of the greatest causes – health and high quality care for all, now and for future generations.”

Joe Middleton29 April 2021 14:16

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‘I think this is getting a bit farcical’

Keir Starmer has again put the pressure on Boris Johnson today to explain who paid for the decoration of his Downing Street flat

The Labour leader told reporters: “I think this is getting a bit farcical, the prime minister could actually deal with this very very quickly , all [Boris Johnson] has to do is answer a very simple question which is – who paid, initially, for the redecoration of your flat?”

Mr Starmer – who is out campaigning with Andy Burnham in Manchester this afternoon – said that most people would be able to answer who decorated their own property.

Joe Middleton29 April 2021 13:54

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Sturgeon publishes SNP Covid recovery plan branded ‘not credible’ by Sarwar

Nicola Sturgeon has published an action plan for the first 100 days of her new government to kick-start the recovery from coronavirus.

The First Minister and SNP leader was in the Aberdeenshire West constituency on Thursday to launch the publication titled First Steps, setting out plans for economic support, NHS recovery and help for school pupils.

But Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar immediately said it is “not credible” to claim all the issues can be responded to within 100 days.

Launching First Steps, Ms Sturgeon said: “By backing the SNP with both votes, Scotland will be able to make real progress through and out of the pandemic in the first 100 days, with a pay rise for NHS workers, new cancer centres opened, support for small businesses to go digital, new training courses to help young people into jobs, and immediate action to tackle the climate crisis.”

Meanwhile in Stirling, Mr Sarwar launched a new Labour campaign bus urging voters to back the party in the regional list vote.

He said: “I think the fundamental mistake the SNP are making is they want people to believe that the crisis ends the day lockdown ends or when the virus finally disappears, that’s just simply not credible and not true.”

Joe Middleton29 April 2021 13:27

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DUP? ‘Stitched up by the EU’

The EU is to blame for Arlene Foster’s demise as DUP leader, according to Tory MP Andrew Bridgen. “We’re being stitched up by the European Union, and it’s had a very bad effect on the DUP,” he told the BBC’s Politics Live.

He suggested that the solution to complex Northern Ireland Protocol issues would be the EU simply realising it need British vaccines and giving Downing Street what it wants.

“Clearly we’ve got unfinished business with the EU and they might find they need us rather more than they want to in future, once we’ve vaccinated and got massive supplies of vaccines which we distribute around the world.”

Adam Forrest29 April 2021 13:05

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‘Farrago of nonsense’

More on Boris Johnson’s remarks. The PM has attacked the controversy over his lavish flat makeover as a “farrago of nonsense” – and insisted he “loves John Lewis”.

The prime minister, and his fiancée have been accused of snobbery over their apparent determination to rid their flat of its “John Lewis nightmare” – inherited from Theresa May.

He said that was the aspect he most objected to in what he described as “this whole farrago of nonsense” about the redecorations and who paid for them.

Asked what was “wrong with John Lewis”, Johnson replied “absolutely nothing”, before adding: “I love John Lewis!”

Prime minister refuses to commit to publishing the findings of investigation into the controversy

Adam Forrest29 April 2021 12:39

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PM: ‘Nothing to see here’

Boris Johnson has refused to commit to publishing the full findings of the report carried out by his new ethics adviser Lord Geidt into how his flat renovations were paid for.

The PM – out campaigning in west London today – claimed people have more important things to worry about, saying: “I don’t think there’s anything to see here, or worry about.”

Following reports that Johnson and his fiancée Carrie Symonds wanted to get rid of “John Lewis nightmare” furniture left by Theresa May, the PM said he had “nothing against” the upmarket high street store.

Adam Forrest29 April 2021 12:16

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