Boris Johnson seen for first time since Partygate defence dossier published
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Boris Johnson’s double parliamentary humiliation this week marked the “death throes” of the former prime minister’s “cult”, Tory MPs say.
The ex-prime minister’s political star is seen to be waning after his appearance before MPs investigating whether he intentionally misled the House of Commons over his understanding of parties in Downing Street during Covid lockdowns.
And Mr Johnson suffered a separate political embarassment yesterday as his attempted Commons revolt against Rishi Sunak’s new Brexit deal failed to garner significant support.
One senior Tory MP told The Independent that the Partygate inquiry and the Brexit vote were the “death throes of Boris cult”, saying the “dying rump” of around 20 to 30 loyalists left would not be able to rebuild support for him in the parliamentary party.
Separately, Lord Hayward, a Conservative pollster, told The Independent there was “no question the party would face defeat to Labour” if the Tories’ former leader was forced to fight for his Uxbridge constituency in the event that he were suspended.
After yesterday’s three-hour grilling of Mr Johnson, the seven-member privileges committee is now considering whether he deserves punishment.
‘Cult’ of Boris Johnson ‘in death throes’ as Tory support fades
The former prime minister was forced to plead “hand on heart” that he had not lied to MPs over the Partygate scandal.
Our Whitehall editor Kate Devlin and political correspondent Adam Forrest have more:
Comes as polling guru predicts he would lose seat in a by-election
Emily Atkinson23 March 2023 17:26
Watch: Tearful Nicola Sturgeon receives standing ovation after final First Minister speech
Tearful Nicola Sturgeon receives standing ovation after final First Minister speech
Emily Atkinson24 March 2023 01:00
Rishi Sunak saved over £300,000 due to capital gains tax cut he voted for
Rishi Sunak has been able to save more than £300,000 on his tax bill in recent years because of a cut to the capital gains rate he voted for back in 2016.
The prime minister has raked in more than £4.7m over the past three years and paid £1m in tax, a summary statement published on Thursday revealed.
But his tax bill would have been £308,000 higher if the Tories hadn’t cut the top rate of capital gains tax from 28 per cent to 20 per cent under David Cameron.
More from our Whitehall editor Kate Devlin and political correspondent Adam Forrest here:
PM facing calls for reform to capitals gains tax rate after his mammoth income revealed
Emily Atkinson24 March 2023 00:00
Sunak-Rama joint statement continued…
The joint statement by Rishi Sunak and Edi Rama went on: “On criminal justice co-operation, the leaders welcomed ongoing joint work on extraditions, prosecutions and forensics capabilities, and the removal of hundreds of prisoners under existing agreements.
“They agreed that a joint UK-Albanian team will conduct an assessment of Albania’s prison capacity – to be concluded by the end of April – with a view to returning all eligible Albanian nationals in the UK prison system.
“Finally, the prime ministers welcomed progress on business and university cooperation, including the launch of the new British Chamber of Commerce in Albania, a doubling of the market risk appetite for UK export finance support for Albania to £4 billion to facilitate investment, and the deepening of links between UK and Albanian universities.”
Emily Atkinson23 March 2023 23:00
Sunak and Rama promise to work together on illegal migration
Rishi Sunak and Albanian prime minister Edi Rama promised to work together to tackle illegal migration and people-smuggling gangs, according to a joint statement after they met.
Here’s the statement in full:
“The leaders set out their shared ambition to broaden and deepen the UK-Albania relationship, co-operating on addressing global and regional threats and strengthening our bilateral partnership.
“They noted significant opportunities to grow trade, investment and technology links, and Prime Minister Sunak again welcomed the significant contribution of the long-standing Albanian community in the UK to British life,” the statement said.
“As Nato allies, fellow members of the UN Security Council and close partners, the leaders also reaffirmed their commitment to working together to protect the security of our citizens, defend democracy and promote human rights, including through a robust international response to aggression by Russia. This will include assisting Albanian cyber defence to protect against online threats.
“Prime Minister Sunak and Prime Minister Rama committed to deepen work under the Joint Communique and Taskforce agreed in December, to take forward our shared priority on tackling illegal migration and criminal people-smuggling gangs.
“They discussed increased operational co-operation, including joint upstream communications to deter people from travelling in the first place, and further agreements on data sharing and passports. The leaders welcomed progress to date, with around 800 illegal migrants returning to Albania since December, action on organised crime and new UK guidance designating Albania a safe country.”
Emily Atkinson23 March 2023 22:00
Boris Johnson should quit as MP, says daughter of woman who died from Covid during Downing Street party
A woman whose mother died of coronavirus just days before one of the Downing Street parties has called for Boris Johnson to quit as an MP after he denied “hand on heart” lying to MPs over rule-breaking.
Naomi Fulop, who was prevented by restrictions from being with her siblings to grieve properly or have a full funeral, said it was clear the former prime minister had not been honest with the Privileges Committee investigating his statements.
Prof Fulop told The Independent: “It’s totally clear to me and I think to most of the population that he was telling people to do one thing and doing something else himself because he thinks the rules don’t apply to him.
My colleague Jane Dalton has more:
‘He thinks the rules don’t apply to him – he denigrates our parliamentary system,’ says professor forced by lockdown to stay away from her family
Emily Atkinson23 March 2023 21:00
Watch: Starmer criticises ‘Boris Johnson circus’ as he lays out Labour’s crime and policing agenda
Starmer criticises ‘Boris Johnson circus’ as he lays out Labour’s crime and policing agenda
Emily Atkinson23 March 2023 20:00
Scottish government bans officials from using TikTok
The Scottish government has banned social media app TikTok from its mobile phones and other corporate devices following discussions with the UK government.
The move comes after the UK government banned the app on its phones amid fears of sensitive data being accessed by the Chinese government – though Beijing’s embassy in the UK has hit out at the move.
Deputy first minister John Swinney said on Thursday the ban will begin immediately.
He said: “Devices managed by the Scottish Government are configured in line with best practice from the National Cyber Security Centre, which helps us to manage any risk associated with the use of third-party applications.
“Our decision to prohibit the use of TikTok follows engagement with the UK Government on the potential tracking and privacy risks from certain social media apps.
“Currently there is limited use of TikTok within Government and limited need for staff to use the app on work devices. This ban will be implemented immediately. It does not extend to personal devices used by staff or the general public.”
Emily Atkinson23 March 2023 19:30
NI Brexit deal to be formally signed off on Friday
Rishi Sunak’s Brexit deal for Northern Ireland will be formally signed off on Friday at an official meeting in London, after MPs voted this week to back the Windsor Framework.
Foreign secretary James Cleverly and the European Commission’s Maros Sefcovic will together chair a meeting that will see the UK and the EU formally adopt the new arrangements for Northern Ireland, a deal sealed last month following protracted negotiations.
MPs on Wednesday overwhelmingly backed regulations to implement the Stormont brake, a key part of the Windsor Framework, despite former prime ministers Boris Johnson and Liz Truss joining the Democratic Unionist Party and hardline Brexit-backing Tory MPs in voting against the deal.
The formal sign-off comes as Sir Jeffrey Donaldson’s party continues to oppose the deal brokered by the Government, with no sign of the DUP yet being willing to return to powersharing.
Emily Atkinson23 March 2023 19:00
Edi Rama urges Sunak to ensure safety of Albanian refugees
Albania’s prime minister said he wants all Albanians in the UK to feel “safe” and “honoured”, after earlier criticising the home secretary’s “disgraceful” rhetoric about migrants from his country.
Speaking alongside Rishi Sunak, Edi Rama said his visit to Downing Street is “an opportunity to underline that just as all Britons are not James Bond or Mr Bean, not all Albanians are some characters out of Taken”.
Mr Rama told Mr Sunak in No 10 on Thursday: “Dua Lipa is not just simply a British singer, but she’s an Albanian immigrant that has come here, as many have come to construct, to nurse, to cook and to sing for you, and we want to make sure that this community feels not only safe but feels honoured here.
“And the rotten apples are our common objective to be gone after and to win this battle.”
Emily Atkinson23 March 2023 18:30