London politics latest news: Second Cabinet minister suggests General Election needed if PM ousted


second cabinet minister has suggested a General Election may have to be called if Boris Johnson is ousted as his allies sought to pile pressure on Tory MPs not to move against him over the “Partygate” scandal.

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries joined Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg in raising the prospect of the nation having to go to the polls again, and Conservative MPs potentially losing their seats.

It comes as the Prime Minister nervously awaits the publication of Sue Gray’s report.

The report is understood to have been completed by Ms Gray and to be undergoing checks by lawyers, HR chiefs as well as with the Metropolitan Police to ensure its publication will not compromise the force’s probe into the “Partygate” scandal.

It could still be published on Thursday but some MPs believe it may be delayed until Monday.


There are suggestions that due to Thursday being Holocaust Memorial Day and many MPs being back in their constituencies from Thursday afternoon, No 10 may hold off on publishing the report once it was received.

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Claims PM approved airlift of animals out of Afghanistan ‘total rhubarb’, Boris Johnson says

Boris Johnson has dismissed claims he approved the airlift of animals out of Afghanistan as “total rhubarb”.

Asked during a visit to North Wales if he authorised evacuating animals out of Kabul over humans, he said: “No, that is… this whole thing is total rhubarb.

“I was very proud of what our armed services did with Op Pitting and it was an amazing thing to to move 15,000 people out of Kabul in the way that we did,” Mr Johnson continued.

“I thought it was also additionally very good that we were able to help those vets who came out as well.

“But I can tell you that the military always prioritised human beings and that was quite right.

“I think we should be incredibly proud of Op Pitting and what it achieved.”


No 10: We want civil servants to return to Whitehall

Downing Street said Whitehall civil servants were returning to their desk as the Plan B coronavirus measures were falling away.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “Yes, I think we have been clear we want to return to full occupancy of Whitehall offices, obviously recognising how flexible working has been used before the pandemic as well.”

The spokesman added: “We recognise that taxpayers are funding these offices and it’s right that they are used fully as before the pandemic.

“But we know that civil servants throughout the pandemic have been working extremely hard, many of whom have not been able to work from home because they have been part of that frontline response.”


Keir Starmer: PM must publish Gray report in full

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has told reporters on a visit to Grimsby that the Sue Gray report must be published in full in the format it is given to Boris Johnson in.

Sir Keir said: “I mean in full – not redacted, not edited, not a summary, not parts left out. In full.”

“After what everybody in the country’s been through in the last year or two with the pandemic, huge sacrifices have been made, the least that they’re entitled to is the truth about what the Prime Minister was up to.”

He added that he believed this would allow everyone to see for themselves what Sue Gray’s understanding is of what happened during the alleged lockdown-breaking parties in Downing St and Whitehall.


No 10 insists PM ‘focused on people’s priorities’

The Prime Minister’s official spokesperson has insisted that Boris Johnson is “focused” on people’s priorities as Westminister awaits the publication of the Sue Gray report.

Asked how Mr Johson feels ahead of the report, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “I think you saw the Prime Minister in the House yesterday talking about what the Government is doing, what he is focused on.

“That absolutely remains the case and that’s why he is getting out today to Wales to look at what work the Government’s doing on things like creating jobs.”

Asked if the Government had been distracted from policymaking by the partygate saga, the spokesman said: “No, we are getting on with the job, as the Prime Minister said yesterday.”


End of Plan B boosts the big return

Central London’s economy is starting to motor again as the last of the Plan B restrictions ended in England on Thursday and hopes rise of a vigorous spring revival.

A slew of encouraging “Great Return” indicators — from office occupancy levels to train use and restaurant bookings — have boosted “cautious optimism” that the West End and City are returning to life after the hugely-damaging work from home guidance ended last week.

London offices were 25 per cent full on Tuesday — more than double the level of Monday — and ahead of any monthly average since October, according to the latest data.

Read the full article here.


Wrong of MPs to ‘pressurise independent investigator over speed of report’, says Jacob Rees-Mogg

Leader of the Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg said: “It’s wrong of members of this House to pressurise the independent investigator over the speed of her report.”

Labour MP Catherine McKinnell (Newcastle upon Tyne North) said: “Further to Mr Speaker’s announcement that there will be no statements today, it does rather leave unanswered the question that many members of the public want to know, is there whereabouts of Sue Gray’s urgent and very important report into the numerous reported events and parties during lockdown that this No 10 took part in.

“So we know the Prime Minister has been known to hide in a fridge to avoid questions, so can the Leader of the House confirm that there will be no hiding from the outcome of this report, that it will be published in full, and that we will be granted time in this House to scrutinise its findings in full?”

Mr Rees-Mogg responded: “It’s wrong of members of this House to pressurise the independent investigator over the speed of her report.

“It would be wrong for the Government to put pressure on her, it is wrong of the opposition to do it. Sue Gray is doing it independently, and she must be given the time that she needs to do it.

“But of course, as the Prime Minister has said, when the report is released he will come to the House, he will make a statement, and he will be open to questions. That is the proper parliamentary procedure.”


Labour obsessed with cake, says Jacob Rees-Mogg

Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg accused Labour of being obsessed with cake when challenged over Downing Street party allegations and the cost of living crisis.

Responding to questions from Labour Party chairwoman Anneliese Dodds, Mr Rees-Mogg told MPs: “May I say how pleased I am that she’s finally moved off cake because it seemed to me over the last few weeks that all the Opposition could ever talk about was cake.

“Whether we’ve had our cake and eaten it, or whether there has been no cake or whether there was never any cake or what cake there may have been, whether it was baked, how many eggs were in the cake, whether it was made with margarine or butter, what type of cake it was, did it have sponge or was it chocolate?

“All these issues about cake, the obsession of the Opposition, so I’m glad we’re now getting on to some more serious subjects.”

He went on to defend the Government’s response to rising prices.

Ms Dodds had warned: “While the Prime Minister is desperately trying to shore up his own position and the Leader of the House is busy threatening backbenchers with an early general election, working families are hit with steep rises to energy prices, falling real wages and Tory tax rises.”


Labour doubles down on calls for Sue Gray report to be published in full

Shadow secretary of state for levelling up, housing and communities Lisa Nandy has said she “will not rest until the British public have the answers that they deserve.

Speaking during a visit to Grimsby, Ms Nandy said: “The prime minister has said he will publish it in full, he must publish it in full and, if he won’t publish it in full, we will take every step that we can to make sure that information is in the public domain.

“But, most of all, he should know – and his MPs should know – that the public will not accept anything less than a full and honest account of what has been happening in Downing Street through these very difficult years.”


Labour to ask urgent question on the evacuation of animals from Afghanistan

Labour has been granted an urgent question in the Lords on the evacuation from Afghanistan of animals for the Nowzad charity, the party has said.

It is expected at around 11.50am.


Sue Gray’s report has ‘no standing’, says former Met Police boss

Former Metropolitan Police chief superintendent Dal Babu said Sue Gray’s report has “no standing” and is “no different” from a human resources report.

Mr Babu said he is concerned about the delay over a police investigation into whether there were parties in No 10 and Whitehall during the 2020 coronavirus lockdowns.

The penalty for breaching lockdown rules is a fixed penalty notice, which, Mr Babu said, is an “entry-level crime” that is as “simple as they can get” in terms of police investigations.

He told Sky News: “I think the issue around the delay is worrying. I’m not entirely sure why there’s a delay.

“I do investigations into matters since I’ve left the police and when I investigate matters… as soon as there’s any suggestion of criminality, you would then stand back and allow the police to have priority.

“Sue Gray’s report has no standing. She’s a very eminent person, very able, but, in essence, it’s just a report.

“It is not a judge-led inquiry, she doesn’t have any specific powers to call people to give evidence. So her report will be no different to a human resources report.”

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