London politics news LIVE: Boris Johnson says it’s ‘untrue’ that partygate has damaged UK’s reputation abroad


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Sinn Fein leader congratulates Queen on ‘lifetime of service’

Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald has passed on her congratulations to the Queen on a “lifetime of service” on her Platinum Jubilee.

Mrs McDonald was reacting to the news that a tree is to be planted in the grounds of Parliament Buildings at Stormont to mark the jubilee.

The republican party leader said: “I think it is important that we are respectful of the identity of our citizens who are British.

“I think that is entirely appropriate and I welcome that decision.

“For those who will celebrate the jubilee, I wish them well and a good jubilee and for those of us that don’t I believe we are now big enough, bold enough, generous enough to acknowledge the identity of others.”

She added: “Can I also extend to the British Queen a word of congratulations because 70 years is quite some record.

“That is what you call a lifetime of service.”


Watch: Lavrov mocks Truss following Ukraine talks

Here is the clip of Sergei Lavrov dismissing talks with Ms Truss earlier this afternoon.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov: Speaking to Liz Truss is like ‘the deaf talking to the blind’


Russian minister mocks ‘deaf’ Truss as Ukraine talks stall in Moscow

Russia’s foreign minister claimed speaking to British foreign secretary Liz Truss is like “the deaf talking to the blind” as talks over the Ukraine crisis stalled in Moscow.

Sergei Lavrov said he was “disappointed” with the lack of progress in the negotiations as Ms Truss urged Russia to de-escalate amid growing fears it could invade Ukraine.

Ms Truss’ trip to Moscow was the first such visit by a foreign secretary in more than four years and comes as the UK government seeks a “path of diplomacy” to help defuse tensions on the Ukrainian border.

The latest estimates suggest Moscow has 130,000 troops massed in the border region and in neighbouring Belarus, close to the strength some analysts believe would be needed to mount a full-scale invasion.

Speaking at a joint press conference, Mr Lavrov claimed the UK continued to be dismissive of Russia’s security concerns.

“I’m rather disappointed that it was a bit like talking to a deaf person,” he said. “It’s like they’re listening to us but not hearing.”


Senior British diplomats meet Taliban to discuss humanitarian situation

Senior British diplomats have met leading Taliban figures to discuss the “dire” humanitarian situation in Afghanistan.

The UK does not recognise the Taliban regime which swept to power in 2020 amid chaotic scenes as Western forces pulled out of Kabul.

Nick Dyer, the UK’s special envoy for famine prevention, Hugo Shorter, the charge d’affaires ad interim of the UK mission to Afghanistan and Hester Waddams, the deputy head of mission held talks with senior Taliban officials.

“UK representatives returned to Afghanistan today for talks on how to respond to the country’s deepening humanitarian crisis,” a Government spokesman said.

They met Taliban figures including foreign affairs chief Mawlawi Amir Khan Muttaqi and intelligence director Abdul Haq Wasiq.


Starmer attacks Stop The War coalition

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has said the Stop the War coalition are “naive” and “give succour to authoritarian leaders who directly threaten democracies”.

In an opinion article for the Guardian, Sir Keir said Russian President Vladimir Putin would see the campaign group as “virtue signallers”.

He wrote: “At best they are naive, at worst they actively give succour to authoritarian leaders who directly threaten democracies.

“There is nothing progressive in showing solidarity with the aggressor when our allies need our solidarity and – crucially – our practical assistance now more than ever.”

Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is deputy leader of the group, which will hold an online rally on Thursday evening titled ‘No War in Ukraine: Stop Nato Expansion’. Mr Corbyn will speak at the event.


Scotland to ditch face masks in schools

Students and teachers in Scotland’s secondary schools will no longer need to wear face masks in the classroom from the end of this month, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced.

She said the change – from February 28 when all schools have returned from the half-term break – is a “further step in allowing children and young people a return to a more normal experience in school after many, many months of sacrifice”.

Face coverings will still be required in other communal, indoor areas within high schools, the First Minister added, but this will be kept under “regular review”.

The announcement came 24 hours after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the last domestic restrictions in England – including the legal requirement to self-isolate if you test positive – are likely to be lifted later this month, “a full month early”.


Downing St wishes Prince Charles ‘swift recovery’ from Covid

Downing Street said Boris Johnson hopes the Prince of Wales will make a swift recovery after he tested positive for Covid-19.

A No 10 spokesman said: “The Prime Minister would like to wish the Prince of Wales a speedy recovery.”


UK ‘won’t intervene militarily if Ukraine is attacked’, says PM

Boris Johnson has said Britain is sending military support to Ukraine but made clear it could not intervene militarily if it was attacked.

“Both Poland and the UK are offering direct military support to our Ukrainian friends. We both believe in a sovereign independent Ukraine,” he said in a pooled clip for broadcasters.

“The UK has been supplying some defensive weaponry in the form of anti-tank missiles, we have been training Ukrainian troops. That is as far as we can go at the moment,” he said.

“Ukraine is not part of Nato. What we are sticking up for is the right of Ukraine like any other sovereign independent country to aspire to that.”

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