Partygate: Johnson faces no further action as police investigation concludes
Sue Gray reportedly wishes to name civil servants accused of Covid rule-breaking in her long-awaited report into the Partygate scandal.
As complaints emerged that the public remained “in the dark” about who was actually involved in the No 10 parties after the Metropolitan Police concluded its investigation, the BBC reported that Ms Gray’s desire to name individuals could delay her own report, which was expected as early as next week.
Downing Street officials who received fines for attending the same lockdown parties as Boris Johnsonreacted with fury after the prime minister escaped further sanctions while some junior staff amassed as many as five fines, with some legal experts questioning the “inconsistency” of the fines.
“It’s a joke,” one No 10 source told The Independent, saying that the prime minister had “told people to ‘let their hair down’ and enjoy their drinks which they’d earned for ‘beating back the virus’”.
Speaking of Mr Johnson’s handling of the saga, they added: “He’s a man of little or no integrity.”
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Ireland opposes UK breaching international law on NI protocol, Liz Truss told
Ireland’s foreign affairs minister has said he has “made clear” to Liz Truss that the Irish government opposes the UK breaching international law.
Following a meeting with the UK foreign secretary this morning to discuss ongoing concerns around the Northern Ireland Protocol, Simon Coveney urged the UK to “get back to talks with the EU.
He earlier said he urged the British government to “move away” from threats of unilaterally breaching international law and “damaging international relations”, saying that Brussels “remains ready to negotiate pragmatic solutions”.
Ms Truss has promised to publish a legal statement soon on her plan to override parts of the protocol, and has insisted the UK will not breach international law under the plans.
Andy Gregory20 May 2022 11:59
Former Bank of England governor warns UK must brace for ‘very unpleasant period’
The cost of living crisis is in part a “failure of the economics profession”, a former Bank of England governor has said, warning that the UK must brace itself for a “very unpleasant period”.
In an interview with Sky News, Mervyn King said that monetary policy had been “too loose” and “needs to be tightened”, as he criticised the decision by central banks – not excluding the Bank of England – to print hundreds of billions of pounds and dollars during the pandemic.
“When you get an intellectual mistake in policy, and you allow inflation to rise, if you’re then hit by bad luck – which is what happened in the 1970s and is happening now – it becomes a very unpleasant outcome. It takes tough action. And it’s not a pleasant period through which we’re going to have to go,” he said.
Lord King added: “They shouldn’t have been printing the extra money; what governments were doing was enough to deal with the consequences of Covid. They’re now worried about inflation, when they weren’t before… [But] it’s not all the result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This was foreseeable, because there was a mistaken diagnosis of what needed to be done with the pandemic.”
He warned that “considerable” interest rate hikes were now needed to prevent a re-run of the 1970s.
Andy Gregory20 May 2022 11:45
Nadhim Zahawi ‘looking very carefully’ at helping schools with energy bills
The education secretary has reportedly said he is “looking very carefully” at giving schools more money for rising food and energy bills.
In comments reported by Times Radio’s Matt Chorley, Nadhim Zahawi said that energy costs for schools who are out of contract could rise from 1.4 per cent of their budget to as much as 10 per cent.
“We’ve got some headroom but we’re not complacent,” he was reported as saying.
Andy Gregory20 May 2022 11:30
Cost of living: Your questions answered on inflation, energy bills and food prices
While we are all aware of how rising prices are affecting us, many questions likely remain.
What is really causing this situation, how has it been allowed to happen and what can be done to alleviate it in the short term, as well as protect us in future?
The Independent’s business reporter Ben Chapman will be holding an “Ask Me Anything” session live at 1pm on Monday. To take part, register, then post your questions in the comments section on this article:
Andy Gregory20 May 2022 11:17
Boris Johnson ‘lies on an industrial scale’, Sir Ed Davey says
Lib Dem leader Sir Ed Davey has accused Boris Johnson of telling “lies on an industrial scale”.
Asked on BBC Breakfast if he believes the prime minister knowingly misled parliament, Sir Ed said: “I’m pretty sure he did. He did it not just once, but he did it on many occasions.
“And for those of us who have to listen to him week in and week out, we see a prime minister who tells lies on an industrial scale. I’ve been in parliament under many different persuasions, I’ve never known a prime minister who…”
Interrupted with an observation that it is a strong accusation to make, he said: “Yes, and I’m doing it. And I stand by that. And I’m not the only one.”
Andy Gregory20 May 2022 11:07
Sue Gray ‘wants to name No 10 rule-breakers’
Sue Gray wishes to name civil servants accused of Covid rule-breaking in her long-awaited report into the Partygate scandal, according to the BBC.
The senior civil servant is contacting those she wants to name, and if these individuals object to what is being said about them, this could delay publication, according to the broadcaster.
Andy Gregory20 May 2022 10:41
Oil and gas operators ‘really worried’ by windfall tax calls
Many operators in the North Sea, other than BP, are “really worried” that a windfall tax could impact their investments, a body representing the UK offshore oil and gas industry has said.
“The supply chain relies on work from the operators,” Offshore Energies chief executive Deirdre Michie told Times Radio.
“They are really concerned that if an investment from the operators starts to step away it will undermine the projects they are hoping to come through and that is where the jobs start to go.
“It is the supply chain that has the jobs. It also has the expertise and the skills that are going to underpin the energy transition. We should be in no doubt that it is the whole gas companies their supply chain that is going to drive the energy transition forward.”
Andy Gregory20 May 2022 10:20
Tories ‘suggesting it might be better to lose the next election’
Multiple reports this morning suggest that some Conservatives are privately suggesting it might be better for their party to lose the next general election.
Citing conversations with a “half dozen or so Tory politicians”, including “a couple of people who’d be good bets for cabinet rank some time in the next decade”, The Spectator reports a prevailing view that “winning next time would be truly dismal: a Tory administration with a small majority and no ideas, stumbling through a fifth term, is an utterly uninspiring prospect even for some Conservatives”.
In The Times, the same magazine’s political editor James Forsyth also reports that “some Tories are beginning to whisper a heretical thought”, particularly in light of the “anaemic economic growth forecasts for the first half of the next parliament”.
According to both reports, these Conservatives believe that a progressive pact between Labour and potentially the SNP could be a likely possibility in the event of a Tory defeat, which they believe “would struggle to survive more than a term”.
Andy Gregory20 May 2022 10:05
Sinn Fein accuses DUP of ‘denying democracy’ over Brexit protocol
Sinn Fein has accused the DUP of denying democracy by refusing to enter government in Northern Ireland in protest at the post-Brexit trade protocol agreed by Boris Johnson in 2020.
Speaking ahead of her meeting with Ireland’s Taoiseach Michael Martin in Belfast, Sinn Fein’s vice president Michelle O’Neill said he “has a very significant role in terms of being the co-guarantor of our peace agreement and therefore has a stewardship role to play”.
She added: “At a time where democracy is being denied, at a time where the DUP are continuing to prevent the facilitation of an executive being formed, an executive that could start to deliver for the public, I think it is important that he is here to assert his role and to listen to all of the parties.
“There are parties here that want to be in government together, there are parties that want to be in the executive but unfortunately the DUP, sponsored by the British government, are holding back all of that progress and preventing us from being able to start to put money in people’s pockets.”
Andy Gregory20 May 2022 09:46
UK has moved ‘too far in a unilateral way’ on NI Protocol, Ireland’s PM warns
Boris Johnson’s government has moved “too far in a unilateral way” over its approach to the Northern Ireland Protocol, Taoiseach Micheal Martin has warned.
Speaking ahead of a meeting with political leaders in Belfast today, Ireland’s premier said the idea that the EU was being “inflexible” simply “is just not the truth”, accusing the UK government of an “our way or no way” approach.
“I believe that the current UK government has moved too far in a unilateral way on issues, be it legacy, be it the protocol. In my view that is not fully in accordance with the spirit of the Good Friday Agreement which involves collaboration, working together,” he said.
With the DUP still refusing to enter the the devolved powersharing institutions at Stormont in protest over the post-Brexit trade protocol, Mr Martin warned: “We can’t have a situation where one political party determines that the other political parties can’t convene in a parliament.”
While he said he understood there were “legitimate issues” with the protocol, he accused London of failing to “respond in any meaningful way” to the EU’s proposals, adding: “The challenge that I see here is that the goalposts keep on changing in respect of the protocol, or where the landing zone for a resolution of the legitimate issues that have been raised by people are.”
Andy Gregory20 May 2022 09:41