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Boris Johnson news – live: Lord Geidt warns ministerial code at risk of ‘ridicule’

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Led by Donkeys video chronicles the times Boris Johnson told people to ‘follow the rules’

Boris Johnson’s ethics adviser Lord Geidt has warned that the ministerial code is at risk of “ridicule”, as he urged the prime minister to set out in public why he did not believe his Partygate fine represented a breach.

Mr Johnson insisted in response that he “did not breach” the code, citing “past precendents” of ministerial breaches “where there was no intent to break the law”, his public apology, and his having “corrected the parliamentary record”.

It comes as Andrea Leadsom became the latest Tory MP to turn on Boris Johnson amid the fallout from Sue Gray’s damning report into Covid rule-breaking in Downing Street.

The former business secretary ally of the prime minister said he resided over “unacceptable failings in leadership” adding it was now time for Conservative MPs to decide on the “right course of action” to restore trust in the government.

Former Tory leader William Hague also warned that Boris Johnson could face a no-confidence vote “next week”.

Key Points

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That’s all for our live coverage this evening. Come back tomorrow for more updates.

Katy Clifton31 May 2022 21:36

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Exclusive: Expand free school meals in time for summer holidays, Boris Johnson told

Boris Johnson is under pressure to extend the free school meals programme before the summer holidays amid warnings more than a million children face going hungry because of the cost of living crisis.

Former education secretaries from both Labour and the Conservatives, as well as the mayor of London, unions and charities have urged the government to act as it did during the Covid pandemic.

Kate Devlin and Zoe Tidman have the exclusive story here:

Andy Gregory31 May 2022 20:45

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Rebels putting themselves ahead of Queen’s Jubilee, says Tory peer

A Tory peer has suggested that rebellious Tory MPs are “putting their own thoughts ahead of” the country’s desire to celebrate the Queen’s Jubilee.

Asked on LBC whether he thought it was “offensive” for Conservatives to be declaring their opposition to Boris Johnson ahead of this weekend’s celebrations, Lord Jonathan Marland said: “I think they’re putting their own thoughts ahead of what the British people are really thinking.

“And the British people are really thinking, ‘I’m looking forward to this weekend, I want to celebrate the magnificent achievement of the Queen as head of the Commonwealth … and her leadership of this country’.

“Let us enjoy that, let us celebrate. We’ve had a very difficult time, and we’re going to have very difficult times. Let’s have the noises off and concentrate on her.”

Andy Gregory31 May 2022 20:16

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John Rentoul | The PM’s defences are crumbling – but one thing might still save him

In his latest analysis, our chief political commentator John Rentoul writes that “Boris Johnson’s defences are falling, one by one”.

But he suggests that there is “one argument that might just slow down the advance of the guerrilla army that is swarming over the barricades”:

Andy Gregory31 May 2022 19:50

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Boris Johnson’s ‘clearly p***** off’ ethics adviser hints he could resign

Boris Johnson’s ethics adviser has appeared to hint that he could resign over the prime minister’s response to the Partygate scandal if the prime minister rejects his advice.

“I have attempted to avoid … offering advice to a prime minister about a prime minister’s obligations under his own ministerial code,” Lord Geidt said in a letter to Mr Johnson.

“If a prime minister’s judgement is that there is nothing to investigate or no case to answer, he would be bound to reject any such advice, thus forcing the resignation of the independent adviser.”

While Mr Johnson’s response to Lord Geidt’s letter likely reduces the chances of this, it would mark the second such exit during his term, with the advisor’s predecessor, Sir Alex Allan, resigning in 2020 after Mr Johnson rejected his finding that Priti Patel had been guilty of bullying civil servants.

The i newspaper’s chief political commentator suggests that Boris Johnson’s ethics adviser is “clearly p***** off with him”.

Andy Gregory31 May 2022 19:25

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Breaking: Keir Starmer and Angela Rayner have received police questionnaires, Labour says

Sir Keir Starmer and Angela Rayner have received questionnaires from Durham Constabulary, Labour has said.

The force is investigating a gathering in Labour Party offices in April last year while lockdown rules were in force.

The Labour leader – who was photographed through a window drinking a beer – and his deputy have both said they will resign if fined by police over the event.

My colleague Adam Forrest has more details here:

Andy Gregory31 May 2022 18:59

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Boris Johnson insists he ‘did not breach’ ministerial code’

Boris Johnson has insisted he “did not breach” the ministerial code after receiving a fixed penalty notice for breaching his own coronavirus rules.

Mr Johnson’s ethics adviser Lord Geidt has written to him to urge the prime minister to set out “in public” the reasons why he believes his police fine was not a breach of the code.

In his letter to Lord Geidt, Mr Johnson said: “In coming to that conclusion, (a) I have duly considered past precedents of ministers who have unwittingly breached regulations where there was no intent to break the law; (b) I have been fully accountable to Parliament and the British people and rightly apologised for the mistake; (c) I have corrected the parliamentary record in relation to past statements; and (d) I have followed the principles of leadership and accountability in doing so.

“In my view, the same principles apply to the fixed penalty notice paid by the Chancellor of the Exchequer.”

Earlier in his letter, Mr Johnson reiterated there was “no intent to break the regulations”, adding: “I did not consider that the circumstances in which I received a fixed penalty notice were contrary to the regulations.

“I have accepted the outcome and paid it in compliance with legal requirements. Paying a fixed penalty notice is not a criminal conviction.”

Andy Gregory31 May 2022 18:47

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Ministerial code at risk of ‘ridicule’ over Partygate, Boris Johnson’s ethics adviser warns

Our political editor Andrew Woodcock has this breaking report:

Boris Johnson’s ethics adviser has warned the ministerial code of conduct risks being placed in “ridicule” after the prime minister failed to heed his advice over Partygate.

In his annual report, Christopher Geidt revealed that he had repeated urged the PM to make a public statement to make clear whether he felt he had personally breached the code with the police fine he received in relation to unlawful lockdown-breaking gatherings at No 10.

But Lord Geidt said that the advice – intended “simply been to ensure that the prime minister should publicly be seen to take responsibility for his own conduct – had not been heeded by Mr Johnson.

Mr Johnson last week released an update to the ministerial code which gave the independent adviser the power to reveal if a PM has blocked an inquiry into ministers’ misconduct, but stopped short of granting him the power which he had requested to launch investigations on his own initiative.

Lord Geidt said that this had left him in the position where if he felt an investigation into the PM’s own conduct was merited, he would have to request permission from the PM and would be forced to resign if it was refused.

“Such a circular process could only risk placing the ministerial code in a place of ridicule,” he warned.

You can refresh the story below for updates:

Andy Gregory31 May 2022 18:35

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Cabinet is ‘very, very poor’, Dominic Cummings says

Here’s more from Dominic Cummings’ interview with Suzanne Moore.

Asked whether he believes Boris Johnson will remain in No 10, his former chief political aide said: “As far as we [his Vote Leave team] know.

“The fact that Rishi blew himself up makes it much more likely that Boris will somehow survive. I don’t want to say ‘no chance’, but I think Rishi is out of the running. They’re going to be thinking who can win the next election.

“Whatever you might think of Michael Gove’s abilities, he is not a loved character. There are some very junior people who I like, who I won’t curse by naming – if I name them then everyone will hate them. But it’s a very, very poor Cabinet.”

Andy Gregory31 May 2022 18:08

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Home Office announces plans for first Rwanda flights

The Home Office has begun issuing formal removal directions to asylum-seekers due to be sent to Rwanda, with the first deportation flight planned to depart in two weeks on 14 June.

The government described the move as the “final administrative step” in its partnership with the east African nation, whereby people who are deemed to have entered the UK illegally will be encouraged to rebuild their lives thousands of miles away.

“Our world-leading partnership with Rwanda is a key part of our strategy to overhaul the broken asylum system and break the evil people-smugglers’ business model,” Priti Patel said.

“Today’s announcement is another critical step towards delivering that partnership and, while we know attempts will now be made to frustrate the process and delay removals, I will not be deterred and remain fully committed to delivering what the British public expect.”

Multiple journalists have reacted by drawing links to the growing crisis of confidence in Boris Johnson, including The Mirror’s Kevin Maguire, and Tom Harwood of GB News.

My colleague Liam James has more details here.

Andy Gregory31 May 2022 17:51

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/boris-johnson-resign-latest-tories-inflation-b2090742.html