Boris Johnson fails to deny he offered Carrie Symonds top job
Votes are being counted in two by-elections triggered by the resignations of disgraced Tory MPs.
At 10pm on Thursday, the polls closed for by-elections in Wakefield and Tiverton & Honiton.
In the constituency Wakefield, Imran Ahmad Khan stepped down as MP last month after he was convicted of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy at a party in 2008.
Also in May, Neil Parish quit as MP for Tiverton & Honiton after admitting to watching pornography on his phone in the House of Commons on two separate occasions.
PM Boris Johnson said he is “full of optimism and buoyancy” ahead of the results of the by-elections.
Speaking to broadcasters in Rwandan capital Kigali, he said: “I’m going to be watching the results with interest but always full of optimism and buoyancy but most seasoned political observers know that by-elections in mid-term are never necessarily easy for any government.”
Polls close in two English by-elections
At 10pm on Thursday, the polls closed for by-elections in Wakefield and Tiverton & Honiton.
Both by-elections are being held to elect a successor to two Tory MPs who had been forced to resign in disgrace.
In Wakefield, Imran Ahmad Khan stepped down after he was convicted of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy at a party in 2008.
In Tiverton & Honiton, Neil Parish quit after admitting to watching pornography on his phone in the House of Commons on two separate occasions.
Lamiat Sabin23 June 2022 22:07
Shapps dismisses Khan’s claim over bus cuts
Transport secretary Grant Shapps has dismissed claims by Mayor of London Sadiq Khan in a dispute about the axing of bus routes.
He tweeted a letter that he wrote to Mr Khan over the latter’s claim that the government has “forced” City Hall into having to cut 21 routes.
Mr Shapps claimed that was untrue as the government has provided Transport for London “with close to £5bn of funding”.
He accused Mr Khan of using a “campaign of scaremongering and threats’ to “repeatedly [play] politics”.
Lamiat Sabin23 June 2022 21:37
Energy sector warns Rishi Sunak against windfall tax
Energy industry chiefs warned chancellor Rishi Sunak that his planned windfall tax on the companies could damage investment in the North Sea oil projects,
Last month, Mr Sunak unveiled the measure under pressure from Labour to impose the 25 per cent one-off surcharge on energy firms.
It is hoped the policy will raise as much as £5 billion, but energy firms have warned it could be detrimental to the sector.
In Aberdeen, Offshore Energy UK chief executive Deirdre Michie said she pressed Mr Sunak on the issue during what she called a “candid and constructive” roundtable meeting.
She said: “Both sides have committed to further discussions.
“We will work constructively with the UK Government and do our best to mitigate the damage this tax will cause, but if energy companies reduce investment in UK waters, then they will produce less oil and gas.
“That means they will eventually be paying less taxes and have less money to invest in low carbon energy.”
A consultation on the policy is due to close on Tuesday.
According to the Treasury, Mr Sunak stressed the importance of the sector to the UK’s transition away from fossil fuels, adding that the levy will provide tax relief on investments within the sector.
Lamiat Sabin23 June 2022 20:45
‘More powerful vacuum cleaners could rid Lords of mice’
Fewer mice would be running around the House of Lords if post-Brexit UK law allowed for more powerful vacuum cleaners to clean the carpets properly, according to a minister.
Cabinet Office minister Lord True joked the mouse infestation could be eradicated by scrapping EU regulations on the appliances.
Lord True, responding to questions from Liberal Democrat peer Lord Wallace of Saltaire, said: “Perhaps, my Lords, if we had more powerful vacuum cleaners in this place we wouldn’t have mice running around the place gorging themselves on all the bits and pieces of crumbs that are left.”
Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Cabinet Office minister responsible for Brexit opportunities, has launched a dashboard to show how many changes have been made to the 2,400 pieces of EU legislation retained following Brexit.
Announcing the initiative to MPs, Mr Rees-Mogg said it highlights “unnecessary and disproportionate” EU regulations on consumer goods, including those “regulating the power of vacuum cleaners”.
Lamiat Sabin23 June 2022 20:08
Watch: PM could call early general election, Cable says
Sir Vince Cable has predicted that Boris Johnson will take the “high risk” move of calling an early general election.
Former Lib Dem leader Vince Cable predicts October general election
The former leader of the Lib Dems said the prime minister is a “gambler” mindset and could call an election for the autumn to “to avoid an even worse situation” for his government.
Sir Vince said a number of factors are working against the Conservative government, such as the “dreadful” economic outlook getting “worse and worse”.
Lamiat Sabin23 June 2022 19:30
European MPs say Rwanda plan ‘unethical’ and ‘racist’
Parliamentarians from across Europe have denounced Boris Johnson’s plans to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda as “unethical” and “racist”.
The comments were made in a debate at the parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe.
The delegates expressed their concern over the Conservative-led government’s apparent willingness to breach international law, and to pass a British Bill of Rights which would allow UK judges to override European Court of Human Rights rulings.
Read the full story here by Andrew Woodcock and Ashley Cowburn
Lamiat Sabin23 June 2022 19:00
‘Labour can get better Protocol deal from EU’ – Lammy
Labour’s experience negotiating the Good Friday Agreement means it will be able to secure a better solution to the Northern Ireland Protocol row, David Lammy has said.
The shadow foreign secretary told an event hosted by the UK In A Changing Europe think tank on Wednesday that a Labour government would be better received in Brussels.
He said: “The EU must be less rigid. But I’ve been told frankly by EU partners that if there was a partner they could trust they could show more flexibility.
“Instead they have Boris Johnson who lies, breaks the law, and never keeps his promises.
“With a change of Prime Minister and a change of government, the UK could build a stable and mutually beneficial relationship with the EU over the long term.”
Speaking on the sixth anniversary of the Brexit referendum, Mr Lammy reiterated Labour’s position that it would not seek to rejoin the EU or re-enter the Customs Union or the Single Market.
But, he said, the party would look to secure “practical solutions to reduce any checks to their absolute minimum” by pursuing an agreement on food and agricultural standards, sharing trade data and using a “risk based approach” for goods entering Northern Ireland from Great Britain.
PM criticises critics of Rwanda plan as ‘condescending’
Boris Johnson said critics of the Home Office’s plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda are “condescending”.
The Prime Minister, speaking from the Rwandan capital Kigali, said he was prepared to stress the “obvious merits” of the asylum policy to the Prince of Wales when they hold talks soon.
Prince Charles had reportedly called the Rwanda plan “appalling” in remarks he made privately.
But No 10 later said that it was unlikely that Mr Johnson would bring up the subject with the royal when they meet at the centre for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (Chogm) leaders summit in Kigali.
It will follow Mr Johnson’s talks with Rwandan president Paul Kagame, during which he failed to bring up human rights concerns about his regime.
The government in Kigali said they had already received payments under the £120 million economic and migration deal signed with the UK’s Home Office two months ago, and have already spent some of the money.
Lamiat Sabin23 June 2022 18:01
Starmer to miss Big Meeting at Durham Miners’ Gala
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer is set to miss a trip next month to the Durham Miners’ Gala – which is a key event in the socialist calendar.
The traditional trade union-backed event, known as the Big Meeting, attracts some 200,000 people to the historic city centre, where crowds watch processions of brass bands and banners.
The gala was cancelled in 2020 and 2021 due to Covid, and its return is dedicated to the key workers who kept society going during the pandemic – a decision organisers announced last year.
Sir Keir, who faces the so-called “beergate” police inquiry over his trip to Durham in April 2021, is not listed among the speakers at the gala.
A decision over whether he should be given a fixed penalty notice for drinking a bottle of beer at the offices of Mary Foy MP is due in the coming weeks.
Jeremy Corbyn and Ed Miliband both attended the Durham Miners’ Gala when they were party leaders, watching the processions from a hotel balcony before speaking to large crowds gathered on the Racecourse Ground.
Before Mr Miliband went to the Gala in 2012, the last Labour leader to attend was Neil Kinnock in the 1980s.
It has previously been described as the largest remaining working-class demonstration in the country.
Lamiat Sabin23 June 2022 17:32
Collapse in Tory support threatens ‘Conservative Celtic Fringe’ in South-West, poll finds
A collapse in Conservative support across the South-West of England could see the party lose 11 seats in a general election – and come within a hair’s breadth of losing the constituency of Jacob Rees-Mogg.
YouGov found that Tory vote share in the seats which they dubbed the “Conservative Celtic Fringe” has dropped a remarkable 19 points since the 2019 general election, leaving Boris Johnson’s party on 38 per cent in the region.
The figures were released on the day of a by-election in the Devon seat of Tiverton & Honiton, where Liberal Democrats are hopeful of overturning a massive Conservative majority in an area which has been “true blue” since 1923.
Eleanor Sly23 June 2022 17:10