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Boris Johnson news – live: PM ‘at end of road’ as 54% of Tories don’t believe he is telling truth on parties

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Sam Hancock
Tuesday 18 January 2022 20:40
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‘You're taking the mickey’: Beth Rigby grills Johnson over Downing Street party

Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner says Boris Johnson is “at the end of the road”, after the PM denied knowing a drinks party held in his back garden during lockdown would breach Covid rules.

Now, an exclusive poll for The Independent has revealed that 65 per cent of voters and more than half (54 per cent) of Conservative supporters do not believe the PM’s claim he thought the 20 May 2020 drinks in the Downing Street rose garden was a “work event”.

A further 80 per cent, including 73 per cent of those who voted Tory in 2019, agreed that under Johnson there was “one rule for the government and another for everybody else.”

It follows a tense interview between Mr Johnson and Sky’s Beth Rigby earlier, during which the PM became flustered as she grilled him on his “ludicrous” claim that he thought the 20 May 2020 event was work-related.

The Tory leader insisted he “categorically” was not warned the party was unlawful, despite ex-No 10 adviser Dominic Cummings claiming Mr Johnson pushed for it to go ahead and attended knowing full-well “it was a drinks party”.

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UK should recognise Somaliland as its own country, Tory MP says

Former education secretary Gavin Williams called on the government to recognise Somaliland as its own sovereign state in the Commons on Tuesday evening.

Somaliland is considered by most countries to be part of Somalia, but it has its own de facto government based in the city of Hargeisa

Mr Williamson told MPs: "We have seen the people of Somaliland pay a price for the defence of this nation both in the First World War and the Second World War.

"If you go to Somaliland you can see the Commonwealth war grave cemeteries of where so many Somalilanders gave their lives to the defence of this country and also beating fascism on the Horn of Africa.

"I think there is a debt of honour that we owe the people of Somaliland to restore the freedom to them that they actually fought to preserve for us as well."

He added: "This is a country that has incredibly proud links with this country. This is a country that when we have been in need and when we have asked for help, they’ve responded by sending their young men to defend our values and our freedoms."

Ella Glover18 January 2022 20:40
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Government accused of having ‘no plan’ to reduce Channel crossings as Ghana denies offshoring talks

Government accused of having ‘no plan’ to reduce Channel crossings

The government has been accused of having “no plan” to curb Channel crossings as it emerged that reports ministers were in talks with Ghana about creating an offshore processing hub in the country were false.

As reactions trickled in, Labour MP Chris Bryant said: “Nothing has changed. There’s no plan. The government has completely failed to tackle what is a real issue […] and the people who bear the brunt of this danger are those who are being illegally trafficked themselves.”

Our social affairs correspondent May Bulman has the full story:

Government accused of having ‘no plan’ to reduce Channel crossings

Plans to draft military in to tackle small boat arrivals branded ‘desperate’ by MPs

Ella Glover18 January 2022 20:30
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Exclusive poll finds more than half of Tory voters do not believe PM is telling truth on partygate

An exclusive poll for The Independent found that almost two-thirds of voters (65 per cent) and more than half (54 per cent) of Conservative supporters do not believe the PM’s claim he thought the 20 May 2020 drinks in the Downing Street rose garden was a “work event”.

An overwhelming 80 per cent of those questioned by Savanta ComRes - including 73 per cent of those who voted Tory in 2019 – agreed that under Johnson there was “one rule for the government and another for everybody else.

And almost three-quarters (73 per cent) – including 60 per cent of Conservative voters – said they were angry about the reports of repeated drinks parties in No 10.

Andrew Woodcock reports:

Nobody told me drinks event was against rules, says Boris Johnson

Exclusive: Poll finds more than half of Tory voters do not believe PM is telling truth

Ella Glover18 January 2022 20:23
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Government ad campaign to turn public against phone security attacked as ‘alarmist’ and ‘scaremongering’

A government campaign aimed at turning the public against phone security has been attacked as “alarmist” by critics.

The campaign, backed by the Home Office and named ‘No Place To Hide’, aims to encourage social media companies to stop using end-to-end encryption.

That technology ensures that messages can only be read by their recipient and sender, with even the company relaying them unable to see their contents.

The government has repeatedly argued that such security is hindering law enforcement work, and the latest campaign seeks to suggest that companies such as Facebook are covering up child sexual abuse and other crime by protecting those messages.

But critics called the campaign “alarmist” and “scaremongering”, and suggested that its plans would actually leave children more vulnerable than before.

Andrew Griffin reports:

Government ad campaign to turn public against phone security attacked as ‘alarmist’

A government campaign aimed at turning the public against phone security has been attacked as “alarmist” by critics.

Ella Glover18 January 2022 19:57
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Matt Hancock’s swim in Serpentine ‘broke rules’, says angry club member

Matt Hancock’s decision to go for an impromptu swim in London’s Serpentine Tuesday morning was “against the rules,” a member of the lake’s swimming club has told The Independent.

The former health secretary was pictured swimming in the water with Tory colleagues Robert Buckland MP and Lord Bethell following a run in Hyde Park.

However, the Serpentine Swimmers’ Club tweeted that swimming is “strictly for members only” and “no guests [are] permitted”.

The member, who did not wish to be named, told The Independent: “[Mr Hancock] definitely broke the rules because you’re not allowed to swim if you’re not a member and you’re not allowed to have guests in.”

The added: “The rules are there for a reason – you have to do a 25m test and you have to accept responsibility to be a lifeguard if you see someone in distress. These rules are agreed with the Royal Parks.”

A spokesperson for Mr Hancock insisted that club members at the lake had invited the former health secretary to join them.

Adam Forrest has the full story:

Matt Hancock’s swim in Serpentine ‘broke rules’, says angry club member

‘It’s foolhardy to jump in because you want to show you’re like Vladimir Putin’

Ella Glover18 January 2022 19:41
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First week of 2022 saw Scotland’s worst ever A&E wait times

The first week of 2022 saw Scotland’s worst ever accident and emergency wait times recorded, according to NHS figures.

Almost a third (32.6 percent) of the 21,163 patients attending A&E waited more than four hours before they were admitted to the hospital, transferred or discharged.

Of the 6,902 patients who waited longer than four hours, 2,079 waited over eight hours and 690 people spent more than 12 hours at A&E before being seen.

Commenting on the figures, health secretary Humza Yousaf told the PA news agency: “Today’s figures have undoubtedly been impacted by Omicron-related staff absences, with health boards reporting a 31 percent increase in coronavirus absence compared with the previous week.

“On average, 7,174 NHS staff were absent per day for reasons related to Coronavirus, or around 4.0 percent of the NHS workforce. Additionally, Covid-19 general occupancy was 1376; 44 percent higher than at the same point the previous week (January 2) and 161 percent higher than at the same point two weeks previously (December 26).

“These figures are a reminder of the unprecedented challenges our NHS continues to face including high levels of people whose condition has deteriorated during the pandemic due to the backlog of waiting lists and the significantly faster rate of increase in Covid-19 hospitalisations this year compared to last January.

“Although the next few weeks will undoubtedly continue to be the most difficult very challenging, I would expect to see an improvement in performance next week and in the weeks ahead.

“To support the workforce and maximise capacity, we have introduced a range of measures including new remote monitoring tools to support people with Covid-19 to stay safely at home. We have also expanded capacity in NHS 24 so they can help more people and further alleviate pressures on the rest of NHS and social care.”

Ella Glover18 January 2022 18:55
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Government will vote against making misogyny a hate crime after House of Lords backs new law, Dominic Raab suggests

The government will vote against making misogyny a hate crime when the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill is brought back to the commons, Dominic Raab suggested.

The amendment, brought by Tory peer and former victims commissioner Baroness Newlove, would require police to record crimes motivated by hostility towards the sex or gender of the victims, and make judges take it into account when sentencing offenders.

He told BBC Breakfast on Tuesday: “We looked at [the amendment] very seriously, the Law Commission went and looked at it for quite some time and came to the view it would be counter-productive and not effective as a measure, so we want to take the most effective measures.

He said the government was taking other measures to “make women feel more supported”, including extending time limits for reporting domestic assaults, and criminalising “breastfeeding voyeurism”.

Our Home Affairs editor Lizzie Dearden has the full story:

Government will vote against making misogyny a hate crime, Dominic Raab suggests

Peers backed an amendment to the policing bill that would require police to record misogyny

Ella Glover18 January 2022 18:35
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Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill a ‘magnet for judicial review’ says Tory MP

Conservative MP Richard Drax accused Boris Johnson of “driving a coach and horses straight at our core supporters” via new legislation to recognise that animals have feelings.

The Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill recognises that animals are sentient beings, able to feel pain and joy, and creates a body to ensure UK ministers take account of their welfare needs when drawing up and implementing policy.

Mr Drax told the Commons: “This is a bad Bill, an unnecessary Bill, and a Trojan horse for those who have no understanding and sadly in some cases despise the countryside and all that goes on in it.”

He went on to sat that the UK “left the EU in order to pass our own laws” but that the Bill “is even more intrusive than the former legislation under EU law”.

He added the Bill would be a “magnet for judicial review” and warned about a committee it would establish, saying: “I and many others fear that those with different agendas, often partisan and politically motivated, will hijack this committee and its role to attack activities like shooting and fishing.”

PA

Ella Glover18 January 2022 18:25
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Cummings to give evidence to Sue Gray for party-gate inquiry

Dominic Cummings will give evidence to senior official Sue Gray as part of her inquiry into the parties and gatherings attended by MPs during the coronavirus lockdowns, PA has reported.

Mr Cummings, the PM’s former chief aide, alleged that Boris Johnson misled Parliament after being told an event on May 20 2020 would breach coronavirus guidance.

Mr Cummings has alleged the Prime Minister misled Parliament after being told an event on May 20 2020 would breach coronavirus guidance.

In an explosive blog post, Mr Cummings said he would “swear under oath” that an email sent by “a very senior official” warned the “bring your own booze” event broke Covid rules.

He wrote: “The events of 20 May alone, never mind the string of other events, mean the PM lied to Parliament about parties.

“Not only me but other eyewitnesses who discussed this at the time would swear under oath this is what happened.”

The PM has denied this and earlier said “nobody told me that what we were doing was against the rules” to the “best of my recollection”.

Ella Glover18 January 2022 18:07
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Javid says he is optimistic restrictions will be ‘substantially reduced’ next week

Health secretary Sajid Javid has said he is “cautiously optimistic” that Covid-19 regulations can be “substantially reduced” next week.

Mr Javid told MPs it was likely “we have already reached the peak of the case numbers of hospitalisations”.

This, along with the UK being the most boosted country in Europe with the most anti-virals per head, he said, will see likely restrictions loosened next week.

The government is set to review its so-called plan B measures on 26 January, which apply to England, and include mandatory mask wearing in certain places as well as working from home where possible.

“I have always said that these restrictions should not stay in place a day longer than absolutely necessary,” the health secretary added.

Jon Stone has the full story:

Sajid Javid says Covid rules likely to be ‘substantially’ relaxed next week

Health secretary says hospitalisation peak of Omicron wave appears to have passed

Ella Glover18 January 2022 17:54

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