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Boris Johnson news – latest: Michael Gove says former PM is ‘man of integrity’

‘I think that Boris is someone who puts the country first,’ the levelling up secretary said

Question Time audience reveal if they thought Boris Johnson was telling MPs the truth

‘Boris Johnson is a man of integrity,’ Levelling up secretary Michael Gove agreed on Sophy Ridge on Sunday

When questioned on the show this morning about whether he thinks the former prime minister is a man of integrity, Mr Gove replied: “I think that Boris is someone who puts the country first, yes,”

It comes as Mr Johnson is under investigation by the Commons privileges committee over whether he deliberately or recklessly misled the Commons with his statements about Partygate.

MPs investigating whether the former prime minister intentionally misled parliament over his understanding of parties in Downing Street during the pandemic could recommend a suspension of more than 10 days, triggering a contest for his Uxbridge constituency.

Mr Johnson is now preparing for a “worst case” scenario in which he has to fight a by-election he is expected to lose, allies have said.


Watch: Michael Gove backtracks on Boris Johnson comments insisting he's 'man of integrity'

Michael Gove backtracks on Boris Johnson comments insisting he's 'man of integrity'
Martha Mchardy26 March 2023 09:57

Kwasi Kwarteng tells fake firm he could help arrange meeting with ‘great guy’ Boris Johnson

Kwasi Kwarteng told a fake South Korean firm set up by campaign group Led by Donkeys that he could set up a meeting with “great guy” Boris Johnson.

Mr Kwarteng told the fake company that he would be able to put them in touch with other MPs, and suggested he could arrange a potential meeting with former prime minister Boris Johnson.

He said: “Let’s talk. I’m sure we could try and arrange that. I’m not promising anything, but he’s someone I know. He’s a great guy.”

Kwarteng tells fake firm he could help arrange meeting with ‘great guy’ Boris Johnson

The former chancellor described Boris Johnson as a ‘great guy’ and ‘the best campaigner’

Holly Bancroft26 March 2023 21:40

UNHCR says Sunak’s Illegal Migration bill ‘extinguishes right to seek asylum in the UK for all but a very few refugees'

The United Nations refugee agency’s representative to the UK has warned that the government’s Illegal Migration Bill “effectively extinguishes the right to seek asylum in the UK for all but a very few refugees”.

The controversial Bill, aimed at tackling Channel crossings, returns to the House of Commons on Monday for its committee stage, and MPs will scrutinise it over two days.

Vicky Tennant, of the UNHCR, told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge On Sunday programme that the proposed legislation is “in breach of international law” and “the UK’s obligations under the International Refugee Convention.”

But the Home Office said it is “satisfied that this legislation is within the bounds of international law and is compatible with the Refugee Convention”.

Ms Tennant said: “Well, we’re very concerned that this sets a global precedent, it effectively extinguishes the right, as you’ve said, to seek asylum in the UK for all but a very few refugees.

“We know that those coming across the Channel broadly reflect the nationalities of countries affected by crisis, by persecution globally.

“So we’re talking about countries like Syria, Afghanistan, Eritrea, Iran, Iraq, Albania, several of these, as I’ve said, countries that are producing high numbers of refugees.”

She added: “We think the focus of attention really needs to be on the asylum system, on asylum processing, getting that working properly so people are able to present their claims.

“If they’re not refugees decisions can be made quickly, they can be returned to their own countries, and if they are refugees, then they’re able to embark on that integration journey.

“We think that’s in everyone’s interests, not just the refugees interest, but also the interests of the British public.”

The Bill aims to stop people claiming asylum in the UK if they arrive through unauthorised means, but the UNHCR has called it an effective “asylum ban”.

Holly Bancroft26 March 2023 20:32

SNP poised to announce Nicola Sturgeon replacement as contest on knife-edge

The SNP is poised to reveal who will replace Nicola Sturgeon as party leader and Scotland’s first minister as a chaotic and bitterly-fought six-week contest comes to an end.

Frontrunners Humza Yousaf and Kate Forbes, along with outsider Ash Regan, will find out shortly after the members’ ballot closes at 12 noon on Monday who has the difficult job of replacing Ms Sturgeon in charge of the country.

The race for the SNP leadership has been a rocky affair, with dramatic resignations and acrimonious clashes on major issues between the candidates during live TV debates – ending the party’s reputation for discipline and unity.

Interim chief executive Mike Russell admitted the party was in “a tremendous mess” after a major row over membership numbers and the transparency of the contest, while even Ms Sturgeon acknowledged the party was suffering from “growing pains”.

Read more from our Political correspondent Adam Forrest here:

SNP poised to announce Nicola Sturgeon replacement as contest on knife-edge

Humza Yousaf narrowly more popular with SNP voters than rival Kate Forbes in most recent poll

Holly Bancroft26 March 2023 19:30

Labour denies claim Sue Gray in talks with Starmer ‘for over a year'

Labour has denied claims that top civil servant Sue Gray was involved in talks about taking the role of Sir Keir Starmer’s chief of staff for over a year before she was offered the role.

The move to appoint Ms. Gray, who oversaw the Partygate inquiry into events that took place while Boris Johnson was in Number 10, has sparked outrage among Tory allies of the former prime minister.

Labour insists Sue Gray was approached in autumn, well after she had completed the May 2022 Partygate report. However, according to The Mail On Sunday, Cabinet Office officials believe discussions between the party and Ms. Gray began well over a year ago.

A government source told the paper: “One of Sue Gray’s managers has told Cabinet Office officials that they believe secret contacts with Labour began well before last November [and] may have been going on for over 12 months. It all appears to have been done ‘off the books’.”

But a spokesperson for Sir Keir categorically denied that Ms Gray had been in talks with the party for that long. The spokesperson said: “As is well documented, and Keir has said, the chief of staff vacancy only arose in autumn 2022.”

Jonathan Kanengoni26 March 2023 18:30

Kwasi Kwarteng, Sir Graham Brady and Stephen Hammond should have the whip withdrawn so allegations they may have broken parliamentary rules on second jobs and use of offices can be investigated, shadow culture secretary told Times Radio.

Matt Hancock has already had whip removed

Martha Mchardy26 March 2023 10:50

‘MPs should not have second jobs', says shadow culture secretary

‘MPs should not have second jobs,’ shadow culture secretary Lucy Powell told Times Radio.

Ms Powell said there are “some exceptions” such as when MPs work as doctors or nurses.

The shadow culture secretary said MPs who work as political consultants should not have second jobs.

Martha Mchardy26 March 2023 10:45

Boris was telling the truth on Partygate, says Gove

Michael Gove, asked on BBC’s Sunday With Laura Kuenssberg programme whether he believed Boris Johnson’s evidence, said: “Yes, I did.”

Asked whether Mr Johnson had always told the truth, Mr Gove replied: “I think that all of us will at some point have told a white lie or an untruth.”

Gove said: “But I think the fundamental thing here … what was Boris’ argument? He was working incredibly hard, every hour that the Lord sent in order to try and do the right thing.”“

He believed that saying thank you to people who were leaving in the cramped and confined circumstances of 10 Downing Street was part of that job. Did he attend those events in a spirit of self-indulgence? No, he did so in order to show his gratitude to those who were working with him.”

He added: “I am inclined to give him not just the benefit of the doubt but to believe that when he places his hand on his heart and he said he did not think he was breaking the rules, I do believe him.”

Martha Mchardy26 March 2023 10:36

Labour launch independent review panel into the ‘future direction’ of BBC

Shadow culture secretary Lucy Powell said the BBC is facing “some perception challenges” as she announced Labour was launching an independent review panel into the “future direction” of the broadcaster.

Asked if the BBC was currently independent of Government, she told Sky News’s Sophy Ridge On Sunday programme: “Well I think there are some perception challenges at least in that regard and the reason that I’ve launched this independent review panel today with some very pre-eminent people from the industry working with me who are going to make recommendations and advise Labour on the future direction, is because the BBC does face a number of headwinds.

“But we’re sure that as the Labour Party that we support a universally funded, public service, publicly funded broadcaster in this country, we think that’s absolutely critical, but there are a number of headwinds that it faces. It’s got a charter renewal coming up, there are constant questions around future funding.

“This Government have basically put the BBC under threat in terms of its future funding. Its independence and impartiality is constantly being questioned and at the centre of culture wars and of course in the streaming age, the platform age, the social media age, that we are now living in, there are big challenges for the BBC and that’s why I want this panel at this stage to really do some deep policy work for Labour on these issues, so that we can secure the future of the BBC not just to survive, but to thrive into the next generation.”

Martha Mchardy26 March 2023 10:34

Junior doctor’s strike ‘will not put patients’ lives at risk,’ says BMA chair

Dr Robert Laurenson, who co-chairs the The British Medical Association’s (BMA) junior doctor committee has apologised for the disruption further strike action will cause but said he does not think it will put patients’ lives at risk.

On whether the fresh walkout will put lives at risk, he told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday programme: “I don’t think so and actually the NHS has shown itself to be very resilient over our last action, which was last week, over a 72 hour period.”

On cancelled appointments and the “huge” NHS backlog, he added: “This strike action, yes, it causes disruption and I’m sorry for that but it just demonstrates that we have 9,000 vacancies in secondary care have, we 6,000 fewer GPs, and it’s very difficult for patients to access health care that they deserve.”

On demands for a 35% pay rise, he added: “So doctors have lost 26.1% over the last 15 years in real terms and what we’re asking for is for that to be restored, so we’re asking for it to go back to a cost neutral point of view from 2008, and what that looks like, is about a five to £10 pound an hour increase. At the moment doctors start on £14 pounds an hour and we’re just asking for that to be restored to £19 an hour.”

Martha Mchardy26 March 2023 10:26

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