As it happenedended1652472482

Boris Johnson news – live: PM to visit Northern Ireland amid protocol row at Stormont

Sinn Fein said DUP’s blocking of the election of a speaker at Stormont was ‘shameful’

Boris Johnson promises ‘compassion’ to get people through cost of living crisis

Boris Johnson is set to visit Northern Ireland next week as the deepening crisis over the protocol could leave the NI Assembly unable to function.

The prime minister’s planned visit for Monday comes after the DUP blocked the election of a speaker at Stormont.

DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said he is sending a clear message to the EU and UK government over the Northern Ireland protocol.

Speaking before the first meeting of the new Assembly, he said: “I am here with my Assembly team today for the first sitting of the Assembly. My members will be signing the roll and taking their seats for the first time.

“As I have made clear this morning we have taken the decision not at this stage to support the election of a speaker.”

The decision has been strongly criticised by the other four main parties at Stormont, including Sinn Fein’s northern leader Michelle O’Neill who called it “shameful”.

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Champagne bottle signed by Boris Johnson auctioned at charity event ‘as souvenir of Partygate’

A champagne bottle signed by Boris Johnson was auctioned off at a charity event “as a souvenir of partygate”.

Food critic Jay Rayner tweeted an image showing a description of the bottle from what appeared to be the page of an auction catalogue.

My colleague Chiara Giordano reports:

Champagne bottle signed by Boris Johnson auctioned off ‘as souvenir of Partygate’

Item donated by Hertsmere MP Oliver Dowden but he says he had no prior knowledge of description

Matt Mathers13 May 2022 10:25
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Civil service chief criticises Rees-Mogg's attacks on staff

Boris Johnson's favoured candidate to oversee the civil service has hit out at Jacob Rees-Mogg's attacks on staff, saying his efforts to force them back to the office full-time is "counterproductive."

Baroness Stuart, who is responsible for maintaining impartiality in the civil service said briefings against staff were "wrong"

She told The Times: “We should all speak up when we see integrity and professionalism being undermined,” she said.

“To my mind briefings and anonymous attacks, they’re not just wrong, they’re also counterproductive,” she said, arguing that they “prevent people who want to join the civil service ... from wanting to be part of that system”.

Matt Mathers13 May 2022 10:41
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‘Computer says no’: Rishi Sunak under fire for blaming ageing IT for failure to hike benefits

Rishi Sunak is under fire after an extraordinary claim that “computer says no” forced him to impose real-terms benefits cuts in his spring mini-budget.

The chancellor has been strongly criticised for increasing payments to struggling people by only 3.1 per cent last month – far below the inflation rate of 7 per cent and rising.

Our deputy politics editor Rob Merrick has more details:

‘Computer says no’: Rishi Sunak blames ageing IT for failure to hike benefits

Experts dispute chancellor’s claim, arguing Universal Credit can – and has – been increased quickly

Matt Mathers13 May 2022 11:06
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Rees-Mogg: Civil service job cuts not a return to austerity

The minister for government efficiency has rejected suggestions of a return to austerity after Boris Johnson tasked his cabinet with cutting around 90,000 Civil Service jobs.

The prime minister told ministers on Thursday that the service should be slashed by a fifth, as he moved to free up cash for measures to ease the cost of living crisis with possible tax cuts.

Jacob Rees-Mogg defended the plan on Friday, saying the job cuts would bring numbers back to 2016 levels after extra staff were brought in to help deal with the pandemic and the “aftermath of Brexit”.

He told Sky News: “I know it sounds eye-catching but it’s just getting back to the civil service we had in 2016 ... since then, we’ve had to take on people for specific tasks.

“So dealing with the aftermath of Brexit and dealing with Covid, so there’s been a reason for that increase, but we’re now trying to get back to normal.”

Matt Mathers13 May 2022 11:19
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Foreign Office issues further sanctions against Russia

The Foreign Office has announced further Russian sanctions, with President Vladimir Putin's ex-wife, family members and inner circle hit in the latest tranche of measures designed to punish Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine.

Foreign secretary Liz Truss said: "We are exposing and targeting the shady network propping up Putin's luxury lifestyle and tightening the vice on his inner circle.

"We will keep going with sanctions on all those aiding and abetting Putin's aggression until Ukraine prevails."

Mr Putin's official assets are modest, according to the Foreign Office, with his lifestyle "funded by a cabal of family, friends and elites".

Matt Mathers13 May 2022 11:40
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Former MP Neil Parish could stand in by-election triggered by own resignation

Former Tory MP Neil Parish who admitted watching pornography in the Commons chamber is taking “soundings” on standing in a by-election triggered by his own resignation.

It comes after Mr Parish stood aside in the Tiverton and Honiton constituency in April after becoming the focus of a political storm when two female MPs reported him to party whips.

Our politics correspondent Ashley Cowburn reports:

Matt Mathers13 May 2022 11:55
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Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe to demand answers on slow release in meeting with PM

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe will meet with Boris Johnson today and demand answers as to why it took the government so long to secure her release from detention in Iran.

She will be joined by her local Tulip Siddiq. Ms Siddiq said her constituent "deserves to hear directly" from the prime minister.

She said: “We will use the meeting as an opportunity to raise the plight of British citizens like Morad Tahbaz who are still being held hostage in Iran and push the Prime Minister to do much more to secure their release.

"He has a responsibility to ensure that others do not have to endure the six years of torment that Nazanin was put through.

She added: “I will also be submitting evidence to the Foreign Affairs Committee’s inquiry on hostage taking, which I hope will get the bottom of the Government’s abject failure in handling cases like Nazanin’s.

“Never again must the government allow British citizens to be taken hostage with so little done to secure their release and so few reprisals for those responsible.”

Matt Mathers13 May 2022 12:13
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ICYMI: Boris Johnson is heading for a double drubbing in by-elections

The prime minister’s unpopularity is about to be brought home to Conservative MPs in dramatic fashion, writes John Rentoul.

Read John’s full piece here:

Boris Johnson is heading for a double drubbing in by-elections | John Rentoul

The prime minister’s unpopularity is about to be brought home to Conservative MPs in dramatic fashion, writes John Rentoul

Matt Mathers13 May 2022 12:29
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Do MPs understand what the cost of living crisis means for people?

Conservative MP Lee Anderson caused uproar this week when he claimed there wasn’t ‘this massive use’ for food banks in the UK and that people could really do with a few cooking lessons instead, writes Cathy Newman.

Read Cathy’s piece here:

Do MPs understand what the cost of living crisis means for people? | Cathy Newman

Conservative MP Lee Anderson caused uproar this week when he claimed there wasn’t ‘this massive use’ for food banks in the UK and that people could really do with a few cooking lessons instead

Matt Mathers13 May 2022 12:50
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ICYMI: Boris Johnson plans to cut 90,000 civil service jobs to help fund tax cuts

The government could cut as many as 90,000 civil service jobs in a cost-saving exercise touted by Boris Johnson, as ministers come under increasing pressure to help ease the cost of living crisis with possible tax cuts.

My colleague Tom Batchelor reports on the story that has been making a splash today:

Boris Johnson plans to cut 90,000 civil service jobs to help fund tax cuts

Move to slim down workforce comes during pressure on ministers to act over the cost of living crisis

Matt Mathers13 May 2022 13:15

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