As it happenedended1654889096

Boris Johnson news: More than half of Britons ‘think Tories made wrong decision keeping PM’

One in four 2019 Conservative voters says he should have stepped down

Boris Johnson isn't a good role model for children, says social mobility tsar

More than half of Britons think the Conservative party made the wrong decision in backing Boris Johnson’s premiership in the confidence vote earlier this week, a poll has found.

Mr Johnson described his victory as “decisive”, despite winning the ballot by 211 votes to 148.

But critics say the prime minister has found himself in the eye of a revolt against his positon, the scale of which far surpassed the expectations of his allies - failing to put to bed questions over his leadership.

On Friday, an Ipsos poll found that 51 per cent of Britons think MPs slipped up in retaining the prime minister, a number which includes one in four 2019 Conservative voters.

And, overall, 36 per cent said they made the right decision.

Earlier, the government’s top social mobility chief dubbed Mr Johnson “not a good role model” for children.

Katherine Birbalsingh, chair of the Social Mobility Commission, suggested that, even though she liked the prime minister, his personal life made her “raise an eyebrow”, and questioned whether he looked professional enough.

See below for how our coverage developed:

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Welcome to The Independent’s live coverage of UK politics news on Friday.

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Tory peer says Boris Johnson needs to get a move on or face being ousted

Lord Frost, who was one of Boris Johnson’s closest advisers on Brexit, urged the prime minister to get a move on as he has been granted the right to give the Government a fresh start.

“Like the cockpit of a crashing airliner, the dashboard lights are all flashing red. The Government has to decide which problems must be dealt with now and which can be left until later,” he said, writing in The Daily Telegraph.

Mr Frost said Mr Johnson “can’t ignore the depth of opposition”, which was visible during the vote of confidence on Monday.

“But he needs to get a move on. The privileges committee investigation is still out there, it could easily come to some difficult conclusions and he will face real problems if MPs, the party, and our voters can’t by then see a new positive agenda that would justify sticking with him as Prime Minister.

“‘Getting on with the job,’ as he said at this week’s Cabinet, will not be enough if the new job is the same as the old job. If it is, the new boss will not be the same as the old boss.”

He said the cabinet needs to focus on reversing tax increases, committing to future cuts, slashing VAT on energy bills and opening up fracking.

He suggested the prime minister to carry out a Cabinet reshuffle with the appointment of a “serious deputy” who could “design and deliver the strategy”.

“This is ambitious. I can see why many people think the Prime Minister can’t deliver it. He doesn’t like upsetting people. But any serious plan means making choices,” he said.

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Keir Starmer to visit Belfast amid deepening row over post-Brexit trading arrangements

Keir Starmer is scheduled to visit Belfast to meet Northern Ireland political leaders as the row over post-Brexit trading arrangements for the region continues to deepen.

The Labour leader, who worked in Belfast when he was a human rights adviser, will meet Alliance leader Naomi Long, SDLP chief Colum Eastwood and acting Stormont speaker Alan Chambers.

The leader is expected to call for compromise and negotiation to end the political roadblock over the return of the powersharing executive.

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UK denounces ‘sham judgment’ as two British soldiers sentenced to death by Russia

Foreign secretary Liz Truss joined Boris Johnson in denouncing the death sentences to two British men as a “sham”.

The government will work to try to free two British men sentenced to death by a court of the Russian-backed Donetsk People’s Republic, the prime minister has promised.

A spokesman for Boris Johnson said: “We’re obviously deeply concerned by this.

“We’ve said continually that prisoners of war shouldn’t be exploited for political purposes.

“Under the Geneva convention, prisoners of war are entitled to combatant immunity, and they should not be prosecuted for participation in hostilities.

Read Jane Dalton’s full report.

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Tory MPs urge PM to match European fuel tax cuts

After Boris Johnson announced a series of wide-ranging policies in Blackpool, several Conservatives demanded fuel tax cuts as European countries have done it.

Sir Iain Duncan Smith, the former Tory leader, said reducing the burden on people “at the moment is critical and I would personally like to see tax cuts”.

“They should cut the VAT and the green levies now. They’re ridiculous and are costing the earth.”

John Redwood, a MP for Wokingham, said: “Give some of it back, don’t be greedy. There is no need to make it worse, the Treasury is getting plenty of revenue off the motorist.”

“We definitely need further action from the Government,” Robert Halfon said. “I don’t really mind how it’s done, but we need to get the price down. Any tax cut must be properly fed through.”

When asked on Thursday whether he would follow the lead of EU countries by going forward with fuel tax cuts, Mr Johnson blamed the high prices on retailers not passing on the tax savings to consumers.

“We made a cut already, the biggest cut ever in fuel duty,” he said. “What I want to see is those cuts in taxation not just swallowed up in one gulp, without touching the gullet of the fuel companies, I want to see those cuts having an impact on the pumps.

“And we are watching very closely to see what happens.”

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UK planning to burn £4bn of unusable Covid protective gear

Boris Johnson’s government is planning to burn significant volumes of unusable personal protective equipment that failed to meet NHS standards, parliament’s spending watchdog found.

The Public Accounts Committee said in a report Friday that millions of kits that were bought from tax payers money at inflated prices will not be used, condemning the move as shameful, reported Bloomberg.

PAC revealed that the government lost 75 per cent of the £12 bn spent on PPE in the first year of the coronavirus pandemic due to inflated prices and faulty kits amid mounting criticism of the government.

The purchase of PPE was “perhaps the most shameful episode the UK government response to the pandemic,” committee chair Meg Hillier, an opposition Labour Party MP, said.

She said the government at that time paid “obscenely inflated prices and payments to middlemen in a chaotic rush, during which they chucked out even the most cursory due diligence”.

The government said it would burn the unused PPE to generate power, the report said, adding that the impact of it on the environment remains “unclear”.

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Outrage over plans to discard millions of PPEs

Politicians and health workers are fuming over the government’s plans to burn £4bn of unusable Covid protective gear.

MPs demanded answers over the financial and environmental cost of burning the PPEs that failed to meet NHS standards.

Pat Cullen, chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing, said: “Our members will find this galling.” “It is a painful reminder of the worst of the pandemic – inadequate or wasteful PPE.”

He added: Sending billions of pounds up in smoke when NHS and care services are struggling will be hard for them to comprehend.”

“If this money had been used more wisely and decent-quality PPE bought in the first place, then nurses’ lives might have been saved.”

Dame Meg Hillier, Labor MP, said: “In a desperate bid to catch up, the Government splurged huge amounts of money, paying obscenely inflated prices and payments to middlemen in a chaotic rush, during which they chucked out even the most cursory due diligence.”

“This has left us with massive public contracts now under investigation by the National Crime Agency or in dispute because of allegations of modern slavery in the supply chain.”

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Department of Health rebuts burning £4bn of unusable PPE claims as ‘misleading’

In a stern rebuke to PAC’s report, the Department of Health and Social Care said that these claims are misleading and they would offer no apology for procuring kits.

“A number of these claims are misleading, including the claims that we are burning £4billion of unusable PPE and that there is no clear disposal strategy for excess PPE,” a spokesperson said. “In the face of an unpredictable and dangerous virus, we make no apology for procuring too much PPE rather than too little, and only 3% of the PPE we procured was unusable in any context. “At the height of the pandemic, there was unprecedented global demand for and massive inflation in prices of PPE. But despite these global challenges, we delivered over 19.8 billion items of PPE to frontline staff to keep them safe.”

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Legal battle over Rwanda refugee plan is just the beginning

Hardly is the ink dry on the Nationality and Borders Act 2022 than its enforcement has been passed to the High Court for judicial review, writes Sean O’Grady.

Whether they’re called “left wing activists” or “lawyers doing their job,” they have succeeded in at least temporarily delaying the first plane-load of refugees being sent to Rwanda.

The policy is so unusual and arguably inhumane that it was inevitable it would end up in the courts. It is equally to be expected both that the Home Secretary should be hopping mad and that the legal action be the subject of lurid newspaper headlines. If the policy is purely performative and designed to stoke up a “culture war” as critics claim, then it has already had that effect.

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UK to use ‘all diplomatic channels’ to raise case of soldiers facing death sentence

“All diplomatic channels” will be used by the UK government to raise the case of the two Britons sentenced to death for fighting Russian forces, minister Robin Walker has said.

He told Sky News: “As the foreign secretary has made clear, we will offer all support we can to them and their families.

“We have been absolutely clear throughout that these people should be treated as prisoners of war under the Geneva Convention, there is no basis on which they can be put on trial.

“This is an illegal court in a sham government that has held this trial and obviously we don’t recognise it has any authority, but we will continue to use all diplomatic channels to make the case that these are prisoners of war who should be treated accordingly.”

He added: “We utterly condemn the approach that’s been taken here and we will use every method at our disposal to take this issue up.”

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