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Sleaze: ‘Tories at war’ in five-hour cabinet showdown

“Boris Johnson and his senior team thrashed out their differences in a five-hour meeting last night after the Chancellor said the government ‘needs to do better’. In his first intervention on the crisis, Rishi Sunak hinted at Cabinet divisions over the Prime Minister’s disastrous attempt to block the suspension of former minister Owen Paterson for breaking lobbying rules. During a round of media interviews yesterday, Mr Sunak said: ‘Reflecting over recent events – I think for us as a Government, it’s fair to say that we need to do better than we did last week, and we know that.’ Meanwhile, the Cabinet meeting was ostensibly focusing on the Levelling Up agenda with ministers due to lay out how their department is contributing to the drive.” – Daily Mail

  • We must raise our game after standards fiasco, warns Sunak – The Times
  • Anti-corruption chief calls for curbs on MPs’ second jobs – FT
  • Put constituents first, ethics watchdog tells MPs – The Times

More:

  • MPs accuse Johnson of hypocrisy in crackdown on second jobs – FT
  • Sturgeon seizes on Tory sleaze crisis as she pushes Scots independence – Daily Mail
  • MPs fill pockets using rent expenses loophole – The Times

MPs:

  • Tory MP who fought plastic law has £30,000 packaging job – The Times
  • Cox used taxpayer loan to cover London flat deposit – The Sun

>Today: ToryDiary: Sunak distances himself from Johnson over the Paterson case

No 10 faces legal challenge to Johnson’s support for Patel on bullying claims

“The government faces a legal challenge to Boris Johnson’s decision to back Priti Patel over bullying allegations, throwing a fresh spotlight on the prime minister’s approach to ethics in public life. Alex Allan, Johnson’s independent adviser on the ministerial code, resigned last year after the prime minister chose not to act on a critical report about Patel. After a Cabinet Office investigation, citing instances in which she had shouted and sworn at staff, Allan found Patel had displayed “behaviour that can be described as bullying” and that she had “not consistently met the high standards expected of her”. His report suggested she had breached the ministerial code, even if unintentionally. Johnson decided she had not breached the code, however, and subsequently urged his colleagues to “form a square around the Prittster”.” – The Guardian

  • Poll puts Labour ahead for first time in a year as Tory sleaze row bites – Daily Telegraph

Fraser Nelson: The Prime Minister is losing absolute power over the Conservatives

“As each day passes, Tories have more cause to regret the loyalty showed last week to what they now regard as an incompetent No 10. “The whips are supposed to be the shrewdest among us,” complains one minister. “But Boris has made it a nursery for the thickos.” Backbenchers were not even asked about their opinions on the disastrous “Save Paterson” plan until the day before the vote – by which time everything had been finalised and it was too late to change direction. Almost all of the 247 Tories who voted to exculpate Paterson did so under duress – but they all assumed No 10 knew what it was doing. Few will make that mistake again.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Levelling up is the next Tory fault line – James Forsyth, The Times

We want a deal on Northern Ireland protocol,  Frost tells EU

“Ministers will today attempt to de-escalate tensions with the European Union over Northern Ireland and assure Brussels that Boris Johnson does not want to trigger Article 16. Lord Frost, the Brexit minister, will signal to Maros Sefcovic, the EU’s chief negotiator, that the government will renew efforts to get a deal on the controversial Northern Ireland protocol and enter intensive talks over the next few weeks. Sources said that Frost was keen to emphasise to Sefcovic that while the UK had reservations about the commission’s proposals to reduce checks on goods crossing between Britain and Northern Ireland, they could, with changes, form the basis of an agreement. Frost will also make clear that while triggering Article 16, which would unilaterally suspend part of the protocol, remained an option, the government was reluctant to use it.” – The Times

  • EU ready to make offer to end Northern Ireland border dispute… – Daily Telegraph
  • …but tell Frost talks will fail unless he ditches ECJ requirements – The Guardian
  • Frost ‘hands EU three week deadline and list of demands’ – Daily Express
  • ‘Tough guy approach will end in disaster’, Government warned – Daily Telegraph

More:

  • France accused of ‘ceding territory to people smugglers’ – Daily Mail
  • More than 2,000 migrants cross the Channel in a week – The Times

>Yesterday:

UK-Iran talks fail to agree release terms for Zaghari-Ratcliffe

“Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, the British-Iranian woman imprisoned by Tehran since 2016, is set to remain in detention after negotiations between UK and Iranian officials failed to agree the terms of her release. Ali Bagheri, Iran’s deputy foreign minister, met UK Foreign Office minister James Cleverly in talks aimed at reviving the nuclear deal, as well as discussing Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s case. It was the first time Bagheri has met with officials in London since the election of Iran’s hardline president Ebrahim Raisi five months ago, sparking expectations that progress might be made on securing the aid worker’s release. Her husband Richard Ratcliffe, who is on day 19 of a hunger strike outside the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, described his meeting with Cleverly as “depressing”.” – FT

>Yesterday: Andrew Percy MP in Comment: Politicians must do more to tackle the scourge of online anti-Semitism

SNP MPs on boozy Gibraltar flight ‘humiliated Covid test staff’

“Two MPs on a boozy Armistice Day flight to Gibraltar belittled and tried to humiliate Covid test staff after landing, it is claimed. They were asked by health officials to take a swab but it is said they refused and declared: “We’ll get you into trouble.” SNP duo David Linden and Drew Hendry were said to be “obnoxious” and had “obviously been drinking”. Gibraltar regulations state all arrivals must take a test at a booth outside the airport terminal building and provide proof of any jabs. But the pair, accompanied by MoD staff, initially refused, insisting they were double jabbed and did not need to take tests despite their vaccine QR codes failing to work. When pressed by staff, they warned: “We will get you into trouble with His Excellency.”” – The Sun

  • MPs who ‘got drunk’ on plane could be kicked out of Armed Forces scheme – Daily Telegraph

>Today: Dr Sarah Ingham’s column: In these woke-not-bloke days, the military’s main mission is being increasingly overlooked

Over-60s face ban from Europe unless NHS app shows Covid booster jab

“People over 60 could find it hard to go on holiday to parts of Europe at Christmas unless the government urgently changes the setting of the NHS app to show a record of booster jabs, experts say. Many of the ten million people who have received a booster jab in the UK have been surprised to find that this is not recorded in the Covid Pass within the NHS app, unlike their first and second jabs. The app, which is available to anyone aged over 13 who is registered with a GP in England, has been downloaded more than 16 million times, primarily by people who want to use it to gain entry to locations both at home and abroad. The app shows a Covid Pass that includes details of first and second jabs, and contains a barcode users can scan at places that require proof of vaccination, including at borders.” – The Times

  • Care home boss breaks down in tears after having to sack staff over ‘no jab, no job’ policy – Daily Mail

More:

  • GPs dispute Javid’s claim lack of appointments is overloading A&Es – The Guardian
  • NHS bosses ‘clarify’ Johnson’s hospital visit after unmasked snaps sparked outrage – Daily Express

>Yesterday: Ros Altmann in Comment: Ministers must think again about abandoning manifesto commitments to pensioners

News in Brief:

  • Time to forget? – Zachary Hardman, The Critic
  • It’s time for a radical reform of university funding – Elizabeth Dunkley, CapX
  • Would America survive a civil war? – Malcom Kyeyune, UnHerd
  • Is China about to invade Taiwan? – Alessio Patalano, The Spectator