Published:

Tory revolt grows over parties fiasco…

“The leader of the Scottish Conservative Party last night told Boris Johnson he should resign if he is found to have misled Parliament over an alleged party at the height of Covid restrictions last Christmas. Douglas Ross said it was ‘undeniable’ that there had been ‘some sort of party’ in Downing Street at the end of last year, when London was covered by Tier 3 lockdown measures. ‘If he knew there was a party, if he knew it took place, then he cannot come to the House of Commons and say there was no party,’ he told Sky News. He warned the PM that he ‘cannot continue’ in what he called the ‘highest job in the land’ if he knew an event had taken place whilst saying in the Commons that it had not done so.” – Daily Mail

  • Johnson told he ‘should resign’ if he misled Parliament – Daily Telegraph
  • MPs mutinous over his actions – The Guardian
  • Prime Minister warned he’ll be ‘obliterated’ in crunch vote after ‘laughing’ at UK – Daily Express

More:

  • Met police say they will not investigate Downing Street Christmas party – The Guardian
  • Tories admit ‘raucous’ second party at Conservative HQ as Covid rules row grows – Daily Telegraph
  • Johnson cancels boozy Christmas bash with donors after Partygate scandal – The Sun
  • Were there six parties in Downing Street and Whitehall? – Daily Mail
  • More Downing Street gatherings now under the spotlight – The Guardian

>Today: ToryDiary: A vote of no confidence in Johnson has suddenly become more likely than not

…as Stratton resigns

“Boris Johnson’s top aide Allegra Stratton resigned in tears this afternoon just hours after bombshell footage showed her laughing about a lockdown-busting Christmas party at No10. The PM earlier said he was “sickened” by the leaked video of his senior advisers joking about the alleged illegal gathering last year. In an sobbing statement outside her home Ms Stratton said she will regret her actions “for the rest of my days” and apologised to the British public. She said she was quitting her job as COP26 spokeswoman and that she was proud of her achievements in the role. In the Commons at lunchtime Mr Johnson said the video leaked to ITV made him “furious” and launched an investigation into the December 18 party.” – The Sun

  • Prime Minister Johnson calls it a ‘sad day’ and says spokeswoman was ‘outstanding’ – Daily Mail
  • How many more heads will roll before public anger over ‘partygate’ subsides? – Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: PMQs sketch: A chastened and humiliated Johnson has to eat humble pie

Sir Roger Gale: Johnson must get a grip on this Christmas party shambles

“If that confidence is eroded, if trust in government is undermined, then the necessary precautions and protections will not work. That is why the ‘No 10 Party’ has more serious implications, even, than ‘The Barnard Castle Affair’… At a time when we are trying to persuade the recalcitrant to have a first, a second and a booster vaccination in their own interests and in the interests of those that they love or work alongside, the messenger needs all of the credibility that he or she can muster. So to learn that there has, it appears, been “one law for them and another law for us” and that while the rest of the country was suffering under lockdown and the grim and sometimes fatal effects of separation there was one group of revellers making whoopee at the heart of Downing Street is crass beyond belief.” – Times Red Box

  • Partygate has managed to unite pro- and anti-lockdowners in fury – Henry Hill, Daily Telegraph
  • Will the furore over the No 10 party be enough to burst Boris’s bubble? – Martin Kettle, The Guardian
  • Carelessness and contempt are at the root of every Johnson crisis – Robert Shrimsley, FT
  • He may not recover from this double Covid catastrophe – Allister Heath, Daily Telegraph
  • Why does he keep shooting himself in the foot? – Stephen Glover, Daily Mail

Editorial:

  • Partygate is a failure of leadership that cannot and must not continue – The Sun

>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: ‘The buck stops with him’ – our News Editor on Johnson and the Downing Street party

Plan B: Government orders return to working from home

“Boris Johnson once again told people to work from home yesterday as he tightened Covid-19 restrictions after being warned that a million people would catch the Omicron variant in the next month. Covid passports will be required for big events and masks made compulsory in all indoor public places in England, apart from hospitality, after government scientists concluded that Omicron would outpace the Delta strain within the next four weeks. Johnson said that Omicron was growing “much faster” than Delta and that with hospital admissions in South Africa doubling in a week “we can’t yet assume that Omicron is less severe than previous variants”. He said Britain must be “humble in the face of this virus”.” – The Times

  • Don’t go to work, but do go to parties, says Johnson – Daily Telegraph
  • Businesses warn of ‘body blow’ from new Covid curbs – FT
  • ‘Baffling’ Covid rules slammed by furious MPs – The Sun
  • Debacle over No 10 Christmas party ‘threatens efforts to control pandemic’ – The Guardian
  • Johnson bets on a ‘dead cat’ strategy to get him out of trouble – FT

Johnson calls for ‘national debate’ on mandatory vaccination

“Boris Johnson has raised the prospect of mandatory vaccines for the public, calling for a “national conversation” about how to defend the country from future Covid threats. As the Prime Minister outlined a host of Plan B measures, he said the country could not “keep going indefinitely” introducing restrictions “just because a substantial proportion of the population still sadly, has not got vaccinated”. Last week, Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission president, called on countries to introduce compulsory vaccinations. The rules have been introduced in Austria and are under discussion in Germany. Questioned about mandatory vaccination, the Prime Minister said he had been very reluctant to consider such moves, but now thought a debate was needed.” – Daily Telegraph

  • He says we ‘can’t keep going indefinitely with restrictions’ – The Sun
  • Omicron Covid cases could soon exceed one million a day, says Javid – Daily Telegraph

More:

  • Three doses of Pfizer-BioNTech jab offer ‘significant protection’ against Omicron variant – The Times

Britain threatens to impose tariffs on more American goods in dispute over steel duties

“The UK has threatened to impose punitive duties on US goods if Washington does not lift Trump-era tariffs on British steel and aluminium. Britain’s trade minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan has told US trade representative Katherine Tai and Gina Raimondo, the US commerce secretary, that London was ready to increase existing retaliatory duties on high-profile US goods including whiskey, cosmetics and clothing. On a trip to Washington, Trevelyan told US officials she was also looking at expanding the range of US products that would be subject to punitive tariffs if the administration of US President Joe Biden refused to cancel the measures put in place by his predecessor, Donald Trump.” – FT

More:

  • Poll shows Anglo-French antipathy on rise amid post-Brexit bickering – The Guardian

>Yesterday: Emily Carver’s column: Post-Brexit, the UK must stand strong against the authoritarianism sweeping the continent

UK and allies ‘ready to use force’ to stop Russia invading Ukraine

“Britain and her allies are ready to use force to stop Russia invading Ukraine — despite warnings it would lead to the worst conflict since World War Two. Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said the crisis was a key test of the West’s resolve to rein in Vladimir Putin. On a visit to Denmark yesterday, Mr Wallace said: “This is an international effort to persuade President Putin not to use those troops to invade or threaten the sovereignty of Ukraine. And that international effort includes everything from ­diplomatic, economic, and potentially defence capabilities to try and make sure it deters any aggression.” At least 70,000 Russian troops have gathered within striking distance of Ukraine’s border. The new chief of defence staff ­Admiral Sir Tony Radakin called it “deeply worrying”.” – The Sun

  • Conflict ‘could be biggest since World War II’ – Daily Mail

More:

  • Truss says free world must ‘assert its values’ – The Times

>Today: Garvan Walshe’s column: Putin’s aggression in Ukraine is Truss’s first big test. Here’s how she can pass it.

Doubts cast on No 10 claims about letter clearing dog airlift out of Kabul

“Allies of animal charity boss Pen Farthing and a Labour MP have cast doubt on Downing Street claims about a letter by Boris Johnson’s parliamentary aide Trudy Harrison giving him permission to be evacuated from Kabul in August. No 10 said Harrison was “acting in her capacity as a constituency MP” when she wrote the letter – as it continued to insist that Boris Johnson had not ordered the rescue of Farthing and his cats and dogs ahead of desperate Afghans. But Dominic Dyer, an animal rights campaigner lobbying to help Farthing, said on Wednesday that neither he nor Farthing were constituents of Harrison but that she had become involved in their campaign after some of her constituents had raised it.” – The Guardian

Police officers could get personal fines for failing victims of crime

“Individual police officers could be held directly responsible for shoddy work – and even personally fined – under proposals floated by ministers today. Justice Secretary Dominic Raab has asked whether regulators in the criminal justice system should get powers to impose ‘consequences’ on individuals. The measures could also apply to prosecutors, probation officers and other public sector workers whose mistakes let down victims of crime, a consultation paper indicates. The document, published today, asks whether new disciplinary powers could be handed to outside bodies. It says they could be based on powers held by regulators in the care and financial services sectors, which allow individual workers to be suspended or personally fined if they make grave errors.” – Daily Mail

  • Raab promises crime victims a ‘louder voice’ – The Times

>Today:

Government to extend consultation on conversion therapy

“The government is extending its consultation on banning conversion therapy by eight weeks following threats of a legal challenge. Ministers are expected to announce today that the consultation, which was due to end on Friday, will run for another two months after the short timeline was criticised. The government launched a consultation in October on legislating to ban conversion therapy, the practice of seeking to change or suppress people’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Liz Truss and Mike Freer, the equalities ministers, asked people to submit their views on the proposals within six weeks, half the normal 12-week period. Liz Truss and Mike Freer, the equalities ministers, asked people to submit their views on the proposals within six weeks, half the normal 12-week period.” – The Times

Labour calls for support for UK’s energy intensive industries

“Labour has called on the government to provide urgent financial support for industries including ceramics, glass and steel, which have hit by the spike in energy prices. Jonathan Reynolds, the new shadow business secretary, said if these industries collapsed the UK would end up importing the same products from overseas, with higher environmental costs. Meanwhile, UK workers would start to resent efforts to tackle climate change, he added. Ministers said seven weeks ago they could provide financial help for “energy intensive industries” hurt by the sudden rise in wholesale gas prices. Since then, however, talks with these industries involving the Treasury and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy have trundled on without reaching a conclusion.” – FT

  • Unions plan for national rail strike as job cuts loom – The Guardian

>Yesterday: Ed Birkett in Comment: Pricing, not suppliers, is the key to making ‘local energy’ work for Britain

News in Brief:

  • Yule be sorry? – Matt Singh, CapX
  • The phoney war on Allegra Stratton – Freddy Gray, The Spectator
  • Nowzad pet airlift looks more absurd than ever – Henry Hill, UnHerd
  • Throwing good money after bad – Patrick O’Flynn, The Critic