Published:

Johnson buckles over inquiry into whether he lied about ‘partygate’

“Boris Johnson put his political future in the hands of a star chamber of MPs as he insisted he had “nothing to hide” over the “partygate” scandal. The Prime Minister was on Thursday forced to accept a parliamentary investigation into whether he lied to the Commons about lockdown-breaking parties in Downing Street. Number 10 had launched an attempt to delay the inquiry – but it U-turned amid pressure from Conservative backbenchers concerned that the public would punish them in next month’s local elections if they were perceived to have blocked it.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Ministers on brink of quitting before u-turn – The Times
  • MPs weren’t ‘prepared to go over the top’ for the Prime Minister – Daily Telegraph
  • Partygate snaps could come out – Daily Mail
  • Police delay Partygate fine updates until after May local elections – The Guardian

More:

  • The Tory MPs calling publicly for Boris Johnson to step down – The Guardian
  • What is the privileges committee? – The Times
  • Who are the Tory MPs that could decide Johnson’s future? – Daily Telegraph

>Today: ToryDiary: The beginning of the end for Johnson?

>Yesterday:

Energy bill green levies won’t be scrapped despite cost-of-living crisis

“Green levies on energy bills will not be scrapped to help with the cost-of-living crisis, Boris Johnson indicated as he rebuffed a proposal backed by prominent Tories. Speaking during his visit to India, Mr Johnson said there was “a lot of prejudice against the green agenda” in a defence of his push to decarbonise the economy. He did not rule out further action before the autumn Budget to help ease living costs, but backed the measures already announced. Green levies, which help fund the Government’s social and environmental schemes, are estimated to add around £150 to the average household’s yearly energy bill.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Johnson appears to take sideswipe at Tory climate policy sceptics – The Guardian

More:

  • EU red-tape holding back post-Brexit Britain’s environmental policy – Daily Express

Foreign Policy 1) Johnson set to offer Modi increased UK-India defence co-operation

“Boris Johnson will offer increased defence co-operation to Narendra Modi during talks in New Delhi on Friday, in a bid to break India’s reliance on Russian weaponry. The UK prime minister will hold out the prospect of closer military ties in talks with his Indian counterpart on the final day of his visit. He has already said he has no plans to confront Modi over India’s refusal to condemn the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, which supplies the majority of the country’s weapons. The talks will focus instead on boosting security and defence collaboration, as well as building momentum around an ambitious target to finalise a free trade agreement by the end of this year.” – FT

  • Prime Minister says a Brexit free trade deal with India can be signed ‘by the autumn’ – The Sun
  • JCB demolition row threatens to bulldoze first day of India trip – Daily Telegraph

Foreign Policy 2) UK prepares law to give ministers power to tear up Protocol

“The UK government is preparing legislation that will give ministers sweeping powers to tear up the post-Brexit deal governing trade in Northern Ireland, risking a fresh confrontation with Brussels. Two people with knowledge of internal discussions said prime minister Boris Johnson and foreign secretary Liz Truss had in principle signed off on plans to put forward a Northern Ireland bill early in the next parliamentary session, which starts next month. Whitehall insiders said the Johnson administration was developing the plans partly in anticipation of a new constitutional crisis if the mainly protestant Unionist parties… refuse to re-enter the region’s power-sharing executive after the May 5 Northern Ireland Assembly elections.” – FT

  • Truss could override Northern Ireland trade rules – The Times
  • Johnson hints he’ll bin controversial Brexit border checks – The Sun

More:

  • ‘I don’t care what the EU does’, says Rees-Mogg – Daily Express

Foreign Policy 3) Truss takes aim at ‘butcher of Bucha’

“Liz Truss has taken aim at the ‘Butcher of Bucha’ in a masterplan to cripple Russia’s war machine as the US confirms top-secret “ghost drones” are to be sent into Ukraine. Lieutenant Colonel Azatbek Omurbekov has been sanctioned by the UK after committing “heinous” acts in Ukraine, as Liz Truss announced a crackdown on Vladimir Putin’s generals. Lieutenant Omurbekov – the commanding officer in the Russian army involved in the Bucha massacre in which 500 civilians are thought to have been killed in the Kyiv suburb – was named among 26 new sanctions announced by the Government.” – Daily Express

  • Ukrainian forces are preparing for battle by training in UK – Daily Telegraph
  • Spokesperson denies move is escalatory – The Guardian
  • Russian offensive revitalised by new commander – Daily Mail

>Yesterday:

Starmer says sorry for Commons jibe at Johnson over BBC’s Ukraine coverage

“Sir Keir Starmer was yesterday forced to apologise for misleading the Commons by claiming Boris Johnson attacked the BBC over its Ukraine coverage. He claimed on Wednesday Mr Johnson accused the BBC of being too soft on Vladimir Putin. The PM rejected this claim. After a Tory backbencher accused Sir Keir of misleading the House, Speaker Lindsay Hoyle said he would look into the matter. Yesterday morning, before the debate on whether the PM had misled the House, Sir Keir stood up to make his own statement, saying: ‘I’m more than happy to withdraw my comments’.” – Daily Mail

Patel asylum plan ‘not racist or illegal’, civil servants told

“The Home Office’s top civil servant has told thousands of his staff they will not be breaking the law or be guilty of racism if they enforce Priti Patel’s plan to send people with rejected UK asylum claims to Rwanda. Amid growing anger from the department’s workforce, Matthew Rycroft, the permanent secretary, faced questions at an online staff meeting asking if the home secretary’s policy of giving people a one-way ticket to Kigali was racist, while others demanded to know if the new policy was within international law. Rycroft told staff they had to implement ministers’ decisions, and reminded them of the civil service’s neutral role, sources said.” – The Guardian

  • Home Office anger over ‘racist’ Rwanda policy – The Times
  • Mutinous staff slapped down by their boss – Daily Mail
  • Johnson doubles down on Archbishop of Canterbury attack – The Sun

>Yesterday: Enver Solomon in Comment: The Homes for Ukraine scheme is falling short of the noble instincts of the British people

James Forsyth: Tories fear their One Nation dream is dying

“One of the things that most excited the Tories about that 2019 victory was the fact that it enabled them to claim they were a truly national party; that they had representatives in all parts of Great Britain. Michael Gove boasted at the party’s election celebration that “next year, both the Durham miners’ gala and the Notting Hill carnival will take place in seats represented by Conservative MPs”. The Tories hoped that their status as a national party was the first step towards a realignment that would see them reassert themselves as the natural party of government. They have, though, struggled to satisfy their broad coalition.” – The Times

  • The Conservatives won’t back Johnson, but they aren’t ready to sack him either – Fraser Nelson, Daily Telegraph

Gove ‘takes Thatcher’s lead’ in struggle to fix Britain’s housing crisis

“Margaret Thatcher created an entire new class in Britain. Her flagship ‘right-to-buy’ policy redefined housing across the country, providing legal rights to shift ownership from councils to their former tenants at a knock-down price, and with it moving the state’s control over peoples’ lives. The prime minister won swathes of voters as a result… Fast forward more than 40 years and multiple governments, and housing secretary Michael Gove has invoked some of the same spirit – if in a slightly unexpected direction. He has proposed boosting social rented property as a cheaper alternative to private rents.” – Daily Telegraph

  • English cities warn ‘unrealistic’ housing targets threaten economic growth – FT

Johnson backs Sunak in June reshuffle

“Boris Johnson has promised that Rishi Sunak will still be chancellor in the autumn but refused to guarantee the roles of the rest of the cabinet. The prime minister is preparing to carry out a reshuffle in June as he seeks to bolster his premiership after being fined for breaching coronavirus laws. He gave an explicit guarantee that Sunak, who was also fined, would still be in the Treasury come the autumn. Sunak considered resigning last week. Asked by reporters travelling with him to India if Sunak’s job was safe, Johnson said: “The answer to that is yes.”” – The Times

Javid to bar NHS from buying supplies linked with slavery

“Ministers are set to ban the NHS in England from buying or using goods and services involving ‘slavery and human trafficking’  after it emerged that Britain bought personal protective equipment during the pandemic which was allegedly made on Chinese slave camps. Under a tough new law as an amendment to the Government’s Health and Social Care Bill, the National Health Service will be prevented from buying equipment from parts of the Communist country where it is claimed that forced labour is used in supply chains. Health Secretary Sajid Javid said he wanted to use the NHS’s buying power to help ‘eradicate modern slavery’.” – Daily Mail

>Today: Damian Green MP in Comment: We can replicate the success of the Covid Vaccine Taskforce to help tackle dementia

Children’s workers criticise Zahawi over smacking comments

“Nadhim Zahawi yesterday admitted that his wife has smacked their daughter ‘on occasion’ while rejecting fresh calls for a smacking ban in England, leading to criticism from children’s workers for a ‘lack of safeguarding knowledge’. The Education Secretary said his wife Lana had previously given his nine-year-old a ‘light smack on the arm’ when misbehaving. The admission came as he rejected calls for England to introduce a smacking ban – a law which would bring the country in line with Scotland and Wales. The father-of-one, responding to comments made by England’s Children’s Commissioner, who last night signalled her support for changing the law,  said parents must be ‘trusted’ in how they choose to discipline their own children.” – Daily Mail

  • Britain is listening to the wrong Blair about universities – Michelle Donelan, Times Red Box

News in Brief:

  • No one should take lectures from Labour on Britain’s institutions – Henry Hill, CapX
  • The death of the conservative elite – Park MacDougald, UnHerd
  • Why more and more Russians are backing the war – Jade McGlynn, The Spectator
  • How Ukraine is digitally desecrating the dead – Sebastian Milbank, The Critic