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Partygate 1) The Johnsons and Sunak are fined over Covid rule-breaking

“Boris Johnson became the first British prime minister found to have committed a criminal offence while in office, after police fined him for an illegal birthday party held at Downing Street during a Covid-19 lockdown. Johnson was fined by the Metropolitan Police alongside multiple government figures, including his wife Carrie and chancellor Rishi Sunak, for breaching restrictions aimed at slowing the pandemic. In a Sky News interview, Johnson said he had paid the fine and apologised for the “mistake” he had made. Sunak later confirmed he had received a penalty notice over an event on June 19 in Downing Street and had paid the fine. “I deeply regret the frustration and anger caused and I am sorry,” he said in a statement.” – The Financial Times

  • The Prime Minister refuses to quit – The Times
  • Sunak takes six hours to respond… – The Daily Mail
  • …after ‘agonising’ over his future – The Times
  • The Met Police are accused of ‘politicising’ the timing of fines by issuing them before the local elections – The Daily Mail
  • The Chancellor ‘considered resigning’ before issuing his “unreserved apology” – Daily Express
  • Johnson accused of misleading Parliament – The I
  • The possibility of a vote of no confidence in the Prime Minister from Tory MPs has returned – The Financial Times
  • Inside the nine minute Downing Street ‘birthday party’…– The Sun
  • …that had no cake, unopened beer, and lasted only nine minutes – The Daily Mail
  • Sunak is no longer the leading alternative to the Prime Minister – The Guardian
  • Johnson faces calls to resign from those who lost loved ones – The Daily Mail
  • Davidson calls for him to go… – The Scotsman 
  • …but Gale says now is ‘not the right time’, despite Starmer’s call for Johnson to resign – The I
  • The Conservatives will be punished at the ballot box – The Daily Telegraph
  • 57 percent of the public want the Prime Minister and Chancellor to resign, according to snap poll – The I

Editorial:

  • Public trust in the government has been severely damaged – Editorial, The Times
  • The Prime Minister’s position is untenable – Editorial, The Financial Times
  • Johnson has apologised – now let him get on with the job – Editorial, The Sun
  • Let us all move on from Partygate – Editorial, The Daily Mail
  • An unprecedented act of censure – Editorial, The Daily Telegraph
  • The Prime Minister and the Chancellor must resign – Editorial, The Scotsman

>Today:

>Yesterday:

Partygate 2) The situation could get worse for the Prime Minister, with Gray’s report upcoming and potential further fines

“Boris Johnson may face more woe over the coming days, amid claims Sue Gray’s report into the Partygate scandal is due next week and ‘will not make comfortable reading’ – potentially even leading to more fines…Mr Johnson will also shortly have to contend with the final findings of the report into illegal Downing Street gatherings, with ministers expecting it to be published in time for the return of Parliament next week. The full dossier was due at the start of the year, but was put on ice after criminal investigations were launched by police into 12 lockdown parties, meaning only a heavily redacted summary was available initially.” – The Daily Mail

Comment:

  • Johnson must go – Nick Timothy, The Daily Telegraph
  • The Prime Minister will forever be tarnished by a ‘criminal’ record – Trevor Kavanagh, The Sun
  • Johnson may have survived, but the damage to his party is irreparable – Robert Shrimsley, The Financial Times
  • Partying was the least of Downing Street’s lockdown sins – Madeline Grant, The Daily Telegraph
  • The Prime Minister was fined just when he thought he had got away with it – Paul Baldwin, Daily Express
  • Johnson must stay – Iain Duncan Smith, The Daily Telegraph
  • Tory sleaze is back – Katy Balls, The I
  • Johnson’s critics are wrong – this was no bacchanalian orgy – Stephen Glover, The Daily Mail
  • Polling shows Partygate fines are having an impact on the Prime Minister’s popularity – but not by as much as his opponents hope – John Curtice, The I
  • Johnson may have been dealt a lucky hand by the war in Ukraine – Tim Stanley, The Daily Telegraph

Finkelstein: Johnson must resign

“So I don’t think the prime minister is likely to resign and I don’t think he will be forced to do so. But should he? My view remains that he should. Ministers set the law and breaking the law is a resigning matter. The strongest argument against him resigning is that it would be disproportionate. But it is not an argument I can accept. There are three serious failings of which the prime minister has now been found guilty. He has broken the law himself. He has presided over widespread lawbreaking among his staff. And he has not told parliament the truth about this lawbreaking. To argue that all this is unimportant is completely unacceptable.” – The Times

Zelensky: There is ‘credible evidence’ that Russia will use chemical weapons

“Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky mocked his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin’s claims the war was going ‘to plan’, asking how a plan that saw tens of thousands of troops being killed in a month could have been approved. Speaking from Kyiv in a video posted to social media, Zelensky also repeated calls for the West to step in now and prevent the use of chemical weapons on Ukrainian soil, saying any deployment of them would be ‘a humiliation for the democratic world’. The address, posted early Wednesday morning in Ukraine, saw him address Putin’s suggestion the day before that Russia would achieve all of its ‘noble’ aims and ‘rhythmically and calmly’ continue what it calls a special operation.” – The Daily Mail

  • Biden accuses ‘dictator’ Putin of genocide – The Times
  • Putin threatens Finland and Sweden over plans to join NATO – Daily Express
  • German President Steinmeier is ‘not welcome’ in Kyiv – The Times

>Today:

Gove accused of bullying in Ukrainian refugees row

“Michael Gove has been accused of bullying by a top civil servant in a heated turf war over Ukrainian refugees, The Sun can reveal. The Home Office Permanent Secretary has complained to the head of the Levelling Up department over Mr Gove’s allegedly angry behaviour toward Home Office officials. It comes amid rows between the two departments over bungled support for desperate victims of Vladimir Putin’s war that are trying to get to the UK. The Levelling Up Department took over the running of the scheme after hefty criticism of the Home Office for being too slow to dish out help.” – The Sun

Patel ‘was warned’ about Easter airport chaos

“Priti Patel was warned a month ago about a looming wave of travel chaos after passport control staff were sent to deal with the Dover migrant crisis instead. Airline chiefs told the Home Secretary in March that a lack of Border Force workers could spark massive passenger queues at terminals across Britain. The Easter getaway has since been marred by dozens of flight cancellations and lengthy waits as passengers try to board their aircraft, driven by severe staff shortages at check-in desks and among flight crews. Airlines UK, the trade body for the likes of British Airways, easyJet and Ryanair, said last month in a leaked letter to Ms Patel that urgent action was needed to prevent mayhem as summer schedules began in April.” – The Daily Telegraph

Davidson urges pro-UK voters to back the Conservatives in Scotland’s local elections…

“The former Scottish Tory leader, who now sits in the House of Lords, said SNP candidates would not stand up to funding cuts and would nod through measures such as the workplace parking levy. And she said Labour candidates “will help them”, pointing to the fact the party is currently in coalition with the SNP in six councils across Scotland. UK Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer yesterday rejected any coalitions between Labour and the SNP “at the local level or the national level”, while Scottish leader Anas Sarwar has also spoken out against “formal” coalitions.” – The Scotsman

  • …as Ross insists it would not be right to remove the Prime Minister ‘at this time’ – The Scotsman
  • Unsurprisingly, Sturgeon takes a different view, branding Johnson a ‘liar’… – The Daily Mail
  • …whilst Drakeford says he has ‘clearly broken the law’ and cannot carry on – South Wales Echo

Blunt apologises for his criticism of Khan’s conviction

“A former Conservative justice minister retracted today his claim that the conviction of an MP for sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy amounted to a “dreadful miscarriage of justice”. Crispin Blunt had said that the decision by a jury to find Imran Ahmad Khan guilty was “nothing short of an international scandal”. Amid calls for Blunt to be thrown out of the party this morning he retracted his comments and said that he was “sorry” that his defence of Khan had been a “cause of significant upset and concern not least to victims of sexual offences”. Blunt said: “To be clear I do not condone any form of abuse and I strongly believe in the independence and integrity of the justice system.”” – The Times

Conservative Environment Network chair condemned for praising Extinction Rebellion

“Conservative environmentalist Ben Goldsmith has labelled Extinction Rebellion’s methods ‘bonkers’ and deleted a Tweet backing the eco-activists oil terminal stunts following criticism from Tory MPs. Mr Goldsmith, who is the brother of government minister Lord Goldsmith, whipped up a fury among Tory ranks after he spoke out against the imposition of injunctions on protestors who have disrupted fuel supplies and caused misery for motorists. Activists from Just Stop Oil have been hampering access to oil terminals for days and boasted of how their actions have caused many petrol stations to shut across the country.”  – The Daily Mail

Payne: Labour need big personalities to take on the Tories – and that means Balls

“Wakefield is an opportunity to bring more in and the party should think creatively. Step forward Ed Balls: former Financial Times journalist, political adviser, MP, cabinet minister and shadow chancellor. Since losing his seat in 2015, Balls has reinvented himself as a celebrity TV star. According to YouGov, he is the UK’s second most popular politician.Like many of the party’s centrist figures, Balls stepped away from politics and has found a new, easier life. Those who have spoken to Balls about politics say he misses Westminster and think he could, maybe, be persuaded to have another shot in the shadow cabinet.” – The Financial Times

  • The Scottish Labour leader replies ‘you can’t argue with biology’ when asked if a woman can have a penis…– The Daily Mail
  • …while Starmer claims it is ‘plain common sense’ that biology determines sex for the majority of women, as he reaches out to Rosie Duffield – The Times
  • Teachers are told to stop behaving ‘like children’ after heckling the Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury through a speech – The Daily Mail
  • Starmer’s real test will be in the Red Wall, as local elections loom in London – Paul Waugh, The I

News in Brief:

  • Why Hispanics gave up on the Left – Alex Perez, UnHerd
  • The Prime Minister must go – Alex Massie, The Spectator
  • While Britain fights for democracy abroad, we can’t ignore the crisis of confidence at home – Rakib Ehsan, Cap X 
  • England has left Covid behind – Alex Story, The Critic 
  • Why did Elon Musk u-turn on joining Twitter’s board? – Sarah Manavis, The New Statesman