Boris Johnson denies being ‘habitual liar’ and claims he was ‘taken aback’ by Partygate fine – UK politics live | Politics


Boris Johnson ‘taken aback’ by Partygate fine

Boris Johnson was “very surprised and taken aback” to get a fine for attending an event during lockdown.

The prime minister was speaking during a Q&A with Mumsnet. User questions were put to Johnson by the website’s co-founder Justine Roberts, which has been posted on YouTube.

In response to one question about his fine from the Metropolitan police, Johnson says:

I think if people look at the event in question it felt to me like a work event.

I was there for a very short period of time in the Cabinet Office, at my desk, and I was very very surprised and taken aback to get a fixed-penalty notice.

The first question asked of the prime minister is: “Why should we believe anything you say when it’s been proven you’re a habitual liar?”

Johnson responds:

Well, first of all, I don’t agree with the conclusion nor the premise of the question.

I think the best way to answer that is look at what I get on and deliver and what I say I’m going to deliver and that’s what I’m in politics to do, to try to make life better for people if I can.

I was elected at a particularly difficult time in politics, to get some tough things done.

Things then became, if anything, even more difficult because of the pandemic, but if you look at what we’re doing, we’re getting on and delivering.

He adds:

My answer about trust is people throw all sorts of accusations about all sorts of things ever since I drove around on a bus and they have all sorts of reasons for saying that.

But you’ve got to look at the record of what I deliver.

Watch the full Q&A here:

Charities that support asylum seekers say they are documenting a number of suicide attempts among those threatened with being sent to Rwanda.

Cases include a female Iranian asylum seeker who attempted suicide and told charity workers she took this action because she believed she faced being offshored to Rwanda. She was taken to hospital and survived.

A 40-year-old Yemeni asylum seeker made a video addressed to Boris Johnson and Priti Patel stating that after he arrived in the UK on 13 April and found out about Rwanda offshoring plans he had “no other choice but to kill myself”.

You can read more of Diane Taylor’s reporting here:

The prime minister has said that “more pragmatism” and “less theology” is needed to resolve the northern Ireland protocol.

In an interview with Mumsnet, Boris Johnson said:

I think that the protocol is certainly not functioning well. And the last thing we want to have is a border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, and that is simply not going to happen.

All that we’re trying to do is to get rid of some pretty pointless and bureaucratic checks on stuff that’s going from GB to Northern Ireland.

Now, I did the protocol, I negotiated it. The problem is that I thought that it would be implemented with common sense and pragmatism – because the ultimate arbiter of how to make it work, unfortunately, is the EU.

And I just think what is needed is more pragmatism and less theology, because at the moment what you’ve got is one community in Northern Ireland – the unionist/loyalist community – feeling that there’s a border down the Irish Sea, an east-west border, and that is inflaming their sentiment. They won’t go back into government in Northern Ireland unless we fix it.

So for me, the priority is to fix the protocol and get the Good Friday Agreement institutions up and running again. That’s what needs to happen.”

Efforts to topple Boris Johnson are being co-ordinated by “one or two individuals” for reasons of “personal ambition”, Nadine Dorries has said.

The culture secretary told BBC Radio 4’s World at One programme “the overwhelming number of Conservative MPs are fully behind” the prime minister and “absolutely back him”.

She said:

There is, obviously, I think probably led by one or two individuals, a campaign behind the scenes to try to attempt to remove the prime minister for individual reasons to do with personal ambition or other reasons.

Asked who was behind the campaign, she said she had “no idea” but there was “obviously a coordinated campaign”.

Dorries said Tory MPs calling for Johnson’s resignation are doing the opposition’s work for them.

She said:

All I would say to my colleagues is the electorate, the public, don’t vote for divided parties and I don’t think we want to do both Labour and the SNP’s work for them.

The people who most want to get rid of Boris Johnson are Keir Starmer and the SNP and I would just ask my colleagues to reflect on that and do we really want to do the opposition’s work and do we really believe the public will vote for a party that they think is divided.

Asked whether Johnson should echo John Major’s tactic of telling his party to “put up or shut up”, Dorries described this as an “indulgence”, adding:

John Major was not dealing with a war in Ukraine, there hadn’t been a Covid pandemic, times were not as turbulent as they are right now.

Partygate has become a “Westminster bubble issue” and the public wants to move on, Nadine Dorries has said.

The culture secretary told BBC Radio 4’s World at One programme:

I think the British public are now ready to move on and I don’t think that any report or any investigation can deliver anything other than the findings that both Sue Gray and the Met police have delivered.

I think what we are talking about is becoming very much a Westminster-centric, Westminster bubble issue, and what I detect out in the country is that people are wanting to move on.

Boris Johnson would probably win a confidence vote but cannot rely on all of his ministers to back him, a Conservative pollster has said.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s World at One programme, the former Conservative MP Robert Hayward said:

My guess is he probably would [win] at this stage, but the Tory party has a history of PMs winning confidence votes but not lasting the due term.

Asked whether Johnson could rely on the “payroll vote” of around 150 ministers, whips and parliamentary private secretaries to support him in a confidence vote, Lord Hayward said: “Absolutely not.”

He added:

There is a range of people within the party who are now expressing concern and the government’s ministerial team and therefore the probability is that there is a good range of views.

Some of those would not support Boris Johnson if it came to a vote of confidence.

Boris Johnson suggested he has considered questions over his future amid the Partygate affair, but insisted staying as prime minister is the “responsible” approach.

Johnson, who was answering questions from users of Mumsnet, repeated his apology for the events in Downing Street.

Johnson said:

If people look at the event in question, it felt to me like a work event, I was there for a very short period of time in the Cabinet Office at my desk and, you know, I was very, very surprised and taken aback to get an FPN, but of course I paid it.

I think that on why am I still here, I’m still here because we’ve got huge pressures economically, we’ve got to get on, you know, we’ve got the biggest war in Europe for 80 years, and we’ve got a massive agenda to deliver which I was elected to deliver.

I’ve thought about all these questions a lot, as you can imagine, and I just cannot see how actually it’d be responsible right now – given everything that is going on simply to abandon a) the project which I embarked on but b)…

At this point Johnson was interrupted and told some believe he has lost the trust of the people, to which the prime minister replied:

Let’s see about that and, yeah, I’m not going to deny the whole thing hasn’t been a totally miserable experience for people in government and we’ve got to learn from it and understand the mistakes we made and we’ve got to move forward.

Asked by Mumsnet about No 10 parties, Boris Johnson says staff were “working blindingly hard” and it was necessary to keep morale high.

The prime minister was speaking to the co-founder of Mumsnet Justine Roberts, who was asking questions sent in by users. He said leaving drinks were necessary as it was “a time when we had to keep morale high, and the whole place was under a huge amount of pressure”.

One user, a teacher who said if she had broken Covid laws, she would have lost her job, asked why the prime minister was still in his job.

Johnson replied:

I am still here because we have got huge pressures economically and the biggest war in Europe for 80 years and we have got a massive agenda to deliver.

He said it was not “responsible” to abandon his project over Partygate but he admits the saga has been “totally miserable”.

He insisted “no cake was consumed by me” at his “miserable” birthday party.

Boris Johnson ‘taken aback’ by Partygate fine

Boris Johnson was “very surprised and taken aback” to get a fine for attending an event during lockdown.

The prime minister was speaking during a Q&A with Mumsnet. User questions were put to Johnson by the website’s co-founder Justine Roberts, which has been posted on YouTube.

In response to one question about his fine from the Metropolitan police, Johnson says:

I think if people look at the event in question it felt to me like a work event.

I was there for a very short period of time in the Cabinet Office, at my desk, and I was very very surprised and taken aback to get a fixed-penalty notice.

The first question asked of the prime minister is: “Why should we believe anything you say when it’s been proven you’re a habitual liar?”

Johnson responds:

Well, first of all, I don’t agree with the conclusion nor the premise of the question.

I think the best way to answer that is look at what I get on and deliver and what I say I’m going to deliver and that’s what I’m in politics to do, to try to make life better for people if I can.

I was elected at a particularly difficult time in politics, to get some tough things done.

Things then became, if anything, even more difficult because of the pandemic, but if you look at what we’re doing, we’re getting on and delivering.

He adds:

My answer about trust is people throw all sorts of accusations about all sorts of things ever since I drove around on a bus and they have all sorts of reasons for saying that.

But you’ve got to look at the record of what I deliver.

Watch the full Q&A here:

Severin Carrell

Severin Carrell

Boris Johnson’s unpopularity in Scotland is at a record high, according to a new poll for STV News. Ipsos Mori has found he has a popularity rating amongst Scottish voters of -71, with a large majority fearing they will be worse off if remains prime minister after the next election.

The poll found the prime minister’s unpopularity had grown by 3.5 points since November, a period dominated by the Partygate scandal, with 59% of voters reporting feeling worse off now than a year ago.

Support for the Scottish Conservatives has also slumped, down six points on their 2019 general election result to 19%, putting Labour in second on 23% (up 4 points on 2019) behind the Scottish National party on 44% (-1).

Nicola Sturgeon, who celebrated being Scotland’s longest-serving first minister last week, remains popular with a +12 rating. But her satisfaction ratings are on a downward trajectory, according to Ipsos. In October 2020, when she was widely credited with showing great leadership at the height of the Covid crisis, it stood at +49.

Keir Starmer, the UK Labour leader, had a slight negative rating of -2, with 38% of Scottish voters happy with his performance but 22% holding no opinion.

The poll also showed a sharp decline in support for independence compared with Ipsos Mori’s last opinion monitor in December. It ffound the yes and no votes tied at 50% each (excluding those not likely to vote). Six months ago, yes had a clear 10-point lead, at 55% and in October 2020 it stood at 58%.

Ipsos uses different methods to other pollsters (such as relying on telephone polling instead of using panels of voters taking online polls) but those figures are consistent with other polls this year consistently showing a fall in the yes vote.

The Lib Dems have called for the army to be deployed to ease queues at airports and ports, and on roads.

The party’s transport spokesperson, Sarah Olney, said:

The chaotic scenes at airports up and down the country have been nothing short of a complete disaster.

Families’ half-term getaways have been thrown into disarray and now they face the prospect of a long weekend spent sleeping in airports and sitting in traffic jams.

We need drastic action now to tackle this travel carnage and break the logjam.

That’s why drafting Britain’s best and brightest logistics minds from the army to get things moving again is a no-brainer.

Conservative ministers need to get a grip on this chaos at the 11th hour to save the jubilee weekend. Empowering the army to run point from a command centre would do just that.

Labour’s Lisa Nandy says government should ‘move heaven and earth’ to stop airport chaos

The shadow levelling up, housing and communities secretary, Lisa Nandy, has said “any government worth its salt would be moving heaven and earth to stop the misery and the chaos” unfolding at airports.

Travellers have faced several weeks of delays and disruption at airports across the UK, with demand for foreign trips bouncing back after the easing of all UK Covid travel restrictions.

In the latest day of flight cancellations and disruption at airports, British Airways and easyJet cancelled more than 150 flights to and from the UK on Wednesday, as holidaymakers faced further departure lounge delays going into the extended Queen’s platinum jubilee bank holiday.

She said:

The government was warned all the way through the pandemic that the loss of skilled staff was going to create problems.

They need to show some leadership and take some ownership of this crisis – get around the table with management and with workers’ representatives in the travel industry in order to end the chaos.

We need a proper post-Covid plan to get the industry back on its feet and get things moving again, including filling recruitment shortages that have emerged as a result of the pandemic.

Any government worth its salt would be moving heaven and earth to stop the misery and the chaos that is unfolding for families across this country right now.

It’s time for the government to stop blaming everybody else and to start doing its job.

Speaking in Wakefield, Nandy said:

When things go wrong, it’s the government’s job to step up and try and fix it.

Asked if Christopher Geidt should resign, the shadow levelling up, housing and communities secretary Lisa Nandy said he has got to make his own decision.

Lord Geidt is the independent adviser on ministers’ interests is meant to advise Johnson over whether ministers have breached the code.

Yesterday he said there was a “legitimate question” over whether the prime minister broke the ministerial code after getting fined for Partygate and said he repeatedly told the Johnson’s team to be ready to explain if his actions stuck within the rules – even if he thought there was no breach.

But he said the advice had not been “heeded” and called on Johnson to set out his case to the public. However he dodged the question of whether the prime minister himself had done so – apparently for fear of having to resign if Johnson ignored him.

The prime minister said being fined by the police does not break the ministerial code.

Nandy said:

What is clear to the whole country is that this is a prime minister who lacks integrity, who lacks the decency and honesty that it takes to lead this country.

If you can’t trust him on whether he can follow his own rules, whether he’ll rewrite those rules or tear up those rules, because he thinks he doesn’t apply to them, how can you trust him when he says that he’ll tackle the cost-of-living crisis engulfing families and businesses across this country?

Speaking in Wakefield, Nandy said the govenrmnent was rotten to the core and that the rot started at the top.

She added:

This is just a damning indictment of the prime minister’s leadership that successive ethics advisers just feel that they can’t trust the integrity of the prime minister.

If you can’t trust a single word that prime minister says then the problems go much deeper than one ethics adviser.

Ben Riley-Smith of the Telegraph has delved into the Tory MPs who have been calling for Boris Johnson to go.

It’s fair to say it is a mixed bag. 17 of them supported the campaign to leave the EU, while 13 are remainers. MPs with tiny majorities are among the 30, with three having less than 1,000, as well as ones with large majorities (eight have majorities of more than 20,000).

Nine of them had Lib Dem second in the last election while 21 had Labour in second position. Riley-Smith also says that every intake of MPs in last 40 years is represented except for 2017.

We’ve crunched the numbers on the 30 Tory rebels calling for PM to go

– 17 Leavers, 13 Remainers
– Every intake in last 40yrs represented except 2017
– Tiny majorities (3 have below 1k) and huge ones (8 have 20k+)
– 9 had Lib Dems 2nd, 21 Labour

Ie fires breaking out all over!

— Ben Riley-Smith (@benrileysmith) June 1, 2022

Credit to @DominicPenna for digging through the stats. Our graphic in today’s paper shows the spread of Tory rebels.

Our 30 MPs count comes from those publicly calling for PM to go or having confirmed letters submitted (though there are various ways to cut the numbers). pic.twitter.com/rCJcSTV5GS

— Ben Riley-Smith (@benrileysmith) June 1, 2022





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