Boris Johnson fails to deny he offered Carrie Symonds top job
Votes are being counted in two by-elections triggered by the resignations of disgraced Tory MPs.
In the constituency Wakefield, Imran Ahmad Khan stepped down as MP last month after he was convicted of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy at a party in 2008.
Also in May, Neil Parish quit as MP for Tiverton & Honiton after admitting to watching pornography on his phone in the House of Commons on two separate occasions.
PM Boris Johnson said he is “full of optimism and buoyancy” ahead of the results of the by-elections.
Speaking to broadcasters in Rwandan capital Kigali, he said: “I’m going to be watching the results with interest but always full of optimism and buoyancy but most seasoned political observers know that by-elections in mid-term are never necessarily easy for any government.”
PM pledges £372m amid Ukraine war food shortages
Boris Johnson is pledging £372 million in aid to alleviate food shortages as he accused Vladimir Putin of pushing the world’s poorest “closer to starvation”.
The Prime Minister has been working to break the Russian president’s blockade of grain exports from Ukraine, which threatens to push world hunger up further.
Mr Johnson announced the allocation from the overseas development aid budget as he visits Rwanda for a meeting of leaders of the Commonwealth, which he fears could be badly struck by rising food costs and fertiliser shortages.
The package includes £130 million funding for the World Food Programme this year, and £133 million for research partnerships with agricultural and scientific groups.
What time are by-election results going to be revealed?
Results are expected between 2am and 4am on Friday, according to the BBC.
In Wakefield, West Yorkshire, and Tiverton & Honiton, Devon, the Conservatives are attempting to hold off challenges from Labour and the Liberal Democrats.
Labour are hoping to overturn a Conservative majority in Wakefield of just over 3,000, and the Lib Dems would need to overturn a Tory majority of more than 24,000 in Tiverton & Honiton.
Lamiat Sabin23 June 2022 23:00
Lib Dem win in Devon would be ‘historic majority overturn’
Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey said that the party beating the Tories in the Tiverton & Honiton by-election would result in “the biggest majority ever overturned in British political history.”
The Lib Dems would need to overturn a Tory majority of more than 24,000.
The seat was vacated by the forced resignation of Tory MP Neil Parish, who quit after admitting to watching pornography on his phone in the House of Commons on two separate occasions.
Lamiat Sabin23 June 2022 22:30
Polls close in two English by-elections
At 10pm on Thursday, the polls closed for by-elections in Wakefield and Tiverton & Honiton.
Both by-elections are being held to elect a successor to two Tory MPs who had been forced to resign in disgrace.
In Wakefield, Imran Ahmad Khan stepped down after he was convicted of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy at a party in 2008.
In Tiverton & Honiton, Neil Parish quit after admitting to watching pornography on his phone in the House of Commons on two separate occasions.
Lamiat Sabin23 June 2022 22:07
Shapps dismisses Khan’s claim over bus cuts
Transport secretary Grant Shapps has dismissed claims by Mayor of London Sadiq Khan in a dispute about the axing of bus routes.
He tweeted a letter that he wrote to Mr Khan over the latter’s claim that the government has “forced” City Hall into having to cut 21 routes.
Mr Shapps claimed that was untrue as the government has provided Transport for London “with close to £5bn of funding”.
He accused Mr Khan of using a “campaign of scaremongering and threats’ to “repeatedly [play] politics”.
Lamiat Sabin23 June 2022 21:37
Energy sector warns Rishi Sunak against windfall tax
Energy industry chiefs warned chancellor Rishi Sunak that his planned windfall tax on the companies could damage investment in the North Sea oil projects,
Last month, Mr Sunak unveiled the measure under pressure from Labour to impose the 25 per cent one-off surcharge on energy firms.
It is hoped the policy will raise as much as £5 billion, but energy firms have warned it could be detrimental to the sector.
In Aberdeen, Offshore Energy UK chief executive Deirdre Michie said she pressed Mr Sunak on the issue during what she called a “candid and constructive” roundtable meeting.
She said: “Both sides have committed to further discussions.
“We will work constructively with the UK Government and do our best to mitigate the damage this tax will cause, but if energy companies reduce investment in UK waters, then they will produce less oil and gas.
“That means they will eventually be paying less taxes and have less money to invest in low carbon energy.”
A consultation on the policy is due to close on Tuesday.
According to the Treasury, Mr Sunak stressed the importance of the sector to the UK’s transition away from fossil fuels, adding that the levy will provide tax relief on investments within the sector.
Lamiat Sabin23 June 2022 20:45
‘More powerful vacuum cleaners could rid Lords of mice’
Fewer mice would be running around the House of Lords if post-Brexit UK law allowed for more powerful vacuum cleaners to clean the carpets properly, according to a minister.
Cabinet Office minister Lord True joked the mouse infestation could be eradicated by scrapping EU regulations on the appliances.
Lord True, responding to questions from Liberal Democrat peer Lord Wallace of Saltaire, said: “Perhaps, my Lords, if we had more powerful vacuum cleaners in this place we wouldn’t have mice running around the place gorging themselves on all the bits and pieces of crumbs that are left.”
Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Cabinet Office minister responsible for Brexit opportunities, has launched a dashboard to show how many changes have been made to the 2,400 pieces of EU legislation retained following Brexit.
Announcing the initiative to MPs, Mr Rees-Mogg said it highlights “unnecessary and disproportionate” EU regulations on consumer goods, including those “regulating the power of vacuum cleaners”.
Lamiat Sabin23 June 2022 20:08
Watch: PM could call early general election, Cable says
Sir Vince Cable has predicted that Boris Johnson will take the “high risk” move of calling an early general election.
Former Lib Dem leader Vince Cable predicts October general election
The former leader of the Lib Dems said the prime minister is a “gambler” mindset and could call an election for the autumn to “to avoid an even worse situation” for his government.
Sir Vince said a number of factors are working against the Conservative government, such as the “dreadful” economic outlook getting “worse and worse”.
Lamiat Sabin23 June 2022 19:30
European MPs say Rwanda plan ‘unethical’ and ‘racist’
Parliamentarians from across Europe have denounced Boris Johnson’s plans to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda as “unethical” and “racist”.
The comments were made in a debate at the parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe.
The delegates expressed their concern over the Conservative-led government’s apparent willingness to breach international law, and to pass a British Bill of Rights which would allow UK judges to override European Court of Human Rights rulings.
Read the full story here by Andrew Woodcock and Ashley Cowburn
Lamiat Sabin23 June 2022 19:00
‘Labour can get better Protocol deal from EU’ – Lammy
Labour’s experience negotiating the Good Friday Agreement means it will be able to secure a better solution to the Northern Ireland Protocol row, David Lammy has said.
The shadow foreign secretary told an event hosted by the UK In A Changing Europe think tank on Wednesday that a Labour government would be better received in Brussels.
He said: “The EU must be less rigid. But I’ve been told frankly by EU partners that if there was a partner they could trust they could show more flexibility.
“Instead they have Boris Johnson who lies, breaks the law, and never keeps his promises.
“With a change of Prime Minister and a change of government, the UK could build a stable and mutually beneficial relationship with the EU over the long term.”
Speaking on the sixth anniversary of the Brexit referendum, Mr Lammy reiterated Labour’s position that it would not seek to rejoin the EU or re-enter the Customs Union or the Single Market.
But, he said, the party would look to secure “practical solutions to reduce any checks to their absolute minimum” by pursuing an agreement on food and agricultural standards, sharing trade data and using a “risk based approach” for goods entering Northern Ireland from Great Britain.