Trade secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan insists her boss will watch debate from his office
Related video: Johnson refuses to apologise for handling of sleaze scandal
The prime minister is refusing to apologise for his actions in the Owen Paterson paid lobbying scandal, which saw him attempt to save his friend from suspension, after No 10 confirmed the PM will not attend a debate on standards and sleaze in the Commons at 4.15pm today.
Responding to the news that Steve Barclay, chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, is instead representing the government at the emergency three-hour discussion, Sir Keir Starmer accused his political opponent of “running scared”.
The Labour leader claimed Boris Johnson did not have “the decency either to defend or apologise for his actions”, adding: “When required to lead, he has chosen to hide. His concern, as always, is self-preservation, not the national interest.”
It comes after it emerged the Conservatives lost their lead in the latest opinion poll, with Mr Johnson’s “good prime minister” rating plummeting for the first time since he entered No 10. The Tories were down four points to 35 per cent while Labour remained unchanged on 36 per cent, according to the Ipsos Mori poll carried out for The Evening Standard.
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Home Office faces legal action over mistreatment of detained HIV patient
Over to the Home Office now. Priti Patel’s department has been threatened with legal action over an HIV patient who continues to be denied life-saving treatment while being held in an immigration detention centre, The Independent has learned.
The 42-year-old man, who was awaiting deportation to Jamaica, relies on daily medication to manage his condition, and says the dosages for his other ailments, schizophrenia and depression, have been reduced by staff at Colnbrook Immigration Centre.
A solicitor at Duncan Lewis law firm has submitted a pre-action 36-page letter to the government stating an intention to take them to court over a failure to “operate a safe and lawful system for individuals with HIV in detention” and the subjection of their client to an “unacceptably high risk of contracting Covid-19” prior to or whilst on the scheduled charter flight.
Our race correspondent Nadine White reports:
Sam Hancock8 November 2021 15:05
Paterson lobbing row sparked ‘dark week for parliament,’ says Hoyle
Speaking ahead of the Commons debate, speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle said he hopes discussions today remain more positive than last week, which he described as a “very dark week for parliament”.
“We’ve got to move forward,” he told Sky News, adding the emergency debate at 4.15pm was about “trying to get this House in a much better place than where we left it last week”.
Asked about reports that his office would be looking to review the standards procedures, Sir Lindsay continued: “I would always say I work with everybody across this House, this House matters to me, the MPs matter, the people who work here matter to me, and what I don’t want is another dark week like last week.
“I want to make sure the public have faith in parliamentarians and faith in the House of Commons, and today’s debate will be painful, but the one thing is it’s got to cleanse the House to move forward.”
Sam Hancock8 November 2021 14:55
Trevelyan hails ‘rich’ mix of peers in House of Lords
Trade secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan unwittingly used the term “rich” to describe the make-up of Britain’s House of Lords.
It comes amid accusations the Tories give peerages to their wealthiest, and most generous, donors.
A Sunday Times report showed 15 of the last 16 Conservative Party treasurers have been offered a seat in the Lords, having each donated more than £3m to the party.
Sam Hancock8 November 2021 14:43
PM accused of ‘running scared’ as he misses sleaze debate
Following my earlier post (2pm), Boris Johnson has refused to apologise for his botched attempt to neuter parliament’s independent standards system, as he dodged a House of Commons debate on sleaze.
The PM was accused of “running scared” of the controversy after he paid a visit to a hospital in the northeast rather than attend the three-hour emergency debate, writes our political editor Andrew Woodcock.
In a TV interview during his visit to Hexham General Hospital in Northumberland, the PM three times declined the opportunity to offer the apology demanded by Labour.
Sam Hancock8 November 2021 14:09
Watch: Bus hijacked and set on fire near Belfast loyalist estate
Bus hijacked and set on fire near Belfast loyalist estate
Sam Hancock8 November 2021 14:06
Starmer accuses PM of ‘running scared’ from Paterson row
MPs are preparing to gather in the House of Commons for an emergency debate on sleaze and conduct at 4.15pm.
Boris Johnson will not be in attendance, which his main political opponent was quick to point out showed the country’s leader was “running scared”.
Speaking ahead of the debate today, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer accused the PM of not having “the decency either to defend or apologise for his actions”.
“Rather than repairing the damage he has done, the prime minister is running scared,” Sir Keir told reporters. “When required to lead, he has chosen to hide. His concern, as always, is self-preservation, not the national interest.”
Labour and the Lib Dems are expected to call for a public inquiry into the events that led to ex-Tory MP Owen Paterson resigning amid a lobbying scandal last week, with the Tories already suggesting they will not support such a move.
Sam Hancock8 November 2021 14:00
Why is UK at odds with EU over Article 16 and Northern Ireland Protocol?
The UK again finds itself in a tense standoff with the EU after Boris Johnson’s government hinted it could trigger Article 16 and suspend parts of the Brexit agreement’s Northern Ireland Protocol.
The protocol relaxes customs checks between the UK and EU nations in the interest of preserving the peace secured by the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, after decades of sectarian violence during the Troubles, but its conditions mean Northern Ireland must comply with the rules of the European single market, meaning bureaucracy and possible delays on goods arriving from England, Scotland and Wales.
The protocol has been in and out of the news since the deal was made.
Our reporter Joe Sommerland has written an explainer on the latest developments:
Ella Glover8 November 2021 13:34
PM resists calls to move to Covid “Plan B,” urges booster uptake
Now for some Covid news: The Prime Minister has resisted calls from public health officials to move to “Plan B” this winter but urged over-50s to book their booster jab.
Asked on his visit to a hospital in Hexham whether he would heed calls from public health officials in the northeast, at least in part, Boris Johnson said he is often presented with “different scientific advice and different scientists say different things”.
Mr Johnson said “we study the data every day, we have reviews with NHS chiefs every day”, but he added: “The key thing you want to do is to reduce those pressures, which are building, on the A&Es, on beds, by encouraging people, particularly the over-50s, to come forward and get your booster jab.”
Plan B would include reintroducing measures such as compulsory mask-wearing and working from home and could see the introduction of vaccine certification
Professor Dame Anne Johnson, president of the Academy of Medical Sciences told LBC over the weekend that, as she understands it, the plan is “very much still in consideration.”
Ella Glover8 November 2021 13:28
‘Concerning’ that PUP has withdrawn support for the Good Friday Agreement, DUP leader says
More on Brexit. DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said it was concerning that the Progressive Unionist Party (PUP) had withdrawn support for the Good Friday Agreement, and warned that support for the political institutions at Stormont was “falling away”.
PUP leader Billy Hutchinson has said that there is no longer a basis for unionist support of the 1998 accord due to the manner it has been implemented.
In a statement seen by the Belfast Telegraph, Mr Hutchinson also states that loyalists signed up to the Belfast Agreement on the basis that the “principle of consent” protected the substance of Union, but the protocol had shown the key guarantee was in fact merely symbolic.
Sir Donaldson said that it is a “matter of concern” but that it is “one of the consequences of the protocol”.
He said: “The PUP are very clear – they’re not wanting people to go back to violence and they have condemned violence on our streets. But it is a matter of concern that support for the agreements and political institutions is falling away, and not least within unionism itself.
“I’ve been warning about this now and warning that this is one of the consequences of the protocol, because the protocol upsets the very delicate constitutional balance that is at the heart of the agreement, it undermines our relationship with the rest of the United Kingdom in a way that is unacceptable to unionists.
“Let’s not lose sight of the fact there isn’t a single unionist elected representative that supports this protocol.
“So, in a way, I understand where the PUP are coming from. But I want to get to a place where we put this right, where we get the political stability that we need.”
Additional reporting by PA
Ella Glover8 November 2021 13:23
Asked if he will apologise, PM says there is ‘not much more to be said’ over Paterson case
Boris Johnson says there isn’t “much more to be said” over Owen Paterson case after being asked whether he would apologise to his party and the public.
Speaking to broadcasters on a visit to a hospital in Hexham, he said: “What we’ve got to make sure is that we take all this very, very seriously and that we get it right.
“There’s a debate today, unfortunately I can’t be there because I had a long-standing engagement up here.”
The PM said opposition parties wanted to focus on “a particular case, a particular MP who suffered a serious personal tragedy, and who’s now resigned”.
He said: “I don’t think there’s much more to be said about that particular case, I really don’t, but what we do need to do is look also at the process, and that is what we were trying to do last week.”
He said he hoped there would be “cross-party agreement on a way forward, including an appeals process”.
Labour are demanding that the prime minister apologise for attempting last week to neuter the Commons standards system in order to get his friend and former minister Owen Paterson off the hook after he was found guilty of lobbying for companies paying him more than £100,000 a year.
Additional reporting by PA
Ella Glover8 November 2021 13:06