Tag Archives: Chris

Can we trust Jeremy Hunt to fix the UK economy? [VIDEO]

UK Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has said “eye-watering” decisions on tax increases and public service cuts will be made in his Budget on Thursday. But can we trust him to make the right choices?

Labour’s Chris Bryant doesn’t think so. On the BBC’s Politics Live, he pointed out just a few of the financial disasters inflicted on the UK by a Conservative government and raised fears that Hunt will demand more from the people who have the least.

Watch out for the party political nitpicking from Conservative Siobhan Baillie, who doesn’t have a leg to stand on but still tries to undermine the solid points Bryant makes.

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Bryant sticks to his guns over bullying in Parliament

Unrevealing: Chris Bryant took this image in an attempt to show bullying in the voting lobbies – but it did not demonstrate such behaviour clearly enough. Should he have taken video? And would it have mattered, knowing that photography is forbidden there in any case?

After a woefully inadequate ‘investigation’ ruled that there was no bullying during the controversial ‘fracking’ vote that led to the downfall of Liz Truss, whistleblowing MP Chris Bryant has insisted that the verdict was wrong.

He has tweeted the following:

The prohibition of photography in the voting lobbies must be a gift to anybody wishing to intimidate MPs. Elsewhere on the Twitter thread, Bryant agreed that CCTV cameras would be welcome:

The answer, of course, is to modernise the system with electronic voting, as is used in the devolved governments of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Doesn’t the reluctance to introduce such a system smell of corruption to you?

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Treasury Secretary Chris Philp gets hammered by Jo Coburn in nightmare interview

Play the Chris Philp interview drinking game!

The Chief Secretary to the Treasury was interviewed by Jo Coburn on the BBC’s Politics Live immediately after Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng gave his contentless speech to the Conservative Party Conference – and she wasn’t in a mood to deal with his waffle.

So get your favourite beverage ready – alcoholic or not – and whenever you hear Coburn making a snarky response to Philp’s ramblings, give it one or two fingers (whichever you think it deserves.

If you’re on something alcoholic and you aren’t three sheets to the wind by the end of the interview, you’re doing it wrong.

Philp had already been hammered by Martin Lewis on ITV’s Good Morning Britain. I supply a clip below:

If you’re still fit to do so, feel free to play the drinking game with this one, too – using Mr Lewis’s responses to Philp as the trigger for a finger or two.

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Boris Johnson ‘on the brink’ as Tory government resignations continue

Laughing at us: Boris Johnson has previously mocked his opponents as they tried to lever him out of office for previous corruptions. Will he be smiling with attacks coming from behind him, as well as in front?

The Conservative government stands divided and paralysed as more members resign and Boris Johnson’s attempts to save himself grow even more desperate.

Late yesterday evening, Attorney General Alex Chalk threw in the towel. His resignation letter stated: “To be in government is to accept the duty to argue for difficult or even unpopular policy positions where that serves the broader national interest. But it cannot extend to defending the indefensible.

“The cumulative effect of the Owen Paterson debacle, Partygate and now the handling of the former Deputy Chief Whip’s resignation, is that public confidence in the ability of Number 10 to uphold the standards of candour expected of a British Government has irretrievably broken down. I regret that I share that judgement.”

Then came a flurry of resignations, intended to fit in before Prime Minister’s Questions.

First to go this morning (July 6) was another Parliamentary Private Secretary, Laura Trott. Her resignation letter, posted on her Facebook account, said trust in politics was of the “upmost [sic] importance”, adding “but sadly in recent months this has been lost”.

Next was Children’s Minister Will Quince, who said he was left with “no choice” after 10 Downing Street sent him out to defend Johnson with “inaccurate” lines. He said: “I accepted and repeated assurances on Monday to the media which have now been found to be inaccurate.”

On Monday in media interviews, Quince said he had been given assurances that Johnson had not been aware of complaints against Chris Pincher. It later emerged this was not true.

Robin Walker, Minister for School Standards, quit saying the government has been “overshadowed by mistakes and questions about integrity”.

Lee Anderson, the Red Wall Tory who was ridiculed for saying it was possible to cook nutritious meals for 30p, quit at around 10.30am. On the Pinchergate lies, he stated: “I cannot look myself in the mirror and accept this… Integrity should always come first and sadly this has not been the case over the past few days.”

Also quitting were Treasury Minister John Glen and another PPS, Felicity Buchan.

Oh – and Justice Minister Victoria Atkins.

And key backbencher Robert Halfon has also announced that he has lost confidence in Johnson. In a letter, he said he was “previously against any leadership change… during Covid, a cost-of-living crisis and the war in Ukraine. However, after the events of the past few days and the resignation of Cabinet members, I feel that the public have been misled about the appointment of the former deputy chief whip [Chris Pincher].

“The parties at Number 10 Downing Street were bad enough but the appointment of this individual and the untruthful statement about what was known is unacceptable to me.”

Also withdrawing support were Chris Skidmore and Tom Hunt.

It’s over, isn’t it?

That’s what everyone’s saying.

New Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi was even challenged with those words when faced with the sudden resignations of two government members during a TV interview.

Johnson says he won’t go, as he prepares to face attacks from all sides during Prime Minister’s Questions.

But it’s not entirely up to him.

Would it be better for him to jump before he is pushed?

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Javid and Sunak quit; Johnson government is collapsing after Pinchergate revelations

Sajid Javid and Rishi Sunak: by backstabbing Boris Johnson, are these Star Wars fans hoping to be star choices to replace him?

Boris Johnson’s Chancellor of the Exchequer and Health Secretary have both quit, along with several junior ministers, in what is being seen as signs that his government is collapsing.

The resignations follow revelations by the former Permanent Under-Secretary to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Lord McDonald, that Boris Johnson’s claim that he was never informed of an investigation into improper behaviour by Chris Pincher was false.

The major Cabinet resignations are Health Secretary Sajid Javid and Chancellor Rishi Sunak, but MPs who are Parliamentary aides to Cabinet ministers have also gone: Jonathan Gullis, Saqib Bhatti, Nicola Richards, and Virginia Crosbie. Tory vice-chair Bim Afolami is also out.

Andrew Murrison resigned as Johnson’s trade emissary to Morocco, as did Theodora Clarke, trade emissary to Kenya.

In his resignation letter, Javid stated: “I am instinctively a team player but the British people also rightly expect integrity from their Government.

“We may not always have been popular, but we have been competent in acting in the national interest. Sadly, in the current circumstances, the public are concluding that we are neither. The vote of confidence last month showed that a large number of our colleagues agree. It was a moment for humility, grip and new direction. I regret to say, however, that it is clear to me that this situation will not change under your leadership – and you have therefore lost my confidence too.”

Sunak’s letter stated: “The public rightly expect government to be conducted properly, competently and seriously.

“It has become clear to me that our approaches are fundamentally too different. I am sad to be leaving Government but I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that we cannot continue like this.”

Former Brexit Minister Lord David Frost said Javid and Sunak had done the right thing. In a statement on Twitter, he said: “The developments of the last week show there is no chance of the prime minister either putting in place the necessary change of approach to running a government or of establishing a new policy direction.”

According to Nick Watt, political editor of the BBC’s Newsnight, one of Johnson’s closest allies has told him the resignations mean Boris Johnson’s premiership will be over by the evening of Wednesday, July 6: “No PM can survive the resignation of two senior cabinet ministers like that.”

In his letter, Murrison said, “the last straw in the rolling chaos of the past six months has been the unavoidable implications of Lord McDonald’s letter”.

Afolami quit on TalkTV’s The News Desk show;

Saqib Bhatti said: “The Conservative party has always been the party of integrity and honour but recent events have undermined trust and standards in public life.”

Jonathan Gullis said for too long “we have been focused on dealing with our reputational damage rather than delivering for the people”.

Nicola Richards described the Conservative Party under Johnson as “currently unrecognisable”.

And Virginia Crosbie said in her resignation letter that if Boris Johnson continues as PM he risks “irrevocably harming this government, and the Conservative party”.

Theodora Clarke went a little further in hers: “To learn that you chose to elevate a colleague to a position of pastoral care for MPs, whilst in full knowledge of his own wrongdoing, shows a severe lack of judgement and care for your Parliamentary party.

“I was shocked to see colleagues defending the Government with assurances that have turned out to be false. This is not the way that any responsible Government should act.”

Johnson has already moved to replace his resigning Cabinet ministers – with nonentities. Nadhim Zahawi, who will forever be remembered as the MP who used public money to heat his stables, becomes Chancellor.

Steve Barclay becomes Health Secretary. When he was appointed Brexit Secretary in 2018, he was given no power to conduct negotiations, prompting journalist Owen Jones to tweet: “They’re just putting random people off the street into ministerial positions now and hoping we don’t notice.” It seems they are still doing that.

But the damage is done and it seems all but the most staunch Johnson toadies are agitating for him to be removed.

Andrew Bridgen told the BBC the PM “should do what he should have done some time ago, and resign”.

“If he doesn’t do that, the party will have to force him out.”

It seems the Tories are on the march. To add snap to their step, YouGov has conducted a lightning poll showing more than two-thirds of UK voters – and a majority of Tories – want Boris Johnson to quit as prime minister:

One thing is certain: Johnson is unlikely to go willingly.

If he is to leave 10 Downing Street, he’ll have to be forced out. But how soon can it happen?

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Pincher affair lies show Boris Johnson has learned NOTHING from the Partygate scandal

Boris Johnson and Chris Pincher: a poor choice of friends?

Boris Johnson could be ousted from power if new Ministerial Code breaches are alleged over Downing Street’s changing story about the Chris Pincher scandal.

At first, the prime minister’s office claimed that “no official complaints [about Pincher] were ever made”.

But McDonald of Salford, a crossbench peer who was formerly (as Simon McDonald) Permanent Under-Secretary at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, has blown that – and subsequent li(n)es out of the water.

In a letter to Kathryn Stone, the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, he stated [boldings mine]: “This is not true. In the summer of 2019, shortly after he was appointed minister of state at the Foreign Office, a group of officials complained to me about Mr Pincher’s behaviour. I discussed the matter with the relevant official at the Cabinet Office. (In substance, the allegations were similar to those made about his behaviour at the Carlton Club.) An investigation upheld the complaint; Mr Pincher apologised and promised not to repeat the inappropriate behaviour. There was no repetition at the FCO before he left seven months later.”

The letter added that a BBC website report stated: “Downing Street has said Boris Johnson was not aware of any specific allegations when he appointed Mr Pincher deputy chief whip in February,” then added: “By 4 July, the BBC website reflected a change in No 10’s line: ‘The prime minister’s official spokesman said Mr Johnson knew of “allegations that were either resolved or did not progress to a formal complaint”, adding that “it was deemed not appropriate to stop an appointment simply because of unsubstantiated allegations”.’

“The original No 10 line is not true and the modification is still not accurate. Mr Johnson was briefed in person about the initiation and outcome of the investigation. There was a ‘formal complaint’. Allegations were ‘resolved’ only in the sense that the investigation was completed; Mr Pincher was not exonerated. To characterise the allegations as ‘unsubstantiated’ is therefore wrong.

“I am aware that [it] is unusual to write to you and simultaneously publicise the letter. I am conscious of the duty owed to the target of an investigation but I act out of my duty towards the victims. Mr Pincher deceived me and others in 2019. He cannot be allowed to use the confidentiality of the process three years ago to pursue his predatory behaviour in other contexts.”

He didn’t say Boris Johnson had been lying in his letter, but in a subsequent interview on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, he might as well have: “I think they need to come clean. I think that the language is ambiguous, the sort of telling the truth and crossing your fingers at the same time and hoping that people are not too forensic in their subsequent questioning and I think that is not working.”

Stone isn’t – technically – the right person to have received Lord McDonald’s letter; she investigates complaints about breaches of the code of conduct for MPs and, although Pincher’s conduct in 2019 probably would have been in breach of that, McDonald was really objecting to what No 10 is saying about the matter now.

It would have been more appropriate to write to the Downing Street ethics adviser – but of course there isn’t one; Lord Geidt resigned last month and hasn’t been replaced.

The peer’s revelations have triggered a slew of new accusations against Boris Johnson and his administration.

Lib Dem deputy leader Daisy Cooper said: “Boris Johnson needs to own up to his web of lies and finally come clean today. Every day this carries on our politics gets dragged further through the mud.”

Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner said: “The prime minister knew about the seriousness of these complaints but decided to promote this man to a senior position in government anyway. He refused to act and then lied about what he knew.

“Boris Johnson is dragging British democracy through the muck. His appalling judgement has made Westminster a less safe place to work.”

It became apparent that Downing Street had not even provided the government’s spokesperson-of-the-day with the facts, when Dominic Raab tried, on the Today programme, to push the line that Boris Johnson had not been briefed about disciplinary action against Pincher.

Himself a former foreign secretary, Raab said he had spoken with Johnson over the last 24 hours and had been assured that the prime minister had not been briefed.

Then Lord McDonald appeared on the same programme and categorically stated that Johnson had been told everything at the time.

So Raab’s story changed by the time he got to LBC radio: “There was a review, an investigation if you like … to decide whether a formal disciplinary action or an investigation and process was warranted.

“The review, conducted under the auspices of Sir Simon – now Lord – McDonald was that disciplinary action was not warranted. That doesn’t mean that inappropriate behaviour didn’t take place. We were clear that what happened was inappropriate, but we resolved it without going for a formal disciplinary process.”

Raab said he told Pincher “in no uncertain terms” that his conduct had been unacceptable.

So Raab was saying that the complaint against Pincher had been upheld, but that did not mean he was guilty – even though Raab himself had told the MP that his conduct had been unacceptable.

Does that make any sense to you?

It didn’t make sense to Susanna Reid on Good Morning Britain, who grilled Raab over his misuse of language:

It seems this cack-handed handling of a serious matter has been the last straw for many backbench Tory MPs, who are now saying Johnson would lose a vote of no confidence if it took place today.

They say he has “learned nothing” from Partygate and “the same mistakes are again being made“.

And they are acting to change the rules of the 1922 Committee to allow another confidence vote to take place.

Tory Johnson critic Sir Roger Gale said: “Mr Johnson has for three days now been sending ministers – in one case a cabinet minister – out to defend the indefensible, effectively to lie on his behalf. That cannot be allowed to continue.

“This prime minister has trashed the reputation of a proud and honourable party for honesty and decency and that is not acceptable.

“It is so blatant a lie it has to be acted upon as swiftly as possible by my party.”

John Penrose, the former “anti-corruption tsar” who quit over Sue Gray’s Partygate report, has expanded on why Lord McDonald’s letter is so explosive:

“This is dynamite. Honesty is one of 7 Nolan Principles of integrity in public life & at the core of the Ministerial Code so a) #10 not telling the truth is another serious breach & b) the PM’s promised reset has no credibility because their behaviour hasn’t changed at all.”

This may explain why Tory backbenchers are after another “no confidence” vote.

Meanwhile, the business of government takes a back seat once more as Boris Johnson again scrabbles to save his own wretched skin.

Some Parliamentary reporters are already suggesting that this is the end of the road for Johnson – but he’s a slippery character. I’ll report more developments as they appear.

Source: (1) Boris Johnson urged to ‘own up to his web of lies’ after No 10 accused of not telling truth about Pincher – live

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Boris Johnson made Chris Pincher a whip after being told of confirmed misconduct

Chris Pincher.

Doubts about Boris Johnson’s fitness to lead the UK must be multiplying after this revelation from the BBC:

Boris Johnson was made aware of a formal complaint about Chris Pincher’s “inappropriate behaviour” while Mr Pincher was a Foreign Office minister from 2019-20, BBC News can reveal.

It triggered a disciplinary process that confirmed the MP’s misconduct. Mr Pincher apologised after the process concluded, BBC News has been told.

BBC News understands the PM and the foreign secretary at the time – Dominic Raab – knew about the issue.

So Johnson knew Pincher was a wrong ‘un… and then appointed him to a hugely responsible position in the Whips’ Office anyway.

Remember that scandal in Theresa May’s time as PM, when the “dodgy dossier” of MPs’ wrongdoing known to the whips was made public?

Johnson put Pincher in that office and gave him access to that kind of information, we may conclude.

Was that a responsible thing to do – really?

It seems there may be much more muck to rake out of this already-filthy territory.

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‘Pincher by name, pincher by nature’ – new claims stack up against alleged Tory groper

Chris Pincher.

How can a 10 Downing Street source say Boris Johnson was unaware of specific sexual assault allegations against now-former Tory whip Chris Pincher when Dominic Cummings said the prime minister referred to him as “Pincher by name, pincher by nature”?

New claims have been made against Chris Pincher over the weekend. The BBC lists them in the following way:

The Sunday Times reported Mr Pincher had placed his hand on the inner leg of a male Tory MP in a bar in Parliament in 2017.

The newspaper reported Mr Pincher also made unwanted advances towards a different male Tory MP in 2018 while in his parliamentary office, and towards a Tory activist in Tamworth around July 2019.

The Mail on Sunday carried allegations he had made advances against an individual a decade ago, and that a female Tory staffer had tried to prevent his advances towards a young man at a Conservative Party conference.

The Independent carried allegations from an unnamed male Conservative MP that Mr Pincher groped him on two separate occasions in December 2021 and June this year.

The Sunday Times reported that the MP involved in the alleged incident in 2018 contacted No 10 before Mr Pincher was made a whip in February, passing on details of what he said had happened to him and voicing his concerns about him being appointed to the role.

That’s a lot of “pinching”!

Johnson himself was said to have considered the matter closed after Pincher resigned as deputy chief whip, but this raised concerns about unequal treatment of MPs who are accused of inappropriate behaviour (or, in this case, sexual crimes).

Neil Parish had to resign as an MP after being caught watching pornography on his mobile phone in the Commons chamber, and that is a far less significant offence than sexually assaulting other people.

It comes as no surprise, then, that Pincher was subsequently reported to Parliament’s independent behaviour watchdog and an inquiry began. The Tory whip was summarily removed from him, meaning he must sit as an independent MP until that matter is concluded.

In fact it is understood that he will stay away from Parliament while the inquiry runs its course.

The controversy – and Boris Johnson’s failure to act in a timely way – has led to renewed speculation over his fitness to continue as the UK’s political leader.

Labour’s Jonathan Reynolds has said Johnson’s Conservatives have been motivated by “what is politically expedient over what is right”.

And even former Conservative Party chairman and home secretary Lord Baker has said it is “unlikely” Boris Johnson is “the right man” to lead the party.

The longer this matter drags on, the worse it will be for Johnson – who is himself alleged to have behaved in a sexually-inappropriate way as foreign secretary.

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Tory whip resigns: are they STILL partying too much?

Chris Pincher.

It seems some Tory MPs are still having too good a time of it – but at least this one has done the honourable thing.

Chris Pincher, now-former Deputy Chief Whip of the Conservative Party, has resigned after it was alleged that he groped two other men at the private Carlton Club.

In his resignation letter to Boris Johnson, he said he “drank far too much” and “embarrassed myself and other people”.

There is still cause for concern about Tory attitudes, though. This apparent double sexual assault is not being investigated by the Conservative Party – or at least nobody there seems willing to confirm it, nor does it seem that the police have been contacted.

Pincher retains the Tory whip and will continue to sit in Parliament.

If you’re not sure who he is, here’s a quick reminder:

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Tory un-civil war as grandee Patten slams Boris Johnson’s ‘moral vacuum’

Chris Patten: he was a minister in a Tory government and he wants Boris Johnson out of Downing Street.

Don’t you love it when high-ranking Conservatives fight amongst themselves?

I’ve had experience of Chris Patten and he’s as slimy as they come, but he’s not wrong in his assessment of Boris Johnson and I think many people will agree with his observations, which are as follows:

Lord Patten told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that any backlash at the ballot box on Thursday to Covid rule breaches in Downing Street will not be “a determining factor” in the PM’s future, but said: “I think the continuing pitter patter of fines from the Metropolitan Police and, above all, the Sue Gray report are likely to be issues. Against that, the background is pretty grizzly with the economy, all the problems associated with energy prices, all of which is made more difficult by Brexit.

So Lord Patten is not a supporter of Johnson’s partying, his economic policy, the cost-of-living crisis that Johnson created or Brexit.

“I am just not sure how much this will affect the exotic mood at Westminster. Whether we will continue to have a moral vacuum at the heart of government I just don’t know.”

That’s damning – describing Johnson himself as a “moral vacuum”. Remember, Patten was himself a government minister at a time when morality was conspicuously vacant from the Conservative Party.

The former minister, who chaired the Tory party from 1990 to 1992, added that it would be “foolish” to believe that Mr Johnson’s tenure had been rescued by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. He said: “You could change a leader even if you are witness to a war going on somewhere else.

“I just don’t know what will finally shake him off. He is obviously going to have his hands on the doorknob at Number 10 clenching very hard onto that door.

“I guess they will have to be peeled off with some difficulty. What I hope for is to have a Conservative government some time.”

So he also disagrees that Johnson should not be removed while the Russia-Ukraine war is ongoing – and believes that he should in fact be removed as soon as possible.

His final comment is particularly damning: he does not believe that Johnson is a Conservative.

To me, this suggests that a former Tory chairman is saying that Boris Johnson has taken his party too far into the far right of politics, and people who support British political values should abandon him.

Is it too late to hope that this may be reflected in the results of today’s local elections?

Source: Former Tory chairman Chris Patten slams ‘moral vacuum’ Boris Johnson on eve of local elections

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