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More than 100 fines have now been issued over Partygate, say Met police – UK politics live | Politics

More than 50 new Partygate fines issued over past month, says Met, taking total to more than 100

And here is the last update from the Met police on Partygate fines, issued a month ago today. At that point more than 50 referrals for fines had been made.

The latest announcement shows that the number of Partygate fines has more than doubled, with a further 50 fines being issued over the past month.

Previously the Met were issuing updates every fortnight, but last month the Met said they would delay their next bulletin on the number of fines issued until after the local elections. But fines continued to be issued during the election period.

No 10 said reporters would be told if Boris Johnson received a further fine during this period. At yesterday’s briefings, No 10 were saying he had not received a second fine.

Dominic Cummings, Boris Johnson’s former chief adviser, says junior No 10 staff who were fined over Partygate – after attending events they were told were lawful – may get their revenge if they get the chance to give evidence to the Covid inquiry.

Junior staff told, PM’s PPS is coordinating with covid taskforce to ensure all no10 events are lawful. Junior staff had reasonable expectation this happening. So how do you fine junior staff for 14/1/21 & NOT the PM *who attended* & was responsible for entire shitshow?!

— Dominic Cummings (@Dominic2306) May 12, 2022

Also Tory MPs havent twigged: PM throwing all these junior staff under bus to cops makes his life nightmarish in covid inquiry. Am getting lots of texts today like ‘I can’t WAIT for the inquiry, I took lots of notes’. #DeepState will wreak revenge on 🛒 in 23, yr before election

— Dominic Cummings (@Dominic2306) May 12, 2022

Unilateral action by UK over Northern Ireland protocol would be ‘simply not acceptable’, says EU

Maroš Šefčovič, the European Commission vice-president who is in charge of Brexit talks with the UK on behalf of the EU, released a statement this morning after his conversation with Liz Truss, the foreign secretary, on the Northern Ireland protocol. He says it is a matter of “serious concern that the UK government intends to embark on the path of unilateral action”. He added:

Unilateral action, effectively disapplying an international agreement such as the protocol, is simply not acceptable. This would undermine trust between the EU and UK as well as compromise our ultimate objective – to protect the Good Friday (Belfast) agreement in all its dimensions, while ensuring legal certainty and predictability for the people and businesses in Northern Ireland. Such unilateral action will also undermine the conditions which are essential for Northern Ireland to continue to have access to the EU single market for goods.

My colleague, Jennifer Rankin, the Guardian’s Brussels correspondent, says the EU feels “total exasperation” with the British.

EU believes it has already made big concessions with the October proposals.
And some point out that Boris Johnson signed the protocol and never told people what it meant.
Plus strong sense of ‘you are doing this now?! of all times.

— Jennifer Rankin (@JenniferMerode) May 12, 2022

At the Downing Street lobby briefing, the prime minister’s spokesperson confirmed that Boris Johnson and Simon Case, the cabinet secretary, are not among the latest group of people fined by the Metropolitan police over Partygate.

Johnson has already received one fine, but Case has not been fined.

Levelling up has largely failed to reduce regional inequalities since 2019, major new analysis suggests

Boris Johnson is chairing cabinet in Stoke-on-Trent today. In a briefing sent out ahead of the meeting, No 10 said “ministers will discuss how the Queen’s Speech will deliver for people by boosting our economic growth and recovery, improve living standards and level up opportunities across the country – with Stoke-on-Trent being a prime example of levelling up in action”.

But it’s not – at least according to a new, and exceptionally thorough analysis of progress on levelling up since 2019 carried out by Bloomberg.

The full details are here. And Bloomberg’s Joe Mayers has a good Twitter thread explaning the findings that starts here.

Bloomberg reports:

Johnson’s rise was driven by his successful campaign to pull Britain out of the European Union. The so-called “levelling up” agenda was designed to turn that into tangible benefits by 2030, especially for the working class Brexit voters who abandoned the opposition Labour party to hand Johnson his party’s biggest majority since the 1980s.

More than two years on, in a period dominated by the coronavirus pandemic, most of the places that lagged behind London and the south-east of England when Johnson came to power have seen little sign of better times. In fact, as a new Bloomberg News analysis shows, they’re more likely to be falling further behind.

Bloomberg has studied data relating to 12 metrics, which broadly match the 12 performance targets, or missions, included in the government’s levelling up white paper. For each constituency in the UK, it has looked at how they were doing on each metric in 2019 (whether they were doing better or worse than London and the south-east) and it has also looked at the latest data (to see whether they are pulling ahead or falling behind).

Bloomberg says:

Our analysis shows that the salary gap is widening in nine out of 10 constituencies, that home affordability is getting worse nearly everywhere, and that public spending per head has fallen behind the capital in every region of England.

In 9 out of 12 metrics, the performance of most constituencies relative to London and the south-east is now worse or unchanged compared to 2019.

Only on a few metrics has the gap narrowed for much of the UK – including life expectancy and the share of people receiving universal credit benefits – and in both those cases it’s because the situation in London and the south-east has worsened.

Stoke-on-Trent is in the West Midlands and the Bloomberg analysis shows that, overall, there has been no levelling up in the West Midlands.

If you look at the data for the Stoke-on-Trent Central constitutency, it is only levelling up on four of the 12 metrics: proportion of people on universal credit, civil service employment, broadband coverage and well being.

But on eight other metrics the constituency is falling behind – either by a little (crime, foreign investment), but mostly be a lot (salaries, home affordability, total government spending, government spending on transport, productivity and life expectancy).

Sunak signals that he no longer objects in principle to imposing windfall tax on energy companies

Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, has given a revealing interview to the BBC’s economics editor, Faisal Islam. Here are the key points.

  • Sunak said he was not firmly opposed to imposing a windfall tax on energy companies, and that he saw it as a possible option. He said:

I’m not naturally attracted to windfall taxes in general.

I find there are two camps of people actually. There are some people who think windfall taxes can never be the answer. And then there are other people who think windfall taxes are an easy, quick, simple answer to solve every problem. I’m not in either of those schools of thought. I’m pragmatic about it.

As I said, I’m not naturally attracted to the idea of them. But what I do know is that these companies are making a significant amount of profit at the moment because of these very elevated prices.

What I want to see is significant investment back into the UK economy to support jobs, to support energy security, and I want to see that investment soon.

But if that doesn’t happen, then no options are off the table.

This is significant because in the past Sunak sounded very much as if he was in the first camp, and was opposed to the idea of a windfall tax in princple. This is what he told the Commons in February when he explained why he was rejecting Labour’s call for a windfall tax.

[A windfall tax] sounds superficially appealing, but we on the government benches deal with complex problems in a responsible way. The obvious impact of a windfall tax would be to deter investment—it is as simple as that. At this moment I want to see more investment in the North sea, not less.

  • He said the Treasury was “ready to do more” to help people with the cost of living crisis. He said:

I’ve always said I stand ready to do more as we learn more about the situation.

I’m out every single week talking to people across the country … hearing what people are facing to figure out what the right way for us to help them is. That’s something we’re spending a lot of time thinking about.

And as I said, we continue to learn more and that will help us get the decisions right.

NEW
Chancellor tells me in TV pool after GDP figures showing economy falling in March “we’re confronting a global inflationary forces. Unfortunately, I can’t make them all disappear.

where we can make a difference of course we are,”

Full iv re NI, Windfall, recession shortly

— Faisal Islam (@faisalislam) May 12, 2022

Asked repeatedly if he recognises/ agrees with increasing forecasts of consumer led recession, Chancellor says he knows these are “difficult times” but wants to reassure the public over “underlying strength” of the economy… and says these are global inflationary forces/ shocks.

— Faisal Islam (@faisalislam) May 12, 2022

  • He defended the government’s right to take action over the Northern Ireland protocol – despite fears that unilaterally suspending it would lead to a trade war with the EU, which would make the country’s economic plight even worse.

NEW asked Sunak why Government was thinking of a measure that could lead to tariffs on exports & imports with EU, exacerbating inflation:

“Protocol is causing challenges.. no decisions have been taken, always our preference to have negotiated solution, but situation serious”

— Faisal Islam (@faisalislam) May 12, 2022

Rishi Sunak Photograph: Rishi Sunak/BBC News

These are from the Daily Mirror’s Pippa Crerar (who is soon joining the Guardian as the next political editor)

No 10 sources confirm that Boris Johnson is *not* – as expected – among the 50 latest to receive an FPN.

He wasn’t at the Christmas bash – which blew this whole scandal open – so you wouldn’t expect him to get one. https://t.co/4SxvrL0o7E

— Pippa Crerar (@PippaCrerar) May 12, 2022

As we revealed on Sunday, fines started arriving for the No 10 Christmas party late last week.

Around 40 – 50 people – not incl Boris Johnson – knocked back glasses of wine, played party games and had a Secret Santa.

(Reposting with correct link)https://t.co/4iZplyBvHe

— Pippa Crerar (@PippaCrerar) May 12, 2022

And this is from the BBC’s Jessica Parker on the Truss/Šefčovič talks. (See 10.39am.)

NEW: Sefcovic / Truss chat is over &, from UK side, doesn’t sound like it went that well

Whitehall source even going so far as to describe it as “tetchy”

— Jessica Parker (@MarkerJParker) May 12, 2022

Truss says UK will have ‘no choice’ but to act unilaterally over NI protocol after talks with Brussels end in deadlock

Liz Truss, the foreign secretary, has issued a readout from her conversation with Maroš Šefčovič, the European Commission vice-president in charge of Brexit, about the Northern Ireland protocol this morning. It confirms that the two sides are deadlocked, and that the government is now preparing to take unilateral action.

Truss does not spell out exactly what this would involved, but it has been widely reported that she is planning to announce legislation that would allow businesses in Northern Ireland to ignore EU regulations.

Here is the readout in full. And here is the key extract.

The foreign secretary reiterated that the UK’s proposals to fix the protocol, including green and red channel arrangements, backed up by a bespoke data-sharing system, would ensure the removal of trade barriers between Great Britain and Northern Ireland while protecting the EU single market.

The foreign secretary outlined why EU proposals would take us backwards, by creating more checks and paperwork. Vice President Šefčovič confirmed that there was no room to expand the EU negotiating mandate or introduce new proposals to reduce the overall level of trade friction.

The foreign secretary noted this with regret and said the situation in Northern Ireland is a matter of internal peace and security for the United Kingdom, and if the EU would not show the requisite flexibility to help solve those issues, then as a responsible government we would have no choice but to act.

No 10 says Boris Johnson has not received an additional fine over Partygate. The only one he has had so far is the one we were told about on 12 April, over the surprise birthday party in the cabinet room.

More than 50 new Partygate fines issued over past month, says Met, taking total to more than 100

And here is the last update from the Met police on Partygate fines, issued a month ago today. At that point more than 50 referrals for fines had been made.

The latest announcement shows that the number of Partygate fines has more than doubled, with a further 50 fines being issued over the past month.

Previously the Met were issuing updates every fortnight, but last month the Met said they would delay their next bulletin on the number of fines issued until after the local elections. But fines continued to be issued during the election period.

No 10 said reporters would be told if Boris Johnson received a further fine during this period. At yesterday’s briefings, No 10 were saying he had not received a second fine.

Full statement from Met police about Partygate fines

Here is the full statement from the Met police.

As of Thursday 12 May, Operation Hillman, the investigation into breaches of Covid-19 regulations in Whitehall and Downing Street, has made more than 100 referrals for fixed penalty notices (FPNs) to the ACRO Criminal Records Office.

These referrals have continued to be made throughout the period since our last update on Tuesday 12 April and the investigation remains live.

More than 100 fines have now been issued over Partygate, say Met police

PA Media has snapped this.

The Metropolitan Police has said more than 100 fines have now been issued over breaches of coronavirus regulations in Whitehall and Downing Street.

At the last update, in April, the Met just said more than 50 fines had been issued.

Ministers do not expect to reach an agreement with the EU over the Northern Ireland protocol, Sky’s Beth Rigby reports. She is quoting “senior government figures” close to the talks between Liz Truss, the foreign secretary, and Maroš Šefčovič, the European Commission vice-president in charge of Brexit. Truss and Šefčovič have been talking this morning.

Government does not agree with Tory MP who said there was no great need for food banks, says minister

Victoria Atkins, the prisons minister, was the government’s representative on the airwaves this morning. She told Sky News that she thought her Tory MP colleague Lee Anderson was wrong when he told the Commons yesterday that there was no great need for food banks in Britain and that the real problem was people not being able to cook properly. She said:

This is not the view of me or anyone else in government. We want to give not just immediate help but longer-term support as well.

She also claimed that Anderson’s comments may have been misinterpreted, because he was specifically referring to the situation with his local food bank.

(Anderson’s comments were not misinterpreted. He was referring to his local food bank, but he was making a general point. “There’s not this massive use for food banks in this country,” he said.)

UK threats to abandon Northern Ireland protocol counterproductive, Irish foreign minister says

Simon Coveney, the Irish foreign minister, said this morning that the UK’s government’s threat to abandon parts of the Northern Ireland protocol would be counterproductive. The UK and the EU could still agree a solution to some of the problems caused by the protocol, he said. But, in an interview with RTE radio, he went on:

We’re not going to do it under the threat of British government’s language and briefing of the media which says if the EU doesn’t give us everything we want, well, then we’re going to legislate ourselves to override international law.

Asked about the possibility of a trade war if the UK did unilaterally abandon the protocol, Coveney said he did not want to “ratchet up language”. But he added:

Clearly, if the UK breaches international law, if it undermines a protocol that is about protecting the integrity of the EU single market, then the EU can’t ignore that.

UK GDP shrinks in March as consumers cut spending

Britain’s economy contracted in March as consumers cut back on spending in the face of the rising cost of living, the latest official figures show. My colleague Larry Elliott has the story here.

And Graeme Wearden has reaction and analysis on his business live blog.

Boris Johnson refuses to rule out U-turn to impose windfall tax on energy firm

Good morning. Boris Johnson is chairing an awayday meeting of cabinet in Stoke-on-Trent later and the cost of living crisis is likely to be high on the agenda. Ministers have always been clear that further significant financial measures to help people are planned for later this year but, with all wings of the Conservative party demanding action sooner, some sort of ‘big bazooka’ intervention may be more immediate.

Johnson ‘doesn’t like’ windfall energy taxes but refuses to rule them out – video

This morning the Daily Mail reports that the Treasury has started looking at options for a windfall tax on energy companies – something Labour and other opposition parties have been demanding for months. In their story Jason Groves and Mark Shapland write:

Multiple sources said the idea of a tax grab was ‘back on the table’ to help families with the cost of living crisis without pushing public borrowing even higher.

One insider said that a one-off levy was a ‘no-brainer if the chief executives themselves are saying they have no problem with it’.

Both Mr Sunak and Boris Johnson are understood to be anxious to give the oil and gas firms the opportunity to set out more ambitious plans, with further talks expected soon.

But a Treasury source said that if they failed to bring forward significant extra investment then ‘nothing is off the table’.

For the government to impose a windfall tax would be quite a U-turn. But this morning LBC broadcast an interview with Boris Johnson, recorded yesterday, in which he repeatedly refused to rule out the proposal. He said that he did not like windfall taxes, and did not think they were “the right way forward”. He explained:

The disadvantage with those sorts of taxes is that they deter investment in the very things that we [need] … they need to be investing in new technology, in new energy supply.

But when it was put to him that energy companies say a windfall tax would not deter investment, he replied: “Well, you know, then we’ll have to look it.”

In a separate report, Sam Coates from Sky News says he understands it is now possible that tax cuts could be announced before the summer recess.

Here is the agenda for the day.

Early morning: Liz Truss, the foreign secretary, speaks to Maroš Šefčovič, the European Commission vice-president in charge of Brexit, about the Northern Ireland protocol.

9.30am: Mark Spencer, the leader of the Commons, makes a statement to MPs about next week’s business. After that the Queen’s speech debate resumes, covering fairness at work and communities.

12pm: Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, takes questions from MSPs.

12.45pm: Boris Johnson chairs a meeting of the cabinet in Stoke-on-Trent.

Afternoon: Johnson is due to do a post-cabinet visit.

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More than 100 fines have now been issued over Partygate, say Met police – UK politics live | Politics Source link More than 100 fines have now been issued over Partygate, say Met police – UK politics live | Politics

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