While furious Tories push back against Boris’s shift to Plan B, senior Labour figures want restrictions to go even further. This morning, Angela Rayner said “The government are not going far enough as far as I’m concerned”. What exact restrictions to Labour want therefore?
Perhaps Welsh Labour leader and First Minister Mark Drakeford has let slip the party’s true desires: Guido learns that last night he privately demanded a complete lockdown between Christmas and New Year during a phone call between Michael Gove, First Ministers and the Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish Secretaries of State. All while deaths and hospitalisations in Wales remain relatively stable…
Reacting to the absurd demand, a government source privy to the call accused the First Minister of making “Ebenezer Scrooge look like Santa Clause”:
“On just a limited amount of data, the knee jerk reaction from Welsh Government is to cancel everything and lock everyone away. How long can that approach continue?
More businesses will go bust and more jobs will be lost, but it’s no surprise that Welsh Labour don’t care about that given their economic track record.”
Drakeford has already said publicly that Wales is at “a perilous moment” with Omicron. It looks like this might be his next step.
Following the Electoral Commission’s Tory fine this morning, Sam Coates has highlighted an evidential inconsistency which will significantly add to the difficulties facing the Prime Minister. In Lord Geidt’s Annual Report by the Independent Adviser on Ministers’ Interest he says of the investigation into the payments for the refurbishing of the Downing Street flat in February 2021:
For the credibility of this inquiry, I have tested the assertions of Lord Brownlow and the relevant political and government officials that at no point in the eight months until late February 2021, as media reports were emerging, was the Prime Minister made aware of either the fact or the method of the costs of refurbishing the apartment having been paid. I have spoken to these individuals in person; they have confirmed to me that these assertions are correct. In particular, Lord Brownlow behaved in a confidential manner consistent with his own experience of blind trusts. I have also spoken in similar terms to the Prime Minister who confirms that he knew nothing about such payments until immediately prior to media reports in February 2021. At that point, the Prime Minister immediately sought the necessary advice about his interests and, as a consequence, settled the full amount himself on 8 March 2021.
However in today’s Electoral Commission’s report into the refurbishing of the Downing Street flat they found (after serving a legal notice for production of evidence) a WhatsApp message from the Prime Minister to Lord Brownlow about payments from the year before:
“29 November 2020: the Prime Minister messaged Lord Brownlow via WhatsApp asking him to authorise further, at that stage unspecified, refurbishment works on the residence. Lord Brownlow agreed to do so, and also explained that the proposed trust had not yet been set up but that he knew where the funding was coming from.”
How can the funding have been via a blind trust with the PM unaware of the backers until media reports in February 2021, if he was texting the backer for cash in November the year before? This inconsistency is hard to reconcile…
Paymaster General Michael Ellis confirming the Cabinet Office will investigate three parties: Cleo Watson’s leaving drinks on November 27th, Gavin Williamson’s Department for Education party on December 10th, and the Downing Street staff party on December 18th. Leaving out the Lee Cain Downing Street leaving drinks – where Boris is alleged to have delivered a speech – on November 13th…
Guido understands recess is being brought forward by two days, from Thursday to Tuesday next week. While he hears this is being spearheaded by the Speaker, who’s requested a couple of days for a firebreak in Parliament, there’s little incentive for the Government to decline the suggestion. It’ll mean yesterday’s disastrous PMQs was Boris’s last of 2021…
UPDATE: While the house did request the two-day early recess, it now sounds like the government are to reject the request and continue with shutting down on Thursday.
“Prime Minister Boris Johnson and wife Carrie have announced the birth of a healthy baby girl at a London hospital earlier today”. It’s all go today…
It just one thing after another for No. 10 this morning, as the Electoral Commission fines them £17,800 for failing to “accurately report a donation and keep a proper accounting record” in regards to the Downing Street flat refurb:
“The investigation looked at whether any transactions relating to works at 11 Downing Street fell within the regime regulated by the Commission and whether any such funding was reported as required.
The investigation found that the party failed to fully report a donation of £67,801.72 from Huntswood Associates Limited in October 2020. The donation included £52,801.72 connected to the costs of refurbishment to 11 Downing Street. The full value of the donation was not reported as required in the party’s Q4 2020 donation report.
The Commission also concluded that the reference in the party’s financial records to the payment of £52,801.72 made by the party for the refurbishment was not accurate.”
It never rains but it pours…