UK

Boris Johnson latest news: PM using ‘murderous dictators to keep lights on’ with Gulf oil trip, Rayner says

PM to ‘stick to principles’ amid claims he is going from ‘dictator to dictator’

Boris Johnson is using “murderous dictators to keep lights on” because the Conservatives have failed to prepare an energy strategy during their years in power, the shadow deputy prime minister has claimed during noisy exchanges in the Commons.

Angela Rayner, facing deputy prime minister Dominic Raab, said the PM was now “on a begging mission” as he visited the Gulf states to ask them to increase oil production.

“The government benches have a choice – they can accept Labour’s plan to save working families hundreds of pounds on bills funded by a one-off levy on the soaring profits of energy companies,” she said.

“So I ask the deputy prime minister – is their only plan to keep on begging?”

Mr Raab said while Labour had been campaigning for Jeremy Corbyn to become leader, Mr Johnson had been “leading the response to the nerve agent attack on Salisbury”.

The PM is visiting the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, even though MPs have urged him to scrap plans for a post-Brexit trade accord with the country after it executed 81 people over the weekend.

In Abu Dhabi, Mr Johnson insisted he has raised the two countries’ poor human rights records “many, many times”, adding: “I’ll raise them all again today.”

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Good afternoon. We are pausing our live politics updates for today, but will be back first thing tomorrow morning for the latest from Whitehall and beyond.

For now, keep up to date on the latest in Ukraine here and follow our live coverage of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s return to the UK today here.

Emily Atkinson16 March 2022 16:33

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Welcome to The Independent’s coverage of UK politics for Wednesday, 16 March 2022.

Namita Singh16 March 2022 03:50

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MPs accuse Johnson’s government of wasting millions on ‘festival of Brexit’

Parliamentarians have accused Boris Johnson’s government of wasting millions of pounds on a so-called “festival of Brexit” as they slammed it as a “vague and shape-shifting event”.

The initiative, named “The Unboxed: Creativity in the UK”, is scheduled for next year. The government has so far invested upto £120m in the event that is supposed to showcase the country’s most creative minds following the decision to leave European Union.

However, in a scathing report, the Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sports Committee slammed the event as a “recipe for failure”, calling it an “irresponsible use of public money”.

Boris Johnson at number 10 Downing Street on 15 March 2022 in London, United Kingdom

(Getty Images)

Namita Singh16 March 2022 04:40

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Boris Johnson reaches UAE

Prime minister Boris Johnson reached Abu Dhabi airport early on Wednesday, where he was greeted by British Ambassador to the UAE, Patrick Moody, and presidential adviser Anwar Gargash.

Mr Johnson is visiting UAE and Saudi Arabia as part of his efforts to press for increased oil production from the Gulf states to reduce the UK’s dependency on Russia.

The prime minister, who earlier called the two countries “key international partners”, is scheduled to meet Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed before travelling to Saudi Arabia for a meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

British PM Johnson holds bilateral talks with Finland’s President Niinisto following JEF meeting, in London

(REUTERS)

Namita Singh16 March 2022 04:56

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Ukrainian soldiers are shouting ‘God save the Queen’, claims Tory minister

A Tory minister has claimed that Ukrainian soldiers are shouting “God save the Queen” as they fire weapons provided by the UK at Russian tanks.

Foreign Office minister James Cleverly made the claim on Tuesday after it emerged that Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky reportedly told Boris Johnson that troops were saying a portion of the national anthem while attacking the invaders.

“We have heard anecdotally that Ukrainians are shouting ‘God save the Queen’ as they are firing those weapons at the tanks that have been sent to destroy them,” said Mr Cleverly. “I am very, very proud that we play an incredibly important part.”

Read the details in this report by Joe Middleton.

Namita Singh16 March 2022 05:18

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Government to unveil proposed targets on air pollution and wildlife conservation

The government will on Wednesday unveil legal targets on air pollution and abundance of wildlife species as part of a series of proposed green goals.

As part of the obligations under the post-Brexit Environment Act, ministers are publishing proposals for legally-binding targets for air quality, water, wildlife, waste reduction and resource efficiency.

The government is also setting out proposals for nature recovery, including plans to create a new classification of habitats that would reflect the priorities for species and habitats.

Namita Singh16 March 2022 05:48

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‘Crackdown on illicit finance only a first step in stopping UK from being oligarchs’ safe haven’

The efforts to crackdown on illicit finance in the UK are only a “first step” towards stopping the country from turning into a safe haven for oligarchs, said MPs on the influential intelligence and security committee.

It comes after the government’s Economic Crime Bill — designed to tackle Russian “dirty money” in Britain — passed all its parliamentary hurdles on Monday evening, paving the way for further sanctions on Putin-linked cronies.

But two years after the ISC published it’s major ‘Russia’ report — examining how “few questions” were asked as the UK became a “particularly favourable destination” for oligarchs — MPs suggested more action is needed.

Read more about the ISC findings in this report by Ashley Cowburn.

Namita Singh16 March 2022 06:07

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Tory councillor who called Johnson ‘idiot’ resigns from the party

Tory councillor Akef Akbar, who recently called prime minister Boris Johnson an ‘idiot’ resigned from the party as he slammed fellow members for toeing the party line instead of standing for “real representation”.

In a statement issued on Monday, Mr Akbar said he “cannot be held on a leash”.

“I will not jump simply when I am instructed to be because that is the way the party operates (sic),” said the councillor, reported Yorkshire Evening Post. “I have tried to remain amicable but I cannot represent the expectations of the party and reconcile this with the representation offered to my residents. The latter is my priority and always will be.”

Namita Singh16 March 2022 06:26

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Johnson defends trying to forge closer ties with Saudi Arabia

Prime minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday defended forging closer ties with Saudi Arabia, as he travelled to the Gulf in a bid to urge the nation to boost the fuel supplies.

On being asked about the questionable human rights record of the regime, Mr Johnson said: “I’ve raised all those issues many, many times… since I was foreign secretary and beyond and I’ll raise them all again today. But we have long, long standing relationships with this part of the world and we need to recognise the very important relationship that we have.”

Pointing out that Saudi Arabia was announcing a £1 billion investment in green aviation fuel in Teesside, the prime minister added “that’s the kind of thing we want to encourage – doesn’t in any way mean we can’t stick to our principles and raise those issues that we all care about.”

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson looks up as the media during his meeting with the President of Finland Sauli Niinisto inside 10 Downing Street on 15 March 2022

(Getty Images)

Namita Singh16 March 2022 07:09

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Johnson downplays his gulf trip as he slams West’s dependence on Putin for energy

Boris Johnson downplayed the chances of of getting Gulf nations to boost their oil production, as the UK attempts to wean off Russian fossil fuels.

“It’s not just a question of looking at the Opec countries and what they can do to increase supply, though that is important, there’s also the issue of Emirati investment in UK wind farms, already huge, what more can they do,” the prime minister told broadcaster in Abu Dhabi.

“When we look at the dependency the West in particular has built up on Putin’s hydrocarbons, on Putin’s oil and gas, we can see what a mistake that was because he’s been able to blackmail the West and hold western economies to ransom – we need independence.”

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson gets out of 10 Downing Street on 15 March 2022

(AFP via Getty Images)

Namita Singh16 March 2022 07:10

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