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Boris Johnson news: John Bercow banned from holding Commons pass for life

John Bercow rips into Boris Johnson and says he’s ‘the worst PM he’s known by a country mile’ in 2021

Former Commons speaker John Bercow has been handed a lifetime ban from holding a parliamentary pass after an independent panel found he was a “serial bully”.

The investigating Independent Expert Panel said it upheld 21 allegations of bullying against Mr Bercow and would have recommended expelling him from the House of Commons were he still an MP.

It said: “The House may feel that his conduct brought the high office of Speaker into disrepute. This was behaviour which had no place in any workplace.”

Mr Bercow, who stood down as Commons speaker in 2019 and denies the accusations, said the inquiry had “failed dismally”.

He said: “At the end of, the panel has simply said that I should be denied a parliamentary pass which I have never applied for an do not want.”

Elsewhere, Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky will address the Commons today via video link and is expected to plead for more arms and a no-fly zone over Ukraine to be enforced by Nato.

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UK to set up Ukraine refugee site in Lille, says Liz Truss

Liz Truss is taking questions in the Commons now.

Diane Abbott asked: “Will the Foreign Secretary speak to her colleague the Home Secretary about the cruel and chaotic way that desperate Ukrainian refugees are being treated by her department?

“It cannot be right that there is no visa application centre in Calais and Ukrainian refugees who travel thousands of miles to Calais are being redirected to either Paris or Brussels. Does the Foreign Secretary agree that this brings the UK into disrepute?”

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss replied: “The Home Office have placed staff in Poland and Hungary to help people, … the Home Secretary has announced a new pop-up application site in Lille.

“I can tell her that the Home Office has set up a surgery for MPs in Portcullis House which I am sure she will be very welcome to take any cases she has to.”

Lille is around 70 miles from Calais.

Kate McCann of Sky News said Ms Truss’s answer could be considered an announcement as the Home Office had refused to give the location of the application site less than one hour ago.

Liam James8 March 2022 12:10

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John Bercow ‘lied’ to bullying investigation

Former speaker John Bercow lied in evidence to the investigation of bullying claims against him, according to the investigating Independent Expert Panel.

The IEP said Mr Bercow was “widely unreliable and repeatedly” dishonest in response to a complaint that he had displayed “intimidatory” and “undermining behaviour” and “threatening conduct” to his former private secretary Angus Sinclair.

It added: “He has attempted to defeat these complaints by false accusations of collusion and by advancing lies.”

In relation to bullying allegations from former aide Lord Lisvane that were upheld in the investigation, the IEP said Mr Bercow resorted to “quite simply lies, deliberate lies in a vain attempt to excuse the inexcusable”.

Mr Bercow has been banned for life from holding a parliamentary pass after the IEP upheld 21 bullying allegations against him.

Liam James8 March 2022 11:42

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The Independent’s columist Salma Shah will be a panellist on BBC Two’s Politics Live at 12.15.

She will appear alongside Alastair Campbell, former Downing Street director of communications, Laura Trott, Tory MP, and Stewart McDonald, SNP MP.

Liam James8 March 2022 11:25

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John Bercow banned from holding Commons pass and branded ‘serial bully’ by panel

Former Commons speaker John Bercow has been handed a lifetime ban from holding a parliamentary pass after an independent panel found he was a “serial bully”.

The Independent Expert Panel “decided that his conduct was so serious that he should never be allowed a pass to the Parliamentary estate; and that if he were still a MP it would have recommended expelling him from the House.”

The IEP sub-panel chaired by Sir Stephen Irwin found that: “The ICGS Bullying and Harassment Policy was breached repeatedly and extensively by the most senior Member of the House of Commons.

“In all, 21 separate allegations were proved and have been upheld. The House may feel that his conduct brought the high office of Speaker into disrepute.

“This was behaviour which had no place in any workplace. Members of staff in the House should not be expected to have to tolerate it as part of everyday life.”

Liam James8 March 2022 11:13

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UK armed forces chief in Downing Street this morning amid Ukraine war

The Chief of the Defence Staff, Admiral Sir Tony Radakin, has arrived in Downing Street for a meeting.

Sir Tony, head of the British Armed Forces, over the weekend said the West needed to keep pressure on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.

He said Russia had “got itself into a mess” and it was likely that the assault would become more violent as troops suffered setbacks.

Speaking to the BBC on Sunday, he said: “I think there is a real risk because Russia is struggling with its objectives on the ground in Ukraine – and we’ve seen from Russia’s previous actions in Syria and in Chechnya – where it will turn up the violence, it will lead to more indiscriminate killing and more indiscriminate destruction.

“We have to keep applying the pressure to Russia that this is outrageous and that the sense that because your invasion isn’t going very well, that you just become more and more reckless in applying violence is totally unacceptable.”

Radakin heads to No 10 this morning

(Reuters)

Liam James8 March 2022 11:08

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Britain’s Ukraine refugee policy gets *facepalm* in Europe

The UK approach to Ukrainian refugees is facing growing disapproval in Europe.

Britain stands practically alone in Europe in not operating an open door policy for Ukrainians fleeing the conflict – requiring people to have a visa and granting only limited concessions.

The Home Office said last night that only 300 had been issued so far out of 8,900 applications.

France’s interior minister Gerald Darmanin accused the British government of a “lack of humanity” on the issue over the weekend as hundreds of Ukrainians gathered at Calais wanting to reach the UK.

Donald Tusk, a prominent figure in the EU and former European Council President, singled out Britain for its approach and said the refugee crisis required “solidarity in action”.

Highlighting the gulf between the words of the UK government and its actions, he quoted Boris Johnson, who said: “We are generous as we possibly can, we are very, very generous.”

Mr Tusk ended with a facepalm emoji.

Liam James8 March 2022 10:52

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In graphs: Britain’s biggest fall in living standards in nearly 50 years

The Resolution Foundation has released some graphs to support its forecast that Brits are facing their biggest fall in living standards since the mid-1970s.

Incomes are set to fall by 4 per cent in the financial year ahead – equivalent to an average of £1,000 per household – as the war in Ukraine adds to the existing cost-of-living crisis across the UK.

Graph below sets that against the past 60 years. Only one year of those saw a bigger fall:

And another graph details projections for absolute poverty (total and child figures). A sharp drop due to the pandemic safety blanket will be reversed this year as benefit boosts are removed. How far that figure rises is down to inflation:

Liam James8 March 2022 10:34

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Labour and Tories both up in new poll

A poll found support for Labour and the Conservatives rose in the past week.

A two point increase for both parties meant Labour remained ahead by 3 points on 40 per cent in the Redfield and Wilson poll.

The biggest issue for voters was healthcare, with 54 per cent of respondents saying it would determine how they vote.

Foreign policy dropped slightly as determining issue for voters to 11 per cent, compared with 12 per cent at the last poll on 28 February, days after the Ukraine invasion.

Liam James8 March 2022 10:15

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Crackdown on Russian dirty money will need second bill, says Priti Patel

Boris Johnson’s government is drawing up fresh legislation to crack down on “dirty money” held by Russian oligarchs because the bill being pushed through parliament won’t be enough, the home secretary has said (Adam Forrest writes).

MPs passed the Economic Crime Bill on Monday evening, after planned reforms moved up the government’s list of priorities following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It will now be scrutinised by the House of Lords.

However, Priti Patel revealed there would be a second, “follow-on” Economic Crime Bill in the next parliament session because ministers “cannot get all the measures in right now”.

It comes as the government vowed to stick to a six-month time limit for a new register of overseas entities, despite Labour claims it would give Russian oligarchs a “get out of London free” card.

Sir Keir Starmer’s party said the government’s plan would still give oligarchs linked to Russia too long to move money out of the UK, urging the government to bring the time limit down to just 28 days.

Liam James8 March 2022 09:59

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MoD helping with Ukraine refugee visas

Defence officials are to help process visa applications from Ukrainians fleeing the war amid continuing criticism over the slow rate at which refugees are being admitted to the UK.

The Home Office disclosed on Monday night that just 300 visas have been issued out of a total of 17,700 family scheme applications that have been started, 8,900 of which have been submitted.

With 1.7 million people having fled the fighting so far, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace acknowledged that the government needs to move quicker and said he is offering Ministry of Defence (MoD) support to speed up the work.

“The first and foremost duty for all of us is to make sure that people get to safety,” he told Sky News.

“Once they’ve got to safety, making sure we just check their identity before they come to this country – it is incredibly important that we do that.

“It shouldn’t take time. And I’ve offered, I will be offering, to the Home Office assistance from the MoD in the same way we did in Op Pitting (the evacuation of Afghanistan) to increase the processing time to help those people.”

Liam James8 March 2022 09:37

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