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Partygate news live: Tories ‘partying through cost of living crisis’ as Boris Johnson and Starmer clash at PMQs

Watch live as Boris Johnson faces Keir Starmer at PMQs

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford has accused the Tories of “partying through the cost of living emergency” by attending a “champagne bash” on Tuesday night, days before an energy price hike hits millions of families.

The bereaved families of Covid victims chanted “shame on you” as Conservative MPs entered the party at the Park Plaza hotel, which came as the Metropolitan Police confirmed an initial 20 Partygate fines, prompting renewed calls for Boris Johnson to resign.

Dominic Raab insisted on Wednesday morning that Mr Johnson acted in “good faith” and did not intentionally mislead parliament when he told MPs no rules had been broken, but suggested he may have said things that “turned out not to be true”.

The PM has not yet been informed whether he will receive a fine, his official spokesperson said, but added that they are “committed” to ensuring the public is informed if he does.

Shortly after facing off with Sir Keir Starmer at PMQs on Wednesday, Mr Johnson will face a further grilling from senior MPs on the Commons liaison committee.

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Raab seeks to keep Baby P’s mother in jail

The Justice Secretary says he will apply to the parole board asking it to reconsider plans to free the mother of Baby P, who died after months of abuse.

Dominic Raab told the Commons: “In the light of the Parole Board’s direction to release Tracey Connelly, I should inform the House that having carefully read the decision, I have decided to apply to the Parole Board to seek their reconsideration.”

Mr Raab made the announcement as he told MPs about a “root and branch” review of the parole system.

Jane Dalton30 March 2022 14:03

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Partygate split as No 10 rejects Raab’s admission laws were broken

Breaking news: In a clash between Boris Johnson and his deputy Dominic Raab, Downing Street has refused to endorse the justice secretary’s admission that laws were broken in the Partygate scandal. Andrew Woodcock reports:

Jane Dalton30 March 2022 13:55

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Tories prioritising re-election tax cut over help for families, says Starmer

Boris Johnson and chancellor Rishi Sunak have an “utterly cynical” plan to delay tax cuts until closer to the 2024 general election campaign, the Labour leader has claimed.

Sir Keir Starmer said they had imposed the highest tax burden for 70 years, writes Adam Forrest:

Jane Dalton30 March 2022 13:52

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Minister backs Margaret Thatcher Day

A minister has given her support to creating a “Margaret Thatcher Day” in the UK.

Kemi Badenoch added any final decision on such an accolade for the country’s first female prime minister would be for Boris Johnson.

The Falkland Islands celebrates Margaret Thatcher Day every January 10, the anniversary of her first visit in 1983.

A street in the capital, Stanley, is also named Thatcher Drive after her and there is a bust statue of her with the inscription: “They are few in number, but they have the right to live in peace, to choose their own way of life and allegiance.”

Jane Dalton30 March 2022 13:46

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Ian Blackford lambasts ‘dangerously out of touch’ Boris Johnson on cost of living crisis

Here is more from Ian Blackford on the cost of living crisis at PMQs, where he branded Boris Johnson “dangerously out of touch”.

The SNP Westminster leader said: “Foodbanks are warning that people are having to choose their food based on whether they can afford the gas to boil it. Families are having to choose what rooms to heat, or whether they can turn on the heating at all.”

“Some in the Tory Cabinet clearly believe that the better weather means that they can happily sit on their hands and do nothing until next winter. They obviously don’t get or don’t care that in many parts of Scotland the weather will barely reach above freezing over the next week.

“The Chancellor thinks his £200 loan which is forcing people into energy debt is somehow a solution, but it clearly isn’t. So before the prime minister and his chancellor go off on their Easter holidays will they at very least turn this loan into a grant and finally put some cash into people’s pockets when they need it right now?”

Mr Johnson replied that “we are doing everything that we can” and pointed to “the £9.1bn, the cold weather payments”, adding: “We are making huge investments in supporting people right now, another billion by the way through the household support fund to help vulnerable families.”

Boris Johnson mocks SNP leader Ian Blackford’s physical appearance

Andy Gregory30 March 2022 13:30

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‘Paperwork has been put ahead of people’ in Ukrainian refugee effort, says Ed Davey

Lib Dem leader Sir Ed Davey has warned that the government’s figures show “paperwork has been put ahead of people” during the effort to offer Ukrainians refuge.

“When wealthy businessmen from over 50 countries can come to the UK visa-free, why does the prime minister insist that a traumatised Ukrainian mother and child must first fill out a visa form?” he asked.

Boris Johnson replied that the number of people who have come forward to offer their homes is “incredible”, adding: “I really don’t think that he should deprecate what the UK is offering.”

The prime minister said that the UK has already given 25,000 people visas, adding that the government is processing 1,000 visas per day.

Andy Gregory30 March 2022 13:00

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Ian Blackford accuses Tories of ‘partying through the cost of living emergency’

SNP leader Ian Blackford begins his PMQs questioning by saying that last night, while “millions of families will have been desperately trying to figure out how they can possibly afford the £700 energy price hike which will hit them this Friday … Tory MPs were gathering across the street for a champagne bash in the Park Plaza”.

He adds: “We all know that the Tories party during lockdown and now they’re they’re partying through the cost of living emergency”, and asks what Boris Johnson will “order” Rishi Sunak to do to help those facing the energy price hike.

Not for the first time, the prime minister retorts with an apparent jibe about Mr Blackford’s physical appearance, saying: “He is in error about what he says about events last night, but he is like me a living testament to the benefits of moderation in all things.”

Returning to the cost of living crisis, the SNP politician urges Mr Johnson to turn the government’s energy bills “loan into a grant, and finally put some cash into people’s pockets when they need it right now”.

The prime minister responds that “we are doing everything that we can”.

Andy Gregory30 March 2022 12:37

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Boris Johnson dodges question on his resignation over Partygate

Moving on to Partygate, Sir Keir Starmer asks Boris Johnson “why is he still here”, given the ministerial code’s rules on resignations in the event of misleading the Commons.

The prime minister retorts that the Labour leader has “just changed his position”, saying: “We do at least expect some consistency from this human weathervane. It was only a week or so ago you were saying that I shouldn’t resign.”

Johnson calls Starmer ‘human weathervane’ as PM deflects question over partygate scandal

Sir Keir responds: “There are only two possible explanations. Either he is trashing the ministerial code, or he’s claiming he was repeatedly lied to by his own advisers and that he didn’t know what was going on in his own house and his own office.

“Come off it. He really does think that it’s one rule for him and another rule for everyone else. That he can pass off criminality in his office and ask others to follow the law. That he can keep raising taxes and call himself a tax-cutter. That he can hike tax during a cost of living crisis, and get credit for giving a bit back just before an election. When is he going to stop taking the British public for fools?”

The prime minister responds by saying Sir Keir has “zero consistency on any issue”, claiming: “One thing we know about is he would like to take us back into the EU and take us back into lockdown.”

Andy Gregory30 March 2022 12:27

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Starmer accuses Johnson of ‘shielding oil and gas profits’ rather than working people

Calling for a windfall tax on oil and gas firm profits, Sir Keir Starmer accuses Boris Johnson of “being more interested in shielding oil and gas profits than supporting working people”.

Mr Johnson responds that it is “a classic example of what Labour has got wrong in their period in office”, adding that oil and gas firms “are now investing £20bn” in ensuring that we have long-term energy supplies.

Andy Gregory30 March 2022 12:19

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Keir Starmer denounces Rishi Sunak as ‘utterly cynical’

Sir Keir Starmer continues to press Boris Johnson on taxes, attacking Rishi Sunak’s decision to introduce “a small tax cut” ahead of the next general election.

“That’s not taking difficult decisions, it’s putting the Tory re-election campaign over and above helping people pay their bills,” he says, adding: “How did he find a chancellor as utterly cynical as he is?”

Mr Johnson praises Rishi Sunak as “a chancellor who took the tough decisions to look after the UK economy throughout the pandemic, who protected people up and down the land with £408bn-worth of support”.

The PM adds that, if it were up to the Labour leader, England “would not have come out of lockdown in July last year” and would “have stayed in lockdown over Christmas and New Year”, claiming that as a result “the UK economy would not be growing in the way that it is”.

Andy Gregory30 March 2022 12:16

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