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Partygate: more Tory MPs call on Boris Johnson to resign after Sue Gray report – UK politics live | Politics


David Simmonds becomes 3rd Tory MP joining those publicly calling for PM’s resignation since Gray report out

The Conservative MP David Simmonds has said that, following the publication of the Sue Gray report yesterday, he has come to the view that Johnson should resign. Mollie Malone from Sky News has his statement.

And another. David Simmonds MP “It is time for him to step down so that new leadership can take forward the important work of the government.” https://t.co/byGFr4kwWC pic.twitter.com/6ie6zwrfNN

— Mollie Malone (@Mollie_Malone1) May 26, 2022

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Simmmonds has been highly critical of Johnson over Partygate before – on Tuesday he said it would be “very difficult” for Johnson to persuade MPs he did not lie to them about the parties – but this is the first time Simmonds has publicly called for Johnson to quit.

That means there are now three Tory MPs who have, for the first time, joined those saying Johnson should go follow the publication of yesterday’s report. The others are John Baron, who spoke out this morning (see 9.50am), and Julian Sturdy, who issued a statement yesterday.

In her overnight story on Tory reaction to the Gray report, my colleague Jessica Elgot says at least three more Tory MPs are thought to have submitted letters to Sir Graham Brady, the chair of the Tory 1922 Committee, asking for a vote of no confidence, over the last 24 hours. It is not clear yet whether those three are Sturdy, Baron and Simmonds, or other MPs.

Yesterday morning there were only 15 Tory MPs on the record as saying Johnson should go. (See the tweet below from Tom Larkin from Sky News.) But it is thought that more than 40 MPs have privately submitted letters to Brady demanding a no confidence vote. Once 54 letters are in (15% of the parliamentary party), a ballot will take place.

While we wait… The number that No10 will be watching nervously for the rest of the day.

Pre Gray Report update on the No Confidence spreadsheet: 23 Tory MPs have publicly questioned the PM's leadership – 15 have so far called for him to go. pic.twitter.com/ePoaWjf1Mr

— Tom Larkin (@TomLarkinSky) May 25, 2022

n”,”url”:”https://twitter.com/TomLarkinSky/status/1529408421560303616″,”id”:”1529408421560303616″,”hasMedia”:false,”role”:”inline”,”isThirdPartyTracking”:false,”source”:”Twitter”,”elementId”:”feae9fdb-bf0c-43cf-8926-9268c680a13f”}}”>

While we wait… The number that No10 will be watching nervously for the rest of the day.

Pre Gray Report update on the No Confidence spreadsheet: 23 Tory MPs have publicly questioned the PM’s leadership – 15 have so far called for him to go. pic.twitter.com/ePoaWjf1Mr

— Tom Larkin (@TomLarkinSky) May 25, 2022

We will find out what Rishi Sunak is going to announce in about an hour or so. If you are interested in what thinktanks think he should announce, here are contributions from three of them.

In a briefing paper published yesterday, the Resolution Foundation says “one-off payments (delivered through existing mechanisms such as the winter fuel payment or Christmas bonus systems) to all households on benefits (including all pensioners) are now preferable and probably easier to deliver than alternatives”.

The New Economics Foundation says Sunak should raise £13bn from a windfall tax set up 13%. Miatta Fahnbulleh, its CEO, explains more in a Twitter thread starting here.

Good news today that after months of dithering, @rishisunak is finally acting to help people with spiralling bills. A #windfalltax on excess oil and gas profits is the right call.

But he needs to do enough to offset the massive hit to people’s pockets.

1/4

— Miatta Fahnbulleh (@Miatsf) May 26, 2022

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Good news today that after months of dithering, @rishisunak is finally acting to help people with spiralling bills. A #windfalltax on excess oil and gas profits is the right call.

But he needs to do enough to offset the massive hit to people’s pockets.

1/4

— Miatta Fahnbulleh (@Miatsf) May 26, 2022

And the Institute for Government says, in a briefing paper published yesterday, that the government “should be wary of introducing broad based tax cuts, for example to VAT, or spending giveaways, since these would be expensive and not targeted enough to boost the household finances of those most in need”.

And these are from Steven Swinford, political editor of the Times, on the Rishi Sunak package coming later.

Exclusive:

Rishi Sunak to announce lump-sum payments worth up to £600 for 8.4million households on means-tested benefits

It's on top of new £400 discounts on energy bills for every household

Sunak's package today thought to be in excess of £30billionhttps://t.co/j4H4x3PBJb

— Steven Swinford (@Steven_Swinford) May 26, 2022

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Exclusive:

Rishi Sunak to announce lump-sum payments worth up to £600 for 8.4million households on means-tested benefits

It’s on top of new £400 discounts on energy bills for every household

Sunak’s package today thought to be in excess of £30billionhttps://t.co/j4H4x3PBJb

— Steven Swinford (@Steven_Swinford) May 26, 2022

Govt sources are playing down idea that overall package is worth £30billion but I’m told it’s a very big intervention overall

Sunak and Johnson want to avoid accusation that they’re not doing enough this time

— Steven Swinford (@Steven_Swinford) May 26, 2022

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Govt sources are playing down idea that overall package is worth £30billion but I’m told it’s a very big intervention overall

Sunak and Johnson want to avoid accusation that they’re not doing enough this time

— Steven Swinford (@Steven_Swinford) May 26, 2022

Speaking on Times Radio this morning Paul Johnson, director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, repeated the point he made on the Today programme about the need for the cost of living support package to be targeted at those most in need. (See 9.25am.) He also said Rishi Sunak should ensure that his measures were not inflationary. He said:

There’s a very strong case for giveaways to help those who are struggling most. But if you’re going to do that, because of the dangers associated with inflation, there’s a case for tax rises elsewhere so that there isn’t significant additional money swirling around in the economy.

Now we do have some tax rises coming in this year, so the chancellor is already taking some money out of the economy. But I think he does need to think quite hard about that balance and the risks associated with inflation. What you generally don’t want to do in the face of lots of inflation is chuck lots more money at the economy.

In the Commons the Conservative MP John Baron has been speaking on the urgent question he tabled on the evacuation of Afghanistan. He criticised the Foreign Office for imposing “red tape and bureaucracy” on those trying to help Afghans trying to flee the country come to the UK. He did mention Boris Johnson personally – but only to say that he appreciated what Johnson said to him on this subject at PMQs yesterday. He did not mention, or even allude to indirectly, his earlier statement today saying he could no longer support Johnson because of Partygate. (See 9.50am.)

John Baron speaking in the Commons this morning. Photograph: HoC

In interviews this morning Lisa Nandy, the shadow levelling up secretary, said she hoped the government would announce measures that would provide real help to people needing help with the cost of living. She told BBC Breakfast:

We’ve proposed knocking £200 off people’s energy bills, but targeted help for those who most need it. The plan that we put forward months ago would knock up to £600 off energy bills for those who most need it.

Everybody is struggling at the moment, but some people are really, really unable to keep their heads above water, so the chancellor could bring forward those measures today.

He could also do other things that we’ve been calling for, like bringing forward benefits uprating, not waiting till the autumn to catch up with soaring inflation rates and get help to people now.

Barclay claims timing of Sunak announcement decided by Ofgem price cap news, not to bury Sue Gray report

Lisa Nandy, the shadow levelling up secretary, told Sky News this morning that she thought the government was using the cost of living support package announcement today to distract attention from the Sue Gray report. She told the programme:

Several times over the last few months the prime minister has taken action when he’s been in real trouble in order to distract from the troubles in government.

But Stephen Barclay, the Cabinet Office minister who serves as chief of staff at No 10, told the same programme that the Rishi Sunak package was coming today because of an announcement earlier this week from Ofgem, not the one from Sue Gray. He explained:

In terms of the timing, firstly we don’t control the timing of the Sue Gray report. The timing of that is shaped by the Met police investigation.

What we’ve always said is, in terms of the fiscal response, we wanted to see from the Ofgem guidance what the full impact would be in the autumn on families so that we can get the design of that package right.

We’ve had that guidance this week from Ofgem. That is why the chancellor is coming forward today. It’s also in terms of parliament and the parliamentary timetable.

David Simmonds becomes 3rd Tory MP joining those publicly calling for PM’s resignation since Gray report out

The Conservative MP David Simmonds has said that, following the publication of the Sue Gray report yesterday, he has come to the view that Johnson should resign. Mollie Malone from Sky News has his statement.

And another. David Simmonds MP “It is time for him to step down so that new leadership can take forward the important work of the government.” https://t.co/byGFr4kwWC pic.twitter.com/6ie6zwrfNN

— Mollie Malone (@Mollie_Malone1) May 26, 2022

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Simmmonds has been highly critical of Johnson over Partygate before – on Tuesday he said it would be “very difficult” for Johnson to persuade MPs he did not lie to them about the parties – but this is the first time Simmonds has publicly called for Johnson to quit.

That means there are now three Tory MPs who have, for the first time, joined those saying Johnson should go follow the publication of yesterday’s report. The others are John Baron, who spoke out this morning (see 9.50am), and Julian Sturdy, who issued a statement yesterday.

In her overnight story on Tory reaction to the Gray report, my colleague Jessica Elgot says at least three more Tory MPs are thought to have submitted letters to Sir Graham Brady, the chair of the Tory 1922 Committee, asking for a vote of no confidence, over the last 24 hours. It is not clear yet whether those three are Sturdy, Baron and Simmonds, or other MPs.

Yesterday morning there were only 15 Tory MPs on the record as saying Johnson should go. (See the tweet below from Tom Larkin from Sky News.) But it is thought that more than 40 MPs have privately submitted letters to Brady demanding a no confidence vote. Once 54 letters are in (15% of the parliamentary party), a ballot will take place.

While we wait… The number that No10 will be watching nervously for the rest of the day.

Pre Gray Report update on the No Confidence spreadsheet: 23 Tory MPs have publicly questioned the PM's leadership – 15 have so far called for him to go. pic.twitter.com/ePoaWjf1Mr

— Tom Larkin (@TomLarkinSky) May 25, 2022

n”,”url”:”https://twitter.com/TomLarkinSky/status/1529408421560303616″,”id”:”1529408421560303616″,”hasMedia”:false,”role”:”inline”,”isThirdPartyTracking”:false,”source”:”Twitter”,”elementId”:”0f6c571b-0f2d-4915-b50f-75172fead93a”}}”>

While we wait… The number that No10 will be watching nervously for the rest of the day.

Pre Gray Report update on the No Confidence spreadsheet: 23 Tory MPs have publicly questioned the PM’s leadership – 15 have so far called for him to go. pic.twitter.com/ePoaWjf1Mr

— Tom Larkin (@TomLarkinSky) May 25, 2022

This is from Ben Riley-Smith from the Daily Telegraph on the Rishi Sunak announcement coming later.

Two policy wins for Labour today – Sunak to announce a windfall tax and scrap the ‘loan’ element of his energy bills discount.

Notable as it’s rare the Opposition forces policy changes on the Government, especially on Treasury stuff.

— Ben Riley-Smith (@benrileysmith) May 26, 2022

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Two policy wins for Labour today – Sunak to announce a windfall tax and scrap the ‘loan’ element of his energy bills discount.

Notable as it’s rare the Opposition forces policy changes on the Government, especially on Treasury stuff.

— Ben Riley-Smith (@benrileysmith) May 26, 2022

Tory MP John Baron says he can no longer support Johnson because he thinks he knowingly misled parliament

The Conservative MP John Baron says that, in the light of what was in the Sue Gray report yesterday, he can no longer continue to support Boris Johnson.

Here is an extract from his statement:

For me the most serious charge against the prime minister is that of knowingly misleading parliament. Given the scale of rule breaking in No 10, I can not accept that the Prime Minister was unaware. Therefore, his repeated assurances in parliament that there was no rule-breaking is simply not credible …

A bedrock principle of our constitution is that we can trust the responses receive in parliament to be truthful and accurate. Parliament is the beating heart of our nation. To knowingly mislead it can not be tolerated, no matter the issue. Whether or not the Prime Minister is an asset to the party or the country of less importance.

Having always said I would consider all the available evidence before deciding, I’m afraid the prime minister no longer enjoys my support – I can no longer give him the benefit of the doubt.

Henry Zeffman from the Times has the statement in full.

NEW: Conservative MP John Baron says the PM should go pic.twitter.com/tslc1Tg8bq

— Henry Zeffman (@hzeffman) May 26, 2022

n”,”url”:”https://twitter.com/hzeffman/status/1529743969856397313″,”id”:”1529743969856397313″,”hasMedia”:false,”role”:”inline”,”isThirdPartyTracking”:false,”source”:”Twitter”,”elementId”:”cbff0453-366e-4681-a0a6-ccb45680ff2b”}}”/>

We will be hearing more from Baron later because he tabled the urgent question on Afghanistan scheduled for 10.30am. (See 9.40am.)

There will be an urgent question in the Commons at 10.30am on the evacuations from Afghanistan (the subject of a particularly damning report by the foreign affairs committee this week). That means the business statement won’t start until after 11pm, and the Rishi Sunak statement will probably not start until after 12pm.

Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, will not be taking first minister’s questions today, she says, because she is still ill with Covid.

Today @johnswinney will stand in for me at #FMQs. I’m starting to feel a bit better, but still not very well – Covid managed to really floor me unfortunately.
I’ll hopefully be back fully fit after taking rest of week at home to recover. Thanks again for all the good wishes.

— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) May 26, 2022

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Today @johnswinney will stand in for me at #FMQs. I’m starting to feel a bit better, but still not very well – Covid managed to really floor me unfortunately.
I’ll hopefully be back fully fit after taking rest of week at home to recover. Thanks again for all the good wishes.

— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) May 26, 2022

IFS warns Sunak’s plans may not target help sufficiently at families most in need

Good morning. Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, will later this morning announce a colossal cost of living support package, primarily intended to help people cope with soaring energy bills. He is not calling it the “emergency budget” that Labour has been demanding, but the size of the giveaway – at least £10bn, according to overnight briefing – makes it more significant than many of the budget we’ve had over the last decade or so. But this is the third fiscal event on this scale already this year – after the £9bn energy support package announced in February, and the spring statement, which included further giveaways worth around £10bn – and we have not even had the 2022 budget. Spending interventions on this scale have become the new norm.

Sunak has been promising further support measures for a week, but no one at Westminster believes that its timing, less than 24 hours after Boris Johnson made his statement to MPs about the Sue Gray report, is a coincidence. Banging on about “dead cats” is one of the most hackneyed, and often erroneous, features of modern political commentary, but today it is fully justified.

As we explain in our overnight story, Sunak is going to announce a major U-turn, because he will announce a windfall tax having spent months rejecting what has been Labour’s flagship economic proposal. But his announcement today may indicate a change of approach in another respect. In his speech in the Queen’s speech debate, and in other recent inteventions, Sunak has implied that he wants to focus help on the most vulnerable. Some of the measures announced today will be targeted at the poorest households, but the overnight briefing suggests there will also be a strong universal element too it as well, with every household getting extra support. In an interview on the Today programme this morning Paul Johnson, director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, the public spending thinktank, questioned whether this was the right approach. He said:

For the poorest households it’s certainly very much needed. It’s extraordinarily hard to cope with that kind of increase in your energy bills and general inflation, not least because benefits have only risen by 3% this year.

Whether it’s needed for all households, I think, is more of a difficult point. £100 off for each household in the country costs, each £100, costs something like £3bn and a lot of that money, frankly, will go to households who don’t desperately need it. I’m sure they’ll appreciate it, but won’t necessarily need it.

Here is the agenda for the day.

9.15am: James Cleverly, the Europe minister, gives evidence to a Lords committee on the Northern Ireland protocol.

Around 11.30am: Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, makes a statement to MPs about a multi-billion cost of living support package, partly funded by a windfall tax.

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

12.30pm: Downing Street holds a lobby briefing.

12.30pm: Angela Rayner, Labour’s deputy leader, appears on ITV’s Loose Women.

After 12.30pm: Boris Johnson leads tributes to the Queen in a debate marking her Platinum Jubilee.

Afternoon: Sunak does a Q&A with people on a visit, as well as a social media Q&A with the moneysaving expert Martin Lewis.

2pm: Sir Stephen House, the acting commissioner of the Metropolitan police, gives evidence about the Partygate investigation to the London assembly’s police and crime committee.

I try to monitor the comments below the line (BTL) but it is impossible to read them all. If you have a direct question, do include “Andrew” in it somewhere and I’m more likely to find it. I do try to answer questions, and if they are of general interest, I will post the question and reply above the line (ATL), although I can’t promise to do this for everyone.

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