Boris Johnson latest: PM fails to deny offering Carrie Symonds top Foreign Office job during affair

Boris Johnson fails to deny he offered Carrie Symonds top job

The prime minister has failed to deny he offered his lover Carrie Symonds a top job while foreign secretary, when challenged in the Commons.

Boris Johnson ducked the question – which follows an allegation that he was stopped from making his future wife his chief of staff.

As well as the trade union pay dispute, on the agenda is the Wakefield, Honiton and Tiverton by-elections.

The session comes as a damning new study claim that Brexit will damage Britain’s competitiveness, hit productivity and dampen workers’ wages for the rest of the decade.

The Resolution Foundation think tank’s report, in collaboration with the London School of Economics, said quitting the EU would make Britain “poorer” during the 2020s.

Meanwhile, the UK inflation hits a fresh 40-year high this morning, climbing 9.1 per cent in the 12 months to May.

Elsewhere, the government has today proposed a new Bill of Rights which will allow it to ignore interim rulings from a European court and could make it easier to deport foreign offenders.

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Who is RMT leader Mick Lynch?

Away from the Commons for a moment, my colleague Joe Somerlad has this piece on the RMT union’s general-secretary Mick Lynch, whose uncompromising interviewing style has seen him go viral multiple times since the rail strikes began this week:

Who is RMT leader Mick Lynch?

Union’s general-secretary goes viral for uncompromising interview style as industrial stations action leaves nation’s train deserted and commuters stranded

Andy Gregory22 June 2022 13:45

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Raab insists ‘absolutely nothing’ in Bill of Rights will weaken protection of victims

Dominic Raab told the shadow justice minister he disagrees with “everything she said” and that there is “absolutely nothing” in the Bill of Rights that will weaken the protection of victims.

Responding to Ellie Reeves’ claim of governmental “hypocrisy” in relation to its condemnation of Vladimir Putin (see post below), the justice secretary told MPs: “I have to say, the comparison with what Russia or Putin does, I’m afraid , shows a lack of moral compass on the side of those benches and not these.

“And then she diverted into a monologue on a very serious subject, which is in relation to rape.

“Let us be absolutely crystal clear. There is absolutely nothing in this Bill of Rights that will do anything to weaken the protections of victims. Far from it, in relation to deportation of foreign national criminals, in relation to the release of dangerous rapists, in relation to what we do inside our prisons, this will strengthen our protection of victims and public protection.

“Again, for the record, on such a serious issue on which I agree with her importance, she might get her facts straight. The volume of rape convictions has increased by two thirds in the last year alone.”

Andy Gregory22 June 2022 13:34

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Government accused of ‘stunning hypocrisy’ over new Bill of Rights

Labor’s shadow justice minister has accused the government of “stunning hypocrisy” over its new Bill of Rights, which will allow government to ignore interim rulings from Strasbourg.

Ellie Reeves said the Human Rights Act is “held up around the world as an exemplar of modern human rights legislation, which is why the European Court very rarely overrules our judges, something that the review panel recognised in their report”, adding: “It is a beacon of hope to people in countries whose basic human rights are trampled over by strong men and dictators.

“And there is no better example right now than in Ukraine, where the rights of millions are being crushed under the jackboots of Vladimir Putin. What stunning hypocrisy from this government to preach to others about the importance of defending rights abroad while snatching British people’s rights away at home.”

Andy Gregory22 June 2022 13:31

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Bill of Rights is ‘an attack on women’, shadow justice minister says

The government’s new Bill of Rights is not just an attack on of crime, but is an attack on women, shadow justice minister Ellie Reeves has said.

“This Bill of Rights con isn’t just an attack on victims of crime who the state has failed to protect. It’s an attack on women. Women have used the Human Rights Act to challenge the police when they have either failed or refused to investigate rape and sexual assault cases,” Ms Reeves told MPs.

She added: “It should come as no surprise that this Bill has been put forward by a Conservative government that has effectively decriminalized rape. Last week’s scorecards showed pitiful progress on the record low rape convictions under this overnment.”

Andy Gregory22 June 2022 13:28

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Today a ‘very dark day for victims of crime, women and people in care’, Labor frontbencher warns

Today is a “very dark day for victims of crime, for women, for people in care” and “for everyone in this country who rely on the state to protect them from harm”, Labor’s shadow justice minister Ellie Reeves has warned.

Ms Reeves asked the government why it was proceeding with its Bill of Rights when Sir Peter Gross and the panel tasked with reviewing the Human Rights Act “don’t think the Human Rights Acts rule or that the UK courts are ruled by the European Court.

She continued: “It’s because this is a government that looks to pick a fight to cover up its own failures and then find someone else to blame.

“We have seen a succession of Conservative members do this in the form of blaming the European Court to deflect from their bungled and unworkable asylum policy. Some, shamefully, have even demanded that the UK withdraws altogether from the European Convention of Human Rights.

“For members of the party of Churchill, who inspired the European Convention of Human Rights to want to do away with it altogether, is really quite something. I gather that he doesn’t want to withdraw from the European Convention, not least because he knows it would fatally bad the Good Friday Agreement and peace in Northern Ireland.

“So, will he now condemn members of his own party who have made this dangerous and backless demands?”

Andy Gregory22 June 2022 13:25

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Watch: The full PMQs exchange between Ian Blackford and Boris Johnson

In case you missed it, here is the full PMQs exchange between Boris Johnson and the SNP’s Ian Blackford, in which the latter said “the Tory government’s disastrous Brexit is wage drivings down, pushing inflation up, and will make us poorer over the next decade “.

He accused the prime minister of “recklessly threatening a trade war at the worst possible time”, urging him to “finally come to his senses and negotiate an economic agreement with the EU” rather than “willfully push the UK into recession”.

Mr Johnson responded that “nobody wants a trade war, nor there is any need for one”.

The full exchange: Blackford attacks Johnson over high inflation

Andy Gregory22 June 2022 13:20

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Raab says human rights law will be ‘subject to oversight’ by MPs

Dominic Raab has told MPs that the government “will ensure in our Bill of Rights that any expansion of human rights law as opposed to its interpretation, is subject to proper democratic oversight” by UK MPs.

“That will reinforce our ability to for example deport more foreign national offenders and in particular those claiming ever more elastic interpretations of Article 8 and the right to family life to frustrate the deportation process,” the justice secretary said.

Andy Gregory22 June 2022 13:16

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Boris Johnson says UK should start mining and burning coal again

Our policy correspondent John Stone has more on Boris Johnson’s comments at PMQs in which he said that it “makes no sense” for Britain to be importing coal from abroad for use in steelmaking “when we have our own domestic resources”:

Andy Gregory22 June 2022 13:09

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UK courts will be ‘free to diverge from Strasbourg case law’, Raab says

Introducing the governemnt’s new Bill of Rights, Dominic Raab says that “we have a proud tradition of freedom under the rule of law in this country and I would remind honorable members on all sides that it dates back centuries to Magna Carta, not just 1998” .

He touted the Bill of Rights as “the next chapter in the evolution and the strengthening of our human rights framework”.

The UK “intends to remain a state party on the European Convention of Human Rights, Mr Raab told MPs, adding: “It is a commonsense set of principles and the problems which we have encountered have stemmed from the elastic interpretations and the expansion absent significant Democratic oversight, in particular as a result of the procedural framework set out in the Human Rights Act”, he said.

“And so our key objectives with reform are to reinforce those quintessentially UK-wide rights like freedom of speech – the liberty that guards all of the others – and we will also recognise the role of jury-trial, mindful of how it operates in different parts of the United Kingdom, and something which is not prevalent on the continent, but is very much part of the heritage and the pedigree of this country.”

“These liberties are part of our proud history. But they are also critical in strengthening our place in the world as an open, vibrant and rambunctious democracy.”

The government will also “strengthen the separation of powers in this country, affirming the supremacy of the Supreme Court, being explicit that the UK courts are under no obligations to follow the Strasbourg case law and indeed are free to diverge from it”, Mr Raab said.

Speaking over angry noise from the opposite benches, he added: “What else is the point of a Supreme Court if it bows in subordination to a European one?”

Andy Gregory22 June 2022 13:07

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Watch: The full exchange between Sir Keir Starmer and Boris Johnson

Dominic Raab is now up to talk about the new Bill of Rights which will allow government to ignore interim rulings from a European court and could make it easier to deport foreign offenders.

For those just joining us on the blog, you can watch the full PMQs exchange between Boris Johnson and Sir Keir Starmer here:

The full exchange: Keir Starmer grills Boris Johnson over rail strike

Andy Gregory22 June 2022 12:54