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.

1655899786

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

1655899635

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

1655898874

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

1655898695

‘It makes no sense’ to import coal when UK has its own resources, Boris Johnson says

Boris Johnson has said it “makes no sense” to be importing coal “when we have our own domestic resources.”

In the Commons, Tory MP Chris Green said that “for much of Britain levelling up means the revitalisation of British industry and the jobs that goes with it”, adding that “many countries around the world such as Germany and China get a competitive advantage by burning lignite, the dirtiest form of fossil fuel.”

He asked the prime minister whether he was concerned “about the ethics of holding back British industry and exporting and magnifying our carbon emissions overseas all in the name of net zero?”

Boris Johnson responded that he thought “we can all be proud of the way we have reduced CO2 emissions in this country”, adding: “But plainly it makes no sense to be importing coal, particularly for metallurgical purposes, when we have our own domestic resources.”

Andy Gregory22 June 2022 12:51

1655898498

Boris Johnson tells Labor MP to ‘get off the picket line’

Boris Johnson has told a Labor MP to get “off the picket line” if “she wants to support the working people of this country”.

Kate Osborne told the Commons that “tens of thousands of people were marching through London last weekend protesting against this out-of-touch government”, adding: “Rail workers are on strike, Royal Mail workers, NHS workers, teachers and even barristers are on the verge of taking industrial actions. All workers are struggling to cope with the worst cost-of-living crisis in history.

“Ministers are planning to boost city bosses pay whilst demanding wage restraint for everyone else. So can the prime minister tell me, when is he going to stop meaningless soundbites and instead start supporting working people across our country?”

Mr Johnson retorted: “If she wants to support the working people of this country, I can suggest she gets off the picket line … and has a word with her leader, and supports the traveling public of this country who want to see a reduction in their costs of transport, which this government is delivering.”

Andy Gregory22 June 2022 12:48

1655897708

SNP leader asks if UK government can ‘bear any blame’ for 40-year-high inflation

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford asked the prime minister if his government “bears any blame” for the fact that the United Kingdom is doing “much worse than our European neighbors”.

Mr Blackford told the Commons UK inflation is now at a “40-year high”, adding: “After 12 years in Government, the Tories have left the UK economy in the doldrums and pushed millions of people into poverty.

“So, can I ask the prime minister, does he think his government bears any blame for the fact that the United Kingdom is doing so much worse than our European neighbors?”

Boris Johnson replied: “Actually, I think the whole House knows, and the whole country knows we have got a global inflationary problem, but this government has the fiscal firepower to deal with it.

“And that is, I think, a benefit to the whole of the United Kingdom, including Scotland as we’ve seen throughout the pandemic, and I think it’s a matter of the fact that taxes are actually highest of all in Scotland.”

Maryam Zakir-Hussain22 June 2022 12:35

1655897556

Schools should have ‘contingencies in place to manage’ exams during strikes

Regarding students undertaking their GSCE and A Level exams during the strike action this week, the prime minister said: “No exam has been canceled as result of the stikes so far. We expect school and colleges to have contingencies in place to manage.”

Boris Johnson added that school boards should determine what to do if a student arrives late for the exam, and if an exam is completely missed due to the strikes then the grade should be calculated through other assessments.

Maryam Zakir-Hussain22 June 2022 12:32

1655897310

Train strikes: Starmer vs Johnson

Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer said: “The prime minister of this country and his transport secretary haven’t attended a single meeting, held a conversation or lifted a finger to stop these strikes.

“But I did note that on Monday they did find time to go to a lavish ball where the Prime Minister sold a meeting with himself for £120,000… If there’s money coming his way, he’s there.

“So rather than blame everyone else why doesn’t he do his job, get round the table and get the trains running?”

Boris Johnson replied: “We are making sure that we do everything we can prevent these strikes. He knows it is up to the railway companies to negotiate, that is their job. We’ve spent £16 billion looking after the railways throughout the pandemic, that’s cost every household £600.

He added: “We know why he won’t condemn the strikes, we know why even now he hasn’t got the gumption to call out his MPs for going out to support the pickets. The reason his authority is on the line in this matter is that they take £10 million… that’s the fee the learned gentleman opposite is receiving for the case he is failing to make.”

Maryam Zakir-Hussain22 June 2022 12:28

1655897113

Afghan refugees scheme backlog an ‘incredible betrayal’

Green MP Caroline Lucas has called the 23,000 backlog on Afghan refugees scheme, where only 2 applications out of 3000 who worked for UK have been processed, an “incredible betrayal”.

The prime minister responded that Ms Lucas has “underestimated” how much the UK has done for Afghanistan.

Maryam Zakir-Hussain22 June 2022 12:25

1655896766

Starmer pays tributes to candidates standing in by-elections

Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer paid tribute to candidates standing in by-elections this week.

He said: “In particular, the plucky Conservative candidate for Wakefield, he is standing even though his own colleagues think he is so useless they held a vote of no confidence in him.”

As Tory MPs looked on puzzled, Sir Keir added: “Does the Prime Minister hold any personal interest in seeing if the public will vote for a Tory that even his own side don’t think is up to it?”

Mr Johnson replied: “I have absolutely no doubt that the people of this country and the people of Wakefield, and the people of Tiverton and Honiton would much rather vote for a solid Conservative Government than for a Labor Party, their enablers and acolytes in the Liberal Democrats, the karma chameleons of British politics.”

The Prime Minister added that Sir Keir “hasn’t even got the gumption to speak out against the rail strikes”.

Maryam Zakir-Hussain22 June 2022 12:19