Boris Johnson Battles For Political Survival As Two More Ministers Resign

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks as he chairs a Cabinet meeting at 10 Downing Street, in London, on June 7, 2022. AFP

 

Two more ministers resigned from the UK government on Wednesday, piling further pressure on Prime Minister Boris Johnson following the departure of his health and finance ministers.

Will Quince, minister for children and families, said he had “no choice but to tender my resignation” while junior transport minister Laura Trott said she was quitting over a loss of “trust” in the government.

Details shortly…

If Putin Was A Woman, There Would Be No Ukraine War – Boris Johnson

A view of the city of Mariupol on June 2, 2022, amid the ongoing Russian military action in Ukraine.
STRINGER / AFP

 

 

Russian President Vladimir Putin would not have started the war in Ukraine if he was a woman, according to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. 

“If Putin was a woman, which he obviously isn’t, but if he were, I really don’t think he would’ve embarked on a crazy, macho war of invasion and violence in the way that he has,” Johnson told German broadcaster ZDF on Tuesday evening.

Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is “a perfect example of toxic masculinity”, he said, calling for better education for girls around the world and for “more women in positions of power”.

The British Prime Minister acknowledged that “of course people want the war to end”, but for the moment “there’s no deal available. Putin isn’t making an offer of peace”.

Western allies must support Ukraine to enable it to be in the best possible strategic position in the event that peace negotiations with Moscow do become possible, he added.

Johnson Showed ‘Lots Of Enthusiasm’ On Wider European Community Idea – Macron Office

A file photo: French President Emmanuel Macron (Photo by GONZALO FUENTES / POOL / AFP)

 

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson showed interest in France’s idea of creating a wider European political community beyond the EU during talks between the two countries’ leaders on Sunday, the French presidency said.

France’s President Emmanuel Macron saw “lots of enthusiasm” from his British counterpart who oversaw his country leaving the EU, when he spoke about the idea, a spokesman said.

The broader community could allow Britain to “reengage” with the bloc, he added.

More to follow…

Buhari Rules Out Bail Option For IPOB Leader Nnamdi Kanu

A photo combination of President Muhammadu Buhari and Mr Nnamdi Kanu.

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has ruled out the bail option for the leader of the proscribed Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) Nnamdi Kanu.

Instead, Buhari insisted that the IPOB leader should “justify all the uncomplimentary things he had been saying against Nigeria in Britain”.

“He felt very safe in Britain and said awful things against Nigeria. We eventually got him when he stepped out of the United Kingdom, and we sent him to court,” Buhari said during a bilateral meeting with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on the margins of the 26th Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Kigali, Rwanda.

“Let him defend all that he has said there. His lawyers have access to him. Remember he jumped bail before, how are we sure he won’t do it again if he’s admitted to bail?”

READ ALSO: [2023] Person Who Tried Seeking Third Term Didn’t End Well, Buhari Tells UK Prime Minister

According to a statement by presidential spokesman, Femi Adesina, Buhari also ruled out seeking a third term in office, claiming the person who attempted it did not end well in what many believe is a subtle reference to former President Olusegun Obasanjo.

“Another term for me? No!” he maintained. “The first person who tried it didn’t end very well.”

Aside from this, Johnson and Buhari also discussed security issues in Nigeria with the Nigerian leader linking the renewed wave of crimes in Nigeria to the crisis in Libya.

Buhari said the keenness of the PM to help Nigeria tackle insecurity is a good step but reiterated that since the fall of Muammar Gadaffi after 42 years in power, armed guards have been unleashed on countries in the Sahel.

These people, he said “are causing havoc everywhere, as the only thing they know how to do is to shoot guns”.

He, however, said the country is making progress in the fight against Boko Haram and other groups.

One of the steps being taken by the Nigerian government, he added, was educating that people that only an unserious person could kill innocent people, “and say Allah Akbar (God is Great). God is justice. You can’t take innocent souls, and ascribe it to God. And the education process is working, the people now understand Boko Haram as anti-God, and not about religion”.

2023: Person Who Tried Seeking Third Term Didn’t End Well, Buhari Tells UK Prime Minister

President Muhammadu Buhari meets British PM, Boris Johnson in Rwanda on June 23, 2022. Credit: State House.

 

President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday reiterated his resolve to respect the maximum term limit in the Nigerian Constitution, saying that the person that tried seeking a third term in office did not end well.

Although Buhari did not specifically mention any former Nigerian leader, it is believed he was referring to ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo who was in office from 1999 to 2007.

In a bilateral meeting with British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, on the margins of the 26th Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Kigali, Rwanda, Buhari was asked if he will seek another term in obvious.

READ ALSO: UK Police Arrest Ike Ekweremadu, Wife For Organ Harvesting

“Another term for me? No! The first person who tried it didn’t end very well,” a statement by presidential spokesman, Femi Adesina, said.

The Commander-in-Chief also reacted to the travails of the leader of the proscribed Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu.

He debunked insinuations that the separatist was being denied to see his lawyers privately, saying Kanu was being given every opportunity under the law “to justify all the uncomplimentary things he had been saying against Nigeria in Britain.”

“He felt very safe in Britain and said awful things against Nigeria. We eventually got him when he stepped out of the United Kingdom, and we sent him to court. Let him defend all that he has said there. His lawyers have access to him. Remember he jumped bail before, how are we sure he won’t do it again if he’s admitted to bail?”

On the keenness expressed by the PM to help Nigeria in the area of security, the President said helping to stabilize Libya could be an initial good step, as the fall of Muammar Gadaffi after 42 years in power unleashed his armed guards on countries in the Sahel, “and they are causing havoc everywhere, as the only thing they know how to do is to shoot guns.”

On Boko Haram insurgency, President Buhari said there was a serious effort to educate the people on the fact that only an unserious person could kill innocent people, “and say Allah Akbar (God is Great). God is justice. You can’t take innocent souls, and ascribe it to God. And the education process is working, the people now understand Boko Haram as anti-God, and not about religion.”

In his remark, PM Johnson said he was delighted about the good news on trade between the two countries, adding that the UK was further reducing tariffs on some goods going to Nigeria.

He described the relationship between the countries as a “very strong attachment,” adding: “I just want to be sure that we are doing enough. It’s a massive partnership for us, and we need to capitalize on it.”

Johnson Faces UK Parliament For First Time Since No-Confidence Vote

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks as he chairs a Cabinet meeting at 10 Downing Street, in London, on June 7, 2022.  AFP

 

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson faces a boisterous parliament Wednesday in his first appearance before lawmakers since narrowly fending off a damaging no-confidence vote from his own Conservative MPs.

His backers are likely to stage a noisy show of support when he steps up for his weekly Prime Minister’s Questions.

Critics, however, have warned the political crisis is not over for the embattled prime minister after more than 40 percent of his own MPs voted against him in Monday’s no-confidence vote.

Johnson, who called the 211-148 vote a “convincing result”, has vowed to plough on, saying it was time to “draw a line” under questions about his leadership and the “Partygate” controversy over lockdown-breaking events at Downing Street.

READ ALSO: UK PM Boris Johnson Wins No-Confidence Vote, Escapes Sack

The prime minister’s team has tried to regain the offensive by pointing to a setpiece speech expected in the coming days on new economic support measures, as Britons struggle with a cost-of-living crisis.

But many questions whether Johnson can recover voters’ trust, as the party braces for two Westminster by-elections this month and an upcoming investigation by MPs into whether he lied to parliament over “Partygate”.

Even without any obvious candidate to succeed him, former Tory party leader William Hague this week argued that Johnson should now “look for an honourable exit”.

Comparing Monday’s margin to votes that ultimately toppled Johnson’s predecessors Margaret Thatcher and Theresa May, Hague said it showed “a greater level of rejection than any Tory leader has ever endured and survived”.

“Deep inside, he should recognise that, and turn his mind to getting out in a way that spares party and country such agonies and uncertainties,” Hague wrote in The Times.

 ‘War of attrition’

The Guardian reported Wednesday that rebel Conservative MPs were drawing up plans for “vote strikes” to paralyse the government’s legislative agenda, as happened at the end of May’s stint in office.

The I newspaper also said the prime minister now faces a “war of attrition”, with the rebels pushing to remove him despite his narrow victory in the no-confidence vote.

Johnson, 57, needed the backing of 180 of the 359 Conservatives MPs to survive the vote.

Most of Johnson’s cabinet publicly backed him in the secret ballot. But more than 40 percent of the parliamentary party did not.

The scale of the revolt “constitutes a crisis for Downing Street”, King’s College London politics professor Anand Menon said.

“I think there’s very little doubt that the vulnerability of the prime minister is going to be the single greatest factor shaping what this government does for the foreseeable future,” Menon told AFP.

Under current Tory rules, the prime minister cannot be challenged again for a year, which leaves little time for any new leader to emerge before the next general election due by 2024.

But the party’s “1922 committee” of MPs, tasked with overseeing leadership challenges, says it could easily change the rules if a majority backs it.

The Liberal Democrats are now pushing for a parliamentary no-confidence vote after Johnson survived the Tory revolt.

“Liberal Democrats are tabling a motion of no confidence in the prime minister so Parliament can finally put an end to this sorry mess,” party leader Ed Davey said.

“Every Conservative MP with a shred of decency must back our motion and give Boris Johnson the sack.”

If the government lost a no-confidence motion in the House of Commons it would have to call a snap general election.

That appears unlikely at present given the Conservative majority, but Johnson could face a challenging period in the months ahead.

Senior backbencher Tobias Ellwood, who voted against Johnson, said the prime minister was living on borrowed time.

“I think we’re talking a matter of months, up to party conference (in October),” he told Sky News.

AFP

Boris Johnson Slips Away Again

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks from 10 Downing Street, in London, on February 24, 2022 during an address to the nation. 
Jeff J Mitchell / POOL / AFP

 

 

All politicians need luck and Boris Johnson — once described as a “greased piglet” for his uncanny powers of political escapology –- has had more than most in his career.

That lucky streak of surviving crisis after crisis continued on Monday after he won a vote of confidence by his own Conservative colleagues, keeping him in power as party leader and UK prime minister.

But with some 40 percent of Tory MPs refusing to back him, his authority has been severely weakened.

The vote topped a tumultuous nearly three years in power for Johnson, dominated by the implementation of Brexit and the response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Few would have predicted such a direct challenge to his authority in December 2019, when he secured the biggest Tory parliamentary majority since the early 1980s heyday of Margaret Thatcher.

The landslide victory of 80 seats allowed him to unblock several years of political paralysis since the divisive 2016 Brexit vote, and take Britain out of the European Union just a month later.

The coronavirus pandemic derailed his domestic plans to tackle regional inequality. Johnson was even an early casualty, and had to be treated in hospital intensive care for Covid.

But his handling of the health crisis laid bare a chaotic governing style, which his embittered former chief adviser Dominic Cummings has likened to an out-of-control shopping trolley.

Critics accused Johnson of not taking the threat seriously enough in the early days, imposing lockdowns too late or lifting them too soon.

Normal checks and balances for procurement were thrown out of the window in the rush to respond: friends and associates of those in high places benefited from lucrative contracts. Money was wasted.

Johnson’s high-stakes gamble of an early move on vaccine development may have paid off.

But the failure at the heart of government to adhere to stringent pandemic rules that the rest of the country was expected to follow has left him fighting for his political life.

Months of revelations about the lockdown-breaking parties at Downing Street –- and an unprecedented police fine –- eventually proved too much for some party colleagues.

Last week he faced boos from die-hard royal fans outside a thanksgiving service for Queen Elizabeth II.

Inside, even the palace appeared to be trolling him, giving him a Bible reading to deliver on the virtues of truth and integrity.

– ‘Cavalier attitude’ –
Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson’s rise to power took a conventional route for a Conservative politician: the elite Eton College, then Oxford University.

At Eton in 1982, one of the young Johnson’s teachers wrote to his father to complain about his “disgracefully cavalier attitude” to his study of Greek and Latin.

“I think he honestly believes that it is churlish of us not to regard him as an exception, one who should be free of the network of obligation which binds everyone else,” he wrote, according to the biographer Andrew Gimson.

At Oxford, he was president of the Oxford Union, a backstabbing den of student politics where his cohort provided many leading Brexiteers.

At the Union, popularity and power depended on jokey self-deprecation and rhetorical ability rather than strongly held conviction and laser-sharp attention to detail.

After university, connections secured him a job at The Times newspaper but he was sacked after making up a quote from his godfather.

It failed to hinder his progress and he soon became Brussels correspondent for the Daily Telegraph.

From there, he tapped into the growing Tory Euroscepticism of the 1990s, feeding the party grassroots and MPs popular, if dubious, scoops about supposed EU plans for a federal mega-state.

Exasperated rivals charged with matching his questionable exclusives about the threats to British sovereignty described some of his tales as “complete bollocks”.

– Opportunism –
Brussels — and satirical television quiz show appearances — gave Johnson a high profile. He entered politics in 2004 but was sacked from the Conservative front bench for lying about an extra-marital affair.

He turned his attention to London, serving two terms as mayor from 2008, including during the 2012 London Olympics, where he notably got stuck on a zipwire.

By the time of the EU referendum in 2016, he was again an MP, but abandoned the pro-EU stance he took in more liberal London.

Sensing a chance for power, Johnson backed the “leave” campaign and became its most famous figurehead.

Such ruthless opportunism should not have come as a surprise.

His former boss at the Telegraph, Max Hastings, acknowledged Johnson was a witty raconteur but said he was “unfit for national office because it seems he cares for no interest save his own fame and gratification”.

The “leave” campaign’s success was largely down to Johnson’s relentlessly upbeat boosterism, appealing to emotions about issues such as immigration rather than fact.

In power, Johnson –- a thrice-married father of at least seven children –- has found delivering on his promises more difficult than making them, not least on Brexit, where the “sunlit uplands” are still over the horizon.

Yet for months he has refused to believe the writing is on the wall, instead urging his angry parliamentary colleagues and the public to “move on”.

UK PM Boris Johnson Wins No-Confidence Vote, Escapes Sack

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson reacts as he meets with HM Coastguard and Royal Navy crews and technical staff at Lydd Airport, in south east England, on April 14, 2022. Matt Dunham / POOL / AFP
Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson reacts as he meets with HM Coastguard and Royal Navy crews and technical staff at Lydd Airport, in south east England, on April 14, 2022. Matt Dunham / POOL / AFP

 

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday survived a vote of no confidence from his own Conservative MPs, after a string of scandals that have left the party’s standing in tatters.

Just over two years after he won a landslide general election victory, the Brexit figurehead again proved his ability to escape political hot water to maintain his grip on power.

But the “Partygate” controversy over lockdown-breaking events at Downing Street, which saw him become the first serving UK prime minister to have broken the law, has still severely weakened his position.

While 211 Tory MPs backed him, 148 did not.

READ ALSO: UK Faces Post-Jubilee Travel Chaos

Johnson, 57, needed the backing of 180 MPs to survive the vote — a majority of one out of the 359 sitting Conservatives in parliament.

Defeat would have meant an end to his time as party leader and prime minister until a replacement was found in an internal leadership contest.

In previous Tory ballots, predecessors Margaret Thatcher and Theresa May both ultimately resigned despite narrowly winning their own votes, deciding that their premierships were terminally damaged.

Rebuild trust

Johnson has steadfastly refused to resign over “Partygate”.

He earlier defended his record on delivering Brexit, fighting the Covid pandemic and Britain’s hawkish support for Ukraine against Russia.

“This is not the moment for a leisurely and entirely unforced domestic political drama and months and months of vacillation from the UK,” he told Tory MPs, according to a senior party source.

“We have been through bumpy times before and I can rebuild trust,” the prime minister told his parliamentary rank and file, according to the source, adding: “The best is yet to come.”

Supporters could be heard cheering and thumping their tables in approval.

The source said Johnson had indicated tax cuts could be in the offing as Britain contends with its worst inflation crisis in generations.

But the scale of Tory disunity was exposed in a blistering resignation letter from Johnson’s “anti-corruption champion” John Penrose and another letter of protest from long-time ally Jesse Norman.

The prime minister’s rebuttals over “Partygate” were “grotesque”, Norman wrote, warning that the Tories risked losing the next general election, which is due by 2024.

Ex-cabinet member Jeremy Hunt, who lost to Johnson in the last leadership contest in 2019 and is expected to run again if Johnson is deposed, confirmed he would vote against him.

“Conservative MPs know in our hearts we are not giving the British people the leadership they deserve,” Hunt tweeted.

Jubilee booing

After a dismal showing in May local elections, the party is expected to lose two by-elections this month, one of them in a previously rock-solid Conservative seat.

That is focusing the minds of Tory lawmakers, who fear their own seats could be at risk if Johnson leads them into the next election, which is due by 2024 at the latest.

In a snap poll by Opinium Monday of 2,032 people, 59 percent of respondents said the Tories should ditch him as leader.

Among Conservative members, 42 percent want MPs to fire Johnson, according to another poll by YouGov.

Johnson was booed Friday by sections of an ardently patriotic crowd gathered outside St Paul’s Cathedral, ahead of a religious service for Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee.

For wavering Tories, the barracking at a televised national occasion reportedly marked a turning point. Some said they had held back on public criticism of Johnson until after the jubilee.

But cabinet ally Jacob Rees-Mogg dismissed the booing as “muted noise” and insisted that Johnson could survive with the slenderest of majorities.

“He has shown himself to be a good, strong leader who gets the big decisions right, and he has a mandate from the British people,” Rees-Mogg told reporters.

Graham Brady, who heads the backbench committee of Conservatives which oversees party challenges, had earlier confirmed that the threshold of 54 Tory lawmakers seeking a confidence vote — or 15 percent of its MPs — had been met.

Squabbling

Brady told reporters that he had informed Johnson early on Sunday — as four days of jubilee celebrations ended — and that the prime minister had not objected to a rapid ballot.

In a message of thanks for the celebrations of her record-breaking 70-year reign, the queen had expressed hope that “this renewed sense of togetherness will be felt for many years to come”.

Conservative MPs had other ideas, as they openly squabbled on Twitter in often-scathing terms following Brady’s announcement.

Dozens have broken ranks and criticised Johnson after an internal probe into “Partygate” said he had presided over a culture of Covid lockdown-breaking parties in Downing Street.

Some ran late into the night, and one featured a drunken fight among staff, at a time when the government’s pandemic rules forbade ordinary Britons from bidding farewell in person to dying loved ones.

 

AFP

UK Voters Head To Polls With Historic N.Ireland Result Predicted

A voter walks out of Holy Trinity Church being used as a polling station in Dobcross near Manchester during local elections on May 5, 2022. Oli SCARFF / AFP
A voter walks out of Holy Trinity Church being used as a polling station in Dobcross near Manchester during local elections on May 5, 2022. Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Polls opened across the UK on Thursday in local and regional elections that could prove historic in Northern Ireland and heap further pressure on embattled Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

The contest for the devolved assembly in Belfast could see a pro-Irish nationalist party win for the first time in the troubled history of the British province.

The results, which are expected from Friday, could have huge constitutional implications for the four-nation UK’s future, with predicted victors Sinn Fein committed to a vote in the province on reunification with Ireland.

READ ALSO: UK’s Johnson Promises Action On Soaring Cost Of Living

Polls opened at 0600 GMT for councils in Scotland, Wales and much of England, with Johnson facing a potentially pivotal mid-term popularity test.

Poor results could reignite simmering discontent within his ruling Conservatives about his leadership, after a string of recent scandals.

Jeopardy

Johnson, 57, won a landslide 2019 general election victory by vowing to take Britain out of the European Union, and reverse rampant regional inequality.

Despite making good on his Brexit pledge, the pandemic largely stalled his domestic plans.

But his position has been put in jeopardy because of anger at revelations of lockdown-breaking parties at his Downing Street office and a cost-of-living crisis.

Heavy losses could revive calls among Tory MPs to trigger an internal contest to oust Johnson as party leader and from power.

The polls should also point to whether the main opposition Labour party poses a serious threat, as it tries to make inroads across England despite defending the many gains it made at the last local elections in 2018.

Labour is bidding to leapfrog the Conservatives into second place in Scotland, behind the pro-independence Scottish National Party (SNP), and remain the largest party in Wales, where 16 and 17-year-olds are eligible to vote for the first time.

‘Sea change’

The contest for Northern Ireland’s power-sharing assembly is set to capture attention, after numerous polls put Sinn Fein ahead.

A University of Liverpool poll reported Tuesday it remained on target to win comfortably with over a quarter of the vote.

The pro-UK Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and cross-community Alliance Party were tied for second.

Deirdre Heenan, professor of social policy at Ulster University, said there was a feeling the election “really is momentous”.

“It will be a sea change if a nationalist becomes first minister,” she told AFP.

Sinn Fein — the IRA’s former political wing — has dialled down its calls for Irish unity during campaigning, saying it is “not fixated” on a date for a sovereignty poll, instead focusing on the rising cost of living and other local issues.

Party vice president Michelle O’Neill has insisted voters are “looking towards the future” with pragmatism rather than the dogmatism that has long been the hallmark of Northern Irish politics.

“They’re very much looking towards those of us that can work together versus those that don’t want to work together,” she said.

Power-sharing?

But her DUP rivals have sought to keep the spotlight on possible Irish reunification in the hope of bolstering their flagging fortunes.

In February, its first minister withdrew from the power-sharing government in protest at post-Brexit trade arrangements, prompting its collapse.

At a final election debate between the five biggest parties, DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson reiterated the party would not form a new executive unless London rips up the trading terms, known as the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Although many unionist voters share DUP dislike for it, the party is also getting blamed.

On Belfast’s staunchly unionist Shankill Road, gift shop owner Alaine Allen paused from selling merchandise marking Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee to complain the Protocol is “killing small businesses”.

“Hopefully they’ll get in again, but no one’s actually working for the people,” the 58-year-old said.

Deliver

In England, the Conservatives are predicted to lose hundreds of councillors and even control of long-time strongholds in London to the main UK opposition Labour party.

“People across the country are going to focus on which government, which party, is going to deliver for them,” Johnson said this week.

He has tried to sideline the so-called “partygate” scandal that last month saw him become the first British prime minister to be fined for breaking the law while in office.

In Scotland, SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon is hoping a strong performance in contests for all 32 local authorities can lay the groundwork for another independence referendum.

Johnson has repeatedly rejected the push for a second poll, after Scots in 2014 voted by 55 percent to 45 percent not to break away.

UK’s Johnson Promises Action On Soaring Cost Of Living

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson makes a speech on immigration, at Lydd Airport, in south east England, on April 14, 2022. 
Matt Dunham / POOL / AFP

 

 

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday promised to do more to tackle the rising cost of living, with the issue centre-stage at local elections this week.

But he again rejected calls for a one-off windfall tax on major energy companies, to offset soaring bills that have squeezed household incomes.

Voters go to the polls to elect new councils in much of England, as well as Scotland and Wales on Thursday, with the results seen as a referendum on Johnson’s premiership.

Opposition parties have been focusing on eye-watering price hikes for food and heating, claiming many people were now facing a choice between one or the other.

In an interview on ITV, Johnson was told about a 77-year-old viewer who said she was now only eating one meal daily because her energy bill had risen so much.

She reportedly now spends the day travelling on buses — using a so-called “freedom pass” which give pensioners free travel in London — to stay out of her house and keep her bills down.

Johnson, a former London mayor, responded by saying: “The 24-hour freedom bus pass was actually something that I introduced.”

Labour’s work and pensions spokesman Jonathan Ashworth called the situation “shameful” and Johnson’s response showed he was “out of touch”.

Johnson maintained there were “plenty more things” the government was doing to help hard-pressed householders, as part of a £9-billion ($11.3-billion, 10.7-billion-euro) package of support.

Elderly people were eligible for hardship payments, but opposition parties maintain these do not go far enough.

But the prime minister conceded that, in the short term, “those contributions from the taxpayer… isn’t going to be enough immediately to cover everybody’s costs”.

Inflation is at 30-year highs in the UK, with rises blamed on the recovery from the coronavirus pandemic and the squeeze on global energy supplies.

Johnson said increasing state spending risked driving up inflation even further, and blamed the war in Ukraine for a lack of feed that was increasing the cost of chicken.

He also hit out at previous administrations for failing to invest in new power plants to ensure the country’s energy security.

BP announced soaring underlying profits despite taking a $20.4-billion hit in the first quarter after pulling its business out of Russia.

Revenue jumped 40 percent to $51 billion, as the conflict in Ukraine pushes up oil and gas prices.

But Johnson said a windfall tax on big energy firms would deter investment and make it harder to meet the country’s net-zero environmental goals.

Moscow Bans 287 British Lawmakers From Russia Over Ukraine

In this file photo, Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting on the situation in the oil and gas sector at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow, on April 14, 2022.  Mikhail Klimentyev / Sputnik / AFP

 

The Russian foreign ministry said Wednesday that it has banned entry to 287 British MPs after the UK blacklisted Russian lawmakers over Moscow’s military operation in Ukraine. 

“In response to the decision taken by the British government on March 11 to add 386 State Duma deputies to a sanctions list, in a reciprocal move, personal restrictions are being placed on 287 members of the House of Commons,” the ministry said in a statement.

It said that the MPs are barred from entering the country from now on. The House of Commons has a total of 650 members.

READ ALSORussia Cuts Gas Supplies To Poland, Bulgaria Over Ukraine

Moscow said the list is made up of MPs who have played “the most active part” in drawing up anti-Russian sanctions and contributed to “Russophobic hysteria”.

Among those blacklisted are Speaker Lindsay Hoyle as well as Cabinet members including Minister for Brexit Jacob Rees-Mogg and Environment Secretary George Eustice.

The list also includes Labour MPs, among them Diane Abbott, a close ally of former party leader Jeremy Corbyn.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in parliament that those included in the list “should regard it as a badge of honour”.

“What we will do is keep up our robust and principled support for the Ukrainian people, and their right to protect their lives, their families, and to defend themselves.

“That is what this country is doing, and that has the overwhelming support, I think, of the whole House.”

Russia has already blacklisted Johnson as well as UK Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and several others.

Russia’s foreign ministry on Wednesday also announced the expulsion of three Norwegian diplomats in a tit-for-tat measure after Oslo expelled three Russian diplomats earlier this month.

AFP

Boris Johnson Apologises In Parliament For ‘Partygate’ Fine

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson makes a speech on immigration, at Lydd Airport, in south east England, on April 14, 2022.  Matt Dunham / POOL / AFP

 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday apologised to MPs after he became the first British leader fined for breaking the law, but faced opposition calls to quit for the sake of integrity in politics.

Addressing parliament for the first time since the April 12 fine, he reiterated that he did not think he had done anything wrong when he attended an office gathering for his birthday in June 2020, when Britain was under a pandemic lockdown.

“That was my mistake and I apologise for it unreservedly,” he said.

The British public “had a right to expect better of their prime minister”, Johnson added, while insisting he would get on with the job including defending Ukraine against Russia’s “barbaric” invasion.

The conflation of issues led to charges that Johnson was seeking to bury the controversy over “partygate” fines — which have also embroiled his finance minister and wife.

Johnson could yet receive further fines over various Downing Street parties held despite strict coronavirus lockdowns imposed by his own government over the past two years.

MPs will hold a special debate on Thursday into whether he misled the House of Commons when, in December, he denied ever breaking the rules. He will be on an official visit to India by then.

Knowingly misleading parliament is a breach of government ministers’ code of conduct, which states they should resign as a result — and opposition lawmakers are adamant he should go.

But asked directly if he deliberately misled parliament, Johnson emphatically replied: “No.”

Opposition Labour leader Keir Starmer said there was cross-party support towards Britain’s backing for Ukraine, and any Conservative successor would continue Johnson’s war policy.

Starmer recounted the experience of one member of the public who, because of the Covid rules then in place, was denied the chance to hold his dying wife’s hand in the hospital.

Johnson was “a man without shame” backed by “nodding dogs” in his cabinet, Starmer said, urging Conservative MPs to eject their leader.

They should “bring decency, honesty and integrity back into our politics and stop the denigration of this country”, the Labour leader said.

 ‘Liar’

One national survey suggested around two-thirds of the public spoke negatively about Johnson, compared to just 16 per cent positively, with the word “liar” the most commonly shared response.

“Overall, ‘partygate’ dominates views of Boris over Ukraine,” said James Johnson, a Conservative pollster who conducted the sample.

“Fury has not receded. Many negative comments are by people who liked him previously but have now changed their minds.”

Voters will get their chance to deliver a verdict on May 5, when the UK holds nationwide elections for local and city councils.

A drubbing for the Conservatives then could sharpen the debate among his own MPs, some of whom have said that now is not the time to change leader given the war in Ukraine.

Simon Wolfson, a justice minister, has already resigned from the government, citing “the scale, context and nature” of the rule breaches.

Johnson will bid to shore up his standing with backbenchers when he addresses a meeting of the Conservative parliamentary party on Tuesday evening.

But one senior Tory backbencher, Mark Harper, responded to Johnson in the Commons that he was “no longer… worthy” of being prime minister after his apology.

 Attention diverted

London’s Metropolitan Police is investigating dozens of alleged lockdown breaches by Johnson and his staff in the Downing Street complex where he lives and works.

It said last week officers had so far issued more than 50 fines.

The scandal, the latest in a stream of controversies to hit Johnson since last year, left his position hanging by a thread and MPs from his Conservative Party in a rebellious mood.

But he boosted his survival chances with what is seen as a firm response to Ukraine, which diverted attention away from the furore when he was most vulnerable in February.

Britain’s cost-of-living crisis is also credited with distracting people from the scandal, while Johnson has made several big policy announcements aimed at his pro-Brexit political base.

They include controversial plans to send migrants and asylum seekers who cross the Channel thousands of miles away to Rwanda.