Johnson ducks direct question to say he’s ‘looking forward’ to Sue Gray report
Appearing in public for the first time since the Metropolitan Police concluded its investigation into the events, the prime minister was asked if he would say sorry to the public for the behaviour of himself and his workers.
He did not directly respond to the question, replying: “I’m very grateful to the Met for their work, I’m thankful for everything they’ve done. We just need to wait for Sue Gray to report, fingers crossed, that will be very soon, and I’ll be saying some more next week.”
Later, he insisted Downing Street will not seek to block any names from appearing in Sue Gray’s long-awaited report on the Downing Street parties.
The BBC today reported that Ms Gray wishes to name the civil servants accused of law-breaking in her report that is expected to be published in full next week.
Patriotic Millionaire says Rishi Sunak can’t understand cost of living crisis
A founder of a group of very rich people who think they should pay more tax said it was “impossible” for Rishi Sunak to recognise the impact of the cost of living crisis on ordinary people.
“I think it is impossible for him to truly understand what people are going through,” said Julia Davies of Patriotic Millionaires UK – a group that, along with foreign counterparts, has called for wealthy people worldwide to be taxed higher.
Ms Davies was speaking to LBC after Rishi Sunak and his wife Akshata Murty landed on the Sunday Times rich list for the first time.
Watch: Jamie Oliver protests junk food U-turn outside Downing Street
Jamie Oliver led protests outside Downing Street today against the government’s decision to postpone a ban on junk food deals in supermarkets.
The celebrity chef presented an Eton Mess dessert to a crowd of around 200 supporters in the pouring rain outside Downing Street, which he said was “symbolic of the mess” ministers have created.
Full story: Sainsbury’s and Tesco to ban junk food offers after Boris Johnson refuses to act
Boris Johnson has said he wants to help struggling families “save on their food bills” by delaying a promised ban on buy-one-get-one-free promotions on junk foods until 2023.
Despite the government’s U-turn, both Tesco and Sainsbury’s have now committed to the original October deadline for the ban, and vowed to offer more discounts on healthier products.
Jamie Oliver has led protests outside Downing Street after a promise to axe multi-buy promotions on food high in fat, sugar or salt was pushed back to next October.
Families can ‘save on food bills’ with cheap 2-for-1 offers, says PM
Watch: Boris Johnson refuses to apologise for Partygate
Boris Johnson was asked if he would apologise now the Metropolitan Police investigation into Partygate had finished.
Speaking on a visit to a Welsh honey factory, he replied: “I’m very grateful to the Met for their work, I’m thankful for everything they’ve done. We just need to wait for Sue Gray to report, fingers crossed, that will be very soon, and I’ll be saying some more next week.”
Boris Johnson will make decision on windfall tax ‘soon’
Boris Johnson will make a decision on whether to impose a windfall tax on the profits of oil and gas giants “soon”, according to Downing Street.
A No 10 spokesman said: “Our position on that remains the same, the PM and the chancellor have both been clear that they are not attracted to the idea of a windfall tax.
“We’ve spoken before about our desire to see the industry invest in the UK economy to benefit jobs and growth but also the chancellor’s been clear that if that doesn’t happen no option is off the table.”
Pressed when businesses need to show investment, the spokesman said: “We’ve never put a specific timeline on it but the chancellor said if that doesn’t happen soon and at significant scale then no option is off the table.”
Asked how soon, he said: “We haven’t put a timeline on it.”
Cabinet has been split over the windfall tax but pressure to support households struggling with living costs continues to build. This week Labour said the prime minister was certain to reverse his opposition to the tax.
Earlier today a representative body for Britain’s offshore oil and gas industries, Offshore Energies UK, said it opposed a windfall tax.
PM: Government cannot ‘magic away’ cost of living crisis
Boris Johnson said he cannot “magic away” the cost of living crisis as he comes under growing pressure to provide more help to hard-pressed families.
He today vowed to use the “firepower” of government to “put our arms around people” as it did during the Covid pandemic.
“I’m not going to pretend to you that we can magic away every single expense that people are going to face as a result of a global spike in energy prices.
“But be in no doubt that this will come down, we will get people through it.”
One measure now believed to be under serious consideration is a windfall tax on the soaring profits of oil and gas giants.
But Jacob Rees-Mogg set out fresh opposition from within the cabinet as he argued it is wrong to raid the government “honey pot”, adding: “The idea of a windfall tax as a panacea to the inflation problem is wrong.”
Tories down, Labour up in latest polling
The Conservatives were down by two percentage points in the latest voting intention poll from YouGov while Labour were up by one.
At 31 per cent, the Conservatives had their lowest prospective share of the vote in months, though it remains above the nadir of 28 per cent hit in mid-January when anger over Partygate allegations peaked.
The Conservatives fell behind Labour in the polls on 9 December – one week on from the first reports of parties in Downing Street – and have not taken back the lead since.
Labour, on 39 per cent this week, have hardly torn out ahead in the polls, however, and have never reached anything like the lead the Conservatives enjoyed in the earlier months of last year – which peaked at +18.
Ukraine gifts Boris Johnson embroidered shirt
The Ukrainian Embassy in London has given Boris Johnson a shirt from a famous Ukrainian designer as thanks for the prime minister’s support during the Russian invasion.
The embassy said the gift marked Vyshyvanka Day, a national holiday that celebrates Ukrainian folk traditions.
The shirt is known as a vyshyvanka too, the embassy said. A note with the gift said: “It will be a great honour to see you in your new vyshyvanka on this day.”
The prime minister tweeted his thanks and said “Slava Ukraini” – which translates as “Glory to Ukraine”.
Labour ‘a bunch of semi-repentant Corbynista loons’, says PM
Boris Johnson said Labour were “a bunch of semi-repentant Corbynista loons” over the party’s track record on Nato membership.
Sir Keir Starmer was cautioned by left-wing activists this week for threatening action against Labour MPs who oppose the military alliance.
Elsewhere, allies of the Labour leader are reportedly urging him to purge 11 MPs who signed a Stop The War Coalition statement critical of Nato at the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The prime minister, speaking at the Welsh Conservative conference in Newtown, Powys, said Labour’s dispute over defence policy was not confined to the backbenches.
Pointing to Labour shadow ministers who oppose Trident, he said: “Do you think at this juncture when Putin is muttering recklessly about using his nuclear arsenal, do we really want our defence policy handed over to a bunch of semi-repentant Corbynista loons, to put it mildly?
“Eight of the shadow front bench including the shadow foreign secretary voted to scrap this country’s independent nuclear deterrent.”
Boris Johnson visits Powys honey factory
The prime minister has been speaking to the press in the outfit of a factory worker today as he visited Hilltop Honey in Newtown, Powys.