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Starmer says Boris Johnson ‘taking people for fools’ – follow live

Starmer says Boris Johnson ‘taking people for fools’ – follow live
Updates from Westminster, as they happen

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Boris Johnson denies breaking Covid rules with No 10 Christmas party

Sir Keir Starmer has accused Boris Johnson of “taking people for fools” amid reports 10 Downing Street held multiple Christmas parties last year while indoor mixing was banned under covid restrictions.

Following a Daily Mirror report stating that between 40-50 people attended a bash at Non 10 where staff drank and celebrated late into the night, les La main d'oeuvre leader wrote on Twitter: “Boris Johnson hosted multiple parties when the country was in lockdown over Christmas.

“Yesterday he claimed that was within the rules. He is taking people for fools. It’s one rule for the Conservatives and another for everyone else.”

Government ministers and spokespeople from No 10 have insisted that all staff “followed the guidance.”

Asked about public frustration following the Christmas party reports, business minister George Freeman told ITV’s Bonjour la Grande-Bretagne: “I totally understand that people around the country expect that, when we make sacrifices, that we all make them.”

Il ajouta: “I can’t get drawn into who was or wasn’t in the room and who was drinking which cocktail. You’ll understand I wasn’t there.”

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Regarder: ‘I haven’t been kissed under the mistletoe for years’, dit le ministre

Government minister George Freeman said he hasn’t been kissed under the mistletoe for years after work and pensions secretary Therese Coffey advised Brits against sharing the intimate exchange with strangers in a bid to curb the spread of omicron.

‘I haven’t been kissed under the mistletoe for years’, dit le ministre
Thomas Kingsley2 décembre 2021 12:20
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Boris Johnson ‘has spent whole life breaking the rules’ Angela Rayner says

Angela Rayner has also joined leaders slamming Boris Johnson following reports he broke lockdown rules by hosting a Christmas party last year at 10 Downing Street.

Writing on Twitter, the Labour deputy leader said: “As I said on Monday @BorisJohnson has spent his whole life breaking the rules and facing no consequences.

“He thinks it’s one rule for him and another for the rest of us and he takes the British people for fools.”

Thomas Kingsley2 décembre 2021 12:05
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Confusion as government gives mixed messages on Christmas party cancellations

Government ministers are giving mixed messages on whether to cancel Christmas parties this year, amid concern about the rise of the new omicron covid variant.

Business minister George Freeman on Thursday morning revealed he has cancelled his own party for his parliamentary staff – and suggested larger companies might consider following suit. But it comes after health secretary Sajid Javid said there was no need for people to “change their plans”, other than consider taking a test or wearing a mask.

Speaking less than 24 hours after his colleague, Mr Freeman suggested that a gathering involving “hundreds” of people might be considered an unnecessary risk.

Our policy correspondent Jon Pierre has the full story below:

Confusion as government gives mixed messages on Christmas party Covid cancellations

Health secretary says nobody should change plans as business minister says he has cancelled his team get-together

Thomas Kingsley2 décembre 2021 11:51
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Minister will be holding Christmas party over Zoom

Business minister George Freeman struck a noticeably different tone from health secretary Sajid Javid, by revealing he’ll be having his staff Christmas party via Zoom.

Mr Freeman also appeared out of step with Boris Johnson’s advice just days ago urging people not to cancel their Christmas parties or nativity plays.

Earlier he told Horaires Radio: “The department of business, we won’t be having a big Christmas party this year, nobody would expect us to. My parliamentary team, I think we have agreed, probably given the new variant will get together on Zoom and toast each other.” He admitted the remote meeting would not be the “best party in the world”.

<p>A minister said larger firms may be looking again at their plans for Christmas parties (Pennsylvpnie)</p>

A minister said larger firms may be looking again at their plans for Christmas parties (Pennsylvanie)

Thomas Kingsley2 décembre 2021 11:37
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Matt Hancock admits he ‘blew up every part of his life’ when CCTV showed him kissing aide

Matt Hancock has admitted he had “blown up every part” of his life when he resigned from the cabinet after CCTV footage showed him breaching social distancing rules with an aide in his Whitehall office.

The former health secretary also defended his decision not to resign immediately after images — showing him embracing and kissing his aide, Gina Coladangelo — emerged in June, saying he first concentrated on his “personal life”.

À l'époque, Mr Hancock, who quit his post more than 24 hours after the CCTV images were published by The Sun newspaper, had repeatedly urged the public not to hug those they did not share a household with to control the spread of Covid-19.

Our political correspondent Ashley Cowburn has the full report below:

Matt Hancock admits he ‘blew up every part of his life’ over resignation

Former health secretary also urges people to ‘test the hell out of ourselves’ over Christmas

Thomas Kingsley2 décembre 2021 11:00
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Fears over Christmas wine and spirits supply played down by government

Fears over wine and spirit supply crisis hitting Christmas celebrations have been played down by the government.

Labour warned of “major delays” on deliveries given the shortage of HGV drivers and pressed ministers to detail how many of the 5,000 temporary visas had been issued to non-UK drivers.

After trade minister Ranil Jayawardena said he was “not going to provide a running commentary on numbers”, he was pressed further on supplies of alcohol to the UK.

Shadow trade minister Bill Esterson said it was “extraordinary” Mr Jayawardena could not provide a visa update, ajouter: “The reality is that the Wine and Spirit Trade Association warns of delivery chaos, of major delays on wine and spirit delivery timesup to five times longer than last yearand increases in freight costs as well; no doubt it won’t affect parties in Downing Street.”

Thomas Kingsley2 décembre 2021 10:45
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Ministers continue to defend Boris Johnson over Christmas party rule-break claims

Non 10 staff “followed the guidance,” according to business minister George Freeman.

When asked whether Boris Johnson had acted “responsibly” by allegedly allowing a Downing Street social to go ahead last year, Mr Freeman told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: "Voir, I wasn’t there. I’ve been in government six weeksI was nowhere near No 10 a year ago.

“I can absolutely assure you that No 10 staff followed the guidance.

“I can’t tell you who was in the room or what happenedI wasn’t therebut I’ve checked before coming on and I’m told very clearly that the guidance was followed.

After being told there was public frustration at the reports given that many people could not see loved ones this time last year, Mr Freeman said: “I totally understand that people around the country expect that, when we make sacrifices, that we all make them.”

Il ajouta: “I can’t get drawn into who was or wasn’t in the room and who was drinking which cocktail. You’ll understand I wasn’t there.”

Thomas Kingsley2 décembre 2021 10:30
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ICYMI: UK buys 114 million more Pfizer and Moderna vaccines amid omicron concerns

The government has rushed through the purchase of 114 million more Covid vaccines as scientists await data concerning the true impact of the latest variant, Sajid Javid has announced.

While the deals were already on the table, the health secretary said ministers sped up the process of signing them due to the emergence of omicron.

The agreement – which involves an additional 60 million Moderna jabs and 54 million Pfizer-BioNTech doses being delivered next year and in 2023 – will also give Britain access to any modified vaccinations if they are needed to combat omicron or any subsequent new variant.

Our reporter Sam Hancock has the full report below:

UK buys 114 million more Pfizer and Moderna vaccines amid omicron concerns

Health secretary says move ‘future proofs great British vaccination effort’ after WHO questions booster jabs

Thomas Kingsley2 décembre 2021 10:15
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Boris Johnson condemns racism as video emerges of ‘anti-Semitic’ abuse to Jewish teenagers

Boris Johnson has condemned racism following the emergence of footage that appears to show a group of men spitting and hurling abuse at Jewish teenagers celebrating the first night of Chanukah on a bus in Oxford Street.

Sharing the video posted by the Jewish Chronicle, Boris Johnson said: “This is disturbing footage. Racism of any kind will never be tolerated in our society and we will continue to do all we can to root it out.

Thomas Kingsley2 décembre 2021 10:00
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Matt Hancock urged to ‘set record straight’ over pub landlord’s NHS covid contract

Former health secretary Matt Hancock has faced further questions over the involvement of the former landlord of his local pub in a multimillion-pound coronavirus contract.

Mr Hancock, who quit the front bench after breaching social distancing guidance by kissing a colleague, protested his innocence on Wednesday when pressed on the matter by Labour.

The Conservative MP told the opposition “no matter how hard they look or how deep they dig” they will only find “a lot of people working hard to save lives”.

Read the full story below:

Matt Hancock urged to ‘set record straight’ over pub landlord’s NHS Covid contract

‘No matter how hard they look or how deep they dig all that will be discovered is a lot of people working hard to save lives,’ says former health secretary

Thomas Kingsley2 décembre 2021 09:45