Boris Johnson says Tory confidence vote gave him ‘new mandate’ for his reform agenda – UK politics live | Politics | #socialmedia


Johnson says Tory confidence vote in his leadership gave him ‘new mandate’ for his reform agenda

Peter Walker

Boris Johnson has again rejected the idea of standing down despite intense political pressure from some Conservative MPs, arguing that this month’s confidence vote had given him “a new mandate”, which he intended to use.

Interviewed by the BBC’s Chris Mason, Johnson dismissed the idea that he might simply be tempted to walk away from the job, saying:

Driving a massive, massive agenda for change is a huge, huge privilege to do. And nobody abandons a privilege like that.

The mandate that the electorate gave us in 2019, there hasn’t been a mandate like it for the Conservative party for 40 years, it’s a mandate to change the country, to unite and to level up, and that’s what we’re going to do.

The PM did, however, dodge a follow-up question about whether, as he claimed over the weekend, he was hoping to win two more elections and govern into the 2030s, saying only that he aimed to continue with his “massive agenda”.

Asked if he even had the authority to deliver any change, Johnson referred to the confidence vote, in which 41% of his MPs wanted him to go:

I’ve got a new mandate from my party which I’m absolutely delighted with … it’s done.

Continuing his pattern of recent days, Johnson made vague pledges to listen more on areas like the cost of living, and to “humbly accept those criticisms”, but also resisted attempts to discuss if, or how, he planned to change as a prime minister. He said:

I think the job of government is to get on with governing, and to resist the blandishments of the media, no matter how brilliant, to talk about politics, to talk about ourselves.

Johnson again mixed the minor contrition with a bullish defence of his record, saying he was “very proud of the great things that we’ve done”, and that others should agree. He said:

I think most fair minded people, looking at how the UK came through Covid, around the world most people would say, actually fair play to them. They got the first vaccine into people’s arms, and they had the fastest vaccine rollout. Actually, they’ve got pretty low unemployment. They’ve got investment flooding into their country, they have got a lot of things going for them.

Boris Johnson interviewed at G7 summit in Germany
Boris Johnson interviewed at the G7 summit in Germany. Photograph: UK Pool

Yesterday Emmanuel Macron, the French president, met Boris Johnson for a bilateral at the G7. He claimed afterwards that that Johnson expressed an interest in the “European political community”, a concept Macron is promoting that involve the creation of an EU outer circle, that would allow EU countries to hold talks with other European countries applying to join, as well as those choosing to stay out. Macron’s comment implies Johnson left him thinking the UK might sign up.

Nous avons acté vendredi, en Européens, la création d’une Communauté politique européenne. Avec le Premier ministre Johnson, nous avons parlé ce matin de ce cadre de coopération sur la sécurité, l’énergie, les infrastructures, la jeunesse. Et il m’a dit son intérêt. pic.twitter.com/pk7ZYygFne

— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) June 26, 2022

According to the Telegraph’s Tony Diver, if Macron did come away with that impression, he joins the long queue of people who have mistakenly taken something said by Johnson at face value. Diver reports:

Sources close to the prime minister said it was very unlikely that the UK would sign up to Mr Macron’s European political community, which is designed to encourage diplomatic co-operation between states and could involve increased freedom of movement …

An Elysee Palace spokesman on Sunday reported that Mr Johnson had expressed “beacoup d’enthousiasme” about the group despite concerns it would undermine the UK’s political freedom from Europe after Brexit …

But a member of the UK delegation told The Telegraph that the prime minister’s reaction was “not a meaningful endorsement” of the idea and “more like a deflection”, and that the pair had only chatted briefly about it at the end of their meeting.

No 10 rejects claim online harms bill will make some speech that is legal offline impossible online

Here are the main lines from the Downing Street lobby briefing.

  • Downing Street rejected a claim from Lord Frost, the former Brexit minister, that the online harms bill makes speech that is legal offline effectively illegal online. Frost, who regularly criticises the government for doing things he considers unConservative, issued the comment alongside a thinktank report criticising the bill.

Asked if Frost was right to say the bill effectively makes speech that is legal offline illegal online, the No 10 spokesperson said:

We would not agree with that. There is no requirement in the bill for internt companies to remove or moderate legal content accessed by adults. All it does is put requirements on the largest social media sites to be clear in their terms and conditions about how they deal with specific types of content that legal but harmful to adults, and then consistently apply those terms and conditions.

The justice secretary himself has said we encourage them to agree the proposed 15% pay rise which would see a typical barrister earn around £7,000 a year more, so our message would be similar. We urge those barristers to take that pay offer and ensure that victims don’t have to wait any longer for justice than they already have.

  • The spokesperson said the government was setting aside three days for the Northern Ireland protocol bill to be debated line by line by MPs. The bill will get its second reading this afternoon. Normally, after second readings, bills then get considered by a small group of MPs in committee, but bills with constitutional implications are considered by a committee of the whole house, and that will happen with this bill. The dates for these debates have not yet been announced. Asked if the government was committed to passing the bill by the end of the year, the spokeperson said:

We have never put a hard target date on it, but we want to pass it as quickly as possible to address the many issues we know the protocol is causing to people on the ground.

  • The spokesperson said Johnson continued to believe that now was not the time for a second referendum on Scottish independence.
  • The spokesperson played down suggestions that people should be concerned about the rise in the number of Covid infections. Cases were rising because of two Omicron sub-variants, the spokesperson said. But he went on: “So far vaccination means that those rising cases have not translated into a rise in severe illness or death, with no increase in ICU admission.”

There will be a Commons statement at 3.30pm from Sajid Javid, the health secretary, on the draft mental health bill. That means the debate on the Northern Ireland protocol bill will not start until about 4.30pm.

More rail strikes will be held this week in worsening disputes over issues including pay, jobs and conditions, PA Media reports. PA says:

Members of the drivers’ union Aslef on the Croydon Tramlink will strike on Tuesday and Wednesday over pay.

The walkout follows three days of strike action last week on the railways and a 24-hour stoppage on London Underground which crippled services.

Aslef said FirstGroup, the company which operates Tramlink on behalf of Transport for London, has offered tram drivers a 3% pay rise.

Finn Brennan, Aslef’s organiser on Croydon Tramlink and London Underground, said: “This would mean a real terms wage cut for people already struggling to deal with rising fuel, energy and food bills.

“Our members do a difficult and demanding job, working round the clock shifts over 364 days of the year. They deserve a fair pay settlement.”

Sinn Féin has restated its opposition to the Northern Ireland protocol bill being debated by MPs this afternoon. The Sinn Féin MP John Finucane told Radio Ulster:

It’s very interesting that we are watching a sovereign parliament debating whether to continue a breach of international law or not.

As I’ve said, and I think as many others have said, on numerous occasions, the introduction of this bill is shameful. It provides nothing but more instability, especially for people here, especially for our industries and sectors here.

So the British government seem to be tone deaf to the majority of the wishes of people here in continuing to push ahead with this legislation.

Boris Johnson restated his commitment to levelling up this morning. (See 12.03pm.) But a new report from the Resolution Foundation underlines quite what a challenge this will be. Using data showing how average incomes at local authority level have changed since 1997, it says inequalities have been persistent and that over the last 25 years overall change has been limited. It says:

We begin by showing that income differences at the local authority level are substantial. In 2019, before housing costs income per person in the richest local authority – Kensington and Chelsea (£52,451) – was 4.5 times that of the poorest – Nottingham (£11,708). These outliers clearly paint an extreme picture, but even when we compare incomes at the 75th and the 25th percentiles the differences remain significant. In 2019, for example, Oxford had an average per person income that was more than 20 per cent higher than Torbay (£18,700, compared with £15,372). More critically, the income gaps between places are enduring: the differences we observe in 1997 explain 80 per cent of the variation in average local authority income per person 22 years on. This means, for example, that the average income per person in Hammersmith and Fulham has stubbornly been two-to-three times higher than in Burnley for more than two decades.

But the paper also says the factors driving income inequality between places have changed. For example, it says there is more variation now than in the past between the amount people receive in investment income in rich areas and the amount people receive from investment income in poor areas.

Commenting on the findings, Lindsay Judge, research director at the thinktank, said:

Britain is beset by huge economic gaps between different parts of the country, and has been for many decades. While progress has been made in reducing employment gaps, this been offset by a surge in investment income among better-off families in London and the south-east.

People care about these gaps and want them closed, as does the government via its ‘levelling up’ strategy. The key to closing these gaps is to boost the productivity of our major cities outside London, which will also lead to stronger growth overall.

Johnson says Tory confidence vote in his leadership gave him ‘new mandate’ for his reform agenda

Peter Walker

Peter Walker

Boris Johnson has again rejected the idea of standing down despite intense political pressure from some Conservative MPs, arguing that this month’s confidence vote had given him “a new mandate”, which he intended to use.

Interviewed by the BBC’s Chris Mason, Johnson dismissed the idea that he might simply be tempted to walk away from the job, saying:

Driving a massive, massive agenda for change is a huge, huge privilege to do. And nobody abandons a privilege like that.

The mandate that the electorate gave us in 2019, there hasn’t been a mandate like it for the Conservative party for 40 years, it’s a mandate to change the country, to unite and to level up, and that’s what we’re going to do.

The PM did, however, dodge a follow-up question about whether, as he claimed over the weekend, he was hoping to win two more elections and govern into the 2030s, saying only that he aimed to continue with his “massive agenda”.

Asked if he even had the authority to deliver any change, Johnson referred to the confidence vote, in which 41% of his MPs wanted him to go:

I’ve got a new mandate from my party which I’m absolutely delighted with … it’s done.

Continuing his pattern of recent days, Johnson made vague pledges to listen more on areas like the cost of living, and to “humbly accept those criticisms”, but also resisted attempts to discuss if, or how, he planned to change as a prime minister. He said:

I think the job of government is to get on with governing, and to resist the blandishments of the media, no matter how brilliant, to talk about politics, to talk about ourselves.

Johnson again mixed the minor contrition with a bullish defence of his record, saying he was “very proud of the great things that we’ve done”, and that others should agree. He said:

I think most fair minded people, looking at how the UK came through Covid, around the world most people would say, actually fair play to them. They got the first vaccine into people’s arms, and they had the fastest vaccine rollout. Actually, they’ve got pretty low unemployment. They’ve got investment flooding into their country, they have got a lot of things going for them.

Boris Johnson interviewed at G7 summit in Germany
Boris Johnson interviewed at the G7 summit in Germany. Photograph: UK Pool

Yesterday Brandon Lewis, the Northern Ireland secretary, told the BBC that, if the Stormont executive was not revived soon, he would consider legislating to cut the pay of MLAs (members of the legislative assembly). This is something the government did when the power-sharing executive was last suspended between 2017 and 2020.

The executive is not sitting because the DUP won’t participate until the Northern Ireland protocol is changed. The DUP won’t even allow the assembly to elect a Speaker, which is necessary for it to sit.

This morning Edwin Poots, the DUP agriculture minister, said that the threat of a pay cut would not make his party lift its boycott of the executive. He said:

I’m working six days a week most weeks, so personally I have no issue about taking pay, but if Brandon Lewis wants to cut pay, bring it on – that’s entirely up to him.

That will have no bearing whatsoever on the position that we’re adopting. None whatsoever. We are standing on a principle. Therefore, pay will not be an issue that will detract us from achieving what we’ve set out to achieve.

Westminster taking ‘wrecking ball’ to idea of UK as voluntary partnership of nations, Sturgeon says

Westminster is “taking a wrecking ball” to the idea of the United Kingdom as a voluntary partnership of nations, Nicola Sturgeon has said. As PA Media reports, Scotland’s first minister said the Conservative government is trying to deny the “democratic right” of people in Scotland to choose their future. Sturgeon made the comment ahead of a statement she will make to the Scottish parliament tomorrow setting out her plans for a second referendum on Scotland’s future in the UK.

Sturgeon said:

Westminster is taking a wrecking ball to the idea of the United Kingdom as a voluntary partnership of nations.

A Tory government with just six MPs from Scotland, supported on this issue by Labour, is seeking to deny the democratic right of the people of Scotland to choose their own future.

In doing so, they are demonstrating beyond doubt that, in place of a voluntary partnership, they believe the UK is instead defined by Westminster control.

The case for a referendum is therefore now as much a Scottish democracy movement as a Scottish independence movement.

Boris Johnson (left) sitting between President Joe Biden (reading a paper) and the Japanese PM Fumio Kishida at the G7 summit this morning, with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel also in view.
Boris Johnson (left) sitting between President Joe Biden (reading a paper) and the Japanese PM Fumio Kishida at the G7 summit this morning, with European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen and European Council president Charles Michel also in view. Photograph: Kenny Holston/AFP/Getty Images

Johnson claims Northern Ireland protocol bill could become law by end of year

This afternoon MPs will debate the second reading of the Northern Ireland protocol bill. In his BBC News interview, Boris Johnson claimed the legislation – that will allow the UK government to abandon large parts of the protocol, in what critics argue is a clear breach of international law – could become law by the end of the year.

Asked if the measures could be in place this year, he replied: “Yes, I think we could do it very fast, parliament willing.”

Johnson claimed it would be “even better” if the European Union agreed to the changes to the protocol requested by the UK, which would make the legislation unnecessary.

Many parliamentarians believe it will take much longer to pass the Northern Ireland protocol bill because it could be blocked by the House of Lords, where the government does not have a majority and where peers (who see themselves as guardians of the constitution) are particularly alarmed about the way the legislation contravenes an international treaty the UK signed. (The government claims an emergency opt-out in international law makes this justified, but most independent lawyers believe this argument is bogus.)

Normally the House of Lords accepts legislation passed by the Commons, and there is a convention saying it should never vote down a measure included in the governing party’s election manifesto. But in this case peers would feel justified in rejecting the bill because the Northern Ireland protocol (which the bill rips up) was part of the “oven-ready” Brexit deal at the heart of Johnson’s election offer in 2019.

If the Lords were to vote down the bill, the government would have to pass it using the Parliament Act, which would hold it up for another year.

In his interview Johnson also said the bill was not generating a row at the G7 summit.

EU leaders all believe the bill is against international law, and is a breach of faith by the UK, and Washington has serious concerns about it too. But Johnson said: “The interesting thing is how little this conversation [about the NI protocol] is being had, certainly here.”

Johnson welcomes ‘amazing consistency’ of G7’s resolve to support Ukraine

Peter Walker

Peter Walker

Boris Johnson has reiterated his warnings at the G7 summit about “Ukraine fatigue”, while insisting that he believes the gathering of world leaders will remain united on the issue.

In an interview with BBC News, Johnson said there had been concern about “the anxieties of other countries around the world about the continuing war, the effect on food prices, on energy prices”. He continued:

And what’s really struck me in the last couple of days has been the amazing consistency of our resolve, the continuing unity of the G7 – that has really shone through in the conversations.

I think there’s a reason for that. The logic of the position is still so clear – there is no deal that President Zelenskiy can really do. In those circumstances, the G7 supporters of Ukraine around the world have to continue to help the Ukrainians to rebuild their economy, to get their grain out. And of course, we have to help them to protect themselves. And that’s what we’re going to continue to do.

Zelenskiy is to address the G7 virtually later on Monday while Johnson, for whom the summit is something of a respite from political woes at home, will push the same message again at the Nato summit in Madrid, which begins on Wednesday.

Eustice claims PM’s third term comment was his way of saying ‘he’s got a lot he wants to do’

George Eustice, the environment secretary, has been giving interviews this morning, and he has defended Boris Johnson’s comment at the weekend about planning for his third term in office. Using a formula often wheeled out by politicians expected to perform gaffe repair on behalf of a colleague, Eustice claimed that what Johnson actually meant to say was something a bit different. He told Times Radio:

I think what the prime minister was really saying is he’s got a lot that he wants to do. There’s a lot going on in the world that he’s focused on, and he doesn’t want to get distracted by these sorts of discussions.

Yes, he’d like to go on and on. But to be honest, we also understand that we’ve got a lot of hurdles to clear before we get to that point.

Johnson claims he is not worried about Tory MPs plotting against him because leadership issue now ‘settled’

Boris Johnson has said that he considers the Conservative party leadership issue now “settled”. Speaking to reporters at the G7 summit in Germany this morning, he was asked if he was worried about Tory MPs plotting to remove him. He replied:

No. We settled that a couple of weeks ago.

What I’m focused on, and what we’re doing is getting on with, number one, all the stuff we’re doing to help people with the cost of living in the short term, using the fiscal firepower we have, with £1,200 for eight million of the most vulnerable households, £400 to help everybody, £300 for pensioners, cutting council tax – all the things that we’re doing in cash terms to help people through the current inflationary spike in the cost of, particularly, energy.

But also getting on with the agenda for our plan for a stronger economy, reforming our supply side in energy, transport, housing, all the things that matter to people. And then the general government agenda, levelling up the country and delivering on our programme.

Is the PM concerned about MPs plotting against him while he is abroad?

“We settled that a couple of weeks ago… what we’re doing is getting on with all the stuff we’re doing to help people with the cost of living in the short term,” says Boris Johnsonhttps://t.co/f8l1d8F155 pic.twitter.com/V7fGsVHGnm

— BBC Politics (@BBCPolitics) June 27, 2022

G7 leaders having dinner at Castle Elmau in Kruen, near Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, last night
G7 leaders having dinner at Castle Elmau in Kruen, near Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, last night.
Photograph: Markus Schreiber/AP

David Davis urges fellow anti-Johnson Tories to let PM stay for a year to avoid paralysing government

Good morning. Boris Johnson has been out of the country now for most of the last week but, as is often the case when a PM goes abroad to focus on international affairs, a domestic crisis remains a distraction. The two byelection defeats last week turbocharged (as they would say in No 10) Conservative party opposition to Johnson and his critics have been working on plans to get a slate of MPs elected to the executive of the 1922 Committee before the summer recess so they can change the rules, and allow a second no confidence vote to go ahead before next year.

But there was good news this morning for Johnson when David Davis, the former Brexit secretary who has already publicly called for Johnson to quit, declared that he was opposed to the rules being changed. Having won the confidence vote, Johnson should be allowed to remain in office unchallenged for another year, Davis said.

Davis stressed that he had not changed his mind about Johnson’s performance as PM. But a rule changing would set a bad precedent, because it would paralyse government decision making, he said.

Whether it’s Boris or anybody else, dealing with stagflation is going [to require] some really difficult decisions. Do you want a leader, whoever it is, looking over his shoulder every month at this tax increase or whatever?

So no, I don’t want the rules changed. I don’t think they will change either.

Davis said that meant Johnson had a year to show that he could deliver on the promises he had made, and he said the key requirement was for the government to start cutting taxes.

I campaigned in 16 rebel seats and in Wakefield. I got the same thing coming at me every time. ‘We expect you to be a low tax party. We are not seeing that any more.’ We got to the highest tax take in history last year.

When it was put to Davis that the government did not have an agreed post-Brexit economic plan, he replied.

We don’t really have an agreed economic plan full stop.

I have people, working-class voters in council estates, saying you’re not behaving like a Conservative government. You’re not Conservative. That is a terrible thing to have to face down if you are running the country.

Here is the agenda for the day.

9am: The G7 summit in Germany, which Boris Johnson is attending, starts with an address from Volodymyr Zelenskiy, the Ukrainian president. During the day, as well as attending sessions on climate, energy and health policy, and on food security and gender equality, Johnson is recording an interview with the BBC’s Chris Mason, and holding a meeting with the South African president, Cyril Ramaphosa.

12.15pm: Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, holds a summit on setting up abortion buffer zones outside abortion clinics.

1.30pm: Downing Street holds a lobby briefing.

2.30pm: Michael Gove, the levelling up secretary, takes questions in the Commons.

3pm: Kate Forbes, the Scottish government’s finance minister, gives evidence to the Commons Scottish affairs committee.

After 3.30pm: Liz Truss, the foreign secretary, opens the second reading debate on the Northern Ireland protocol bill.

I try to monitor the comments below the line (BTL) but it is impossible to read them all. If you have a direct question, do include “Andrew” in it somewhere and I’m more likely to find it. I do try to answer questions, and if they are of general interest, I will post the question and reply above the line (ATL), although I can’t promise to do this for everyone.

If you want to attract my attention quickly, it is probably better to use Twitter. I’m on @AndrewSparrow.

Alternatively, you can email me at andrew.sparrow@theguardian.com





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