‘Sew-up’ Employee Selection Line

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Despite confirmation that neither the prime minster or cabinet secretary had received fixed penalty notices in the latest tranche of fines, Boris Johnson would not be drawn to comment further on the issue – saying he would have “plenty to say” once the police investigation concludes and the Sue Gray report is finally published.

So lots of questions and few answers on Partygate, and it was a similar situation on two other major stories: firstly, how the government intends to ease pressures further when it comes to the cost of living, and secondly, the furore surrounding what Boris Johnson was told by intelligence officials before he backed Lord Lebedev for a peerage.

More questions too around the peerage of Lord Lebedev. The government finally complied with the Commons motion to publish documents related to the prime minister’s decision to back the Russian-born newspaper owners’ elevation to the Lords. Particularly whether he had been advised against such a move by intelligence officials. Except it didn’t really.

Some Tory backbenchers expressed concern over what appear to be increasingly mixed messages about the potential for a windfall tax on the profits of oil and gas companies. While the official government position remains that they oppose imposing such a levy, both the chancellor and prime minister made comments that left open the possibility. With an answer like that, expect the questions to keep coming in the days ahead.

Story Highlights

  • Moments before they walked past the waiting cameras, the Met Police had confirmed a further 50 fines had been issued in relation to lockdown-busting parties in Downing Street and Whitehall.

  • But when could that be? As our deputy political editor points out in the post at 12.11pm, questionnaires were still being issued by the force last week and interviews are ongoing, which suggests there is no immediate end in sight when it comes to Operation Hillman.

The documents published were so heavily redacted as to be meaningless – prompting accusations of a cover up from Labour, and a withering statement from the Intelligence and Security Committee who appeared non-plussed that the government had used a disclosure to them as an excuse not to comply with the spirit of the Commons motion.

Analysis

Sky’s political correspondent Tamara Cohen had this on how Liz Truss’ demand for the EU to change its position on the Northern Ireland Protocol has gone down in Brussels: “It’s not gone down very well at all.

I have been speaking to a Dublin source, who said that the language of intransigence and inflexibility has not been very well received. The EU think they have made a lot of compromises already on this, that a lot of the checks on goods going between GB and NI were dropped a few months go.

And they also believe that any move by the British side to simply drop parts of the agreement would be a breach of international law. However, the government are trying to spin it here at home with legal advice, potentially from the attorney general saying that it is allowed, it would be seen as a breach of the deal on the EU side, and therefore, there would be retaliatory measures.