Today’s daily politics briefing
Several witnesses told the independent investigation that Mr Johnson’s comments comparing women wearing the burqa with bank robbers and letterboxes were “discriminatory and unacceptable”.
The inquiry criticised the Conservatives for failing to investigate racism, with two-thirds of complaints relating to anti-Muslim discrimination. “Anti-Muslim sentiment remains a problem within the party,” the report’s conclusions said.
Boris Johnson gave bizarre Shakespeare speech as Covid pandemic loomed, fuelling suspicions he was writing book
Boris Johnson gave the public a bizarre two-minute monologue on the wonders of Shakespeare as the Covid threat loomed last year – fuelling claims that he was focused on writing a book, deputy political editor Rob Merrick reports.
Dominic Cummings is expected to make the accusation – strongly denied by No 10 – that the prime minister skipped crucial meetings because of a money-spinning deadline with a publisher, when he speaks to MPs on Wednesday.
Samuel Osborne25 May 2021 13:32
Labour attacks ‘local lockdowns by stealth’
Labour’s Jonathan Ashworth has branded the updated guidance asking people not to travel in or out of eight Covid variant hotspots “local lockdowns by stealth”.
The shadow health called on the government to “withdraw this guidance now”. He also attacked Matt Hancock for failing to turn up to answer an urgent question on the issue.
“Can the minister understand how upsetting it is, can he understand how insulting it is … Local lockdowns by stealth, by the back door and the secretary of state doesn’t even have the courtesy to come and tell us.”
The new guidance for eight Indian variant hotspot areas are not “statutory restrictions”, a Downing Street spokesperson has said – stressing it was for individuals to make a judgment on how to behave.
Adam Forrest25 May 2021 13:13
Islamophobia ‘deep and embedded issue’ for party, says Tory peer
Tory peer Baroness Warsi has responded to the Singh investigation into Islamophobia and wider racism in the party
“Each section reveals a deep and embedded issue of a party at best unable and at worst unwilling to deal with the issue of racism,” she tweeted.
Baroness Warsi highlighted the fact the report said “there is evidence of anti-Muslim sentiment at local association and individual level”. She also said it showed the victimisation of complainants, who have been portrayed as “troublemakers” for speaking out.
Adam Forrest25 May 2021 12:59
Tory MP must ‘resign immediately,’ says Labour
Labour is calling for Rob Roberts to step down as Tory MP for Delyn after a Commons watchdog found “significant” breaches of parliament’s policy on sexual misconduct.
“The fact that such serious abuse doesn’t automatically result in the recall of an MP is absurd and unjust and the Labour Party will support legislation to rectify that injustice,” said Angela Rayner.
The deputy Labour leader added: “He should not be in his role for another single day more.”
Adam Forrest25 May 2021 12:33
Tory MP’s potential suspension won’t trigger recall petition
Tory MP Rob Roberts’ six-week suspension for “significant” breaches of parliament’s policy on sexual misconduct – if approved by MPs – would not trigger a recall petition. So there won’t be a by-election in his Delyn seat.
Recall rules allows for a recall only in the case of a suspension by the Commons Standards Committee and not the Independent Expert Panel (IEP), according to Politico.
Adam Forrest25 May 2021 12:25
‘Bonkers that this is news’
Plenty of chat on social media about the sensational news that Boris Johnson will cover the costs of his own wedding next year.
The prime minister will pay for the shindig *even* if he chooses his official country house Chequers as the venue.
“It is absolutely bonkers that this fact is news,” says Labour’s David Lammy. “Will Boris Johnson be a big boy and get dressed without the assistance of the British tax payer as well?”
Adam Forrest25 May 2021 12:05
I wouldn’t have made burqa remark as PM, says Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson issued a qualified apology for offence caused by his past remarks about Muslim women who wear the burqa, in comments made to the critical report into his party’s handling of Islamophobia complaints.
“I do know that offence has been taken at things I’ve said, that people expect a person in my position to get things right, but in journalism you need to use language freely. I am obviously sorry for any offence taken,” the report quoted Johnson as saying.
“Would I use some of the offending language from my past writings today? Now that I am prime minister, I would not.”
Adam Forrest25 May 2021 11:44
Covid hotspot changes ‘utterly shameful’, rages Starmer
You can follow all the latest over on our Covid liveblog, but ministers are coming in for a lot of criticism over the failure to explain lockdown advice in Covid hotspots.
It emerged on Tuesday morning that the government had advised against all but essential travel in eight areas of England – without telling local leaders.
“Making a major change that will impact so many people without even telling them is utterly shameful,” the Labour leader Keir Starmer tweeted.
“The government needs to provide clarity, fast. Local lockdowns are the wrong approach for both public health and local economies.”
Adam Forrest25 May 2021 11:40
PM: Belarus will face ‘consequences’
Boris Johnson said a video of captured journalist Roman Protasevich, released by Belarusian authorities on Monday, was “deeply distressing” and called for his release.
He tweeted: “The video of Roman Protasevich makes for deeply distressing viewing. As a journalist and a passionate believer in freedom of speech I call for his immediate release. Belarus’ actions will have consequences.”
Belarus said on Tuesday it had invited European, US and international aviation officials to probe the forced landing of a commercial flight in Minsk carrying a dissident journalist.
Adam Forrest25 May 2021 11:32
Tory MP faces suspension over sexual misconduct, watchdog says
Conservative MP Rob Roberts should be suspended for six weeks for “significant” breaches of parliament’s policy on sexual misconduct, a Commons watchdog has said.
The Independent Expert Panel (IEP) said Roberts “made repeated and unwanted sexual advances” towards one of his employees and use “his position as his employer to place him under pressure to accede”.
Leaked WhatsApp messages showed Roberts asked a 21-year-old female intern to “fool around” with him. In a separate incident he also admitted asking out another House of Commons employee, which led them to move job.
MPs will now decide whether they will back the recommended six-week sanction.
Adam Forrest25 May 2021 11:31