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Boris out | Schrödinger’s MP | Sturgeon arrested

This is the section of your roundup where we sum up in a few witty lines the main action to have taken place since last Friday. This week we can sum it up in two words… Boris Johnson.

Welcome to the weekly roundup from Navigate Politics, bringing you all the top news, publications and movements from UK politics over the past seven days, ensuring you’re fully briefed on the top stories ahead of the weekend. If you know somebody who would find this briefing useful, please do forward it on so they can subscribe and get it direct to their inbox each Friday.

Driving the Week 🚨

Boris Johnson, the Privileges Committee, and Conservative Party dramatics, the last week certainly hasn’t been a quiet one in the world of Westminster. Last Friday, just after this roundup went out, the former Prime Minister decided to call it quits and announce he was stepping down as an MP, after he was given early sight of the Privileges Committee report into whether he had misled Parliament over Partygate. At this stage, he accused the Committee of not producing a ‘shred of evidence’; labelled it a ‘Kangaroo Court’; contended that it had ‘wilfully chosen to ignore the truth; while also stating that he had been an MP ‘since 2001’ (he must have forgotten stepping down to be Mayor of London…). His announcement was followed on Saturday by the now-former MP for Selby and Ainsty Nigel Adams, who was also rumoured to be on Johnson’s original Peerage list, announcing he wanted to return to the private sector, confirming he would be leaving the Commons. The two were officially appointed Steward and Bailiff of the Three Hundreds of Chiltern and Steward and Bailiff of the Manor of Northstead on Monday, officially ending their careers (for now) in the House of Commons…

But that isn’t all, as the Report itself was released on Thursday, and was scathing in its criticism of the former MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip, recommending that (were he still an MP) he be suspended for 90 days, due to ‘repeated contempts and for seeking to undermine the parliamentary process’, including ‘being complicit in the campaign of abuse and attempted intimidation of the Committee’. They also recommended that Johnson should not be entitled to a former Member’s pass. Expect this saga to rumble on, as MPs will be votingon the report on Monday, with it reported that Conservative MPs will be given a free vote, and many, including potentially the current Prime Minister, are likely to abstain. Johnson has allegedly told his supporters to not oppose the report, as he wants to ‘move on’, presumably to writing a weekly column in the Daily Mail about how he would be doing things better than his successor. However Johnson’s supporters (and Johnson himself) had already gone after Conservative MP Bernard Jenkin, who sits on the Committee that voted for Johnson’s suspension, after it was reported that Jenkin attended a drinks party in Parliament in December 2020, when mixing outside of households or support bubbles was banned in London.

Rishi Sunak will be facing two testing by-elections on July 20 (coincidentally the last day the Commons is due to sit before the long summer recess), in Uxbridge and South Ruislip and Selby and Ainsty, with the Labour Party fancying their chances in both. Candidates have been chosen, campaigning has begun, and the Lib Dems and Labour are arguing over who is ‘winning here’. Meanwhile in Mid Bedfordshire, Schrödinger’s MP Nadine Dorries, delayed her ‘resignation with immediate effect’, to wait for responses to ‘Subject Access Requests submitted to the House of Lords Appointments Commission, Cabinet Secretary and the Cabinet Office’, claiming it is still ‘absolutely my intention to resign’. Any by-election here will now likely take place during the summer recess, much to the joy of Politicos everywhere on summer break.

The Week in Stats 📉

£245k – how much opposition MPs are calling for Boris Johnson to pay back for his use of lawyers and their bill during the Partygate inquiry.

3 – the number of by-elections to occur in the next few months after Boris Johnson, Nadine Dorries and Nigel Adams have announced their resignations.

76% – the UK employment rate in February - April 2023 as estimated by the ONS. This marks a 0.2% increase on November 2022 - January 2023 time.

0.2 % – how much GDP grew in April, following a 0.3% decline in March.

£35 per week – how much price-adjusted average pay is down since Feb 2008 making real average weekly earnings the same today as in November 2005.

£50 million – Department of Health funding announced to go towards opening 6 ambulance hubs and 42 upgraded discharge lounges at hospitals across the country.

79% – how much Council tax is estimated to have increased by since its introduction in 1993 for an average band D home according to the Taxpayers Alliance. They compared the £568 paid for an average band D bill when council tax was introduced in 1993 (£1,140 when accounting for inflation) to the average now of £2,065.

Other Political News 📰

Former Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon MSP was arrested on Sunday morning and questioned by Police as part of their investigation into missing funds in the Scottish National Party. She was released from custody just over seven hours later and returned home. After being released, Sturgeon published a statement on Twitter calling the situation “both a shock and deeply distressing”, arguing that she knows “beyond doubt” that she is “innocent of any wrongdoing”. Her arrest follows the arrest of her husband at the beginning of April, just a week after she stepped down as First Minister, over claims £600,000 of donations to the SNP had gone missing. As part of his arrest a £100,000 motorhome parked outside Nicola Sturgeon’s mother-in-law’s house was seized. The former First Minister’s arrest means current incumbent Humza Yousaf is the only SNP leader to hold the role who has not been arrested.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt MP delivered a speech on productivity at the Centre for Policy Studies, in which he spoke about the need to improve productivity growth across the public and private sectors. He used his speech to note that tackling inflation was his immediate priority, and announced that he had asked Chief Secretary to the Treasury John Glen MP to lead a “major public sector productivity programme across all Government departments” to assess how to increase public sector productivity growth in the short and long-term. He further announced that he had asked the National Statistician to review how to improve the way public sector productivity is measured, and outlined Government action on boosting skills, supporting business investment and addressing labour shortages.

The Scottish Government published its National Innovation Strategy, setting out plans to 'align Scotland with European leaders such as Denmark, Finland and Norway over the next decade by placing innovation at the heart of the economy.' The strategy includes proposals to encourage European-style clusters of similar businesses by focusing on key strengths in advanced manufacturing, health and life sciences, net zero, and data & digital technologies. It also sets out a new approach to investing in innovative companies by reviewing existing public sector funds and improving signposting towards other sources of finance, as well as supporting Scotland’s universities to become better at turning research into successful products and businesses.

The UK, USA, Denmark and Netherlands announced a new package of air defence support for Ukraine, in which they are 'partnering together to deliver high priority air defence equipment' to address its 'most urgent air defence requirements'. The initiative will 'deliver hundreds of short and medium range air defence missiles and associated systems required to protect Ukraine’s critical national infrastructure and further ensure the success of counter-offensive operations in the coming months'.

Around the World 🌍

Former President Donald Trump appeared in court again, this time facing 37 charges relating to the storage of a huge hoard of classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago residence in Florida (including in one of the bathrooms). The appearance was little more than formality, with Trump entering his ‘not guilty’ plea before leaving to deliver a fiery speech in which he attacked President Biden as “the most corrupt president in the history of our country”. Despite it all, Trump remains the favourite to become Republican nominee for the 2024 race.

Silvio Berlusconi, former Italian prime minister and giant of Italian politics, died at the age of 86. The billionaire media tycoon served four terms as prime minister from 1994-95, 2001-06 and 2008-11, and also served in the European Parliament and the Italian Senate. However, to many his name is associated with his infamous ‘bunga-bunga’ parties and the seemingly endless stream of allegations of sexual misconduct, corruption, potential criminal behaviour and gaffes that served to establish him as one of the most recognisable politicians of his era. He was found guilty of tax fraud in 2013, but ultimately never served prison time. He was Italy’s third richest man and its third longest-serving leader at the time of his death.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plans for judicial reform hit yet another roadblock when a ministerial rebellion delayed his plans. Elections of two MPs to Israel’s judicial selection committee went awry when four government ministers revolted against the Government and backed an opposition candidate, with the Government’s political manoeuvring leading to anger from its coalition partners who announced they would suspend participation in compromise talks on the reforms. The episode was the latest in the long-running saga that has deeply divided Israel.

Mexico City’s mayor has stood down to pursue the ruling party's candidacy for the 2024 presidential election. Claudia Sheinbaum is one of two favourites to win the candidacy, which would set her on the path to becoming Mexico’s first female leader. She is considered to be slightly ahead of her main opponent, the foreign minister, who also stood down from his position on Monday to compete. The ruling party, MORENA, is expected to win the election, in part boosted by President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador's personal popularity, although he is term-limited and cannot run again.

A delegation of African leaders have travelled to Ukraine to talk peace. The delegation includes the presidents of South Africa, Senegal, Zambia and Comoros (who is also the current Chair of the African Union), and senior representatives from Egypt, Uganda and the Republic of the Congo. Following meetings with President Zelenskyy today they will then travel on to Russia to meet with President Putin. It is unclear what the peace mission realistically intends to achieve, but it marks a new stage for Africa’s involvement in the conflict and its nations’ role on the international stage.

In Parliament 🏛

The Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill returned to the House of Commons for another round of Parliamentary ping pong. Solicitor General Michael Tomlinson said the Bill is now “very close” to passing and argued that it was “not the time” for the Lords “to insist on a novel and untested method of parliamentary scrutiny on the reform powers in the Bill”. Stay tuned as the Bill bounces back to the Lords on Tuesday.

The Illegal Migration Bill passed its committee stage in the Lords, with report stage due to begin on 28 June. During the debate, the Archbishop of Canterbury warned it is “neither morally right nor strategically sensible” to leave other countries to deal with the global refugee crisis, claiming the Bill risks “damaging our reputation as a nation”.

The Procurement Bill passed its report stage and third reading on Tuesday and is now with the Lords waiting for consideration of Commons amendments. At report stage, the Government introduced new measures to establish a National Security Unit for Procurement and powers to ban suppliers from specific sectors where they pose a risk to national security.

The Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Bill reached committee stage in the Lords. However, no changes were suggested to the Bill so it will now go directly to third reading. The Private Members’ Bill was introduced in the Commons by Yasmin Qureshi and seeks to amend the Employment Rights Act to make it easier for employees to request flexible working.

The Financial Services and Markets Bill passed its report stage in the Lords following debates on forest risk commodities, pension fund investments and protection of banking reform. The Bill has its third reading on Monday.

A number of debates took place in the Commons this week, including on a risk-based exclusion of MPs under criminal investigation for violent or sexual offences, the cost of living and Brexit, global military operations, Pride Month and Government policies on migration.

Love Island 💘🏝️

Week two in the villa and it was a fiery one… Here’s your two minute roundup to get you through those chats round the office Nespresso machine…

‘Friday night, I’m going nowhere’ sang David Gray. Well, not for George, who was unceremoniously booted out the villa at last week’s recoupling, which saw bombshell Whitney pick Frenchman Mehdi in the first firepit dumping. Zach set the Cat amongst the pigeons when he kissed Molly in the Absolute Bankers challenge, effectively uncoupling from Catherine there and then. Andre (“call me Dre”) saw his chance and all but shoved Ruchee out the villa on his way to shack back up with commercial real estate agent Catherine.

Just as things were starting to settle down…two new bombshells – Leah and Charlotte – entered the villa for dinner dates with super-chilled Tyrique, super-chilled Zach and anything-but-chilled, please-pick-me, please-pick-me Mitchel. All hell broke lose when another early recoupling saw Charlotte pick Zach, and Leah pick Ty, leaving Ella on the warpath and the islanders voting to boot Ruchee off the show. Unable to couple up with Zach, Molly was left down in the dumps, only for Mitchel to swoop in and pick up the pieces in a not-so-subtle and immediately disastrous attempt to re-woo her.

Unaware of the definition of irony, and absolutely nothing to do with the fact she fancies Mitch or that Sammy’s clearly just not into her, Jess began her own not-so-subtle whispering campaign against “two-faced” Molly. Kicking off big time when ruled offside by the girls, and still looking for a keeper, Jess couldn’t believe her luck when she headed out on a date with new bombshell and (you’ve guessed it) footballer Scott.

Ty finally made up his mind which of the two women fighting over him he wanted to stick with, pieing off Leah to give it a go with Ella. But with a public vote looming over the islanders… queue fireworks in the villa this weekend…

Committee Corridor 📜

The UK would be turning its back on the vast majority of refugees, in breach of a number of binding international human rights obligations, if the Illegal Migration Bill is passed in its current form, the Joint Committee on Human Rights has warned in its first of two reports out this week. The Committee concluded that the legislation would deny access to the asylum system to the vast majority of refugees coming to the UK, and urges the Government not to breach its legal obligations to refugees, children and victims of modern slavery.

There is little evidence to indicate significant numbers of Albanian nationals are at risk in their own country and require asylum in the UK, so argues the Home Affairs Committee in its report on immigration out this week. It notes however that some Albanian citizens making asylum claims will have been trafficked, and women are disproportionately at risk from this form of crime, adding that the UK has an obligation to support trafficking victims and they should only be returned to Albania if appropriate safeguards are in place.

The Government’s proposed Remedial Order to address human rights incompatibilities in the Investigatory Powers Act 2016 would fail to provide adequate safeguards for journalistic material, so argues the Joint Committee on Human Rights in its second report of the week. While the proposed measures would largely bring the UK’s bulk interception regime into line with human rights requirements, the Committee concludes that they would provide insufficient safeguards for the retention of journalistic material.

The UK’s overcomplicated tax system is an obstacle to economic dynamism, creating compliance burdens, confusion and disincentives to work or grow a business – so argues the Treasury Committee in its latest report on tax simplification. The report concludes that the Chancellor’s decision to disband the Office of Tax Simplification risks signalling it is not a priority for the Government.

The Government took too long to help some of those most in need of energy bill support, the Public Accounts Committee concluded in a report published this week, arguing that while support schemes were introduced quickly, the Government did not have the bandwidth to make sure support reached all groups in a timely fashion.

There are gaps in the routes of appeal available for people raising complaints about their pensions, the Public Accounts Committee has argued in its second report of the week, looking into the collapse of the Atomic Energy Agency Technology pension scheme when the company entered administration in 2012, during which some members lost significant sums.

Key Movements 🔁

Dame Sue Carr has been appointed Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, with effect from 01 October 2023.

Susan Hall, Daniel Korski and Mozammel Hossain are the candidates to make the short list for the Conservative Party’s candidate for London Mayor at the next election. The current Government Minister Paul Scully MP did not make the cut, despite being expected to.

Boris Johnson has been appointed to be Steward and Bailiff of the Three Hundreds of Chiltern; and Nigel Adams has been appointed to be Steward and Bailiff of the Manor of Northstead, meaning that, which these two archaic processes, they are now no longer MPs.

Rhun ap Iorwerth MS has been appointed leader of Plaid Cymru after he was elected unopposed in the contest caused by the resignation of former leader Adam Price MS in May.

Lucy Allan MP became the latest Conservative MP to announce she will be standing down at the next General Election.

Nick Dyer has been appointed the new Second Permanent Under-Secretary at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office. He is currently Director General, Humanitarian and Development at the FCDO.

Jane Marriott has been appointed British High Commissioner to Pakistan in succession to Christian Turner. She is currently British High Commissioner in Nairobi.

Jason Dunham has been appointed Chief Information Officer at the Student Loan’s Company.

This Week’s Polls 📊

British voters think Prime Minister Rishi Sunak does not have control of the Tory Party, blaming Boris Johnson for its divisions, found YouGov this week. In their most recent polling, it found that 52% of Britons accuse Mr Johnson of the current split, whilst 19% think Sunak is to blame, though this gap narrows in Conservative voters, at 41% for Johnson and 29% for Sunak.

Keir Starmer’s most recent rating by Deltapoll shows that more people believe he is doing badly at his job. Whilst their most recent Westminster voting intention poll still sees the Labour Party attaining the most number of votes in the next election, with 42% of people indicating they will vote Labour, polling on Keir Starmer specifically found that 44% of people he is doing poorly at his job, compared to the 43% thinking he is doing well.

Admittedly a minuscule difference when compared to the same question of Sunak, with 50% of people saying he’s doing badly and 39% saying he’s doing well.

Only 31% of Briton’s are confident in the law enforcement’s ability to stop violent crime and less than half believe that law enforcement will treat all citizens with the same level of respect according to Ipsos. During a survey of 29 countries, the UK polled as one of the lowest in confidence in law enforcement, with Singapore and Indonesia polling with the highest level of confidence.

Think-Tanking 💭

Demos published a report arguing that widespread use of personal information online enables ‘staggeringly high levels of fraud’. It argues that changing the fundamental flaw of individual information sharing online would ‘have a profound effect on the quality of our lives.’

The Centre for European Reform published a report analysing how Europe can compete with the USA and China on green tech, arguing for investment in short term assistance in areas such as hydrogen.

The Institute for Government released their most recent report on why NHS hospitals are failing to deliver higher activity despite higher spending. It referenced undermanagement, underinvestment in capital including beds, and an exodus of senior staff as problems the Government must assess.

The Institute for Government published a report on the characteristics and consequences of families with low levels of financial wealth, assessing the beginning of the Pandemic as a large economic shock that affected millions.

You’ve Got to Laugh 😂

Having flounced out of Parliament (for now) this week, at least Boris Johnson can enjoy his birthday without having to worry about that stack of constituency casework that’s piling up. However, in a move that’ll keep his supporters tongues wagging with furious accusations of all sorts, MPs are set to vote on (and without doubt pass) a motion approving the Privileges Committee’s report and withdrawing the unfettered access to Parliament former MPs receive through their right to a life-long pass, on Monday… which also happens to be the former Prime Minister’s 59th birthday (h/t popbitch).

Views on BoJo vary greatly amongst both MPs and the Westminster Lobby, highlighted by the news two members of the 7 person Privileges Committee recommended the former Prime Minister be expelled from Parliament, the highest form of punishment the Committee can recommend. However, this week’s Freudian Slip award goes to Sky News Political Editor Beth Rigby who accidentally reported that those MPs had recommended ‘explosion’ instead of ‘expulsion’, something which even former Chief Secretary to the Treasury (and no fan of Johnson) David Gauke thought was “a bit harsh”.

Speaking of a bit harsh… we know there’s a General Election on the horizon, but there are campaign methods and then there are campaign methods… and so more than one eyebrow was raised in the office this week when, during an evidence session of the Transport Select Committee, Labour MP Grahame Morris suggested “we might be able to arrange that for you” when Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson argued that what was needed to help improve the transport network, was a disabled Transport Secretary… [For clarity, this was obviously intended as a lighthearted joke… but maybe not the best to make at a select committee hearing on disabled access…]

And on that note… we hope you have a lovely weekend!

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