Boris Johnson news – live: No 10 apologizes to Queen but Liz Truss tells nation to ‘move on’ from partygate

No 10 apologizes to the Queen for the holidays ahead of Prince Philip’s funeral

The former chief executive of the government’s Covid task force apologized at a Cabinet Office rally for leaving drinks during coronavirus restrictions days before Christmas in 2020.

Kate Josephs, chief executive of Sheffield City Council, said she was cooperating with an investigation by senior civil servant Sue Gray.

In a tweet, she said the December 17 event was to mark her departure from public service and included staff “gathering…with drinks, in our office.”

The revelation comes the same day Downing Street was forced to apologize to Buckingham Palace following reports of two No 10 parties being held on the eve of Prince Philip’s socially distanced funeral – but the officials will not say whether Boris Johnson knew about it.

The Prime Minister’s spokesman also refuses to elaborate on whether it was acknowledged at the Palace that the gatherings were “social events”, which would have breached Covid rules at the time.

It is understood the apology was delivered by a government official, in a phone call – rather than a conversation involving Mr Johnson.

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Everyone should rage against the government, says Gary Neville

Former Manchester United and England star Gary Neville – who has now joined the Labor Party – said ‘everyone should absolutely rage’ against the government as the partygate scandal engulfs Downing Street.

He told the BBC’s Political Thinking podcast he believed Rishi Sunak would take over if Boris Johnson quit as prime minister and confirmed he had joined Labor “in the final days”.

Joe MiddletonJanuary 14, 2022 6:37 p.m.

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‘It’s a work event’: Dozens of people dressed as Boris Johnson dance outside Downing Street

Dozens of people wearing Boris Johnson face masks and wigs danced outside Downing Street after details emerged of other parties being held under strict Covid rules on the eve of Prince Philip’s funeral ‘last year.

The crowd were seen chanting ‘this is a work event’ and ‘my name is Boris’, the former referring to the Prime Minister’s apology for attending an earlier party on May 20, 2020.

Footage shows Mr Johnson’s impersonators holding several different types of booze, some of them wearing union jacks around their shoulders.

Joe MiddletonJanuary 14, 2022 6:24 p.m.

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Operation Save Big Dog: Boris Johnson hatches plan to get partygate officials out so he can keep his job

Boris Johnson draws up a list of officials to offer resignations on partygate in a bid to save his job as Prime Minister, The Independent has learned.

Dubbed ‘Operation Save Big Dog’ by the Prime Minister himself, the plan includes a campaign to determine which heads should roll after senior civil servant Sue Gray’s findings are published, as well as highlighting the Prime Minister’s achievements, according to sources.

Dan Rosenfield, Boris Johnson’s chief of staff, and Martin Reynolds, his private secretary and author of the ‘BYOB’ email, have both been noted as possible departures.

Anna Isaac has the details.

Joe MiddletonJanuary 14, 2022 6:03 p.m.

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As we try to live with the Covid, a category of vulnerable people emerges: the new excluded

The government speaks of a “return to normal”. For several million people, the grim reality is very different, writes Jane Fae.

Joe MiddletonJanuary 14, 2022 5:49 p.m.

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Alex Salmond: Pushing for Scottish independence as Boris Johnson is engulfed in scandal

Alex Salmond has said independence supporters should capitalize on the engulfing Boris Johnson scandal and push for another referendum.

The former prime minister predicted Mr Johnson would be ousted this year after outrage at Downing Street parties during the lockdown.

The Alba party leader argued that independence campaigners ‘wouldn’t have a better chance’ of securing Scottish independence.

Mr Salmond said: “It is in the nature of Boris Johnson to have scandals. So the Conservatives know that, at some point this year, they will get rid of him. But, the question we should be asking is, who comes next?

“It is not Alba’s task and it should not be the task of any Scottish politician to replace Boris Johnson with another Tory, especially when that Tory is more organised, more popular, more fearsome and more ruthless than Boris Johnson.

He added: ‘We have to ask ourselves, given the utter disorganization of people like Johnson, Michael Gove and the like, why the hell didn’t we push the issue of independence?

“We will have no better opportunity than to have weakness at the top of the London government, and that weakness should be Scotland’s opportunity.”

His comments come as a YouGov poll showed the Prime Minister now has a net favor rating of minus 77 in Scotland – the lowest of Britain’s four nations.

Joe MiddletonJanuary 14, 2022 5:34 p.m.

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Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe ‘full of hope’ after British Council worker released from Iranian jail

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has more hope about her chances of being released from prison after a British Council employee detained in Iran for spying was freed and returned to the UK, her husband has said.

The British Council announced that Aras Amiri, who was jailed for more than three years in Iran on fiercely criticized espionage charges, won her appeal to the country’s Supreme Court on Wednesday and has since returned to the UK, writes our female correspondent. Maya Oppenheim.

The 34-year-old worked as an arts affairs officer and was arrested in 2018 while visiting family in Tehran. The British Council said it had always refuted the allegations made against her after Ms Amiri’s 10-year sentence was quashed.

Joe MiddletonJanuary 14, 2022 5:14 p.m.

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Hundreds of Boris bewigged lookalikes protest outside Downing Street

Joe MiddletonJanuary 14, 2022 4:59 p.m.

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Covid: UK reports 99,652 infections and 270 deaths

The rate of spread of Covid could be slowing, figures show, with a drop of nearly 10,000 new infections in one day.

According to government statistics, a further 99,652 people were infected with Covid-19 in the UK in 24 hours.

That’s down from the 109,133 new infections recorded in the previous 24 hours, but it brings the total number of infections to 15,066,395, almost a quarter of Britain’s population.

Report by Jane Dalton.

Joe MiddletonJanuary 14, 2022 4:47 p.m.

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Covid rules task force leader admits leaving drinks during lockdown

The former head of a government unit tasked with making Covid rules has apologized for hosting a leaving event during the 2020 Christmas lockdown.

Kate Joseph, ex-head of the Cabinet Office Covid task force, admitted she gathered colleagues for her own departure event on December 17, 2020.

It came as strict restrictions on socializing remained in place in London.

Joe MiddletonJanuary 14, 2022 4:23 p.m.

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Campaigners say Covid fines must be overturned amid No 10 ‘impunity’

Prosecutions against the coronavirus must be halted in light of allegations that government figures broke the law “with impunity” while ordinary members of the public were punished, activists have said.

The Fair Trials group has called for the nearly 120,000 fines issued so far in England and Wales to be reversed and all charges under Covid laws to be withdrawn, reports our Home Affairs Editor Lizzie Deden.

“We cannot have a justice system where those in power can break the lockdown with impunity while others are prosecuted and fined,” said CEO Normal L Reimer.

Meanwhile, the figures obtained by The Independent show that 30% of Covid-related prosecutions so far reviewed by the Crown Prosecution Service – 803 out of 2,716 – were unjustified.

sam hancockJanuary 14, 2022 4:08 p.m.

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