Boris Johnson latest: By-election ‘neck and neck’ in Tory stronghold

Boris Johnson fails to deny he offered Carrie Symonds top job

The crucial by-election in the Conservative stronghold of Tiverton and Honiton is “neck and neck”, according to the Liberal Democrats.

As voters prepare to head to the polls on Thursday in two by-elections, Sir Ed Davey His party suggested “could be on the verge of a historic victory”.

The second ballot will be held in Wakefield, which is a “red wall” seat that Sir Keir Starmer is hoping to seize back for Labor after it fell to the Tories at the 2019 election for the first time since the constituency was created in 1932.

Conservative MPs told The Independent that a double by-election defeat would be a “disaster” for the embattled Boris Johnsonwho narrowly survived a vote of no confidence a fortnight ago.

Meanwhile, Jacob Rees-Mogg has been accused of unveiling a Brexit “gimmick” – a quarterly dashboard of reformed EU laws – which will “do nothing to address the real challenges that the public face today”.

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‘What an exciting time to be here in Rwanda’

Boris Johnson has been exchanging pleasantries with Rwanda president Paul Kagame.

As we reported earlier, the prime minister is attending a Commonwealth leaders’ summit in Kigali.

Mr Johnson arrived at Mr Kagame’s Office by car then walked up red-carpeted stairs to meet the Rwandan leader.

At the top, the two men met with a relaxed handshake.

Boris Johnson (L) and his wife Carrie Johnson get off a plane before traveling to president’s office

(POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

They then went next door to the president’s meeting room where they sat in white armchairs in front of a Union flag and a Rwandan flag.

Mr Johnson said: “How are you? Very good to see you. What an exciting time to be here in Rwanda. Congratulations on taking over as chair of office. This will be absolutely superb.”

Mr Kagame said: “It is a pleasure. Thank you.”

The media was then asked to leave the room.

Matt Mathers23 June 2022 09:45

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Truss – Putin is weaponising hunger

Vladimir Putin is “weaponising hunger”, the foreign secretary said as the criticised Russia’s blockade of Ukrainian grain.

Liz Truss was speaking at a press conference alongside her Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu in Ankara.

She said the UK and Turkey are working “closely together”, in particular to get the “grain out of Ukraine”.

“(Vladimir) Putin is weaponising hunger. He is using food security as a callous tool of war. He has blocked Ukrainian ports, and is stopping 20 million tons of grain being exported across the globe, holding the world to ransom,” she said .

“I’m here in Turkey to discuss the plan to get the grain out, supported by the United Nations. We’re clear that commercial vessels need to have safe passage to be able to leave Ukrainian ports, and that Ukrainian ports should be protected from Russian attacks.

“We support the UN talks, but Russia cannot be allowed to delay and prevaricate. It’s urgent that action is taken within the next month ahead of the new harvest. And we’re determined to work with our allies to deliver this.”

Our politics correspondent Ashley Cowburn has the full report:

Matt Mathers23 June 2022 09:06

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Rwanda prepared to take ‘thousands’ of asylum seekers

Rwanda is “prepared to take in thousands” of asylum seekers deported from the UK, a Kigali government spokeswoman has said.

Yolande Makolo made the comments last night on ITV’s Peston show.

Asked how much per asylum seeker the UK government is going to pay Rwanda, she added: “These figures are still being worked out”.

Prime minister Boris Johnson has within the past few hours touched down in Kigali, which he is visiting for a Commonwealth leaders alongside summit Prince Charles.

Matt Mathers23 June 2022 08:50

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Martin Lewis says he was rejected from House of Lords because he was ‘honest’ in an interview

Consumer expert Martin Lewis has revealed he was turned down after applying to become a member of the House of Lords.

Mr Lewis, founder and chair of MoneySavingExpert.comsaid that he believes his bid for a cross-bench peerage was rejected because he was “honest” about the limited time he could commit to the role.

In an interview with the BBC’s Political Thinking podcast, Mr Lewis expressed his desire for “more consensual, co-operative politics”.

Mr Lewis has become vocal in recent months on behalf of consumers and financially stretched households, amid surging inflation and a cost-of-living crisis, writes Dominic McGrath.

Maryam Zakir-Hussain23 June 2022 08:22

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Government borrowing hit record in May as inflation soars

Government borrowing stood at a higher-than-expected £14 billion last month as soaring inflation sent interest on the debt racing to a May record, according to official figures.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said government borrowing was £4 billion less than in May last year, but was still the third-highest May borrowing since monthly records began in 1993 and £8.5 billion more than in May 2019, before the pandemic struck.

The data revealed that surging levels of inflation sent interest payments on the government debt to a record-breaking £7.6 billion – £3.1 billion higher than a year earlier.

The ONS said the jump in UK debt interest payments is down to the recent surge in the Retail Prices Index (RPI) measure of inflation, which determines payouts on index-linked gilts.

So far this financial year, debt interest payments have totalled £14.1 billion, up £4.7 billion year-on-year, the ONS said.

June figures are expected to show the worst of the impact of inflation on government debt interest payments, with the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) forecasting £19.7 billion – the biggest on record by far.

Maryam Zakir-Hussain23 June 2022 08:07

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Six Brexit problems six years after the EU referendum

It is six years after the 2016 EU referendum, and Brexit has been delivered. But all is not necessary well.

Polling conducted by Savanta ComRes in October found that just 36 per cent think the project has been a success, with 52 per cent considering it a failure, John Stone writes.

Here are six of the biggest enduring problems Brexit has caused to mark six years since the big vote.

Maryam Zakir-Hussain23 June 2022 07:51

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Voting opens in by-elections

Voting has opened in Tiverton, Honiton and Wakefield for the crucial by-elections which could see Conservative uprooted from the towns.

The competition in Tiverton and Honiton is “neck and neck”, according to the Liberal Democratswho are aiming for a major political upset in the Devon seat.

Meanwhile, Sir Keir Starmer is hoping to reclaim Wakefield for Labor after he fell to the Tories in 2019 for the first time since 1932.

Maryam Zakir-Hussain23 June 2022 07:28

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Brexit has left ‘enduring scars’ on EU nationals living in UK, research finds

Six years on from the EU referendum, Brexit has left “enduring scars” on European nationals living in the UK, according to a new study.

Two-thirds of UK-resident EU and EEA citizens taking part in the survey said Brexit had “significantly – and mostly negatively – affected their feelings about Britain”, said researchers from the University of Birmingham and Lancaster University.

And many of the 364 people questioned said that Brexit had prompted them to reconsider their future in the UK and destructed their trust in British institutions and politicians.

Our political editor Andrew Woodcock reports:

Maryam Zakir-Hussain23 June 2022 07:17

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Labor MP signed off sick after ‘sustained campaign of misogynistic abuse’

A Labor MP is taking time away from work after suffering from “a sustained campaign of misogynistic harassment and abuse”.

Apsana Begum, MP for Poplar and Limehouse, posted a statement on Twitter on Wednesday night that said she attended hospital on 12 June and was later signed off work by her GP.

She said: “For the duration of my time as a Member of Parliament, I have been subjected to a sustained campaign of misogynistic abuse and harassment.

“As a survivor of domestic abuse, it has been particularly painful and difficult. This abusive campaign has had a significant effect on my mental and physical health.”

Ms Begum, who was part of the 2019 intake of MPs, added that her staff and office will still be open to help people in her east London constituency while she is off sick.

Alisha Rahaman Sarkar23 June 2022 06:24

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Suspended Tory MP faces fresh investigation into ‘paid advocacy’

David Warburton, who was suspended by the Conservatives over allegations of sexual harassment and cocaine use is facing a fresh Commons inquiry.

Mr Warburton was disciplined by his party and is already being investigated by parliament’s Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme (ICGS), it is understood.

Now the MP for Somerton and Frome is also the subject of a probe by the standards commissioner into whether he broke the MPs’ code of conduct on three counts.

They are “paid advocacy”, failure to declare an interest, and over rules concerning the declaration of “gifts, benefits and hospitality”.

Alisha Rahaman Sarkar23 June 2022 06:10