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Labour says Johnson is breaking election promise with army reorganisation – UK politics live Labour says Johnson is breaking election promise with army reorganisation – as it happened
(about 1 hour later)
Latest updates: Labour says PM has broken promise not to cut size of the army after restructuring announcedLatest updates: Labour says PM has broken promise not to cut size of the army after restructuring announced
It is up to France to stop refugees crossing the Channel in small boats, Priti Patel has said after 27 people, mostly Kurds from Iraq or Iran, drowned trying to reach the UK in an inflatable boat. My colleague Sarah Marsh has all the latest developments on this story on a separate live blog, here.It is up to France to stop refugees crossing the Channel in small boats, Priti Patel has said after 27 people, mostly Kurds from Iraq or Iran, drowned trying to reach the UK in an inflatable boat. My colleague Sarah Marsh has all the latest developments on this story on a separate live blog, here.
Asylum claims made in the UK have risen to their highest level for nearly 20 years, according to new figures from the Home Office, as the head of the Refugee Council calls for less “nationalist posturing” over people fleeing war zones.Asylum claims made in the UK have risen to their highest level for nearly 20 years, according to new figures from the Home Office, as the head of the Refugee Council calls for less “nationalist posturing” over people fleeing war zones.
Ben Wallace, the defence secretary, has announced a radical reorganisation of the British army, with an additional £8.6bn to be spent on equipment and a new ranger regiment created to help counter extremist organisations and hostile state threats. Labour has said that this will leave the army “too small” and “too thinly stretched” and that it confirms Boris Johnson has broken a pre-election promise not to cut the size of the armed forces. (See 1.43pm.)Ben Wallace, the defence secretary, has announced a radical reorganisation of the British army, with an additional £8.6bn to be spent on equipment and a new ranger regiment created to help counter extremist organisations and hostile state threats. Labour has said that this will leave the army “too small” and “too thinly stretched” and that it confirms Boris Johnson has broken a pre-election promise not to cut the size of the armed forces. (See 1.43pm.)
HM Revenue and Customs has struck a deal to relocate tax officials into a new office complex in Newcastle owned by major Conservative party donors through an offshore company based in a tax haven, the Guardian can reveal.HM Revenue and Customs has struck a deal to relocate tax officials into a new office complex in Newcastle owned by major Conservative party donors through an offshore company based in a tax haven, the Guardian can reveal.
Downing Street has insisted no decision has yet been taken on a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics. Earlier Jacob Rees-Mogg, the leader of the Commons, prompted speculation that the government might stay away when he told MPs that “no tickets have been booked” for ministers for the event. But No 10 said:Downing Street has insisted no decision has yet been taken on a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics. Earlier Jacob Rees-Mogg, the leader of the Commons, prompted speculation that the government might stay away when he told MPs that “no tickets have been booked” for ministers for the event. But No 10 said:
Labour is calling for an investigation into the conduct and honesty of the Conservative peer Michelle Mone after she repeatedly denied any association with a PPE (personal protective equipment) company it has since emerged she recommended to the government.Labour is calling for an investigation into the conduct and honesty of the Conservative peer Michelle Mone after she repeatedly denied any association with a PPE (personal protective equipment) company it has since emerged she recommended to the government.
Hundreds of thousands of parents are missing out on help paying for childcare and billions allocated to the government’s flagship “tax-free childcare” scheme is going unspent, data has revealed.Hundreds of thousands of parents are missing out on help paying for childcare and billions allocated to the government’s flagship “tax-free childcare” scheme is going unspent, data has revealed.
MPs held a debate on international men’s day (last Friday) in Westminster Hall today. The Conservative MP Nick Fletcher, who won Don Valley from Labour in 2019, opened the debate, and he argued that many problems facing men and boys were not receiving enough attention. He focused in particular on the importance of positive role models, and he said masculinity was something that should be celebrated. At this point in his speech speech he suggested that the trend towards having characters like Dr Who played by women was pushing young men into crime. He said:MPs held a debate on international men’s day (last Friday) in Westminster Hall today. The Conservative MP Nick Fletcher, who won Don Valley from Labour in 2019, opened the debate, and he argued that many problems facing men and boys were not receiving enough attention. He focused in particular on the importance of positive role models, and he said masculinity was something that should be celebrated. At this point in his speech speech he suggested that the trend towards having characters like Dr Who played by women was pushing young men into crime. He said:
The journalist Peter Oborne has launched a new project to catalogue the lies told by Boris Johnson. The website is here.The journalist Peter Oborne has launched a new project to catalogue the lies told by Boris Johnson. The website is here.
Oborne launched a version of the website soon after Johnson became prime minister, but he abandoned work on it after the 2019 general election. After using crowdfunding to raise money, Oborne was able to hire staff and the new version is more impressive. It is still unfinished – it only covers untrue or misleading statements made by Johnson and his ministers up to February 2020 – but the entries are well researched, with extensive links explaining why comments have been labelled as false.Oborne launched a version of the website soon after Johnson became prime minister, but he abandoned work on it after the 2019 general election. After using crowdfunding to raise money, Oborne was able to hire staff and the new version is more impressive. It is still unfinished – it only covers untrue or misleading statements made by Johnson and his ministers up to February 2020 – but the entries are well researched, with extensive links explaining why comments have been labelled as false.
Oborne says the project will be “like painting the Forth Bridge”. He explains: “The task can never be completed because he and his ministers are constantly producing more examples.”Oborne says the project will be “like painting the Forth Bridge”. He explains: “The task can never be completed because he and his ministers are constantly producing more examples.”
In a mission statement, Oborne explains why he feels so strongly about politicians who lie (he has written two books on the subject, focusing on Tony Blair and Johnson). He also explains why he uses a particularly wide definition of lying, covering statements which are “reckless as to the truth”.In a mission statement, Oborne explains why he feels so strongly about politicians who lie (he has written two books on the subject, focusing on Tony Blair and Johnson). He also explains why he uses a particularly wide definition of lying, covering statements which are “reckless as to the truth”.
The Washington Post conducted a similar exercise with Donald Trump, and by the time he left the White House it concluded he had made 30,573 false or misleading claims as president.The Washington Post conducted a similar exercise with Donald Trump, and by the time he left the White House it concluded he had made 30,573 false or misleading claims as president.
If you did not know otherwise, you might assume from the website that Oborne is vehemently leftwing. But what makes him particularly interesting – and authoritative – as a critic of Johnson is that, like Johnson, he has spent most of his career as a columnist on rightwing newspapers. He worked for the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail, and for several years he was political editor of the Spectator, while Johnson was editor.If you did not know otherwise, you might assume from the website that Oborne is vehemently leftwing. But what makes him particularly interesting – and authoritative – as a critic of Johnson is that, like Johnson, he has spent most of his career as a columnist on rightwing newspapers. He worked for the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail, and for several years he was political editor of the Spectator, while Johnson was editor.
Often it is people who have worked with Johnson closely who turn out to be his strongest critics. Sonia Purnell, who was Johnson’s deputy in the Daily Telegraph’s Brussels office, went on to write a damning biography of him. Oborne has written his own book about Johnson in which he said: “I have never encountered a senior British politician who lies and fabricates so regularly, so shamelessly and so systematically as Boris Johnson.” Alan Duncan was Johnson’s deputy when Johnson was foreign secretary, and later published diaries describing Johnson as an “embarrassing buffoon”. And when Johnson became PM, at the start his closest adviser was Dominic Cummings. Cummings is now one of his most dangerous enemies. Like Oborne, Cummings believes that Johnson is a liar, although Cummings has also said that this label is sometimes hard to justify because Johnson does not particularly care what the truth is anyway. (Under a strict definition, to lie you have to say something that you know to be untrue.) This is how Cummings put it in a blog earlier this year.Often it is people who have worked with Johnson closely who turn out to be his strongest critics. Sonia Purnell, who was Johnson’s deputy in the Daily Telegraph’s Brussels office, went on to write a damning biography of him. Oborne has written his own book about Johnson in which he said: “I have never encountered a senior British politician who lies and fabricates so regularly, so shamelessly and so systematically as Boris Johnson.” Alan Duncan was Johnson’s deputy when Johnson was foreign secretary, and later published diaries describing Johnson as an “embarrassing buffoon”. And when Johnson became PM, at the start his closest adviser was Dominic Cummings. Cummings is now one of his most dangerous enemies. Like Oborne, Cummings believes that Johnson is a liar, although Cummings has also said that this label is sometimes hard to justify because Johnson does not particularly care what the truth is anyway. (Under a strict definition, to lie you have to say something that you know to be untrue.) This is how Cummings put it in a blog earlier this year.
This is from General Sir Mark Carleton-Smith, who as chief of the general staff is head of the army, on the army restructuring announced today.This is from General Sir Mark Carleton-Smith, who as chief of the general staff is head of the army, on the army restructuring announced today.
The army says it is the most radical transformation it has undergone for 20 years.The army says it is the most radical transformation it has undergone for 20 years.
Here is more from Sky’s Deborah Haynes on the army restructuring.Here is more from Sky’s Deborah Haynes on the army restructuring.
During his Commons statement Ben Wallace, the defence secretary, was asked by the Lib Dem MP Jamie Stone if the army restructuring announced today would discourage people from seeking a career in the military. Quite the opposite, argued Wallace, who served as an officer in the Scots Guards in the 1990s. In an response that revealed quite a lot about the motivations of people joining the army, Wallace said:During his Commons statement Ben Wallace, the defence secretary, was asked by the Lib Dem MP Jamie Stone if the army restructuring announced today would discourage people from seeking a career in the military. Quite the opposite, argued Wallace, who served as an officer in the Scots Guards in the 1990s. In an response that revealed quite a lot about the motivations of people joining the army, Wallace said:
This is what John Healey, the shadow defence secretary, told MPs earlier when he said the army restructuring announced today (see 1.21pm) showed Boris Johnson had broken his election promise not to cut the size of the armed forces. Healey said:This is what John Healey, the shadow defence secretary, told MPs earlier when he said the army restructuring announced today (see 1.21pm) showed Boris Johnson had broken his election promise not to cut the size of the armed forces. Healey said:
The Conservative manifesto did not include a promise to maintain the size of the armed forces, but Johnson did make this promise at an event during the election campaign.The Conservative manifesto did not include a promise to maintain the size of the armed forces, but Johnson did make this promise at an event during the election campaign.
Healey also said the plan would leave the army too small. He said:Healey also said the plan would leave the army too small. He said:
The Ministry of Defence has now published a summary of its “Future Soldier” plan to restructure the army.The Ministry of Defence has now published a summary of its “Future Soldier” plan to restructure the army.
And this is what Ben Wallace, the defence secretary, said about it in his opening statement to MPs.And this is what Ben Wallace, the defence secretary, said about it in his opening statement to MPs.
In the Commons Priti Patel, the home secretary, has just started making a statement about the deaths of 27 people who drowned trying to cross the Channel in a small boat yesterday. My colleague Damien Gayle is covering what she says in our live blog on the tragedy.In the Commons Priti Patel, the home secretary, has just started making a statement about the deaths of 27 people who drowned trying to cross the Channel in a small boat yesterday. My colleague Damien Gayle is covering what she says in our live blog on the tragedy.
HM Revenue and Customs has struck a deal to relocate tax officials into a new office complex in Newcastle owned by major Conservative party donors through an offshore company based in a tax haven, my colleague Harry Davies and Rowena Mason report.HM Revenue and Customs has struck a deal to relocate tax officials into a new office complex in Newcastle owned by major Conservative party donors through an offshore company based in a tax haven, my colleague Harry Davies and Rowena Mason report.
According to Sky’s Sam Coates, members of the executive committee of the Conservative 1922 Committee gave the impression they liked what they heard after they left their meeting with Boris Johnson at No 10. (See 12.40pm.)According to Sky’s Sam Coates, members of the executive committee of the Conservative 1922 Committee gave the impression they liked what they heard after they left their meeting with Boris Johnson at No 10. (See 12.40pm.)
Nigel Huddleston, the sports minister, told MPs earlier that the government would “work at pace” on setting up an independent regulator for football. He was responding to an urgent question about the fan-led review of football governance led by the former sports minister, Tracey Crouch.Nigel Huddleston, the sports minister, told MPs earlier that the government would “work at pace” on setting up an independent regulator for football. He was responding to an urgent question about the fan-led review of football governance led by the former sports minister, Tracey Crouch.
Huddleston said:Huddleston said:
But Huddleston also said the government could not “commit 100%” to implementing all the report’s recommendations.But Huddleston also said the government could not “commit 100%” to implementing all the report’s recommendations.
The report is here (pdf), and here is my colleague Paul MacInnes’s overnight preview story about it.The report is here (pdf), and here is my colleague Paul MacInnes’s overnight preview story about it.
According to Bloomberg’s Kitty Donaldson, Boris Johnson has had a meeting this morning with the executive of the Conservative backbench 1922 Committee, the shop stewards of the Conservative parliamentary party. It must have been a fascinating meeting, although the 1922 executive are a relatively discreet bunch and so we may learn little about what was actually said.According to Bloomberg’s Kitty Donaldson, Boris Johnson has had a meeting this morning with the executive of the Conservative backbench 1922 Committee, the shop stewards of the Conservative parliamentary party. It must have been a fascinating meeting, although the 1922 executive are a relatively discreet bunch and so we may learn little about what was actually said.
Deborah Haynes, Sky’s defence editor, has more on the Wallace statement.Deborah Haynes, Sky’s defence editor, has more on the Wallace statement.
And here is her preview story on the announcement.And here is her preview story on the announcement.
Responding for Labour, John Healey, the shadow defence secretary, says today’s announcement contradicts a promise made by Boris Johnson during the 2019 election campaign not to cut the size of the armed forces.Responding for Labour, John Healey, the shadow defence secretary, says today’s announcement contradicts a promise made by Boris Johnson during the 2019 election campaign not to cut the size of the armed forces.
Johnson may take his promises lightly, but Labour does not, says Healey.Johnson may take his promises lightly, but Labour does not, says Healey.
He says, despite Ben Wallace’s claims, this restructuring is driven by the need to save money.He says, despite Ben Wallace’s claims, this restructuring is driven by the need to save money.
He says this plan will leave the British army “too small, too thinly-stretched and too poorly-equipped” to deal with the threats the UK faces.He says this plan will leave the British army “too small, too thinly-stretched and too poorly-equipped” to deal with the threats the UK faces.