TOP News

World: PM faces further calls to quit over partygate as reports suggest 'mass clearout' of Downing Street team

Secret audio sheds light on dictator’s frantic last hours

  Secret audio sheds light on dictator’s frantic last hours The BBC has obtained extraordinary recordings believed to be of phone calls made by Tunisian ex president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali as he flew out of the country in 2011. These final moments show how his authority crumbled, sealing the fate of his 23-year dictatorship and sparking the region's wave of pro-democracy 'Arab Spring' uprisings. © BBC © BBC The recordings have been forensically analysed by audio experts who found no evidence of tampering or manipulation.

A sixth Conservative MP is calling for the prime minister to quit over the ever-growing list of alleged lockdown-breaking parties in Downing Street, as Boris Johnson is reportedly preparing to strike back by ousting members of his inner circle.

Boris Johnson is fighting to stay in office © Reuters Boris Johnson is fighting to stay in office

Tim Loughton, former children's minister and East Worthing and Shoreham MP, said Mr Johnson's position had become "untenable" and that his resignation would be "the only way to bring this whole unfortunate episode to an end".

Carrie Johnson 'regrets the momentary lapse in judgement in briefly hugging her friend for a photograph', says spokeswoman © Reuters Carrie Johnson 'regrets the momentary lapse in judgement in briefly hugging her friend for a photograph', says spokeswoman

What parties are alleged to have taken place in Whitehall and Downing Street during lockdown?

Queensland border checkpoints torn down after two years

  Queensland border checkpoints torn down after two years As of midnight (1am AEDT), the Sunshine State is re-opened, without any restrictions for domestic travellers entering the state, either by road or by air. They will no longer need to show a border pass or a rapid antigen test. However, the government will maintain a mandate requiring people to be fully vaccinated to be able to enter events and venues.Acting Chief Superintendent Rhys Wildman was at the checkpoint as it was torn down overnight and said this is "an incredible outcome".

'Obfuscation, prevarication and evasion'

Apologising for the "great hurt" caused to his constituents by the claims, Mr Loughton wrote in a Facebook post: "Frankly the issue for me is not how many sausage rolls or glasses of prosecco the Prime Minister actually consumed.

"The reason for my conclusion in calling for him to stand down is the way that he has handled the mounting revelations in the last few weeks.

"Obfuscation, prevarication and evasion have been the order of the day when clarity, honesty and contrition was what was needed and what the British people deserve."

Mr Loughton said that if Mr Johnson does not resign in the "next few days" he knows "what I need to do" - an indication he could be prepared to submit a letter of no confidence in the PM to Sir Graham Brady, the chairman of the 1922 Committee of MPs.

How to smooth over the energy price shock

  How to smooth over the energy price shock Will the government try to defer soaring energy costs to cushion bill-payers?The government has a trilemma over energy prices: how to solve the cost-of-living crisis, while being focussed on net zero, and unwilling to increase taxation or borrowing.

Andrew Bridgen, William Wragg, Douglas Ross, Caroline Nokes and Sir Roger Gale are among the other Tory MPs who have publicly called on the PM to resign.

Only a handful of Conservative MPs have publicly said they have submitted letters to the 1922 Committee, but according to the Telegraph, sources have estimated about 20 may have been handed in - although that is well short of the 54 needed to trigger a leadership vote.

What could Sue Gray's inquiry into No 10 parties mean and who decides what happens next?

'Mass clearout' to save own skin

Meanwhile, The Sunday Times reported that Mr Johnson is planning a "mass clearout" of his top team as he looks to survive the publication of senior civil servant Sue Gray's report into the partygate scandal.

Martin Reynolds, the PM's principal private secretary who sent an email inviting staff to "bring your own booze" drinks in the Number 10 garden during the first coronavirus lockdown, and his deputy Stuart Glassborow are likely to be booted out, according to the newspaper.

England, Wales and NI record 70,924 COVID cases and 88 deaths in last 24 hours

  England, Wales and NI record 70,924 COVID cases and 88 deaths in last 24 hours England, Wales and Northern Ireland have recorded 70,924 COVID cases and 88 coronavirus-related deaths in the latest 24-hour period. © Reuters Sunday's daily figures do not include Scotland due to a "technical issue". It follows 81,713 positive cases and 287 deaths (of people within 28 days of first testing positive for COVID-19) reported across the whole of the UK on Saturday.This was down from 270 deaths reported in the UK on Friday, 335 deaths reported on Thursday, and 398 deaths reported on Wednesday.Last Sunday there were 141,472 new cases and 246 deaths reported across the UK.

Downing Street chief of staff Dan Rosenfield's position could also be at risk but officials in Number 10 refused to be drawn on the reports of a staff shake-up when these were put to them.

The Sunday Times also reported that Mr Johnson will look to get on the front foot and save his position by making a series of "populist" announcements in the coming weeks.

He will focus on reducing the NHS backlog, tackling small boat crossings in the Channel, freezing the BBC licence fee for two years, and introducing a "booze ban" in Downing Street, the paper said.

PM's wife 'regrets momentary lapse in judgement'

The spotlight has also turned on Mr Johnson's wife, Carrie, who was photographed in The Sunday Telegraph embracing a friend at a social event in London in September 2020.

At the time government guidance called for people to "stay two metres apart from people you do not live with where possible", or one metre if taking the extra precaution of meeting outdoors.

The rule of six was in place at the time the image was taken, which the paper said was 17 September.

"PartyGate" affair: Boris Johnson argues lies to Lockdown celebration from

 The British Prime Minister Boris Johnson rejected allegations, he lied in the "PartyGate" affair. Him have made "categorically nobody" that an event could infringe in May 2020 in the garden of his official residence against the occurring corona editions, Johnson assumed on Tuesday in an interview of the sender Sky News. © AFP The British Prime Minister Boris Johnson rejected allegations. He stressed again, he was assumed by a working meeting.

A spokeswoman said: "Mrs Johnson was one of a group of six seated outside celebrating a friend's engagement.

"Mrs Johnson regrets the momentary lapse in judgement in briefly hugging her friend for a photograph."

Analysis: Boris Johnson is skating on thin ice but Tories aren't ready to drop a proven election winner

Latest polling by Opinium puts Labour on 41% of the vote share, with the Conservatives on 31%.

Starmer: PM can no longer do his basic duties

Mr Johnson's approval rating has plummeted to -42% - almost a 20 point fall in a week - and almost two-thirds of people surveyed think he should stand down, the polling company said.

Follow the Daily podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Spreaker

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has pledged that he would preside over a government with "integrity" and that could "restore trust" if he wins the next election.

Writing in the Sunday Mirror, Sir Keir said: "The prime minister's actions, and his inability to take any responsibility for them, means he can no longer do his basic duties.

"In the public interest, he should resign."

The Loop: Dylan Alcott is Australian of the Year, Aboriginal flag conversations continue, Elton John has COVID-19 .
Get in The Loop with a quick wrap-up of today's news.What a treat — starting the day off with some good news!

See also