As it happened: Chris Pincher has Tory whip removed

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Chris Pincher, the Tory MP for Tamworth  - PA
Chris Pincher, the Tory MP for Tamworth - PA

Chris Pincher has had the whip removed following claims that he drunkenly groped two men at a private members’ club in London, Downing Street sources said.

A formal complaint about the Tory MP's behaviour has been submitted to the Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme and he is now the subject of an investigation.

A spokeswoman for Conservative chief whip Chris Heaton-Harris said: "Having heard that a formal complaint has been made to the ICGS, the PM has agreed with the Chief Whip that the whip should be suspended from Chris Pincher while the investigation is ongoing.

"We will not pre-judge that investigation. We urge colleagues and the media to respect that process."

07:02 PM

And that's all for this week...

What a difference a day makes. In yet another sleaze scandal that has further embattled Boris Johnson, Chris Pincher lost the Tory whip this afternoon after allegations he groped two men earlier this week.=

Mr Pincher, who resigned as deputy chief whip last night, had written to the PM: "I’ve embarrassed myself and other people which is the last thing I want to do and for that I apologise to you and to those concerned."

Chris Pincher now faces an investigation by Parliament's independent harassment watchdog - Aaron Chown/PA Wire
Chris Pincher now faces an investigation by Parliament's independent harassment watchdog - Aaron Chown/PA Wire

Downing Street refused to say how Mr Johnson had responded, and indeed only a handful of Conservative backbenchers gave any indication Mr Pincher should be suspended.

But after an official complaint was submitted to Parliament's authorities about events earlier in the week, what had always felt inevitable finally happened just after 5pm.

And now the investigation will add not just to the Government's growing list of problems, but a sense of sleaze it has struggled to escape in the last few months.

06:49 PM

Nicola Sturgeon’s Indyref2 bid could be stymied by her own government’s lawyers

Nicola Sturgeon’s plan to get the Supreme Court to urgently rule whether she can stage her own independence referendum has been undermined after it emerged her government’s lawyers recently argued it must go through Holyrood first.

The First Minister has published a draft Bill for a "consultative" vote to be held on Oct 19 next year, and announced Lord Advocate Dorothy Bain has referred it to the Supreme Court for a quick ruling on whether the legislation was within her powers.

Nicola Sturgeon facing First Minister's Questions in Edinburgh yesterday - Ken Jack/Getty Images
Nicola Sturgeon facing First Minister's Questions in Edinburgh yesterday - Ken Jack/Getty Images

But her government’s lawyers argued last year in a major test case that the lawfulness of any Referendum Bill "depended on its terms when introduced and when passed" by MSPs as it could be amended during the parliamentary process.

Simon Johnson, our Scottish Political Editor, has the story

06:31 PM

Pincher must go if allegations proven, say Lib Dems

Chris Pincher must quit the Commons if allegations against him were confirmed by a parliamentary investigation, the Liberal Democrats have said.

Wendy Chamberlain, the party's chief whip, said it "should never have taken Boris Johnson this long" to suspend the whip from Mr Pincher.

"Once again it seems Johnson has had to be forced into doing the right thing," she said.

"There can be no more cover ups or excuses. If this investigation confirms these serious allegations, Chris Pincher will surely have to resign."

06:15 PM

Boris Johnson v John Major: How Tory sleaze scandals under the two leaders stack up

The string of sleaze scandals that have hit Boris Johnson’s Government in recent months have drawn comparisons to Sir John Major’s time in office.

Sir John’s campaign for Britain to go “back to basics” as he focussed on decency and morals would soon open up his administration to charges of hypocrisy as more revelations emerged.

Here, The Telegraph takes a look at how scandals under the Johnson and Major premierships compare.

06:02 PM

It's the right decision - but too late, says Labour

It is "absolutely right" that Chris Pincher has lost the Tory whip, Jess Phillips has said - but she criticised Downing Street for not suspending him "first thing this morning".

Ms Phillips, the Labour MP and shadow minister for domestic violence and safeguarding, told Sky News Boris Johnson "has wasted a day of morality and capital on his part leaving it so long".

"I agree exactly with those two Tory women that you were talking about that this is an issue of safeguarding in Westminster and the Prime Minister had a role to play in that this morning. It's right now that the right thing has happened."

Accusing No 10 of "total semantics", she added: "Political parties and certainly in this case the Conservative Party will look for technical reasons why they can't act. It was last night that we knew he was resigning... why on earth did the Government feel that they needed to wait for anything in order to act? And the reason they needed to wait was Boris Johnson did not want this to happen."

05:42 PM

Former Chief Whip welcomes new appointment

One of few Conservative MPs to have commented publicly on today's events, Mark Harper - a former Chief Whip himself - acknowledged the difficulties the last 24 hours have presented for his party.

"After a dark day, a ray of light," he wrote on Twitter:

05:39 PM

Analysis: There was always a sense it would come to this

As soon as Chris Pincher stepped down from his Government amid claims he had drunkenly groped two men, the idea he would keep the Tory whip for long felt untenable.

In a jaw-dropping letter to Boris Johnson - to which Downing Street has not published any reply - Mr Pincher said he had "drank far too much" and "embarrassed" himself and others.

By lunchtime today, No 10 continued to insist he would remain a party MP and went as far as to say the matter was "closed" by his resignation from the Whips' Office.

But now Mr Pincher is sitting as an independent, at least for the time being, after his alleged actions were referred to Parliament's complaints system.

After the latest in a number of handbrake turns by Downing Street, questions may be asked about their staunch defence of a position that, ultimately, was not going to last for very long.

05:31 PM

Profile: Who is Kelly Tolhurst?

After Chris Pincher's dramatic resignation yesterday, Kelly Tolhurst will now take his place as the Conservative deputy chief whip.

Ms Tolhurst, 43, has been the MP for Rochester and Stroud since 2015. She previously held junior ministerial roles in the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities and the Department for Transport.

Kelly Tolhurst - Chris McAndrew/UK Parliament
Kelly Tolhurst - Chris McAndrew/UK Parliament

When she resigned as housing minister due to "devastating" family news at the start of 2021, she said she hoped to return to a Government role "in the fullness of time".

It is not her first time in the Tory whips' office - she was an assistant government whip between January and July 2018.

05:23 PM

Kelly Tolhurst appointed Tory deputy chief whip

Former housing minister Kelly Tolhurst has been appointed as the new Tory deputy chief whip following the resignation of Chris Pincher, Downing Street has said.

05:07 PM

Breaking: Chris Pincher has lost the Tory whip

03:19 PM

Inflation in eurozone surges

Inflation in the eurozone has surged to a fresh record high, piling more pressure on the European Union to do more to tackle ballooning prices.

Consumer prices jumped 8.6pc in June from a year earlier, up from 8.1pc in May.

The jump was driven by soaring food and energy costs as Russia’s war in Ukraine and gas supply threats push bills ever higher.

You can follow the latest updates here.

02:57 PM

Pictured: Boris Johnson and Jacinda Ardern watch a haka in No 10 garden

Boris Johnson and Jacinda Ardern watched the Kapa Haka group perform in the Downing Street garden today - Simon Dawson/No 10 Downing Street
Boris Johnson and Jacinda Ardern watched the Kapa Haka group perform in the Downing Street garden today - Simon Dawson/No 10 Downing Street
Boris Johnson and Jacinda Ardern watched the Kapa Haka group perform in the Downing Street garden today - Simon Dawson/No 10 Downing Street 
Boris Johnson and Jacinda Ardern watched the Kapa Haka group perform in the Downing Street garden today - Simon Dawson/No 10 Downing Street

02:53 PM

UK and New Zealand agree enhanced travel deal

Boris Johnson and Jacinda Ardern today signed an agreement that will create more opportunities for younger people to travel between the UK and New Zealand to live and work.

The two leaders have agreed to extend the existing Youth Mobility and Working Holiday schemes. This will see the maximum age limit for applicants raised from 30 to 35 and the maximum length of time people can stay in the host country will be increased to three years. The schemes are reciprocal.

Boris Johnson and Jacinda Ardern talk in No 10 Downing Street today - Simon Dawson/No 10 Downing Street 
Boris Johnson and Jacinda Ardern talk in No 10 Downing Street today - Simon Dawson/No 10 Downing Street

Ms Ardern said: "Kiwis have long advocated for improvements to working holiday visas. We are so pleased to have reached this agreement today. I was one of many Kiwis to enjoy living and working in the UK, and we look forward to offering Brits the same wonderful experience in New Zealand."

The full details of the enhanced schemes will be announced next year.

02:45 PM

'Dublin are our closest partners in Europe'

A Government minister has insisted Ireland is the UK's "closest partner" in Europe despite Leo Varadkar warning he has "never seen relations as bad” as they are currently between London and Dublin (see the post below at 14.37).

Northern Ireland Office minister Conor Burns told reporters: “We want to engage with Dublin, we want to engage with the EU. We’re very clear that we want a negotiated solution to the protocol.

“But in the absence of a wider mandate, from vice president Sefcovic (European Commission vice president Maros Sefcovic) we have really little alternative other than to pursue that legislative route that we’re doing now.

“I don’t believe in conducting these sort of discussions on the airwaves. But Dublin are our closest partners in Europe. We share so many things in common, we have so many interests and challenges that we face together and we want to face those in friendship and in partnership.”

02:37 PM

DUP criticises 'partisan' Leo Varadkar

Leo Varadkar, Ireland's deputy premier, said yesterday that he had “never seen relations as bad” as they are currently between Dublin and London amid Brexit tensions.

He also said he believes the UK is “not being even handed” when it comes to the Northern Ireland Protocol.

The comments have sparked a backlash from the DUP.

DUP MP Gavin Robinson said: “He could have stepped back. He could have recognised that there is a problem with the protocol, that there are issues that need to be ironed out and he could put his shoulder to the wheel to provide that solution for everyone in Northern Ireland.

“He chose not to do so. He did so in a way that would lead someone like me to say people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones because I’ve yet to see Leo Varadkar engage in a discussion around the European Union, around Brexit or around the protocol in a way that is anything less than partisan.”

02:31 PM

Lord Frost: Energy rationing inevitable without fundamental net zero rethink

Lord Frost, the former Brexit minister, has warned that the Government's net zero emissions target must "evolve, or there must be compulsory demand control and rationing" of energy in the future.

Writing for The Telegraph, Lord Frost set out his calls for a rethink on the Government's approach to energy:

"The Government must realise that it faces a crisis. In the short run it must keep the lights on or pay a heavy price. It should then drop the mad dash for medieval wind power technology and focus on the only acceptably low-carbon form of power available – gas.

"Get shale gas extraction going, commit long-term to the North Sea, put in place proper storage – and build some new gas power stations. By all means commit to nuclear, too – but only gas solves the problems in a meaningful time frame."

You can read the full piece here.

01:29 PM

Politics Quiz: Test your knowledge of the week's events

01:22 PM

Pictured: Boris Johnson holds talks with Jacinda Ardern in No 10

Boris Johnson and Jacinda Ardern hold talks in No 10 today  - Reuters
Boris Johnson and Jacinda Ardern hold talks in No 10 today - Reuters

12:52 PM

No 10: Chris Pincher behaviour 'unacceptable'

Downing Street has suggested that Boris Johnson considers the matter of the former deputy chief whip closed following his resignation over a drunken incident.

Asked whether Mr Johnson believes the issue is done and dusted, a No 10 spokesman said: “He’s (Chris Pincher) resigned that position so I’m not aware of any sort of Government investigation.”

The official repeatedly stressed that Mr Pincher is “no longer a minister”.

He said: “(The Prime Minister) has accepted his resignation, but again I think I’ve been clear that he would encourage anybody who feels as though they need to make a complaint to do so. “I’ve said that he believes that the behaviour was unacceptable, which is why he’s accepted the resignation.”

12:45 PM

PM 'not aware of specific allegations against Chris Pincher'

Boris Johnson was not aware of specific allegations against Chris Pincher before he appointed him as deputy chief whip in February, Downing Street has said.

A No 10 spokesman told reporters: “I’m not aware of the Prime Minister being aware before any appointment.

“You’ll be aware of the process that ministerial appointments go through and in the absence of any formal complaints, it was not appropriate to stop an appointment on the basis of unsubstantiated allegations.”

He added that ministerial appointments are vetted by the Cabinet Office propriety and ethics team.

It comes as the Prime Minister is facing questions about his own judgment amid reports he was warned about the wisdom of appointing Mr Pincher to a welfare post.

12:37 PM

Two senior Tory MPs demand new code of conduct

Two senior Tory MPs have written to the Conservative Chief Whip Chris Heaton-Harris to demand a new code of conduct for MPs in the wake of the Chris Pincher scandal.

Caroline Nokes, the chair of the Women and Equalities Select Committee, and Karen Bradley, the chair of the Procedure Committee, also said any Tory MP who is under investigation for "sexual misconduct" should have the Tory whip removed.

The said in the letter: “Recent incidents have demonstrated an inconsistent and unclear approach by the Party to instances of sexual misconduct. The Party and, by extension, the Government are at risk of serious reputational damage by the current approach.

“We urge you to act swiftly to introduce a code of conduct for all Conservative members of Parliament which is clear in terms of the expectations of behaviour and which can be applied in a fair, independent manner so as to avoid any suspicion of bias.

“In the meantime we ask that you employ a policy of zero tolerance on these issues and to ensure a thorough investigation is carried out in each and every case.

“Once an investigation has been completed, a decision should be taken about returning the whip, but in the meantime, anyone subject to such an investigation should not be allowed to sit as a Conservative MP and represent the party in any capacity.”

12:13 PM

Cutting VAT would be a 'terrible policy'

Paul Johnson, the director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies think tank, said cutting VAT would be a "terrible policy" and would risk throwing "petrol" on the "fire" of rising inflation. No 10 is reportedly considering the move (see the post below at 10.33).

Mr Johnson told the BBC: "I think it would be a terrible policy if I am absolutely honest, there is no point mincing words.

“Cutting VAT now at a time when we have got massive excess demand in the economy, that is partly what is driving up prices, what you don’t want to do when you have got a fire is to throw petrol and actually we have got a fire at the moment, it is inflation, it is partly driven by very high levels of consumer demand and an economy where we have got lots of vacancies and very few people looking for work.

“Everything is pushing prices up. You pour more money into that mixture and you have got a real danger that you push inflation up further and that would create just a lot more pain in the long run.”

11:55 AM

VAT cut would 'push inflation higher in the long run'

Paul Johnson, the director of the influential Institute for Fiscal Studies think tank, has criticised the idea of the Government cutting VAT amid reports that No 10 is considering the move (see the post below at 10.33).

Mr Johnson told the BBC: “I think there is a danger that it would lead to higher inflation. Clearly if you cut VAT now then you will reduce prices in the shops. So supposing we were to reduce VAT by 2.5 per cent then you would get a little reduction in prices now.

“But the whole idea is it would be temporary so it would go up again in a year or two so it wouldn’t change the long run level of prices but the exact problem that we are facing at the moment… is that demand is too high. That is partly what is driving up inflation. If you cut VAT now you push demand higher, you probably push inflation higher in the long run.

“If the Government borrows to put more money into the economy today then that will result in inflation lasting for a longer period of time and from what we understand the Treasury is pushing back on this idea and I have to say I think the Treasury is dead right on this one.”

11:44 AM

PM praises Jacinda Ardern over Ukraine stance

Backed by the Union and New Zealand flags, Boris Johnson said it was a “great, great pleasure” to welcome Jacinda Ardern to Downing Street.

He said it was the New Zealand premier’s first trip to the UK since the Covid-19 pandemic.

It was also the first, Mr Johnson noted, since the UK signed a fresh free trade deal with New Zealand.

“Very good to see you,” he said, as he praised the “very strong line that you take on Ukraine”.

11:31 AM

Boris Johnson welcomes Jacinda Ardern to No 10

The big event at Downing Street today is Boris Johnson holding talks with Jacinda Ardern, the Prime Minister of New Zealand.

Ms Ardern has just arrived at No 10 and she was greeted at the front door by Mr Johnson. The pair shook hands before heading inside.

Boris Johnson welcomes Jacinda Ardern to Downing Street today - John Sibley/Reuters
Boris Johnson welcomes Jacinda Ardern to Downing Street today - John Sibley/Reuters

11:23 AM

'Average Brit in 2030 worse off than American in 2000'

Labour has published a new analysis of the UK's economic prospects and claimed the average person in Britain in 2030 will still be worse off than the average American was in 2000.

The party published the analysis after the Bank of England published its latest Money and Credit report this morning (see the post below at 11.14).

Rachel Reeves, the shadow chancellor, said: "Today’s figures show consumer confidence is at rock bottom as growth and living standards continue to fall.

“That the average Brit in 2030 will be worse off than the average American in 2000 tells you all you need to know about how the Conservatives have mismanaged our economy. The low wage, low growth, high tax spiral we face needs more than sticking plasters."

11:14 AM

Credit card borrowing rises while savings deposits fall

Credit card borrowing is increasing while the amount of savings deposited by households has fallen, according to new statistics published by the Bank of England which suggest families are feeling the squeeze.

The Bank of England's latest Money and Credit report showed that the annual growth rate of credit card borrowing as of May was 11.2 per cent.

The annual growth rate for all consumer credit was unchanged at 5.7 per cent which is the highest rate since February 2020.

Meanwhile, some £5.7 billion was deposited by households into banks, building societies and NS&I accounts in May - that is down from the £6.3 billion deposited in April but broadly in line with pre-pandemic levels.

10:58 AM

Lib Dems: 'Difficult to see' how Chris Pincher can remain an MP

Wendy Chamberlain, the Liberal Democrat chief whip, has said it is "difficult to see how Chris Pincher can continue as an MP" after he resigned as the Government's deputy chief whip following claims that he drunkenly groped two men.

Ms Chamberlain said: "Given the seriousness of these allegations, it’s difficult to see how Chris Pincher can continue as an MP.

“This sort of behaviour is completely unacceptable in Parliament or anywhere else. There now needs to be a full investigation and in the meantime Chris Pincher should have the Conservative whip withdrawn."

Ms Chamberlain also said Boris Johnson has "serious questions to answer" over the appointment of Mr Pincher.

10:41 AM

Campaigners welcome potential VAT cut

John O’Connell, chief executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance campaign organisation, has welcomed the possibility of a cut to VAT (see the post below at 10.33).

He said: "Brits will be delighted that ministers have finally woken up to their calls for tax cuts. Taxes are the single biggest bill families face and rising rates are compounding the cost of living crisis.

"Now is the time to help growth go gangbusters by giving taxpayers a respite from tax rises.”

10:36 AM

Lib Dems tell ministers to 'stop dithering' on VAT cut

The Liberal Democrats have been calling for a VAT cut for a number of months and the party is now calling on ministers to "stop dithering" and make the move amid reports that it is being considered by No 10 (see the post below at 10.33).

Christine Jardine, the Lib Dems' Treasury spokesman, said: "Families across the UK are facing a cost-of-living emergency. Ministers need to stop dithering and act now.

“Liberal Democrats have been calling for an emergency VAT cut for months. It was a key part of our successful by-election campaign in Tiverton and Honiton. Families need it, businesses need it, and voters clearly support it. So why haven’t Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak done it already?"

10:33 AM

Downing Street 'considering VAT cut'

No 10 is considering a cut to VAT in an attempt to take the sting out of the cost-of-living crisis, it has been claimed.

Steve Barclay, Boris Johnson’s chief of staff, has reportedly suggested making a temporary cut to the VAT rate from its current level of 20 per cent.

But the Treasury has concerns over the cost of the move, according to The Times. Reducing VAT to 17.5 per cent would leave a blackhole of approximately £18 billion at the heart of the Government’s finances.

Steve Barclay is pictured leaving 10 Downing Street with Boris Johnson on June 15 - Matt Dunham /AP
Steve Barclay is pictured leaving 10 Downing Street with Boris Johnson on June 15 - Matt Dunham /AP

10:24 AM

PM ‘confident’ Tory leadership rules will not be changed

Allies of Boris Johnson have said the Prime Minister is confident the Tory leadership rules will not be changed to allow another confidence vote to take place this year.

The PM is said to believe the one year grace period when he cannot be challenged will stay in place because changing the rule would weaken any potential successor.

A source close to Mr Johnson said: “If the rules were changed, every leader for evermore would have a gun to their head.

“They would never be able to get on with anything, as they would be constantly beholden to the whims of MPs.”

09:57 AM

Labour stops short of calling for Chris Pincher to quit as MP

Yvette Cooper, Labour’s shadow home secretary, stopped short of calling for Chris Pincher to resign as an MP.

Ms Cooper said the whip should be suspended as a “first step”.

She told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We need to know the full truth about what has happened and what the allegations are.

“But I think that’s the first step that needs to take place. And I think the idea that the Conservatives can try and simply dismiss this is just unacceptable.

“They have to show they take this kind of thing more seriously. Time and again, Boris Johnson just doesn’t. That is not good enough. This is about standards in public life.”

09:51 AM

Yvette Cooper: Chris Pincher should have whip suspended

Yvette Cooper, Labour’s shadow home secretary, said Chris Pincher should have the Tory whip suspended over claims he drunkenly groped two men.

Ms Cooper also said Boris Johnson and the Government’s response to the allegations had been a “total disgrace”.

She told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “These allegations are really serious. This is about sexual assault. It comes obviously after we’ve had the Wakefield and Tiverton by-elections, which were also as a result of serious incidents involving Conservative MPs.

“So, the idea that the response that we’ve seen that the Prime Minister thinks he’s done the decent thing by resigning, there’s no need for an investigation, well, that’s a total disgrace.”

Ms Cooper said that “there has to be a full investigation” and Mr Pincher “should have the whip suspended while that investigation takes place.”

09:25 AM

PM on grammar schools: 'Competition is a damn fine thing'

Currently there is a ban on new grammar schools opening in England but existing ones are allowed to expand. Some Tory MPs are campaigning to lift the ban.

Boris Johnson has now hinted he could be persuaded on the issue as he said he is "in favour of academic competition".

He told LBC Radio: "Look, I've always been in favour of academic competition and many schools now have policies of selective admission in sixth forms… I’m not against that in principle. All I would say is that what I want is good schools everywhere."

The PM said that "competition is a damn fine thing" and as long as "you encourage competition in a way that doesn't make everybody who fails feel totally miserable, you'll get some pretty good results".

09:15 AM

Boris Johnson pours cold water on idea of early election

Boris Johnson has previously refused to rule out calling an early general election.

But he has now appeared to pour cold water on the idea.

Boris Johnson addresses a press conference at the end of a Nato summit in Madrid yesterday - Anadolu Agency
Boris Johnson addresses a press conference at the end of a Nato summit in Madrid yesterday - Anadolu Agency

Told during an interview with LBC Radio's Nick Ferrari that it would be "ridiculous" to hold an early election, Mr Johnson said: "Totally, totally."

Mr Johnson then said he would not comment on the issue any further as he said it is his job to "talk about the government’s agenda".

09:07 AM

'No reason' to bring back Covid restrictions

Covid case numbers are on the rise across the UK and Boris Johnson was asked if there are any circumstances in which the Government would reimpose restrictions.

He told LBC Radio: "I think that we see no reason for that. At the moment, the most important thing is vaccination."

Asked how high case numbers would need to go to force the Government to change tack, the PM said: "We're not seeing the types of pressures on the medical services that would lead us to anything like that, but my message to people is what I’ve said before: get vaccinated."

09:02 AM

PM refuses to comment on tree house claims

Boris Johnson faced allegations in June that he had planned to build a £150,000 tree house in the grounds of his Chequers country residence for his son Wilf. Mr Johnson declined to deny the report at the time.

He was asked about the claims during an interview with LBC Radio, conducted yesterday and broadcast this morning, and he refused to be drawn on the issue.

Mr Johnson said he was "not going to comment on things in my family life".

08:55 AM

Further fuel duty cut is a ‘possibility’`

Rishi Sunak unveiled a temporary 5p cut to fuel duty back in March this year but he has faced growing calls to go further as prices at the pump continue to soar.

Boris Johnson has now said he is not ruling out a further cut and suggested it is a “possibility”. However, the way in which the PM made the comments would suggest it is not likely.

He told LBC Radio he is “not going to comment on further fiscal measures” that Mr Sunak could announced.

Asked if it is a possibility, the PM said: “You know, logically speaking, everything that I don't rule out, such as the moon is made of green cheese is a… you know, there are all sorts of things that I'm not going to rule out.”

He added: “Yeah, it’s a possibility, that Elvis will be reincarnated as, you know, Nick Ferrari or whatever.”

08:50 AM

Putin has ‘considerable margin of manoeuvre’

Vladimir Putin has “considerable margin of manoeuvre” to back down over the Ukraine war, Boris Johnson has said.

The Prime Minister said Mr Putin “enjoys very considerable levels of public support at the moment in Russia” and that would give him space to bring the invasion to an end.

He told LBC Radio: “He has, I think, considerable margin of manoeuvre, political margin of manoeuvre, to say, look, you know, I went in, I had to achieve certain things, and it will be up to him to specify what he thought those were, but in the interests of peace, in the interest of the world, I think the time has come now to bring the technical military operation to an end, and to withdraw and to seek a new arrangement. That I think is what he should do.”

08:49 AM

PM: Ukraine war can end with Putin still in Kremlin

Boris Johnson said he believes the Ukraine war can end with Vladimir Putin still in the Kremlin.

The UK Government has long-stressed it is not seeking regime change in Russia.

Mr Johnson was asked if the Ukraine conflict has to end with the Russian President out of power.

He said “no, of course not” and suggested it could still be possible to negotiate a peace with Mr Putin.

08:48 AM

PM: West must ignore Putin’s ‘sabre-rattling’

Boris Johnson gave an interview to LBC Radio at the end of the Nato summit in Madrid yesterday and it has just been broadcast.

He was asked if he had any estimates for how many threats there have been from Vladimir Putin to deploy some form of nuclear weapon during the Ukraine war.

Boris Johnson is pictured leaving the Nato summit in Madrid yesterday - Getty Images Europe/WPA Pool 
Boris Johnson is pictured leaving the Nato summit in Madrid yesterday - Getty Images Europe/WPA Pool

Mr Johnson said: “Well, there's an analysis that I think has been done by somebody recently, a think tank, that they’re looking at about 35 mentions or perhaps it's a little bit more now, of that issue.

“But I think it's very, very important that we shouldn't allow ourselves to be side-tracked by this kind of sabre-rattling, because fundamentally, what Putin is trying to do is to reframe this. It's about Russia versus NATO. It's about, you know, a stand-off of that kind. It's not.”

08:46 AM

Cabinet minister hints Chris Pincher should lose Tory whip

Simon Hart, the Welsh Secretary, was asked a number of times if Chris Pincher should lose the Tory whip.

He would not be drawn directly, telling Sky News: “That is a matter for Chris Heaton-Harris, his boss. This only really came to light at 8 o’clock last night, it is 7 o’clock this morning. I think we need to allow today to play out.”

Asked again if the whip should be withdrawn, Mr Hart hinted he believes it should be. He said: “I hesitate to jump in because if I express a view, I have got my own private views, if I express a view… it is not my decision, I think and I know what I would like to see happen, you can probably tell what that is just from the way I am sort of trying to avoid answering your question.

“But it is important, I know it is the most boring thing in the world when people like me come on and won’t give you a straight answer.

“Let’s let today play out, let the Chief Whip do his duty today and then I think we might be having a very different conversation as the day goes on about this but it would be really counterproductive…for somebody to come on and start speculating about the process.”

08:29 AM

'I fear it possibly won’t be the last'

Simon Hart, the Welsh Secretary, said the resignation of Chris Pincher as deputy chief whip likely "won't be the last" Westminster scandal.

He said the allegations against Mr Pincher must "absolutely not" be swept under the carpet.

Mr Hart told Sky News: “No, absolutely not. Absolutely not. I think you listed a few examples. This is not the first time, I fear it possibly won’t be the last.

“This happens in workplaces from time to time, whatever we may think, and I am not trying to say look, just look the other way… absolutely not.”

08:17 AM

Good morning

Good morning and welcome to today's politics live blog.

Westminster was stunned last night by the resignation of Chris Pincher as deputy chief whip.

The Conservative Party is now under pressure to withdraw the Tory whip from Mr Pincher, with opposition parties demanding action.

I will guide you through the key developments on what promises to be another busy day in Westminster.

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