UK politics: MPs support government plans to reform second job rules

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·29-min read
UK politics: MPs support government plans to reform second job rules
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MPs have given their backing to the Government’s proposals for second jobs reform.

The Government’s amendment on standards was approved by 297 votes to zero, a majority 297.

The Deputy Speaker told the House: “The ayes to the right 297, the no’s to the left zero. The ayes have it, the ayes have it... just.”

Earlier, the Government committed to releasing all details it has of meeting involving ministers, officials and Randox following a vote in the Commons amid sleaze claims.

It comes after the Prime Minister faced a grilling at the Liaison Committee over whether he thought Owen Paterson was guilty.

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MPs back moves to curb their ability to take second jobs

Wednesday 17 November 2021 20:54 , Laura Sharman

British lawmakers on Wednesday backed moves to curb their ability to take second jobs in addition to their work in parliament.

It comes as opposition parties said Boris Johnson‘s Conservative government had watered down the proposals.

Prime Minister Johnson has come under pressure to act after two weeks of damaging headlines about MPs being paid for external work, with some earning large sums and others possibly in breach of standards rules.

The “sleaze” scandal erupted earlier this month after Conservative lawmakers, acting with Johnson‘s support, voted to halt a proposed 30-day suspension of Owen Paterson, a former minister, who had been found guilty by parliament’s standards watchdog of repeatedly lobbying for two firms.

On Wednesday, parliament rejected an opposition Labour Party motion to support proposals to ban lawmakers from carrying out any paid work as a parliamentary adviser or consultant.

Activity in Parliament drew to a close this evening following Boris Johnson’s appearance before the Liaison Committee, a 4pm vote on Randox contracts and a 7pm vote on the motion to ban second jobs.

This blog has now closed.

Wednesday 17 November 2021 20:10 , Lily Waddell

Keir Starmer speaks out following the vote in the Commons

The Labour leader said: “Well, we put forward a plan of action to clean up politics and strengthen standards in politics.

“And if you can believe it, after two weeks of Tory sleaze and corruption, the Prime Minister whipped his MPs against that plan of action and, frankly, he just doesn’t get it.”

He said: “We are not going to back down from these proposals, we’re not prepared to have them watered down, so we will press on with them. But it is unbelievable.”

He added: “I’ve been really struck by how many Tory MPs seem to have lost faith and confidence in the Prime Minister.

“It was noticeable at Prime Minister’s Questions today that their benches were with many gaps, many MPs hadn’t turned up to support him.”

Wednesday 17 November 2021 20:05 , Lily Waddell

The Government insists new rules would ensure MPs prioritise their constituents

A government spokesperson said: “The House of Commons has tonight voted to update the Code of Conduct for MPs.

“This means that MPs will be banned from acting as paid political consultants or lobbyists and that MPs are always prioritising their constituents.

“This will strengthen our parliamentary system and we will work on a cross-party basis to achieve this.”

MPs back government plans for second job reform

Wednesday 17 November 2021 19:20 , Laura Sharman

MPs voted to back government plans for a second job reform.

The Government’s amendment on standards was approved by 297 votes to zero,majority 297.

The Deputy Speaker declared the question as amended to be agreed to.

“The ayes to the right 297, the no’s to the left zero. The ayes have it, the ayes have it... just,” he told the House.

Result awaited after MPs vote on motion to ban second jobs

Wednesday 17 November 2021 19:09 , Laura Sharman

Government has been voting on the motion to ban second jobs where MPs act as paid consultants and strategists.

The Labour motion has to be voted down by the Government first before Conservatives can then vote on their side’s amendment, due to parliamentary procedure.

This means Tory MPs will have to be whipped to vote against Labour’s proposal to ban second jobs where MPs act as paid consultants/strategists which Labour will make hay with.

But once that is voted down the Government’s similar proposals will be considered.

Prime Minister on wage rise and inflation

Wednesday 17 November 2021 17:37 , Laura Sharman

Boris Johnson was asked whether he accepted that if wages were to rise without productivity doing the same, this would lead to inflation.

Chairman of the Treasury Select Committee Mel Stride asked: “You’ve urged at various points that companies should pay their workers more.

“Do you accept that if wages go up and productivity doesn’t... that that just leads to inflation?”

He went on to ask if the Prime Minister was concerned about inflation and the impact it could have on public money.

Mr Johnson said: “I think you’ve always got to watch inflation. The numbers today, I think, speak to the price of energy, the difficulties in global supply chains, an economy coming out of Covid.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson giving evidence to the Liaison Committee (PA)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson giving evidence to the Liaison Committee (PA)

“But I’d rather have a situation now in which there was a big demand for labour and an economy recovering strongly and people wanting employees, than a situation in which you and I remember well from decades ago, both in the 80s and in the 90s, of millions and millions of people unfairly, unnecessarily having their talents wasted because of unemployment.”

Boris Johnson on the tax burden

Wednesday 17 November 2021 17:28 , Laura Sharman

Boris Johnson insisted there was a “very simple reason” that the tax burden on the public was set to rise to its highest level since the Second World War.

“The country has been through the biggest fall in output, not just since the Second World War,” he told Parliament’s Liaison Committee.

“But before the Second World War, the biggest that I can see for a very, very long time.

“And we had to look after people throughout the pandemic.”

Mr Johnson said the Chancellor, in the Budget, had cut taxes for the low paid.

Johnson to consider compulsory consent classes in schools

Wednesday 17 November 2021 17:07 , Laura Sharman

Boris Johnson said he would be “willing to look at” introducing compulsory consent classes in schools to tackle violence against women and girls.

Conservative MP Caroline Nokes asked the Prime Minister at a meeting of the Commons Liaison Committee: “If there is a challenge around the culture that underpins male violence against women, should we start addressing that in schools and should we look to be making consent classes compulsory?”

Mr Johnson responded: “I think that kids nowadays are given much, much better and more balanced instruction about these questions than was the case even 10 years ago, never mind 20, 30 years ago.

“But there is a way to go, and it is certainly something that I am willing to look at.”

PM cannot say when he last chaired meeting with key climate change committee

Wednesday 17 November 2021 17:01 , Laura Sharman

The Prime Minister was unable to precisely say when he last chaired a meeting of the Cabinet’s key climate change committee, or when its next session would be held.

Boris Johnson is the designated chairman of the climate action strategy committee.

Asked when he last chaired the panel, Mr Johnson told MPs: “I can’t give you the date, it was not very long ago.”

Asked when the next one would be, he said: “We are driving the whole green industrial revolution throughout Government and it’s something that I set out in the 10-point plan almost exactly a year ago.

“We’ve been leading it from the centre but also relying on departments of state to get on and do it.”

Randox contract details to be released after motion passes in Commons

Wednesday 17 November 2021 16:39 , Laura Sharman

The government has committed to releasing all details it has of meeting involving ministers, officials and Randox following a vote in the Commons amid sleaze claims.

Officials have been “unable to locate a formal note” of what was said during a call between a health minister, Randox and Owen Paterson, MPs were told.

The Labour motion seeking to force the Government to release meeting minutes was approved unopposed, amid concerns over how nearly £600 million of Covid testing contracts were awarded to the firm.

Randox is the diagnostics company which employed Mr Paterson, the former Tory cabinet minister who resigned as an MP during the Westminster sleaze row, as a consultant.

The meeting at the heart of Labour’s request took place on April 9 2020 and involved then-minister Lord Bethell, Randox and Mr Paterson.

At Prime Minister’s Questions, Boris Johnson said he was “very happy to publish all the details of the Randox contracts, which have been investigated by the National Audit Office already”.

Owen Paterson (PA)
Owen Paterson (PA)

Boris Johnson endures day of questions over Westminster sleaze row

Wednesday 17 November 2021 16:33 , Laura Sharman

The sleaze row dominated a tetchy session of Prime Minister’s Questions, which saw Boris Johnson rebuked by Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle.

He then faced further questions about the situation when he faced the Liaison Committee of senior MPs.

The Prime Minister risked a fresh clash with Tory MPs over plans to ban them from paid political consultancy work.

His relationship with his backbenchers has been strained since he ordered them to back a plan to block the suspension of Owen Paterson for breaching lobbying rules, only to make a U-turn following a backlash.

Mr Johnson is now pushing for a wider shake-up of Commons standards rules to curb MPs’ second jobs, which could lead to a further clash with backbenchers.

Police and prosecutors must stop “passing the buck” over rape case failings, says PM

Wednesday 17 November 2021 16:30 , Laura Sharman

Boris Johnson said the police and Crown Prosecution Service need to stop “constantly passing the buck” over failings to deal with rape cases.

The Prime Minister told the Commons Liaison Committee: “What needs to happen is the CPS - the prosecutors - and the police need to work absolutely hand in glove from the outset rather than constantly passing the buck between each other over who has failed to assemble the requisite evidence or who has left the file in the wrong condition.

“That’s basically been one of the problems, so we’re beefing up the CPS but also trying to have much greater integration and grip by the police and the CPS together.”

Justice Committee chairman Sir Bob Neill asked him about delays caused by suspects being released under investigation for long periods of time, rather than being on bail.

Mr Johnson said: “I’m certainly very attracted to setting benchmarks, score cards, for the whole system, and that should include timings, actually include deadlines. I think justice delayed is justice denied, and also justice delayed is wildly more expensive.”

Boris Johnson answering questions at a Liaison Committee hearing (PRU/AFP via Getty Images)
Boris Johnson answering questions at a Liaison Committee hearing (PRU/AFP via Getty Images)

Johnson comments in the wake of Sarah Everard murder

Wednesday 17 November 2021 16:24 , Laura Sharman

The Prime Minister said he wanted to see more done to tackle violence against women following the murder of Sarah Everard.

“I am not going to pretend that this is making the progress that I would like. It is not going as fast as I would want. But is an absolute priority for the Government,” he said.

“We will not rest until women have confidence in the system, confidence in the streets and confidence that they will get justice when they are attacked.”

Sarah Everard was murdered by Met PC Wayne Couzens (PA)
Sarah Everard was murdered by Met PC Wayne Couzens (PA)

Johnson says cyber flashing should be illegal

Wednesday 17 November 2021 16:22 , Laura Sharman

The Prime Minister told the Commons Liaison Committee: “I don’t care whether flashing is cyber or not - it should be illegal.”

However pressed by Tory MP Julian Knight, he refused to commit to including it in the Government’s Online Safety Bill.

“If you can draft something that will capture it, let’s have a look at it,” he told the MP.

While Mr Johnson said he wanted the “strongest possible” deterrent against internet companies which hosted “hateful” material, he also refused to commit to including criminal sanctions on the face of the Bill.

“We want the strongest possible sanctions and the strongest possible deterrent against people who run online companies who are allowing a torrent of hateful stuff to appear on their networks,” he said.

Tackle existing crimes against women first rather than expanding the focus, says PM

Wednesday 17 November 2021 16:21 , Laura Sharman

Boris Johnson said he thought there should be a focus on tackling existing crimes involving violence against women, rather than seeking to “expand the sphere of activity that we criminalise”.

Asked if there could be a case to make conduct such as public sexual harassment a specific crime, Mr Johnson told the Commons Liaison Committee: “We have quite a lot of statute of one kind or another against serious assault, sexual violence, rape... and harassment.”

He added: “The tragedy at the moment is we are not... enforcing these enough as it is. I have to think about how, really, to tackle the crimes that the public want tackled, rather than widening the range of human conduct that we ask the police to criminalise and enforce against.”

The Prime Minister said he wants to see “proper enforcement of the existing law” and much more prosecution for those who are accused of rape.

“And at the moment that is where the numbers are going wrong,” he added.

Boris Johnson answering questions at a Liaison Committee hearing (PRU/AFP via Getty Images)
Boris Johnson answering questions at a Liaison Committee hearing (PRU/AFP via Getty Images)

Violence against women and girls is “top priority”, says Johnson

Wednesday 17 November 2021 16:13 , Laura Sharman

Boris Johnson said it was his “top priority” to tackle violence against women and girls.

Appearing in front of Parliament’s Liaison Committee, the Prime Minister was asked why so many rape cases did not result in a conviction.

“It’s something that I am campaigning on, working flat out now in Government. I lead the Crime and Justice Taskforce, it is our number one priority,” he said.

Mr Johnson urged there had been a “huge reliance on mobile phone data by defence counsel” since a case in 2018.

“We’re making it the top priority for our police,” he said, adding: “We’re insisting that mobile phones are handed back to victims within 24 hours.

“This is one of the reasons we have such victim attrition, which is one reason we have such low prosecution rates because victims don’t feel confident in the in the system.”

Johnson defends not wearing a mask during hospital visit

Wednesday 17 November 2021 16:08 , Laura Sharman

Boris Johnson said it was “barely 30 seconds” that he was not wearing a mask during a visit to Hexham General Hospital last week.

Appearing in front of Parliament’s Liaison Committee, the Prime Minister defended himself after photos emerged of him without a face covering during the visit.

Following questioning from Home Affairs Select Committee chairwoman Yvette Cooper, he said: “As for not wearing a mask in Hexam Hospital, which you wrap up into my general litany of crime, can I just say that actually, there was barely 30 seconds where I wasn’t wearing a mask.

“I walked out of a room mistakenly not wearing it. I then put it on as soon as I realised I made that mistake.

“I apologise for it, but most pictures of my visit to the hospital will show that I was duly masked throughout the remainder of the visit, and I was masked on the way into the visit.”

Boris Johnson visits Hexham General Hospital in Northumberland (PA)
Boris Johnson visits Hexham General Hospital in Northumberland (PA)

PM told “you need to have some integrity" in grilling from MPs

Wednesday 17 November 2021 16:04 , Laura Sharman

Boris Johnson was told he needs to upholds standards and have some integrity when questioned by the Liaison Committee.

Addressing the Prime Minister, Labour MP Yvette Cooper said: “You have an independent process that has looked into this.

“Every time you say ‘as far as I could see’, ‘well it seems to me’, you are undermining an independent system that we need to work.

“We need you to have some integrity. We need you to uphold these standards.”

Yvette Cooper (PA)
Yvette Cooper (PA)

Independent report found 14 occasions of paid lobbying, Commons told

Wednesday 17 November 2021 15:58 , Laura Sharman

Boris Johnson asked to clarify that he “does not think it’s okay” for a report to uncover 14 occasions of paid lobbying.

When pressed for a clear response, the Prime Minister said: “Of course I think it’s okay and that was the first thing I said when I began on this subject two weeks ago.

“Frankly I think it is extraordinary that colleagues sometimes do behave in this way and I think it is quite right that the commissioner is able to investigate and hold them to account.”

Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson confirms “yes” Owen Paterson broke the rules

Wednesday 17 November 2021 15:51 , Laura Sharman

When asked if he believes that Owen Paterson broke the rules, Boris Johnson responded “yes.”

Prod towards Johnson on why he will not give more power to independent adviser

Wednesday 17 November 2021 15:49 , Laura Sharman

The Prime Minister was asked why he will not allow the independent adviser on ministers to start his own inquiries.

Boris Johnson appointed the Rt Hon Lord Geidt the position in April.

When asked why he will “not just give him the power”, Mr Johnson said...

“What Lord Geidt can certainly do under the new dispensation that we’ve agreed is that he can suggest to me at his own initiative something that he thinks bears investigation or needs to be corrected or where something has gone wrong.

“It’s hard to think of circumstances in which I would want to overall him.”

He added: “I think people can see that the balance of the situation is well judged at the moment.”

Boris Johnson explains his regret over Owen Paterson lobbying scandal

Wednesday 17 November 2021 15:38 , Laura Sharman

The Prime Minster told of his regret over the handling of the Westminster sleaze scandal when questioned by MPs today.

Boris Johnson told the Commons his initial reaction was to insist that paid advocacy and lobbying is against the rules and that anybody who does so should be properly penalised.

He added that, in retrospect, he was “obviously mistaken” in his later approach.

“The intention was not to exonerate anybody,” he continued.

“The intention was to see whether there was some way on a cross party basis we could improve the system.

“In retrospection, it was obviously obviously mistaken to think that we could conflate the two things.

“Do I regret that decision? Yes I certainly do.”

Johnson told he has “tarred all of the House with the same brush”

Wednesday 17 November 2021 15:32 , Laura Sharman

The Prime Minister was challenged by MPs on the corruption surrounding former Tory MP Owen Paterson.

Chris Bryant, Labour MP, said: “The problem is you say that the country is not corrupt but what Owen Paterson did was a corrupt practice.

“It was lobbying ministers and officials on behalf of his paying clients. It is a corrupt practice.

“By all of this you have tarred all of the House with the same brush, and yourself haven’t you?”

Prime Minister reiterates he “may well have been mistaken” in Westminster sleaze row

Wednesday 17 November 2021 15:27 , Laura Sharman

Boris Johnson admitted he “may well have been mistaken” in part of his approach to the Westminster sleaze row.

When told Owen Paterson had already been given an appeal, the Prime Minister said he acted “in the spirit of compassion.”

“In forming the impression that the former member of North Shropshire had not had a fair process, I may well have been mistaken but that was certainly the impression that many people seems to have,” he told MPs.

He added once more that he did think it a mistake but that it was “a particularly difficult case.”

“It is not often when a colleague suffers a family bereavement in the course of an investigation,” he continued.

“There was quite a lot of feeling about it and for that reason in the spirit of compassion, I thought it might be useful to see whether there was any cross party support.”

Boris Johnson on whether Owen Paterson was guilty

Wednesday 17 November 2021 15:19 , Laura Sharman

The Prime Minster was quizzed on whether he thought Owen Paterson was guilty by MPs of the Liaison Committee today.

Responding to the question, Boris Johnson said: “I think it was a very sad case but I think there is no question that he had fallen foul of the rules on paid advocacy as far as I could see from the report.

“I think the question people wanted to establish was whether or not given the particularly tragic circumstances he has a fair right to appeal.”

Boris Johnson appears before MPs of the Liaison Committee (Sky News)
Boris Johnson appears before MPs of the Liaison Committee (Sky News)

Boris Johnson accused of corruption in ongoing sleaze row

Wednesday 17 November 2021 15:06 , Laura Sharman

Boris Johnson has been accused of corruption amid the ongoing sleaze row at Westminster.

Labour Chair Anneliese Dodds said we must all play by the same rules and that the Prime Minister only made a U-turn “because he knew he’d been rumbled”.

“The people of Britain know when they are being taken for fools,” she told MPs at the Commons.

“When a party found guilty of breaking the rules tries to remake the rules to protect one of their own, there’s a word for that and that’s corruption.

“And that’s what this Prime Minister has brought into the heart of our politics.”

Anneliese Dodds (PA)
Anneliese Dodds (PA)

Government says it has not lost meeting notes on Randox, it just cannot find them

Wednesday 17 November 2021 14:59 , Laura Sharman

The Government sought to clarify that it has not lost the minutes of a meeting between Randox and a health minister, only that it cannot find them at the moment.

On the meeting between the company and former minister Lord Bethell, health minister Gillian Keegan said: “I just want to make it clear what I said.

“We have been unable to locate a formal note of the meeting. That is what I have been told so far.

“That doesn’t mean there isn’t one. It has been unable to locate one. But of course everything we have will be put in the House of Commons Library.”

Tory MPs furious at PM’s second jobs proposal

Wednesday 17 November 2021 14:49 , Daniel Keane

Backbench Tory MPs are furious about Boris Johnson’s proposal to ban consultancy work for MPs.

WhatsApp messages leaked to The Times’ Patrick Maguire suggest a considerable rebellion brewing on the backbenches.

Kevin Hollinrake, MP for Thirsk and Malton, writes: “Is anyone else concerned that allowing the commissioner to tedermine which of us are ‘prioritising outside interests over their constituents’ and are then ‘investigated and appropriately punished’ makes us subordinate to an elected official.”

Simon Hoare, MP for North Dorset, replies: “Yes.”

MPs’ requests to visit Napier Barracks ‘being ignored’

Wednesday 17 November 2021 14:28 , Daniel Keane

MPs have been ignored after making requests to visit an army barracks in Kent where asylum seekers are being housed after arriving in the UK, ministers have heard.

Liberal Democrat MP Tim Farron, for Westmorland and Lonsdale, told the Commons that requests from him and other MPs to visit Napier Barracks had been denied.

Requests had even come from the Home Affairs Committee of MPs responsible for scrutinising immigration policy, and Mr Farron said he was still “yet to hear anything” after his latest request for an on-site visit on October 27.

Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle said it was “for the Government to decide” whether to invite MPs to visit the barracks.

Government ‘unable to locate formal note’ of minister’s talks with Randox

Wednesday 17 November 2021 14:11 , Daniel Keane

The Government has been “unable to locate a formal note” of what was said during a call between a health minister and Randox, MPs have been told.

Alistair Carmichael, a former Liberal Democrat minister, asked health minister Gillian Keegan to publish the minutes of a telephone conference call involving Randox, former Tory MP Owen Paterson and former minister Lord Bethell.

Pressed by Labour MP Tony Lloyd (Rochdale) on the Randox meeting involving Lord Bethell, Ms Keegan said: “The meeting he refers to was a courtesy call from the minister to Randox to discuss RNA extraction kits.

“That was declared on the ministerial register of calls and meetings, and we have been unable to locate a formal note of that meeting, but all the other notes that are available with regard to this – and that meeting, by the way, was after any contracts were let with Randox.”

‘I’ve never seen anything like this in the Commons’, says Labour MP

Wednesday 17 November 2021 14:00 , Daniel Keane

Labour MP Barry Sheerman (Huddersfield) told MPs he has been a member of the House of Commons since 1979 and he has “never seen anything like this”.

He added: “Can I remind her that I have been here all this time, I have never seen this determined boycott of an important debate on an Opposition Day in all my years in the House?”

Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner replied: “I thank him, and I remind him, I was born in 1980 and I also remind him that I am a grandma and my granddaughter is four next week, so he has considerable more experience.”

She went on: “But, you know, it is a shame that so many are not here for this very important debate today, because it is very important and it goes to the heart of what we are here for.

“People want to see we are really taking these issues very seriously.”

Boris Johnson quizzed about Northern Powerhouse Rail

Wednesday 17 November 2021 13:04 , Elly Blake

The Prime Minister faced questions from one of his own backbenchers about whether voters were right to take him “at his word” over past promises about Northern Powerhouse Rail.

Conservative MP Jake Berry (Rossendale and Darwen) said: “In July 2019, I was in Manchester when the Prime Minister committed to build a new line, Northern Powerhouse Rail, between Manchester and Leeds.”

Mr Berry, who chairs the Northern Research Group of Tory MPs, added: “It was a firm commitment reaffirmed in our manifesto in November 2019, and last month reaffirmed in the Prime Minister’s conference speech in Manchester. Were the voters in the North right to take the Prime Minister at his word?”

Referring to the upcoming integrated rail plan, Boris Johnson replied: “Yes. He should wait and see what is unveiled tomorrow when he may learn something to his advantage.”

PM: Threat to invoke Article 16 of NI Protocol ‘legitimate’

Wednesday 17 November 2021 13:00 , Elly Blake

The Prime Minister has defended the UK’s threats to use Article 16 of the Northern Ireland Protocol to withdraw from the agreement, saying that it is “legitimate” and “perfectly legal”.

At Prime Minister’s Questions, DUP MP Ian Paisley (North Antrim) said: “It has cost businesses in Northern Ireland £850 million to date to operate the failed and suffocating protocol.”

He added: “When will the Prime Minister fix this by legitimately activating Article 16?”

Boris Johnson replied: “I think the word I would fasten on in his question is legitimate.

“There is no question that the use of Article 16, which has already been done by the EU Commission to stop vaccines being exported into this country, it is something that is perfectly legal within the powers of the protocol.”

Johnson: UK is ‘one of cleanest countries in the world for democracy'

Wednesday 17 November 2021 12:48 , Daniel Keane

Boris Johnson says the UK is one of the “cleanest democracies in the world” after Ian Blackford accused him of being at “the rotten core” of the sleaze scandals.

Mr Johnson added: “I think these constant attacks on the UK’s levels of corruption and sleaze do a massive disservice to billions of people around the world who genuinely suffer from governments that are corrupt and genuinely have no ability to scrutinise their MPs.

“This is one of the cleanest democracies in the world and people should be proud of that.”

Starmer withdraws claim that PM is ‘a coward'

Wednesday 17 November 2021 12:41 , Daniel Keane

Starmer has withdrawn his claim that Mr Johnson is a “coward” following a request from speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle.

It cam e after Conservative MP Michael Fabricant (Lichfield) raised a point of order urging Sir Keir to withdraw the jibe.

“I withdraw it, but he is no leader,” he says.

PM grilled on transport promises

Wednesday 17 November 2021 12:30 , Daniel Keane

Sir Keir called on Mr Johnson to confirm that he “stands by that promise” to develop the eastern leg as well as the whole of HS2.

He said: “That was a lot of words but it wasn’t a yes. So that’s one important promise to the North that he won’t stand by.

“Let’s look at another, in February this year the Prime Minister told this House ‘I can certainly confirm that we are going to develop the eastern leg as well as the whole of HS2, a new high speed line running continuously, no gaps, between Birmingham and Leeds’, so will the Prime Minister confirm that he stands by that promise?”

Mr Johnson replied: “I’m afraid (he) is in danger of getting hoist on his own petard, he needs to wait and see what we announce tomorrow.

“I think he will find that the people of the North East, of the North West, the people of Leeds, the people of Nottingham, the people of Sheffield, the people of the whole of the North West and the North East of this country will benefit massively from what we are going to announce.”

Johnson: We are supporting NHS trusts with more cash

Wednesday 17 November 2021 12:24 , Daniel Keane

The discussion in the House has briefly shifted away from sleaze.

Boris Johnson is asked by Sir Ed Davey, the Liberal Democrat leader, how the Government will deal with the crisis in A&E amid record waiting times for ambulances.

He says: “We are supporting trusts with more cash. And as he knows, we are putting £36 billion into dealing with the backlog.”

Blackford: Proposals are ‘half-baked and botched'

Wednesday 17 November 2021 12:20 , Daniel Keane

Ian Blackford, the leader of the SNP in Westminster, has taken aim at the prime minister’s “botched” proposals.

He said: “Look at the empty benches, the rebellion has clearly started.”

“These so-called reforms don’t even scratch the surface.

“Month after month, the public have witnessed scandal after scandal... which of those would these proposals have stopped?”

Speaker sits PM down

Wednesday 17 November 2021 12:16 , Daniel Keane

Speaker Lindsay Hoyle has asked Boris Johnson to sit down after making comments about Sir Keir’s links to the law firm Mishcon de Reya.

He said: “You might be the prime minister of this country, but in this House I’m in charge.”

It is claimed that Sir Keir was poised to take on consultancy work at the law firm during his time in the shadow cabinet, but this was blocked by then Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Mr Johnson later brands the situation “mishconduct”. Speaker Hoyle asks the House to “show respect” for each other.

Starmer: PM is ‘a coward not a leader’

Wednesday 17 November 2021 12:12 , Daniel Keane

Boris Johnson has been accused of “letting his MPs off the hook” by Keir Starmer in his opening remarks to PMQs.

The Labour leader told the House: “When somebody in my party misbehaves, I kick them out. He tries to let them off the hook.

“I lead, he covers up.”

MPs ‘voted by proxy while at the England v Denmark Euro 2020 game’

Wednesday 17 November 2021 11:58 , Daniel Keane

Two cabinet ministers were among MPs who cast proxy votes while attending the England vs Denmark game at Wembley in Euro 2020 in June, according to analysis by Politico.

The MPs were using proxy votes instead of voting in person under measures introduced by parliament to avoid crowding in the House of Commons.

The prominent MPs include chief whip Mark Spencer and defence secretary Ben Wallace.

The match began at 8pm, a little over an hour after a 6:59pm vote in the House of Commons on the EU Settlement Scheme.

PM’s 1922 committee showdown

Wednesday 17 November 2021 11:40 , Daniel Keane

Elsewhere today, the prime minister also faces an awkward meeting with members of the influential 1922 Committee as he tries to heal the divide between Downing Street and his own MPs.

Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, treasurer of the 1922 Committee, said there was “dissatisfaction” with the Mr Johnson in the Tory ranks.

He told BBC’s Today programme that he had “no problem” with a ban on paid consultancy work but going further could “deter a whole class of people” from entering politics.

“I think we all need to take a long, deep breath on this and get it right,” he said.

“There are two real aspects to it. One is how we represent our constituents. And the second is what sort of type of people we want in Parliament.

“Because if we ban all second jobs, I think you are going to deter a whole class of people who represent the business opportunities in this country.”

What can we expect today?

Wednesday 17 November 2021 11:33 , Daniel Keane

Good morning and welcome to the Evening Standard’s live coverage of a busy day in the House of Commons.

Boris Johnson’s packed schedule will begin with Prime Minister’s Questions, due to begin shortly. He is expected to be quizzed on his proposal to ban consultancy and advisory work for MPs, which is likely to provoke a rebellion on the backbenches.

Later on at 3pm, Mr Johnson will appear in front of MPs on the Liaison Committee. The meeting will also cover topics including violence against women and girls, COP26, and the recent Budget and Spending review.

It is likely to prove a difficult encounter for the prime minister, who will be quizzed on sleaze by senior MPs in front of the cameras.

Later this evening, the House of Commons will vote on Mr Johnson’s proposal to end consultancy work for MPs. The move has provoked a furious response from Labour who accused ministers of “watering down” their original motion, effectively making it non-binding.

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