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Boris Johnson news – live: PM in ‘last chance saloon’ after new party claims as 70% of voters want him gone



No 10 apologises to Queen for parties on eve of Prince Philip’s funeral

Boris Johnson is in the “last chance saloon”, a Cabinet minister has warned, after Downing Street was hit by a series of fresh party claims and an exclusive poll for The Independent found that 70 per cent of voters want him gone.

No 10 was forced to apologise to Buckingham Palace on Friday following reports of two parties held on the eve of Prince Philip’s socially-distanced funeral, while a further report emerged alleging that regular “wine time Friday” gatherings continued in Downing Street despite coronavirus restrictions.

In a bid to save his premiership, the prime minister has launched “Operation Save Big Dog”, as he seeks to shore up his own support within his party and draws up a list of officials who can offer their resignation after Sue Gray publishes the findings of her inquiry into the matter,The Independent understands.

With Ms Gray reported to have been “completely blindsided” by the new revelations, pensions minister Guy Opperman warned the PM “needs to change his ways”, while the chair of the Campaign for Conservative Democracy said Tory MPs must now find the stomach to force out “the worst prime minister of my lifetime”.

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Good morning, I’ll be picking up the liveblog from my colleague Joe Middleton this morning, as Downing Street seeks to weather a string of fresh revelations over the partygate scandal.

An exclusive Savanta poll for The Independent has found that 70 per cent of voters want Boris Johnson to resign, while 68 per cent did not believe his apology over the partygate scandal was genuine.

However, our economics editor Anna Isaac reports that battle plans have been drawn up within No 10, dubbed “Operation Save Big Dog” by the prime minister himself, in a bid to shore up support for the prime minister and settle upon individuals to take the fall over the row.

Meanwhile, The Times reports that Cabinet ministers who have publicly defended Mr Johnson are warning the situation for him appears dire, with one telling the paper: “This is the last chance saloon. More revelations of parties, and a pummelling at the local elections, and the party will rise up.”

Andy Gregory15 January 2022 07:51

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Covid: How Omicron symptoms differ from the Delta variant and original strain in two charts

The Omicron variant of coronavirus has spread swiftly across the world since its discovery in South Africa and Botswana in late November and has steadily driven up daily infection numbers wherever it has been found.

Highly transmissible, the strain caused the UK to hit a pandemic-record of 218,724 new cases on 4 January but, so far, the soaring infection rate has not translated into an unsustainable level of hospitalisations and deaths.

There is still much we do not know about Omicron but its symptoms appear to be much more like that of the common cold, broadly typified by running noses, sneezing and sore throats, whereas the original strain of the virus that emerged in Wuhan, China, in late 2019 was defined by fever, coughs and an unpleasant loss of a patient’s sense of taste or smell.

Joe Middleton14 January 2022 23:47

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Social care for elderly and vulnerable rationed as Covid hits staff

More than half of councils in England are resorting to exceptional measures to ration social care, a survey has found.

The Omicron variant of Covid-19 is forcing so many staff to take sick leave or self-isolate that the systems can no longer cope with rising demand, according to council chiefs.

They dubbed the situation “a worsening national emergency”.

Jane Dalton has the details.

Joe Middleton14 January 2022 23:33

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Boris Johnson too ‘preoccupied’ by Partygate to fix NHS, says Keir Starmer

Boris Johnson cannot fix the problems facing the NHS because the Partygate scandal has left him “unable to lead”, Sir Keir Starmer is set to say.

The Labour leader is preparing to accuse the prime minister of losing his authority and being “too preoccupied defending his rule-breaking” to meet the huge challenges faced by the health service.

Mr Johnson is fighting to save his premiership after he admitted attending a “bring your own booze” event in May 2020, with further reports of leaving drinks at No 10 and Whitehall during the pandemic, writes Adam Forrest.

Joe Middleton14 January 2022 23:20

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Downing Street staff ‘held regular wine-time Friday’ drinks during lockdown

Downing Street staff reportedly held drinks on Friday evenings throughout the pandemic with Boris Johnson regularly seeing them doing so.

The prime minister encouraged aides to “let off steam” despite having banned indoor socialising during lockdown, The Mirror reported a source as saying.

The paper said the end of week “wine-time Fridays” became such a fixture that staff bought a £142 drinks fridge and would head to a nearby Tesco with a suitcase to stock up on wine and beer, writes Liam James.

Joe Middleton14 January 2022 22:49

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A Sudanese man in his twenties has died trying to cross the English Channel in freezing conditions, French authorities say.

He fell overboard when a boat ran into trouble shortly after setting off from the coast south of Boulogne in the early hours of Friday morning.

He was found unconscious by French rescue teams and taken to shore, where he was declared dead.

So far this year, more than 450 people have made the life-threatening trip across the Channel in small boats.

Laurie Churchman reports.

Joe Middleton14 January 2022 22:20

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Lib Dem Councillor campaigns for Prince Andrew to lose Duke of York title

Joe Middleton14 January 2022 21:55

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Bees will die as ministers approve toxic banned pesticide for second time, warn experts

Ministers have given the go-ahead for farmers to use a banned bee-harming pesticide in England for the second year running.

The government went against the advice of its own scientific advisers, who said they did not see the justification for applying the neonicotinoid to sugar beet this year, writes Jane Dalton.

A single teaspoon of thiamethoxam is toxic enough to kill 1.25 billion bees, according to biology professor and insect expert Dave Goulson, and wildlife chiefs warned the decision could devastate already-struggling bee populations.

Joe Middleton14 January 2022 21:30

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Sudanese man in his twenties dies trying to cross English Channel

A Sudanese man in his twenties has died trying to cross the English Channel in freezing conditions, French authorities say.

He fell overboard when a boat ran into trouble shortly after setting off from the coast south of Boulogne in the early hours of Friday morning.

He was found unconscious by French rescue teams and taken to shore, where he was declared dead.

So far this year, more than 450 people have made the life-threatening trip across the Channel in small boats.

The Home Office is facing legal action over proposals to turn back small boats at sea, a tactic campaigners warn could put lives at risk.

Laurie Churchman reports.

Joe Middleton14 January 2022 21:20

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Should Boris Johnson resign over ‘partygate’? Have your say in our poll

Some senior Tory MPs are calling for PM to quit – but what do you think? Tell us in the poll below.

Joe Middleton14 January 2022 21:15



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