Good Friday morning. I’m Eleni Courea, your new London Playbook deputy editor. I’ll be in your inbox on Fridays and protecting for Alex when he’s off, plus engaged on tales and different initiatives through the week. Get in contact with any suggestions, gossip or ideas — simply e-mail me for my WhatsApp, Signal or ProtonMail, and I’m all the time up for a espresso in Westminster.
MEDIA SCOOP: News UK has employed Sky’s Senior Political Correspondent Kate McCann to be political editor of its forthcoming tv channel TalkTV. McCann will likely be centered on primetime reporting and evaluation, and can seem on night packages anchored by Tom Newton Dunn and Piers Morgan, amongst others. By poaching a Lobby rising star, the channel mentioned it’s demonstrating its willpower to compete on the highest stage of high quality journalism.
DRIVING THE DAY
HANDS, FACE, SUITCASE: Downing Street wakes as much as a nightmare this morning as it’s rocked by allegations of two extra lockdown-busting events, during which workers apparently danced to an impromptu DJ set and wheeled in a suitcase full of booze the night time earlier than the queen was pictured sitting alone at her husband’s funeral.
Party No. 1: No. 10 workers held two boozy leaving dos on April 16, 2021, whereas Britain was beneath strict COVID restrictions and in public mourning following Prince Philip’s dying, the Telegraph experiences. Tony Diver and Ben Riley-Smith spoke to witnesses who allege workers danced within the No. 10 basement to music DJed by a particular adviser, that one attendee broke child Wilfred Johnson’s swing set and that one other was handed an empty suitcase and despatched off to fill it with wine from the Co-op on the Strand. The bash was held to mark the departure of an official No. 10 photographer.
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Party No. 2: The paper experiences a second leaving do occurred on the identical night time in a unique a part of the Downing Street complicated for James Slack, the departing No. 10 director of comms, who made a speech thanking workers and advisers. Alcohol was served and the group spilled over into the backyard earlier than they had been joined by these who had been partying within the basement, based on the report.
Meanwhile: Government rules on the time meant that hours in a while Saturday morning, the queen needed to mourn her husband’s dying sitting alone within the pews at St George’s Chapel in Windsor. Deputy Labour chief Angela Rayner put the boot in on that, tweeting: “The Queen sat alone in mourning like so many did at the time with personal trauma & sacrifice to keep to the rules in the national interest. I have no words for the culture & behaviours at number 10 and the buck stops with the PM.”
Where was Boris? Downing Street instructed the Tel that Johnson was not in No. 10 on April 16 and had departed for Chequers the earlier night.
And the place is he now? The prime minister is working from his Downing Street flat and limiting exterior contacts after a member of his fast household examined constructive for the coronavirus. His spokesman mentioned yesterday that he was unlikely to be seen in public for the subsequent week.
Good luck with that: Batting for the federal government this morning is unfortunate Security Minister Damian Hinds, who was lined up for the published spherical when it seemed set to be dominated by questions on Chinese authorities infiltration of British politics (extra on this later). Chris Philp, the tech minister who occurred to be on Newsnight straight after the story broke, gave an early sense of the federal government’s response by saying he had “not seen any suggestion in those reports that the prime minister was at those parties or was aware of them.”
Chart of the day: From the Economist’s Alex Selby-Boothroyd, who has tallied up the ever-growing variety of days in lockdown on which authorities workers are alleged to have held events.
Particularly painful for the PM … is the actual fact this newest bombshell story was damaged by the Telegraph, one among Johnson’s strongest cheerleaders, which employed him for years as its star columnist. The story can also be problematic for the Sun, the place Slack now works as deputy editor. The newspaper’s former editor, David Yelland, tweeted final night time that Slack “needs to clarify or resign.”
Will issues get harder for Johnson? Tory MPs heading to their constituencies for the weekend are about to search out out the extent of backlash they face from Tory members and the broader public. It would hardly be stunning if, on their return to the Commons on Monday, there may be one other trickle of no-confidence letters into backbench 1922 committee Chairman Graham Brady’s letterbox.
Trouble in true blue territory: Jonathan Walker from the Birmingham Post and Mail reported in a single day that the Sutton Coldfield Conservative Association had unanimously handed a movement calling on Johnson to face down. The constituency, represented by former authorities Chief Whip Andrew Mitchell, has a Conservative majority of practically 20,000 and has returned Tory MPs ever since its creation in 1945. Sky’s Lewis Goodall factors out it will have been the pure launching pad for the party’s marketing campaign within the upcoming by-election triggered by Labour MP Jack Dromey’s dying in Birmingham Erdington. In his Times column, Spectator pol ed James Forsyth says Tory MPs are coming beneath strain from their associations to take a harder line with the PM.
Letters newest: Andrew Bridgen, the Tory MP for North West Leicestershire, reveals on the Telegraph’s Chopper’s Politics Podcast that he has submitted a no-confidence letter to Brady. Appearing on Newsnight final night time, Bridgen mentioned Johnson had “clearly made huge errors of judgment” and was “morally incapable of having the authority to lead the country.” In a Telegraph op-ed, Bridgen says Johnson ought to stop now to retain “some semblance of grace.”
Reality verify: Despite obsessive plotting, Tory MPs together with Bridgen did not defenestrate Theresa May earlier than she resigned an entire two years after her disastrous 2017 election efficiency. Even after the requisite variety of letters was submitted to Brady, May received the boldness vote comfortably and secured her place for one more 12 months. As one Tory MP who spoke to Playbook identified: “They thought she was betraying Brexit, and for a wing of the Tory Party that was existential. Johnson is in trouble over integrity and standards in public life, which important as they are don’t necessarily have the same purchase among many Conservative colleagues.”
THE JOHNSON 5: In calling for Johnson to go, Bridgen joins Scottish Tory chief and MP Douglas Ross, who triggered a cross-nation Tory civil warfare by saying post-PMQs that Johnson’s place is “no longer tenable” … 1922 committee Vice Chair William Wragg, who mentioned he wasn’t reassured by Johnson’s apology … Women and equalities committee Chair Caroline Nokes, who instructed ITV’s Peston the PM “looks like a liability” … and Roger Gale, an MP since 1983, who described Johnson as a “dead man walking.” Gale, Ross and Bridgen are thus far the one MPs to substantiate they’ve submitted letters of no confidence to Brady, as Playbook’s ace reporter Andrew McDonald tallies up. The complete wanted to set off a confidence vote is 54.
What in regards to the police? The Met issued a press release yesterday afternoon saying it is not going to launch a legal investigation into the Whitehall and Downing Street events till it sees the conclusions of the Cabinet Office inquiry led by civil service enforcer Sue Gray. The Good Law Project is threatening authorized motion if the Met doesn’t examine, based on a letter handed to the Mirror and ITV. No indication but whether or not as we speak’s Telegraph story will have an effect on the Met’s calculations.
Over to Sue: In a must-read front-page story, the Times’s Steve Swinford experiences Gray has not but uncovered sufficient proof of criminality to refer the matter to the police, and that she is predicted to keep away from drawing a conclusion over whether or not the prime minister broke the ministerial code. She has, nevertheless, consulted an exterior QC, taken recommendation from authorities legal professionals and is more likely to advocate motion towards officers and particular advisers, the story states. Swinford spoke to allies of Johnson final night time who believed he was more likely to get a “rap on the knuckles” and will survive the scandal. In the Guardian, Rajeev Syal, Heather Stewart and Peter Walker report Gray will lay naked a “farcical” consuming tradition in authorities.
Not ready for Gray’s findings … is Priti Patel, who when requested by Sky’s Beth Rigby whether or not she was reserving judgment till after the Cabinet Office inquiry, mentioned: “No! On the contrary. I have publicly supported the prime minister and actually, you’re speaking to the home secretary who spends all my time day in day out supporting the prime minister.”
Reminder: Patel was discovered responsible of bullying in an investigation by the prime minister’s former requirements adviser Alex Allan, however stored her job after Johnson overruled his conclusions.
Leadership sparring: Patel’s intervention contrasts with Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s equivocal assertion on Thursday night time, which mentioned the prime minister was proper to ask for “patience” till Gray’s inquiry had concluded. The Times’ foyer workforce experiences on anger from different Cabinet ministers at Sunak’s and Liz Truss’ “game-playing” and obvious jostling to succeed Johnson. In the Mail, a Cabinet minister tells Jason Groves the chancellor is all the time “going missing” on the first signal of hassle.
To-do checklist: The Sun’s Kate Ferguson and Harry Cole spoke to Cabinet ministers who mentioned Johnson must elevate COVID restrictions, overhaul his Downing Street workforce and sort out the federal government consuming tradition if he’s to outlive. But in his Telegraph column, Spectator Editor Fraser Nelson argues a contest is untimely as a result of there isn’t a pure successor able to step up.
Boris’ fightback: The FT’s George Parker and Seb Payne have a touch of the plan to salvage Johnson’s premiership. They report Johnson is planning a significant shake-up of his operation at No. 10 with Dan Rosenfield, his chief of workers, and Martin Reynolds, the civil servant accountable for his workplace who invited 100 workers to a “BYOB” backyard party in Downing Street through the first lockdown, amongst these focused. Johnson hopes to mix personnel modifications with a home coverage reset and an finish to coronavirus restrictions in England, the FT experiences.
What might occur subsequent? POLITICO’s Esther Webber examines the 5 methods during which the scandal might play out.
Windsor woes: Away from Westminster, virtually all of the papers splash on Buckingham Palace’s determination to strip Prince Andrew of his army titles and royal patronages following a U.S. courtroom determination to permit Virginia Giuffre to pursue a civil case towards him.
YESTERDAY’S UK COVID STATS: 109,133 constructive instances. In the final week 967,877 instances have been recorded, ⬇️ 304,254 on the earlier week … 335 deaths inside 28 days of a constructive take a look at. In the final week 1,828 deaths have been reported, ⬆️ 734 on the earlier week. As of the most recent information 19,721 COVID sufferers are in hospital.
SCOOP — LABOUR’S CASH CRISIS: No doubt all this can be a reward to Labour, which was main the federal government by 10 factors in opinion polls this week. But the party’s monetary troubles throw into query whether or not it’s anyplace close to to being combating match for a common election. My colleague Esther Webber and I hear Labour workers have been instructed to just accept a real-terms pay reduce because the party offers with the lack of greater than £3 million final 12 months because of falling membership and diminished union assist during the last 12 months.
Pay replace: Labour workers had been briefed on the state of the funds at a gathering final week, and had been supplied a 2 % pay uplift for subsequent 12 months, though administrators will see their pay frozen. All workers are in line for a rise of three % subsequent January.
£3M down: The party’s General Secretary David Evans, HR Director Martin Beecroft and finance chief Simon Mills specified that an estimated £1.6 million had been misplaced from union contributions and £1.5 million from members’ charges in 2021.
Member exodus: Staff had been instructed the decline in membership has been a lot increased than anticipated, whereas potential fines from a safety breach in November and a lack of union contributions have induced “substantial” further prices. Labour now hopes to make up among the shortfall from massive donations.
Context: The party has already shed virtually 80 jobs to attempt to compensate for costly payouts in authorized instances referring to anti-Semitism. Unite, Labour’s greatest union backer, introduced it will reduce its donations final 12 months and funnel extra funds into its personal campaigns. A Labour spokesperson mentioned: “We have been open about the challenges the party faces. Party staff have done great work to tackle these challenges and everyone is focused on ensuring we are ready to fight the next general election.”
TODAY IN WESTMINSTER
HOUSE OF COMMONS: Sits from 9.30 a.m. with a day of personal members’ payments, beginning with Tory MP Mark Jenkinson’s invoice geared toward extending entitlement to careers recommendation in faculties.
THE SPY WHO LOVED BARRY: Priti Patel will make a press release within the Commons this morning after safety providers issued a rare warning a couple of Chinese spy working in Westminster who has funneled a whole lot of 1000’s of kilos to the workplace of Labour MP Barry Gardiner. The residence secretary is predicted to deal with MPs at round 11 a.m.
Red alert: In a uncommon transfer, MI5 mentioned it had recognized Christine Ching Kui Lee, a solicitor who has been photographed with David Cameron and acquired a “Points of Lights” award from Theresa May, as an agent of the Chinese Communist Party who has infiltrated parliament to try to intrude in British politics.
Beijing Barry: MP for Brent North Barry Gardiner discovered himself within the eye of the storm after it transpired that Lee donated round £100,000 a 12 months to his workplace — which he declared in his register of pursuits — and that her son was employed by him till MI5’s intervention yesterday. In interviews with Sky and LBC final night time, Gardiner mentioned he was “deeply distressed” about being focused by Beijing by way of somebody he thought of a private buddy over a interval of 20 years.
It doesn’t cease there: Lee was photographed with David Cameron and Jeremy Corbyn and acquired an award for excellent volunteering service from Theresa May (which has now been rescinded). Ed Davey, the Liberal Democrat chief, acquired a £5,000 donation from Lee’s workplace at his native party department in November 2013. Davey instructed Guido yesterday it was the primary time he had been given trigger to be involved in regards to the donation, and urged the federal government to make it a nationwide safety precedence to guard towards overseas interference.
FCDO alarm: The Foreign Office raised MI5’s findings at a routine assembly with Beijing’s ambassador to London yesterday, Playbook hears.
Gaining consideration: This thread from Martin Thorley, a postdoctoral analysis fellow at Exeter who has dug into Lee’s CCP connections for PhD thesis.
Worth studying: This profile of Lee by the Times’ Oliver Wright, who splashed the newspaper with a narrative about her funds to Gardiner and connection to the Chinese Embassy in 2017.
More to return: The Telegraph’s Lucy Fisher and Rob Mendick report the Electoral Commission will “undertake further checks” on Lee’s funds by her agency to MPs and native events, and will contemplate enforcement motion.
History journey: The final time MI5 issued a warning of this significance associated to Ekaterina Zatuliveter, a Russian nationwide who labored as a researcher for then-Liberal Democrat MP Mike Hancock and was romantically concerned with him. Theresa May ordered her deportation on safety grounds after safety providers accused her of being a Russian spy in 2010, however this was overturned by a nationwide safety courtroom in 2011.
BREXIT UPDATE: European Commission Vice President Maroš Šefčovič will make a brief assertion round 10.30 a.m. as we speak at London St Pancras station earlier than boarding a prepare to Brussels following his conferences with Liz Truss, POLITICO Europe’s Cristina Gallardo texts in to say. Truss can even file a broadcast clip. According to the Times’s Oli Wright, the overseas secretary has struck a extra conciliatory tone than her predecessor David Frost did over the Northern Ireland protocol and has harassed she is prepared to be “pragmatic and constructive.” Meanwhile, the proportion of Northern Irish producers reporting disruption on account of Brexit has fallen from 41 % to under 24 % in six months, per an trade physique survey. Cristina has a write-up for POLITICO EU-U.Okay. and Trade Pros.
CRICKET SHAME: The authorities ought to reduce English cricket’s funding until the game can reveal its anti-racism initiatives are working, the DCMS committee has concluded in a scathing report which comes after the stunning testimony of the previous Yorkshire participant Azeem Rafiq in regards to the abuse he confronted. Here’s the Guardian’s write-up.
STANDARDS LATEST: Tory MP Daniel Kawczynski faces a one-day suspension from the Commons after feedback he made at an inquiry into bullying allegations towards him. The BBC has the story.
MORE BLUE-ON-BLUE ACTION: In a chunk for ConHome, former Tory Culture Secretary Karen Bradley urges the federal government to suppose once more earlier than pushing forward with plans to denationalise Channel 4.
BOOSTERS NEED A BOOST: Vaccine doses might go to waste if extra younger folks don’t come ahead to get their third jab, the i’s Hugo Gye experiences, as the federal government prepares to kick off a recent push to enhance booster uptake among the many younger. Currently solely 38 % of individuals aged 18 to 34 in England have had a booster.
TODAY IN WALES: FM Mark Drakeford will use a press convention in just a few hours to set out a two-week plan for alleviating Wales’ remaining coronavirus restrictions. Rules limiting out of doors actions would be the first to go beneath the plan — which can spell excellent news for Welsh sports activities golf equipment, who have been unable to permit spectators to attend their video games since Boxing Day. After a spherical of broadcast interviews this morning, Drakeford will tackle Wales in his presser at 12.15 p.m.
HOUSE OF LORDS: Not sitting.
**A message from Lloyds Banking Group: In 2020, banks efficiently intercepted two-thirds of all tried unauthorised fraud and guarded greater than £1.6bn of buyer cash. But we have to make it even tougher for scammers to prey on the weak. The new Online Safety Bill tackles scams that originate from user-generated content material corresponding to social media posts. But it does nothing to cease fraudsters utilizing faux adverts to advertise their monetary scams. Including paid-for promoting in the laws, as advisable by the cross-party parliamentary Joint Committee that scrutinised the Bill, will make certain social media firms play their half in guaranteeing the general public are correctly shielded from fraud.**
Security Minister Damian Hinds broadcast spherical: Sky News (7.05 a.m.) … BBC Breakfast (7.30 a.m.) … LBC (7.50 a.m.) … Today program (8.10 a.m.) … talkRADIO (8.45 a.m.) … Times Radio (8.50 a.m.).
Shadow Attorney General Emily Thornberry broadcast spherical: talkRADIO (7.33 a.m.) … Sky News (8.05 a.m.) … Times Radio (8.35 a.m.) … LBC (8.50 a.m.).
Also on the Today program: Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford (7.10 a.m.) … DCMS committee Chairman Julian Knight (7.30 a.m.).
Also on BBC Breakfast: SNP Westminster chief Ian Blackford (6.40 a.m.).
BBC Radio Wales: Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford (8.10 a.m.).
Also on Sky News breakfast: Tory MP Roger Gale (7.45 a.m.).
Also on Times Radio: Former Secretary of State for Scotland and Liberal Democrat MP Alistair Carmichael (6.05 a.m.) …
Former Yorkshire cricketer Azeem Rafiq (8.15 a.m.).
Also on Nick Ferrari at Breakfast (LBC): Former Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith (7.20 a.m.) … CBI Vice President John Allan (7.40 a.m.).
Also on Jeremy Kyle breakfast present (talkRADIO): SPI-M member Mike Tildesley (7.20 a.m.) … Former press spokesman for the queen Dickie Arbiter (8.05 a.m.) … Polling guru John Curtice (8.20 a.m.).
Reviewing the papers tonight: Sky News (10.30 p.m. and 11.30 p.m.): Demos Chief Executive Polly Mackenzie and the Telegraph’s Madeline Grant … Times Radio (10. 35 p.m.): FT’s Jim Pickard and Vice’s Sophia Smith Galer.
TODAY’S FRONT PAGES
(Click on the publication’s identify to see its entrance web page.)
Daily Express: Queen casts Andrew adrift … for sake of the monarchy.
Daily Mail: Driven out.
Daily Mirror: No 10 ‘events on eve of Philip funeral.’
Daily Star: The narcissist previously generally known as Prince.
Financial Times: Russian menace to Ukraine persists after talks with west hit ‘lifeless finish.’
HuffPost UK: As nation mourned, Downing Street partied.
i: Prince Andrew solid out by the queen.
Metro: Throne out.
PoliticsResidence: Cabinet ministers double down on defending Boris Johnson after his management is bruised by party scandal.
POLITICO UK: 5 methods Boris Johnson’s Partygate scandal might play out.
The Daily Telegraph: Queen freezes out Andrew.
The Guardian: Queen strips Andrew of army and royal roles.
The Sun: Throne out.
The Times: Andrew humiliated as queen strips his titles.
TODAY’S NEWS MAGS
The Economist: Beware the bossy state — Government, enterprise and the brand new period of intervention.
THANK POD IT’S FRIDAY
Chopper’s Politics: Christopher Hope talks to Tory MPs Andrew Bridgen and Miriam Cates, plus former Thatcher adviser Nile Gardiner.
Desperately Seeking Wisdom: Former No. 10 spinner Craig Oliver is joined by filmmaker Richard Curtis.
EU Confidential: The POLITICO workforce talks by the most recent on Omicron and Russia, earlier than reflecting on the life and legacy of the late former European Parliament President David Sassoli.
Green Alliance: Holly Rowden talks to Camilla Born, adviser to COP26 President Alok Sharma.
How Did We Get Here: Andy Bell talks to the Migration Observatory’s Madeleine Sumption.
Inside Briefing: The IfG workforce speak partygate with the Evening Standard’s David Bond.
Newscast: The BBC workforce quiz Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi.
Rachel Johnson’s Difficult Women: Johnson talks to Sunday Times Editor Emma Tucker.
The New Statesman: Stephen Bush and Jonn Elledge take a look at the legacy of Margaret Thatcher with historian Florence Sutcliffe-Braithwaite and Thatcher’s former aide, the MP John Whittingdale.
The Political Party: Matt Forde interviews former Labour spinner Alastair Campbell reside on stage.
Women with Balls: Katy Balls interviews Universities Minister Michelle Donelan.
YOUR WEEKEND IN POLITICS
SUNDAY SHOWS: Sophie Raworth will likely be speaking to Labour chief Keir Starmer (BBC One, Sunday 9 a.m.). No visitor information but for Trevor Phillips (Sky News, Sunday 8.30 a.m.).
T&G host Tom Newton Dunn and co-presenter Sonia Sodha will likely be speaking to Tory MP James Wild, Demos’ Polly Mackenzie and former FCDO civil servant Simon Fraser (Times Radio, Sunday 10 a.m.).
Swarbrick on Sunday host Tom Swarbrick will likely be speaking to Standards committee Chairman Clive Bryant and former Vaccine Taskforce Chairman Clive Dix (LBC, Sunday 10 a.m.).
Westminster Hour host Carolyn Quinn will likely be speaking to Tory MP Andrew Bowie … Shadow Culture Secretary Lucy Powell … Former DExEU Permanent Secretary Philip Rycroft … Telegraph’s Lucy Fisher (BBC Radio 4, Sunday 10 p.m.).
WESTMINSTER WEATHER: ⛅️⛅️⛅️ After the fog clears within the morning, needs to be sunny in spells with gentle winds. Highs of 7C.
SAVE THE DATE: This 12 months’s British Kebab Awards, a massively in style bash amongst SW1 hacks and politicians of all stripes, will happen on March 1. Organizers will likely be lacking a trick in the event that they don’t serve wine bottles out of a suitcase.
NEW GIG: Labour’s Sophie McCubbin — who held roles as a political adviser to Emily Thornberry and extra not too long ago as head of broadcast media within the press workplace — has began a brand new position as director of communications and public affairs at Eversleigh LLP, a political consultancy.
BIRTHDAYS: Blaenau Gwent MP Nick Smith … Former chief of the Lib Dems within the European Parliament Catherine Bearder … Crossbench peer Nigel Crisp … U.Okay. Consul General to Hong Kong and Macao Andrew Heyn … Scotch Whisky Association boss Mark Kent … U.Okay. Ambassador to South Korea Simon Smith.
Celebrating over the weekend: Derby South MP and former Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett … Scottish Labour Deputy Leader Jackie Baillie … Former Holyrood Presiding Officer Ken Macintosh … Foreign Office head of Latin America James Dauris … Tory peer Andrew Tyrie … Lib Dem peer Jeremy Purvis … U.Okay. Ambassador to Mexico Corin Robertson … Former No. 10 spinner Dylan Sharpe … Rugby MP Mark Pawsey … Scottish Labour MSP Paul Sweeney … Labour peer Jeannie Drake … Tory peer Patricia Morris.
PLAYBOOK COULDN’T HAPPEN WITHOUT: My editor Zoya Sheftalovich, reporter Andrew McDonald and producer Grace Stranger.
primarily based on website supplies www.politico.eu