Lockdown parties were 'unforgivable', says Sir Iain Duncan Smith

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Sir Iain Duncan Smith said that lockdown parties were 'unforgivable' - Sky News/Sky News
Sir Iain Duncan Smith said that lockdown parties were 'unforgivable' - Sky News/Sky News

Sir Iain Duncan Smith has said the lockdown-busting parties in No 10 were "unforgivable".

Speaking on Sky News' Trevor Phillips On Sunday programme, the former Tory leader said he was "as appalled as anybody else" by the allegations of parties at Downing Street.

He said: "This is unforgivable, there is no question that what has been going on and ... the culture has become lazy and slack about what happens after hours, what happens in offices.

"You know, most businesses wouldn't allow what was going on in the offices, even though people have been under pressure.

"This was in the middle of lockdown with oppressive rules about what people could and couldn't do."

Sir Iain said senior civil servant Sue Gray's report will settle the question of "the Prime Minister's authority and about his decision-making, and whether or not he knew or understood what was going on".

"But there's no question right now that this is an appalling set of circumstances that should not have happened".

​​Follow the latest updates below.

05:35 PM

And that's all for today...

Oliver Dowden, the Conservative Party chairman, insisted that a change of culture will be needed following revelations of parties in Downing Street.

He said the allegations of parties were "totally wrong" and he was "angered by them" but he insisted that Boris Johnson should remain as Prime Minister.

Speaking to the BBC Sir Keir Starmer called on the Prime Minister to resign as he accused him of lying and breaking the law over allegations of Downing Street parties.

The Labour leader said Boris Johnson had repeatedly changed his position on what happened at the parties when he spoke at the despatch box, adding that he believed he "lied about what happened".

Meanwhile, the Liberal Democrats tabled a motion of no confidence in the Prime Minister and wrote to Jacob Rees-Mogg to let it be voted on this week.

05:10 PM

Boris Johnson's omicron victory should not be forgotten

It is no surprise that scandals about lockdown parties are weighing heavily on the public mood at the moment, but they risk distracting us from what should be the biggest story of substance today - the worst of the omicron wave has passed with few significant problems. Last month's decisions not to impose additional restrictions have been stunningly vindicated, writes Andrew Lilico.

Even as Parliament debated the implementation of Plan B in December, many scientists were demanding far stricter rules. SAGE modellers assessed the impacts of returning to “Step 2” level restrictions – taking us back to the rules of April 2021.

Leaks to journalists suggested that some form of post-Christmas lockdown was already scheduled. Modellers warned that without restrictions going well beyond Plan B there could be tens of thousands of hospitalisations per day. Imperial College models reportedly predicted 3,000 deaths per day, even in their best-case-scenario.

Read Andrew's full piece here

04:50 PM

Boris Johnson must take ‘full responsibility’ for conclusions of ‘partygate’ inquiry, say ministers

MPs and ministers are publicly warning the Prime Minister to take "full responsibility" for the findings of an inquiry into Covid rule breaches in Downing Street, as they face a tidal wave of anger from constituents.

In one case Mims Davies, the employment minister, said it had been "very hard to see" the way the apparent rule-breaking had brought back painful memories from the last couple of years for so many, and of the sacrifices we’ve all made".

"Understandably, many constituents have been very greatly angered and deeply hurt by this reported ‘party’ in the garden on May 20 2020," Ms Davies said.

Read the full story from Edward Malnick and Mason Boycott-Owen here

04:28 PM

Jeremy Clarkson needs to face the truth: Britain is a nation of Nimbys

Jeremy Clarkson may be angry – but he shouldn’t be surprised. It’s hardly a shock that planning officers have rejected his application to build a 60-seat cafe and 70-space car park at his Cotswolds farm. The reason is simple, writes Michael Deacon.

Britain is a nation of Nimbys.

The term may have been coined as an insult. But there’s no shame in being instinctively protective of our countryside, and wary of any threat to disfigure it. Indeed, I suspect that this instinct has always been part of our national character – no matter how far back in time you go.

Read Michael's full column here

04:01 PM

Dominic Raab: I'll stop dangerous criminals abusing Human Rights Act 'to line their pockets'

Dominic Raab has pledged to stop dangerous offenders from "lining their pockets" with taxpayers' funds after a gangland killer was handed £15,000 compensation for being locked up with terror offenders.

The Justice Secretary and Deputy Prime Minister said his human rights reforms would curb "abuses" of the system by dangerous offenders.

Mr Raab's plan for a new bill of rights includes overhauling the current system to give the UK Parliament a final say on interpreting judgments by the European Court of Human Rights, to prevent 'perverse' consequences - Leon Neal/Getty Images
Mr Raab's plan for a new bill of rights includes overhauling the current system to give the UK Parliament a final say on interpreting judgments by the European Court of Human Rights, to prevent 'perverse' consequences - Leon Neal/Getty Images

His intervention came after it emerged that Jemmikai Orlebar-Forbes, 28, won £15,000 from the Government following a claim for damages after he was segregated with terror offenders at HMP Frankland, a a high-security men's prison in Brasside, County Durham.

Read the full story from our Sunday Political Editor Edward Malnick

03:37 PM

Iain Dale’s picks for who could replace Boris Johnson as Prime Minister

As MPs openly discuss toppling Boris Johnson, the Tory commentator outlines the possible contenders to take over at Number 10.

Liz Truss, Rishi Sunak, Jeremy Hunt, Michael Gove, Priti Patel and Dominic Raab could all be in with a chance of succeeding Boris Johnson as Prime Minister

Read Iain's analysis here

03:13 PM

Tory chairman Ben Elliot tests the price of a celebrity contact book

England’s World Cup-winning rugby captain Lawrence Dallaglio donned ear plugs, picked up a gun and surveyed the bucolic scene.

As one of 150 guests gathered at Englefield, the 14,000-acre Berkshire estate owned by senior Tory MP Richard Benyon, he was in for a day of shooting organised by businessman, nephew to the Duchess of Cornwall and now Conservative Party chairman Ben Elliot.

Helicopters whisked wealthy individuals from Russia and Asia to the charity event in June 2017, where they rubbed shoulders with minor celebrities. An eclectic crowd on the surface, many of the affluent guests had one thing in common: they were clients of Elliot’s exclusive concierge firm Quintessentially.

Read the full story from James Warrington, Oliver Gill, and Ben Gartside

02:50 PM

Scrap VAT on energy now and claim a Brexit dividend

Almost two years on from the biggest collapse in three centuries, the UK economy has finally returned to pre-Covid levels, writes Liam Halligan.

New figures show GDP grew 0.9pc in November off the back of strong retail sales and buoyant construction, much faster than broadly expected. The British economy is now 0.7pc bigger than in February 2020, the month before lockdown began. On paper at least, the UK has “fully recovered” – just.

We’ve taken our time – not least as the UK’s outward-facing, service-driven economy was hit particularly badly by 2020 lockdowns, our GDP plunging more than any other advanced economy. US and Swedish GDP returned to pre-pandemic levels last spring. China’s “full recovery” took just a few months – ironic, given the origins of Covid-19.

Read the full piece here

02:32 PM

Inside the shadowy organisation behind China’s Parliament spy

“Due to the Covid situation, it is with great regret that the British Chinese Project is unable to continue to operate and will be dormant until further notice.”

So says the announcement on what is left of the website of the British Chinese Project (BCP), the organisation said by MI5 to be “involved in political interference activities” in the UK.

Whether the abrupt suspension of activity by the group was down to Covid or the action by MI5, we may never know. Calls to the BCP from The Telegraph went unanswered, and email enquiries met with no response.

Read the full story from Dom Nicholls here

02:15 PM

Sir Iain Duncan Smith: UK needs to be more brutal with China's 'disgusting' regime

The UK Government needs to be more brutal with China's "disgusting" regime, Sir Iain Duncan Smith has said.

The former leader of the Conservative party said the fact the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is trying to "persuade and infiltrate and subvert people within our political system" is "nothing new at all" and insisted "too many governments seem too cautious about calling it out".

Appearing on Sky News' Trevor Phillips On Sunday programme, Sir Iain was asked about the urgent alert issued by MI5 last week which said Christine Lee - a prominent London-based solicitor - had been engaged in "political interference activities" on behalf of China's ruling communist regime.

He said: "We seem to want to kow-tow to them too often and that's dangerous and you have seen the results of that and this is just the tip of the iceberg, I can promise you."

Sir Iain noted "we are not dealing with a European regime or an American regime which is democratic and accountable" but this is a "brutal, disgusting regime", adding: "What they're after is making sure there can be no criticism of them so they can break every rule that they wish."

The senior Tory MP added that whether or not we believe Covid-19 came from a laboratory, the communist regime of China "refused to let the world know of the scale of the problem they had until very late on".

02:11 PM

Boris Johnson will clean up Downing Street drinking culture, says minister

Boris Johnson will clean up an "underlying culture" of drinking and rule-breaking in Downing Street in an attempt to salvage his premiership and win back the support of his party, the Conservative chairman has suggested.

Oliver Dowden said the Prime Minister was "contrite" over allegations that staff members held raucous gatherings while Britain was in lockdown, and appeared to confirm reports he was planning reforms that have internally been dubbed "Operation Save Big Dog".

Mr Dowden said the Government plans to "address the kind of culture that has allowed" the reported flouting of coronavirus laws to happen, as he admitted "failings" had taken place in Downing Street throughout the pandemic.

Read the full story from Tony Diver here

01:59 PM

Boris Johnson could have passed tipping point of unpopularity from which prime ministers never recover

There are not many prime ministerial careers that do not, eventually, end in failure. Fewer still recover from the kind of self-inflicted wounds Boris Johnson has given himself, writes Daniel Capurro.

Politicians can survive scandals and even overcome multiple calamities across a career. At some point, however, the improprieties and foul-ups congeal into an unrepairable mess, dragging their unhappy bearer into the abyss.

This is the tipping point - the moment that, as Dr Mark Garnett, author of The British Prime Minister in an Age of Upheaval, puts it: “The gilt comes off the gingerbread man.”

Read the full story here

01:43 PM

We must restore decency, honour and trust at heart of our Government

The No10 party situation is now an embarrassment to me and many of my colleagues. When you think "that’s it", there is more, and more.

This is now becoming a matter where the integrity of all of Westminster is being questioned, as well as that of the Downing Street party animals.

Between 6pm on Friday and 9am on Saturday, 106 emails crashed into my inbox about this. Not from "frequent-flying" regular political opponents, but heartfelt feelings of sadness and distrust from decent and good people who tell me that enough is enough.

Read Conservative MP Chris Loder's full piece here

01:29 PM

Sir Trevor Phillips gives emotional account of daughter's death during lockdown at same time as Downing Street party

Sir Trevor Phillips held back tears recalling his daughter's death in lockdown as he interviewed the chairman of the Conservative Party about allegations of parties in Downing Street.

The Sky News presenter said he remembered getting a phone call in April 2020 to tell him his daughter had collapsed.

He continued: "By the following morning she had died and she had stuck to the spirit and letter of the rules, and there are going to be thousands of people who have that story in their background and, if I may say so, you are in here telling me about a civil servant's inquiry, that will not answer that anger.

"Does the Prime Minister really understand why people are angry?"

01:24 PM

Further revelations would be an 'insurmountable hurdle', warns former Justice Secretary

Robert Buckland has said if more revelations continue to come out that would be "a bridge too far".

The former Justice Secretary told Times Radio: "If more revelations continue to come out, that show more than just a failure to think" from Boris Johnson, then "that really is a bridge too far."

He warned that if revelations come out that are more "systematic" and "deliberate" it would likely be an "insurmountable hurdle".

He said: "If people at the top of government are involved in … organising and planning and just absolutely openly disregarding rules then I think that really it a bridge too far".

The former Cabinet minister added: "The egregious parties before Prince Phillip's funeral were shocking."

01:03 PM

Sir Tony Blair: I am 'perfectly happy' with Tony

Sir Tony Blair has said he is "perfectly happy" with being called Tony rather than "Sir Tony" after he was given a knighthood by the Queen.

The former Prime Minister's appointment has been the subject of much controversy after a petition to strip him of his knighthood gathered more than one million signatures.

A change.org campaign called him the "least deserving person" following his part in involving the UK in the allied invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Sir Tony told Times Radio that he "expected" people to object to the decision but argued that there are some who "want to say the only thing the government did was Iraq and ignore all the rest of the things we do".

"Especially in today's politics, you don't occupy a position of leadership and take decisions without arousing a lot of opposition and so it didn't surprise me," he added.

"The best thing is just to accept that of course there will be people who strongly oppose it and detest me for various reasons, and this is just what happens in politics."

12:57 PM

Boris has kept the economy open and the recovery on track - and that matters more than a drinks party

England is now the freest place in Europe. Shops and schools are open, vaccine passports have been dropped and the last lingering Plan B restrictions should go later this month, writes Daniel Hannan.

Nightclubs remain mothballed in Malmö, Mullingar and Munich, but they thump out their hypnotic beats in Manchester. What Boris Johnson once called “the inalienable free-born right of people born in England to go to the pub” is again, well, inalienable.

British blood cells are brimming with antibodies: 95 per cent of us carry them, according to the Office for National Statistics, making us, as Professor David Heymann of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine puts it, the best-placed population in the northern hemisphere to get past the pandemic.

Read the full piece here

12:31 PM

John Bercow dismisses inquiry finding him guilty of bullying staff as a ‘kangaroo court’

John Bercow has denounced a parliamentary inquiry into his conduct a "kangaroo court", as he reveals it will conclude that he bullied three House of Commons staff.

The former Speaker has been found culpable on 21 counts of 35 brought by Lord Lisvane, the former clerk of the Commons, and private secretaries Kate Emms and Angus Sinclair, The Sunday Times reports.

Former Speaker  John Bercow has dismissed an inquiry finding him guilty of bullying staff as a 'kangaroo court' - HENRY NICHOLLS/REUTERS
Former Speaker John Bercow has dismissed an inquiry finding him guilty of bullying staff as a 'kangaroo court' - HENRY NICHOLLS/REUTERS

Accusations against him include throwing a mobile phone, swearing at an employee and making a racially and sexually discriminatory remark, he said.

Read the full story here

12:12 PM

'Wrong time' to consider changing Tory leader, says former Cabinet minister

A former Cabinet minister who was sacked by Boris Johnson has said it is the "wrong time" to be considering changing the leader of the Conservative Party.

Dr Liam Fox, the former trade secretary, said: "I did not vote for Boris Johnson in the last Conservative leadership election.

"He subsequently sacked me from the Cabinet, as he was perfectly entitled to do.

"So, I cannot be accused of being a sycophant in writing that this is absolutely the wrong time for the Conservative Party to think about a change of leader."

Writing in the Mail On Sunday the North Somerset MP said he was not suggesting "all is well in the Johnson premiership" and that the Sue Gray inquiry into whether Covid rules were broken has "opened a 'one rule for one and another rule for others' narrative that is difficult to dispel".

But he added: "We should defer judgment ... It is not a time for a leadership challenge."

12:08 PM

Nadhim Zahawi: I was a lost child, so I know the value of learning

It was the greatest honour of my career to be appointed to the best brief in Government: running the Department for Education. In my previous role as vaccines minister, overseeing one of Europe’s fastest roll-outs, I learnt many things that I am bringing to this job.

One is to focus on delivery on the ground. Another is the importance of evidence and data. Now, as we move from pandemic to endemic, we have done our utmost to ensure schools remain open for face-to-face learning.

We should be immensely grateful to the amazing teachers and support staff who are working hard keeping the doors of our schools open, despite all the challenges that Omicron has posed. This summer UK schools will stay open and exams will go ahead as planned.But as we move beyond the pandemic, I have a vision of an education system in which every child has the chance to make the most of their abilities and become the best version of themselves.

Read the full piece in today's Telegraph from Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi here

11:53 AM

Keir Starmer: Boris Johnson and his politics of cynicism are poisoning the well of our democracy

Boris Johnson is “poisoning the well” of British democracy with his behaviour over allegedly illicit parties in Downing Street, Sir Keir Starmer has warned, claiming that the Prime Minister’s handling of the crisis risked a backlash akin to the fall-out over the 2009 MPs’ expenses scandal.

Sir Keir, who has called for the Prime Minister to resign over the scandal, alleged that Mr Johnson “flagrantly breaks the rules” and then “drags as many into the gutter with him by forcing them to defend his rule-breaking.”

A source close to Sir Keir said he feared that the ramifications of the series of revelations about parties at No 10 despite Covid-19 restrictions, could be similar to the fallout from The Telegraph’s revelations about MPs’ routine abuse of the expenses system, more than 12 years ago.

Read the full story from Edward Malnick here

11:38 AM

Sir Tony Blair: I will not get into questions of resignation

Sir Tony Blair, the former Prime Minister, said he could "understand how these things happen" when asked about the partygate allegations.

The former Labour leader, asked on Times Radio whether Boris Johnson should step down, said: "I don't get into questions of resignation or not.

"I'll leave that to the people in the front line of politics today."

He added: "I understand people feeling enraged and very angry about it. I can also, from the perspective of Downing Street, understand how these things happen.

"You can explain it but not really excuse it."

Sir Tony said he did not recall holding drinking parties during his 10 years in Downing Street, adding: "When you are there, it's such a pressured environment and you're usually working flat-out, so most people at the end of the busy day just want to go home."

11:22 AM

Michael Gove said to be on leadership ‘manoeuvres’ by courting Tory MPs at dinner

Michael Gove has been accused of embarking on "manoeuvres" after it emerged that he courted dozens of Tory backbenchers at a dinner hosted by the MP who ran his last leadership bid.

The Levelling Up Secretary addressed up to 40 MPs at a pub near to the Central London home of Mel Stride, who held similar events with Mr Gove as guest speaker in the run-up to the 2019 leadership campaign.

An MP said the event, on November 24, was ostensibly organised under the auspices of Deep Blue, a dining club founded by Mr Stride - who chairs the Treasury select committee and was a member of the Cabinet for the last two months of Theresa May's premiership.

Read the full story from Edward Malnick here

11:10 AM

Tory chairman insists 'change of culture' will be needed following party revelations

Oliver Dowden, the Conservative Party chairman, has insisted that a change of culture will be needed following revelations of parties in Downing Street.

Mr Dowden told Sky News that there will need to be a "change in culture" following party revelations, but added that the Prime Minster is "committed to leading that".

Oliver Dowden said that there will need to be a "change in culture" in Downing Street following revelations of parties - Jeff Overs/ BBC/PA
Oliver Dowden said that there will need to be a "change in culture" in Downing Street following revelations of parties - Jeff Overs/ BBC/PA

He said the allegations of parties were "totally wrong" and he was "angered by them".

"I can tell you that the Prime Minister is genuinely committed, both in demonstrating his remorse and apology for what happened, but also in taking steps to ensure that we address the kind of culture in Downing Street that enabled something like that to happen, which clearly should never have happened in the first place," he said.

He added: "We must improve the culture we must do better, I hear people's anger, I know it, and we've got to respond to that."

10:57 AM

Anger from all sides as Boris Johnson fights to survive 'partygate'

Having played an instrumental role in Theresa May's downfall - albeit by leaving much of the dirty work to fellow MPs - Boris Johnson knows only too well the dangers that lie ahead.

The public and private anger being voiced by MPs, from the newest backbenchers to senior Cabinet ministers, reflects both the personal feelings of the Prime Minister's colleagues and the onslaught many are experiencing from constituents.

At the centre of the anger are allegations of parties at Number 10 that appeared to breach Covid-19 rules, along with Mr Johnson's failure to grip the problem and get his Government back on track.

Edward Malnick, Mason Boycott-Owen, and Henry Bodkin have the story here.

10:37 AM

Sir Keir Starmer: the sooner we lift Covid restrictions the better

Sir Keir Starmer has said he hopes Plan B restrictions will be lifted "as soon as possible".

Speaking on the BBC's Sunday Morning programme, Sir Keir said: "I think the sooner we can lift the final restrictions, the better. I think that's what the whole country want.

"I think it's important that we're led by the science on this. We had access to the Government scientific and medical advisers, and that's helped us form our views.

"I hope those restrictions can be lifted as soon as possible, but I want them to be lifted because the medical science says they should be lifted, not simply because the Prime Minister is in a real mess and he's desperately trying to get out of it.

"So, if it's the right thing to lift those restrictions, we will vote to lift those restrictions. But we'll be led by the science as we always have been, not by the politics of propping up a broken Prime Minister."

10:27 AM

Sir Keir Starmer: Boris Johnson 'degraded' the office of Prime Minister

Sir Keir Starmer said Boris Johnson needs to resign as he has "degraded" the office of Prime Minister and "lost all authority" in the country.

He told the BBC's Sunday Morning programme: "I've been prompted many, many times to call for the Prime Minister to resign.

"I always resisted but we reached a point, and this is the important thing, the Prime Minister has degraded the office of Prime Minister and he has lost all authority, not only in his own party, but in the country.

"Therefore, when he tries to persuade the public about how they should behave during the rest of the pandemic, he won't be taken seriously and it's not just the pandemic. At the moment, there are Russian troops in Ukraine, we have got energy bills, we've got the NHS, so he's lost authority."

The Labour leader added: "We're now a country paralysed by the weakness of the Prime Minister. That's why in the national interest he has to go."

10:23 AM

The cost-of-living crisis is politics at its most personal – ministers can’t afford to fail

As the furore over lockdown parties at Number 10 rages on, it is tempting to think that normal politics is in suspense, pending factual findings from Sue Gray, the senior civil servant given the unenviable task of investigating. Yet Ministers would be wholly wrong to pause, as we face a year of immediate challenges, writes Robert Buckland.

In this era of Covid-19 we have become almost inured to Government spending pledges that make telephone numbers seem small. £400 billion to support the economy and jobs here; hundreds of billions for the NHS and education there.

The abstract nature of these enormous sums can make them difficult to conceptualise and comprehend. When they are broken down into much smaller amounts, however, it becomes easier

Read the full piece from the former Justice Secretary here

10:18 AM

Dowden: Boris Johnson should not resign irrespective of report findings

10:11 AM

Lockdown parties were 'unforgiveable', says former Tory leader

Sir Iain Duncan Smith has said the lockdown-busting parties in No 10 were "unforgivable".

He told Sky News' Trevor Phillips On Sunday programme: "This is unforgivable, there is no question that what has been going on and ... the culture has become lazy and slack about what happens after hours, what happens in offices.

"You know, most businesses wouldn't allow what was going on in the offices, even though people have been under pressure.

"This was in the middle of lockdown with oppressive rules about what people could and couldn't do."

Mr Duncan Smith said senior civil servant Sue Gray's report will settle the question of "the Prime Minister's authority and about his decision-making, and whether or not he knew or understood what was going on".

"But there's not question right now that this is an appalling set of circumstances that should not have happened".

He added: "I'm as appalled as anybody else".

10:09 AM

Sir Keir Starmer: I did not break the rules

Sir Keir Starmer has denied claims that he broke lockdown rules himself after a photo emerged of him drinking a beer when the country was still under Covid restrictions.

When asked by Sophie Raworth on the BBC if he was breaking Step 2 rules in place at the time, Sir Keir said: "it was not a breach of the rules."

“I was in a constituency office just days before the election. We were working in the office, we stopped for something to eat and then we carried on working. No party, no breach of the rules and absolutely no comparison with the Prime Minister," he said.

Sir Keir Starmer said the picture showing him drinking a beer with staff on April 30 last year is "absolutely no comparison" with the Prime Minister and was not a breach of the rules.

He added: "It was perfectly lawful to meet for work, which is what we were doing. The party that was put to the Prime Minister on Wednesday happened because an invitation was sent to 100 people saying 'let's have some socially distant drinks in the garden and bring your own booze'. There is simply no comparison."

The Labour leader was branded an "absolute hypocrite" for for drinking with staff during lockdown.

Read the report from Harry Yorke here

09:56 AM

Sir Keir Starmer: I think the Prime Minister broke the law

Sir Keir Starmer has accused the Prime Minister of lying and breaking the law over allegations of Downing Street parties.

The Labour leader said Boris Johnson had repeatedly changed his position on what happened at the parties when he spoke at the despatch box, adding that he believed he "lied about what happened".

He said it was clear that "industrial scale partying" has been going on at Downing Street.

Sir Keir Starmer told the BBC that he believes Boris Johnson broke the law - Jeff Overs/BBC/PA
Sir Keir Starmer told the BBC that he believes Boris Johnson broke the law - Jeff Overs/BBC/PA

When asked by Sophie Raworth if he believed the Prime Minister broke the law, he replied: "I think he broke the law. I think he has as good as admitted he broke the law. And after all Downing street has now apologised to the Queen for some of the parties that have gone on. "

"I think it's pretty obvious what was going on. There was industrial scale partying going on at Downing Street - not much of it is really denied. I think the public have made up their mind. The facts speak for themselves."

09:48 AM

Moscow will face economic sanctions if it invades Ukraine, says Tory chairman

Economic sanctions will be slapped on Moscow should it make an incursion into Ukraine, Oliver Dowden has said.

The Conservative Party chairman told Sky News' Trevor Phillips On Sunday programme: "It is important we have that kind of engagement we saw in Vienna, and we were represented by minister (James) Cleverly at that.

"We continue to work with the United States and our allies, and we continue to be robust, as we have been, in saying to Russia that if it infringes on the sovereignty of the Ukraine, it will face severe consequences.

"We need to be united in sending that message and we are."

He added: "We have said there will be severe economic consequences, sanction regimes and so on were that to happen.

"Russia needs to be in no doubt at all that we would not allow this to happen without those consequences."

09:42 AM

Dowden: These events shouldn’t have happened

09:41 AM

Dowden: I feel angry about what was going on in Downing Street

Oliver Dowden has said he feels "angry" about what was going on in Downing Street.

He denied having any knowledge of the parties which took place after he had given a press conference earlier that day.

He told the BBC: "This event was totally wrong - it shouldn't have happened. The PM has rightly apologised for it. People feel angry about what has been going on in Downing Street.

"I feel angry about what was going on in Downing Street. The correct process now is to get to the full facts.

"I can assure you the Prime Minister is both very contrite and deeply apologetic of what happened but also more importantly is determined to make sure that this can't be allowed to happen and we address the underlying culture in Downing Street."

09:34 AM

Targeting of MPs by suspected Chinese agent was 'just the tip of the iceberg', says former Tory leader

Sir Iain Duncan Smith, the former Conservative leader, has said the targeting of MPs by a suspected Chinese agent was "just the tip of the iceberg".

He told Sky News' Trevor Phillips On Sunday programme: "The reality for us is that successive governments have been completely asleep at the wheel over this issue.

"China, over the years, has so dominated us in a way that we are now completely dependent on them on a whole series of items and articles.

"Far too many officials and ex-ministers then left and retired and gone and taken money from China, so the very fact that they are in trying to persuade and infiltrate and subvert people within our political system is nothing new at all, but the worst bit about it is that too many governments seem too cautious about calling it out."

Mr Duncan Smith said it was "very important that we recognise China as a threat, not as a competitor".

He called China's ruling communist party a "brutal, dictatorial, ghastly regime".

09:30 AM

Tory MPs back legal challenge against masks in the classroom

The Government is facing a legal fight over face masks in the classroom as more than a dozen Tory MPs and peers backed a court challenge against the measure, reports Camilla Turner.

Boris Johnson has been warned that there is “insufficient evidence” to support the policy and that it must be withdrawn with “immediate effect”.

The Government was sent Letter before Action by lawyers acting for the parent campaign group UsForThem which claims the current guidance is disproportionate, irrational and discriminatory.

Read the full story here

09:25 AM

Wes Streeting: Boris Johnson is 'great for Labour Party'

Wes Streeting, the shadow health secretary, has said that Boris Johnson continuing as Prime Minister was "great for the Labour Party".

Asked why Labour was not calling for a confidence vote in the Prime Minister, Mr Streeting told Sky News' Trevor Phillips On Sunday programme: "We could call a motion of no confidence in the Government - we've been around the block with this before, that would galvanise the Conservative Party."

Told that Mr Johnson remaining in Government appeared positive for Labour's approval ratings, Mr Streeting replied: "I'll make no bones about it - Boris Johnson carrying on is great for the Labour Party.

"If I'm thinking purely through the prism of party politics, then my message is: 'Keep him on, knock yourselves out, you'll be literally knocked out at the next election'.

"But we are still in the middle of a national crisis here and the Prime Minister's actions and judgments matter."

09:20 AM

Carrie Johnson pictured breaking Covid rules hugging friend at West End club

Carrie Johnson, the Prime Minister's wife, was photographed breaking Covid-19 social distancing rules days after the public was warned that it was "critical" to follow the guidance, The Telegraph can disclose.

Despite Boris Johnson's warning that "you should keep your distance from anyone you don't live with", Mrs Johnson, 33, was pictured embracing a close friend while the pair celebrated the friend's engagement at a private members' club in London's West End.

The pair seemingly shared a joke as they posed for the camera while sitting next to each other on a sofa on the club's outdoor roof terrace.

Read the full story from Edward Malnick here

09:18 AM

Dowden: Boris Johnson should remain as Prime Minister

Oliver Dowden, the Conservative Party chairman, has insisted that Boris Johnson should remain as Prime Minister.

Asked on Sky News' Trevor Phillips On Sunday programme whether he could have to tell the Prime Minister he needed to quit in order for the Tories to win the next election, Mr Dowden said: "I don't agree with that analysis. I think Boris Johnson should, of course, remain as Prime Minister."

Mr Dowden said reports of lockdown breaking in No 10 had angered him but that he did not believe Boris Johnson had to resign.

"When it comes to the big calls he makes the right calls," he said. "Of course I don't diminish for a second that the kind of events we have seen are totally wrong. I was angered by them, my constituents were angered by them, the whole country was angered by them and it's absolutely right the Prime Minister said we will get to the bottom of them."

09:10 AM

Sixth MP calls for Prime Minister to go

Tim Loughton, a former minister, has called for Boris Johnson to resign as Prime Minister.

09:01 AM

Dowden: I was 'disgusted' by allegations of parties the night before Prince Phillip's funeral

Oliver Dowden said he was "disgusted" and "it was wrong" that parties were taking place in Downing Street the night before Prince Phillip's funeral.

He said: "We all shared and respected the tremendous dignity and selflessness that the Queen showed on this occasion as she has done throughout her reign.

"I was disgusted at the fact that there were parties taking place before this profound event of national mourning in our nation's history.

"It shouldn't have happened and it was wrong, they've already apologised for doing so. It was just wrong and it shouldn't have happened."

He added that the Prime Minister wants to address that kind of culture in Downing Street.

08:57 AM

Boris Johnson must take ‘full responsibility’ for conclusions of ‘partygate’ inquiry, say ministers

MPs and ministers are publicly warning the Prime Minister to take "full responsibility" for the findings of an inquiry into Covid rule breaches in Downing Street, as they face a tidal wave of anger from constituents.

In one case Mims Davies, the employment minister, said it had been "very hard to see" the way the apparent rule-breaking had brought back painful memories from the last couple of years for so many, and of the sacrifices we’ve all made".

"Understandably, many constituents have been very greatly angered and deeply hurt by this reported ‘party’ in the garden on May 20 2020," Ms Davies said.

Read the full story from Edward Malnick and Mason Boycott-Owen here

08:56 AM

Good Morning

Here is the front page of the Sunday Telegraph

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