From a Correspondent on Jupp

From a correspondent:

Owl should be wary of Jupp showing any independence of thought in forthcoming important votes in Parliament.  

Remember Jupp’s last job before he became an MP was as a “SPAD” (Special Political Adviser) to current Deputy Prime Minister and Justice Secretary, Dominic Raab – the Cabinet Minister currently tasked with ensuring that any laws the Government disagrees with can be overturned by the PM and also attempting to remove or water down the judicial review system.

It may also be worth checking out the promises Japp made to East Devonians while canvassing: 

The 34-year-old says he will be working hard for the constituency, aiming to attract more GPs to the area, protect the area’s healthcare services, and even, if it is possible, reopening a railway station.

Issues he would like to address include public transport, cycling routes, electric charging points, neighbourhood parking and broadband.

Mr Jupp pointed to his previous professional involvement in negotiations for funding to reopen the Portishead to Bristol line. Asked about Sidmouth, he said that ‘if there is any way we could reopen the train line to Sidmouth we should’.”

https://www.sidmouthherald.co.uk/news/general-election-2019-conservative-simon-jupp-s-east-devon-priorities-6166560

Simon Jupp will have three opportunities to rebel on Tuesday

Covid: Plan B vote to be split into three amid Tory rebellion

A vote to pass new Covid measures into law this week is expected to be split, as Boris Johnson faces a rebellion from about 60 Conservative MPs.

Sophie Gallagher www.bbc.co.uk

Government sources suggested the introduction of Plan B measures for England will be divided into three separate votes on Tuesday.

There will be a distinct vote for plans to introduce Covid passes in some venues, opposed by some Tories.

But Plan B is expected to become law as Labour is backing the government.

The BBC estimates that about 60 Tory MPs have said they will oppose the introduction of Covid passes – requiring proof of double jab or negative test – to access certain venues like nightclubs.

If replicated in the Commons on Tuesday, it would be the largest rebellion of his MPs that Mr Johnson has seen yet.

As a result, it is expected MPs will be asked to vote on this separately to other parts of the plan, our political correspondent Chris Mason reports.

1. There is likely to be one vote on the new facemask rules.

2. Another vote on whether a daily negative test result should allow those exposed to a positive case to avoid self-isolation.

3. And the third on Covid status certification, described by some as vaccine passports, but which can be obtained through a negative lateral flow test.

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Ministers will hate relying on Labour

Analysis box by Chris Mason, political correspondent

It’s important to untangle the real world consequences of the votes over measures to limit the spread of Omicron, coming on Tuesday, from the political consequences.

I’m told there will be three votes on introducing Plan B for England and one on making it compulsory for front line NHS staff in England to be fully jabbed.

Let’s be clear: it looks like all will pass easily, because Labour will back the government.

Three of the four votes will pass with minimal opposition. It’s the one on so-called Covid passports that will encounter a blast of turbulence.

About 60 Conservative MPs don’t like the idea.

That number of rebels would normally be enough to beat the current government with its big majority.

But with Sir Keir Starmer propping him up, Boris Johnson can still win.

So Covid passports are still likely to happen.

But governments hate relying on the opposition in order to win votes, because it leaves them looking feeble.

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In addition there is also expected to be a vote this week on mandatory vaccination for front line NHS staff in England.

Despite having previously been against it, the BBC understands that Labour will back the government’s plan to make jabs compulsory.

As recently as October, the Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said he was opposed to the idea but it is understood the party has changed its mind after briefings from government scientific advisers.

That vote could come before Parliament as soon as Tuesday.

Earlier, Tory MP Steve Baker criticised the Department of Health and Social Care for promoting the new rules around Covid passes on Twitter before a vote had taken place.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid responded, saying: “No law is decided until Parliament votes on it. I’ve asked for this graphic to be deleted for implying otherwise.”

Although Plan B has not yet passed, there is already talk that the government might need to bring further measures in England as Omicron cases rise.

On Saturday, a further 633 Omicron cases were reported – although the real number is estimated to be much higher. Overall, a further 54,073 daily cases were recorded across the UK.

Meanwhile, a report by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine has suggested the UK will face a substantial wave of Omicron infections in January without further restrictions, beyond Plan B.

It also said the number of deaths could range from 25,000 to 75,000 between now and April.

Photos of No 10 “Gathering” confirmed

Boris Johnson took part in a Christmas quiz sitting between two colleagues in No 10 last year – while indoor household mixing was banned in London.

By Dulcie Lee www.bbc.co.uk

A photo of Boris Johnson next to two other people in an office

Image source, The Sunday Mirror

The Sunday Mirror has published a picture of Mr Johnson at the event, which it said was on 15 December.

Downing Street said the prime minister “briefly took part virtually in a quiz” to thank staff for their hard work during the pandemic.

Labour’s Angela Rayner said Mr Johnson was “unfit to lead this country”.

It comes after the government launched an investigation into three allegations of gatherings last Christmas – including two in Downing Street – despite Covid rules banning them.

In the photo, Mr Johnson is sitting in the No 10 library between a colleague wearing a tinsel scarf and another apparently in a Santa hat.

London was under Tier Two restrictions at the time, which banned mixing of households indoors – apart from support bubbles – and allowed a maximum of six people to meet outside.

Official guidance said: “Although there are exemptions for work purposes, you must not have a work Christmas lunch or party, where that is a primarily social activity and is not otherwise permitted by the rules in your tier.”

Responding to the photo, a No10 spokesperson said: “This was a virtual quiz. Downing Street staff were often required to be in the office to work on the pandemic response so those who were in the office for work may have attended virtually from their desks.”

A Downing Street source told the BBC the two people in the picture with Mr Johnson were members of his closer staff who had come in to help him with the technology.

But Labour’s deputy leader Ms Rayner said: “Boris Johnson really believes it’s one rule for him, another for everyone else.

“Despite repeated denials of parties in No 10, it now transpires that there were numerous parties, gatherings and the prime minister even took part in a festive quiz,” she said.

The Department for Work and Pensions has confirmed some of its staff drank alcohol and ate takeaways “late into the evening” on several occasions while Covid restrictions were in place.

On Friday 10 Downing Street cancelled its 2021 Christmas party amid growing anger over a different gathering on 18 December last year, after London had been put under Tier 3 restrictions banning gatherings of two or more people indoors unless it was “reasonably necessary” for work.

After criticism from opposition parties, the media and his own MPs, the prime minister asked Cabinet Secretary Simon Case to carry out an investigation into the 18 December party earlier this week.

The inquiry will also include finding out what happened at another Downing Street gathering on 27 November last year, and another at the Department for Education on 10 December.

Allegra Stratton quit her post as a government spokesperson on Wednesday after a backlash over a video she appeared in from last December, in which she joked about a Christmas party.

The row over Christmas parties continued to escalate as the government announced new rules in England to tackle the spread of Omicron.

Mr Johnson faces a rebellion from about 60 Conservative MPs when the measures are put to a vote in the Commons next week.

Government sources suggested the introduction of Plan B measures for England will be divided into three separate votes on Tuesday, including one on Covid passes which are opposed by some Tories.

But the measures are expected to become law as Labour is backing the government.

On Saturday, a further 633 Omicron cases were reported – although the real number is estimated to be much higher. Overall, a further 54,073 daily cases were recorded across the UK.

Meanwhile, a report by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine has suggested the UK will face a substantial wave of Omicron infections in January without further restrictions, beyond Plan B.

It also said the number of deaths could range from 25,000 to 75,000 between now and April.

Photo evidence exists of No 10 Christmas parties, claims Dominic Cummings

Boris Johnson’s former senior adviser Dominic Cummings has claimed there are photos of the festive parties held at Downing Street in the run-up to Christmas last year.

www.independent.co.uk

Pressure on the prime minister over the parties has stepped up after it emerged that his top communications adviser Jack Doyle handed out awards to staff at a gathering on 18 December.

Mr Cummings claimed Mr Johnson was “lying” about the gatherings and said photo evidence of the events – as well as invitations sent to people who do not work at No 10 – would soon be revealed.

“There’s lots of pictures of the parties which will inevitably get out. And invite lists beyond No 10, to other departments,” he tweeted on Friday.

The former strategist also said he thought Mr Johnson probably knew about the 18 December event at the centre of the scandal, and predicted the PM would “be gone before the next election … probably summer”.

In a question and answer event for subscribers to his blog, Mr Cummings also suggested that Mr Doyle would become the fall guy for the party scandal – claiming the press chief is a “gonner” (sic).

He claimed Mr Johnson “will be thinking ‘not now, gotta keep him as the sacrifice for Case’s inquiry then – I’m shocked, shocked I tell you to discover there was a party and I was misled’.”

Mr Cummings also suggested the PM – facing accusations that he lied to his own ethics adviser about donations spent on Downing Street flat redecorations – would “do a deal with Jack to keep all the wallpaper horror buried”.

Referring to the events of 18 December, Mr Cummings also suggested Mr Johnson may have known about the gathering of staff. “He knew but I think did not attend, though remember the geography – to get upstairs he has to walk past that area where he could see it – if he was not [at] Chequers.”

Mr Cummings also alleged that Mr Johnson, whom he refers to as the “trolley”, had been “lying” when answering questions about the alleged parties in recent days.

He claimed: “There were invites sent across Whitehall, it was an organised party. The trolley knows this and tried to lie his way out but was fck [sic] by the video.”

The former No 10 strategist also denied claims he was the source of the leaked video which showed adviser Allegra Stratton, who has since resigned, joking about a festive party. Asked if he obtained the clip and shared with ITV News, he replied: “No.”

Asked by subscribers how and when the Tories might replace Mr Johnson, Mr Cummings said: “The polls will lead it, plus his inevitable continued flat spin, plus officials kicking him off the ice, plus rivals strategically intervening.”

“He’s done, gone by this time next year, probably summer,” he said of Mr Johnson’s leadership – warning the 2019 intake of so-called red wall Tory MPs that they would be “toast” unless they replace him.

But Mr Cummings would not be drawn on who would be the next PM. “Don’t want to get into personalities now – [Liz] Truss and [Sajid] Javid are not solutions.” Asked if his former Vote Leave campaign ally Michael Gove was the answer, he said: “No.”

It comes as Tory peer Gavin Barwell said the party’s MPs are “definitely” having conversations on how to replace Mr Johnson. “His position depends on being seen as an electoral asset, and if over a period of time that goes then he really is in trouble.”

Mr Johnson’s troubles were made worse on Friday when it emerged that his ethics adviser Lord Geidt has restarted an investigation into the funding of the lavish flat refurb.

Lord Geidt contacted No 10 after Thursday’s Electoral Commission report appeared to show the prime minister “misled” the adviser on when exactly he knew about funding arrangements.