Good morning. As my colleagues Jessica Elgot and Dan Sabbagh report, after yesterday’s revelations about Boris Johnson agreeing by text message to amend tax rules at the request of Sir James Dyson to make it easier for his firm to get involved in the emergency ventilator production effort, there is increasing concern about extent to which Johnson is operating “government by WhatsApp”. This might seem innocuous, but it means the usual rules about the disclosure of contacts with third parties are much harder to apply.
There is a new twist to the story today with reports, in the Telegraph and in the Times, that Simon Case, the cabinet secretary, suggested Johnson should change his mobile phone number to stop people using it to lobby him.
As the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg points out, No 10 is denying this – although, given that there is a big difference between Case “telling” the PM to change his number and Case “floating the idea” it is not quite clear yet how comprehensive the denial is.
This morning Kwasi Kwarteng, the business secretary, defended the right of ministers to communicate with people outside government in this way. He said it was “very good” that business leaders and constituents had “direct access” to ministers and those making decisions in Whitehall. He told Sky News:
I think that in the real world, in reality, people are contacting ministers, contacting MPs, all the time.
Business people are contacting MPs all the time, constituents also contact me on my phone.
I think that in a modern democracy it’s very good that people actually can have direct access to ministers and people who are taking responsibility.
Here is the agenda for the day.
9.30am: Dominic Raab, the foreign secretary, gives evidence to the Commons international development committee.
9.30am: The ONS publishes its latest figures on coronavirus infections in schools.
10am: Sir Tom Scholar, permanent secretary at the Treasury, and other Treasury officials give evidence to the Commons public accounts committee about Greensill Capital.
Around 11.30am: Ben Wallace, the defence secretary, gives a statement to MPs about the failure of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission to properly commemorate thousands of mostly African and Asian soldiers who died in the first world war.
12pm: Downing Street is due to hold its daily lobby briefing.
After 1pm: Boris Johnson is due to speak at the virtual leaders’ climate summit hosted by the US president Joe Biden.
Covid is the issue dominating UK politics this year and Politics Live is often largely or wholly devoted to coronavirus at the moment. But I will be covering non-Covid politics too and – depending on what seems most important and most interesting to readers – sometimes these stories will take precedence.
For global coronavirus news, do read our global live blog.
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