Good morning. Boris Johnson is chairing cabinet this morning, and will reportedly tell his ministers to focus on the “people’s priorities”, but media and political attention is still overwhelmingly focused on the multiple “sleaze” allegations surrounding him. There are the unanswered questions about how the bill for his lavish Downing Street flat refurbishment was settled, controversy about his alleged remarks about his willingness to see thousands of people die rather than order a further lockdown, his briefing war with Dominic Cummings and concerns about the government’s approach to lobbying and how it awarded Covid contracts worth billions.
It can be hard to keep up. But one of the attractions about “sleaze” as a concept for the opposition is that it is such an elastic, vague terms that it can embrace almost any revelation with implications for propriety. That’s why, as a label, it can stick.
Here is our overnight story by my colleagues Jessica Elgot and Robert Booth.
This morning Thérèse Coffey, the work and pensions secretary, was doing the morning interview round on behalf of No 10. As the Independent’s Rob Merrick points out, mostly her responses were unilluminating.
But she did develop slightly a fresh line of attack against Dominic Cummings, Johnson’s former chief adviser who used a blog post on Friday to attack the PM and who is believed to be behind some of the most damaging briefing against him recently. Asked whether Cummings was a credible witness, Coffey told the Today programme:
I think that people will have often come into contact with Dominic Cummings for the first time last year when he did a press conference in the Rose Garden. And they, I’m sure, will have made their own judgments on what they think of that.
The Rose Garden press conference was the one in which Cummings claimed that his visited Barnard Castle to test his eyesight. Millions of Britons concluded his account was implausible, and Coffey seemed to be implying that his claims about the PM may be untrue too – although, when pressed by the presenter Justin Webb, she said that she was making “no assertions” about him and that she had only one interaction with him last year.
Here is the agenda for the day.
9.30am: Boris Johnson chairs cabinet.
9.30am: The ONS publishes its weekly death figures for England and Wales, as well as a report on the impact of Covid on households in subnational areas.
10am: Michelle Donelan, the universities minister, gives evidence to the Commons education committee.
11.30am: Dominic Raab, the foreign secretary, gives evidence to a Lords committee about aid cuts.
12pm: Downing Street is expected to holds its daily lobby briefing.
3.30pm: Kit Malthouse, the policing minister, Lord Wolfson, the justice minister, and Lord Bethell, the health minister, give evidence to the Commons justice committee on Covid and the criminal law.
Covid is the issue dominating UK politics this year and often Politics Live has be largely or wholly devoted to coronavirus. But on a day like today I am more likely to be focusing on non-Covid politics, with coronavirus developments getting less attention. For global coronavirus news, do read our global live blog.
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