Good morning – although if you’re in Downing Street, it probably won’t feel like that. The flat refurbishment scandal is intensifying, and today’s front pages will make grim reading for Boris Johnson.
This morning Nadhim Zahawi, the vaccine deployment minister, was doing the morning interview round but he struggled to say anything likely to change the way the prime minister’s behaviour is perceived.
At one point Zahawi implied that, if Johnson has failed to declare donations that covered the original cost of his flat refurbishment, officials were to blame for advising him wrongly. This is what he said when asked on the Today programme if Johnson would accept the findings of the investigation by Lord Geidt, who was yesterday appointed as the new independent adviser on ministers’ interests. Zahawi replied:
The prime minister has answered umpteen questions, including saying that if the Lord Geidt finds that the prime minister needs to make other declarations, he will then make those. But he has throughout this whole process been advised by his officials, and he has clearly paid for the refurbishment.
But Zahawi also made it clear that Johnson would only accept Geidt’s conclusions up to a point. When the presenter, Mishal Husain, then asked if Johnson would accept the findings if Geidt said he had broken the ministerial code, Zahawi replied:
I just said to you, the prime minister has already said he has followed the ministerial code. Lord Geidt will obviously look at how the process has been followed. And if there are additional declarations that need to be made ….
In other words, it already seems to be have been decided that Johnson did not break the ministerial code – because he says he didn’t.
Here is the agenda for the day.
9.30am: Nick Gibb, the schools minister, gives evidence to the Commons education committee.
9.30am: The Home Office publishes police recruitment figures.
9.30am: The Department for Business publishes fuel poverty figures.
10am: HM Revenue and Customs, the DWP and the Treasury give evidence to the public accounts committee about fraud and error in the benefits system.
11am: Matt Hancock, the health secretary, gives a speech to the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services; at 2pm Liz Kendall, the shadow social care minister, speaks.
12pm: Downing Street is expected to hold its daily lobby briefing.
Also, Boris Johnson and Sir Keir Starmer are both on visits this morning, and should be giving media interviews.
Covid is the issue dominating UK politics this year and often Politics Live has been largely or wholly devoted to coronavirus. But I will also be covering non-Covid politics, including latest developments in the Downing Street flat controversy which is likely to be the dominant story for at least some of the day. For global coronavirus news, do read our global live blog.
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