Related video: Angela Rayner demands investigation into Hancock’s use of private email
Boris Johnson’s government is under pressure following the launch of two official investigations, including one into the use of private emails for government work.
Health minister Lord Bethell, alongside former health secretary Matt Hancock, reportedly routinely used private email accounts to conduct official business, raising concerns about transparency and security.
The Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham announced on Tuesday that she was mounting a formal inquiry into the use of private correspondence channels in the Department of Health and Social Care.
At the same time, the Lords Commissioner for Standards is investigating a complaint that Lord Bethell sponsored a parliamentary pass for Mr Hancock’s former aide Gina Coladangelo – who he was caught kissing on leaked CCTV footage.
Sleaze watchdog calls for crackdown on ‘shadowy’ funding of British politics
The UK’s sleaze watchdog has called for a crackdown on “dark money” in British politics amid concerns about the secrecy surrounding who is funding online campaigns.
The Committee on Standards in Public Life will urge the government to close a loophole allowing firms to make political donations from profits made abroad, as part of measures to protect elections in the UK.
Our deputy political editor, Rob Merrick, has the full story below:
Conrad Duncan7 July 2021 10:42
Why is the UK’s data watchdog concerned about ministers using private emails?
The Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham announced yesterday that she was mounting a formal inquiry into the use of private correspondence channels in the Department of Health and Social Care – but what is she specifically concerned about?
The BBC’s Adam Fleming explained this morning that the issue for the UK’s data watchdog is down to whether the use of private emails could end up frustrating the freedom of information system.
“The Information Commissioner is concerned that if ministers were using private emails then maybe they will not be archived, saved or labelled in the same way that official government emails would be,” Mr Fleming told BBC Breakfast.
This means they may not be shared as part of freedom of information requests, raising issues for government transparency.
Conrad Duncan7 July 2021 10:24
ICYMI: Voters think Hancock scandal ‘made Boris Johnson look weak’
Voters believe that Matt Hancock’s resignation as health secretary made Boris Johnson look weak and his government look sleazy, according to the results of a poll published by The Independent yesterday.
Some 50 per cent of respondents in the Savanta ComRes survey said that the affair made the PM look “weak”, while just 32 per cent thought he looked “strong”.
Our political editor, Andrew Woodcock, has the full story below:
Conrad Duncan7 July 2021 10:01
Two written ministerial statements are due to be made in the House of Commons today: chancellor Rishi Sunak on the Finance Bill 2021-22 L-day update and health secretary Sajid Javid on the government’s “life sciences vision”.
Conrad Duncan7 July 2021 09:45
MPs raise concerns over loophole in Hong Kong visa system
Loopholes in the new visa scheme for British nationals in Hong Kong mean young people vulnerable to political targeting under new security laws may not be eligible for the route even if their parents are, MPs have warned.
The Commons Home Affairs Committee said that it welcomed the introduction of the British National (Overseas) visa route for Hong Kongers to come to Britain from its former territory.
However, the cross-party group of MPs has warned that there is a gap in the scheme for a group of young people aged between 18 and 24.
Those born after the handover on 1 July 1997 may not be eligible for the scheme even if their parents have BN(O) status and ministers should extend the scheme to enable young people to apply separately, according to the committee.
“This is an important and welcome scheme, but the committee is concerned that there is a loophole for 18 to 24-year-olds which means that vulnerable young Hong Kongers who have taken part in pro-democracy demonstrations will be at risk because they may not be eligible for the scheme,” Committee chair Yvette Cooper said.
“The government should close that loophole to ensure that young people have a route to safety here in the UK.”
Between 123,000 and 153,700 BN(O) status holders and their dependants are expected to use the route to the UK in the first year, rising to between 258,000 and 322,400 over five years.
Conrad Duncan7 July 2021 09:33
Risk of big Covid outbreak from England’s Euro 2020 semi-final, government admits
A Cabinet minister has admitted that there is a risk of a big outbreak in Covid cases from England’s Euro 2020 semi-final match at Wembley tonight.
Business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said this morning that the government could not “guarantee” that the game would not lead to a spike in transmission as thousands of supporters attend to support the national team.
Our reporter, Adam Forrest, has the full story below:
Conrad Duncan7 July 2021 09:11
Labour’s shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy has warned that the UK should not “rollout the red carpet” for China by sending UK ministers and royal family members to the Beijing Winter Olympics.
Ms Nandy told Sky News that the government should use every pont of leverage it has to prevent alleged human rights abuses against Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang province.
You can find her comments in full below:
Conrad Duncan7 July 2021 08:58
Greensill given access to Covid loans without detailed checks, National Audit Office says
A failure to carry out checks before the scandal-hit company Greensill Capital joined a government backed loan scheme has been sharply criticised by a watchdog.
The National Audit Office said that fast-track accreditation due to the Covid pandemic had failed to “identify the risks” laid bare when the lender collapsed in May this year.
Our deputy political editor, Rob Merrick, has the full story below:
Conrad Duncan7 July 2021 08:42
Shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy’s letter calling for a political boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics next year can be found below:
Conrad Duncan7 July 2021 08:23
UK ministers and royals should boycott 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, Labour says
Members of the royal family and UK ministers should boycott the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics unless China allows UN investigators to examine alleged human rights abuses in Xinjiang province, Labour has said.
The Chinese government has strongly denied claims about the treatment of Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang, despite reports indicating that more than a million people have been arbitrarily detained and allegations of torture and forced sterilisation.
Shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy and shadow culture secretary Jo Stevens have written to their counterparts, Dominic Raab and Oliver Dowden, setting out the need for a political response to deny the Chinese government a public relations victory.
“We have consistently pressed the government for more robust actions to address this appalling situation, including more extensive sanctions against senior officials responsible for what is taking place in Xinjiang and more robust measures against forced labour,” the Labour MPs said.
“We are now calling on you to use the occasion of the Games to press the case for unfettered UN access to Xinjiang to conduct a full, transparent and independent investigation. This has been repeatedly sought by the UK and other governments but has not yet been realised.
“If this is not granted, the UK government should not send ministers, royal family members or senior representatives to participate in any official duties or ceremonies at the Beijing Olympics.”
However, Labour has stopped short of calling for a sporting boycott, arguing that this would not be fair on competitors who have trained for four years for the event.
A Foreign Office spokesperson said “no decisions” had been made yet on UK government attendance to the Winter Olympics.
Conrad Duncan7 July 2021 08:20