PMQS: Boris Johnson faces Keir Starmer after Angela Rayner calls for response to ‘vile sexism’ in Tory party – live | Politics

Starmer says Johnson is like an ostrich, with his head in the sand.

Johnson says he believes in jobs, unlike Labour. There are 500,000 more than at the start of the pandemic, he says.

Starmer says this must be the Oxford University debating skills we have heard about (in the Mail on Sunday article) – ignoring the question, responding “incoherently”. He says the UK is the only country putting up taxes in the G7.

Johnson talks about the increase in the national insurance threshold. And he says “the party of Bevan” should support more money for the NHS (ie, the national insurance rise.)

Starmer says Johnson sounds like the “Comical Ali of the cost of living crisis”. Does denying the facts make things worse or better?

Johnson says the UK had the fastest growth in the G7 last year. That would not have happened under Labour, he says.

He says there are 500,000 more people in paid employment now than before the pandemic began. Under Labour youth unemployment rose.

Keir Starmer says the PM will have told his backbenchers to scream and shout. But does he agree that there is no place for misgyny, or for looking down on people on the basis of where they come.

The UK is set for the slowest growth in the G7. Why is Johnson mismanaging the economy?

On Angela Rayner, Johnson says MPs should treat each other with respect. He says he texted Rayner about the Mail on Sunday article.

On the economy, he says all countries are having problems. Under Labour we would still be in lockdown, he claims.

Sally-Ann Hart (Con) asks about coastal communities. Will the government have a targeted strategy to help them?

Johnson says the levelling up white paper addresses this issue. Coastal communities wll get resources and attention, he says.

Boris Johnson starts saying this will be the final PMQs of this session. More than 20 acts of parliament have been passed, he says, including the national insurance threshold increase – which is the largest single tax cut for a decade, he says.

He forgets to mention that overall taxes are also rising to their highest level for decades.

He is focusing on delivering the people’s priorities, he says. “And there is plenty more to come in the Queen’s speech on 10 May.”

Boris Johnson leaving No 10 earlier ahead of PMQs.
Boris Johnson leaving No 10 earlier ahead of PMQs. Photograph: Neil Hall/EPA


PMQs is about to start. It will almost certainly be the last of this session of parliament.

Here is the list of MPs down to ask a question.

PMQs Photograph: HoC

Shapps tells MPs change to vetting rules for aviation staff could ease disruption at airports

Grant Shapps, the transport secretary, has been giving evidence to the Commons transport committee this morning. Here are the highlights.

  • Shapps said that he would change the rules to allow new recruits in the aviation industry to start training before they have completed security checks. This would ease disruption at airports, he claimed. Currently flights are being cancelled, and passengers are facing delays, because of a shortage of staff at airports. Shapps told the committee:

I have looked at the rules and found an area where we can assist with the bureaucracy, particularly with regard to new people coming into the industry, and their need to be security checked.

We can begin the training, without exposing them to the parts of the training which are security-related, without having the security check complete, as long as it’s complete before they start the security-related stuff.

I have a statutory instrument – I think it comes to the house today – to do exactly that.

  • He hinted that he would consider merging the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) with the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA). Asked about processing delays at the DVLA, he said he would look at whether privatisation might help. And he went on:

I’ll look at the different motoring organisations. We have DVLA and DVSA. It’s very confusing for most people. One does the licensing, the other one does the testing. People ask why there are two organisations. I’ll look at all of these things. No stone will be left unturned.

Shapps said the backlog of driving licence applications has been cut from a peak of 1.2 million to 400,000 due to a series of measures. He also said that the delays “wouldn’t be there at all if it hadn’t been for an entirely unnecessary strike at DVLA”.

  • He said ports would not be expected to physically enforce the requirement for ferry companies to pay the UK national minimum wage. This is from the BBC’s Simon Jones.

Grant Shapps says ports won’t be expected to physically enforce a requirement for ferry firms to pay the UK national minimum wage, but they will be expected to ask for confirmation and clarification.

— Simon Jones (@SimonJonesNews) April 27, 2022

Scottish government should publish legal advice about second independence referendum, information commissioner says

The Scottish government should publish legal advice it received about a second independence referendum, the information commissioner has ruled. PA Media says:

Daren Fitzhenry, the Scottish information commissioner, said disclosing some of the advice would “significantly enhance public debate on this issue”.

He said ministers’ decision to release legal advice they received around the Alex Salmond case had already affected the convention that such advice to ministers remained private.

It follows a freedom of information request from the Scotsman newspaper, which asked for any legal advice provided to ministers on the topic of a second independence referendum in 2020.

The government refused, saying doing so would breach legal professional privilege.

The case was appealed to the information commissioner in April 2021, who has now released his ruling.

Fitzhenry’s decision states: “The ministers also argued that a claim to confidentiality in legal proceedings could be maintained because the withheld information was only shared between the Scottish government and its legal advisers. Therefore, the information remained confidential at the time they responded to the applicant’s request and requirement for review and this remained the case.”

The newspaper argued, in recent months, the government had dispensed with the tradition of keeping legal advice private, releasing several pages of advice around the Alex Salmond harassment complaints scandal.

Fitzhenry continued: “While the ministers have expressed concern that disclosure of legal advice in this case would have the effect of future legal advice being more circumspect or less effective, the commissioner acknowledges the point made by the applicant that the ministers’ own decision to disclose legal advice relating to the Alex Salmond case has already created such an environment.”

Responding to the information commissioner’s decision, a spokesman for the government said:

We have received the decision from the Scottish information commissioner and are considering its terms. However, we are clear the Scottish government has acted lawfully in its application of freedom of information legislation.

There is a long-standing convention, observed by UK governments and Scottish governments, that government does not disclose legal advice, including whether law officers have, or have not, advised on any matter, except in exceptional circumstances.

The Scottish government can appeal against the decision to the court of session.

Here is my colleague Robert Booth’s story about the high court ruling on the government’s hospital discharge policy at the start of the pandemic.

This is from Rachel Harrison, national officer for care at the GMB union, on today’s high court ruling on the government’s hospital discharge policy at the start of the pandemic. She said:

Today’s judgment is a terrible reminder of callous disregard this government has shown for care home residents and workers.

Transferring untested hospital outpatients into enclosed facilities where carers were denied access to proper PPE and even sick pay was always going to have tragic consequences.

GMB members nursed much-loved residents as they died from this awful virus, while all the while worrying about their own safety and how they were going to pay the bills.

If any good is to come out of this pandemic then it must include urgent reform of the sector.

Why high court concluded government’s hospital discharge policy at start of pandemic was unlawful

PA Media has filed more on the reasons given by the high court for ruling that the government’s hospital discharge policy at the start of the Covid pandemic was unlawful. (See 10.50am.) PA says:

In a ruling on Wednesday, Lord Justice Bean and Mr Justice Garnham concluded that policies contained in documents released in March and early April 2020 were unlawful because they failed to take into account the risk to elderly and vulnerable residents from non-symptomatic transmission of the virus.

They said that, despite there being “growing awareness” of the risk of asymptomatic transmission throughout March 2020, there was no evidence that then health secretary, Matt Hancock, addressed the issue of the risk to care home residents of such transmission.

And in their ruling the judges said:

In our judgment, this was not a binary question, a choice between on the one hand doing nothing at all, and on the other hand requiring all newly admitted residents to be quarantined.

The document could, for example, have said that where an asymptomatic patient, other than one who has tested negative, is admitted to a care home, he or she should, so far as practicable, be kept apart from other residents for up to 14 days.

Since there is no evidence that this question was considered by the secretary of state, or that he was asked to consider it, it is not an example of a political judgment on a finely balanced issue. Nor is it a point on which any of the expert committees had advised that no guidance was required.

The drafters of the documents of March 17 and April 2 simply failed to take into account the highly relevant consideration of the risk to elderly and vulnerable residents from asymptomatic transmission.

The judges said these issues were not addressed until a further document in mid-April 2020. They concluded:

The common law claim succeeds against the secretary of state and Public Health England in respect of both the March 17 and April 2 2020 documents to this extent: the policy set out in each document was irrational in failing to advise that where an asymptomatic patient, other than one who had tested negative, was admitted to a care home, he or she should, so far as practicable, be kept apart from other residents for 14 days.

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