Today’s daily politics briefing
Several witnesses told the independent investigation that Mr Johnson’s comments comparing women wearing the burka with bank robbers and letterboxes were “discriminatory and unacceptable”.
The inquiry criticised the Conservatives for failing to investigate racism, with two-thirds of complaints relating to anti-Muslim discrimination. “Anti-Muslim sentiment remains a problem within the party,” the report’s conclusions said.
‘Bonkers that this is news’
Plenty of chat on social media about the sensational news that Boris Johnson will cover the costs of his own wedding. The prime minister will pay for the shindig *even* if he chooses the PM’s official country house Chequers as the venue.
“It is absolutely bonkers that this fact is news,” says Labour’s David Lammy. “Will Boris Johnson be a big boy and get dressed without the assistance of the British tax payer as well?”
Adam Forrest25 May 2021 12:05
I wouldn’t have made burka remark as PM, says Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson issued a qualified apology for offence caused by his past remarks about Muslim women, in new remarks made in the critical report into his party’s handling of Islamophobia complaints.
“I do know that offence has been taken at things I’ve said, that people expect a person in my position to get things right, but in journalism you need to use language freely. I am obviously sorry for any offence taken,” the report quoted Johnson as saying.
“Would I use some of the offending language from my past writings today? Now that I am prime minister, I would not.”
Adam Forrest25 May 2021 11:44
Covid hotspot changes ‘utterly shameful’, rages Starmer
You can follow all the latest over on our Covid liveblog, but ministers are coming in for a lot of criticism over the failure to explain lockdown advice in Covid hotspots.
It emerged on Tuesday morning that the government had advised against all but essential travel in eight areas of England – without telling local leaders.
“Making a major change that will impact so many people without even telling them is utterly shameful,” the Labour leader Keir Starmer tweeted.
“The government needs to provide clarity, fast. Local lockdowns are the wrong approach for both public health and local economies.”
Adam Forrest25 May 2021 11:40
PM: Belarus will face ‘consequences’
Boris Johnson said a video of captured journalist Roman Protasevich, released by Belarusian authorities on Monday, was “deeply distressing” and called for his release.
He tweeted: “The video of Roman Protasevich makes for deeply distressing viewing. As a journalist and a passionate believer in freedom of speech I call for his immediate release. Belarus’ actions will have consequences.”
Belarus said on Tuesday it had invited European, US and international aviation officials to probe the forced landing of a commercial flight in Minsk carrying a dissident journalist.
Adam Forrest25 May 2021 11:32
Tory MP faces suspension over sexual misconduct, watchdog says
Conservative MP Rob Roberts should be suspended for six weeks for “significant” breaches of parliament’s policy on sexual misconduct, a Commons watchdog has said.
The Independent Expert Panel (IEP) said Roberts “made repeated and unwanted sexual advances” towards one of his employees and use “his position as his employer to place him under pressure to accede”.
Leaked WhatsApp messages showed Roberts asked a 21-year-old female intern to “fool around” with him. In a separate incident he also admitted asking out another House of Commons employee, which led them to move job.
MPs will now decide whether they will back the recommended six-week sanction.
Adam Forrest25 May 2021 11:31
Britain’s youngest MP takes leave of absence with PTSD
Britain’s youngest MP has been told to take “several weeks” away from work by her doctor because she is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
Labour’s Nadia Whittome announced she will take a leave of absence from the Commons, after months of trying to manage her condition alongside full-time work.
The MP for Nottingham East said: “I feel it is important for me to be honest that it is mental ill-health I am suffering from – specifically post-traumatic stress disorder.”
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer praised Ms Whittome’s “bravery” in speaking openly about her mental health problems, and said he looked forward to welcoming her back.
Adam Forrest25 May 2021 11:25
Brexit to blame for Northern Ireland tensions, says EU chief
Recent tensions in Northern Ireland are not a result of the protocol but flow from Brexit itself, the European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen has said.
Protocol arrangements mean a new raft of checks on goods at ports in the province, sparking anger among unionists who feel Northern Ireland is being separated from the rest of the UK.
While talks are continuing between the EU and the UK to resolve some protocol issues, both the incoming DUP leader Edwin Poots have demanded it is scrapped.
But Mrs von der Leyen insisted this would not happen. “There should be no doubt that there is no alternative to the full and correct implementation of the protocol,” she said.
The EU chief added: “If we see problems today we should not forget that they do not come from the protocol but they result from Brexit. That is the reason why the problems are there.”
Adam Forrest25 May 2021 11:16
Johnson’s remarks ‘insensitive to Muslim communities,’ report finds
Boris Johnson’s notorious comments about women wearing the burka gave the impression that the Tories were “insensitive to Muslim communities”, an independent review into allegations of Islamophobia in the party has found.
Johnson sparked fury in 2018 with a newspaper column in which he compared women wearing the burka to “bank robbers” and “letterboxes”.
In a pointed message to the PM, the review led by Professor Swaran Singh said the leadership of the party “ought to set a good example for appropriate behaviours and language”.
“Several” witnesses told Prof Singh’s investigation that they found Mr Johnson’s language “discriminatory and unacceptable”, the report said.
Adam Forrest25 May 2021 11:09
Islamophobia ‘remains a problem’ for Conservative Party, report finds
An inquiry has criticised the Conservative Party for failing to properly investigate allegations of internal racism. Two-thirds of complaints related to anti-Muslim discrimination – but the party’s complaints process was not fit for purpose to deal with them, it has found.
“Judging by the extent of complaints and findings of misconduct by the Party itself that relate to anti-Muslim words and conduct, anti-Muslim sentiment remains a problem within the Party,” the report’s conclusions said.
The inquiry, by Prof Swaran Singh, has found:
* The Conservatives recorded 1,418 complaints concerning 727 incidents of alleged discrimination, between 2015 and 2020.
* Two-thirds of the incidents related to allegations of anti-Muslim discrimination.
* The people interviewed by the investigation who experienced discrimination did so “at the level of a local party association”.
* Local anti-Muslim sentiment was “demonstrated by a number of social media complaints against party members which were upheld”.
Adam Forrest25 May 2021 11:06