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Rwanda migrants – latest: Rory Stewart calls plans ‘disturbing’ as Boris Johnson prepares for legal wrangle

Keir Starmer says Rwanda asylum plan will cost taxpayers 'billions of pounds'

Rory Stewart has slammed the announcement that asylum seekers will be sent to Rwanda as “very strange and very disturbing”, adding he does not believe anyone will actually be sent there.

“I don’t like what they are doing in Rwanda, I think they are offshoring a British problem and they’re trying to put it out of sight and out of mind,” the former Africa minister said.

“It’s very strange and very disturbing.

“I was in Rwanda two weeks ago. There are many things that are positive, as you know, about Rwanda. It’s come out of a genocide, it’s gone through an extraordinary process of national healing, but it’s also an authoritarian state.”

Elsewhere, prime minister Boris Johnson today said the partnership with Rwanda will be “fully compliant with our international legal obligations”, while insisting it is “one of the safest countries in the world”.

“But nevertheless, we expect this will be challenged in the courts,” Mr Johnson added, as he hit out at what he called a “formidable army of politically motivated lawyers”.


Voter registration applications jump ahead of local elections

Applications to vote in elections taking place across the UK next month have jumped ahead of Thursday’s deadline.

Local elections are taking place in all four nations of the UK on 5 May

A total of 28,273 applications were made on Tuesday, government figures show.

This is double the daily average for the year so far and the highest for a single day since last autumn.

Craig Westwood, director of communications at the Electoral Commission, said: "There is only a matter of hours left to register to vote ahead of the May elections.

"If you want to make sure your voice is heard and you’re not already registered, it’s really important that you go online and register now at

"It only takes five minutes - so the next time you are waiting for the kettle to boil you can register to vote. All you need is your name, date of birth and national insurance number."

Full report:

Boris Johnson faces his first big test at the ballot box since the ‘partygate’ scandal.


Any ‘breach’ of ministerial code a matter for PM’s independent adviser, Labour MP says

Any potential breach of the ministerial code is a matter for Boris Johnson’s independent adviser Lord Geidt, Chris Bryant has said.

Opposition parties are claiming the PM broke the code by “lying” to parliament about the Partygate scandal.

The Labour MP for Rhondda in Wales, who chairs the Commons committee on standards, said the committee has no power to sanction the PM over his Covid law breaking.

Lord Geidt is the government’s independent adviser on ministers’ interests, who was appointed by, and reports to, the PM.

Writing on Twitter, Bryant suggested that the only feasible way Mr Johnson could be removed is if Tory MPs call a no confidence vote in him.

He said he suspected that at least 80 Tories want Johnson gone “but won’t yet vote for that.”

Full thread below:


Partygate: Blow to Boris Johnson as justice minister quits over his failure to resign after Covid fine

Justice minister Lord Wolfson has resigned from the government, saying he could not back Boris Johnson’s response to his fine for breaking Covid laws.

The resignation deals a massive blow to the prime minister’s hopes that he had drawn a line under the fines with a public apology on Tuesday.

It came shortly afterTory backbencher Nigel Mills broke ranks to say that Mr Johnson’s position was “untenable” after police handed him a £50 fixed penalty for attending a lockdown-breaching birthday party in No 10 in June 2020, making him the first sitting PM to be found to have broken the law.

Andrew Woodcock has more:

Justice minister Lord Wolfson has resigned from the government, saying he could not back Boris Johnson’s response to his fine for breaking Covid laws.


Justice minister posts resignation letter on social media

The Justice Minister has quit over UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s failure to resign after having received a fine for breaking the Covid lockdown.

David Wolfson published his letter of resignation to the PM on Twitter.


Economists warn government using inflation as ‘cover’ to cash in on graduates and students

The government is using inflation as “cover” to take more money from graduates and students, a respected economic think-tank has said.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies warned on Thursday that a freeze to the repayment threshold and large real-term cuts in maintenance loans could cause “genuine hardship”.

Inflation has hit highs not seen since the early 1990s but the government has decided not to increase the size of student maintenance loans or increase the repayment threshold to match.

Institute for Fiscal Studies says changes could cause ‘genuine hardship’ for poorer students


Government announces conditional allocations for the UK Shared Prosperity Fund

The UK government has announced conditional allocations for the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, saying it has matched previous EU funding but with less bureaucracy and more local control.

The fund will provide £2.6 billion by 2025, and the with the government calling “a central pillar” of its “levelling up” agenda.

Conditional allocations will be available for each area of the UK and local authorities will be able to put forward investment plan submissions from June to receive the money.

The Scottish government, however, said that the fund fell short of what was expected to replace EU structural funds.

The fund includes £559 million for Multiply, a UK-wide adult numeracy programme, to offer maths courses for adults with no or low maths skills, including a digital learning platform.

England will receive £1.588 billion, Wales £585 million, Scotland £212 million, Northern Ireland £127 million, with the remaining £129 million being allocated for the central system needed for Multiply.


How many parties did Boris Johnson attend and which are the Met Police investigating?

Boris Johnson, his wife Carrie Johnson and chancellor Rishi Sunak are among the latest tranche of government staff members to be handed fixed penalty notice fines by the Metropolitan Police for breaking their own rules to stage parties at Downing Street and Whitehall during the Covid-19 pandemic, placing the PM under renewed pressure to resign.

Both the prime minister and chancellor have apologised and paid their fines, with Mr Johnson saying: “In all frankness at that time it did not occur to me that this might have been a breach of the rules. Of course, the police have found otherwise and I fully respect the outcome of their investigation.”

But he brushed off widespread calls for his resignation, saying: “I believe it’s my job to get on and deliver for the people of this country. That’s what I’m going to do.”

What Downing Street parties are the Met Police investigating?


What do the British public think about the prospect of changing PM?


Former secretary of state for justice ‘not surprised’ by justice minister resignation

The former secretary of state for justice, David Gauke, said that he is “not surprised” by the resignation of Lord Wolfson as a justice minister.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4, he said: “[I’m] not altogether surprised, I think it’s a particularly uncomfortable issue for anybody in the Ministry of Justice or for that matter the law officers.

“Or at least it should be an uncomfortable situation, because you can’t have those who are making the law breaking the law. Particularly if it’s happened on repeated occasions.

“Of course we’ve only had one fixed penalty notice for the prime minister so far, but frankly expectations are that there will be more. It is a very difficult situation … if you have particular responsibility for the rule of law, if you see rule makers breaking it.”


Ex-Tory MP condemned for ‘callous’ tweet to man over PM’s Partygate fine

Former Tory minister Edwina Currie has been criticised after getting into a Twitter spat over Boris Johnson’s Partygate police fine.

On a busy morning, which saw Ms Currie defend the prime minister on both social media and ITV’s Good Morning Britain, the one-time MP took to Twitter on Wednesday to reply to a post by the television presenter Rylan Clark.

She told Mr Clark to “get real” and said “no, it isn’t” after he posted about the news that Mr Johnson had become the first sitting UK prime minister found to have broken the law.

Mr Johnson, along with his wife, Carrie, and the chancellor Rishi Sunak were all fined by the Metropolitan Police on Tuesday in relation to a surprise birthday event held for the prime minister in No 10’s Cabinet Room during lockdown. All have apologised and paid their fixed penalty notices.

“He’s officially broke the law. That’s it ain’t it?” Mr Clark wrote, alluding to widespread sentiment that Mr Johnson should resign over the embarrasing mishap.

The ex-junior health minister appeared on ‘Good Morning Britain’ to defend Johnson

(ITV )

“No, it isn’t. Shouldn’t have happened, but it’s done now. In case you hadn’t noticed, this all happened two years ago. Putin is laughing at us. Get real,” Ms Currie replied, though it was not this message that prompted hundreds of social media users to call her “callous” and “misjudged”.

Benjamin Cohen, the founder and CEO of LGBT+ news website PinkNews, responded to Ms Currie’s apparent attempt to wash over the latest development in the No 10 lockdown parties’ scandal, reminding her of the pain Covid bereaved families faced during the pandemic.

“Two years ago, I had to say goodbye to my grandad over FaceTime and wasn’t allowed to hug my mum at his funeral,” Mr Cohen wrote. “This isn’t something that we are likely to ever forget or forgive.” Ms Currie snapped back: “But it won’t bring them back either, Ben.” She ended the message with an emoji of a crying face.

The seemingly blunt message had generated more than 2,000 responses by Wednesday afternoon, the very large majority of which called out Ms Currie for being “horrible” or “out of touch” with the public.

Speaking to Good Morning Britain at around the same time she took to Twitter, Ms Currie made it clear she “really doesn’t care” about the fines being issued to senior government figures who broke their own coronavirus laws – the PM included.