Politics Latest: 'Government with a lot to hide' - Opposition fumes over Johnson COVID WhatsApp row, but PM promises 'transparency' on pandemic inquiry (2023)

Basic points
  • Cabinet extends deadline for delivery of Johnson's COVID WhatsApps
  • The government is "confident of its position", Sunak says
  • Labour: 'Delay tactics show government has a lot to hide'
  • The UK's asylum system is 'poor', says the UN refugee agency
  • The Prime Minister will crack down on promotions aimed at children
  • Workshop on revising land value rules to address the housing crisis
  • Live reporting from Faith Ridler


Plaid deputy enters leadership race

Tomos Evans, Walesa reporter

Rhun ap Iorwerth has announced that he will stand for the leadership of Plaid Cymru.

He is currently the party's deputy leader and spokesperson for health, and has been the MS for Ynys Môn since 2013.

Mr ap Iorwerth challenged Leanne Wood for the 2018 leadership but lost to Adam Price.

It was unclear whether he would stand as he had been selected as Plaid Cymru's candidate for the same Westminster constituency.

His announcement means the party will now look for a new candidate to take on Conservative MP Virginia Crosby in the triple edge seat.

Llyr Gruffydd was appointed interim leader earlier this month after Mr Price resigned following a damning report into allegations of a toxic culture within the party.

In a social media video announcing the stand, Rhun ap Iorwerth said: "In recent weeks we at Plaid Cymru have found ourselves at a crossroads. We have decided to deal directly and head-on with the serious cultural challenges within the party.

"Every strong group needs leadership. And if I can provide that leadership with them [the Plaid Cymru group], with you, I'm ready to do it and I'm excited to do it."

Addressing his constituents, he added: "My country means a lot to me, as does my community and I remain as committed as ever to Ynys Môn."

17:05:40 Saturday

Sunak backs controversial show at Oxford Union

Rishi Sunak has defended an academic's controversial appearance at the Oxford Union later this afternoon.

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Professor Kathleen Stock has resigned from her post at the University of Sussex in 2021 after facing calls for her to be sacked over her views on trans women - saying they are not women.

After her detention at the university, more than 100 faculty and staff, as well as LGBT student groups, criticized her appearance and called for the event to be cancelled.

But Professor Stock insisted it would appear as a "freedom of speech" issue.

Now he has the support of the prime minister, who told the Telegraph: "A free society requires free debate."

He added: [Pro Stock's] invitation to the Oxford Union should remain and students should be able to hear and discuss its views.

"We must not let the vocal few shut down the conversation."


Sunak has staked his premiership on five promises - but there are no easy answers to Britain's challenges

As the grumpy Conservative Party continued its favorite crowd-sourced activities last week - discussing the details of Boris Johnson's political career while taking bits and pieces from the civil service - few were paying attention to the only graph that mattered in British politics, Sky writes News. 'deputy political editor Sam Coates;.

The cost of government borrowing - a measure of whether global markets believe Britain will meet its obligations - rose to a shadow of the worst levels seen since Liz Truss's mini-budget last autumn.

On Friday, 10-year yields were around 4.35% after higher-than-expected inflation numbers led to the second-biggest one-week gain since the 2008 financial crisis.

During the Truss era, it peaked at 4.54% after its biggest one-week gain. In four of the last five years, this measure has been below 1.5%.

Instead, the Prime Minister sat on the sofa for This Morning, updating the country on her Jilly Cooper reading habit while deflecting questions about another political storm -immigrant record.

There is no simple answer to the latest challenges facing Britain.

Read Sam Coates' full analysis of a crucial week at Westminster below:


Ukraine has the right to 'project force' beyond its borders for self-defense, says Smart

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Ukraine has the right to "project force" beyond its borders in self-defence, Foreign Secretary James Cleverley has said.

He was answering questions after a press conference in Estonia and was asked about the drone attacks in Moscow - and whether Ukraine has the right to attack Russian soil.

Mr Smart said: "I don't have details and I'm not going to speculate about the nature of the drone attack in Moscow. So what I'm going to say are more general points, not this particular incident."

He continued: "Ukraine has a legal right to defend itself. It has a legal right to do so within its borders, of course, but it also has the right to project force beyond its borders to undermine Russia's ability to project force into Ukraine itself.

"Thus, legitimate military targets outside our borders are part of Ukraine's self-defense. And we should recognize that.

"This is not to say that I have any special regard for the attack on Moscow, but more generally, military targets beyond one's borders are internationally recognized as legitimate as part of a nation's self-defense."

14:52:30 Saturday

Cabinet officials 'visited Johnson's office in person to inspect notebooks'

As we reported today, the Cabinet was granted a 48-hour extension to provide a series of unredacted documents for the COVID inquiry.

These include WhatsApp messages, diary entries and notebooks kept by former prime minister Boris Johnson during the pandemic.

Sky News has learned that Cabinet officials have personally visited Mr Johnson's office "to check the notebooks in recent weeks".


In pictures: Jeremy Corbyn on a protest line in London

Former Labor Party leader Jeremy Corbyn took part in protests outside the headquarters of homelessness charity St Mungo's in London's Tower Hill today.

It comes as staff embark on a month-long strike over wages.

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The prime minister will visit Biden in Washington

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will travel to Washington next week to visit US President Joe Biden, Downing Street has confirmed.

Mr. Sunak will be in the US on June 7 and 8.

A spokesman said: "The visit will be an opportunity to build on the discussions the Prime Minister and President Biden have had over the past few months."

He said it was about "improving the level of cooperation and coordination between the UK and the US on the economic challenges that will define our future, including securing our supply chains and moving to carbon-free economies".

He added: "It will also be an opportunity to discuss issues, including continued support for Ukraine, as we build on the success of the G7 summit ahead of the NATO summit in July."


Red Johnson WhatsApp shows 'government with a lot to hide' - Labor

Now Labor has its say on Boris Johnson's WhatsApp row over COVID-19, with deputy leader Angela Rayner echoing the sentiments of the Lib Dems.

"The fact that the COVID inquiry invoked legal powers to compel the handing over of key documents despite legal battles and delay tactics shows that this is a government with a lot to hide," he says.

“Now it seems the vitals are gone.

"It must be found and handed over as requested in order to avoid the smell of a cover-up and for grieving families to get the answers they deserve."

Ms Rayner also attacks what she sees as "interference" with the government's investigation.

"It is up to the COVID inquiry itself, not Conservative ministers, to decide what is and is not material to its inquiry, and this interference only serves to undermine the inquiry's critical work of getting to the truth," he adds .

"Although other countries around the world have already completed their investigations into the pandemic, it is important that UK government ministers follow through on their commitments now so that the public learns the truth and those responsible are held to account."

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'Suspected cover-up' of Johnson's WhatsApps - Lib Dems

Now we have some political backlash to the 48-hour extension for the Cabinet Office to send Boris Johnson's full messages on COVID - and news that the ministry says there are no unedited WhatsApp messages.

Liberal Democrat deputy leader Daisy Cooper calls it a "dog ate my homework" excuse that "doesn't stand up to scrutiny".

He adds: "For the Cabinet to simultaneously refuse to release Boris Johnson's messages because they were irrelevant to the inquiry, while claiming they don't even exist, will raise suspicions of yet another Tory cover-up."

“Rishi Sunak is too weak to stand up to Johnson and force him to hand over this evidence while grieving families remain terrified.

"The public has waited a long time to know the truth. The work of the inquiry must not be further delayed by the endless chaos in the Conservative Party.'

13:30:01 Saturday

Net migration: What it means for the UK

Net immigration to the UK rose to 606,000 in the 12 months to December 2022, the highest number on record in a calendar year - despite a pledge in the Tories' 2019 manifesto to "reduce overall numbers".

Figures released by the Office for National Statistics last week show that the majority of people who arrived in the UK last year were non-EU nationals.

The body attributed the "unique year" for immigration to "global events", including the war in Ukraine and unrest in Hong Kong.

On Sky News Daily,Niall Pattersoncrunches the numbers with Sky'sdata and forensics correspondent Tom Cheshire;and sorting by rainfall at Westminster withpolitical correspondent Ali Fortescue;.

Plus,Madeleine Sumption, director of Migration Observatoryat Oxford University, explains how what the government says really affects the number of people coming to the UK.

Click to subscribe to Sky News Daily wherever you get your podcasts

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