Tuesday evening UK news briefing: Why Partygate could finish Boris Johnson

Evening briefing: Today’s essential headlines

Djokovic saga | Novak Djokovic is being investigated over whether he falsely stated he had not travelled and would not do so in the two weeks prior to his flight to Australia. Read more on the latest twist in the deportation furore, while Tom Morgan profiles the world number one’s parents, detailing their feud with Roger Federer and his mother’s depiction as Serbia’s ‘Virgin Mary’. More tennis news in Sport below.

  • Possible attack | Warm weather ‘delays’ Russia invasion of Ukraine
  • Ghislaine Maxwell | Heiress ‘can avoid perjury charges if no retrial’
  • Love child | King of Belgium ‘reduced illegitimate daughter to tears’
  • Robert Durst | TV mic slip-up led to murder conviction – obituary
  • Same-sex couple | Lord Ivar Mountbatten’s ex-wife in ‘blended family’

The big story: Johnson will not resign, says minister

It was a contribution which summed up the feelings stirred by what has become known as Partygate. 

Jim Shannon, the MP for Strangford, was overcome with emotion when speaking about the death of his mother-in-law in the House of Commons during an urgent question about the alleged lockdown-breaking party in the Number 10 garden in May 2020. 

The DUP politician said she had died alone and paused to compose himself before struggling to complete his question as he asked for "full and complete disclosure" following the revelations about an email inviting more than 100 people to drinks at Downing Street at the height of the first lockdown.

Michael Ellis, the paymaster general, who was answering questions on behalf of the Government, said Boris Johnson will not resign in the wake of the scandal. 

Tim Stanley sketches how Mr Ellis was parachuted into the Commons to face an execution squad of hundreds of shouting, jeering opposition MPs with a litany of lockdown horror stories, of constituents and loved-ones hurt by the rules.

Mr Johnson could be prosecuted as an "accessory to crime" if he was found to have attended the rule-breaking Downing Street party, a barrister who specialises in coronavirus regulations has claimed. 

The Prime Minister was one of more than 100 members of staff invited. 

The Metropolitan Police Service has said it is "aware of widespread reporting" of the party. 

Read what was said by Adam Wagner, a human rights barrister and visiting law professor at Goldsmiths, University of London.

Tories ridicule excuses

Downing Street’s refusal to say whether or not Mr Johnson attended the alleged lockdown-breaking party in the Number 10 garden has been ridiculed by prominent Tories. 

Government ministers and the Prime Minister’s press team have not said whether claims Mr Johnson attended the drinks gathering on May 20, 2020, are correct.

Instead any questions about the controversial event have been deflected on grounds that a probe into all such claims is ongoing and should conclude before comments are made. 

The Prime Minister’s spokesman said Mr Johnson had full confidence in Principal Private Secretary Martin Reynolds, the senior official who was reported to have sent an email invitation to the event, signing it off "bring your own booze!". Read the reaction.

Partygate could finish PM

Will this be the scandal that sees the Tories booted out of Number 10? 

Winston Churchill famously said: "Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts." 

Yet as far as the Conservative faithful are concerned, there is only so much "buggering on" his biographer and successor, Mr Johnson, can continue to do. 

Camilla Tominey analyses whether Partygate could finish the Prime Minister.

Today’s other Covid headlines

  • Covid liveblog | Sturgeon to extend Scotland’s vaccine passport rules
  • Schools chaos | Almost half of teachers forced to cover for colleagues
  • ‘Nowhere near’ | Covid not yet endemic, WHO warns
  • Covid cash | Public sector productivity plunges amid rising spending
  • Airline slashes flights | Covid keeps thousands of staff at home

Around the world: Suspect and Haiti PM ‘good friends’

The prime minister of Haiti is reportedly ‘good friends’ with a key suspect in the assassination of the country’s president, speaking to him on the phone for seven minutes the day after the killing. Ariel Henry was connected to former justice official Joseph Felix Badio, it has been reported, who is suspected of involvement in organising the attack that killed President Jovenel Moise on July 7. Read details of the allegations.

Comment and analysis

  • Ambrose Evans-Pritchard | Banks to end the ‘liquidity supernova’
  • Michael Deacon | Why the woke are on the wrong side of history
  • Charles Moore | Three weeks in the tumultuous life of Covid
  • Andrew Lilico | On Covid deaths, Britain is no outlier
  • Tom Harris | Ignore the outrage — MPs deserve a pay rise

Tuesday interview

Pat Cummins: Why Australia don’t have to sledge any more

Pat Cummins

Credit: Mark Metcalfe – CA

Cummins has won the Ashes handsomely in his first series as captain – and Australia seem to be building a squad to take to England in 2023

Read the full interview

Sport briefing: Emma Raducanu suffers heavy defeat

Emma Raducanu experienced a crushing defeat to Elena Rybakina at the Sydney Tennis Classic, winning just a single game in her first match of 2022. It was an ego-bruising return to the court for US Open champion Raducanu, experiencing her first humbling ‘bagel’ set on tour, in a 6-0 6-1 loss. Meanwhile, the Czech tennis player who was deported from Australia after her visa was cancelled over her Covid-19 vaccination status, Renata Voracova, has spoken of her frustration after seeing Novak Djokovic win his court battle to stay in the country. Megan Goldin sets out why Djokovic may have won more than just a court case.

Editor’s choice

  • Get away | How to turn 12 days of annual leave into 37 days of holiday (and where to go)
  • Dementia’s impact | ‘I was diagnosed at 49 – I’ve lost a lot of friends through this’
  • Duchess of Cambridge | What her portrait hairstyle tells us about her new found freedom
  • Business briefing: Get a grip on inflation, Lagarde told

    Germany’s new central bank chief has told eurozone rate-setters to "be on the alert" over persistent inflation in an opening salvo at European Central Bank president Christine Lagarde. The first public remarks of Joachim Nagel, the new president of the ultra-hawkish Bundesbank, came in the wake of German inflation surging to 5.3pc in December, the highest since June 1992. Meanwhile, a £1.3bn Russian software company listed in London suffered a slide in its share price after accidentally revealing an acquisition early. Softline, founded by the Russian entrepreneur Igor Borovikov in 1993, mistakenly put out a press release on Monday afternoon announcing that it had acquired a majority stake in technology education provider Academy IT. Read what went wrong.

    Tonight starts now

    Euphoria, season two | Many parents felt uncomfortable watching the first season of Euphoria, which first aired in the UK in the summer of 2019. From the off, it was a riot of penises, drug use, sex with strangers, nude photographs and attempts at sexual asphyxiation. Rated R, yes – but depicting teens aged 16 and 17, as well as a baby-faced adolescent drug dealer. As series two arrives on Sky Atlantic, Sarah Rodrigues says that to parents, it is the most terrifying – and relatable – drama on TV.

    Three things for you

    • Watch | Rules of the Game, BBC One, 9pm and more of tonight’s TV
    • Gaming | The best new video games of 2022
    • Play | Telegraph Puzzles featuring today’s Crossword and Sudoku

    And finally… for this evening’s downtime

    Why dinosaur-hunting is all the rage | Inspired by Steven Spielberg’s blockbuster Jurassic Park, a wave of palaeontologists have unleashed their prehistoric passion, helping to discover the Rutland ‘sea dragon’. Susannah Maidment reveals how a new generation of dinosaur hunters are uncovering Britain’s lost world.

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