Boris Johnson latest news: PM accused of breaking ‘promise’ as UK launches first phase of Ukraine scheme

Equating Saudi Arabia to Putin is ‘ridiculously distasteful’, says James Cleverly

Rishi Sunak has hinted there may be help for families battling the cost of living crisis in next week’s mini-budget.

Hard-pressed Brits are being squeezed by rising energy bills, sky-rocketing petrol prices and an increase in national insurance contributions. The chancellor told Tory activists at the Conservative conference in Blackpool today: “Where we can make a difference… I’m always going to do that.”

It come as the government has ditched plans to limit MPs’ earnings from second jobs in a major rethink over the issue which sparked a sleaze scandal at Westminster, prompting Sir Keir Starmer to accuse the PM of “breaking his promise yet again”.

Meanwhile, from Friday, Ukrainian refugees without family members in the UK will be able to apply for visas under the new “Homes for Ukraine” scheme.

More than 150,000 Britons have registered their interest in taking in Ukrainians, and the government is currently working with a number of charities and NGOs to work out the best way to match people with host families.


Ukrainian refugee, 12, has visa application ‘terminated’, family says

A 12-year-old Ukrainian refugee has had her visa application to come to the UK “terminated” due to an error by the government for unknown reasons, her family have said.

Anastasia Marunich applied to come to the UK along with five family members after they fled Cherkasy, on the banks of the Dnieper river in central Ukraine, two weeks ago.

But her application – which was aided by her cousin Vitalina Clarke and her husband Callum Clarke – was “unable to be concluded” after she provided biometric data alongside her mother, cousins and aunts at a visa centre in Rzeszow, the largest city in south east Poland, earlier this week.

Isobel Frodsham has more:

Eleanor Sly18 March 2022 16:15


RSPCA calls for end to badger cull as ‘landmark’ study finds it has not cut TB in cattle

The badger cull did not contribute to a significant fall in levels of cattle tuberculosis, a “landmark” report has found.

The peer-reviewed findings prompted the RSPCA to call for an immediate and permanent halt to the government’s culling programme.

But the government disputes the study’s conclusions, saying the data has been manipulated by the authors, who have campaigned against the cull.

Eleanor Sly18 March 2022 15:56


Ukrainian refugees without UK family should not travel to Britain until application decision reached

Ukrainian refugees who do not have UK family members applying for visas under the new sponsorship scheme have been told that they should not travel to Britain until they have received a decision on their application.

Ukrainian refugees and their sponsors are now able to fill in an online form on under the Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme, which launched formally on Friday.

Those who have valid passports and who apply under the scheme will receive a permission letter from UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) confirming that they can travel to the UK.

Any Ukrainians who do not have passports will have to submit their biometrics at a visa application centre, where they will receive a visa.

The UK government said that refugees should not make their own way to the UK before they have received a permission letter or visa.

It said that it is prioritising applications under the scheme and aims to make a decision “as quickly as possible”.

Eleanor Sly18 March 2022 15:32


Government bows to pressure to investigate whether P&O broke law with mass sackings

The government is investigating whether P&O Ferries broke the law by sacking 800 workers on the spot, after criticism that it was washing its hands of the controversy.

Ministers had described the move as a “commercial decision” – but Downing Street said the Insolvency Service is now exploring whether the firm flouted redundancy rules.

‘We are looking very closely at the actions this company has taken, to see whether they acted within the rules,” Boris Johnson’s spokesman said.

Eleanor Sly18 March 2022 15:07


Tory rebels plot fresh revolt over Priti Patel’s plans to send asylum seekers abroad for processing

Tory rebels will stage a fresh revolt over Priti Patel’s plans to send asylum seekers abroad for processing, believing the Ukraine tragedy has shifted the public mood.

The Bill that would see refugees sent to far-flung countries to make applications – Rwanda and the island of St Helena have been mooted – returns to the Commons next week.

A group of Conservative MPs plan to stage another fight over the policy, former cabinet minister Andrew Mitchell branding it “a moral, financial and practical failure”.

Eleanor Sly18 March 2022 14:42


Ukraine crisis provides opportunity for Conservatives to roll back ‘wokery’, says Jacob Rees-Mogg

The Ukraine crisis has given Conservatives an opportunity to roll back “wokery” and sweep away the “fluff” of Partygate, Jacob Rees-Mogg has said.

The Brexit minister told a meeting of Tory activists that Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine had created a “new seriousness” which made “woke” arguments about the use of language look like “nonsense”.

And he said Conservatives should take advantage of the situation by taking a “robust” approach and refusing to accept the use of “socialist” vocabulary, like saying chair rather than chairman or Beijing rather than Peking.

Andrew Woodcock has more:

Eleanor Sly18 March 2022 14:18


Majority of Scots feel second referendum should be put on hold due to Ukraine situation

A majority of Scots feel discussions over when a second independence referendum will take place should stop due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, a poll has found.

Some 59 per cent said talks on the timing of indyref2 should stop, with only 29 per cent saying discussions should continue.

The same poll revealed that support for a No vote is at 52 per cent, while support for Yes is at 48 per cent. This is when the “don’t knows” are removed.

Savanta ComRes polled 1,008 Scottish adults between 10 and 16 March.

Eleanor Sly18 March 2022 14:09


Manchester mayor says government should think about nationalising P&O

Speaking at the protest at the Port of Liverpool, Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham said that the government should consider nationalising P&O.

He said: “I say to the Prime Minister: you have to step in and you have to deliver on your commitment to strengthen employment law so this kind of gangster practice can’t be allowed to happen any more.”

Eleanor Sly18 March 2022 13:44


Open door for Ukraine refugees could lead to ‘devastating’ terror attack on UK, Tory minister claims

Dropping security checks on Ukrainian refugees could lead to a “devastating” terror attack on British soil, a cabinet minister has claimed.

Conservative Suella Braverman on Thursday defended the government’s policy of making those fleeing the Russian invasion deal with Home Office bureaucracy.

Britain stands isolated in Europe in not giving free entry to Ukrainians fleeing the invasion – an approach which has been accused of lacking humanity by other governments.

Eleanor Sly18 March 2022 13:18


Rishi Sunak hints at new help for families struggling to pay bills in cost-of-living crisis

Rishi Sunak has hinted at help at next week’s mini-budget for households struggling with the cost of living crisis, telling Tory activists: “Where we can make a difference… I’m always going to do that.”

The chancellor is coming under intense pressure ahead of Wednesday’s spring statement to extend his earlier £9bn package of support for energy bills, which has been dwarfed by the scale of inflation in bills for heating, petrol and food facing consumers in the coming months.

But speaking to the Conservative conference in Blackpool, he gave no pledge to deliver more help and no details of how he might help households with bills.

Our political editor Andrew Woodcock reports.

Joe Middleton18 March 2022 12:58