Tonight TalkTV are broadcasting the interview that Nadine Dorries, the former culture secretary, has done with Boris Johnson for her new Friday Night with Nadine show. The interview was recorded last week, and various lines have already been briefed to the media (the most interesting of which was probably Johnson’s implicit call for tax cuts). Further extracts have been released this morning, but now TalkTV is really scrapping the barrel.
According to the news release, “in a rare and candid moment” Johnson told Dorries he liked spending time with his children. It says she asked him: “What’s it like being at home with the kids? Are they seeing more of dad?” And Johnson replied:
They are. Yes, and it’s fantastic because you know, I’ve got a very full day … I’m doing lots of writing. Unless I specifically tell you otherwise, I’m doing stuff for Uxbridge and doing a lot of political work but yeah, it means I can do reading to them … building things. It’s great.
Dorries does not seem to have asked which kids. If she had, perhaps we might have got a story. Johnson is known to have at least seven children, but when he was PM No 10 refused to say exactly how many children he did have, and, when asked directly, Johnson made it clear this was not something he would discuss.
Rail operators claim talks with Aslef to resolve pay dispute ‘going backwards’
Steve Montgomery, chair of the Rail Delivery Group, which represents train operators, told Sky News this morning that negotiations with Aslef are “going backwards” and “the talks have not moved on as quickly as we’d like”. He said:
We all understand that we want to give our staff a pay increase, [it’s] naturally important, particularly in these economic climates.
But drivers’ average wages are £60,000 at this moment. We are offering up to £65,000 over two years. That’s quite a significant increase for people.
Montgomery said he thought the RDG was closer to a deal with the RMT union.
Aslef leader suggests rail strikes could continue for years if drivers don’t get proper pay rise
As my colleague Gwyn Topham reports, almost no trains are running in England today because of a strike by members of Aslef, the rail drivers’ union.
This morning Mick Whelan, the Aslef general secretary, suggested the strikes could go on for years if his members failed to get a decent pay rise. He told LBC this morning that his members had not had a pay rise for four years. Asked how long the strikes might continue, he replied:
I think we’re in this for the long haul. How long is a piece of string?
If we don’t get a pay rise for four years will it be five, will it be six, will it be seven?
Will it be stupid to stop this now then restart it some time in the future, because you’d lose any impetus that you’ve gained?
Home Office shelves plans to house asylum seekers in Southport Pontins
The Home Office has reportedly abandoned plans to house asylum in a Pontins holiday park in north-west England, my colleague Jamie Grierson reports.
As mentioned earlier, Dominic Raab also features in a front page story in the Times – albeit one that is more problematic for Rishi Sunak and Simon Case, the cabinet secretary. In their story, Henry Zeffman and Chris Smyth say Case was told of a written complaint about Raab’s treatment of officials when he was justice secretary before Sunak reappointed him to that role.
This is serious because, although Sunak and No 10 have not denied that concerns about Raab’s behaviour were raised informally before Sunak put him in his cabinet, they have insisted that Sunak was not aware of any “formal” complaints,
In their story Zeffman and Smyth say:
Officials have told Adam Tolley, the KC leading an inquiry into Raab’s conduct, that they believe No 10 was aware of a written complaint last summer. A group of mid-ranking civil servants at the MoJ complained in March last year that Raab had created a “perverse culture of fear”, with officials visiting their GPs over stress.
An official closely involved in the complaint told The Times: “A formal complaint was made in March. Nobody said that it wasn’t a formal complaint, or that it wasn’t submitted in the right way or using the right template. That just never happened. It was treated formally at the time. Obviously — it was really serious stuff.”
Dominic Raab denies being abusive towards anti-Brexit campaigner Gina Miller
Good morning. And apologies for the late start.
The old Alastair Campbell rule about how, if a scandal keeps making the front pages for seven days in a row (or 10, or 11, or 13 – no one seems to know for sure the exact number, including Campbell himself), a minister has to resign is starting to look ominous for Dominic Raab, the justice secretary and deputy prime minister. The online-only Independent has splashed on a new allegation against him from the anti-Brexit campaigner Gina Miller.
Miller’s article is a beefed-up version of a claim she made on Twitter early yesterday morning. She claims that when she appeared on the Today programme with Raab in 2016 to debate Brexit, he was abusive towards her, describing her as a rich woman trying to block the will of the people. She claims that she got the better of him by exposing the fact that he had not read her legal case (arguing that parliament had to approve the decision to trigger article 50).
She goes on:
As we made our way out of the studio, the young runner showed us to the lift and said he would meet us downstairs. As the doors closed, Raab stared at me and said: “I can’t make up my mind if you’re naive, got too much money or just stupid. Just because you have deep pockets and friends in high legal places you think you can just go to court to stop the will of the people.”
I was stunned and stayed quiet.
Miller says Raab then lost his temper with a young BBC employee because no car had been organised to take him away. She goes on:
Raab was aggressive and intimidating, and I was bullied and demeaned. This was an aggressive male expressing seemingly misogynistic behaviour. This sort of behaviour is not acceptable from anyone, especially not from a powerful, influential politician.
Raab has denied these claims. A source close to him said:
These are baseless and malicious claims, timed to jump on a political bandwagon and give Gina Miller the publicity she craves.
Raab is also on the front of the Times. More on that soon.
Here is the agenda for the day.
9.30am: MPs debate private members’ bills.
11.30am: Downing Street holds a lobby briefing.
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