The Times - UK (2022-01-24)

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4 2GM Monday January 24 2022 | the times


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clearly that culture was wrong,” one ally
said.
“But the prime minister was not in
No 10 for many of these events, he
didn’t know about them, and while it’s
perfectly proper to hold the prime
minister to account for things that he is
responsible for, are we really going to
ask the prime minister to resign
because some people organised a party
that he didn’t know about? It’s an
argument about proportion.”
Members of Johnson’s team have
approached Sir Lindsay Hoyle, the
Speaker, to ask whether Johnson could
go to the dispatch box almost immedi-
ately after Gray delivers her findings to
address MPs, regardless of what
business is planned for the Commons at
that time.
Johnson’s team is especially keen for
him to speak on the same day as the
findings are published if the report is
critical. “If it’s leaning towards a
difficult finding then you don’t want an

was “more Mr Bean than James Bond”.
Vadym Prystaiko, Ukraine’s ambas-
sador to the UK, said that Kiev may
invite the British Army to intervene. He
told Ukrainian media: “If the threat is
real, if there is a start of active opera-
tions, we will ask for anything, includ-
ing British military personnel on our
territories.”
The Treasury is drawing up meas-
ures to help consumers cope with exist-
ing high prices when Ofgem increases
the energy price cap in April. One
option is to allow energy companies to
borrow money to keep bills low. It
would be repaid by reducing bills more
gradually than usual when wholesale
gas and electricity prices fell.
A government spokesman said: “Un-
like other countries in Europe, the UK is
in no way dependent on Russian gas
supply. We meet around half of our sup-
ply from within British territorial waters
and the vast majority of imports come
from reliable suppliers such as Norway.
Less than 3 per cent of our gas was
sourced from Russia in 2020. The cur-
rent energy situation is due to high
global gas prices, not security of supply.”
Disclosure of Russian plot shows spycraft
is becoming open, leading article, page 29
Moscow ‘wants Kiev puppet’, pages 30-

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Mostly overcast, with some bright
spells. Patchy rain in north and west
Scotland. Full forecast, page 55


THE WEATHER


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TODAY’S EDITION


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Suicides at


health trust


MPs and bereaved
families are calling for
an investigation into
failures by Sussex
Partnership NHS
Trust after an analysis
found that since 2016,
369 of its patients had
taken their own lives
and coroners had
called 15 times for it to
improve its care. Page 6


BBC4 ‘at risk’ as
cutbacks bite
BBC4, whose hit
programmes include
The Thick of It, cannot
survive another round
of cuts, according to
sources at the
corporation. The BBC
is working to plug a
£1.5 billion funding gap
after the licence fee
was frozen for two
years. Page 7

Return to office
angers unions
Civil service unions
have criticised
government demands
for officials to return
to Whitehall as polling
shows public support
for the end of work-
from-home guidance.
One union official said
that there was a
“culture war” from
ministers. Page 13

Liverpool stay
in title hunt
Liverpool remained
within sight of
Manchester City at the
top of the Premier
League with a 3-1 win
at Crystal Palace.
Chelsea defeated
Tottenham Hotspur
2-0, their third win
over their London
rivals in three weeks.
The Game, pullout

Islamic State


seizes prison


Islamic State jihadists
who took over a prison
holding its fighters in
northeastern Syria
were holding out
against western-
backed forces and
fighter jets. An Isis
online media channel
showed men that it
said were seized by the
inmates. Pages 30-


Ministers tackle
‘ghost’ flights
Ministers will seek to
reduce “ghost” flights
at British airports by
relaxing regulations
on take-off and
landing slots. Airlines
must use 80 per cent
of their slots or lose
flying rights, leading
them to put on
services that can be all
but empty. Page 35

COMMENT


To win an election, Sir Keir Starmer must


confront the hard decisions others have ducked
CLARE FOGES, PAGE 25

COMMENT 25
LEADING ARTICLES 29
WORLD 30

BUSINESS 35
REGISTER 51
LAW 53

SPORT 57
CROSSWORD 66
TV & RADIO TIMES

DAB RADIO l ONLINE l SMART SPEAKER l APP

To day’s highlights


7.20am
12.40pm
2pm

2.45pm

8.30pm

Education secretary Nadhim Zahawi, right
If I Ruled the World with Deborah Meaden
Actress Romola Garai discusses her
directorial debut Amulet
Therapist Nick Blackburn on his
book The Reactor: A Book about
Grief and Repair
Children’s author Sam Copeland on his
lockdown novel Greta and the Ghost
Hunters and moving on after trauma

overnight period for a narrative to
build,” a minister said.
Relatively few voters are waiting to
read the Gray report to form a view of
the issue, according to polling by You-
Gov for The Times.
Fifty-one per cent believe that John-
son should resign as prime minister
whatever Gray’s report says, including
26 per cent of people who voted Con-
servative in 2019. Nineteen per cent
think he should remain as prime minis-
ter regardless of the findings. Sixteen
per cent think that Johnson’s future
should depend on what the report says.
Yesterday Dominic Raab, the deputy
prime minister, declined to commit the
government to publishing Gray’s report
in full, saying only that “the substance
of the findings” would be released, and
that there would be “full transparency”
and “full scrutiny”.
Angela Rayner, the deputy Labour
leader, said that the report “must be
published in its entirety with all
accompanying evidence”, adding that
Johnson “cannot be allowed to cover up
or obscure any of the truth”.

Last night it was reported that Gray
had interviewed police officers who
guarded Downing Street when the
gatherings took place. Members of the
Metropolitan Police’s parliamentary
and diplomatic protection command
provided an account of who entered
and left No 10, according to The Daily
Telegraph. Gray is said to be in “ongoing
dialogue” with the Met about her
investigation.
Johnson’s official diary is also said to
be among the sources being examined
as part of the inquiry. It is understood
that Dominic Cummings, the prime
minister’s former chief adviser, is to be
interviewed by Gray today.
The Sunday Times revealed that Gray
had widened her inquiry to include
allegations that parties were held in
Johnson’s flat above 11 Downing Street.
The paper claimed that two govern-
ment advisers, Henry Newman and
Josh Grimstone, visited the flat on
several occasions during lockdowns.
Muslim MP accuses Johnson, pages 8-
Politics was always a contact sport,
Trevor Phillips, page 26

continued from page 1
Johnson ‘will fight on’

The deputy prime minister has defend-
ed the planned rise in national insur-
ance contributions in April, despite
criticism from senior backbenchers.
Dominic Raab, the deputy prime
minister, told Times Radio: “I would
much rather that we didn’t have to do it,
but given the pandemic and the wallop-
ing of the public finances, we do.”
The increase in contributions, agreed
last year to help fund health and social
care costs, have been widely criticised
as a regressive tax that would hit people
of working age disproportionally. It will
mean a 1.25 percentage point rise in
personal NIC.
Raab said he did not want to “duck, as
successive governments and prime
ministers have, the issue of social care,
and we are making sure that we deal
with the ageing population and the
dementia challenges we face”.
He added: “We are the first govern-
ment, and this is the first prime minis-
ter, that has grasped that nettle.” It has

Tax increases are essential to


improve social care, says Raab


George Greenwood been suggested that Rishi Sunak is try-
ing to distance himself from the tax. A
source told The Mail on Sunday that in a
meeting with MPs last week to discuss
the cost-of-living increase the chancel-
lor described the rise as “the prime min-
ister’s tax”.
“We were left with the impression
that he didn’t want to be associated with
it,” the source said.
A former cabinet member joined
calls for the increase in NIC to be aban-
doned. Robert Jenrick, the former sec-
retary of state for housing, communi-
ties and local government, wrote in The
Sunday Telegraph that postponing the
rise would show that “the government’s
conservative instincts remain”.
Jenrick, who was dismissed in a
reshuffle last September, argued that
delaying or cancelling the rise would be
the quickest way to ease pressures on
household budgets, given the expected
rise in expenses such as energy bills.
He also wrote that “national insur-
ance penalises work by disincentivising
people to take on more hours or get

promoted” and that scrapping the rise
would therefore be a “sensible move”.
Last night a minister told the Daily
Mail that the entire cabinet would back
cancelling the national insurance rise.
“We need to have a clear recovery from
Covid before we start working out what
we want to do about the fiscal balance.
The ball is very firmly in the chancel-
lor’s court,” the source said.
Sunak has strongly rejected any
suggestion that the national insurance
increase should be postponed or
scrapped. “You can’t conjure money out
of thin air,” one Treasury source told
The Sunday Telegraph.
A government source said: “The
NHS and social care levy will be
brought in to ensure the NHS gets the
funding it needs this year to clear the
waiting lists caused by the pandemic.
“Beyond that it will pay for the prime
minister’s long-term social care reform
plan. The alternative is cutting large
sums of spending elsewhere.”
Ministers should resist pressure to cut
taxes, leading article, page 29

continued from page 1
Gas price warning

Q&A


How important is
Russian gas for
Europe? Very. Russia
typically supplies about
a third of European gas,
primarily through a
series of pipelines
including Yamal, which
runs through Belarus
and Poland to Germany;
Nord Stream, which
goes directly to
Germany; and pipelines
through Ukraine (Emily
Gosden writes).

How much gas does
Britain get from
Russia? Britain has no
direct pipeline links with
Russia but does receive
shipments of Russian
liquefied natural gas
(LNG). In 2020, Russia
accounted for 12 per
cent of Britain’s LNG
imports, or 5 per cent of
total imports.

Why would Russia
restricting European
supplies impact UK gas
prices? UK and
European gas markets
are connected by
pipelines, so any
disruption in Europe has
a knock-on effect on
supplies and prices in
the UK. If European
countries face a
shortage of gas from
Russia, they will seek to
replace that from other
sources that Britain also
relies on, such as
pipeline gas from
Norway and
shipments of liquefied
natural gas, pushing up
UK prices.

What would this mean
for energy bills? The
energy price cap, which
limits prices for most
households, is set on
the basis that suppliers
buy much of their gas
and electricity in
advance. That means
changes in wholesale

prices today affect the
price households pay
months later. Energy
bills are already forecast
to rise to record highs in
April because of high
wholesale prices last
year. If prices stay high,
that’s likely to mean
energy bills rise even
further when the cap is
updated in October.

How would Russia
affect oil and petrol
prices? Global oil prices
are at seven-year highs
and petrol prices in the
UK have already hit all-
time highs in recent
months as a result.
Russia is one of the
world’s biggest oil
producers so any
concerns that it might
produce less than
expected is likely to
further push up oil
prices, which would be
expected to feed
through to even higher
petrol prices a few
weeks later.

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