Good morning. Boris Johnson has PMQs today for the last time before the Easter recess and, amid questions about Ukraine and the cost of living, he is bound to be asked why he repeatedly told MPs the Covid rules were always followed in Downing Street when the police have now ruled that the law was broken. The opposition has accused Johnson of lying, and by and large the public agrees. Yesterday Downing Street refused to accept that Johnson had lied to parliament – but the PM’s spokesperson also refused to say that Johnson now accepts that the law was broken, suggesting that the denial strategy is still operative at No 10.
Dominic Raab, the deputy PM and justice secretary, has been giving interviews this morning, and he claimed that Johnson was telling the truth to parliament “to the best of his ability”. He told Sky News:
I don’t know the full facts of the fixed penalty notices, but the prime minister was telling the House of Commons and the public what he knew to the best of his ability.
And on Times Radio Raab adopted a similar line. Asked if Johnson has misled parliament, he replied:
No, I don’t think there was an intention to mislead. The prime minister in good faith updated parliament on what he knows.
I will post more from the Raab interviews soon.
Here is the agenda for the day.
9.30am: Sir Patrick Vallance, the government’s chief scientific adviser, gives evidence to the Commons science committee.
10.30am: Lord Harrington, the new minister for refugees, gives evidence to the Commons levelling up committee about the Homes for Ukrainians scheme. The Local Government Association is also giving evidence, from 10am.
12pm: Boris Johnson faces Keir Starmer at PMQs.
After 12.45pm: MPs debate Lords amendments to the health and social care bill.
1.15pm: Dame Kate Bingham, the former head of the government’s vaccines taskforce, and Prof Sir Andrew Pollard, head of the Oxford vaccine group, speak at the Royal Society’s conference on Covid. At 4.45pm Prof Sir Chris Whitty, the government’s chief medical adviser, speaks.
2pm: Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, makes a statement in the Scottish parliament about Covid.
3pm: Johnson takes questions from the Commons liaison committee.
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