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Boris Johnson news – live: No 10 apologises to Queen but Liz Truss tells nation to ‘move on’ from partygate

No 10 apologises to Queen for parties on eve of Prince Philip’s funeral

Boris Johnson launched “Operation Save Big Dog” to try and save his job on a day the Downing Street parties scandal continued to dominate Westminster.

Mr Johnson is understood to be drawing up a list of officials who can offer their resignation after the publication of Sue Gray’s findings on the various gatherings at No10.

It comes as an exclusive survey for The Independent indicates that 70% of voters want the prime minister to quit and a staggering 68% did not consider his apology over a No10 party as “genuine”.

The dire survey numbers were revealed on the same day as Downing Street has been forced to apologise to Buckingham Palace following reports of two No 10 parties held on the eve of Prince Philip’s socially-distanced funeral – but officials will not say if Boris Johnson knew about them.

The PM’s spokesman is also refusing to clarify whether it was acknowledged to the Palace that the gatherings were “social events”, which would have been in breach of Covid rules at the time.

It is understood the apology was made by a government official, in a telephone call – rather than in a conversation involving Mr Johnson.

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Covid: How Omicron symptoms differ from the Delta variant and original strain in two charts

The Omicron variant of coronavirus has spread swiftly across the world since its discovery in South Africa and Botswana in late November and has steadily driven up daily infection numbers wherever it has been found.

Highly transmissible, the strain caused the UK to hit a pandemic-record of 218,724 new cases on 4 January but, so far, the soaring infection rate has not translated into an unsustainable level of hospitalisations and deaths.

There is still much we do not know about Omicron but its symptoms appear to be much more like that of the common cold, broadly typified by running noses, sneezing and sore throats, whereas the original strain of the virus that emerged in Wuhan, China, in late 2019 was defined by fever, coughs and an unpleasant loss of a patient’s sense of taste or smell.

Joe Middleton14 January 2022 23:47

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Social care for elderly and vulnerable rationed as Covid hits staff

More than half of councils in England are resorting to exceptional measures to ration social care, a survey has found.

The Omicron variant of Covid-19 is forcing so many staff to take sick leave or self-isolate that the systems can no longer cope with rising demand, according to council chiefs.

They dubbed the situation “a worsening national emergency”.

Jane Dalton has the details.

Joe Middleton14 January 2022 23:33

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Boris Johnson too ‘preoccupied’ by Partygate to fix NHS, says Keir Starmer

Boris Johnson cannot fix the problems facing the NHS because the Partygate scandal has left him “unable to lead”, Sir Keir Starmer is set to say.

The Labour leader is preparing to accuse the prime minister of losing his authority and being “too preoccupied defending his rule-breaking” to meet the huge challenges faced by the health service.

Mr Johnson is fighting to save his premiership after he admitted attending a “bring your own booze” event in May 2020, with further reports of leaving drinks at No 10 and Whitehall during the pandemic, writes Adam Forrest.

Joe Middleton14 January 2022 23:20

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Downing Street staff ‘held regular wine-time Friday’ drinks during lockdown

Downing Street staff reportedly held drinks on Friday evenings throughout the pandemic with Boris Johnson regularly seeing them doing so.

The prime minister encouraged aides to “let off steam” despite having banned indoor socialising during lockdown, The Mirror reported a source as saying.

The paper said the end of week “wine-time Fridays” became such a fixture that staff bought a £142 drinks fridge and would head to a nearby Tesco with a suitcase to stock up on wine and beer, writes Liam James.

Joe Middleton14 January 2022 22:49

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A Sudanese man in his twenties has died trying to cross the English Channel in freezing conditions, French authorities say.

He fell overboard when a boat ran into trouble shortly after setting off from the coast south of Boulogne in the early hours of Friday morning.

He was found unconscious by French rescue teams and taken to shore, where he was declared dead.

So far this year, more than 450 people have made the life-threatening trip across the Channel in small boats.

Laurie Churchman reports.

Joe Middleton14 January 2022 22:20

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Lib Dem Councillor campaigns for Prince Andrew to lose Duke of York title

Joe Middleton14 January 2022 21:55

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Bees will die as ministers approve toxic banned pesticide for second time, warn experts

Ministers have given the go-ahead for farmers to use a banned bee-harming pesticide in England for the second year running.

The government went against the advice of its own scientific advisers, who said they did not see the justification for applying the neonicotinoid to sugar beet this year, writes Jane Dalton.

A single teaspoon of thiamethoxam is toxic enough to kill 1.25 billion bees, according to biology professor and insect expert Dave Goulson, and wildlife chiefs warned the decision could devastate already-struggling bee populations.

Joe Middleton14 January 2022 21:30

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Sudanese man in his twenties dies trying to cross English Channel

A Sudanese man in his twenties has died trying to cross the English Channel in freezing conditions, French authorities say.

He fell overboard when a boat ran into trouble shortly after setting off from the coast south of Boulogne in the early hours of Friday morning.

He was found unconscious by French rescue teams and taken to shore, where he was declared dead.

So far this year, more than 450 people have made the life-threatening trip across the Channel in small boats.

The Home Office is facing legal action over proposals to turn back small boats at sea, a tactic campaigners warn could put lives at risk.

Laurie Churchman reports.

Joe Middleton14 January 2022 21:20

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Should Boris Johnson resign over ‘partygate’? Have your say in our poll

Some senior Tory MPs are calling for PM to quit – but what do you think? Tell us in the poll below.

Joe Middleton14 January 2022 21:15

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No10 staff reportedly held ‘wine-time Fridays’ every week during Covid pandemic

Downing Street staff held “wine-time Fridays” every week during the pandemic that Boris Johnson encouraged, reports say.

The regular gatherings were encouraged by the prime minister who wanted aides to “let off steam”, despite harsh lockdown rules forbidding indoor socialising.

The Daily Mirror reports that the boozy meet-ups were scheduled into the electronic calendars of approximately 50 Downing Street staff between 4pm and 7pm.

They were organised by the No10 press office and would advisers from other parts of the building would regularly join in with the gatherings.

The latest revelations are sure to heap yet further pressure on the beleaguered prime minister who is facing the most serious challenge to his premiership after a series of alleged parties at Downing Street.

Joe Middleton14 January 2022 20:52

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