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Throughout his life and political career, Boris Johnson has believed the rules don’t apply to him. And as he marks his second anniversary as prime minister this weekend, it seems nothing’s changed.

It was a claim first made by one of his masters at Eton. And the view was reinforced as recently as last Sunday when he tried to dodge self-isolating after coming into contact with COVID-positive Sajid Javid.

Forced into a humiliating U-turn, Mr Johnson is spending his second anniversary as PM isolating at Chequers. So no chums, political cronies or family members to celebrate with him. Or so we’re told.

Britain's Prime Minister and Conservative party leader Boris Johnson drives a Union flag-themed JCB, with the words "Get Brexit Done" inside the digger bucket, through a fake wall emblazoned with the word "GRIDLOCK", during a general election campaign event at JCB construction company in Uttoxeter, Staffordshire, on December 10, 2019. - Britain will go to the polls on December 12, 2019 to vote in a pre-Christmas general election. (Photo by Ben STANSALL / POOL / AFP)
Boris Johnson won the 2019 election with a pledge to ‘get Brexit done’

But, hey, there are worse places to self-isolate than the PM’s 16th century grace and favour mansion house in the Chilterns, a 1,500-acre hideaway with a tennis court and swimming pool.

Plenty of time for the PM to reflect on a tumultuous two years even by the standards of his rollercoaster life: a second divorce, a third marriage, another child and – of course – narrowly escaping death from COVID.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is greeted by staff as he arrives back at 10 Downing Street, London, after meeting Queen Elizabeth II and accepting her invitation to form a new government after the Conservative Party was returned to power in the General Election with an increased majority. PA Photo. Picture date: Friday December 13, 2019. See PA story POLITICS Election. Photo credit should read: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
Boris Johnson was greeted by staff in Downing Street as he returned after winning the 2019 general election with a landslide majority of 80

As well as all that, he’s imposed three national lockdowns – so far – in England, held 57 coronavirus news conferences in Downing Street and introduced countless draconian rules and restrictions that have put him on collision course with Tory MPs and triggered several big backbench rebellions.

That’s after a Brexit war of attrition in his first year in which he shut down parliament illegally, kicked out 21 rebel Conservative MPs, won the Tories’ biggest election victory since Margaret Thatcher in 1987 and fulfilled his pledge to “get Brexit done”.

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President Donald Trump meets with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the United Nations General Assembly, Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci) .
Boris Johnson met then US President Donald Trump in September 2019

It’s been two years in which he has hired – and fired – Dominic Cummings, broken a Tory manifesto pledge on overseas aid and been accused of breaking an international treaty on trade and ripping up his own Brexit deal on the Northern Ireland protocol.

After his brush with death, he’s become a fitness obsessive, declaring in a speech last year “My friends, I was too fat” and embarking on a punishing exercise regime involving early morning runs through London parks with his Jack Russell cross Dilyn.

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Boris Johnson
The prime minister posted a message on social media in April 2020 to say he had contracted COVID-19 – he was later hospitalised with the virus

He even – temporarily, perhaps – became a football fan during the Euros, wearing his England jersey over his shirt and tie at Wembley in a display that was denounced as a crime against fashion.

Is it really only two years ago that Mr Johnson entered 10 Downing Street on 24 July 2019 and vowed to prove the “doubters, doomsters and gloomsters” wrong over Brexit? Oh, and he also promised to “fix the crisis in social care once and for all”.

Still from No 10 clip
Boris Johnson announced the first national lockdown on 23 March 2020

Two years on, we’re still waiting on social care, with the PM squabbling with his chancellor, Rishi Sunak, about how it should be paid for and a blueprint promised earlier this week now postponed until the autumn.

With no Commons majority to speak of in the summer of 2019, Mr Johnson dragged the Queen into the Brexit row by proroguing parliament, a move later ruled unlawful by the Supreme Court.

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Submission Date:	Dec 10, 2019 10:10 (GMT)
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In February 2020 a family court judge approved a financial settlement between Boris Johnson and his ex-wife Marina Wheeler

He then suspended 21 pro-European Tory MPs, including two former Chancellors of the Exchequer – Ken Clarke and Philip Hammond – and his hero Winston Churchill’s grandson, Sir Nicholas Soames.

But after Labour dropped its opposition to a general election, he called a poll for 12 December. And after a typically flamboyant Johnson campaign involving a bulldozer and a pledge of an “oven-ready” deal on Brexit, he won an 80-seat majority.

Boris Johnson and his now wife Carrie Johnson
The prime minister’s now wife Carrie Johnson moved into Number 10 with him when he took up the role

Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party was crushed as the Conservatives won seats in a so-called “Red Wall” in the north of England and the midlands that had been held by Labour for generations. British politics had been turned upside down.

On 31 January 2020, the UK finally left the European Union. But even now the battles between London and Brussels over the small print of the deal are still raging, with the Northern Ireland protocol disagreement no closer to being resolved.

Boris Johnson, his wife Carrie Johnson and their baby Wilfred
Boris Johnson and Carrie Johnson announced the birth of their son Wilfred on April 29 2020

In February last year it was all change for the PM: Sajid Javid quit as chancellor after Mr Cummings told him to sack his advisers, Mr Johnson was divorced from his long-suffering wife Marina Wheeler and 11 days later he announced that he and his girlfriend Carrie Symonds were engaged and expecting a baby.

What could possibly go wrong? Well, nearly everything, as it turned out.

Boris Johnson and his dog Dilyn
The couple adopted Dilyn the Jack Russell cross in 2019

In March COVID-19 was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation, Mr Johnson was forced to announce the first lockdown in England, in a grim TV address to the nation, and then he tested positive.

But the drama was only just beginning. The day after Sir Keir Starmer was elected Labour leader, the PM was admitted to hospital for a week, including three nights in intensive care. Two weeks after he left hospital, Carrie gave birth to a son, Wilfred.

The Queen held her audience with the PM for the first time since the pandemic began
The prime minister met the Queen in person for the first time in over a year in June

Lockdown measures were eased in May, but the PM’s whole COVID strategy was undermined by Mr Cummings making a lockdown-busting trip to Durham, including a drive to nearby Barnard Castle, he claimed, to test his eyesight.

Although it was the beginning of the end for the maverick Mr Cummings, the PM should have fired him there and then. Instead, the soap opera reached a climax – or nadir – with an excruciating news conference by Mr Cummings in the Downing Street garden.

Dominic Cummings has claimed the government originally planned to try and build 'herd immunity'
The PM’s former senior aide Dominic Cummings left Downing Street in November 2020 and the pair have since been engaged in a war of words

It was November, after a second lockdown in England, before Mr Cummings left Number 10, carrying a cardboard box containing his belongings. Also ousted was the PM’s spin doctor, Lee Cain, in what the pair claim to this day was a coup masterminded by the PM’s fiancée.

Meanwhile, the PM was earning a reputation for COVID U-turns by easing lockdown measures in England in December, only to cancel Christmas, bring in tough new rules and then a third national lockdown – including shutting schools – in early January as the UK death toll topped 100,000. There has been criticism, too, of COVID contracts being awarded to Tory cronies.

Allegra Stratton, the face of Downing Street's new daily televised press briefings, enters 10 Downing Street, London, the day after Lee Cain announced he is resigning as Downing Street's director of communications and will leave the post at the end of the year.
Allegra Stratton was soon appointed as the Downing Street Press Secretary

But then came the vaccine breakthrough: the best news for the PM throughout the whole coronavirus crisis. Even his harshest critics wouldn’t begrudge him the success of the government’s rolling out of the vaccination programme.

The Tories also enjoyed what looked like a vaccine bounce in the opinion polls, although a new poll on the day of the PM’s second anniversary, in the i newspaper, suggests his vaccine bounce may now be ending, with his approval rating slipping into negative territory after a jab high three months ago and a majority now believing he is “dishonest, inconsistent and disorganised”.

And he has used this success to his considerable political advantage. “We vaccinate, he vacillates,” Mr Johnson has taunted Sir Keir several times during Prime Minister’s Questions this year. And the Tories have enjoyed what looks like a vaccine bounce in the opinion polls.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak delivers his 'Mansion House' speech at the Financial and Professional Services Address, previously known as the Bankers dinner, at Mansion House in the City of London. Picture date: Thursday July 1, 2021.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced on social media that he would not be taking part in a Test and Release pilot scheme and would instead self-isolate for 10 days

But as well as criticism for coronavirus U-turns, the PM has also come under fire over his financial arrangements and who is paying for his luxury lifestyle: a holiday in the millionaires’ playground of Mustique at Christmas/New Year 2019-20 and a costly makeover for the Downing Street flat, above Number 11, where he, Carrie, Wilfred and the dog live.

On the Mustique holiday, he was criticised by the Standards Committee for failing to ascertain who paid for it. And on the flat, his own ethics adviser, Lord Geidt, found that he acted unwisely over its funding.

The Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP Secretary of State for Health and Social Care leaving No10 this morning 16/07/21
Both Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak were identified as close contacts of Health Secretary Sajid Javid when he tested positive for coronavirus

More criticism of the PM came last month when the Health Secretary Matt Hancock was exposed by a video of what the Sun called a “steamy clinch” with his close aide, Gina Colandangelo, in his Whitehall office.

The matter was closed, the prime minister declared. Oh no it wasn’t! Barely 24 hours later, Mr Hancock was out, replaced by Mr Javid. Bad judgement by Mr Johnson once again, his critics said.

And last Sunday’s abrupt U-turn on self-isolating? Everything we know about the PM and the chancellor suggests it was prompted by Mr Sunak insisting that dodging the rules was wrong and he wanted no part of it.

Matt Hancock has delivered a speech at the Jenner Institute
Matt Hancock resigned as health secretary after breaking COVID rules with his aide in his Department of Health and Social Care office

There’s a common theme here – a casual relationship with the truth and a disdain for the rules – throughout Boris Johnson’s two years as prime minister, although it began much earlier.

Remember, as well of the recollection by his old Eton schoolmaster, he was sacked from The Times for making up a quote and from the Tory front bench by Michael Howard for lying about an affair.

When it was revealed he had a late-night row with Carrie Symonds at her flat two years ago, photos of his battered old car revealed unpaid parking tickets piled up against the windscreen.

File photo dated 28/1/2021 of Priti Patel. The Home Office has also refused to say how much it has spent on Napier Barracks or how much money has been handed to contractors. Issue date: Tuesday July 6, 2021.
Boris Johnson has defended Home Secretary Priti Patel as she faced bullying allegations in his first two years in office

And there’s a story of him being chased off a tennis court in a London park by an attendant because he hadn’t paid his £10 fee.

Trivial anecdotes, certainly, but revealing about the PM’s character, critics claim.

So far, however, despite Sir Keir claiming this week the “road will run out” for the PM because the public believe in “integrity, honesty and accountability” and the left-wing Labour MP Dawn Butler being thrown out of the Commons for accusing him of lying, voters don’t seem to care.

Speaker of the House of Commons Lindsay Hoyle angrily reprimands Downing Street for giving a COVID-19 press conference before addressing MPs
Speaker of the House of Commons Lindsay Hoyle has angrily reprimanded Downing Street multiple times for giving a COVID-19 news briefings before addressing MPs

To his supporters, he’s their hero who won the Brexit referendum, who won the Tories their biggest Commons majority since the glory days of Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s and who succeeded where Theresa May failed and got Brexit done, as he promised.

Two years from now, with the Fixed Term Parliaments Act repealed, Mr Johnson could be leading the Conservatives into another general election campaign. And if the voters are still forgiving or simply don’t care about all the criticisms about his dodgy boasts and ignoring the rules, he could prove his critics wrong once again.

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Yvette Cooper promoted and Lisa Nandy to shadow Gove on levelling up brief in Labour reshuffle




Yvette Cooper is elevated to shadow home secretary while Lisa Nandy will move from shadow foreign secretary to the levelling up brief as Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer reshuffles his cabinet.

Ms Cooper, who held the home affairs brief previously from 2011 to 2015 under former Labour leader Ed Miliband, will depart her current role as chair of the influential Commons home affairs select committee in returning to the shadow cabinet.

Ms Nandy will now shadow Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove, while David Lammy has been promoted into her former shadow foreign secretary role from the justice brief.

New shadow cabinet roles revealed in Starmer’s surprise Labour shake-up – live updates

Shadow Foreign Secretary Lisa Nandy speaks during Britain's Labour Party annual conference, in Brighton, Britain
Lisa Nandy is moving from shadow foreign secretary to shadow levelling up secretary against Michael Gove, Sky News understands

Others who have been boosted to more prominent positions in Sir Keir’s top team include Wes Streeting who moves to shadow health secretary and Bridget Phillipson who will transfer from shadow chief secretary to the Treasury to shadow education secretary.

Meanwhile, Jonathan Ashworth, who has had the health brief through the pandemic, moves to shadow work and pensions secretary and said he was “excited” for the new role.

Former holder of the education brief Kate Green has been removed from the shadow cabinet alongside the previous shadow Wales secretary Nia Griffith and former environment secretary Luke Pollard.

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Earlier on Monday, former shadow minister for young people and democracy Cat Smith and former shadow attorney general Lord Falconer said announced that they were also stepping down from Labour’s frontbench.

Sir Keir’s top team now includes:

• Angela Rayner as deputy leader, shadow first secretary of state, shadow chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster and shadow secretary of state for the future of work

• Rachel Reeves as shadow chancellor

• David Lammy as shadow foreign secretary

• Yvette Cooper as shadow home secretary

• Wes Streeting as shadow health secretary

• Lisa Nandy as shadow levelling up, housing, communities and local government secretary

• Jonathan Reynolds as shadow business secretary

• Ed Miliband as shadow climate change and net zero secretary

• John Healey as shadow defence secretary

• Lucy Powell as shadow digital, culture, media and sport secretary

• Bridget Phillipson as shadow education secretary

• Jim McMahon as shadow environment secretary

• Nick Thomas-Symonds as shadow international trade secretary

• Steve Reed as shadow justice secretary

• Louise Haigh as shadow transport secretary

• Jenny Chapman as shadow cabinet office minister

• Louise Haigh as shadow transport secretary

• Anneliese Dodds as women and equalities secretary and Labour Party chair

• Jonathan Ashworth as shadow work and pensions secretary

• Emily Thornberry as shadow attorney general

• Jo Stevens as shadow Wales secretary

• Ian Murray as shadow Scotland secretary

• Peter Kyle as shadow Northern Ireland secretary

• Thangam Debbonaire as shadow Commons leader

• Dr Rosena Allin-Khan as shadow mental health minister

• Preet Gill as shadow international development minister

• Pat McFadden as chief secretary to the Treasury

• Alan Campbell as shadow chief whip

• Angela Smith as shadow leader of the House of Lords

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer speaking at the Mailbox in Birmingham during the CBI annual conference
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer is carrying out a reshuffle for the first time in six months

In a statement, Sir Keir said: “With this reshuffle, we are a smaller, more focused shadow cabinet that mirrors the shape of the government we are shadowing.

“We must hold the Conservative government to account on behalf of the public and demonstrate that we are the right choice to form the next government.”

The Labour leader said he is “delighted” to have appointed Ms Nandy to the foreign affairs brief, adding that “there will be nobody better than Lisa to lead this work”.

Ed Miliband says the government is not taking COP26 seriously enough
Ed Miliband will take on the climate brief

Meanwhile, Mr Miliband “will lead in the shadow cabinet to develop Labour’s extensive plans for net zero in a first term Labour government, and hold the government to account for its failure to take action”, Sir Keir said.

The reshuffle comes six months after Sir Keir‘s last refresh of his shadow cabinet, in the wake of a mixed night for Labour in May’s elections across the UK.

Posting on social media, Mr Lammy said he was “honoured” to be appointed shadow foreign secretary and praised his predecessor Ms Nandy for “holding the Tories’ feet to the fire”.

“Honoured to be appointed shadow secretary of state for foreign, commonwealth & development affairs. At a time when Britain is recasting itself on the world stage, I look forward to setting out Labour’s vision for a values-led foreign policy based on cooperation & internationalism,” Mr Lammy said.

Britain's Shadow Secretary of State for Justice David Lammy speaks during Britain's Labour Party annual conference, in Brighton, Britain, September 28, 2021. REUTERS/Hannah McKay
David Lammy has been promoted to the foreign affairs brief

Newly-appointed shadow health secretary Mr Streeting tweeted: “Delighted to have been appointed as shadow health and social care secretary.

“This year the NHS saved my life and staff across health and social care are getting us through the worst pandemic in living memory. Labour created the NHS. We’ll make it fit for the future.”

Earlier this year, Mr Streeting was diagnosed with kidney cancer and had a kidney removed.

Some have suggested the shake-up came about quite abruptly.

Speaking earlier on Monday morning at an event in Westminster amid swirling reshuffle rumours, Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner said: “I don’t know the details of the reshuffle or the timing of it, I’ve been here concentrating on my role now.

Wes Streeting
Wes Streeting will take over as shadow health secretary

“But six months ago I said again we need some consistency in how we’re approaching things as an opposition. I want us to see us as a government in waiting, I want us to do that job.”

Sky’s political correspondent Kate McCann reported that Ms Rayner did get a call from Sir Keir on Monday morning to say she would keep her role, but was not given any detail or consulted about the reshuffle itself.

Posting on social media, Mr Lammy said he was “honoured” to be appointed shadow foreign secretary and praised his predecessor Ms Nandy for “holding the Tories’ feet to the fire”.

“Honoured to be appointed shadow secretary of state for foreign, commonwealth & development affairs. At a time when Britain is recasting itself on the world stage, I look forward to setting out Labour’s vision for a values-led foreign policy based on cooperation & internationalism,” Mr Lammy said.

Cat Smith
Cat Smith was the first person to depart the shadow cabinet on Monday

While announcing her departure from Sir Keir’s shadow cabinet, Ms Smith tweeted out a copy of a letter she had sent to the Labour leader, warning Sir Keir of the “damage” being done by Jeremy Corbyn remaining suspended from the Parliamentary Labour Party.

Sir Keir’s previous reshuffle provoked controversy within the party when he sacked Ms Rayner as Labour Party chair.

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Have the last few wobbly weeks seen a turning point for Johnson as PM?




Have the last few weeks seen a turning point in Boris Johnson’s premiership? 

Dozens of Tories have refused to follow the prime minister’s orders in the voting lobbies on issues as diverse as sleaze and social care.

Meanwhile a handful of Tory MPs have gone public with demands for change, with many more complaining in Westminster’s cafes and bars. At times, it has felt like Mr Johnson was losing his political agility.

“There are too many issues at the moment in which the government is shooting itself in the foot with issues and problems which as I say colleagues are warning and warning and warning about and that are visible from Venus, Mars even maybe visible from Pluto,” northern Tory and ex minister Andrew Percy told Sky News.

“And that has got to stop because we owe the people of this country better than that.”

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Is PM losing Tory support?

Mr Percy hasn’t always been a rebel, though he accepts that description now.

Not that long ago he occupied the high profile portfolio of Northern Powerhouse minister until 2017 and was an early backer of Mr Johnson’s leadership in the summer of 2019.

More on Boris Johnson

Nor can he just be dismissed as one of a small number of irreconcilables.

Almost one in seven Tory MPs – 52 of them – have rebelled more often than Mr Percy, according to the Public Whip website which provides a crude tally of how many times he and his colleagues have voted against their party.

Yet he is one of the few prepared to go on the record in a television interview quite so expansively with their concerns, and as he sits in his office next to a full size Yorkshire flag, he worries, the government’s political antennae is wonky.

“Those are questions that people around the prime minister and then the senior levels of government have to ask themselves.

“They have to look and see if the setup of this government is broad enough, if it is drawn wide enough from the party if it is reflective of our new voter base, if it’s reflective even of our new base on the back benches.”

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PM asked ‘is everything okay?’ after speech

Last week, he voted like many others against the government’s social care plans because they will mean the less well off having to pay more than affluent voters before the state steps in and picks up care home bills.

Tory rebels cut the government majority from 80 to 26, setting off alarm bells across the party.

Mr Percy blasts Rishi Sunak’s department, saying their focus on keeping control of public spending is getting in the way of the party meeting its promises.

He said: “The Treasury has to be cognizant of what we promised people, what we told people, and I understand absolutely, you know, public spending is at record levels, you know, the amount of debt we are facing following COVID and all the rest of it is really, really very challenging.

“And these same conversations are happening in governments all across the world. I totally appreciate the challenge, but commitments were made, be that on rail, they were made on social care, they were put into our manifesto, people voted for us on the basis of those and therefore, you know, we need to ensure that we are making good on those promises.”

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PM loses place in speech, uses Peppa Pig joke

Beneath the surface this argument, between Tories who want to spend whatever it takes to deliver for voters, and those who think strong public finances are the bedrock of the Tory claim to competence.

Not all promises cost money, however, and Tories across the party are worried one of their biggest weaknesses stems from making offers that never materialise.

Ex-minister Tim Loughton, now a Tory on the home affairs select committee, points the finger firmly at France for the migrant crisis.

However he worries that the government has talked up its ability to find a quick fix too often when it is unable to find an easy solution.

Tim Loughton (front) points the finger firmly at France for the migrant crisis
Tim Loughton (front) points the finger firmly at France for the migrant crisis

“There is a genuine concern that the government has talked tough,” he told me. “The government genuinely wants this trade to end, as we all do, but we haven’t been able to achieve that on our own because most of the cards are in the hands of French.

“And perhaps it wasn’t wise to overpromise when we couldn’t rely on the partnership we need to solve this.”

Soon there will be two opportunities for voters to pass their verdict, with two traditionally safe Tory seats heading to the polls for a byelection.

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PM’s letter stirs controversy

This Thursday will see the vote in Bexley and Old Sidcup where the south London voters will choose a successor to popular minister James Brokenshire, who died of cancer in October.

Two weeks later, voters in North Shropshire will elect a successor to disgraced ex-minister Owen Paterson. Few expect an upset in Bexley, although some Liberal Democrats say they are putting in a concerted effort in Shropshire.

On the streets of Bexley, however, there was little sign of danger for Mr Johnson, where at times voters appeared more forgiving than his own MPs.

Tory voters there talk of Mr Johnson going “off the boil” and “fumbling” and doing things that mean they “lack confidence”.

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PM ‘deeply saddened’ by migrant deaths in Channel

Asked if that means they will take their vote elsewhere, most said not, often arguing he had been dealt an unprecedented bad hand.

This could be dismissed as an outlier result in a safe Tory seat, but the national opinion polls suggest that even after the most recent few weeks, Mr Johnson’s party enjoys an advantage.

The most recent YouGov survey from last week puts the Tories on 36% and Labour on 35%.

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‘It’s corrupt – there’s no other word for it’

Older voters in the 65 and above category are twice as likely to vote Tory than Labour, an advantage Labour has not yet begun to directly tackle.

Meanwhile there is little sign Keir Starmer’s Labour is winning over Tory votes directly. Amongst those who voted Tory in 2019, 6% would now choose to vote for Labour but twice as many, 11%, would go for the little known Brexit Party successor, Reform UK.

The last three weeks have seen doubts about Mr Johnson in Westminster unthinkable even during Tory conference in early October, as well as calls for him to shake up his team and signs of fissures in government.

It is not yet clear those doubts in Westminster have filtered through and changed the voting habits in the country.

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Dutch and UK govts agree migrants need to be returned to first country ahead of meeting UK excluded from




The government is hoping the French will work with the UK on halting migrant crossings despite being disinvited from talks.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid defended Boris Johnson after the prime minister tweeted out a letter he sent to French President Emmanuel Macron, which angered Paris and got Home Secretary Priti Patel disinvited from a meeting on the crossings today.

He told Sky News’ Trevor Phillips On Sunday: “We can’t just do it on our own, we do need the co-operation of the French and again, you asked me about the prime minister’s letter and I think what the prime minister has set out, those are exactly the kind of things that we need to do and I hope that the French will take that and work with us.”

The meeting, organised after 27 people died trying to cross the Channel on Wednesday, will go ahead without Ms Patel today. Interior ministers from France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and the European Commission will attend.

Mr Javid called France “our friend” and said he thinks the five points Mr Johnson set out to tackle the issue of people crossing the Channel in small boats “are all the right issues”.

“We should be working together on them,” he added.

More on Boris Johnson

One of the points called for asylum seekers arriving in the UK in boats to be returned to France as the government says they should claim asylum in the first safe country they get to.

This is also said to have angered the French government.

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PM ‘not serious’ over channel crossings

Mr Javid said: “Whatever we can do, we still need to have co-operation with our French friends.

“I think reaching out to them and suggesting, making proactive suggestions, whether it is joint patrolling, whether it is a terms agreement, I think these are all the right things to do.”

Labour criticised both the UK and French governments, with shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy saying they are “engaging in a blame game while children drown off our coastline”.

She told Phillips: “It’s just simply unconscionable and any responsible government on either side of the Channel would set aside those differences and work together to deal with what is a collective shared problem that will only be solved together.”

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Ms Nandy added that legitimate routes to the UK to help people fleeing war and persecution need to be developed.

“These routes simply don’t exist, and they won’t exist as long as the government continues to engage in a blame game with others and doesn’t do the hard yards of sitting down around the table and agreeing how we’re going to tackle this together,” she said.

It has been a tough month for the prime minister, who has faced sleaze accusations over now-ex Conservative MP Owen Paterson’s lobbying breaches, saw his majority slashed over social care changes, praised Peppa Pig World in a speech, had a diplomatic argument with France over migrant crossings and now a new variant.

Backbench MPs have heavily criticised the prime minister on all accounts but asked whether Mr Johnson could still win an election, Mr Javid said: “Yes, absolutely.

“This is a government that delivers on its promises and deals with the challenges they face.”

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