Nicola Sturgeon Covid update RECAP: First Minister to address MSPs

Nicola Sturgeon has updated the Scottish Parliament on Covid, as opposition leaders and MPs are piling pressure on Boris Johnson over his response to the Sue Gray report.

Ms Sturgeon said that the Scottish Government may be “close to” scrapping the requirement for secondary school pupils to wear face coverings.

Following her update, she addressed the Sue Gray report and accused the Prime Minister of “seriously and serially” misleading the House of Commons.

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Sir Keir Starmer has accused Boris Johnson of spending all of his time "saving his own skin" after a report on lockdown parties in No 10 blamed a "failure of leadership".

The SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford has also called on the PM to resign despite Deputy PM Dominic Raab said Tory MPs "overwhelmingly" supported Mr Johnson.

You can recap on the events of the day by reading our blog.

Politics RECAP: Pressure mounts on Boris Johnson over Sue Gray report | Nicola Sturgeon to give Covid update

Last updated: Tuesday, 01 February, 2022, 14:36

Hello and welcome to our politics live blog on a busy day across British politics.

The Prime Minister has made a “sincere” apology about parties held in Downing Street, Scottish Secretary Alister Jack has said, but urged people to wait for Sue Gray’s second report and the Met Police investigation.

Mr Jack told the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland he does not think “we should get ahead of ourselves and decide in determining what was a work event or a leaving party or anything else or indeed a party in its own right – we have to wait until the outcome of this report”.

He said Boris Johnson welcomed the investigations, and added: “He was very apologetic yesterday for what happened on his watch. He doesn’t seem to pass the buck on that. He understands people made huge sacrifices throughout the pandemic, and he, as I say, he was very sincere in his apology.”

Mr Jack said there a number of events where Mr Johnson was not present, adding: “When the cat’s away, the mice were playing.”

“He was appalled by those events and he was furious, as he said at the dispatch box. But he has subsequently learned from them, as have others, obviously Sue Gray, and he has said action will be taken, he’s very clear about that.”

Challenged that in fact Mr Johnson was at the events, Mr Jack said: “He was very clear that the events he attended were, he believed, to be work events as much as they were saying goodbye to a colleague or thanking colleagues for the efforts during the pandemic, and he’s made that clear from the dispatch box.”

Boris Johnson is running the Government like a “medieval court”, a former Cabinet minister has said.

Tory MP Andrew Mitchell told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme: “I think this is a crisis that is not going to go away and is doing very great damage to the party.

“It is more corrosive in my judgement than the expenses scandal was and it will break the coalition that is the Conservative Party.”

Mr Mitchell said an “awful lot” is going on “beneath the surface”.

He went on: “I think the problem is that Boris is running a modern government like a medieval court, you need to rule and govern through the structures, through Whitehall, through the cabinet for National Security Council.

“Many of us thought he would govern in the way he did when he was Mayor Of London, through being a chairman of a board, running a very good team – that is not what has happened here.”

Boris Johnson’s discredited claim that Sir Keir Starmer failed to prosecute Jimmy Savile was part of the “cut and thrust” of parliamentary proceedings, a Cabinet minister claimed.

Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab refused to repeat the allegation levelled at the Labour leader by Mr Johnson.

Sir Keir described the claim as a “ridiculous slur peddled by right-wing trolls” and claimed Mr Johnson had “debased” himself by saying it.

Mr Raab, the Justice Secretary, said he was “certainly not repeating it” during a broadcast interview, without the protection of parliamentary privilege.

But Tory former Cabinet minister Julian Smith said the Prime Minister should withdraw the “false and baseless” smear.

Boris Johnson has boarded his flight to Ukraine where he will meet president Volodymyr Zelensky against the backdrop of Russian aggression and a deepening crisis surrounding allegations of lockdown-breaching parties in No 10.

The Prime Minister was travelling on a chartered plane from Stansted with staff and a small pool of journalists.

Boris Johnson’s discredited claim that Sir Keir Starmer failed to prosecute Jimmy Savile was part of the “cut and thrust” of parliamentary proceedings, a Cabinet minister claimed.

Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab refused to repeat the allegation levelled at the Labour leader by Mr Johnson.

Sir Keir described the claim as a “ridiculous slur peddled by right-wing trolls” and claimed Mr Johnson had “debased” himself by saying it.

Mr Raab, the Justice Secretary, said he was “certainly not repeating it” during a broadcast interview, without the protection of parliamentary privilege.

But Tory former Cabinet minister Julian Smith said the Prime Minister should withdraw the “false and baseless” smear.

Sir Keir was director of public prosecutions from 2008 to 2013, but is not thought to have been involved in decisions relating to sexual offence allegations against disgraced entertainer Savile.

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