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Labour call for PM to quit over further lockdown party revelations 



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Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner has urged prime minister Boris Johnson to resign after revelations his Principal Private Secretary invited 100 plus people to a “bring your own booze” event at Downing Street in May 2020.

An email sent by Martin Reynolds, the civil servant responsible for the  Prime Minister’s private office was leaked to the media yesterday. The email invited staff to “make the most of the lovely weather” via a “socially distanced drinks” reception in Number 10’s garden during the national lockdown.

“I think he should go,” Ms Rayner explained this morning, going on: “I think there’s no excuses and it will come as no surprise that I don’t think he’s up to the job, but more importantly I think he’s lost the British public now with his lies, his deceit and the breaking of the rules.”

The Met has confirmed it has been “in touch with the Cabinet Office” over the event, provoking speculation that a formal investigation could be opened.


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Health minister Edward Argar said he understood dissatisfaction at the revelations while in the broadcast round this morning.

“I can entirely understand the anger, the sadness and the upset that many will feel about these allegations,” he told BBC One’s Breakfast programme.

“We’ve sadly lost 150,230 of our fellow citizens during this pandemic to the disease and of course everyone endured some very tough restrictions impacting on family life and mental health so I can entirely understand the anger. That’s why I think it’s absolutely right that the Prime Minister moved swiftly to commission that independent inquiry by Sue Gray.”

He said he hoped  Ms Gray would investigate the allegations “without fear or favour” and that her report’s conclusions will be published  “swiftly”.

This follows weeks in which the Conservatives have dipped in the polls after a series of other lockdown-breaching allegations directed at No 10 and other government offices.




Elections timeline will only be published after passage of Electoral Bill —INEC



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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has disclosed that the timeline for the upcoming 2023 elections will be released only after the passage of the Electoral Bill, still under consideration at the National Assembly.

This was contained in a statement issued on Tuesday by the INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, at the first quarterly meeting with political parties for 2022 in Abuja.

Yakubu further noted that the Commission was optimistic about the passage of the Bill due to the assurance by President Muhammadu Buhari who charged the NASS to ensure the Bill was prioritised.

Read also: National Assembly to re-present, pass electoral bill Wednesday – Lawan

He said, “On the Electoral Amendment Bill currently before the National Assembly, the commission is encouraged by the Senate President’s assurance to give priority attention to the Bill when the National Assembly reconvenes from its recess today, and the commitment by the President to assent to the Bill as soon as the issue of mode of primaries by political parties is resolved.

“We are looking forward to a speedy passage of the Bill, which is crucial to our preparations for the forthcoming elections. As soon as it is signed into law, the commission will quickly release the Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the 2023 General Election which will be based on the new law”.

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The best levelling-up strategy is hiding in plain sight



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It seems that no one knows what the government means by ‘levelling-up’. The White Paper explaining it has been delayed. And yet there is a clear strategy waiting to be embraced. It is an old one, called creating the conditions for growth. It is well known, yet it is being ignored as people look for something special and different.

There is a simple reason, backed up by research, that growth will deliver levelling-up. It is that the resources in the ‘behind’ regions are in greater supply. This is obviously the case, since this is why they need ‘levelling-up’. In our research on regional Britain we find clear evidence that higher demand provokes much faster rises in wages and prices in the ‘south’ than in the ‘north’, for this reason. This in turn implies that growth tends to favour the north. Infrastructure spending will then naturally gravitate to these parts since in practice it is demand-led by the usual cost-benefit analysis. One of the levelling-up fallacies going the rounds is that the north can be lifted up by differential infrastructure spending; yet this simply puts the cart before the horse.

The question then becomes how do we promote growth in the economy as a whole so that this levelling-up can also proceed. Again we know the answer well. It is through holding down tax rates, especially on entrepreneurs, and creating a permissive regulative environment in which the common law prevails preventing observable harm rather than the continental law philosophy of the EU in which possible harms are prevented in advance blanket intrusion.

Sadly, the government is not setting out this strategy for growth at all clearly or convincingly. It has paid lip service to the deregulative idea but there is no momentum behind its implementation; instead we hear constantly about how existing ‘standards’ will be upheld- which is code for doing nothing to alter existing regulations. As for taxes, we have heard plainly from the Chancellor’s last budget that even though he is in favour of low taxes, taxes will go up sharply- both on businesses and workers- and none will come down.


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The reason given for this tax policy is the state of the public finances, namely the high ratio of public debt to GDP post-Covid. The Treasury and its ally, the OBR, lose no opportunity to stress the possible catastrophes that await us if we do not urgently limit public borrowing, now that the debt ratio has reached around 100% of GDP. Yet history tells us that we have never defaulted on our debts even though the ratio went well above 200% of GDP both after the Napoleonic wars and after WW2. Also after the first the high debt ratio did not stop Gladstone’s sharp cuts in our high tariff rates; nor after the second did it stop the Labour government’s expensive policies to build the welfare state.

In both cases it took many years to bring the debt ratios down again to low ‘safe’ levels; meanwhile policies were pursued to promote growth and stabilise the economy as well as possible. It is the role of public debt to allow these policies to proceed smoothly without needing to be stopped and restarted to ‘bring down debt’.

As for the various short term ‘fiscal rules’ that governments have announced since the financial crisis of 2008, they have been jettisoned, rightly, on a regular basis. They completely miss the point about the smoothing role of public debt, on which the only constraint is long term solvency- something that for the UK has never been in doubt; the technical condition for it is simply that the growth in real debt must be less than the real interest rate. With the current real interest rate negative, this condition is easily met.

So what is to be done? We need to see a coherent government economic strategy to promote growth through low taxes and growth-friendly regulation; this in turn will create levelling-up as the growth reaches the parts of the economy current policies cannot reach. As part of this strategy, the government needs to explain how this fits in with a long term plan to maintain solvency and keep the public finances solid. Of course there is no contradiction between a stable economy growing solidly and strong public finances gradually restoring the debt ratio to normal levels. But the government needs to get its courage up to restate this basic economic good sense.

Professor Patrick Minford is one of the UK’s leading macroeconomists and holds the chair of Applied Economics at Cardiff University.


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I resign due to the tyrannic nature of the party, says PGF DG Lukman



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The former Director-General of Progressive Governors’ Forum, Dr. Salihu Lukman has said that his decision to resign was as a result of the tyrannic posture of the leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

He said following the announcement that the national convention of the party will hold on February 26, party leaders must ensure the new leadership of the party that will emerge at the Convention will be tolerant to criticism and be democratic.

Lukman, in a statement issued on Wednesday, said since the news filtered out on Monday about his resignation, many party leaders, friends, family members and well-wishers have reached out to him with words of support and encouragement.

He said, “I can confirm that it is true I have given my resignation to Forum Chairman, His Excellency Abubakar Atiku Bagudu. I restrained myself from making any public statement on the matter because I am still awaiting acceptance.

“It is true that my decision to resign from position is to enable me to continue with the campaign to return APC to its founding vision, which is to build a party that is not only democratic but oriented based on social democratic principles.”

The party chieftain revealed that the national leader of the party, Senator Bola Tinubu has urged him to continue his campaign to return APC to its founding vision.

He said following the news of his resignation, many party leaders and members called to express their worries, adding that one of the party leaders who honoured him with an invitation to meet him late on Tuesday was Tinubu.

He noted that Tinubu commended him for championing the campaigns to reform the party and expressed shock that some members of the Forum were intolerant to criticism.

Lukman said Tinubu argued that any party leader who would not accommodate critical opinion on fundamental issue such as respecting decisions and especially a matter as sensitive as organising the National Convention, which is the highest organ of the party, such a person is not a democrat and shouldn’t be associated with a party envisioned to be progressive, such as the APC.

“With these words, he encouraged me to continue with my campaign, which is what the party needs,” he said.

Lukman stressed that Tinubu declared his support to all decisions of President Buhari to ensure that the APC Convention is held in February 2022.

He added: “Since the buildup to the 2019 elections, internal contests in the APC began to degenerate, while some leaders became intolerant and conducted themselves almost as tyrants.”

Lukman pointed out that some party leaders in the bid to emerge as candidates of the party for offices became hostile, while the party campaign drifted to almost war situations in many instances.

He stressed that every campaign to get the leadership of the party to commence the process of internal reform was resisted.

Lukman added that organs of the party stopped meetings as required by the constitution, while views of party leaders became decisions of the party.

He, however, noted that President Muhammadu Buhari disagreed with what was going on in the party and supported the campaign for reform.

Lukman said without going into all the details, the inspiration to set up the current Caretaker Committee came from Buhari based on the expectation of ensuring that the drift in the party was arrested.

He stressed that this was expected to produce a new leadership, which should emerge at the party’s National Convention.

Lukman added, “Once the Caretaker Committee began to show signs of reluctance to organise the Convention, it should be a source of concern to all party members desirous of reform.”


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