Good morning. Boris Johnson managed to maintain a tone of contrition during his long statement to the Commons yesterday on Partygate. But speaking to Tory MPs in private later, he was back to his usual self, courting popularity by smearing traditional hate figures for the Tory right.
He attacked the BBC and the Church of England. He seemed particularly angry about their response to the government’s plan to effectively deport some asylum seekers to Rwanda and, as the Daily Mirror reports, he said it was a “good policy” despite some “criticism on the BBC and from senior members of the clergy”.
The Mirror quotes a source saying Johnson also implied the archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, was soft on Russia. Johnson reportedly said clergymen had “coincidentally had been less vociferous in their condemnation on Easter Sunday of Putin than they were of our policy on illegal immigrants”, the paper reports. In its report of the same comments, the Telegraph says the soft on Russia accusation was levelled at the BBC too.
Last night the archbishop’s chief spin doctor (he has one) hit back, describing Johnson’s claim as a “disgraceful slur”. This is from John Bingham, head of news at the Church of England.
Paul Scully, the business minister, was doing the broadcast round for the government this morning, and he did not deny the reports that Johnson attacked both the BBC and the Church of England at last night’s meeting. He says Johnson was concerned about Welby’s criticism of the Rwanda policy in his Easter sermon.
Scully was less confident defending the claim that the BBC was soft on Russia. When the Today presenter, Justin Webb, asked him if Johnson had ever “put his life on the line for the truth, as Jeremy Bowen has, as Lyse Doucet has, as Clive Myrie has”, Scully just said this was not something he could particularly comment on.
The phrase “dead cat” is one of the most excessively and wrongly used cliches in political commentary, but today it is probably appropriate.
Here is the agenda for the day.
9.15am: Welfare ministers David Rutley and Mims Davies give evidence to the Commons work and pensions committee about universal credit and childcare costs.
9.30am: Nadhim Zahawi, the education secretary, gives evidence to the Commons education committee.
9.45am: Sir Stephen House, acting commissioner of the Metropolitan police, gives evidence to the Commons home affairs committee.
10am: Lord Bew, chair of the House of Lords Appointments Commission, gives evidence to the Commons public administration and constitutional affairs committee about the vetting of potential peers, such as in the case of Evgeny Lebedev.
12pm: Boris Johnson faces Keir Starmer at PMQs.
1.30pm: Chris Wormald, permanent secretary at the Department of Health and Social Care, and other DHSC officials give evidence to the Commons public accounts committee about PPE contracts.
3pm: Damian Hinds, the security minister, gives evidence to the Commons justice committee about fraud in the justice system.
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