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It's been an eventful week down south with Boris Johnson's political future now hanging in the balance while we all got a good nosey at Rishi Sunak's tax returns. 

The end for Boris Johnson?

This week brought the long-awaited Privileges Committee hearing for former prime minister Boris Johnson.

On Wednesday he was grilled by MPs on whether he intentionally misled Parliament over lockdown gatherings at Number 10.

Johnson insisted they were “essential” as he swore “hand on heart” to tell the truth to the inquiry over whether he lied to the House.

He told the committee he had been “misremembering” when claiming during partygate that rules had been followed at all times.

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A short-tempered Johnson also hit out at a Conservative colleague for raising a “completely ridiculous” assessment that his reliance on the advice of aides was a “deflection mechanism”. He called the inquiry “manifestly unfair” as he insisted he did not “recklessly” mislead the Commons.

He now awaits his fate. If he fails to convince the committee that he did not deliberately mislead the Commons, he could be found to have committed a contempt of Parliament.

A suspension of 10 days or more could result in an intriguing by-election in his Uxbridge and South Ruislip seat. He has every right to stand in such a contest if he wants to have a go at getting his seat back and you wouldn’t put it past him.

The full House of Commons would vote on any recommendations. Rishi Sunak has agreed to give Tory MPs a free vote.

Windsor Framework ‘shoved’ through Parliament

Elsewhere, Sunak’s new deal on post-Brexit trading arrangements for Northern Ireland cleared its first Commons test.

It all got a bit tense for the PM ahead of the vote as the likes of Liz Truss, Johnson and Priti Patel all vowed to vote against the deal as well as Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) MPs. 

The National: Rishi Sunak and Ursula von der Leyen uring a press conference at the Guildhall in WindsorRishi Sunak and Ursula von der Leyen uring a press conference at the Guildhall in Windsor (Image: PA Media)

But in the end MPs voted 515 to 29, with a majority of 486, in favour of regulations to implement the Stormont brake section of the Windsor Framework. A total of 22 Tory MPs rebelled.

The Stormont brake is a mechanism agreed by Rishi Sunak and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on February 27 to change the way the Northern Ireland Protocol operates.

It gives the Northern Ireland Assembly the power to object to changes to EU rules that apply in Northern Ireland.

The deal initially sparked outrage from the SNP because it gives Northern Ireland access to the Single Market, with the party having demanded a similar arrangement be made for Scotland in the event of Brexit. 

DUP MP Jim Shannon said the Windsor Framework was being “shoved” through Parliament and questioned the Conservatives’ commitment to the Union, but it has now been formally adopted by the UK and the EU.

Tax talks

After that vote, and wiping the sweat from his brow, Sunak published his long-awaited tax returns from the past three years.

They showed the PM has made nearly £5 million during that time thanks mostly to his US investment fund. Only about £410,000 came from his MP and ministerial salary.

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Sneakily, the tax documents were published in the middle of Johnson’s committee hearing.

A day later Labour leader Keir Starmer published his returns showing he paid £118,580 in UK tax over the last two years.

He paid the tax on earnings totalling £359,720 from income and capital gains since 2020.


The SNP’s transport spokesperson described Avanti’s record over the last year as an “utter disgrace” and criticised ministers for being “wedded to the disaster of rail privatisation”.

There have been calls for the company to be stripped of the franchise due to numerous complaints about reliability and punctuality.

  • SNP MP Tommy Sheppard asked what assessment the Chancellor’s department has made on how Brexit has hit the UK’s finances after the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) suggested that the post-Brexit trading relationship will reduce long-run productivity by 4% relative to remaining in the EU

Responding to the question, Tory MP and financial secretary to the Treasury Victoria Atkins said global factors such as the war in Ukraine have added pressures to trade.

“The government has been working to take advantage of leaving the EU including through the Edinburgh Reforms, new freeports and the opportunity to shape new trading relationships with the rest of the world”, she added.