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Live Reporting

Edited by Georgina Pattinson

All times stated are UK

  1. What happened at PMQs?

    We’re now bringing our live page coverage to an end – thanks for joining us.

    During the final PMQs session of the year:

    • Keir Starmer accused Boris Johnson of being "too weak to lead" during the pandemic, after 100 of his backbenchers rebelled against his plans for Covid passes last night
    • The Labour leader also said the PM lacked "moral authority" after a row over Christmas parties in Downing Street last year - something the PM dismissed as "partisan trivia"
    • The prime minister consistently tried to turn attention towards the government's vaccine booster campaign - something he is expected to address at a press briefing later
    • Elsewhere, Boris Johnson threatened Russian President Vladimir Putin with "an extremely tough package of economic sanctions" if he invades Ukraine
    • And the prime minister dismissed reports raised by a Tory MP of impending staff cuts at the Foreign Office as "fake news".
  2. Analysis

    PMQs battle overshadowed by Tory rebellion and by-election to come

    Iain Watson

    Political correspondent


    Quite often PMQs does not quite live up to the hype.

    Yesterday’s rebellion, as a parliamentary occasion, was a hard act to follow – and the result of tomorrow’s Shropshire by-election may be a better guide to the mood on the Conservative benches than today’s showdown at Westminster.

    Even victory in the by-election may not be quite enough to calm nerves – with one MP with his ear to the ground predicting a "humiliating hold" - small majority, low turnout.

    Today’s battle was fought for Labour on the territory of leadership, where the ground has shifted in recent weeks in their favour.

    For the prime minster the focus was on delivery – he emphasised the booster programme’s progress here compared to those in other countries, and this enabled him to recycle his "we vaccinate, Labour vaccilates" line.

    There is, of course, no shortage of hopefuls to succeed the PM in the unlikely event that he took Sir Keir Starmer’s advice to "look in the mirror" - though, as one former cabinet minister pointed out privately, the lack of one obvious successor could mean Boris Johnson will remain in his refurbished No10 flat longer than the Opposition expects.

    And as the Omicron variant continues to run rife, voters’ attention might increasingly turn to what the government is doing to respond, rather than obsessing over who is leading that response.

  3. PM to lead press conference later

    There will be a Downing Street press conference at 1700 GMT led by the prime minister.

    He will be accompanied by England's Chief Medical Office Professor Chris Whitty, and Dr Nikki Kanani, the medical director of primary care for NHS England.

  4. Mirror, mirror on the wall...

    During his questions, Keir Starmer said the prime minister should "look in the mirror and ask himself whether he has the trust and authority to lead this country?"

    We can assume the Labour leader meant an actual mirror, but a journalist for one newspaper suggested it could mean something else.

    View more on twitter

    Pippa Crerar - the Mirror's political editor - has been responsible for breaking many of the stories surrounding Christmas events that took place last year.

  5. Analysis

    Kuenssberg: No brainer for Starmer to go on Tory rebellion

    Laura Kuenssberg

    Political editor

    It was a no-brainer for the Labour party to go on the Conservative rebellion today.

    However much the prime minister tried to dismiss it as partisan trivia, it is a serious moment for any government see a rebellion of that size, especially after a personal appeal from the prime minister.

    It doesn’t mean the prime minister won’t ever be able to win another vote on Covid, but there is no question it is a real dent to his authority.

    Meanwhile, Labour are trying to convey quite a nuanced message - they potentially have to be quite careful with how they pitch it.

    We know it has been tricky for them throughout the pandemic to find the right tone.

    They are wanting to be seen do the right thing for public health but not wanting to be seen to be helping out the government.

  6. Reality Check

    Have half a million jobs been created since the start of the pandemic?

    The prime minister claimed that there are “500,000 more jobs today than we had when the pandemic began".

    According to analysis published yesterday by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), November saw the number of payrolled employees in the UK rise by 424,000 since the start of the pandemic.

    The figures reflect a recovery in the number of people in part-time jobs, which had collapsed during successive lockdowns but now stands at just over 8 million.

    The resurgence in part-time work helped the unemployment rate fall to 4.2%. But the ONS figures predate the arrival of the Omicron variant, which some fear may lead to greater restrictions in some sectors.

  7. PM denies MP's claim of Foreign Office staff cuts

    Conservative MP Tom Tugendhat, who chairs the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, says he has received reports that Foreign Office staff numbers are about to be cut by "10% across the board".

    He asks how this could be compatible with the government's "Global Britain" ambitions.

    Boris Johnson says he has been assured by the foreign secretary that the report is "fake news", and adds that the UK is "investing massively in overseas aid".

  8. PM: Booster target will be hard to achieve but NHS can do it

    Kate Hollern

    Labour MP Kate Hollern says that in his televised address on Sunday, the PM said every eligible adult would have the chance to get the jab by the end of the year.

    But she says the health secretary and health leaders have since said otherwise.

    She says the infrastructure to deliver on the target wasn't there and asks if there it is "going to be another broken promise?"

    Boris Johnson says delivering the booster programme will take a "massive effort" and be "incredibly hard to achieve".

    "But do I believe our NHS and volunteers can do it? Yes I do."

  9. Analysis

    What's the political reality concerning those Tory votes in last night's revolt?

    Iain Watson

    Political correspondent

    It’s panto season and perhaps the most bizarre exchange at PMQs was the claim by the PM that he won the Covid pass regulation yesterday on Tory votes, with Sir Keir Stramer saying "oh no, he didn’t" - and suggesting the PM was "socially distanced from the truth".

    So what is the truth?

    Well, had Labour MPs sat on their hands and abstained then 225 Conservative backed the Covid pass in England, and 126 MPs (not all Conservaive) voted against so in that sense the measure would have gone through on Conservative votes.

    But had Labour voted against the measures, then Boris Johnson would have been defeated.

    That said, some Conservatives might not have rebelled if there had been a genuine prospect of defeating their own government.

    Knowing Labour would back the restrictions, they could afford to put down a marker, and register a protest.

    So sometimes the truth has an elusive quality.

    That said, the bald facts are the PM suffered the biggest rebellion of his premiership by a long chalk.

  10. PM warns Putin against 'rashly mad' Ukraine invasion

    Conservative Sir Bernard Jenkin says Russia is conducting a hybrid war against the West and asks what the government is doing about it.

    Boris Johnson says he told President Putin that if he were "so rashly mad" as to invade Ukraine, it would result in "an extremely tough package of economic sanctions".

    He adds that there would also be support for Ukraine and "inevitably" a build up of Nato forces in the nearby regions.

  11. Labour MP accuses PM of 'broken promise' over public advocate

    Maria Eagle

    Labour's Maria Eagle accuses Boris Johnson of "repeatedly blocking" her backbench bill to set up a public advocate to support relatives of people who die during major disasters, in the wake of the inquests into the Hillsborough stadium tragedy.

    Noting that the PM promised to set up such a position in his 2019 election manifesto, she asks whether this is "another broken promise" from Boris Johnson.

    The prime minister says the government recognises the importance of putting bereaved families "at the heart" of public inquests.

    He says funding for representation is available "in certain circumstances" and adds ministers are "considering what steps should be taken" in this area.

  12. Reality Check

    Did plan B pass with Conservative votes?

    The prime minister said at PMQs today: “We won that vote last night with Conservative votes."

    But the Labour leader Keir Starmer disputed that, saying: "Without Labour votes last night vital public health measures would not have got through."

    They are talking about last night’s votes on plan B measures including on mask-wearing and Covid passes.

    The closest vote was the one on mandatory Covid passes, which went through by 368 votes to 126, with 100 Conservatives voting against the measure.

    If the 142 Labour MPs who voted in favour of the measures had instead abstained (not cast a vote) the motion would still have passed.

    But if they had voted against it, it would have been defeated by 268 to 225.

    (While the numbers are clear, the political calculations are more difficult to make, because many Tory MPs may have felt safe rebelling knowing that the government's motion would be carried by Labour MPs.)

  13. Why has public lost faith in the PM, asks SNP MP

    The SNP's Stephen Flynn asks if "the damage being caused by Brexit, a litany of broken promises, the condoning of Conservative party corruption or his complicity in lockdown-busting Christmas party quizzes has led to the public so dramatically and so rapidly losing faith in his leadership".

    Boris Johnson replies that "freedom from the European Union enabled us to deliver fastest vaccine roll-out in Europe and enabled us to have fastest economic growth in the G7".

  14. Analysis

    Starmer's questions an attempt to capitalise on PM's difficulties

    Iain Watson

    Political correspondent

    Keir Starmer didn’t call for Boris Johnson’s resignation.

    But he did urge him to fall on his sword.

    He invited him to look in the mirror and decide whether he had the authority to lead.

    The Labour leader is using Boris Johnson’s difficulties with his own MPs to build up his own leadership credentials - something he has struggled to do during the pandemic.

    He is hoping that polling suggesting diminishing trust in the prime minister will also equate to greater trust in the Opposition.

    But Sir Keir did not stick entirely to the image of a statesman, attacking the alleged rule breaking in Downing Street.

    His cover for this was that the public may be less willing to follow rules if the PM doesn’t do the same.

    This allowed Boris Johnson to attack the Opposition leader for playing politics.

    But in doing so, there may be a hostage to fortune when he dismissed allegations of rule breaking as "partisan trivia" when Labour believes this is of concern to target voters, and before the cabinet secretary has set out the facts.

  15. SDLP MP calls on Johnson to resign

    The SDLP's Colum Eastwood also picks up on the parties row, accusing the PM of "ignoring rule breaking" in Downing Street last Christmas.

    He goes further than Keir Starmer and says the PM should resign, for "eroding public confidence" in Covid policies.

    Boris Johnson rejects this, saying he will be leading the government's efforts to help people "get though this pandemic together".

  16. Blackford: PM cannot protect the public

    Ian Blackford

    The SNP leader in Westminster Ian Blackford says the Conservatives "might be privileged enough to live in denial" of the Omicron variant "but the rest of us have a responsibility to live in the real world".

    He asks Boris Johnson if he will be offering more money to help Scottish businesses hit by the rise in Covid cases.

    Boris Johnson replies that the Scottish government has the power to raise money if it chooses.

    Noting the big rebellion of Conservative MPs on new Covid rules, Blackford says: "A prime minister who can't do what is needed to protect the public is no prime minister at all.

    "If the PM can't act, will he give the devolved government the powers we need to protect our people," he asks.

    "We are going to need a bigger waistcoat to contain the synthetic indignation of the MP," Johnson replies.

    He says Scotland has had a "record settlement" of £41bn but adds that he is working with the Scottish government "to make sure we get through this thing together".

  17. Starmer questions PM's authority to stay in office

    Boris Johnson

    Reusing an attack line he used over the weekend, Keir Starmer says Boris Johnson is the “worst possible prime minister at the worst possible time" and "too weak to lead".

    He asks whether this Christmas, the prime minister will "look in the mirror" and ask himself whether, after last night's rebellion, he still has the "trust and the authority" to lead the country.

    In response, Boris Johnson falls back on a familiar defence - and points out that Labour opposed the government's easing of restrictions last summer, and accuses the party of "playing politics".

    He also uses another phrase he has repeatedly used at PMQs to attack Labour, telling MPs: "they vacillate, we vaccinate".

  18. Starmer: Johnson doesn't have moral authority

    Keir Starmer

    Keir Starmer says the PM has claimed "for weeks that no rules were broken" last year.

    "I don't believe him, his MPs don't believe him, nor do the British public - he is taking the public for fools and it is becoming dangerous."

    He says the PM has "no hope of regaining the moral authority to deliver difficult messages" amid further Covid restrictions "if he cannot be straight with the public about the rule-breaking in Downing Street last Christmas".

    Boris Johnson says he has ordered an inquiry into "what went on last year" adding that the Labour leader should explain "why there are pictures of him quaffing beer".

    He says the British public want politicians to "focus on the matter in hand".

    (The Sun newspaper had a picture of the Labour leader having a beer with party workers in May; Labour dismissed the claim, the paper reported.)

  19. Downing Street parties row 'is partisan trivia' - PM

    Referencing the row over gatherings in Downing Street at the height of Covid restrictions last year, Keir Starmer says Boris Johnson has been "undermining public confidence".

    Quoting remarks made by several Tory MPs, he asks how people can be expected to follow his instructions when it comes to new measures for Omicron.

    The prime minister says the answer is there in "what the public is doing".

    He says he thinks the public is "focused on" the government's vaccine booster campaign, and calls the row over parties last year "partisan trivia".

  20. PM: We deliver, they complain

    Keir Starmer says Labour showed the leadership that the PM lacked and adds that if it wasn't for Labour votes, his government wouldn't have been able to introduce vital health measures.

    The Labour leader says he can understand why Conservative MPs "no longer trust" their leader.

    He says in the summer the government promised that restriction relaxations would be irreversible.

    "Like the rail revolution for the North, like 'no one will have to sell their homes for social care', just like no tax rises" - Starmer says the PM "over-promises until reality catches up".

    Boris Johnson accuses the Labour leader of "playing politics".

    He argues that the government has rolled out a fast booster programme and created one of the fastest growing economies in the G7.

    "We deliver, they complain," he says.