Rishi Sunak refuses to answer whether he uses a private GP three …
2023 is still in its infancy but the Tory government is already doing the most to mess it up.
While their intentions are doubtless good, over the last few weeks we've seen silly policy suggestions, strikes, no sign of the cost of living crisis abating and behaviour from MPs that is enough to make you gasp.
It's not ideal, to put it mildly, but the onslaught of bad news may soon turn voters off the party - even if they are rumoured to get tax breaks (more on that later).
\u201cHere\u2019s a rundown of the big things I\u2019ve been working on this week \ud83e\uddf5\n\n\u27a1\ufe0f I made 5 promises for 2023. \n\n\u2705 Halve inflation\n\u2705 Grow the economy\n\u2705 Reduce debt\n\u2705 Cut NHS waiting lists\n\u2705 Stop the boats\n\nYour priorities are my priorities.\u201d
The prime minister was attracting criticism, then, so Zahawi took one for the team and turned attention towards him instead when he criticised Labour leader Keir Starmer for "rebranding" by appearing to purport slightly different political views in his own new year speech.
Those in glasshouses shouldn't throw stones but we would soon learn that this was the least of Zahawi's problems this year...
4. Prime minister's healthcare comes under scrutiny
Particularly because if you throw stones they might hit someone and they might get injured and have to go to the hospital. This clumsy segue brings us back to Sunak and his healthcare arrangements which made headlines throughout January.
The PM refused to confirm or deny whether he used private healthcare as the NHS stumbled along until he awkwardly admitted his past use of private healthcare during the first session of PMQs this year.
People were pretty peeved about him dodging the questions initially, and being responsible for running a health service but appearing to not think it is good enough for him to use himself isn't a great look.
5. Nadine Dorries mocks random Twitter user
While Sunak was defending his healthcare, backbencher Nadine Dorries was doing what she loves best - fighting with random people on Twitter.
The former culture secretary couldn't help herself when she was criticised by a user of the social media platform and rather than engage appropriately, she mocked him for having 15 followers.
People were also annoyed at the prime minister (again) because he chose to fly to Leeds for a healthcare visit rather than take the train.
Not the best use of taxpayers' money, and not the best decision for the environment...
8. Partygate rears its ugly head again
However, Sunak taking a plane definitely didn't cause as much of a scandal as Partygate which still keeps making headlines as fresh allegations about Boris Johnson's conduct during the infamous Downing Street events recently emerged.
The then prime minister joked to Downing Street staff “this is the most unsocially distanced party in the UK right now”, during a boozy Number 10 leaving do, ITV claimed.
9. Tory MP makes unacceptable vaccine comments
Covid caused an MP to become unstuck for another reason recently. Andrew Bridgen lost his whip because of comments he made about coronavirus and the Holocaust - of all things to compare.
He tweeted that the Covid vaccine is “the biggest crime against humanity since the Holocaust”.
Simon Hart, the government’s chief whip, said Bridgen had “crossed a line” which caused “great offence in the process”.
“As a nation, we should be very proud of what has been achieved through the vaccine programme. The vaccine is the best defence against Covid that we have.
“Misinformation about the vaccine causes harm and costs lives. I am therefore removing the whip from Andrew Bridgen with immediate effect, pending a formal investigation.”
10. Lee Anderson puts his foot in it again
Anderson is another plonker in the party who could do with having his whip removed for the mere crime of winding everyone up the whole time. Despite earning the moniker "30p Lee" because of previous bad takes about the cost of living crisis, Anderson shared a picture of a value pack of ‘wheat biscuits’ cereal from Tesco on Twitter, seemingly in a bid to show how easy it is to eat for cheap during the cost of living crisis.
“Again for the doubters,” he wrote.
“6p each, just chuck on 10p worth of milk. Milk at Tesco £1.65 for 4 pints. Wait for the denial.”
"When I hear you using words against refugees like ‘swarms’ and an ‘invasion’, I am reminded of the language used to dehumanise and justify the murder of my family, and millions of others," the unnamed woman said.
“Why do you find the need to use that kind of language?” she asked.
Braverman responded by saying she “won’t apologise for the language that I’ve used” to “demonstrate the scale of the problem” around immigration.
And footage of the conversation circulated on Twitter, with people condemning Braverman for her choice of language.
If that wasn't bad enough, later in February she was criticised for the way she condemned anti-migrant protests in Merseyside.
\u201cBREAKING: a Holocaust survivor just confronted Suella Braverman to say: your hateful language has consequences\u201d
— Freedom from Torture\ud83e\udde1 (@Freedom from Torture\ud83e\udde1)
13. Zahawi's tax affairs give everyone a headache
Zahawi again and what a pickle he's in. It all started after sources reportedly speaking to the Sun on Sunday, said the former chancellor has agreed to pay several million pounds in tax to the authorities after a dispute over his use of an offshore company to hold shares in the polling firm YouGov.
The more than £20m shares were held through Balshore Investments, a Gibraltar-registered family trust, from which he has previously denied benefiting, and sold by 2018 to an unknown recipient.
Zahawi confirmed he had made a payment to settle a dispute with HMRC but didn't say how much he coughed up.
Since then, the row grew and Sunak asked his independent ethics adviser to look into Zahawi's tax affairs, saying there were "questions that need answering" over the case.
After the investigation was concluded, Sunak sacked him, with the Prime Minister telling the Tory chairman in a letter that it is “clear that there has been a serious breach of the Ministerial Code”.
14. Tory MP's food bank comments leave people reeling
Gareth Bacon was the latest politician to come out with divisive rhetoric about food bank users in January.
Speaking on Politics Live, when asked to explain reports that working people use the services, he said: "People will say they don't have enough money but... sometimes people will have to look at how they manage their personal finances and there's nothing wrong in that, that is not in anyway a criticism of anyone and it's not patronising to say so."
"People have to look after their personal finances, that's perfectly true," he added.
15. Sunak gets punished by the police... again
Not content with getting a fixed penalty notice for his role in Partygate, the prime minister found himself in trouble with the police in January when he was filmed in a car not wearing a seatbelt.
"After looking into this matter, we have today (Friday, January 20th) issued a 42-year-old man from London with a conditional offer of fixed penalty,” the force said in a statement.
The PM’s spokesman, meanwhile, said it was a “mistake”.
16. And Boris Johnson gets in trouble too
The former prime minister isn't doing much better either. Boris Johnson has found himself under fire over a report in The Times that he recommended Tory donor and ex-Goldman Sachs banker Richard Sharp for the role of BBC chairman while PM after he helped Mr Johnson with arranging a loan guarantee.
The BBC said it “plays no involvement in the recruitment of the chair”, Sharp said “there is not a conflict” and a spokesperson for Johnson branded the allegations as “rubbish”.
17. Liz Truss spends public money really wisely
And let us not forget the in-between PM, Liz Truss, either. We learnt that the podium she used to deliver speeches during her short stint in Downing Street cost taxpayers £4,175.
Money well spent...
18. More Dominic Raab bullying allegations emerge
Adding to reports last year about the MP's behaviour, further reports have emerged that claim Raab has been the subject of formal bullying complaints by at least 24 civil servants.
19. Tory MP makes tasteless comments about asylum-seeking children
Nail-guzzling Gullis returned to the news at the end of January for making a pretty grim comment about missing asylum-seeking children.
During PMQs, Labour MP Tulip Siddiq raised a query after it was revealed 200 children have gone missing from Home Office hotels.
She asked Sunak: "Ministers have admitted that they no idea of the whereabouts of these children. Does he still think the UK is a safe haven for vulnerable children?”
Gullis heckled in response: "well they shouldn't have come here illegally."
Later in February he got in trouble for calling his constituents "scrotes" and "scumbags".
\u201cTulip Sadiq asks the prime minister about the welfare of 200 unaccompanied migrant children who\u2019ve gone missing.\n\nTory MP Jonathan Gullis heckles \u2018well they shouldn\u2019t have come here illegally\u2019.\n\nJust when you think you\u2019ve heard it all, the Tory Party find a new low \n\n#PMQs\u201d
The so-called anti-strike bill will set minimum service levels set for fire, ambulance and rail services for when the sectors go on strike. MPs voted 315 to 246 meaning it will now face scrutiny in the House of Lords.
21. Matt Hancock goes on about himself again
Not content with all his publicity stunts, Hancock appeared on Good Morning Britain recently to talk about his various scandals once again.
He was criticised for not donating much of his I'm A Celeb fee to charity and quizzed on his motivations for going on the show.
Rees-Mogg faced criticism after suggesting that bullying claims made against deputy prime minister Dominic Raab are “too snowflakey”.
“I think we’ve got to be slightly careful about the bullying allegations,” he told Sky News. “We mustn’t be too snowflakey about it. People need to be able to say this job has not been done well enough and needs to be done better.”
He added: “Is it reasonable to demand from senior and well-paid professionals a level of good service? And then you have to judge whether that line has been overstepped. But I do worry we’re getting a bit snowflakey about this.”
23. Liz Truss plots
In February there were rumours Truss is planning to return to frontline politics. People were horrified at the prospect given she wasn't a great PM for the five minutes she held the role.
Then she wrote a 4,000 word article in The Telegraph blaming the left for her downfall and moaned about her time in office in an interview.
24. Badenoch fumbles with trade figures
A minister was corrected in a live interview multiple times after making a point about Brexit and trade.
Sky News's Ed Conway asked Kemi Badenoch, the business and trade secretary how trade with Italy was going since Brexit and ended up in an awkward back and forth in which neither could agree.
\u201cEd Conway - How would you say Italian trade has gone over the last few years... has it gone up or down since brexit? \n\nKemi Badenoch(Business & Trade Secretary) - It has gone up.. \n\nEd Conway - It's gone down by about 12 to 16%\n\n#Clueless\u201d
25. Therese Coffey's response to supermarket shortages in a baffling way
Late February saw supermarkets struggle with food shortages for various reasons including Brexit, the weather, and rising production costs from the war in Ukraine.
Defra secretary, Therese Coffey baffled the nation when she responded to the issues in parliament, first saying people should just eat turnips to get through the period, and then downplaying things by saying issues will be resolved in weeks.
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