Deadline looms for Covid inquiry to receive unredacted messages sent by Boris Johnson – UK politics live


The Covid-19 inquiry has extended the deadline for evidence to be submitted, amid an ongoing tug-of-war over whether Boris Johnson’s WhatsApp messages and notebooks will be handed over to it.

The previous deadline had been 4pm today, but after a request to delay it for a week until 5 June, the chair of the inquiry has granted a “short extension” until 4pm on Thursday.

The Cabinet Office has so far refused to hand over the documents, and has reportedly said the inquiry does not have the rights over the documents.

The inquiry has said that its demand for the documents has been widened to include a “witness statement from a senior civil servant, verified by a statement of truth” over whether the cabinet office holds the information or more details about them.

So far the Cabinet Office and Johnson have refused to hand them over, which could trigger a potential legal challenge from the inquiry.

Lawyers for the Cabinet Office have reportedly said that the inquiry does not have the power to request access to all documents.

It could delay the start of the inquiry, which is due to hear evidence from David Cameron and his former chancellor George Osborne in a fortnight about pre-pandemic preparedness.

Of course this comes a week after Johnson was referred to the police over his diaries which allegedly gave details of hosting family and friends at Chequers during Covid.

Meanwhile photographs have emerged of Johnson at a village fete in his former Oxfordshire constituency of Henley from 10 days ago, fuelling suggestions he may try to run in his old seat. Current MP John Howell has denied any deal has been done.

Away from Johnson, Rishi Sunak is visiting Kent where he will discourage the use of vapes by children and teenagers as he will appear alongside Chris Whitty. A plan could see a loophole closed that allows firms to give out free samples of vapes to under-18s.

Labour, meanwhile, has announced it will allow councils to buy land cheaply for development in an attempt to solve the housing shortage and get more built. In good but unsurprising news for Keir Starmer’s party, research released yesterday in the Sunday Times showed nearly two-thirds of millennials believe the Tories deserve to lose the next election.