THE PRIME MINISTER says he thought party in March was a ‘work event’ but concedes he should have stopped the gathering on May 20, 2020.
In Prime Minister’s questions on Wednesday (Jan 12), he apologised to the public and said that “I wish that things had been done differently on that night.”
But Boris Johnson said that Labour will have to wait for the outcome of an inquiry to know the exact details of what happened that night.
Labour Leader, Keir Starmer said Matt Hancock resigned when he broke the rules, and Allegra Stratton resigned for laughing about rule breaking. Why does the PM think the rules don’t apply to him. Boris Johnson says that is not what he said.
Starmer said the PM originally said he had been assured there were no parties. Then the video landed, and he pretended he was sickened by the parties. Now it turns out he was at the parties. Starmer added that it was his opinion that the public think he is “lying through his teeth”.
Tory MPs objected, on the grounds that MPs should not accuse each other of lying. Sir Lindsay Hoyle, the Speaker, defended Starmer, saying he is talking about what the public think.
Johnson said he does not accept that. He added a laywer should wait for the facts.
Keir Starmer said that he spoke last night to a woman, Hannah, whose father died last May. She met Johnson last year, and Johnson told her that he had done everything possible to protect her dad. Hannah now knows her father’s death certificate was signed on the day of the party. Does the PM understand how she feels?
Johnson said he understands how she feels. He wanted to apologise. But the government has been doing what it can to protect people. It has the most tested population in Europe. And it has had the fastest vaccine rollout in Europe, and one of the fastest in the world. Apologising again, the PM said: “Whatever mistakes have been made on my watch, for which I apologise, that is the work that has been going on in Dowing Street.”
Simon Hart, the Welsh Secretary, and MP for South Pembrokeshire and West Carmarthenshire, has become the first cabinet minister to publicly express concerns about the latest partygate revelations. Simon Hart said this morning: “We’re in the middle of an investigation, that was set up by the PM to get to the bottom and to get to the truth about what was reasonable at the time and what wasn’t. It’s frustrating to have to rely on the investigation and we must be careful to not pre-judge that or what the PM will say in a few minutes’ time.
“The one thing I’m not going to do is make light of something that is unquestionably something of a significant public concern.
“I don’t live on a different planet. The frustration and the hurt and indignation and the incredulity that emerging stories like this produce. I’ve got, like everyone, family and friends asking me these questions. We have to get to the bottom of this.
“Judgment will need to be made about what happens next.”
There is some excellent detail about the No 10 party on 20 May 2020 in the Times today. The paper reports that Martin Reynolds, who sent out the email invitation to around 100 staff as the PM’s principal private secretary, became “panicky” in advance of the event, because staff were concerned it was against the rules, but decided cancelling the event would make things worse. The paper reports: “That afternoon, staff began preparations. A row of tables was set up on one side of the garden to act as a bar. In the garden itself more tables were set up in a layout to encourage people to observe social-distancing rules.
“Officials and advisers began arriving shortly after 6pm. While many stayed away, about 40 came. Many took up Reynolds’ suggestion in his email that they should “BYOB” — bring your own booze — taking a trip to the Tesco Express next to Westminster station. The drinks table was well stocked with gin, rosé, red wine and white wine, and guests began to arrive and mingle.
“Two sources said that the prime minister attended, with one saying he was “wandering round gladhanding people”. His fiancée Carrie Symonds, whom he married last year, also attended and was said to have been drinking with Henry Newman, then an adviser to Michael Gove and now a senior figure in No 10.
“The Times has been told that one senior official at the event joked about the risk of surveillance by drones, which was viewed as a tacit admission that the rules were being breached.”
Police in England issued 118,419 fines for breaking lockdown rules between 27 March 2020 and 17 October last year. That included 800 fines in the week when the No 10 party was held on 20 May 2020.
In London 17,745 fines were issued between March 2020 and October last year, including 113 for holding illegal gatherings of more than 30 people.
Ed Davey, the Lib Dem leader, said: “Thousands of Londoners have been fined for flouting lockdown rules during the pandemic. It would be double standards of the worst kind for the police to turn a blind eye when those in No 10 have done the same.”
Carmarthen East and Dinefwr MP, Jonathan Edwards, questioned the British Government on the floor of the House of Commons this week with regard to the ongoing allegations facing the Prime Minister and his Cabinet.
Allegations of a party held by government members and officials during May 2020 continue to plague the Conservative administration, with pressure mounting on the British Government over the past few days.
With an investigation into these claims commissioned, Jonathan Edwards MP questioned the government on what they believed would be an appropriate political sanction should the investigation conclude that a party was held and that the Prime Minister, or other Ministers attended.
The response came that it was not appropriate to comment on this hypothetical situation, and that they would await the results of the independent investigation.
Speaking outside the Chamber, Mr Edwards said: “I have been contacted my several constituents in the past few days outlining their shock, their disappointment, and their anger at the current allegations that this Government faces.
The stories they have shared with me of enormous personal sacrifice, of funerals held over video calls, and of elderly family members unable to see their loved ones in the flesh, have been emotionally powerful, and I thank them for sharing those experiences with me.
Should the allegations of Government Ministers attending a party at this very same period prove to be true, it will fly in the face of the collective struggle that everyday people have endured for almost 2 years now, and it will finally confirm what many of us here in Wales have already theorised: that the political ruling class in Westminster do not care about the citizens that they represent.”
Police appeal for missing woman
DYFED-Powys Police is appealing for help to find a woman who is missing in the Carmarthen area.
Christine, who is 58, left her van at an address in the Cwmduad area overnight and hasn’t been seen since.
She is described as being 5ft 8ins, with grey/blonde shoulder length hair, of very slim build and is believed to be wearing jeans and a T-shirt.
Anyone who has seen Christine, or knows of her whereabouts, is asked to report it to Dyfed-Powys Police, either online at https://bit.ly/DPP101Online, by emailing email@example.com, or by calling 101.
If you are deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908, quoting Ref: DP-20220812-040.
Discover Carmarthenshire launches 100% Carmarthenshire Larder Trails
TO HELP their visitors to eat and drink local and authentic produce, Discover Carmarthenshire has developed three new online guides, the 100% Carmarthenshire Larder Trails for them to follow. The three Larder trails can be viewed here.
With every season bringing the freshest local produce to the county’s markets, delis, farm shops and even the shoreline, as well as an increasing appetite for foodie focused travel experiences, the new trails help visitors head straight to the ‘source’ with some truly authentic experiences to be enjoyed along the way.
The ultimate aim is to help make the picnic, campsite cook up or holiday cottage kitchen supper feature as much Carmarthenshire produce as possible ensuring tourism secondary spend supports the local economy.
Discover Carmarthenshire enlisted the help of three food and travel writers who each spent time in the county researching their trails, locating the tastiest addresses to recommend. Kacie Morgan from The Rare Welshbit who lives in Cardiff covered the west, Binny’s Food and Travel from London hit the east and Carmarthenshire based travel writer Jade Braham, explored her mid county food and drink favourites.
Each trail breaks down advice under different categories including best places for produce market shopping, morning coffee, lunch, treats, hands on tasting experiences, take homes and dinner dates.
From pop up markets to coffee roastery cafes, to cheese makers, vineyards, bottle shops, butchers and delis, visitors following the trails are led on a self guided eating, drinking journey around the county meeting the makers themselves, the farmers, foragers, baristas and gelato producers adding to their experience.
Discover hidden milkshake vending machines down winding county roads and family-run cafes and delis tucked away in market towns, as each guide suggests the best of local eats and drinks.
The Eastern Larder Trail covers the Aman Valley, Llandeilo, Llanelli, the Western Larder Trail explores Laugharne, Whitland, St Clears and Newcastle Emlyn and finally the Mid County Larder Trail focuses on Carmarthen, Kidwelly and Llansteffan. The whole county is covered including experiences such as a low intervention vineyard tour and tasting, to gin and rum distilleries, cookery classes and coastal foraging.
As well as focusing on classic Welsh produce, the trails also celebrate diversity and guide visitors to where they can enjoy Asian curries and tapas cooked up using the freshest local veg followed by a visit to the county’s most famous cheese producer or a drive to a market to search out laverbread, Carmarthenshire’s very own caviar.
The guides also include recommended places to stay (Larder Sleepovers) where the food journey continues – from a new self-catering apartment above the Caws Cenarth dairy, to Mansion House restaurant with rooms and views over Carmarthen Bay, or Cowpots campsite with its own pizzeria and ice cream parlour.
To view the three 100% Carmarthenshire Larder Trails go to: https://www.discovercarmarthenshire.com/explore/carmarthenshire-larder-trails/.YvOdLS8w35Y:
Carmarthenshire based company supplies kit to Wales Commonwealth Team
A LLANELLI based business, that has received financial support from Carmarthenshire County Council, has won the contract to supply the Wales Commonwealth Team’s training leggings.
Onesta has only been trading since June 2020 but is already kitting out the likes of Rosie Eccles, Anwen Butten and Alys Thomas as they represented Wales at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
The leggings were designed by University of South Wales students Beth Jones and Olivia Soady, who won a design competition set by Commonwealth Games Wales in partnership with the University. Beth and Olivia worked in partnership with Onesta to produce 360 pairs of leggings using sustainable, recycled materials.
Since it commenced trading, over two years ago, Carmarthenshire County Council has supported Onesta, not only during the COVID-19 pandemic but also to realise the company’s long-term ambitions. In June 2021, Onesta was awarded an Economic Resilience Fund grant of £2,500 by Carmarthenshire County Council as support to cover the business bills during the COVID-19 restrictions of May and June 2021. They were also awarded a £2000 Non-Domestic Rates Grant during the COVID-19 support schemes in February 2022.
In April 2022, Onesta was awarded a Business Growth & Recovery Grant of £10,000 to assist with the purchase of manufacturing equipment and workshop and office furniture. The grant money will fund a cutting table, overlockers, cutting machine, industrial iron, industrial sewing machine and lockstitch, which would assist in the manufacturing of the clothing for the Wales Commonwealth Team for the 2022 Games.
The company’s founder, Gabriella Diana, was nominated by the Council for the Wales Start Up Awards in 2021 in which she went on to win the Rising Star category.
Since then, Onesta has also won the Marie Claire Sustainability Award for Best Sustainable Small Brand 2021, UnLtd Social Entrepreneur Award, and was a finalist in the Cardiff Life Awards 2021 and the GBEA Awards 2021.
Onesta was highly commended in the Heroes of Net Zero competition at a special awards ceremony, hosted by Intuit, at the COP26 international climate change summit in Glasgow. More than 160 businesses entered the competition, making a commitment at the UK Business Climate Hub to achieve net zero by 2050, in line with the government’s own climate commitment. They were highly commended in the micro business category for demonstrating a range of measures taken on their journey to net zero, including sourcing eco-friendly materials locally, removing toxic chemicals used in manufacturing and re-purposing fabric scraps to make sustainable products for Surfers Against Sewage.
Gabriella Diana, Founder and Owner of Onesta said “I was over the moon when we found out that the Wales Commonwealth Team had chosen us to supply their leggings. The past few months have been very busy as we have been measuring the athletes and creating the garments. I’m so pleased to see them being worn on the international stage next week.
“I’m very grateful to Carmarthenshire County Council for the financial support we have received to, not only survive the COVID-19 restrictions but also to build the business and strive.”
Since launching the Business Growth & Start-Up Grant scheme in early 2022, Carmarthenshire County Council has approved 61 business grants to Carmarthenshire businesses. Of which 44 approvals were Business Growth & Recovery Grants, totalling £299,225.17 and 17 approvals were Business Start Up Grants, totalling £117,924.31.
Cllr Gareth John, Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Leisure Culture and Tourism said “As a local authority, we are delighted to have been able to invest in Gabriella and her company to enable her to grow the business. We are also very proud to have provided financial support to Onesta, and other companies based in Carmarthenshire, to weather the difficult COVID-19 restrictions of the past two and a half years.
“We have all enjoyed watching Wales’ athletes compete at the recent Commonwealth Games and the fact that they are wearing a kit that is made in Carmarthenshire has been a source of much pride for Carmarthenshire County Council.”
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