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Treasury minister Lord Agnew resigns at dispatch box over government handling of Covid business fraud – live

Latest updates: Lord Agnew says it would be ‘dishonest’ for him to stay in role as he makes shock resignation

Minister resigns in protest at handling of fraudulent Covid loansI don’t trust PM not to leak interview with Sue Gray, says CummingsJohnson orders inquiry into Nusrat Ghani ‘Muslimness’ sacking claimsScrap national insurance rise, says ex-minister David DavisCoronavirus – latest global updates

The national insurance increase is partly a tax rise for individuals but partly a tax rise for businesses too, because employees’ and employers’ national insurance contributions are both going up, and this morning the Institute of Directors are released data suggesting that firms will respond by putting up prices and hiring fewer staff.

Around 500 firms replied to the survey, and 38% said they would “raise prices to offset some or all of the cost” in response to the national insurance increase, and 19% said they would “employ fewer people”.

The forthcoming rise in employers’ national insurance contributions is of real and genuine concern to business leaders, particularly those running small and medium sized businesses that are the growth engine of our economy.

Our data shows that the tax rise is itself inflationary at a time when prices are already rising fast. Faced with the forthcoming increase in the cost of employing their teams, many businesses are planning to raise prices to offset the cost and/or rein in on their hiring plans.

Members of the Metropolitan Police’s Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command who were on duty when a string of lockdown-breaking gatherings are alleged to have taken place have provided detailed testimonies about what they witnessed …

While police officers cannot be compelled to speak to Ms Gray – unlike Downing St staff – it is understood they were “only too willing” to co-operate.

One idea being discussed by [MPs] is to send subject access requests to Mark Spencer, the chief whip. The requests allow people to use data protection law to demand personal data an organisation holds about them.

Doing so, the MPs believe, would force Spencer to disclose within a month any messages, emails and texts discussing potential consequences for disloyalty — either directly to the MPs or in exchanges among the whips office.

Three sources told The Independent they have not divulged messages and pictures on their phones after a senior member of staff told them to remove anything that could fuel speculation in the wake of the first party revelations.

Messages in a WhatsApp group were said to contain photographs of people drinking and dancing, as well as references to how hungover people were the next day.

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