Friday morning news briefing: Tory chairman Oliver Dowden quits

·7 min read
Friday morning UK news briefing: Today's top headlines from The Telegraph
Friday morning UK news briefing: Today's top headlines from The Telegraph

In the end, it was much worse than the Tories had feared. Boris Johnson's leadership was plunged into a fresh crisis early today, with two crushing by-election defeats that prompted the resignation of Oliver Dowden as chairman of the Conservative party.

After the Prime Minister's humiliating double loss overnight, Mr Dowden said it was the "latest in a run of very poor results for our party" and, in a bruising attack, added: "Somebody must take responsibility."

Read his 5.30am resignation letter to the Prime Minister, who said he will "listen" to voters but will "keep going".

The Tories lost Tiverton and Honiton to the Liberal Democrats as Sir Ed Davey's party overturned one of the biggest Conservative majorities in the country in the biggest by-election defeat in British history.

In Wakefield, Labour took back control of the Red Wall constituency that Mr Johnson won in 2019. Nick Gutteridge and Will Bolton have our reports from the counts.

Nigel Farage argues that, without change, the Tories are on course for a 1997-style wipeout.

It leaves Mr Johnson's leadership having been rocked while he is out of the country, at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Rwanda.

The resignation of Mr Dowden will inevitably spark speculation on whether other senior Tory figures could quit.

Mr Johnson won a vote of confidence in his leadership at the start of this month, but some senior Tories this morning said the by-election results should prompt him to "reconsider his position".

For the latest updates throughout the day, follow coverage from our Politics Live Blog Editor Jack Maidment.

Prime Minister hits brakes on drive for green biofuel

Boris Johnson will relax the push to use green fuel, amid concerns that the initiative could contribute to the cost of living crisis.

The Prime Minister wants to reduce the amount of biofuel used in the UK, despite it being a key part of his government's net zero ambitions.

The production of biofuel uses wheat and maize, and Mr Johnson wants the land to instead be used for producing more food to help combat soaring prices.

Meanwhile, after the Government pleaded for working people to accept a real-terms pay cut to prevent price rises spiralling out of control, it has emerged that millions of retired public sector workers are to be handed an extra £2,000 in their pensions.

Deputy economics editor Tim Wallace says the country's finances risk running away from Chancellor Rishi Sunak as the economy teeters on the brink of reversal.

The surprising story behind Murdoch and Hall's split

He announced himself as the "happiest man in the world" when he married Jerry Hall six years ago, so what lies behind the couple's split?

With the media mogul and the ex-model seemingly heading for the divorce courts, friends say it may not be an entirely amicable break-up. Sources in the Murdoch camp are already suggesting that the tycoon has complained about his wife's behaviour.

Associate editor Gordon Rayner has the surprising story of the couple's marital wars – and woes.

Daily dose of Matt

In today's cartoon, Matt finds a gag in the airports holiday chaos. Also, view today's political cartoon by Davey on the Prime Minister's strike woes.

Also in the news: Today's other headlines

Strikes 'timed' for holidays chaos | Summer holidays face a fresh threat. After British Airways ground crew and baggage handlers at Heathrow airport voted overwhelmingly for strikes, ministers believe the next round of RMT rail strikes will also target the school break after negotiations again broke down last night with no resolution. Downing Street expressed its alarm at yet another transport strike, but insisted the dispute was out of its control. Here are the expected strike dates.

Around the world: 'Two-year' global food crisis

Russia's invasion of Ukraine is guaranteed to cause a two-year global food crisis – even if the war ends tomorrow, Western officials have warned, as Ukraine struggles to export its crucial grains. Officials are bracing for supplies to suffer a long hangover after Russia placed mines in Ukraine's seaports and caused severe disruption to production in the "breadbasket of Europe". As Tom Rees reports, the Kremlin has been accused of weaponising global food supply as prices soar.

Food aid is delivered to residents in Novoselivka, Ukraine - OLEG PETRASYUK/EPA-ETE
Food aid is delivered to residents in Novoselivka, Ukraine - OLEG PETRASYUK/EPA-ETE

Comment and analysis

Today's PlusWord – and yesterday's solution

Try today's PlusWord, which our deputy puzzles editor Michael Baker solved in 1min 26sec. Can you beat him? Yesterday's solution: VOCAL.

Sport briefing: Southgate warned over protests

Qatar’s World Cup chief has warned Gareth Southgate that any England protest would lack credibility without a visit to the country to learn more about its human rights record. The England squad and Football Association are in talks with counterparts from other nations over some sort of public statement in Qatar. But, as chief sports reporter Jeremy Wilson writes, there is frustration in Doha at the prospect of action without hearing the other side. In tennis, Andy Murray has revealed he was left "angry and upset" when he learnt for the first time about a sexual assault on his mother Judy that happened eight years ago.

Editor's choice

  1. 'I'll have the earplugs' | William Sitwell on the rise and rise of restaurant volumes

  2. Porsche Cayenne | 20 years after its launch, the car that saved the company

  3. Who Do You Think You Are? Review | How not to repeat the mistakes of our parents

Business briefing: Nuclear sub deal to go ahead

Kwasi Kwarteng is poised to approve the US takeover of one of Britain's most sensitive defence companies after a transatlantic diplomatic row. The Business Secretary is prepared to agree to the £2.6bn purchase of Ultra Electronics, which makes vital equipment for nuclear submarines, following promises made by its buyer. As Howard Mustoe reports, it comes after US officials threatened to limit defence co-operation with Britain if the deal was blocked. Meanwhile, a damning report has exposed mining's culture of sexual harassment and abuse.

Tonight's dinner

One-pan rice-and-goat's cheese stuffed peppers | This dish by Eleanor Steafel is perfect for a midsummer supper.

Garden tips: Perennial plants to survive the summer

Garden plants are rather like members of a choir. There are always one or two divas that take centre stage for a brief period, outshining everything, and others that will only perform if conditions are perfect. This summer – with the recent sunny weather and upcoming heatwave – might be a tough balancing act. If you are looking to give your garden a new lease of life, Val Bourne says these plants are good bets.

And finally... for this morning's downtime

Genius or scoundrel? | Baz Luhrmann's new Elvis Presley biopic shines a light on the musician's relationship with his ruthless manager, Colonel Tom Parker. The "villain" has been accused of exploiting his star to death, but James Hall says the music industry owes him a great debt as he goes in search of the truth.

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