London politics news LIVE: Boris Johnson’s allies warned not to pressure police on partygate
Russian attack ‘likely to begin with aerial assault’
US national security adviser Jake Sullivan said it is likely a Russian attack on Ukraine would begin with aerial bombing, missile attacks and then a ground invasion of “a massive force”.
Warning US citizens to leave the country immediately, he said: “If you stay, you are assuming risk with no guarantee that there will be any other opportunity to leave and no prospect of a US military evacuation in the event of a Russian evasion.
“If a Russian attack on Ukraine proceeds, it is likely to begin with aerial bombing and missile attacks that could obviously kill civilians without regard to their nationality.
“A subsequent ground invasion would involve the onslaught of a massive force.
“With virtually no notice, communications to arrange a departure could be severed and commercial transit halted.”
US security adviser warns possible Russian invasion of Ukraine could come before end of Olympics
US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan warned that a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine could come before the end of the Winter Olympics.
Speaking from the White House, he said: “We continue to see signs of Russian escalation including new forces arriving at the Ukrainian border.
“As we’ve said before, we are in the window of when an invasion begins at any time should Vladimir Putin decide to order it.
“I will not comment on the details of our intelligence information but I do want to be clear it could begin during the Olympics despite a lot of speculation that it will only happen after the Olympics.
“Any American in Ukraine should leave as soon as possible and in any event in the next 24 to 48 hours.”
Downing St: PM ‘fears for security of Europe’
Downing Street said Mr Johnson had told world leaders during a call on Friday that he feared for the security of Europe due to the situation in Ukraine.
“He impressed the need for NATO Allies to make it absolutely clear that there will be a heavy package of economic sanctions ready to go, Russia should make the devastating and destructive decision to invade Ukraine,” a No10 spokesperson said.
Britons told to leave Ukraine immediately
The Government has told all British nationals to leave Ukraine immediately as tensions escalate over a possible invasion of Russia.
The Foreign Office issued the advice on its website saying “British nationals in Ukraine should leave now while commercial means are still available.”
The FCDO is now also advising against all travel to Ukraine.
The number of Britons in Ukraine is understood to be in the low thousands.
Many of them are believed to live in the country, with some married to Ukranians, or with business interests, and so some of them may remain.
More here from our political editor Nicholas Cecil.
Labor MP reacts to withdrawal of whip over racism allegations
Labor MP Neil Coyle has had the party whip suspended following allegations that he made racist comments to a journalist on the Parliamentary estate.
Reacting to the news of his suspension, he said in a statement: “I am truly sorry for my insensitive behavior last week which has led to me having the Labor whip suspended.
“I’ve apologised to everyone involved and will continue to do so.
“I’m devastated to be in this situation through my own fault and will comply with the investigation and take every step necessary to improve myself. I hope to re-prove my Labor values and have the whip restored in due course.”
Tony Blair says UK ‘risks going back to the Seventies’
Former prime minister Tony Blair has warned the UK “risks going back to the Seventies” if Boris Johnson does not focus on Britain’s economic issues.
He told The Times: “We are in danger of going back to the Seventies. Without reliving the pain of Brexit, it was a revolution. Its consequences aren’t over.
“We need to establish a new consensus with Europe and tackle the climate and energy crisis.
“Then we have the technology revolution that is every bit as far reaching as the Industrial Revolution and we can’t get left behind.”
Nearly 200 daily Covid deaths recorded
A further 193 people have died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid, bringing the total to 159,158, the Government said.
These figures now include deaths in England following possible reinfections of Covid.
Separate figures published by the Office for National Statistics show there have been 182,000 deaths registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.
There were 58,899 cases of Covid-19 reported in the UK on Friday, the Government said, which includes reinfections in England and Northern Ireland that are more than 90 days after a previous positive test.
The total is based on positive lab-confirmed PCR tests in all four nations of the UK, plus most positive lateral flow tests reported in England and all lateral flow tests reported in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
UK & EU to continue talks on Northern Ireland Protocol
The EU and UK Government have said they will hold “intensive discussions” in the coming days as they continue to attempt to break the deadlock over the Northern Ireland Protocol.
EC vice president Maros Sefcovic and Foreign Secretary Lizz Truss met in London on Friday.
Ms Truss had earlier said finding a solution to the protocol dispute was an “absolute priority”.
A brief joint statement released after the meeting said: “European Commission Vice-President Maros Sefcovic and the UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss met on February 11 at Carlton Gardens in London.
“This was their third in-person meeting.
“They agreed on the need for progress in their talks in the interest of people in Northern Ireland, to stay in close touch and that officials will continue intensive discussions in the coming days.”
Wallace ‘not optimistic’ about Ukraine situation
Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said he is not as optimistic as he used to be about quelling the crisis on the Ukrainian border.
He told a press conference in Moscow: “I think the direction of travel has been against the direction of the diplomatic travel over the last few weeks.
“We’ve seen continued build-up of forces as we’ve seen a build up of diplomacy, and you would hope that, actually… one goes up, one goes down – and I think that is why my optimism is not as (optimistic) as I used to be, or can be.
“And I’m hoping that the beginning today is an effort to try and see if there is a way forward to make sure we do de-escalate.
“We’ll keep trying. I think the international community is trying very hard – obviously President Macron’s visit, Prime Minister Johnson spoke to President Putin… recently as well. And indeed, I think the new Chancellor of Germany is coming to visit next week.”