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Lord Frost says he wants PM to stop making ‘factually incorrect statements’

Lord Frost, the former Brexit minister, has said he wants Boris Johnson to stop making “factually incorrect statements”.

Speaking six years after the EU referendum, at an event organized by think tank UK in a Changing Europe, he claimed Brexit was working but called on Brexit supporters to be ‘honest’ on the compromises linked to leaving the EU.

Asked about the Prime Minister’s claims that there were more people at work now than before the pandemic, which has been criticized by the Office for National Statistics, the former Brexit minister said:

I wish he didn’t say things like that that are obviously not true, making factually incorrect statements.

But at the end of the day, it’s up to the Prime Minister’s own party and MPs to decide how they want to do things or not.

He denied that Brexit caused a breakdown in confidence in British politics.

Britain’s exit from the EU should be seen as a “gateway” to a “wider project of national renewal” for the UK.

Britain’s ‘political elites’ have ‘forgotten how to govern’ in the EU, he claimed, but that would improve over time.

He said:

The task now is to design and carry out a meaningful supply-side reform program focused on building the economy’s productive capacity.

But, he warned, the government would have to “massively up its game” if Brexit is to lead to “visible economic gain”.

If Brexit is still being debated the same way five or six years from now, he says, it would be “proof of failure”.

Of honesty over compromise, he said:

I think it would be much better to be honest about these things and show where the possibility of doing things better really exists instead of pretending that nothing is happening.

Prime Minister visits Rwanda as voting gets under way in crucial by-elections

Boris Johnson visited the Rwandan President this morning as voting began in Wakefield and Tiverton and Honiton, where the Tories face two vital by-elections.

The Prime Minister is in Kigali where he visited Paul Kagame at his office following heavy criticism over his deportation policy to the East African country.

Last night, before boarding his plane, he called on critics to stop their “condescending” attitudes towards Rwanda.

Tomorrow he faces a potentially awkward ‘cup of tea and catch-up’ with Prince Charles in Kigali after the heir to the throne slammed the government’s plan to fly people there one-way as ‘appalling’.

After driving to the entrance of the president’s office, the AP reports, he walked up some red-carpeted stairs and shook hands with the president.

They then proceeded to the President’s meeting room next door where they sat in white armchairs in front of a Union flag and a Rwandan flag.

Mr Johnson said: ‘How are you? Very good to see you. What an exciting time to be here in Rwanda. Congratulations on your assumption of office as President of the Bureau. It will be absolutely stunning.

Mr. Kagame said: “It is a pleasure. Thanks.”

Media were then asked to leave the room.

Meanwhile, in the UK, both seats were held by the Conservatives before by-elections were called following the resignation of two MPs in disgrace. Labor are the clear favorites to win in Wakefield and the Tories are in a tight race with the Lib Dems in Tiverton and Honiton.

Polling stations, which opened at 7 a.m., will close at 10 p.m. and results are expected overnight.

As Peter Walker, the Guardian’s political correspondent, reported this morning, the results will be seen as a hugely important verdict from voters on Boris Johnson’s premiership. A double defeat should revive speculation about a new challenge to the leadership of his party.

These are the 15 candidates running in Wakefield, including Tory Nadeem Ahmed, Labour’s Simon Lightwood and Jamie Needle for the Lib Dems.

Eight candidates are running in Honiton and Tiverton, including Richard Foord of the Lib Dems, Helen Hurford for the Conservatives and Liz Pole for Labour.

Walker writes:

The by-elections were called after the respective MPs resigned in disgrace. Imran Ahmad Khan resigned in Wakefield after being found guilty of sexually assaulting a teenager, while Neil Parish resigned in Tiverton and Honiton after watching pornography in the Commons.

The West Yorkshire seat was secure before Khan took it to the Conservatives in 2019, and Labor are the clear favorites to win on Thursday. The Devon constituency, on the other hand, is seen as neck and neck between Tories and Liberal Democrats, although the seat in its various guises has been strongly Tory for over a century.

Parish won in 2019 a majority of more than 24,000 people. If the Lib Dems win, that’s billed as the biggest majority ever to be overturned in this way, although there have been higher percentage swings.

Losing Tiverton and Honiton would be likely to particularly worry Tory MPs given not only the size of the majority, but also the fact that it would be another rural, Brexit-friendly Tory stronghold to switch to the Lib Dems in less than six months. In December the Lib Dems took over North Shropshire, toppling a Tory majority of nearly 23,000 after former MP Owen Paterson resigned following a lobbying scandal.

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