Afzal Khan, Labour MP for Gorton in Greater Manchester, says he ‘may have broken Boris Johnson’ after grilling the PM on passport waiting times.
During yesterday’s PMQs, the Prime Minster was seen grimacing as Mr Khan addressed him over the the long turnaround times for passports.
The politician said that he had also received a late-night ‘angry letter’ from Home Secretary Priti Patel, accusing him of ‘scaremongering’.
Travellers are currently being advised to allow up to 10 weeks for new passports to be processed, owing to a surge in demand for international travel after the pandemic.
The Passport Office has insisted that there is ‘no backlog in passport processing’ but that there has been an ‘unprecedented demand’ for British passports now that travel restrictions have been lifted.
Mr Khan began his address to the House of Commons by saying: “Mr Speaker, I’d have more sympathy for the words ‘Get on with the job’ if it had actually started in the first place,” a statement that was greeted with laughter.
He then said: “Two weeks ago, the Prime Minister told the House: ‘To the best of my knowledge, everybody is getting their passport within four to six weeks.’
“However, the passport office is currently quoting a 10 week service time, with many of my constituents waiting well over that period.
“Cancelled summer trips could cost families over £1bn. Does the PM accept that the passport office backlog is placing additional pressure on families already struggling with the cost of living crisis?”
Mr Johnson insisted that 91% of people are receiving their passports within six weeks, and that hundreds more staff are helping the Passport Office to catch up with demand.
He added that the huge demand is a sign of ‘the robustness of the economy’.
Sharing a clip of their exchange in the Commons, the Gorton MP said: “I think I may have broken @BorisJohnson.”
He later posted: “I clearly cut too close to the bone with my question on passport delays yesterday because at half past ten last night @pritipatel sent me an angry letter accusing me of scaremongering ¯_(ツ)_/¯”
The Passport Office advises: “We urge people who need a new passport to apply for one as soon as possible to ensure their passport arrives in time for the peak summer season. We do offer urgent services for applicants who need a passport more quickly. However, in busy periods these are booked quickly.
“Customers can also help to ensure there are no delays with their application, such as using a high quality photo with a digital code, applying online and applying for a new passport more than 10 weeks before they are due to travel.
“And it is important to stress, you should not book travel until you have a valid passport – your new passport will not have the same passport number as your old one.”
Featured image: Parliament TV
Three Greater Manchester restaurants named in top 100 places to eat in the UK
Three Greater Manchester restaurants have been named among the top 100 places to eat in the UK.
As per data compiled by food review and booking site, OpenTable, a trio of Manc eateries made it onto their official list of the best restaurants in the UK.
Now, we are by no means surprised to see 0161 represented on this list — we have some of the best food in the world here, FACTS — we were just expecting there to be more local names on it, but it’s still good to see that the picks weren’t just city-centre venues.
Without further ado, after collating thousands of reviews, here are the selections for 2022:
Gaucho is the Argentinian steak house located just off Deansgate on St. Mary’s Street that serves up some of the most perfectly-cooked meat and accompaniments you’ll find anywhere in town. The brand may have expanded to 17 different sites across the nation, but they’re not compromising on quality.
The five-star establishment is a favourite among famous faces like the City squad and according to one reviewer, it is “just the most beautiful experience… first class”. It’s no wonder it won best restaurant in Manchester earlier this year.
Next up is the beloved Kala Bistro located on King Street. The place specialises in combining fine dining with comfort food and never fails to deliver, so it just had to end up on this list. Owned by Gary Usher of Hispi in Didsbury, Kala had a following from minute one.
It’s a favourite among The Manc office, but don’t just take our word for it. One person wrote: “I cannot recommend this amazing restaurant enough. Food was wonderful, the staff were amazing. The overall experience was fantastic. Definitely will be returning”. High praise and well deserved in our books.
And then we come to a pick that really put on a smile our faces: The Cherry Tree at Blackrod over in Bolton. Renovated over lockdown, this place was always lovely but post-makeover its food has been better than ever. Most importantly, reviewers seem to agree.
The independent restaurant promises unpretentious, classic and seasonal cooking, local ingredients wherever possible and a “gorgeous ambience”. Not only do they deliver tried and tested favourites but they always manage to put a modern British twist on things. Give it a try.
Police appeal for information regarding ‘serious assault’ around Old Trafford before United game in October
Greater Manchester Police (GMP) are appealing for fresh information on a “serious assault” committed around the Old Trafford area earlier this year.
GMP issued a press release on Friday, 9 December, asking for members of the public to come forward and share any details they might have on the attack carried along Seymour Grove in Trafford around 1:30pm on 16 October 2022.
They go on to explain that “a man in his 20s was assaulted by a group of unknown males” on the way to the game at Old Trafford, adding that “it is believed that the suspects were also attending the Manchester United vs Newcastle United match.”
It remains unclear whether or not the assailants were travelling fans in town to support the away side but GMP are looking to speak to the men pictured as they may be able to help with enquiries.
As detailed in the statement, “the victim suffered a severely broken jaw, a broken nose, numerous cuts to the face, and damage to the nerves of four teeth which he is likely to need further medical treatment for.” Terrible stuff.
The authorities are continuing to investigate the Seymour Grove assault after having followed up on a number of lines of enquiry since the incident took place and are now asking for the public’s help.
Anyone with information, or anyone who may have footage/images, or can identify the men in the photos, can contact Greater Manchester Police on 101, quoting log number 1589 on 16/10/22; or, alternatively use the Live Chat service HERE.
Alternatively, information can be shared anonymously via the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.