Too much Brexit ‘red tape’, says Keir Starmer
A senior DUP MP has warned that the Northern Ireland Protocol has “the potential to cause political instability” as his party called on the government to remove it and restore the nation’s ability to trade freely with the rest of the UK post-Brexit.
Sir Jeffrey Donaldson told MPs that Northern Irish businesses were experiencing “enormous difficulties” with their supply chains and warned it was the government’s “responsibility” to act.
He said: “That is why we are calling on them to use their powers under the protocol to take the necessary action through Article 16 to resolve the diversion of trade, the disruption in trade between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and to restore the citizenship rights of the people of Northern Ireland to trade freely with the rest of the UK, a freedom they have enjoyed for 200 years.”
It came as Scotland’s former first minister Alex Salmond claimed that there was a “malicious and concerted” attempt by members of the Scottish government and the SNP to see him removed from public life.
Mr Salmond alleged a number of officials were involved in efforts to damage his reputation in relation to the handling of harassment allegations against him.
World’s poorest countries could be charged for ‘surplus’ vaccines, minister suggests
Some of the world’s poorest countries could be charged for access to the UK’s “surplus” vaccine supplies, a government minister has suggested.
Foreign Office minister Lord Ahmad repeatedly refused to rule out making developing nations pay, triggering fresh criticism of the uncertainty over when jabs will be sent overseas.
Our deputy political reporter, Rob Merrick, has the full story below:
Conrad Duncan23 February 2021 11:15
Local government pensions invest nearly £10bn in fossil fuels, data shows
Nearly £10bn remains invested in fossil fuel companies through local government pensions, it has been revealed.
Figures obtained via freedom of information requests show that local authority pensions invested £9.9bn in fossil fuels in the financial year of 2019 to 2020 – a 40 per cent decrease on the amount invested in fossil fuels in 2017.
Our climate correspondent, Daisy Dunne, has the full story below:
Conrad Duncan23 February 2021 10:53
Johnson’s union unit hit by ‘troubles’, Scottish Tory leader admits
Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross has admitted that the government unit tasked with countering support for Scottish independence has been hit with “troubles and difficulties”.
His comments follow the exit of two leading figures from the union unit this month, amid reports of tensions over strategy.
Our reporter, Adam Forrest, has the full story below:
Conrad Duncan23 February 2021 10:27
Labour’s David Lammy labels culture secretary as ‘authoritarian minnow’
Labour’s shadow justice secretary has called culture secretary Oliver Dowden an “authoritarian minnow” over reported plans to warn heritage organisations against focusing heavily on Britain’s imperial history.
Mr Dowden will be holding a round table event with 25 heritage organisations on Tuesday to discuss the presentation of the UK’s history, with a focus expected on the country’s role in slavery.
“Oliver Dowden is an authoritarian minnow for threatening to withdraw funding from our cultural institutions that don’t toe the government’s line,” David Lammy wrote on Twitter.
“Perhaps he should apply to be culture secretary in Russia?”
Conrad Duncan23 February 2021 10:14
G7 ministers condemn ‘intimidation and oppression’ of Myanmar protesters
Foreign ministers from G7 nations have condemned the “intimidation and oppression” of protesters in Myanmar following a military coup in the country.
The group, including foreign secretary Dominic Raab, warned on Tuesday that anyone responding to peaceful protests with violence “must be held to account”.
Protests against the junta continued on Tuesday after two demonstrators were shot dead over the weekend.
“Use of live ammunition against unarmed people is unacceptable. Anyone responding to peaceful protests with violence must be held to account,” the joint statement said.
“We condemn the intimidation and oppression of those opposing the coup.
“We raise our concern at the crackdown on freedom of expression, including through the internet blackout and draconian changes to the law that repress free speech.”
It added: “The systematic targeting of protesters, doctors, civil society and journalists must stop and the state of emergency must be revoked.”
The UK currently holds the presidency of the G7, which includes Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the US, plus the European Union.
On Monday, Myanmar’s ambassador to the UK was summoned to the Foreign Office for the second time this month.
Conrad Duncan23 February 2021 09:54
What time is Nicola Sturgeon’s lockdown announcement today?
Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon will set out more detailed plans for lifting her nation’s lockdown restrictions today as part of efforts to move back to normality amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Ms Sturgeon has said her plan will be “broadly similar” to the one announced by Boris Johnson for England on Monday, although regional restrictions will eventually return in Scotland.
Our reporter, Matt Mathers, has the full story below:
Conrad Duncan23 February 2021 09:38
Former minister shares experience of being UK’s first public HIV-positive MP
Former Cabinet minister Chris Smith has spoken about his experience of becoming the first public HIV-positive MP in the UK.
The former Labour MP, who served as culture secretary from 1997 to 2001, told Times Radio about the phone call he shared with Nelson Mandela after revealing his diagnosis.
You can find his comments below:
Conrad Duncan23 February 2021 09:22
A number of written ministerial statements are due to be made in the House of Commons today, including two from Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove.
Mr Gove will give a statement on the meeting of the Withdrawal Agreement Joint Committee and an update on the UK-EU Trade and Co-operation Agreement.
The full list of statements expected today can be found below:
- Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office: Meeting of the Withdrawal Agreement Joint Committee.
- Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office: UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement: update on provisional application.
- Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs: GuarantCo: Callable Capital Agreement.
- Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs: Remedial order to address State Immunity Act 1978 – European Convention on Human Rights incompatibility.
- Chancellor of the Exchequer: Double Taxation Convention between the United Kingdom and Sweden.
- Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government: Extension to Bailiff Enforcement Regulations.
Conrad Duncan23 February 2021 08:57
UK unemployment rate jumps to 5.1 per cent
The UK’s unemployment rate rose to 5.1 per cent last month – a five-year high – as the coronavirus pandemic continued to inflict economic damage, new figures have shown.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said on Tuesday morning that the jobless rate was up 0.4 percentage points on the previous quarter and up 1.3 percentage points on a year earlier.
Our reporter, Tom Batchelor, has the full story below:
UK unemployment rate jumps to 5.1%
Jobless rate hits highest level in five years as data reveals 307,000 people away from work because of pandemic and receiving no pay in December
Conrad Duncan23 February 2021 08:41
Starter urges ministers to back British farming post-Brexit
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer will urge the government to back British farming by encouraging people to buy more British food, as part of his speech to the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) today.
Sir Keir is expected to seek to highlight Labour’s support for high food and farming standards, which the NFU has fought to maintain after Brexit, and argue that 10 years of Conservative government has weakened rural communities.
“No party can claim to represent the country if we don’t represent the countryside,” he is expected to say.
“Farming matters to Labour, the British people and to the families and communities that make farming possible.”
The Labour leader will also call on the government to look at whether more of the £2.4bn public spending on catering could be spent with British producers, addressing concerns that the post-Brexit farm funding scheme will not keep farmers afloat.
In addition, he will say that Labour’s proposed British Recovery Bond to boost investment in the aftermath of the pandemic will tackle the “permanent insecurity” faced by businesses and landowners in flood-hit communities.
Conrad Duncan23 February 2021 08:26