Michael Gove ‘super cool’ with tearing up protocol – Wednesday morning
European Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic said it was “simply not acceptable” for the UK to threaten to unilaterally suspend parts of the Northern Ireland protocol.
In a statement following his call with Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, Mr Sefcovic said: “It continues to be of serious concern that the UK government intends to embark on the path of unilateral action.”
Ms Truss had set the scene for a furious Brexit spat with Europe, telling Brussels the UK has “no choice but to act” over the protocol.
Emergency legislation to override key elements of the protocol is expected to be published within days, negotiated by Boris Johnson in 2019 to avoid a hard border between the Republic and the North after Brexit.
It will effectively bring down the curtain on talks lasting more than a year in which the UK has been demanding the relaxation of checks on goods imported into Northern Ireland from the British mainland as a result of Mr Johnson’s decision to draw a customs border down the Irish Be.
No 10 denies Johnson planning emergency budget
Downing Street has denied that ministers are preparing an emergency budget to deal with the cost-of-living crisis after the Prime Minister suggested in the Queen’s Speech debate on Tuesday that there would be more help in the days to come.
However, in an LBC interview, Mr Johnson indicated there would be additional support over the summer rather than waiting for the Budget in the autumn to act.
“There is more coming down the track. July and so on,” he said.
“But what we will do is use all the ingenuity and compassion that we have and the fiscal firepower that we have as a result of the strong economic growth we had coming out of the pandemic.
“Our growth will return very strongly in the next couple of years.”
His comments follow the first meeting this week of the Government’s cost-of-living committee, where he instructed ministers to come forward with proposals to ease pressure on household budgets.
In a statement ahead of the Cabinet meeting, Downing Street said the Government “will continue to examine what more we can do to ease the pressures on hard-working people and families” over the “coming months”.
Tom Ambrose12 May 2022 12:39
Johnson not among latest Partygate ends
Boris Johnson has not received any further fine in the latest tranche of fixed penalty notices for lockdown breaches at No 10 announced by the Metropolitan Police today, Downing Street has said.
Tom Ambrose12 May 2022 12:13
DUP will wait to see what UK Government proposes over Northern Ireland Protocol
DUP MP Sammy Wilson said his party will want to wait to see what the UK Government proposes over the Northern Ireland Protocol.
“We’ll not welcome this until we actually know what the Government intends to do, when it intends to do it, and what impact it is going to have,” he told BBC Radio Ulster’s Good Morning Ulster programme.
Asked whether it is enough for the DUP to nominate a Speaker and ministers during the first sitting of the newly-elected Assembly on Friday, Mr Wilson replied: “Of course it’s not, not until we see what is actually proposed.
“We have had these promises before and they haven’t been acted on.”
Mr Wilson added: “Ministers are approaching us on a daily basis now, indicating that the Government recognizes that the protocol is causing a huge problem, that the EU are imposing the protocol in a way which was never, ever intended, and the Government is getting a bit fed up with that and are now prepared to do some acting.
“Let’s face it, we have the implementation of the protocol in the most petty, draconian way by the EU, who are using it simply to teach the UK a lesson.”
Tom Ambrose12 May 2022 11:51
Sefcovic: It is “simply not acceptable” UK to make protocol threats
European Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic said it was “simply not acceptable” for the UK to threaten to unilaterally suspend parts of the Northern Ireland Protocol.
In a statement following his call with Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, Mr Sefcovic said: “It continues to be of serious concern that the UK Government intends to embark on the path of unilateral action.”
He said the UK’s approach, with suggestions Ms Truss is readying a law to suspend parts of the Brexit treaty in relation to goods checks between Northern Ireland and Great Britain, was despite the European Union putting forward proposals that “would substantially improve the way the protocol is implemented”.
Mr Sefcovic continued: “I am convinced that only joint solutions will work. Unilateral action, effectively disapplying an international agreement such as the protocol, is simply not acceptable.
“This would undermine trust between the EU and UK as well as compromise our ultimate objective – to protect the Good Friday (Belfast) Agreement in all its dimensions, while ensuring legal certainty and predictability for the people and businesses in Northern Ireland.
“Such unilateral action will also undermine the conditions which are essential for Northern Ireland to continue to have access to the EU single market for goods.”
Tom Ambrose12 May 2022 11:41
Tories ‘just can’t get Brexit done’, says Labor MP
The Labor MP Peter Kyle has cast doubt over the Tory government’s ability to “get Brexit done” and highlighted a pledge to not renegotiate the deal with the EU.
He said: “With this government we’ve had one continuous renegotiation and it is ever ending. They just can’t get Brexit done.
“If they withdraw from the treaty they break the law, break a manifesto promise and be forced to immediately start renegotiating a new arrangement.”
Tom Ambrose12 May 2022 11:24
Priti Patel has hit back at London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s plan to consider whether cannabis should be decriminalized in the UK, saying he has “no powers to legalize drugs”.
The Home Secretary said Mr Khan’s time would “be better spent” focusing on tackling crime in the capital after he announced he was launching a commission to assess the effectiveness of UK drug laws, PA Media reported.
Mr Khan praised the “high standards” of legalized cannabis farms in the US during a tour of the country, as he announced the formation of the new group to consider the decriminalization of the drug in Britain.
In a rebuke on Twitter, Ms Patel said: “Sadiq Khan’s time would be better spent focusing on knife and drug crime in London. The Mayor has no powers to legalize drugs. They ruin communities, tear apart families and destroy lives.”
Tom Ambrose12 May 2022 11:06
Minister criticizes drunkenness in Westminster
A minister has condemned drunkenness in Westminster after it was reported that nine alcohol-fueled security incidents had been caused by parliamentary staff in a single month.
Five of the breaches involving “intoxicated persons” in March were referred to the serjeant-at-arms, according to a freedom of information request submitted by Times Radio.
Asked about the incidents, some of which resulted in Commons passes being suspended, justice minister Victoria Atkins told the program on Thursday: “I do, yet again, find myself saying ‘this is a place of work’.
“This is not how people should be conducting themselves in the workplace.”
Tom Ambrose12 May 2022 10:52
Liz Truss tells EU she has ‘no choice’ but to act on Northern Ireland protocol
Foreign secretary Liz Truss has set the scene for a furious Brexit spat with Europe, telling Brussels the UK has “no choice but to act” over the Northern Ireland protocol.
Following a call with European Commission vice president Maros Sefcovic, a Foreign Office spokesman said Ms Truss made clear the UK’s “over-riding priority is to protect peace and stability in Northern Ireland”.
Ms Truss said that the protocol was “the greatest obstacle” to forming a new Northern Ireland executive.
The spokesman said: “The Foreign Secretary noted this with regret and said the situation in Northern Ireland is a matter of internal peace and security for the United Kingdom, and if the EU would not show the requisite flexibility to help solve those issues, then as a responsible government we would have no choice but to act.”
Tom Ambrose12 May 2022 10:27
More than 100 fines handed out over Covid law-breaking, says Met Police
The Metropolitan Police has announced that the number of fines handed out to government staff for law-breaking parties during Covid lockdown has doubled to more than 100.
Scotland Yard said last month that 50 referrals had been made to criminal records office for fixed penalty notices over parties in Downing Street and Whitehall.
More on this breaking news as it develops.
Tom Ambrose12 May 2022 10:22
Coveney: EU expects international agreement to be honored
Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney has criticized the recent “rhetoric” from the British Government over post-Brexit arrangements for Northern Ireland.
His comments come amid concern in EU capitals that the UK is set to scrap parts of the Northern Ireland Protocol.
“The EU simply expects that international agreement be honored and is willing to be extremely flexible in how it is implemented,” he said.
Mr Coveney rejected the suggestion that the EU has refused to compromise, pointing to proposals from Brussels which he said will significantly reduce some checks in the Irish Sea.
“The majority of MLAs that have been elected to the new Assembly want to see the protocol work,” he told RTE radio.
“There is a way forward, there is a landing ground.”
Tom Ambrose12 May 2022 10:15