Internal Market Bill
The Brexit legislation enabling Boris Johnson to alter key parts of the Withdrawal Agreement cleared a major Commons hurdle on Tuesday night. The Internal Market Bill cleared its committee stage after an amendment tabled by the Government to head off a Tory backbench rebellion was accepted without the need for a vote. Mr Johnson was last week forced to agree to give MPs a vote before ministers can use powers related to Northern Ireland which would breach the divorce deal and international law. While the legislation will return to the Commons next week, ministers intend to delay its final stages in the House of Lords until after a crunch EU summit in mid-October where they hope to sign off on a trade deal. This would likely mean that the Bill would not return to the Commons again until December, just weeks before the transition period ends.
Ministers are to delay the final stages of controversial legislation to rip up parts of Boris Johnson’s withdrawal agreement until just days before a potential no-deal Brexit. In a move being seen as an attempt to assuage European concerns, ministers have indicated that the internal markets bill may not be debated in the House of Lords until after a make or break summit with EU leaders in mid-October. The bill is then not expected to return to the Commons, after committee and report stages in the Lords, until December at the earliest.
FRANCE will use the threat of a no-deal Brexit to pressure MPs into opposing Boris Johnson’s plans to rip up the Withdrawal Agreement. President Emmanuel Macron wants the European Union to target splits within the Conservative Party to force the Prime Minister to drop his Internal Market Bill. He believes the row over whether Ministers should be able to scrap EU rules in Northern Ireland as part of the fix to avoid a hard border after Brexit could be used as “leverage” in the bid to force Mr Johnson to climbdown. French Europe minister Clement Beaune insisted Brussels should issue a take-it-or-leave it ultimatum to MPs, forcing them to choose between a trade deal with the bloc or the Prime Minister’s legislation.
The European Commission will look into legal remedies at the end of the month if Britain does not adjust the parts of a domestic bill which breaches the Brexit divorce deal agreed last year, EU Commission Vice-President Maros Sefcovic said on Tuesday. Sefcovic, speaking after a meeting of Europe ministers in Brussels, said that the Commission, which is negotiating on behalf of the 27 EU members, was asking London to withdraw the contentious parts of the bill by the end of September. “After that we would look into the question of legal remedies,” he told a news conference.
EUROCRATS are working on the assumption Britain will quit the European Union without a Brexit deal, it has emerged. Key economic forecasts are being drawn up on the basis the wrangling over a free-trade agreement will end in failure for the bloc. The renewed sense of urgency comes as Germany accused Boris Johnson of “playing games” ahead of a crunch period for the UK-EU talks. And France was urging the bloc to use splits within the Conservative party to encourage the Prime Minister to drop plans to overrule key areas in his Withdrawal treaty with the bloc. European Commission officials were said to have already made changes to their “Autumn Economic Forecast” to include the impact of Britain quitting its EU transition without an agreement at the end of the year.
BRUSSELS is planning for the future on the basis of a No Deal with Britain, it has emerged. Eurocrats will issue their next economic forecast for the bloc expecting such an outcome, EU sources said. It came as Germany and France blasted No10 over the Internal Market Bill, which overrides parts of the Withdrawal Agreement. The bloc’s Europe ministers met today (Tuesday) to thrash out their response to the Bill. Germany’s Michael Roth said: “Please, dear friends in London, stop the games. Time is running out.” France’s Clément Beaune warned no trade deal would be agreed unless the Bill was pulled.
The European Union’s chief negotiator will head to London on Wednesday for informal post-Brexit talks with the UK Government. Michel Barnier ‘s visit is intended to prepare for next week’s formal negotiating round but comes as relations between Boris Johnson’s administration and Brussels are under severe strain. A row over the UK’s apparent readiness to break international law by tearing up parts of the Brexit divorce deal relating to Northern Ireland has soured relations. Talks on a trade deal are continuing, but both sides have said major stumbling blocks remain and time is running out to get an agreement.
GERMANY has warned Boris Johnson and the UK’s negotiating team to “stop the games” over Brexit as time runs out to agree on a deal. Informal negotiations are set to take place between Michel Barnier and his counterpart, David Frost tomorrow as the pair look to thrash out a deal. Ahead of the talks, Germany’s Europe Minister, Michael Roth has demanded the UK drop the demands made in the Internal Market Bill. At a meeting of EU ministers in Brussels, Mr Roth also warned time is now running out for the two sides to agree a deal.
A record number of migrants were expected to reach Britain yesterday after crossing the Channel in what many saw as the “last opportunity” to make the treacherous journey before wintery weather sets in. As many as 500 headed for Dover marina, where arrivals were forced to queue to be allowed onshore due to the volume of traffic. Lifeboats were sent out at 8am to collect people after Border Force vessels became full. At least 27 boats carrying people including young children and a double amputee had arrived at the marina by 10.30am.
Boris Johnson has announced sweeping new lockdown restrictions, including pub curfews and a return to working from home, as he warned that the country had reached “a perilous turning point“. Warning that the latest measures could remain in place for up to six months, the Prime Minister confirmed that all hospitality venues will be forced to close by 10pm from Thursday. In a major U-turn, he also told MPs that office workers will be encouraged to work from home where it was possible to do so. The “rule of six” has been tightened, with exemptions for indoor team sports removed, the return of spectator sports shelved and weddings halved in size to 15 people. Requirements for wearing masks will be extended to hospitality staff, retail workers and passengers travelling in taxis, with businesses facing fines of up to £10,000 if they break the coronavirus rules.
Boris Johnson has warned the weary British public to summon their resolve for a tough winter ahead, as he refused to rule out a second national lockdown to contain the spread of the coronavirus. Speaking in a televised address after announcing new rules across England he appeared to suggest “freedom-loving” Britons will be to blame if more draconian restrictions are applied. “If people don’t follow the rules we have set out, then we must reserve the right to go further,” he said. The new restrictions for England include a 10pm closing time for pubs and restaurants, a renewed ban on indoor team sports, and stricter rules on mask-wearing.
Boris Johnson last night urged the nation to summon discipline, resolve and a spirit of togetherness to meet a second wave of coronavirus this winter. He used a televised address to brace the country for “difficult months to come” with the risk of “many more deaths” as the virus was once again growing exponentially. The prime minister warned that he could not rule out a second national lockdown if people failed to follow the tougher restrictions that he had earlier announced in the Commons, and said that there “had been too many breaches” in recent months.
In declaring his refusal “to listen to those who say let the virus rip, nor to those who urge a permanent lockdown”, Boris Johnson on Tuesday laid bare the Covid-19 conflict splitting the country in two. Yet the stark demarcation also characterises the Cabinet divide as the Government continues to grapple with the “lives versus livelihoods” debate. The Prime Minister’s ongoing desire to keep both factions happy was plain to see as he announced only limited new measures to tackle the spike in coronavirus cases.
Furious Tory MPs have turned on ‘authoritarian’ Boris Johnson as he ordered the British public to obey his draconian new coronavirus restrictions – or face an economically devastating second national lockdown. The panicking Prime Minister warned Britons last night they faced a long hard winter of police-enforced curbs on their freedom, saying the alternative was ‘many more families losing loved ones before their time’. In a dramatic televised address to the nation, Mr Johnson, flanked by a Union Jack, said he was ‘deeply, spiritually reluctant’ to make new ‘impositions, or infringe anyone’s freedom’ after unveiling new measures in the House of Commons.
Companies need another round of emergency state support to survive new pandemic restrictions and mitigate the threat of mass redundancies, employers’ groups warned. Business representatives said there was widespread dismay and shock at the prime minister’s warning that new rules intended to curb a “perilous” increase in the spread of Covid-19 could be in place for the next six months, saying that would prove “fatal” for many employers. Andrew Bailey, governor of the Bank of England, said the government should stop and rethink the end of its job retention scheme, which underwrites the wages of furloughed staff.
Boris Johnson has been accused of delivering a “crushing blow” to struggling businesses by bringing in new coronavirus measures without extra support. Pubs, cafes and their suppliers could go bust under the new rules which order hospitality venues to restrict trading hours between 10pm and 5am from Thursday, industry groups warned. And the u-turn on getting people back into the work place threatens to derail the economic recovery, business leaders said. Businesses were also warned by the Prime Minister that they face fines of £10,000 and could be closed if they breach new Covid-19 regulations.
White-collar employers were reversing plans to bring more employees back to offices last night and resigning themselves to many more months of most staff working from home. The Confederation of British Industry said that the changed government guidance on returning to work was a “crushing” blow that would have a “devastating impact”, especially on city and town centres devoid of millions of commuters. The Institute of Directors said that “the back and forth on offices will cause frustration”.
Business lobby groups have warned that the prime minister’s U-turn on encouraging office workers back to their desks is “extraordinarily reactive and extraordinarily disruptive” and risks “derailing an already fragile recovery”. Unions said Johnson should “get a grip” of his advice on the safety of workplaces after the prime minister on Tuesday told office workers in England that they must work from home “if possible”. The new work-from-home advice comes just three weeks after the government urged companies to bring millions of white-collar workers back to their desks, in part to help revive city centre economies.
THE Tory government was forced into another massive U-turn today as it advised people to work from home if they possibly can. Ministers — in tandem with the right-wing press — had spent weeks encouraging home-workers to return to workplaces despite the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. But PM Boris Johnson axed that policy in a Commons address today, as part of a string of new measures which he said could last up to six months. Announcing the measures today, the PM told MPs: “First, office workers are being asked to work from home. But if people need to go to work, they should continue to do so.”
Boris Johnson has declared 2.2million of the nation’s most vulnerable people do not need to ‘shield’ again despite a surge in coronavirus. The Prime Minister warned the UK was at a “perilous turning point” after the alert level rose to four for the first time since June – and 4,926 new cases were recorded today. Yet despite outlining a string of restrictions and telling people to work from home if they can, the Prime Minister offered no new advice to the millions who shielded. Instead he said: “Our guidance continues to be that you do not need to shield – except in local lockdown areas.”
BORIS JOHNSON has confirmed that people who were originally told to shield during the coronavirus pandemic will not be asked to do so again unless they live in an area that is under local lockdown. The Prime Minister stated that following advice from senior medical advisers the Government had decided that vulnerable people will not be asked to shield unless under a local lockdown. Mr Johnson added that this latest coronavirus measure will be kept under constant review throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The Prime Minister said: “I want to speak directly to those who were shielding earlier in the pandemic and who may be anxious at being at greater risk.
Lockdown restrictions could see elderly people in care homes going without a visit for more than a year, a leading charity has warned. On Tuesday night, Age UK said new Government guidance gives local public health bosses a de facto power to issue blanket bans on visiting which risk resulting in premature deaths due to lack of contact. While acknowledging the need to keep vulnerable residents secure from Covid-19, the charity said the virus was “only one of two enormous risks that have to be managed”.
LOCKDOWN-free Sweden is beating coronavirus and there is evidence the epidemic could already be over, a leading expert says. Scientists believe the policy of refusing to shut the country down helped build “herd immunity” – and prevent a second wave. Sweden now has its lowest number of new cases since March, with just 28 infections per 100,000 people. That is less than half the UK’s infection rate of 69 per 100,000. France’s rate is seven times higher than Sweden as a second wave hits and in Spain it is ten times higher. Sweden has kept infections low despite being the only nation in Europe not to introduce tough lockdown measures in the spring.
Liberal Democrats are to drop the party’s commitment to UK membership of the EU in a vote at next weekend’s virtual annual conference, The Independent has learnt. A resolution, agreed by the party’s federal policy committee on the weekend and likely to dismay some activists, does not make rejoining the EU a formal goal. The move will cause a major bust-up at Sir Ed Davey’s first conference as leader, with activists tabling an amendment insisting on a commitment to rejoin. Instead, the motion commits the party to “keep all options open” for the UK’s future relationship with the 27-nation bloc in the longer term, including the possibility of rejoining “at an appropriate future date to be determined by political circumstances”.
The first shared bank branches are to open before Christmas as part of a trial to improve access to cash in communities with few or no financial outlets. The Post Office will start operating shared banking hubs in empty high street shops that will offer counter services such as checking balances and paying in cash and cheques. The largest banks will have the option of sending branch managers for meetings on different days of the week. For example, Lloyds could visit the hub on a Monday, HSBC on a Tuesday, Santander on a Wednesday and Barclays on a Thursday, and on Friday a charity could run a debt advice service.
The National Trust has come under fire after it published a list of nearly 100 properties under its management that it says have links to slavery and colonialism. Members have threatened to cancel their subscriptions and historians have accused the Trust of being ‘unfair’ after the homes of Winston Churchill and Rudyard Kipling were among the 93 properties. Critics have accused the ‘out of touch’ Trust of ‘woke virtue signalling’ and ‘alienating’ fee-paying members who say the organisation is simply jumping on the Black Lives Matter bandwagon. The 115-page report, released on Monday, gives extensive history and details shedding light on the links they have identified between 93 properties under their guardianship and colonialism and the slave trade.
Plans to allow people to self-identify as a different gender without a medical diagnosis have been axed, two years after the government signalled the change. Ministers have decided there are already “proper checks and balances in the system and also support for people who want to change their legal sex”. Theresa May’s administration explored simplifying the process, which many trans people have attacked as intrusive, demeaning and bureaucratic. They must apply to a panel for a gender recognition certificate, supplying two reports from a doctor or psychologist stating they have suffered from gender dysphoria.
Tory ministers have scrapped plans to make it easier for trans people to change their legal gender after a bitter three-year fight. In a major U-turn, Equalities Minister Liz Truss ditched a vow to “demedicalise” the process of getting a gender recognition certificate – which is needed to change a person’s passport or birth certificate. Instead she announced two smaller changes – applications will move online and the £140 fee will be reduced. Trans people will still need a medical diagnosis of “gender dysphoria”, evidence they have lived in their assumed gender for two years, agreement from their spouse, and to have their bid approved by a panel of medics and judges.
Misogyny is a step closer to being classified as a hate crime, the Law Commission has said. A new consultation by the body, which is responsible for reviewing laws, will look at whether those who abuse women due to their gender should face tougher sentences. As it stands, gender is not a protected characteristic or group under hate crime law and campaigners want that to change. Currently protected by law in England and Wales are race, religion, sexual orientation, disability and transgender identity.