Boris Johnson news – latest: UK scrapping Northern Ireland protocol ‘simply not acceptable’, says EU

Liz Truss

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<p>Liz Truss</p>
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(AP)

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 begin on the path of unilateral action.”

Foreign secretary Liz Truss had 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.

Ms Truss’s warning is expected to be followed within days by the publication of emergency legislation to override key elements of the protocol, negotiated by Boris Johnson in 2019 to avoid a hard border between the Republic and the North after Brexit.

It effectively brings 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 Sea .

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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 begin 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

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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

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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

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Minister criticizes drunkenness in Westminster

A minister has condemned drunkenness in Westminster after it was reported that nine alcohol-fuelled 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

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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

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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 the 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

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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

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Bellfield marriage request ‘absolutely appalling’ – prisons minister

Prisons minister Victoria Atkins said she has ordered an immediate review into the request of serial killer Levi Bellfield to get married in prison, branding the proposed nuptials “absolutely appalling”.

She claimed the news called into question the workings of the Human Rights Act, saying Bellfield currently has a right under Article 12 to have his application for a wedding considered.

Asked on Sky News about the request, Ms Atkins said: “Absolutely appalling. I’ve ordered an immediate review into this when it came to light last night.

“I just want to reassure people, I understand an application has been made that has not been decided yet and he most certainly has not yet married, but, if I may, he’s currently got the right under Article 12 of the Human Rights Act to get married … or they have the right to have the application to be considered by prison governors.

“I very much welcome the debate we’re about to have about the Bill of Rights and looking at human rights for the United Kingdom for the 21st century. Believe me, I’ll be raising this.”

Tom Ambrose12 May 2022 10:00

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Tory MP refuses to apologize for ‘common sense’ claim food bank users can’t cook properly

A Conservative MP has doubled down on his controversial comments claiming poor people use food banks because they “cannot cook properly” and “cannot budget”.

Lee Anderson sparked widespread outrage by claiming there is not “this massive use for food banks”, urging Labor MPs to visit a charity in his Ashfield constituency where people get cooking lessons.

Mr Anderson was unapologetic when asked about his remarks on Thursday – claiming that people “would be able to fend for themselves” with the right education.

The Tory MP told Times Radio: “There are generations of people there who simply haven’t got the skills to budget properly and go shopping and do a proper weekly shop, like we did back in the day.”

Tory MP claims there is no ‘massive use’ for food banks in UK

He added: “The point I was making was that there are a lot of people out there that with the right help, and the right support, and the right education, they would be able to fend for themselves.”

Mr Anderson said he was not “being a nasty Tory”, before adding: “I’m glad that it’s caused all this fuss. Because it brings that debate out.”

Tom Ambrose12 May 2022 09:42

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Labor says Government should cancel NI rise

Lisa Nandy has called on the Government to cancel the rise in national insurance contributions and reiterated Labour’s calls for an emergency budget.

She told BBC Breakfast: “I think the Government should cancel the rise in national insurance contributions – I think that is causing real havoc for a lot of families across the country and we opposed the cuts to Universal Credit.”

On removing the £20 uplift, she said: “That is a lot of working families who are now unable to make ends meet.

“In my constituency now, our local food bank says they’re not just giving out food parcels to working families – to parents in work – they’re giving out cold boxes to families because people can’t actually afford to cook the food because they can’t afford their energy bills.

“So, if you put those things together, you get real payment to the people who most need it very quickly and then you’ve got to take the long-term action, such as retrofitting homes to improve energy insulation – that creates jobs, it creates growth, it gets money back into local economies.

“There’s lots of ways in which the Government can help now and can help to preserve and build resilience in the economy, and in family budgets, for the future.

“But that’s why we have been calling for an emergency budget, but so far we’ve had absolutely nothing from this Government, and it beggars belief at a time when people are struggling.”

Tom Ambrose12 May 2022 09:24

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