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Boris Johnson news latest: UK threatens to ditch NI protocol as Stormont talks begin

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‘Frustrating’ lack of flexibility from EU over protocol, says Northern Ireland secretary

Boris Johnson’s government has threatened to rip up the Northern Ireland protocol unless the EU agrees to back down amid heightened diplomatic tensions over the impact of post-Brexit trade rules.

The Independent understands that foreign secretary Liz Truss is pushing for unilateral action unless Brussels agrees to remove checks on goods at the border.

Meanwhile, Brandon Lewis, the Northern Ireland secretary has suggested the government was ready to “do what we need to do” to override the protocol.

On the prospect of legislation to override the protocol, Mr Lewis added: “We’ve always said we take nothing off the table, and that hasn’t changed. We will do what we need to do … There is a point we will have to make some decisions.”

It comes as Mr Lewis will meet the leaders of the main parties at Stormont later on Monday to press for the return of devolved government, with Sinn Fein’s Michelle O’Neill in line to become the first nationalist or republican first minister after Thursday’s election. The Stormont Executive has been unable to fully function since February.

Key points

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UK ministers not giving ‘fair assessment’ of EU position on trade talks

Taoiseach Micheal Martin has defended the approach taken by the EU towards the Northern Ireland Protocol.

He said: “I don’t think the assessment that is coming from the British government is a fair assessment of the EU’s position. I think the European Union has been flexible, has demonstrated flexibility, but every time up to now that the European Union has demonstrated flexibility, it hasn’t been reciprocated.

“And that has made the EU more cautious in terms of the discussions with the United Kingdom Government.”

The Irish premier said he believes that, following the assembly elections, agreement can be reached between the UK and the EU on the protocol.

“I think the moment is now for both the EU and the UK,” he said.

“The British Government wants to bring this to a conclusion

“Any further sort of negative developments on this front will prove that Brexit isn’t being done.

“I think all of us now have to have due regard to stability within the North, to the full workings of the institutions of the Good Friday Agreement.”

Tom Batchelor9 May 2022 09:41

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Tory minister says Starmer resignation ‘decision for Keir’

Asked whether the Labour leader should step down if he was given a fine amid a probe into whether he broke lockdown rules, universities minister Michelle Donelan told Sky News: “That’s a decision for Keir, not for me. My constituents are saying that this whole thing smacks of sheer hypocrisy given the relentless focus he has placed on partygate.

“I think this is a decision for him, he’s going to have to search his soul after making this a top priority over the last few months at the expense of key issues like rising cost of living, etc, but look this is a decision for him.”

Tory MPs are in a difficult position, as calling for for Sir Keir to resign would suggest Boris Johnson should also quit, with the prime minister having already been fined for a lockdown breaking event.

As polling expert Chris Curtis tweets:

Tom Batchelor9 May 2022 09:19

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Poll suggests public backs foie gras ban as ministers ‘ditch’ policy

Amid reports that a ban on fur imports and foie gras have been dropped by the government from tomorrow’s Queen’s Speech over fears it could anger backbench Tory MPs, a new survey suggests that the public would overwhelmingly support such a move.

MRP polling found nearly three quarters (72 per cent) of voters in 20 of the most marginally held Conservative seats want to see the government pass more laws to protect animals.

Some 77 per cent across the UK want the government to ban the importation of animal products, such as fur, where production methods are banned in the UK, the polling suggested.

Support for banning fur and other similar imports reached 79 per cent in Cabinet members’ constituencies, the polling commissioned by a coalition of animal rights charities, including the Humane Society International, the RSPCA and PETA.

Constituencies in the former Red Wall also showed strong support for additional animal protection legislation, with seven in 10 (70 per cent) supporting import bans on products such as fur.

Claire Bass, executive director of Humane Society International/UK, said: “Our new poll leaves no doubt that we’re a nation of animal lovers, and that the British public expect the government to deliver more animal protection laws.

“In terms of showing it is in tune with public opinion, banning the importation of cruelly produced products, such as fur and foie gras, is an open goal for Number 10.

“We urge Boris Johnson to ensure that the forthcoming Queen’s Speech delivers on the Conservative’s 2019 manifesto promise to better protect animals, both at home and abroad.”

The polling was run on the Focaldata platform. Data was collected from a nationally representative sample of 10,018 adults between 11 and 20 April 2022. Using the polling data, Focaldata completed a constituency-level analysis using MRP modelling.

Tom Batchelor9 May 2022 08:53

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Northern Ireland stability ‘in peril’ unless protocol ditched, says Raab

Deputy prime minister Dominic Raab suggested over the weekend that Northern Ireland Protocol checks need to be scrapped to resolve power-sharing at Stormont following Sinn Fein’s election success.

Asked if Downing Street was ready to take action to tear up the deal without consent with Brussels, Mr Raab said “that option has not been taken off the table”.

The justice secretary told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge On Sunday that “stability is being put at risk, imperilled if you like, by the problems with the Northern Ireland Protocol”.

He added: “It’s clear from the dynamic that we now see that we won’t get to that position of stability unless and until [the protocol] is fixed.”

Read the full report here:

Tom Batchelor9 May 2022 08:31

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DUP tells UK government: It’s either the Stormont executive or the protocol

After fresh assembly elections last week saw Sinn Fein become the first nationalist or republican party to emerge top at Stormont, the DUP warned that the administration could only reconvene if the NI protocol was ditched.

The DUP as the second largest party must nominate a deputy first minister to serve alongside Sinn Fein Stormont leader Michelle O’Neill in the joint office.

However DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has signalled the UK government must act over concerns about the post-Brexit trading arrangements before his party will nominate ministers to a new executive.

On Sunday, Sir Jeffrey’s party colleague Jonathan Buckley said: “Either the secretary of state wants an executive, or a protocol – he can’t have both.”

Tom Batchelor9 May 2022 08:12

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Streeting defends Starmer over Durham dinner

Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting has said the idea that Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer is avoiding scrutiny is “simply not true” amid claims from his opponents of a lockdown-breaking dinner that the party insists was within the rules.

Asked about why Sir Keir has cancelled an event on Monday, Mr Streeting told BBC Breakfast: “I have no idea why he cancelled the event and I certainly didn’t ask before I came on because I think it’s such a trivial issue.

“The idea that Keir has been dodging questions … I mean he’s been out all weekend, even after a local election campaign where we did very well, he’s been out thanking Labour teams, particularly in the places that we did particularly well in these elections.”

Mr Streeting added that Sir Keir has faced journalists “wherever he’s been”, adding: “The idea that Keir is somehow ducking scrutiny is simply not true.

“He’s led from the front during this local election campaign. Labour has done very well, particularly in places that we need to win in order to win the next general election.”

Tom Batchelor9 May 2022 07:38

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‘Keir Starmer should not resign if fined over Beergate’

Cabinet minister Jacob Rees-Mogg has suggested Sir Keir Starmer should not resign if he is fined by Durham Police over the beer and takeaway meal with colleagues during lockdown.

Mr Rees-Mogg – who has previously dismissed the Partygate scandal as “fluff” – said the Labour leader should be left to get on with more important matters.

It comes despite senior Tories’ attempts to step up pressure over the “Beergate” saga, with ministers demanding Starmer address “holes” in his account over the curry eaten at a Labour event last April.

Namita Singh9 May 2022 07:00

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Far-right group ‘distributed fake Labour and Tory leaflets’ in bid to sway elections

A far-right group mocked up fake Labour and Conservative party leaflets as part of attempts to mislead voters during two parliamentary by-elections, according to a new documentary.

Patriotic Alternative (PA) sought to persuade voters through their use of propaganda against voting for either the Labour Party or the Conservatives, the film claims.

The group distributed thousands of fake leaflets that purported to be from Labour and published by the Trades Union Congress (TUC), according to the Dispatches programme to be aired on Channel 4.

The leaflets were handed out in the run up of the 2021 Batley and Spen by-election, the constituency of Labour MP Jo Cox – who was murdered by far-right extremist Thomas Mair outside her surgery office.

My colleague Lamiat Sabin has the details:

Namita Singh9 May 2022 06:49

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Secretary of State meets with Stormont parties to press return to government

The Northern Ireland Secretary will meet the leaders of the main parties at Stormont later to press for the return of the devolved government.

The Stormont Executive has been unable to fully function since February when first minister Paul Givan resigned as part of the DUP’s efforts to force action against the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Fresh Assembly elections returned a historic result at the weekend with Sinn Fein overtaking DUP to become the first nationalist or republic party to emerge on top at Stormont.

This means Sinn Fein leader Michelle I’ Neill is in line to become the first nationalist or Republican first minister.

Namita Singh9 May 2022 06:29

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Sadiq Khan meets ex- New York Mayor at start of US tour

Sadiq Khan met with ex-New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg as he began a US tour aimed at bolstering the British capital’s tourism and tech industries.

Tweeting about catching up with his “good friend” Mr Bloomberg, the London mayor wrote: “Hello from the Big Apple! Great to catch up with my good friend Mike Bloomberg for coffee here in NYC”.

Earlier, Mr Khan had announced about his tour in a tweet and had written: “I’m heading to the US this week to encourage our American friends to experience everything London has to offer.

“From the East to the West coast, I’ll be banging the drum for our city and making some major announcements.”

Namita Singh9 May 2022 06:28

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/boris-johnson-news-latest-keir-b2074413.html