Boris Johnson latest news: PM to visit Northern Ireland amid protocol row at Stormont

Boris Johnson promises ‘compassion’ to get people through cost of living crisis

Boris Johnson is set to visit Northern Ireland next week as the deepening crisis over the protocol could leave the NI Assembly unable to function.

The prime minister’s planned visit for Monday comes after the DUP blocked the election of a speaker at Stormont.

DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said he is sending a clear message to the EU and UK government over the Northern Ireland protocol.

Speaking before the first meeting of the new Assembly, he said: “I am here with my Assembly team today for the first sitting of the Assembly. My members will be signing the roll and taking their seats for the first time.

“As I have made clear this morning we have taken the decision not at this stage to support the election of a speaker.”

The decision has been strongly criticised by the other four main parties at Stormont, including Sinn Fein’s northern leader Michelle O’Neill who called it “shameful”.

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Tories ‘bottling’ out of plans to tackle childhood obesity, says Labour

Labour has accused the Tory government of “bottling” out of its own proposed plans to tackle obesity among children.

PM Boris Johnson has reportedly scrapped his plans of limiting junk food advertising on TV to after the 9pm watershed.

The plans also included a ban on buy-one-get-one-free deals on unhealthy food.

Andrew Gwynne, Labour’s shadow minister for public health, said: “Yet another u-turn. The Tories voted for the 9pm watershed for junk food advertising just weeks ago, but are now bottling it.

“Boris Johnson’s desperation to cling onto his job means the ideology of Conservative MPs is being placed above children’s health.”

Lamiat Sabin13 May 2022 18:30

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Wakefield CLP executive committee members resign en masse

The entire executive committee of Wakefield’s local Labour group has resigned in a row over the party’s candidate selection for an upcoming by-election.

The by-election has been triggered by the resignation of Tory MP Imran Ahmad Khan after his conviction for sexually assaulting a boy.

The Constituency Labour Party’s (CLP) executive say they are quitting in protest at the lack of a local candidate.

Members have also accused the National Executive Committee (NEC) of allegedly not keeping to the party’s rules about by-elections.

The Wakefield by-election was triggered by Khan’s sexual assault conviction

(Dominic Lipinski/PA)

A statement from the Wakefield CLP said: “We asked for local candidates, but there are none. Three prominent council and local Labour candidates, including the deputy council leader didn’t even make it onto the ‘long list’.

“A short list of four was requested by our representative on the panel to give members some choice but the NEC members insisted on just two.”

It added: “Representations to Party Officials at the highest level have got absolutely nowhere with some queries not even answered.

“As a consequence, the constituency executive (comprised of local branch representatives and constituency officers) decided last night to resign en bloc with effect from the Sunday selection meeting.”

Lamiat Sabin13 May 2022 18:00

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External candidates ‘will be considered for civil service senior jobs’

All senior civil service jobs are to be advertised externally following recruitment changes taking effect today, the government announced.

Ministers said the move will help source a more diverse range of leadership candidates, and allow for jobs to be moved out of London.

All 7,000 senior civil service positions will be covered by the new policy.

It follows news that PM Boris Johnson is tasking his Cabinet with cutting about 90,000 civil service jobs, which has resulted in unions warning of potential nationwide strike action.

The government is looking at ways of moving senior civil servant jobs out of London

(Victoria Jones/PA)

Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Steve Barclay, who has written to cabinet ministers to outline the changes, said: “Civil servants do a great job delivering public services for people up and down the country, and just like in any high-performing business in the private sector, employees thrive when there is diversity of leadership.

“The pathway to achieving this aim is to ensure the civil service is able to select from amongst the widest possible pool of talent so we can hire the highest calibre staff. This will also contribute to our commitment to levelling up opportunity across the UK by moving roles out of London.

“We want to reduce the size of the civil service so it comes back down to the levels we had in 2016 but it remains important that, when we do recruit, particularly for leadership roles, we are able to bring in the best possible candidates for every position.”

Lamiat Sabin13 May 2022 17:30

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UK and Norway agree ‘historic’ pact for ‘security and prosperity’

The UK and Norway have signed a new joint declaration stating the countries will work together to boost “security, sustainability and prosperity” in Europe and beyond.

PM Boris Johnson and his Norwegian counterpart Jonas Gahr Store made the agreement in London today, where they were said to have “underscored their full support” for any choice by Nordic partners to enhance their security in fear of aggression by Russia.

Boris Johnson appears pumped for his meeting with Norway’s PM

(PA)

It comes after leaders in Finland announced, less than two months after Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine, that they backed the country joining Nato. Sweden is also expected to decide on joining Nato in the coming days.

According to No 10, Mr Store observed that the new “historic” declaration will mean Norway co-operates “more extensively with the UK than any other country in the world”.

Mr Johnson [R] with Jonas Gahr Store at Downing Street

(PA)

Downing Street said the leaders agreed on the need for Nato allies to back Ukraine politically, taking a “unified approach” that “avoids giving [Vladimir] Putin licence to further twist the knife in the wound”.

The new joint declaration on the UK-Norway relationship focuses on seven key areas: security and defence; global challenges; energy, economic and investment co-operation; climate change and environmental issues; research and innovation; culture and education; and strategic dialogue and institutional exchanges.

Lamiat Sabin13 May 2022 17:00

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PM to visit Northern Ireland amid protocol row at Stormont

Boris Johnson is set to visit Northern Ireland next week as the deepening crisis over the protocol could leave the NI Assembly unable to function.

The prime minister’s planned visit for Monday comes after the DUP blocked the election of a speaker at Stormont.

DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said he is sending a clear message to the EU and UK government over the Northern Ireland protocol.

Speaking before the first meeting of the new Assembly, he said: “I am here with my Assembly team today for the first sitting of the Assembly. My members will be signing the roll and taking their seats for the first time.

“As I have made clear this morning we have taken the decision not at this stage to support the election of a speaker.”

The decision has been strongly criticised by the other four main parties at Stormont, including Sinn Fein’s northern leader Michelle O’Neill who called it “shameful”.

The developing story can be read here:

Lamiat Sabin13 May 2022 16:47

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Tory chairman Dowden denies mocking partygate scandal

Conservative Party chairman Oliver Dowden has denied making fun of the partygate scandal after an image came to light of a bottle of champagne he donated to a charity auction.

Food critic Jay Rayner tweeted a photo of the bottle that was signed by PM Boris Johnson before it had been donated for an event in Hertfordshire.

The item was touted to bidders as a “souvenir of partygate” – the saga sparked by parties being held at Downing Street during Covid lockdown.

A description for the bottle appears to mock “the exemplary behaviour and morality of our dear leader” Mr Johnson, who was one of the people that have been fined over the Downing Street parties.

A spokesperson Mr Dowden confirmed he had donated the bottle, but insisted he had “no prior knowledge” of its description.

The charity behind the fundraiser, the Hertfordshire Community Foundation, said that the bottle was donated “in good faith”. In another tweet, it apologised for “any offence caused”.

Lamiat Sabin13 May 2022 16:30

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Charity refutes MP’s claims that food bank users ‘cannot cook’

A charity has responded to an MP’s comments that made claims about people in poverty and their cooking skills.

Tory MP Lee Anderson, on Wednesday, said in the House of Commons that people wh are using food banks are doing so because they are not able to budget their money or cook properly.

He also claimed that a meal could cost as little as 30p to make.

The Food Foundation – in an 11-part Twitter thread – refuted Mr Anderson’s claims.

The charity said that food poverty “isn’t caused by people not knowing how to cook” and that “cooking from scratch isn’t always cheap”.

It said studies show that low-income groups have higher levels of confidence in their cooking skills but that the actual problem is not having enough money in the first place.

This squeeze on the finances is also made worse by rising costs of gas and electricity needed to cook meals at home, the charity added.

It also tweeted: “Claims a meal can be made from scratch for 30p a day are based off cooking in bulk for a family of 5 for a week – something not everyone can afford/has facilities for. It includes cost of ingredients but not rising energy costs.”

Lamiat Sabin13 May 2022 16:00

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‘New Cold War’ calls for stronger UK army, Conservative MPs say

Tory backbenchers are calling for increased defence spending and warned that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has marked the start of a “New Cold War”.

There should be a “meaningful” increase in spending on the armed forces and weapons stockpiles, the Conservative MPs have suggested in a report published today.

The members of the backbench 1922 Defence Committee said the government should re-evaluate its planned cuts to the size of the armed forces and rebuild weapons stockpiles to Cold War levels.

Tory MPs have called for more soldiers and more military equipment

(Steve Parsons/PA)

The Ministry of Defence should aim for specific targets in terms of number of soldiers, ships and aircraft rather than the current goal of spending 2 per cent of GDP – they said, adding that Germany’s increased defence spending would mean the UK no longer had Nato’s second-largest defence budget.

Committee chair and former Army officer John Baron said: “Across the Conservative backbenches there is a wide consensus that the Russian invasion of Ukraine requires an increase in defence spending alongside a broad reassessment of manpower and capabilities.

“In particular, the report concludes that there should be a moratorium on defence cuts until this reassessment exercise is concluded.”

In 2020, the Government pledged to spend an extra £24 billion on defence over the following five years, but the committee said there was “still substantial scope for more spending as befits what many regard as the beginning of the New Cold War”.

Lamiat Sabin13 May 2022 15:30

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Unions hit out at ‘outrageous act of vandalism’ over civil service cuts

Three more union leaders have criticised the proposal to cut civil service staffing by a fifth.

Dave Penman, general secretary of the FDA, which represents senior civil servants, said: “The reason for the civil service’s expansion since 2016 isn’t because the government loosened the purse strings. The government needed civil servants to deal with the consequences of two unprecedented events: Brexit and the Covid pandemic.

“To govern is to choose and ultimately this government can decide to cut the civil service back to 2016 levels, but it will also then have to choose what the reduced civil service will no longer have the capacity to do. Will they affect passports, borders or health?

“Without an accompanying strategy, these cuts appear more like a continuation of the Government’s civil service culture wars, or even worse, ill-thought out, rushed job slashes that won’t lead to a more cost-effective government.”

Mike Clancy, general secretary of the Prospect union, called the plan “an outrageous act of vandalism on our public services.”

He said: “Through Brexit, and then the pandemic, we have never been more reliant in peace time on our civil service.

“Our members are highly skilled and there is a real risk to government delivery from losing their vital expertise.

“The big cuts to public services since 2010 have often proved an expensive error – these proposals risk doubling down on the mistake.”

Paul Nowak, the TUC deputy general secretary said: “The government is yet again treating the civil service with contempt.

“Civil servants are key workers who keep this country running. They deliver vital services, collect taxes, help people back into employment, regulate medicines, negotiate trade deals and thousands of other things that bind society together.

“It is shameful that the prime minister is throwing them under a bus to distract from the government’s failure to deal with the cost-of-living crisis.”

Tom Batchelor13 May 2022 15:08

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No apology from Boris Johnson, after hostage Nazanin tells him she ‘lived in the shadow of his words’

More on the missing apology from Boris Johnson from our political editor, Andrew Woodcock.

He writes that Boris Johnson made no apology to Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe after she told him she had “lived in the shadow of his words” during years in an Iranian jail.

You can read the full, breaking story here:

Tom Batchelor13 May 2022 14:46

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/boris-johnson-news-civil-service-jobs-partygate-b2078453.html

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