July 6, 2022

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Second Cabinet minister admits Covid laws were broken – live

8 min read

Keir Starmer says ‘cynical’ Tories are putting ‘re-election’ over helping British people pay bills

Government officials broke Covid laws at the height of lockdown, a second cabinet minister has admitted.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan, the international trade secretary, said “that’s right” when asked if the rules had been breached.

Ms Trevelyan’s comments to Sky News on Wednesday morning came after Dominic Raab, the deputy prime minister, conceded the law had been broken.

But prime minister Boris Johnson still refuses to accept that the Met Police’s decision to hand out 20 fines to staff showed that lawbreaking had taken place at the heart of his government.

Elsewhere, Labour is urging voters to “send the Tories a message they cannot ignore” on the cost of living crisis as it launches its local elections campaign.

The party is to unveil research that it says shows households are to be £2,620 worse off amid rising fuel, food and energy bills., Labour will say on Thursday.

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More progress needed if Home Office is to learn from Windrush scandal

The Government department must “grasp the opportunity” to make “fundamental” changes so it is better at dealing with the public, more “confident under the gaze of scrutiny” and has a more professional workforce, according to a report published on Thursday.

The findings come two years after a critical review by Wendy Williams concluded the Windrush scandal was “foreseeable and avoidable”, and victims were let down by “systemic operational failings” at the Home Office.

The March 2020 report said the Government department demonstrated “institutional ignorance and thoughtlessness” towards the issue of race and the history of the Windrush generation and made 30 recommendations for change.

Matt Mathers31 March 2022 10:57

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Tories ‘incredibly proud’ of colleague coming out as trans

International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan said the Conservatives are “incredibly proud” of Jamie Wallis for his “brave” decision to come out as trans.

Asked about reports Boris Johnson made a joke about trans issues at a dinner for Tory MPs on Tuesday, Ms Trevelyan told Sky News: “You know, jokes made at dinners are made, I think… all of us who know the Prime Minister know he has a very, very warm and affectionate personality and I think he is genuinely, you know, proud and affectionate and wants to support Jamie in his decision to share with the world his choice to present himself as trans.

“And I think, I mean, he’s a lovely young man and we are hugely, hugely proud of him.

“I think, you know, this continuing discussion is so important, but it’s also important that actually at the end of the day we respect and love each other as how we want to live our lives and I think that’s always what the Prime Minister wants to try and achieve.

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Removing PM would not affect UK position on Ukraine, Reeves claims

Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves has said Labour’s renewed call for the Prime Minister to go in the wake of the partygate scandal will not affect Parliament’s response to Ukraine.

She told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “The whole of Parliament is united in our response to Ukraine and if Boris Johnson was replaced by a different member of the Cabinet, a different Member of Parliament… the position on Ukraine would not change.

“The House of Commons is united in our resolute response to Russia’s aggression and to the needs of the Ukrainian people.

“The position of the UK Government would not change if the prime minister changed.

“But at the moment we have a Prime Minister who has a total disrespect for the rules, has treated the British people as if they are fools, and I don’t think that he is fit to govern”.

Matt Mathers31 March 2022 10:09

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List of written ministerial statements for Thursday

– Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy: Business Update.

– Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy: Energy Update.

– Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy: Performance Targets for the Intellectual Property Office (an operating name of the Patent Office) for 2022/23.

– Minister for the Cabinet Office: 2022/23 Pay Remit Guidance.

– Chancellor of the Exchequer: Oil and Gas Decommissioning Relief Deeds.

– Chancellor of the Exchequer: Tax exemptions for sponsorship payments under Homes for Ukraine scheme.

– Secretary of State for Education: Education Update.

– Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs: Budget of the Office for Environmental Protection.

– Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs: Contingent Liability Notification: Ukraine Guarantee.

– Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs: Hong Kong Six-monthly Report.

– Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs: Membership of the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement Domestic Advisory Group.

– Secretary of State for Health and Social Care: Covid-19 Update.

– Secretary of State for Health and Social Care: DHSC Update.

– Secretary of State for the Home Department: Independent Office for Police Conduct – Annual Report and Accounts 2020-2021.

– Secretary of State for the Home Department: Responding to the Grand Chamber ECtHR judgment in Big Brother Watch & others v UK.

– Secretary of State for the Home Department: Windrush Lessons Learned Review Progress Update.

– Secretary of State for the Home Department: Work of the Home Office.

– Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities: Supporting Families Annual Report.

– Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities: The Intergovernmental Relations Annual Transparency Report.

– Secretary of State for Work and Pensions: Annual Households Below Average Income and Separated Families Statistics 2020/21.

– Secretary of State for Work and Pensions: Extension to the Household Support Fund.

Here are the written ministerial statements due to be made in the Commons on Thursday:

Matt Mathers31 March 2022 09:50

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Truss to challenge India’s silence on Ukraine in talks with Modi

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and her Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, are both visiting India.

Ms Truss is holding talks with counterparts amid concern in the West about Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s reluctance to publicly condemn the actions of Russia – a long-standing ally dating back to the Cold War.

Liz Truss with Sergei Lavrov in Moscow, 10 February 2022

(EPA)

India, which is heavily reliant on Moscow for arms imports, has abstained in a series of votes in the United Nations on the issue.

Mr Lavrov will use his visit to push for closer trade links to help reduce the impact of economic sanctions imposed by the West on Russia following the invasion.

Our politics correspondent Ashley Cowburn has more details below:

Matt Mathers31 March 2022 09:34

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Nato has been ‘defeated’, former army chief says

General Sir Nick Parker, former commander of land forces in the British Army, said Nato has been “defeated” and called for a smaller coalition of nations to develop an offensive counter-strategy to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Asked on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme about Nato’s response to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, he said: “Slightly controversially I suppose, I mean Nato’s been defeated, Nato’s bluff was called.

“We were unable to stop the Russians trampling all over Ukraine and now Nato is holding the line of the 2004 expansion, along the line of the Baltic states and Poland and Hungary and Romania.

“And what it has to do is to defend that line, it’s in what in military terms we would call a defensive position.

“And I don’t think it has the capacity to move on to the offensive with its 30 nations all with slightly different views.

“We need to have a smaller coalition of nations who can start to develop an offensive counter-strategy to Putin.”

General Sir Nick Parker, former commander of land forces in the British Army, said Nato has been “defeated” and called for a smaller coalition of nations to develop an offensive counter-strategy to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Matt Mathers31 March 2022 09:17

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Government minister ‘sick’ that difficult births ended in tragedy

Anne-Marie Trevelyan said it made her “feel sick” to know “in too many cases difficult births can end in the most appalling tragedy”.

The International Trade Secretary was asked how she felt reading about an independent inquiry into the UK’s biggest maternity scandal, which found that some 201 babies and nine mothers could have – or would have – survived if the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust had provided better care.

Ms Trevelyan told Times Radio she had a “very difficult labour” with her first born, and she was “basically told I wasn’t going to have a Caesarean section”.

She said the inquiry, which found several mothers were made to have natural births when they could have been offered a Caesarean, “reminded me that there has been for a long time a culture which says natural birth: good; Caesarean: bad”.

Thomas Kingsley31 March 2022 08:50

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Minister begrudgingly admits Covid laws were broken – despite No 10’s refusal

A government minister has admitted Covid laws were broken after the Metropolitan Police issued 20 fixed-penalty notices linked to partygate scandal – despite No 10’s refusal, our politics correspondent Ashley Cowburn reports.

Repeatedly pressed on the issue, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, the international trade secretary, eventually replied “that’s right” when asked if laws were broken in Whitehall.

It comes after Boris Johnson was at odds with his deputy, Dominic Raab, over the scandal, as he refused to endorse the justice secretary’s admission that Covid regulations were broken.

Read the full report below:

Thomas Kingsley31 March 2022 08:35

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New Ofcom chair Lord Michael Grade to appear before DCMS select committee

Newly announced Ofcom chair Lord Michael Grade is due to appear in front of a Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) committee for a “pre-appointment scrutiny”.

Lord Grade will receive a grilling from MPs which may include questions on the drawn-out selection process, online safety and sanctions on Russian media.

The Conservative peer, 79, who has held senior positions at all three of the UK’s major media outlets, was named as the government’s preferred candidate for the role by culture secretary Nadine Dorries last week.

He is due to appear in front of the cross-party select committee at 10am on Thursday.

Such hearings are conducted to allow select committees to scrutinise the quality of ministerial appointments and assess the candidate’s suitability for the role, knowledge and experience.

Thomas Kingsley31 March 2022 08:20

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Labour calls for EU security pact and end to ‘petty diplomatic spats’ after Ukraine war

Labour is calling for the UK to agree a security pact with the EU following the wake-up call of the Ukraine invasion, as part of its drive to “make Brexit work”.

Boris Johnson must end his “petty diplomatic spats with our neighbours” and rebuild relationships, the party says – arguing last year’s Integrated Review of Foreign Policy is out of date.

That review rejected formal cooperation with Brussels, arguing the Indo-Pacific region and, in particular, China will be more important in the post-Brexit ‘Global Britain’ era.

Our deputy political editor, Rob Merrick, has the full story:

Thomas Kingsley31 March 2022 08:05

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