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Northern Ireland Protocol news — live: Boris Johnson heads to Belfast amid ‘harmful consequences’ warning



Brussels won’t give in to blackmail over Northern Ireland protocol, warns EU

Boris Johnson will hold emergency talks with Northern Ireland’s political leaders in a bid to break the Stormont deadlock caused by disagreements over post-Brexit trading arrangements.

The government is also expected to set out plans that would allow ministers to unilaterally scrap part of the Brexit deals.

More details would be released “in the coming days”, said the prime minister in an editorial in the Belfast Telegraph newspaper, despite warnings that they could trigger a trade war with the European Union.

The move has prompted a furious row with the EU as Brussels warned that such unilateral action to walk away from a key plank of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement would represent a clear breach of international law.

Ministers are engaged in a standoff with the EU over the Northern Ireland protocol after the recent Assembly elections, with the DUP refusing to re-enter a devolved government in protest at the contentious arrangement which has created economic barriers between the region and the rest of the UK.

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Minister’s ‘get better job’ comments are ridiculous and out of touch, says Labour

Labour MP Tulip Siddiq, shadow economic secretary to the Treasury, said minister Rachel Maclean’s comments advising people to get a better job show the government “could not be more out of touch or out of ideas”, our politics reporter, Adam Forrest, writes.

“As energy bills rise by record amounts for millions of families, comments like this are ridiculous – as is the prime minister’s refusal to back a windfall tax on oil and gas producer profits that could tackle the cost of living crisis.”

Wendy Chamberlain, the Liberal Democrats’ work and pensions spokesperson, said: “So the Conservatives’ answer to the cost-of-living emergency is that people should just earn more? This shows just how out of touch they truly are.”

Matt Mathers16 May 2022 10:25

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Partygate: Time to rethink fixed penalty notices, says Jacob Rees-Mogg

Cabinet minister Jacob Rees-Mogg has called for a rethink over the use of fixed penalty notice (FPN) fines handed out to Boris Johnson and Downing Street staff over the Partygate scandal.

The Brexit opportunities minister claimed that FPNs defy the British tradition of burden of proof – arguing that they assume “you’re guilty until you prove your innocence”.

Our politics reporter Adam Forrest has more details:

Matt Mathers16 May 2022 10:10

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Minister: Civil servants ‘still delivering’ while working from home

Home Office minister Rachel Maclean said civil servants are “working really hard” and that they “are still delivering” when working from home.

“A lot of them are back at work and we certainly have civil servants in the Home Office – when I go back there today, they will be back at their desks,” the safeguarding minister told ITV’s Good Morning Britain programme.

“I think the economy as a whole has moved to a more hybrid working pattern, I’m quite relaxed about that.

“I think it is for employers to consider how best to achieve their outcomes. It is actually about performance and delivery.”

Asked whether she was “at odds” with government efficient minister Jacob Rees-Mogg on the issue of working from home, Ms Maclean said: “Not at all.”

She added: “We’ve had a pandemic, things have changed, people work differently.

“If people work from home, it is incumbent on their managers and ministers, such as myself, to make sure they are still delivering. And actually, that’s what we are seeing in the Home Office.”

Matt Mathers16 May 2022 09:55

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Channel crossing hit 8,000 for the year

More than 8,000 asylum seekers and migrants have arrived in the UK after crossing the English Channel this year, figures show.

Since the start of 2022, 8,393 people have reached the UK after navigating busy shipping lanes from France in small boats, according to analysis of government data by the PA news agency.

This is more than double the number recorded for the same period in 2021 (3,112) and more than six times the amount recorded at this point in 2020 (1,340).

Crossings resumed this weekend, with more than 600 people arriving in Kent over two days, after four consecutive days last week without any taking place amid poor weather conditions.

Some 436 people made the crossing to the UK in nine boats on Sunday after 167 in 13 boats arrived on Sunday, according to Ministry of Defence (MoD) figures.

Matt Mathers16 May 2022 09:40

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Ireland’s foreign minister hopes for ‘message of willingness to work together’ on protocol issues

Ireland’s foreign minister Simon Coveney acknowledged there were problems with the Northern Ireland Protocol and he hoped Boris Johnson’s visit to Belfast would be constructive.

Mr Coveney told reporters in Brussels: “The prime minister is in Northern Ireland today and I hope we’ll get a message of a willingness to work together to try to respond to these issues.

“There are real issues in relation to the implementation of the protocol that need the attention of both the UK and the EU working together to make sure that we can respond to concerns on the ground.”

Zoe Tidman16 May 2022 09:23

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Northern Ireland protocol ‘not working in current format’, minister says

The Northern Ireland Protocol “isn’t working in its current format”, government minister Rachel Maclean also said this morning ahead of the PM’s visit.

“I think the key thing here is that the prime minister is going to Northern Ireland today because he recognises that the protocol needs to be reformed,” she told Times Radio.

“It isn’t working in its current format and we need to have the executive up and running, because that is how we will actually deal with those issues affecting businesses and the cost of living in Northern Ireland.”

Zoe Tidman16 May 2022 08:57

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‘I need another coffee’: Minister in a muddle over stop-and-search plan

A Home Office minister admitted she did not have the numbers to hand on her department’s stop-and-search changes as she appeared to muddle the amount of hours the powers could be extended for.

Home secretary Priti Patel has made permanent changes to Section 60 extending the length of time the extra searching powers can be in force from 15 to 24 hours.

Rachel Maclean, asked how long a Section 60 can be put in place for, told LBC: “I think the time is 12 hours.”

Told it was not 12 hours, but 24 under the changes, she replied: “Oh, forgive me, 24 hours. I need another coffee.”

Pressed further, she responded: “I think it is … No, I’m being quite upfront with you, I haven’t got the paper in front of me, forgive me.”

Asked whether she thought she should know such information, she said: “I do know. But … you’re doing a very good job of demonstrating that I don’t have the papers in front of me now.”

Zoe Tidman16 May 2022 08:48

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Watch: Minister claims over better-paid jobs and cost-of-living crisis

Here is the clip from below:

Zoe Tidman16 May 2022 08:24

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Minister’s suggestion at how to cope with cost-of-living crisis

Britons struggling with the cost-of-living crisis should consider taking on more hours at work or moving to a better-paid job, a minister in Boris Johnson’s government has said.

Zoe Tidman16 May 2022 08:10

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Ex-Northern Ireland secretary calls for ‘political deal’ with EU

Julian Smith, the former Northern Ireland secretary, has called on the UK to form a “political deal” with the EU over the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Asked his thoughts on the UK government overriding elements of the protocol, the Tory MP urged the EU to “go the extra mile” and be flexible over any negotiation.

“I think my view would be to try to delay, to give space now to looking at what the EU could do to solve those practical issues. Business supports the protocol but there are major technical issues,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme.

“I think we do need the EU and UK negotiators to spend some positive time in a locked room and come up with a deal, we need a political deal, we need a fudge.”

Zoe Tidman16 May 2022 08:02



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