Brexit news – live: Boris Johnson's bill a 'distraction' says EU, as MPs condemn 'prejudiced' Home Office

The European Union said Boris Johnson’s plan to override the Brexit deal has distracted from negotiations over future trading arrangements.

Commenting towards the end of a week where the UK government’s controversial Internal Market Bill has dominated headlines, Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, said the prime minister’s plan was an “unpleasant surprise” which had “distracted very strongly” from trade talks ahead of the looming Brexit deadline.

Meanwhile, MPs have warned the Home Office appears to form immigration policy on “anecdote, assumption and prejudice”, with evidence suggesting a calamity rivalling the Windrush scandal could be ”right around the corner”.


MPs to launch inquiry into Uighur exploitation by UK firms

A committee of MPs will launch an inquiry into whether UK businesses are exploiting the forced labour of Uighur Muslims in China.

Evidence will be heard by the Business, Energy and Industrial strategy committee later in the year on the extent to which UK firms engage with supply chains linked to forced labour camps in China’s Xinjiang region.

Committee member Nusrat Ghani, the Conservative MP for Wealden, said: “I am pleased the committee has agreed to my proposal to hold an evidence session on the vitally important topic of the use of forced labour in UK value chains.

“There are concerning accounts that many products sold in the UK can be traced back to forced labour at camps in China.

“I hope this inquiry will help to get a clearer picture of the extent of this problem and explore issues around businesses and the transparency of their value-chains and also what steps the government could take to ensure that businesses and consumers in the UK do not perpetuate the forced labour of Uighur.”

Liam James18 September 2020 11:01


US Democrat Ilhan Omar to address Labour activists

US congresswoman Ilhan Omar, an outspoken critic of Donald Trump, is set to address activists at a Momentum-backed event held in tandem with Labour’s virtual party conference next week.

The Democratic representative will appear alongside former shadow home secretary Diane Abbott at The World Transformed festival, which has shifted its programme online due to the pandemic.

In the US, Ms Omar is widely known as part of the “squad” – a group of four progressive Democratic women elected to Congress in 2018. Fellow members include the influential New York representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan.

Liam James18 September 2020 10:48


Inside Politics: What to look out for today

Here’s Adam Forrest with The Independent’s daily politics newsletter on what to expect from Westminster and beyond:

Liam James18 September 2020 10:12


Geoffrey Cox: ‘I cannot endorse law-breaking by the British government’

“A British government on behalf of the British crown … should act within the law,” says Geoffrey Cox, the former attorney general. 

After leading the Tory rebellion against the government’s plan to breach the Northern Ireland protocol of the EU withdrawal agreement, Mr Cox told podcast Chopper’s Politics: “I cannot be in a situation where I endorse law-breaking by the British government.”

Mr Cox asked: “Can you imagine Margaret Thatcher openly saying she was going to break the law?”

The former attorney general joins some unlikely company in calling back to the former Tory prime minister: EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen did the same when she spoke against the Internal Market Bill earlier in the week.

Liam James18 September 2020 09:51


Starmer’s message to Jewish communities on Rosh Hashanah

Sir Keir Starmer has issued a message to Jewish communities on the eve of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.

Speaking ahead of what he called “a period of deep reflection and solemnity”, the Labour leader repeated his pledge to rid his party and the country of the “scourge of antisemitism”.

Revelations of antisemitism in the Labour party plagued Sir Keir’s predecessor Jeremy Corbyn, with several MPs resigning over the issue.

Sir Keir’s firmer stance against antisemitism has been praised by the UK’s Jewish leaders, who said shortly after his election that he had achieved “in four days more than his predecessor in four years”.

Liam James18 September 2020 09:18


Hunt: Maternity mistakes cost NHS nearly £1bn per year

Former health secretary Jeremy Hunt has said mistakes on maternity wards are costing the NHS nearly £1bn in lawsuits per year.

Figures obtained by the Mr Hunt through a freedom of information request show that £952m was paid out in compensation and legal fees in the health sector in 2018/19.

Writing in the Daily Mail, the former health secretary — who now sits as chair of the House of Commons health committee —  said “something has gone badly wrong” when the NHS is paying more in legal costs than the combined salaries of all obstetricians and gynaecologists working in the health service in England, which come to £586m.

Mr Hunt also criticised hospital trusts after only 14 out of 59 of those examined provided meaningful data on needless deaths under freedom of information requests.

As health secretary, Mr Hunt ordered trusts to publish data on the number of avoidable deaths in hospitals.

He said there are around 150 avoidable deaths in the NHS per week in England alone.

“If a commercial airline were falling out of the sky every week it would be a major scandal – but in healthcare we seem to just accept it as inevitable,” he wrote.

Liam James18 September 2020 08:57


MPs condemn ‘prejudiced’ Home Office

Priti Patel’s Home Office has “no idea” of the impact of its immigration policies, which appear to be shaped by “anecdote, assumption and prejudice”, a report by MPs has found.

The cross-party House of Commons Home Affairs Committee found policies affecting legal and illegal migrants — including the “hostile environment” — were carried out with little understanding or concern for the outcome.

Here’s our political editor Andrew Woodcock with the full story:

Liam James18 September 2020 08:26


Brexit Bill a “distraction”, says EU

As we near the end of a week in which Boris Johnson’s plan to override the Brexit treaty dominated the news, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen has given her thoughts on the UK government’s bluster.

“The attempt to violate the Withdrawal Agreement distracted very strongly from the ongoing negotiations,” Ms von der Leyen told reporters.

“This was an unpleasant surprise.

“And therefore it is time now that our British friends restore the trust in the validity of a signature under treaty, and that we keep on going, focused to negotiate because time is running out.”

The commission chief did however say she was “still convinced” a deal with the UK “can be done”.

Liam James18 September 2020 08:09


Good morning and welcome to Friday’s blog. We’ll be bringing you all the latest developments in UK politics as the day progresses.

Liam James18 September 2020 08:01


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