UK suspends extradition treaty with Hong Kong, Dominic Raab confirms

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The UK will suspend the extradition treaty with Hong Kong “immediately and indefinitely”, Dominic Raab has confirmed.  

The Foreign Secretary told MPs that the treaty was being suspended because there was uncertainty about how the new security law imposed by Beijing on Hong Kong would be used, noting it would not be reactivated “unless and until” there are “clear and robust” safeguards preventing the extradition being misused. 

This was a “reasonable and proportionate response” to China’s failure to live up to its responsibilities, he said. 

Speaking earlier today Boris Johnson stressed there was “a balance” to be struck in the UK’s relationship with China, saying we would continue to engage with Beijing, but would take a “calibrated response… tough on some things, but continuing to engage”. 

Follow the latest updates below.

04:16 PM

Matt Hancock asked why Chief Nursing Officer was ‘silenced’

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth asks the Health Secretary about Ruth May’s claims that she was dropped from a Number 10 press briefing during the lockdown travel storm surrounding Dominic Cummings.

“Did he really acquiesce in the silencing of the Chief Nursing Officer at the height of this pandemic?” he asks.

Matt Hancock does not respond to the question.

04:08 PM

Mayor’s office responds to calls to end London’s twinned status with Beijing

Shaun Bailey had earlier called on the London mayor to end the capital’s twinned status with Beijing (see 10.16am post).

A spokesperson for Sadiq Khan said: “The Mayor supports the Government challenging the Chinese Government over its human rights abuses.  

“Over the years, previous Mayors of London have signed a number of Sister/Partnership/Friendship City agreements with major cities around the world – including Beijing, Berlin, Moscow, New Delhi, New York, Tokyo, Paris and Shanghai – in order to facilitate city-to-city cooperation and the exchange of knowledge in areas such as economic development, culture, transport, science and technology and environmental protection. These agreements were signed by either Mayors Ken Livingstone or Boris Johnson.  

“Since assuming office, the current Mayor has signed one further friendship city agreement – with Seoul in 2017.”

04:04 PM

Matt Hancock says Government rejects ‘narrow nationalism’ in Covid-19 vaccine hunt

The Health Secretary told MPs: “We’re working to ensure that whoever’s vaccine is approved first, the whole world can have access.

“We reject narrow nationalism, we support a global effort because this virus respects no borders and we are all on the same side.”

03:49 PM

Virus is on the ‘back foot’, Matt Hancock says

The Health Secretary is up in the Commons now, where he confirms that NHS test and trace has asked 180,000 people to self-isolate and adds that is “up to 180,000 potential chains of transmission broken”. 

He notes that the Oxford vaccine trial published a “very encouraging” report with findings showing that it “produces a strong immunity response in patients in terms of both antibody production and T cell responses”.

03:33 PM

Tobias Ellwood calls for an ‘overview’ of UK’s relationship with China

The chair of the Defence Select Committee asks if now is “the turning point where we drop the pretense that China shares our values”.

“Can we have a strategic overhaul of our foreign policy in relation to China?” he asks.

Mr Raab says he makes a “reasonable strategic point” and says the integrated review is an “opportune moment” to do so.

03:25 PM

China ‘on path of aggression externally and repression internally’, says Tory MP

Neil O’Brien welcomes the statement, but also presses the Foreign Secretary over action following the abuses against Uighur Muslims. 

He says China’s Government is “on a path of increasing aggression externally and increasing repression internally”. 

The Conservative MP asks Dominic Raab to “confront them now”. 

Mr Raab says he shares his concern about the “harrowing” reports, and promises to use “every lever we have got” to moderate the behaviour of the Chinese government. 

03:22 PM

Dominic Raab challenged over ‘hiding behind Trump’ on China

Chi Onwurah, the Labour MP, says she welcomes “strong action over Hong Kong, the Uighurs and to secure our critical national infrastructure”.

She asks Dominic Raab about reports this weekend suggesting the decision to eject Huawei from the UK’s 5G network was because of the US, saying that “it can never be in our interest to be seen to be hiding behind President Trump”. 

Mr Raab says the UK had to take the measures because of US sanctions, saying we have been “very clear and very honest about that”. He says the challenge is to build greater diversity of suppliers. 

03:17 PM

Magnitsky regime not aimed at China, Dominic Raab says 

Former chief whip Andrew Mitchell says the Foreign Secretary is right to “emphasise cooperation over confrontation”. 

He asks Dominic Raab to make clear that Magnitsky is not aimed at “Chinese per se”, but human rights abusers “wheresoever they be”. 

Mr Raab says “of course”, when it was originally debated, the Russian government said it was solely aimed at them. 

The model is “universal”, which allows the UK to target individuals and “does not punish the individual people of the country”. 

03:14 PM

Tory MP calls for ‘significant reset’ in relationship with China

Conservative MP Bob Seely says “the China we hoped for is not the China we are getting”. 

He calls for a “significant reset” in our relationship with the country and how that will be presented to Parliament so it can be debated. 

Dominic Raab says there are areas of cooperation, saying “if we are going to significantly shift the dial on climate change”, China will have to be involved. 

03:12 PM

UN ‘a busted flush’ on Uighur abuses, says former minister

Nus Ghani asks if the Foreign Secretary would be open to forming an independent inquiry to establish if genocide is taking place in Xinjiang.

The UN is a busted flush, the former transport minister says. 

Dominic Raab says it is a gross violation of human rights. But he says “we have to be realistic about what China would allow in Xinjiang”.  

03:09 PM

Lib Dem MP urges Dominic Raab to call Uighur abuse genocide

Alistair Carmichael, the Liberal Democrat MP, says the Foreign Secretary is right to be cautious but asks him to admit from the despatch box that it is genocide that is being carried out. 

Dominic Raab says “the real challenge… is the question of intention”. 

It does “bring legal implications but it can also distract…” he says. “The legal label is secondary to the plight of those who are suffering.” 

03:07 PM

Iain Duncan Smith urges action against officials involved in Uighur sterilisation

Iain Duncan Smith, the former Conservative leader, raises the Uighur human rights abuses. 

He claims there is “lots of evidence” of individuals officials involved in forced sterilisations of Uighur women.

He asks for civil servants to look at this urgently, as well as looking into sanctions against the chief executive of Hong Kong, Carrie Lam. 

Dominic Raab says there is “a process for gathering all of the evidence of all of the potential cases”. 

The Foreign Secretary says he has been reading Amnesty International reports about the treatment of Uighurs and the UN Committee report of 2018. 

But it is important to asses it very importantly, and determine whether individual responsibility can be ascribed that would warrant sanctions, Mr Raab says. 

03:03 PM

Raab calls for ‘note of caution on speed’ of seeking sanctions

Alyn Smith of the SNP echoes other comments, saying that he agrees sanctions could be taken thoroughly but action could be taken faster. 

He also asks if there is any analysis of whether there are implications of having so many Chinese students in British universities, both financially and from a security aspect. 

Dominic Raab calls for “a note of caution on speed”, saying if sanctions are done too quickly they will be challenged legally. 

He notes extradition could be “resuscitated” in future if safeguards were introduced. 

03:00 PM

UK has made position on Uighurs ‘very clear’, says Dominic Raab

Tom Tugendhat, the Foreign Affairs Committee, backs the Government on the move, but asks why Dominic Raab hasn’t made a statement about the treatment of Uighurs in Xinjiang province. 

The Tonbridge and Malling MP asks him about the application of Chinese law into Hong Kong, and what it means for extraterritoriality. 

Mr Raab says “the reality is we have taken a proportionate approach”, noting there is a “balanced” message to Beijing. 

He says the UK has made “very clear” our position on Xinjiang, and that it is still not clear what it means for extraterritoriality, which is part of the reason for the extradition treaty being suspended. 

02:56 PM

Dominic Raab rules out knee-jerk sanctions at risk of ‘giving a propaganda coup’

Labour’s new change of approach has not gone unnoticed by the Government, with Dominic Raab welcoming it. 

Responding to her questions, the Foreign Secretary says there has been a huge amount of work being undertaken for offering Hong Kong a pathway to citizenship. 

He is seeing his German opposite number to discuss further coordination, Mr Raab says, saying it needs to be “more than just the Five Eyes” and other “traditional” partners. 

Mr Raab rejects the idea that the Government hasn’t “done our homework” on this, saying the legislation has only just been enacted. “It takes months… it is not something that can be done on a political whim,” he adds. “It would be improper… you’re at risk of giving a propaganda coup.”

In response to a question about HSBC, he says: “We will not allow the autonomy of the people to be sacrificed on the alter of bankers’ bonuses. We urge all businesses to look very carefully about how they respond.”

02:51 PM

Labour backs Government on extradition treaty

Lisa Nandy, the shadow foreign secretary, responds saying Labour welcomes the steps the Government is taking. 

But in a clear break from the approach under the previous leadership, she asks him to go further. 

Ms Nandy, who quit as a frontbencher under Jeremy Corbyn, called on Dominic Raab to consider sanctions against certain individuals. 

She also asks him for details of a wider scheme for Hong Kong citizens who are too young to apply for BNO status. 

She also urges him to bring about the “end of the naivety of the golden era years” and a new “strategic approach” towards China. 

02:44 PM

Extradition treaty will not be reactivated without ‘clear and robust’ safeguards, says Raab

The extradition treaty will not be reactivated “unless and until” there are “clear and robust” safeguards preventing the extradition being misused, Dominic Raab has said.

The Foreign Secretary says there was “considerable uncertainty” about how the new security law imposed on Hong Kong will be enacted, saying: “The UK is watching”. 

He welcomes the response of Five Eyes partners, and European partners, Mr Raab says. 

02:41 PM

UK will suspend extradition treaty with Hong Kong

The UK will suspend the extradition treaty with Hong Kong “immediately and indefinitely”, Dominic Raab has confirmed. 

And an arms embargo will now be extended to Hong Kong as a result of the law, the Foreign Secretary told the Commons. 

The Home Secretary will set out further details on the plans for BNO-passport holders, with a bespoke route open by 2021, Mr Raab said. 

The UK wants a positive relationship with China, he told MPs noting it would be “an essential global partner when tackling climate change”, as well as the ongoing economic partnership. 

“But as we strive for that positive partnership, we are also clear-sighted about it”, he says, pointing to “grave concerns ” about human rights abuses against the Uighur population in Xinjiang province. 

The “reciprocal” relationship would be “honest and clear” where we have to disagree, he says. And we have been clear about the new security law imposed on Hong Kong. 

02:26 PM

Boris Johnson hails vaccine breakthrough but warns there are ‘no guarantees’

Boris Johnson has heralded the news of a breakthrough on the vaccine trials in Oxford – but warned “there are no guarantees”.

The Prime Minister said: “We’re not there yet & further trials will be necessary – but this is an important step in the right direction.”

02:19 PM

Chief Nursing Officer dropped from Downing Street briefing over Dominic Cummings, NHS sources claim

England’s most senior nurse was dropped from one of Downing Street’s daily coronavirus briefings after refusing to publicly back Dominic Cummings, it has been claimed.

A senior NHS source said: “A Number 10 spad asked her directly how she would answer the Dominic Cummings question and she refused to play along and told them she would answer the same way as Jonathan Van-Tam.

“She was dropped immediately from the press briefing.”

Read the full story here.

02:17 PM

Watch: How to avoid your face mask fogging up

Ahead of face masks being made mandatory in shops this Friday, it’s worth getting to grips with the logistics – particularly if, like Michael Gove, you wear glassess and are at risk of mask-fogging. 

02:12 PM

Oxford vaccine news ‘very encouraging’, says Health Secretary

Matt Hancock has said the news that the University of Oxford’s vaccine is safe and induces an immune response is “very encouraging news”.

The Health Secretary tweeted: “We have already ordered 100 million doses of this vaccine, should it succeed.

“Congratulations to the scientists at @UniofOxford & @OxfordVacGroup and leadership of @AstraZeneca.”

Just moments ago, it was confirmed that trials involving more than 1,000 people showed the injection led to them making antibodies and T-cells that can fight coronavirus. 

02:09 PM

Russian report to be published tomorrow, Intelligence and Security Committee confirms

The Intelligence and Security Committee’s long-awaited report on Russian interference into UK democracy will be published tomorrow.

The committee, which convened last week with Julian Lewis as the chair, said the document will be laid before Parliament at 10.30am tomorrow.

Dr Lewis was expelled from the Conservative party for having worked with opposition MPs to win the chair, stealing it away from Number 10’s pick, former transport secretary Chris Grayling.

01:46 PM

Oxford University vaccine safe and induces immune reaction

The Covid-19 vaccine being developed at the University of Oxford is safe and induces an immune reaction, findings of the first phases of the study suggest.

Trials involving more than 1,000 people showed the injection led to them making antibodies and white blood cells that can fight coronavirus. The Government has already bought nearly 100m doses. 

For more details, read our coronavirus live blog here.

01:38 PM

No coronavirus deaths in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland

There have been no recorded coronavirus deaths in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, according to each of the nations.  

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said there had been seven new cases, a drop on previous days. 

“No deaths of people confirmed as having Covid were registered yesterday,” she tweeted. “And seven new positive cases were confirmed – a reduction compared to recent days, but they will still all be closely examined and contact tracing undertaken as appropriate.”

01:27 PM

Downing Street pays tribute to Beefeaters as guards face first redundancy round in 500 years

Downing Street has paid tribute to the role Beefeaters play in the UK’s “rich cultural history”, as the guards face what is thought to be the first job cuts in their 500-year history.  

The pandemic has seen the temporary closure of six sites run by Historic Royal Palaces (HRP), which all rely heavily on visitor income.

An HRP spokesman confirmed a voluntary redundancy scheme was introduced last month and that staff had been warned that a compulsory redundancy scheme was likely to follow, the first since they were formed by Henry VII in 1485.

The Prime Minister official spokesman said: “We recognise the important role which the Beefeater guards play in the UK’s rich cultural history.

“They are a valued part of the Tower of London and will continue to be part of the Tower’s story in the years to come.

“We are providing unprecedented financial assistance, which many heritage organisations including the Historic Royal Palaces have taken advantage of.”

Beafeaters were formed by Henry VII in 1485
Beafeaters were formed by Henry VII in 1485

01:23 PM

Six coronavirus-related deaths recorded in England, says NHS

Just six people died after testing positive for coronavirus in English hospitals over the last 24 hours, with three regions including London recording no deaths at all. 

The total number of confirmed reported deaths in hospitals in England now stands at 29,187, NHS England said.

Patients were aged between 74 and 98 years old.   All patients had known underlying health conditions. 

As well as London, there were no deaths recorded in the East of England and South West. The Midlands, North East & Yorkshire and North West all reported one death, while the South East reported three. 

01:09 PM

Liberalism made the Western world, but now it is destroying it

While elites debate the number of black students at Oxbridge with guilt and urgency, few acknowledge that white students are less likely to go to university than any other ethnic group, and white working-class boys fare worse than anybody else at school.

Those who try to raise the plight of the white working-class are often written off as racists and cranks. And those who argue in favour of unifying identities – made possible by patriotism, or our attachment to more local communities – are lampooned as reactionary and ridiculous.

As Nick Timothy says in his column today, liberalism has undermined the very institutions and traditions that it relies on.

12:59 PM

More retail pressure as Marks & Spencer cuts 950 jobs

High street giant Marks & Spencer has said it could slash 950 roles, making it the latest retailer to make a brutal swathe of job cuts. 

It puts further pressure on the Government to support the economy at a critical point in managing the crisis.

The retailer, which vowed to be “never the same again” at the peak of the pandemic, will affect cut roles in property, the back-end operations as well as store managers. 

The full details are here.

12:35 PM

Starmer warns of childcare ‘gap’ in Government’s back-to-work plan

Sir Keir Starmer has warned there is a childcare-related “gap” in the Government’s plan to get people back to work.

The Labour leader said there was no “proper provision” being put in place during August, with usual routes such as summer camps or grandparents being prohibited, which would make it hard for parents of younger children to go back to work. 

He said: “The Prime Minister said he wants people to go back to work in August, but he hasn’t provided the childcare, the support and lots of families are going to really struggle with that. These next six weeks are really crucial, I think, for parents and also for children.

“So, we need to have a focus on that because if parents are being asked to go back to work… something needs to happen about childcare – there is a gap in the Government’s plan.

“So, we need support for childcare, support for nurseries and for some of those who provide activities during the summer.”

12:29 PM

Lobby latest: UK ‘will not give up independence’ for Brexit deal, says Downing Street

Brexit talks kick off this evening, with Downing Street signalling there will be no kowtowing to Brussels’ demands yet again. 

The Prime Minister’s spokesman said there were still “significant differences” between UK and EU teams trying to thrash out a trade deal.

As negotiators meet for a new round, the spokesman said: “Our position on our sovereignty laws and fisheries is clear. We will not give up our rights as an independent state.

“We will continue to engage constructively with the EU on these key issues, and we’ll work hard to reach a broad outline of an agreement.

“But we’ve been clear all along, we’re not asking for a special, bespoke or unique deal.”

12:26 PM

Lobby latest: No evidence that Test & Trace data has been used unlawfully

There is no evidence that data compiled through the Track & Trace system has been used unlawfully, Downing Street has said. 

The Open Rights Group has claimed that  England’s test and trace programme has broken a key data protection law, after the Department of Health conceded the system was launched without carrying out an assessment of its impact on privacy.

But the Prime Minister’s spokesman insists there is “no evidence of data being used unlawfully”.

He said: “NHS Test and Trace is committed to the highest ethical and data management standards, using data to fight the virus and save lives while adhering to all data protection rules under GDPR.”

The spokesman said the Government has completed “a variety of data protection impact assessments” for the programme.

12:24 PM

Lobby latest: Number of lockdown deaths ‘expected to be smaller’ than 200,000

Downing Street has insisted the number of people who will die as a result of lockdown is “expected to be smaller” than 200,000, following the Daily Telegraph’s story this morning. 

Although he did not reject the assertions of the official report, which was published in April, the Prime Minister’s spokesman said: “When services returned to normal the actual mortality impact can be expected to be smaller than this.

“You will know that extensive work is underway in the NHS to ensure that patients get the treatment they need.

“And it’s also the case that the NHS remained open for critical care throughout the peak of the pandemic.”

Asked about a Sunday Telegraph interview with Boris Johnson, in which the Prime Minister said he did not want to see another nation-wide lockdown, the spokesman said: “I think if you look at what the PM said he’s not ruled anything out, but he made the point that another national lockdown is not something that he would like to see in place again.

“As he said he believes that we have a wide range of existing provisions, such as localised lockdowns test and trace.”

12:22 PM

Lobby latest: Coronavirus pandemic highlights ‘importance’ of union with Scotland

The pandemic has highlighted the importance of the union, Downing Street has said, shrugging off new polling showing a surge in support for Scottish independence.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “The UK-wide response to the coronavirus pandemic demonstrates, more than ever, the importance of the union. 

“Through UK Government support over 900,000 Scottish jobs have been protected and thousands of Scottish businesses have been granted loans.”

12:20 PM

Lobby latest: Cabinet meets again

Boris Johnson and his Cabinet will meet in person on Tuesday for the first time since March.

Ministers will meet in the Commonwealth Office tomorrow so ministers can attend in person. All members of the Cabinet have been invited to attend.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said the room would be “properly ventilated” and attendees will be asked to sanitize their hands on entrance and exit.

Members of the Cabinet will have individual water jugs and glasses.

The spokesman said ministers felt it was the “right” time for the Cabinet to come together and “have a face to face meeting”.

12:13 PM

Top Tory donors look set to lose out on peerages

Some of the Conservative Party’s biggest financial backers look set to miss out on peerages in Boris Johnson’s first anniversary honours list.

Downing Street is set to publish the list of 30 new peers, topped by former England cricket star Sir Ian Botham, ex-Tory MP Ken Clarke and ex-Labour MP Frank Field, as early as this week to mark the first anniversary of Mr Johnson’s arrival in 10 Downing Street.

Read the full details here.

11:58 AM

Eustice challenged over ‘watering down’ of green Brexit plans

George Eustice has insisted the UK Government will seek to enhance environmental standards after Brexit, amid criticism from green groups that the rhetoric doesn’t match the reality.  

The Environment Secretary told an online conference organised by think-tank Green Alliance that it had been Boris Johnson’s “number one priority” prior to the pandemic, and that a green recovery was “very much a central part of our agenda”.

“If we really want to realise the aspirations that the public have for nature then we need policies that will not only protect but that will build back – with more diverse habitats that lead to a greater abundance of those species currently in decline,” he said. 

But RSPB chief executive Beccy Speight claimed there were “patterns that show a kind of watering down around the appetite for a green Brexit, a watering down of the appetite of a green economic recovery.”

Boris Johnson prompted fears among environmental groups of moves to weaken protections when he criticised “newt-counting” regulations that delayed development.

“This should feel like a turning point, where everything is pointing in the direction of really putting nature at the heart of this resilient recovery, and actually it feels like more of the same, or in fact going backwards,” she said.

11:35 AM

Former minister and senior rabbi join forces to urge action on Uighur abuse

Nus Ghani, the former transport minister, has co-written an article with senior rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner in today’s Telegraph, urging the Government to act on the human rights abuses being carried out against the Uighur Muslim community in Xinjiang province, China. 

The pair claim this travesty is “being met with a terrible dose of indifference in most of the Western world”.

They write: “There is currently a relentless campaign of genocide and re-education taking place in Xinjiang that we must use our energy to put a stop to. Now.” 

Read the full article here.

Members of the Uighur community and sympathizers demonstrate
Members of the Uighur community and sympathizers demonstrate

11:30 AM

Boris Johnson praises Kent pupils as they ‘graduate’

Boris Johnson has posted a video of himself on the visit to the Discovery Primary School in West Malling, Kent, in which he praises the staff and pupils for their work during lockdown, and now with some classes now 97 per cent full.  

He doesn’t actually give anything away, or reference the new funding that is the reason for his visit, but he says he has had a fantastic time.

11:18 AM

Have your say about: face masks in Pret

From Friday, face masks will be mandatory in shops throughout England. But what about sandwich shops like Pret?

If you ask Gavin Williamson, they are a cafe and therefore not mandatory – although people should be encouraged to wear them. 

But if you ask Matt Hancock, they are mandatory. 

So what do you think – and will you be wearing one? Have your say in the poll below.

11:03 AM

Coach for Crisis protest reaches Westminster

Around 500 coaches are currently protesting in central London to seek urgent financial support to fend off the effects of lockdown.

Some of them are currently in Westminster – here’s the view (and sound). 

10:53 AM

Prime Minister should remember he is ‘answerable to Parliament’, Speaker warns

The Speaker has warned Downing Street to stop trying to turn Boris Johnson into a president, saying the Prime Minister should remember he is “answerable to Parliament”. 

Sir Lindsay Hoyle told Times Radio: ““I think there is the danger that he’s being pointed towards having a presidential style. I’m not sure whether it’s him or whether people around him or whatever. You know, it’s all about trying to change the face of politics.”

He said he was “very disappointed” by the number of press conferences and statements being made outside of parliament, at which the Government announces new policy and measures without first announcing them to the Commons. 

“I get very disappointed, Parliament gets very disappointed. And we certainly ensure that Downing Street hear my views and my opinions loud and clear,” he added. 

“We don’t have a president, we have a Prime Minister, and that Prime Minister is answerable to parliament.”

10:47 AM

Don’t bank on vaccine to ‘ride over hill like the cavalry’, says Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson has said he could not be “100 per cent confident” that a vaccine would be available this year, or even by next year. 

Speaking during a visit to a school in Kent, the Prime Minister said he was “hopeful” and had his “fingers crossed”. 

But he added: “It may be that the vaccine is going to come riding over the hill like the cavalry, but we just can’t count on it right now.”

“To say that I’m 100 per cent confident that we will get a vaccine this year – or indeed next year – is, alas, just an exaggeration, we are not there yet.”

The “sheer weight of international effort” will produce some forms of treatment or vaccines, Mr Johnson said, but until that point it was important to continue with social distancing measures, washing hands and wearing face coverings on public transport and in shops, he said.

“Then we will continue to drive the virus down by our own collective action,” he said.

10:44 AM

Speaker rules out Commons move to York saying it would ‘stick in my throat’

The Speaker of the House of Commons has said relocating Parliament to York would “stick in my throat”.

Sir Lindsay Hoyle, who was born and raised in Lancashire, said the rival county would be able to accommodate parliamentarians instead.

However the Chorley MP told Times Radio that reports that both peers and MPs were mere “speculation”, saying: “I don’t believe the House of Commons is leaving London…. Parliament is rooted within London.” 

The Speaker even ruled out a long-term move from the estate, describing it as “a working museum” and a place he has to “still pinch myself” when entering.   

“Would it really be Parliament?” he asked. “As much as I might be tempted to a new building… this is Parliament, this is the home of Parliament and this should be the future of Parliament.”

10:29 AM

Minister says lockdown ‘right decision’, after report claims it could cause 200,000 deaths

A Cabinet minister has said the Government is not willing to accept “collateral damage” as a result of the nationwide lockdown, after the Daily Telegraph revealed an official report warning it could cause up to 200,000 deaths. 

Asked about this morning’s exclusive report, Gavin Williamson told Sky News it was “very much the right decision” to have imposed restrictions for more than three months,  noting that “incredibly tough decisions” had been made to protect the NHS and the country at large from the effects of coronavirus. 

The Education Secretary added: “There is no collateral damage that anyone is prepared to accept

“We are bringing society back, making sure everything is working as we would like to see it.”

As national restrictions were imposed, experts from the Department of Health, the Office of National Statistics (ONS), the government’s Actuary Department and the Home Office forecast the collateral damage from delays to healthcare and the effects of recession arising from the pandemic response, it has emerged.

The report published in April estimated that up to 25,000 could die from delays to treatment in the same period and a further 185,000 in the medium to long term – amounting to nearly one million years of life lost. 

10:27 AM

Boris Johnson confirms UK will change extradition treaty with Hong Kong

Boris Johnson has confirmed the UK will change its extradition treaty with Hong Kong, but said the UK will take a “calibrated response” towards China.

Speaking during a visit to a school in Kent, the Prime Minister said: “There is a balance here. I am not going to be pushed into position of being knee-jerk Sinophobe on every issue… 

“But we do have serious concerns – about the treatment of the Uighur minority, about human rights abuses.

“Concerns about Hong Kong – you will be hearing a bit later on from the Foreign Secretary about how we are going to change our extradition arrangements to reflect our concerns… 

“But we won’t completely abandon our policy of engagement with China,” he added, noting the country was “a giant factor of geo-politics, factor in our lives and those of our children and grandchildren”. 

As a result, the UK will take a “calibrated response”, Mr Johnson said, pledging to be “tough on some things but continue to engage”.

10:19 AM

This is ‘reset moment’ with China, says David Davis

This is “a reset moment” in China’s relationship with the rest of the world, David Davis has said. 

Beijing has been allowed to “get away with, frankly, more than it should do” because of its economic prowess, he told Sky News. 

But the former frontbencher listed the many issues including Huawei, the security law in Hong Kong, the treatment of Uighurs and intellectual property infringement as examples of where the international community should push back. 

He said: “We need an agreement about general behaviour… to reset the world trading relationship – hopefully in free trading relationship as we currently enjoy.”

10:15 AM

Beijing will take extradition treaty shift ‘very seriously’, says David Davis

Suspending the extradition treaty between the UK and Hong Kong would be taken “very seriously” by Beijing, David Davis has said. 

The former Brexit Secretary said suspending the extradition treaty – which Dominic Raab is expected to announce this afternoon – would protect Hong Kongers from being returned to face Chinese law, as a result of the new security law.

“We have to protect them and this is the most appropriate way to do it,” he said.  

He noted that sanctions should be brought forward to any individuals if they have broken the law, but said it must not be deployed as part of the “machine of weaponry”. 

Any action should be ethical, legal and responsible, he says, and must be taken globally to ensure China does not “pick us off one by one”.

09:59 AM

Senior oncologist says ministers must ‘tackle the fear’ to halt lockdown’s ‘dealy consequences’

A senior oncologist has responded to our scoop this morning, saying he has long feared the lockdown’s “deadly consequences”. 

Professor Karol Sakora, who has been warning about the impact of lockdown on cancer for many months, said he was “not surprised at all” to see that officials had estimated restrictions could cause up to 200,00 deaths, in part from “delayed healthcare”.

He said: “For me, getting the country moving was all about getting healthcare functioning. It’s why I’ve been so desperate to tackle the fear. It has deadly consequences.”

09:33 AM

Suella Braverman to give evidence at Justice Committee

Suella Braverman will appear before the Justice Committee tomorrow afternoon, for the first time since she was appointed to the role in February.

The Committee will consider the controversy surrounding the disclosure of evidence relating to rape cases. The issue of legal safeguards in private prosecutions where the prosecutor is also the alleged victim – and where there could therefore be a conflict of interests – may also be raised.

In January 2018, after a number of high-profile rape cases had collapsed following the late disclosure of evidence, the then-Director of Public Prosecutions said some people had been wrongly imprisoned. Disclosure of evidence by the prosecution to the defence is seen as important to the holding of fair trials.

Soon after being appointed, Suella Braverman introduced new guidelines on disclosure, noting that the process was “a vital guarantor of a secure conviction”.

09:30 AM

Watch: Donald Trump calls Fox ‘fake news’ when challenged over mortality rate

Donald Trump is no stranger to dismissing parts of the media as “fake news” – but it is unusual to see him doing it with Fox News. 

The US President was challenged over the country’s surge in cases and rising mortality rates, which is worse than countries including Brazil and Russia, during an interview with the network yesterday. 

Told that the US had the seventh worst rate in the world, he said: “When you talk about mortality rates, I think it’s the opposite. I think we have one of the lowest mortality rates in the world.” 

The bad news for us in the UK is that this country tops that chart, with the highest mortality rate in the world. The full details of the chart are available here.

09:16 AM

Sadiq Khan urged to end London’s twinning with Beijing

Sadiq Khan is being urged to end London’s twinned status with Beijing amid rising tensions between China and the UK. 

Conservative mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey said the incumbent should bring the relationship to an end “now”, saying: “What kind of signal are we sending when we continue a relationship with a government that is seeking to curtail human rights with new security laws in Hong Kong, while overseeing the cruel persecution of its Uighur Muslims?”

Mr Bailey added: “London must send a message that China’s behaviour is unacceptable…Our relationship with China is not simply ‘business as usual’ – and the Mayor should make that clear.”

09:11 AM

Read in full: Official report from April warned lockdown would cost 200,000 deaths

Gavin Williamson defended the Government’s decision to impose a nationwide lockdown this morning, saying it was “very much the right thing to do”, despite a report seen by the Daily Telegraph showing officials were warned it would cost 200,000 deaths. 

If you haven’t read the details yet, I really urge you to. The report, published in April, estimated 50,000 coronavirus fatalities in the first six months, as well as up to 25,000 deaths from delays to treatment in the same period. 

It also warned of an additional 500 suicides during the first wave, and between 600 and 12,000 more deaths per year resulting from a recession which had a significant impact on GDP.

Projected increased deaths within one year
Projected increased deaths within one year

09:00 AM

Critics of woman tipped as next Cabinet Secretary accused of sexism

Critics of a senior Whitehall mandarin tipped to become the first female Cabinet Secretary have been accused of sexism by the head of the senior civil servants union. 

Dave Penman, the general secretary of the FDA, claimed last night that allegations levelled at Antonia Romeo, who is in contention to replace Sir Mark Sedwill as head of the civil service, contained a “whiff of misogyny.” 

Read the full story here.

Antonia Romeo, former Consul General of New York
Antonia Romeo, former Consul General of New York

08:51 AM

Public has ‘vital role’ in vaccine development, says Health Secretary

Matt Hancock has hailed the Government’s move to secure 90m potential coronavirus vaccine doses – and urged the public to help by getting involved in the development trials. 

The Government has now secured access to three different types and people are being asked to to play their part by volunteering for future vaccine studies.

The Health Secretary said: “Members of the public have a vital role to play.

“I urge everyone who can to back the national effort & sign up to the NHS Covid-19 vaccine research registry to help find a vaccine as soon as possible.”

Professor Chris Whitty echoed this, saying: “The generosity of the public in taking part is essential to identify effective vaccines.”

It comes after a study by research agency ORB International, which works with London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, found that more than a quarter of Britons could refuse to be vaccinated even once the trials are concluded. 

08:42 AM

Test & Trace call centre could face penalties for Covid-outbreak, says Scottish minister

Scotland’s Deputy First Minister has not ruled out penalties being taken against the owners of a North Lanarkshire call centre which has seen a cluster of Covid-19 cases.

Six cases were reported on Sunday within the Sitel call centre, which is currently working on Test and Trace cases for NHS England.

John Swinney said the outbreak was a matter of “serious concern”, adding the Scottish Government believed there had been transmission between staff. Investigations are being undertaken to “get an understanding” of how the outbreak had occurred.

He told BBC’s Good Morning Scotland that penalties were among a range of options being “explored”, adding: “Our primary focus is on is to make sure that we interrupt any transmission of the virus.

“The virus is at a very low level within Scottish society today, the compliance efforts of members of the public have successfully reduced the prevalence of coronavirus, but we have to keep it that way.”

Mr Swinney added that actions being taken by NHS Lanarkshire and North Lanarkshire Council were “reassuring”.

08:29 AM

Tim Stanley: Saying I’ll never wear a mask has put me in a pickle

Tim Stanley is in a pickle. He wrote last week that he would never, ever wear a mask. Two days later, the PM said he must wear one to go into a shop.

This is the Year of Thinking Dangerously, when a joke, a slip or an unorthodox opinion can land you in trouble, even if your actual behaviour is entirely conventional.  Read his column here.

08:18 AM

Schools should prepare for local lockdowns, Education Secretary says

Schools should prepare for the possibility of local lockdowns in the wake of coronavirus, the Education Secretary has said.

Gavin Williamson was speaking to the Today programme as he announced a £4.8 billion boost in funding for 2021 compared with 2019, equivalent to a minimum of £5,150 per secondary school pupil and £4,000 per primary school pupil, up from the £5,000 and £3,750 which schools are receiving this year. 

However the focus is still on the impacts of coronavirus, with big question-marks over whether students will return in September, and what will happen if there is a local outbreak. 

Mr Williamson told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We have been clear to schools that they have to plan for a scenario where they are in a situation where we see local lockdowns, and how we have that continuity of education that flows all the way through.”

07:59 AM

Have your say on: wearing a face mask in Pret

Is Pret a shop or a cafe? Ministers can’t seem to agree in this point – which means there is some confusion about whether it is mandatory to wear a face mask when buying your regular sandwich. 

Matt Hancock last week said it was a shop – because you pay at the counter – and therefore masks are mandatory from Friday. His argument was apparently backed by Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss who were both snapped wearing one while picking up their lunch. 

But Gavin Williamson this morning backed up Downing Street (and Michael Gove) in saying it was only to be “encouraged” (8:14am). 

So what kind of establishment is Pret – and will you be wearing your face mask inside? Have your say in our poll below. 

07:51 AM

UK ‘never timid about speaking up for human rights’ 

Gavin Williamson has said the Government has “never been timid about speaking up for human rights” ahead of Dominic Raab’s latest statement on China today. 

The Foreign Secretary is expected to set out the next steps in response to Beijing’s new security law, imposed on Hong Kong, which criminalised any act of secession, subversion, terrorism or collusion with foreign or external forces. It effectively curtails protest and freedom of speech and undermines the Sino-British Joint Declaration treaty.

Speaking ahead of Mr Raab, the Education Secretary said: “The Government has taken a clear approach and a decisive approach, which has actually brought other nations with us.”

He pointed to countries such as Australia and Canada which were “copying” the UK Government in allowing BNO passport holders a pathway to citizenship.  

They are among the countries to have moved to suspend their extradition treaty with Hong Kong, something Mr Raab is expected to announce today.

07:41 AM

Test & Trace has broken data law, DHSC admits

The Government has admitted that England’s Covid-19 Test and Trace programme has broken a data protection law, according to a letter sent to privacy campaigners.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) acknowledged it had failed to carry out a risk assessment on how the system would affect privacy, a legal requirement.

It follows the threat of legal action from the Open Rights Group (ORG), which claims that the programme to trace contacts of those infected with Covid-19 has been operating unlawfully since its launch on May 28.

A spokesman for the DHSC said there is “no evidence” of data being used in an unlawful way.

In response to a pre-action letter from privacy campaigning organisation ORG, the Government confirmed that, while the assessment is a legal requirement, it has not yet been completed.

The letter from DHSC, which is dated July 15, said the legal requirement is being “finalised”.

07:39 AM

MPs urge action on Hong Kong extradition treaty

Dominic Raab will set out the next steps in the UK’s response to a new controversial security law, imposed on Hong Kong by Beijing. 

Having already committed to welcoming up to three million BNO-passport holders in the UK, the Foreign Secretary is expected to unveil further measures, which could include an end to the extradition treaty with Hong Kong. 

This weekend MPs from the China Research Group wrote to Mr Raab, urging him to act. Here’s the letter:

07:32 AM

Labour urges action as one in four childcare providers may close by year-end

One in four childcare providers believe they will not be in business by the end of this year, Labour’s shadow education secretary has said. 

Kate Green told BBC Breakfast that the prospect of providers going out of business was “really worrying” for parents who need to find childcare when they return to work.

She said: “The problem for childcare providers is that lack of capacity means a lack of income and some of them are becoming financially unviable.

“So the consequence of less demand is that it’s possible, and indeed the childcare providers are saying this, that some of them will go out of business altogether.

“One in four think they may not still be around within the year, and that’s really worrying when parents need to find childcare places so they can go back to work and know that their children are being looked after safely.”

07:30 AM

‘Zero truth’ to claims that Beijing has access to TikTok data, firm claims

Social media giant TikTok has insisted that the Chinese communist party does not have access to the personal information of users.

The company is recruiting a team of well-connected lobbyists in London as part of plans to make the UK capital its international headquarters.

But those plans have been thrown into doubt after it was labelled a “potential counterintelligence threat” by senior members of Congress. The Trump administration is considering placing sanctions on TikTok amid concerns about whether the app’s Chinese ownership allows Beijing free access to personal data collected on Western users, many of whom are under 18.

Asked about such claims, TikTok head of public policy for Europe, Theo Bertram, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “It’s completely false.

“TikTok is not available in China. TikTok data is stored in the US.

“TikTok is a company incorporated in the US.

“There is zero truth to the accusations that the Chinese state has access to TikTok users’ data.”

07:23 AM

What’s on the agenda today?

It’s shaping up to be another busy Monday in Westminster. 

Dominic Raab is expected to set out the next steps in the UK’s response to the new security law being imposed by Beijing on Hong Kong. One possible lever at the Foreign Secretary’s disposal is the extradition treaty with Hong Kong, with a group of MPs warning it could be used by the Chinese government to extradite people who have travelled to Britain under the new BNO route set out in July. 

Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, is thought to support the calls to suspend the treaty. 

Mr Raab is due to speak from 3:30pm – we will find out what his plans are then. 

Before that Robert Jenrick, the Housing Secretary is in the Commons for his monthly question time at 2.30pm. This could see the return of more grilling about the Westferry development, ahead of a committee appearance this week. 

Meanwhile the Trade Bill returns to the Commons for its final stages this afternoon, with Tory backbencher Jonathan Djanogly putting forward an amendment to give parliament a vote on any trade deal signed by the UK government. There is considerable concern, even on the Tory benches, that the US will force a deal which will undercut British farmers and result in chlorinated chicken or something similar landing in our supermarkets. 

Mike Pompeo, the US Secretary of State, arrives today, ahead of meetings with Mr Raab and Boris Johnson tomorrow. 

And over in Brussels, Brexit talks begin again today and this week seems to be a fairly critical one. The last few rounds have seen talks end early but they will need to make some progress this time if a deal is to be secured by October.

07:14 AM

Minister says masks are not compulsory in Pret-a-Manger

Confusion over whether it is mandatory to wear a face mask in Pret-A-Manger, the sandwich chain, continues this morning after Gavin Williamson suggested it was “encouraged” rather than compulsory. 

The question of whether takeaway food outlets count as shops (where masks are mandatory from today) or hospitality (where they are not) has caused something of a divide among ministers.

Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, said last week that masks would be mandatory in Pret, as you have to pay at a counter. However this was later contradicted by Downing Street. 

Ministers including Liz Truss, the Trade Secretary, and Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, have been pictured with masks on in a Pret – while Michael Gove has been pictured without.

The Education Secretary told Sky News; “My understanding is that you don’t have to – but we all have our face masks nowadays”, waving his own as proof. 

“If you are going into Pret, don a face mask if you have one,” he added. “My understanding is that going into Pret – it is encouraged though it isn’t officially required that you absolutely have to.” 

Masking up: Rishi dons a mask for Pret
Masking up: Rishi dons a mask for Pret

07:05 AM

Williamson would ‘absolutely’ take part in vaccine trials

Gavin Williamson said he would “absolutely” take part in a coronavirus vaccine trial, as the Government has struck deals to secure more than 90 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine.

He stressed the need for as many people as possible to have a vaccine, telling Sky News the success of such a programme was “contingent” on widespread adoption. 

But Mr Williamson acknowledged the vaccines would not be ready in time for this winter period, which experts including Sir Patrick Vallance and Professor Chris Whitty have warned will be particularly challenging. 

The Education Secretary told BBC Breakfast: “The whole purpose is that they will be getting trialled out.

“Half a million people will be having the trials of these vaccines and it will be something that comes after winter.”

Asked if he would take part in a trial, Mr Williamson said: “Absolutely. As you are probably aware politicians tend to meet lots of people, so it would be a sensible thing to do.”

07:00 AM

Britain ‘not nervous’ about China, as Government prepares to scrap extradition treaty

The UK Government has “has never been nervous” about tackling China over human rights abuses, Gavin Williamson has said. 

Dominic Raab, the Foreign Secretary, is expected to set out further measures being taken in response to China’s imposition of the national security law in Hong Kong this afternoon. There is also growing condemnation over China’s treatment of the Uighur muslims.

One of the areas that has been reviewed is the UK’s extradition treaty with Hong Kong. 

Mr Williamson didn’t comment on the specifics but noted that Britain has been a “global leader” in responding to Hong Kong.

“We want to work with China, but we must always and will always speak out,” he added. 

Next Post

Government signs new vaccine deals for 90 million doses

Mon Jul 20 , 2020
Oxford University’s vaccine against coronavirus is safe and produces an immune response, the first human results have shown. – Dado Ruvic/Reuters Coronavirus Article Bar with counter .. The Government says it has secured an agreement for 30 million doses of a vaccine being developed – and currently at phase two trials […]
Government signs new vaccine deals for 90 million doses

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