The Northern Ireland Protocol Bill “trashes” Britain’s reputation, Liz Truss has been warned – but she insisted the Government had “exhausted all other avenues”.
The Bill – which seeks to give ministers the power to potentially override post-Brexit arrangement and remove customs checks on products entering Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK – is currently having its second reading in the Commons.
Andrew Mitchell, the senior Conservative backbencher and a former Cabinet minister, told the Foreign Secretary: “Can I say to her that many of us extremely concerned that the Bill brazenly breaks a solemn international treaty, it trashes our international reputation, it threatens a trade war at a time when our economy is flat and it puts us at odds with our most important ally.”
But Ms Truss responded Britain’s preference remained a negotiated solution and said Brussels had refused to change the text of the Protocol to fix border issues “as recently as this weekend”.
“These solutions work for the people [of Northern Ireland],” she told MPs. “Once this legislation is through, we will have a solution that helps restore the balance between the communities and helps uphold the purpose of the Good Friday Agreement.”
Follow the latest updates below.
‘What would our Conservative response be?’
Simon Hoare asks if Labour were on the Government bench and were doing what is contained in the Protocol, “what would our Conservative response be?”
“We would say that this was a party not fit for government. We would say this was a party that does not understand our traditions, respect our traditions or understand the importance of reputation.
“For a fellow Tory to have to point this out to Tory is shameful. Can I just ask my Right Honourable and Honourable friends just to think about what this does to our party’s reputation and our nation’s reputation? Because both are in peril.”
‘He obviously wasn’t listening’
Sir Bernard Jenkin, the veteran Tory backbencher, says Mr Hoare has not mentioned the Good Friday Agreement – eight minutes into his speech.
Mr Hoare snaps back that he “obviously wasn’t listening” as he has already referred to “the constitutional integrity” of the UK.
DUP: No taxation without representation
Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, the leader of the DUP, tells Simon Hoare: “Can I just say to the Honourable Member that what we have as a result of this Protocol is a democratic deficit in Northern Ireland.
“Many of the laws that now regulate how we trade with the rest of the United Kingdom are made by a foreign entity over which we have no say whatsoever. Our VAT rates are set by that foreign entity. No taxation without representation.
“I don’t need to be ‘bribed’ to ask for what is the right of my people – democracy, democracy!”
Mr Hoare says he has “much sympathy” with Sir Jeffrey’s argument, and argues the EU is “really keen to identify platforms by which that democratic deficit can be addressed. I’m tempted to suggest don’t shout at me, shout at the ministers who advocated the Protocol.”
He says “we are the party of law” or “we are nothing… It is a power grab, all these Henry VIII clauses.”
‘It’s not a well-thought out Bill, it’s not a good Bill’
Simon Hoare, the Tory chairman of the Northern Ireland select committee, says David Lammy is right – “at the heart of this is trust, or the absence of it, or as she leaves maybe the absence of Truss”.
Mr Hoare says “there are many ways to achieve change, but this Bill is not one of them… The Foreign Secretary and others have tried to conflate the resurrection of devolution and the Protocol. Treaty making is reserved to this place, devolution is the duty of the politicians of Northern Ireland.
“It’s not a well-thought-out Bill, it’s not a good Bill, it’s not a well-thought-out Bill. The Protocol and trading arrangements does not change the constitutional treaty of the UK. This Bill is a failure of statecraft, and it puts at risk the reputation of the United Kingdom.
“The arguments supporting it are flimsy at best… [it’s] a Bill that runs the risk of shredding our reputation as a guardian of international law and a rules-based system. How in the name of heaven can we expect to speak to others with authority when we ourselves shun, at a moment’s notice, our legal obligations – a hard-won reputation so easily tapered?”
David Lammy’s closing remarks
This is a power grab so broad it would make Henry VIII blush.
Do her own backbenchers really want to give any Foreign Secretary that power? This is a brazen executive overreach. It is an act of disrespect to Parliament and all MPs should reject it.
The only way forward is to work hard on negotiation and compromise. This Bill is not the way forward – it will exacerbate the problems it hopes to solve, it will divide us from our friends and allies in Europe when we should be untied. It will break international law.
Our reputation is hard-won and easily lost, warns David Lammy
Agreements must be kept as this is the essence of international law, David Lammy insists.
“How would we react if a country we negotiated with did the same thing and simply disregarded the commitments we had mutually agreed upon [with] them?”
Mr Lammy says the Protocol must be renegotiated “just as we negotiated the Good Friday Agreement”.
Sammy Wilson, the DUP MP for East Antrim, argues the new Bill “safeguards the single market” and obligations to the EU have been met.
“Yes, it needs to be improved – the question is: how have the best method to achieve that?” asks Mr Lammy. “And is breaking law… Is a situation where our EU partners don’t trust us, is that the best [solution]? Our country’s reputation is a matter beyond party. It’s hard-won, and easily lost.”
David Lammy: You do not break international law
David Lammy says the Bill is “damaging and counterproductive, the strategy behind it is flawed, the legal justification for it is feeble, the precedent it sets is dangerous and the timing could hardly be worse”.
He accuses the Conservatives of dividing the UK and the EU at a time “we should be pulling together” against Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
Sir John Redwood asks Mr Lammy what he would do to ensure Brussels complies with its own obligations, to which he says: “Negotiate, just as this opposition did to get the Good Friday Agreement.
“We negotiate! You do not break international law and alienate our partners and allies – not just in Europe and across the world, and the honourable gentleman should know better.”
There is a better way, says Labour
Labour’s David Lammy says it has been three years since Boris Johnson described the Withdrawal Agreement as “a great deal for Northern Ireland” as well as the rest of the UK.
“He reassured us that above all we and our European friends have preserved the letter and the spirit of the Belfast Good Friday Agreement. His deal, he argued, was in perfect conformity with the Good Friday Agreement. Today, 18 months after it came into force, the Government is taking a wrecking ball to its own agreement.”
Ian Paisley, the DUP MP for North Antrim, says Article 16 should be triggered, which Hillary Benn pointed out was an option – asking whether Mr Lammy would support that.
“This opposition thinks there is a better way forward through negotiation, but at least the proposition he suggests is legal.”
Liz Truss’s closing remarks
I want to be very clear. This is not my preferred choice. But in the absence of a negotiated solution there is no other choice.
There is no need for the EU to react negatively. They will be no worse off as a result of this legislation. These issues are very small in the context of the single market, but they are critically important for Northern Ireland.
These solutions work for the people [of Northern Ireland]. Once this legislation is through, we will have a solution that helps restore the balance between the communities and helps uphold the purpose of the Good Friday Agreement. That is the purpose of this Bill and I commend it to the House.
Truss and Benn clash in Commons
Liz Truss calls on those demanding renegotiation to urge the EU to change the text of the Protocol.
Hillary Benn – a veteran of the Parliamentary back-and-forth over Brexit between 2016 and 2019 – quips: “I suspect that when she was campaigning for Britain to remain in the European Union, she never in a million years thought she would be standing here proposing a bill of this sort.”
Mr Benn presses Ms Truss on why Article 16 has not been triggered.
“The reason I’m putting this Bill forward is because I’m a patriot and I’m a democrat. And our number one priority is protecting peace and political stability in Northern Ireland and protecting the Belfast Good Friday Agreement. And nothing the honourable gentleman has suggested will achieve that end.”
EU must return to talks to keep the peace, say Tory MPs
The EU needs to “engage with us and negotiate” so “peace is not threatened”, says Aaron Bell, the Conservative MP for Newcastle-under-Lyme, while Mark Francois describes the legislation as “long-awaited”.
Ms Truss warns against allowing “the situation to drift on… I know there are those across the House who want to give negotiation more time.
“The problem we face is we’ve already been negotiating for 18 months, we have a negotiating partner who is refusing to change the text of the Protocol. Meanwhile, we have a worsening situation in Northern Ireland. It is firmly the view of this Government that we need to act.
“And we are pursuing this legislation as all other options have been exhausted. Our first choice was and remains renegotiating the Protocol text with the EU.”
‘Democrat deficit’ means we have ‘exhausted all other avenues’
The Bill will ensure Northern Ireland benefits from the same support – such as VAT breaks – as the rest of the UK, Liz Truss tells MPs.
It will remove the role of the European Court “where it is not appropriate”, including its role as the final arbiter of disputes, although EU law will still be applied for the benefit of north-south trade.
Speaking of a “democratic deficit”, Ms Truss says: “This is not a hypothetical issue. The European Court has already become one of the most controversial elements of the Protocol, threatening to disrupt everyday life. To be absolutely clear, the Bill only changes the parts of the Protocol that are causing the problems and undermining the three strands of the Belfast Agreement.”
Asked by Labour MP’s Chris Bryant about who will arbitrate on whether the Bill is legal, Ms Truss replies: “We have published our Government legal statement, which clearly states the reasons that this Bill is legal and the necessity of pursuing this Bill. And I do return to my point about the lack of alternatives being proposed by the opposition.
‘The Government needs to act’
Ms Truss acknowledges the Protocol “not [being] set in stone” and the only way for it to be resolved is for new legislation in Westminster after a year-and-a-half of talk failed to yield a compromise.
Caroline Lucas, the Green MP, accuses the Government of “riding a horse and coaches” through international law, asking why ministers are not triggering Article 16 and about the potential consequences for Britain’s international reputation.
Ms Truss says the Good Friday Agreement “should have primacy” but has been “undermined”, as shown by the impasse in Stormont, adding: “This is why the Government needs to act and we are doing so in a reasonable and a legal way.”
Sir Bob Neill, the Tory MP for Bromley and Chislehurst, says the doctrine of necessity – cited by the Government in its legal advice – requires an “evidential base”, and asks when this will be available to the Commons so it can form a judgment of whether tests of proportionality and necessity are met. It’d be very helpful to have that, preferably before we make a conclusion on the Bill.”
Ms Truss points to the “very severe issues” in Northern Ireland, and accuses the opposition of not putting forward an alternative plan.
Andrew Mitchell says new law ‘trashes our reputation’
Andrew Mitchell, the Tory MP for Sutton Coldfield, says he has an “immense amount of sympathy” with Liz Truss and the EU has “not been particularly constructive” in working towards a solution.
But he continues: “Can I say to her that many of us extremely concerned that the Bill brazenly breaks a solemn international treaty, it trashes our international reputation, it threatens a trade war at a time when our economy is flat and it puts us at odds with our most important ally. Can she says anything to reassure me in my anxieties on these points?”
Ms Truss responds: “As I said at the outset, our preference is for a negotiated solution and we have sought a negotiated solution for 18 months. But as recently as this weekend the EU has refused to change the text of the Protocol.”
She once again says there is “strong legal justification” for the Protocol Bill – and the “fundamental issue” is the intransigence shown by Brussels.
‘This Bill is long overdue’
Jim Shannon, the DUP MP for Strangford, has intervened in the debate.
Mr Shannon says Northern Ireland “needs this Bill not simply for cultural identity, which is imperative for financial identity, for the small businesses and the effects of the EU’s vindictive approach… Really, this Bill is long overdue.”
Ms Truss says any trader violating the green lane and red lane system would face penalties including ejection from the scheme.
New Protocol Bill is the Government’s ‘duty’
The EU has ruled out upfront changing the text of the Protocol, Liz Truss notes.
Sir John Redwood, a hardline Brexiteer, asks Ms Truss to confirm “this moderate measure is completely legal and essential” to peace in Northern Ireland. She insists the Bill is both “necessary and legal”, referring to the legal advice published by the Government.
“Northern Ireland has been without a devolved government since February due specifically to the Protocol at a time of major economic challenges. Therefore it is the duty of this Government to act now to enable a plan for restored local government to begin.”
Liz Truss: Protocol is undermining Good Friday Agreement
Liz Truss, the Foreign Secretary, is at the Despatch Box as the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill receives its Second Reading.
“We are taking this action to uphold the Belfast Good Friday Agreement, which has brought peace and political stability to Northern Ireland. The Northern Ireland Protocol is undermining the functioning of the agreement and of power-sharing.
“It has created fractures between east and west. It has diverted trade, and meant people in Northern Ireland are being treated differently from people in Great Britain. This has weakened their economic rights.”
Ms Truss says essential parts of the Agreement have been “damaged” but the Bill will do “essential” work to remedy the current issues in Northern Ireland.
Breaking: Two Protocol amendments not selected
The Liberal Democrat and SNP amendments to the Protocol have not been selected, Dame Rosie Winterton confirms from the Speaker’s chair.
The Foreign Secretary is up in a minute.
A Royal – and ever-so-polite – political punch
As Nicola Sturgeon put the final flourishes to her latest roadmap to independence, the royal train chugged almost unnoticed into Scotland, writes Hannah Furness.
On board, to the surprise of even dedicated royal watchers, was the Queen, who has so rarely appeared in public recently but pulled out all the stops for this.
In a powder blue coat and hat adorned with purple and white flowers, she was beaming and serene as she took part in the Ceremony of the Keys she has seen so many times before. And so without speaking – and indeed almost without moving in public – she embarked on just the sort of show of soft diplomacy she has spent 70 years perfecting.
Read the full story here
Disgraced lawyer Phil Shiner pleads not guilty to fraud charges over Iraq war abuse claims
Phil Shiner, the human rights lawyer struck off for dishonesty over false allegations against Iraq war veterans, was granted legal aid today – in a case in which he is accused of making fraudulent legal aid claims.
A number of former British soldiers watched Shiner’s first court appearance following a five-year investigation by the National Crime Agency.
Shiner, participating via video link from his home in Birmingham, denied all charges, pleading not guilty to three counts of fraud at Westminster Magistrates Court.
The 65-year-old, once voted Human Rights Lawyer of the Year, was struck off by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) in 2017 over false claims of murder and torture against British troops during the Battle of Danny Boy in southern Iraq.
Robert Mendick, our Chief Reporter, has the full story
PM holds talks with South African President
Boris Johnson held talks with Cyril Ramaphosa, the South African President, at the G7 in Bavaria, Germany, today.
A Downing Street spokesman said: “The Prime Minister and President Ramaphosa agreed that South Africa has enormous potential to follow in the UK’s footsteps and phase out the use of coal, and all the raw materials it needs to achieve green and sustainable growth.
“The Prime Minister and President Ramaphosa discussed the ongoing atrocities being committed in Ukraine. The Prime Minister underlined the far reaching consequences of Putin’s aggression, in particular its impact on global food and energy prices – an impact the developing world is bearing the brunt of. The leaders agreed on the urgent need for Putin to open up a safe passage for grain to leave Ukraine and reaffirmed their support for the UN efforts on this.”
Irish Taoiseach criticises UK’s ‘trend towards unilateralism’
Boris Johnson said earlier this month that the UK’s plans to unilaterally override parts of the Northern Ireland Protocol are “not a big deal”.
Micheal Martin, the Irish Taoiseach, disagrees. He today rejected the idea that the legislation will not lead to a major row.
Speaking in Dublin, Mr Martin said that “any unilateral decision to breach international law is a major serious development”.
He said: “There can be no getting out of that. One cannot trivialise the breaching of an international agreement between the UK Government and the EU. My concern is a trend towards unilateralism that is emanating from the UK Government.”
DUP issues Brexit warning to peers
If the House of Lords blocks the passage of the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill they will be “wrecking the Good Friday Agreement”, Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has said.
In a warning to peers ahead of MPs’ first debate on the Bill, the DUP leader said: “If the House of Lords seeks to wreck the Bill, then they need to understand they are wrecking the Good Friday Agreement as well.”
PM: Northern Ireland Protocol changes will be law by end of year
Northern Ireland border checks could be ripped up by the end of the year, Boris Johnson has said, as he braces for a rebellion from Tory MPs and a fresh clash with the EU.
The Prime Minister insisted a new law to override large parts of the Protocol will come into force “very fast, Parliament willing” but added he still wants a deal with Brussels.
Speaking to reporters at the G7 summit in Bavaria, he said ministers “remain optimistic” the bloc will show more “flexibility” but need to act now to preserve the peace.
You can read the full story here.
Boris Johnson ‘right person to be PM now and well into the future’
Michael Gove, the Levelling Up Secretary, said he believes Boris Johnson is the “right person to be prime minister now and well into the future”.
Asked if he had changed his mind about Mr Johnson after withdrawing his support from him during the 2016 Tory leadership contest, Mr Gove told GB News: “Yes… I withdrew my support for Boris in 2016 and with the benefit of hindsight that was a mistake.
“I think that I should have supported him throughout that leadership election. I voted for Boris in 2019 when there was a straight forward choice between Boris and Jeremy Hunt, I’m a great fan of Jeremy’s actually, but I thought that Boris was the right person at that point to be prime minister and I think he is the right person to be prime minister now and well into the future.”
‘I don’t think so’
Michael Gove, the Levelling Up Secretary, has rejected the suggestion that the result of the confidence vote on Boris Johnson’s leadership would have been different if it had taken place after last week’s two Tory by-election defeats.
Mr Johnson won the vote at the start of June but the by-election losses in Wakefield and in Tiverton and Honiton have put renewed pressure on his position.
Mr Gove was asked during an interview on GB News today if he believed the result may have been different if the ballot was held now.
He replied: “I don’t think so. Again, one of the things is that commentators and journalists will quite rightly speculate about all sorts of aspects of our political life but from the point of view of someone who is working in government, that vote happened, the Prime Minister won, I voted for him, I was delighted that he won, it was a clear victory and now, as the Prime Minister has said, it is our responsibility to get on with delivery.”
No timetable for DUP to return to Stormont
Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has declined to put a timetable on the DUP returning to power-sharing arrangements at Stormont ahead of the debate on the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill this afternoon (see the post below at 10.33).
Speaking to reporters, the DUP leader said his party would “consider what steps we can take” once the Bill has cleared the House of Commons.
He added: “I have made clear that we will be condition-led, not calendar-led, and that we want to see real progress with this Bill, and that’s our message today to the House of Commons.”
Analysis: G7 leaders have listened to Volodymyr Zelensky
The big item on the agenda for Boris Johnson at this summit was to convince G7 leaders that now is not the time to start thinking about a peace deal in Ukraine, writes The Telegraph’s Whitehall Correspondent Tony Diver who is in Bavaria.
The UK delegation argues that any sort of settlement now would mean Ukraine giving up territory to Russia, which isn’t acceptable either to Western powers or to Volodymyr Zelensky.
A joint statement by G7 leaders released just now makes it quite clear that Mr Johnson and Mr Zelensky have won that argument – and that the big seven Western economies are now signed up to help fight the war, no matter how long it takes.
“We are committed to helping Ukraine to uphold its sovereignty and territorial integrity, to defend itself, and to choose its own future,” the statement says. “It is up to Ukraine to decide on a future peace settlement, free from external pressure or influence. We will continue to coordinate efforts to meet Ukraine’s urgent requirements for military and defence equipment.”
This is a big win for the Prime Minister, who has been making this argument for some time. I understand Mr Zelensky told the G7 at today’s meeting that he would “only negotiate from a position of strength”.
It seems world leaders have listened to him.
Volodymyr Zelensky: ‘If Ukraine wins you all win’
Volodymyr Zelensky, the President of Ukraine, is understood to have told G7 leaders during his video address this morning not to let the conflict in his country “drag on over winter”.
He told the leaders gathered in Germany that “if Ukraine wins you all win”.
And in a sign he was not willing to back down and accept a peace deal that gave up swathes of Ukraine to Russia, the President said: “We will only negotiate from a position of strength.”
Pictured: Boris Johnson chats with Italian PM Mario Draghi
Nato to increase high readiness forces to more than 300,000
Nato will increase the number of its forces at high readiness to over 300,000, Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has said.
“We will transform the Nato response force and increase the number of our high readiness forces to well over 300,000,” he told reporters ahead of a Nato summit in Madrid later this week.
Nato’s quick reaction force, the Nato response force, currently has approximately 40,000 troops.
You can read more here.
Caroline Nokes and Dehenna Davison deny planning to defect to Labour
Two high-profile Conservative rebels have denied that they plan to defect to Labour after reports that as many as six MPs could cross the floor.
Caroline Nokes was one of the first Tories to submit a letter of no confidence in Boris Johnson over the ‘partygate’ scandal, while Dehenna Davison opposed Mr Johnson in the confidence vote earlier this month.
The Sunday Times quoted Labour insiders who claimed that at least six Tory MPs were considering whether to defect after last week’s by-election defeats in Wakefield and Tiverton and Honiton.
“For the avoidance of doubt – again – I’m not bloody defecting,” Ms Davison, the MP for Bishop Auckland who won her seat from Labour in 2019, said on Twitter.
Quoting Ms Davison’s tweet, Ms Nokes, the Romsey and Southampton North MP, wrote: “Me neither – just to pop that on the record.”
You can read the full story here.
Russian capacity for prolonged war in Ukraine ‘looking a bit thin’
General Sir Richard Barrons, the former head of the UK’s Joint Forces Command, said Russia’s ability to wage a prolonged war in Ukraine is “looking a bit thin”.
He told the BBC: “We don’t know the size of the Russian stockpile of either precision or dumb munitions. What we do know is that every single precision missile that Russia fires into Ukraine only arrives at its target courtesy of US and European technology that is inside it.
“So by cutting off that technology and the supply of further components we will be limiting the Russian ability to refill its stockpile but it will find ways around it through supplies from other parts of the world.
“But Russia knows very well that without mobilisation, without declaring a war and mobilising its society and its industry, its capacity to continue this war in Ukraine is looking a bit thin now and that is likely to lead to the sort of stalemate we discussed earlier.”
‘Very unlikely’ Ukraine war is over by winter
Volodymyr Zelensky, the Ukrainian President, today urged G7 leaders to step up sanctions on Russia and end the war before the winter sets in.
General Sir Richard Barrons, the former head of the UK’s Joint Forces Command, said it is “very unlikely” the war will be over by winter.
Speaking to the BBC’s Radio 4 World at One programme, he said: “I think the only way this war is over by winter is if one or other side gives up and that seems to me very, very unlikely.
“A far more likely outcome is that there is something of a stalemate where Russia can’t get any further forward and Ukraine can’t throw the Russians out and then we are into a different phase of this war while Ukrainian capability is rebuilt over the winter and into next spring.”
Dublin criticises UK over Northern Ireland law
Simon Coveney, Ireland’s Foreign Affairs Minister, said he is “hugely disappointed” that the UK Government is continuing to pursue its “unlawful” unilateral approach on the Northern Ireland Protocol (see the post below at 10.33).
He said: “This is not the way to find sustainable solutions to the genuine concerns of people and business in Northern Ireland and only adds to uncertainty.
“I continue to urge the British Government to return to constructive dialogue with the EU in pursuit of jointly agreed, long-lasting solutions.”
No 10 wants Brexit law passed ‘as quickly as possible’
Downing Street said the Government wants to pass the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill “as quickly as possible” (see the post below at 10.33).
Asked about Boris Johnson’s suggestion that the plan to rip up parts of post-Brexit arrangements in the region could be enacted by the end of the year, the Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman said: “We have never put a hard target date on it, but we want to pass it as quickly as possible to address the many issues we know the protocol is causing to people on the ground.”
Pictured: PM speaks with EU’s Charles Michel
‘It’s time for Cabinet to assert its powers and flex its muscles’
Simon Hoare, the Tory chairman of the Northern Ireland Select Committee, has suggested to The Telegraph that Cabinet ministers should now move against Boris Johnson.
The senior Tory MP said: “You can’t turn around and say we’re going to listen and learn and then say we’re not going to change. I don’t know who he’s listening to and I don’t know what he’s learning, but there’s no evidence of engagement and no evidence of listening and certainly no evidence of learning or changing.
“It’s time for Cabinet to assert its powers and flex its muscles. There are an awful lot of Cabinet who are only there because of him, but four or five senior Cabinet people should get around the table and say ‘we’ve got leadership ambitions, are we wanting to exercise those ambitions as Prime Minister or as leader of the opposition?’
“There’s an awful lot of people who are coming to that conclusion. There’s a growing sense of what the hell, what is the government for? We’ve got to have a Cabinet and a wider government structure representing all strands of Tory opinion.”
‘Nobody abandons a privilege like that’
Boris Johnson said “nobody abandons a privilege like” running the country after he was asked if he had ever considered stepping down as Prime Minister.
Speaking to the BBC as he attended a G7 summit in southern Germany, Mr Johnson said: “Again, you’re asking me to talk about me and my career. I’m focused on what I’m doing as leader of the country, driving a massive, massive agenda of change and improvement, and it is a huge, huge privilege to do it and nobody abandons a privilege like that.”
PM insists he has a ‘new mandate’
The Prime Minister has insisted he has a “new mandate” to lead the Conservative Party after he won a confidence vote earlier this month, despite some Tory MPs still calling for him to quit.
Asked if he has the authority to deliver on his policy pledges, he said: “I not only have the authority, I’ve got a new mandate from my party which I’m absolutely delighted about…”
Told that 40 per cent of his MPs voted to get rid of him, the PM said: “I got a higher percentage of the vote this time. That’s done.”
Asked again if he could deliver when his authority has been “clearly weakened”, he said: “Of course we can and we’re going to continue to do that and we’re focused on that 1,000 per cent.”
‘Sometimes the price of freedom is worth paying’
Boris Johnson has said the “price of freedom is worth paying” as he compared the resistance to the Russian invasion of Ukraine to the fight against Nazi Germany.
He said: “We’re certainly supporting the Ukrainians in their fight to defend themselves. And the point I would make to people is, I think that sometimes the price of freedom is worth paying.
“And just remember, it took the democracies, in the middle of the last century, a long time to recognise that they had to resist tyranny and aggression. It took them a long time, it was very expensive.
“But what it bought in the end, with the defeat of the of the dictators, particularly of Nazi Germany, it bought decades and decades of stability, a world order that relied on a rules-based international system. And that is worth protecting, that is worth defending, that delivers long term prosperity.”
‘Strategic endurance in this is very important’
Boris Johnson said the UK must “stay the course” in its support for Ukraine as he warned Russia must not be allowed to succeed in its invasion.
Speaking to the BBC in Bavaria, he said: “I think strategic endurance in this is very important. I would just make a couple of points though, just to sort of reassure people at home.
“I think that the economic impacts on the UK will start to abate, we’ll find ways around things and some of the cost pressures will start to come down.
“But just in terms of staying the course, imagine if we didn’t. Imagine if we allowed Putin to get away with the violent acquisition of huge chunks of another country, a sovereign, independent territory, the lessons for that would be absolutely chilling.”
Boris Johnson: Up to Ukraine to decide objectives
Boris Johnson was asked if the price of peace in Ukraine would be restoring Ukraine to the borders it had six months ago before the Russian invasion.
Speaking to the BBC in Bavaria, Mr Johnson said: “You can’t be more Ukrainians than the Ukrainians. I think it’s for Volodymyr Zelensky and his people to decide what they want.”
G7 will support Ukraine ‘for as long as it takes’
In a joint statement, the G7 leaders have promised to support Ukraine “for as long as it takes”.
They said: “We will continue to provide financial, humanitarian, military and diplomatic support and stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes.
“As we do so, we commit to demonstrate global responsibility and solidarity through working to address the international impacts of Russia’s aggression, especially on the most vulnerable.”
Pictured: G7 leaders pose for family photograph in Germany
Tory MPs with big majorities concerned about losing seats
William Wragg, the Tory chairman of the Commons Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee, said he and many other Conservative MPs are concerned about losing their seats at the next general election after the Liberal Democrats overturned a 24,000 vote majority in Tiverton and Honiton last week.
Mr Wragg has a 4,400 vote majority in his constituency of Hazel Grove.
Asked if he is concerned about holding his seat, he told the BBC: “Of course, it would be silly of me to say, not to agree with that and actually quite a few many others with majorities much larger than mine I might contend.”
Asked if the situation would be different with a different Tory leader, he said: “I think so.”
‘Undesirable’ but ‘possible’ to change Tory leadership rules
Boris Johnson has insisted the question of his leadership has been “settled” despite last week’s two by-election defeats and fresh pressure from some of his MPs to quit (see the post below at 09.30).
Tory MPs continue to express concerns about his leadership. William Wragg, the Tory chairman of the Commons Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee, told BBC Radio 4’s Westminster Hour programme that the by-elections were a “complete and utter disaster”.
Mr Wragg said it would be “undesirable” to change the Tory leadership rules to allow another confidence vote but it is “possible”.
He said: “Fundamentally I don’t find it particularly comfortable when we start changing the rules to fit certain circumstances.”
He added: “As I say, it is undesirable to change the rules, no one would wish to change the rules, but I think as has been placed on the record by Graham Brady and indeed others it is possible to change the rules as it became necessary to do previously.”
Pictured: Carrie Johnson and Brigitte Macron attend the G7
Damian Green: PM staying makes it ‘more difficult’ to win election
If Boris Johnson remains leader of the Conservative Party it will make it “more difficult” for the Tories to win the next general election, Damian Green has said.
The Tory former first secretary of state was asked during an interview on Channel 4 what the consequences would be if Mr Johnson stays as leader.
He said: “I publicly voted against him last time partly because I think that would make it less likely that we would win the next election, and I want us to win the next election, of course, and so it would make it more difficult.”
What will happen at today’s Brexit vote?
MPs are debating and voting on the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill for the first time today. The legislation will give ministers the power to unilaterally make changes to post-Brexit border rules in Northern Ireland.
The Bill is due for its second reading in the House of Commons which is the first significant hurdle a bill has to clear as part of its passage through Parliament.
The debate will start after 3.30pm with votes likely to take place at 10pm. There are two amendments tabled – one from the SNP and one from the Lib Dems – and both are wrecking amendments designed to torpedo the legislation.
Some Tory MPs have expressed concerns about the Bill amid claims that it could breach international law but it seems unlikely that there will be a major rebellion this evening.
The Bill should get its second reading and then proceed on to further stages of scrutiny when MPs will be able to make changes to it – that could be the point at which rebel Tory MPs try to force the Government’s hand to make the legislation more palatable.
DUP expresses concerns as MP prepare to vote on Brexit law
Stormont DUP minister Edwin Poots said it will be a “significant step” if the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill gets through its second reading in the House of Commons today, but that the future looks “bleak” if it does not.
Asked if the DUP will be any closer to returning to Stormont if it gets through, Mr Poots told BBC Radio Ulster’s Good Morning Ulster programme: “In a sense, yes.”
He added that if it does not get through then “I think that the future looks bleak”.
He said: “If it gets through today it is a significant step forward and we’d be working with Government to see what other steps can be taken in advance of legislation being fully applied.”
Liz Truss on Brexit: ‘Our preference remains a negotiated outcome’
Minister: PMs ‘can’t win’ when asked leadership question
Boris Johnson raised eyebrows over the weekend by suggesting he has ambitions to remain in office into the 2030s.
George Eustice has backed the suggestion but said what Mr Johnson was really saying was that he has a “lot he wants to do”.
“I sometimes feel in these situations that prime ministers can’t win,” the Environment Secretary told Times Radio.
“They either say that they want to carry on and they’ve got a lot to do and they want to keep going. And that’s what obviously Margaret Thatcher said and what Boris Johnson is perceived to have said.
“Or like Tony Blair, they say they’re not going to go on and on and people spend years arguing about the date of their departure. So they can’t really win in these situations.”
PM: Situation in Ukraine ‘very difficult’
Boris Johnson said the military situation in Ukraine remains “very difficult” but that the Ukrainians are fighting back against the Russian advance.
Speaking at the G7 summit in Germany, the Prime Minster said: “The situation in the east, in the south-east of the country remains very difficult, but the Ukrainians have shown that they have incredible ability to push back and change the military position.”
Pictured: Volodymyr Zelensky addresses G7 leaders
PM: UK could change Northern Ireland border rules this year
Boris Johnson said the Government could make unilateral changes to post-Brexit border rules in Northern Ireland this year.
MPs will vote on the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill for the first time this evening (see the post below at 09.09) and Mr Johnson said if Parliament is swift in passing the legislation then ministers could use the powers before the end of 2022.
Asked how soon changes on checks could be made, Mr Johnson said: “I think we can do it fairly rapidly. But obviously what would be even better…”
Asked if it could be this year, he said: “Yes, I think we could do it very fast, parliament willing. But what would be even better… is if we just get some of that flexibility we need in our conversations with Maros Sefcovic [vice president of the European Commission]. So we remain optimistic.”
PM: Question on leadership has been ‘settled’
Boris Johnson has insisted the question of his leadership has been “settled” despite last week’s two by-election defeats and fresh pressure from some of his MPs to quit.
Mr Johnson suggested he believed the vote of confidence earlier this month had closed the chapter on speculation about his future.
Asked if he was worried about people plotting against him while he is out of the country at the G7 in Germany, Mr Johnson said: “No. We settled that a couple of weeks ago and what I am focused on and what we are doing is getting on with number one all the stuff we are doing to help people with the cost of living in the short term, using the fiscal firepower we have…”
Boris Johnson insists no ‘Ukraine fatigue’ among G7
Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, has insisted there is no “Ukraine fatigue” among G7 leaders as he said the “continuing unity” of the group of nations on the issue has “absolutely shone through” during his conversations in Germany.
He said: “I think everybody came to the G7 in Germany really hearing a lot about Ukraine fatigue, the anxieties of other countries around the world about the continuing war, the effect on food prices, on energy prices and what has really struck me in the last couple of days has been the amazing consistency of our resolve, the continuing unity of the G7.
“That has absolutely shone through in the conversation over the last couple of days. I think there is a reason for that. The logic of the position is still so clear. There is no deal that President Zelensky can really do so in those circumstances the G7, supporters of Ukraine around the world, have to continue to help the Ukrainians to rebuild their economy, to get their grain out, to export their grain and of course we have to help them to protect themselves and that is what we are going to continue to do.”
‘You have to take matters into your own hands’
MPs will vote this evening for the first time on the Government’s controversial Northern Ireland Protocol Bill which will give ministers the power to unilaterally make changes to post-Brexit border rules.
The EU has said the legislation will breach international law and could trigger a trade war while the UK has said its plans are legal and are necessary to resolve border disruption after talks between the two sides failed to result in an agreement.
George Eustice, the Environment Secretary, today defended the UK’s approach and said sometimes “you have to take matters into your own hands”.
He told Sky News: “The reality is that we needed to do something in this space. We have been talking with the EU now for some time about making the provisions of the Northern Ireland Protocol work effectively.
“The difficulty we have had is that the European Union have said we are not allowed to change our mandate, member states have said we are not allowed to have an opinion on this, it is reserved to the European Union.
“There has been this circular problem with the European Union just refusing to revisit their mandate and at some point therefore you have to take matters into your own hands and to clarify in law what the Northern Ireland Protocol means and that is what we are doing with this Bill.”
US opposition to PM’s food plan is ‘misplaced’
George Eustice, the Environment Secretary, said US opposition to Boris Johnson’s plan to repurpose land used for growing bio-fuels to grow food instead is “misplaced” in comments which risk sparking a diplomatic row with Washington DC (see the post below at 08.54).
Told that the US is planning to torpedo the plan, Mr Eustice told Sky News: “We should still argue for the right thing. They disagree with it because they are thinking as well about their fuel supply and they see this as a big part of that and they are worried about what might happen to fuel at the fuel pumps.
“We think that is misplaced. We think that actually you could do this temporarily. It would temporarily increase the amount of wheat and maize on world markets and would therefore bring food prices down.”
PM’s fuel for food plan ‘the right thing to do’
Joe Biden will today attempt to block Boris Johnson’s plan to move away from green fuels to ease pressure on global food supplies.
Mr Johnson will address G7 leaders at a summit in Germany and ask them to repurpose land currently used for crop-based biofuels to grow more food. The US opposes the idea because it wants to protect domestic farmers and avoid jeopardising climate change commitments (you can read the full story here).
George Eustice, the Environment Secretary, said this morning that the UK believes repurposing land for food is “the right thing to do” and the PM will seek to persuade Joe Biden to change his mind.
He told Sky News: “Well, Washington and the United States are heavily invested in biofuels and they see that therefore as part of their fuel security but what we would be talking about here is a temporary reduction in order to stabilise world food prices and make sure the poorer countries around the world can get access to the food that they need.
“We think it is the right thing to do but it is the case of course the United States is a big player on biofuels so we are going to have to work to try to get them on board.”
George Eustice: Whole Cabinet supports PM
Oliver Dowden resigned as chairman of the Conservative Party last Friday after the Tories suffered two crushing by-election defeats. His departure prompted speculation on whether other Cabinet ministers could quit but none did so.
George Eustice, the Environment Secretary, was asked this morning if Boris Johnson has the full support of everyone in his Cabinet and he replied: “Yes.”.
He told Sky News: “Oliver Dowden has resigned… he resigned and the way that collective government works as you know is that those who are in the Cabinet, yes, we have our full support, we work as a team.
“We have the support of the Prime Minister, the Prime Minister has our support, we work together.
“And, you know, we stick together through difficult times and so even when yes, you have very disappointing election results as we undoubtedly did last Thursday, we have got an important agenda that we are working on and that is what we are focused on.”
‘Stagflation murdered governments in the 1970s’
David Davis, the Tory former Cabinet minister, has warned Boris Johnson that “stagflation murdered governments in the 1970s” as he said the Government must do everything it can to boost economic growth.
Stagflation refers to a period when prices keep rising but economic activity and growth stalls.
Mr Davis told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: “Even today there is an interview in the papers of the Chief Secretary to the Treasury who is beginning to say maybe we will do something, he didn’t quite say it but he intimated we might do something about corporation tax which we should cut back to where it was originally rather than put it up next year.
“I think they will be open to doing other things. They realise they have got a real problem coming. Stagflation murdered governments in the 1970s because we didn’t have enough growth.”
‘There is a question of priorities here’
Boris Johnson could get away with scrapping some of his 2019 general election spending pledges to fund tax cuts, David Davis has suggested.
The former Brexit secretary told the BBC: “Well, the hard truth is we have lost two years out of the Parliament and people understand that I think.
“There is a question of priorities here. Obviously you want to build more hospitals and we will and we are, obviously we want to build more railway lines, you name it, the infrastructure across the board.
“But the simple truth is there are priorities in everybody’s life and for most of the people in the Red Wall seats and indeed seats like mine, I am from the north, the first issue is paying the bills and if the Government is stopping you doing that, that is a real problem for a Tory Government.”
‘We won’t get growth if we tax like this’
David Davis, the Tory former Cabinet minister, has said there needs to be a “complete change of mindset” from Boris Johnson and the Government (you can read the piece he wrote for The Telegraph here).
Asked what specifically needs to change, Mr Davis told the BBC this morning: “Well, the biggest way is on tax. I campaigned in 16 Red Wall seats and in Wakefield. I got the same question, the same thing every time: ‘We expect you to be a low tax party, we are not seeing it that way anymore’.
“We have got the highest tax take in history last year, the Treasury traditionally underestimates massively the amount of tax it gets and we have got two big problems, cost of living, really serious, best way to deal with that for working families anyway is tax.
“And stagflation. Best way to deal with that is growth and we won’t get growth if we tax like this.”
David Davis warns against changing Tory leadership rules
Boris Johnson has been hit by a new wave of no confidence letters after saying he is planning for a third term in Downing Street, Tory rebels said last night (you can read the full story here).
The rebels are planning to try to change the rules of the 1922 Committee to allow Mr Johnson to face another vote of confidence this year (the current rules mean the PM cannot be challenged for 12 months).
David Davis, the former Brexit secretary who has previously called for the PM to quit, this morning warned against changing the rules as he told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: “My view has not changed… but the simple truth is the Tory Party has had a confidence vote. The rules are the rules. That is for a year, it gives him a year.
“Whether it is Boris or anybody else, dealing with stagflation is going to be some really difficult decisions.
“Do you want a leader, whoever it is, looking over his shoulder every month at this tax increase or whatever. “So no, I don’t want the rules changed. I don’t think they will change either so he has got to use the year he has to prove to us that actually he can deliver on the promises we gave at the 2019 election which was low tax.”
Good morning and welcome to today’s politics live blog.
Boris Johnson is in southern Germany today as he attends a G7 summit. The Prime Minister will be seeking to stabilise his premiership in the wake of the two by-election defeats suffered by the Tories last week.
But while the PM is abroad, he continues to face pressure in Westminster as some of his MPs reignite their plans to force him out of No 10.
It promises to be another busy week of twists and turns and I will be here to guide you through the key developments.