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UK Covid live: Labour MP ordered to leave Commons for saying Boris Johnson has lied ‘over and over again’ UK Covid live: Labour MP ordered to leave Commons for saying Boris Johnson has lied ‘over and over again’
(32 minutes later)
Latest updates: Dawn Butler ordered to leave the House of Commons after refusing to withdraw claims Boris Johnson ‘lied to the country’ Latest updates: Dawn Butler ordered to leave the House of Commons after refusing to withdraw claims Boris Johnson ‘lied to the country’
The Labour MP Dawn Butler has been ordered to leave the Commons chamber for the rest of the day after saying that Boris Johnson has lied “over and over again” about coronavirus. (See 4.07pm.)
The government “risks losing social consent” for its test-and-trace programme if it does not immediately allow fully vaccinated people to avoid isolation, the former health secretary Jeremy Hunt has said.
The president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, has rejected Boris Johnson’s move to renegotiate the Northern Irish protocol, raising the temperature of a simmering Brexit row.
Post Office workers who have had convictions for theft, fraud and false accounting resulting from computing errors quashed will each get an interim compensation payment of up to £100,000 the government has said.
That’s all from me for today. But our coronavirus coverage continues on our global live blog. It’s here.
Scotland has recorded its highest daily Covid fatalities figure since March, after NHS figures showed that 22 deaths of people with confirmed Covid infections were recorded in the past 24 hours.
That brings the death toll of those who died within 28 days of a positive Covid test to 7,842. The latest fatalities figure comes after a sustained drop in detected infections: 1,825 people tested positive in the past 24 hours.
Nicola Sturgeon, the first minister, said the latest fatalities figure was a reminder that increases in hospital admissions and deaths tended to lag days or weeks behind rises in positive cases.
Reminding people to get vaccinated and to remember physical distancing and other restrictions, she tweeted:
Northern Ireland’s government has delayed a decision on relaxing Covid-19 rules until next week, when ministers will be able to review fresh health data.
The Stormont executive had been expected today to approve the reopening of theatres and concert halls with social distancing on 26 July but deferred the decision, keeping the region on a more cautious track than the rest of the UK.
The power-sharing executive did relax restrictions on activities considered low risk. From 26 July 15 people from unlimited households can meet outdoors and close contact services such as hairdressers can operate without pre-booked appointments.
Ministers will meet again next week to decide about theatres and live indoor events, and also whether to extend the limit on indoor gatherings from six to 10 people. They will also review the obligation to wear masks in places of worship.
Democratic Unionist party (DUP) leaders want Northern Ireland to follow England’s lead and open up faster but the other four parties in the executive – Ulster Unionists, Alliance, Sinn Fein and the SDLP – prefer a slower pace in light of rising infection levels.
This House of Commons library document includes a list of other occasions when MPs have been ordered to leave the chamber for disorderly conduct, or for saying something unacceptable about another MP, since 1992. The former Labour MP Dennis Skinner features on the list four times, once for calling a minister a “little squirt”.
The Press Association has filed a longer account of what happened when Labour’s Dawn Butler was ordered to leave the Commons chamber for calling Boris Johnson a liar.
Butler highlighted questionable claims by Johnson, including his recent assertion that the link between Covid cases and deaths had been “severed”, rather than just severely weakened. She went on:
Judith Cummins, the temporary deputy speaker, intervened, saying:
Butler replied:
Cummins intervened again and urged Butler to “reflect” on her words and withdraw them. Butler replied:
Cummins then read out a statement in which she ordered Butler to “withdraw immediately from the House for the remainder of the day’s sitting”. Butler complied, and left the chamber.
Cummins has been serving as a temporary deputy speaker this week in place of Rosie Winterton, who is having to isolate.
If you are looking for some good books to read over holidays, you should read the Publishers Association’s list of summer book recommendations from parliamentarians and political journalists. It’s a good list, and it’s here (pdf). The press release is worth a read too, mostly for its use of the word quasquicentennial (125th anniversary). Boris Johnson is one of the contributors to the list, and he has chosen Evelyn Waugh’s journalism satire, Scoop. This essay, by Robert Hutton in the July edition of the Critic, explains why that is such an appropriate choice.
Alternatively, you could read Gordon Brown’s Seven Ways to Change the World, one of the best new political books that has landed on my desk in recent months and a reminder of what it is like to have political leaders who think deeply, with knowledge and creativity and moral urgency, about the biggest problems facing the world. It is an inspiring book, and an easier read than you might expect, even though the passages on global financial regulation are probably not what you would save for the beach. William Davies reviewed it well for the Guardian here.
The Brown book is not a memoir, but it does also contain this snippet about the Blair government, and its relationship with the Bush administration, which is newish to me, and worth flagging up. Brown writes:
The UK has recorded 39,906 new coronavirus cases, and 84 new deaths, according to the latest update to the government’s coronavirus dashboard. Week on week, cases are still going up. But today the week-on-week rate of increase (the total for the last seven days, compared to the total for the previous seven days) is 24.2%, compared to 35.8% yesterday, suggesting the rate of increase is starting to slow.The UK has recorded 39,906 new coronavirus cases, and 84 new deaths, according to the latest update to the government’s coronavirus dashboard. Week on week, cases are still going up. But today the week-on-week rate of increase (the total for the last seven days, compared to the total for the previous seven days) is 24.2%, compared to 35.8% yesterday, suggesting the rate of increase is starting to slow.
But deaths are up by 50.6% week on week.But deaths are up by 50.6% week on week.
The Labour MP Dawn Butler has been ordered to leave the House of Commons for the rest of the day after refusing to withdraw claims that Boris Johnson has “lied to the house and the country over and over again”.The Labour MP Dawn Butler has been ordered to leave the House of Commons for the rest of the day after refusing to withdraw claims that Boris Johnson has “lied to the house and the country over and over again”.
Butler was told to withdraw from the chamber by temporary deputy speaker Judith Cummins following her remarks in a Commons debate. Under parliamentary rules, MPs are not supposed to accuse each other of lying in the chamber.Butler was told to withdraw from the chamber by temporary deputy speaker Judith Cummins following her remarks in a Commons debate. Under parliamentary rules, MPs are not supposed to accuse each other of lying in the chamber.
Butler said:Butler said:
Highlighting questionable claims by the PM, Butler said:Highlighting questionable claims by the PM, Butler said:
No prime minister in the modern era has been accused of lying as much as Johnson. Earlier this year Peter Oborne, who worked as political editor at the Spectator when Johnson was its editor, published a whole book about Johnson’s lying in which he said: “I have never encountered a senior British politician who lies and fabricates so regularly, so shamelessly and so systematically as Boris Johnson.”No prime minister in the modern era has been accused of lying as much as Johnson. Earlier this year Peter Oborne, who worked as political editor at the Spectator when Johnson was its editor, published a whole book about Johnson’s lying in which he said: “I have never encountered a senior British politician who lies and fabricates so regularly, so shamelessly and so systematically as Boris Johnson.”
And Dominic Cummings, Johnson’s former chief adviser, recently published an essay saying that Johnson “lies – so blatantly, so naturally, so regularly – that there is no real distinction possible with him, as there is with normal people, between truth and lies”.And Dominic Cummings, Johnson’s former chief adviser, recently published an essay saying that Johnson “lies – so blatantly, so naturally, so regularly – that there is no real distinction possible with him, as there is with normal people, between truth and lies”.
UPDATE: Here is the clip.UPDATE: Here is the clip.
Interim compensation payments worth up to £100,000 will be offered to post office operators who were wrongly convicted as part of the Horizon scandal, the postal affairs minister, Paul Scully, has announced today.Interim compensation payments worth up to £100,000 will be offered to post office operators who were wrongly convicted as part of the Horizon scandal, the postal affairs minister, Paul Scully, has announced today.
These payments will not stop victims bringing civil claims through the courts. The Post Office is proposing to offer final compensation through the alternative dispute resolution arrangements.These payments will not stop victims bringing civil claims through the courts. The Post Office is proposing to offer final compensation through the alternative dispute resolution arrangements.
Scully said:Scully said:
Hundreds of people may have been wrongly prosecuted in the course of the Horizon scandal, which involved operators being falsely accused of theft because of defects with the Post Office’s Horizon accounting system.Hundreds of people may have been wrongly prosecuted in the course of the Horizon scandal, which involved operators being falsely accused of theft because of defects with the Post Office’s Horizon accounting system.
Further to Nadhim Zahawi’s announcement (see 12.27pm) that UK nationals vaccinated overseas will be able to have their status authenticated, a reader got in touch to make the point that the stipulation of having to see a UK GP first makes it useless for most people.Further to Nadhim Zahawi’s announcement (see 12.27pm) that UK nationals vaccinated overseas will be able to have their status authenticated, a reader got in touch to make the point that the stipulation of having to see a UK GP first makes it useless for most people.
Many of the affected group will be people living permanently in other countries, and thus without a GP in the UK. In fact, many EU countries’ health systems require people to de-register from their domestic health service.Many of the affected group will be people living permanently in other countries, and thus without a GP in the UK. In fact, many EU countries’ health systems require people to de-register from their domestic health service.
The Department of Health and Social Care said it realises this is an issue, and that people in that situation will need to wait for the proposed mutual recognition of vaccination status between 30-plus countries, a process that is ongoing but – officials hope – will be concluded soon.The Department of Health and Social Care said it realises this is an issue, and that people in that situation will need to wait for the proposed mutual recognition of vaccination status between 30-plus countries, a process that is ongoing but – officials hope – will be concluded soon.
The CBI, the leading organisation representing major employers in the UK, has joined those groups calling for an urgent change to the isolation rules for contacts of people testing positive.The CBI, the leading organisation representing major employers in the UK, has joined those groups calling for an urgent change to the isolation rules for contacts of people testing positive.
In response to the latest figures showing more than 600,000 people in England and Wales pinged in a week (see 11.02am), Tony Danker, the CBI director general, said in a statement:In response to the latest figures showing more than 600,000 people in England and Wales pinged in a week (see 11.02am), Tony Danker, the CBI director general, said in a statement:
Danker also said it was important for firms to have access to an “effective, accessible testing regime”.Danker also said it was important for firms to have access to an “effective, accessible testing regime”.
One in seven people transferred to the test and trace system after testing positive for Covid-19 were not reached in the latest week, PA Media reports. PA says:One in seven people transferred to the test and trace system after testing positive for Covid-19 were not reached in the latest week, PA Media reports. PA says:
Boris Johnson has spoken to Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, this afternoon, No 10 has said. The two leaders spoke about the recent floods in Germany, and the importance of tackling climate change, but, judging by the No 10 readout, the call was largely about the Northern Ireland protocol. According to Downing Street, Johnson told Merkel what he told Ursula von der Leyen earlier (see 12.32pm) about how he believed solutions to the problems that have arisen “could not be found through the existing mechanisms of the protocol”.Boris Johnson has spoken to Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, this afternoon, No 10 has said. The two leaders spoke about the recent floods in Germany, and the importance of tackling climate change, but, judging by the No 10 readout, the call was largely about the Northern Ireland protocol. According to Downing Street, Johnson told Merkel what he told Ursula von der Leyen earlier (see 12.32pm) about how he believed solutions to the problems that have arisen “could not be found through the existing mechanisms of the protocol”.
No 10 went on:No 10 went on:
Public Health England has just published its latest weekly Covid surveillance report (pdf).Public Health England has just published its latest weekly Covid surveillance report (pdf).
The report covers the week ending Sunday 18 July. It says in that week “case rates increased in all age groups, regions and ethnic groups”.The report covers the week ending Sunday 18 July. It says in that week “case rates increased in all age groups, regions and ethnic groups”.
Hospitalisations were also going up in the week ending 18 July, the report says.Hospitalisations were also going up in the week ending 18 July, the report says.
Brandon Lewis, the Northern Ireland secretary, has used new powers to direct the Stormont executive to commission abortion services in Northern Ireland, PA Media reports. PA says:Brandon Lewis, the Northern Ireland secretary, has used new powers to direct the Stormont executive to commission abortion services in Northern Ireland, PA Media reports. PA says:
In his statement Lewis said:In his statement Lewis said:
Here are the main points from the No 10 lobby briefing.
Downing Street has said that no extra money will be available to the NHS to fund the 3% pay rise for most staff announced yesterday. A No 10 spokesman said the pay rise would be “funded from within the NHS budget”, but he said this would not affect funding already earmarked for the NHS front line.
No 10 has renewed its claim that the EU has been taking a “purist” approach to the Northern Ireland protocol. Asked why the UK was effectively trying to renegotiate a deal it agreed last year, the spokesman said:
But, when challenged to say if the UK was accusing the EU of breaching the terms of the agreement, the spokesman would not go as far as making the claim.
Doubtless in the EU they would argue that what No 10 describes as a “purist” approach to implementing the agreement just means: implementing the agreement.
The spokesman said that the government was launching a consultation today on slashing “Brexit red tape”. But, when asked if this meant that the government was accepting that Brexit caused red tape, the spokesman did not accept this, and the news release about the initiative suggests this is more a case of careless phrasing than an admission that Brexit has increased the regulatory burden (even though for exporters it has). That is because of how No 10 describes the consultation, which follows on from the publication of the report by the independent Taskforce on Innovation, Growth and Regulatory Reform (TIGRR). No 10 said in its news release:
And this is what Downing Street said about Boris Johnson’s call with the European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, about the Northern Ireland protocol this morning. (See 12.21pm.) A No 10 spokesman said:
UK nationals who had their vaccinations overseas and find themselves unable to register for domestic Covid passes, or obtain other double-jabbed benefits like avoiding quarantine when returning from amber-list countries, should see this change soon, Nadhim Zahawi has said.
Asked about the issue in the Commons by Labour’s Rupa Huq, Zahawi, the vaccine deployment minister for England, said:
The contact with a GP was necessary to ensure their vaccine was one of those approved for use in the UK, Zahawi added.
He also said moves were afoot for reciprocal recognition of 33 other countries’ vaccination proof schemes, so non-UK nationals jabbed overseas could also have the benefits. This “will happen very soon”, he added.
Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, has reaffirmed the EU’s intention not to renegotiate the Northern Ireland protocol. She posted this on Twitter after a call with Boris Johnson on the topic.
Her language is almost identical to what her colleague Maroš Šefčovič said yesterday when he issued the EU’s first formal response to the government’s publication of its command paper on the protocol.
The government “risks losing social consent” for its test and trace programme if it does not immediately allow fully vaccinated people to avoid isolation, the former health secretary Jeremy Hunt has said. My colleague Aubrey Allegretti has the story here.
In a written ministerial statement, Grant Shapps, the transport secretary, has announced the government is going to review its long-term plans for major road and rail schemes (its “national policy statement for national networks”) in the light of the pandemic, and how that might change transport use. He said:
As my colleague Jennifer Rankin reports in her analysis of the UK government’s command paper on the Northern Ireland protocol published yesterday, the EU is exasperated by Boris Johnson’s objection to complying with a deal that he agreed only last year.
EU leaders may be even more unhappy when they hear how Kwasi Kwarteng, the business secretary, described the protocol in an interview this morning. Speaking on Sky News, Kwarteng, a strong supporter of Brexit in 2016, claimed the protocol was always intended to be flexible. He said:
According to the latest weekly test and trace figures (pdf), 259,265 people in England tested positive for coronavirus between 8 July and 14 July - a 33% increase compared to the previous week. That is the highest weekly figure since the week ending 20 January.
The figures also show that 475,465 people were identified as close contacts of people testing positive between 8 July and 14 July - a 25% increase on the previous week.
Back in the Commons Jonathan Ashworth, the shadow health secretary, asked Nadhim Zahawi, the vaccine deployment minister, if the government was confident it had enough PCR testing capacity, with new cases expected to reach 100,000 per day this summer.
Referring to PCR capacity, Zahawi replied: “It’s 640,000 per day as of the latest data I looked at.”
Up to a quarter of staff at some food and drink firms are isolating because they have been pinged, according to Ian Wright, chief executive of the Food and Drink Federation. He told Sky News: