Politics latest news: Boris Johnson tells France to 'prenez un grip and donnez-moi un break' over submarine row

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Boris Johnson has said France should “prenez un grip and donnez-moi un break", amid the escalating diplomatic row over the submarine deal agreed between the UK, US and Australia.

Paris is furious after being blindsided by the pact, which included an agreement to build nuclear submarines and meant that Australia pulled out of a £72.8billion deal to buy diesel-powered French vessels.

The Elysee has sought solidarity from the EU over the Aukus deal, comparing it to Brexit and suggesting it could put talks over Northern Ireland at risk.

Speaking from Washington, the Prime Minister said: "I just think it's time for some of our dearest friends around the world to prenez un grip about this and donnez-moi un break.

"This is fundamentally a great step forward for global security. It's three very like-minded allies standing shoulder to shoulder creating a new partnership for the sharing of technology.

"It's not exclusive. It's not trying to shoulder anybody out. It's not adversarial towards China, for instance," he added: "I find it very hard to see in this agreement anything not to like."

​​Follow the latest updates below.

02:55 PM

US getting 'better and better', says Boris Johnson, in first visit since Biden replaced Trump

Boris Johnson gives a thumbs up to a reporter as he walks with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi - Getty
Boris Johnson gives a thumbs up to a reporter as he walks with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi - Getty

Boris Johnson has said the US had been getting "better and better", in his first visit to Washington since Joe Biden succeeded Donald Trump in the White House.

The morning after his meeting with Mr Biden in the Oval Office, Mr Johnson was greeted by House of Representatives speaker Nancy Pelosi, and was shown a picture of Sir Winston Churchill addressing Congress as prime minister in 1941, a few weeks after Pearl Harbour.

Asked what was the biggest difference in the US this visit, as he walked off with Ms Pelosi, Mr Johnson told reporters: "It's getting better and better."

He also sat down with senators including Chuck Schumer, the Democrat who is senate majority leader, and Mitch McConnell, the Republican minority leader.

02:44 PM

Anti-vaxxers are 'not knowledgeable, logical or kind', says Prof Whitty

People with "anti-vaxx sentiments" trying to persuade other people not to get a vaccine are "in the minority" and "most people just ignore them", Prof Chris Whitty has said.

England's chief medical officer told MPs of the education select committee that although these views were "very loudly expressed" they made up a tiny fraction in the UK.

It was "perfectly sensible" to have questions about the jab, but he did "not think highly" of protesters.

He added: "The people you should take advice from are are people who are knowledgeable, logical and kind, and if you read the kind of stuff they produce it is pretty clear they are not knowledgeable, not logical and definitely not kind."

Public health officials must "lay out as carefully as we can" the evidence to support the argument that supports getting the vaccine.

02:35 PM

Children may have second Covid vaccine, Prof Whitty suggests

The decision about whether children will receive a second vaccine has not yet been taken, Prof Chris Whitty has said.

England's chief medical officer told MPs that "at this point, all we are recommending is a first vaccine", because the "risk benefit is most understood".

However he noted that other countries were further ahead, which would provide data. The CMOs would lean heavily on the JCVI before taking such a step, he adde.

A third top-up beyond the second is "a bridge we haven't even got in sight," he added.

Prof Jonathan Van-Tam said the protection of a single vaccine would last children over the winter.

02:33 PM

London Mayor 'heartbroken' by murder of teacher

Sadiq Khan has said he is "heartbroken" by the death of murdered teacher Sabina Nessa, adding his thoughts are with "her family, friends and the whole community."

Ms Nessa, 28, was killed on Friday evening at Cator Park in Kidbrooke, south-east London.

Local MP, Clive Efford, was visibly emotional when raising the case in the Commons earlier today (see 1pm).

02:20 PM

Two more energy suppliers go bust

A further two energy suppliers have gone bust as a result of spiking prices.

Avro Energy and Green Supplier Limited have become the fourth and fifth energy suppliers to go out of business in September alone.

Ofgem said that it would ensure that Avro's 580,000 domestic gas and electricity customers, and Green's 255,000 households would be protected.

The regulator will choose a new supplier for the households, and said customers should wait to be contacted by their new supplier.

"I want to reassure customers of Avro Energy and Green Supplier Limited that they do not need to worry. Under our safety net we'll make sure your energy supplies continue," Ofgem director of retail Neil Lawrence said.

Read more on our business blog here.

02:07 PM

Up to 12m school days could be lost without vaccination, says Prof Whitty

Models suggest up to 12 million school days cold be lost without vaccinating children, Prof Chris Whitty has told MPs.

England's chief medical officer said the "most benign" scenario - which he described as ""very improbable" was 110,000 days lost.

Vaccinations were "an insurance policy to reduce significantly" the risk posed by further disruptions over the winter, saying he would be surprised if any MP could now say there was no disruption in their constituencies.

02:05 PM

Boris Johnson vows to 'stick up for parliaments' in ransacked Capitol Building

US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi meets Boris Johnson at the US Capitol in Washington - AFP
US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi meets Boris Johnson at the US Capitol in Washington - AFP

Boris Johnson has said the US was "getting better and better" on his first visit in more than two years.

Mr Johnson discussed the importance of standing up for democracy in a time when some are rejecting it, as he spoke in the Capitol Building that was the scene of a pro-Donald Trump insurrection in January.

"It's vital for the world that America stands up for that principle in the way that the US government does," Mr Johnson told Nancy Pelosi, the House of Representatives speaker.

"I just want you to know we stand with you, shoulder-to-shoulder with you in sticking up for our values, our beliefs in democracy, in sticking up for parliaments and assemblies around the world."

01:59 PM

Half of children have had Covid - and the rest will get it 'sooner or later'

Roughly half of children aged 12-15 have already had Covid, Prof Chris Whitty has said.

"We have got quite a way to run and we are running into winter, so there is still quite a lot of damage that could be done, in terms of disruption," he told MPs.

England's chief medical officer repeated his belief that "the great majority of children who have not had it at some point will get it at some point over the next period.

"Not necessarily over the next two months but they will get it sooner or later because it is incredibly infectious, and because immunity wanes we are not going to see a situation where it just stops," he added.

The big question remains how long it takes for immunity to wanes.

01:55 PM

End 'awful' Covid testing to give children back their 'normal life', MPs told

Paediatricians are eager to move away from using regular Covid testing for children because it is "not part of a normal life for a child".

Dr Camilla Kingon told MPs that because children "are so unlikely to be affected" by the virus, it was essential we "give them back their normal lives".

She added: "Let's face it having a swab shoved up your nose twice a week is not part of a normal life for a child- there are an awful lot of children who frankly loathe the experience."

Ultimately it should be "treated like other viral infections" in which children are kept at home if children are ill.

"That is why we have asked for a review of some of the measures in place in schools," she added.

01:48 PM

'Virtually' all children will catch Covid, warns Prof Chris Whitty

Every child aged 12-to-15 who doesn't get vaccinated will catch Covid at some point, Prof Chris Whitty has said.

England's chief medical officer told MPs of the education select committee

"Our view is firmly that people who have an infection are likely to be off school for for longer than those who have a vaccination, on average,", adding that "virtually any child, unvaccinated, is likely to get an infection at some point between 12 and 15."

01:40 PM

CMOs only considered vaccine impact solely on children, says Prof Whitty

The chief medical officers did not consider any evidence beyond the impact Covid vaccines would have on the children receiving them, Prof Chris Whitty has told MPs.

Saying this was a "key point", he explained: "The CMOs were really clear that the only evidence they would consider was things that were directly or indirectly beneficial or dis-beneficial to children aged 12-15 - no other age group."

Prof Whitty added: "There may well be other societal benefits, but we did not consider them at all - we stuck strictly to that age group."

01:33 PM

'No judgment attached' to child's vaccine decision, MPs told

Whatever choice a child or their family makes "there should be no judgment attached to it", the president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health has told MPs.

Dr Camilla Kingdon told the education select committee that vaccination programmes within schools are well-established and "the processes are well tested".

Pressed as to whether confidentiality would be guaranteed, the acknowledged that "the process around this vaccine is slightly different... [but] there is no reason to suspect any privacy would be overcome."

Prof Keith Willett, the SRO of vaccine deployment, confirmed it was a "closed service which is done through the NHS".

01:24 PM

Prof Whitty: Vaccine greenlight for children 'firmly in the middle' of medical opinion

Professor Chris Whitty has defended the decision to approve Covid vaccinations for 12-15 year olds, telling MPs it came after widespread consultation.

"It's got to be understood this is the midpoint of medical opinion", he said, as he sought to counter the argument that experts including the JCVI had not backed it.

The joint chief medical officers had made a conscious decision to come down "firmly in the middle" of the range of responses.

He highlighted the impact of disruption to learning and the social impact of school closures, as well as the health of the children involved, albeit he acknowledged the benefits were only "marginal".

01:20 PM

Joe Biden's trade stance a 'timely reminder' for Boris Johnson, says Sinn Fein minister

Joe Biden has given Boris Johnson a "timely reminder" that he would risk any future US trade deal if he ditches Brexit's Northern Ireland protocol, a Sinn Fein minister has said.

Conor Murphy, Stormont's Finance Minister, said a deal would only be agreed on the basis that the Good Friday Agreement was protected.

He added: "It was a timely reminder for the British Prime Minister exactly where he fits in overall politics and the extent of support in the American administration, in Europe, across this island... for the Good Friday Agreement arrangements to be able to be protected.

"I hope that the British Prime Minister got that message and that he goes back and has a proper negotiation with the EU, that they resolve the issues of the protocol and we get on with actually taking advantage of the position that we have."

01:12 PM

Tom Harris: Starmer’s reforms won’t solve Labour’s fundamental problem

The reason Keir Starmer wants to return to the electoral college is self-evident, writes Tom Harris.

The existing system introduced by Ed Miliband is blamed for ushering in the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn, who would have stood no chance under the previous system where MPs had a crucial deciding vote.

But this argument misses a key fact. One member, one vote (OMOV), would have presented no problem if two blatant unforced errors had been avoided.

For reasons best known to himself, Miliband’s rules allowed for “registered” supporters to sign up in the first weeks of a leadership contest. Once Corbyn found his way onto the ballot, this meant every unwashed Trot, Marxist and eco-nut in the land could sign up for a few quid and get the same say in the contest as any MP.

Read more from Tom here.

01:05 PM

Labour conference won't be 'overshadowed' by Keir Starmer's reforms, spokesman insists

Sir Keir Starmer's reforms for electing a future leader are about turning the party's focus "outwards", according to a Labour spokesman.

The Labour leader is expected to set out his plan to shake-up the way leaders are elected at the party conference, having updated unions today.

Asked how the proposals could help win a general election, a party spokesman said: "What it is about is changing the culture within the party so we are in a situation where we are making sure that, whether it is on the policy measures we have, whether it is on trigger ballots for MPs or on how we elect our leader, that we are in a situation where the focus ensures we are facing outwards rather than inwards."

The spokesman denied it would "overshadow" events in Brighton, saying: "I'm confident that at the conference you will still see a wide range of announcements being made by members of the shadow cabinet.

"We will still be holding the Government to account and setting out clearly what the Labour alternative is for the country, so I don't see that being an issue."

01:02 PM

Unite leader's conference no-show is not a snub, insists Labour

Sir Keir Starmer does not believe the decision by Unite general secretary Sharon Graham to skip the Labour conference is a snub, his spokesman has said.

"Sharon Graham and Keir have had two very good conversations since her election," he told reporters.

"Keir is looking forward to working with Sharon on the agenda we share.

"Sharon has set out the reasons why she wants to focus on her new responsibilities as general secretary and that is fair enough."

12:52 PM

Lobby latest: Boris Johnson followed 'strict' rules in meeting with Covid-positive minister

Brazil's Health Minister Marcelo Queiroga (R) tested positive while at UNGA - Reuters
Brazil's Health Minister Marcelo Queiroga (R) tested positive while at UNGA - Reuters

No 10 has emphasised that Boris Johnson is fully vaccinated when asked whether the Prime Minister had taken any extra precautions since coming into contact with a positive coronavirus case at the United Nations general assembly (UNGA).

Brazil's health minister Marcelo Queiroga has reportedly tested positive for Covid and gone into isolation only 24 hours after being filmed shaking hands with Mr Johnson in New York on Monday.

A spokesman for the Prime Minister said: "I'm obviously not out there and it is early in the morning (in the US).

"But there are strict Covid measures in place at UNGA which the Prime Minister will obviously adhere to.

"As you know, he is double jabbed."

12:46 PM

Minister tells climate protesters: We do not bow to mob rule

At least 270 arrests have been made in recent days in connection with climate change protests on major roads including the M25, the policing minister has said.

Kit Malthouse told MPs: "There is absolutely no excuse for this selfish and disruptive behaviour. The irony is that it actually undermines the cause of climate change as well as creating more traffic and pollution.

"These protesters live in a free country where they can lobby politicians, stand for election and boot us out of office if they don't like what we do."

Mr Malthouse said there is recognition across the Commons that climate change demands action, but warned: "We do not change policies or make policies in this country though mob rule or being held to ransom, and these people should not suppose for one moment that the public is with them."

Mr Malthouse later added: "The British people expect us to make decisions in a civilised, democratic manner and that those who seek to bully or blackmail are sent packing."

12:43 PM

Boris Johnson plays down suggestions that shortages will spark panic buying

Boris Johnson has dismissed suggestions that issues with gas prices could lead to panic buying in supermarkets, amid fears that supermarket shelves will soon be short of certain products.

Speaking to reporters in Washington, the Prime Minister said: "I don't think that will happen. I think we've got very good supply chains.

"As I've been saying over the last few days, and what we're seeing is the growing pains of a global economy recovering rapidly from Covid."

12:41 PM

Boris Johnson: US to lift 'unjustified' ban on British lamb

Boris Johnson: Guess who's baaaaaaaa-ck - PA
Boris Johnson: Guess who's baaaaaaaa-ck - PA

Boris Johnson has said the US is poised to lift the "unjustified" ban on British lamb - but admitted he will only make "incremental" steps towards a trade deal.

Speaking to reporters outside the US Capitol building in Washington, the Prime Minister said: "I can tell you today that what we're going to get from the United States now is a lifting of the decades old ban, totally unjustified, discriminating on British farmers and British lamb.

"It's about time too. And what we're wanting to do is make solid incremental steps in trade.

"The Biden administration is not doing free trade deals around the world right now but I've got absolutely every confidence that a great deal is there to be done.

"And there are plenty of people in that building behind me who certainly want a deal."

12:34 PM

Joe Biden's climate change 'surprised us all', says Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson outside the Capitol Building, Washington DC doing media interviews - PA
Boris Johnson outside the Capitol Building, Washington DC doing media interviews - PA

Boris Johnson said he was pleasantly surprised by Joe Biden's climate finance pledge.

The US President yesterday unveiled plans to double funding to $11.4 billion per year by 2024, to help developing nations deal with climate change.

Speaking ahead of his own speech to the UN General Assembly, the Prime Minister told reporters in Washington: "Yesterday the president came through with something that really exceeded our expectations.

"I said on the plane out that we had a six in 10 chance of success on that. Maybe I undercooked it. They really surprised us all on the upside."

12:31 PM

Get a jab, Boris Johnson tells Strictly dancers

At least two Strictly dancers have refused to get the Covid vaccine so far - PA
At least two Strictly dancers have refused to get the Covid vaccine so far - PA

Boris Johnson has said he will "lecture" Strictly Come Dancing contestants to get a jab, after it emerged that at least two of the professional dancers were unvaccinated.

The Prime Minister said it was "a matter for producers" but added: "I strongly believe people should get vaccinated.

"I don't want to bully them or lecture them - actually I will lecture them - people should get a jab!"

A BBC spokesman has previously said producers "cannot force anyone to get a vaccination" and that telling their celebrity contestants or professional dancers to get one is "not our place".

12:22 PM

Northern Ireland protocol 'never came up' in Biden bilat, says Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson has countered a suggestion from Environment Secretary George Eustice that Joe Biden does not understand the Northern Ireland Protocol (see post below).

Asked if he agrees with Mr Eustice that the US President does not understand Northern Ireland by reporters in Washington, the Prime Minister said: "No. The president actually in our meeting yesterday, I don't think it came up at all.

"We had a meeting of over 90 minutes and it wasn't raised."

12:11 PM

Joe Biden 'wrong' on Northern Ireland protocol, says minister

Joe Biden does not "fully appreciate" the complexities of the Northern Ireland protocol and is “wrong” about his assumptions, a senior minister has said.

Last night the US President issued a further warning to Boris Johnson not to rip up the post-Brexit deal, saying: "On the protocols, I feel very strongly on this... And I would not at all like to see.... a change in the Irish accords, the end result having a closed border in Ireland."

But George Eustice, the Environment Secretary, suggested the leader of the free world was "probably at the moment just reading the headlines, reading what the EU is saying, reading what Ireland might be saying, which is that they would like the Northern Ireland Protocol to work in the way the EU envisage".

He added: "We think he is wrong because the truth is that unless we have a sustainable solution that enables trade to continue between GB and Northern Ireland then we are going to have issues, and that itself would become a challenge to the Belfast Agreement."

Noting that the current implementation was “tantamount to saying that potatoes grown in one part of the United States can't be sold in another part of the United States”, Mr Eustice added: "It's very complicated... I'm not sure he does fully appreciate all of that."

12:00 PM

Emotional Labour MP highlights murder of primary school teacher

A Labour MP has raised the case of Sabina Nessa, a primary school teacher who was killed in south London park on Friday evening.

Speaking during a debate on violence against women and girls, an emotional Clive Efford said "our hearts go out to her family and friends".

The MP for Eltham said it was more proof of the "epidemic" of violence and asked the Government to accept the recommendation that it be given "the same priority as counter-terrorism".

"The time has come for tackling violence against and women and girls, prioritise it and give it the resource it demands," he adds.

Rachel Maclean, the newly-promoted Home Office minister, said it is "precisely" this kind of case that has led the decision to place "this issue at the heart of Government policy".

11:50 AM

Business Secretary 'not a fan' of energy windfall tax - but it's on the table

The Business Secretary has said he was "not a fan" of a windfall tax on firms profiting from high gas prices, but acknowledged it is one of the options being considered.

"I'm not a fan of windfall taxes, let me just get that straight," Kwasi Kwarteng told MPs. "But, of course, it's an entire system and we have to think about how we can get the energy system as a whole to help itself."

Asked if it was a possibility, he added: "We are looking at all options. What they are doing in Spain is recognising that it's an entire system - the energy system is an entire system.

"I am in discussion with Ofgem and other officials, looking at all options."

11:48 AM

Three-week limit put on support for CO2 supplier, says Business Secretary

The Government put a three-week limit on support for CF Industries to avoid having to prop the US firm up "indefinitely", Kwasi Kwarteng has said.

The Business Secretary told MPs: "In a critical intervention like that you have to have a way of exiting the arrangement.

"It's not a case of just trying to nationalise it or supporting it indefinitely. That's why I think in a critical period we needed a very short-term arrangement.

"I'm confident that we can get other sources of CO2 in that period, there was an immediate crisis and the deal that we reached solved the immediate problem."

11:36 AM

PMQs: Dominic Raab tries to downplay claim that Joe Biden is 'ill-informed' over protocol

Carla Lockhart, the DUP's MP, asks about Joe Biden's "ill-informed and partisan comments" about the Northern Ireland protocol.

She says this deal is "now the single greatest danger to the political institutions and the situation is now time critical". She asks Dominic Raab to agree that a solution must be found in "weeks rather than months".

He says he "absolutely" agrees that a "smart and pragmatic approach" is the only way the Good Friday Agreement can be upheld.

He says Mr Biden "understands our view, and we have explained our position - as well as them taking into account what the EU has said".

11:33 AM

PMQs: Dominic Raab to join MP in marking One Punch Awareness Week

Dehenna Davison, the Conservative MP for Bishop Auckland, says this is One Punch Awareness Week and asks Dominic Raab and other colleagues to join her in Westminster Hall to support her campaign.

Ms Davison's father was killed in a one punch attack.

Dominic Raab says she has been "tenacious" in her campaign, adding that "of course" he will join her - and urges others to do so.

11:31 AM

PMQs: No shift on mandatory vaccines for frontline workers

Chris Green, the Conservative MP, asks about mandatory vaccines for NHS frontline workers in light of the high numbers of carers expected to leave the sector as a result.

Dominic Raab says "we are very clear - vaccines are saving lives".

He says over 90 per cent of carers have received their first dose, and the consultation for it to be mandatory for healthcare workers is ongoing.

11:29 AM

PMQs; Dominic Raab dodges question about Channel 4 privatisation

Barry Sheerman, Labour MP for Huddersfield, asks if Dominic Raab still "really" believes in levelling up - and if so asks him to pull back from privatising Channel 4.

He says it is "essential" the broadcaster remains in Leeds and in public hands.

But the deputy prime minister doesn't address the question, saying the UK Infrastructure Bank has been put in Leeds "because we love Leeds", and saying levelling up will help everyone in the country.

11:24 AM

PMQs: Dominic Raab tells SNP to 'stop the scaremongering'

Kirsten Oswald says "warm words don't heat homes", and upgrades her warning to a "cost of living tsunami".

The SNP's deputy Westminster leader asks why Dominic Raab is "stubbornly" refusing to drop the cut to Universal Credit.

Mr Raab stresses that "given the challenges we understandably face", people expect politicians to come together and "stop this scaremongering".

He says the British Armed Forces are "helping the people of Scotland" because of issues facing the ambulance service.

11:22 AM

PMQs: SNP attacks the 'Tory cost of living crisis'

Kirsten Oswald, standing in for the SNP's Westminster leader Ian Blackford, also goes in on "the Tory cost of living crisis".

She says it is time to scrap the cut to Universal Credit and introduce an emergency energy payment "so no one has to choose between eating and heating this winter".

Dominic Raab provokes more mirth by saying "many of those issues are devolved to Scotland", and highlights measures such as the price cap, warm homes discount and seasonal cold weather payments which will help support the poorest.

The "crucial thing" is rising employment and wages, he adds.

11:19 AM

PMQs: Dominic Raab hits back over Chevening jibe

Angela Rayner also appeared to be having more fun than her boss usually does
Angela Rayner also appeared to be having more fun than her boss usually does

Angela Rayner gets another dig in - this time that Dominic Raab is rowing with Liz Truss over "having to share the 115-room taxpayer funded mansion" Chevening.

Meanwhile working people "will have to choose between whether to feed their kids or heat their homes", she argues, before asking Mr Raab to cancel the cuts to Universal Credit.

But the deputy prime minister tells her to "check her facts because Chevening is funded by a charity - not a penny of taxpayers' money" - sparking much laughter on the Tory backbenches.

He says the "most disastrous thing" for working people would be to follow Labour's plans,.

11:16 AM

PMQs: Raab should 'go back to his sun-lounger'

Angela Rayner says "as usual" the British people will have to pay the price for rising energy prices. She asks for a guarantee that no one employed by the at-risk firms will lose their jobs because of "his Government's failures".

Dominic Raab says there is "no shortage of hot air" on the Labour benches, adding that the Business Secretary has been "crystal clear" about the support on offer and has "targeted" efforts to get CO2 production back up and running.

He claims that Labour has no plan, but Ms Rayner says he should "go back to his sun-lounger".

11:14 AM

PMQs: UK suffering a 'shortage of hot air as Boris Johnson is away', says Rayner

Dominic Raab looked like he was having fun at the dispatch box today
Dominic Raab looked like he was having fun at the dispatch box today

Angela Rayner asks for a guarantee that no one will lose their energy supply or "be pushed into fuel poverty this winter".

Dominic Raab says their number one priority is energy supply. He then tries to turn the tables, quoting Ms Rayner who once said people don't want a handout. Tory MPs cheer as Ms Rayner smiles awkwardly.

"Labour talks down to people - under the Conservatives they get to rise up and fulfil their potential."

She retorts: "I noticed we have a shortage of hot air this week, just as the Prime Minister isn't here - but the deputy prime minister is doing his best to shore up supplies."

Mr Raab grins again.

11:10 AM

PMQs: Dominic Raab teased over luxury holiday

Angela Rayner asks how many days a worker on the minimum wage would have to work "in order to afford a night in a luxury hotel - say in Crete".

The Commons chamber erupts and even Dominic Raab cracks a grin. He says whenever Labour has been in government "the economy has nosedived, unemployment has soared and taxes have gone through the roof".

He lists the various forms of support that the Government has launched, saying Labour would cause "taxes to go up and the economy goes down".

Ms Rayner says: "He talks about the economy - he doesn't even know how much his own holiday costs."

Mr Raab grins again as his counterpart says a worker would have to work "an extra 50 days... even more if the sea was open".

11:07 AM

PMQs: Dominic Raab sidesteps questions about benefits cut

Angela Rayner says it is getting harder for working families to get by and asks how much the Universal Credit cut and National Insurance hike will affect the take-home pay of someone on £18,000.

Dominic Raab says the uplift to UC was always meant to be temporary, and repeats the Prime Minister's usual lines (but without his gusto) about Labour having "no plan - our plan is working".

11:05 AM

PMQs: Angela Rayner offers 'condolences' over scuppered trade deal

Angela Rayner, standing in for Sir Keir Starmer, starts "by offering the Prime Minister my condolences" for not having secured a US trade deal.

She asks Dominic Raab if "he still believes that British workers are among the worst idlers in the world", to cheers from Labour backbenchers.

Mr Raab says the US has "given a boost to business" by reinstating travel - to cheers from Tory backbenchers.

He says employment is back to pre-pandemic levels, a record-high vacancy rate and the highest G7 GDP growth this year.

11:03 AM

PMQs: Dominic Raab takes the PM's place

Dominic Raab has taken his place before the dispatch box, covering for the Prime Minister while he is in New York and Washington.

The first question from the Tory MP Robert Largan, is about frustrated constituents unable to see GPs face-to-face, citing one who asked if her cancer diagnosis could have been caught earlier with a physical meeting.

The deputy prime minister thanks GPs "for the heroic job" they have done during the pandemic, but said patients "rightly expect" to be able to see them where possible.

10:59 AM

Northern Ireland protocol has 'trashed' Good Friday Agreement, says Stormont's First Minister

The Northern Ireland protocol has "trashed" the Good Friday Agreement, Stormont's First Minister has warned.

Responding to President Biden's remark cautioning against any changes to the Brexit trading arrangements, Paul Givan said: "We're all very much committed to making sure that the peace accords, as he (President Biden) referred to them as, are respected.

"The Good Friday Agreement as a result of the protocol has been trashed and therefore that needs to be put right.

"So, I know in my engagements with the new United States Consul General (Paul Narain) here in Northern Ireland, they recognise the very real issues that the DUP has been presenting and the need for a solution to be found that respects our constitutional status as an integral part of the United Kingdom and delivers a practical solution so that we have that unfettered trade east-west, and indeed north-south."

10:51 AM

Emmanuel Macron may offer up UN seat in push for EU army

France's seat on the United Nations Security Council could be put "at the disposal of the European Union" if its governments back Emmanuel Macron's plans for an EU army, a close ally of the French president has said.

Paris is spearheading a diplomatic push for closer EU military integration after Australia pulled out of a £45 billion contract for diesel-powered French submarines and signed the Aukus security pact with the US and UK instead.

A traditional standing EU army remains a distant prospect, but Mr Macron – on the cusp of becoming the EU's most influential leader as Angela Merkel prepares to bow out of politics after Sunday's German elections – is determined to lay its foundations.

"I think that if we move on these things we can put on the table also the discussion on the Security Council," Sandro Gozi, a former Italian Europe minister now serving as an MEP for Mr Macron's party, told The Telegraph.

Read more here.

10:32 AM

Cutting Universal Credit ahead of winter 'unconscionable', MPs told

The decision to withdraw the Universal Credit uplift heading into winter is "unconscionable" and will harm "families who need to keep themselves warm", MPs have been told.

Adam Scorer, the chief executive of fuel poverty group National Energy Action, told the Beis committee the correlation between claimants and those who were "vulnerable" to a rise in prices was "so clear".

He added: "It is unconscionable that it should go. I can't see any real rationale for it... Universal Credit is key with furlough unravelling and prices rising.

"Incomes will be lower for many people, bills will be higher," he said. "This is damage limitation."

10:26 AM

Philip Johnston: The grim spectre of the 1970s haunts politicians to this day

The auguries are eerily familiar to anyone who lived through the Seventies, writes Philip Johnston.

An energy crisis, rising inflation, price controls, massive indebtedness and complacent ministers insisting that there is nothing to worry about.

Even the newspaper headlines recall that time - “Prepare for a winter of discontent”, “UK lights not going out says Kwarteng”. I expect to see ”Crisis? What Crisis?” next but have probably already missed it.

More than 40 years on, it is a period that continues to cast a pall over politics. The very idea that the lights might go out sends shivers down the spines of politicians who were not even born the last time it happened.

Read more from Philip here.

10:16 AM

Government was warned about energy market fragility for years, claims trade body

The Government and Ofgem was warned as early as two years ago that the energy sector is fragile, the chief executive of supplier trade body Energy UK has said.

Emma Pinchbeck told the Beis committee: "A lot of that is about market design. No competitive market would be making an average return of minus one per cent.

"There's a short-term crisis here, which is in some ways out of our control, it's to do with the gas prices, but it's been exacerbated and arguably caused by our regulatory design.

"That is a resilience and security of supply risk in the future. It's terrible news for customers in the long run."

Ms Pinchbeck added: "We desperately need to stop dismissing retailers when they say the market design is not fit for purpose, the market design is harming customers, the market design means we're not making any margin and the market design leaves us vulnerable and fragile."

10:11 AM

Joe Biden dodges questions as 'aggressive' White House aides interrupt Boris Johnson

President Joe Biden refused to take questions from American reporters before his aides chivvied them away from a meeting with Boris Johnson.

Members of the press were said to be “startled” by the "aggressiveness" of the White House communications team during the Oval Office talks.

Mr Johnson was still speaking when the president’s media team began herding reporters out of the room and shouting over him. They shut down the only query from a US reporter about the current migrant crisis on the US-Mexico border, preventing Mr Biden’s response from being audible.

Mr Biden has been under fire in recent months for his stark reluctance to engage with members of the press.

Read more here.

10:04 AM

Two additions to the parliamentary schedule today....

10:03 AM

Government must stop blaming external forces for energy crisis, says Labour

The Government "cannot keep blaming" external issues for the surging gas prices and food shortages, Labour has said.

Ed Miliband, shadow business secretary, said while the 11th-hour deal to restart CO2 production was welcome, ministers must "urgently engage with unions and the wider manufacturing industry" for a longer-term solution.

He added: "Crucially, the Government cannot keep blaming surging gas prices and supply chain chaos on external forces.

"It is a decade of Conservative missteps that has left the UK so exposed and vulnerable, without the diverse, resilient energy system we need to protect us from global volatility. It is businesses, consumers and families that are now paying the price.

"A Conservative cost of living crisis is brewing, with rising energy prices and food costs looming under the shadow of a cut to Universal Credit and tax rises on working families... It's completely indefensible."

09:54 AM

'The lights have gone out': Ofgem boss loses power during energy crisis hearing

The chief executive of Ofgem was plunged into darkness as he gave evidence to MPs of the business, energy and industrial strategy (Beis) committee about the looming energy crisis.

Jonathan Brearley had been giving testimony about the spiking prices and supply issues when he had to pause proceedings, with one MP calling: ""The lights have gone out."

Another joked that this was evidence that the "security of supply" was at risk.

But Mr Brearley quickly resolved the issue - by turning the lights back on - saying it was just a design feature to "save energy efficiency".

09:43 AM

Joining North American trade club would be 'bad deal for UK'

Joining the US-Mexico-Canada trade deal would be "bad" for the UK - and is unlikely to happen anyway, a trade expert has said.

Sam Lowe, senior research fellow at the Centre for European Reform, said: "At least in respect of trade in goods (and particularly cars) where the rules of origin are very restrictive, USMCA would be a bad deal for the UK. A bilateral deal where these things could at least be negotiated, and changed, would be preferable."

But he added:

09:38 AM

Officials working to remove PCR tests before half term, says Transport Secretary

The Government is working as "quickly as possible" to remove PCR testing for international travellers, the Transport Secretary has said.

Grant Shapps told the Transport Committee hearing on Wednesday that he did not have an exact date for when testing restrictions would be lifted but said his colleagues at the Department of Health are "aware of half term" when families will be wishing to go on holiday.

"It's clear the range of measures I introduced this week and last week are going to make a big difference and people will be able to travel much more freely. Part of that is the removal of the PCR test on day two and replacing it with a much simpler lateral flow test," Mr Shapps said.

"They are aware of half term and are working closely with the private-sector providers to ensure we can do this as quickly as possible."

09:24 AM

Working around the White House Wi-Fi

If you've been enjoying this week's dispatches from the US filed by Ben Riley-Smith, our political editor, just spare a thought for his knees...

This job isn't all glamour, you know.

09:12 AM

Injunction against climate protesters 'will bring it to a close', says Transport Secretary

The injunction granted against M25 protesters will bring an end to the demonstrations, Grant Shapps has said.

The Transport Secretary told MPs: "It barely goes without saying, it's irresponsible, dangerous and completely counterproductive. It's unacceptable and I hope the injunction will bring it to a close.

"Earlier in the process there was a somewhat different approach being taken. Yesterday the police were on the scene much more quickly. The injunction will greatly strengthen their hand."

He added: "We will review the powers because clearly it's unacceptable for people to be able to walk on to not just a major highway but a motorway, stop traffic, be released the next day and do the same thing again. An injunction may just be an interim way of doing that."

09:04 AM

CO2 deal 'welcome' - but supply chain remains fragile, warns food and drink trade body

The chief executive of the Food and Drink Federation, has welcomed Government intervention in the CO2 crisis.

Ian Wright said: "I think it's a temporary solution but it's a welcome one, and means there won't be many noticeable shortages on the shelves, although there are already some because of staff shortages."

The industry now needs to "get its act together", he added.

Mr Wright also warned that although food would not continue to enter warehouses in the lead-up to Christmas, "the supply chain is so fragile that any other shock might do it in as well".

09:02 AM

Keir Starmer's conference hopes ebb

Sir Keir Starmer leaves his north London home this morning - Joshua Bratt
Sir Keir Starmer leaves his north London home this morning - Joshua Bratt

Sir Keir Starmer is hoping to use the Labour party conference as an opportunity to reset his leadership - and buy himself more time at the helm.

But his plans to overhaul the system through which leaders are elected, and the no-show from Unite's new general secretary Sharon Graham, threaten to derail him.

But at least he no longer has to endure teasing about his botched efforts to sack Angela Rayner, which resulted in his deputy getting a beefed up role.

Boris Johnson might have had slightly more success moving Dominic Raab, but had to formally anoint the Justice Secretary as his deputy.

Both seconds will clash today at PMQs.

08:51 AM

Sketch: Boris Johnson was a long way from home... but he couldn’t escape these awkward questions

Boris Johnson viewing the New York skyline - No10 Downing Street
Boris Johnson viewing the New York skyline - No10 Downing Street

In New York, TV journalists were taking turns to interrogate Boris Johnson. Never the easiest of challenges. But at least one of them sounded happy with his answers, writes Michael Deacon.

Strictly speaking, Mr Johnson had divulged only one item of new information. All the same, NBC could, if it wanted, declare that item to be a world exclusive.

“You have six kids,” Ms Guthrie had said to him during their interview. “Yes,” the Prime Minister had murmured.

It might not seem like the most eloquent, expansive or indeed interesting answer Mr Johnson has ever given, but it none the less represented a genuine scoop. Because, believe it or not, this was the first time in his entire political career that Mr Johnson had ever confirmed how many children he has.

Read more from Michael here.

08:40 AM

What's on the agenda today?

With Boris Johnson still in the US, today's PMQs will have a different look and feel, with Dominic Raab making a return to the hot seat for the first time since the Prime Minister's brush with Covid.

Here is what else to expect today:

10:30am: Kwasi Kwarteng, the Business Secretary, faces questioning from MPs on the UK gas market

11:30am: Women and equalities questions - Liz Truss, who retained the brief alongside her promotion to Foreign Secretary, is also away so these will be taken by the rest of the team including Kemi Badenoch and Mike Freer.

12pm: Prime Minister's Questions - Raab will take on Angela Rayner in the weekly clash

12:40pm Urgent questions/statements - details TBC

2pm: Professor Chris Whitty to be questioned by MPs on vaccinating children

2:15pm: Google, Facebook and Amazon give evidence to the Commons Treasury Committee on economic crime.

In the US, Boris Johnson will meet US politicians at Capitol Hill, including senators Chuck Schumer and Mitch McConnell, US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and House minority leader Kevin McCarthy.

He will then travel to Arlington Cemetery to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, before returning to New York, where he will give his climate change speech to the UN General Assembly in the early hours of the morning UK time.

08:26 AM

Insulate Britain spokesman has not insulated his own home

One of the climate change campaigners from the group that has targeted the M25 repeatedly this month has admitted he has not had his own home insulated.

Insulate Britain is campaigning to have the Government introduce a national home insulation scheme.

08:13 AM

Court injunction against M25 protesters 'effective later today'

A court injunction pre-emptively banning further M25 protests will be "effective later today", Grant Shapps has revealed.

In the tweet below, the Transport Secretary also confirms that climate change activists "will face contempt of court with possible imprisonment if they flout" the ruling.

08:06 AM

UK agrees vaccine swap with South Korea

The UK has agreed to swap more than a million doses of the Pfizer Covid vaccine with South Korea, in a bid to bolster the global efforts to end the pandemic.

The first batch is expected to be sent from London to Seoul in the coming weeks, as the South Korean government aims to administer a second dose to 70 per cent of its population by the end of October.

The same volume of doses will be returned to the UK by the end of the year. It follows a similar "vaccine swap" agreed with Australia earlier this month.

Sajid Javid, the Health Secretary, said: "By working closely with our friends in South Korea, this vaccine swap will maximise their rollout speed without having an impact on the UK’s vaccine programme."

08:00 AM

M25 protesters could be jailed over injunction breach, warns minister

Protesters have targeted the M25 repeatedly, causing chaos for drivers - Getty
Protesters have targeted the M25 repeatedly, causing chaos for drivers - Getty

Climate change protesters disrupting the M25 could be jailed if they breached the injunction the Government is seeking, George Eustice has suggested.

"It will be a decision for the court, we hope that the court will support our application for an injunction," the Environment Secretary told ITV's Good Morning Britain.

"If people then breach that injunction then they are in contempt of court, then it is for a court to decide what the appropriate remedy to that is."

That "can include custodial sentences in some circumstances", Mr Eustice said.

07:58 AM

New Unite leader to skip Labour conference

Sharon Graham said it was 'definitely not a snub' - PA
Sharon Graham said it was 'definitely not a snub' - PA

Sir Keir Starmer hopes of building bridges with the unions at the Labour party conference have been dealt a blow, after the new leader of Unite said she would not be attending.

Sharon Graham is the first general secretary - Labour's biggest trade union funder - to skip the annual event.

She told the BBC: "We shouldn't always do what we have always done just because we have always done it... What I need to do is be with those workers in dispute and personally take leadership."

She denied she was snubbing Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, adding: "We are in a crisis - workers are going to have a really rough ride. I am showing I am with them, and the Labour Party needs to do the same, and show it is with workers and communities too".

"It's definitely not a snub - I have made a priority decision."

07:46 AM

UK joining North America trade club 'pretty unlikely', says trade expert

The chances of the UK joining the US-Mexico-Canada are "pretty unlikely", a trade expert has said.

Government officials are assessing this as an option, after hopes of signing a bilateral agreement receded, leaving some to suggest the UK is now "at the back of the queue" for signing new deals.

But David Henig, director at the European Centre for International Political Economy, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "There is no queue, whether it's for a US trade deal bilaterally or the US-Mexico-Canada agreement.

"That latter looks pretty unlikely, it's really just signalling to say 'we really are keen on this bilateral agreement , when there is a queue please put us back to the front of it'," he added. The USMCA was "very much designed as a North America-specific deal", which was not intended for new members to join," Mr Henig added.

"There is no sign this US administration is particularly interested in trade deals- they think they have cost jobs in the Mid-West, and that is the key point for him."

07:36 AM

CO2 deal averted 'big disruption' to food supplies, says minister

A shopper walks past empty shelves in the meat aisle of a supermarket in Manchester yesterday - Reuters
A shopper walks past empty shelves in the meat aisle of a supermarket in Manchester yesterday - Reuters

The 11th hour deal to subsidise CF Industries has prevented "big disruption" to the UK's food supply chain and an animal welfare "challenge", the Environment Secretary has said.

George Eustice told Sky news: "The truth is if we did not act then, by this weekend, or certainly by the early part of next week, some of the poultry processing plants would need to close and then we would have animal welfare issues.

"You would have lots of chickens on farms that couldn't be slaughtered on time and would have to be euthanised on farms, we would have a similar situation with pigs," he added.

"There would have been a real animal welfare challenge here and a big disruption to the food supply chain, so we felt we needed to act."

07:28 AM

Rising wages will help 'offset the cost' of rising fuel bills, says minister

Rising wages will help "offset the cost" of rising fuel bills, the Environment Secretary has said.

George Eustice told BBC Radio 4's Today programme he felt comfortable with plans to press ahead with the cut to Universal Credit despite surging fuel and food prices.

He said: "We are seeing prices rise, that is putting some pressure on household incomes, but more importantly we are also seeing wages rise, particularly for the lowest paid. It is a very tight labour market at the moment.

"There are over a million job vacancies at the moment, so those who want to work are finding it easy to find work."

As a result of that companies are "increasing their pay, and that is going to help offset those increase costs that people will have on things like fuel bills," he added.

07:23 AM

Spike in carbon dioxide costs will not have 'major impact' on food prices, says Environment Secretary

The "significant increase" in the cost of carbon dioxide will not have a "major impact on food prices", the Environment Secretary has said.

The price of CO2 is expected to rise sharply as a result of the surging gas price, which will push up the cost of processing meat such as poultry and pork.

But George Eustice told BBC Radio 4's Today programme it was "a tiny proportion of overall costs" that would have little bearing on consumer prices.

"We live in a market economy and gas prices have increased so, yes, the CO2 price is also going to have to increase... but I don't think it will have a significant impact on food prices.

"They are going up, principally due to global commodity prices - oil prices and other factors such as labour shortages," he added.

07:17 AM

Minister defends using taxpayer money to prop up US firm

George Eustice has defended the move to hand a foreign business "many millions" to restart two fertiliser plants, saying it is critical to our food supplies.

US-owned CF Industries recently shut two sites that produce 60 per cent of the UK's commercial carbon dioxide supplies. The plant in Billingham will need up to three days to start producing new CO2.

Asked if it was appropriate to invest such sums of taxpayer money "helping an American company remain profitable", he said: "It will go towards ensuring that two critical plants that produce carbon dioxide, which is critical to our food supply chain, continue to operate and therefore the poultry sector, pigs, meat processors, can get access to the carbon dioxide they need.

"The reason sometimes it's justified for the Government to intervene in this way - a very short-term targeted way - if we didn't there would be risk to our food supply chain.

"That is a risk the Government wasn't willing to take."

07:10 AM

Crunch deal to restore Co2 supplies will ensure 'Christmas is safe', says minister

The deal to safeguard CO2 supplies would help ensure "Christmas is safe", the Environment Secretary has said.

Poultry industry figures had warned that supplies of turkeys could be hit by a shortage of CO2 is production was not restarted imminently.

But George Eustice told LBC Radio: "Christmas is safe, of course. But there are challenges in the food supply chain, I'm not denying that.

"The lack of labour availability, pressures on logistics - all of these are causing some stresses," he explained. "It does mean that in some areas the degree of choice in some supermarkets is down slightly on what it would normally be.

"But we are working with the industry to make sure that we get all the food that we need on the shelf for those all-important weeks running up to Christmas."

07:09 AM

Government seeks injunction to pre-emptively stop M25 protests

The Government is seeking a court injunction to allow police to pre-emptively stop protesters before they begin to disrupt traffic on the M25, a minister has confirmed.

“We are seeking legal action, supporting Highways England, seeking an injunction to give powers to police to act preemptively should that be necessary," George Eustice told Sky News.

The Environment Secretary declined to go into specifics but said the police would have “strengthened powers to deal with this”, defending the work of forces so far.

He added: "The right to protest is very important but when that protest is posing a threat to others we also have a duty to act."

07:08 AM

Deal to avert farmaggedon to cost 'tens of millions', says Environment Secretary

Farmers were braced to begin euthanising their livestock - PA
Farmers were braced to begin euthanising their livestock - PA

An 11th hour deal to get a fertiliser plant back up and running and avert a so-called farmageddon will cost the country "tens of millions" for just a few weeks, George Eustice has confirmed.

"We have intervened to support this company with some of their fixed costs, on a short term basis, just for a few weeks," the Environment Secretary told Sky News. "It will give the market time to adjust and other suppliers come on stream.”

Details were still being finalised, but it will cost “many millions, possibly tens of millions, to underpin fixed costs”, he added.

Mr Eustice also raised a warning about long-term increases to food prices, saying: “The food industry know there is going to be a sharp increase in costs of carbon dioxide… from £200 a tonne to closer to a thousand - a big sharp rise.”

07:06 AM

Northern Ireland protocol ‘not a bargaining chip for US trade deal’, says minister

The Northern Ireland protocol is "not a bargaining chip" for a US trade deal, the Environment Secretary has said.

George Eustice told Sky News it was down to the UK and the EU - including Ireland - to "make the protocol work on a sustainable basis".

He added: "It’s for us to work out how to make the Northern Ireland protocol work... It’s not a bargaining chip in a trade agreement."

Although joining the US-Canada-Mexico deal has been floated as a possible alternative, Mr Eustice stressed “our preference is a bilateral agreement with the US”.

He rejected suggestions the UK was being snubbed, saying: “We have never put a timescale on it - it’s just not a priority for the US administration. President Biden has always been clear - he was as clear during his election campaign - that trade deals were not a priority.”

06:48 AM

Biden warns Johnson over Northern Ireland

Mr Biden said: “On the protocols, I feel very strongly on this." - No10 Downing Street
Mr Biden said: “On the protocols, I feel very strongly on this." - No10 Downing Street

Joe Biden issued a warning to Boris Johnson on Tuesday night over the Northern Ireland Protocol as hopes faded of a UK-US trade deal.

During face-to-face talks in the Oval Office, the US president said he believed “very strongly” in protections for peace in Northern Ireland.

The comment appeared to be a warning to the UK against ripping up the Northern Ireland Protocol, which imposes custom checks on goods travelling from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.

06:48 AM

Good Morning

Boris Johnson's hopes of jump-starting a US-UK trade deal during his trip Stateside have fallen away, with the Government now thought to be eyeing entrance to the US-Mexico-Canada trade deal (USMCA), which would see scores of tariffs dropped if the UK joined.

After being all smiles for the cameras, the Prime Minister and the President held private talks during Mr Johnson’s first visit to the White House since entering No 10 two years ago.

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