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The UK may bid to join the trade partnership between the US, Canada and Mexico, The Independent understands, after Boris Johnson conceded that a bilateral deal with Washington was not in prospect for the foreseeable future.
Speaking ahead of a meeting in the White House with Joe Biden, the prime minister had suggested “the reality is that Joe has a lot of fish to fry”, adding: “They are pretty ruthless, the American negotiators, and I would much rather get a deal that really works for the UK than get a quick deal.”
But a senior UK government figure said the unexpected move to join the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) was an option London was interested in pursuing, adding: “There are a variety of different ways to do this. The question is whether the US administration is ready. The ball is in the US’s court. It takes two to tango.”
The climate crisis set to top the pair’s agenda in Washington DC on Tuesday, with Mr Johnson having travelled by train from New York, where he addressed the UN General Assembly.
The PM welcomed a new pledge from Mr Biden – ahead of the Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow – to double US financial aid to help developing nations tackle the climate crisis, describing Washington’s “massive contribution” of $11.4 billion annually by 2024 was a “very, very good start” towards his target of securing $100bn from world leaders, while warning “there’s still a long way to go”.
The prime minister had earlier appeared on NBC’s Today show, where he attempted to end the mystery about how many children he has, describing himself as a father-of-six. He is expecting his seventh child with his wife Carrie, the mother of his son Wilfred.
UK could seek to join North American trade pact
PM confirms how many children he has
Afghanistan withdrawal could have been handled better, PM admits
UK trade deal not a priority for Biden, Johnson admits
Dozens of Afghan interpreters affected by MoD data breach
Government ‘criminally negligent’ over lack of support for Afghan interpreters, says Tory MP
23:57 , Andy Gregory
We’re wrapping up the liveblog for today, thanks for following with us.
You can find all of The Independent’s latest articles on UK politics here.
Or else keep scrolling to read about the day’s events, as we reported them.
07:48 , Rory Sullivan
Good morning, and welcome to The Independent’s live UK politics coverage, which will focus on Boris Johnson’s visit to the US.
UK trade deal not a priority for Biden, Johnson admits
07:51 , Rory Sullivan
Joe Biden will not prioritise a free trade agreement with the UK because he has “a lot of fish to fry”, Boris Johnson has accepted.
His comment came shortly before his visit to the White House on Tuesday.
Here’s a report from our politics editor Andrew Woodcock:
PM discusses taxation with Jeff Bezos
08:07 , Rory Sullivan
Boris Johnson discussed taxation during a meeting with Amazon founder Jeff Bezos in New York on Monday, Downing Street has confirmed.
“The prime minister raised the issue of taxation, and hoped progress could be in implementing the G7 agreement on tax,” a spokesperson said.
The pair also discussed the upcoming Cop26 summit, agreeing on the “urgent need to mobilise more public and private money to help developing countries protect biodiversity”.
The British prime minister welcomed the Bezos Earth Fund’s 1-billion-dollar pledge to protect forests, the spokesperson added.
Dozens of Afghan interpreters affected by MoD data breach
08:22 , Rory Sullivan
Defence secretary Ben Wallace has ordered an investigation into a data breach which put hundreds of Afghans who worked for Britain at risk.
The details of more than 250 Afghan workers were copied into an email, the BBC reported.
In response, John Healey MP, the shadow defence secretary, said: “We told these Afghans interpreters we would keep them safe, instead this breach has needlessly put lives at risk.
“This is the second major data breach from the MoD this year, after sensitive documents were discovered at a bus stop in Kent in June. Clearly, the defence secretary needs to get his house in order.”
Ashley Cowburn has the details:
Government ‘criminally negligent’ over lack of support to Afghan interpreters, says Tory MP
08:42 , Rory Sullivan
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) and the Home Office have failed to protect Afghan interpreters who worked for the UK, a former minister has said.
Johnny Mercer, who served as a soldier in Afghanistan, tweeted a biting response to the news that the MoD compromised the safety of hundreds of Afghan workers by publishing their details in an email.
He wrote that the government was guilty of “a criminally negligent performance”, which it had masked with “back slapping” over its evacuation efforts (during Operation Pitting).
The truth on how we have treated our Afghan interpreters will out. All the back slapping over PITTING masks a criminally negligent performance by the MoD/HO on doing our duty to these people. I reiterate - vast majority have been left behind, probably moving house again tonight. https://t.co/DNTyBIXN5t
— Johnny Mercer (@JohnnyMercerUK) September 20, 2021
Sikh MP describes racist abuse he faces for wearing a turban
08:58 , Rory Sullivan
Tanmanjeet Dhesi, Britain’s first MP to wear a turban, has described the racism he has faced in the UK.
Speaking on GB News, the Labour politician recalled: “When I grew up, somebody - one of my so-called classmates - thought it’d be very funny to try and pull off my turban.
“I was in tears and trying to come to terms with that as a child, and that is unfortunately the experience for many.”
He also described the racist abuse an Indian visitor who wore a turban was subjected to outside the House of Commons. “What image is that going to make of our country as he goes back to India?”
09:15 , Rory Sullivan
In our daily politics newsletter, Jon Stone writes about the energy crisis and Boris Johnson’s climate speech in New York.
Truss discusses Harry Dunn with Blinken
09:35 , Rory Sullivan
Liz Truss has spoken to US secretary of state Antony Blinken about the British teenager Harry Dunn.
The motorcyclist was killed in August 2019 when a car crashed into his motorbike outside RAF Croughton in Northamptonshire.
Claiming diplomatic immunity, suspect Anne Sacoolas left Britain and the US subsequently blocked an extradition request from the UK in January.
Charlotte Charles, the 19-year-old’s mother, told the PA news agency: “I am so grateful that Liz Truss has raised Harry with Mr Blinken.
“It means the world to us to see that Harry remains at the top of the agenda.
“I can only imagine how busy the new foreign secretary is and Harry would be so proud that he is at the forefront of her mind in her first week in office.”
PM accuses ministers of ‘frippery’ over battle for Chevening country house
09:55 , Rory Sullivan
Boris Johnson has dismissed an argument between two of his cabinet ministers over the control of a country house as “frippery”.
The 15-bedroom property is normally used by the foreign secretary, but Dominic Raab is refusing to hand it over to his successor Liz Truss, arguing that his position as deputy prime minister allows him to hold onto it.
Referring to the row, the prime minister said: “The people’s government does not bother with fripperies and foibles of this kind. These types of questions, we will address in due course. But as I say, we are focused on people’s priorities.”
Starmer has chance to turn Labour around after ‘disastrous decade’, says Mandelson
10:13 , Rory Sullivan
Keir Starmer has a “huge opportunity” but must distance Labour from its “disastrous decade” on its “long march back to electability”, Peter Mandelson has said.
Speaking to The Independent, one of the architects of New Labour claimed that Boris Johnson’s popularity was plummeting because of his “half-baked” policies.
“People are beginning... to see him in a different light, and I think there’s a huge opportunity opening up for Labour to seize back the mantle of change and reform,” he said.
Ashley Cowburn has this exclusive:
Charities call on government to close Napier Barracks
10:31 , Rory Sullivan
A year after the first asylum seekers were moved to Napier Barracks in Kent, charities have called on the Home Office to stop using the “squalid” accommodation there.
Over the last 12 months, there have been two Covid-19 outbreaks at the controversial site, which the government insists is suitable.
On the year anniversary of its use, Steve Valdez-Symonds, Amnesty International UK‘s Refugee and Migrant Rights director, said “the squalid detention-like conditions” at Napier Barracks have exacerbated asylum seekers’ trauma.
“The barracks are now a byword for the cruel injustice of the government’s attempts to shirk responsibility for providing a fair, humane and properly-run asylum system,” he added.
Shoppers will see shortages due to energy crisis, warns food industry boss
10:51 , Rory Sullivan
There will be food shortages within days because of the crisis in carbon dioxide (CO2) supply, an industry chief has warned.
Two of the country’s largest fertiliser plants, which produce CO2 as a by-product, suspended production recently as a result of soaring wholesale gas prices.
The gas is used in food packaging and in the slaughtering industry (to stun animals).
Ian Wright, head of the Food and Drink Federation, called the situation “a real crisis”, saying there will soon be shortages in meat and bakery products.
Calling on the government to support fertiliser plants, he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We probably have about 10 days before this gets to the point where consumers, shoppers and diners notice that those products are not available.”
Johnson sparks diplomatic row with the Netherlands over Brexit comments
11:21 , Rory Sullivan
Boris Johnson has caused a diplomatic row with the Netherlands after claiming its prime minister wanted to mediate between the UK and the EU over post-Brexit disagreements.
On a plane to New York, the Conservative leader said Mark Rutte wanted to help both parties find a solution.
However, a senior Dutch diplomat, who was briefed on the conversation, told the Financial Times: “Rutte’s message was clear: ‘be pragmatic, don’t escalate and talk to the commission who are negotiating on our behalf’”.
Police name third man responsible for Salisbury attack
11:40 , Rory Sullivan
A third Russian spy has been charged in connection with the novichok attack in Salisbury three years ago.
Denis Sergeev, known by the alias Sergey Fedotov, is thought to have led the operation, commanding the two GRU agents who carried out the poisoning.
Dean Haydon, of the Metropolitan Police, said: “If there is an opportunity to arrest those individuals and put them in front of a UK court to seek justice for those individuals mentioned or the people of Salisbury, we will do that.”
Our security correspondent Lizzie Dearden reports:
Afghanistan withdrawal could have been handled better, PM admits
12:02 , Rory Sullivan
The withdrawal of western forces from Afghanistan earlier this summer could have been done differently, Boris Johnson has admitted.
Speaking to NBC in New York, he said it was understandable that the US had chosen to end their 20-year presence in the country.
“You can’t endlessly subcontract the government of your country to other people. There has got to be some sort of system by which they get back on their feet,” he said.
Asked about the withdrawal, the prime minister said: “Could we have done it a bit differently? Maybe we could.”
15 million UK households will see energy bills rise, analysts predict
12:28 , Rory Sullivan
Roughly 15 millions households in Britain will see their annual energy bills rise by £178, analysts have warned.
The research agency Cornwall Insist predicted that the energy price cap would increase to £1,455 for the average household, after wholesale gas prices soared.
This would be a 14 per cent spike from the £1,277 cap coming into force next week.
Dr Craig Lowrey, a consultant at Cornwall Insist, said: “Although the winter 2021-22 cap was a new record (£1,277 for a typical dual fuel direct debit customer), Cornwall Insight modelling indicates that - given the extent of the increases in the wholesale market and the manner in which the cap is set - this is set to be surpassed by that for summer 2022.”
“We would need to see a material and sustained reduction in the wholesale market to avoid the kind of cap levels we are predicting for the period.”
Starmer considers scrapping one-member-one-vote for Labour leadership elections
12:50 , Rory Sullivan
Keir Starmer is pushing to change Labour’s approach to its leadership elections by replacing the one-member-one-vote approach with an “electoral college” system.
The party’s left wing fears this could lock them out of power.
On the proposal, shadow culture minister Rachael Maskell said: “As a Labour MP, I should have no greater say in leadership elections than other Labour members.
“The members are ultimately the Party and they should equally elect their leader. OMOV is the most democratic system. Let’s respect our members, let’s respect party democracy.”
The response came after the Labour leader told his shadow cabinet on Tuesday that “these changes are vital for our party’s future”.
Labour hits out at government position on flexible working
13:15 , Rory Sullivan
Labour has criticised the government for not giving workers the right to flexible working, after details from a Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Beis) consultation were leaked.
Under the proposed new system, workers will be able to request to work from home on their first day in their jobs.
In response, Angela Rayner, Labour’s deputy leader, said: “Labour will give workers the right to flexible working - not just the right to request it - and give all workers full rights from day one on the job.
“This is a U-turn from the Conservative manifesto which promised to make flexible working the default and once again the Conservatives have sold out working people.”
Families will not be given extra help during energy crisis, No 10 says
13:40 , Rory Sullivan
Extra government will not be given to “vulnerable households” during the energy crisis, Downing Street has said.
This comes as the energy price cap is expected to rise further, adding hundreds of pounds to annual household bills.
When asked about offering “additional help” to vulnerable people, a No 10 spokesperson said: ‘We already have schemes in place to help people out over the winter.”
Our deputy political editor Rob Merrick reports:
Government should have foreseen energy crisis, says Labour MP
14:00 , Rory Sullivan
The government should have foreseen the energy crisis and ploughed more money into low carbon energy, a Labour MP has said.
Anna McMorrin, MP for Cardiff North, told MPs: “We relied far too heavily on gas most recently. It didn’t have to be this way. The government could have foreseen it. We see that countries that have prioritised low carbon energy are far more insulated from shocks like this and protect those vulnerable families as we head to winter.”
Business minister Greg Hands replied that renewables “are up six-fold” under the Conservatives.
Watch live: Jennifer Arcuri gives evidence on PM
14:05 , Rory Sullivan
PM confirms how many children he has
14:18 , Rory Sullivan
Boris Johnson has attempted to end speculation over how many children he has, telling an American broadcaster that he has six.
During a trip to New York, he appeared on NBC’s Today show and was asked whether he had six children. “Yes,” he replied.
“It’s fantastic, it’s fantastic, it’s a lot of work, I’ll tell you that much, but I love it, I absolutely love it. And I change a lot of nappies, in case anybody… I do.”
Government strikes deal with fertiliser firm to resume CO2 production
14:38 , Rory Sullivan
The government has reached an agreement with the fertiliser firm CF Industries to restart its carbon dioxide manufacturing, it has been reported.
The company suspended its operations due to the rising wholesale cost of gas, leading to fears of supermarket shortages, as carbon dioxide is used in food packaging.
The alleged deal comes after talks between the firm and the business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng, according to Sky News.
Bezos will not pay taxes out of ‘kindness’, says Johnson
15:00 , Rory Sullivan
Jeff Bezos is not going to pay taxes out “of kindness”, Boris Johnson has said.
Instead, the founder of Amazon wants governments to come up with a tax framework, the prime minister added.
“He’s a capitalist and he made the very important point that this is a job for governments,” Mr Johnson told Channel 5 News.
The British prime minister met Mr Bezos in New York on Monday after speaking to the UN General Assembly.
PM denies people will struggle this winter
15:22 , Rory Sullivan
British people will not struggle this winter because of the rising cost of living, the end of furlough and the lowering of Universal Credit, Boris Johnson has said.
Asked by Sky News whether festivities would be ruined this year as a result of financial woes, he “I really don’t think that is justified...Christmas is on.”
Labour says 500,000 families face ‘fuel poverty’
15:39 , Rory Sullivan
Labour has warned that millions of people will be affected by rising costs of living and reduced welfare payments.
Shadow business secretary Ed Miliband said: “At least half a million families are going to be thrown into fuel poverty by the rise in energy prices and, on top of that along with National Insurance rises, millions of families are facing a £1,000-a-year cut in Universal Credit in just 10 days’ time.
“It is a Tory triple whammy made in Downing Street.”
Johnson declines to commit to getting US trade deal before next election
15:59 , Rory Sullivan
The prime minister has refused to commit to finalising a free trade agreement with the US by the next British election.
Ahead of a visit to the White House, Boris Johnson told Sky News: “We will keep going with free trade deals around the world including in the United States.
“I have plenty of reason to be optimistic about that. But the Americans do negotiate very hard.”
Boris Johnson calls on Russia to hand over Novichok suspects
16:24 , Andy Gregory
Boris Johnson has called on Russia to hand over the Salisbury Novichok poisoning suspects.
Speaking to Sky News after charges were authorised against a third spy, the prime minister said Russia had already paid a “heavy price” over the poisoning, with the expulsion of diplomats, adding: "They should recognise that our sense of justice must be done is not abated.
“Dawn Sturgess, an innocent member of the British public, died in that event and we want to see those suspects handed over.”
Resolution of civil case ‘absolutely not’ end of fight over extradition of Anne Sacoolas
16:35 , Andy Gregory
Speaking to reporters on the train to Washington where she will meet with Joe Biden, the foreign secretary was asked if the resolution of a civil case in the UK was the end of the road for the British effort for Anne Sacoolas to be extradited from the US over the death of Harry Dunn.
“Absolutely not. We continue to press for justice for Harry,” Liz Truss said. Here’s a glimpse of the scene below:
Foreign Sec moving huddle. Truss says she wants to merge our “trade work, diplomacy work and security work” in her new role… “We are going to be hardheaded.. we are going to be very proactive.. forging a positive and proud vision of Britain around the world.” pic.twitter.com/ZFjdBu8Qjn
— Harry Cole (@MrHarryCole) September 21, 2021
Ms Truss raised case of 19-year-old Dunn – who was killed when his motorbike was hit by a car driven by US citizen Ms Sacoolas in 2019 – with the US Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken during the UN General Assembly.
Ms Sacoolas is charged with causing death by dangerous driving in the UK, but an extradition request by the Home Office was refused by the US State Department last January.
16:52 , Andy Gregory
The immediate response from several reporters watching the London Assembly’s oversight committee’s questioning of Jennifer Arcuri suggests it could be one of the day’s lesser talking points.
Thoughts and prayers to all my fellow reporters who had to sit through that Arcuri committee hearing
— Alain Tolhurst (@Alain_Tolhurst) September 21, 2021
I don't think Boris Johnson himself could have given Jennifer Arcuri and easier time than the GLA line up currently questioning her. It is embarrassing.
— Richard Vaughan (@RichardVaughan1) September 21, 2021
So far, the Greater London Assembly has been holding a hearing on the subject of, "Jennifer Arcuri: my fascinating life and brilliant tech career."
— Peter Walker (@peterwalker99) September 21, 2021
God this Arcuri love in is tedious. What's the point?
— Kate Proctor (@Kate_M_Proctor) September 21, 2021
Although perhaps not...
On nights out in Ldn where ppl ended up at her flat to use her pole dancing pole.
An acutal GLA member: "I'm green with envy. From pub to pub to back home with a pole!
"Will if you ever do it again, you know who to call. Get me down there."
Arcuri:"I can't wait for you to come."
— Kate Proctor (@Kate_M_Proctor) September 21, 2021
Scotland’s health secretary accused of treating Holyrood ‘with contempt’
17:12 , Andy Gregory
Scotland's health secretary has apologised to the Scottish Parliament after a vital statement on actions to ease the ambulance backlog was pre-empted in a newspaper before being made in Holyrood, prompting accusations from the Scottish Tories that he treated parliament “with contempt”.
Presiding Officer Alison Johnstone said it was “extremely disappointing” that Humza Yousaf spoke to the Daily Record ahead of Tuesday’s statement, telling the paper that the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service would be brought in to support the ambulance service.
Ms Johnstone said she would allow the statement to go ahead, but warned the minister she may choose to cancel a statement and move straight to opposition questions on government announcements if they are made to the media again.
Mr Yousaf apologised and said it was “never my intention to cause you or indeed this chamber any issues when speaking to the media ahead of my statement today”, adding that “we will take the necessary steps to ensure this does not happen again in the future”.
Momentum using Starmer’s electoral college plans to fundraise
17:24 , Andy Gregory
Momentum is reportedly already using Sir Keir Starmer’s plan to introduce an “electoral college” system for future Labour leadership elections in its fundraising efforts ahead of the party’s conference.
A copy of a fundraising email written by MP Zarah Sultana, shared to social media, warned the party is “at a turning point” and labelled the plans to move away from the one-member-one-vote system “a shameful attack on democracy”.
Momentum is now using Keir Starmer's electoral college plan to fund-raise ahead of conference.
Zarah Sultana on what she deems a "shameful attack on democracy" 👇 pic.twitter.com/zxu0g5fEAO
— Gabriel Pogrund (@Gabriel_Pogrund) September 21, 2021
Our policy correspondent Jon Stone has this report on the plans:
17:41 , Andy Gregory
The general secretary of the Communication Workers Union has become the latest to criticise Sir Keir Starmer’s move to introduce an “electoral college” system in future Labour party leadership votes.
Labour conference should have been a moment for Keir Starmer to present a post-Covid vision to the country. Instead, with these leadership changes, he is looking inwards as working people face fire and rehire, empty shops, collapsing energy supplies and Tory poll leads. Pathetic.
— Dave Ward (@DaveWardGS) September 21, 2021
Sir Keir told a shadow cabinet meeting earlier today: “These rules won’t be presented on a take it or leave it basis. I am prepared to take suggestions and ideas and have a conversation and to try and build consensus. But the principles are important to me.
“I hope [the trade unions] will support me, I believe these changes are good for their members and they strengthen our link. I know that this is difficult - change always is - but I think these changes are vital for our party’s future.”
Vince Cable: A terminal crisis is looming for Boris Johnson’s doctrine of ‘cakeism’
17:57 , Andy Gregory
Writing for Independent Voices, former Lib Dem leader and columnist Sir Vince Cable argues of the new Aukus partnership:
“One way of dealing with Britain’s role is with French irony and sarcastic dismissal. But there is no evidence that the Chinese leadership is blessed with a similar sense of humour; they will see that Britain has made a choice. There is a recent history of vindictiveness towards countries as small as Lithuania which have offended Beijing. So there will be “consequences”, as yet unspecified.
“...One certainty is that a terminal crisis is looming for the doctrine of “cakeism”. We can join hostile alliances and engage in gunboat diplomacy, or we can coax China to engage on the climate crisis and free trade, but not both. We can have our cake but not eat it.”
17:59 , Andy Gregory
Boris Johnson has arrived at Washington DC's Union Station ahead of his meeting with US president Joe Biden at the White House.
Government spends half a million pounds trying to block release of information under transparency laws
18:04 , Andy Gregory
An investigation has found that government departments have spent at least half a million pounds since 2016 trying to block the release of information under transparency laws, our policy correspondent Jon Stone reports.
Lawyers working for six government ministries have challenged rulings by the Information Commissioner and left taxpayers to foot the legal bill. The biggest spender on lawyers was the Department of Health and Social Care which racked up legal bills of more than £129,000 fighting a single case to try to stop the release of ministerial diaries.
Read the full story here:
18:14 , Andy Gregory
Here’s some footage of cars, reportedly showing the prime minister’s arrival in Washington DC:
The Eagle Has Landed (or whatever our version of that is). Boris Johnson arrives in Washington DC ahead of White House talks pic.twitter.com/FiyZNzInpV
— Pippa Crerar (@PippaCrerar) September 21, 2021
SNP criticised over attainment gap in schools
18:20 , Andy Gregory
In Scotland, ministers have come under fire over the attainment gap in schools, with opposition leaders claiming the poorest pupils are being left to “pay the price of the government's failure”.
The Tories, Labour, Liberal Democrats and the Scottish Greens all attacked SNP ministers in the wake of new figures from Scotland’s exams body which showed pupils at private schools were much more likely to get top marks.
In these schools, more than three quarters of those sitting Highers this year were awarded an A grade – compared with 47 per cent across all schools, figures from the Scottish Qualifications Authority showed.
Labour education spokesman Michael Marra said the figures showed that the “SNP and SQA designed a system this year” for awarding grades which had “widened and engrained Scotland's already substantial attainment gap”.
“We have seen the most privileged pupils benefit, and the poorest lose out by design,” Mr Marra said. “Far from closing the gap - as was supposed to be their 'defining mission' - they have made it worse, and it is the poorest pupils in Scotland who pay the price of the Government's failure."
Boris Johnson welcomes Biden’s climate funding pledge
18:49 , Andy Gregory
Boris Johnson has welcomed Joe Biden’s climate funding pledge as a “very good start” that takes them “a long way towards the goal”.
Speaking to reporters on the platform at Washington DC’s Union Station, the PM said: “This is very good news in the sense the United States has stepped up to the plate with a massive contribution.
“That’s a very, very good start. It means we’re a long way towards the goal we need to achieve, but there’s still a long way to go.
“There’s no question that this American action today has been a big lift and will really help us to get there.”
PM pressed over universal credit cut
19:00 , Andy Gregory
Pressed on his planned reversal of the £20-a-week universal credit uplift, Boris Johnson insisted his strategy of building a “high skill, high wage economy” was better than “relying on low skills, low wages and uncontrolled immigration”.
— Channel 4 News (@Channel4News) September 21, 2021
Government’s borders bill continues to move through House of Lords
19:16 , Andy Gregory
The government’s Nationality and Borders Bill – which could see anyone entering the UK via an unauthorised route jailed for four years – continues to pass through parliament.
Our firm but fair Borders Bill has entered Commons cttee stage.
It will prevent those with no right to be here from clogging up our justice system by stopping repeated appeals in cases without merit.
My priority is increasing court capacity to deliver swifter, fairer justice.
— Dominic Raab (@DominicRaab) September 21, 2021
The Law Society of England and Wales has warned the bill risks Britain’s global reputation for justice.
Meanwhile, an equality impact assessment by the Home Office found that there is “limited” evidence that it will reduce Channel crossings, and that the reforms carry “significant scope for indirect discrimination” and “potential for direct discrimination on the basis of race”.
No cost of living crisis, Boris Johnson insists, despite warning of ‘toxic cocktail’ of rising bills
19:34 , Andy Gregory
Boris Johnson has dismissed growing fears of a cost of living crisis this winter, our deputy political editor Rob Merrick reports, despite senior Tories echoing warnings of what one charity called a “toxic cocktail” of rising bills.
Asked if “people are going to really struggle this winter” – as soaring heating costs are piled onto benefit cuts, rising inflation and looming tax hikes – the prime minister replied: “No, because I think this is a short-term problem.”
Interviewed in New York City, Mr Johnson also denied people are wondering “how they are going to put food on the table”, insisting: “I don’t believe people will be short of food and wages are actually rising.”
Allies should focus on ‘big picture’ despite Aukus row, Nato chief says
19:57 , Andy Gregory
Nato’s secretary general has urged members of the allegiance to focus on “the big picture” and not let the dispute between the UK, France and US open an ongoing rift.
Speaking to the Associated Press on the margins of the UN General Assembly, Jens Stoltenberg said of the Aukus partnership: “I fully understand France's disappointment.
“At the same time, Nato allies agree on the big picture on the most important challenges, and that is that we have to stand together” to address common challenges, including a shifting global balance of power.
20:15 , Andy Gregory
While some environmental groups have welcomed Joe Biden’s climate funding pledge as a much needed boost for the Paris climate agreement ahead of Cop26, others were less impressed given the US’s status as the world’s second-largest greenhouse gas emitter.
“The US is still woefully short of what it owes and this needs to be increased urgently,” said Mohamed Adow, director of Power Shift Africa.
It’s quite easy to understand why the world’s top emitters of CO2 and the biggest producers of fossil fuels want to make it seem like they’re taking sufficient climate action with fancy speeches. The fact that they still get away with it is another matter… #UNGA
— Greta Thunberg (@GretaThunberg) September 21, 2021
Opposition MPs warn of ‘Tory winter of discontent'
20:34 , Andy Gregory
While the PM gears up for his big moment in Washington DC, warning bells continue to sound back home over a looming “cost of living crisis”.
Concluding a Commons debate on government finances, shadow communities secretary Steve Reed warned the UK faces a “Tory winter of discontent”.
“Headwinds facing working people this year are reaching gale force,” he told MPs. “Prices are up, energy costs are up, taxes are up, rents are up, child care costs are up, rail fares are up. The only thing going down is wages and they are still lower than under the last Labour government.
"The supermarkets are running out of fresh fruit and vegetables thanks to this Government's incompetence but household incomes are under so much pressure many people couldn't afford to buy it anyway. What a state they have left our country in. Put simply, this country faces a Tory winter of discontent.”
SNP MP Patricia Gibson added: “There is no doubt that we are facing a cost of living crisis”, warning the cocktail of crises meant “it really does feel like the end of days”.
And the SNP’s Richard Thomson took aim at one of Mr Johnson’s key agendas, saying: “We have a UK government which speaks the language of levelling up while simultaneously grinding down on those who work the hardest, and those who have the least.”
Climate pledge ‘great day for the world’, Johnson tells Harris
20:46 , Tom Batchelor
Boris Johnson told US vice president Kamala Harris the removal of the blanket travel ban was a “great improvement”, as they met in Washington DC.
Stood at podiums in the vice president’s office in the White House complex, the Prime Minister said: “On trade we are seeing real progress.”
He welcomed the end of the “curious ban” on imports of British beef.
He also thanked the US for the “great improvement on the previous arrangement” for allowing full vaccinated Britons to visit again.
Mr Johnson also praised the “brave” US military for its role in evacuating Kabul airport.
He welcomed the additional contribution to the 100 billion dollar pledge to tackle climate change made by president Joe Biden.
“Today was a great day for the world,” Mr Johnson said. “It was,” Ms Harris agreed.
The two then walked out onto a balcony where they waved to media standing below and continued their discussion.
PM says UK-US cooperating ‘at higher and more intense level than at any time I can remember'
20:51 , Tom Batchelor
Boris Johnson said it was a “great honour and privilege” to meet the US vice president as he praised the co-operation between the US and UK military on the Afghanistan evacuation effort.
He said: “Madame Vice President it’s a great honour and privilege for me to be here to meet you for the first time.
“I’ve heard a lot about you but it’s fantastic to be here and I want to thank the US government, your government, for the many ways in which we are co-operating now I think at a higher and more intense level than at any time I can remember.
“I want to signal out the amazing work, the brave work, of the US military is helping the Kabul airlift.”
On climate change, Mr Johnson added: “I just want to say, Madame Vice President, Kamala, on climate change I think that today was a really good day for the world.
“And I thank the US government and President Biden for the steps you’ve taken to reassure the world that America is committed to helping to tackle climate change.”
Jennifer Arcuri claims people knew Boris Johnson had ‘crush’ on her while mayor of London
20:59 , Tom Batchelor
Our political correspondent Ashley Cowburn has this report on Jennifer Arcuri’s appearance in front of the Greater London Assembly’s oversight committee.
The American businesswoman claimed people knew Boris Johnson had a “crush” on her, but claimed it had “no bearing” on her business pursuits.
Ms Arcuri, who attended trade missions with Mr Johnson during his tenure as mayor of London, has previously claimed she had an intimate relationship with the now prime minister between 2012 and 2016.
Kamala Harris discusses ‘long and enduring’ UK-US relationship
21:09 , Andy Gregory
Kamala Harris said it was an “honour” to welcome Boris Johnson to the White House.
The US vice president told reporters: “As you will discuss with the president, the relationship between our two countries is a long and enduring one, one that we value based on shared priorities and based on, as we know, what is increasingly evident about partnerships and alliances around the world.
“We are indeed interconnected and interdependent in so many ways and in many ways, more than before.”
Ms Harris added: “Of course, we must work and continue to work together to uphold and protect democratic principles and values around the globe.
“And we look forward to that continuing relationship, and our relationship as partners.”
Liz Truss to push Iran to free Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe in meeting in New York
21:33 , Andy Gregory
Liz Truss will tomorrow demand the immediate release of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and other British detainees being held in Iran when she meets her Iranian counterpart at the United Nations, our political editor Andrew Woodcock reports.
The new foreign secretary’s meeting with Hossein Amir-Abdollahian on the fringes of the UN general assembly in New York will be the first between Iran and the UK at foreign minister level since 2018.
The foreign secretary has followed her predecessor Dominic Raab in rejecting outright Iranian attempts to link Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s fate to the resolution of a legal case over the UK’s non-payment of a £400m debt relating to tanks sold to the country’s former shah before the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
China will stop building coal-fired power plants abroad, Xi Jinping tells UN
21:54 , Andy Gregory
China will not build new coal-fired power plants abroad, president Xi Jinping has told the UN general assembly.
“China will step up support for other developing countries in developing green and low-carbon energy, and will not build new coal-fired power projects abroad,” the Chinese premier said in a pre-recorded video address, in which he stressed China’s peaceful intentions in international relations.
He provided no details, but depending on how the policy is implemented, the move could significantly limit the financing of coal plants in the developing world and thereby make it easier for the world to stay on course to meet the goals of the Paris climate agreement.
The move comes as Boris Johnson faces pressure to get China to commit to do more to curb its greenhouse gas output as the UK presides over the Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow, with ministers unable to confirm if Beijing will even send a delegation to the event.
It follows similar moves by South Korea and Japan earlier this year.
UK mulls bid to join North American trade pact
22:22 , Andy Gregory
Britain may bid to join the trade partnership between the US, Canada and Mexico, our political editor Andrew Woodock reports.
While there has previously been no talk of extending the three-nation arrangement beyond the continent, a senior UK government figure said that seeking to join the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) was an option London was interested in pursuing, adding: “There are a variety of different ways to do this.
“The question is whether the US administration is ready. The ball is in the US’s court. It takes two to tango.”
22:42 , Andy Gregory
Boris Johnson and Joe Biden have spoken to reporters in the Oval Office.
Biden will be in Glasgow ‘with bells on'
22:47 , Andy Gregory
Joe Biden has said he will be in Glasgow “with bells on” to attend the Cop26 climate summit.
The US president told reporters: “As we look ahead to the UK hosting Cop26, which I'm really anxious to attend in Glasgow in November.
“We're going to be there with bells on, as they say.”
Biden says he and PM will talk ‘a little bit’ about UK-US trade
22:50 , Andy Gregory
Joe Biden said he would talk to Boris Johnson about trade, as they met in the Oval Office.
Asked if Britain was still at the back of the queue for a free trade agreement, the US president said: “We’re going to talk a little bit about trade today and we’re going to have to work that through.”
Biden fires warning over ‘Irish accords'
22:54 , Andy Gregory
Joe Biden has used Boris Johnson’s White House visit to stress the importance of the Good Friday Agreement in relation to any future UK-US trade deal.
Asked about a UK-US trade deal, the US president told reporters: “To do with the UK, that's continuing to be discussed.
“But on the protocols I feel very strongly on those. We spent an enormous amount of time and effort, the United States, it was a major bipartisan effort made.
“And I would not at all like to see, nor I might add would many of my Republican colleagues like to see, a change in the Irish accords, the end result having a closed border in Ireland.”
PM says Biden climate speech ‘made the difference'
22:57 , Andy Gregory
Boris Johnson has thanked Joe Biden for his speech at the UN, which he claimed “made the difference on supporting the world to adapt to climate change”.
The US president also said the UN general assembly had made clear that “climate must be the core focus”.
Mr Johnson is set to make a speech about the need for global action at the UN on Wednesday, ahead of the Cop26 summit in Glasgow.
Anne Sacoolas case ‘being worked on’, Biden says
23:04 , Andy Gregory
Joe Biden has said the Anne Sacoolas case “is being worked on”, after the UK’s new foreign secretary Liz Truss signalled her intention to continue the fight for the US citizen’s extradition to Britain.
Sat next to Boris Johnson in the Oval Office, the US president told reporters: “That case is being worked on.
“I was under the impression there had been a civil settlement reached, but I don't know that, based on what I've been told it was not an intentional act.
“It was someone who's new ... driving down the wrong side of the road, quote unquote. But I will follow up on that.”
23:11 , Andy Gregory
Responding to Joe Biden’s comment that he did not want to see “a closed border” imposed on the island of Ireland, Boris Johnson said: “On that point, Joe, we are completely at one.
“And I think nobody wants to see anything that interrupts or unbalances the Belfast Good Friday Agreement.”
23:16 , Andy Gregory
CBS News’s White House correspondent has noted that while Boris Johnson took two questions from British broadcasters, the US president did not extend the same courtesy to journalists from American outlets.
IN THE PRESIDENT'S OVAL OFFICE:
Boris Johnson recognized two British reporters for questions.
Joe Biden then signaled it was time for the press to leave, without taking any questions from his own press corps.
— Steven Portnoy (@stevenportnoy) September 21, 2021
23:18 , Andy Gregory
The assessment from Sky News’s political correspondent is that the two leaders shared a “good rapport” in the Oval Office, but that large questions remain over the future of UK-US trade.
Oval Office. Good rapport & easy conversation between @POTUS and @BorisJohnson with both leaders highlighting common goals on climate change, and security. But on the matter of a trade deal, big gaps remain pic.twitter.com/zeMxHNyEIJ
— Beth Rigby (@BethRigby) September 21, 2021
US congressman ‘hasn’t heard one word’ about UK joining North American trade pact
23:33 , Andy Gregory
A congressman on the US House ways and means committee has told the BBC he “hasn’t heard one word” about the prospect of the UK becoming a fourth party in the trade deal between the US, Mexico and Canada.
Could the UK join the existing US-Mexico-Canada arrangement instead?
Democratic Congressman @RepBrendanBoyle, who sits on the US House Ways and Means Committee which has jurisdiction over trade issues, tells @maitlis "I haven’t heard one word about that"
— BBC Newsnight (@BBCNewsnight) September 21, 2021