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Boris Johnson news – live: China ‘yet to confirm Cop26 attendance’ amid NHS surgery warning over CO2 shortage

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China’s president Xi Jinping is yet to confirm whether he will attend the Cop26 climate conference in Glasgow later this year, Cabinet minister Alok Sharma has admitted.

However, Mr Sharma told the BBC on Sunday that he was “very hopeful” that the country would send a negotiating team to the talks, which are seen as being crucial for agreeing substantial action to tackle the climate crisis.

It came as Boris Johnson’s government was warned that the UK faces a “national security issue” over a sudden shortage of carbon dioxide (CO2) used by the food and drink industry, with the issue set to cause problems in the food supply chain.

Ranjit Singh Boparan, the owner of Bernard Matthews and 2 Sisters Food Group, warned on Saturday that there was potential for “massive food waste” across the country due to the shortage, which is linked to a spike in wholesale gas prices.

Meanwhile, an NHS leader has warned that operations could be put at risk due to the CO2 shortage if ministers fail to prioritise the health service in emergency talks.

Read More

Ex-Bank of England chief economist asked to rescue Boris Johnson’s troubled ‘levelling up’ pledge

Four ex-prime ministers snub Boris Johnson’s Chequers dinner with only Theresa May agreeing to go

Time running out to make climate promises ‘a reality’ and avoid Cop26 failure, Boris Johnson warned

Key Points

  • China’s Xi Jinping has not said he will come to COP26 yet, minister admits

  • UK faces ‘national security issue’ over CO2 shortage in food industry

  • Operations at risk from CO2 shortages ‘unless ministers prioritise NHS’

  • Minister insists ‘no immediate concern’ over gas supplies

  • New foreign secretary defends UK’s security pact with US and Australia

Starmer must unify Labour conference by welcoming Corbyn back, McDonnell says

15:56 , Conrad Duncan

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer should unify his party by restoring the whip to his predecessor Jeremy Corbyn and by setting out a radical platform for government, former shadow chancellor John McDonnell has said.

The prominent left-wing MP also warned that Sir Keir was running out of time to put forward a compelling vision for the country before the next general election.

Our political editor, Andrew Woodcock, has the full story below:

Starmer must unify Labour conference by welcoming Corbyn back, says John McDonnell

ICYMI: Report accuses Boris Johnson of neglecting national security

15:38 , Conrad Duncan

Boris Johnson has been accused of overseeing an “inadequate” Whitehall system and neglecting national security, according to a new parliamentary report.

The Joint Committee on National Security Strategy has branded the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan as “a systemic failure”, while also noting that the National Security Council’s structures were abandoned when the Covid pandemic struck.

Our deputy political editor, Rob Merrick, has the full story below:

Boris Johnson accused of neglecting national security as he prepares to skip meetings

15:16 , Conrad Duncan

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has joined the prime minister in paying tribute to England footballer Jimmy Greaves, who has passed away at the age of 81:

15:02 , Conrad Duncan

Lib Dem leader Sir Ed Davey has brought back his prop “blue wall” for his party conference speech this afternoon…

For those who don’t remember, Sir Ed used the wall to celebrate his party’s surprise by-election victory in the former Tory seat of Chesham and Amersham in June:

14:44 , Conrad Duncan

On Saturday night, it was revealed that former Bank of England chief economist Andy Haldane had been appointed as the head of the government’s “levelling up” taskforce.

Here’s what Mr Haldane had to say about Boris Johnson’s strategy for the agenda at an Institute for Government event earlier this year.

“The best laid plans are those that are laid locally and which build a broad base of foundations, including investment, education, skills and culture,” he said.

“That requires local institutions, and it requires them to have the holy trinity of powers, money and people.”

Mr Haldane added: “Put simply, you don't level up from the top down, rather you level up from the bottom up.”

You can find his comments in full below:

ICYMI: China’s attendance at Cop26 in doubt, Alok Sharma says

14:25 , Conrad Duncan

China’s president Xi Jinping has yet to commit to attending the Cop26 international climate change talks in Glasgow in November, the conference’s head has admitted.

Alok Sharma acknowledged on Sunday that China would have to play a “key” part in any agreement on action to tackle the climate crisis.

Our reporter, Leonie Chao-Fong, has the full story below:

China’s attendance at Cop26 in doubt, Alok Sharma says

13:58 , Conrad Duncan

As the journalism app PARLY notes, the Ministry of Housing has gone through a number of different names over the past 20 years or so:

Senior economist asked to rescue Johnson’s troubled ‘levelling up’ pledge

13:48 , Conrad Duncan

A former Bank of England chief economist has been asked to breathe life into Boris Johnson’s troubled “levelling up” agenda as part of a shake-up of the government’s strategy.

Andy Haldane will lead a new Cabinet Office taskforce, with No 10 declaring that the policy is now its “central mission”.

You can find the full story below:

Economist called in to rescue Boris Johnson’s ‘levelling up’ policy

Operations at risk from CO2 shortages ‘unless ministers prioritise NHS’

13:30 , Conrad Duncan

NHS surgery is at risk from CO2 shortages brought on by rising gas prices unless ministers make the issue a top priority, a health service leader has warned.

Lord Adebowale, the chair of the NHS Confederation, urged business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng to focus on “making sure there’s enough CO2 for the NHS” as part of emergency talks over the coming days.

Our deputy political editor, Rob Merrick, has the full story below:

Operations at risk from CO2 shortages unless ministers ‘prioritise NHS’

Ministry of Housing renamed as Department for Levelling Up in reshuffle shake-up

13:12 , Conrad Duncan

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government will now be known as the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities as part of a push to deliver on one of the government’s key issues.

Michael Gove was handed the department, which will now have an expanded role for delivering improvements for “undervalued communities”, in Boris Johnson’s Cabinet reshuffle earlier this week.

Mr Gove said that he was “thrilled” to be taking on the Levelling Up agenda, which he described as “the defining mission of this government”.

“With a superb team of ministers and officials in a new department, our relentless focus will be on delivering for those overlooked families and undervalued communities across the United Kingdom,” he said.

“We have a unique opportunity to make a real difference to people's lives.”

Only Lib Dem surge can oust Johnson from No 10, Ed Davey to tell party’s conference

12:51 , Conrad Duncan

Only a Liberal Democrat surge in Conservative heartlands can remove Boris Johnson from Downing Street, party leader Sir Ed Davey will tell the Lib Dem conference.

Sir Ed is set to insist that his party holds the key to the next general election result following a surprise by-election win in Chesham and Amersham earlier this year.

You can find the full story below:

Only a Lib Dem surge can oust Boris Johnson from No 10, Ed Davey to say

12:34 , Conrad Duncan

Boris Johnson has paid tribute this afternoon to the “goalscoring legend” Jimmy Greaves after it was revealed that the former England footballer had passed away at the age of 81:

Premium: Why Labour has no option but to tax wealth

12:15 , Conrad Duncan

Sir Keir Starmer’s Labour is beginning to move towards supporting higher taxes on the rich in order to fund reforms for the NHS and social care, with the party leader suggesting that he would consider a wealth tax to pay for improvements.

Our deputy political editor, Rob Merrick, has taken a look at what is driving this change in tone:

Why Labour has no option but to tax wealth

UK does not have ‘vassal status to anyone’, minister insists

12:00 , Conrad Duncan

A government minister has rejected the claim that the UK has a “vassal status” to the US over the new AUKUS alliance on security in the Indo-Pacific.

France’s Europe minister Clement Beaune suggested this weekend that the British government had agreed to “a form of accepted vassalisation” with the US over the deal.

In response, Cabinet minister Alok Sharma told Times Radio: “When it comes to France, we will continue to have very close cooperation with them on security matters through Nato and through the Joint Expeditionary Force.

“This isn’t about provoking anyone, this is about ensuring safety and security, and of course we want to have constructive relationships with all countries.”

When pressed on whether he disagreed with the French minister’s claim, Mr Sharma added: “I don't see us having vassal status to anyone.”

You can find his comments in full below:

Labour to open EU talks on ‘new agreement’ to end post-Brexit touring crisis

11:40 , Conrad Duncan

Labour plans to open its own talks on a “new agreement” with the EU to end the post-Brexit crisis forcing musicians to abandon tours, in an attempt to pile pressure on the government to act.

The Independent can reveal that Brussels will be asked to revive its offer of visa-free visits across the EU for creative artists and to remove huge new fees and red tape to transport equipment

Our deputy political editor, Rob Merrick, has the full story below:

Labour to open EU talks on ‘new agreement’ to end post-Brexit touring crisis

Miliband warns government against going ahead with ‘indefensible’ benefit cut

11:30 , Conrad Duncan

Labour’s shadow business secretary Ed Miliband has warned that it is “simply indefensible” for the government to go ahead with plans to cut Universal Credit by £20-per-week amid concerns about rising gas prices.

“Soaring gas prices will plunge half a million more families into fuel poverty,” Mr Miliband wrote on Twitter.

“It’s simply indefensible for the government to cut Universal Credit.”

He added: “If the business secretary is really spending today trying to work out how to help, his starting point must be to cancel the cut.”

Australian PM says he understands France’s ‘disappointment’ over submarine snub

11:13 , Conrad Duncan

Australia’s prime minister has admitted that he understands France’s “disappointment” after his government ditched a multibillion-dollar submarine deal in favour of a pact with the US and UK this week.

Scott Morrison defended the decision on Sunday by arguing that it was made in Australia’s “national defence interest”.

Our reporter, Leonie Chao-Fong, has the full story below:

Australian PM says he understands France’s ‘disappointment’ over submarine snub

10:58 , Conrad Duncan

You can find comments below from COP26 president Alok Sharma on the need to cut carbon emissions from domestic homes in order to meet climate change targets:

COP26 president ‘very hopeful’ China will send team to climate crisis talks

10:42 , Conrad Duncan

COP26 president Alok Sharma has said he is “very, very hopeful” that China will send a negotiating team to the international climate crisis talks in Glasgow in November.

Although Chinese president Xi Jinping has yet to confirm that he will attend the gathering, Mr Sharma told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show: “I am very, very hopeful that we will have a delegation from China that is coming.

“President Xi Jinping would come for the world leaders' conference which is the first two days of Cop. But of course we want China there as part of the negotiations.

“I do feel that they will come for that. I certainly expect that China will send a negotiating team to Glasgow.”

The minister added that he was also confident that the talks would go ahead in person despite rising Covid levels in Scotland, with safety measures such as daily testing and vaccinations for delegates prepared for the event.

Fears of higher energy bills as minister reveals price cap could be lifted

10:32 , Conrad Duncan

Ministers are considering removing the energy price cap to stop soaring prices sending gas firms to the wall, a Cabinet minister has revealed.

Alok Sharma acknowledged the move was “under discussion” on Sunday in response to a supply crisis, putting households at risk of higher bills.

Our deputy political editor, Rob Merrick, has the full story below:

Fears of higher energy bills as minister reveals price cap could be lifted

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s husband calls for support from new foreign secretary

10:18 , Conrad Duncan

The husband of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has said he is speaking with new foreign secretary Liz Truss today to ensure she makes “clear steps” in ensuring his wife is returned home from Iran.

Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been refused permission to leave Iran after being arrested in April 2016 on spying charges that she has long denied.

Richard Ratcliffe told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show: “I've got a phone call with the foreign secretary today, to be speaking to her two days into the job is a positive sign for sure.

“Partly I just want to hear that this is a top priority and that Nazanin and the others who are being held as bargaining chips will be brought home.”

He added: “This coming week she [Ms Truss] should be meeting with the new Iranian foreign minister in New York when they're over for the UN event, so hopefully there will be a positive conversation.

“Right now I think enough needs to be enough, and it needs to be signalled really clearly to Iran that you can't use innocent people in this way.

“I'd really like them to be firm, to be brave and make some clear steps.”

You can find more of Mr Ratcliffe’s comments below:

10:05 , Conrad Duncan

You can find more of Sir Ed Davey’s comments on the Liberal Democrats’ chances in the next general election below:

Lib Dem leader says party can take many seats from Tories

09:57 , Conrad Duncan

The Liberal Democrats can take “a lot” of seats from the Conservatives at the next general election, the party’s leader has claimed.

Ahead of his party conference speech, Sir Ed Davey told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show: “What we found in the local elections in knocking on doors, now we are able to as the Covid restrictions have been lifted, we found a lot of people very unhappy with the Conservatives.

“They feel Boris Johnson has taken them for granted and they like what we are saying when they get a chance to hear it.

“I think we can be the strong voice that gets rid of a lot of Conservative MPs and deprives Boris Johnson of his majority.”

Energy supply fears show need to ‘transition to net-zero’, Labour shadow minister says

09:53 , Conrad Duncan

Concerns over the UK’s energy supply following a sharp rise in wholesale gas prices show the need to transition to a net-zero economy, a Labour shadow minister has said.

Pat McFadden, the shadow economic secretary to the Treasury, said on Sunday that the sudden jump in prices “must act as a spur to avoid situations like this where suddenly we're very exposed when there's an international price spike”.

“In the short term what the business secretary must do is ensure continuity of supply, that's a basic duty of government for both domestic consumers and for businesses,” Mr McFadden told Sky News’ Trevor Phillips on Sunday.

“We've seen other ramifications of this over the last 24/48 hours, for example on food supplies, with CO2 being a necessary by-product, and in the long-term what this has shown is the need to get on with the transition to net-zero and the vulnerability of the reliance on fossil fuel markets, especially international ones.”

He added: “This should act as a spur to get on with the transition to net-zero, more renewable and sustainable supplies because the effect of all this will be rising prices for consumers just when they're being hit with other things too.”

Caroline Lucas backs climate protests that blocked M25 because of ‘existential crisis’

09:40 , Conrad Duncan

The UK’s lone Green Party MP has backed climate emergency protesters who blocked the M25 motorway, arguing that they are justified by the government’s failure to act on the climate crisis.

Caroline Lucas refused to criticise the protesters on Sunday, saying: “In extreme situations, it’s reasonable to take extreme actions – and that is what has driven these protesters to do that.”

You can find more details on the story below:

Caroline Lucas backs climate protests blocking M25 because of ‘existential crisis’

Time running out to make COP26 climate summit a success, Johnson to warn

09:28 , Conrad Duncan

Time is running out to make the COP26 climate emergency summit a success, Boris Johnson will tell world leaders on a trip to the US in the coming days.

It has been revealed that Mr Johnson will host a UN meeting on Monday to push for help for developing countries to adapt to the devastating consequences of global heating.

Our deputy political editor, Rob Merrick, has the full story below:

Time running out to make Cop26 a success, PM tells world leaders

China’s Xi Jinping has not said he will come to COP26 yet, minister admits

09:18 , Conrad Duncan

China’s president Xi Jinping has not said whether he will come to the COP26 climate conference later this year, a minister has admitted.

When asked by Sky News if the government had reveived a commitment from the Chinese leader, Alok Sharma said: “No, not yet.”

However, he added: “But as you know, I was in China recently, I had constructive and very frank discussions with China and of course they made various commitments on cutting emissions, on phasing down the use of coal, and I was very clear that we want to see the detailed policy around this and they, along with every other major economy, have committed before COP26 to come forward with ambitious plans to cut emissions.

“And I have to say to you that in every conversation that I had with the Chinese, they were very clear that they want to see COP26 as a success - so the ball is very much in their court.”

The interview comes amid tension between China and the UK over the British government’s involvement in the new AUKUS alliance with the US and Australia - which has widely been seen as an attempt to challenge China’s influence in the Indo-Pacific region.

You can find his comments in full below:

Minister insists ‘no immediate concern’ over gas supplies

09:00 , Conrad Duncan

This is “no immediate concern” over gas supplies for the UK following a sudden rise in wholesale gas prices, a minister has said.

COP26 president Alok Sharma told Sky News’ Trevor Phillips on Sunday that the government was not expecting to see major problems this winter with gas prices despite concerns in the industry.

“As you will know, the business secretary has been having detailed discussions with the sector this weekend, he will be continuing those today, there is going to be a round-table tomorrow,” Mr Sharma said.

“But I think the clear message that is coming out of this is that there is no immediate concern in terms of supply.

“We don’t see any risk going into the winter and when it comes to prices, we have an energy price cap, there are also mechanisms such as the warm home discount which are available to support people as well.”

You can find his comments in full below:

France claims UK is ‘junior partner’ in new security pact

08:44 , Conrad Duncan

France has accused the UK of being a “junior partner” in a new security pact with the US and Australia, in the country’s latest rebuke of the deal.

In response to the pact, French president Emmanuel Macron ordered the recall of the French ambassadors to the US and Australia but made no similar order for the country’s envoy in London.

Europe minister Clement Beaune suggested on French television that this decision was because the UK was merely the “junior partner” in the agreement.

“Our British friends explained to us they were leaving the EU to create Global Britain. We can see that this is a return into the American lap and a form of accepted vassalisation,” Mr Beaune said.

“The UK is clearly trying to find its feet, perhaps there was a lack of thought about the strategic future. Today they are hiding in the American fold. I hope that will not be their policy for the decades to come.”

He added: “We see through this partnership, this strategic alliance and after the Kabul crisis, that Global Britain seems to be more about a US junior partner than working with different allies.”

Johnson accused of neglecting national security as he prepares to skip key meetings

08:32 , Conrad Duncan

The Covid-19 and Afghanistan emergencies have exposed how Boris Johnson is neglecting national security, according to a highly-critical report published today.

The Joint Committee on National Security Strategy has accused the prime minister of overseeing an “inadequate” Whitehall system that lacks clear lines of responsibilities and cannot cope with multiple crises.

Our deputy political editor, Rob Merrick, has the full story below:

Boris Johnson accused of neglecting national security as he prepares to skip meetings

New foreign secretary Truss defends UK’s security pact with US and Australia

08:23 , Conrad Duncan

New foreign secretary Liz Truss has defended the UK’s security pact with the US and Australia (AUKUS) following strong criticism from France over the deal.

Ms Truss said that the agreement - which will see the UK and US work to develop a new fleet of nuclear-powered submarines for the Australian navy - showed Britain's readiness to be “hard-headed” in defence of its interests.

However, the deal has angered France as the Australian government has scrapped a £30bn agreement with the French for conventionally-powered diesel-electric vessels.

Writing in The Sunday Telegraph, Ms Truss claimed that the pact underlined the UK’s commitment to the Indo-Pacific region.

She argued that Britain would always be a “fierce champion” of freedom and free enterprise around the world.

“But freedoms need to be defended, so we are also building strong security ties around the world,” she added.

“That is why last week the prime minister announced, alongside our friends president [Joe] Biden and prime minister [Scott] Morrison, the creation of a new security partnership called Aukus.

“It shows our readiness to be hard-headed in defending our interests and challenging unfair practices and malign acts.”

 (PA)
(PA)

UK faces ‘national security issue’ over CO2 shortage in food industry

08:07 , Conrad Duncan

The UK is facing a “national security issue” over a shortage of carbon dioxide (CO2) used by the food and drink industry for refrigeration and delivery.

Meat supplies to supermarkets and restaurants are set to be affected within days by shortage of the gas, with the British Poultry Council warning that the industry is heading into a “downward spiral towards supply chains seriously struggling”.

Our reporter, Peter Stubley, has the full story below:

Frozen food and meat shortages loom in carbon dioxide shortage

07:59 , Conrad Duncan

Hello and welcome to The Independent’s live coverage of UK politics today.

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