- Oops!Something went wrong.Please try again later.
Senior Conservatives will stage a Commons showdown in a last-gasp bid to force ministers to rethink the looming reversal of the £20-a-week universal credit uplift, tabling an amendment to block the annual uprating of pensions unless funds are diverted to stop the cut.
Elsewhere, ministers are eyeing a post-Brexit return to imperial measurements, with shops to be again allowed to sell products in pounds and ounces only, some 55 years after the UK first moved to adopt the metric system.
Other new “freedoms” contained under the proposals announced by Brexit minister Lord Frost are plans to permit the voluntary printing of the crown stamp on pint glasses and the introduction of digital driving licences.
It came as former Sainsbury’s boss Justin King warned Brexit will ultimately have a bigger impact on the food and drink industry – which he described as “mid-crisis” – than the Covid pandemic, suggesting that rising prices and the supply chain woes currently triggering shortages as are part of “the new normal.”
Meanwhile, Boris Johnson’s new Cabinet met for the first time on Friday morning following the reshuffle, which notably saw Dominic Raab removed as foreign secretary and Nadine Dorries become the new secretary for culture, media and sport.
The prime minister is reported to have told them to “spit out the orange peel” in a rugby-themed “half-time pep talk” and joked about having seen a lot of delivery rooms, appearing to compare the “delivery” of his government’s agenda with the “superhuman effort” of giving birth.
Tories launch last-ditch bid to stop universal credit cut
Boris Johnson gives new Cabinet rugby-themed ‘half-time pep talk’
Ministers eye post-Brexit return to imperial measurements
16:06 , Andy Gregory
That’s us 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.
07:54 , Andy Gregory
Good morning, and welcome to The Independent’s live coverage of UK politics, where we’ll be providing rolling updates on the latest happenings in Westminster and beyond.
New Cabinet to meet for first time
07:58 , Andy Gregory
Boris Johnson’s newly re-shuffled Cabinet is set to hold its first meeting at 9am this morning.
New to the table after 15 years in parliament will be Nadine Dorries, the new secretary for culture, media and sport.
Dominic Raab may be somewhat less pleased with the new seating arrangements – with Downing Street having insisted yesterday that the ousted foreign secretary will continue to play an “important senior role” as deputy PM.
Ministers plan post-Brexit return of imperial pounds and ounces in review of EU laws
08:05 , Andy Gregory
My colleague Conrad Duncan has more on our headline story this morning – the looming post-Brexit return of imperial measurements.
The move comes within plans set out by Brexit minister Lord Frost to ditch EU rules that no longer suit the UK, reviewing the content of retained EU law which was preserved in UK law for continuity after the transition period ended in December 2020.
Boris Johnson had pledged to bring imperial units back to shops as part of his pitch to voters in the 2019 general election, promising “an era of generosity and tolerance towards traditional measurements”.
Priti Patel urges ‘decisive’ police action over climate protesters
08:19 , Andy Gregory
Priti Patel has criticised the “guerrilla tactics” of “selfish” climate protesters who brought traffic to a halt on the M25 and is urging police to take “decisive” action – despite a recent Supreme Court ruling that found protest can be a “lawful excuse” to block roads under human rights law
Protesters from the Insulate Britain group – which is demanding government action on home insulation – stopped thousands of motorists at four junctions on Britain’s busiest motorway at rush hour on Wednesday for the second time in three days. More than 85 protesters are thought to have been arrested.
Insulate Britain has accused the government of “criminal negligence” for “refusing to get on with the job” of insulating every home in the country, which it said would bring “proper jobs for hundreds of thousands of people” and “pound for pound, gives us the biggest reduction in carbon emissions”.
08:25 , Andy Gregory
Members of Boris Johnson’s new Cabinet are slowly arriving at No 10 ahead of their first meeting post-reshuffle.
Politics Explained: Why Dorries and Dowden have been awarded top jobs in the reshuffle
08:40 , Andy Gregory
Amid much speculation over the motivations and machinations behind Boris Johnson’s reshuffle, our associate editor Sean O’Grady takes a look at the political qualities of two of the biggest winners in his new Cabinet – and how they could serve the prime minister’s interests.
He writes that the new Tory Party co-chair Oliver Dowden and his surprise successor as secretary of state for media, culture and sport Nadine Dorries “highlight two important aspects of what Boris Johnson is up to”, adding:
“In his first public utterances, Mr Dowden, a little mischievously, told the nation to be ready for a general election. Perhaps what he, this time, meant to say was that his party should be on a war footing and in permanent campaign mode as it launches wave after wave of new culture wars against the opposition, with Ms Dorries in the thick of it.”
Watch live: Nancy Pelosi gives London speech on ‘state of American democracy’
08:49 , Andy Gregory
US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is due to speak at London’s Chatham House at 9am on “state of American democracy following the January attack on the US Capitol and efforts to restrict voting rights in various states“.
You can tune in below to watch her speech live:
Minister plays down Oliver Dowden’s general election remarks
08:58 , Andy Gregory
Doing the media rounds this morning, the environment secretary was asked whether the newly-appointed Conservative Party chairman had put the party on an “election footing”
“I think what Oliver Dowden said is that we should be ready for an election whenever it might come,” said George Eustice. “That is what every party chairman will always do. Their task is to make sure the party is ready.
“But, for Cabinet as a whole, our priority is to deliver. We've still got several years left of this Parliament and we've got a lot that we want to achieve.
“There are going to be a lot of challenges that need addressing post this pandemic – that is going to be our absolute focus.”
Cabinet sub-committee meeting could sign off on travel rule changes today, minister says
09:08 , Andy Gregory
A Cabinet sub-committee meeting could sign off on travel rule changes later today, George Eustice has said.
The green and amber lists are expected to be merged to form one category of low-risk countries while the number of destinations on the red list will be reduced. There is also speculation that fully-vaccinated arrivals will no longer need to take a pre-departure lateral flow test or a post-arrival PCR test.
“My understanding is that no decisions have actually been taken yet, although I understand there may be a meeting today to review this. We regularly review those travel restrictions,” the environment secretary told Sky News.
“Obviously we took an important step earlier this summer when we removed the need to quarantine for those countries coming from amber list countries – that was a really big step forward – but we have retained the need for testing, and that's really so we can pick up any variants of concern through that PCR test.
“But, look, I know this has been raised by the travel industry, that they think some of that testing may be unnecessary, may be onerous – the government will be listening to that and the Covid sub-committee of Cabinet that decide these things will be considering that probably later today.”
New cabinet minister denied climate change in string of tweets
09:16 , Andy Gregory
Boris Johnson’s new international trade secretary – appointed ahead of the UK’s presidency of the UN’s annual climate summit – has been accused of climate emergency denial, after a series of tweets came to light in which she insisted the world was not getting hotter.
In the messages, sent between 2010 and 2012, Anne-Marie Trevelyan approvingly quoted the work of groups which have rejected the mainstream scientific consensus that human activity is driving climate change.
And she stated that one such group had provided “clear evidence that the ice caps aren’t melting after all, to counter those gloom-mongers and global warming fanatics”. Our political editor Andrew Woodcock has the full report:
Boris Johnson tells new Cabinet to ‘spit out the orange peel’
09:26 , Andy Gregory
Boris Johnson has given his overhauled Cabinet a rugby-themed “half-time pep talk”.
According to the PA news agency, he told the first meeting of his new Cabinet: “This is, if you like, the half-time pep talk.
“This is the moment when we spit out the orange peel, we adjust our gum shields and our scrum caps.
“And we get out on to the pitch in the knowledge that we're going to have to do it together and we're going to have to do it as a team.”
Environment secretary shares his experience of bovine tuberculosis after ‘difficult’ Geronimo euthanasia
09:31 , Andy Gregory
The environment secretary has said it was a “difficult” decision – albeit the right one – to euthanise Geronimo the alpaca.
George Eustice described his own family's experience with the “terrible” disease of bovine tuberculosis, saying that his father had been “very distraught” to have to slaughter one of his show cows.
“The important thing to recognise is that every week we have to remove and slaughter about 500 cattle who test positive,” he told LBC.
“I know this particular owner was attached to Geronimo, but there are farmers up and down the country who suffer similar heartbreak every week – my own family, who have cattle, have lost show cattle, excellent cattle they wanted to show, through this terrible disease, and it is difficult but necessary.”
‘I’ve seen a few delivery rooms,’ PM jokes
09:39 , Andy Gregory
Moving on from zesty rugby metaphors, the prime minister joked about having seen a lot of delivery rooms in his time as he urged his new Cabinet all to redouble their efforts to “deliver”.
Sat around the Cabinet table with Cabinet secretary Simon Case to his right and chancellor Rishi Sunak to his left, Boris Johnson said: “I want to thank you all because you're all here on your merits because you've worked incredibly hard, but I want you to work even harder now.
“I'm just thinking about delivery, I've seen a few delivery rooms, probably seen as many delivery rooms as anybody in this... Apart from the exception of Jacob [Rees-Mogg].
“I know that delivery normally involves a superhuman effort by at least one person in the room. But there are plenty of other people in that room who are absolutely indispensable to that successful outcome.”
Dominic Raab, demoted to justice secretary, was sat opposite the PM, as was Mr Raab's replacement as foreign secretary, Liz Truss, and new housing secretary Michael Gove.
Nadine Dorries moves to flatten protected industrial landmark
09:59 , Andy Gregory
In her first move as culture secretary, Nadine Dorries has removed the listed status of an industrial landmark, allowing it to be demolished after campaigners thought it had been saved.
Just one week after Historic England granted Teesside's Dorman Long Tower Grade II status, it has been removed on appeal, meaning the 1955 concrete structure can be flattened.
Tees Valley Conservative mayor Ben Houchen said removing the tower, an example of brutalist architecture, will allow major redevelopment plans on the former steelworks site in Redcar to go ahead unhindered.
Brexit will have bigger impact on food and drink industry than Covid, former Sainbury’s boss warns
10:35 , Andy Gregory
As the government moves to allow shops to return to using imperial measurements some half a century after endorsing the metric system, former Sainsbury’s boss Justin King has warned that Brexit will have bigger impact on the food and drink industry than the Covid pandemic.
“In two years time you are all going to realise Brexit was bigger news than Covid,” Mr King the Convenience Conference in London. “I think it’s already clear that’s true. Labour relative to your business is going to become a much more expensive resource because of that, and that means productivity and your approach to it is going to fundamentally change.
“A lot of what’s happening with this is the new normal. Our labour situation in the UK is now structural and long-term, with a real lack of political will to sort it.” My colleague Holly Bancroft reports:
Dominic Raab said ‘I don’t support the Human Rights Act’ ahead of being put in charge of overhaul
10:54 , Andy Gregory
Footage of Dominic Raab attacking the Human Rights Act has emerged, hours after he was handed control of an overhaul of the landmark legislation, our deputy political editor Rob Merrick reports.
A clip unearthed by Labour showed the new justice secretary, as a backbench Conservative MP in 2009, saying: “I don’t support the Human Rights Act.”
Mr Raab now has responsibility for a review of the HRA and the requirement for it to weigh up judgments from the European Court of Human Rights, after being demoted from foreign secretary.
Trans women should be allowed in all public places, Lib Dem leader Ed Davey says
11:04 , Andy Gregory
Trans women should be allowed to enter all public places, the Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey has said, accusing Boris Johnson of stirring up “a culture war” on the issue.
Speaking to the BBC’s Today programme ahead of his party’s conference, he attacked No 10 for “trying to stir division in our country, division on this issue, division on issues around race”, adding: “If you’re a real statesman, if you want to bring people together, you don’t stir up divisions, the way that Johnson’s doing.”
The party leader will use the conference – which is being held online – to position the Lib Dems with an anti-Tory stance, vowing to never help to put Mr Johnson back into Downing Street.
Rob Merrick has the full story:
11:12 , Andy Gregory
For context, here’s what the government website currently states about the use of imperial measurements:
“You must use metric measurements (grams, kilograms, millilitres or litres) when selling packaged or loose goods in England, Scotland or Wales. There are different rules in Northern Ireland.
“The only products you can sell in imperial measures are: draught beer or cider by pint, milk in returnable containers by pint, precious metals by troy ounce.
“You can display an imperial measurement alongside the metric measurement but it cannot stand out more than the metric measurement.”
11:14 , Andy Gregory
Nigel Farage appears happy with the hard-won fruits of his 20-year campaign for Brexit.
Great news. The Metric Martyrs case took 20 years but now we can buy goods in pounds and ounces again, not just Napoleonic measurements.
We even get the crown back on pint glasses.
Brexit is making us more British.
— Nigel Farage (@Nigel_Farage) September 17, 2021
Speaker pressed on doing more to counter ‘lying’ in parliament
11:27 , Andy Gregory
Asked why he can’t do more to tackle politicians telling mistruths in the House of Commons, Sir Lindsay Hoyle told Times Radio: “First of all, they don’t give me the powers. I’m an impartial Speaker, I’m not a political Speaker.
“I would have to make a political judgement on whether I believe it’s right or wrong. And that’s the reality of it. What I expect is politicians to actually treat the House with respect and give them the best information they can.
“Don’t forget there is a big assumption – we think they know the answer. And I think that’s part of the problem ... they may not know the answer.”
"I'll tell you, I'd like to sit in there with political power. But we've decided we don't want a political speaker..."
Speaker @LindsayHoyle_MP told Times Radio he'd like to do more to counter any lies told by MPs in the House of Commons.@MattChorley pic.twitter.com/vhqkXZETec
— Times Radio (@TimesRadio) September 17, 2021
John Rentoul hosts ‘Ask Me Anything’ on the Cabinet reshuffle
11:32 , Andy Gregory
Our chief political commentator John Rentoul is running an “Ask Me Anything” event on the Cabinet reshuffle at 4pm this afternoon.
What does it mean for the government and what does it mean for Sir Keir Starmer’s opposition? How will it affect international relations? What will it do to the continuing Brexit complications, and how we continue to battle Covid – and what about the next general election?
You can submit your questions and follow along live on the article below:
‘Political will isn’t there’ for fundamental reform of laws to prevent violence against women, Labour MP says
11:46 , Andy Gregory
Jess Phillips has suggested that the “political will isn’t there” for “fundamental reform” of the law to prevent violence against women, after a watchdog called for police to prioritise protecting women as highly as counter-terrorism.
We have been calling for a very long time for exactly this and the political will isn't there. The government keep on with sticking plaster rather than fundamental reform. Far from being tough on crime they are weak as hell and the criminals know nothing will happen to them. https://t.co/FUL4KFLwSx
— Jess Phillips MP (@jessphillips) September 17, 2021
HM Inspectorate of Constabulary has called for “fundamental cross-system change”, including a “radical refocus” on crimes that disproportionately affect female victims including domestic abuse, rape, sexual grooming and stalking.
“We can’t just police our way out of this, these offences are deep rooted, pervasive and prevalent across our society and if that is to change a whole-system approach is needed,” inspector Zoë Billingham told a press conference.
Ms Phillips’ comments came in response to this report from our home affairs correspondent Lizzie Dearden:
Raab and successor Truss ‘staking rival claims’ to Chevening residence
12:01 , Andy Gregory
Downing Street has said no decision will be made over which minister gets access to the grace-and-favour residence Chevening until the reshuffle is complete.
The Times reported that both demoted Dominic Raab and his replacement as foreign secretary, Liz Truss, have staked a claim to the palatial 115-room country house in Kent.
Asked about the alleged stand-off, the Prime Minister's official spokesman said: “You will appreciate that the reshuffle is still ongoing. There is a long process in place for nominating the occupants of Chevening House and we will update in due course.”
The No 10 spokesman said there was not “one single post” that was entitled to use the property.
While it was largely held by Dominic Raab as foreign secretary, Boris Johnson also used the residence while Chequers was being renovated.
Downing Street defends possible return of imperial measurements
12:29 , Andy Gregory
Downing Street has defended its review into the ban on marking and selling products in imperial units –but was unable to say whether Boris Johnson uses pounds and ounces himself.
“Pounds and ounces are an easily understood and widely used unit of measurement,” Boris Johnson’s official spokesman said.
“This is one small part of a wide-ranging drive across government to establish the right regulatory environment to support jobs and growth across the UK,” he continued, but was unable to give a timeline on when the review would return.
The people currently filling social media timelines with labyrinthine charts and diagrams showing the workings of the imperial system might have something to say about the suggestion that it is “easily understood”.
Downing Street addresses Michael Gove’s acceptance of £100k from property developer
12:35 , Andy Gregory
Downing Street has insisted that all the proper processes have been followed, in light of calls for the new housing secretary Michael Gove to return donations he reportedly received from a property developer.
The parliamentary register of interests shows that Mr Gove accepted two donations of £50,000 each from German property developer, Zak Gertler, on 6 August.
The PM’s official spokesman said: “All donations made to the secretary of state have been declared publicly and the proper processes followed.”
12:48 , Andy Gregory
Transport secretary Grant Shapps is expected later today to announce significant changes to the way UK travellers can move internationally in a major update to the UK’s current travel rules.
Government leaks to the media in the past week have suggested the top changes will be the removal of the amber list, and either scrapping or reducing PCR tests for fully vaccinated travellers.
Lucy Thackray and Simon Calder are currently providing rolling coverage of the latest updates here.
Pelosi warns UK not to imperil Northern Ireland peace with Brexit
13:00 , Andy Gregory
Nancy Pelosi has warned a London audience that a trans-Atlantic trade deal is “very unlikely” if the Good Friday Accord is destroyed.
“This is not a threat, it’s a prediction,” the US House of Representatives speaker told the Chatham House think-tank.
“I’m so glad that more time has been given for the negotiations and the discussion, because they have to reach an agreement,” Ms Pelosi added.
Senior Tories make last-gasp bid to block £20-a-week cut to Universal Credit with Commons vote
13:20 , Matt Mathers
We’ll have more on this breaking story as it develops:
Full report: Rabb and Truss in row over home secretary’s grace and favour country house
13:42 , Matt Mathers
A row has broken out at the top of Boris Johnson’s reshuffled cabinet over who should have access to the elegant Chevening country house in Kent.
The 17th-century manor is traditionally used as the country retreat for the foreign secretary, in a similar way to the prime minister’s Chequers getaway in Buckinghamshire.
Our politics editor Andrew Woodcock reports:
ICYMI: Boris Johnson jokes he has as many children as Jacob Rees-Mogg, in first meeting of new Cabinet
13:55 , Matt Mathers
Boris Johnson joked about the number of children he has, at the first meeting of his new cabinet – suggesting he has as many as Jacob Rees-Mogg.
The prime minister has consistently refused to confirm he has a second child out of wedlock, which would mean he has 7 and will reach 8 when his pregnant wife Carrie gives birth.
Our deputy politics editor Rob Merrick has more details below:
14:26 , Andy Gregory
Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle is hosting the G7 Speakers summit this weekend.
It will take place in Astley Hall near Chorley, where he has been MP since 1997.
This weekend @CommonsSpeaker is hosting the G7 Speakers' summit at Astley Hall, near Chorley. The hall's previous owners include one of our Victorian MPs, Robert Townley Parker, who inherited it through his mother, Susannah (née Brooke). pic.twitter.com/eFjhyEIdfc
— TheVictorianCommons (@TheVictCommons) September 17, 2021
14:32 , Andy Gregory
Downing Street has announced a slew of junior ministerial appointments as Boris Johnson continues to rearrange his frontbench.
James Cartlidge has been appointed parliamentary under secretary of state at the Ministry of Justice and as an assistant government whip.
Tom Pursglove has been handed the job of parliamentary under secretary of state jointly at the Home Office and the Ministry of Justice while former nurse Maria Caulfield takes up the same position at the Department of Health and Social Care.
David Rutley has taken up a position as junior minister at the Department for Work and Pensions.
Some promotions from the whips office 👇 pic.twitter.com/OJiQmiTnNG
— PARLY (@PARLYapp) September 17, 2021
UK and UAE strike deal to target people financing terrorism
14:36 , Andy Gregory
The UK and the UAE have struck a deal to target people financing terrorists and serious organised crime gangs, with the agreement signed by Priti Patel and her counterpart Ahmed Ali Al Sayegh billed as the first of its kind.
The pact will work to identify and stop transfers of dirty money by “enhancing intelligence sharing” and carrying out joint operations between the two countries, the Home Office said, focusing on “high risk sectors” like dealers of precious metals and real-estate, and looking into cryptocurrencies.
The home secretary said the agreement “bolsters both our countries’ efforts in going after the terrorists and serious and organised crime gangs that seek to do us harm”.
Tory rebels seek to hijack formality vote on pensions to force halt to universal credit cut
14:51 , Andy Gregory
As promised earlier, our deputy political editor Rob Merrick has more on the last-ditch Tory bid to stop the looming cut to universal credit:
MPs have tabled an amendment to the annual uprating of pensions, which would block the increase unless funds are diverted to stop the benefit reduction.
A defeat would not bind the government to abandon the cut – but Iain Duncan Smith and Damian Green, who are behind the move, hope it would nevertheless force ministers to act.
The vote on Monday is crucial, to uprate pensions and other benefits next April, and is normally considered a formality with little drama. The amendment would prevent that uprating going ahead if they can persuade more than about 40 fellow Tories back them – a formidable task.
Read more details on what is currently our headline story here:
Michael Gove to consult Tory backbenchers over paused planning reforms
15:01 , Andy Gregory
In one of his first moves as the government’s new housing secretary, Michael Gove is expected to pause his predecessor’s “radical” overhaul of the planning system in order to consult with critics on the Tory backbenches.
It was reported last week that Robert Jenrick had decided to water down proposals to scrap the planning application process and replace it with a zonal system, denoting land either “for growth, for renewal or for protection”, which he insisted would “provide secure housing for the vulnerable, bridge the generational divide and recreate an ownership society”.
It followed Tory concerns that the proposed reforms played a role in the party’s shock defeat at the hands of the Liberal Democrats in the Chesham and Amersham by-election in June, described by then Conservative Party co-chair Amanda Milling as a “warning shot” from voters.
Gove’s delay to planning reforms ‘will mean more young people in overpriced rented homes'
15:17 , Andy Gregory
Michael Gove’s decision to review a radical overhaul of the planning system has been greeted with horror by campaigners for affordable housing, who warn that delays in removing obstacles to home-building will consign ever more young people to overpriced rented homes.
But the pause was welcomed by countryside campaigners as a chance to make a “fresh start” after the fury sparked by the “deeply unpopular” proposals drawn up by Mr Gove’s predecessor. Our political editor Andrew Woodcock reports:
Voices: Imperial weights and measures – what next, stone tablets in the classroom?
15:41 , Andy Gregory
In response to the news that the government plans to remove EU laws stating goods cannot only be priced in pounds and ounces, Victoria Richards, senior commissioning editor for Independent Voices, writes:
“At last, a way to bring joy to the people after the past 18 months of pandemic hell; a way to really make them smile. Forget empty supermarket shelves, lorry driver shortages, unemployment and the continued health crisis, and let’s focus on what really matters: the imperial system!
“Give the people what they want, what they demand, what they’ve not been able to sleep for thinking about – a proper set of scales and the crown stamp on a pint glass! There. We can all breathe easy now.”
15:45 , Andy Gregory
Responding to our chief political commentator’s analysis that Lib Dem leader Sir Ed Davey is “needlessly giving up bargaining power” by ruling out a pact with the Tories likely years ahead of an election, The Mirror’s Whitehall correspondent recalls a similar statement made by Nick Clegg.
In fairness, I interviewed Nick Clegg about six months before the 2010 election and he ruled out entering a coalition. https://t.co/K34vBTYKIK
— Mikey Smith (@mikeysmith) September 17, 2021
Read John Rentoul’s analysis here:
Equalities minister criticised for calling trans women ‘men’ in leaked tape
15:59 , Andy Gregory
Equalities minister Kemi Badenoch called trans women “men” and questioned their campaign for equal rights in a leaked audio recording.
Ms Badenoch, who has just been given a key ministerial position in the Housing ministry and is currently tasked with putting together the UK’s first ever global LGBTQ conference, made the comments in her parliamentary office in 2018, a year after she was elected as an MP, Vice World News reported.
A government spokesperson insisted her words had been “taken out of context, with the minister making a clear point about striking the balance for equality and fairness when there are multiple and often competing demands between different groups”.
My colleague Holly Bancroft has the details here: