The EU has said there is still “a genuine urgency” to resolve a dispute with the UK on the operation of the Northern Ireland protocol, following talks between Lord Frost and Maros Sefcovic in Brussels on Friday.
Although the bloc acknowledged some “progress” was achieved in the discussions, it said the UK should accept its “big move” to reduce checks across the Irish Sea.
“We now need to press on and get this crucial issue across the line. This is a real test of political goodwill,” Brussels said in a statement.
Meanwhile, the UK’s Brexit minister Lord Frost stipulated that “significant change” was still needed regarding post-Brexit arrangements in the territory. He did not rule out London triggering Article 16 to achieve its purposes.
Both sides have clashed about the level of customs checks and the oversight role played by the European Court of Justice in the province.
Elsewhere, Ryanair has confirmed that it will leave the London Stock Exchange next month, citing expenses caused by Brexit.
Brexit trade deal at risk if UK suspends protocol, EU warns
EU welcomes UK ‘change in tone’ over protocol
UK and EU must ‘knuckle down’ to resolve Brexit dispute, says Taoiseach
Northern leaders brand government rail plans as ‘betrayal of the north’
PM’s pledge to build 40 new hospitals by 2030 ‘unachievable', warns watchdog
Javid questioned over health share options
07:51 , Rory Sullivan
Good morning and welcome to The Independent’s live politics coverage. Stay tuned as we bring you updates on the backlash to the government’s new rail plan as well as the latest from today’s Brexit talks in Brussels.
Furious leaders decry government rail plans as ‘betrayal of the north’
07:55 , Rory Sullivan
Furious leaders in the north of England have hit out at the government’s new rail strategy, saying it constitutes a “betrayal” of their regions.
The plans row back on the government’s promise to build two lines from Manchester to Leeds and from Birmingham to Yorkshire.
Responding to the decision, Jamie Driscoll, the North of Tyne mayor, said: “It really is the case that the government’s misjudged this, and misjudged the strength of feeling. Everybody in the north is getting a bargain-basement solution. It just doesn’t cut it.”
PM’s pledge to build 40 new hospitals by 2030 ‘unachievable', warns watchdog
08:14 , Rory Sullivan
Boris Johnson’s promises on new hospitals have come under increased scrutiny, after a watchdog warned that his plans were “unachievable”.
The verdict relates to the prime minister’s pledge to build 40 new hospitals by 2030.
The Infrastructure and Projects Authority (IPA) had given the idea an “amber/red” ranking, meaning its delivery was in doubt. Now, reports suggest the IPA has downgraded this forecast.
“We learn the government’s own Infrastructure and Projects Authority is warning the Tory promise to deliver 40 new hospitals is now ‘unachievable’,” said Jonathan Ashworth, the shadow health secretary.
Government has broken more than 60 promises, claims Labour
08:34 , Rory Sullivan
The government has broken more than 60 pledges, including the recent decision to scrap some rail upgrades in northern England, the shadow Northern Ireland secretary has claimed.
The Labour frontbencher Louise Haigh said the promises were made across several manifestos and press releases.
Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary Louise Haigh says Government broke promises it made "over 60 times" across various manifestos and press releases after cancelling of leg of HS2 and downgrading Northern Powerhouse line
For more on this visit https://t.co/8OWd2TvLrt
— Sky News Breaking (@SkyNewsBreak) November 19, 2021
UK and EU must ‘knuckle down’ to resolve protocol dispute, says Taoiseach
08:46 , Rory Sullivan
Turning to Brexit now, the Taoiseach has said the “mood music” in UK-EU talks has improved of late.
Micheal Martin told the BBC that he was encouraged about the progress that has been made recently.
He added that the UK and the EU should “knuckle down” to resolve outstanding issues concerning the Northern Ireland protocol.
The British government wants to see a reduction in trade friction from Great Britain to the territory, and wants to remove the oversight role of the European Court of Justice there.
Ministers to blame for ‘busted’ asylum system, says Starmer
08:59 , Rory Sullivan
The government is responsible for the failings of the UK’s “busted” asylum system, Keir Starmer has said.
The Labour leader told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme that his “jaw dropped” when he heard home secretary Priti Patel heaping scorn on the current system.
“This government has been in power for 11 years. If the asylum system is busted it is busted under their watch,” he said.
“Asylum applications used to be dealt with in about six months many years ago. It now takes years. All of us MPs have constituents who have been waiting two years or more for their case even to be looked at.”
Bertie Ahern urged to apologise for saying loyalists in ‘ghettos’ do not understand Brexit deal
09:20 , Rory Sullivan
A former Taoiseach has been urged to apologise for claiming that loyalists in “ghettos” have “no clue” how the protocol worked.
On Thursday, Bertie Ahern, who was Taoiseach until 2008, suggested people in “east Belfast and the ghettos and the areas where you are likely to get trouble” criticised the agreement without properly understanding it.
Mr Ahern, who played a large role in the Good Friday Agreement peace process, made the comment at the Brexit Institute of Dublin City University yesterday.
In response, East Belfast MP Gavin Robinson said the remarks were “demeaning and degrading” to his constituents.
Our policy correspondent Jon Stone reports:
09:36 , Rory Sullivan
In our daily politics newsletter, Matt Mathers looks at the shelving of HS2 plans, today’s Brexit talks and the government’s asylum policies.
See here for more:
Ryanair to delist from London Stock Exchange due to Brexit
09:50 , Rory Sullivan
Ryanair will remove itself from the London Stock Exchange, explaining that Brexit played a large role in the decision.
The airline will stop trading on the LSE on 17 December, after which it will only be listed on the Euronext Dublin exchange.
The company said: “Ryanair has decided to request the cancellation of London listing as the volume of trading of the shares on the London Stock Exchange does not justify the costs related to such listing and admission to trading, and so as to consolidate trading liquidity to one regulated market for the benefit of all shareholders.”
Solution to Brexit dispute possible if ‘UK plays its part’, says Sefcovic
09:53 , Rory Sullivan
The dispute over the Northern Ireland protocol can be solved “if the UK plays its part”, the vice president of the European Commission has said.
Speaking at a virtual conference run by the Brexit Institute of Dublin City University, Maros Sefcovic said the bloc was “attentive” to post-Brexit disruption in the territory.
“Our solutions can become reality if the UK plays its part,” he said, adding that any potential solutions would come “within the framework of the protocol”.
'Our solutions can become reality if the UK plays its part' says Maroš Šefčovič. 'We will not renegotiate the protocol' as the solutions are available 'within the framework of the protocol' says Maroš Šefčovič
— DCU Brexit Institute (@DCU_Brexit_Inst) November 19, 2021
EU welcomes UK ‘change in tone’ over protocol
10:17 , Rory Sullivan
The EU has welcomed the British government’s “change in tone” ahead of continued talks on the Northern Ireland protocol.
Speaking on Friday morning, Maros Sefcovic, EU Commission vice president, said: “I notice and welcome a recent change in tone from the UK government and we hope that actions will follow the words.”
However, he warned London that the bloc would not “renegotiate the protocol”, as this would “put at risk the stability in Northern Ireland and it would be unnecessary because solutions are available within the framework of the protocol”.
Brexit minister Lord Frost will be in Brussels today for talks with Mr Sefcovic.
Social media being ‘hijacked’ by left-wingers, claims culture secretary
10:43 , Rory Sullivan
Back in the UK, the culture secretary has complained that she cannot air her right wing views online without being challenged, writes Jon Stone.
Nadine Dorries claimed that social media platforms had been “hijacked” by left-wingers.
“I think we just need to tone down the condemnation and the judgement, and evaluate and engage a little bit more than we do. I think social media probably contributes a lot to this,” she told the BBC.
Government ‘not prepared’ for pandemic, says National Audit Office
11:06 , Rory Sullivan
The government was “not prepared” for the coronavirus pandemic and must learn lessons from the “catastrophic” event, an independent parliamentary body has said.
Gareth Davies, from the National Audit Office, told Sky News: “So there was no plan for how to deal with school closures. There was no plan for employment support schemes. So, the furlough scheme had to be developed from scratch in just a very short number of weeks.
“So the question that rightly raises is, what is it about the way that the risk planning for these kinds of events was carried out that left us unprepared?”
More British troops to be sent to Poland-Belarusian border
11:28 , Rory Sullivan
More British soldiers will be sent to Poland to help with the situation on the Belarusian border, reports suggest.
This comes after 10 troops from the UK were deployed there last week.
Thousands of migrants are currently at the border between Poland and Belarus, with the Belarusian regime accused of “weaponising” vulnerable people in retaliation for sanctions imposed by the EU.
A total of 100 troops from the Royal Engineers will travel to Poland to help with their response to the crisis, according to The Daily Telegraph.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has said Minsk is using the migrants as “pawns”.
Can the government process asylum seekers abroad?
11:46 , Rory Sullivan
In recent days, there has been speculation that migrants who arrive in England by boat could be sent to Albania for processing, a rumour vigorously denied by Albanian diplomats and politicians.
But could this process happen in a different country?
Sean O’Grady examines the issue:
Javid questioned over health share options
12:04 , Rory Sullivan
Labour has accused the health secretary Sajid Javid of breaching the ministerial code by holding share options in a US company that is involved in the health sector.
Mr Javid has “option for 666.7 common shares per month” in the AI firm C3.ai, which he worked for during his recent stint as a backbencher.
He is reportedly to have started to divest from the options, which are worth £45,000.
However, Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner has written to the prime minister about the issue, arguing it is a “clear conflict of interest and breach of the ministerial code”
“In September, the secretary of state’s department announced that the use of ‘artificial intelligence’ would shorten waiting lists in our NHS,” she added.
Brexit trade deal at risk if UK suspends protocol, EU warns
12:06 , Jon Stone
Brussels has warned the UK government that its Brexit trade deal is “intrinsically linked” to enforcing the Northern Ireland border protocol.
Ahead of crunch talks on Friday Maros Sefcovic, the EU’s Brexit chief said: “One cannot exist without the other”.
The comments raise the stakes because the UK has been threatening to suspend the Northern Ireland agreement, which it wants renegotiated on more favourable terms.
But Mr Sefcovic’s warning is a hint that Brussels and EU capitals might choose to suspend the separate trade deal between the UK and EU if Britain pulls the plug.
‘Significant gaps’ remain between UK and EU on protocol, says Frost
12:28 , Rory Sullivan
Before his crunch talks with the EU commission vice president in Brussels, Lord Frost warned that “significant gaps” remain between the UK and the EU’s positions on the protocol.
Once again, he also reiterated the possibility that UK could trigger Article 16.
“Our preference is to see if we can find a negotiated way through this problem. If we can’t, Article 16 remains on the table,” he said.
“There are a number of issues that need to be fixed if we are going to resolve this problem. There are still really quite significant gaps between us.”
Lord Frost added that he didn’t expect a breakthrough today.
Government working ‘extremely closely’ with French on Channel crossings
12:44 , Rory Sullivan
Downing Street has said the government is working “extremely closely” with French authorities to reduce the number of migrant boats crossing the Channel.
However, a No 10 spokesperson added that more needed to be done and that “shared solutions” were required.
“We are facing a global migration crisis choreographed by organised crime groups who put people on these boats to make these incredibly dangerous crossings,” they added.
UK and EU taking ‘constructive approach’ to Brexit disagreement, says Gove
12:59 , Rory Sullivan
Returning to Brexit once more, Micheal Gove is confident that the UK will not need to trigger Article 16.
Speaking in Cardiff, the housing minister said the EU and the British government were taking a “constructive approach” to a disagreement about the protocol.
“I do believe that there is a constructive approach that’s being taken by the commission and Lord Frost has signalled that while, of course, it’s always possible that Article 16 may require to be invoked, we’re confident that we’ll be able to make progress without it.”
Leftist freedom of speech ‘non negotiable’ – Dorries told
13:21 , Lamiat Sabin
PM Boris Johnson has had to remind culture secretary Nadine Dorries that left-wing people have a right to freedom of speech.
It comes after the Tory MP had complained that she was not able to air her right-wing views on social media without being criticised.
Mr Johnson’s spokesman said: “The prime minister supports the idea of independent thinking and intellectual freedom, and that that should be non-negotiable.”
Our policy correspondent Jon Stone has the full story
Politics talk show host Andrew Marr leaving BBC
13:40 , Lamiat Sabin
Andrew Marr has announced he is ending his political talk show at the BBC and moving to Global in the new year.
The host of Andrew Marr Show on BBC One, where politicians have been interviewed on a weekly basis for 16 years, said he was “keen to get my own voice back”.
Personal announcement. After 21 years, I have decided to move on from the BBC.l leave behind many happy memories and wonderful colleagues. But from the New Year I am moving to Global to write and present political and cultural shows, and to write for newspapers
— Andrew Marr (@AndrewMarr9) November 19, 2021
He has been with the BBC for 21 years in total.
Global tweeted that Mr Marr will be presenting new shows on LBC radio and ClassicFM, a new weekly podcast, and will also write a regular column for LBC’s website.
Labour says Javid holds share options in health AI
14:00 , Lamiat Sabin
Sajid Javid is facing scrutiny for holding share options in a tech firm that provides artificial intelligence (AI) software to the health sector.
The health secretary was also paid the equivalent of more than £150,000 a year by Californian firm C3.ai from October last year until June when he rejoined the Cabinet.
Labour questioned whether he has broken the ministerial code because he continues to have an “option for 666.7 common shares per month”, according to the MPs’ register of interests.
Mr Javid reports these options to be worth around £45,000 but is said to have begun the process of divesting after taking the job of health secretary earlier this year.
Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner alleged it is a “clear conflict of interest and breach of the ministerial code” and wrote a letter to PM Boris Johnson’s adviser on ministers’ interests, Lord Geidt, to raise her concerns.
“In September, the Secretary of State’s department announced that the use of ‘artificial intelligence’ would shorten waiting lists in our NHS,” she said.
“The Department of Health and Social Care announcing that it is going to spend taxpayers’ money on [AI] could clearly be perceived as beneficial to an [AI] company, and to the value of shares in an [AI] company such as C3.ai.”
She pointed to the section of the ministerial code that states ministers “must scrupulously avoid any danger of an actual or perceived conflict of interest” between their role and their private financial interest.
Sturgeon welcomes Gove’s comments on NI protocol
14:20 , Rory Sullivan
Scotland’s first minister has welcomed Michael Gove’s suggestion that the UK will most likely not trigger Article 16.
Nicola Sturgeon said she was pleased the government is now focused on “getting a resolution”.
“For my part, I think that there are credible and serious proposals on the table, and if there is a political will and a desire to find agreement that should be possible,” she added.
UK and EU must improve relations, says Taoiseach
14:41 , Rory Sullivan
The UK and the EU must “turn the corner” on their Brexit feud and improve their relations, the Taoiseach has said.
Micheal Martin told reporters in Cardiff that the first step in this process would be resolving issues relating to the operation of the protocol.
“Inevitably, there will be a long period of adjustment and change,” he said.
“There’s now a need to turn the corner in the relationship. And by that I mean the macro geopolitical issues are such that we need the European Union and United Kingdom in alignment, working together on the big issues that affect the globe.”
Mr Martin added that the alliance between the US, the EU and the UK at Cop26 boded well. “That’s the spirit that should inform our approach in terms of a sustained constructive relationship between Europe and UK into the future,” the Irish leader said.
Sign up to our new Brexit newsletter
15:03 , Rory Sullivan
Brexit may officially be over, but it continues to cause massive upheaval.
Adam Forrest will examine the debate from both sides in The Independent’s new Brexit and beyond newsletter, which will be sent to your inbox each Thursday, complete with all the latest development from this long-running drama.
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‘Genuine urgency’ needed to resolve Brexit impasse, says EU
15:18 , Rory Sullivan
There is still “a genuine urgency” to sort out a post-Brexit row on the Northern Ireland protocol, the EU has said.
Although the bloc acknowledged that “progress” had been made today on topics like customs, it added that the dispute needed to be sorted quickly.
“We now need to press on and get this crucial issue across the line. This is a real test of political goodwill. The EU, for its part, is confident that our proposed solution, addressing all concerns raised by industry, would bring much-needed clarity and foster a positive political momentum,” the bloc said in a statement.
Meanwhile, the UK’s Brexit minister Lord Frost said Britain still wanted “a significant change from the current situation” on the ground in Northern Ireland.
“If no such solution can be found, we remain prepared to use the safeguard provisions under Article 16, which are a legitimate recourse under the protocol in order for the Government to meet its responsibilities to the people of Northern Ireland,” he said.
The pair will next week in London on 26 November.
PM strips Transport for the North of powers
15:47 , Rory Sullivan
The government has slashed funding from the North's umbrella transport authority and stripped it of responsibility for developing Northern Powerhouse Rail.
The decision, revealed in a letter to the organisation, comes after Transport for the North (TfN) criticised cuts to the scheme.
The Department for Transport will now take over the project.
See the full report here:
Patel to proscribe Hamas as terrorist organisation
15:59 , Rory Sullivan
Priti Patel has said she wants to ban Hamas “in its entirety”, as she moves to proscribe it as a terrorist organisation.
During a visit to Washington on Friday, the home secretary will describe the Islamist group as “fundamentally and rabidly antisemitic”.
“Hamas has significant terrorist capability, including access to extensive and sophisticated weaponry, as well as terrorist training facilities,” she tweeted.
It is thought the move could be pushed through parliament from as early as next week.
Today I have taken action to proscribe Hamas in its entirety.
This government is committed to tackling extremism and terrorism wherever it occurs. pic.twitter.com/TQfPzomyIm
— Priti Patel (@pritipatel) November 19, 2021
Labour calls for an end to Covid procurement relaxations
16:24 , Lamiat Sabin
Labour has called on the government to revoke emergency coronavirus rules which allowed normal procurement practices to be suspended.
The party has written to the Crown Commercial Service, which oversees public procurement, asking for an explanation on why emergency procurement rules introduced at the start of the Covid pandemic are still in place.
In the letter, Jack Dromey, Labour’s shadow paymaster general, said he understood why, at a time of national crisis, the measures had been put in place.
Mr Dromey said: “Following recent revelations regarding the awarding of public contracts during the pandemic and the role of Cabinet ministers in this process, I am concerned that such inadequate procurement processes should not be allowed to continue.”
And he added: “These emergency rules have led to billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money being handed out on dodgy contracts, and opened the door for the shocking levels of lobbying that the Owen Paterson case exposed.
“The Government must act now to revoke these emergency rules, clean up how public contracts are awarded and put an end to this scandal.”
Law for greater regulation of London pedicabs blocked
16:49 , Lamiat Sabin
A law which would require pedicabs in London to be subjected to a similar level of regulation as taxis and other private hire vehicles has been blocked in the Commons.
Under the the Pedicabs (London) Bill, put forward by Cities of London and Westminster Conservative MP Nickie Aiken, drivers of pedal-powered vehicles would need a licence from Transport for London (TfL) to operate.
TfL would also be given the power to regulate the prices they charge and the vehicles they use would have to be of a safe standard.
Ms Aiken said pedicab drivers “go through no checks for security” and the vehicles “go through no form of MOT at all”.
She added: “I personally think that’s unsafe for women but it’s unsafe for passengers.”
Ms Aiken had hoped her Bill would progress to the next stage in the parliamentary process but Conservative MP Sir Christopher Chope (Christchurch) was still speaking when time for the debate ran out today – meaning it could not receive a second reading.
MPs bring UK ‘closest it ever got to ending child marriage’
17:25 , Lamiat Sabin
MPs have brought the nation “the closest we’ve ever got to ending child marriage” after backing plans to end the practice in England and Wales, a charity has said.
Children as young as seven are at risk of child marriage and it is cause for “huge celebration” that MPs supported a private members bill today, said Natasha Rattu, executive director of Karma Nirvana.
The Marriage and Civil Partnership (Minimum Age) Bill, which was given an unopposed second reading, would raise the minimum age of marriage and civil partnership from 16 to 18 in England and Wales.
It would make it an offence, punishable with up to seven years’ imprisonment, to carry out “any conduct for the purpose of causing a child to enter into a marriage”.
It would also make it easier to prosecute parents or family members who send under-18s abroad to be wed.
Karma Nirvana, which supports victims of honour-based abuse, said it has responded to four cases of child marriage in the last week, calling today’s debate a “watershed moment for change and better protection”.
The charity responded to 76 known cases of child marriage in the year to September 2021, down from more than 130 in the previous 12 months.
Prison or fine for using rodent glue traps under new Bill
17:50 , Lamiat Sabin
MPs have backed moves to ban the use of glue traps to catch rodents.
The Glue Traps (Offences) Bill would make it an offence to set a glue trap for the purpose of catching a rodent, as well as a handful of other connected offences.
Anyone found guilty will be liable for either a fine or imprisonment.
But the Conservative former environment minister, Sir Christopher Chope, labelled the measures a “rodent protection Bill”, adding that the government should not encourage people to see fast-breeding rats – which often carry diseases – as “friends”.
He added that “rats are enemies to our public health.”
Moving the Bill, Conservative MP Cherilyn Mackrory (Truro and Falmouth) argued it is “crucial” to ban the use of glue traps to catch rodents “in all but the most exceptional circumstances”.
She described them as “primitive” and “inhumane”, and said they “pose a risk to other animals”.
Environment minister Jo Churchill confirmed government support for the Bill, adding: “I know that both I and my officials will do whatever we can to support this Bill and hopefully to see it on the statutory book.”
The Bill received a second reading and will undergo further scrutiny at a later date.
18:27 , Lamiat Sabin
That’s it for today’s coverage of politics news. Thank you for following.