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Boris Johnson news – live: Cabinet reshuffle underway as Gavin Williamson out as education secretary

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Gavin Williamson has been removed as education secretary and Robert Buckland has been removed as justice secretary in the first big moves of the cabinet reshuffle.

The full shuffle is expected to be announced over the next two days.

Westminster has been anticipating that the prime minister will attempt a reshuffle for several weeks.

A Downing Street source said: “The prime minister will today conduct a reshuffle to put in place a strong and united team to build back better from the pandemic.”

Meanwhile, Boris Johnson has refused to explain how universal credit claimants would be able to recoup their looming £20-a-week cut in payments.

The prime minister was challenged to set out how many hours of extra work will be needed – after a Cabinet minister wrongly claimed it is just two.

But Mr Johnson declined to say whether the true figure is higher or lower.

Read More

Brexit: Government again delays key border checks on EU imports

Tunnel vision: Another grand Boris Johnson-inspired plan on the scrapheap

Revealed: Michael Gove’s sexist jibes, racist jokes and homophobic slurs

Key Points

  • Government delays key border checks on EU imports

  • Labour urges Tory MPs to oppose universal credit cut

  • Inflation soars to highest since 2012

  • Keir Starmer kicks off PMQs with universal credit grilling

  • Boris Johnson poised to wield axe on cabinet under-performers in reshuffle

  • Johnson refuses to explain how universal credit claimants can make up lost £20-a-week

Robert Buckland removed as justice secretary in cabinet reshuffle

14:14 , Celine Wadhera

The second major move in the prime minister’s cabinet reshuffle is the removal of Robert Buckland as justice secretary.

Mr Buckland said on Twitter: “It has been an honour to serve in the Government for the last 7 years, and as the Lord Chancellor for the last 2.

“I am deeply proud of everything I have achieved. On to the next adventure.”

Cut to universal credit could be avoided using ‘fiscal headroom the Chancellor already has’, says Labour

14:09 , Celine Wadhera

In the Commons debate, Labour’s shadow work and pensions secretary, Jonathan Reynolds, said that a universal credit cut could be avoided by using “fiscal headroom the Chancellor already has”.

Mr Reynolds said: “This government is already a high-tax government. And due to that, and the decision to freezer personal allowances and hike council tax combined with the much lower Government borrowing costs than expected, the projections are already coming in for the October spending review suggesting there is far more room for manoeuvre than anyone previously thought.”

He added that borrowing is likely to come in several tens of billions of pounds lower than expected, “having already borrowed £26bn less than previously forecast for the first four months of 2021”.

“More importantly, if the Office for Budget Responsibility moves its forecast for the long-term scarring effect of the pandemic on the British economy, that’s currently 3 per cent of GDP, into line with the more optimistic consensus, the Bank of England now saying just 1 per cent, he will have a windfall that lasts possibly to the tune of £25 billion a year.”

He added: “The point remains, the decision to keep the level of universal credit and Working Tax credit at the level it is could be made within the fiscal headroom the chancellor already has when the spending review takes place.”

Gavin Williamson: ‘it has been a privilege to serve as Education Secretary’

13:59 , Celine Wadhera

The former education Secretary Gavin Williamson took to Twitter to announce his removal from his post.

He said: “It has been a privilege to serve as Education Secretary since 2019. Despite the challenges of the global pandemic, I’m particularly proud of the transformational reforms I’ve led in Post 16 education: in further education colleges, our Skills agenda, apprenticeships and more.

“This programme will create better life opportunities for pupils and students for many years to come. I look forward to continuing to support the Prime Minster and the government.”

Gavin Williamson removed as education secretary in cabinet reshuffle

13:51 , Celine Wadhera

In the first big move in Boris Johnson’s cabinet reshuffle, Gavin Williamson has been removed as education secretary.

Political editor Andrew Woodcock has more on the breaking story.

Gavin Williamson removed as education secretary

Labour MP: universal credit cut is ‘quite simply wrong for Britain’

13:45 , Celine Wadhera

The universal credit cut is “quite simply wrong for Britain” a Labour MP has said during the Commons debate.

Labour MP Johnathan Reynolds from Stalybridge and Hyde urged members of the house to think about the wide-ranging effects of the decision at hand.

He said: “I implore members of this house to think about the wide-ranging effects of the decision.

“Charities say we will be cutting a lifeline to millions. Economists say we will be sucking spending from our local high streets. Even the government’s own internal analysis makes clear it will be catastrophic.

“No one in this house can say they didn’t know. No one will be able to say that they weren’t warned. The effects of this cut are clear as day.

“It is wrong for our constituents, wrong for the British economy, quite simply its wrong for Britain. Members opposite have a choice to make.

“I and the millions this cut will hit implore them, see sense, back the families who sent you here and cancel the cut.”

Carrie Johnson not consulted on cabinet reshuffle

13:26 , Celine Wadhera

Carrie Johnson, the prime minister’s wife, did not provide input on the cabinet reshuffle, Downing Street has said.

The prime minister’s official spokesman said that while Mr Johnson “understood the importance of having a diverse cabinet” he would not guarantee that female representation around the table would be maintained at its current level following the reshuffle.

Despite being branded the “Carrie reshuffle” by Mr Johnson’s former aide Dominic Cummings, when asked whether Ms Johnson had been consulted, a Downing Street spokesman said: “No”.

PM rejects plea for emergency work visas after crop warning

13:07 , Tom Batchelor

Boris Johnson has rejected a plea to introduce emergency work visas after a Conservative MP warned that “crops are rotting in the fields” of his constituency due to labour shortages.

Roger Gale, who represents Thanet, said producers in his local area have had to throw away vast quantities of produce because there are not enough people to pick it or transport it to market.

Businesses across the country have been hit hard by a shortage of workers since Britain left the EU’s single market and ended free movement at the start of the year.

Read the full story:

Tory MP warns Boris Johnson ‘crops are rotting in the fields’ due to labour shortage

Johnson refuses to explain how universal credit claimants can make up lost £20-a-week

12:45 , Tom Batchelor

Boris Johnson has refused to explain how Universal Credit claimants should recoup their looming £20-a-week cut in payments, as he branded criticism of the move “absurd”.

In fierce clashes in the Commons, the prime minister was challenged to set out how many hours of extra work will be needed – after a Cabinet minister wrongly claimed it is just two.

Here is the story:

Boris Johnson won’t say how Universal Credit claimants can recoup lost £20-a-week

Nadia Whittome challenges PM over sick pay

12:41 , Tom Batchelor

Nadia Whittome has appealed to the prime minister to commit to full sick pay at a “real living wage” rather than the current age-restricted wage.

Britain’s youngest MP returned to parliament this month following a three-month leave of absence where she was able to recover from symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

However Boris Johnson failed to make a commitment on sick pay, saying only that those who gets Covid sick pay “gets it on day one”.

Why does Boris Johnson have corn in his pocket?

12:36 , Tom Batchelor

Boris Johnson and Keir Starmer were among MPs seen sporting sheafs of wheat on their lapels at today’s PMQs.

The decorations are in aid of Back British Farming Day.

Back British Farming is the National Farming Union’s campaign aimed at driving support for the British food and farming sector through actions like buying British produce and enjoying the countryside responsibly.

‘Crops are rotting in our fields and on our trees'

12:32 , Tom Batchelor

Tory MP Roger Gale has appealed to the prime minister to implement an emergency “Covid recovery visa” to solve acute labour shortages amid a warning that “crops are rotting in our fields and on our trees”.

Boris Johnson replied that he was “absolutely right” about the importance of “buying British and eating British” and admitted there were “problems” in the supply chain, but claimed it had been an issue for a “long time” and declined to commit to any loosening of migration rules.

Boris Johnson poised to wield axe on cabinet under-performers in reshuffle

12:25 , Tom Batchelor

Boris Johnson is poised to take the axe to his cabinet, as Downing Street sources confirmed he will conduct a reshuffle of ministers this afternoon.

Home secretary Priti Patel has been tipped by some in Westminster as a candidate for the chop, after her failure to stop the growing numbers of small boats bringing refugees across the Channel from France.

Here is the full story:

Boris Johnson poised to wield axe on cabinet under-performers in reshuffle

Raab and Williamson most at risk in impending reshuffle, bookmaker suggests

12:21 , Tom Batchelor

Dominic Raab and Gavin Williamson are most at risk in the expected reshuffle, according to the Smarkets exchange.

Both are now odds-on to lose their jobs in this year.

Michael Gove and Liz Truss head the market to replace Mr Raab as foreign secretary at 45 per cent and 20 per cent respectively.

Matthew Shaddick, head of political markets, said:“If the market is any guide, we are heading for a major cabinet shake up very soon. Whilst Dominic Raab and Gavin Williamson now look likely to be moved, there has also been money for Priti Patel, Robert Jenrick and Therese Coffey to be heading for the exit door first.

“With Raab likely to be moved from the Foreign Office, speculation around his successor is firmly centered around Michael Gove and Liz Truss. Despite some talk of Rishi Sunak being potentially reshuffled out of the Treasury, Smarkets latest odds suggest he’ll be staying put.”

Reshuffle ‘on’ today, No10 source says

12:19 , Tom Batchelor

Families will be hit 'hard, very hard’ by ‘broken tax system’, says Starmer

12:12 , Tom Batchelor

“Millions of working families will be hit hard, very hard” by government’s “broken tax system”, Sir Keir Starmer has said.

The Labour leader said the PM was “hammering” people with a universal credit cut and a tax increase.

Boris Johnson said he thought it was “utterly incredible” that Labour were not backing his planned tax rise to boost NHS and care funding.

Keir Starmer starts PMQs with universal credit grilling

12:08 , Tom Batchelor

Boris Johnson has faced questions over the planned cut to universal credit.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer asked how many extra hours a single parent would have to work on the minimum wage to make up the difference from the planned cut of £20.

The prime mininster avoided answering the question and said wages were rising, while Labour wanted to “take money from taxation and put it into benefits”.

Sir Keir said a single parent would need to work over nine hours a week on top of their full time job to make up the difference.

“How on earth does the prime minister think they are going to find the time to work an extra nine hours every week?” he said.

PMQs starting imminently

11:57 , Tom Batchelor

PMQs is set to get underway shortly.

It will be followed at 1pm by Opposition Day Debates on universal credit and a joint committee to investigate the withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Brexit kosher food shortages ‘despicable'

11:54 , Tom Batchelor

The prospect of EU-UK trade differences causing a kosher food shortage in Northern Ireland is “despicable”, the Northern Ireland Secretary has said.

Brandon Lewis said the EU needed to “engage properly” with the UK’s position on trade to sort out “underlying problems” disrupting everyday life in the region.

Highlighting the risk that Belfast’s small Jewish community would be unable to import kosher food, Mr Lewis said: “To have the EU effectively saying to the Jewish community you can’t source your products in your own country is a pretty despicable place to be.

“And to not understand that an elderly, vulnerable community like that cannot travel 100 miles each way once a week to get their shopping, I think is pretty poor form. I find that disgraceful, to be frank.”

MPs back £12bn-a-year tax hike for NHS and social care

11:26 , Tom Batchelor

The £12bn-a-year tax hike to rescue the NHS and social care has been backed by MPs, but ministers were warned they would have to “relax all immigration requirements” to make the plan a reality.

In a highly unusual move, the health and social care levy cleared all its Commons stages in a single day, even though the national insurance rise will not kick in until next April.

Just six Conservative MPs opposed the legislation at its second reading, only one more than in the first vote on the motion last week – despite several voicing strong opposition.

Read the story here:

MPs back £12bn-a-year tax hike for NHS amid warning of doctor and nurse shortages

China accuses UK of ‘ignoring international protocol’ after ambassador blocked from Parliament

11:23 , Tom Batchelor

China has warned politicians they risk making “things worse for themselves” if they continue “playing political tricks” after Beijing’s ambassador to the UK was blocked from Parliament.

The Commons and the Lords Speakers said Zheng Zeguang could not enter the estate for a reception scheduled for Wednesday while seven MPs and peers remained under sanctions from Beijing.

The parliamentarians - all vocal critics of China’s human rights abuses - welcomed the “strong principled stand” from the Speakers, but it angered Beijing and sparked a diplomatic row.

A statement from the Chinese embassy in London said blocking the ambassador from attending the Commons event arranged by a Tory MP was an act “disregarding the fundamental interest of the Chinese and British people” that was “ignoring international protocol”.

Opinion | Boris Johnson’s biggest mistake? Propping up the NHS

10:59 , Tom Batchelor

What do Boris Johnson and the NHS have in common? That may seem like a heretical question given that Johnson is a Tory and in our great national love affair with the NHS, the Conservatives have often assumed the role of pantomime villain, lurking round the corners of hospital wings, card-reader in hand, waiting to swipe the whole thing from our grasp, writes Jordan Tyldesley.

But last week, Johnson clearly and unequivocally positioned himself as the long awaited pope of our unofficial national religion. Charges can be made about his character and supposed ineptitude, but the decision to appoint himself as the brave saviour of health and social care and purporting to tackle it “once and for all” is commendable. However, it is Johnson’s first and real mistake: the NHS is a sinking ship and as the captain, at some point, must go down with it.

Read the full opinion piece here:

Opinion: Boris Johnson’s biggest mistake? Propping up the NHS

‘Frustration’ over threat/promise of reshuffle

10:44 , Tom Batchelor

Health secretary defends Tory MPs refusing to wear masks in parliament

10:30 , Tom Batchelor

The health secretary has defended Conservative MPs who refuse to wear masks in parliament, following criticism of his party’s lax attitude to the safety measure.

Speaking on Wednesday Sajid Javid said masks were just one of a “suite of measures” that could be taken to prevent illness and said many MPs were vaccinated or might be getting regularly tested as an alternative.

Here is the story:

Health Secretary defends Tory MPs refusing to wear masks in parliament

Reshuffle rumours swirl in Westminster

10:15 , Tom Batchelor

Climate protesters block parts of M25

10:00 , Tom Batchelor

Climate protesters have blocked parts of the M25 for the second time in three days.

Insulate Britain, which is demanding government action on home insulation, has stopped traffic at several sections of Britain’s busiest motorway.

It wrote on Twitter: “#InsulateBritain are back. @BorisJohnson can you hear us yet?’’

Government hires JP Morgan to advise on potential sale of Channel 4

09:45 , Tom Batchelor

The government has hired US banking behemoth JP Morgan to advise on the future of Channel 4, as ministers consider putting the publicly-owned broadcaster up for sale.

A 10-week public consultation into the potential privatisation of Channel 4, ordered by culture secretary Oliver Dowden in June, came to a close on Tuesday night.

The Wall Street giant has been drafted in to provide corporate financial advice and analysis to ministers as they consider the responses, The Independent understands.

Read the full story here:

Government hires JP Morgan to advise on potential sale of Channel 4

Javid defends decision to strip Begum of British citizenship

09:30 , Tom Batchelor

Sajid Javid has hit back at Shamima Begum’s claims that she played no part in Islamic State terrorism.

Referring to his decision while home secretary to strip Begum of her British citizenship, the health secretary said: “I won’t go into details of the case, but what I will say is that you certainly haven’t seen what I saw.”

He added: “If you did know what I knew, because you are sensible, responsible people, you would have made exactly the same decision - of that I have no doubt.”

Former Isis-bride Shamima Begum offers to ‘help’ Boris Johnson

09:15 , Tom Batchelor

Former Isis-bride Shamima Begum has begged the British public for forgiveness, saying there is “no evidence” she was a key player in preparing terrorist acts.

The 22-year-old, who fled her east London home for Syria as a 15-year-old schoolgirl, said she wanted to be brought back to the UK and face terror charges in order to prove her innocence.

Asked for a message to Boris Johnson, Begum said that she could help the Prime Minister in “your fight against terrorism because you clearly don’t know what you’re doing”.

She told Good Morning Britain: “I want to say that you are clearly struggling with extremism and terrorism in your country. And I want to help with that with giving my own experience from with these extremists and what they say and how they persuade people to do what they do and to come to places like Syria.

“I think I could very much help you in your fight against terrorism, because you clearly don’t know what you’re doing.”

Tax rises and the overmighty state pave the way for Tory split

09:00 , Tom Batchelor

Like the Brexit deal, the decision to raise taxes was rushed through at the last minute.

But the repercussions of one of the biggest tax rises in history will take much longer to play out.

John Rentoul reports:

Tax rises and the overmighty state pave the way for Tory split

Inflation soars to highest since 2012

08:45 , Tom Batchelor

UK inflation has surged to its highest for nearly a decade after a record jump in August as restaurant and cafe prices raced higher following last summer’s discounts under the Eat Out to Help Out scheme.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said Consumer Prices Index (CPI) inflation jumped from 2 per cent in July to 3.2 per cent in August, which is the highest since March 2012 and far above the Bank of England’s 2 per cent target.

The ONS said the increase - the largest since records began in 1997 - was due to the discounts seen across the hospitality sector last August under Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme to boost consumer spending and confidence after lockdown.

It added there was also likely to have been some impact from the supply chain crisis on inflation last month, which it said helped push up food and non-alcoholic drinks prices.

Lords criticised for inviting ‘fringe’ climate denial group to give evidence in parliament

08:29 , Tom Batchelor

A House of Lords committee has been criticised for inviting a “fringe” group which campaigns against climate action to give evidence on carbon policy.

The Global Warming Policy Foundation was invited by peers to give evidence to an inquiry on reaching net zero and appeared before them on Tuesday.

But environmental groups questioned why the committee would “waste their valuable time” hearing from the organisation, which they said had been “so widely and repeatedly found to be wrong”.

Read more here:

Lords criticised for inviting ‘fringe’ climate denial group to parliament

Labour urges Tory MPs to oppose Universal Credit cut

08:10 , Tom Batchelor

Labour is to call on Tory MPs to back a vote calling for the government to scrap its plans to cut Universal Credit during an opposition day debate on Wednesday.

Ministers have come under sustained pressure to reverse its decision to end the £20 uplift introduced to support families during the coronavirus pandemic.

Here is more:

Labour challenges Tory MPs to ‘do the right thing’ and oppose Universal Credit cut

Government again delays key border checks on EU imports

07:53 , Tom Batchelor

The government has announced that it will delay a host of border red tape for EU imports from October and January next year until July 2022.

These include physical checks on food and other animal-related products which were due in January next year. It comes after The Independent reported that the necessary infrastructure would not be ready in time.

As late as Thursday last week, the government was suggesting that businesses should still prepare for the already delayed deadlines for new paperwork from October and physical checks in January.

Here is the story:

Government delays key Brexit border checks

07:50 , Tom Batchelor

Good morning and welcome to The Independent’s rolling coverage of UK political news.

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