Boris Johnson urges 16- and 17-year-olds to get Covid vaccine
Keir Starmer has branded Boris Johnson and his government “climate delayers”, as he warned that the biggest threat to international efforts to stem global warming is no longer outright denial but failure to act with the necessary urgency.
Speaking to The Independent, the Labour leader said the prime minister was “letting the country down” with his inaction on climate change, less than 100 days before he is due to host the United Nations Cop26 global warming summit in Glasgow.
Both the PM and Mr Starmer are on day trips to Scotland. Johnson is in the northeast and visits a renewables project, while the Labour leader is heading to a wind farm near Glasgow, with his Scottish counterpart Anas Sarwar.
Elsewhere, Dominic Cummings has claimed he was offered seat in the House of Lords by the PM. Mr Cummings also said the prime minister wanted to give his wife Carrie on a government job with “lots of foreign travel”, according to an interview in The Spectator.
Giving lots of money to Tory party ‘not an immoral act’, says minister
Donations to the Conservative Party from a wealthy group known as the advisory board should not be “painted as some sort of immoral act”, a government minister has said.
Transport secretary Grant Shapps said the wealthy group of Tory donors “have views about the things that will make the country prosper” – but denied that they could influence government policy.
The Financial Times has reported the donor club – which includes members who have given at least £250,000 – was developed in a bid to connect Tory supporters with senior figures, claiming meetings have been held with Boris Johnson and chancellor Rishi Sunak.
Eleanor Sly5 August 2021 15:14
Johnson faces criticism over wind farms
Boris Johnson was criticised by both a union boss and opposition leader Sir Keir Starmer during a visit to an offshore wind farm on the final day of trip to Scotland.
GMB General Secretary Gary Smith said: “Boris Johnson will see first-hand what political failure looks like – a massive offshore wind farm worth billions, subsidised by the bill payer, but manufactured and delivered almost exclusively in Asia, Europe, and the Middle East.
“Moray East is a monument to the broken promises of the political leaders who promised us a ‘Saudi Arabia of renewables’ and it should serve as an important lesson to this Prime Minister.
“If he wants a genuine green jobs revolution across the nations and regions of the UK, then he must stop the mass export of the jobs we need to deliver it.
“Let’s build the future here instead.”
Sir Keir, also on a visit to Scotland, said that the Prime Minister needed to take action rather than giving “soundbites” on climate change.
“We’ve got a UK Prime Minister who bundles around with a cabaret of soundbites, with targets about climate change but doesn’t put in place the action,” he said
“We all know that hydrogen and wind are part of the future, we haven’t got an industrial strategy, we haven’t got a hydrogen strategy.
“Get your head out of the sand, stop the soundbites, let’s have some action.”
Eleanor Sly5 August 2021 15:01
Ditch expensive PCR tests ‘ripping off’ travellers, Tory MPs tell government
Conservatives MPs have urged Boris Johnson’s government to ditch advice recommending British travellers take the most expensive type of Covid tests, claiming passengers are being “ripped off”.
Airline bosses have also lamented the decision not to ease requirements for PCR tests – which have been condemned as a “£100-a-head tax on flights” by the industry.
Despite relief at the government’s decision to keep Spain on the amber list, there was anger over new advice urging holidaymakers to take the costly PCR tests before coming home from Spain – though it will not be a legal requirement.
Eleanor Sly5 August 2021 14:30
PM urged to ‘stem the haemorrhage’ of fishing workers following Brexit
Following Breixt, Fishing leaders have called for Boris Johnson to “stem the haemorrhage” of foreign workers in the industry.
Boris Johnson, along with Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng, Scotland Office minister David Duguid and Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross, had a meeting with heads of a number of fishing organisations on Thursday.
Jimmy Buchan, Scottish Seafood Association chief executive pressed the Prime Minister on the number of staff lost to the industry due to Brexit.
Indeed, Brexit has dramatically reduced the number of seasonal workers in Scotland which has, as a result, had an impact on the fishing sector.
Mr Buchan said: “I sought an assurance that the government would work closely with us to resolve the critical shortage of labour.
“He agreed that a campaign was required to encourage young people into the industry and on the need for direct action to stem the haemorrhage of overseas workers that has occurred since January 1.”
Mr Buchan was also among those who said that the Brexit deal “had fallen far short of expectations”.
Elspeth Macdonald, the chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation, said that Mr Johnson has a duty to support the sector between now and when the access of EU fishermen expires in 2026.
“The Prime Minister has spoken previously of an El Dorado of fish from 2026 onwards but we are seeking a commitment from him to deliver much better opportunities for the Scottish fleet in the meantime as well as in the longer term,” she said.
“In the short term it will be a case of survival for the industry, but we want to thrive, and to ensure that we can build back this industry we need to start planning now.”
Eleanor Sly5 August 2021 14:11
Plea for sanctuary for Afghan journalists at risk of Taliban reprisals
Some of the UK’s most prominent media organisations have issued a plea to Boris Johnson for help for Afghan journalists, translators and support staff who have worked with them over the 20 years of British military presence in the country.
In a joint letter to the prime minister and foreign secretary Dominic Raab, 23 newspapers, broadcasters and media organisations – including The Independent – called on Mr Johnson to follow the example of president Joe Biden, who has given Afghan journalists and media staff with US links access to a refugee programme.
They appealed for the creation of a special visa programme for Afghan media workers with UK links who are at risk as the Taliban attempts to retake the country following the withdrawal of Western troops.
Eleanor Sly5 August 2021 13:47
Air travel executive calls for government’s international travel rules to be simplified
Willie Walsh, director general of the International Air Travel Association, told BBC Radio 4’s World At One programme: “I think a simpler system is definitely what is required to avoid confusion in the case of consumers, and to provide some form of certainty for people who are wanting to travel, and in some cases absolutely need to travel.
“This expensive and unnecessary testing I think needs to be challenged and I think the government should demonstrate why they require it.”
He added: “I think there is a valid reason and a concern, and I would accept that maybe for some of these high-risk countries that have been identified you can make the argument that some form of testing should be done, but I don’t think you can justify requiring 2.2 million people to undertake PCR tests when only 8,000 of those are subsequently sequenced.”
Eleanor Sly5 August 2021 13:32
Plan for vaccine passes for nightclubs ‘not a bluff’, says minister
Plans to require vaccine passports for entry to nightclubs and other venues from September are not a “bluff”, cabinet minister Grant Shapps has insisted.
Mr Shapps said that people considering whether to get jabbed should recognise that “there are simply things that you will not be able to do” unless they are vaccinated, including travelling outside the UK.
Clubs were allowed to reopen on 19 July without requirements for proof of vaccine status, but Boris Johnson has said that he will make them mandatory by the end of September.
Andrew Woodcock has more:
Eleanor Sly5 August 2021 13:15
Labour questions links between Elliot and Huawei PR firm
Labour has further questioned the business interests of Ben Elliot, the Conservative party’s co-chairman.
This comes after it was discovered that a PR firm he co-founded has lobbied the government on behalf of Chinese telecoms company Huawei, health firm Iceni Diagnostics and subprime lender Amigo in the last twelve months.
Labour said they wanted more transparency about Mr Elliot’s ownership of a stake in Hawthorn Advisors, a PR firm which he co-founded in 2013 and which he continues to hold a minority stake in.
The public should be allowed to know what access Hawthorn has “got to the corridors of power and what it used that access to lobby for”, said Anneliese Dodds, chair of the Labour party.
She also said that details of any meetings between Hawthorn and the government should be made public.
“The lobbying rules that exist today aren’t fit for purpose under the crony Conservatives,” she said.
“We need urgent reform to ensure that it cannot be one rule for high-ranking Conservatives and their chums, and another rule for everyone else.”
Eleanor Sly5 August 2021 13:03
‘Higher than ever’ risk of riots in UK, says Labour
The risk of a repeat of riots that scarred London and other major towns and cities exactly ten years ago is “higher than ever”, Labour has said.
Sir Keir Starmer’s party accused Boris Johnson’s government of failing to tackle the conditions which led to the eruption of violence across Britain in 2011 – warning that the country remained a “tinderbox”.
A report released by Labour to coincide with the tenth anniversary found that the number of “forgotten families” where many of the young people involved came from was likely to have doubled in the past decade.
Eleanor Sly5 August 2021 12:40
Starmer criticises government Covid travel restrictions
The leader of the Labour party, Sir Keir Starmer, has called out the way in which the government has handled the Covid-19 travel restrictions.
“Anybody who has been trying to organise a holiday this summer has got their head in their hands because almost on a daily basis we’ve had a changing system, changing colours, U-turns left right and centre,” said Sir Keir speaking on the final day of his visit to Scotland.
“We’ve been saying since the beginning of the summer have a simplified system. We may be edging towards it and I feel very strongly for those families and I hope that that helps them going forward.
“But the big question I have for the government is why on earth have we had to go through this chaos to get there?
“And it’s not the first time. Last summer we had the chaos of the exams, at Christmas we had the chaos of the Christmas mixing and now we’ve had the summer of chaos about travel and holidays.
“Every time there’s a predicable problem the government goes through a wall of chaos before it begins to sort it out.”
Eleanor Sly5 August 2021 12:25