Great Britain

Brexit news: Boris Johnson unveils 'book of Trump' agenda to prevent courts challenging government and make voter ID mandatory

Boris Johnson has unveiled plans for new photo ID requirement at polling stations, sparking the move is designed to suppress voting by young people and disadvantaged groups.

The Queen’s Speech also revealed a Royal Commission on the criminal justice system and separate review of every aspect of the post-Brexit constitutional settlement – condemned by Labour as “vindictive revenge” for his defeat in the prorogation case and “another play from the Book of Trump”.

Meanwhile Emily Thornberry, the first figure to declare she is standing for the Labour leadership, has attacked Jeremy Corbyn’s closest aides – and questioned why they were not “under threat” of losing their roles in the leaders’ office.

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Good morning and welcome to The Independent’s live coverage of events at Westminster, ahead of the State of Opening of Parliament.

Brexit, boost for NHS and new sentencing laws at heart of Queen's Speech

Boris Johnson will try to use the Queen’s Speech to push his agenda beyond Brexit and on to the NHS and community issues.

The PM intends to put new laws to send terrorists to prison for longer the health service at the heart of the legislative programme alongside moves to finally force through EU withdrawal by the end of January.

The government will enshrine in law a commitment on NHS funding, with an extra £33.9 billion per year provided by 2023/24, Mr Johnson said.

The Queen’s Speech will also include proposed legislation to abolish hospital car parking charges for “those in greatest need” - likely to include disabled people, parents of sick children staying overnight, and staff working night shifts.

The NHS Funding Bill is intended to be the first piece of domestic legislation put on the statute book after the proposed passing of the Withdrawal Agreement Bill which the PM insists will lead to the UK quitting the EU on January 31.

This Queen’s Speech will be more low key than the last one in October, with cars used instead of carriages and the monarch wearing a hat instead of a crown.

Boris Johnson seeks to convince voters he is turning the corner on Brexit

NHS chief: No more ‘fantasy politics’

The NHS needs bold and ambitious measures in the Queen's Speech to tackle the big challenges over social care and funding, a senior health service boss has said.

But Saffron Cordery, the deputy chief executive of NHS Providers, the body that represents state-run hospitals, also called for realism after the “fantasy politics” of the election campaign.

Writing in The Independent, Cordery said: “What has been striking - and welcome - has been the emphasis the Prime Minister continues to place on the NHS.”

But she added that the best illustration of the scale of the task that lies ahead are current performance figures which, due to election restrictions, have not been published for a while.

“Their publication last Friday showed that performance in the hospital sector and across the urgent and emergency care pathway reached the lowest point in the 10 years since we have been monitoring the constitutional standards,” Cordery wrote.

The insufficient funding the PM has promised the health service makes clear that he has not reckoned with the mammoth task facing it


PM accused of ‘chaotic free-for-all’ on workers’ rights over new plans to let courts overrule EU law

The prime minister has been accused of presiding over a “chaotic free-for-all” on workers’ rights under new plans to allow British courts to overturn rulings by the European Court of Justice after Brexit.

No 10 confirmed that British judges would be handed powers to challenge ECJ rulings through a new clause in Johnson’s Brexit legislation, which MPs will vote on before Christmas.

The move would see the PM rip up Theresa May’s commitment to transfer all EU law onto the domestic statute books, which meant it could only be overturned by the Supreme Court or the High Court of Justiciary in Scotland.

More details here:

Downing Street confirms British judges would be handed powers to challenge ECJ rulings

Lady Hale warns PM against political appointees to Supreme Court

The outgoing president of the Supreme Court has issued a warning against politicians being involved in the appointment of judges.

Urging Boris Johnson not to follow a route similar to the US Supreme Court, where the president nominates justices, Lady Hale made the intervention ahead of her retirement from the benches.

She said: “Judges have not been appointed for party political reasons in this country since at least the Second World War. 

“We do not want to turn into the Supreme Court of the United States, whether in powers, or in process of appointments.”

'Judges have not been appointed for party political reasons since at least the Second World War'

Thornberry: Corbyn ‘badly’ let down by his advisers – and questions why they are not ‘under threat’

Shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry has criticised Jeremy Corbyn’s closest advisers and said “clear strategic thinking” is needed within the Labour Party.

She told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I think that Jeremy has been badly let down. I think that Jeremy has been badly advised. I think there have been times when we have made decisions and that hasn’t been what has been briefed out to the media.

“That has undermined him, and drained away, I think too often, his authenticity, which was something which was so important and resonated so much with people in 2017.

“And I think that there have been a number of mistakes made between 2017 and 2019 that undermined him so fundamentally. As I say, I think he was let down.”

She added: “I’m not naming anyone. People know who it is that I’m talking about. But the truth is now we’re in a position where there is talk of redundancies amongst more junior staff … and yet those that made the very decisions about the general election don't seem to be under threat.”

Asked how her background would go down with the electorate, Thornberry said: “I am southern, I'm not going to pretend I’m not. But the point is you’ve got to come from somewhere.”

She added: “What you need to do is to be able to be empathetic and listen to the public throughout the country, and, as for this kind of class issue, people who know me know that I come from a council estate.

“People who know me know that I was brought up by a single parent on benefits.”


Government will deliver for working-class voters, claims Tory MP

Speaking ahead of the Queen’s speech, Tory MP Neil O’Brien said “expectations are high”, and claimed the party’s new centre of gravity was Sheffield.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “If you look at the election results you can see that actually the Conservatives got a higher share of the vote in this election where there are more working class voters.

“And that is a complete change from the pattern that we were used to for many decades. So it’s a huge change. Expectations are high, but I think that Boris Johnson’s moved very quickly to say and do all the right things to really grasp that we must deliver for the places that have voted Conservative that perhaps never having done so ever before.”

O’Brien added: “I think the government need to have a mix of some things that can happen quickly and make a positive difference quickly, and so I think things like the town centre regeneration money that the government has produced is very helpful.

“That will immediately start to improve some town centres that have been badly affected by the rise of internet shopping.”

‘We’ll hunt like a pack’: Minister welcomes northern Tories

Jake Berry, the cabinet minister for the northern powerhouse, has tweeted a strange photo of the “blue wall” of northern Tory MPs. He also claims they will “hunt like a pack” on behalf of northern voters.

By the looks of things, the wall is half-circular, and entirely made up of white males.

Sturgeon will consider ‘all reasonable options’ for indyref2

Nicola Sturgeon has insisted there is a “democratic mandate” for Scots to be given a choice of staying in the UK with Boris Johnson – or becoming an independent nation.

The SNP leader and Scotland’s first minister said following last week’s election victory where here party took 48 of the 59 Scottish seats in Westminster, the case for having a second independence referendum was “unarguable”.

Speaking at Bute House, Sturgeon said: “The alternative is a future that we have rejected being imposed upon us. Scotland made it very clear last week it does not want a Tory government led by Boris Johnson taking us out of the European Union.

“That is the future we face if we do not have the opportunity to consider the alternative of independence.”

She added: “I will consider all reasonable options to secure Scotland’s right to self-determination.”

Boris Johnson has repeatedly made clear his opposition to Scotland having a second independence referendum.


Britain First urges supporters to join Tory party

Far-right Britain First is urging its supporters to join the Conservatives in order to “make Boris Johnson’s leadership more secure”.

The extremist group sent an email to subscribers claiming “thousands” of its activists were becoming members of the Tories. “If you haven’t joined the Conservative Party yet, we urge you to do so immediately, to make Boris Johnson’s leadership more secure,” Britain First said in an email sent on Wednesday.

Johnson has also been endorsed by Tommy Robinson and garnered public support from other far-right figures.

Far-right group’s chief of staff is among extremists who claim to have become Tory members

Why Boris Johnson’s changes to courts could affect your job

The government’s proposal to permit lower British courts to overrule existing case law set by the European Court of Justice will have far-reaching consequences.

Trade unions warned that the move could allow exploitative bosses to try to challenge protections for low-paid workers, which have been built up over several decades.

Sean O’Grady explains the significance of the plan – and looks at how it could impact on employment rights.

It may seem obscure but the impact could be hugely significant

Stop Brexit’ man stops shouting

Steve Bray – the man who has been shouts “STOP BREEEXIT!” outside parliament and interrupting Mark Francois’ live TV interviews – has decided to pack it in and give his vocal cords a rest after 847 days of consecutive protest.

A symbolic moment, no doubt. But the Europhile wants his warning cry to linger as an echo, long after he’s gone. “When the proverbial s*** kicks in, we will look into how we can get back into the EU,” he told The Metro.

Bray had a cheery message for us all before he walked off into the sunset: “I don’t blame those people that voted to leave after being promised the Earth, but the sad fact is that we are all going to end up in hell after Brexit happens.”

Steve Bray outside parliament (Reuters)


Piers Morgan tells Stormzy criticising Boris Johnson ‘isn’t cool’

Piers Morgan loves a good spat. He has decided to make the focus of his latest feud Stormzy, condemning the grime artist for telling a group of schoolchildren Boris Johnson is a “bad man”.

The Good Morning Britain presenter said the music star should “wield [his] power more carefully” after telling Year 3 students at his old school what he thought of the PM.

“Come off it Stormzy – saying stuff like that to a bunch of very young schoolkids isn’t cool, and you know it.”

‘The kid asked me a question and I replied truthfully,’ artist says

Some voters said they ‘wanted to shoot Corbyn’, says former Labour MP

The former Labour MP and Jeremy Corbyn backer Laura Pidcock, who lost her seat in North West Durham to the Tories, has written an open letter to her former constituents.

In truth it’s a dissection of where she think Labour went wrong. She said she had “repeatedly argued, inside my party, that we should respect the result of the [EU] referendum and avoid a second one”.

She also blamed the media, in part, for a shift in Corbyn’s popularity.

When knocking on doors at the 2017 election, Pidcock said “so many of you talked about what a good guy he seemed, that he was on the side of the people and that he was getting a very hard time from people inside the Labour Party and out”.

She added: “People who were less friendly to Labour spoke about how damaging a divided party is, about things like the IRA and the connections internationally that you didn’t understand or agree with.

“By 2019, you seemed so much angrier about Jeremy Corbyn. I had a handful of angry people say “I would shoot him” or “take a gun to his head” whilst in the next breath calling him an extremist. 

“I don’t want to patronise anyone by saying that this was all the fault of the media. I know people make up their own minds. But I cannot and will not accept that the media had no part.”

Laura Pidcock, with Jeremy Corbyn and Keir Starmer (AP)

Sir Ed Davey on Lib Dem leadership run: ‘I’m not ruling it out’

Sir Ed Davey has hinted that he will run for the leadership of the Liberal Democrats following Jo Swinon’s loss of her seat. He and party president Sal Brinton are currently joint acting leaders until a leadership election in the new year.

Asked on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme earlier if he would run for leader, he said: “I’ve got a job to do as acting leader, I’m going to do that … Let me help you: I’m not ruling it out.”

Sir Ed was a hopeful in the last leadership contest, held only six months ago when Sir Vince Cable stepped down.

It saw Sir Ed and Swinson - the only two contenders - face a postal ballot of the party’s membership, with Swinson beating Sir Ed by 47,997 votes to 28,021.

He told Today that his party knows it “made mistakes” in the election campaign, but added: “The evidence we have from around the country, particularly in the seats we were fighting, was that people were voting for the Conservatives with a washing line of clothes pegs on their nose because they were opting to stop Corbyn rather than what they also wanted to stop, which was Brexit.”

Looking ahead to his party’s future, Sir Ed said: “I think we need to bring liberalism to life for people, by proving, for example, our passion for social justice.”

Other leadership contenders include Layla Moran, Wera Hobhouse and Christine Jardine.

Sir Ed Davey, joint acting leader of the Lib Dems (PA)


Labour staff warned about potential jobs losses: report

Labour’s HR director has reportedly sent an email to employees warning them the big reduction in “short money funding” – the amount given to parties depending on seat numbers – could have an impact on staffing’s .

Labour MP Wes Streeting said it was unfair for lower paid staff to face uncertainty while “the architects of our defeat” show no sign of going. 

His colleague Neil Coyle said: “Labour Party staying classy. Dreadful way to treat people - whilst those at the top protected themselves from departure.”

It comes as Emily Thornberry said she was “calling out” unnamed aides who “undermined” the Labour leader – leaving little doubt that she was referring to Seumas Milne, the party’s communications chief, and Karie Murphy, a key figure in the election campaign.

More on Thornberry’s remarks here:

Actions of staff 'undermined him, and drained away...his authenticity', says leadership hopeful

Why the monarch won’t be wearing her crown

The Queen has left Buckingham Palace and is on her way to Westminster for the state opening of parliament.

There will be “reduced ceremonial elements” for today’s occasion, with Her Majesty traveling in a car rather than a coach.

Sabrina Barr has taken a look at why she won’t be wearing her crown or any regal attire, and Prince Charles will be wearing a morning suit instead of service uniform.

Tributes paid to retiring Lady Hale – and her ‘symbol of swashbuckling womanhood’

As we wait for Her Majesty, a word on the queen of the spider brooch.

The outgoing Supreme Court president Lady Hale has been hailed as “an inspiring role model” in a ceremony ahead of her retirement. Lord Reed, who will succeed her as president of the court in January, paid tribute to her “remarkable achievements”.

He said “her greatest achievement as president was probably her handling of the prorogation case” in September, when the Supreme Court ruled that Boris Johnson’s decision to suspend Parliament was unlawful.

Lord Reed added that the famous spider brooch which she wore when giving the court’s unanimous ruling “has become a symbol of swashbuckling womanhood”.

Lady Hale in Supreme Court (PA)


The Queen arrives in parliament for speech

Her Majesty has arrived in the Royal Gallery, as proceedings begin for the state opening of parliament.

Describing the procession through the building, BBC host Huw Edwards described the statue of David Lloyd George as “far more important” than the statue of Winston Churchill. “And I won’t take any complaints from viewers on that.”

There will be complaints from viewers about that.

Corbyn and Johnson walk in silence

As the BBC’s political editor Laura Kuenssberg notes, Jeremy Corbyn looked pretty stern, apparently “absolutely determined not to say a single word” to Boris Johnson as they walked together from the Commons’ chamber to the Royal Gallery.

Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn (BBC)

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