Great Britain

Brexit news – live: UK reputation at stake in NI row says Barnier, as Biden set for key Putin summit in Geneva

Related video: Watch live as Nato leaders meet for summit in Brussels

US President Joe Biden will deliver “tough messages” to Vladimir Putin when he meets the Russian leader in Geneva later this week, Boris Johnson has said.

It comes as world leaders gather for a Nato summit today in Brussels, with discussions about Russia high on the agenda.

Meanwhile the EU’s former Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, warned on Monday that the reputation of the UK was at stake amid flaring tensions over trade with Northern Ireland.

“The United Kingdom needs to pay attention to its reputation,” Mr Barnier told French radio. “I want Mr Johnson to respect his signature.”

His intervention came after Joe Biden urged Boris Johnson to ensure the Northern Ireland peace process was protected amid a bitter row between London and Brussels over post-Brexit trading arrangements.

National security adviser Jake Sullivan said the US president had held a “candid discussion” with the prime minister about the issue at the G7 summit in Cornwall, which ended on Sunday.

EU politicians have accused the prime minister of not respecting agreements made during the Brexit negotiations in a row that overshadowed the meeting of world leaders in Carbis Bay.


UUP leader calls for Paisley apology after ‘very dangerous’ chant

Ulster Unionist leader Doug Beattie has called on Ian Paisley to make a public apology for chanting that Health Minister Robin Swann was “very dangerous” at the Europa Hotel.

A row erupted after four gigs by Sir Van Morrison at the Belfast hotel were cancelled at the last minute on Thursday because live music is still not permitted under coronavirus regulations.

Following the cancellation, Sir Van, an outspoken critic of Covid-19 restrictions, took to the stage and addressed the audience of 140, chanting “Robin Swann is very dangerous!”

Video footage then showed him inviting DUP MP Mr Paisley on to the stage, where they continued the chant.

Mr Paisley later said that what happened was “parody” and his party leader, Edwin Poots, said the MP had apologised to Mr Swann personally.

The Sunday Life newspaper quoted Sir Van saying he had “no regrets” over the incident. But Mr Beattie said he was disappointed by how the DUP had dealt with the situation.

He added: “I have been told that Ian Paisley contacted Robin by telephone on Saturday and said that he was sorry for any hurt caused, but still stood by his claims that the verbal assault made on the Health Minister in the Europa Hotel last Thursday night was ‘parody’.

“It is very disappointing that Ian Paisley couldn’t bring himself to make a public apology for what was a very public attack on the Health Minister.”


President Biden will deliver ‘tough messages’ to Russian leader, Johnson says

US President Joe Biden will be deliver “tough messages” to Vladimir Putin when he meets the Russian leader later this week, Boris Johnson has said.

The warning came as world leaders gathered in Brussels for a Nato summit, at which concerns about Russia look set to dominate.

Ahead of the meeting the Nato Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said relations with Russia were at the “lowest point” since the end of the Cold War.

The Independent’s Whitehall editor Kate Devlin reports

The prime minister also insisted that Nato did not want a new Cold War with China


No evidence of ‘cover-up’ in rehiring Martin Bashir, says BBC

A review into the decision to rehire Martin Bashir at the BBC following his interview with Princess Diana found “no evidence” that the journalist was given the job to “cover up” the events surrounding the 1995 programme.

Ken MacQuarrie, who conducted the review into the re-hiring of the journalist, said: “In my view, the recruitment process for the religious affairs correspondent was targeted at finding the right person for the role.”

He added: “I have found no evidence that Martin Bashir was re-hired to contain and/or cover up the events surrounding the 1995 Panorama programme. In my view, that theory is entirely unfounded.”

Here is the full story:

‘Theory is entirely unfounded,’ public broadcaster’s own review concludes


UK is ‘in trade war with the EU led by Macron’, says Tory MP

The UK is in a trade war with the EU led by French President Emmanuel Macron, said Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen.

Speaking on the BBC’s Politics Live programme, he said: “The reality is that we are actually in a trade war with the EU led by President Macron, who seems to see there’s political capital for him in his reelection next May in attacking the UK.

“To put it all into perspective, the trade between the rest of the UK and Northern Ireland is 0.0008 per cent of the GDP of the single market, yet it’s attracting 20 per cent of all the checks on goods.

“Under the Northern Ireland protocol, both sides are to promote frictionless trade between the UK and Northern Ireland – clearly they’re not doing that.

He concluded the UK may have to threaten to suspend the protocol. “The protocol’s not working. It’s being used as a stick to beat us and I’m afraid it’s going to get worse before it gets better.”


PM’s sleaze watchdog should have final say on code breaches, review finds

The prime minister’s sleaze watchdog should be given the power to launch investigations and have the final say on whether ministers have breached their code of conduct, an independent review of government standards has recommended.

The finding by the Committee on Standards in Public Life comes seven months after Boris Johnson’s ethics adviser resigned when his bullying verdict against Priti Patel was rejected.

But the independent committee said the PM should retain the power to decide the punishment for errant colleagues - and should have the option not to sack them.

The report also recommended a ban of up to five years on ex-ministers taking on jobs lobbying government after leaving office, in the wake of the scandal surrounding David Cameron’s persistent texts and emails to senior members of the Boris Johnson administration on behalf of collapsed finance firm Greensill.

Read more about the report here:

Committee recommends five-year ban on ex-ministers lobbying, in wake of David Cameron scandal


Fears over ‘detention’ of child migrants arriving in Dover

Unaccompanied child migrants arriving in Dover could be “detained” at a controversial facility, campaigners warn, after Kent County Council said its resources are “significantly overwhelmed”.

Large numbers of migrant children have been travelling to the UK on board small boats since May, with more people believed to have reached Dover on Monday morning.

Kent Council confirmed that no new resolution had been reached with the Home Office and it would no longer be able to take in unaccompanied asylum-seeking children (UASC) from Monday.

Any new UASC will stay at the Home Office’s Kent Intake Unit (KIU) in Dover while a permanent place is sought for them with another local authority, officials said.

The KIU is among sites criticised by inspectors last year for holding children for “far too long and often overnight” - in one case for more than 66 hours.

Bella Sankey, director of charity Detention Action, told the PA news agency: “It is of deep concern that the Home Office is going to start detaining traumatised refugee children at our border.

“The Home Secretary has the statutory power to require local authorities to take responsibility for these children but she declines to bring it into force and to provide adequate funding, preferring instead to hold children - indefinitely - in a deeply inappropriate detention facility including with adult strangers.”

The Home Office says unaccompanied migrant children are “always prioritised” and stay at the KIU for as short a period as possible.


Tory MP ordered to apologise for bullying parliamentary staff

A Conservative MP has been ordered to make a public apology in the House of Commons after an investigation found he had bullied parliamentary staff.

Daniel Kawczynski acted in a “threatening and intimidating manner” after technical issues meant he was unable to join a committee hearing early last year.

The incident occurred in April 2020, just weeks after the first coronavirus lockdown was announced and as parliament was adapting to new ways of remote working.

The Independent Expert Panel (IEP), which oversees sanctions in such cases, said that it accepted that the life of an MP could be stressful but said that was no excuse for bullying staff members.

Kawczynski consumed ‘significant amount of alcohol’ and called staff member part of ‘the snowflake generation’, report says


Priti Patel says fans have right to boo England team for taking the knee

Footballs fans have a right to boo and jeer England fans for “taking the knee” in protest at racism, the home secretary has said.

Priti Patel said the anti-racism protest associated with the Black Lives Matter movement amounted to “gesture politics” and dodged a question about whether she would boo herself.

Here is the story:

Home Secretary dodges question on whether she would boo England team herself


Starmer condemns G7 beach BBQ, says Labour facing ‘strong headwind'

Sir Keir Starmer has condemned a beach barbecue with G7 leaders apparently in breach of Covid rules, saying “the optics of that did not look good”.

Speaking to LBC, he said it was right to open the borders to world leaders, but said the barbecue was “frustrating” in light of an expected extension to lockdown.

“I think the optics of that just a few days before (lockdown is extended) were not good, and a lot of people are going to be pretty frustrated, I think, having seen that and then hearing what we are going to hear tonight,” he said.

Sir Keir said it would be particularly tough for people who may have to delay their wedding days yet again, saying: “In the hearts of those people they would have looked at that and said that’s just one rule for them and another for me.”

Sir Keir Starmer tours Batley Bulldogs Rugby league stadium on 10 June

The Labour leader also admitted the party was facing “strong headwinds” when it came to its popularity among voters.

He said: “We’ve been up against a pretty strong headwind - the vaccine rollout this year has been fantastically successful (and) all credit to the NHS on the front line.

“We’ve had a government paying the wages through furlough of 4.5 million people for a year, and that is a pretty steady headwind to be sailing into.”

Sir Keir continued: “If you look across the countries across Europe as well, incumbent governments - those in power during a pandemic - tend to be supported by the people because people look to their government, so there is a steady headwind.”

He said: “Have I got to do more? Yes, you bet I have. Have we got to get out there more? Yes we do.

“I’m going to spend the summer on the road in different communities across the country having these conversations.”


DUP leader warns Northern Ireland peace ‘at risk’ if Sinn Fein blocks first minister appointment

The DUP and Sinn Fein are engaged in an intense dispute over the process to replace departing first minister Arlene Foster, who is expected to formally resign on Monday.

A stand-off on the vexed issue of Irish language legislation has the potential to derail power-sharing arrangements unless a resolution is found within the next seven days.

Here is the story in full:

Edwin Poots says he is worried about ‘potential for conflict’

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