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Boris Johnson news: PM accused of ‘spectacular’ failure on climate change, as David Cameron rejects summit role offer

Adam Forrest,Lizzy Buchan,Ashley Cowburn
Wednesday 05 February 2020 16:00 GMT
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Corbyn accuses Johnson of failing 'spectacularly' on climate change

Boris Johnson has been accused of “failing so spectacularly to measure up to the scale of the climate crisis” by Jeremy Corbyn amid confusion over the UK’s preparations for the crucial COP26 climate summit.

Former PM David Cameron turned down an offer to head up the summit after Claire Perry O’Neill was sacked last week, leaving no-one in charge of the gathering in Glasgow. Mr Corbyn suggested ex-Labour leader Ed Miliband would be “suitable”.

Elsewhere, culture secretary Baroness Morgan has denied a review into licence fee evasion was an “attack on the BBC”. And Labour’s Diane Abbott has been criticised for claiming former speaker John Bercow’s alleged bullying of an ex-military officer was “unlikely”.

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Good morning and welcome to The Independent’s live coverage of events at Westminster and beyond.

Adam Forrest5 February 2020 08:25
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Cameron spurns Johnson’s offer to lead climate summit

Former prime minister David Cameron has turned down an offer from Boris Johnson head the UK’s preparations for a crucial international climate summit.

The current PM asked his predecessor to be the president of the UN Climate Change Conference after sacking ex-Tory energy minister Claire Perry O’Neill.

But Cameron confirmed this morning he didn’t want to do it. “It was an honour to be asked to do that job, and I was very grateful to be asked, but I think it’s best in these situations if you have a government minister doing the job,” he said in remarks reported by the BBC.

Former Tory leader William Hague is also thought to have rejected the role.

Adam Forrest5 February 2020 08:34
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Labour brands government proposal to suspend European human rights law ‘Trumpian’

Boris Johnson is reportedly willing to suspend the European Convention on Human Rights to bring in legislation to keep terror offenders in jail longer. 

The government wants to introduce emergency legislation to stop people convicted of terrorist crimes being automatically released after serving half their sentences, and said to be considering going further by bringing in indefinite sentences.

A Downing Street spokesman did not rule out suspending obligations to the internationally-recognised human rights law.

According to The Times, the government could apply for a “derogation” from the convention and wants to push through emergency legislation in the Commons next week.

Labour’s shadow attorney general, Shami Chakrabarti, said: “So what are we to believe in this new Trumpian politics? And what is their motive? This is red meat to their right wing.”

Adam Forrest5 February 2020 08:51
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Tories urged to punish MP who shared platform with far-right populists

The Conservative party is under pressure to remove the whip from MP Daniel Kawczynski after he spoke at a conference alongside notorious far-right politicians who have been previously accused of Islamophobia, antisemitism and homophobia.

Opposition MP Andrew Gwynn said it was “disgraceful” for the MP to have attended a speaking event alongside the likes of far-right Hungarian leader Viktor Orban and Italy’s Matteo Salvini at a conference in Rome.

The Board of British Deputies and Jewish Labour Movement also called on the Tory party to discipline him – but Kawczynski has dismissed the reaction as “hysterical”.

Adam Forrest5 February 2020 08:55
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Government steps up assault on BBC by launching licence fee decriminalisation review

Culture secretary Nicky Morgan the launch of a new consultation on whether failure to pay the BBC licence fee should be a criminal offence.

Baroness Morgan will question how to ensure the £154.50 annual charge which funds the public broadcaster “remains relevant in this changing media landscape” in a review into sanctions for non-payment of the licence fee.

People who refuse to pay face fines of up to £1,000, criminal convictions and even imprisonment – although only five people went to prison for failing to pay in 2018.

Adam Forrest5 February 2020 09:16
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Bercow bullying ‘unlikely’, claims Diane Abbott – who cites alleged victim’s service record

Labour MP Diane Abbott has be criticised for a tweet about the bullying allegations made against former speaker John Bercow. 

Former Commons official David Leakey repeated his claims that Bercow “brutalised” staff after the former MP dismissed them as “total and utter rubbish”.

But the shadow home secretary said she found the claims Leakey has been bullied “unlikely” because he had been a “Lieutenant General who served in Germany, Northern Ireland and Bosnia”.

Tory councillor Oliver Cooper said the idea “ex-servicemen can’t be bullied and can’t suffer pain is at the heart of a lot of terrible treatment of our veterans”.

BuzzFeed’s Matthew Champion was among the pundits making the same point. “Being a victim of bullying has *absolutely nothing* to do with whether you’re perceived as “tough””.

Adam Forrest5 February 2020 09:29
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Foreign Office staff told not to use ‘no-deal Brexit’ phrase

Civil service employees at the Foreign Office have been banned from using the term “no-deal Brexit” – the latest move in Boris Johnson attempts to convince the public all the important stuff “got done” at the end of January.

A directive reads: “On 31 December 2020 we will either leave the transition period with a Canada-style free trade agreement or the ‘2019 deal’ which will give us a trading relationship with the EU like Australia’s”.

Staff were then told: “Do not use phrases such as ‘deal/no deal’.”

Talk of an Australia-style trading arrangement has been criticised as a euphemism for a no-deal crash out scenario at the end of 2020. Australia has no free trade deal with the EU.

Our deputy political editor Rob Merrick has the details:

Adam Forrest5 February 2020 09:38
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Cameron’s bodyguard suspended after ‘leaving loaded gun in plane toilet’

More headlines involving the former Tory PM this morning. Scotland Yard is investigating after David Cameron’s bodyguard reportedly left his gun in an aeroplane toilet.

The gun, believed to be a 9mm Glock 17 pistol, is said to have been left by a close-protection officer who took off his holster while using the toilet.

The weapon was found by a passenger, who handed it to flight attendants on a transatlantic flight, according to reports.

All the details here:

Adam Forrest5 February 2020 09:54
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European police will be barred from cooperating with UK if PM waters down human rights law

Police and courts across the bloc will be barred from cooperating with their British counterparts if Boris Johnson through on his threat to water down human rights law, Brussels has said.

The European Commission has made human rights a red line in negotiations with the UK, and said any security agreement would include an “automatic termination” clause tied to the UK keeping the Human Rights Act.

The PM is reportedly planning to rewrite the 1998 Act – and potentially even suspend the UK’s membership of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Under the European Convention on Human Rights, citizens of signatory countries can appeal to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg if they feel their rights have been breached. The only country in Europe not a signatory is Belarus, an authoritarian dictatorship.

Our Europe correspondent Jon Stone has more details:

Adam Forrest5 February 2020 10:14
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‘I’m sure there will be a government minister’ for COP26, says Cameron

David Cameron has explained why he turned down the offer to lead the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow – citing his role as the president of Alzheimer’s Research UK.

“It was an honour to be asked to do that job and I'm very grateful to have been asked,” he told the BBC. “But I think it’s best in these situations if you have a government minister doing the job; you then have one line of command rather than, perhaps, two people doing the same thing.”

He said there are “a lot of things I have already agreed to do this year, not least the work I do for Alzheimer’s Research UK, so I thought it was important that I carried on with that work”.

“But I wish the Government well, I wish this climate change conference well, because it’s absolutely vital. I’m sure that there will be a government minister, or someone, who will be able to do the job and do it very well. The government has my backing as they go forward.”

Cabinet minister Michael Gove is said to be interested in taking the role.

Asked about his relationship with Johnson, Cameron declined to answer.

Adam Forrest5 February 2020 10:22

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