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As it happenedended1576527690

Brexit news: Boris Johnson expected to scrap foreign aid department and extend hostile environment, as BBC faces backlash over role in Tory election win

Follow the latest developments from Westminster

Adam Forrest,Jon Stone,Chris Baynes
Monday 16 December 2019 19:40 GMT
Who will replace Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader?

Boris Johnson has addressed his new intake of 109 new Conservative MPs ​after his landslide victory, and was expected to urge them to vote for his Brexit deal so the UK can leave the EU by the end of January.

Mr Johnson’s reported plans to create a new immigration system, separate from the Home Office, has experts fearing an expansion of the “hostile environment” policy. It comes as senior Tories and more than 100 charities attack the PM’s plan to axe the department delivering Britain’s foreign aid.

The prime minister has also launched a mini-reshuffle of his cabinet, with Simon Hart appointed Welsh secretary and Nicky Morgan - who stepped down as an MP at the election - handed a life peerage to enable her to continue as culture secretary.

With Labour figures jockeying over who should succeed Jeremy Corbyn, shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald accused the BBC of “playing a part” in the party’s defeat. Emily Thornberry said she is taking legal action against Caroline Flint over the claim she called Leave voters “stupid”.

Here's how we covered the day's development as they happened:


Good morning and welcome to The Independent’s live coverage of the post-election fall-out, as Boris Johnson assembles his new cabinet and Labour party squabbles over the leadership succession contest.

Adam Forrest16 December 2019 08:18

Caroline Flint claims Emily Thornberry said Labour Leave voters were ‘stupid’

The defeated candidate Caroline Flint, who lost her seat on Thursday, claimed potential Labour leadership candidate Emily Thornberry said that party supporters who voted Leave were “stupid”.

The claim was rejected as “a total and utter lie” by Thornberry. But Ms Flint told The Independent that she stood by her story.

Flint said: “I don’t believe there’s any credibility for these people. Keir Starmer led us to a policy that did not listen to Labour Leave voices who urged caution, he led us down the path of a second referendum.

“And I’m afraid Emily Thornberry did as well – she said to one of my colleagues: ‘I’m glad my constituents aren’t as stupid as yours’.”

Adam Forrest16 December 2019 08:28

Labour frontbencher accuses BBC of ‘playing a part’ in defeat

Shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald has accused the BBC of “playing a part” in Labour’s defeat at the general election.

The BBC Radio 4 Today host Justin Webb asked McDonald about Labour’s heavy losses and whether the party’s leader played a part in that.

McDonald said: “Don’t get me started on the media Justin, I’m very worried about our public service broadcaster.”

“Are you saying that the BBC was in part responsible for Mr Corbyn’s loss?” Webb then asked.

McDonald replied: “I am saying that they played a part. I’m really worried about the drift. You’ve seen the catalogue of criticisms that we’re making.

“We’ve accepted that the print media are rained against us, but my goodness me ... if the BBC are going to hold themselves out as somehow having conducted themselves in an impartial manner I think they’ve really got to have a look in the mirror. We’ve got a lot to say about this.”

Asked if the BBC “consciously” played a part, McDonald replied, “consciously, yes.”

He added: “When you have a BBC presenter standing in front of a television camera saying ‘and Boris Johnson is on his way to a richly-deserved victory’.”

Webb said: “Oh it’s a slip of the tongue. That’s absolute madness, isn’t it?”

McDonald said: “How many slips of the tongue are we going to make until you accept it?”

Adam Forrest16 December 2019 08:30

PM’s ‘new immigration department’ plan could expand hostile environment, experts warn

Boris Johnson’s reported plans to create an immigration and visa system separate from the Home Office has experts fearing that the reach of the hostile environment will be expanded. 

Johnson is said to be formulating proposals to create a new department for borders and immigration to improve security and the operation of the visa system after Brexit, along with a number of other “big changes” to the structure of government.

There is little detail on how this move would take effect, but lawyers and campaigners cautioned that while it had the potential to present an opportunity to make the system “fairer”, the focus was more likely to be on tightening control of the borders.

Adam Forrest16 December 2019 08:32

PM to address new Tory MPs on Brexit deal

Boris Johnson is to address his new intake of Tory MPs as they prepare to vote on his Brexit deal.

The PM will welcome the 109 newly-elected colleagues, many of them from former Labour areas across the north and Midlands, to the House of Commons on Monday.

Johnson will use his majority of 80 to get his Withdrawal Agreement Bill (WAB) to implement Brexit approved so the UK can formally leave the EU by the end of January.

The PM has pledged to bring the Bill back before the Commons before Christmas but it is not yet known when MPs will begin voting on it.

Johnson is also understood to be preparing to start a minor cabinet reshuffle on Monday to fill gaps left by departures before making more radical changes in February.

Ahead of the private speech, a No 10 source said: “This election and the new generation of MPs that have resulted from Labour towns turning blue will help change our politics for the better.

“The PM has been very clear that we have a responsibility to deliver a better future for our country and that we must repay the public's trust by getting Brexit done. That’s why the first piece of legislation new MPs will vote on will be the Withdrawal Agreement Bill.”

Boris Johnson inside No 10 (PA) 

Adam Forrest16 December 2019 08:37

Still hasnt sunk in: new Toy MPs arrive in Westminster

Several newly-elected Tory MPs tweeted about their early starts as they made their way to Westminster for their first day on the job.

Bury's new representative Christian Wakeford tweeted: “Reality with a bump, 5:33 train down to £Westminster not a morning person at all but couldn't be happier to be on this train.”

And Aaron Bell, now MP for Newcastle-under-Lyme, tweeted a picture of himself smiling in front of the Palace of Westminster, adding: “Good morning Newcastle. A new dawn has broken, has it not?"

Jonathan Gullis, the new MP for Stoke-on-Trent North, Kidsgrove and Talke, tweeted a picture of himself with “some of the other newbies from the Conservative Party” as they undertook training in one of parliament’s committee rooms.

“Still hasn’t sunk in,” he added.

Adam Forrest16 December 2019 09:00

Rebecca Long-Bailey emerges as ‘continuity Corbyn’ figure

Senior figures on the Labour left coalescing around Rebecca Long-Bailey as the candidate to take the Corbyn project forward.

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell said any likely contenders for the top job would be signed up to the policy programme put forward in the manifesto for this month’s election.

McDonnell said he believed that the shadow business secretary would make a “brilliant leader”, namechecking her alongside shadow cabinet leftists such as Angela Rayner, Richard Burgon and Dawn Butler.

Adam Forrest16 December 2019 09:02

Gavin And Stacey star sorry for calling Kuenssberg ‘disingenuous plopcarpet’

The Gavin & Stacey actor Mathew Horne has apologised after calling for the resignation of BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg.

The morning after the election, the actor published a series of tweets, which have since been deleted, in which he referred to Kuenssberg as a “disingenuous plopcarpet” and requested that she resign.

“I really wish I loved myself as much as you, Laura,” Horne tweeted. “I think, although deeply selfish, I’d probably be happier. For a bit. Lucky you.”

Anyway, he says he’s sorry for doing that.

Adam Forrest16 December 2019 09:12

Tory minister: Brexit bill is top priority

The housing secretary Robert Jenrick has said the government’s top priority is bringing back the Withdrawal Agreement Bill to parliament in order to “get Brexit done”.

“Boris Johnson wants to lead an inclusive, one-nation Conservative government that runs this country for everyone in all parts of the country and all communities,” he told BBC Radio 5 Live.

It’s set to be an eventful week in Westminster. The swearing-in of MPs to begin on Tuesday before the Queen formally opens parliament on Thursday when she sets out the government’s legislative programme during a slimmed-down state opening.

And the government could bring forward a second reading debate on the WAB on Friday.

Approving the WAB will not mean the Brexit saga is over. The UK will remain in the EU until at least the end of 2020 during the implementation period. This time will be used by Brussels and London to hammer out a trade deal and decide on their future relationship on subjects such as security.

Adam Forrest16 December 2019 09:24

‘Media filled with lies’ about Labour and antisemitism, says Ken Livingstone

Ken Livingstone, a man who appears to upset plenty of people every time he appears on TV, has been on TV this morning. And he has made remarks now upsetting plenty of people.

He told Good Morning Britain that “the media was filled with all these lies” that Labour was institutionally antisemitic.

The former mayor of London said: “All my Jewish friends who are in the Labour party – not a single one of them can remember in their entire time in the party an antisemitic incident.”

Adam Forrest16 December 2019 09:36

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