As it happenedended1581530599

Boris Johnson news: PM condemned over ‘cruel and callous’ deportations to Jamaica, as Labour leadership candidate sparks transphobia row

Follow all the latest developments as they happened

Adam Forrest,Lizzy Buchan
Wednesday 12 February 2020 18:59
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Jeremy Corbyn attacks government over deportations

Jeremy Corbyn has accused Boris Johnson of “cruel and callous” behaviour over the recent Jamaica deportation flight in a heated PMQs clash – as the Labour leader suggested the government was applying different rules to black people.​

No 10 is urgently appealing against a Court of Appeal ruling which prevented 25 people boarding the deportation flight, and is said to want to “accelerate” moves to change the review process.

Meanwhile, ministers rushed legislation to stop automatic early release of terror offenders through the Commons, and Labour leadership hopeful Rebecca Long-Bailey sparks a row after backing a pledge to expel members who express “transphobic” views.

To follow events as they unfolded, see our live coverage below

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

Adam Forrest12 February 2020 08:35
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No 10 gears up for battle over alarming plan to limit judicial review powers

Boris Johnson’s government is set for a battle with the campaigners, civil society and legal profession over a plan to reign in the courts over judicial reviews.

No 10 is said to want “accelerate” moves to change the process and limit the power of judges. The PM was said to be “furious” the Court of Appeal halted the deportation of 25 offenders set to leave on the flight to Jamaica.

His closest adviser Dominic Cummings said there should be “urgent action on the farce that judicial review has become”. According to ITV’s Robert Peston he told officials the ruling showed they “haven’t understood what the last few years has been about ... The country outside London is horrified.”

But the chair of the Bar Council Amanda Pinto said: “Far from being a mark of dysfunction, judicial review is an appropriate check on decision-making, of which a nation should be proud.”

Caroline Goodwin QC, of the Criminal Bar Association, said: "Judicial review is a process to keep a check on authorities acting beyond the legal remit that may have been granted to them by the law, thus playing a part to ensure the law applies equally to everyone; this is what the rule of law means."

The Royal Society of Arts fellow Dr Zubaida Haque: “We should be alarmed that No 10 are vowing to “hold an inquiry into judicial reviews” because it’s one of the few ways we can hold the government to account.”

 

No 10 strategist Dominic Cummings (Getty)

Adam Forrest12 February 2020 08:45
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Government accused of ‘cruelty’ over detainees treatment

Campaigners have accused the Home Office of inhumane treatment of Jamaicans granted a last-minute reprieve from deportation, as details of Tuesday’s controversial charter flight emerged.

At least 25 people set to be flown to Kingston had their removal halted by judges hours earlier because they had been denied access to legal help.

The Independent understands that around 20 of these men were told they would not be on the flight, only to be driven from their detention centres near Heathrow to Yorkshire in the middle of the night – with no details about where they were going.

In one case, a disabled man said he was left suffering “excruciating pain” after being forced to sit on a coach for 11 hours while he was driven to Doncaster.

Our social affairs correspondent May Bulman has all the details:

Adam Forrest12 February 2020 08:49
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Long-Bailey backs call to kick out ‘transphobic’ Labour members

Labour leadership hopeful Rebecca Long-Bailey has guaranteed trans rights comes up at tonight’s BBC Newsnight debate after backing a pledge to kick out party members who express “transphobic” views.

Expulsion is part of a 12-point plan by the Labour Campaign for Trans Rights – as is fighting against the allegedly “transphobic organisations” Woman’s Place UK and the LGB Alliance.

Long-Bailey urged people to sign the pledge and said “the Labour Party should always be a safe space”.

Leadership rival Lisa Nandy appeared to endorse the plan on Twitter too, stating: “Rather than allow women to be pitted against one another, the Labour Party should always be an open and safe space for all.”

Keir Starmer and Emily Thornberry have yet to share their views on the 12-point plan.

Adam Forrest12 February 2020 09:03
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Home Office reviewing eight Jamaica deportation cases

The cases of eight people who were due to be deported to Jamaica are being reviewed by the Home Office after fresh legal representations were made.

Some 50 people were originally expected to be on the chartered deportation flight that left the UK on Tuesday – but it took off with 17 on board after a last-minute legal battle. The government said it will urgently appeal against a Court of Appeal ruling which prevented 25 people boarding the flight after concerns were raised about whether they had adequate access to legal advice.

The remaining eight people who were due to be deported but never boarded the flight are now having their cases reviewed by the Home Office after they made further legal representations over their circumstances.

It is thought the case of Tajay Thompson is among those being reviewed in light of a High Court ruling which spared him from deportation.

The 23-year-old, from Battersea in south London, arrived in Britain aged five and served half of a 15-month sentence in 2015 after he was convicted of possessing the Class A drugs crack cocaine and heroin with intent to supply as a 17-year-old.

He claims he was groomed by a gang, forced to sell drugs and has not re-offended since his release around six years ago.

Speaking to the PA news agency from Colnbrook Immigration Removal Centre, he said: “I feel happy but also I don’t. I’m still stuck here. I want to be free, I want to be with my family and carry on my life but I can’t.”

Campaigners protest against deportations in Whitehall (PA)

Adam Forrest12 February 2020 09:22
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Long-Bailey sparks row after pledging to fight ‘transphobic’ women’s groups

More now on Labour leadership candidate Rebecca Long-Bailey’s backing for 12-point plan by the Labour Campaign for Trans Rights – and the group’s demand “transphobic” members are expelled.

One of the 12 pledges is to fight against the allegedly “transphobic organisations” Woman’s Place UK and the LGB Alliance.

But Women’s Place, a group of Labour members campaigning to keep women-only spaces, said it “absolutely” denied that it was transphobic and called the accusation “defamatory”.

“We call on the Labour Party to demonstrate its opposition to this misogynistic abuse of women. Defend us or expel us,” it said, in a statement.

While Long-Bailey’s move won support from some campaigners and was dubbed a “hero” by the Labour supporting-commentator Owen Jones, some Labour members have adopted the hashtag #expelme in protest at the pledges. Others warned of a “witch hunt” if the pledges are adopted.

Our deputy political editor Rob Merrick has the details:

Adam Forrest12 February 2020 09:27
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Government suspends funding of Commonwealth body

The funding of the Commonwealth Secretariat following concerns about the agency’s financial procedures.

Diplomats have told Baroness Scotland – the secretary general of the Commonwealth – that Britain's annual £4.7m contribution is on hold, with a number of conditions set on the funding.

The Foreign Office said the conditions related to ensuring the secretariat’s procurement policy and its implementation are “in line with international best practice”.

It comes after Lady Scotland was criticised by internal auditors for awarding a lucrative consultancy contract to a company run by a personal friend. She was accused of “circumventing” the usual competitive tendering rules by the organisation's audit committee.

The BBC reported that the auditors also discovered that procurement rules had been waived by the secretariat on 50 occasions over three years.

New Zealand and Australia are also said to have reduced their discretionary funding to the secretariat until its financial systems are tightened up.

Adam Forrest12 February 2020 09:36
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Ban on petrol and diesel cars could happen by 2032, says Shapps

A ban on the sale of new petrol, diesel or hybrid vehicles could be just 12 years away, transport secretary Grant Shapps has suggested.

The government has already announced plans to bring forward the date for the ban from 2040 to 2035, leading to protests from the automotive industry.

But Shapps said a consultation on the plan would put forward 2032 as a possible cut-off date.

“The prime minister last week has said we would like to do that by 2035 at the latest,” he told BBC Radio 5 Live. “We have said 2035 or even 2032.”

Adam Forrest12 February 2020 09:50
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Tories’ new ‘red wall’ voters worst hit by universal credit, study finds

A report by the Resolution Foundation think tank has found that the “blue wall” of newly-won Tory seats is “more exposed” to universal credit and other changes in government welfare policy than other parts of the country.

The constituencies in the north of England, Midlands and Wales – formerly known as making up Labour’s “red wall” – are also worst hit by wage stagnation.

“The government’s flagship welfare reform – will also have different impacts on those living in different regions of the country,” the report stated.

“Across the North of England, the Midlands, and Wales, 48 per cent of eventual UC claimants will be made worse off by the switch from legacy benefits to UC.

“This compares to 41 per cent of claimants being made worse off across the East, the South East and London, and reflects factors including UC’s (well-intentioned) relative generosity towards working families with high rents having less impact in areas where rents are low.”

Adam Forrest12 February 2020 10:24
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Geoffrey Cox wants to stay as attorney general

Boris Johnson has been busy finalising his plans for Thursday’s cabinet reshuffle. Geoffrey Cox has made clear this morning he wants to stay in his job as attorney general – despite conflicting reports the QC is set to be axed or is keen to return to private legal practice.

Speaking at an Institute for Government (IfG) event, Cox was asked if he was ready to leave cabinet. “Absolutely not,” he said.

Cox also suggested judges and courts were now playing too big a role in decisions best left in the political sphere, referring negatively to the “judicialisation of politics”.

It comes as No 10 reportedly wants to “accelerate” moves to change the judicial review process – and follows last year’s battles with the Supreme Court over the suspension of parliament.

 

Attorney general Geoffrey Cox (EPA)

Adam Forrest12 February 2020 10:52

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