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Boris Johnson news: Care home workers excluded from ‘shambolic’ new NHS visa, as Brexit ad blitz warns of higher travel cost

Follow all the latest developments

Public should 'get ready' for end of transition period says Johnson

Downing Street has confirmed social care workers would not be able to take advantage of the new NHS visa, as home secretary Priti Patel sets out the government’s post-Brexit points-based immigration system.

The GMB trade union said the exclusion was an “embarrassing shambles” and accused the government of making “no acknowledgement of the vital job care workers have been doing” during the coronavirus crisis.

It comes as the government launches an ad campaign, warning of higher travel costs at the end of the Brexit transition period. Boris Johnson said people should “get ready” for new “opportunities”, but the European Movement group said the rhetoric was “what Orwell called Newspeak”.


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

Adam Forrest13 July 2020 08:47

More than 100 local Covid outbreaks a week, says Hancock

More than 100 outbreaks of coronavirus are being “swiftly and silently” dealt with by local authorities around the country every week, Matt Hancock has said.

The health secretary pledged to “hunt down the virus” with “more targeted local action” – and said door-to-door testing would increasingly be used to control clusters.

His comments come amid fears of a substantial localised outbreak on a farm in Herefordshire, where up to 200 seasonal workers housed in mobile homes and employed by A S Green and Co have been told to self-isolate.

Food and other essential supplies are being delivered to the farm by the local council, supported by Public Health England – while police were seen guarding the exits.

The government has also identified a list of 20 councils facing the worst local outbreaks, with Bradford, Sheffield and Kirklees identified as needing “enhanced support” according to an internal document reported by The Observer newspaper.

Adam Forrest13 July 2020 08:48

New Brexit ad blitz will warn of risks

The British public will be warned about the risks from higher travel insurance, higher roaming charges and border complications for traders when the transition period ends – as a new government information campaign is launched.

Ministers have chosen the slogan “The UK’s new start: let’s get going” for the adverts that will run on television, radio and the internet, as well as in text messages to be sent out.

A strapline reading “Check, Change, Go” will direct people and businesses to a website for detailed advice on steps to take – with full departure from the EU looming on 31 December.

Ed Davey, the acting Lib Dem leader said firms would greet the advice with “utter horror” considering the coronavirus fall-out – while the head of the pro-EU European Movement described rhetoric of “opportunity” in the campaign as “what George Orwell called Newspeak”.

Adam Forrest13 July 2020 08:49

UK selling spyware and wiretaps to 17 regimes

The British government is providing more than a dozen repressive regimes around the world with wiretaps, spyware and other telecommunications interception equipment they could use to spy on dissidents, public records show.

Despite rules saying the UK should not export security goods to countries that might use them for internal repression, ministers have signed off more than £75m in such exports over the past five years to states rated “not free” by the NGO Freedom House.

The 17 countries include China, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, as well as the United Arab Emirates, which was the biggest recipient of licences totalling £11.5m alone since 2015.

Our policy correspondent Jon Stone has the details:

Adam Forrest13 July 2020 08:50

Foreign criminals jailed for more than a year ‘to be banned from entering UK’ 

Home secretary Priti Patel is set to announce a ban on foreign criminals sentenced to more than a year in jail from entering Britain when she outlines new immigration rules.

Ministers will be given powers to exclude or deport foreign criminals who have received prison sentences of more than a year, The Daily Telegraph reported.

Patel is set to unveil details on Monday of how the UK’s points-based immigration system – which will come into effect on January 1 after freedom of movement ends – will operate.

Both EU and non-EU migrants will have to earn 70 points to become eligible to work in the UK, with 50 points coming from a skilled job offer and English language requirement.

The home secretary is expected to unveil a new “health and care visa” for foreign workers as part of the new immigration rules – having previously said it would be offered to NHS professionals only. Details are scarce, but the special visas come with fast-track, cut-price permission to take up job offers.

Adam Forrest13 July 2020 08:50

Ministers accused of building ‘pointless lorry park in Kent’

The government has been accused of building a “pointless lorry park in Kent”, after announcing a whopping £705m for carrying out post-Brexit trade checks.

Work begins today on a massive site for lorries just outside Ashford, after the government reportedly bought 27 acres of land there. 

Michael Gove said it was not “the intention” for the new clearance centre to become a parking spot for trucks delayed at Dover and other ports.

Instead, he insisted the cash would “create the smart infrastructure that, in Kent and elsewhere, will allow the trade to flow”.

But Peter Ricketts, a former national security adviser, protested: “This is all so pointless. We are creating a vast customs bureaucracy, with costs passed on to the consumer.”

And Labour’s Rachel Reeves said, of Boris Johnson’s recent investment promises: “I thought that was going to mean hospitals, railways and new schools around the country – not investment in a new lorry park in Kent.”

Adam Forrest13 July 2020 08:59

‘Very sensible’ to wear masks in small shops, justice secretary says

Justice secretary Robert Buckland has said he wears a face covering inside small shops and carries one with him, amid growing pressure on the government to make their use mandatory.

When asked on BBC Breakfast, Buckland said: “Yes I do, I carry one with me. I think outside is one thing, with social distancing, but a small shop I think is a very sensible place to wear a covering, and it protects people working in the shop, and also anybody else who you might come into contact with.”

The minister also said he thought it would be “absolutely sensible” to wear a mask in a busy supermarket but insisted people had the “good sense” to make their own judgement on the issue.

Despite Boris Johnson’s recent suggestion the government could get “stricter”, Michael Gove said he didn’t think face coverings should be compulsory in shops in England, saying on Sunday that it was a matter best left to common sense and “good manners”.

Adam Forrest13 July 2020 09:02

Modern-day slavery in ‘every town and city in Britain’, says minister

Justice secretary Robert Buckland said it will take a “long time” to tackle the abuse of modern slavery which exists in “every town and city” in the UK.

It comes as Tory MP Andrew Bridgen said he believes as many as 10,000 people could be working in slave-like conditions in textile factories in Leicester.

Buckland told Sky News: “A light has now been shone on an appalling litany of abuse and I’m glad to hear that the National Crime Agency (NCA) is now conducting an investigation, it’s got a lot of power to bring in various agencies to start the work of an investigation into this.

“Modern-day slavery is all around us, it’s in every town and city in Britain and indeed in our rural areas as well, it takes many forms.

“This type of exploitation, people being paid well below under the minimum wage, having to work in unacceptable conditions, that sort of abuse has to be stamped out, it has to be examined, we have to follow the evidence and prosecute wherever possible.”

He added: “What has happened with modern slavery is that we’ve legislated on it, we’ve improved the response of the agencies and the authorities to it, but now it’s up to all of us in our communities to identify it, call it out and to do everything we can to stamp it out.

“This is not a job that’s going to take weeks, it’s going to take a long time but I welcome the investigation.”

Adam Forrest13 July 2020 09:05

Will take more than 10 years to remove Huawei from network, says BT boss

The boss of BT has warned that it would be “impossible” to strip Huawei products out of the UK’s telecommunications network within the next decade.

He also warned of “outages” and possible security risks if the sector was told to curtail all business with the Chinese tech giant during the building of the 5G network upgrade.

It follows suggestions a decision is due to be made public by culture secretary Oliver Dowden on Tuesday over the future of Huawei in the UK.

Philip Jansen, chief executive of BT, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “Huawei has been in the telecoms infrastructure for about 20 years and a big supplier to BT and many others in the UK telecoms industry.

“It is all about timing and balance. So if you want to have no Huawei in the whole of the telecoms infrastructure across the whole of the UK, I think that’s impossible to do in under 10 years.”

The industry would want to be given a seven-year window to rip out Huawei from the fledging 5G network but Jansen said “we could probably do it in five”.

|He added: “If we get in a situation where things need to go very fast, then we go into a situation where service for 24 million BT Group mobile customers is put into question - outages would be possible.”

Adam Forrest13 July 2020 09:09

‘Full-scale assault on devolution’

Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon has tweeted a link to an FT report suggesting Boris Johnson is “setting up a clash with Scotland and Wales over control of state aid”.

She wrote: “Make no mistake, this would be a full-scale assault on devolution – a blatant move to erode the powers of the Scottish Parliament in key areas. If the Tories want to further boost support for independence, this is the way to do it.”

Adam Forrest13 July 2020 09:18

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