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Boris Johnson news – live: PM condemns Wiley’s ‘abhorrent’ antisemitic remarks, as No 10 announces crackdown on junk food

Follow all the latest developments

Adam Forrest,Conrad Duncan
Monday 27 July 2020 18:02 BST
Boris Johnson says he 'struggles with his weight'

Boris Johnson has said he was “too fat” before his illness with coronavirus, as the prime minister announced moves to ban junk food ads before 9pm, end buy-one-get-one-free deals and put calorie numbers on restaurant menus.

Health experts have welcomed the campaign, but warned that chancellor Rishi Sunak’s ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ initiative – which sees fast food outlets giving the public 50 per cent off meals during August – will undermine the weight loss drive.

It came as Mr Johnson's spokesperson said the prime minister believes rapper Wiley’s string of antisemitic tweets were “abhorrent” and thinks Twitter’s response was “not good enough”.


Lib Dem candidate for London mayor quits

Liberal Democrat Siobhan Benita has abandoned her campaign to become mayor of London.

The election, originally due to be held in May, was postponed until 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic. Benita said the delay meant she was not able to commit to another full year of campaigning.

She said: “The demands on a candidate are significant and an election of this scale, particularly in an unpaid role, means it’s really difficult to get other work.

“And unfortunately with the delay due to the pandemic I'm simply not able to commit to another full year of campaigning and to leading the type of campaign that I really want to lead in London.”

Adam Forrest27 July 2020 10:13

Eat Out to Help Out ‘contradicts the message’, experts warn

Experts have largely welcomed No 10’s new anti-obesity drive. But they have also warned the prime minister that the Treasury’s ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ initiative – granting everyone 50 per cent off meals in fast food restaurants throughout August – will undermine the effort to get people to lose weight.

“Offering subsidies on food which is particularly associated with being less healthy completely contradicts the other message around reducing obesity” said Prof Amelia Lake, professor in public health nutrition at Teesside University.

“On one hand we are hearing that tackling obesity is an urgent public health challenge, but on the other we are seeing actions that we know do not help us reduce obesity. There needs to be clear messaging and joined up action,” she told The Guardian.

TV chef Antony Worrall Thompson said including fast food outlets in the Treasury discount was “a bit crazy” – and said the government keeps “putting its foot in it”.

Adam Forrest27 July 2020 10:33

Sunak ‘considering new tax on goods sold online’

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is reportedly considering a new tax on online goods, at least partly to help high street retailers compete in the battered economy.

The chancellor is mulling proposals for an online sales tax to provide “sustainable and meaningful revenue source for the government” and help shops, according to The Times.

The newspaper reports that the Treasury is considering a 2 percent on goods sold online, raising about £2bn a year. Another option would be a mandatory charge on consumer deliveries.

Meanwhile, chancellor Rishi Sunak and his deputy Steve Barclay are preparing to set out “Silicon Valley-inspired” investment in infrastructure and energy, according to The Telegraph. Barclay, chief secretary to the Treasury, is expected to make an announcement at the Onward think tank on Tuesday.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak (EPA)

Adam Forrest27 July 2020 10:52

‘We all pay for social care already’

‘National Insurance’ is trending on Twitter at the moment. People are angry at reports that the government is considering making everyone over 40 begin contributing towards the cost of care in later life.

The idea is among a series of proposals being examined by Boris Johnson’s new social care task force – with people either compelled to take out insurance, pay more national insurance, or income tax once they hit the age ceiling.

Professor Ian McDonald tweeted: “We all pay for social care already. We pay national insurance throughout our lives, when we require little health care. When we are older we draw on it more, so it works out. Unless, you drain money out of the system to provide profit for private companies.”

Adam Forrest27 July 2020 11:15

Be prepared to cancel your holiday, government warns

British travellers to all countries should be prepared for their holidays to be cancelled under emergency coronavirus quarantine measures, ministers have warned.

The government has imposed surprise restrictions on travel between Spain, with two-week quarantines for anyone returning and mass cancellations for anyone with plans.

Helen Whately, health minister, said similar surprise measures could follow for other countries if data showed they were necessary. “What we are saying to people who are planning trips abroad is you need to keep an eye on the Foreign Office guidance, that you need to be aware of your tour operator’s policies and the travel insurance, and be mindful that we are in a global pandemic,” she said earlier this morning.

“If we see something going on like we’ve seen in Spain we would have to take action.”

It comes as trips to France, Italy and Greece were being cancelled in “large numbers” following the ruling by ministers on Spain, The Times reported.

Officials in both France and Germany have warned of possible new lockdowns as parts of Europe braced for a second wave of Covid-19 infections.

Adam Forrest27 July 2020 11:40

Some BAME health workers still waiting for promised risk assessment

More than a quarter of black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) NHS staff are still waiting for a risk assessment for Covid-19, data suggests.

Figures seen by the Health Service Journal (HSJ) suggest 73 per cent of BAME staff had had a risk assessment in England by July 17, but in some hospital trusts the figure was just 20 per cent.

Some trusts in the South West are thought to have made poorer progress than the national average, at 65 per cent, the HSJ said.

NHS England recommended risk assessments for BAME staff as long ago as April and has now extended the deadline for them to be completed to the end of July.

People from BAME backgrounds are thought to be at higher risk of poor outcomes from coronavirus, with health secretary Matt Hancock saying they are “disproportionately” dying from Covid-19.

Adam Forrest27 July 2020 11:59

‘Russia report deserves a far better response’

Will the revelations in the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC)’s Russia report be forgotten over the summer?

Duncan Allan – an associate fellow for Chatham House’s Russia and Eurasia programme and former adviser to the Foreign Office – thinks it’s time for the government to take its recommendations seriously.

“The Russia report deserves better,” he writes. “The government’s response to the ISC report does precious little to strengthen the resilience of the very democratic system that Russia seeks to undermine.

“Russian decision-makers are unlikely to lose much sleep over the report and the UK government’s response. What they will take notice of are the government’s actions – and whether these really do match its rhetoric.”

Read more here:

Adam Forrest27 July 2020 12:20

UK electricity network emissions could turn negative by 2033, says national grid

“Immediate action” to promote cleaner, more efficient power will ensure the UK hits its 2050 net zero target and could even see electricity production emissions turn negative in 13 years if carbon capture and storage technologies are implemented, the National Grid has said.

In a detailed report examining four “future energy scenarios”, three out of the four models indicated the UK could hit net zero by 2050 or earlier – but warned reductions in emissions from areas including transport were essential.

Former PM Theresa May committed the government to net zero carbon emissions by 2050 shortly before leaving office last year.

Adam Forrest27 July 2020 12:40

Stormont to discuss quarantine for those arriving from Spain

Northern Ireland’s executive is set to meet later to discuss a decision to introduce quarantine for those arriving in the region from Spain.

Health minister Robin Swann announced the measure on Saturday night following similar moves across the rest of the UK.

The Ulster Unionist minister has requested a meeting of the executive to discuss what support or advice may be required for those facing the 14-day quarantine.

Travellers continued to fly to and return from Spain at Belfast International Airport on Monday.

Adam Forrest27 July 2020 12:55

PM once called health labels on wine ‘lunacy’

As Boris Johnson launches a new government health drive – which includes a consultation on calorie labelling for all alcoholic drinks – it’s not a bad time to look back at some of his previous remarks on the subject.

Johnson denounced health labels on wine bottles as “lunacy” as a backbench MP and urged producers to “fight, fight, fight” against their introduction.

In a newspaper column, the then MP for Henley dismissed advice on weekly alcohol units as “a load of bunkum” and said the risks of drinking during pregnancy were “not very great, frankly”.

He branded the then Labour government’s plans for health labelling as “infantilising elf and safety madness” which would not make “a fluid ounce of difference” to Britain’s alcohol intake.

Our political editor Andrew Woodcock has the details:

Adam Forrest27 July 2020 13:09

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