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Boris Johnson news: Brexit ‘crisis talks’ held in Berlin, as PM’s father again breaks facemask rule

Follow all the latest developments

Boris Johnson says 'tough times' lie ahead for UK job market

EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier has met German chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin for talks on the Brexit crisis, as Germany urges the UK to agree a compromise trade deal. Goldman Sachs said a deal was still “likely” in early November – but warned a breakdown in negotiations could not be ruled out.

It comes as chancellor Rishi Sunak defended his Eat Out to Help Out scheme – despite Mr Johnson’s suggestion it may have helped spread the coronavirus. Following his Tory conference speech, Mr Sunak claimed he did not want to be PM. “This is a hard enough job for me to do.”

Meanwhile Britain’s former ambassador to the US said Mr Johnson is unlikely to get a “warm welcome” from the White House if Joe Biden wins the election because of resentment over the PM’s remarks about Barack Obama’s “ancestral dislike of the British Empire”.


Priti Patel condemned for her attack on lawyers and ‘do-gooders’

Home secretary Priti Patel has been branded “shameless” after she pledged to toughen Britain’s asylum laws and fix what she called a “broken” system.  

Speaking on Sunday at the Conservative Party’s online conference, Patel accused all who spoke up for the current asylum regime as “defending the indefensible” and dismissed her opponents as “the traffickers, the do-gooders, the leftie lawyers, the Labour Party”.

But Labour has accused the home secretary of trying to avoid blame for a system the Tories had created after ten years in government.  

“The British people will see through the Home Secretary’s shameless comments about a ‘broken system’, when the system has been overseen by the Tories for a decade. This is yet more evidence of how lacking in compassion and competence the Tories are.”

Charities have joined Labour in criticising Patel’s speech. Detention Action accused the home secretary of attempting to “turn the clock back on over 50 years of progress on refugee protection”, while Amnesty said the proposals were “nonsensical”. 

Priti Patel takes aim at migration ‘do-gooders’ as she launches asylum reform plan

Home secretary’s attempt to group ‘lefty lawyers’ with people-traffickers branded absurd

Adam Forrest5 October 2020 08:25

Sunak says ‘no regrets’ over Eat Out to Help Out

Rishi Sunak has insisted he has no regrets over the Eat Out to Help Out scheme – despite Boris Johnson’s suggestion on Sunday that it may have helped spread coronavirus. 

“No, definitely not,” Sunak told The Sun when asked if he held any regrets. “We had an industry that I care deeply about because of employment. It’s over two million people.”

He also expressed sympathy over public anger at the 10pm pub curfew brought in as an attempt to curb infections. “Everyone is very frustrated and exhausted and tired about all of this,” he told the paper. 

Many Tory backbenchers will like him even more for that.

Rishi Sunak and Boris Johnson outside No 10
Adam Forrest5 October 2020 08:28

Minister admits she doesn’t know how many contacts missed

Cabinet minister Therese Coffey has admitted that she does not know how many close contacts of individuals infected with coronavirus were not tracked because of the big IT blunder.

Public Health England (PHE) revealed its official Covid dashboard had underreported almost 16,000 cases last week due to a technical glitch – which led to a significant delay in tracing contacts.

Blaming PHE, Coffey said: “We can’t change the recent history, PHE will make sure that this sort of error doesn’t happen again but they did pick up this error and I think they've acted quickly to rectify it.”

Asked if she knows how many potential close contacts have not been traced, she said: “I’m afraid I just don’t have that information.”

Adam Forrest5 October 2020 08:56

Johnson unlikely to get ‘warm welcome’ from Biden, says ex-ambassador

Boris Johnson is unlikely to get a “warm welcome” from the White House if Joe Biden wins the presidential election because of lingering resentment over his remarks about Barack Obama, according to Britain’s former ambassador to Washington.

Lord Darroch said there was still some “resentment and unhappiness” over comments Johnson made while mayor of London about the former US president. He also said Johnson would find it easier to secure a trade deal with Donald Trump than Biden.

In 2016 Johnson wrote a newspaper column in which he said the removal of a bust of Churchill from Obama’s office was seen by some as a sign of an “ancestral dislike of the British Empire” and his “part-Kenyan” ancestry.

“I promise you there is still some resentment and unhappiness over that,” said Lord Darroch. “I’m not sure there will be, you know, quite the warm, welcoming embrace from Biden for Boris Johnson … as it would be from Donald Trump.”

Joe Biden and Donald Trump
Adam Forrest5 October 2020 09:09

Tories announce plan for ‘second HQ’ in Leeds

The Conservatives have announced plans to open a “second headquarters” in Leeds. Tory co-chairman Amanda Milling said it would provide the party “with a base at the heart of the blue wall”.

The latest Lord Ashcroft polls suggest the party could do with shoring up support in the north. Almost one-third (31 per cent) of new Tory voters in “red wall” / “blue wall” seats in the north said they would now switch back to Labour, with 69 per cent sticking with the Tories for the time being.

The latest national survey by the Tory peer found that 37 per cent believe Keir Starmer would make the best prime minister, with only 30 per cent opting for Boris Johnson.

Adam Forrest5 October 2020 09:21

Don’t criminalise the persecuted, Priti Patel warned

Priti Patel has been warned against the criminalisation of asylum seekers arriving in the UK by boat, as it emerged people-smugglers were exploiting vulnerable migrants in northern France to facilitate Channel crossings.

An investigation funded by The Independent’s Supporter Programme, migrants said that traffickers had taken their money for the crossing, only to then demand they work for free in order to make the journey to the UK.  

Patel said she wanted to “stop the abuse of the broken system” and recently praised the jailing of asylum seekers deemed to have steered boats – while the head of the taskforce tackling Channel crossings declared that anyone at the helm should “expect to be arrested”.

The home secretary was branded “shameless” after she blamed “do-gooders” and “leftie lawyers” for the failure of the asylum system.

Campaigners have warned of the risk of “criminalising the persecuted” with the arrests. Our home affairs correspondent Lizzie Dearden has more details:

Patel warned against arrests of migrants who face risk of exploitation before Channel crossings

Seeking Refuge: Lizzie Dearden reports on how desperate asylum seekers are being coerced by people-smugglers – only to be told they face criminal action when they arrive in the UK

Adam Forrest5 October 2020 09:32

Simplified three-tier Covid restriction system on the way?

The government is reportedly planning a simplified three-tier “traffic light” system for Covid restrictions in England, amid frustration over the complexity of different rules for different parts of the country.

A leaked document suggests areas hit by the most severe “tier 3” measures would be mean something close to full lockdown – shutting all pubs and restaurants and social contact between households banned. But there’s no indication whether schools would be closed.  

The plans have not yet been signed off by No 10, and several of the measures could still be relaxed, according to The Guardian.

Adam Forrest5 October 2020 09:41

Ex-British ambassador: Covid could cost Trump the election

Lord Darroch, Britain’s former ambassador to Washington, thinks Donald Trump’s admission to hospital with coronavirus could cost him re-election.

Lord Darroch, who resigned from his role in 2019 after emails were leaked in which he called the Trump administration “clumsy and inept”, said Trump’s brush with Covid-19 will remind American voters of how badly he has managed the pandemic.

The former ambassador said Mr Johnson is unlikely to get a “warm welcome” from the White House if Joe Biden wins the election because of lingering “resentment and unhappiness” over his remarks about Barack Obama’s “part-Kenyan” ancestry.

In 2016 Johnson wrote a newspaper column in which he said the removal of a bust of Churchill from Obama’s office was seen by some as a sign of an “ancestral dislike of the British Empire” and his “part-Kenyan” ancestry.

Former ambassador to US Kim Darroch
Adam Forrest5 October 2020 10:11

‘Fireside chats’ with Tory ministers coming up at conference

It’s a big day at the Conservative party’s virtual conference – with the chancellor’s speech just before lunchtime set to dominate. Here’s a rundown of what to expect:

11am – There’s a “fireside chat” with education secretary Gavin Williamson (sorry, we’ve no idea why the party has opted for the fireside gimmick).  

11.30am – The work and pensions secretary Therese Coffey takes part in a panel discussion.  

11.50am – The big speech by Rishi Sunak.

2.30pm – Another “fireside chat”, this time with business secretary Alok Sharma.  

3pm – Transport secretary Grant Shapps and culture secretary Oliver Dowden are interviewed.

4.30pm – Health secretary Matt Hancock rounds off the day with yet another “fireside chat”.

Adam Forrest5 October 2020 10:23

SNP chief suggests Ferrier could be booted out by voters

The SNP’s leader at Westminster has again called on one of his own MPs to stand down, urging her “to do the honourable thing” as the clamour for her resignation increases.

Ian Blackford said Margaret Ferrier should resign in a bid to save her “self-respect and dignity” after it emerged she travelled from Scotland and London and back again with coronavirus.

“Nobody knows where that will go but she runs the risk of having her fate being taken out of her hands,” he said – suggesting her constituents in Rutherglen and Hamilton West could vote her out.

A by-election could then be forced if 10 per cent of voters in the seat sign a recall a petition – so long as she was suspended from the Commons for at least 10 sitting days.

Margaret Ferrier speaking in Commons
Adam Forrest5 October 2020 10:32

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