As it happenedended1652725947

Northern Ireland protocol – live: Boris Johnson booed as he arrives for Belfast talks

Protesters hold placards saying ‘Back of Boris! Protect the protocol’

Sinn Fein accuses Boris Johnson of ‘coordinating’ with DUP

Boris Johnson was booed by protesters as his car arrived for Brexit protocol talks with political leaders at Hillsborough Castle in Northern Ireland.

Demonstrators held placards reading “Back of Boris! Protect the protocol” as the prime minister’s motorcade swept into the official government residence.

Mr Johnson is meeting with the leaders of the five main parties to discuss potential changes to the post-Brexit trading arrangements.

Earlier, business leaders urged him to pull back from radical unilateral action to ditch protocol checks.

Mr Johnson has said the UK will have a “necessity to act” if the EU is unwilling to drop checks on goods coming from Britain into Northern Ireland.

Ministers are reportedly ready to table legislation as early as this week to override the protocol – despite EU warnings that such a move would violate the Brexit treaty and could spark a trade war.

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Welcome to The Independent’s UK politics live blog for Monday, 16 May 2022.

Namita Singh16 May 2022 04:55
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Boris Johnson confirms UK will set out NI protocol plans this week

Boris Johnson has confirmed the government will this week set out plans expected to allow ministers to unilaterally scrap part of his Brexit deal.

The prime minister said more details would be released “in the coming days”, despite warnings they could trigger a trade war with the European Union, in an editorial in the Belfast Telegraph newspaper.

Ministers are engaged in a standoff with the European Union over the Northern Ireland protocol.

Mr Johnson’s government signed up to the agreement, which is designed to protect the EU’s single market.

But ministers warn the deal threatens the Northern Ireland peace process by putting a border down the Irish Sea and introducing checks on goods coming from other parts of the UK.

Read the full story from our Whitehall editor, Kate Devlin:

Boris Johnson confirms UK will set out NI protocol plans this week

Fears Brexit move could lead to trade war with EU

Namita Singh16 May 2022 05:16
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PM expected to hold talks with NI leaders

Boris Johnson is expected to hold emergency talks with Northern Ireland’s political leaders in a bid to break the deadlock over post-Brexit trading arrangements.

The PM’s visit comes amid heightened tensions between the UK and EU over the prospect of him moving forward with a plan aimed at unilaterally scrapping parts of the deal creating economic barriers between the region and the rest of the UK.

Brussels has made it clear that Westminster’s attempt to override elements of the protocol by way of domestic legislation would represent a breach of international law.

Mr Johnson has said the UK will have a “necessity to act” if the EU is unwilling to reach a compromise, though he stressed that the government is open to “genuine dialogue” with the European Commission over the protocol.

Read the details here:

Boris Johnson to hold talks in bid to break Stormont deadlock

The powersharing institutions in Northern Ireland have been plunged into crisis.

Namita Singh16 May 2022 05:26
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UK calls for EU to show flexibility in resolving NI protocol standoff

The EU must display the same flexibility it has shown during the Ukraine crisis to resolve the standoff over the Northern Ireland protocol, government sources have said, just days before the row is set to come to a head.

Sources told The Independent that the bloc had shown enormous agility when it took in huge numbers of people almost overnight after Russia invaded Ukraine.

But they added that the UK would be forced to act if some of the same flexibility and creativity were not applied in relation to the protocol, which ministers insist is threatening the Belfast peace process.

Our Whitehall editor Kate Devlin reports:

UK calls on EU to show same flexibility on NI protocol as it offered to Ukraine

UK will be forced to act if some of the same flexibility is not applied in relation to the Northern Ireland protocol, sources say

Namita Singh16 May 2022 05:39
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Priti Patel lifts restrictions on police stop-and-search powers

Priti Patel is lifting restrictions placed on police in the use of controversial stop-and-search powers as part of the government’s strategy to tackle violent crime.

The new measures will see officers able to stop people without suspicion in areas where serious violence “may” occur, rather than “will” occur, a loosening of the guidelines which the government claims will help prevent knife crime.

In a letter sent to police forces on Monday, the home secretary will set out how restrictions on section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act, which have limited when officers could use stop and search and have been in place since 2014, will be removed.

Ms Patel’s initial plan to remove restrictions placed on section 60 searches was met with criticism, leading her to backtrack on the plan, although she is now pressing ahead with it.

Zaina Alibhai reports:

Priti Patel makes it easier for police to use stop and search

Home secretary says it will be ‘easier for officers to use these powers to seize more weapons, arrest more suspects and save more lives’

Namita Singh16 May 2022 06:01
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Sturgeon to warn of ‘catastrophic’ consequences of failure on Cop commitments

Failure to meet the targets agreed at the Cop26 summit in Glasgow could have “catastophic” consequences, Nicola Sturgeon will warn.

Six months on from the global conference, the First Minister will speak about environmental issues as she addresses the Brookings Institution in Washington DC during a trip to the US.

She will stress that world leaders must prioritise an “approach to energy security that focusses on sustainability”, with measures to promote greater energy efficiency and need to move towards renewable and low-carbon power.

“Six months on from Cop26, the world looks very different but many of the challenges we faced then remain,” she will say.

As things stand, the world is on course to exceed both 1.5 degrees of global warming and the 2 degree threshold - and scientific consensus is overwhelming that this will be catastrophic.

Nicola Sturgeon

Read the details here:

Sturgeon to warn of ‘catastrophic’ consequences of failure on Cop commitments

Six months from the global climate summit in Glasgow, the First Minister will give a major speech in the US.

Namita Singh16 May 2022 06:14
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Post-Brexit financial ‘competitiveness’ could spark race to the bottom, warn experts

The UK’s post-Brexit focus on helping the financial sector could spark a harmful race to the bottom and undermine the government’s levelling up plans, a former minister and academics have warned.

In an open letter to the chancellor, the former business secretary Sir Vince Cable and other expressed scepticism about the new plans.

“We are writing to express our concern about proposals for the UK’s Financial Services Future Regulatory Framework (FRF) to give regulators statutory objectives to promote competitiveness after Brexit,” the letter reads.

Read more about the letter in this report:

Post-Brexit financial ‘competitiveness’ could spark race to the bottom – experts

Former business secretary Sir Vince Cable and nearly 60 economists have warned new policies have echoes of those that contributed to the 2008 crash.

Namita Singh16 May 2022 06:25
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Margaret Thatcher statue egged within hours of going up

A statue of Margaret Thatcher was egged less than two hours after being installed in her home town of Grantham.

Onlookers voiced their disapproval of the new memorial to the divisive former prime minister, with several motorists booing loudly as they drove past. One man shouted “Tear it down” while another said “This is no good for Grantham, is it?”

The £300,000 statue was lowered into place in the Lincolnshire town on Sunday, after plans to put it in Parliament Square in London were opposed because of fears it would be vandalised.

My colleague Liam James reports:

Margaret Thatcher statue egged within hours of going up

Protester arrived in the morning with a carton of eggs as memorial to former PM installed

Namita Singh16 May 2022 06:35
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Jeremy Hunt declines to call Boris Johnson an honest man

Former Conservative minister Jeremy Hunt has declined to say that Boris Johnson is an honest man in the wake of the Partygate scandal.

Mr Hunt was asked the question by Sophie Raworth on the BBC’s Sunday Morning programme.

In response, he twice replied that “talking about personalities is not a helpful thing to do”, despite being told by Ms Raworth that it was a “simple question”.

On the issue of whether Mr Johnson was the best person for the job, Mr Hunt said: “I hope he can turn things around.”

He did say, however, that he thought that Tory MPs should support the prime minister “in the situation we are now in” with the war in Ukraine.

Whitehall editor Kate Devlin has the details:

Jeremy Hunt declines to say Boris Johnson is an honest man following partygate

Talking about personalities is ‘not helpful,’ he says

Namita Singh16 May 2022 06:48
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Priti Patel overrode legal advice in asylum cases, leading to record costs

Priti Patel has repeatedly overridden Home Office legal advice on immigration and asylum cases, adding to record costs for the taxpayer, The Independent can reveal.

The department spent £35.2m on legal bills for lost cases and paid out a further £9.3m to people wrongly held in immigration detention in 2020-21.

The figures stand at their highest level since the Conservatives came to power, having rocketed from £17.1m and £2.2m respectively in five years.

Home Office sources told The Independent that Ms Patel and other Home Office ministers had rejected legal advice in individual cases on numerous occasions.

Legal experts had shown clear instances where “immediately settling cases offered best value to the taxpayer, and set best precedent for presenting future cases to the courts”, a Home Office source said.

Read the details in this exclusive by our correspondents Anna Isaac and Lizzie Dearden:

Priti Patel overrode legal advice in asylum cases, adding to record costs

Exclusive: Home office sources say Priti Patel overrode legal advice that cases would fail, pushing up rising legal bills

Namita Singh16 May 2022 07:00

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