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PMQs - as it happened: Emily Thornberry labels Tory Government 'coalition of cavemen' over voting age stance

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Ashley Cowburn
Political Correspondent
Wednesday 31 January 2018 09:51
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Emily Thornberry: Conservatives are a 'coalition of cavemen'

Cabinet minister David Lidington said young people lack "sufficient maturity" to vote at 16, as he stood in for Theresa May during Prime Minister's Questions.

Labour's Emily Thornberry branded the Government and its DUP allies as a "coalition of cavemen", when she asked why 16-year-olds were denied the right to vote when they are able to get married, leave school and join the armed forces.

It comes as Downing Street reprimanded a Justice minister who questioned whether Brexit should go ahead if damaging assessments of Britain’s economic prospects are accurate.

In an unusual and hugely significant intervention, Dr Philip Lee asked whether Theresa May could “legitimately lead a country along a path that the evidence and rational consideration indicate would be damaging” after leaked papers laid bare the potential economic damage of withdrawal.

After Prime Minister’s Questions, Labour’s opposition day motion – calling on the Government to release the papers – also passed after the Government ordered its MPs to abstain on the motion.

The documents will now be released to the Exiting the European Union committee “in confidence” and in a “hard copy” format for MPs to study.

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A Government minister has questioned whether Brexit should go ahead if damning assessments on Britain's economic prospects prove accurate.

In a highly unusual intervention, Conservative Philip Lee raised fears over whether Theresa May could "legitimately lead a country along a path that the evidence and rational consideration indicate would be damaging" after leaked papers laid bare the economic impact of the withdrawal.

It comes as Labour was set to force a Commons vote demanding the Government release Whitehall documents, obtained by website Buzzfeed, that suggested that even with a comprehensive trade deal of the kind Ms May seeks, growth could fall by 5 per cent over the next 15 years.

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We're now waiting for the Prime Minister's first press conference of her three-day visit to China. This post is from the Guardian's Jessica Elgot - you can see the Independent's political editor hard at work on the front row with his laptop out.

Ashley Cowburn31 January 2018 09:29
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In Beijing, Mrs May met Premier Li Keqiang inside the Great Hall of the People.

The PM told Mr Li there was "much that can be done in the trade area".

Mrs May said that "much progress" had been made in UK-China relations since the state visit of President Xi Jinping to Britain in 2015.

And she told Mr Li she wanted the meeting to "consider how we can build further on that golden era and on the global strategic partnership that we have been working on between the UK and China."

Mr Li told her: "It's now quite cold in northern China. But it is also the start of spring.

"I believe that a visit in the early spring will bring new fruits which will further raise the golden era in China-Britain relations."

Ashley Cowburn31 January 2018 09:45
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Premier Li Keqiang and Theresa May are now at a press conference in Beijing.

He says China and the UK are committed to upholding free trade and pushing forward globalisation - he says he wants to take forward the "Golden Era" of UK-China relations (this is a phrase that has been used by UK officials before). 

In a two-way opening up between China and the UK will go further - China will open up further to the UK, he says. In line with our agreement, China will expand most products to the UK - China will import UK products that are needing in the Chinese market. 

"We are willing to work more closely together with the United Nations," he says. 

Brexit will not change China's bilateral relationship with the UK, Premier Li tells May.

"Brexit is a situation that both of our countries face but for a very long time our bilaterial relations have been going forward continually." Our relationship will not change, he adds. "We will have assessment and discussion on our trade relationship to make our economic and trade relationship to go forward. 

Ashley Cowburn31 January 2018 09:50
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Theresa May is now up. 

"Although I may be visiting in winter, I've had the warmest of welcomes"  May says, adding she is pleased to build on the Golden Era of relations between the two countries. 

"Our relationship is broad and deep" 

She says North Korea poses an unacceptable threat to world security. 

Ashley Cowburn31 January 2018 09:56

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