UK Covid live: Labour MP ordered to leave Commons for saying Boris Johnson has lied ‘over and over again’
If you are looking for some good books to read over holidays, you should read the Publishers Association’s list of summer book recommendations from parliamentarians and political journalists. It’s a good list, and it’s here (pdf). The press release is worth a read too, mostly for its use of the word quasquicentennial (125th anniversary). Boris Johnson is one of the contributors to the list, and he has chosen Evelyn Waugh’s journalism satire, Scoop. This essay, by Robert Hutton in the July edition of the Critic, explains why that is such an appropriate choice.
Alternatively, you could read Gordon Brown’s Seven Ways to Change the World, one of the best new political books that has landed on my desk in recent months and a reminder of what it is like to have political leaders who think deeply, with knowledge and creativity and moral urgency, about the biggest problems facing the world. It is an inspiring book, and an easier read than you might expect, even though the passages on global financial regulation are probably not what you would save for the beach. William Davies reviewed it well for the Guardian here.
The Brown book is not a memoir, but it does also contain this snippet about the Blair government, and its relationship with the Bush administration, which is newish to me, and worth flagging up. Brown writes:
In the early 2000s, Prime Minister Blair and President Bush discussed in private how the UK-US relationship might evolve. But what came forward from the Americans was something no British leader could be comfortable with: the possibility of the UK joining the US security apparatus as some kind of associate member, with the UK sitting alongside the president and vice president, the National Security Council, the FBI, the CIA and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. If this initiative had become known, there would have been a public outcry amid allegations that the UK was being treated not just as the 51st state but as a sixth agency. None of this transpired and the tried and tested system of high-level intelligence-sharing continues in its traditional form: for example, within the Five Eyes collaboration that includes Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the US and the UK.
The UK has recorded 39,906 new coronavirus cases, and 84 new deaths, according to the latest update to the government’s coronavirus dashboard. Week on week, cases are still going up. But today the week-on-week rate of increase (the total for the last seven days, compared to the total for the previous seven days) is 24.2%, compared to 35.8% yesterday, suggesting the rate of increase is starting to slow.
But deaths are up by 50.6% week on week.
The Labour MP Dawn Butler has been ordered to leave the House of Commons for the rest of the day after refusing to withdraw claims that Boris Johnson has “lied to the house and the country over and over again”.
Butler was told to withdraw from the chamber by temporary deputy speaker Judith Cummins following her remarks in a Commons debate. Under parliamentary rules, MPs are not supposed to accuse each other of lying in the chamber.
Poor people in our country have paid with their lives because the prime minister has spent the last 18 months misleading this house and the country over and over again.
Highlighting questionable claims by the PM, Butler said:
It’s dangerous to lie in a pandemic.
I am disappointed the prime minister has not come to the house to correct the record and correct the fact that he has lied to the house and the country over and over again.
No prime minister in the modern era has been accused of lying as much as Johnson. Earlier this year Peter Oborne, who worked as political editor at the Spectator when Johnson was its editor, published a whole book about Johnson’s lying in which he said: “I have never encountered a senior British politician who lies and fabricates so regularly, so shamelessly and so systematically as Boris Johnson.”
And Dominic Cummings, Johnson’s former chief adviser, recently published an essay saying that Johnson “lies – so blatantly, so naturally, so regularly – that there is no real distinction possible with him, as there is with normal people, between truth and lies”.
UPDATE: Here is the clip.
Interim compensation payments worth up to £100,000 will be offered to post office operators who were wrongly convicted as part of the Horizon scandal, the postal affairs minister, Paul Scully,has announced today.
These payments will not stop victims bringing civil claims through the courts. The Post Office is proposing to offer final compensation through the alternative dispute resolution arrangements.
The suffering and distress these postmasters and their families have gone through cannot be overstated.
While nothing will make up for the years of pain they faced after this appalling injustice, I hope this initial step provides a measure of comfort.
The Post Office has started to turn a corner in terms of dealing with its past mistakes – and this government will support them in doing so wherever possible.
Further to Nadhim Zahawi’s announcement (see 12.27pm) that UK nationals vaccinated overseas will be able to have their status authenticated, a reader got in touch to make the point that the stipulation of having to see a UK GP first makes it useless for most people.
Many of the affected group will be people living permanently in other countries, and thus without a GP in the UK. In fact, many EU countries’ health systems require people to de-register from their domestic health service.
The Department of Health and Social Care said it realises this is an issue, and that people in that situation will need to wait for the proposed mutual recognition of vaccination status between 30-plus countries, a process that is ongoing but – officials hope – will be concluded soon.
The CBI, the leading organisation representing major employers in the UK, has joined those groups calling for an urgent change to the isolation rules for contacts of people testing positive.
In response to the latest figures showing more than 600,000 people in England and Wales pinged in a week (see 11.02am), Tony Danker, the CBI director general, said in a statement:
The current approach to self-isolation is closing down the economy rather than opening it up. This is surely the opposite of what the government intended. Businesses have exhausted their contingency plans and are at risk of grinding to a halt in the next few weeks.
What is now needed is a well-balanced approach to reopening the economy, rather than the awkward compromise that currently exists.
We can end the pingdemic by bringing forward [from 16 August] the date by which all those who have been double-jabbed no longer need to self-isolate if not infectious and introducing a test & release scheme.
Danker also said it was important for firms to have access to an “effective, accessible testing regime”.
One in seven people transferred to the test and trace system after testing positive for Covid-19 were not reached in the latest week, PA Media reports. PA says:
It is the largest proportion not reached since October last year and comes as the number of people testing positive rose to its highest total for nearly six months.
Some 14.2% of people transferred to test and trace in England in the week ending 14 July were not reached, according to the latest weekly figures (pdf) from the Department of Health and Social Care.
The figure has not been this high since the week ending 21 October 2020, early in the second wave of coronavirus, when it stood at 14.5%.
Boris Johnson has spoken to Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, this afternoon, No 10 has said. The two leaders spoke about the recent floods in Germany, and the importance of tackling climate change, but, judging by the No 10 readout, the call was largely about the Northern Ireland protocol. According to Downing Street, Johnson told Merkel what he told Ursula von der Leyen earlier (see 12.32pm) about how he believed solutions to the problems that have arisen “could not be found through the existing mechanisms of the protocol”.
Abortion laws in Northern Ireland were liberalised in 2019 following legislation passed by Westminster at a time when devolution in the region had collapsed.
However, while individual health trusts are currently offering services on an ad hoc basis, the Department of Health has yet to centrally commission the services due to an ongoing impasse within the executive.
In March, the government intervened to hand Lewis new powers to direct the region’s Department of Health to commission the services.
Today he formally took that step, directing the Department of Health and the first and deputy first ministers to commission the services no later than March 31, 2020.
In his statement Lewis said:
I remain extremely disappointed that full commissioning proposals have not yet been brought forward by the Department of Health and that the executive has not an opportunity to discuss them. This ongoing stalemate leaves me no choice but to issue a direction. I have a legal and moral obligation to ensure the women and girls in Northern Ireland are afforded their rights and can access the healthcare as set out in the 2020 regulations.