Today’s daily politics briefing
More than 100 British musicians – including Sir Elton John, Sting and Liam Gallagher – have signed a letter saying artists have been “shamefully failed” by Boris Johnson’s government over post-Brexit travel rules.
They accused No 10 of breaking a promise to negotiate visa-free travel in the EU. It comes as Conservative MPs have voted to rip out an amendment to the trade bill preventing the NHS being sold off or undermined by post-Brexit agreements with other countries.
Meanwhile, the prime minister has said he is looking forward to working closely with Joe Biden as he prepares to take office today. Shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy called Mr Biden a “woke guy” – and suggested Labour could learn some lessons from his politics.
Brexit lorry park? ‘Clear abuse of power,’ says priest
Residents of a village in Kent have spoken about their fight to stop greenfields being turned into a massive Brexit customs clearance site for 1,200 lorries.
The local Anglican priest Peter Sherred for the village of Guston accused government ministers of a “clear abuse of power” over the lack of consultation on the disruption. “I think they way they have handled it is unethical, immoral and unprincipled,” he told The Guardian.
Sarah Gleave, the coordinator for the Green party for Dover and Deal, is leading the campaign for a last-minute U-turn. “Obviously we must have inland clearance sites but this is the wrong location,” she said.
Adam Forrest20 January 2021 09:37
Business doesn’t want post-Brexit ‘bonfire of workers’ rights’
James Reed, chairman of Reed recruitment firm, said there was no wish in business for a “bonfire of workers’ rights” – as the government looks at scrapping some EU labour laws.
“I think it is very important workers’ rights are protected,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today. “They must be protected because fair treatment is the bedrock of good workplace relations, so I am hopeful that is protected and secure.”
But the recruitment boss said it was right to look at what labour rules could be improved, saying some bureaucracy could be “streamlined” and new technology meant some rules could be modernised.
New business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng confirmed on Tuesday that the government was looking at a series of regulatory changes.
Adam Forrest20 January 2021 09:28
Trump’s unpredictability wasn’t all bad, suggests UK ambassador
Dame Karen Pierce, the UK’s ambassador to the US, said the way Donald Trump did business made it harder for countries such as Russia to second guess him.
Asked on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme about suggestions that Joe Biden will be a more predictable and reliable partner, she said: “There’s certainly something about the predictability, but I wouldn’t like to give the impression that unpredictability in foreign policy is universally bad.
“There were certain things about the way Donald Trump … did business that made it harder for certain quarters, the Russians would be one, to second guess him, and that sometimes has a utility … But I think the whole of the diplomatic corps is very pleased to see American democracy come out on top.”
Adam Forrest20 January 2021 09:16
‘If you don’t find police records – will you resign?’
Home secretary Priti Patel has been grilled by Piers Morgan over the disappearance of up to potentially 400,000 crime records from the Police National Computer.
Given an uncomfortable time of it on Good Morning Britain, she was asked if she knows where the records are now. Patel suggested the records do still exist, somewhere, but she could not confirm how many records had been recovered.
Morgan asked: “If you don’t find them – will you resign?”
Patel replied: “We are working night and day to bring these records back.”
Adam Forrest20 January 2021 09:09
UK ready to ‘move on’ from Trump, says Patel
Home secretary Priti Patel said the handover of power in the US was a “very exciting time” and the UK government “looks forward to working with president Joe Biden”.
She said the government had worked “very strongly” with the outgoing Trump administration. “But quite frankly we move on now – there’s a new incoming president … We’ve got an exciting agenda as two strong democratic countries coming together on a range of issues.”
Adam Forrest20 January 2021 09:02
Labour hails ‘woke guy’ Biden
Shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy has called incoming US president Joe Biden a “woke guy” – and suggested Labour could learn some lessons from his politics.
She pointed out that Biden defended trans rights and Black Lives Matter, and said his victory is victory was “a source of hope for a lot of progressive parties around the world”.
In an interview with The Guardian, she said: “Joe Biden – he’s a woke guy, he appointed an amazing strong woman of colour who is also pro-choice as his running mate.
“He mentioned the trans community in his victory speech, he stood up for the Black Lives Matter protesters, he spoke out about the policing of that movement, and he’s never shied away from standing up for his values.”
Adam Forrest20 January 2021 08:50
UK music legends blast ‘shameful’ government
More than 100 British musicians – including Sting, Sir Elton John and Liam Gallagher – have signed an open letter saying performers have been “shamefully failed” by the government over post-Brexit travel rules.
The music legends said the government had broken a promise to negotiate visa-free travel in the EU – first revealed by The Independent last week.
It urges the government to “do what it said it would do” and negotiate paperwork-free travel to Europe for British artists and their equipment.
Even Roger Daltrey from The Who – a Brexiteer who previously dismissed the idea of touring problems – has signed the letter. I suppose he won’t get fooled again.
Adam Forrest20 January 2021 08:47
Tory MPs rip out NHS protections from trade bill
Conservative MPs have ripped out an amendment to the government’s trade bill to prevent the NHS being sold off or undermined by trade agreement with other countries.
The House of Lords had inserted a clause banning any agreement that “undermines or restricts” the UK’s ability to provide “a comprehensive publicly funded health service free at the point of delivery”.
The amendment also restricted “the sale of patient data” and the ability to control drug prices.
But in a vote on Tuesday night MPs rejected the amendment by 357 votes to 266. The governing party’s MPs were the only ones to vote against the protections.
Labour’s shadow trade secretary Emily Thornberry said she could “see why any member of the House would disagree with” the amendment.
Adam Forrest20 January 2021 08:39
Boris Johnson scrambles to woo Biden
Boris Johnson has said he is looking forward to working closely with Joe Biden as the US president-elect prepares to take office today.
Keen to shake off the suspicion by some influential Democrats who regard him as a “Trump clone”, the PM said: “In our fight against Covid and across climate change, defence, security and in promoting and defending democracy, our goals are the same and our nations will work hand in hand to achieve them.”
Downing Street is reportedly hoping to set up regular dialogue on Northern Ireland will help win over top Democrats still cynical about Johnson, Brexit and No 10’s recent flirtation with ditching key parts of the withdrawal agreement.
Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis is set to head to America soon, according to Katy Balls in the i newspaper. She also says there’s “talk” of seconding a staff member focussed on Northern Ireland issues to the US embassy in London.
Adam Forrest20 January 2021 08:35
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