Boris Johnson news – live: ‘Shocking’ race report condemned by UN as Tory donor linked to lobbying scandal

Today’s daily politics briefing

Experts from the UN Human Rights Council have condemned the UK’s “shocking” Race Commission report ordered by Boris Johnson, and called for the body to be scrapped.

The widely-criticised study was accused of “ignoring racial disparities” and “shifting the blame for the impacts of racism to the people most impacted by it”.

Meanwhile, Labour has voiced concerns about how Whitehall business roles currently at the centre of the Greensill lobbying scandal are appointed after it emerged one is held by a top Tory donor. 

Daniel Green, who gave around £135,000 to the party in 2017, was made a crown representative while David Cameron was still prime minister. The same position allowed Lex Greensill controversial access to major government departments. 

A series of probes have been commissioned, including by Downing Street, as Westminster looks to understand the role Mr Cameron played in securing Whitehall access for Greensill, which was selected as an intermediary lender for some government Covid-19 support loans at the start of the pandemic, and whose collapse now risks thousands of jobs, particularly in the steel sector.

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PM lays another brick in the wall

Boris Johnson took a break from answering questions about the European Super League and his decision to cancel his trip to India by trying his hand at bricklaying.

Alas, he did not lay his brick correctly, and it had to be replaced by two teenage apprentices. There’s a joke to be had there somewhere…

The BBC was on hand for the event during the prime minister’s trip to Stonehouse, Gloucestershire.

Peter Stubley19 April 2021 12:18


UK race report attempts to ‘normalise white supremacy’

Further details here on the findings of a panel of UN experts who looked at a report into racial disparities in the UK.

The panel said they “categorically rejects and condemns” the findings, which cite dubious evidence to make claims that rationalise white supremacy by using the familiar arguments that have always justified racial hierarchy”.

They argued that the report’s “conclusion that racism is either a product of the imagination of people of African descent or of discrete, individualised incidents ignores the pervasive role that the social construction of race was designed to play in society, particularly in normalizing atrocity, in which the British state and institutions played a significant role”.

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The working group said: “The reality is that people of African descent continue to experience poor economic, social, and health outcomes at vastly disproportionate rates in the UK. 

“While racial disparities may not always stem from racism or racial discrimination, there is also compelling evidence that the roots of these disparities lie in institutional racism and structural discrimination as they clearly do not reflect the preferences or priorities of the communities facing structural disadvantage. 

“Instead, many racial disparities in the UK clearly reflect specific nodes of power and decision-making by employers, teachers, and others who dictate the opportunities and advantages available to people of African descent. Too often this decision-making reflects legacy mindsets of racial hierarchy. In other words, institutional racism, structural invisibility, and longstanding inequalities have disproportionately impacted people of African descent living in the UK. 

“Therefore, the suggestion that family structure, rather than institutionalized and structural discriminatory practices are the central features of the black experience is a tone-deaf attempt at rejecting the lived realities of people of African descent and other ethnic minorities in the UK.” 

The experts said the report’s “mythical representation of enslavement” was an attempt to “sanitize the history of the trade in enslaved Africans”. 

“This is a reprehensible, although not unfamiliar tactic, employed by many whose wealth came directly from the enslavement of others, ever since slavery was outlawed. Seeking to silence the brutal role of enslavers, the mind-numbing generational wealth they accrued, and the social capital and political influence they gained from exploiting black bodies is a deliberate attempt at historical misrepresentation,” the working group said.

Tom Batchelor19 April 2021 11:51


Ex-Lib Dem leader urges government to disqualify club owners amid league controversy

Tim Farron, the Lib Dem MP and former party leader, has written to the culture secretary, Oliver Dowden, urging him to bring forward measures that would disqualify owners and directors at clubs who “threaten to destroy English football”, in the wake of the European Super League controversy.

He said the government had promised to establish an independent review into football governance after the last election but 18 months on ministers had “done nothing”.

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Tom Batchelor19 April 2021 11:34


Labour MP says government ‘not learning lessons’ over India travel

A Labour MP and chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee has accused the government of “not learning lessons” by failing to restrict travel to India amid a surge in cases.

Yvette Cooper said evidence showing a rise in coronavirus cases had been “growing for weeks” yet the country has so far avoided the travel “red list”.

New Delhi has entered a week-long lockdown to tackle a surge in cases and prevent a collapse of the capital’s health system, as India reported 273,810 new infections – the highest daily rise since pandemic began.

Ministers are under pressure to add India to the “red list”, which would mean only UK nationals could return from the country and those doing so must pay to quarantine in a government-approved hotel for 10 days. 

Tom Batchelor19 April 2021 11:23


Johnson vows to ‘make sure’ current European Super League plans don’t go ahead

Boris Johnson has said he will “make sure” that the breakaway European Super League “doesn’t go ahead in the way that it is currently being proposed”.

Mr Johnson said the European Super League was not “good news for fans” and promised to work with the football authorities “to make sure this doesn’t go ahead in the way that it’s currently being proposed”.

Oliver Dowden, the culture secretary, is due to make a statement in the Commons on the European Super League plans on Monday afternoon.

Tom Batchelor19 April 2021 10:59


‘Only sensible to postpone’ India trip, says PM

Boris Johnson has said it is “only sensible” to cancel his trip to India given the coronavirus situation there, adding it is up to the UK Health Security Agency whether to add the nation to the travel “red list”.

During a visit to Gloucestershire, he told broadcasters: “Narendra Modi and I have basically come to the conclusion that, very sadly, I won’t be able to go ahead with the trip.

“I do think it’s only sensible to postpone, given what’s happened in India, the shape of the pandemic there.

“Countries around the world including our own have been through this. I think everybody’s got a massive amount of sympathy with India, what they’re going through.”

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He also said that whether India was added to the red list was “very much a matter for the independent UK Health Security Agency – they will have to take that decision”.

Tom Batchelor19 April 2021 10:43


UN experts condemn ‘shocking’ race report and call for Commission to be scrapped

An arm of the United Nations has condemned the “shocking” Race Commission report ordered by Boris Johnson and called for the body to be scrapped.

The widely-criticised study is attacked for “ignoring racial disparities” and for “shifting the blame for the impacts of racism to the people most impacted by it”.

“In 2021, it is stunning to read a report on race and ethnicity that repackages racist tropes and stereotypes into fact, twisting data and misapplying statistics and studies,” the UN body said.

Tom Batchelor19 April 2021 10:25


Boris Johnson cancels India visit amid Covid surge

Boris Johnson has cancelled his planned trip to India amid a surge in Covid cases there.

“In the light of the current coronavirus situation, Prime Minister Boris Johnson will not be able to travel to India next week,” the government statement said.

Tom Batchelor19 April 2021 09:53


Labour urges government to commit to closing maternal mortality gap

The Labour Party will call on the government to commit to a target of ending the black maternal mortality gap during a landmark debate about the topic later on Monday. 

The parliamentary action comes as figures show black women are four times more likely to die during or after pregnancy or childbirth in the UK than white women.

MPs will debate a petition relating to black maternal healthcare and mortality which received more than 187,000 signatures.

Tom Batchelor19 April 2021 09:40


New 95% mortgages on sale as demand for home ownership soars

New state-backed 95 per cent mortgages go on sale today as figures show demand for home ownership has soared during lockdown. 

Nearly eight in 10 private renters are now saving for a deposit, a survey published by the government suggests.

The initiative, designed to incentivise lenders to provide mortgages to those with just 5 per cent deposits, was unveiled by the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, at the Budget. 

But it comes as house sellers demand record sums for properties.

Tom Batchelor19 April 2021 09:23


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