Boris Johnson news: PM orders migrant crisis review, as former chancellor predicts rail plan U-turn

Grant Shapps defends scrapping of HS2 Leeds extension

Boris Johnson has ordered a government review of the migrant crisis.

The prime minister is said to be “exasperated” by the lack of a policy to reduce the number of people crossing the channel and has told his MPs it is now a priority to come up with one.

He has asked for their support if he chooses to adopt more “challenging” solutions, according to The Times.

Former chancellor George Osborne predicts Mr Johnson will U-turn on plans to scale back rail improvements in the north of England.

Mr Osborne, the chancellor who spearheaded the Northern Powerhouse project, said he thought the prime minister would change his mind come election time.

His remarks came after ministers removed funding and powers from Transport for the North, in what Labour described as a “Whitehall power grab”, over their furious response to the Integrated Rail Plan.

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Boris Johnson strips northern transport body of powers and funding

The government has removed powers and funding from the umbrella transport authority for the north, following the body’s furious reaction to cuts to the flagship Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) project.

In a letter to TfN chief executive Martin Tugwell, the Department for Transport said it would be taking sole responsibility for directing future work on the project.

Labour described the change as a Whitehall “power grab”. Shadow transport secretary Jim McMahon said: “It was clear that once Transport for the North found its own voice and came up with a Northern Powerhouse Rail plan the government didn’t support, it would meet its end.”

Andy Burnham, mayor of Greater Manchester, said it was clear Whitehall did not want the north to have a strong voice. He said he would “fight” for the survival of TfN.

Liam James20 November 2021 08:02


‘Exasperated’ Boris Johnson orders review of migrant crisis

The prime minister has ordered a Whitehall review into the migrant crisis and drafted in Stephen Barclay, chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, to oversee government attempts to find viable policies to stem figures.

Mr Johnson told front and backbench Tory MPs the issue was a priority and asked them for their support if he decided to adopt more “challenging” solutions, The Times writes.

“Boris is exasperated,” an unnamed, senior government source told the newspaper. “He sees this as one of his biggest priorities and he’s concerned that after two years there are still no viable solutions.

Liam James20 November 2021 08:24


Up to £335m of public money at risk due to ‘woeful’ checks on Greensill bank

‘Woefully inadequate’ checks by a state-owned bank on collapsed finance firm Greensill Capital have put up to £335m of taxpayers’ money at risk, a parliamentary report has found.

The Commons Public Accounts Committee found that both the independent British Business Bank (BBB) and Kwasi Kwarteng’s Business Department (BEIS) – which owns 100 per cent of the institution – “struck the wrong balance between making decisions quickly and protecting taxpayer interests” when Greensill was cleared to offer government-backed loans during the coronavirus pandemic.

Full story from Andrew Woodcock here:

Liam James20 November 2021 08:49


Former border force chief backs offshore processing of channel migrants

Kevin Saunders, former chief immigration officer for the UK Border Force, says channel migrants must be processed offshore to enable officials to turn away failed asylum claims.

He told Times Radio: “The most effective way would be to take all the people who have arrived in the UK to an offshore processing centre and deal with it offshore.

“That is the only way you will stop people from coming into the UK. We’ve seen trying to do it with the French on land, on the Channel, nothing works.”

Asked why it had to be offshore, he said: “People will still come to the UK, because they know we are not going to be able to remove them from the United Kingdom when their asylum claim fails.

“How many was it that we removed this year, was it five? Some 30,000 arrived and we removed five – not very good really, is it?

“They know that once they’re in the UK they’ve won the jackpot.”

Liam James20 November 2021 09:07


Migrants ‘know they’re not going to be removed’

Kevin Saunders, former chief immigration officer for the UK Border Force [see last post], said migrants crossing the channel “know they’re not going to be removed”.

He told Times Radio: “The problem is that the UK is just too attractive, so people will continue to come while we’re very, very attractive.

“People know that they’re not going to be removed, this is why they destroy all their documentation.

“It’s a real worry because we don’t know who people are, because they destroy all their documents, they don’t give us their right names, where they come from, or anything along those lines.

“The biggest draw is these people know everything in the United Kingdom is free, they are going to get education, medical treatment, money, accommodation, it’s all a big, big draw.”

Liam James20 November 2021 09:16


Boris Johnson will U-turn on rail plan, predicts former chancellor

Former chancellor George Osborne predicts Boris Johnson will U-turn on plans to scale back rail improvements in the north of England.

Mr Osborne, the chancellor who spearheaded the Northern Powerhouse project, said he thought the prime minister would change his mind come election time.

Speaking to the Financial Times’s Payne’s Politics podcast, he said: “Frankly, I don’t think high speed rail in the east of England, up to Yorkshire, is dead yet.

“You’ve had the Labour Party commit very quickly to build it, I think the pressure will grow on the Conservatives because, actually, there are quite a lot of marginal seats around Bradford and Leeds.

“I think the politics of that over the next two years, we’ll see – and it wouldn’t be for the first time – our Prime Minister execute a U-turn and come back to promising an eastern leg of HS2, just over a longer period of time.”

Liam James20 November 2021 09:32


Stanley Johnson must be investigated over sex harassment ‘just like Joe Bloggs’ say shadow ministers | Exclusive

Stanley Johnson must be investigated over allegations of sexual harassment “like Joe Bloggs” would be, and his response to the claims shows he has no remorse, two prominent Labour women have said.

The prime minister’s father is accused by Caroline Nokes, chair of the Women and Equalities Select Committee in the House of Commons, of forcefully smacking her on the backside at the Conservative Party conference in 2003.

Ms Nokes’ decision to come forward prompted political journalist Ailbhe Rea to allege she was “groped” by the 81-year-old at the same even in 2019.

But while some have sought to excuse or downplay the allegations – such as GB News presenter Isabel Oakeshott, who said Mr Johnson was “handsy” but “charming” – two Labour figures insist he must be held to account.

Read the full story from Maya Oppenheim here:

Liam James20 November 2021 10:03


Labour pledges tougher sentences for hate crimes

Labour has said that if elected it would change the law to ensure tougher sentences for hate crimes driven by sexual orientation, transgender identity, or disability.

The party has said the changes to existing laws would help make the system more equitable and would help keep LGBT+ and disabled people safer.

Shadow women and equalities secretary Anneliese Dodds said the latest Home Office statistics revealed police recorded hate crimes based on sexual identity and transgender identity have doubled in the last five years.

Liam James20 November 2021 10:27


UK government ‘mulling diplomatic boycott’ of Beijing Winter Olympics

The UK government is reportedly mulling a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing amid concerns over China’s record on human rights, writes Ashley Cowburn.

It comes after the US president, Joe Biden, revealed this week he was “considering” staging a similar move with a final decision on attendance at the games expected before the end of November.

While the move would inevitably inflame tensions with the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, a political boycott would also be a tool to protest the well-documented abuses against the Uighur Muslim minority in the country’s Xinjiang province.

Liam James20 November 2021 10:50


Shamed Tory MP now claiming universal credit

A former Tory MP who was jailed for sexually assaulting two women said he has claimed universal credit and cannot afford to pay a court ordered fine.

Charlie Elphicke spent a year in prison on three counts of sexual assault and was ordered to pay £35,000 towards the costs of the prosecution.

After he was summoned to court on Friday over failing to pay, he told magistrates he found himself in a “very difficult and embarrassed position”.

He said: “I have no job. I have no career. I am long-term unemployed.

“I am working with the job centre and my probation officer to find a new career.

“I have made a claim for universal credit. I am separated from my wife who has filed for divorce. I have had to find a new place to live.”

Liam James20 November 2021 11:13


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