Downing Street has said “time is very short” in the struggle to bridge “significant gaps” on a Brexit trade deal with EU negotiators, despite hopes German chancellor Angela Merkel can “unlock” French president Emmanuel Macron on the key sticking point of fishing rights.
Boris Johnson rejected a suggestion from Sir Ivan Rogers, former UK representative to the EU, that he would be less inclined to risk a no-deal scenario if Joe Biden wins the US election, since he is less likely than Donald Trump to agree a UK-US trade deal. Mr Johnson said Brexit and the US vote were “entirely separate”.
Meanwhile, No 10 confirmed an allegation by Marcus Rashford that the prime minister had not been in touch to discuss his campaign to feed hungry children for more than four months, after the star dismissed a claim by health secretary Matt Hancock that the PM had been in “communication”.
Downing Street admits likely no contact between PM and Rashford since June
Boris Johnson’s official spokesperson has apparently confirmed Marcus Rashford’s revelation that he hasn’t heard from the PM since June over the free school meals campaign.
“The PM said he had spoken with Marcus Rashford in June and I’m not aware of any additional contact,” the spokesperson said.
He suggested that Matt Hancock’s claim there had been “been communication between the two” was likely a reference to the June call.
Andy Gregory26 October 2020 14:33
Government’s advisory committee for social mobility backs Marcus Rashford
The government’s own advisory committee on social mobility has not only backed Marcus Rashford’s campaign on free school meals, but has warned the government must “go much further” to tackle child poverty.
The Social Mobility Commission warned many of the areas with the least social mobility in England are in the higher tiers of coronavirus restrictions, and that 600,000 more children are in poverty than in 2012.
“We believe the Government should do all it can to start reversing that trend. It should begin by ensuring that all children are properly fed,” a spokesperson for the commission said.
“But it needs to go much further. We now need a much more ambitious programme to combat child poverty.”
Andy Gregory26 October 2020 14:15
Labour tells PM to make children a ‘national priority’
Pressure continues to pile on the prime minister over the free school meals row, with Labour’s shadow education secretary effectively suggesting that, under his leadership, children are not currently “a national priority”.
“Warm words from Boris Johnson will do nothing for the over 1.4 million children at risk of going hungry this half term that he and his MPs refused to help last week,” said Kate Green.
“Labour will not give up on the children and families let down by this government and we will hold the Prime Minister to his word, forcing another vote in Parliament if necessary.
“The government must now make children a national priority, and ensure that no child goes hungry.”
Andy Gregory26 October 2020 14:00
Brexit Party targets government in free school meals row
This advert from what many view as a right-wing pressure group has raised eyebrows this morning, attacking the government from the left over the messy row on whether to feed the poorest children during the school holidays.
It comes after party co-founder Nigel Farage suggested the decision voted for by all but five Tory MPs was “mean and wrong”.
Andy Gregory26 October 2020 13:53
No 10: Time running out to bridge Brexit gaps
No shift in tone from No 10, as trade deal talks between Downing Street negotiator David Frost and his EU counterpart Michel Barnier continue in London today (before switching to Brussels from Thursday).
Boris Johnson’s spokesman said there was very little time left to overcome barriers. “It’s the first time that we have been negotiating on legal texts and across all areas at the same time and we have welcomed that fact.
“There is also much work to be done if we’re going to bridge what are the significant gaps that remain between our positions in the most difficult areas, and time is very short.”
Adam Forrest26 October 2020 13:24
‘Lunch is not a luxury’: Protesters leave empty plates outside Tory office
Protesters left dozens of empty plates outside a Tory MP’s office after the party voted against plans to extend free school meals over the holidays.
Southend West MP Sir David Amess was one of 322 MPs who last week voted against a Labour motion to extend the programme until Easter 2021.
Campaigners wrote messages on the empty plates and left them outside the Southend West Conservative Association building. Slogans including ‘Lunch is not a luxury’ and ‘No child should go hungry’.
Adam Forrest26 October 2020 12:59
Sunak urged to reveal how his wealth is invested
Chancellor Rishi Sunak is being urged to reveal his personal wealth is invested after it emerged he has set up a blind trust.
Blind trusts are aimed at preventing any conflicts of interests by handing over control of investments, but do not allow for transparency, say campaigners and opposition parties.
They say the chancellor must clear up any potential conflicts of interest – including whether any funds are held offshore – so the public is not “entirely in the dark”.
Adam Forrest26 October 2020 12:45
PM denies waiting for US election to make Brexit decision
Boris Johnson has pushed back on the idea he’s waiting to see if Joe Biden wins to make a final decision on a Brexit trade agreement with the EU.
Britain’s decision on whether to strike a deal with Brussels is entirely separate to the outcome of the US election next month, the PM said on Monday.
“The two things are entirely separate,” he insisted when asked about a remarks by Sir Ivan Rogers, the UK’s former representative to Brussels, that the may be less inclined to risk a no-deal scenario if Biden wins (since the Democrat is less likely that Trump to agree to a UK-US free trade deal).
The PM added: “On (the) US presidential election, every UK PM will say the same, US is closest and most important ally and we don’t believe in getting involved in (the) presidential election.”
Adam Forrest26 October 2020 12:29
PM hints at extra support for struggling families over Christmas
Boris Johnson has said his government will “make sure that we have no children” in England “who go hungry this winter”. A sign No 10 is ready to climb down – at least partially – and extend some support for struggling families ahead of the Christmas school holiday?
Speaking during a visit to a hospital in Reading, Johnson said councils had been given extra cash and Universal Credit had increased.
“We will do everything in our power to make sure that no kid, no child goes hungry this winter during the holidays, that’s obviously something we care about very much.”
The PM also confirmed he hasn’t spoken to Marcus Rashford since June – as the footballer revealed this morning – but he insisted he thinks the star’s campaign is “terrific”.
Adam Forrest26 October 2020 12:14
Amazon ‘on secretive post-Brexit procurement panel’
Amazon is reportedly advising the government on how to buy goods and services after Brexit. The US giant was on a “secretive” panel set up by the Cabinet Office to advise on public sector procurement after transition period, according to The Mirror.
Amazon is said to have been awarded around 82 central government contracts. Tax justice campaign Paul Monaghan said it was “truly frightening”.
TUC boss Frances O’Grady added: “Amazon’s reward for its exploitative business model is a seat at the table on an influential government board advising on public procurement, on top of the multi-million-pound government contracts it receives.”
Adam Forrest26 October 2020 11:51