oris Johnson was accused of “ignoring Sage advice” at Prime Minister’s Questions after a leaked report called on ministers to toughen up travel restrictions to combat the Omicron variant.
The report warned the Omicron variant could spark a “very large wave” of infections and urged the prime minister to impose “very stringent rules” to curb its spread.
The SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford said that Mr Johnson had refused to follow the recommendations of his own advisers by refusing to introduce pre-departure tests for those arriving in the UK.
Official notes from the Sage meeting on November 29, seen by the BBC, claim a wave of cases would “in turn lead to a potentially high number of hospitalisations even with protection against severe disease being less affected.”
Mr Johnson responded: “This country was the first to respond to the variant with travel bans. As for the countries that are seeding the Omicron variant, we’ve put them on the red list.”
French minister calls for EU-wide measures against UK over fishing row
France’s minister for Europe has called on the EU to take retaliatory measures against Britain if there is no resolution to the post-Brexit row over fishing licences by December 10.
He told French radio network RTL: “It was the European Commission that told the British – so all of Europe together – that if you don’t make big gestures with a lot of licences on December 10, we are no longer in a European dialogue.”
On the potential ban by the French, Mr Beaune added: “It’s one of the possible options but it’s better, to be honest, to have European measures.
“All options are on the table, because it’s better to have a dialogue, but… if it doesn’t bear fruit we can take European measures.”
France says Britain has not handed out enough licences to its fishermen, while British ministers insist the overwhelming majority of applications for licences have been granted.
School children ‘should be taught a natural history GCSE’ to help environment,
School children need to be taught a natural history GCSE to bridge the “gulf” between their concerns for the environment and their lack of knowledge about nature, ministers have heard.
Conservative MP for Eastbourne Caroline Ansell told MPs: “Our young people today are caught up in an unhappy paradox whilst their concern for the natural world is greater than ever before, their access to nature to discover its magic and marvel at its wonder is much reduced.”
She cited a study by Bath University which found that three-quarters of young people in the UK are worried about the future of the planet.
Ms Ansell added: “It is this gulf then between the knowledge and experience of the natural world required to protect it on one hand and the growing concern about ecological decline on the other which a new natural history qualification could help to close.”
Watch: Johnson insists ‘no rules were broken’ amid claims of boozy No10 party
Zero-hours contracts in care sector ‘must be addressed’
Responding to Mr Hunt’s questions, health minister Gillian Keegan has said that zero-hours contracts in the care sector must be addressed.
She told the Commons: “It is the largest workforce in the country with 1.54 billion people working in it but with 40 per cent churn and very high amounts of zero-hours contracts, very high amounts of retraining.
“I have never seen something that has that, and this has been the case for decades and nobody has done anything to address it.
“We do need to address it and that is what we are here to do.”
Hunt describes social white paper as ‘three steps forward, two steps back’
Former health secretary Jeremy Hunt has described the Government’s social care white paper as “three steps forward, two steps back”.
He told the Commons this afternoon: “The step forward which we should acknowledge is the introduction of a cap. Whatever the arguments about what counts towards the cap, having a cap will make a big difference to many people and that is welcome.”
But he added there were problems in “two crucial areas”.
These were that councils, which administer social care, were “barely” given enough to deal with “demographic change and the national living wage increases”, and that it was “hard to see an end to the workforce crisis which leaves 40 per cent turnover in many companies”.
Jacob Rees-Mogg accused of failing to declare £2.9 million loan
Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner wrote to the independent adviser on ministers’ interests Lord Geidt over the loans.
In her letter, she said that failing to declare director’s loans worth £2.94 million a year “allowed Mr Rees-Mogg to borrow a large sum of money at a very low interest rate” and argued that it “should have been declared”.
Meanwhile, Douglas Ross revealed last month that he had referred himself to the commissioner after failing to declare thousands of pounds in outside earnings.
The Conservative MP failed to declare more than £28,000 in outside earnings from his second job as an MSP and third job as a football referee, reports The Herald.
Jacob Rees-Mogg among latest MPs to face standards probe
Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg and Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross have become the latest MPs to face a standards probe.
Both were added to the list of MPs that are under investigation by Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards Kathryn Stone on Wednesday.
The decision to investigate Mr Rees-Mogg comes after Labour demanded an investigation into a £6 million loan that the party said he did not declare properly.
Last month, the opposition party called for Ms Stone to follow-up on claims in the Mail On Sunday that the Cabinet minister failed to declare director’s loans from his company Saliston Limited between 2018 and 2020.
Mr Rees-Mogg’s opposite number, shadow Commons leader Thangam Debbonaire, said there appeared to have been “yet another egregious breach of the rules” after the emergence of the report.
Blackford calls on PM to chair COBRA meeting between four nations
The prime minister is ignoring the advice of the nations of the UK and Sage, and is continuing to “imperil” public health, Mr Blackford said.
He asked Mr Johnson to “finally convene a four-nation Cobra meeting to tighten travel restrictions or will he continue to ignore the Scottish Government, the Welsh Government and his own scientific advisers in Sage advisers, and imperil the health of the public of these islands?”
The PM said “of course we want to work closely with him and there will be abundant opportunities today and the weeks ahead to concert our activity”.
Blackford says Mirror have ‘legal advice on “potential illegality”’ on Downing Street party
The Mirror newspaper have legal advice on “potential illegality” in relation to allegations that a party was held in Number 10 while Covid restrictions were in force last year, SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford said.
He said his thoughts are with those recovering from storm Arwen, before saying it is “deeply regrettable” to again be talking about “the Prime Minister’s misconduct”, adding: “Last Christmas the Prime Minister hosted a packed party in Downing Street. An event that broke lockdown rules.
“The Prime Minister might be denying it but I’ve spoken to the Mirror newspaper this morning and they are confirming what happened, and they have legal advice on potential illegality.
“At a time when public health messaging is so vital, how are people possibly expected to trust a Prime Minister when he thinks it’s one rule for him and one rule for everybody else?”
The PM said: “He’s talking total nonsense. I think he would have been better off, frankly, saying something about the victims of Storm Arwen in Scotland.”
Masks back in the Commons
The use of face coverings has greatly increased in the Commons – with nearly every MP on the front benches now fully masked up.
It comes just a day after masks were reintroduced on public transport and in shops and supermarkets.
MPs have previously been accused of setting bad example for the British public by refusing to don a face covering in the House – which is a packed space.