Blog: Brexit news – live: DUP u-turns on Irish Sea as Boris Johnson ‘driving desire for Scottish independence’ – The Independent

Attempt to trigger Article 16 was ‘mistake’, says EU vice president

The EU has said the UK is failing to live up to the terms of the Northern Ireland protocol, part of the Brexit deal struck by the two sides.

Giving evidence to the Irish parliament on Tuesday, Maros Sefcovic, the vice president of the European Commission, accused the UK of numerous “shortcomings”, including its failure to implement controls at the Northern Irish border.

While acknowledging the difficulties caused by the protocol, Mr Sefcovic said it was the “only solution” to the problems presented by Brexit in Northern Ireland.

He will travel to Northern Ireland on Thursday for a series of meetings, with the country’s first minister Arlene Foster tweeting on Tuesday that he should meet those “hardest hit” by the protocol and not just its “cheerleaders”.

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The latest news on Brexit, politics and beyond direct to your inbox every weekday

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UK says footage of detained UAE princess ‘very distressing’

The UK is “concerned” by footage showing the ruler of Dubai’s daughter allegedly being held “hostage” by her father, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

In video messages to her friends, Princess Latifa said the villa where she is detained “has been converted into a jail”, with the windows barred shut. She has reportedly been held against her will after trying to escape the emirate in 2018.

“Every day I am worried about my safety and my life, I don’t really know if I’m going to survive this situation,” she says in the clip.

Speaking on Wednesday morning, foreign secretary Dominic Raab told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I have watched the Panorama footage – it is troubling, it is obviously very distressing to see that footage.”

He said the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights will follow up on the case with the UAE.

Rory Sullivan17 February 2021 11:07

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Piers Morgan blasts Dominic Raab for being ‘extraordinarily arrogant’

Journalist Piers Morgan has described the foreign secretary Dominic Raab as “extraordinarily arrogant”, after the minister clashed with one of his ITV colleagues.

The foreign minister reacted with anger on Wednesday when the Good Morning Britain host Kate Garraway interrupted him to clarify a question she had on the government’s hotel quarantine scheme.

“I think people get fed up with the media not allowing us to give honest answers,” he fired off.

In response, Mr Morgan tweeted that “Dominic Raab is extraordinarily arrogant for someone with so little to be arrogant about”.

‘Why don’t you pause and let me explain it?’ says minister when challenged on quarantine plan

Rory Sullivan17 February 2021 10:45

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PM to bring back mass testing plans – after failed ‘moonshot’ scheme

Boris Johnson will reportedly re-announce plans for mass coronavirus testing next week, as he lays out the country’s route out of lockdown.

It is thought that the scheme will involve 400,000 lateral flow tests being sent out in the post each day.

This comes after the failure of the government’s “moonshot” testing initiative, which had aimed to carry out millions of daily tests by February 2021.

Our policy correspondent Jon Stone has more:

Focus returns to test-and-trace ahead of lockdown lifting

Rory Sullivan17 February 2021 10:22

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Green policies should be at core of economic recovery, say MPs

The government should put nature and climate at the core of economic recovery, MPs have said in a report.

The Commons’ environmental audit committee (EAC) urged ministers to cut VAT on green homes upgrades and also called for electric cars to be made more affordable.

Tory MP Philip Dunne, who chairs the committee, said that coronavirus crisis is a “symptom of a growing ecological emergency” and should serve as a “wake-up call”.

He added: “The economic recovery will shape our national economy for decades to come and it is crucial that tackling climate change and restoring nature is at its core.

“A tax system fit for net-zero Britain is key. It will encourage innovation, give confidence to the sector and support companies to make the low-carbon transition.”

Rory Sullivan17 February 2021 10:01

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Chancellor should quadruple pandemic recovery spending, says think tank

The chancellor should quadruple coronavirus crisis spending to £190 billion to kickstart the economy,  the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) has suggested.

In a report titled “Boost it like Biden”, the think tank said that without further support from Rishi Sunak, the UK economy risks falling into a “stagnation trap”.

“At this March’s Budget, the chancellor should look to his transatlantic counterparts and pass support measures commensurate to the size of the economic peril the UK is in,” the IPPR said.

Its proposal of £190 billion works out as 8.6 per cent of GDP.

‘This is not the moment for caution: the risk of doing too little far outweighs the risk of doing too much,’ says IPPR think-tank

Rory Sullivan17 February 2021 09:38

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UK calls for ceasefires to help international coronavirus vaccine rollout

The UK will call for ceasefires around the globe to allow coronavirus vaccines to be given to people in conflict zones.

The foreign secretary Dominic Raab will tell the UN Security Council on Wednesday that the world can only win its fight against Covid-19 if vaccines are made available everywhere.

Speaking ahead of the meeting, he said: “Global vaccination coverage is essential to beating coronavirus.

“That is why the UK is calling for a vaccination ceasefire to allow Covid-19 vaccines to reach people living in conflict zones and for a  greater global team effort to deliver equitable access.”

In 2001, a two-day ceasefire in Afghanistan allowed health workers and volunteers to vaccinate 5.7 million children under 5 against polio.

Fears that unvaccinated areas will become pools for development of new variants

Rory Sullivan17 February 2021 09:16

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Government must do more for young people, says children’s commissioner

The prime minister needs to put young people at the centre of plans to “build back better”, England’s children’s commissioner has said.

In her last speech in the role, Anne Longfield will warn Boris Johnson on Wednesday that “levelling up” the UK will be merely a “slogan” if children are not central to those plans.

She will also accuse the government of “institutional bias against children”, noting that only £1 billion has been assigned to help pupils to catch up with missed studies, despite a warning from the Institute for Fiscal Studies that lost education during the pandemic could cost the economy £350 billion in the long term.

Rory Sullivan17 February 2021 08:51

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Inside politics

Nicola Sturgeon has stolen a march on Boris Johnson by announcing that primary schools in Scotland will open to some pupils from Monday.

Here’s Adam Forrest with a round-up of this and today’s other leading politics stories.

Scotland’s first minister has stolen a march on Boris Johnson by revealing her plan to get pupils back in class, writes Adam Forrest

Rory Sullivan17 February 2021 08:33

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Labour demands pay rise for social care workers

Labour will on Wednesday urge the government to increase social care workers’ earnings to at least £10 per hour, while warning that “poverty wages” are harming the economy.

In a keynote speech, the party’s deputy leader Angela Rayner will say the pay rise is “well overdue” and that social care staff have been long “underpaid and undervalued”.

She will add that Tory ministers should be ashamed that many of these workers “are struggling to support themselves and their own families”, despite risking their lives during the pandemic.

Rory Sullivan17 February 2021 08:17

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EU accuses UK of failing to live up to Brexit agreement on Northern Ireland

Maros Sefcovic, the European Commission’s vice president, has accused the UK of failing to live up to the terms of the Brexit deal on Northern Ireland.

Speaking on Tuesday, Mr Sefcovic said the failures included controls not being performed at border posts.

Our political editor Andrew Woodcock has the details:

Commission vice-president blames threat to invoke emergency measures on ‘administrative mistake’

Rory Sullivan17 February 2021 08:08

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