Politics latest news: Matt Hancock says he 'doesn't think' he is hopeless following Dominic Cummings's bombshell - watch Commons live

Matt Hancock has said he "doesn't think" he is hopeless, following a series of bombshell screengrabs released by Dominic Cummings purporting to show text exchanges with Boris Johnson.

Asked by a BBC reporter "are you hopeless, Mr Hancock", the Health Secretary responded "I don't think so".

He was questioned in response to a WhatsApp message in late March, in which the Prime Minister purportedly wrote to Mr Cummings: "It’s Hancock. He has been hopeless."

In a blog post exceeding 7,000 words, Mr Johnson's former right-hand-man published a series of screengrabs appearing to show several explicit exchanges that were highly critical of Matt Hancock.

In another message, responding to criticism of Mr Hancock's work building the UK's testing capacity, he said: "Totally f----- hopeless". The same contact also called the situation regarding PPE "a disaster" and said: "I can’t think of anything except taking Hancock off and putting Gove on."

After the bombshell release today, the Prime Minister's spokesman said that Mr Johnson has "full confidence" in Matt Hancock, but did not dispute the authenticity of Dominic Cummings's screengrabs.

Asked if the Prime Minister called Mr Hancock hopeless, the spokesman added: "I'm not planning to engage with every allegation put forward, the Prime Minister worked very closely with the health and care secretary throughout and continues to do so."

​​Follow the latest updates below.

07:05 PM

That's it for another day...

MPs have approved the extension of coronavirus restrictions in England until July 19 in a vote of 461 to 60, after Boris Johnson faced pressure from members of his own party over the delay.

Dominic Cummings is back on the scene with more bombshells and headaches for the Prime Minister and his Cabinet.

In a blog post exceeding 7,000 words, Boris Johnson's former right-hand-man published a series of screengrabs purporting to show several explicit exchanges that were highly critical of the Health Secretary.

In response to one message in late March, a contact appearing to be Mr Johnson said: "It’s Hancock. He has been hopeless."

Mr Johnson's spokesman insisted later in the day that the PM has "full confidence" in Mr Hancock, but did not go so far as to dispute the authenticity of the screengrabs.

Downing Street also said that Mr Cummings's suggestions that Boris Johnson will stand down "a couple of years" after his potential second election win is "utter nonsense".

In the poll today, we asked our readers whether they think Matt Hancock will survive these latest bombshell claims. 51 per cent voted that Mr Hancock will survive because Dominic Cummings is only out for revenge, and 49 per cent voted that the Health Secretary won't survive and a Cabinet reshuffle looms.

In other news, care home staff will be required to have coronavirus vaccinations "to protect residents" from October, and making jabs compulsory for people in the NHS is also being considered.

Matt Hancock confirmed the move on care homes in England despite the strong concerns expressed by sector leaders around the impact it could have on already-stretched staffing levels.

For all that and more of today's news, carry on reading.

06:55 PM

MPs back extension of restrictions until July 19 after Tory rebellion

MPs have approved the extension of coronavirus restrictions in England until July 19, after Boris Johnson faced pressure from members of his own party over the delay.

The Prime Minister was spared a defeat as Labour backed plans for a four-week delay to the end of lockdown measures, aimed at buying more time for the vaccine programme.

MPs voted 461 to 60, a majority of 401, on Wednesday to approve regulations delaying the easing of the measures.

For now, limits on numbers for sports events, theatres and cinemas will remain in place, nightclubs will stay shuttered and people will be asked to continue working from home where possible.

It comes after furious Tories rounded on Mr Johnson, Matt Hancock and the Government's scientific advisers over the extension of Covid restrictions in England.

They cast doubt on the Prime Minister's commitment that July 19 would be a "terminus" date for the lockdown after he was forced to postpone easing restrictions on June 21.

06:16 PM

MPs approve extension of Covid-19 restrictions in England

MPs have approved the motion that Covid-19 regulations be extended in England to the end of 18 July, 2021.

  • Ayes - 461

  • Noes - 60

06:02 PM

Commons debate concluded by health minister with an urge to support the 'short-term delay'

Health minister Edward Argar concluded the debate in the Commons.

He said: "I urge the House to support this motion, it provides a short-term delay which significantly strengthens our position for the longer term.

"Honourable members all want the same thing, which is to save lives and to see us exit these restrictions and return to normality as soon as possible."

He urges MPs to vote for these measures to give the country extra time to vaccinate more people with that "crucial second dose".

05:55 PM

Shadow minister airs his frustration with the PM at Commons debate

Shadow minister Justin Madders said: "Having heard today via Whatsapp on Dominic Cummings what the Prime Minister thinks of the Health Secretary, I wonder if the Health Secretary has at any point in the last few weeks had similar feelings towards the Prime Minister.

"If he has that is at least something we can both agree on."

05:43 PM

'This is never going to end,' warns Conservative MP

Conservative Sir Edward Leigh warned: "This whole debate is a mortal threat to the Conservative Party."

He added: "There's been too much shifting of goal posts, too many fatuous rules based not on science, but on populism. Our society should be free and open, and there's a real danger the public will increasingly ignore this. The Government will be a government of the emperor without clothes."

He went on: "This is never going to end. At the end of this month, they'll be another variant ... the Peruvian variant, Paddington Bear will be arrested at Paddington station ... and put in quarantine, it'll go on and on and on."

05:41 PM

I will support this 'one final heave over the line', says Felicity Buchan

Conservative Felicity Buchan (Kensington) says that in central London "unemployment is looking very bad".

She says she will support the Government tonight "for one final heave over the line," however, she encourages the rules to change for people who have had both vaccine doses.

"I will support the Government but we've got work to do and we need to get out of these restrictions," she adds.

Conservative Aaron Bell says the only reason he will support the Government in the vote this evening is because of "the need to get that second jab" for more people.

05:37 PM

Fears that lockdown will be extended beyond July 19

Conservative Chris Green talked about fears of further lockdown extensions beyond July 19.

Speaking in the Commons, he said: "When the Prime Minister refers to a terminus I fear he doesn't mean the end, I fear he's thinking more of a bus terminus where we end one journey to start another and there will be another vehicle to impose another lockdown extension."

Conservative Huw Merriman said that young people "need to see a return" to normality.

He said: "I spoke to one of the very senior NHS leads who has university-aged children and he said to me - and I wrote it down - too many of us making decisions have forgotten what it feels like to be a 20-year-old or how miserable it is to be a 20-year-old right now.

"Those lives of young people that have made great sacrifices to help to the cohorts 1-9 that I talked about, they have made those sacrifices, they need to see a return, they need to see the return this summer."

05:26 PM

'We have won the battle' against Covid-19, says Conservative MP

Conservative Sir Robert Syms (Poole) told MPs "we have won the battle" against Covid-19 after he highlighted hospital admission rates in his area.

Sir Robert said of the delay: "My view is that most of the senior ministers who took this decision need a damn good holiday because if you look at the data, if you look at what's happening in the country, the restrictions are totally out of kilter with the sense of the problem.

"Let me take the south west of England, there's 5.6 million people, there are 23 people in hospital, there are two in ICU. In Dorset where there's nearly a million people, we have one person in hospital.

"Yet hundreds of couples that want to get married, businesses that want to be viable, people that want to get their lives back in order, I just think the balance is wrong."

Conservative former minister Dr Liam Fox, in his speech, said: "What we cannot have is the country being held to ransom by any groups who have been offered a vaccine but have chosen not to take - that is utterly unacceptable."

05:24 PM

Cummings has still not backed up his 'unsubstantiated suggestions', says source close to Matt Hancock

A source close to Health Secretary Matt Hancock said Dominic Cummings has still not backed up his "unsubstantiated suggestions".

"No evidence has been provided today to back up previous unsubstantiated suggestions," the source said.

"The Secretary of State addressed these issues at the select committee. He will continue to work closely with the Prime Minister to roll out the vaccine and get us out of this pandemic as quickly as possible."

05:16 PM

Government is 'confusing modelling for scientific forecasts', says Tory MP

Tim Loughton, Conservative MP, cites the #Imdone trend which went viral on social media on Monday, and tells MPs he is "done with making excuses" to his constituents about when their lives might get back to normal.

He says that it is "doomsday models" made by "largely anonymous wonks" that do not consider the effect that more lockdown would have on businesses and people's livlihoods.

He adds: "They are confusing modelling for scientific forecasts.

"The problem is that the only data considered seems to be exclusively the worst case scenarios about the state of Covid".

"It's time that we trusted people to live with Covid," he says.

05:02 PM

'It is time to trust people more' and control them less, says John Redwood

"It is time to trust people more, it is time to control people less", says John Redwood, Tory MP.

He told MPs: "To all these experts, to the NHS, to the Government, share what is relevant to the public and let us all make our own risk assessments."

He says we should be "generous and supportive" to those who think they need to isolate but adds that he thinks we are "well beyond the stage" where we have to isolate practically everybody else to some extent through restrictions.

He finishes by saying "let's not be too gloomy and let's not lock everyone up again".

04:55 PM

Daily reported cases of Covid-19 top 9,000 for first time since February

The number of new cases of Covid-19 reported each day in the UK has climbed above 9,000 for the first time in nearly four months.

A total of 9,055 cases were reported by the Government on June 16.

This is the highest number since February 25, which was also the last time daily cases topped 9,000.

The seven-day rolling average for reported cases currently stands at 7,888: up 32% from 5,980 a week ago, and the highest since March 1.

04:54 PM

Matt Hancock says "I don't think so" when asked if he is hopeless

Matt Hancock has said he "doesn't think" he is hopeless, following a series of bombshell screengrabs released by Dominic Cummings purporting to show text exchanges with Boris Johnson.

Asked by a BBC reporter "are you hopeless, Mr Hancock", the Health Secretary responded "I don't think so".

Watch below.

04:50 PM

We should be judging restrictions based on hospitalisation rates, says Tory MP

Huw Merriman says that we need to look at hospitalisation rates to judge whether we should be continuing with restrictions.

"When the academics at Imperial College what freedom day would look like in terms of hospitalisation numbers...the figures are currently better than expected.

"The hospitalisation numbers are looking much better...but what is striking to me is the numbers of people waiting to have their lives enhanced by elective treatment."

He says that the five million people waiting for non-Covid NHS treatment shows "what restrictions do".

"The difficulty is that we are not willing to confront the concept of living with Covid," he adds.

04:37 PM

Government urged to 'trust the people' and reopen as planned

Craig Mackinlay, Tory MP, said he would "rather trust the people" and reopen as planned on June 21.

He said that he personally would not just throw away his mask and hand sanitiser at the first sign of Covid restrictions going away, but would continue to adhere to these practices regardless of whether they were enforced.

He told MPs he will not be supporting the Government in the vote this evening.

04:31 PM

Government has to 'celebrate and take advantage of the vaccine programme'

Conservative former minister Karen Bradley said the Government "has to start to celebrate and take advantage of the vaccine programme".

She said: "Life is about the joy that you can get from these occasions and events, and ... we're constantly being told we can't have that joy because it will impact on the science."

She added: "With a heavy heart, I'm afraid to say to the minister that I cannot support the Government this evening, because I cannot find a way to explain to my constituents why the things they are looking forward to getting back to doing have to wait.

"We have to accept that we cannot save every life ... I might have been able to be persuaded if the Government was able to support those businesses that are unable to open but that support is simply not there ... I will not be able to support the Government, although I will on procedural matters."

04:06 PM

Tory MP demands Sage reforms to make group more transparent

Kitchens and bedrooms have become the "new dark satanic mills" given the rise in home working, MPs have heard.

Conservative MP Sir Charles Walker said young people are now working "endless hours" in "miserable environments" because of decisions taken by people with "nice gardens and comfortable homes".

He made the claim as he demanded reforms be made to the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), which has guided Government decisions during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The MP for Broxbourne suggested there should either be greater financial transparency and elections for Sage members or they should agree to forfeit media appearances and concentrate on advising the Government.

Sir Charles said reforms could include ensuring Sage members declare their annual income, any significant shareholdings in companies, and whether they receive income from other means - such as rent.

Sir Charles told the House of Commons: "Given members of Sage are making huge decisions that have huge financial consequences for tens of millions of people, it is important that our constituents know whether the people making these decisions are sharing the pain or insulated from the pain."

03:59 PM

Timing of Dominic Cummings' release of Whatsapp messages is called into question

Conservative MP Dehenna Davison has pointed out that Mr Cummings did not produce any evidence to the Science and Tech Committee to substantiate his claims when he had the chance, but chose to release his private messages with the Prime Minister now and is also charging people for access to his newsletter.

03:52 PM

Dame Andrea Leadsom expresses 'deep concern' about the restrictions on people's liberty

Dame Andrea Leadsom, Conservative MP said: "I have to add my own deep concern about any restrictions on people's liberty."

She said: "If we weren't already in Step 3, I cannot imagine that anyone in this place would today vote for four weeks of restrictions on businesses, on weddings, on church congregations, and, yes, on young people's end of school year celerations with the current data we have."

Dame Andrea added: "I will, with a very heavy heart, support the Government, trusting that the Government is determined...that if possible, those restrictions will be lifted after two weeks and not four weeks."

Dame Andrea Leadsom - Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
Dame Andrea Leadsom - Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

03:44 PM

Care home workers will have to have both Covid vaccines from October

From October, and subject to parliamentary approval and a 16-week grace period, people working in a Care Quality Commission (CQC)-registered care home in England must have two doses of a coronavirus vaccine unless they have a medical exemption, the Department of Health and Social Care said.

The requirement will apply to all workers employed directly by the care home or care home provider, those employed by an agency and deployed by the care home, and volunteers deployed in the care home, the department added.

Others coming into care homes to work, such as tradespeople, hairdressers, beauticians and CQC inspectors, must also follow the regulations, unless they have a medical exemption.

From October, people working in a Care Quality Commission-registered care home in England must have two doses of a coronavirus vaccine - Peter Byrne/PA Wire
From October, people working in a Care Quality Commission-registered care home in England must have two doses of a coronavirus vaccine - Peter Byrne/PA Wire

03:41 PM

'We must not tolerate lockdowns perpetually on the table', says Steve Baker

Tory MP Steve Baker said the "best case" to be made for today's vote on a restrictions extension is that a "small percentage of a big number is still a very big number".

However, he adds that "we now must not tolerate lockdowns perpetually on the table," and says that "we must not tolerate the situation going on where we and the police are unclear about which law can be applied".

He says we have now put in place "a culture and habits which will take years to shake off" and culture and habits which "distance people from one another".

Mr Baker also warns that "high streets are in danger of becoming haunted alleyways".

He fininshes by saying: "If the Conservative Party does not stand for freedom under the rule of law, it stands for nothing.

"We have got to have a turning point, we have got to recapture the spirit of freedom."

03:33 PM

Government needs to decide what 'acceptable level of Covid risk' is, says Tory MP

Dr Luke Evans, Tory MP, says we need the Goverment to be "open and frank" and have a debate about what the "acceptable level of Covid risk" is.

He also says there are "zombie sectors", which he describes as not quite alive due to Covid restrictions.

This comes after Conservative Sir Desmond Swayne said: "I never believed that it was proportionate even from the outset for ministers to take such liberties with our liberty.

"I always thought it was wrong for them to take our freedoms, even though they believed that they were acting in our best interests in an emergency, but by any measure that emergency has now passed and yet freedoms are still withheld, and the Government will not allow us to assess for ourselves the risks that we are prepared to encounter in our ordinary everyday lives."

03:25 PM

Further nine Covid deaths registered in England

A further nine people have died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19, bringing the UK total to 127,926, the Government has confirmed.

Separate figures published by the Office for National Statistics show there have been 153,000 deaths registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.

The Government also said that, as of 9am on Wednesday, there had been a further 9,055 lab-confirmed cases in the UK.

03:23 PM

Sage should be elected and 'challenged with different perspective'

Sir Charles Walker says Sage should also be elected, so "regular talking heads" can be challenged "by people with a different perspective".

The vice-chairman of the 1922 Committee gives way to Steve Baker, who says experts "are only human" and the country has been "asking the impossible of them".

Sir Charles agrees that there should be more voices but warns that members of Independent Sage could be elected, who want "harder lockdowns... and a permanent end to freedoms".

He says Boris Johnson should tell Sage "you can either advise me or you can advise the Today programme, Sky, Channel 4... you can either be a serious scientist, or you can be a media talking head".

03:18 PM

Publish Sage salaries so we know if they are 'sharing the pain', says Sir Charles Walker

Sir Charles Walker says he wants to "try and be constructive about how we can improve Sage" noting the group of scientists have huge power including "over who keeps their job and who loses their job".

He says MPs also have great power but it is "matched to accountability".

He calls for Sage scientists' incomes to be published as it is with MPs and whether they have "significant shareholdings in companies" and other forms of income such as through second homes.

"It is important our constituents know whether the people making these decisions are sharing the pain or insulated from the pain," he adds.

03:13 PM

Sir Desmond Swayne delivers veiled threat to Boris Johnson

Sir Desmond Swayne says he always thought it was wrong for ministers to "take our freedoms", but "by any measure, that emergency has now passed and yet freedoms are still withheld".

He adds: "The Government does not trust the people that it governs."

The New Forest West MP says Sage members have been "spreading their dystopian vision" including mask-wearing into the long-term, warning that after the health issues have been addressed "the moral impact will remain".

Sir Desmond says: "The Government has set a disastrous precedent in terms of the future of liberty in these islands. I could understand it if we were the Communist Party but this is the party that inherited the true wisdom of the Whig tradition... this is the party that only recently elected a leader that we believed was a libertarian.

"There is much on which are going to have to reflect."

03:06 PM

Voters will brand Health Secretary 'Hopeless Hancock', claims Jon Ashworth

Jon Ashworth says Labour will support the extension but "we shouldn't be here".

The reason restrictions are being delayed is because of the border policy which allowed the Indian variant into the country.

He then says Matt Hancock will now be "forever branded Hopeless Hancock by his own leader".

Constituents will "no doubt repeat the Prime Minister's expletive-laden sentiment about the Secretary of State tonight," he adds.

The "sad truth is" that restrictions will be extended because the Health Secretary "is indeed hopeless", Mr Ashworth concludes.

03:02 PM

Mark Harper: I have seen detailed plans for winter restrictions

Mark Harper says he knows "those discussions are going on because I have seen documents from within Government with very detailed suggestions about what measures may continue".

The Covid Recovery Group chairman notes that restrictions have not been ruled out "which is one of the reasons why colleagues on our side of the house are very concerned and not going to vote for these regulations today".

02:59 PM

Jon Ashworth: What are we going to do in the winter?

Jon Ashworth says "even when we vaccinate people... some people will still be at more severe risk than they would be from flu".

The Labour frontbencher says long Covid symptoms are wide ranging from hair loss and teeth falling out to psychosis.

"What are we going to do in the winter," he adds. Are officials "putting together plans for restrictions this winter," he asks Matt Hancock.

02:57 PM

Matt Hancock 'has one less friend today', jokes Jon Ashworth

Jon Ashworth says he "wants to see freedom" although he jokes he is "not sure I have got more than six friends, so it suited me".

He then turns to Matt Hancock and says: "I see you have one less friend today."

That is the first time the Dominic Cummings's blog post has been raised during the debate so far.

02:56 PM

Labour's Jon Ashworth: Notes suggest July 19 is not 'terminus day'

Jon Ashworth starts his response by paying tribute to Jo Cox, who was murdered five years ago today (see 12:07pm and 11:28am for more).

He then begins his critique of the Government's border policy and rising cases. Challenged over whether it is "his instinct" to back July 19 as the so-called terminus date, the Labour frontbencher says: "Of course I want to see terminus day on the 19th, but I am not sure we are going to see terminus day on 19th...

"The explanatory notes indicate that this four week period is to assess the data, and the four tests will be applied at the end of that four week period day.

"That is not quite the terminus day that the Prime Minister and Secretary of State have indicated."

02:51 PM

Care home staff will be forced to get Covid vaccine, Matt Hancock confirms

Matt Hancock confirms that the Government is going to make vaccination a condition of employment for people in care homes.

He says he will consult on introducing this rule for NHS staff.

Mark Harper and Steve Baker both challenge the Health Secretary about the need for coercion rather than "education", but he insists there is a "history" of vaccines being required in "reasonable circumstances" such as these.

He stresses mandatory vaccinations will not be required elsewhere.

02:46 PM

Commons will return 'cheek by jowl' in September, says Matt Hancock

MPs will return to the Commons "cheek by jowl" this autumn, the Health Secretary has said.

Matt Hancock said he missed "the bustle and clamour" and that he "can't wait for the moment when we cram into our cockpit of democracy".

The hybrid arrangements will continue until summer recess "but when we return in September, we are confident we can return cheek by jowl once more."

He added: "I can't wait."

Asked by Peter Bone if he could make the House a pilot for mass events, Mr Hancock said he would "love it", and promises to ask Commons leader Jacob Rees-Mogg "who I understand is an enthusiast also."

"Let us see," he tells MPs.

02:42 PM

Matt Hancock shrugs off suggestion review point will 'deepen despair'

Steve Baker asks about the two-week review point, saying that by "creating hope and shift the goal posts, people continue to deepen their despair".

The Tory MP asks Matt Hancock what he will say to them if the restrictions remain.

The Health Secretary says this is a moment where they can "make assessments", adding: "People get that... they are smart enough to understand that distinction."

02:37 PM

Vaccine trial participants will be certified, says Matt Hancock

Matt Hancock says those who have taken part in the clinical vaccine trials will be certified, even if it has not yet received UK approval.

"I am very grateful to all of them," he tells MPs.

"We will not put them in a difficult position because of that... and if you are in placebo arm you can get both jabs and you will not be disadvantaged," he adds.

02:33 PM

Matt Hancock brings forward his second jab to eight weeks

Matt Hancock reveals he has rearranged his second Covid vaccine to be eight weeks after his first.

The Health Secretary told MPs he had done so as part of the general push to fully vaccinate all over-40s by the end of July.

"Our goal ahead of July 19 is to take step four and of the basis of the evidence so far I am confident we will not need more than the four weeks to get this job done," he adds.

02:31 PM

Four week delay will save lives - but no need for longer, says Matt Hancock

Matt Hancock has opened the debate on extending restrictions by a further month, saying the delay will give the NHS "a few more crucial weeks" to vaccinate more adults.

But Mark Harper, chairman of the Covid Recovery Group, intervenes to ask what specifically is going to be achieved.

"After four weeks there will still be a significant number of people in those groups not vaccinated with two doses... my worry is that we are going to get to this point in four weeks' time and we will have to extend restrictions all over again," the former chief whip says.

But Mr Hancock says: "We seek to get a second jab into the majority of [people] - not all - by July 19.. by taking that pause in the step, the estimate is that we can save thousands of lives.

"But the estimate is also.... that taking a pause for longer is not estimated to save many more lives."

02:03 PM

Boris Johnson fails to rule out return of restrictions this autumn

Boris Johnson has failed to ruled out the return of restrictions in the autumn or winter, although he denied any knowledge of a document said to detail long-term plans for the continuation of restrictions after July 19.

Mark Harper - who chairs the lockdown-sceptic Covid Recovery Group - asked the Prime Minister if he shared his concern about "the things that are going on in Government at the moment - the warnings about restrictions coming back in the autumn and the winter as cases rise, and can he rule out that taking place?"

Mr Johnson replied: "I did see something about this this morning, about some paper or other that means absolutely nothing to me.

"Our objective is to go forward with the road map and bring back the freedoms we love."

See 2:46pm and 8:27am for more.

01:52 PM

Lobby latest: Country should 'unite behind' UK-Australia deal

Boris Johnson thinks the country should "unite behind" the trade deal agreed with Australia this week, Number 10 has said.

Farmers and animal welfare campaigners are concerned the deal with Australia will lead to cheaper imports undercutting British meat which is produced to higher standards.

Under the terms of the deal, tariffs for beef and sheep meat will be eliminated after 10 years, with a duty-free quota of 35,000 tonnes of beef initially, rising to 110,000 tonnes at the end of that period, and 25,000 tonnes of sheep meat, rising to 75,000 tonnes.

In the subsequent five years there will be safeguard measures aimed at ensuring Australian meat does not flood the market. Details were published by Canberra but not the UK Government.

Downing Street said some of the final details of the agreement are still being worked through and agreed and it will be published in full once that has happened.

The Prime Minister's press secretary said: "It is (Mr Johnson's) view that this is a deal that offers opportunities for the entire country and this is something we should unite behind."

01:36 PM

Lobby latest: No 10 'does not recognise' working from home reports

Number 10 has rejected claims that it is considering extending the working from home guidance long term, or that offices could be required to install ventilation system and maintain self-isolation measures as perspex screens are ineffective.

Responding to the report (see 8:27am), the Prime Minister's official spokesman said: "These claims come from a document that we do not recognise and it does not reflect the latest Government thinking... We are gathering further data on the Delta variant - issues such as how it relates to hospitalisation rates, for example, will all have an impact on what measures may or may not be needed following Step 4."

There are "no current plans to legislate on ventilation standards" and guidance on perspex screens would remain unless the evidence showed it needs to change.

01:21 PM

Lobby latest: Dominic Cummings's claim that PM will stand down 'utter nonsense'

Dominic Cummings' suggestion that Boris Johnson will stand down if he won a second election is "utter nonsense", Downing Street has said.

The Prime Minister's press secretary said: "The PM has actually been asked this before and has said himself it's utter nonsense, so that still stands.

"As you know, the PM was elected in 2019 and continues to focus on delivering the manifesto we were elected on and leading the county out of the pandemic."

01:14 PM

Lobby latest: Boris Johnson has full confidence in Matt Hancock

Downing Street has insisted Boris Johnson has full confidence in Health Secretary Matt Hancock but did not dispute the authenticity of messages in which he apparently called him "hopeless".

Asked if the messages published by Dominic Cummings are genuine, the Prime Minister's official spokesman said: "Our focus is not examining those specific images but delivering on the public's priorities.

"I don't plan to get into the detail of what's been published."

Asked if the Prime Minister called Mr Hancock hopeless, the spokesman said: "I'm not planning to engage with every allegation put forward, the Prime Minister worked very closely with the health and care secretary throughout and continues to do so."

Asked if Mr Johnson has full confidence in Mr Hancock, the spokesman said: "Yes."

01:04 PM

Boris Johnson will take 'necessary steps' to extend grace period

Boris Johnson has said he will take "necessary steps" to unilaterally breach Britain's post-Brexit trade terms unless the EU changes the way it is implementing them in Northern Ireland.

The grace period for chilled meats is due to come to an end this month.

Asked by DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson if he would commit to fully restoring Northern Ireland's place within the UK internal market, Mr Johnson replied he could give "assurances" on the issue.

"Unless we see progress on the implementation of the protocol, which I think is currently totally disproportionate, then we will have to take necessary steps to do exactly what he says," he added.

12:54 PM

UK's global vaccine support 'in addition to aid budget', says Boris Johnson

Andrew Mitchell has called on the Prime Minister to "think again" on the Government's aid cut, saying his "significant success" at the G7 was "sadly dented" by the decision.

The move is "not only doing grave damage to the reputation of global Britain, it will also lead to more than 100,000 avoidable deaths, principally amongst women and children", the former minister added.

Boris Johnson stressed that "the UK remains one of the biggest donors in the world, second in the G7 and in spite of all the difficulties we've been going through is contributing £10 billion to supporting countries - this year - around the world and we've just increased our spending on female education."

In response to a straight question from Damian Green about whether he could confirm if the 70m vaccine doses the UK has committed to will be "in addition to our existing aid budget", Mr Johnson said: "Yes I can, Mr Speaker."

12:51 PM

Covid will 'boomerang' without global vaccination plan, says Labour leader

Covid-19 will continue to "boomerang" and cause disruption in the UK if a plan to vaccinate the world is not delivered, according to Sir Keir Starmer.

Responding to Prime Minister Boris Johnson's statement on the G7 summit, Labour leader Sir Keir told the Commons: "The priority for the summit had to be a clear plan to vaccinate the world. This is not just a moral imperative, it's in our self-interest as the Delta variant makes clear.

"Without global vaccine coverage, this virus continues to boomerang, bringing more variants and more disruption to these shores.

"The World Health Organisation has said that 11 billion doses are needed. This summit promised less than one tenth of that. No new funding, no plan to build a global vaccine capacity and no progress on patent waivers.

"The headlines of a billion doses may be what the Prime Minister wanted, but it's not what the world needed."

Mr Johnson described the G7 action on vaccines as "fantastic" before adding: "The world agreed another billion vaccines when people are racing to vaccinate their own populations... 100 million more from this country and he's always constantly running this country's efforts down."

12:43 PM

Northern Ireland Secretary calls for 'urgent solution' to protocol deadlock

An urgent solution is required to ensure Northern Ireland shoppers continue to enjoy chilled meat products from Great Britain, Secretary of State Brandon Lewis has said.

During Northern Ireland questions in the Commons, the minister faced repeated questions about the impact of the Northern Ireland Protocol, including from DUP Westminster leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson and shadow Northern Ireland secretary Louise Haigh.

Mr Lewis replied: "Northern Ireland is an integral part of the United Kingdom and its consumers should be able to enjoy the products that they have bought from Great Britain for years.

"Any ban on chilled meats would in fact be contrary to the aims of the protocol itself and be against the interests of the people of Northern Ireland, so an urgent solution must be found so that Northern Ireland consumers can continue to enjoy the products and chilled meat products that they've bought from Great Britain."

Noting the UK had put forward proposals, he added: "We're working hard to try and resolve these issues consensually with our partners, but - as the PM has always made clear - we will consider all our options in meeting our responsibility to sustain peace and prosperity for the people in and of Northern Ireland."

12:19 PM

Boris Johnson 'gives thumbs up and pegs it' when things get difficult, claims Cummings

While Dominic Cummings has reserved the worst of his accusations for Matt Hancock, the Prime Minister has not been left unscathed by his former aide's latest missive.

While Boris Johnson was hospitalised with Covid, Dominic Raab chaired meetings in his place, which Mr Cummings says was "less pleasant for everybody but much more productive".

That is because "unlike the PM a) Raab can chair meetings properly instead of telling rambling stories and jokes, b) he let good officials actually question people so we started to get to the truth, unlike the PM who as soon as things get ‘a bit embarrassing’ does the whole ‘let’s take it offline’ shtick before shouting ‘forward to victory’, doing a thumbs-up and pegging it out of the room before anybody can disagree."

Mr Cummings also claims that Mr Johnson "has a clear plan to leave at the latest a couple of years after the next election, [because] he wants to make money and have fun not ‘go on and on’."

12:14 PM

Have your say: Will Matt Hancock survive Dominic Cummings's latest claims

Dominic Cummings has made no secret of the fact he thinks Matt Hancock should be sacked.

The Health Secretary has been the focus of the former aide's ire repeatedly, both in front of MPs and in blog posts such as the one he published today.

No doubt Mr Cummings will be hoping that the screengrabs purporting to show exchanges between Boris Johnson and himself will tip the balance in his favour - but could it actually result in the Prime Minister digging in further?

Have your say in the poll below.

12:09 PM

Boris Johnson challenged over further delays to roadmap

Boris Johnson whether he fears "having to give another press conference in which he again postpones the return of our freedoms?" during today's PMQs.

Conservative MP William Wragg also asked the Prime Minister when the "co-ordinated chorus of Sage members" would resume their media appearances "to depress morale".

But the Prime Minister did not engage with the question, responding: "I believe that academic and scientific freedom are an invaluable part of our country and I also note that my scientific colleagues would echo my sentiments that we need to learn to live with Covid."

12:06 PM

Boris Johnson fails to respond to question about Dominic Cummings

Boris Johnson was asked one question about Dominic Cummings's latest set of claims about Matt Hancock during today's Prime Minister's Questions.

Labour said the messages showed the need for an immediate start to the public inquiry into the handling of the Covid-19 outbreak.

Shadow health minister Justin Madders said: "This is more evidence that the Conservatives were too slow to lock down, too slow to deliver PPE and too slow to protect our care homes.

"With this evidence that even the PM thinks Hancock is useless, why in the worst pandemic in our history has he left him in charge?

"Hancock and Johnson need to respond to these latest revelations and immediately start the public inquiry into their handling of the pandemic."

However the Prime Minister did not respond.

12:02 PM

Analysis: Will the PM dig in or ditch Hancock?

Boris Johnson on his way to PMQs today - Julian Simmonds
Boris Johnson on his way to PMQs today - Julian Simmonds

The chatter in Westminster in recent weeks has been that Matt Hancock was made safer by Dominic Cummings's claims, explosive though they may have been.

So deep was the dislike between Boris Johnson and his former right hand man that his condemnation of the Health Secretary had made a sacking almost impossible, simply to avoid being seen to bow to the pressure.

However, his position must surely be weakened now. But if he is to save face, Mr Johnson must be more likely to carry out a reshuffle rather than a solitary sacking - which would prompt questions about his own management of the team.

Carrying out the long-awaited Cabinet reshuffle this side of recess would also allow time for a new Education Secretary to get to grips with the challenges facing DfE before a new term begins.

11:54 AM

Matt Hancock's 'big talk before PM' was a pattern, claims Dominic Cummings

Dominic Cummings claims his WhatsApp messages published today show "the usual Hancock pattern".

"Having assured us ‘I’m totally on it I’m driving the team’ blah, on 24th we’ll ‘definitely’ be on 10k by Monday, then he’s ‘sceptical’, discussions with officials reveal Hancock had told us nonsense again about actual testing trajectory, he’d told us that he then [Lord] Bethell then [Steve] Oldfield then another official were in charge of it (all of which was nonsense that showed nobody was properly in charge of it), and all this while we’re facing the wave breaking over the NHS and care homes which could not test staff or patients.

"This pattern repeated: big talk in front of the PM, brief nonsense to the media, fail to deliver, and the rest of the system’s planning disrupted because nobody could rely on what he said in the Cabinet room because he would say anything he thought would get him through the meeting," Mr Cummings writes.

"His constant assurance of fake numbers to colleagues meant their plans were constantly disrupted. His dishonesty had destructive effects."

11:41 AM

MPs react to Cummings: Why should we believe Boris Johnson now?

MPs might not yet have challenged Boris Johnson about Dominic Cummings's explosive blog post in the Commons, but some have picked up on it outside the Chamber.

Karen Buck, Labour MP for Westminster North and shadow DWP minister, tweeted: "So Boris Johnson knew the government’s Covid performance was disastrous but defended it. He believed his Health Minister (sic) was woeful but kept him in post.
"Why are we expected to believe any assurances he is giving us now?"

Colleague Alex Sopel said: "I mean we all said it at the time! But if you are the boss and you say it but do nothing about it then the buck stops with you."

11:37 AM

Compare and contrast Cummings and Hancock before MPs

Dominic Cummings's characteristically lengthy blog post purports to back up the claims he made during his seven-hour session before MPs last month.

During Matt Hancock's own hearing, he rebutted several of those allegations - and made some claims of his own.

Watch both men below - and decide for yourselves.

11:27 AM

Dominic Cummings suggests 'a few simple questions' for Boris Johnson

Dominic Cummings has timed the release of his evidence so that it would land just before PMQs - and he has included some "simple questions" which people should put to Boris Johnson.

They include why he kept Matt Hancock in post "given... you described yourself (sic) as ‘f------ hopeless’ and how many more people died as a result of your failure to remove him?"

He also suggests that people ask: "Why is No10 lying, including to Parliament, about the fact that the original plan was ‘herd immunity by September’ and had to be abandoned?"

Mr Cummings also wants to know if the Prime Minister still agrees "with Hancock that there was no shortage of PPE or do you agree with yourself in April 2020 that PPE supply was ‘a disaster’ that required moving Hancock?"

'Questions to ask the Prime Minister'
'Questions to ask the Prime Minister'

So far no MPs have obliged the controversial former aide by asking any of these questions - but today could be a long day.

11:21 AM

Pictured: Screengrabs released by Dominic Cummings

While PMQs continues, we will pull back to show you some of the eyebrow-raising messages that Dominic Cummings has published.

The pictures are grainy, but they purport to be messages between the former aide and Boris Johnson last spring, regarding Matt Hancock.

WhatsApp screengrab published by Dominic Cummings
WhatsApp screengrab published by Dominic Cummings

11:19 AM

PMQs: Sir Keir Starmer questions why 'anyone' would believe PM

Boris Johnson mutters something which Sir Keir Starmer chastises him for, before returning to his theme - the shifting dates in restoring freedoms back to July 19.

"The British people don't expect miracles but they do expect basic competence and honesty," he adds.

"We see the same pattern from this Prime Minister - too slow, too indecisive, over-promising, under-delivering."

"Why should anyone believe him now?"

But Mr Johnson attempts to turn the tables, saying Sir Keir has changed his mind numerous times too.

He praises the vaccination programme which would not have been possible without Brexit.

11:16 AM

PMQs: Sir Keir Starmer demands more business support

Sir Keir Starmer then turns to the lack of business support on offer despite the extension of restrictions.

Boris Johnson says the Government is "proud" of the support that has been on offer, and highlights the signs of growth in the economy.

"We are seeing a shot in the arm for businesses and will support them all the way," he adds.

But the Labour leader says it is "not about what has been done but what is needed now".

11:14 AM

PMQs: Sir Keir Starmer hits out at 'ridiculous' response from PM

Sir Keir Starmer then calls on Boris Johnson to "drop the traffic lights system" and strengthen the border to protect the summer.

Mr Johnson says there are 50 countries on the red list, and "if he is now saying he wants to stop all travel to and from this country, it is yet another flip-flop from the Labour leader".

He highlights the reliance on open borders for food and other trade, but Sir Keir is having none of it.

"Is he really suggesting the 20,000 people who came in from India were bringing medical supplies?"

It is "ridiculous".

11:12 AM

PMQs: Boris Johnson's indecision has led to surge in cases again

Sir Keir Starmer says while the NHS was "vaccinating, he was vacillating".

The Labour leader says his "indecision" has led to a much higher rate of cases, and the UK is "tragically once again" has the highest infection rate in Europe.

"We did not want to top that table again," he adds.

But Boris Johnson says Sir Keir is confusing the variants, and insists action was taken "before that variant was even identified".

He praises the "fantastic efforts of the NHS" for the vaccination programme restoring freedoms.

11:09 AM

PMQs: Sir Keir Starmer claims PM 'squandered' vaccine success with border policy

Sir Keir Starmer says it is "absurd" adding "your defence is as bad as your border policy".

He then goes over the dates, saying India was off the red list despite rising cases, allowing thousands of people to arrive in the country.

He says the Prime Minister "squandered" the work of the British people and asks "what his explanation" is for the high rates of the Indian variant.

Boris Johnson says the UK does 47 per cent of all genomic testing, and tells the Labour leader to "get his facts straight".

11:07 AM

PMQs: Boris Johnson defends border controls over Indian variant

Sir Keir Starmer also notes the fifth anniversary of the death of Jo Cox, saying not a day goes by where she is not missed.

The Labour leader then raises the question of border control, saying keeping India off the red list contributed to the spread of the variant here.

Boris Johnson says "Captain Hindsight needs to adjust his retrospectoscope because he is completely wrong."

India was added to the red list on April 23, before it was identified as a variant of concern on May 7.

11:04 AM

Boris Johnson starts PMQs looking downbeat

Boris Johnson has begun PMQs looking somewhat downbeat - unsurprising given what Dominic Cummings has just published.

The Prime Minister answers a fairly soft ball question from Sir Bob Neill about green investment ahead of Cop26.

Sir Keir Starmer then takes his place at the dispatch box beginning with criticism of the delay in replacing cladding following the anniversary of Grenfell.

10:55 AM

Minister backs mandatory vaccinations for care staff, saying 'I'd want it to protect my parents'

Liz Truss has said she would back mandatory Covid vaccinations for care home staff if they were responsible for looking after her own parents.

Care staff are expected to be given 16 weeks to have the jab - or face being redeployed away from frontline care, or even lose their job - if the Government adopts the findings of a consultation by the Department of Health and Social Care.

That consultation was launched in April - two months after the Government said it had met its target of offering all frontline care workers a first dose of a vaccine by mid-February - amid concerns that take-up has been patchy.

The International Trade Secretary told BBC Breakfast this morning that a government response to the consultation was "very imminent" and hinted that compulsory vaccinations could be applied to more than just care home staff, although declined to comment further.

She said: "It is important that care home staff have those vaccines for their safety and also for residents."

Speaking to Sky News, Ms Truss added: "We have a hugely vulnerable population in our care homes and making sure staff are vaccinated is a priority."

Asked what she would want if one of her parents were in care, she said: "I would want staff to be vaccinated, because I would want my parents to be protected."

10:41 AM

Northern Ireland Protocol must have buy-in

Lord Frost has told MPs that the protocol needed consent from all sides in Northern Ireland, amid fears of a return to violence as the loyalist marching season begin.

Conservative MP Scott Benton asked Lord Frost: "You are clearly aware of the feelings of grassroots loyalists in relation to the protocol. What is the Government doing to reassure this part of the community who in some cases feel completely abandoned by the protocol ahead of what could be a very difficult summer season?"

Responding, he told the committee: "We try to stay in touch with all range of opinion in Northern Ireland. We are well aware of this and it is very clear in the spiralling political developments we've had since the end of January.

"Although we were heavily criticised at the time I believe that the decision we took on extending grace periods at the beginning of March was reassuring that we would not just watch things develop and do nothing.

"As the PM said we'll do whatever we have to, to make sure we support the peace process. The protocol depends on consent, it is very difficult to operate if there is not consent and willingness from one section of Northern Ireland opinion."

10:28 AM

MPs pay tribute to Jo Cox on fifth anniversary of her murder

MPs including minister Mims Davies have paid tribute to Jo Cox, the Batley and Spen MP who was murdered five years ago today.

The employment minister said the Labour MP had been "a force of nature" who had made "a strong impression in her time" across both sides of the House.

"Jo will never be forgotten," she added.

10:20 AM

'World of variants': Eight under investigation, MPs told

Dr Susan Hopkins, strategic response director for Covid-19 at Public Health England, said that "we are living in a world of variants".

The strategic response director for Covid-19 at Public Health England told MPs on the Science and Technology Committee "the challenge always is trying to understand which one of these is going to do something as it emerges."

A the moment 25 variants were "under monitoring" and eight "under investigation".

"All of them have mutations that we're concerned about, but mutations alone is not enough to predict whether it's really going to impact on our journey through vaccines and impact on the public health risk of hospitalisation," she added.

"That component takes time, in being able to deliver that science accurately and allow us to develop accurate risk assessments."

10:18 AM

Health experts must focus on vaccine link with hospitalisations rather than cases

Health experts will "go mad" if they focus on whether the Covid vaccine prevents symptomatic illness, because the rates will get lower over time, MPs have been told.

Professor Sir Andrew Pollard told the Science and Technology Committee the virus is "evolving away from immunity, and we're seeing lower effectiveness against symptomatic infection".

He added: "If we wind the clock forward to a year or two from now, one would expect those numbers to get lower and lower, because unless the virus disappears from the planet, which I don't think is to happen, it will have to be able to survive in vaccinated populations.

"If we focus on effectiveness against symptomatic disease in the future, we'll go mad because those numbers will get lower and lower over time because that is the only way the virus survives.

"So the really important question is: 'What does effectiveness against hospitalisation look like?' And it's really encouraging so far, and I think we're all hoping it will stay like that."

10:05 AM

Coming up.... PMQs from midday

Here is the list of MPs down to ask Boris Johnson a question - we will be watching from 12pm.

10:01 AM

EU being 'too purist' on sausage war, says Lord Frost

Lord Frost accused the European Union of taking a "purist" approach in the row over the movement of sausages from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.

"We obviously face a difficulty on the chilled meats issue," he told the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee.

"We have asked and suggested to the EU that the right way forward would be to agree to extend the grace period, at least for a bit, to provide a bit of a breathing space for the current discussions to continue and try and find solutions.

"I still hold out some hope that they might agree to that because it seems a very narrow point to take such a purist view about.

"We are not having much progress but there is a little bit of time left before that."

He added: "It would seem to me a pity to make this negotiation, that is already pretty complex and tense, more so by being very purist about that, but there we are."

09:40 AM

EU not being 'reasonable' over Ireland's 'delicate' circumstances, says Lord Frost

The EU is insisting on applying SPS rules meant for "global third party trade to the very different circumstances of Northern Ireland", Lord Frost has told MPs.

If the bloc does not have "very strong assurances that you will remain aligned with them, there have to be checks," he adds.

"They could change their rules in the context of Northern Ireland if they wanted to," he adds. "In the circumstances where the politics are so delicate, and we all say we are trying to support the Good Friday Agreement, and take the EU on their word on that, it would seem sensible to look at these things in a more reasonable way."

09:37 AM

Lord Frost has 'grave doubts' about agreement before grace period ends

Lord Frost has said he has "grave doubts" that an agreement on SPS could be agreed within a few weeks, despite the EU's assertion it can be.

He once again highlights the pressing timeline, with the grace period on chilled meats due to end this month. A temporary deal could be struck but might be obsolete before it comes into being, he notes.

Asked about the prospect of a US free trade agreement he says it "really relates to our support for the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement... we are both united on that and that is a fundamental point for both our policies."

A deal with the US is "a big and important one, but it doesn't change the nature of the problem - you need control of your own rules".

09:31 AM

Aligning with EU would be 'abrogation of sovereignty', says Lord Frost

The European Commission is not "willing to see any kind of alignment without the ability to police it through their institutions", Lord Frost has said.

That would be "an abrogation of sovereignty" he tells MPs and would undermine the UK's ability to strike new trade deals.

It would also "undermine" the UK's ability to set its own food standards in future.

"That is the core of the problem," he adds, adding that Switzerland "has to remain aligned with the EU on food safety... or deal with the consequences".

09:22 AM

Lord Frost: Four options are on table over protocol

Lord Frost answering questions before the Northern Ireland committee - PA
Lord Frost answering questions before the Northern Ireland committee - PA

Lord Frost has said "most if not all" of the UK's options are one of four but some are "much, much more plausible as a way forward".

He said it was right "intellectually" to identify four options open to the UK Government: negotiate successfully, extend unilaterally, suspend the protocol via Article 16 or legislatively appeal.

The "most plausible" was negotiation, but said he would not comment on which was next in line.

"I don't confirm as a political statement that those options are being considered," he added. "Most, if not all, of the possibilities could be encompassed within those headings."

09:16 AM

Emmanuel Macron's Northern Ireland claims 'concerning', says Lord Frost

Emmanuel Macron's suggestion that Northern Ireland is not part of the UK is "rather concerning", Lord Frost has said.

Boris Johnson was left stunned after the French President made the comments at the G7.

Speaking to MPs, Lord Frost noted there had been a "slight misunderstanding about status of Northern Ireland" for some time, and that "some of that [thinking] came out of those discussions".

He added: "It is rather concerning if people see things in that way. It doesn't seem to us to be consistent with the provisions of the Good Friday Agreement, which are very clear on that, or.. the protocol."

09:08 AM

UK poised to take rapid action over protocol, Lord Frost suggests

Lord Frost has hinted that the UK could be poised to take rapid action over the Northern Ireland protocol.

He said the grace period deadline for chilled meats and the "real world timetable of businesses" were both looming, telling MPs "none of those timetables are very long".

He added: "Without being specific, we have to try and find solutions within timetables that reflect that reality."

09:06 AM

Support for protocol 'eroded rapidly' after EU triggered Article 16, says Lord Frost

Lord Frost said it would "not be right to go into the detail of our thinking options", but noted that Boris Johnson mentioned Article 16 over the weekend.

"All options are on the table for what happens next but we would rather find agreed solutions that work for everybody because they are the most durable and most likely to last," he told MPs.

The Brexit minister said the Prime Minister's view was "held across Government here because we are extremely concerned about the situation".

He added: "The EU's action in January has set off a train of events that has meant support for the protocol has eroded rapidly."

09:00 AM

Protocol has 'nothing' that undermines integrity of UK, says Lord Frost

Lord Frost has said there "haven't been many days" without discussions about the Northern Ireland protocol in the last few weeks.

"We speak all the time, it's just that we are not making much progress," he tells MPs.

When asked if there are any constitutional issues that "flow" from the protocol, the Brexit minister replied: "The position of principle is clear - the protocol is 100 per cent clear that nothing in it affects the territorial integrity or the state responsibilities of the UK."

Asked if there was "nothing in the small print... which could in any way lead to, trigger or whatever a change to the constitutional integrity of Northern Ireland", he referred to an article within the protocol confirming that "any change in that status can only be made with the consent of the majority of its people".

He added: "I think that's clear."

08:55 AM

Northern Ireland protocol 'not simple black and white' issue, says Lord Frost

Lord Frost has insisted that the "way the protocol is being operated is not consistent with the intentions of us as negotiators", when challenged over his threat of unilateral action.

"It is not enough for people to point to the provision in the protocol which says that the union customs code should apply because there is also a provision... that says everybody should do their best to minimise checks and controls in the ports of Northern Ireland".

He said provisions "could not be read straight" and that it was "not a simple black and white question".

08:52 AM

Lord Frost keeps door open to triggering Article 16 of protocol

Lord Frost has said there has been a "very visible weakening of consent in one community" in Northern Ireland over the implementation of the Northern Ireland protocol.

That has "produced uncertainty" in the region, he told MPs. Businesses are "looking at the current situation with some nervousness," he added.

Asked if the "perpetual bubbling threat of the triggering of Article 16" was having an impact on confidence, he said: "All options remain on the table...we would prefer to find negotiated ways forward if we can. If that is not possible, other options remain on the table as the PM said at the weekend."

The "unsatisfactoriness of the situation is contributing to the uncertainty", he added.

08:47 AM

Government not 'blindsided' by Northern Ireland protocol, says Lord Frost

Lord Frost has insisted the Northern Ireland protocol was negotiated in "a spirit of good faith", but that it came with "a lot of loose ends" that now need to be tied up.

The Brexit minister and former sherpa told MPs it comprised a "very delicately balanced set of provisons with quote a lot of loose ends and open ended provisions for subsequent negotiation.

"A spirit of good faith was necessary to make protocol work was prevalent in 2019 and we hope will continue to be as we find ways of operating it."

Asked if ministers had been "blindsided" by the EU's position now, he said information had been exchanged "pretty well.. so we all had a good understanding of the things we wanted to negotiate in both frameworks".

08:44 AM

Lord Frost won't make 'general appearances' before NI committee, MPs told

Lord Frost has told MPs of the Northern Ireland committee that his "primary responsibility" is to other groups, "so that I appear before you as a courtesy".

"It obviously isn't a precedent for my general appearances before this committee", the Brexit minitser adds, telling them that Brendan Lewis will be the usual "interlocutor".

"But I am very happy to be here."

08:39 AM

Risk of Covid death for children 'one in a million' says Sage scientist

Children will not be offered Covid vaccines because their chances of dying from Covid-19 are "one in a million", a Sage scientist has said.

Calum Semple, professor of child health and outbreak medicine at the University of Liverpool, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "The risk of death is one in a million. That's not a figure and plucking from the air, that's a quantifiable risk.

"We know in wave one and wave two put together there were 12 deaths in children - in England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland, put together - and that is rare because there are about 13 to 14 million children in the UK.

"So we're talking about vaccinating children here mainly to protect public health and reduce transmission.

"And it's accepted that teenagers who are biologically more like adults are more likely to transmit.

"But younger children really are not - they are about a half to a third less likely to acquire the virus and similarly to pass it on.

"So we're now coming into a really interesting ethical and moral debate here about vaccinating children for the benefit of others."

08:38 AM

Inflation leaps to 2.1pc as economy reopens

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) hit 2.1 per cent for May, ahead of the Bank of England's two per cent target.

The latest reading was significantly ahead of the expectations of analysts who had forecast a 1.8 per cent rate for last month.

Today's figures add to global concerns over inflation as consumers look to spend pandemic savings while shortages hamper the efforts of businesses to reopen after the pandemic.

Read more on that in our business pages here.

08:26 AM

London to host 'huge events' to vaccinate over-18s this weekend

London will play host to a series of "huge events" where all over-18s can get their Covid vaccine, Sadiq Khan has said.

The Mayor paid tribute to Nadhim Zahawi, the vaccines minister, saying he was "a joy to work with - we have been working closely with Government to make sure we have more doses, in particular, of Pfizer and Moderna.

"Our population is younger than other parts of country, but over the course of next few days we are hoping for more of those vaccines, because we are hoping for more of those over 18 to be able to come forward and get the vaccine

"This weekend we will be seeing huge events across London where anyone over the age of 18 can come and receive the jab - that is the game changer."

08:23 AM

London Mayor urges Government not to switch off business 'life support'

Sadiq Khan has called for the Government not to "reduce business support" for as long as restrictions remain.

The London Mayor said he was "disappointed" by the decision to push back the final stage of reopening from June 21 to July 21, saying the capital's businesses were on "life support".

He told Sky News: "It doesn't make sense for business rates relief to be reduced, the moratorium on evictions to be stopped and businesses to have to pay towards the furlough scheme at a time when they can't fully reopen.

"We desperately need these businesses to flourish and thrive."

08:17 AM

How many care home staff have had the Covid vaccine?

The reason why DHSC is pushing for compulsory Covid vaccinations for care home staff is because they are concerned about the patchy take up.

Overall NHS figures to June 6 show that 84 per cent of staff in older adult care homes in England have had one dose , and almost 69 per cent have had both jabs.

But NHS data shows that in Hackney, in east London, for example, just 66.7 per cent of staff in older adult care homes have had their first dose, with only 58.6 per cent of staff in the borough having both doses.

Given the UK's high rate of fatalities among residents, the Government will be acutely sensitive to any further threat to the most vulnerable.

08:12 AM

Compulsory vaccinations could see a third of carers quit, says GMB

It's not just care providers who have expressed concern about plans to make Covid vaccinations compulsory for care home staff (see 8:07am).

GMB union argue that more than a third of carers would consider leaving their jobs if vaccinations become compulsory.

Rachel Harrison, GMB national officer, said carers had had to endure "almost Victorian working standards" during the pandemic, adding: "The Government could do a lot to help them: address their pay, terms and conditions, increasing the rate of and access to contractual sick pay, banning zero hours, and ensuring more mobile NHS vaccination teams so those working night shifts can get the jab.

"Instead, ministers are ploughing ahead with plans to strong-arm care workers into taking the vaccine without taking seriously the massive blocks these workers still face in getting jabbed."

08:07 AM

Man charged over hounding of BBC journalist

A 57-year-old man has been charged after a journalist was confronted and chased by a group of protesters in Whitehall.

Martin Hockridge is charged with an offence under Section 4A of the Public Order Act, namely using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour towards another person with the intention to cause them harassment, alarm or distress, the Metropolitan Police said.

Crowds had gathered in Westminster on Monday to protest against the Government's extension of coronavirus restrictions in England by four weeks and footage on social media showed demonstrators shouting abuse in the face of a journalist.

Mr Hockridge, of Harpenden, will appear at Westminster Magistrates' Court on Tuesday June 29.

08:04 AM

Tory MPs to voice concerns over roadmap delay

A small but significant Tory rebellion is expected in the Commons this evening, when MPs are asked to approve the extension of coronavirus restrictions in England until July 19.

Labour has signalled it will back the extension so Boris Johnson is unlikely to face defeat today, but Conservative lockdown-sceptics are likely to express their anger during a debate.

There is growing concern that the new roadmap "terminus date" of July 19 could be pushed back, or that restrictions will be reimposed in the coming autumn, while some measures such as working from home guidance may not change for the duration of the summer.

Yesterday Michael Gove said it would take something "unprecedented and remarkable" for restrictions to be extended any further than July 19.

He also noted that the new date coincided with the start of the summer holidays, which will lower transmission. But the big question is what that means when schools reopen in September.

08:00 AM

...But over-21s can book their jabs from today

Over-21s in England can now book their Covid-19 vaccination, the Government has said.

The NHS National Booking Service has opened up to 21 and 22-year-olds for the first time.

On Tuesday the head of the health service said that it was expected that vaccination appointments would be opened up to all adults by the end of the week.

08:00 AM

No plans to offer under-18s Covid vaccine, says minister

Cabinet minister Liz Truss said the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) was not recommending offering Covid-19 jabs to under-18s.

The International Trade Secretary told BBC Breakfast: "Of course the Government will look very closely at the JCVI's recommendations.

"It is my understanding that they are not recommending the vaccination of under-18s and we will be saying more in due course about that."

07:27 AM

Working from home could be here for some time to come...

...At least that is what Politico reports this morning, with the Westminster-focused blog having seen documents urging ministers not to encourage office staff to return to the workplace, instead recommending that they stay neutral at best.

The same document also suggests offices could be required to install ventilation systems and a raft of other measures in time for the final stage of the roadmap.

It makes for a stark contrast to the short-lived messaging from Number 10 last year, in which people were to be told to get back to work or risk losing their jobs.

07:22 AM

Truss: Australia deal leads to bigger riches

Liz Truss has insisted her trade deal with Australia is just a stepping stone to the bigger prize of access to the Trans-Pacific group of nations.

The deal, announced yesterday, will cut tariffs on Scotch whisky, biscuits and ceramics being sold into Australia, aiming to help UK industries that employ 3.5million people. However the deal will only boost UK GDP by up to 0.02 per cent after 15 years.

This morning the International Trade Secretary insisted that was a "static figure" that would increase over the period of the deal.

More importantly, she stressed, was the "real strategic advantage" that it brought in dealing with neighbouring countries.

"This is also about access to a wider Pacific market," she told Sky News. "We want to sign up to the Trans Pacific Partnership… doing this Australia deal is a key part of that."

07:07 AM

Care home boss calls for 'persuasion over compulsion' on staff vaccinations

The Government risks exacerbating the care home "recruitment crisis" by forcing staff to have mandatory vaccinations, the chair of a trade body has warned.

Mike Padgham, the chair of the Independent Care Group, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that while he agreed with the principle that all staff should get the Covid jab "persuasion is the way forward still".

He added: "I do believe people should be vaccinated, but I just think persuasion rather than coercion or compulsion is the way.

"We would like the numbers to be better but the Government could make more effort to get there."

He suggested the industry needed "more time" and more targeted marketing to encourage people, warning that threatening people to get the vaccination in "16 weeks or you lose your job" would "put more people off".

He also warned it could result in legal action against providers. "We are fighting two battles - Covid 19, which is the critical bit, and the Government."

07:04 AM

Liz Truss urges MPs to 'hold our nerve' ahead of crunch lockdown vote

Liz Truss has defended the Government's decision to extend lockdown after her Cabinet colleague Jacob Rees-Mogg said it would be “odd” to keep restrictions in place until all over-18s are fully vaccinated.

The International Trade Secretary urged would-be rebel MPs not to oppose the vote tonight, saying "we need to hold our nerve" until more people are fully vaccinated.

She told Sky News: "We are taking a number of steps to open up the economy, things are freer than they were a few months ago. But we need to hold our nerve - the way to do that is more vaccinations. The whole point is fundamentally to protect people."

She added: "Jacob has his views, those are his views. The reason we are doing this is... to protect lives."

07:02 AM

Good morning from Westminster

Good morning, it's looking set to be another sweltering day in Westminster - but will the political heat get to Boris Johnson?

The Prime Minister has his regular clash with Sir Keir Starmer today at midday - but the bigger conflict could well be with Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle.

The pair met behind closed doors yesterday after Sir Lindsay accused Mr Johnson of having "misled" him and Parliament - a bold choice of words from the man who has been careful not to follow his predecessor in being inflammatory in the seat.

Will tensions have thawed by midday - or will we see another public reprimand? We will be bringing you all that and more throughout the day