Stormont crisis deepens as DUP digs in over protocol

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Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, the DUP leader, is pictured in Belfast, Northern Ireland, today - Liam McBurney/PA
Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, the DUP leader, is pictured in Belfast, Northern Ireland, today - Liam McBurney/PA

The DUP will not nominate ministers for the new powersharing Executive at Stormont unless the UK Government takes “decisive action” to fix post-Brexit border problems.

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, the leader of the DUP, met with Brandon Lewis, the Northern Ireland Secretary, for crunch talks in Belfast today.

Speaking afterwards, Sir Jeffrey signalled his party has no intention of backing down on its demands for the Government to radically overhaul or scrap the Northern Ireland Protocol.

He said he had made the DUP position “clear” to Mr Lewis, adding: “It is the position we have held before the election, throughout the election campaign and will continue to hold, and that is until we get decisive action taken by the UK Government on the protocol we will not be nominating ministers to the Executive.”

The comments suggest there could now be a lengthy wait for a new powersharing Executive to be established after Sinn Fein topped the Northern Ireland Assembly elections for the first time, with the DUP in second place.

It came as Downing Street said Boris Johnson does not intend to personally intervene in powersharing talks as the Government urges Northern Ireland leaders to work together and form an administration as soon as possible.

​​Follow the latest updates below.

03:55 PM

That is all for today...

Thank you for joining me for today's politics live blog.

I will be back early tomorrow morning to guide you through the Queen's Speech.

03:26 PM

Angela Rayner says she would step down if fined over 'beergate'

Labour has just issued Sir Keir Starmer's statement in full. There is also a statement from Angela Rayner, Labour's deputy leader, in which she said she will step down if she is fined over "beergate".

Ms Rayner said: "I’ve always been clear that I was at the event in Durham working in my capacity as Deputy Leader and that no rules were broken.

"Eating during a long day’s work was not against the rules. We have a Prime Minister who has been found to have broken the rules, lied about it and then been fined. If I were issued with a fine, I would do the decent thing and step down."

03:22 PM

Sir Keir Starmer hits out at critics

Sir Keir Starmer was asked if he is "embarrassed" that his future as Labour leader now hangs on a police investigation.

Sir Keir said: "First and foremost, no rules were broken. I don't actually believe that those that are accusing me believe rules were broken.

"They are trying to simply drag all politicians into a place where the public think we are all the same.

"For me this is an in principle position. No rules were broken, I am absolutely clear about that. In the event I am wrong about that and I get a fixed penalty notice I will do the right thing and step down."

03:16 PM

Sir Keir Starmer: 'I am here to make it clear that I am not the same'

Sir Keir Starmer said that he believes "if you have made a law you should respect the law and if you are found to have been in breach of it you should step down".

Told that his announcement this afternoon is a political gamble, Sir Keir said: "This is a matter of principle and honour for me.

"It is about who I am, what I stand for and I stand for honour and integrity and a belief that politics is a force for good and we shouldn't all be dragged down by this cynical belief that all politicians are the same.

"I am here to make it clear that I am not the same."

03:12 PM

'Public deserve politicians who think the rules apply to them'

Sir Keir Starmer said he believes the "British public deserve politicians who think the rules apply to them".

He said: "They deserve politicians who put the country first, rather than themselves. They will always, always, get that from me."

03:09 PM

Sir Keir Starmer says he will resign if fined over 'beergate'

Sir Keir Starmer is now delivering a statement in central London.

The Labour leader said he believes critics attacking him over "beergate" are "trying to feed cynicism" that all politicians are the same.

Sir Keir said he is "absolutely clear that no laws were broken, they were followed at all times" at the "beergate" gathering.

He then announced: "If the police decide to issue me with a fixed penalty notice I would of course do the right thing and step down."

03:06 PM

DUP: Not acceptable to 'kick the can down the road' on NI Protocol

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, the leader of the DUP, told reporters in Belfast that the row over the Northern Ireland Protocol had "dragged on and dragged on".

He said: "I am not prepared to watch and stand on the sidelines as the can is kicked further down the road. That is not acceptable. They have had months to sort this out. It is their responsibility to do so."

He told the UK and the EU to "sort this out and take the action now to remove the Irish Sea border".

03:01 PM

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson: Protocol 'needs to be dealt with'

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, the leader of the DUP, said he wants to see Stormont up and running "as soon as possible".

But he told reporters "our position remains as it was and that is that we need to see the issues around the protocol dealt with decisively by the Government".

Speaking in Belfast, Sir Jeffrey said the "long shadow of the protocol is casting its mark over this place, it needs to be dealt with".

02:34 PM

Pictured: Boris Johnson attends memorial service for former MP James Brokenshire

Boris Johnson leaves St Margaret's Church in the grounds of Westminster Abbey after attending a memorial service for former MP James Brokenshire - Avalon
Boris Johnson leaves St Margaret's Church in the grounds of Westminster Abbey after attending a memorial service for former MP James Brokenshire - Avalon

02:25 PM

Labour leadership: The runners and riders if Sir Keir Starmer resigns

Sir Keir Starmer's leadership of the Labour Party has been plunged into its biggest crisis to date over "beergate".

The Telegraph's political reporter Dominic Penna has taken a look at who could bid for the top job should a vacancy arise.

You can read the piece in full here.

02:04 PM

Sinn Fein: 'Brinkmanship will not be tolerated'

Speaking to reporters in Belfast, Michelle O’Neill, vice president of Sinn Fein, said: “There can be no excuses, there can be no attempt by the DUP or by anyone else to punish the public and leave workers and families high and dry now or in the time ahead.”

Ms O'Neill said the DUP and the UK Government "must accept and respect the democratic outcome of this election".

She said: “Brinkmanship will not be tolerated where the north of Ireland becomes collateral damage in a game of chicken with the European Commission.

“Responsibility for finding solutions to the protocol to make its smooth implementation lie with Boris Johnson and the EU. But make no mistake, we and our business community here will not be held to ransom.”

01:51 PM

Sinn Fein: Delay to forming Executive would be 'intolerable'

Sinn Fein President Mary Lou McDonald said any delay to forming a powersharing Executive at Stormont would be “intolerable” after the DUP said it would not nominate ministers unless the Government takes "decisive action" on the Northern Ireland Protocol (see the post below 13.09).

Speaking to the media following her party’s victory in the Assembly election, Mrs McDonald said: “The election is over and we have the results and it has been a historic election. We have for the first time a nationalist, a republican first minister elected in the person of Michelle O’Neill.

“The job now is to get to work. We need to see the immediate formation of an Executive, Michelle O’Neill ratified as first minister and an appointment of a deputy first minister.”

She added: “Any tactics of delay from the DUP, any grandstanding by them, any gamesmanship by the British Government who may wish to use the north of Ireland as a bargaining chip in terms of their wider engagement with the European Union over the protocol, would be clearly intolerable and must not happen."

01:41 PM

Rishi Sunak admits he cannot make cost of living crisis 'completely go away'

Rishi Sunak told BBC Look East the Government cannot completely offset the impact of rising prices and soaring energy bills.

The Chancellor said: "Of course, the forces we are grappling with are global in nature. And we are not the only country to be facing higher energy prices or higher inflation in general."

He added: "You know, we can do things to support people and we are going to do what we can to ease the burden. I wish I could make it completely go away, but I can’t.”

01:39 PM

Rishi Sunak signals more help on energy bills in the autumn

Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, was interviewed by BBC Look East this lunchtime and he gave a strong signal that the Government will roll out further support on energy bills this autumn when the energy price cap is reviewed again.

He said: “I have always been very clear that we stand ready to do more as the situation requires it.

"But what I have always said, is once we have better clarity on what energy prices will be in the autumn, then we will be in a position to know what the right response is.”

01:30 PM

Sir Keir Starmer expected to make 'beergate' statement

Sir Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, will make a statement on "beergate" this afternoon, The Telegraph understands (see the post below at 12.37).

The statement is expected at 4pm.

01:24 PM

Emmanuel Macron: It would take 'decades' for Ukraine to join EU

Emmanuel Macron, the French President, has said it would take "several decades" for a country like Ukraine to join the EU as he called for the creation of a new "European political community" which is broader than the bloc.

He said: "Even if we gave them candidate status tomorrow we all know perfectly well that the process of allowing them to join would take several years, in truth doubtless several decades."

Mr Macron said a broader political umbrella would help give EU-hopeful nations like Ukraine stronger ties to the rest of Europe.

01:19 PM

Emmanuel Macron pushes for EU shake-up

Emmanuel Macron, the French President, said he wants the EU to change the way it makes decisions to make the bloc more effective.

Mr Macron wants there to be more majority votes - instead of unanimous votes - on certain EU policy areas.

Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the European Commission, said earlier today unanimous votes on some issues no longer makes sense if the bloc wants to be able to better respond to events at speed.

01:08 PM

Ben Wallace questions calls to expand the British Army

Ben Wallace, the Defence Secretary, has pushed back against calls to expand the size of the Army following the invasion of Ukraine.

He told the Defence of Europe conference at King’s College London that he did not want “hollow forces” and would concentrate on ensuring the existing Army “did what it said on the tin”.

He said: “If I got some new money, would I suddenly treble the size of the infantry? I’m not sure.”

Mr Wallace added: “We get lots of Top Trump collectors who say ‘look at all these Type 45s’. Yeah, well none of them work, or three of them work and the rest are tied up and have been for years. What is the point in boasting you’ve got so many units if they’re not properly wrapped, as I call it.”

12:18 PM

DUP demands Government 'action' on NI Protocol

More from Sir Jeffrey Donaldson following the DUP leader's meeting with Brandon Lewis, the Northern Ireland Secretary, in Belfast today.

Sir Jeffrey said the DUP will now wait for Government "action" on the Northern Ireland Protocol and "the sooner it happens, the better for all of us”.

He said: “I am not asking them to do anything that they have not already committed to. They gave a firm commitment to protect our place in the UK internal market. They have not done so, they have failed over the last two-and-a-half years to honour that commitment.

“We made clear to the Secretary of State that until he honours his commitment, the obligations that they entered into in New Decade, New Approach, we will not be nominating ministers to the Executive."

12:09 PM

DUP digs in over Northern Ireland Protocol

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, the leader of the DUP, said he has told Brandon Lewis, the Northern Ireland Secretary, that his party will not nominate ministers to the Stormont powersharing Executive without “decisive action” on the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Speaking following a meeting in Belfast, he said: “We have had a meeting this morning with the Secretary of State and we have made our position clear to him.

“It is the position we have held before the election, throughout the election campaign and will continue to hold, and that is until we get decisive action taken by the UK Government on the protocol we will not be nominating ministers to the Executive."

12:04 PM

Boris Johnson not planning to intervene in Northern Ireland talks

Downing Street said Boris Johnson is not planning to be personally involved in Northern Ireland Stormont talks.

The Prime Minister's Official Spokesman said: "No plans for that. As you know this is being led by Brandon Lewis [Northern Ireland Secretary].”

No 10 also said there is no set deadline for a powersharing deal to be done.

The spokesman said: “We are not setting a specific timeline. I think certainly some of the issues that all of the parties campaigned on, not least some of these global pressures on cost of living, need urgent action.”

12:01 PM

No 10 urges Northern Ireland leaders to work together

Downing Street has urged political leaders in Northern Ireland to work together and form a new administration at Stormont as soon as possible (see the post below at 10.28).

The Prime Minister's Official Spokesman said: "The people of Northern Ireland deserve a stable and accountable devolved government that delivers on the issues that matter most to them and that is our focus and we will be meeting with the party leaders with that in mind.”

11:53 AM

'We are certainly in this for the long haul'

Downing Street was asked at lunchtime if the UK will provide military support to Ukraine for as long as Kyiv wants.

This is a topic of increasing interest in Westminster because it gets into the idea of whether the Government would back Ukraine should it try to kick Russia out of Crimea - territory annexed by Moscow in 2014.

The Prime Minister's Official Spokesman said: "Certainly we will continue to support Ukraine in its efforts to push back against Russian aggression. We are certainly in this for the long haul and we will not back away from our support for them.”

He added: “We will not row back from our support. It doesn’t come with specific conditions.”

11:37 AM

Keir Starmer mulls pledge to resign if fined over 'beergate'

Sir Keir Starmer is considering announcing that he will resign if he is fined over 'beergate', as he pulled out of an MP’s memorial service for crunch meetings on his political future.

The Labour leader is under pressure to explain whether he would leave his job if he is issued with a fixed penalty notice by Durham Police over a curry and beer with Labour staff on the campaign trail in April 2021, while lockdown measures were in force.

He has cancelled all his diary engagements for Monday, including a speech to the Institute for Government think tank.

You can read the full story here.

11:35 AM

Queen's Speech will be 'tailored' to tackling cost of living crisis

Downing Street refused to comment on what specifically will be included in the Queen's Speech tomorrow on tackling the cost of living crisis.

But the Prime Minister's Official Spokesman said the Government's work will be "tailored" to dealing with rising prices and pressure on household budgets.

The spokesman said: “Certainly as I have said it is at the forefront of the Prime Minister’s mind of how we deal with these global pressures and so you would certainly expect the work of the Government will be tailored towards that challenge.”

11:25 AM

Could the Government bring forward its income tax cut?

Rishi Sunak announced in March this year that the Government is planning to cut the basic rate of income tax by 1p in the pound in 2024.

However, the worsening cost of living crisis has prompted questions among Tory MPs of whether ministers should bring the cut forward, potentially to the autumn budget later this year.

Speaking to reporters at lunchtime, the Prime Minister's Official Spokesman did not rule the move out, saying the Government will "keep all options open".

The spokesman said: "We know that this [the cost of living crisis] is at the forefront of the public’s mind, it is certainly at the forefront of the Prime Minister’s mind and we will keep all options open.”

11:11 AM

Pictured: Sinn Fein MLAs pose in Stormont

Deputy leader of Sinn Fein Michelle O'Neill (pictured front and centre) poses with her newly elected team of MLAs - Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters
Deputy leader of Sinn Fein Michelle O'Neill (pictured front and centre) poses with her newly elected team of MLAs - Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters

10:40 AM

Michael Gove: Rising inflation makes levelling up harder

Michael Gove, the Levelling Up Secretary, has told the BBC's Panorama programme that soaring inflation is making levelling up "more difficult".

He said: "At a time when inflation is rising that means that every pound of government spending is worth a little bit less in a year’s time than it was last year.

“So it is a tough climate. It is tough for everyone. It is both much more important and also that little bit more difficult.”

10:17 AM

Poll: Almost half of Labour voters believe Keir Starmer should quit if fined

Almost half of Labour voters believe Sir Keir Starmer should resign if he is fined over “beergate”, according to a new poll.

A YouGov survey found some 46 per cent of Britons overall believe the Labour leader should quit if he is fined. But the number is higher among 2019 Labour voters, with 48 per cent of the view that he should step down.

That is a greater number than the 40 per cent of 2019 Conservative voters who believe Sir Keir should resign if he is fined.

Meanwhile, a majority of Britons - 54 per cent - believe Sir Keir either “probably” or “definitely” broke the rules.

10:03 AM

Ben Wallace hints at push for more defence spending in future

Ben Wallace, the Defence Secretary, told reporters that "as a threat changes, so should our funding" in a hint he will push for more funding from the Treasury in the future.

Mr Wallace said the Ministry of Defence budget for this year and next year is in a "sound position" and future spending plans will be linked to what Nato's long-term plan is.

He said: “I have always said as a threat changes, so should our funding. No different from other parts of government, if pressure on the NHS goes up, that gets met with money. If threat changes, then that should.

“If it goes down, be prepared what you wish for, because if the threat goes down, maybe defence spending. So, I think it’s up to me to present a case about the threat and what we need to do to counter it. Then it’s a discussion about government, about its appetite."

09:52 AM

UK believes Russia is 'running out' of precision weapons

Ben Wallace, the Defence Secretary, told reporters after a speech at the National Army Museum this morning that the UK believes Vladimir Putin is "running out of his precision [weapons] stock fairly quickly".

Mr Wallace said the invasion of Ukraine had shown a "lesson for us all": “We all have highly complex weapons that, funnily enough, don’t take a couple of days to replace, it can take months.

“Once you fire them all in the way Russia has done, they have a real challenge and I think in the long term my point about ‘has Putin already won or lost in the long run’, you know, Putin trying to refurbish that armed forces is going to be incredibly hard. A lot of the components come from the West, he won’t be able to get hold of those.”

09:47 AM

Ben Wallace blasts 'fairytale' claims made by Vladimir Putin

Ben Wallace has accused Vladimir Putin, the Russian President, of making “fairytale claims” about Nato's intentions.

Answering questions after delivering a speech at the National Army Museum in south west London, Mr Wallace said: “President Putin has made a number of fairytale claims for months and years now. It’s literally getting… if it wasn’t so tragic it would be amusing, but it isn’t.

“One of his claims is that he is surrounded. Nato accounts for six per cent of his land border. That’s not being surrounded if only six per cent of your land border is Nato countries."

09:42 AM

Ben Wallace accuses Vladimir Putin of 'mirroring facism'

Ben Wallace, the Defence Secretary, said Vladimir Putin and his allies are "mirroring" the "fascism and tyranny" seen during the Second World War.

Speaking at the National Army Museum in south west London, the Defence Secretary said: “Through the invasion of Ukraine, Putin, his inner circle, his generals, are now mirroring fascism and tyranny 77 years ago, repeating the errors of the last century’s totalitarian regimes.

“They are showing the same disregard for human life, national sovereignty and the rules-based international system."

09:39 AM

Ben Wallace: Vladimir Putin trying to 'intimidate' the world

Ben Wallace, the Defence Secretary, delivered a speech at the National Army Museum in south west London this morning and he used the address to repeatedly take aim at Vladimir Putin.

The speech coincided with the Russian Victory Day parade in Red Square, Moscow, which is being held to mark the Second World War victory over the Nazis. (You can follow the latest from the parade here).

Mr Wallace said he believed Mr Putin wanted to "intimidate" the world: “Really what President Putin wants is the Russian people and the world to be awed and intimidated by the ongoing memorial to militarism. I believe the ongoing und unprovoked conflict in Ukraine does nothing but dishonour those same soldiers.”

09:28 AM

Brandon Lewis to meet with Northern Ireland political leaders

Brandon Lewis, the Northern Ireland Secretary, is in Belfast today to hold crunch talks with the leaders of the main political parties.

He is due to meet with Sinn Fein's Michelle O’Neill, the DUP's Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, Alliance's Naomi Long, the UUP's Doug Beattie, and the SDLP's Colum Eastwood.

Mr Lewis said in a statement issued overnight that he will urge the leaders to "fulfil their responsibilities and form an Executive as soon as possible".

However, he will face tough questions over what the Government intends to do to resolve problems with the Northern Ireland Protocol, with the DUP having made clear it will not join an administration unless the protocol is scrapped.

09:20 AM

Pictured: Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer leaves his London home this morning

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer leaves his home in North London this morning - Jamie Lorriman
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer leaves his home in North London this morning - Jamie Lorriman

08:50 AM

Wes Streeting says he does not want to be next Labour leader

Wes Streeting, the shadow health secretary, was asked during an interview on Sky News this morning if he wanted to be the next Labour leader.

He replied: “No. I am sure that by the time there is a leadership election I will be too old and people will be looking to a new generation because after three terms of Keir Starmer being the prime minister of our country people will be looking for a new generation.

“I am slogging my guts out to make sure that Keir Starmer is the next prime minister and on the basis of the election results we got last week, a remarkable turnaround from where Labour was two years ago, I think we have got everything to play for at the next general election.”

08:35 AM

Shadow minister: Keir Starmer's diary 'changes all the time'

Wes Streeting, the shadow health secretary, said Sir Keir Starmer's diary "changes all the time" after the Labour leader pulled out of an event in central London this afternoon (see the post below at 08.27).

Asked why Sir Keir had pulled out, Mr Streeting said: “No idea. I didn’t check before coming on because I thought it was such a trivial thing.

“But the idea that Keir has been avoiding scrutiny when he has been out all weekend in front of cameras celebrating those brilliant results we got in the local elections last week, whether or not he has done an event, his diary changes all the time, it is kind of neither here nor there really.”

08:29 AM

'He is going to have to search his soul'

Michelle Donelan, the universities minister, said Sir Keir Starmer will have to "search his soul" if he is fined over "beergate" after the Labour leader piled enormous pressure on Boris Johnson to resign after he was fined over "partygate".

Asked if she believed Sir Keir should step down if he is fined, Ms Donelan told Sky News: "That is a decision for Keir, not for me. What my constituents are saying is that this whole thing smacks of sheer hypocrisy given the relentless focus he has placed on ‘partygate’.

“I think this is a decision for him. He is going to have to search his soul after making this a top priority over the last few months at the expense of key issues like rising cost of living etc.”

08:14 AM

Michelle Donelan plays down chances of united Ireland referendum

Sinn Fein's victory in the Northern Ireland Assembly elections has prompted questions about whether a referendum could be held in the future on a united Ireland.

Michelle Donelan, the universities minister, told Sky News that it is a "long way down the track in terms of a topic for conversation”.

She said: “I think let’s not overcook this one as of yet. Even Sinn Fein said it would be five years off. Their priority in the election, my understanding is that they campaigned primarily on issues like cost of living, not on a referendum. Over 50 per cent of votes were actually for unionist parties or parties that didn’t want constitutional change.”

She added: "This election does not indicate that there is a groundswell or a dramatic change in terms of wanting a split from the Union from the people of Northern Ireland and the votes cast demonstrate that.”

08:06 AM

Minister refuses to be drawn on Queen's Speech

A Cabinet row over how to approach the Northern Ireland Protocol issue means there will not be any legislative measures about it in the Queen's Speech tomorrow, the Telegraph understands.

Liz Truss faces Cabinet opposition to her plan to rip up the Protocol despite claims it could help to secure a devolved government in the province (you can read the full overnight story here).

The Queen's Speech is only expected to include "anodyne" language that ministers will try to resolve the border issues.

Michelle Donelan would not be drawn on whether the Government could include a Bill to override the Protocol, telling Sky News: “I am not going to reveal what is in the full Queen’s Speech tomorrow. I am not going to reveal either way what is in the Queen’s Speech, that would break all protocol.

“What I am saying is that our first step here is to try and negotiate with the EU and find a solution.”

07:59 AM

Minister makes clear Government’s preference is to negotiate with EU

Michelle Donelan, the universities minister, said the Government’s current focus is to negotiate with the EU to try to remedy problems with the Northern Ireland Protocol.

She told Sky News: “Our go to to begin with is to negotiate with the EU and try and resolve this problem and find a workable solution.”

The UK and EU have been locked in talks for months, with a breakthrough remaining elusive. Ms Donelan suggested efforts could be stepped up in the wake of the Northern Ireland Assembly elections.

She said: “We are negotiating. We are working at pace. And we will be over the coming days trying to rapidly find a solution, working with the EU.”

07:58 AM

Minister: Scrapping Northern Ireland Protocol ‘on the table’

The Northern Ireland Assembly elections saw Sinn Fein become the largest party, with the DUP in second place. Attention has now turned to whether the two parties will be able to agree to form an Executive.

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, the leader of the DUP, has said he will refuse to join a new administration until the Northern Ireland Protocol is scrapped.

Work remains ongoing between the UK and the EU to try to resolve issues with the post-Brexit border rules but ministers are still insistent that unilaterally scrapping the protocol is “on the table” as an option.

Michelle Donelan, the universities minister, told Sky News: “The Northern Ireland Protocol is not working and I believe the concerns about that were reflected in the recent result that we saw in the election. We are working at pace to resolve this. Nothing is off the table.”

Asked directly if the Government could scrap the protocol, Ms Donelan said: “That is on the table as one of the options. Our first attempt here is to try and negotiate with the EU. We want to resolve this at pace.”

07:57 AM

‘I just don’t think that is going to happen’

Wes Streeting, the shadow health secretary, was asked if Sir Keir Starmer’s position would be untenable if he is fined over “beergate”.

Mr Streeting refused to be drawn, telling BBC Breakfast: “I answered this question the other day. I just don’t think that is going to happen. I am just not entertaining the prospect that Keir Starmer is going to be fined.”

07:39 AM

'Let’s not forget the police have looked at this before'

Wes Streeting, Labour's shadow health secretary, told BBC Breakfast there is "no reason to believe" the police will reach a different conclusion on "beergate" this time around having previously decided they did not believe an offence had been established.

Mr Streeting said: "And in this case let’s not forget the police have looked at this before. Ok, they are looking at it again now. There have been lots of calls particularly from the Conservative Party for them to do so.

“They are looking at it again now. I have no reason to believe, as I said on your programme the other day, that looking at it this time will be any different to what we saw before.”

07:27 AM

Wes Streeting insists Keir Starmer is not 'ducking scrutiny'

Sir Keir Starmer had been due to attend a briefing hosted by the Institute for Government think tank this afternoon to discuss "the challenges the country faces". The event has now been cancelled. (You can read the overnight story here).

Wes Streeting, the shadow health secretary, was asked why the Labour leader had pulled out of the event as it was suggested to him that Sir Keir may not have wanted to face questions from journalists.

Mr Streeting told BBC Breakfast: "I have no idea why he cancelled the event and I certainly didn’t ask before I came on because I think it is such a trivial issue. But the idea that Keir has been dodging questions, I mean he has been out all weekend, even after a local election campaign where we did very well.

“He has been out thanking Labour teams, particularly in the places where we did particularly well in these elections and he has put himself in front of the cameras to answer journalists’ questions wherever he has been.

“So the idea that Keir is somehow ducking scrutiny is simply not true. He has led from the front during this local election campaign.”

07:21 AM

'I just don’t understand the controversy'

Wes Streeting, Labour's shadow health secretary, said he believed it is "totally reasonable" that time was "set aside for dinner" at the "beergate" gathering.

He told BBC Breakfast: "One of the remarkable things about that story in the Mail is that it was entirely unsurprising and not at all revelatory for anyone who has been involved in an election campaign.

“When you go on visits around the country… a senior politician like Keir Starmer, you don’t just rock up in a place like Durham, wander round a bit aimlessly and then hope for the best.

“Everything is planned. Everything is arranged. And it is totally reasonable that during the course of the day time would be set aside for dinner and it doesn’t contradict anything that Keir has said all the way along about the fact that he was in Durham during an election campaign, had some dinner, carried on working and I just don’t understand the controversy.”

07:18 AM

Good morning

Good morning and welcome to today's politics live blog.

Westminster is preparing for tomorrow's Queen's Speech when the Government will set out is legislative agenda for the next parliamentary session.

But before we get to that ministers are wrestling with the situation in Northern Ireland while Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer is facing renewed pressure over "beergate".

It promises to be a busy day and I will guide you through the key developments.