Politics latest news: PM says Australia trade deal offers 'massive opportunities' for Britons - watch No 10 briefing live

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·54 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Boris Johnson has insisted that British farmers have a "massive opportunity" from post-Brexit trade deals amid a major cabinet row over the terms of an agreement with Australia.

The Prime Minister hit back at criticism from the SNP's Ian Blackford over the prospect of handing Australian farmers zero-tariff access for lamb and beef, insisting that he "greatly underestimates" the benefits of free trade.

Speaking during Prime Minister’s Questions, Mr Johnson added that the UK had grown "successful and prosperous" on the back of exporting products around the world, telling MPs: "Our food exports are second to none. He should be proud of that.

It comes ahead of a crunch meeting tomorrow, with senior ministers deeply divided about the potential impact of the deal on the British farming industry.

George Eustice, the Environment Secretary, is fighting to extend a transition period - during which tariffs would gradually reduce to zero - from 10 to 15 years in order to shield British farmers and give them more time to adjust.

However, allies of Liz Truss, the International Trade Secretary, have hit back at Mr Eustice, claiming that a failure to agree terms could scupper future deals with the US and other major economies, in turn squandering the opportunities of Brexit.

Ms Truss is backed by Lord Frost, the former Brexit negotiator and minister in charge of EU relations, as well as Kwasi Kwarteng, the Business Secretary, who warned that a failure to strike an agreement with Australia would make other deals "very challenging."

​​Follow the latest updates below.

04:53 PM

That's it for another day...

In the Downing Street press conference this evening, Matt Hancock announced that a world-first Covid-19 vaccine booster study will be launched in the UK. The Cov-Boost study will trial seven vaccines and will be the first in the world to provide vital data on the impact of a third dose on patients’ immune responses.

While the Health Secretary told MPs today that cases of the Indian variant had increased by 28 per cent in just two days, Downing Street seems increasingly upbeat about containing the spread of the Indian variant after the Prime Minister earlier stated that new data was "encouraging."

Boris Johnson's spokesman told reporter's that the Government was "not seeing any sharp increases or significant areas of concern", such as Bolton.

European Union governments are having second thoughts over whether to lift an EU travel ban on British tourists this week because of the spread of the Indian variant. Discussions will begin on what countries to add to the EU's "white list" - the equivalent of the British 'green list' - on Thursday.

Mr Johnson has insisted that British farmers have a "massive opportunity" from post-Brexit trade deals amid a fresh schism opening up in the Cabinet over a UK-Australia trade deal. George Eustice, the Environment Secretary, is leading a rebellion over the terms negotiated for Australian farmers, who would benefit from zero tariffs on products such as beef and lamb within a decade.

A failure to agree terms could scupper future deals between the UK and other major economies, including the US, which in turn would be squandering the opportunities of Brexit. The Cabinet committee on trade deals due to meet tomorrow to thrash out the Government's position.

During PMQs today, Mr Johnson insisted that anti-Semitism will not be allowed to "grow and fester" in the UK amid a rise in hate crime incidents following renewed conflict in Israel and Gaza.

In our poll today we asked you whether you would go on holiday to a country on the Government's 'amber list' amid contradictory advice from ministers. With almost 800 voters, 33 per cent said yes, 56 per cent said no and 11 per cent said they are not sure because Government advice has been too muddled.

For more news and analysis, keep reading.

04:52 PM

Indian variant: booster vaccinations could be offered this autumn

Booster coronavirus jabs to defeat the Indian variant could be offered this autumn, following trials of seven types of vaccine.

Almost 3,000 people will be recruited to NHS trials to establish the effect of a third dose in protecting against existing and new variants.

Scientists will test the response of the vaccines to all variants circulating in the UK, including those first found in India and South Africa, as well as in Kent.

The £19.3 million clinical trial will test the Pfizer jab alongside those from AstraZeneca, Moderna, Novavax, Janssen from Johnson & Johnson, Valneva and CureVac.

Three of the vaccines will also be tested at a half dose, which scientists say they expect will be enough to provide an adequate immune response.

04:50 PM

Fully vaccinated Britons will not be exempt from foreign travel traffic light system

Asked about the EU's decision to accept vaccinated British tourists to the bloc and why vaccinated people are not exempt from the traffic light system in the UK, the Health Secretary says that "we take these decisions in order to protect the recovery at home".

He adds that it is a matter for the EU what their international travel rules are, but that most areas in Europe have a higher case rates of the virus and because of this "we are wise to take a cautious approach to international travel".

Prof Van-Tam adds: "Vaccine effectiveness is not 100 per cent...we know vaccine protection is going to vary between individuals and probably age".

04:41 PM

'The amber list is not for holidays', insists Matt Hancock

Harry Cole from The Sun presses further on the "mixed messages" from Government ministers on international travel policy.

Mr Hancock insists that he has looked at all the messaging from various minister, including George Eustice, and has found that "all of those statements were completely consistent" about the rules and advice concerning travel to an amber list country.

He adds: "The amber list is not for holidays and the red list is not for holidays either".

04:38 PM

Go to green list destinations if you 'want a holiday abroad', says Health Secretary

Harry Cole, Political Editor of The Sun, asks the Health Secretary what an "extreme reason" to travel to an 'amber list' country would be, as suggested by the Prime Minister in the Commons today.

Mr Hancock says "we have been absolutely straightforward about this", adding "you should not go to an amber or red list country on holiday, you should only go in exceptional circumstances".

He cites two examples of "exceptional circumstances" as visiting a very ill family member or to go to a funeral of somebody you are very close to.

Mr Hancock adds: "If you want a holiday abroad, that is what the green list is for".

hancock - TOBY MELVILLE/REUTERS
hancock - TOBY MELVILLE/REUTERS

04:32 PM

'Extraordinary surveillance capability' is our advantage over the variant, says Hancock

The Health Secretary says that "we have seen this playbook work" in tackling variants of Covid-19 before, and that the advantage we have now is that we know "so much more about it so much faster" due to our "extraordinary" surveillance capability.

Dr Jenny Harries, from the UK Health Security Agency, cites the "huge amount of resources" and "huge effort" from the public in tackling the Indian variant spread through vaccinations.

Mr Hancock adds: "This is on all of us again, we are all masters of our own fate...we can get this under control."

Prof Van-Tam says "please remember it is going to take probably around 21 days for you to have protection" from the first dose of the vaccine, and that the second dose offers protection with a seven to 10 day delay.

04:27 PM

JVT: 'Million dollar question' is how much more transmissible Indian variant is than Kent variant

Professor Van-Tam says that "scientists are sure that this virus is more transmissible" than the Kent variant, but the "million dollar question is how much more transmissible".

Prof Van-Tam says that the data they have now currently ranges from a low percent of transmissibility to 50 per cent more transmissible, but that it is too soon to say anything conclusive based on the data.

He predicts that scientists will confirm that it "lands somewhere in the middle", but that they are not certain yet.

04:23 PM

Pregnant woman get vaccinated with their age group, says Dr Harries

A member of the public asks about why the increased risk of complications for pregnant people after contracting Covid has not led to them being prioritised for a vaccination.

Dr Harries says it is "perfectly safe" for a pregnant woman to have a vaccination and that they will be called in "with their own age group" and not the extremely clinically vulnerable age groups.

This is unless they have underlying health conditions, in which case Dr Harries says they will be called to go for a vaccination earlier than their age group slot.

04:20 PM

JVT: 'Better news' for Covid-19 data in the UK

The deputy chief medical officer Professor Jonathan Van-Tam is now showing the data slides, which portray the "big winter wave" and also show we are currently in a "very low place", with the most recent average being 2000 cases per day.

He moves to "better news" of those in hospital with Covid, as we are now down to under 1000 people in hospital with Covid. This is a drop of over 17 per cent in the last week.

The most recent seven-day death average is seven deaths per day, which is "regrettable" but "extremely low" nonetheless.

Prof Van-Tam adds that we are now at 37 million who have received their first dose of the vaccine and almost 21 million people who have had their second dose.

04:16 PM

'UK has probably done more than any other nation' to vaccinate the world, says Hancock

Mr Hancock now adds a few words on how we are protecting people from Covid-19 around the world.

He says that "the UK has probably done more than any other nation to help vaccinate the world's poorest...thanks to the gift to the world of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine", which is developed at-cost.

Almost 1.5 billion doses have now been injected across the world, with more than 400 million of those being AstraZeneca doses.

He adds that 160 countries have now had the AstraZeneca vaccine delivered to them.

"This vaccination programme is a vaccination programme for the world" and "everyone in this United Kingdom should be incredibly proud" of AstraZeneca, says the Health Secretary.

He thanks the team at Oxford and AstraZeneca for their hard work.

04:12 PM

World-first Covid-19 vaccine booster study will be launched in the UK, says Hancock

The Health Secretary also updates the public on a new clinical trail, backed by £19 million of taxpayer's money, on how booster vaccines can play a part in keeping us ahead of the race against the virus.

Matt Hancock adds that the uptake of the first dose has been "phenomenally high" but it is still incredibly important that we get vaccination uptake in the "final few per cent" who haven't had theirs yet, though eligible.

"We will not rest" until vaccine uptake is 100 per cent, insists Mr Hancock.

04:08 PM

'Majority' of those hospitalised in Bolton are unvaccinated, says Health Secretary

Mr Hancock says that the "majority" of those hospitalised in Bolton are unvaccinated, and he urges the public to remember the importance of getting two doses of the jab.

More than 4,000 vaccines have been given in Bolton since Friday, he says.

He tells us of other areas where variant cases are rising, and lays out all the steps with which we are fighting it: surge testing, increased vaccinations, more vaccination sites, a 100-strong contact tracing team on the ground and mobility data.

Mr Hancock also says that the virus is able to be spotted in "waste water", which has enabled contact tracers to identify more areas where the Indian variant has spread.

Seven out of 10 adults have now had their first vaccination in the UK, he adds.

04:05 PM

New variant has always had 'potential to knock us off track', says Hancock

The Health Secretary begins today's Downing Street press conference by updating us on the Covid-19 situation in the UK.

"Overall hospitalisations and deaths remain very low", he says, which has allowed us to take step three of the roadmap this week.

"We must proceed with vigilance" he warns, as a new variant has always had the "potential to knock us off track".

He says that the early evidence suggests that the Indian variant passes on more easily from person to person than the Kent variant, but we have "increasing confidence" that the vaccine is effective against it, as Boris Johnson told the Commons during PMQs today.

"We are doing all we can to make sure this new variant does not put our country at risk", he adds.

03:58 PM

Matt Hancock to lead a Downing Street press conference at 5pm

The Health Secretary will be joined by deputy chief medical officer Professor Jonathan Van-Tam and Dr Jenny Harries from the UK Health Security Agency.

He has just confirmed to the Commons today that there are now almost 3,000 cases of the Indian variant in the UK, which is up 28 per cent in the last two days.

Hancock - Kirsty Wigglesworth/WPA pool/Getty Images
Hancock - Kirsty Wigglesworth/WPA pool/Getty Images

03:56 PM

Surge testing to take place in more areas of the country, says Health Secretary

Matt Hancock also announced the deployment of surge testing in more areas of the country including Hounslow, Leicester and North Tyneside.

He told the Commons: "In the last week across Bolton and Blackburn with Darwen we have given 26,094 jabs as well as delivering 75,000 extra tests.

"But this challenge is not restricted to Bolton and Blackburn. We have used the extensive bio-security surveillance system that we have built and new techniques to identify the areas we are most concerned about where we will now surge testing and vaccinations further."

Mr Hancock continued: "As a result of all this analysis, I can tell the House that we will now have surge testing and vaccinations in Bedford, Burnley, Hounslow, Kirklees, Leicester and North Tyneside - and we are supporting the Scottish Government, who are taking similar action in Glasgow and Moray.

"What this means in practice is we are putting in place more testing and more testing sites. On vaccinations, we are making more vaccinations available to everyone who is eligible."

The Health Secretary added that "we are not yet opening up vaccinations to those who are 35 and younger".

03:53 PM

Matt Hancock tells Commons that 2,967 cases of the Indian variant have been identified

Matt Hancock has confirmed that 2,967 cases of the B1617.2 variant have now been identified.

Speaking in the Commons, he said: "With more than 70% of adults now having had a first dose, and almost two-fifths already double-vaccinated, we have much to celebrate.

"Vaccination underpins our road map which means we can now have pints in pubs and hugs in homes.

"Yet, as I updated the House on Monday, the race between the virus and the vaccine has got a whole lot closer. I can tell the House that 2,967 cases of Covid-19 with the B1617.2 variant have now been identified."

03:52 PM

Get tested despite lockdown fears, urges Blackburn with Darwen health chief

People in Blackburn with Darwen are being urged to get tested for Covid-19 "regardless" of concerns about being placed into lockdown.

The area's director of public health, Professor Dominic Harrison, said the best way of combatting the rising infection rate was to increase testing.

Figures for the seven days to May 14 show the East Lancashire borough has the second highest rate of new Covid-19 cases per 100,000 people in England - up from 86.2 to 131.6, with 197 new cases.

Surge vaccinations got under way this week in Blackburn with Darwen as more than 1,000 new extra doses of the Pfizer vaccine a day were made available by central Government for two weeks.

03:34 PM

No 10 not commenting on 'speculation' about PM's luxury wallpaper falling down

Downing Street has refused to comment on reports the wallpaper in the Prime Minister's lavishly furnished flat is falling down.

Work on the No 11 apartment Boris Johnson shares with fiancee Carrie Symonds is the subject of a series of investigations.

Mr Johnson has insisted that he has paid for all the works himself but has refused to say whether he received an initial loan to cover them.

The Daily Mail reported that the £840-a-roll luxury wallpaper used in the redecoration is now peeling off.

The newspaper reported that the gold-coloured paper is a heavyweight design compared to mass-market wall coverings.

Asked about the issues with the decor, the Prime Minister's official spokesman: "I'm not going to get into that sort of speculation."

Numbers 11 (L) and 10 (R) Downing Street are pictured in central London - JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP
Numbers 11 (L) and 10 (R) Downing Street are pictured in central London - JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP

03:08 PM

London mayor asks Government to roll out vaccine more quickly for young people

London mayor Sadiq Khan said he was asking the Government to roll out the vaccine more quickly for younger people in areas where there was concern about the Indian variant.

Speaking to the PA news agency at an electric bus factory in North Yorkshire, Mr Khan also said it was "disappointing" the Government had not sorted out issues around international travel.

He said: "I think they delayed for too long to put India on the red list, because the Prime Minister was keen to go to India and didn't want to cause offence to the Indian government, and that's led to the Indian variant increasing.

"The key thing now is to make sure we reduce this particular type of variant spreading and so I'm asking the Government in those parts of the country, including London, where there are a large number of people with the Indian variant, for them to accelerate the rollout of the vaccine so even those below the age of 36 can receive the vaccine."

03:02 PM

Inquiry into Post Office scandal will be put on statutory footing, says business minister

An independent inquiry into the Post Office's Horizon IT scandal will be put on a statutory footing, business minister Paul Scully has announced.

Making a statement on the matter in the Commons, Mr Scully told MPs: "On 27 April, I made an oral statement to the House following the Court of Appeal's decision on 23 April to quash the convictions of 29 postmasters who had been convicted of Horizon-related shortfalls.

"As I said then, the Government recognises the gravity of the court's judgment and the scale of the miscarriage of justice that it makes clear."

He added: "Therefore, I can now inform the House that with the agreement of the Prime Minister I will convert the inquiry to a statutory footing on 1 June 2021."

Paul Scully said the inquiry, chaired by retired High Court judge Sir Wyn Williams, is now expected to report in autumn 2022 rather than this summer.

Former post office workers celebrating outside the Royal Courts of Justice, London - Yui Mok/PA Wire
Former post office workers celebrating outside the Royal Courts of Justice, London - Yui Mok/PA Wire

02:46 PM

Anti-Semitism will not be allowed to 'grow and fester' in the UK, says PM

The Prime Minister has insisted that anti-Semitism will not be allowed to "grow and fester" in the UK amid a rise in hate crime incidents following renewed conflict in Israel and Gaza.

Boris Johnson was questioned by Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer in the House of Commons on Wednesday about what action could be taken to support Jewish communities.

He replied: "I share his horror at the outbreak of anti-Semitic incidents and the Government has conveyed that message loud and clear to those who are responsible for enforcing the law against hate crime of that kind.

"But obviously we will continue to work and to support the Jewish community in any way that we can - particularly working with the Community Safety Trust (CST) who do an absolutely outstanding job in my view.

"But also showing as a country, as a society, that we will call this out at every stage. We will not let it take root, we will not allow it to grow and fester."

The CST, which gathers reports of anti-Semitic incidents, said there were 116 recorded in the 11-day period from May 8, compared to 19 in the 11 days before May 8, an increase of around six times.

02:40 PM

ICYMI: Have your say in today's poll

Would-be holidaymakers have been left with their plans for a summer break up in the air after ministers appeared to contradict themselves over where the public are permitted to travel abroad.

With the new traffic light system brought in on Monday to allow some foreign travel to resume again after months of lockdown, the Prime Minister stressed countries on the so-called "amber list" were "not somewhere where you should be going on holiday".

But two Cabinet ministers appeared to offer a different reading of the rules, with Environment Secretary George Eustice telling broadcasters people could go to amber-listed countries as long as they observed quarantine rules on their return.

What do you think?

02:33 PM

Government guidance on foreign travel is 'completely unclear', says Transport Committee Chair

The chairman of the Commons Transport Committee has said the Government guidance on foreign travel is "completely unclear".

Conservative MP Huw Merriman told BBC Radio 4's The World At One: "I thought if you were coming from a country that was on the amber list then there would be tests, passenger locator forms and quarantine at home. But now we are being told that you shouldn't be going there at all.

"It seems very bizarre that just a week or so ago the Government announced that they were going to lift the stay in the UK guidance, they set out which countries apply to which traffic lights so individuals would know what they had to go through and then make their decision and yet now people are told they shouldn't be travelling.

"I think that that is just wrong, not least because many, many people have made their bookings based on what they thought the restrictions should be and are now being told they shouldn't go at all."

02:18 PM

Use of violence in opposition to Northern Ireland protocol 'not off table'

The use of violence in opposition to the Northern Ireland protocol is a "last resort" but not "off the table", a member of the Loyalist Communities Council has said.

Representatives from the LCC appeared before the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee (NIAC) on Wednesday, as part of its inquiry into the Brexit protocol.

Committee chairman Simon Hoare MP questioned the LCC representatives on their past comments on the use of violence.

Joel Keys, 19, was asked about a post he made online on April 12, that stated: "To say violence is never the answer is massively naive, sometimes violence is the only tool you have left."

Asked if her stood by the comments, Mr Keys replied: "I would stand by the comments.

"You know there are certainly certain circumstances where violence is the only tool you have left.

"For example, I don't think the people living under Kim Jong Un's sort of dictatorship is going to get anywhere with peaceful protests anytime soon."

02:00 PM

Andrew Lilico: Farmers' fears over a trade deal with Australia are misplaced

In the post-Brexit world the UK wants new mates, with whom it can work together on the global stage. The most obvious such new mates are Australia, New Zealand and Canada – and it is no coincidence that these are three of the main trade deals the UK is currently working on.

Some UK farming lobbyists suggest that will be the case for UK farmers if there is an FTA with Australia, saying UK producers would struggle to compete.

Alas, that is unlikely. As of 2018, Australia was the 14th largest food exporter to the UK. Even if the volume of those exports doubled, we would still import less food from Australia than we do from Denmark or Thailand. And Australian capacity to expand is far from limitless. It does not even meet all the quotas for food exports it has with other global trade partners as it is.

01:49 PM

New Cabinet gives Scotland 'serious Government', says Sturgeon

First Minister Appoints New Cabinet After Recent Election - Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
First Minister Appoints New Cabinet After Recent Election - Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Nicola Sturgeon has said her new Cabinet will give Scotland a "serious Government for the serious times we face", as she completed a major reshuffle of her front-bench team.

The First Minister unveiled her new team in a socially-distanced photocall outside Bute House, her official residence in Edinburgh.

Ms Sturgeon had already announced that her deputy John Swinney was being moved from education - where his performance has come under fire - to the new role of Covid Recovery Secretary.

Shirley-Anne Somerville, who had previously held the social security brief, is the new Education Secretary - although her appointment had to be made via a Zoom call after it emerged a member of her family is self-isolating.

Humza Yousaf moves from justice to become the Health and Social Care Secretary - which will see him play a key role in tackling coronavirus and take on responsibility for work to set up a new National Care Service.

Angus Robertson, the former SNP Westminster leader who was elected as an MSP less than two weeks ago, goes straight into the Cabinet as the new Constitution Secretary - a post which had been held by Mike Russell before he stepped down from Holyrood.

01:37 PM

Lobby latest: People should get their vaccines free from the NHS

Asked about reports that a private health clinic has begun offering vaccinations, the Prime Minister's spokesman said that the public should continue to receive their jabs via the NHS.

"The vaccine is free to everyone and we encourage everyone to access it through the NHS. I think the tens of millions of people who have had their jab will agree it is a fast, simple and easy process.

"There is absolutely no reason for anyone to use elsewhere."

01:35 PM

Lobby latest: Number 10 faces questions over Matt Hancock's use of data on India

Downing Street insisted that data on positivity rates of people returning to the UK from India had been low at the start of April, after the Health Secretary was accused of providing MPs with the wrong data earlier this week.

There is growing criticism of the Government over the delay in putting India on the red list, which requires arrivals from these countries to be placed in 10 days of hotel quarantine.

The Prime Minister's spokesman said: "We made decisions based on the evidence we had at the time. We put India on the red list ahead of the [B.167.2] variant being put under investigation then subsequently being made a variant of concern.

"The positivity rate of people coming from India was low at the start of April and when we saw it rising we brought in restrictions."

Pressed on why direct flights were still coming from India to the UK, the spokesman continued: "This was to ensure British nationals seeking to return home could do so safely and also that these red list arrivals can be more easily tracked."

Matt Hancock at Downing Street today - Tayfun Salci/ZUMA Wire/Shutterstock
Matt Hancock at Downing Street today - Tayfun Salci/ZUMA Wire/Shutterstock

01:28 PM

Lobby latest: No 10 insists UK's farming sector will not be undercut in Australia trade deal

Downing Street insisted the UK's farming sector would not be undercut in any trade deal with Australia.

"Negotiations are ongoing on a trade deal with Australia, so I'm not going to pre-empt the outcome of those talks," the Prime Minister's official spokesman said.

"We want to secure an ambitious deal that benefits businesses and consumers across the UK, and of course any agreement will include protection for the agriculture industry."

The spokesman said the UK was seeking deals around the world which would be "tailored so that they can best meet the needs of the British people".

At Prime Minister's Questions, Boris Johnson accused SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford of being "frightened of free trade" following warnings about the impact a deal with Australia could have on farmers.

01:21 PM

Number 10 confident that Indian variant is coming under control

Harry Yorke, our Whitehall Editor, has the latest from Lobby:

Downing Street is increasingly upbeat about containing the spread of the Indian variant after the Prime Minister earlier stated that new data was "encouraging."

The Prime Minister’s spokesman told reporters: "We have regular data that is published daily that tracks through right down to a very granular level on things like case rates.

"That is the information that the Prime Minister is seeing. We're not seeing any sharp increases or significant areas of concern in places like Bolton."

However, he stressed that officials would continue to monitor the data carefully, adding that more time was needed to inform "decisions on our approach and the next steps."

Number 10 also confirmed that Health Secretary Matt Hancock will be joined by deputy chief medical officer Professor Jonathan Van-Tam and Dr Jenny Harries from the UK Health Security Agency at a Downing Street press conference at around 5pm.

01:18 PM

Labour set to pick Batley and Spen by-election candidate this weekend

Labour's candidate in the Batley and Spen by-election will be chosen on Sunday, a party source has confirmed.

Applications are open for the candidacy, with the party's National Executive Committee (NEC) to draw up a shortlist on Saturday and members choosing the final pick on Sunday, sources confirmed to the PA news agency.

And while it has not yet been announced when the by-election triggered by former MP Tracy Brabin's election as West Yorkshire mayor will be, speculation is that late July is being considered.

It is understood the selection could have been carried out sooner, however the chaos surrounding the sacking of Angela Rayner as party chairman is thought to have slightly delayed the process.

Kim Leadbeater, sister of murdered former Batley and Spen MP Jo Cox, has announced she will be putting her name forward.

Ms Leadbeater, who established the Jo Cox Foundation in honour of her sister, said she had been "moved" by the number of local people urging her to run.

Kim Leadbeater - Andrew Milligan/PA Wire
Kim Leadbeater - Andrew Milligan/PA Wire

01:10 PM

Boris Johnson: Increasing confidence that vaccines work against Covid variants

There is "increasing confidence" that vaccines are effective against the Indian strain of coronavirus, Boris Johnson said in a boost for efforts to keep the June 21 date for the further easing of lockdown restrictions.

At Prime Minister's Questions, Mr Johnson said the latest data indicates the jabs are working against all variants of the virus.

The spread of the B1617.2 variant had cast doubt on next month's plans to ease the remaining restrictions in England, but Mr Johnson has said there is no conclusive evidence to suggest a deviation from the road map.

In a further sign of optimism, the Prime Minister told MPs on Wednesday: "We've looked at the data again this morning and I can tell the House we have increasing confidence that vaccines are effective against all variants, including the Indian variant."

Mr Johnson thanked people in Bolton and Blackburn - Indian variant hotspots - for "coming forward in record numbers" to receive a jab.

12:41 PM

Have your say in today's poll

Would-be holidaymakers have been left with their plans for a summer break up in the air after ministers appeared to contradict themselves over where the public are permitted to travel abroad.

With the new traffic light system brought in on Monday to allow some foreign travel to resume again after months of lockdown, the Prime Minister stressed countries on the so-called "amber list" were "not somewhere where you should be going on holiday".

But two Cabinet ministers appeared to offer a different reading of the rules, with Environment Secretary George Eustice telling broadcasters people could go to amber-listed countries as long as they observed quarantine rules on their return.

Welsh Secretary Simon Hart, speaking after Mr Johnson's comments on the matter, told Times Radio the public should ask themselves whether a trip to a country on the amber list was "essential" before conceding that "some people might think a holiday is essential".

What do you think?

12:35 PM

Indian variant gives EU wobbles on opening up to Britons

European Union governments are having second thoughts over whether to lift an EU travel ban on British tourists this week because of the spread of the Indian variant.

EU ambassadors approved a European Commission proposal on Wednesday morning allowing restrictions on non-essential travel from non-EU countries to be lifted.

The ambassadors agreed that national governments could allow fully vaccinated visitors from outside the EU into their countries if they wanted, provided the jabs were EU-approved. But diplomatic sources said that a decision on whether to include Britain could now be delayed until next week.

Discussions will begin on which countries to add to the EU's 'white list' - the equivalent of the British 'green list' - on Thursday after this morning's decision is formalised.

12:24 PM

Watch: Don’t go on holiday to amber list countries, says Boris Johnson

12:11 PM

Foreign Office minister responds to urgent question on Israel and Gaza

Responding to an urgent question from Labour on Israel and Gaza, Foreign Office minister James Cleverly said: "The UK unequivocally condemns the firing of rockets at Jerusalem and other locations within Israel.

"We strongly condemn these acts of terrorism by Hamas and other terrorist groups who must permanently end their incitement and rocket fire against Israel. There is no justification for the targeting of civilians.

"Israel has a legitimate right to self-defence and to defend its citizens from attack. In doing so, it is vital that all actions are proportionate, in line with international humanitarian law and make every effort to avoid civilian casualties."

James Cleverly - HANNAH MCKAY/REUTERS
James Cleverly - HANNAH MCKAY/REUTERS

11:52 AM

Boris Johnson challenged over the resignation of NHS nurse who looked after him

Boris Johnson was challenged over the resignation of a nurse who looked after him when seriously ill with Covid-19.

Jenny McGee, who cared for the Prime Minister in intensive care at St Thomas' Hospital in central London, cited the Government's 1% pay offer and its lack of respect for the profession as the reason for her decision.

Labour MP Andy Slaughter (Hammersmith) asked in the Commons: "What does the Prime Minister think when he hears Jenny McGee, the nurse who saved his life, say of NHS staff: 'We're not getting the respect and now pay that we deserve. I'm just sick of it. So I've handed in my resignation.'

"Surely even he must pause and think 'what can be learned from mistakes of the past year?'."

Asked to think again about the Government's pay offer to nurses, Mr Johnson replied: "I think the whole House acknowledges our collective debt to the nurses of the NHS and I certainly acknowledge my own huge personal debt, and that's why of all the professions in this country in very, very tough times we've asked the public sector pay review board to look at an increase in pay for nurses."

NHS nurse Jenny McGee with the Prime Minister - Andrew Parsons/Downing Street/PA Wire
NHS nurse Jenny McGee with the Prime Minister - Andrew Parsons/Downing Street/PA Wire

11:48 AM

'This Government is going to finally address the issue of social care', says PM

Justin Madders, the shadow minister for health and social care, asks the Prime Minister if he "has a plan" for social care.

"Yes is the answer," says Mr Johnson. He adds that politicians have failed to address a social care plan "for decades", but that "this Government is going to finally address the issue".

11:45 AM

Mr Johnson acknowledges 'huge personal debt' he owes to the NHS

Andy Slaughter, Labour, asks the Prime Minister what he thinks after Jenny McGee, the NHS nurse who looked after Boris Johnson during his time in intensive care with Covid-19, quit her nursing job after citing the "insulting" one per cent pay rise for NHS workers.

Mr Johnson acknowledges the "huge personal debt" he owes to the NHS and adds that "of all the professions in the country in very tough times...we have asked the public sector pay review board to look at an increase in pay for nurses."

He adds that the starting salary for nurses has increased by 12.8 per cent.

He says that we are "on target" to achieve the goal of 50,000 more nurses recruited into the NHS.

11:40 AM

'We will work flat-out' to get jobs for 18-24 year-olds, says Boris Johnson

Gerlad Jones, Labour, asks how the Prime Minister will tackle youth unemployment and "safeguard the future of a generation of young people in this country".

Mr Johnson says that the Government is putting £2 billion into the Kickstart programme for 18 to 24 year-olds and that "we will work flat-out to ensure that we get those who want jobs to those who want workers."

Boris Johnson at PMQs today
Boris Johnson at PMQs today

11:29 AM

Ian Blackford: Australia trade deal would be 'disastrous' for Scottish farmers

Ian Blackford says that the Australia zero-tariffs trade deal would be "disastrous" for Scottish farmers, who would "lose their livelihoods" because of it.

The Prime Minister says "I think he grossly underestimates Scottish farmers ability to do great things with our free trade deals, to export Scottish beef around the world."

"I think it's a massive opportunity for Scotland and the whole of the UK," he adds.

Mr Blackford pushes Mr Johnson on the issue again, saying the Tories are "throwing Scottish farmers under the Brexit bus".

He urges the Prime Minister to "think again" and "ditch the deal that will send our farmers 'down under'".

Mr Johnson responds that Mr Blackford is "grossly underestimating" the ability of Scottish farmers to take advantage of free trade.

The Prime Minister adds that "we can prosper with free trade".

11:22 AM

Boris Johnson: 'We will not let anti-Semitism take root'

Following a string of anti-Semitic attacks and violence in London amid the growing conflict between Israel and Gaza, Sir Keir Starmer uses his final question to ask: "What more does the Prime Minister think can be done to provide the extra support and protection needed to reassure Jewish communities at this very difficult time?"

Mr Johnson responds that he "shares his horror" at the outbreak of anti-Semitic incidents and that the Government has conveyed this message "loud and clear".

He says that "we will call this out at every stage", adding "we will not let it take root, we will not allow it to grow and fester".

"I think it's one of the most important U-turns in attitude I've seen from the Labour party in recent times", he adds.

11:17 AM

Sir Keir Starmer: Messaging on travel 'confusing and contradictory'

Mr Starmer says that it is "because of the messaging" that so many Britons are flying to amber list countries.

Boris Johnson responds that travel has been reduced by 95 per cent to amber list countries and adds again that there are 43 countries on the red list.

He also says that the high vaccination rate in the UK is what is "enabling us" to ease these restrictions.

Keir Starmer again calls the messaging on travel "confusing and contradictory" and asks why the Government doesn't provide clarity.

He adds that the Goverment's border policy is "a joke".

Sir Keir Starmer at PMQs today
Sir Keir Starmer at PMQs today

11:14 AM

Only travel to amber list countries in 'some extreme circumstances', says Boris Johnson

Keir Starmer asks Mr Johnson: "If the Prime Minister does not want people to travel to amber list countries, why has he made it easier for them to do so?"

Mr Johnson answers: "We are trying to move away from endlessly legislating everything...it is very very clear, Mr Speaker, you should not be going to an amber list country except for some extreme circumstances, such as the illness of a family member."

He adds that those who do not quarantine after travelling to an amber list country will "face the substantial fines".

11:12 AM

PM: We have 'one of the strongest border regimes anywhere in the world'

Keir Starmer uses his second question to ask why the Prime Minister moved to open up international travel on Monday, when there is such a great threat from foreign variants coming to the UK, and "weaken international restrictions" by moving 170 countries to the amber list.

Mr Johnson responds that we have "one of the strongest border regimes anywhere in the world" and that there are 43 countries on the travel red list.

He adds that arrivals from amber list countries still have to quarantine for 10 days and take Covid tests.

Mr Starmer pushes for "absolute clarity" about the question of whether people can travel to amber list countries amid plenty of mixed messaging from Government ministers.

He says: "The Government has lost control of the messaging".

11:07 AM

Boris Johnson: 'We have increasing confidence' that vaccines are effective against all variants

Boris Johnson begins PMQs by apologising to the families of the 10 victims found innocent in last week's Ballymurphy Inquest.

The inquest, which began in November 2018, examined the deaths in and around the Ballymurphy area of west Belfast in August 1971.

Keir Starmer says he "welcomes" the PM's comments about Ballymurphy.

His first question is whether Mr Johnson agrees that the "single biggest threat" to the June 21 reopening is the threat of the Indian variant.

Mr Johnson responds that "we have increasing confidence" that vaccines are effective against all variants, and he thanks the people coming forward in "record numbers" to get their first and second vaccines.

10:57 AM

Boris Johnson leaves Downing Street ahead of PMQs at midday

Boris Johnson gesture as he leaves Downing Street ahead of PMQs - TOBY MELVILLE/REUTERS
Boris Johnson gesture as he leaves Downing Street ahead of PMQs - TOBY MELVILLE/REUTERS
PM - JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP
PM - JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP

10:39 AM

Tariff-free imports from Australia 'a complete betrayal of British farmers'

Boris Johnson is prepared to offer Australia a trade deal that would allow free imports of beef, lamb and sugar, despite warnings it would be a "complete betrayal" of British farmers.

The Prime Minister is allegedly supporting a plan to give Australian exporters the same terms as the European Union, it was reported last night.

"In principle the Prime Minister believes that we should be offering the same terms to Australia as we offer to the EU," a source told The Times. "But this doesn't mean there will be any reductions in the standards we require."

But Minette Batters, president of the National Farmers' Union, declared on Tuesday that she "could absolutely not support" any trade pact that removed tariffs on agricultural goods shipped in from Australia.

Her intervention came after it emerged that a rancorous cabinet split has erupted over the terms of the proposed bilateral trade agreement, which is in the final stage of negotiations.

The Environment Secretary George Eustice and Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove are engulfed in a "ferocious" row with International Trade Secretary Liz Truss and Brexit minister Lord Frost over the issue, the Financial Times revealed.

10:23 AM

Boris Johnson to face MPs as confusion reigns over international travel rules

Boris Johnson could face pressure to clarify the confusion around international travel rules when he takes Prime Minister's Questions for the first time since Parliament reopened last week.

Facing Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer in a six-question round for the first time since the local elections and the Queen's Speech, the Prime Minister is likely to face questions on where it is safe to holiday after one of his ministers said all international trips were "dangerous".

Would-be holidaymakers were left with their plans for a summer break up in the air after ministers appeared to contradict themselves over where the public are permitted to travel abroad.

With a new traffic light system brought in on Monday to allow some foreign travel to resume again after months of coronavirus lockdown, the Prime Minister stressed countries on the so-called "amber list" were "not somewhere where you should be going on holiday".

Boris Johnson to face PMQs for the first time since Parliament reopened last week - John Sibley/REUTERS
Boris Johnson to face PMQs for the first time since Parliament reopened last week - John Sibley/REUTERS

10:11 AM

Ambassadors back plan to allow vaccinated UK tourists to visit EU this summer

EU ambassadors are understood to have backed plans to allow vaccinated UK holidaymakers to visit the bloc this summer.

They recommended at a meeting on Wednesday that rules should be changed to allow non-essential visits into the EU by people who have had two doses of a coronavirus vaccine.

It will be up to individual member states to decide if they will accept proof of vaccination to waive travel restrictions.

A decision on whether to add the UK and other countries to the EU's "safe list" will be made on Friday.

Travellers from locations on the list are permitted to enter the bloc even if they are not vaccinated, but are generally required to show evidence of a recent negative test.

There are currently only eight countries on the list, including Australia, New Zealand, South Korea and Israel.

However, the spread of the Indian variant in the UK might give the EU second thoughts.

10:05 AM

Nicola Sturgeon does not speak for all of Scotland, Scottish Tory leader tells English voters

The SNP does not speak for "the whole of Scotland", the Scottish Tory leader has said despite the Nationalist party’s victory in this month’s elections.

Douglas Ross said he would spend the next five years to turn the Conservative party into a "strong alternative government" to challenge the SNP at the next election.

Asked what he would say to people living in England who feel that Scotland should be allowed to leave the UK, he said that the SNP did not speak for "the whole of Scotland".

  • Listen to Douglas Ross on this week's Chopper's Politics:

10:00 AM

UK inflation more than doubles as post-lockdown price climb begins

British inflation more than doubled in April, the start of a likely climb in prices this year as rich economies recover from pandemic lockdowns, but one that the Bank of England hopes will prove temporary.

After U.S. inflation last week hit its highest level since 2008 and prompted Federal Reserve officials to say they were in no rush to raise interest rates, Britain's consumer price index rose by 1.5% in April.

That was a sharp jump from the 0.7% rise seen in March and marked the highest CPI reading since March 2020, driven by higher power and fuel bills as global oil prices climb from their pandemic lows of 2020.

April's inflation reading was, however, only a touch above the 1.4% rise seen in a Reuters poll of economists and was still below the Bank of England's 2% target.

This should give the central bank confidence, for now, that it won't have to pull the plug early on the trillion dollar bond-purchasing programme it rolled out to support the British economy through the crisis.

Inflation is likely to fall back next year as the comparisons with the coronavirus slump fades, most analysts say.

09:30 AM

Matt Hancock warned there could be 'unrest' in Bolton if local lockdown imposed

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has been warned there could be "unrest" in Bolton if the Government brings in local lockdowns to contain the Indian variant.

David Greenhalgh, Conservative leader at Bolton Council, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "We've been there before and they don't work - not in a dense conurbation like Greater Manchester.

"This happened before, the spread increased because people travelled 50 yards across the county boundary to access hospitality that they can't in their own area."

Asked if he had told Mr Hancock there would be civil unrest, he said: "I do think there is a danger of unrest.

"There is a great deal of resentment. Bolton was...we were disproportionately affected really since July last year.

"Even when our rates were coming down, we still remained in lockdown when other areas' rates were higher than ours, so there was a build up of resentment."

09:12 AM

Vaccinated UK tourists could visit EU this summer amid travel guidance confusion in Government

Fully vaccinated UK holidaymakers could be given the green light by EU ambassadors to visit the bloc this summer, but there is confusion over the Government's policy on international travel.

The ambassadors are meeting today to discuss easing restrictions on non-essential trips into the EU.

Portugal and Greece are among the countries that have already begun welcoming UK tourists, but an EU-wide move would boost the chances of a major summer getaway.

The most popular destination for UK holidaymakers, Spain, currently prohibits inbound leisure visits from outside the EU and Schengen Area, meaning UK holidaymakers are banned.

Meanwhile, Health Secretary Matt Hancock will lead a Downing Street press conference later with the Government facing calls for clarity over its position in relation to overseas leisure travel after ministers appeared to contradict themselves.

09:00 AM

Green list may be expanded next month, suggests Government minister

Education minister Gillian Keegan has suggested the green list of countries where people can take overseas holidays may be expanded next month.

Ms Keegan said there would probably be an announcement "a week or two before" the next stage of the lifting of lockdown restrictions.

"As we get to the next stage of the unlocking - June 21 - I think people are hoping there are more countries on the green list but right now there are only 12 on the green list and they are the only ones you can go on holiday to," she told LBC radio.

08:43 AM

Shadow health secretary sets out four steps for UK to be in 'best possible place' for June 21

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said he "totally understands" why the Prime Minister cannot guarantee that Covid-19 restrictions will end on June 21.

But Mr Ashworth told Times Radio that Boris Johnson must take action now to ensure the UK is in the "best possible place" by that date.

He said: "I want it to go ahead. I totally understand why Boris Johnson can't give us a cast-iron assurance.

"But what he can do is take action now to put us in the best possible place for June 21 to go ahead."

Mr Ashworth added that four key things need to be addressed in order to be in that place:

  1. Surge vaccinations in hotspot areas

  2. Enhanced contact tracing on the ground, with local councils given the resources to do it

  3. Supporting premises to have proper ventilation and air filtration systems

  4. Paying people decent sick pay and support so they can self-isolate if they become ill

08:33 AM

Amber list is not for 'pleasure travel', warns Government minister

A Government minister has urged people to be "sensible" and not travel to "amber list" countries for holidays.

Education minister Gillian Keegan said travel to amber list destinations was supposed to be for "special circumstances" such as business or funerals.

"What we are saying is the amber list is not to go on holiday, not for pleasure travel at the moment," she told Sky News.

"It's not in legislation, we haven't legislated to ban people from going on holiday abroad. This is guidance.

"As with many of these things we have had throughout the pandemic this has been about relying on the great British public to be sensible and follow the guidance we have put in place and taking their own decisions really.

"But, no, we wouldn't advise going on holiday to the amber list countries."

08:12 AM

Public don't appear to support stricter border measures

Asked if he shared health minister Lord Bethell's view that it was "dangerous" to travel overseas, Professor Neil Ferguson said that it depended whether the strategy was to reduce the risk of importing new variants or eliminate it altogether.

"Clearly, if we want to stop any new variant from coming in, then arguably the strategies that Taiwan, New Zealand and Australia are ones we need to implement here," he added.

"But I’m not sure whether the majority of the population would support that.

"I think we have a strategy at the moment of trying to reduce the risks but not eliminate them."

However, when pressed on whether the inclusion of an amber list of countries in the traffic light system for international travel was confusing and problematic, he warned that the requirement for home quarantine was an "imperfect way" of containing the risk.

"This is not a panacea. Home quarantine, one thing this pandemic has shown us is that everyone coming back from India had to home quarantine, had to test. It’s an imperfect way of stopping viruses coming into the general community. But it probably does have some effect."

08:07 AM

Indian variant may be less transmissible than originally feared

Professor Neil Ferguson, a leading epidemiologist and Government adviser, said this morning that there was a "glimmer of hope" that the Indian variant may be less transmissible than initial data suggested.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4's Today programme, he said that scientists faced a challenge in working out how infectious the strain was because it had been imported from overseas "principally into people of Indian ethnicity, often living in multi-generational households, often in quite deprived areas with high density housing."

"We are trying to work out whether the rapid growth we have seen in Bolton is going to be typical of what we could expect elsewhere or whether it is something known as a founder effect, which is often seen in these circumstances," he added.

"There’s a glimmer of hope from the recent data that while the virus is there it does appear to have a significant growth advantage, the magnitude of that advantage seems to have dropped a lot with the most recent data.

"The curves are flattening a little but it will take us a little longer to be definitive about that."

07:47 AM

Local lockdowns do not work, claims leader of Bolton council

David Greenhalgh, the head of Bolton Council, which is grappling with a major spike in cases of the Indian variant, this morning insisted that the outbreak was largely spreading among young people.

He added that despite the surge there had not been a rise in severe llness or hospitalisation.

"Our cases are still rising, that was to be expected," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme. "There is community spread, there's no doubt about that, and we're holding back a variant which would appear...to be a little more transmissible. "

He also pushed back against the prospect of local lockdowns, warning that they would be unworkable.

"We've been there before and they don't work. Not in an area like Greater Manchester. You can travel 50 yards, the spread increases because people travel 50 yards across a county boundary to access hospitality that they can't in their own area."

Asked if he had told Matt Hancock on a recent call there could be civil unrest if local restrictions were imposed, he added: "I do think there is a danger of unrest. There is a great deal of resentment. We were disproportionately affected really since last year.

"This would be a very difficult situation to manage, I believe, if we went into a lockdown that we have personal experience of as a town, that did not work."

07:35 AM

Minister was just 'plain wrong' to claim foreign travel is dangerous

Peter Bone, a veteran Tory MP, has hit out at the confusing statements made by ministers yesterday about holidays overseas.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Mr Bone said that while some ministers were clearly not "quite up to speed", he believed the traffic light system was the "right policy" - although he would like to see more countries added to the quarantine-free green list.

However, after Lord Bethell, a health minister, yesterday told people not to travel abroad because it was dangerous, Mr Bone said: "Lord Bethell’s comments were just plain wrong. Anyone who knows anything about the travel industry knows that it goes out of its way to put safety as its number one issue.

"The truth of the matter is that you should only be going to a green list country at the moment."

07:27 AM

UK border has been a 'sieve' during pandemic

The UK's border has been as secure as a "sieve" during the Covid-19 pandemic, the shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth has claimed.

"Our borders have been about as secure as a sieve throughout this crisis and it's why we are seeing these variants bounce at us," he told Sky News.

"There's probably going to be more of this as well, so we have got to work internationally to bring infection rates down and make sure the world is vaccinated.

"But we have also got to have secure borders and controls as well."

07:26 AM

People want clarity on travels, says Labour

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said he would not travel to a country on the Government's amber list as he urged ministers to clarify the rules.

He told Sky News: "I think people just want clarity. Because people want to do the right thing and there are people who will just want a holiday.

"At the moment I'm planning on going on holiday to Devon or Cornwall or somewhere, if I do get a holiday."

07:22 AM

Confusion over holidays mounts

After a series of contradictory statements over whether people can travel to amber list countries or not, Welsh Secretary Simon Hart topped off a day of confusion on Tuesday evening.

Asked about the issue, he told Times Radio: "Some people might think a holiday is essential. I can think of quite a lot of people who do think that, but it’s about common sense. We’re good at common sense.”

(The Government's advice is that people should not go to amber list countries for holidays).

On the same programme this morning, education minister Gillian Keegan said the exact opposite, stating that now "is not the time to go to Spain."

"Amber list countries are there for a reason - they are there so that you can travel for business, you can travel for particular situations such as funerals or if there are some specific care issues in your family," she added.

"Holiday where you have a choice, we are advising you to go to the green list countries, and of course, there's only 12 of those so most people, we anticipate, will stay at home."

07:01 AM

Concerns over Indian variant 'were raised four weeks ago'

With Boris Johnson coming under mounting pressure over the Indian variant which is surging in parts of the country, he is likely to face fresh questions today over whether the Government should have acted faster.

Last night Sky News reported that alarm over the strain came as far back as four weeks ago, and that urgent discussions were held in Whitehall a fortnight later.

The report claims some advisors urged ministers not to proceed with this week's stage three lockdown lifting on Monday, but Mr Johnson did so anyway.

06:57 AM

Government secrecy contributed to the Covid catastrophe, says Dominic Cummings

Dominic Cummings has warned that the Government needs to allow “public scrutiny” of its vaccine strategy as he said “secrecy contributed greatly to the catastrophe” of the early months of the pandemic.

The former Number 10 adviser, who is set to give evidence to a Parliamentary inquiry next week, launched another public attack on the Government on Tuesday.

In a long series of messages on Twitter, he said Covid plans were “part disaster, part non existent”, criticised lockdowns which lacked “serious enforcement” and warned that the success of the vaccine taskforce risked being undermined by it being turned into a conventional Whitehall operation.

Mr Cummings also said he could sell or disclose what he claimed to be the “the only copy of a crucial historical document from Covid decision-making”.

Dominic Cummings
Dominic Cummings

He said he would donate the proceeds from any such sale to the families of Covid victims, before later deleting the post and then confirming that he would give the documents to a Parliamentary committee inquiry he is due to appear before next week.

Responding to Mr Cummings’s threat on Tuesday, the Prime Minister’s spokesman suggested there would be repercussions if the document was made public.

He told reporters: “I’m not going to speculate on what information individuals may have or how they might choose to make that public. Obviously there are clear rules that are abided by in these situations.”

06:45 AM

MPs hit out at farcical travel guidance

The public have been told to abandon plans to go abroad this year by a health minister as the Government’s advice on holidays descended into chaos.

Lord Bethell – who is close to Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary – told peers that people should “stay in this country”.

He said: “Travelling is dangerous. That is not news to us or to the people who get on those planes in the first place. We do ask people, particularly as we go into the summer, travelling is not for this year – please stay in this country.”

The warning came despite the fact that the ban on travelling abroad has been lifted, with many families having booked breaks, and amid contradictory guidance from the Government.

The apparent disarray prompted a furious response from senior Tory backbenchers and travel industry chiefs, who warned that it would sow confusion and undermine trust in the Government.

One senior Tory MP described Lord Bethell’s comments as “idiotic” adding: “If that’s the case, why is there a ‘green list’?”

You can read the full story here.

06:19 AM

Good morning

As rows over how to deal with the Indian variant and confusion over international travel rumble on, a fresh schism is opening up in the Cabinet over a UK-Australia trade deal.

George Eustice, the Environment Secretary, is leading a rebellion over the terms negotiated for Australian farmers, who would benefit from zero tariffs on products such as beef and lamb within a decade.

Mr Eustice is backed by Michael Gove, the Cabinet Office minister, Alister Jack, the Scottish Secretary, and Simon Hart, the Welsh Secretary. All four believe that the deal could harm the British farming industry unless a longer transition period is negotiated and more restrictions included.

But on the other side is Liz Truss, the International Trade Secretary, Lord Frost, the Cabinet minister in charge of EU relations, and Kwasi Kwarteng, the Business Secretary.

They believe that the deal is of fundamental importance to Britain's future outside of the EU, and a failure to reach an agreement could kill off hopes of striking over free trade agreements with the US and other major economies.

Boris Johnson now finds himself with in the unenviable position of having to play referee among some Cabinet "big beasts", with the Cabinet committee on trade deals due to meet on Thursday to thrash out the Government's position.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting