Boris Johnson has admitted to the Liaison Committee that the UK does not have sufficient testing capacity, but continued to defend the coronavirus testing system amid chaos.
Earlier, he faced deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner at prime minister’s questions as she filled in for isolating Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer in the House of Commons, where he failed to answer questions from the deputy Labour leader about how much care home workers earn per hour in the UK.
He was also accused of pushing the blame on the public for massive delays in the coronavirus testing system.
Meanwhile, Mr Johnson has been warned by US congress members that the UK government’s “disturbing” plan to breach the terms of the Brexit deal puts at risk any future trade deal between the two countries.
PM urged to announce government and royal boycott of Beijing Winter Olympics
Boris Johnson is facing calls to announce a ministerial and royal boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics in protest at China’s human rights record.
The prime minister said no decision has been taken on the 2022 games, and he said he wanted to protect sporting events and members of the royal family from “political ramifications”.
Asked by the Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Tom Tugendhat if he would allow ministers to attend the Winter Olympics in Beijing two years from now, Mr Johnson said Beijing breached the Sino-British declaration over the imposition of the national security law on Hong Kong and condemned the “objectionable treatment of Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang.
Mr Johnson stopped short of describing the latter as a genocide.
“We will review that matter as and when we need to make a decision,” he said. “But generally speaking, I think it’s important to – if you can – protect international sporting events and, indeed, members of the royal family from political ramifications.
“It’s not something we have taken a decision on yet.”
Kate Ng16 September 2020 18:33
Dominic Raab tells US congressional leaders that EU is to blame for Northern Ireland issue in trade talks
The Foreign Secretary has told US congressional leaders that the European Union’s “politicisation” of the Northern Ireland issue in trade talks with the UK is threatening the Good Friday Agreement.
Mr Raab said he has had “very positive discussions” with both Republicans and Democrats during his trip to Washington for talks with senior figures.
Mr Raab said following talks with US secretary of state Mike Pompeo: “It is a great opportunity to be clear that the threat to the Good Friday Agreement as it is reflected in the Northern Ireland protocol comes from the EU’s politicisation of the issue, and to be clear on how that has happened and why that has happened.
“The UK action here is defensive in relation what the EU is doing, it is precautionary, we haven’t done any of this year, and it is proportionate. What we cannot have is the EU seeking to erect a regulatory border down the Irish Sea between Northern Ireland and Britain.”
Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the US House of Representatives, previously warned that Congress will never pass a free trade agreement with the UK if legislation to break the Brexit agreement was to “imperil” the peace process.
Kate Ng16 September 2020 18:02
Lord Keen has officially resigned, confirms Downing Street
The government’s chief lawyer for Scotland and Tory minister has officially resigned, reports the BBC.
A Downing Street spokesperson said: “Lord Keen has resigned as Advocate General for Scotland. The prime minister thanks him for his service.”
Lord Keen offered his resignation earlier on Wednesday in protest of Boris Johnson’s Brexit plans, just hours before the prime minister was due to be grilled by MPs on proposals to tear up part of the UK’s agreement with the EU.
Kate Ng16 September 2020 17:48
Minister will not commit UK to respecting rulings on disputes with EU
A government minister has refused to commit the UK to respecting the rulings of a panel set up to resolve disputes under the Brexit withdrawal agreement with the EU, reports our Political Editor Andrew Woodcock.
Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis told MPs that it would be “unhelpful and dangerous” for him to say the the UK would always abide by the panel’s ruling.
Read the full report below:
Kate Ng16 September 2020 17:27
A second national lockdown would be ‘disastrous’, says PM
Tory MP Julian Knight asked the prime minister if the country would be able to afford a second national lockdown.
Boris Johnson replied he does not want such an outcome and said ministers are doing “everything in our power” to avoid it.
He doubts the consequences of a second national lockdown “would be anything but disastrous” for the UK’s economy.
Kate Ng16 September 2020 16:47
Test and trace is ‘not a failure’, insists PM
Boris Johnson has rejected criticism that the test and trace system is a “failure”.
Labour MP Meg Hillier asked the prime minister if the government has “learned the lessons of the failure of the test and trace system”, and urged him to put local schools and councils “in the driving seat”.
Mr Johnson said he “rejects the characterisation” of the test and trace system, acknowledging that although there are “huge problems” and frustrations, “they have done a quite remarkable job in expanding that operation from a standing start”.
“There is a long way to go, we will work night and day, but I would not want the many, many thousands of people working int test and trace now to think people in this House of Commons think they are failures.”
Kate Ng16 September 2020 16:31
Boris Johnson promises to show ‘great creativity’ in trying to save jobs
The prime minister said the government will “continue to show great creativity and flexibility in trying to look after every sector of the economy”.
Tory MP Mel Stride, who chairs the Treasury Committee, said “hundreds of thousands of jobs” are expected to be lost in the coming months and asked why the government “doesn’t seem prepared to provide targeted support” for particular sectors”.
Mr Johnson responded by saying the government “has done more than virtually any other government around the world” to help save jobs.
He added: “I don’t believe anyone on this committee believed this government would come up with anything as imaginative as the furlough scheme and we will continue to apply the same levels of imagination.”
Kate Ng16 September 2020 16:15
Labour MP calls for children under 11 to be excluded from ‘rule of six’
Catherine McKinnell has asked the prime minister if he will consider changing the “rule of six” coronavirus restriction to exempt children under the age of 11.
Mr Johnson said that evidence shows infection among young people can spread to older people in the population, adding that although new cases are “far smaller” than in the spring, the rising infection rates will lead to more deaths if not brought under control.
Kate Ng16 September 2020 16:01
UK does not have enough testing capacity, Boris Johnson admits
Boris Johnson has admitted the UK does not currently have enough testing capacity to meet the demands of the pandemic.
Speaking to the Liaison Committee today, he insisted that the government was working towards a goal of 500,000 tests a day by the end of October.
Kate Ng16 September 2020 15:51
Boris Johnson to face Liaison Committee in person
The prime minister is due to face the Liaison Committee in person today and is expected to defend the coronavirus testing system.
The last time Mr Johnson faced the committee, it was in the middle of the coronavirus lockdown. He spoke to them via video link at the time.
He will face the committee at 15:30.
Kate Ng16 September 2020 15:26
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