Related video: ‘Frustrating’ lack of flexibility from EU over protocol, says Northern Ireland secretary
Michael Gove has said he is “super cool” with the idea of legislation to tear up the Northern Ireland Protocol unilaterally – despite the risk it could spark a trade war with the EU.
The levelling up secretary was said to be furious about foreign secretary Liz Truss pushing for radical action to remove protocol checks – but insisted on Wednesday that he was relaxed about the plan.
Asked how angry he was about the move on a scale of one to 10, Mr Gove told LBC: “Minus five. I’m super cool with it. I’m a big, big Liz Truss fan.”
However, Mr Gove also claimed Boris Johnson was an “expert negotiator” and suggested the threat to ditch the protocol could be part of UK negotiating tactics.
It comes as foreign secretary Liz Truss said the UK “will not shy away” from taking action on the Northern Ireland Protocol after Boris Johnson indicated the situation was “now very serious”.
Michael Gove drops Tory promise to build 300,000 homes a year
Cabinet minister Michael Gove has effectively dropped the Conservative party’s pledge to build 300,000 new homes a year – saying he was no longer “bound” by the target.
The levelling up secretary said “arbitrary” targets for the number of homes were less important than the quality of new housing and winning community support.
Politics writer Adam Forrest has more:
Maryam Zakir-Hussain11 May 2022 11:42
Windfall tax on energy companies would kill investment, energy minister says
The UK Government believes a windfall tax on energy companies would kill off investment and cost jobs, energy minister Greg Hands has said.
He also said the Scottish Government’s opposition to new nuclear power stations is preventing it from being part of a “renaissance” of the sector.
Addressing Holyrood’s Net Zero Committee on Wednesday, one MSP responded to his comments on a windfall tax by saying the cost-of-living crisis is “killing off people”.
Conservative minister Mr Hands said world events had driven up energy prices and the UK Government is not able to completely insulate consumers from this.
He said UK ministers are spending £22 billion this year to help households with the cost of living.
Some of this help – such as the Energy Bills Support Scheme, which will provide a £200 reduction in electricity costs – will not be felt until October, he said.
Maryam Zakir-Hussain11 May 2022 11:31
‘Don’t touch this’ EU leaders warn PM against ditting protocol
German chancellor Olaf Scholz has leader warnings against the UK government threat to tear up the Brexit protocol deal unilaterally.
“No one should unilaterally cancel, break or in any way attack the settlement we have agreed together,” he said.
Belgian prime minister Alexander De Croo said: “Our message is quite clear: Don’t touch this … If that agreement would be revoked, then I would think that the whole system will be revoked. I would not see any other solution.”
Maryam Zakir-Hussain11 May 2022 11:22
It is ‘bonkeroony’ that prime minister should resign over Partygate, Gove says
Communities Secretary Michael Gove has said it is “bonkeroony” to suggest Boris Johnson should have to resign over lockdown parties in Downing Street.
Mr Gove denied that a pledge by Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer to stand down if he is fined for breaching Covid rules put pressure on the Prime Minister – even though he has already received a fixed penalty notice.
“For anyone who has suffered during Covid, the thought that others broke the rules is undeniably painful and difficult,” Mr Gove told ITV’s Good Morning Britain.
“But it is also the case that the Prime Minister was responsible for a series of very, very big decisions during the Covid crisis that meant we now look better than many other countries.
“The idea that the Prime Minister should resign is bonkeroony.
“That doesn’t diminish for a moment the pain that people endured and the fact that mistakes were made.
“I think it is entirely fair to say that you deeply regret that things went wrong, that people do deserve to learn, that there should be full acknowledgment, contrition and apologies, but that it doesn’t merit the resignation of a sitting prime Minister.
“Whatever Keir Starmer wants to say or do, that is a matter for him.”
Maryam Zakir-Hussain11 May 2022 11:12
Michael Gove criticized for ‘silly voices’ as families ‘struggle to survive’
Michael Gove has been criticized for “using silly voices” as he appeared to attempt American and Scouse accents during a broadcast interview.
The Communities Secretary was talking about the prospect of an emergency budget on BBC Breakfast to deal with the cost-of-living crisis when he broke into the different accents.
Mr Gove said the words “an emergency budget” and “a major, capital letters, big news story” in what appeared to be an American accent.
He also said “calm down” in a Scouse accent, which reminded viewers of comedian Harry Enfield’s sketch.
My colleague Catherine Wylie reports:
Maryam Zakir-Hussain11 May 2022 11:02
1.5m UK households will struggle to pay bills in next year due to cost of living squeeze
An estimated 1.5 million households across the UK will struggle to pay food and energy bills over the next year as the cost of living crisis continues to bite, new research shows.
The NIESR urged chancellor Rishi Sunak to take action in order to prevent households from crumbling under debt burdens.
It comes as the government faced heavy criticism for failing to provide concrete plans which outline how it will tackle the cost-of-living crisis and support struggling families.
Maryam Zakir-Hussain11 May 2022 10:52
Asylum seekers could be sent to Rwanda for ‘spending a couple of weeks in Brussels’ on way to Britain
Asylum seekers could be sent to Rwanda for “spending a couple of weeks in Brussels staying with friends” while traveling to the UK, or for being found with foreign receipts and train tickets in their pockets.
Home Office guidance – made public following threats of legal action by refugee charities – includes examples of reasons that people can be selected for removal under Priti Patel’s new scheme.
Ukrainian refugees have not been excluded, according to official documents that suggest that anyone who “travelled through safe third countries” like Poland or France can be considered, our home affairs editor Lizze Dearden writes.
Maryam Zakir-Hussain11 May 2022 10:42
Michael Gove: ‘Street votes’ plan to let neighbors veto development will boost housing supply
Michael Gove has said a government plan to give neighbors the right to veto housing in their area will help build support for new development.
The cabinet minister defended the watering down of housing plans in the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill – suggesting that the so-called “street votes” move will boost much-needed supply of new homes.
Mr Gove said “local democratic ballots, sometimes street by street” would help boost the quality of homes – allowing residents to become “partners” in building projects.
Politics writer Adam Forrest reports:
Maryam Zakir-Hussain11 May 2022 10:32
Brexit: What is the Northern Ireland protocol?
Northern Ireland’s post-Brexit trading arrangements — a set of rules referred to as the Northern Ireland protocol — are again in the headlines amid UK threats to unilaterally rip up parts of the deal.
It follows months of negotiations between London and Brussels aimed at reducing trade friction between Northern Ireland and Great Britain.
My colleagues Matt Mathers and Ashley Cowburn report:
Maryam Zakir-Hussain11 May 2022 10:22
Asylum seekers in UK ‘going underground’ over fears of being deported to Rwanda
Charities have reported that people seeking asylum are disappearing from hotels and are growing reluctant to claim support for fear or removal detention since Boris Johnson announced plans to ship tens of thousands of asylum seekers to East Africa.
Our social affairs correspondent, May Pullmanreports:
Maryam Zakir-Hussain11 May 2022 10:10