G7 talks risk being overshadowed by the Northern Ireland protocol Brexit row. French President Emmanuel Macron warned Boris Johnson last night that “nothing is negotiable” while the UK seeks to amend parts of the agreement. The US issued the UK with a formal diplomatic reprimand over tensions earlier this week, but Johnson was thrown a bone during his love-in with Joe Biden yesterday afternoon as the pair avoided the issue. The PM claimed he is in “complete harmony” with Biden over Northern Ireland after the meeting.
Ministers have promised to donate 100m surplus Covid vaccine jabs over the next year as part of a package being negotiated by the G7 to provide 1bn doses to low-income countries. Campaign groups have argued the plan does not address the structural problems preventing those countries from securing a regular supply and highlighted that 11bn vaccines are needed. Gordon Brown weighed in following the release of his new book, Seven Ways To Change The World. Writing exclusively for LabourList, the former Labour PM contrasted the “soaring Churchillian rhetoric” deployed by Johnson in making the commitment to vaccinate the entire world by the end of 2022 with the conspicuous absence of any plan to achieve that goal. Lisa Nandy this morning hailed the 100m-jab donation as a “welcome start“, but stressed that the summit must reach an agreement on ramping up capacity.
The Shadow Foreign Secretary also stressed the need for the government to outline a bolder climate strategy. Nandy said the PM should be using the summit to push countries to adopt binding climate targets, for this decade, but warned that Johnson is fundamentally undermined by his failure to take the action at home, comparing the stimuli announced by Germany and France, and the $2tn package from the US, to the £4bn additional spending outlined by the UK. “Britain will be behind the curve on creating the green, clean energy jobs of the future,” she declared, adding: “There are two things at stake here for the PM, as well as the very pressing issue of climate safety: his global Britain agenda, which has to deliver, and his levelling up agenda.”
Back in Westminster, two weeks after Dominic Cummings gave evidence laying into Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary had the chance to give his own account to a parliamentary committee yesterday. He rejected allegations that he lied to the PM or the public. He also repeated the claim that there was never a national shortage of personal protective equipment, and added that he has seen no evidence that a lack of PPE led to the deaths of any healthcare workers. Labour MP Sarah Owen described this as a “bold claim”, reminding the Health Secretary of reports of NHS staff fashioning makeshift equipment out of bin bags last year. Shadow health minister and doctor Rosena Allin-Khan accused Hancock of trying to “rewrite history”. Read the full write-up here.
Also on LabourList, shadow ministers Sarah Jones and Bambos Charalambous told readers that Labour will always defend the right to protest. Highlighting controversial clauses on public order in the police, crime, sentencing and courts bill debated this week, the pair argued that “the right to protest is a fundamental freedom, a hard-won democratic tradition that we are deeply proud of”, adding: “These public order clauses are nothing more than a partisan power grab by a Conservative Party that no longer believes in the right of the people to disagree.” Momentum is launching a deliberative process to rebuild itself “from the ground up” through constitutional reform, with a final all-member ballot on the proposals expected in December. And Ed Miliband has warned that any change to the restriction-lifting deadline of June 21st must be coupled with further economic support; Johnson is set to make an announcement on the easing today.
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