Rolling coverage of the day’s political developments as they happen, including Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn at PMQs
Nigel Farage, the Brexit party leader, has said that the party Leave Means Leave is planning for Parliament Square to celebrate Brexit on the night of 31 January is going ahead.
Leave Means Leave have been given approval to hold an event in Parliament Square on 31st January. Great news!
It is a big moment in the history of this nation to celebrate.
Register now at https://t.co/rVfGTMWOTn
Mike Russell, the Scottish constitutional relations secretary, claimed this morning that the Scottish government had “many options” it could follow to ensure a second independence referendum took place. Under the Scotland Act the Scottish government needs Westminster approval to hold a vote, but yesterday Boris Johnson said he would not allow this.
Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme, Russell said:
I think you can either have democracy or you can have dictatorship, you can’t have both.
If Boris Johnson wants to be a dictator that simply says ‘other people’s votes don’t matter, Scotland’s doesn’t matter, Scotland isn’t a nation’, that is a decision which cannot hold in my view, because it goes so much against the views of the people of Scotland.
Matt Hancock has signalled that four-hour waiting targets for A&E are likely to be scrapped for the NHS in England after the worst figures on record this winter, my colleague Rowena Mason reports. She says:
The health secretary said it would be better if targets were “clinically appropriate” and the “right targets”, as he defended the NHS’s failure to meet the standard that 95% of patients attending A&E should be admitted, transferred or discharged within four hours.
The target was put under review by Theresa May’s government and the NHS unveiled plans last March to pilot changes that would prioritise patients with serious conditions while patients with minor problems could wait longer than four hours.
Jess Phillips, another Labour leadership contender, was in Glasgow yesterday, and she gave an interview to the Daily Record. Here are the main points.
For Scottish Labour, that was like pulling the rug away without any forewarning … What John McDonnell did harmed Scottish Labour.
Why would you vote Labour in Scotland if you knew you could vote SNP and get a Labour government?
Yes … I am proud to be from the United Kingdom. I would never, ever want to see the break up of our nation.
I am absolutely open minded to be brought round on that matter.
In a speech this afternoon Lisa Nandy, one of the five candidates still in the contest for the Labour leadership, will criticise Labour remainers for not being internationalist enough. According to a preview by Jane Merrick for the i, Nandy will argue that remainers were so focused on making the case for staying in the EU that the ended up paying only “lip service” to its broader internationalist traditions.
We have not seen the full text of the speech yet, but according to the i Nandy will say:
For Labour internationalism has become just about being in the EU.
We’ve paid lip service to our proud internationalist history but without ever explaining what that meant for the future. Because we’ve been locked in a corrosive debate solely focused on remain or leave.
As the BBC reports, the government’s decision to offer a rescue package to the regional airline company Flybe has been criticised by the British Airways chief executive Willie Walsh. In a private letter to Grant Shapps, the transport secretary, Walsh said Flybe did not need government support. According to the BBC, Walsh said:
Prior to the acquisition of Flybe by the consortium which includes Virgin/Delta, Flybe argued for tax payers to fund its operations by subsidising regional routes.
Virgin/Delta now want the taxpayer to pick up the tab for their mismanagement of the airline. This is a blatant misuse of public funds.
The government isn’t in the market to bail out private companies. What we do on a case by case basis is look to see whether a business is viable. In the case of Flybe, it is a viable business. There are structural challenges …
The regional connectivity role that it provides for the UK means that there are some routes that are very tricky, and what we have agreed to do as a government is a review of regional connectivity that takes into account, for example, our net zero carbon emissions. And what that will do is it will continue to create a level playing field for all airlines.
Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom says the government assesses ‘on a case-by-case basis whether the business is viable’ and for #Flybe it has agreed to assist to safeguard UK regional connectivity. Latest on @BBCBreakfast pic.twitter.com/x9IdJGOn5y
Ostensibly Boris Johnson is a close ally of Donald Trump’s, but on matters of substance the Johnson government has shown some willingness to keep its distance from Washington and how the relationship will end up remains to be seen. On Huawei, Johnson is so far refusing to adopt the Washington line. As my colleague Dan Sabbagh reports, the UK is rejecting some of the warnings coming from the Trump administration and the Times today (paywall) says opinion in government is “leaning towards rejecting US demands to ban the company on security grounds”. And on Iran, although the UK did not criticise the decision to assassinate the Iranian general Qassem Suleimani, its support wasn’t unequivocal and full-throated.
It is hard to know where the relationship will end up, but yesterday there was an interesting development when Johnson used his BBC interview to urge Trump to come up with a replacement to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the Obama-era deal to stop Iran developing a nuclear weapon that Trump has rejected. Johnson said this even though Dominic Raab, the foreign secretary, later told MPs that the UK had still not given up on the JCPOA. Trump has welcomed Johnson’s comments. Overnight he tweeted this.
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, @BorisJohnson, stated, “We should replace the Iran deal with the Trump deal.” I agree!
This Mr Prime Minister in London, I don’t know how he thinks. He says let’s put aside the nuclear deal and put the Trump plan in action.
If you take the wrong step, it will be to your detriment. Pick the right path. The right path is to return to the nuclear deal.