June 22, 2021

G7 summit – live: Macron attacks PM over Northern Ireland as Johnson hails UK-US ‘indestructible relationship’

‘Nothing is negotiable’ Macron holds firm on Brexit negotiations

French president Emmanuel Macron has ramped up the pressure on Boris Johnson over the Northern Ireland protocol, insisting “nothing is negotiable” and wrecking the UK’s attempts to claim there is “harmony” at the G7 summit.

In a defiant statement at the Elysee, which he gave ahead of travelling to Cornwall, Mr Macron warned his British counterpart that France is not open to renegotiating any aspect of the protocol – and appeared to question whether the UK could be trusted.

“If after six months you say we cannot respect what was negotiated, then that says nothing can be respected. I believe in the weight of a treaty, I believe in taking a serious approach. Nothing is negotiable. Everything is applicable,” he said.

It comes as Mr Johnson played down divisions with US president Joe Biden, telling the BBC this morning that their alliance should be known as the “indestructible relationship … [which] has endured for a very long time, and has been an important part of peace and prosperity both in Europe and around the world”.

There were concerns after it was revealed on Thursday that Mr Biden’s most senior diplomat accused No 10 of “inflaming” tensions in Northern Ireland.

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Raab hints at delays in UK-US travel plans

Dominic Raab said the resumption of travel between the UK and the US was discussed by Boris Johnson and Joe Biden on Thursday evening, but signalled it is not at the top of the government’s list of priorities right now.

He told Sky News: “We all want to do it, it was something that was discussed yesterday and we’ve got an idea … but it’s not something that we’ll be announcing imminently.”

After Mr Biden arrived in the UK for the G7 meeting in St Ives, the transport secretary, Grant Shapps, tweeted: “We’re pleased to announce a joint UK/US Taskforce to help facilitate the reopening of transatlantic travel.”

The group will explore options for resuming flights at scale on what was once the busiest and most lucrative intercontinental route network in the world.

Pressure has long been piled on the two nations to restart travel between the two countries, which has been paused since March 2020. The US is currently on the amber list, meaning any travellers returning to the UK must isolate at home for 10 days.

Sam Hancock11 June 2021 09:42

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UK global vaccine push will not affect at-home programme

The British public will not have to wait longer for a Covid vaccine as a result of the UK’s contribution to vaccine programmes around the world, vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi has said.

“Our priority is to make sure that the British public are protected, so our deployment programme will not be impacted at all by our donation of 100 million doses,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

“We have got over 500 million doses on order.”

His assurances come after Boris Johnson pledged to send 100 million surplus vaccine doses from the UK to some of the world’s poorest countries.

The prime minister made the pledge at this year’s G7 summit in Cornwall, where world leaders are expected to collectively agree to provide a billion doses of Covid-19 vaccine in an effort to end the pandemic in 2022.

Sam Hancock11 June 2021 09:30

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‘Less purist, more pragmatic’: Raab blasts EU from Cornwall

Foreign secretary Dominic Raab has said the conversation between Boris Johnson and Joe Biden on Northern Ireland “didn’t linger”.

Hailing the meeting as “incredibly warm”, Mr Raab said there “were so many other things” being discussed that the issue of Northern Ireland’s trade was not at the forefront.

Mr Raab added the PM was able to explain that “we want a flexible, pragmatic approach”.

“But for that to happen the EU must be less purist, more pragmatic and more flexible in the implementation of it. The ball is very much in the EU’s court in relation to that,” Mr Raab told Sky News.

“There was a respectful conversation. The prime minister wanted to raise it and be very clear on our position. It is the dogmatic, purist approach that the EU has taken which is the risk to the Good Friday Agreement.”

Sam Hancock11 June 2021 09:20

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PM criticises EU over ‘burdensome’ post-Brexit trade rift

Britain has suggested the EU is taking an “excessively burdensome” approach to post-Brexit trading arrangements for Northern Ireland.

Boris Johnson insisted he was not trying to back out of the agreement but that the UK’s “internal market” had to be respected.

It comes after the EU threatened to launch a trade war against the UK if it fails to implement checks on goods entering Northern Ireland under the terms of the Brexit “divorce” settlement which Mr Johnson signed, and which included the so-called Northern Ireland Protocol.

The prospect of a “sausage war” trade dispute came after Brexit minister Lord Frost refused to rule out the possibility that the UK could unilaterally delay imposing checks on British-made chilled meats which are due to come into force at the end of the month.

The Protocol effectively keeps Northern Ireland in the European single market in order to avoid a hard border with Ireland, meaning a trade barrier in the Irish Sea for goods crossing from Great Britain.

Joe Biden, who has Irish ancestry, is taking a close interest in the dispute and has warned against anything that could destabilise the arrangements put in place by the Good Friday Agreement. The White House has already indicated Mr Biden has deep concerns about the situation.

Sam Hancock11 June 2021 09:04

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Have your questions answered live about G7’s impact on Cornwall

Join The Independent’s Colin Drury, who has been reporting on the G7 summit live from Carbis Bay and St Ives, and will this afternoon answer your questions about how the town is responding to being at the centre of the summit.

He will be joined on the phone by Oliver Baines, a Cornwall organic farmer and Extinction Rebellion co-ordinator who will be stewarding protestors through St Ives as your questions come in.

All you need to do is put your questions in the comments section of the below article, and we’ll answer as many as we can from 3pm.

Register here (and remember to submit your question by 1pm on Friday):

Sam Hancock11 June 2021 08:55

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Johnson defends UK’s international Covid vaccine bid

Boris Johnson has defended his approach to tackling the global pandemic as the UK offered at least 100 million surplus vaccine doses to some of the world’s poorest countries.

The PM made the pledge as leaders of some of the richest democracies on the planet gathered in Cornwall, with the group of seven leading industrialised nations expected to collectively agree to provide a billion doses of Covid-19 vaccine in an effort to end the pandemic in 2022.

Mr Biden has already promised to donate half a billion Pfizer vaccines for 92 low and lower-middle income countries and the African Union. Under Mr Johnson’s plan, the UK will provide five million doses by the end of September, with 25 million more by the end of 2021.

Mr Johnson told the BBC: “I think that the people of this country should be very proud that of the 1.5 billion doses that are being distributed around the world to the poorest and neediest in the world under the Covax programme, one in three come from the Oxford/AstraZeneca deal that the UK did, allowing those vaccines to be distributed at cost.”

The G7 as a whole was offering a “colossal sum of vaccines”, he said.

Biden and Johnson pictured in Carbis Bay

(PA)

Sam Hancock11 June 2021 08:40

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Dunn family keen to met Biden and say justice ‘has to be done’

The mother of Harry Dunn has said his family would welcome the opportunity to meet US president Joe Biden, after remarks made by Boris Johnson this morning (see my post from 8.03am).

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Charlotte Charles, whose 19-year-old son died in Northamptonshire in 2019, was asked if she was hoping to meet Mr Biden.

“I certainly wouldn’t say no. The last time we had a meeting with a president of the United States, Mr Trump, clearly it didn’t go well,” she said.

“We had a pretty nasty trick played on us that has left some quite deep emotional scars to be honest. It was one horrific day. So absolutely, we would very much welcome a meeting with President Biden, considering he has got personal experience of what we are going through.”

Probed about whether a civil claim lodged in the US could represent justice for Harry, if the US continues to assert suspect Anne Sacoolas’ diplomatic immunity, Mrs Charles told Today: “No. Justice means standing up and accepting accountability for your actions. The civil claim is extremely separate to the criminal case. So justice still needs to be done here in the UK. That’s always been my goal – that isn’t going to change.”

“She needs to face UK jurisdiction, it has to be done,” Mrs Charles added.

Sam Hancock11 June 2021 08:24

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Nandy tells Johnson he ‘absolutely must deliver’ global vaccine aid

Shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy said this morning there was a moral, economic and health case for Britain to help vaccinate the world against coronavirus.

She told BBC Breakfast on Friday that Boris Johnson’s pledge ahead of the G7 summit to donate at least 100 million surplus vaccine doses to some of the world’s poorest countries was a “welcome agreement” but there needed to be a plan not just an ambition.

“What we need over the next 48 hours is not just ambitions to get the world vaccinated but an actual plan,” she said. “That would be in Britain’s interest as well, the International Monetary Fund says that this would represent the biggest return on investment in modern history for wealthier countries because of the economic fallout if we don’t deal with this.”

She added that the “the prime minister absolutely has to deliver this”.

Nandy on ‘BBC Breakfast’ this morning

(BBC)

Sam Hancock11 June 2021 08:10

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Biden ‘engaged’ in case of Harry Dunn, Johnson claims

Joe Biden is “actively engaged” and “extremely sympathetic” in the case of teenage motorcyclist Harry Dunn, Boris Johnson has said.

The leaders of the US and UK discussed the 19-year-old, who was killed when a car crashed into his motorbike outside a military base in Northamptonshire, ahead of the G7 summit of world leaders in Cornwall.

The death, in August 2019, sparked an international controversy after Anne Sacoolas had diplomatic immunity asserted on her behalf. She has since been charged with causing the death of the teenager by dangerous driving.

Mr Johnson was asked if there had been any progress made on the case following his discussion with his American counterpart and said he understood there were “limits” to what Mr Biden could do.

“You should really – when you get the chance – put your question to the president because he is actively engaged in the case,” the PM said in an interview with the BBC.

“As you know, he has his own personal reasons for feeling very deeply about the issue. And he was extremely sympathetic, but this is not something that either government can control very easily because there are legal processes that are still going on.”

The Dunn family said they were pleased to see the case raised at the “first available opportunity”.

Sam Hancock11 June 2021 08:03

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PM hails ‘indestructible relationship’ between US and UK

Boris Johnson has hailed the alliance between the US and the UK as the “indestructible relationship”.

In an interview with the BBC Mr Johnson said he and Joe Biden were enjoying “terrific” talks at the G7 summit, which begins later with vaccines and climate change on the agenda.

Mr Johnson insisted the US president had not rebuked him over post-Brexit tensions in Northern Ireland. However, Mr Biden is said to have “deep concern” over the situation.

The two men met in Carbis Bay, Cornwall on Thursday ahead of the start of the G7 summit, which will see the leaders of Canada, the EU, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the US and UK gathering in person for the first time since the pandemic.

Speaking to the BBC’s political editor Laura Kuenssberg, Mr Johnson said the UK and US shared a belief in human rights, the rules-based international order and the transatlantic alliance.

He said he thought of the association as “an indestructible relationship” or the “deep and meaningful relationship”.

“It’s a relationship that has endured for a very long time, and has been an important part of peace and prosperity both in Europe and around the world,” he said.

Sam Hancock11 June 2021 08:01

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