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London Politics News LIVE: Boris Johnson hits back at Savile insult directed at Keir Starmer

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EU should stop treating Northern Ireland like a ‘whipping boy’ – DUP

Sammy Wilson, DUP MP for East Antrim, has called on the EU to drop its hard line against the province.

He told the Commons: ‘Instead of listening to European cheerleaders from Labour, the Alliance Party and the SDLP, who want full implementation of this damaging protocol for Northern Ireland, Would George Eustice agree with me that the real responsibility lies with the EU to stop using Northern Ireland as a scapegoat for the UK leaving the EU and treating us with the respect we deserve as part of the UK?

It comes as Liz Truss and her EU counterpart Maros Sefcovic meet on Thursday to discuss Brexit and the Northern Ireland Protocol.

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Former Northern Ireland secretary insists UK must adhere to international agreements

Former Northern Ireland Secretary Julian Smith has warned the UK must adhere to international agreements following the suspension of Brexit controls for goods brought into Northern Ireland from Britain.

He said: ‘I support the government’s negotiations with the EU on improving the protocol, but could Mr Eustice clarify that for officials in Northern Ireland operating under the current rules, his letter still stands?

“We cannot be a country that accepts an agreement and does not support it.

“The UK Government must support this April 1 letter and support the officials in Northern Ireland who are carrying out the checks.”

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Rishi Sunak refuses to rule out leadership bid

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has refused to rule out a leadership bid if Boris Johnson is forced to step down.

Amid mounting pressure on the Prime Minister following Sue Gray’s report, Mr Sunak has revealed some of his colleagues would like to see the Chancellor take the reins of Number 10.

He told the BBC: “Well, that’s very nice of them to suggest that, but I think what people expect of me is to focus on my work.

“I know a few of my colleagues have said that and they will have their reasons for doing so, but I don’t think that’s the situation we find ourselves in.

“The Prime Minister has my full support. And what people expect of me is to continue my work, which is what I do.”

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George Eustice: Decision to check Brexit is a ‘decentralized matter’

Environment Secretary George Eustice said controls on products entering Northern Ireland from Britain were a “devolved matter”.

Following the decision to suspend checks by Edwin Poots, Mr Eustice said the responsibility to do so lies with the Northern Ireland Executive’s Department for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs.

Speaking in the Commons, Mr Eustice said: “While overall responsibility for international relations rests with the UK government, compliance with many of the requirements of the Northern Ireland protocol, including agri-food controls, is a devolved matter and the responsibility to do so rests with the Department for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs in the Northern Ireland Executive.

“And that includes the checks that take place at points of entry into Northern Ireland.”

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PM backtracks on Savile insult

Boris Johnson has backtracked after claiming Sir Keir Starmer failed to prosecute Jimmy Savile during his tenure as Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

The Prime Minister said he did not mean to imply that the Labor leader had personally failed to prosecute one of Britain’s most notorious sex offenders.

Mr Johnson’s comments sparked fury on Monday, with a series of Tory MPs urging him to withdraw the insult. Sir Keir described the jibe as an “insult peddled by right-wing trolls”.

The Prime Minister told broadcasters on Thursday: “I want to be very clear about this because a lot of people are very hot under the collar.

“I am not talking about the personal record of the Leader of the Opposition when he was DPP and I fully understand that he has nothing to do personally with these decisions.”

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Prime Minister says UK is ‘going out front’ in backing Ukraine

Boris Johnson said the UK had been ‘leading’ in supporting Ukraine, which was threatened with invasion by Russia.

The Prime Minister, speaking during a visit to Blackpool, Lancashire, said: “The UK has so far played a very good role in bringing the West together and ensuring that our partners understand the seriousness of the threat that Ukrainians face.

“And if you look at what we’ve done in the last two or three months, the UK has been way ahead in making sure people respond.

“So we have the right set of economic sanctions in place, it has to be tough enough and we have to make sure people understand that it has to be automatic so that there is no kind of argument when, if and when there is a Russian invasion that these sanctions enter automatically.

“As you know, we have changed the law so that the UK applies sanctions both personally but also to any country of Russian strategic interest.”

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Sunak admits he was in the cabinet room for the prime minister’s birthday

Chancellor Rishi Sunak admitted he was in the Cabinet Room when No 10 staff held a birthday meeting for Boris Johnson, but declined to say what happened.

The June 19, 2020 event is one of 12 such gatherings in Downing Street and Whitehall currently under investigation by the Metropolitan Police.

Mr Sunak told the BBC he had been there for a meeting to discuss the Covid-19 situation.

“I’m in the cabinet room for a Covid meeting much like the other 100, 200, God knows how many other Covid meetings,” he said.

“You are asking me about something that happened almost two years ago. I went into this Cabinet room, as I have done many other times for Covid meetings. is true that we authorize this police investigation.”

The Chancellor acknowledged the government needs to restore public trust following revelations about parties during the lockdown.

“I can understand people’s frustration. And I think it’s now the job of all of us in government, all politicians, to restore people’s trust.”

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Brexit negotiations with the EU are progressing well

The talks with the European Union “are progressing well”, revealed the official spokesman for the Prime Minister.

Liz Truss and European Commission Vice-President Maros Sefcovic are due to meet on Thursday to discuss the issue after checks on goods entering Northern Ireland from Britain were suspended.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “The talks are progressing well, as indicated by the Foreign Secretary, and we want to reach a speedy resolution.

“We’ve seen some movement from the EU over the past few months, but there’s still a lot to do.”