Today’s daily politics briefing
In a new BBC interview, the PM suggested No 10 would trigger legal action over the protocol if the EU refuses to join the UK in ditching the “absurd” aspects of the post-Brexit trading arrangements.
It comes as Mr Johnson prepares to host a round table with football’s governing bodies on Tuesday, as he promised fans he will do everything possible to block the “ludicrous” European Super League and give it a “straight red”.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has called on the government to introduce legislation to block involvement of the “big six” in the breakaway league, and backed changes to clubs’ ownership model.
Meanwhile, Lord Evans, the head of the committee on standards in public life, has urged the PM to give up the power to decide whether a minister had breached the code and hand responsibility to an independent adviser.
Brexit permits to get into Kent scrapped
A permit required by lorry drivers entering Kent after the end of the Brexit transition period has been scrapped.
The Department for Transport said the measure was no longer necessary “thanks to hauliers arriving at the border prepared” – saying freight volumes between the UK and the EU continue to operate at normal levels”.
Kent Access Permits have been mandatory for EU-bound heavy goods vehicles entering Kent since January 1, following the end of the transition period. Its removal will mean “less paperwork for hauliers”, the department added.
Adam Forrest20 April 2021 10:22
Cameron, Greensill and Sunak to go before MPs
Both David Cameron and Rishi Sunak will be summoned to give evidence to a parliamentary inquiry into the lobbying scandal – as well as Lex Greensill, founder of the collapsed finance firm the sparked the scandal.
The powerful Treasury committee has now sent all the key individuals a series of questions about what happened, ahead of looming evidence sessions.
Adam Forrest20 April 2021 10:17
Let’s tackle ownership of football clubs, says Starmer
In case you missed it, Keir Starmer spoke to The Independent on Monday about his own hatred of the European Super League. The Labour leader said he supported legislation to block English clubs’ involvement and backed the idea of bringing in a new ownership model.
“It’s not an area where you’d expect legislation, but the strength of feeling is such that if the government is prepared to bring forward legislation, we would certainly look at it and support it,” he said.
“I think that controls of the ownership … I think it might have to be [prising control], or at least limiting the extent of the ownership stake, and also dealing with the speculation element of it,” Starmer added.
“Foreign speculation almost brought down Wigan Athletic, a great club, a historic club, very important to Wigan itself, and so we’ve got to tackle the ownership question.”
Adam Forrest20 April 2021 10:09
European Super League: what can be done?
So what exactly can be done to stop the near-universally despised European Super League?
Culture secretary Oliver Dowden said ministers would look at competition law and possibly try to legislate to block the set-up of the league. This would be complex, however, with ESL chiefs said to be confident they would win legal battles.
He also suggested the government could pull support “to facilitate matches”. This could see licences to stage games withdrawn or a police presence being withheld, or perhaps work permits for players.
Another option thought to be under consideration would see English football clubs forced to follow the German-style model of ownership – whereby fans are guaranteed a majority of share ownership. Such a move would take a lot of time, however.
No 10 could also work with governments in Italy and Spain, where the elite clubs are also pushing the breakaway league. “Ministers hope to link up with Spanish and Italian counterparts – who also oppose it,” according to Times Radio’s Tom Newton Dunn.
Adam Forrest20 April 2021 09:59
Climate experts urge PM to make good on commitments
Boris Johnson has been urged to come up with a plan to make sure his climate change commitments are met.
The PM is set to announce this week that commitments to cut carbon emissions by 78 per cent by 2035 will be put into law – bringing forward the existing target by 15 years.
A letter to the PM signed by over 100 climate experts seen by The Independent urges the government to explain how it will meet its commitments – and back the Climate & Ecological Emergency (CEE) Bill proposed by Green MP Caroline Lucas.
Labour said ministers had to match “rhetoric with reality”.
Adam Forrest20 April 2021 09:43
Treasury committee will examine whether Sunak ‘did the right thing’
Tory MP Mel Stride, chair the Treasury select committee, has explained his own group’s fairly narrow remit in making inquiries into the lobbying scandal.
Stride told Sky News his own committee’s probe into David Cameron’s lobbying efforts for Greensill Capital will make sure chancellor Rishi Sunak’s department’s response was “appropriate”.
He said: “We do want to look closely at every stage of that lobbying, just make sure the Treasury did the right thing.”
Adam Forrest20 April 2021 09:33
Government ‘on the side of fans’, says culture minister
Culture secretary Oliver Dowden has tweeted again about the government’s opposition to the European Super League – saying football fans’ loyalty was “being abused by a small number of individuals”.
Ahead of today’s crisis meeting with the FA and fans’ representatives, he added: “We are unequivocally on the side of fans – and their voices have to be heard when it comes to the future of our national game.”
Adam Forrest20 April 2021 09:26
Williamson: No double jobbing in my department
Education secretary Gavin Williamson said there were no civil servants “double jobbing” – moonlighting in the private sector – while working in his department.
“We’ve done all that work and we’ve established that and we’ve shared that with (the) Cabinet Office,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today. “There were some people that had worked on charitable bodies but, other than that, nothing else.”
On Monday Boris Johnson said it would be wrong to “form the impression that the upper echelons of the British civil service have got loads of people who are double-hatting, doing two jobs – it just isn’t true”.
Adam Forrest20 April 2021 09:21
Give up power to rule on sleaze probes, watchdog tells PM
Boris Johnson should lose the power to decide whether his ministers are investigated for sleaze, a standards watchdog has said, as inquiries into the Greensill lobbying scandal begin.
Lord Evans, chair of the committee on standards in public life has written to the PM, urging him to give up the right to decide whether a colleague has breached the ministerial code and hand that responsibility to his independent adviser.
“The adviser should be able to publish a summary of their findings, stating whether or not the adviser believed the ministerial code had been breached, and the adviser’s view on the severity of the breach.”
It comes as the chair of the public administration committee said its probe would look beyond the scandal surround David Cameron and the Greensill finance firm – and could recommend tougher rules.
Adam Forrest20 April 2021 09:12
Labour would back legislation to stop breakaway league
Labour has urged the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to investigate whether the breakaway European Super League would breach laws to uphold fairness.
Labour’s shadow minister for sport Alison McGovern blasted the proposal as “nothing short of an attempt to stitch up competition” for the elite clubs.
The party’s shadow culture minister Jo Stevens told Sky News on Tuesday morning that Labour will support any legislation against the league.
On Monday Keir Starmer attacked the elite plot – saying it “cuts across all the things that make football great”. The Arsenal-supporting Labour boss added: “It diminishes competition. It pulls up the drawbridge … But worst of all, it ignores the fans.”
Adam Forrest20 April 2021 09:07