The UK government remains firmly committed to the equality and human rights safeguards within the Northern Ireland protocol, Lord Frost has insisted. As PA Media reports, the Brexit minister made this point in a letter to Amnesty International. PA reports:
Article 2 of the protocol commits the UK to ensuring that Brexit will see “no diminution” of the extensive rights provisions that were enshrined in Northern Ireland as a result of the Good Friday peace agreement.
EU law underpinned many of the equality and anti-discrimination laws that flowed from the 1998 accord.
Amnesty International wrote to Frost expressing concern that article 2 could be jeopardised if the UK government follows through with its threat to suspend elements of the protocol amid its dispute with the EU over post-Brexit Irish Sea trade disruption.
Frost has now replied to the human rights organisation to provide assurances. In the letter, seen by PA, Frost said: “The government has always strongly supported article 2 of the protocol, which became operational when the protocol was signed.
“Since that point, the government has worked closely with the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission and the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland to set up the dedicated mechanism, funding and supporting both commissions and creating a system in which rights are safeguarded. We have absolutely guaranteed that there will be no diminution of these rights as a result of the UK leaving the EU.”
London Underground drivers are to launch strike action tomorrow, which will hit the planned resumption of night tube services, PA Media reports.
Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union will walk out in a dispute over rosters.
The union said new shifts are being imposed on staff which will affect their work-life balance.
A 24-hour strike on night tube lines – Central, Jubilee, Northern, Piccadilly and Victoria – will start at 4.30am on Friday, with further walkouts planned in the coming weeks.
Transport for London warned of disruption to services and advised people to check before travelling.
The RMT general secretary, Mick Lynch, said:
This strike is about the ripping apart of popular and family-friendly agreements that helped make the original night tube such a success. Instead the company want to cut costs and lump all drivers into a pool where they can be kicked from pillar to post at the behest of the management.
This strike action, and its serious consequences in the run-up to Christmas, was avoidable if the tube management hadn’t axed dedicated Night Tube staff and perfectly workable arrangements in order to cut staffing numbers and costs.
And Nick Dent, director of London Underground customer operations, said:
The RMT’s planned strike action is needless and it will threaten London’s recovery from the pandemic, despite no job losses and more flexibility and job certainty for drivers.
“While every other union has agreed to these changes and our staff have been enjoying the benefits of the changes since August, we’re willing to work with the RMT and review the changes after night tube services have returned.
at 5.00am EST
Patel to make Commons statement on death of at least 27 people trying to cross Channel
We have just had the updated list of statements and UQs in the Commons today.
10.30am: Jo Stevens, the shadow culture secretary, asks an urgent question on the Tracey Crouch review of English football.
Around 11am: Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Commons leader, takes questions on next week’s business.
Around 12pm: Ben Wallace, the defence secretary, makes a Commons statement on the restructuring of the army.
Around 1pm: Priti Patel, the home secretary, makes a statement to MPs on what is described in the official listing as the “small boats incident in the Channel”.
Starmer says Boris Johnson’s social care plans are a ‘complete betrayal’ of north of England
Good morning. The main political focus this morning is the response, in the UK and France, to the death of at least 27 people trying to cross the Channel yesterday on a small boat. But my colleague Damien Gayle is covering all the developments around that story on a separate live blog, and so largely I will be leaving that to him. You can read the blog here.
In other developments, Keir Starmer has instensified his attack on the government’s social care plans. At PMQs yesterday he condemned them as a “working class dementia tax”, but today he has given an interview to the Northern Echo focusing on the idea that they particularly isadvantage people in the north of England. He told the paper:
How does someone in Redcar, where the average house price is GBP133,000, or Bishop Auckland, where it is GBP125,000, realistically raise the GBP86,000 without selling their house? I think most people would say ‘of course I’m going to have to sell my house to pay that sort of money’.
You will have to defer the payment to have it taken away from your estate at the end of the exercise. If your house is worth GBP133,000 and you take GBP86,000 away, you are effectively depriving people of a significant amount of their inheritance.
It is a complete betrayal of people in the north-east who took the government at its word, only to learn that when they gave their word on taxes not going up, they didn’t keep it, when they gave their word on building new hospitals, they haven’t kept it, and now we know that when they gave their word on social care, they haven’t kept it. It is a string of broken promises across the north-east.
Labour has also produced this graphic to illustrate how the plans disproportionately help the wealthy.
Boris Johnson’s working-class dementia tax. pic.twitter.com/vyjCyFge5b
Here is the agenda for the day.
9.30am: Stephen Barclay, the Cabinet Office minister, takes questions in the Commons.
9.30am: NHS England publishes figures on GP appointments, and mental health statistics.
9.30am: The Home Office publishes quarterly asylum figures.
9.30am: The ONS publishes long-term migration figures.
After 10.30am: Jacob Rees-Mogg, the leader of the Commons makes a statement on next week’s Commons business.
11.30am: Downing Street holds its lobby briefing.
Afternoon: Peers hold a debate on Channel crossings.
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at 4.40am EST