Boris Johnson told to ‘get a grip’ on Covid-19 crisis – live

Boris Johnson returns to Downing Street(AP)

Boris Johnson has been urged to “get a grip” on coronavirus and prevent a second wave, his successor as mayor of London has said. Sadiq Khan also accused the government of being “offensive” to at-home workers by suggesting they were less productive, amid pressure on staff to return to the office. Meanwhile, ministers have been warned of “border chaos” at the end of the Brexit transition period, as a leaked government document revealed that attempts to get the UK’s ready for trade for 1 January 2021 are “unmanageable”.

Mr Johnson insisted on Friday that the government was “ready for any eventuality”. And former Australian PM Tony Abbott has been named as one of the nation’s top trade envoys despite criticism over past comments on women and the LGBT+ community.

Key Points

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Good morning and welcome to The Independent‘s live coverage of events at Westminster and beyond. Adam Forrest4 September 2020 08:32


Leaked Brexit memo reveals looming border chaos

It feels increasingly like our transition into 2021 will be grim – regardless of whether or not there’s a trade deal with the EU. Attempts to get the UK’s borders ready for trade for 1 January are “unmanageable”, according to a leaked government document published by Bloomberg. The Cabinet Office memo warns of “critical gaps in new IT systems – of 13 key issues which need to be urgently addressed before the transition period ends.

Eight logistics industry groups have warned ministers that the UK’s supply chain will be “severely disrupted” if these issues aren’t fixed. They’ve asked for an “urgent” meeting with Michael Gove, Rishi Sunak and Grant Shapps. Rachel Reeves, shadow minister for the Cabinet Office, said it raised the risk of “border chaos”, while the Best for Britain campaign group warned: “If this is not sorted …

Britain will be set for an extremely bleak midwinter.” Adam Forrest4 September 2020 08:34


Tory MPs rebel over quarantine Portugal and Greece will not be added to England’s quarantine list, at least for now.

Grant Shapps told us it would be kept under “constant review”. There’s a clear split across the UK to keep track of now, with Wales adding Portugal and six Greek islands to its quarantine list from 4am on Friday, while Portugal and French Polynesia will be added to Scotland’s list from 4am on Saturday. Jeremy Hunt and Chris Grayling joined calls for airport testing to replace the 14-day quarantine rule – part of a group of backbench Tory MPs who have forced a debate on the issue in parliament next week.

 Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 committee of Tory MPs, said: “Other countries have been able to get a testing regime in place months ago and have been able to have a market for travel as a result of it. We ought to join them as quickly as possible.” Henry Smith, Tory chair of the cross-party future of aviation group, added: “Countries like Germany and France are testing inbound passengers.

That puts the UK at a competitive disadvantage in terms of economic recovery.” Adam Forrest4 September 2020 08:39


Sir Ian McKellen asks No 10 not to appoint Tony Abbott The actor Sir Ian McKellen and Doctor Who screenwriter Russell T Davies are among the celebrities and LGBT+ campaigners to have written to the government to ask that Tony Abbott is not chosen to represent the UK on the Board of Trade.

Highlighting the former Australian PM’s record of campaigning against same-sex marriage, the group stated: “This man is not fit to be representing the UK as out trade envoy.” Adam Forrest4 September 2020 08:45


Raab calls for international probe into ‘deplorable’ Navalny poisoning Foreign secretary Dominic Raab has called on overseas allies to work together to support an investigation into the “utterly deplorable” alleged Novichok poisoning of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.

Raab held talks on Thursday with German foreign minister Heiko Maas during which the pair agreed the need for Russia to explain what happened. It comes after Downing Street warned there would be “severe consequences” for the people behind the attack – and did not rule out sanctions or the fresh expulsions of diplomats. Raab said on Twitter that the poisoning of Navalny was “utterly deplorable and a violation of international law”.

The PM’s official spokesman, pressed on whether sanctions could be imposed on Russia or diplomats expelled, did not explicitly blame Moscow and said he would not “pre-empt what might happen next”. He said the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons would play a key role in investigating what he described as an “attempted murder” and said the UK had offered support to the German investigation. Adam Forrest4 September 2020 08:48


Dozens more lorry parks to be built across England

Up to a further 29 lorry parks will be built across England to cope with border trading chaos after Brexit, under emergency government powers. Local residents will have no say over the construction of the sites – needed because of growing fears that truck drivers will face long delays to enter the EU, or be turned away altogether. Some are in inland areas – Leicestershire, Warwickshire and Solihull – as well as in coastal trading hotspots including Kent, Essex, Yorkshire and Lincolnshire.

Haulage bosses – including the Road Haulage Association – have demanded an urgent meeting with ministers over a blizzard of new IT systems and a lack of training for promised customs agents. Adam Forrest4 September 2020 08:51


Haulage bosses demand crisis meeting with cabinet ministers Haulage bosses have called for an “urgent” meeting with Cabinet ministers amid growing concerns there are “significant gaps” in the UK’s Brexit border preparations.

Eight logistics organisations, including the Road Haulage Association (RHA), have written to Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove to highlight fears the UK-EU supply chain “will be severely disrupted” next year if issues are not resolved before Brexit. The group seeks a roundtable meeting with Gove, chancellor Rishi Sunak and transport secretary Grant Shapps to discuss areas including IT systems and physical border infrastructure. The letter states: “As key participants in the supply chain who will be required to deliver a functional operating border for GB and EU traders next year, we have visibility of the current state of preparedness which as it stands has significant gaps.

“If these issues are not addressed disruption to UK business and the supply chain that we all rely so heavily on will be severely disrupted.” Adam Forrest4 September 2020 08:57


Hancock accused of ‘nauseating’ hypocrisy Labour MPs Chris Bryant and Wes Streeting, who are both gay, accused Matt Hancock of hypocrisy after the health secretary tweeted about the “fantastic” new LGBT-inclusive relationships and sex education introduced in schools.

Bryant responded: “So why on earth would you countenance Tony Abbott as a trade envoy?” Streeting tweeted: “Matt, We know you’re a social liberal with a decent voting record on LGBT equality. That’s why your defence of Tony Abbott was even more nauseating.”

Adam Forrest4 September 2020 09:29


A drink with Tony Abbott? Shapps would have to ‘check the record’ Grant Shapps said he would want to “check the record for myself” if former Australian PM Tony Abbott asked him for a drink.

The transport secretary told Sky News host Kay Burley hadn’t “had time” to check Abbott’s history of remarks on women and homosexuality. Shapps stressed that Abbott had not been handed a senior trade role amid pressure to drop the plan due to allegations of homophobia and misogyny. He told Sky News: “I hate to bring us back to reality but he hasn’t been appointed to anything and as far as I know there haven’t been any appointments made.

“There are lots of people with whom their comments I vehemently disagree but I’m not into defending people who are not actually carrying out any role for the British government.” He committed to return to the show to discuss Abbott’s record “if” he is appointed. More Tory awkwardness over Abbott?

Or a sign the government is getting cold feet? Adam Forrest4 September 2020 09:38


Mass testing at airports not a ‘silver bullet’ solution, says Shapps The transport secretary has acknowledged that varying advice for quarantining when arriving in different UK nations from abroad “creates confusion”, amid calls for clarity.

Grant Shapps defended the decision not to impose restrictions on people entering England from Greece and Portugal – despite the Scotland and Wales ordering periods of isolation to slow the spread of coronavirus. “I do realise it creates confusion for people not to have a single rule, but we do have this devolved approach throughout the United Kingdom and I can only be responsible for the English part of that,” he told Sky News. The cabinet minister also said testing at airports is not a “silver bullet solution” to end quarantining and the “vast majority” of asymptomatic cases would not be detected by one test alone.

Shapps also described airport testing as “not totally pointless”. Speaking to Times Radio, he said: “It’s not the way out of it, which is the absolute key point. If it were, I would be absolutely doing it today, no doubt about it at all.”

Adam Forrest4 September 2020 09:45

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