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Boris Johnson has been warned by US congress members that the UK government’s “disturbing” plan to breach the terms of the Brexit deal puts at risk any future trade deal between the two countries.

The warning comes as Dominic Raab, the foreign secretary, is set to meet today with senior US politicians including Mike Pompeo and Nancy Pelosi, the latter of whom has herself warned that a breach of the Brexit deal’s Northern Ireland protocol would mean there were “absolutely no chance of a US-UK trade agreement passing through Congress”. 

Meanwhile, Angela Rayner will take to the opposition despatch box at prime minister’s questions as Labour leader Keir Starmer remains in isolation as he awaits the result of a family member’s coronavirus test.

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Drop ‘disturbing’ Brexit plan or risk US trade deal, Congress members warn

Boris Johnson faces fresh warnings from senior US politicians to “abandon” plans to override the Withdrawal Agreement with the European Union or risk losing out on a future trade deal.

Four congress members, led by US Foreign Affairs Committee chair Elliot Engel, warned the prime minister over plans to undermine the Northern Ireland protocol of the Brexit deal.

In a joint letter to the prime minister, the Congress members said: “We were so disturbed by the reports about your government’s efforts to undermine the Northern Ireland protocol of the withdrawal agreement that, if true, could have disastrous for the Good Friday Agreement and broader process to maintain peace on the island of Ireland.”

Here’s our political correspondent Ashley Cowburn with the full story:

Liam James16 September 2020 09:57

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Internal Market Bill insures against EU, says justice secretary

Robert Buckland, the justice secretary, has said the powers to break international law granted by the controversial Internal Market Bill would only be used if the the EU were to make a “material breach” of their obligations as set out in the Withdrawal Agreement. 

 Speaking to Times Radio this morning, Mr Buckland said: “People understand the provisions will only be used if there is a material breach by the EU of international law.”

Political commentator Tom Newton Dunn speculated the justice secretary’s commments suggest the government will undertake in law to only use the controversial powers if the EU were to break international law first, a provision the Times Radio presenter suggested could end the Conservative revolt against the legislation.

Liam James16 September 2020 09:44

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Raab in US after Brexit Bill warnings

Dominic Raab will meet today with senior US politicians after a warning that any potential free trade deal with the UK is “inextricably linked” to the upholding of the Good Friday Agreement.

The foreign secretary is set to meet with Mike Pompeo, the US secretary of state, and Democratic House speaker Nancy Pelosi, who warned there would be “absolutely no chance” of a trade deal passing through Congress should the UK government override the Brexit withdrawal agreement.

Commenting after Boris Johnson unveiled plans to renege on aspects of the deal regarding trade with Northern Ireland, Ms Pelosi said: “Whatever form it takes, Brexit cannot be allowed to imperil the Good Friday Agreement, including the stability brought by the invisible and frictionless border between the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland.

“The UK must respect the Northern Ireland Protocol as signed with the EU to ensure the free flow of goods across the border.”

Warnings followed on Tuesday from four US Congress members, who signed a joint letter to the prime minister saying:  “Many in the United States and in Congress consider the issues of the Good Friday Agreement and a potential US-UK Free Trade Agreement inextricably linked.

“With the issues raised in this letter in mind, we therefore urge you to abandon any and all legally questionable and unfair efforts to flout the Northern Ireland protocol of the Withdrawal Agreement and look to ensure that Brexit negotiations do not undermine the decades of progress to bring peace to Northern Ireland and future options for the bilateral relationship between our two countries.”

Liam James16 September 2020 09:08

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Labour leader Keir Starmer will not take part in prime minister’s questions this afternoon as he remains in isolation awaiting the coronavirus test result of a family member.

Angela Rayner, the deputy leader, will take his place at the despatch box where she will face Boris Johnson for the first time in the Commons.

Liam James16 September 2020 08:37

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Johnson faces testing questions

Boris Johnson will face a grilling from MPs after the health secretary admitted testing shortages affecting coronavirus outbreak hotspots are expected to last for weeks. 

Amid reports that patients are visiting A&E seeking Covid tests, the prime minister will face off against deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner at PMQs before giving evidence to select committee chairs on the government’s pandemic response.

Matt Hancock, the health secretary, admitted on Tuesday that it may be a “matter of weeks” before testing shortages are remedied and announced that vulnerable people will take priority on testing as part of rationing.

Following the health secretary’s announcement, the chair of Bolton NHS trust, Professor Donna Hall said a failing test and trace system places “huge pressure on the NHS and social care”.

In Bolton — which has the highest infection rate in England  — Professor Hall said: “We’re seeing wards full of people. We’ve now got 30 people who are Covid-positive and we’ve got five people in our high dependency unit so this is not going away, this virus is not going away.”

Liam James16 September 2020 08:33

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Good morning and welcome to Wednesday’s blog. We’ll be bringing you all the latest updates in UK politics today

Liam James16 September 2020 08:15

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