UK to change extradition treaty with Hong Kong, Boris Johnson confirms

UK to change extradition treaty with Hong Kong, Boris Johnson confirms

Boris Johnson during a visit to The Discovery School in West Malling, Kent - PA
Boris Johnson during a visit to The Discovery School in West Malling, Kent – PA

Boris Johnson has confirmed that the UK will be altering its extradition treaty with Hong Kong, ahead of a formal statement by the Foreign Secretary. 

Speaking during a visit to a school in Kent the Prime Minister said Dominic Raab would this afternoon confirm “how we are going to change our extradition arrangements to reflect our concerns about what’s happening with the security law in Hong Kong.”

It is thought the treaty will be suspended in response to the new security law being imposed on Hong Kong, following similar action by Australia, Canada and the US.

But Mr Johnson stressed there was “a balance” to be struck, insisting the UK would continue to engage with Beijing. 

Follow the latest updates below.

10:29 AM

Minister says lockdown ‘right decision’, after report claims it could cause 200,000 deaths

A Cabinet minister has said the Government is not willing to accept “collateral damage” as a result of the nationwide lockdown, after the Daily Telegraph revealed an official report warning it could cause up to 200,000 deaths. 

Asked about this morning’s exclusive report, Gavin Williamson told Sky News it was “very much the right decision” to have imposed restrictions for more than three months,  noting that “incredibly tough decisions” had been made to protect the NHS and the country at large from the effects of coronavirus. 

The Education Secretary added: “There is no collateral damage that anyone is prepared to accept

“We are bringing society back, making sure everything is working as we would like to see it.”

As national restrictions were imposed, experts from the Department of Health, the Office of National Statistics (ONS), the government’s Actuary Department and the Home Office forecast the collateral damage from delays to healthcare and the effects of recession arising from the pandemic response, it has emerged.

The report published in April estimated that up to 25,000 could die from delays to treatment in the same period and a further 185,000 in the medium to long term – amounting to nearly one million years of life lost. 

10:27 AM

Boris Johnson confirms UK will change extradition treaty with Hong Kong

Boris Johnson has confirmed the UK will change its extradition treaty with Hong Kong, but said the UK will take a “calibrated response” towards China.

Speaking during a visit to a school in Kent, the Prime Minister said: “There is a balance here. I am not going to be pushed into position of being knee-jerk Sinophobe on every issue… 

“But we do have serious concerns – about the treatment of the Uyghur minority, about human rights abuses.

“Concerns about Hong Kong – you will be hearing a bit later on from the Foreign Secretary about how we are going to change our extradition arrangements to reflect our concerns… 

“But we won’t completely abandon our policy of engagement with China,” he added, noting the country was “a giant factor of geo-politics, factor in our lives and those of our children and grandchildren”. 

As a result, the UK will take a “calibrated response”, Mr Johnson said, pledging to be “tough on some things but continue to engage”.

10:19 AM

This is ‘reset moment’ with China, says David Davis

This is “a reset moment” in China’s relationship with the rest of the world, David Davis has said. 

Beijing has been allowed to “get away with, frankly, more than it should do” because of its economic prowess, he told Sky News. 

But the former frontbencher listed the many issues including Huawei, the security law in Hong Kong, the treatment of Uyghurs and intellectual property infringement as examples of where the international community should push back. 

He said: “We need an agreement about general behaviour… to reset the world trading relationship – hopefully in free trading relationship as we currently enjoy.”

10:15 AM

Beijing will take extradition treaty shift ‘very seriously’, says David Davis

Suspending the extradition treaty between the UK and Hong Kong would be taken “very seriously” by Beijing, David Davis has said. 

The former Brexit Secretary said suspending the extradition treaty – which Dominic Raab is expected to announce this afternoon – would protect Hong Kongers from being returned to face Chinese law, as a result of the new security law.

“We have to protect them and this is the most appropriate way to do it,” he said.  

He noted that sanctions should be brought forward to any individuals if they have broken the law, but said it must not be deployed as part of the “machine of weaponry”. 

Any action should be ethical, legal and responsible, he says, and must be taken globally to ensure China does not “pick us off one by one”.

09:59 AM

Senior oncologist says ministers must ‘tackle the fear’ to halt lockdown’s ‘dealy consequences’

A senior oncologist has responded to our scoop this morning, saying he has long feared the lockdown’s “deadly consequences”. 

Professor Karol Sakora, who has been warning about the impact of lockdown on cancer for many months, said he was “not surprised at all” to see that officials had estimated restrictions could cause up to 200,00 deaths, in part from “delayed healthcare”.

He said: “For me, getting the country moving was all about getting healthcare functioning. It’s why I’ve been so desperate to tackle the fear. It has deadly consequences.”

09:33 AM

Suella Braverman to give evidence at Justice Committee

Suella Braverman will appear before the Justice Committee tomorrow afternoon, for the first time since she was appointed to the role in February.

The Committee will consider the controversy surrounding the disclosure of evidence relating to rape cases. The issue of legal safeguards in private prosecutions where the prosecutor is also the alleged victim – and where there could therefore be a conflict of interests – may also be raised.

In January 2018, after a number of high-profile rape cases had collapsed following the late disclosure of evidence, the then-Director of Public Prosecutions said some people had been wrongly imprisoned. Disclosure of evidence by the prosecution to the defence is seen as important to the holding of fair trials.

Soon after being appointed, Suella Braverman introduced new guidelines on disclosure, noting that the process was “a vital guarantor of a secure conviction”.

09:30 AM

Watch: Donald Trump calls Fox ‘fake news’ when challenged over mortality rate

Donald Trump is no stranger to dismissing parts of the media as “fake news” – but it is unusual to see him doing it with Fox News. 

The US President was challenged over the country’s surge in cases and rising mortality rates, which is worse than countries including Brazil and Russia, during an interview with the network yesterday. 

Told that the US had the seventh worst rate in the world, he said: “When you talk about mortality rates, I think it’s the opposite. I think we have one of the lowest mortality rates in the world.” 

The bad news for us in the UK is that this country tops that chart, with the highest mortality rate in the world. The full details of the chart are available here.

09:16 AM

Sadiq Khan urged to end London’s twinning with Beijing

Sadiq Khan is being urged to end London’s twinned status with Beijing amid rising tensions between China and the UK. 

Conservative mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey said the incumbent should bring the relationship to an end “now”, saying: “What kind of signal are we sending when we continue a relationship with a government that is seeking to curtail human rights with new security laws in Hong Kong, while overseeing the cruel persecution of its Uighur Muslims?”

Mr Bailey added: “London must send a message that China’s behaviour is unacceptable…Our relationship with China is not simply ‘business as usual’ – and the Mayor should make that clear.”

09:11 AM

Read in full: Official report from April warned lockdown would cost 200,000 deaths

Gavin Williamson defended the Government’s decision to impose a nationwide lockdown this morning, saying it was “very much the right thing to do”, despite a report seen by the Daily Telegraph showing officials were warned it would cost 200,000 deaths. 

If you haven’t read the details yet, I really urge you to. The report, published in April, estimated 50,000 coronavirus fatalities in the first six months, as well as up to 25,000 deaths from delays to treatment in the same period. 

It also warned of an additional 500 suicides during the first wave, and between 600 and 12,000 more deaths per year resulting from a recession which had a significant impact on GDP.

Projected increased deaths within one year
Projected increased deaths within one year

09:00 AM

Critics of woman tipped as next Cabinet Secretary accused of sexism

Critics of a senior Whitehall mandarin tipped to become the first female Cabinet Secretary have been accused of sexism by the head of the senior civil servants union. 

Dave Penman, the general secretary of the FDA, claimed last night that allegations levelled at Antonia Romeo, who is in contention to replace Sir Mark Sedwill as head of the civil service, contained a “whiff of misogyny.” 

Read the full story here.

Antonia Romeo, former Consul General of New York
Antonia Romeo, former Consul General of New York

08:51 AM

Public has ‘vital role’ in vaccine development, says Health Secretary

Matt Hancock has hailed the Government’s move to secure 90m potential coronavirus vaccine doses – and urged the public to help by getting involved in the development trials. 

The Government has now secured access to three different types and people are being asked to to play their part by volunteering for future vaccine studies.

The Health Secretary said: “Members of the public have a vital role to play.

“I urge everyone who can to back the national effort & sign up to the NHS Covid-19 vaccine research registry to help find a vaccine as soon as possible.”

Professor Chris Whitty echoed this, saying: “The generosity of the public in taking part is essential to identify effective vaccines.”

It comes after a study by research agency ORB International, which works with London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, found that more than a quarter of Britons could refuse to be vaccinated even once the trials are concluded. 

08:42 AM

Test & Trace call centre could face penalties for Covid-outbreak, says Scottish minister

Scotland’s Deputy First Minister has not ruled out penalties being taken against the owners of a North Lanarkshire call centre which has seen a cluster of Covid-19 cases.

Six cases were reported on Sunday within the Sitel call centre, which is currently working on Test and Trace cases for NHS England.

John Swinney said the outbreak was a matter of “serious concern”, adding the Scottish Government believed there had been transmission between staff. Investigations are being undertaken to “get an understanding” of how the outbreak had occurred.

He told BBC’s Good Morning Scotland that penalties were among a range of options being “explored”, adding: “Our primary focus is on is to make sure that we interrupt any transmission of the virus.

“The virus is at a very low level within Scottish society today, the compliance efforts of members of the public have successfully reduced the prevalence of coronavirus, but we have to keep it that way.”

Mr Swinney added that actions being taken by NHS Lanarkshire and North Lanarkshire Council were “reassuring”.

08:29 AM

Tim Stanley: Saying I’ll never wear a mask has put me in a pickle

Tim Stanley is in a pickle. He wrote last week that he would never, ever wear a mask. Two days later, the PM said he must wear one to go into a shop.

This is the Year of Thinking Dangerously, when a joke, a slip or an unorthodox opinion can land you in trouble, even if your actual behaviour is entirely conventional.  Read his column here.

08:18 AM

Schools should prepare for local lockdowns, Education Secretary says

Schools should prepare for the possibility of local lockdowns in the wake of coronavirus, the Education Secretary has said.

Gavin Williamson was speaking to the Today programme as he announced a £4.8 billion boost in funding for 2021 compared with 2019, equivalent to a minimum of £5,150 per secondary school pupil and £4,000 per primary school pupil, up from the £5,000 and £3,750 which schools are receiving this year. 

However the focus is still on the impacts of coronavirus, with big question-marks over whether students will return in September, and what will happen if there is a local outbreak. 

Mr Williamson told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We have been clear to schools that they have to plan for a scenario where they are in a situation where we see local lockdowns, and how we have that continuity of education that flows all the way through.”

07:59 AM

Have your say on: wearing a face mask in Pret

Is Pret a shop or a cafe? Ministers can’t seem to agree in this point – which means there is some confusion about whether it is mandatory to wear a face mask when buying your regular sandwich. 

Matt Hancock last week said it was a shop – because you pay at the counter – and therefore masks are mandatory from today. His argument was apparently backed by Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss who were both snapped wearing one while picking up their lunch. 

But Gavin Williamson this morning backed up Downing Street (and Michael Gove) in saying it was only to be “encouraged” (8:14am). 

So what kind of establishment is Pret – and will you be wearing your face mask inside? Have your say in our poll below. 

07:51 AM

UK ‘never timid about speaking up for human rights’ 

Gavin Williamson has said the Government has “never been timid about speaking up for human rights” ahead of Dominic Raab’s latest statement on China today. 

The Foreign Secretary is expected to set out the next steps in response to Beijing’s new security law, imposed on Hong Kong, which criminalised any act of secession, subversion, terrorism or collusion with foreign or external forces. It effectively curtails protest and freedom of speech and undermines the Sino-British Joint Declaration treaty.

Speaking ahead of Mr Raab, the Education Secretary said: “The Government has taken a clear approach and a decisive approach, which has actually brought other nations with us.”

He pointed to countries such as Australia and Canada which were “copying” the UK Government in allowing BNO passport holders a pathway to citizenship.  

They are among the countries to have moved to suspend their extradition treaty with Hong Kong, something Mr Raab is expected to announce today.

07:41 AM

Test & Trace has broken data law, DHSC admits

The Government has admitted that England’s Covid-19 Test and Trace programme has broken a data protection law, according to a letter sent to privacy campaigners.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) acknowledged it had failed to carry out a risk assessment on how the system would affect privacy, a legal requirement.

It follows the threat of legal action from the Open Rights Group (ORG), which claims that the programme to trace contacts of those infected with Covid-19 has been operating unlawfully since its launch on May 28.

A spokesman for the DHSC said there is “no evidence” of data being used in an unlawful way.

In response to a pre-action letter from privacy campaigning organisation ORG, the Government confirmed that, while the assessment is a legal requirement, it has not yet been completed.

The letter from DHSC, which is dated July 15, said the legal requirement is being “finalised”.

07:39 AM

MPs urge action on Hong Kong extradition treaty

Dominic Raab will set out the next steps in the UK’s response to a new controversial security law, imposed on Hong Kong by Beijing. 

Having already committed to welcoming up to three million BNO-passport holders in the UK, the Foreign Secretary is expected to unveil further measures, which could include an end to the extradition treaty with Hong Kong. 

This weekend MPs from the China Research Group wrote to Mr Raab, urging him to act. Here’s the letter:

07:32 AM

Labour urges action as one in four childcare providers may close by year-end

One in four childcare providers believe they will not be in business by the end of this year, Labour’s shadow education secretary has said. 

Kate Green told BBC Breakfast that the prospect of providers going out of business was “really worrying” for parents who need to find childcare when they return to work.

She said: “The problem for childcare providers is that lack of capacity means a lack of income and some of them are becoming financially unviable.

“So the consequence of less demand is that it’s possible, and indeed the childcare providers are saying this, that some of them will go out of business altogether.

“One in four think they may not still be around within the year, and that’s really worrying when parents need to find childcare places so they can go back to work and know that their children are being looked after safely.”

07:30 AM

‘Zero truth’ to claims that Beijing has access to TikTok data, firm claims

Social media giant TikTok has insisted that the Chinese communist party does not have access to the personal information of users.

The company is recruiting a team of well-connected lobbyists in London as part of plans to make the UK capital its international headquarters.

But those plans have been thrown into doubt after it was labelled a “potential counterintelligence threat” by senior members of Congress. The Trump administration is considering placing sanctions on TikTok amid concerns about whether the app’s Chinese ownership allows Beijing free access to personal data collected on Western users, many of whom are under 18.

Asked about such claims, TikTok head of public policy for Europe, Theo Bertram, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “It’s completely false.

“TikTok is not available in China. TikTok data is stored in the US.

“TikTok is a company incorporated in the US.

“There is zero truth to the accusations that the Chinese state has access to TikTok users’ data.”

07:23 AM

What’s on the agenda today?

It’s shaping up to be another busy Monday in Westminster. 

Dominic Raab is expected to set out the next steps in the UK’s response to the new security law being imposed by Beijing on Hong Kong. One possible lever at the Foreign Secretary’s disposal is the extradition treaty with Hong Kong, with a group of MPs warning it could be used by the Chinese government to extradite people who have travelled to Britain under the new BNO route set out in July. 

Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, is thought to support the calls to suspend the treaty. 

Mr Raab is due to speak from 3:30pm – we will find out what his plans are then. 

Before that Robert Jenrick, the Housing Secretary is in the Commons for his monthly question time at 2.30pm. This could see the return of more grilling about the Westferry development, ahead of a committee appearance this week. 

Meanwhile the Trade Bill returns to the Commons for its final stages this afternoon, with Tory backbencher Jonathan Djanogly putting forward an amendment to give parliament a vote on any trade deal signed by the UK government. There is considerable concern, even on the Tory benches, that the US will force a deal which will undercut British farmers and result in chlorinated chicken or something similar landing in our supermarkets. 

Mike Pompeo, the US Secretary of State, arrives today, ahead of meetings with Mr Raab and Boris Johnson tomorrow. 

And over in Brussels, Brexit talks begin again today and this week seems to be a fairly critical one. The last few rounds have seen talks end early but they will need to make some progress this time if a deal is to be secured by October.

07:14 AM

Minister says masks are not compulsory in Pret-a-Manger

Confusion over whether it is mandatory to wear a face mask in Pret-A-Manger, the sandwich chain, continues this morning after Gavin Williamson suggested it was “encouraged” rather than compulsory. 

The question of whether takeaway food outlets count as shops (where masks are mandatory from today) or hospitality (where they are not) has caused something of a divide among ministers.

Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, said last week that masks would be mandatory in Pret, as you have to pay at a counter. However this was later contradicted by Downing Street. 

Ministers including Liz Truss, the Trade Secretary, and Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, have been pictured with masks on in a Pret – while Michael Gove has been pictured without.

The Education Secretary told Sky News; “My understanding is that you don’t have to – but we all have our face masks nowadays”, waving his own as proof. 

“If you are going into Pret, don a face mask if you have one,” he added. “My understanding is that going into Pret – it is encouraged though it isn’t officially required that you absolutely have to.” 

Masking up: Rishi dons a mask for Pret
Masking up: Rishi dons a mask for Pret

07:05 AM

Williamson would ‘absolutely’ take part in vaccine trials

Gavin Williamson said he would “absolutely” take part in a coronavirus vaccine trial, as the Government has struck deals to secure more than 90 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine.

He stressed the need for as many people as possible to have a vaccine, telling Sky News the success of such a programme was “contingent” on widespread adoption. 

But Mr Williamson acknowledged the vaccines would not be ready in time for this winter period, which experts including Sir Patrick Vallance and Professor Chris Whitty have warned will be particularly challenging. 

The Education Secretary told BBC Breakfast: “The whole purpose is that they will be getting trialled out.

“Half a million people will be having the trials of these vaccines and it will be something that comes after winter.”

Asked if he would take part in a trial, Mr Williamson said: “Absolutely. As you are probably aware politicians tend to meet lots of people, so it would be a sensible thing to do.”

07:00 AM

Britain ‘not nervous’ about China, as Government prepares to scrap extradition treaty

The UK Government has “has never been nervous” about tackling China over human rights abuses, Gavin Williamson has said. 

Dominic Raab, the Foreign Secretary, is expected to set out further measures being taken in response to China’s imposition of the national security law in Hong Kong this afternoon. There is also growing condemnation over China’s treatment of the Uighur muslims.

One of the areas that has been reviewed is the UK’s extradition treaty with Hong Kong. 

Mr Williamson didn’t comment on the specifics but noted that Britain has been a “global leader” in responding to Hong Kong.

“We want to work with China, but we must always and will always speak out,” he added. 

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