Liz Truss latest: Biden to confront PM over Northern Ireland protocol plans

Culture secretary says Queen’s funeral was taxpayer ‘money well spent’

Joe Biden is set to confront Liz Truss over her plans to tear up the Northern Ireland protocol at their meeting in New York today.

The White House said the US president will tell the prime minister to ensure there is “no threat” to the Irish peace process from the flashpoint legislation to rewrite the Brexit agreement.

Mr Biden earlier signalled a rift with Ms Truss in a different field, hitting out at “trickle-down economics” as the prime minister prepares to announce a wave of tax-cutting policies in line with the theory disdained by the president.

In an interview ahead of the United Nations summit where she will meet Mr Biden, the prime minister admitted her tax plan would initially benefit the rich more than the rest of society, though she insisted it was not unfair.

The prime minister also revealed she does not expect to negotiate a trade deal with the US for years, depsite the claims of Brexit campaigners in her party that a deal would be forthcoming after Britain left the EU.

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New junior ministerial appointments

Downing Street has announced a further round of junior ministerial appointments as Liz Truss continues her first Cabinet reshuffle.

Mims Davies goes to the Home Office, Sarah Atherton to Defence, Dean Russell to Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, David Duguid to the Scotland Office and Gareth Johnson, Rob Butler and Mike Freer to the Ministry of Justice.

Andrew Stephenson goes to Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, Marcus Fysh to International Trade, Alex Burghart to Work and Pensions, Scott Mann to Environment, Stuart Andrew to Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, and Katherine Fletcher to Transport while also serving as Minister for Women in the Cabinet Office.

Sarah Dines, Nigel Huddleston, Amanda Solloway and Adam Holloway have been made Government whips while Lia Nici, Darren Henry, Damien Moore, Jacob Young and Mark Jenkinson become assistant whips.

Foreign Office Minister Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, Environment Minister Lord Benyon and Scotland Office Minister Lord Offord of Garvel have been reappointed to their existing posts.

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Unions launch legal challenge against Tories’ new anti-strike laws

Trade unions have launched a legal challenge against the government’s new anti-strike laws, arguing that they are unlawful (Jon Stone writes).

Ministers have changed the rules to allow agency workers to be brought in to replace striking staff.

The Trades Union Congress (TUC) argues that the law change violates fundamental rights protected by Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

They also say then business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng broke the law by failing to consult unions on the move, as required under the Employment Agencies Act 1973.

“The right to strike is a fundamental British liberty, but the government is attacking it in broad daylight,” TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said.

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BBC says Queen’s funeral watched by peak audience of ‘28 million’

The BBC says it achieved UK audience highs of 28 million watching its coverage of the state funeral of Queen Elizabeth II on Monday.

The broadcaster said the overall viewership of its funeral coverage accounted for “the majority of the UK public”.

Meanwhile, live footage of the Queen lying-in-state was streamed 25 million times across BBC online, it said.

“Yesterday was BBC One’s biggest viewing day since the 2012 Olympics Closing Ceremony,” a spokesperson said.

“At peak, 22.4 million people were watching across all BBC channels.”

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UK considers joining new ‘European political community’

Liz Truss is weighing up whether to take Britain into a new “European political community” being championed by Emmanuel Macron.

The club of “democratic European nations” is due to hold its first meeting in Prague in October – a day after Tory party conference.

The French president has said the group is a “new space” for cooperation and has suggested it could discuss issues like security, energy, transport, and movement across borders.

It would “enable democratic European nations who adhere to our values” to cooperate politically, he has said, adding that the EU “given its level of integration and ambition, cannot be the only way to structure the European continent”.

Former prime minister Boris Johnson has appeared enthusiastic about the organisation, claiming its “paternity” for himself and stating at the end of June: “There’s got to be a role for all of us in a wider conversation about issues that affect all of us.”

But Ms Truss is thought to be more sceptical of the idea, having previously told a parliamentary committee the UK had not yet agreed to anything.

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‘Genuine risk’ of UK-EU trade war, says ex-ambassador

Kim Darroch – former British ambassador to the US – has said he is worried that the EU will launch trade sanctions in retaliation for Liz Truss’s plan to override the protocol.

“I know that they [the EU] are preparing trade measures should they need them. So there is a genuine risk of a trade war at a time when we are under huge economic pressure anyway,” he told LBC.

Lord Darroch also warned of further tensions with the US on the matter. “I don’t think the American position has shifted. And I think we’re now realising, our prime minister is realising, that actually, we’re not going to be able to wait, to persuade Americans to shift their position on this.”

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Controversial Troubles bill can be improved, says new Northern Ireland secretary

A controversial government bill aimed at addressing the legacy of Northern Ireland’s troubled past can be improved, Chris Heaton-Harris, the new secretary for the region said.

There is almost universal opposition to the proposed legislation which would see an effective amnesty offered for people accused of Troubles offences as long as they co-operate with a new truth body. It is also set to halt future civil cases and inquests linked to killings during the conflict.

The Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill has already been through the House of Commons and is now set for consideration by the House of Lords.

Chris Heaton-Harris, who was appointed as Northern Ireland Secretary earlier this month, said: “I know it is a bill that can be improved and so I’m looking forward to the House of Lords offering some views on how it can be improved.”

The commissioner of human rights at the Council of Europe, a legal watchdog, said the bill “runs a very significant risk” of being ruled not compliant with human rights obligations.

Heaton-Harris at a press conference in Erskine House, Belfast today

(PA)

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Business energy bills could be capped from next month

Millions of businesses across Britain are set to have their energy bills capped for six months from as early as October, as ministers battle to keep many afloat amid soaring prices.

Independent local pubs will also be among a smaller number who will receive longer-term help, Liz Truss indicated on a visit to New York on Tuesday.

But business leaders said more support was needed as they warned against what they said was a “cliff edge” in aid. And Tory MPs said the scale of the initial package, to be unveiled by business secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg on Wednesday, would have to be “huge” if the government is to save the high street this winter.

Many businesses have reported projected increases in their energy costs of more than 500 per cent and some have already been forced to close.

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UK willing to ‘re-engage’, says Macron after Truss talks

Downing Street said Liz Truss and French president Emmanuel Macron did not discuss unauthorised migrant crossings of the Channel or the Northern Ireland Protocol.

After their New York meeting, the PM’s official spokesman stressed that the stalled Rwanda policy is the “long-term solution” to crossings.

Ms Truss had sought to strike a conciliatory tone ahead of talks, despite declining to say whether she believes Mr Macron is a “friend or foe”.

Mr Macron himself said his first in-person talks with Ms Truss touched on a wide range of topics, including Ukraine and European matters.

“I now believe in proof, in results,” he said, adding: “There is a will to re-engage, to move on and to show that we are allies and friends in a complex world.”

Truss and Macron at the UN in New York today

(PA)

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‘Ludicrous’ to suggest Biden attacking Truss economic policy, says No 10

Downing Street has said it would be “ludicrous” to suggest US president Joe Biden’s criticism of trickle-down economics was directed at Liz Truss.

The PM’s official spokesman said: “Any suggestion that it’s in some way a direct criticism of UK policy would be ludicrous. No two countries’ economies are structured in the same way, each have unique challenges.”

Mr Biden earlier tweeted: “I am sick and tired of trickle-down economics. It has never worked,” referring to the theory that cutting taxes on businesses and the wealthy will create growth and benefit the poor in the long run – a theory Ms Truss is set to put to the test with her planned cut to corporation tax.

The president’s message came hours before his meeting with Ms Truss and reflected a stark difference between the two leaders.

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Joe Biden to confront Liz Truss over plans to tear up Northern Ireland Protocol

Joe Biden will confront Liz Truss over her plans to tear up the Northern Ireland Protocol at their US meeting, having already clashed with her over economic policy (Rob Merrick writes).

The White House said the US president will tell the prime minister to ensure there is “no threat” to the Irish peace process from the flashpoint legislation to rewrite the Brexit agreement.

“The president will communicate his strong view that the Good Friday Agreement which is the touchstone of peace and stability in Northern Ireland must be protected,” it said.

Mr Biden would urge Ms Truss and the EU to show the “courage” to resolve the controversy, which threatens to reopen decades-old wounds, said Jake Sullivan, the White House National Security Adviser.

It is imperative that “there is no threat to the fundamental principles of Good Friday Agreement, and he’ll speak in detail with her about that in the conversation,” he said.

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