Brexit news – live: Boris Johnson says ‘urgent’ action needed from EU on Northern Ireland amid border tension

EU condemns ‘threats of violence’ as Northern Ireland-GB port checks suspended

The prime minister’s message comes the week after the EU backtracked on its threat to override parts of the Northern Ireland Protocol by introducing emergency vaccine checks on doses heading from the bloc to Northern Ireland.

Alluding to this, Mr Johnson tweeted on Tuesday evening claiming that the EU’s recent actions had undermined the Northern Ireland Protocol and had “understandably provoked concerns”.

However, Ireland’s foreign minister Simon Coveney had a different interpretation. “The protocol isn’t primarily the problem here; the problem is Brexit and the kind of Brexit that the British Government pursued and insisted on. There were alternatives that would have been much easier to implement,” he told the Irish broadcaster RTE. 

“The EU wanted to share a customs union and a single market with the UK – that would have meant no barriers to trade,” he added. 

The comments came ahead of a meeting between UK and EU leaders on Wednesday to discuss trade issues between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

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Leak reveals Labour’s rebranding plan

A leak seen by the Guardian has revealed that Labour plans to win “red wall” voters back through a patriotic rebranding, a move criticised by some members of the party. 

The strategy, which was presented in January, said Labour should make “use of the [union] flag, veterans [and] dressing smartly”.

The rebranding exercise has been condemned by some, with Clive Lewis, the Labour MP and former soldier, telling the paper: “It’s not patriotism; it’s Fatherland-ism. There’s a better way to build social cohesion than moving down the track of the nativist right.”

Rory Sullivan3 February 2021 10: 12

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Calls to remove Northern Ireland Protocol ‘unrealistic’, says Irish foreign minister

Ireland’s foreign minister Simon Coveney has branded calls to do away with the Northern Ireland Protocol “unrealistic”.

This comes amid rising tension between the EU and the UK over the post-Brexit trade arrangements between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. 

Speaking to RTE Morning Ireland on Wednesday, Mr Coveney said Ireland, the UK and the EU “have a legal obligation, in an international treaty, to implement the protocol”.

He added: “The protocol isn’t primarily the problem here; the problem is Brexit and the kind of Brexit that the British Government pursued and insisted on. There were alternatives that would have been much easier to implement.

“The EU wanted to share a customs union and a single market with the UK – that would have meant no barriers to trade.”

Rory Sullivan3 February 2021 09: 50

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MPs urge government to restart care home visits

A group of MPs and peers has drafted its own law to allow care home visits to restart, saying the current blanket ban is a breach of human rights. 

The human rights joint committee criticised ministers’ approach to the issue, which the group says has caused further trauma for those separated from their vulnerable loved ones. 

“Relatives must now be reunited with their loved ones in care homes and that needs to be backed up by law,” the committee said.

The law would allow a “designated care-giver” to enter care homes and mental health hospitals, as long as they test negative for Covid-19 before each visit. 

Rory Sullivan3 February 2021 09: 30

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UK’s first openly lesbian MP – Maureen Colquhoun – dies at 92

Tributes have poured in for Maureen Colquhoun, the UK’s first openly lesbian MP, who died on Tuesday aged 92. 

The former Labour MP for Northampton North campaigned for gender balance and protection for prostitutes, and faced discrimination from her own party as well as wider society after her sexual orientation was disclosed.

Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner praised her, saying Labour had lost a “great sister” and that everyone had lost “a woman of huge integrity and courage”. 

Rory Sullivan3 February 2021 09: 12

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Government too slow to act on the environment, say MPs

The government has been too slow to act on the environment, MPs have said. 

In a scathing report published on Wednesday, the influential public accounts committee found that the UK has been long on “aspirational words” but “painfully slow” on actions to improve the natural environment. 

Our policy correspondent Jon Stone has more on the story: 

Rory Sullivan3 February 2021 08: 55

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Inside Politics

Here’s a round-up of the main political events happening today, including the virtual summit between minister Michael Gove, Northern Irish leaders and EU officials over post-Brexit Irish Sea trading arrangements. 

Elsewhere, there’s PMQs. “Boris Johnson and Keir Starmer will agree on one thing at PMQs by paying tribute to Captain Tom Moore – before normal hostilities resume,” writes our political commentator Andrew Grice. 

Rory Sullivan3 February 2021 08: 37

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Raab and other foreign secretaries condemn coup in Myanmar

Foreign secretary Dominic Raab and his counterparts in the G7 have released a joint statement speaking out against the recent military coup in Myanmar.

They said they were “deeply concerned” by the detention of politicians including the state counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and by the military’s attacks on the media.

“We call upon the military to immediately end the state of emergency, restore power to the democratically-elected government, to release all those unjustly detained and to respect human rights and the rule of law,” the statement added.

Rory Sullivan3 February 2021 08: 25

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Independence would damage Scotland’s economy more than Brexit, report suggests

The economic costs of Scottish independence could be two or three times greater than that of Brexit, a new report has warned.

The London School of Economics (LSE) study estimates that the country’s per capita income would be reduced by 2 per cent in the long term. 

Its authors also suggest that the double impact of Brexit and Scottish independence would lead to an average economic loss each year of between £2,000 and £2,800 per person. 

Here’s Adam Forrest with more details: 

Rory Sullivan3 February 2021 08: 15

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‘Urgent action’ need from EU on Northern Ireland, says PM

Boris Johnson has called for “urgent action” from the EU to address the tensions caused by post-Brexit trade checks between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. 

UK and EU officials are due to meet on Wednesday to discuss the issue. 

Rory Sullivan3 February 2021 08: 01

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Morning, and welcome to The Independent’s live politics coverage. 

Rory Sullivan3 February 2021 07: 59

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