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The Breakfast Briefing: Boris Johnson orders another racism review, crunch Brexit talks PLUS shops reopen

The Breakfast Briefing: Boris Johnson orders another racism review, crunch Brexit talks PLUS shops reopen

The new commission comes in the wake of nationwide Black Lives Matters protests.

6 min read

Your morning guide to what’s moving in Westminster.

Good morning...
and welcome to the PoliticsHome Breakfast Briefing for Monday, June 15.

The big stories kicking off the political day
Boris Johnson has announced a new “cross-governmental commission” which will look at “all aspects” of racial inequality in the UK. The Prime Minister said there remained “much more that we need to do” to tackle racism — but criticised attempts to “rewrite the past” by removing statues of historical figures.The new commission will, the PM said, look at “all aspects of inequality — in employment, in health outcomes, in academic and all other walks of life”. According to The Telegraph, it will report directly to Mr Johnson and be overseen by Equalities Minister Kemi Badenoch. Launching the review, Mr Johnson told broadcasters: “What I really want to do as Prime Minister is change the narrative so we stop the sense of victimisation and discrimination. We stamp out racism and we start to have a real expectation of success.” But those comments were criticised as “condescending” by Labour in the face of “deep structural inequalities which have long since needed urgently addressing".
There will be no lifting of the two-metre social distancing rule before July 4, Boris Johnson has suggested. The Prime Minister has ordered a review of the guidance amid concern from businesses and Conservative MPs that it is hindering efforts to reopen the economy. But, speaking as shops prepare to reopen across the country, Mr Johnson said the rule would be kept “under review for 4 July”, a date which marks the next phase of the Government’s “road map” for easing lockdown measures. “We'll work very closely with the scientists at all times and make the right decision on the basis of safety, health and stopping the disease,” the PM said.
Boris Johnson will hold talks with European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen on Monday amid faltering negotations on Britain’s post-Brexit relationship with the EU. The Prime Minister will take part in a “high level” video conference call with Ms von der Leyen after the two sides agreed to an “intensified” round of discussions in a bid to make progress on key areas of disagreement. Mr Johnson will stress that the UK is still seeking an “ambitious” free trade agreement with the bloc, but is expected to say that Britain remains willing to walk away from an agreement and begin trading on World Trade Organisation terms from January 1 if none is forthcoming. The PM will be joined on the call by Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove, who has led talks on last year’s divorce deal between Britain and the EU, as well as the UK’s chief negotiator David Frost.
Over a million people are facing financial hardship amid the coronavirus pandemic because of “critical gaps” in government support, MPs have warned. In a new report, the Treasury Select Committee calls on ministers to tweak existing schemes or come up with new support measures for those who have been worst-hit by the economic effects of Covid-19. That includes the newly employed or self-employed, freelancers, those on short-term contracts, and those who earn above the cut-off rate for self-employed support. Committee chair and Conservative MP Mel Stride said that while the Government had acted with “impressive scale and pace”, the committee had “identified well over a million people who – through no fault of their own – have lost livelihoods while being locked down and locked out of the main support programmes”.
Ministers must make sure the voices of ill and disabled people are heard as lockdown measures are eased, a coalition of charities has said. As the Government lifts a further round of coronavirus restrictions on Monday, the group of more than 60 health and social care charities say that those who are particularly vulnerable to Covid-19 “need to be heard and their experiences and concerns acted on”. And they warn against “blanket bans” for those who may be more at risk from the virus, with a broader definition of vulnerability needed to guide the Government’s response.


This afternoon: Boris Johnson holds videoconference with Ursula von der Leyen
Meanwhile the latest round of trade talks between Britain and the US get underway

13:45: Whole of government response to COVID-19 - MHCLG, BEIS, HMT, Cab Office permanent secretaries at Public Accounts Committee
14:30: House of Commons: Communities Questions
14:30: House of Lords: Oral questions, then the third reading of the Extradition (Provisional Arrest) Bill
17:00: UK government - daily coronavirus briefing

“That the Prime Minister now says he wants to ‘change the narrative… so we stop the sense of victimisation and discrimination’ is condescending and designed to let himself and his Government off the hook.” Shadow Equalities Secretary Marsha de Cordova is not impressed with yet another government review into racial inequality.

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New appointments this week in UK politics, the civil service and public affairs
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Making headlines elsewhere...
The Telegraph: Boris Johnson must provide clarity on two-metre rule by next Tuesday or jobs will go, warn hospitality chiefs
The Sun: Boris Johnson urges Brits to ‘breathe life into their high streets’ as he backs our Bounce Back Britain campaign
The Financial Times: Johnson seeks to galvanise Brexit talks with EU chiefs
The Guardian: WHO cautions against further lifting of lockdown in England
Black Lives Matter: Plaque review may question Monty’s views on African ‘savages’ our pick of the comment pages

Boris Johnson, The Telegraph: Rather than tear some people down we should build others up
Katya Adler: War of the deadlines at Brexit summit

Aaron Gabriel Hughes, The Independent: Make no mistake, the government is mandating state-sponsored violence against trans people
Clare Foges, The Times: Let’s not expand ‘hate crime’ even further
Maurisa Coleman, ConservativeHome: Why I, as a black Briton, am appalled by the Left’s gesture politics

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