Boris Johnson news - live: Post-Brexit plan for imperial system return, as Cabinet gets ‘half time pep talk'

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LIVE – Updated at 11:14

Ministers are eyeing a post-Brexit return to imperial measurements, with shops to be allowed to sell products in pounds and ounces again.

Despite the UK first adopting the metric system as far back as 1965, the government has pledged to review a ban on marking and selling products in imperial units as part of post-Brexit changes to EU laws. Other possible changes include plans to permit the voluntary printing of the crown stamp on pint glasses and the introduction of digital driving licences.

It came as former Sainsbury’s boss Justin King warned Brexit will ultimately have a bigger impact on the food and drink industry – which he described as “mid-crisis” – than the Covid pandemic, suggesting that rising prices and the supply chain woes currently triggering shortages as are part of “the new normal.”

Meanwhile, Boris Johnson’s new Cabinet met for the first time on Friday morning since the prime minister’s re-shuffle which notably saw Dominic Raab demoted as foreign secretary and Nadine Dorries become the new secretary for culture, media and sport.

Mr Johnson is reported to have told his new Cabinet to “spit out the orange peel” in a rugby-themed “half-time pep talk” and joked about having seen a lot of delivery rooms, appearing to compare the “delivery” of his government’s agenda with the “superhuman effort” of giving birth.

Key Points

  • Boris Johnson gives new Cabinet rugby-themed ‘half-time pep talk’
  • Ministers eye post-Brexit return to imperial measurements

11:14 , Andy Gregory

Nigel Farage appears happy with the hard-won fruits of his 20-year campaign for Brexit.

Great news. The Metric Martyrs case took 20 years but now we can buy goods in pounds and ounces again, not just Napoleonic measurements.

We even get the crown back on pint glasses.

Brexit is making us more British.

— Nigel Farage (@Nigel_Farage) September 17, 2021

11:12 , Andy Gregory

For context, here’s what the government website currently states about the use of imperial measurements:

“You must use metric measurements (grams, kilograms, millilitres or litres) when selling packaged or loose goods in England, Scotland or Wales. There are different rules in Northern Ireland.

“The only products you can sell in imperial measures are: draught beer or cider by pint, milk in returnable containers by pint, precious metals by troy ounce.

“You can display an imperial measurement alongside the metric measurement but it cannot stand out more than the metric measurement.”

Trans women should be allowed in all public places, Lib Dem leader Ed Davey says

11:04 , Andy Gregory

Trans women should be allowed to enter all public places, the Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey has said, accusing Boris Johnson of stirring up “a culture war” on the issue.

Speaking to the BBC’s Today programme ahead of his party’s conference, he attacked No 10 for “trying to stir division in our country, division on this issue, division on issues around race”, adding: “If you’re a real statesman, if you want to bring people together, you don’t stir up divisions, the way that Johnson’s doing.”

The party leader will use the conference – which is being held online – to position the Lib Dems with an anti-Tory stance, vowing to never help to put Mr Johnson back into Downing Street.

Rob Merrick has the full story:

© Provided by The Independent

Trans women should be allowed in all public places, Lib Dem leader Ed Davey says

Dominic Raab said ‘I don’t support the Human Rights Act’ ahead of being put in charge of overhaul

10:54 , Andy Gregory

Footage of Dominic Raab attacking the Human Rights Act has emerged, hours after he was handed control of an overhaul of the landmark legislation, our deputy political editor Rob Merrick reports.

A clip unearthed by Labour showed the new justice secretary, as a backbench Conservative MP in 2009, saying: “I don’t support the Human Rights Act.”

Mr Raab now has responsibility for a review of the HRA and the requirement for it to weigh up judgments from the European Court of Human Rights, after being demoted from foreign secretary.

© Provided by The Independent

Dominic Raab said ‘I don’t support the Human Rights Act’ ahead of overhaul

Brexit will have bigger impact on food and drink industry than Covid, former Sainbury’s boss warns

10:35 , Andy Gregory

As the government moves to allow shops to return to using imperial measurements some half a century after endorsing the metric system, former Sainsbury’s boss Justin King has warned that Brexit will have bigger impact on the food and drink industry than the Covid pandemic.

“In two years time you are all going to realise Brexit was bigger news than Covid,” Mr King the Convenience Conference in London. “I think it’s already clear that’s true. Labour relative to your business is going to become a much more expensive resource because of that, and that means productivity and your approach to it is going to fundamentally change.

“A lot of what’s happening with this is the new normal. Our labour situation in the UK is now structural and long-term, with a real lack of political will to sort it.” My colleague Holly Bancroft reports:

© Provided by The Independent

Brexit will have a bigger impact than Covid on food and drink, says industry chief

Nadine Dorries moves to flatten protected industrial landmark

09:59 , Andy Gregory

In her first move as culture secretary, Nadine Dorries has removed the listed status of an industrial landmark, allowing it to be demolished after campaigners thought it had been saved.

Just one week after Historic England granted Teesside’s Dorman Long Tower Grade II status, it has been removed on appeal, meaning the 1955 concrete structure can be flattened.

Tees Valley Conservative mayor Ben Houchen said removing the tower, an example of brutalist architecture, will allow major redevelopment plans on the former steelworks site in Redcar to go ahead unhindered.

‘I’ve seen a few delivery rooms,’ PM jokes

09:39 , Andy Gregory

Moving on from zesty rugby metaphors, the prime minister joked about having seen a lot of delivery rooms in his time as he urged his new Cabinet all to redouble their efforts to “deliver”.

Sat around the Cabinet table with Cabinet secretary Simon Case to his right and chancellor Rishi Sunak to his left, Boris Johnson said: “I want to thank you all because you’re all here on your merits because you’ve worked incredibly hard, but I want you to work even harder now.

“I’m just thinking about delivery, I’ve seen a few delivery rooms, probably seen as many delivery rooms as anybody in this… Apart from the exception of Jacob [Rees-Mogg].

“I know that delivery normally involves a superhuman effort by at least one person in the room. But there are plenty of other people in that room who are absolutely indispensable to that successful outcome.”

Dominic Raab, demoted to justice secretary, was sat opposite the PM, as was Mr Raab’s replacement as foreign secretary, Liz Truss, and new housing secretary Michael Gove.

Environment secretary shares his experience of bovine tuberculosis after ‘difficult’ Geronimo euthanasia

09:31 , Andy Gregory

The environment secretary has said it was a “difficult” decision – albeit the right one – to euthanise Geronimo the alpaca.

George Eustice described his own family’s experience with the “terrible” disease of bovine tuberculosis, saying that his father had been “very distraught” to have to slaughter one of his show cows.

“The important thing to recognise is that every week we have to remove and slaughter about 500 cattle who test positive,” he told LBC.

“I know this particular owner was attached to Geronimo, but there are farmers up and down the country who suffer similar heartbreak every week – my own family, who have cattle, have lost show cattle, excellent cattle they wanted to show, through this terrible disease, and it is difficult but necessary.”

Boris Johnson tells new Cabinet to ‘spit out the orange peel’

09:26 , Andy Gregory

Boris Johnson has given his overhauled Cabinet a rugby-themed “half-time pep talk”.

According to the PA news agency, he told the first meeting of his new Cabinet: “This is, if you like, the half-time pep talk.

“This is the moment when we spit out the orange peel, we adjust our gum shields and our scrum caps.

“And we get out on to the pitch in the knowledge that we’re going to have to do it together and we’re going to have to do it as a team.”

New cabinet minister denied climate change in string of tweets

09:16 , Andy Gregory

Boris Johnson’s new international trade secretary – appointed ahead of the UK’s presidency of the UN’s annual climate summit – has been accused of climate emergency denial, after a series of tweets came to light in which she insisted the world was not getting hotter.

In the messages, sent between 2010 and 2012, Anne-Marie Trevelyan approvingly quoted the work of groups which have rejected the mainstream scientific consensus that human activity is driving climate change.

And she stated that one such group had provided “clear evidence that the ice caps aren’t melting after all, to counter those gloom-mongers and global warming fanatics”. Our political editor Andrew Woodcock has the full report:

© Provided by The Independent

New cabinet minister denied climate change in string of tweets

Cabinet sub-committee meeting could sign off on travel rule changes today, minister says

09:08 , Andy Gregory

A Cabinet sub-committee meeting could sign off on travel rule changes later today, George Eustice has said.

The green and amber lists are expected to be merged to form one category of low-risk countries while the number of destinations on the red list will be reduced. There is also speculation that fully-vaccinated arrivals will no longer need to take a pre-departure lateral flow test or a post-arrival PCR test.

“My understanding is that no decisions have actually been taken yet, although I understand there may be a meeting today to review this. We regularly review those travel restrictions,” the environment secretary told Sky News.

“Obviously we took an important step earlier this summer when we removed the need to quarantine for those countries coming from amber list countries – that was a really big step forward – but we have retained the need for testing, and that’s really so we can pick up any variants of concern through that PCR test.

“But, look, I know this has been raised by the travel industry, that they think some of that testing may be unnecessary, may be onerous – the government will be listening to that and the Covid sub-committee of Cabinet that decide these things will be considering that probably later today.”

Minister plays down Oliver Dowden’s general election remarks

08:58 , Andy Gregory

Doing the media rounds this morning, the environment secretary was asked whether the newly-appointed Conservative Party chairman had put the party on an “election footing”

“I think what Oliver Dowden said is that we should be ready for an election whenever it might come,” said George Eustice. “That is what every party chairman will always do. Their task is to make sure the party is ready.

“But, for Cabinet as a whole, our priority is to deliver. We’ve still got several years left of this Parliament and we’ve got a lot that we want to achieve.

“There are going to be a lot of challenges that need addressing post this pandemic – that is going to be our absolute focus.”

Watch live: Nancy Pelosi gives London speech on ‘state of American democracy’

08:49 , Andy Gregory

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is due to speak at London’s Chatham House at 9am on “state of American democracy following the January attack on the US Capitol and efforts to restrict voting rights in various states“.

You can tune in below to watch her speech live:

Politics Explained: Why Dorries and Dowden have been awarded top jobs in the reshuffle

08:40 , Andy Gregory

Amid much speculation over the motivations and machinations behind Boris Johnson’s reshuffle, our associate editor Sean O’Grady takes a look at the political qualities of two of the biggest winners in his new Cabinet – and how they could serve the prime minister’s interests.

He writes that the new Tory Party co-chair Oliver Dowden and his surprise successor as secretary of state for media, culture and sport Nadine Dorries “highlight two important aspects of what Boris Johnson is up to”, adding:

“In his first public utterances, Mr Dowden, a little mischievously, told the nation to be ready for a general election. Perhaps what he, this time, meant to say was that his party should be on a war footing and in permanent campaign mode as it launches wave after wave of new culture wars against the opposition, with Ms Dorries in the thick of it.”

© Provided by The Independent

Why Dorries and Dowden have been awarded top jobs in the reshuffle

08:25 , Andy Gregory

Members of Boris Johnson’s new Cabinet are slowly arriving at No 10 ahead of their first meeting post-reshuffle.

Priti Patel urges ‘decisive’ police action over climate protesters

08:19 , Andy Gregory

Priti Patel has criticised the “guerrilla tactics” of “selfish” climate protesters who brought traffic to a halt on the M25 and is urging police to take “decisive” action – despite a recent Supreme Court ruling that found protest can be a “lawful excuse” to block roads under human rights law

Protesters from the Insulate Britain group – which is demanding government action on home insulation – stopped thousands of motorists at four junctions on Britain’s busiest motorway at rush hour on Wednesday for the second time in three days. More than 85 protesters are thought to have been arrested.

Insulate Britain has accused the government of “criminal negligence” for “refusing to get on with the job” of insulating every home in the country, which it said would bring “proper jobs for hundreds of thousands of people” and “pound for pound, gives us the biggest reduction in carbon emissions”.

Ministers plan post-Brexit return of imperial pounds and ounces in review of EU laws

08:05 , Andy Gregory

My colleague Conrad Duncan has more on our headline story this morning – the looming post-Brexit return of imperial measurements.

The move comes within plans set out by Brexit minister Lord Frost to ditch EU rules that no longer suit the UK, reviewing the content of retained EU law which was preserved in UK law for continuity after the transition period ended in December 2020.

Boris Johnson had pledged to bring imperial units back to shops as part of his pitch to voters in the 2019 general election, promising “an era of generosity and tolerance towards traditional measurements”.

© Provided by The Independent

Ministers plan post-Brexit return of imperial pounds and ounces

New Cabinet to meet for first time

07:58 , Andy Gregory

Boris Johnson’s newly re-shuffled Cabinet is set to hold its first meeting at 9am this morning.

New to the table after 15 years in parliament will be Nadine Dorries, the new secretary for culture, media and sport.

Dominic Raab may be somewhat less pleased with the new seating arrangements – with Downing Street having insisted yesterday that the ousted foreign secretary will continue to play an “important senior role” as deputy PM.

07:54 , Andy Gregory

Good morning, and welcome to The Independent’s live coverage of UK politics, where we’ll be providing rolling updates on the latest happenings in Westminster and beyond.

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