Boris Johnson news – live: PM told he should introduce ‘right to food’ in law after Covid pandemic

Today’s daily politics briefing

The government should create in law a “right to food” in order to support the millions of people who do not have enough, a cross-party group of MPs has said.

Neil Parish, the Conservative MP who chairs the Commons environment, food and rural affairs committee, said efforts to feed the most vulnerable people during the coronavirus pandemic should “set a precedent” for the future.

Some 5.9 million adults in the UK were food-poor in the six months to February, while 1.7 million children were living in food-insecure households, according to a report by the committee.

“Ministers have mobilised their departments to support vulnerable people to access food during the pandemic, but this impetus needs to be sustained,” the MPs said.

The post of food security minister should also be created, the committee recommended.

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Inside Politics: Labour plans to vote against vaccine passports

Sometimes pride comes after a fall, writes Adam Forrest.

A beaming Donald Trump has revealed he keeps a statue of himself in his Mar-a-Lago office, his self-regard undiminished by election defeat. “The only god he’s ever worshipped,” said one cheeky commentator.

Boris Johnson has been beaming for several months now – sitting atop his lofty vaccine poll bounce. But he now faces an almighty backlash over plans for vaccine passports, with Keir Starmer threatening to hand him defeat in the Commons.

Jon Sharman7 April 2021 09:50

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Amnesty International criticises UK government’s Covid response

In its 2020-21 human rights report, Amnesty International has accused the UK of violating the rights to life and health of people living in care homes.

It said: “The authorities violated the right to health and right to life of older people resident in care homes, including by failing to provide adequate PPE and regular testing, discharging infected or possibly infected patients from hospitals to care homes and suspending regular oversight procedures.”

You can read more about that issue here:

Amnesty also criticised Britain’s approach to refugees during the crisis.

It said: “During the Covid-19 pandemic, the government failed to adequately modify immigration policies and practices to safeguard public health.

“People continued to be held in immigration detention for thepurposes of removal from the UK, despite the heightened risk of infection in detention and obstacles to effecting removal. Asylum claims were required to be made in person.

“Statutory exclusions or restrictions on access to employment, welfare, accommodation and health care for people subject to immigration control undermined their ability to protect themselves from the virus and maintain an adequate standard of living.

“The government resisted widespread calls to suspend the “no recourse to public funds” policy, which restricts access to benefits for many migrants, during the pandemic.”

The Independent has covered problems in asylum centres here:

Jon Sharman7 April 2021 09:23

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Government ministers say AstraZeneca vaccine is ‘safe’ as regulator urgently investigates blood clot link

Government ministers on Wednesday declared the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine “safe” after regulators confirmed they were investigating a possible link between the jab and blood clots, writes Jon Stone.

Business minister Paul Scully told Sky News: “The AstraZeneca is safe, it’s saved thousands of lives. It’s gone out to millions of people both here in the UK and across the world and it’s continuing to save lives.”

Jeremy Hunt, who chairs parliament’s health select committee, said the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) was looking at the vaccine with “urgency”, describing the regulator as “very fleet of foot”.

Jon Sharman7 April 2021 08:57

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NI assembly recalled early after continued rioting

Violence in Northern Ireland which has left dozens of police officers injured has led to an early recall of the Stormont assembly for an emergency debate.

The body will convene tomorrow.

Naomi Long, the region’s justice minister, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme she agreed there had been a “politicisation of policing” after Arlene Foster voiced her lack of confidence in the PSNI’s chief constable.

The row relates to the policing of the funeral of Bobby Storey, a top Republican figure and allegedly the IRA’s former head of intelligence. The event was attended by some 2,000 mourners including Michelle O’Neill, the deputy first minister, who belongs to the Sinn Fein party.

The PSNI decided not to prosecute the politicians.

“It is incredibly worrying because I think it is incumbent on all of us in public life … not simply to declare whether or not we believe the chief constable has our confidence, but to work to ensure that he has the confidence of the public,” Ms Long said.

Asked to what extent Brexit, and the associated problems it has brought to Northern Ireland, was a factor in the violence, Ms Long said: “I think it’s one of a number of factors. I don’t think that 12-year-olds on the street throwing petrol bombs at police are aware of the complexities of the protocol or Brexit.

“I think we need to be cautious of overstating the impact, but there is undoubtedly anger in the community.”

You can read more about this topic below:

Jon Sharman7 April 2021 08:30

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Government launches new technology regulator aimed at limiting dominance of tech giants such as Google and Facebook

The government has launched a new technology regulator aimed at checking the dominance of the biggest tech giants, writes Andrew Griffin.

It will first examine codes of conduct and how they could properly enforce competition between big companies such as Facebook and Google as well as smaller firms.

The body, called the Digital Markets Unit or DMU, will look to increase competition in the tech industry. The government said it hopes that will encourage more choice, stricter control over personal data, and fairer prices.

Jon Sharman7 April 2021 08:01

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MPs call for new ‘right to food’

There should be a legal “right to food” in the UK after the coronavirus crisis, MPs have said.

The Commons environment, food and rural affairs committee said work to support millions of vulnerable people who do not have enough to eat should continue once the crisis has abated.

“Ministers have mobilised their departments to support vulnerable people to access food during the pandemic, but this impetus needs to be sustained,” the MPs said.

Neil Parish, the committee’s Conservative chair, said: “During the Covid crisis, different government departments pulled together to make sure that the most vulnerable in our society were fed. This should set a precedent.

“We have a duty to ensure that access to enough nutritious food is a fundamental right for everyone in the UK, which is why, for the second time in a year, our committee urges the government to appoint a new minister specifically to address food security.”

A government spokesperson responded that “the recent pandemic has proven that the UK has a large, diverse and highly resilient food supply chain that has coped well in responding to unprecedented challenges – and we will review the recommendations set out within this report and respond accordingly”.

“Since March last year, we have spent more than £280bn to deliver an impressive package of economic and welfare support to protect and support the incomes and needs of families and children – and we continue to work closely with the food industry to ensure people across the country have the food and supplies they need,” they added.

Ministers were pushed into extending the provision of free school meals last year follow a campaign by Marcus Rashford, the Manchester United and England footballer.

Last month, Vicky Ford, the children’s minister, faced ridicule for claiming the striker’s campaign had not influenced the government’s actions.

Read more below:

Jon Sharman7 April 2021 07:33

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