UK politics live: Biden backs Starmer’s bid to bring UK closer to EU

Starmer meets with Senate leaders and German chancellor during visit to Capitol Hill

Joe Biden has called the US and UK the “best of allies” as Sir Keir Starmer met him at Nato’s 75th summit for the first time since winning the election.

The US president backed Sir Keir’s ambitions to take the UK back closer to the European Union as the prime minister has started the process of renegotiating Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal.

Mr Biden said the UK was “the transatlantic knot” that ties Nato together with the EU during a heads-of-state event at the alliance’s summit.

Sir Keir also hailed the “special relationship” between the UK and indicated that Ukraine could use UK-supplied long-range missiles to strike military targets in Russia during their war, before meeting president Volodymyr Zelensky.

Meanwhile, shadow minister James Cartlidge has accused the government of causing “massive uncertainty” for the UK’s armed forces after failing to set a deadline for increasing defence spending.

Sir Keir said he is committed to spending 2.5 per cent of GDP on defence “within our fiscal rules” but he cautioned that he needed to carry out a review before setting a timeline to reach that goal.

Armed forces minister Luke Pollard said it would not be completed until next year.


Biden calls UK and US ‘best of allies’ as he suggests Britain-EU to move closer

Joe Biden described the US and the UK as the “best of allies” as he appeared to back Sir Keir Starmer’s push for the UK to forge closer defence ties with Europe.

In his first face-to-face meeting with the newly elected British prime minister, Mr Biden called the UK the “transatlantic knot” binding the two continents together.

“I kind of see you guys as the knot tying the transatlantic alliance together, the closer you are with Europe. We know where you are, you know where we are.” Mr Biden said.

Sir Keir wants an ambitious new UK-EU security pact to strengthen co-operation and seeks closer work on defence with key allies such as France and Germany.

Sir Keir told the president: “The special relationship is so important. It’s forged in difficult circumstances, endured for so long, and stronger now than ever.

A UK Government spokesman said Mr Biden and Sir Keir “agreed we must continue to do whatever it takes to support Ukraine and ensure aggressors like Putin do not win”.

The spokesman added: “The President welcomed the Prime Minister’s recent comments on establishing closer relationships with our European counterparts, as well as the UK’s commitment to Aukus.”

(Getty Images)

Shweta Sharma11 July 2024 04:06


Paul Kagame expected to win fourth term in Rawada election

Rwandan president Paul Kagame is expected to cruise to a fourth term in office in an election on Monday against two opposition candidates who were cleared to run against him but have only modest expectations.

Mr Kagame, 66, helped lead the rebel movement that ended the 1994 genocide in Rwanda and has served as president since 2000. He faces only two rivals because six other potential candidates were not cleared to run by the state-run electoral commission.

Mr Kagame won nearly 99 per cent of the vote in the last election in 2017, which followed a constitutional change removing term limits that would have barred him from standing again.

Mr Kagame’s government has been accused by Western nations and rights activists of muzzling the media, assassinating opponents, and backing rebel groups in neighbouring Congo.

International scrutiny was intensified by the migration deal Rwanda struck in 2022 to receive thousands of asylum seekers from Britain.

Newly elected British prime minister Keir Starmer confirmed on Saturday he would scrap the agreement.

Rwanda’s government has denied all the accusations against it, and while campaigning, Kagame promised continued development and stability.

“With you, there is nothing our country will not achieve, because today you have leaders who are not foolish and you are not foolish,” he told young supporters at a rally last week in Eastern Province.

Shweta Sharma11 July 2024 06:32


Campaigners prepare to launch new four-day working week pilot

The pilot – which will also look at other flexible working policies such as compressed hours and a shorter working week – will report its findings to the government in the summer next year.

Salma Ouaguira11 July 2024 06:30


Tice rules out Reform merging with the Tories

Reform UK chairman Richard Tice has dismissed claims his party could merge with the Tories in a right-wing alliance.

Mr Tice claimed he would “compete” with them and claimed both Labour and the Conservatives “represent some form of socialism”.

Asked if he would join forces with the Tories, Mr Tice told ITV’s Good Morning Britain programme: “We are not interested in the Tories. We are Reform, we are growing, we stood in every seat possible in the election and that is what we are going to continue to do.

“I want to compete. That is what we want to do. We want to put forward a completely different agenda to socialism.”

Salma Ouaguira11 July 2024 06:00


Starmer appoints government whips

Downing Street has announced a list of new parliamentary appointments. The 13 Commons, who are not ministers but whips, will work with Labour MPs to ensure they are fully informed.

  • Mark Tami MP as Treasurer of HM Household (Commons Deputy Chief Whip);
  • Samantha Dixon MP as Vice-Chamberlain of HM Household (Government Whip);
  • Chris Elmore MP as Comptroller of HM Household (Government Whip);
  • Nic Dakin MP as a Junior Lord of the Treasury (Government Whip);
  • Vicky Foxcroft MP as a Junior Lord of the Treasury (Government Whip);
  • Jeff Smith MP as a Junior Lord of the Treasury (Government Whip);
  • Anna Turley MP as a Junior Lord of the Treasury (Government Whip);
  • Taiwo Owatemi MP as a Junior Lord of the Treasury (Government Whip);
  • Christian Wakeford MP as an Assistant Whip, House of Commons;
  • Gen Kitchen MP as an Assistant Whip, House of Commons;
  • Keir Mather MP as an Assistant Whip, House of Commons;
  • Gerald Jones MP as an Assistant Whip, House of Commons;
  • Anna McMorrin MP as an Assistant Whip, House of Commons.

The prime minister has also appointed three whips in the House of Lords:

  • Lord Kennedy of Southwark as Captain of the Honourable Corps of Gentleman at Arms (Lords Chief Whip);
  • Baroness Wheeler MBE as Captain of The King’s Bodyguard of the Yeoman of the Guard (Lords Deputy Chief Whip).

Salma Ouaguira11 July 2024 05:30


Labour pledges to start a ‘bus revolution’ and fix broken system

Labour has pledged to start a “bus revolution” and allow services to be taken back under local public control, new Transport Secretary Louise Haigh said.

She will visit Greater Manchester’s pioneering public bus network today to meet Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham to discuss how the area’s Bee Network can be replicated across the country to improve services and grow passenger numbers.

Ms Haigh said: “Buses are the lifeblood of communities, but the system is broken.

“Too often, passengers are left waiting hours for buses that don’t turn up – and some have been cut off altogether.

“Change starts now. This new Government will give local leaders the tools they need to deliver better buses up and down the country.

“We are already seeing how the Bee Network is delivering for people across Greater Manchester – we will ensure every community can enjoy the same benefits.”

Shweta Sharma11 July 2024 05:21


Green groups urge Kier Starmer to make nature their ‘top priority’

Keir Starmer and his government must address five major challenges to protect the UK’s environment and ecosystems, Green groups have urged.

The challenges include doubling the nature and climate-friendly farming budget to £6 bn, introducing new rules to make polluters pay for nature and climate recovery and expanding protected areas, they said.

The coalition of environmental campaigners, including the National Trust, WWF, RSPB and Extinction Rebellion.

It comes after the coalition joined forces for the Restore Nature Now march in central London during the election campaign last month.

The protest saw 400 organisations and an estimated 60-80,000 people rally outside Parliament with the backing of celebrities like Dame Judi Dench and Emma Thompson.

Chris Packham, TV broadcaster and environmental campaigner, said the march “wasn’t a one-off event, easy to ignore by politicians, industry and media”.

“This was the start of a new movement who will not stand by while nature is annihilated. We don’t just want our message to be ‘heard’, we want it to be acted on. Now,” he said.

“Our next government needs to hit the ground running in this escalating ecological crisis; ground that is parched from drought, flooded, overgrazed, burnt, saturated with pollutants… alarmingly devoid of life.”

Shweta Sharma11 July 2024 05:04


Jacob Rees-Mogg starts filming reality TV show after election defeat

Mr Rees-Mogg is not the first MP to turn to TV following politics. The move follows the likes of Nigel Farage on I’m A Celebrity and Matt Hancock on SAS: Who Dares Wins.

Our reporter Jabed Ahmed has the full story:

Salma Ouaguira11 July 2024 05:00


Bidens tells Starmer ‘football’s coming home’ because of him

US president Joe Biden told British prime minister Sir Keir Starmer that “football’s coming home” because of him as England landed in the finals of the Euros 2024.

Mr Biden congratulated Sir Keir for the team’s 2-1 victory in the semifinal against the Netherlands.

They were asked by reporters: “Is football coming home?”

“It looks like it,” Sir Keir responded. Mr Biden interjected by saying: “It’s all because of the prime minister.”

The Labour leader replied: “Not lost a game under the Labour government.”


Shweta Sharma11 July 2024 04:43


Watch: Reform UK chair blames ‘lefties’ for causing AI candidate theories with ‘nonsense and lies’

Reform UK chair blames ‘lefties’ for causing AI candidate theories

Reform UK chairman Richard Tice dismissed theories that one of his party’s candidates was an AI bot, describing claims as coming from “lefties who can’t believe we did so well.” Online commentators had speculated that a picture of Mark Matlock, who stood in the Clapham and Brixton Hill constituency, was computer-generated. Mr Matlock spoke to The Independent on the phone on Monday. “This is the lefties who can’t believe we did so well, they still [propagate] nonsense and lies and fibs,” Mr Tice said of the theories during an appearance on Good Morning Britain on Wednesday, 10 July.

Salma Ouaguira11 July 2024 04:30