The government is not expected to include threatened domestic law to disapply parts of the Northern Ireland protocol in the Queen’s speech on 10 May outlining the bills it hopes to introduce in the next year.
Brexit opportunities minister Jacob Rees Mogg recently promised unilateral reforms if the EU did not agree to change the rules on Irish sea border checks as did Boris Johnson who said he would “fix” the protocol.
However last night Northern Ireland secretary Brandon Lewis hinted there would be no such fix in the Queen’s speech, telling ITV’s Peston: “We’ve not said that”. Lewis went on:
Our focus is on resolving the issue of the protocol. Ideally, we want to do that by agreement with the European Union.
EU sources say there could be room for further compromise on the border checks but talks have slowed because of the situation in Ukraine.
It is thought that the government will retain the right to bring forward some changes at a later date in relation to clause 38 (b) in the EU Withdrawal Act 2020 which underlines parliamentary powers in domestic law.
Here is a question from below the line.
As a colleague has already pointed out in the comments, it is illegal to publish information about how people have voted while the polls are still open.
The law (section 66A of the 1983 Representation of the People Act) is intended to to stop people publishing exit polls before all voting has finished. But the legislation is worded in such a way as to cover, say, a reporter interviewing people at polling stations, and publishing a “vox pop” article about how voting is going. In theory it also covers comments BTL about how people have voted.
The act says it is summary offence, punishable by a maximum of six months imprisonment or a level 5 fine, to publish before the poll is closed:
· any statement relating to the way in which voters have voted at the election where that statement is (or might reasonably be taken to be) based on information given by voters after they have voted, or
· any forecast as to the result of the election which is (or might reasonably be taken to be) based on information so given.
Keir Starmer arrived at a polling station in Kentish Town, north London, to cast his vote in the local elections for Camden council, PA Media reports. PA says:
The Labour leader, who lives in Kentish Town, which is part of the borough of Camden, held hands with his wife as he walked into the polling station – a community hall in Willingham Close – just after 9.30am. He said “Good morning” to the photographers and staff at the door.
Shell has reported a record quarterly profit of $9.1bn (£7.3bn) for the first three months of the year, piling more pressure on the government to implement a windfall tax to fund measures to tackle soaring household energy bills. My colleague Alex Lawson has the story here.
Good morning. Voters have already started going to the polls across the UK in elections that could determine whether or not the Conservative party decides to stick with Boris Johnson as its leader, that will almost certaintly see Sinn Féin, the republican party committed to a united Ireland, become the largest party in the Northern Ireland assembly for the first time, triggering a crisis in unionism, and that will provide that will provide the best indication to date as to whether Labour is on course to win the next general election.
Last night YouGov published some new polling looking at what might happen in 16 key councils in England. In his analysis, YouGov’s Patrick English wrote:
Our models suggest that while Labour will make gains up and down England, they will find their pace of growth to be much slower in some areas of the country than others.
Overall, the story is fairly consistent – we expect swings of varying sizes from the Conservatives to Labour in all areas, and also some notable improvements for the Greens and independent/smaller party candidates. However, the Conservative vote seems to be holding up better in some areas of England than others, and this will impact the pattern of results on the night.
Sam Coates from Sky presents the results in a different format, region by region, which illustrates more vividly how Labour is on course to do well in London and the south, but struggle more in the north.
Still, for Labour to win Wandsworth, which the YouGov poll suggests is possible, would be significant. The south-west London council has been in Conservative hands since 1978 and it was sometimes described as Margaret Thatcher’s favourite local authority. In a particularly bad set of local elections for the Tories in 1990, the party successfully spun a line to the media that, because Wandsworth had stayed blue, it had not all been a disaster. For almost 20 years the council was then run by Eddie Lister, who went on to serve as Boris Johnson’s chief of staff. The YouGov poll also suggests the Tories could lose Westminster, the council covering Downing Street, the Houses of Parliament and Buckingham Palace, which has been Conservative since it was set up in 1964. That would be an even bigger gain for Labour – although, in an excellent ward-by-ward analysis of the contest at On London, Dave Hill concludes a Tory defeat is unlikely.
My colleague Archie Bland has a good preview of what to look out for in the elections in his First Edition briefing.
Boris Johnson has already voted. He turned up at a polling station in Westminster with Dilyn, providing today’s first example of #dogsatpollingstations.
Often on election day #dogsatpollingstations is as good as it gets in terms of news, because broadcasters don’t show political interviews while the polls are open, and there are legal limits to what the media can report in terms of how the voting is going. But I’m sure we’ll find something to fill the blog.
The polls are open until 10pm, when we will be launching a new blog to cover the results coming in overnight. Many councils do not count until Friday, which is also when counting starts in Northern Ireland.
I try to monitor the comments below the line (BTL) but it is impossible to read them all. If you have a direct question, do include “Andrew” in it somewhere and I’m more likely to find it. I do try to answer questions, and if they are of general interest, I will post the question and reply above the line (ATL), although I can’t promise to do this for everyone.
If you want to attract my attention quickly, it is probably better to use Twitter. I’m on @AndrewSparrow.
Alternatively, you can email me at email@example.com.