Politics latest news: Boris Johnson to host football summit amid threat to ban European Super League

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Boris Johnson says he will do 'everything I can to give this ludicrous plan a straight red' - Blower
Boris Johnson says he will do ‘everything I can to give this ludicrous plan a straight red’ – Blower
  • Prince William: I share fans’ fears for the future of football

  • PM defends top civil servants in wake of Greensill scandal

  • Sir Keir Starmer ordered by furious landlord to ‘get out of my pub’

  • Coronavirus latest news: India red list decision ‘taken too late’, says former Government adviser

Boris Johnson will today host a roundtable with football’s governing bodies the FA and the Premier League, as well as fans’ representatives, as he looks to block plans for the European Super League – as a Cabinet minister warned could include new laws.

The Prime Minister said he was “horrified” at the plans for a closed shop league, writing in The Sun: “It is your game – and you can rest assured that I’m going to do everything I can to give this ludicrous plan a straight red.”

Mr Johnson is expected to hold a press conference this afternoon.

Gavin Williamson, the Culture Secretary, told Sky News the Prime Minister would use the meeting to “outline his clear view that this is a super league that must be stopped”, said it was “not right, and not fair”.

While Mr Johnson would initially look to “find a solution within the football family”, the Government “reserves its position to take any action required, whether that be legislation or sanctions to protect football interests in this country,” he added.

Yesterday Oliver Dowden told the House of Commons: “We will put everything on the table to prevent this from happening. We are examining every option, from governance reform, to competition law, and the mechanisms that allow football to take place.”

​​Follow the latest updates below.

08:19 AM

Culture Secretary blasts ‘abuse’ of power by elite football club owners

Oliver Dowden has tweeted a warning shot to football club owners, saying that the loyalty of fans was “being abused by a small number of individuals who wield an incredible amount of power and influence”.

The Culture Secretary reminded the owners “that they are only temporary custodians of their clubs; they forget fans at their peril”.

He claimed the big six owners had “decided to put money before fans”, which has left him with “no choice but to formally trigger the launch of our fan-led review of football”.

The review will be chaired by Tracey Crouch, and will be “a root-and-branch examination of football in this country,” he added.

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08:03 AM

No civil servants have second jobs in Department for Education, says Gavin Williamson

Gavin Williamson said: 'We've done all that work and we've established that' - Reuters
Gavin Williamson said: ‘We’ve done all that work and we’ve established that’ – Reuters

The Education Secretary has said there were no civil servants moonlighting, with second job in the private sector while working in his department.

Simon Case, the Cabinet Secretary, had given every department on Whitehall a deadline of the end of last week to find out whether senior officials have rule-breaking second jobs, after it emerged that at least two senior civil servants worked for Greensill.

However his findings are not being made public while Nigel Boardman conducts an independent review into the matter.

Gavin Williamson told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We’ve done all that work and we’ve established that and we’ve shared that with (the) Cabinet Office.

“There were some people that had worked on charitable bodies but, other than that, nothing else.”

07:50 AM

Minister hails ‘welcome news’ as jobs vacancies rise – despite drop in payrolled workers

The number of workers on UK payrolls fell for the first time in four months in March, but job vacancies surged as businesses prepared to reopen after lockdown, ONS have shown.

The number of payrolled workers dropped by 56,000 between February and March as the pandemic continued to take its toll on the jobs market. Overall there were 813,000 fewer workers on payrolls than in March 2020.

But there were further signs that the jobs sector is stabilising, with a near-16 per cent jump in vacancies in March.

Mims Davies, employment minister, said: this was “welcome news as we continue on our roadmap to recovery with key sectors of our economy reopening”.

She added: “This is still a challenging time, but right across the country our Plan for Jobs is helping people of all ages to get back on their feet and giving employers the confidence to recruit as we push to build back better.”

07:42 AM

Competition watchdog ‘carefully considering’ European Super League plans

The Competition and Markets Authority has said it will be “carefully considering” the proposals to create a breakaway European Super League.

A CMA spokesperson said: “The proposals for a European football super league have attracted high levels of public interest.

“It is a complex area and we will be carefully considering any competition aspects of these proposals.”

07:41 AM

Football clubs must ‘step back’ from European Super League plans, says minister

Gavin Williamson has urged the big clubs to “step back” from plans to join a European Super League, saying they have been “shown the yellow card”.

The Education Secretary said he was “absolutely confident” it would be stopped, noting that his colleague Oliver Dowden had been “explicitly clear that the action that is needed and is required will be taken to ensure this European Super League doesn’t go forward”.

He told the Today programme: “We want these clubs to step back – they have been shown yellow card, it’s important they listen to the Government, their fans… The Culture Secretary set out yesterday, quite clearly, that the Government will take the action that is needed, whether that is competition law, or other such action that is needed.”

He added that it was “ludicrous that teams like Leicester City… or my own team Wolverhampton Wanderers, who have beaten these Super Six over the past season and more… are excluded”.

07:33 AM

Boris Johnson vows to take action over ‘absurd’ NI border issues

It’s not just the European Super League that Boris Johnson is grappling with – he has also vowed to take action on the Northern Ireland protocol if the EU refuses to ditch “absurd” aspects of the post-Brexit trading arrangements.

The protocol has yet to be fully implemented with various exemptions on checks currently in place. The UK unilaterally extended some of those grace periods earlier this year – prompting the EU to launch legal action.

Mr Johnson told the BBC: “If we can’t make enough progress and if it looks as though the EU is going to be very, very dogmatic about it and we continue to have absurd situations so you can’t bring in rose bushes with British soil into Northern Ireland, you can’t bring British sausages into Northern Ireland, then frankly I’m going to, we’ll have to take further steps.

“What we’re doing is removing what I think of as the unnecessary protuberances and barriers that have grown up and we’re getting the barnacles off the thing and sandpapering it into shape.”

07:24 AM

‘So far, so good’ on path out of lockdown, says former Government adviser

The UK’s path out of lockdown is working “so far, so good”, despite the threat of new variants, a former chief scientific adviser has said.

Asked if he felt confident that the next release of restrictions would go ahead on May 17, Professor Sir Mark Walport told BBC Breakfast: “So far, so good. The numbers of case are low, but nevertheless, there are still new cases arising, and it’s why data not dates are what matter.

“It takes time, we’ve only been under the latest relaxations for a few days and so we just need to see over the next few weeks how the numbers stack up, but so far so good and with the good weather, it’s so nice to be optimistic that as long as people are careful, we should be alright for the next phase.”

Sir Mark noted that NHS Test and Trace would become “really important” as time goes on, especially when case numbers drop low enough “so that there’s a better chance of sort of stamping on cases as they come out, isolating them.”

07:19 AM

Government ‘bit too late’ in adding India to red list, says former adviser

The Government may have been “a bit too late” in putting India on the red list for travel, a former chief scientific adviser has said.

Professor Sir Mark Walport told BBC Breakfast: “These decisions are almost inevitably taken a bit too late in truth, but what’s absolutely clear is that this variant is more transmissible in India.

“You can see that it’s becoming the dominant variant and the other concern about it is that it has a second change in the spike protein which may mean that it’s able to be a bit more effective at escaping an immune response… so there’s good reasons for wanting to keep it out of the country if at all possible.

“What we need to do is get the population vaccinated and also get booster vaccines prepared that will be able to deal with these new variants – so buying time… against these new variants is really important.”

07:15 AM

Michael Gove visits Israel for Covid vaccine passports fact-finding trip

Michael Gove is joined by Jonathan Van-Tam during the visit - AFP
Michael Gove is joined by Jonathan Van-Tam during the visit – AFP

Michael Gove is visiting Israel to study the country’s Covid “green pass” smartphone app, to establish if it could be used as a model for vaccine passports in the UK.

Israel, which has the highest Covid vaccination rates in the world, uses the green pass scheme for entry to venues including gyms, swimming pools, restaurants and cafes, hotels, sports venues, theatres, cinemas and exhibitions.

The Cabinet Office minister, who is in charge of a Whitehall study into how coronavirus certificates might work in the UK, is being accompanied on his visit by Jonathan Van-Tam, England’s deputy chief medical officer.

Their visit involves meetings with Israel’s health minister, Yuli Edelstein and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The pair will also tour of testing facilities at Ben Gurion Airport, Tel Aviv, with a view to creating a flight corridor between Israel and the UK.

07:06 AM

Education Secretary defends delay to India red list

Gavin Williamson has defended the delay in putting India on the travel “red list”, placing heavy restrictions on people arriving from the country.

The move was announced yesterday afternoon – just hours after Boris Johnson cancelled his long-awaited trip to the country. But the measures, under which all but UK and Irish passport holders are barred from travelling from India and must commit to a 10-day hotel quarantine stay, does not come into effect until 4am on Friday morning.

The Education Secretary told Sky News: “It’s standard practise to give people a sort of short window in order to be able to manage their affairs. It’s the right approach to do, it’s the approach we’ve taken with other countries around the world when they’ve gone onto the red list.

“The Government continuously reviews the data, continues to review the information we’re getting from the scientific community in terms of what countries should be put onto the red list, and sadly India has been one of those countries that has had to be added.”

07:01 AM

Labour writes to competition watchdog over European Super League

Labour has written to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) concerning the proposed European Super League, a shadow minister has said.

Shadow sport minister Alison McGovern told BBC Breakfast on Tuesday she was asking the CMA if it could investigate if competition issues were at play.

She said: “I have written to the Competition and Markets Authority because I think on the face of it there are competition issues here at play and I have asked them to tell us whether they can investigate and, further, if they can commission a market study and give us advice about what they can do.”

06:56 AM

Labour MP defends Sir Keir Starmer over Bath pub altercation

Labour’s Alison McGovern defended the way the altercation in a pub in Bath yesterday was handled, saying “we have all been there”.

The shadow sports minister told BBC Breakfast: “Keir explained that [the man] was saying things about Covid that are not the case and Keir corrected him.

“In a democracy you always get people shouting at you – you have to just handle it in a civil polite way and move on.”

Watch the moment again in the video below.

06:55 AM

Sunak, Cameron and Greensill to be hauled in front of MPs for grilling over lobbying

Rishi Sunak has so far dodged any public questions on the Greensill affair - Reuters
Rishi Sunak has so far dodged any public questions on the Greensill affair – Reuters

A former Treasury minister has said he plans to haul in Chancellor Rishi Sunak and former prime minister David Cameron for questioning over the Greensill scandal.

Mel Stride, chair of the Treasury select committee and former financial secretary to the Treasury, is overseeing one of three Parliamentary probes into the lobbying row.

He told the Today programme he was “highly likely” to demand that Mr Cameron and Lex Greensill, boss of the eponymous financial firm, so that MPs could “question both of them” over what went on behind closed doors.

The Chancellor would “definitely” be asked to appear, as well as other departmental officials “to ensure they have done the right thing in terms of lobbying that came their way”.

06:42 AM

Prince William: I share fans’ fears for the future of football

Prince William said he was concerned about the 'damage it risks causing to the game we love' - AFP
Prince William said he was concerned about the ‘damage it risks causing to the game we love’ – AFP

Prince William has warned that the European Super League risks damaging English football, as the Government and football’s governing bodies united in opposition to the plan.

The Duke of Cambridge, who is president of the Football Association, went public with his concerns amid a fierce backlash against the ‘big six’ Premier League clubs who threatened to break away.

Prince William, an Aston Villa supporter, tweeted: “Now, more than ever, we must protect the entire football community – from the top level to the grassroots – and the values of competition and fairness at its core. I share the concerns of fans about the proposed Super League and the damage it risks causing to the game we love.”

Oliver Dowden, the Culture Secretary, announced that the Government was ready to step in – with changes to the law if necessary – to stop the new league’s creation. He said everything from a windfall tax on clubs participating to fewer work permits and reduced help with policing on match days were being considered as punishments for clubs which took part.

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