Starmer won’t rip up Brexit deal, Labour insists

Sir Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, attends the launch of a new creative centre at the Camden campus of Roundhouse in central London this morning - Carl Court/Getty Images Europe

Sir Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, attends the launch of a new creative centre at the Camden campus of Roundhouse in central London this morning – Carl Court/Getty Images Europe

Sir Keir Starmer views the current Brexit deal between the UK and the EU as a “starting point” and has no intention of ripping it up and starting from scratch, a Labour frontbencher has said.

Sir Keir, the Labour leader, said yesterday that he would seek to improve the deal to deliver a closer trading relationship with Brussels.

Jim McMahon, the shadow environment secretary, said today that the divorce pact could be built upon because “it’s not the end” and there are “gaps that we need to fill”.

Asked whether Sir Keir’s remarks had meant he would rip up Brexit and “start again” with talks, Mr McMahon told Sky News: “He certainly hasn’t said that.

“He’s been very clear that the agreement is a framework and is a starting point but it’s not the end because there are naturally gaps that we need to fill.”

Tory MPs claimed Sir Keir’s remarks yesterday had shown that he “cannot be trusted on Brexit” and planned to take the UK back into the bloc by stealth.

You can follow the latest updates below. 

01:26 PM

Table of Contents

Pictured: Rishi Sunak shows off Hiroshima Carps baseball socks to Japanese PM Fumio Kishida

Rishi Sunak shows his Hiroshima Carps Baseball socks to Fumio Kishida Prime Minister of Japan after arriving in Hiroshima for G7 summit - Simon Dawson/No10 Downing Street

Rishi Sunak shows his Hiroshima Carps Baseball socks to Fumio Kishida Prime Minister of Japan after arriving in Hiroshima for G7 summit – Simon Dawson/No10 Downing Street

01:19 PM

Ben Wallace on Nato chief job: ‘That’s a job I’d like’

Ben Wallace has expressed an interest in running Nato, saying the top job which is set to become vacant this autumn is “fantastic”.

The military alliance’s current secretary general Jens Stoltenberg’s term is expiring in September and Mr Wallace, the Defence Secretary, has positioned himself as a potential candidate to succeed him.

Mr Wallace indicated he would be keen to succeed Mr Stoltenberg during a trip to Berlin for talks on Ukraine with his German counterpart Boris Pistorius.

Mr Wallace reportedly told German news agency dpa: “I’ve always said it would be a good job. That’s a job I’d like. But I’m also loving the job I do now. I mean, to be Defence Secretary of the British Government at a time of reform and investment, just like Boris Pistorius.”

He added that secretary general of the transatlantic alliance “is a fantastic job and Nato is an incredibly important part of all our securities”. He said it was “not for me to decide”. Nato member states normally make the decision on who should be secretary general behind the scenes.

01:12 PM

Sunak rules out building on green belt

Rishi Sunak has ruled out allowing house building on the green belt after Sir Keir Starmer said a Labour government would allow development there in certain circumstances.

The Prime Minister said he wants to “make sure our green spaces are protected” after being accused by Sir Keir of killing off the dream of home ownership by failing to build enough houses.

Speaking to reporters travelling with him in Japan, Mr Sunak said: “I was very clear over the summer, I wanted to make sure our green spaces are protected. I think that is what local communities want. At the same time, we have empowered local communities with local plans.

“What I find is that it’s not necessarily an opposition to housing itself, it’s how and where exactly it is done and the infrastructure that comes alongside it.”

Sir Keir said that under his plan local areas would be given “more powers to direct where houses are built”, including on the green belt in some circumstances, but he insisted “I want to protect the green belt, I value our countryside”.

12:31 PM

Sunak wants Hiroshima summit to ‘show Putin that the G7 stands by Ukraine’

11:54 AM

No10 says water companies must ‘put customers above profits’

Downing Street said water companies must “put customers above profits” as No10 warned investment in infrastructure must not have a “disproportionate” impact on household bills.

Told that bills are expected to increase to pay for the biggest overhaul of the sewage system since the Victorian era and asked if Rishi Sunak believed that would be fair, the Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman said: “We have been clear that we think water companies must put consumers above profits.

“We have said that previously and we have taken steps to help drive progress and ensure they put consumers first.

“But again, the plans that we have seen set out this morning need to go through the proper regulatory approval and we have been clear throughout that we don’t want to see things disproportionately impacting customer bills, especially given we know that there are people up and down the country who are struggling with the cost of living which is why we have provided the help that we have in that area.”

11:47 AM

Downing Street welcomes apology from water companies over sewage dumping

Downing Street has welcomed an apology by water companies for dumping sewage into rivers and waterways for decades (see the post below at 10.00).

The Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman said: “We welcome this apology from the water industry but acknowledge there continues to be more that needs to be done.

“You will know that we put the strictest targets ever on water companies to reduce sewage pollution and demanded that water companies deliver their largest ever infrastructure investment of £56billion.

“But the plans that have been set out today will of course need to go through the correct regulatory approval first to both ensure they deliver on the targets that we have set whilst not disproportionately affecting consumer bills.”

11:32 AM

Water bills will rise ‘for a century’ to stop sewage leaking into rivers and seas, companies admit

Household water bills will rise for as long as a century to pay for the biggest overhaul of the sewage system since the Victorian era, the water industry has said.

There will be “modest upward pressure” on bills for decades to come to fund £10 billion investment to reduce sewage overflows into rivers and waterways, Ruth Kelly, chairman of Water UK, said today.

You can read the full story here.

10:58 AM

Rishi Sunak arrives in Hiroshima

Rishi Sunak has just arrived in Hiroshima after completing the short flight from Tokyo.

The Prime Minister and his wife Akshata Murty were welcomed on the tarmac by officials, with the former holding a large blue umbrella to protect against what appeared to be fairly heavy rain.

It is just before 7pm in Japan. The G7 summit in Hiroshima will get underway tomorrow.

Mr Sunak is the first British prime minister to visit the city.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and his wife Akshata Murty arriving by plane in Hiroshima after their visit to Tokyo - Stefan Rousseau/PA

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and his wife Akshata Murty arriving by plane in Hiroshima after their visit to Tokyo – Stefan Rousseau/PA

10:35 AM

Rishi Sunak to sign landmark security deal with Japan amid China tensions

Rishi Sunak will agree a historic deal on security with Japan amid rising tensions with China.

The Prime Minister will sign the “Hiroshima Accord” with Japan ahead of the G7 meeting of Western leaders, under which the UK will step up defence cooperation to uphold stability in the Indo-Pacific, amid concerns about warmongering from Beijing.

The two countries will also launch a partnership on semiconductors, working together on research and development to help the West keep ahead of the game.

You can read the full story here.

10:10 AM

Pictured: Rishi Sunak and wife Akshata Murty leave Tokyo to fly to Hiroshima for G7 summit

Britain's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and his wife Akshata Murty board a plane in Tokyo, traveling to Hiroshima ahead of the G7 summit in Japan - Stefan Rousseau/PA

Britain’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and his wife Akshata Murty board a plane in Tokyo, traveling to Hiroshima ahead of the G7 summit in Japan – Stefan Rousseau/PA

10:03 AM

Labour: Households must not pick up the bill for sewer upgrades

Households must not be forced to foot the bill for upgrades to sewage systems after a modernisation plan was announced, a Labour frontbencher said this morning.

Shadow environment secretary Jim McMahon told Sky News: “We can’t allow in a cost-of-living crisis for families to take the burden of that because water companies still think they can carry on business as usual.”

He condemned the Government for effectively “legalising” sewage spills, despite having the “levers of power” to outlaw them as Labour has pledged to do.

10:00 AM

Water companies apologise for sewage spills and promise to invest £10bn to reduce them

The water industry body has apologised for the first time for dumping sewage into rivers and waterways for decades, and promised the biggest modernisation of sewers since the Victorian era.

The £10bn plan includes installing water storage tanks equivalent to thousands of new Olympic swimming pools, and ripping out concrete to replace it with ponds.

Sewage spilled into rivers and seas by water companies hundreds of thousands of times a year has been blamed on decades of underinvestment in critical infrastructure.

You can read the full story on the announcement here.

09:57 AM

No return of EU freedom of movement under Labour government

A return of EU freedom of movement “isn’t on the table” with a Labour government, the shadow environment secretary said this morning.

Asked if Labour could look to reinstate freedom of movement, Jim McMahon told Sky News: “Well, Keir has been very clear that that isn’t on the table, that is not something that we are going to return to and in the end what we need to do is almost to take the politics out of it as much as we can do… but to say, what does the economy need?

“How do we build a Britain that can thrive in the future where we go away from that 13 years of decline and depression to a point where people can be hopeful and optimistic for the future.

“That requires a strong foundation and for us to respond to what businesses are saying. They are saying that they want the barriers to trade reduced and they want simplicity, for that red tape to be taken away.”

09:29 AM

Starmer views current Brexit deal as a ‘starting point’, says Labour frontbencher

Sir Keir Starmer views the current Brexit deal between the UK and the EU as a “starting point”, a Labour frontbencher has said.

Jim McMahon, the shadow environment secretary, said Sir Keir had no intention of ditching the deal but insisted it is “not the end”.

Sir Keir said yesterday that he would seek to improve the deal to deliver a closer trading relationship with the EU.

Asked whether Sir Keir’s remarks had meant he would rip up Brexit and “start again” with talks, Mr McMahon told Sky News: “He certainly hasn’t said that.

“He’s been very clear that the agreement is a framework and is a starting point but it’s not the end because there are naturally gaps that we need to fill.”

09:15 AM

Boris Johnson called Macron ‘Putin’s lickspittle’ in foul-mouthed tirade, claims ex-No10 official

Boris Johnson described Emmanuel Macron as “Putin’s lickspittle” and called for an “orgy of frog bashing” during a row over the handling of the Ukrainian refugee crisis, a former No10 official has claimed.

Guto Harri, ex-head of communications in Downing Street, also said Mr Johnson had labelled the French President’s trip to Moscow in February last year for talks with Vladimir Putin as “nauseating”.

Speaking on the latest episode of his “Unprecedented” podcast, published by Global, Mr Harri said: “So when the British press was giving the British Government a hard time over our response to the refugee crisis, Macron turbocharged it by criticising Boris pretty directly and his words were all over the frontpage of The Guardian one Friday I think and much as Boris is not prone to getting really cross nor using particularly strong language, this was one where he really flipped and at our morning meeting I think with a small gang of us he just launched into a violent attack on Emmanuel Macron, basically saying he is a four letter word that begins with C, he is a weirdo, he is Putin’s lickspittle, we need to go studs up on this one, a rugby term that basically means gloves off, we need an orgy of frog bashing, I am going to have to punch his lights out.”

Mr Harri said that just a few weeks later Mr Johnson and Mr Macron had “patched it up” and “went for a whisky together at the G7 summit”.

The Telegraph understands Mr Johnson does not recognise the account given by his former colleague. Mr Johnson, who had no part in Mr Harri’s podcast or in its contents, is said to “deplore” attempts to comment on the matters discussed in the newest episode.

09:09 AM

I want to bring soaring legal migration down, says Rishi Sunak

Rishi Sunak has insisted that he wants to bring down legal migration, as the annual net figure is expected to balloon to around 700,000 next week.

However, the Prime Minister refused to promise that he would deliver Boris Johnson’s manifesto pledge of getting migration below where it was in 2019.

You can read the full story here.

08:37 AM

PM: UK and EU discussing automotive industry’s trade deal concerns

Rishi Sunak said Britain is talking to the EU about automotive concerns following warnings of an “existential threat” posed by a looming Brexit trade deal deadline.

Speaking to broadcasters on board the JS Izumo aircraft carrier in the Yokosuka naval base near Tokyo earlier today, the Prime Minister said: “It’s something that car manufacturers across Europe, not just in the UK, have raised as a concern.

“And as a result of that we are engaged in a dialogue with the EU about how we might address those concerns when it comes to auto manufacturing more generally.”

On concerns about UK battery-making capacity, Mr Sunak said: “Nissan have invested a billion pounds in battery manufacturing capability in the North East. I’ll be talking to the Nissan CEO and other Japanese business leaders later about investment into the UK.”

You can read the full story on the trade problems facing car manufacturers here.

08:20 AM

Rishi Sunak’s schedule during his first day in Japan

Rishi Sunak and his wife Akshata Murty arrived in Tokyo at about 1am UK time and they were greeted off the plane by British ambassador to Japan Julia Longbottom.

The Prime Minister then travelled to the Yokosuka naval base where he received a guard of honour from the Japanese navy as he inspected the JS Izumo aircraft carrier.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak disembarks the Japanese aircraft carrier, JS Izumo where he inspected a guard of honour with vice defence minister, Toshiro Ino during a visit to the Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force (JMSF) at Yokosuka Naval Base - Stefan Rousseau/PA

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak disembarks the Japanese aircraft carrier, JS Izumo where he inspected a guard of honour with vice defence minister, Toshiro Ino during a visit to the Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force (JMSF) at Yokosuka Naval Base – Stefan Rousseau/PA

Sailors played the British and Japanese national anthems for the Prime Minister and defence minister Toshiro Ino.

Mr Sunak then addressed a meeting of business leaders as he hailed £18billion worth of new Japanese investment in the UK economy.

The premier is now due to travel to Hiroshima, the location for the G7 summit which is taking place Friday through Sunday, where he will have dinner with Japanese PM Fumio Kishida.

Britain's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak (2nd R) walks on board the Japanese aircraft carrier JS Izumo during a visit to the Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force (JMSF) at the Yokosuka Naval Base in Yokosuka - Stefan Rousseau/AFP

Britain’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak (2nd R) walks on board the Japanese aircraft carrier JS Izumo during a visit to the Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force (JMSF) at the Yokosuka Naval Base in Yokosuka – Stefan Rousseau/AFP

08:14 AM

UK is an ‘island of innovation’, Sunak tells Tokyo business leaders in pitch for greater investment

Britain is “unambiguously pro-investment”, Rishi Sunak told business leaders in Tokyo this morning.

Continuing his pitch for more investment in the UK (see the post below at 08.10), the Prime Minister said: “Secondly, the United Kingdom is unambiguously pro-investment.

“The lowest rate of corporation tax of any G7 country. One of the most generous capital allowances regimes in the OECD and a smart agile approach to regulation.

“And thirdly just like Japan the United Kingdom is an island of innovation. We have the funding, with £20billion of public investment in research and development, we have the people with a highly skilled workforce, we have the ideas with some of the world’s best universities and we have the businesses.”

08:10 AM

Rishi Sunak uses trip to Japan to ‘bang the drum for Britain’

Rishi Sunak said the opportunity for UK and Japanese businesses to work together is “incredible” as he told business leaders in Tokyo: “Let’s go and seize it together”.

The Prime Minister said he wanted to use his visit to Japan to attend the G7 summit in Hiroshima to “bang the drum for Britain”.

Rishi Sunak, the Prime Minister, delivers an address to business leaders in Tokyo this morning - Stefan Rousseau /PA

Rishi Sunak, the Prime Minister, delivers an address to business leaders in Tokyo this morning – Stefan Rousseau /PA

He said: “While I have you all here I wanted to briefly bang the drum for Britain and give you three quick reasons why the United Kingdom is right now one of the most exciting destinations in the world for Japanese businesses.

“First, our strong secure trade links. The UK is the only European country to join the CPTPP. That is a huge opportunity. The UK will stand with Japan to uphold the CPTPP’s high standards and maximise the benefits for our businesses from this dynamic and fast growing free trade bloc.”

08:06 AM

Japanese investment in UK a ‘huge vote of confidence’ in British economy, says Sunak

Rishi Sunak said new Japanese investment in the UK worth £18billion represented a “huge vote of confidence” in the British economy.

The Prime Minister told an event in Tokyo this morning: “Businesses from our two countries have a long, proud history of partnership. From the trains that we ride to the cars that we drive and the drinks that we enjoy.

“UK and Japanese firms work together every single day to power each other’s economies and today we are going even further.

“I am delighted to announce new investment commitments worth nearly £18billion. This is a huge vote of confidence in the UK economy, it will create hundreds of good, well-paid jobs with significantly more to come as these projects get underway.”

08:04 AM

Rishi Sunak: UK-Japan relationship ‘strongest it has ever been’

Rishi Sunak said the UK-Japan relationship is now the “strongest it has ever been” as he hailed £18billion of new Japanese investment in Britain.

Speaking to business leaders in Tokyo this morning before he attends the G7 summit in Hiroshima, the Prime Minister said the opportunities for both countries to work together are “incredible”.

He said: “I couldn’t miss this opportunity to come here and thank all of you, the brilliant businesses who have together made the relationship between our two countries the strongest it has ever been.”

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