UK Politics Live: No 10 Refuses to Condemn Police for Investigating Chancellor Sunak for Not Wearing a Seatbelt

. Break it into short paragraphs No 10 declines to criticise police for ‘looking into’ Sunak not wearing seatbelt – but says they’ve not been in touch yetThe Downing Street lobby briefing has just finished, and – unsurprisingly – the first questions were about whether there are any updates on seatbelt-gate.As my colleague Kevin Rawlinson reports, Lancashire police have said they are “looking into” Sunak’s failure to wear a seatbelt when he was filming an Instagram video about levelling up from the back seat of his ministerial car.And there aren’t any real updates, the No 10 spokesperson revealed. He said that he was “not going to get ahead of any process” and that as far as he was aware Sunak has not yet had any contact from Lancashire police.The spokesperson also repeated the apology from Sunak for the incident, issued yesterday.Asked if Sunak would be willing to speak to the police about this, the spokeperson just repeated the line about not getting ahead of the process.Asked if Sunak agreed with the Tory MP Scott Benton that this was a waste of police time, the spokesperson said it was “entirely a matter for the police where they allocate resources”..@LancsPolice do an amazing job, but I’m sure their time is better spent investigating serious crime which impacts on my constituents. The vast majority of people would think that politically motivated complaints about about a seat belt are not good use of frontline resources. https://t.co/EFmqMPRjzU— Scott Benton MP 🇬🇧🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 🍊 (@ScottBentonMP) January 20, 2023 Updated at 08.27 ESTKey eventsFilters BETAKey events (10)Boris Johnson (3)The UK is to join international allies in considering plans for a new tribunal to deal with alleged war crimes committed by Russian forces in Ukraine, James Cleverly, the foreign secretary, has said.The International Criminal Court is already investigating alleged war crimes committed in the conflict but it does not have jurisdiction over the “crime of aggression”.Ukraine wants to ensure the “crime of aggression” – the decision to go to war, taken by political leaders without UN justification – is investigated, and it has proposed a “hybrid” tribunal to address this – a specialist court within Ukraine’s legal system, but incorporating international elements.The Foreign Office says Britain will work with other countries invited by Ukraine to consider how this proposal could be implemented.In a statement Cleverly said:The atrocities we’ve witnessed in Ukraine are diabolical – thousands of soldiers and civilians killed, and millions more displaced, forced to flee for their lives in the most horrific circumstances. These atrocities must not go unpunished. That’s why the UK has accepted Ukraine’s invitation to join this coalition, bringing our legal expertise to the table to explore options to ensure Russia’s leaders are held to account fully for their actions.Lisa O’CarrollTariq Ahmad, a Foreign Office minister, said the government would “reflect” on proposals Peter Hain made this morning to turn Northern Ireland from an EU “rule taker” to a “rule maker” post-Brexit. (See 12.24pm.)Speaking at the end of the debate in the House of Lords where Lord Hain made his proposal, Lord Ahmad said:The government has long held that the protocol is leading to a democratic deficit where the EU law applies in Northern Ireland but with little meaningful consultation on that EU law.Hain suggested Sinn Féin, DUP and other party representatives should be given powers already given to Norway to scrutinise and achieve amendments in EU laws that will affect their country.Ahmad said representatives of the Northern Ireland parties already attended meetings of the UK-EU joint consultative working group which discusses EU law coming down the tracks once a month but “there are always things to improve”.Updated at 08.20 ESTFreeport dredging on Teesside ‘very unlikely’ to be cause of mass crab die-off, report saysThérèse Coffey, the environment secretary, has said that a new inquiry into the deaths of thousands of crabs and lobsters along the north-east coast had found it was “very unlikely” to be linked to the dredging of the River Tees.In a written ministerial statement, she said the “independent expert assessment of unusual crustacean mortality in the north-east of England in 2021 and 2022” concluded that a novel pathogen was to blame.The inquiry was set up in response to claims that the mass die-off was caused by the dredging releasing a toxic chemical called pyridine, which was used in industry on Teesside and was found in high levels in the dead crabs.But Coffey said in her statement:The independent panel concluded that pyridine or another toxic pollutant as the cause was very unlikely, as was any link to dredging for the freeport. A novel pathogen is considered by the independent panel to be the most likely cause of mortality because it could explain the key observations, including mortality, over a sustained period and along over 40 miles of coastline, the unusual twitching of dying crabs and the deaths being predominantly crabs rather than other species.The dredging has intensified as part of the work to create the Teesside freeport, and a finding that pyridine was to blame would have had serious repurcussions not just for the Teesside freeport, but potentially for others too.The full report is here.Updated at 08.22 ESTNadhim Zahawi ‘agreed on penalty’ to settle tax bill worth millionsThe Conservative party chair, Nadhim Zahawi, agreed to pay a penalty to HMRC as part of a seven-figure settlement over his tax affairs, my colleague Anna Isaac reports. Her full story is here.Labour peer suggests Sinn Féin and DUP should be involved in talks on new EU laws as part of solution to protocol rowLisa O’CarrollPeter Hain, the Labour former Northern Ireland secretary, has called for an official Norway-style involvement for Sinn Féin and the DUP in EU laws that apply in Belfast in an attempt to end the “democratic deficit” caused by Brexit.He says political leaders should be made “ex officio” of the UK delegations on UK-EU bodies that discuss matters not just relevant to the protocol but also to devolved competence.In a speech in the House of Lords this morning, where peers held a debate on the Northern Ireland protocol, Hain said Norway, which is not a member of the EU but is in the single market, has the formal capacity to “scrutinise and achieve amendments to all draft EU proposals affecting Norwegians”. He went on:Boris Johnson and Lord Frost, endorsed by Rishi Sunak, negotiated a deal making Northern Ireland an EU rule-taker rather than, as the UK was before Brexit, an EU rule-maker.This issue is one of the three red lines of the European Research Group, the hardline, pro-Brexit Tory caucus which is powerful within the Conservative party and wants to end the application of EU law in Northern Ireland.Hain told peers that Norway reports its system is “working well” and a similar one in the UK could be set up through the UK-EU joint consultative working group.It meets monthly and is where the European Commission informs the UK about “planned union acts within the scope of the protocol under article 15”.Hain said the UK government “should establish formal structures” to ensure the view of Northern Ireland ministers, members of the legislative assembly, officials and stakeholders are represented. He went on:These are practical, common sense solutions to a real problem which quite understandably exercises unionists, and I hope that UK ministers, the Irish government and the EU will support them.Peter Hain. Photograph: Parliament TVUpdated at 08.26 ESTNo 10 declines to criticise police for ‘looking into’ Sunak not wearing seatbelt – but says they’ve not been in touch yetThe Downing Street lobby briefing has just finished, and – unsurprisingly – the first questions were about whether there are any updates on seatbelt-gate.As my colleague Kevin Rawlinson reports, Lancashire police have said they are “looking into” Sunak’s failure to wear a seatbelt when he was filming an Instagram video about levelling up from the back seat of his ministerial car.And there aren’t any real updates, the No 10 spokesperson revealed. He said that he was “not going to get ahead of any process” and that as far as he was aware Sunak has not yet had any contact from Lancashire police.The spokesperson also repeated the apology from Sunak for the incident, issued yesterday.Asked if Sunak would be willing to speak to the police about this, the spokeperson just repeated the line about not getting ahead of the process.Asked if Sunak agreed with the Tory MP Scott Benton that this was a waste of police time, the spokesperson said it was “entirely a matter for the police where they allocate resources”..@LancsPolice do an amazing job, but I’m sure their time is better spent investigating serious crime which impacts on my constituents. The vast majority of people would think that politically motivated complaints about about a seat belt are not good use of frontline resources. https://t.co/EFmqMPRjzU— Scott Benton MP 🇬🇧🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 🍊 (@ScottBentonMP) January 20, 2023 Updated at 08.27 ESTKeir Starmer has held a meeting with Leo Varadkar, the taoiseach (Irish PM), at Davos this morning. According to a readout of the…

Source