Margaritis Schinas, the European commission’s chief spokesman, has posted a tweet saying that a video promoted by a pro-unionist Twitter account from Northern Ireland contains a quote falsely attributed to Martin Selmayr, the secretary general of the EU Commission. The video claims Selmayr said Northern Ireland was “the price to pay for Brexit”. Selmary has denied saying that, and Schinas said the claim was being “spread maliciously”.
The Twitter account has no name attached to it and just describes itself as “promoting the positive benefits of NI’s membership of the UK”.
During an urgent question in the Commons earlier Caroline Dinenage, the care minister, apologised on behalf of the NHS for the abuse of people with learning disabilities and autism at the specialist hospital Whorlton Hall. The abuses were exposed in a harrowing report by an undercover reporter working for the BBC’s Panorama which has led to a police investigation, 16 staff being suspended and the hospital being closed.
She said the actions revealed by the Panorama programme were “quite simply appalling” and that the government would look at whether criminality was involved, whether the regulatory framework was working and whether oversight was fit for purpose. She told MPs:
Where it is essential that somebody has to be supported at distance from their home, we will make sure that those arrangements are supervised.
We won’t tolerate having people out of sight and out of mind. Where someone with a learning disability or an autistic person has to be an inpatient out of area, they will be now visited every six weeks if they are a child or every eight weeks if they are an adult.
EU nationals complain about being not allowed to vote through administrative errors
There are a lot of reports on social media of EU nationals being denied a vote in today’s European elections.
EU nationals can vote in the UK in European elections. They have to register, like UK nationals. But they also have to fill in a form, known as the UC1 or EC6 form, saying they will only be voting in the UK, and not in other EU countries.
Local authorities have to process these forms. But, as my colleague Lisa O’Carroll reported on Tuesday, there have been reports that in some areas this has not been happening properly.
The prime minister’s official spokesman told journalists at the morning lobby briefing that Theresa May would be meeting cabinet colleagues to discuss the EU withdrawal agreement bill today, the Press Association reports.
“The prime minister is listening to her colleagues about the bill and will be having further discussions,” he said.
He could not say when the bill would be published and refused to be drawn on speculation about May’s future as PM.
The spokesman also confirmed that US president Donald Trump’s state visit would go ahead in June.
May shelves plans to publish EU withdrawal agreement bill amid growing cabinet backlash against it
In response to a question from Labour’s Valerie Vaz, Mark Spencer, the government whip, has just clarified two points about the EU withdrawal agreement bill (Wab).
Spencer said the Wab would now be published in the week beginning Monday 3 June. That is the second time this week it has been postponed. Yesterday morning Michael Gove, the environment secretary, said it would be published later that day. Then, in the afternoon, Theresa May said it would be published tomorrow. Spencer’s admission that publication has been postponed until June will increase suspicions that, in practice, it will never be published at all. May is under huge pressure to abandon the bill because it is so unpopular with backbenchers and ministers, and seems doomed to defeat.
Spencer said that the government was hoping to hold the second reading debate of the Wab on Friday 7 June but that it could not get announcement yet because it could not get agreement through “the usual channels”. That implies Labour are refusing to agree to get the Commons to sit on Friday when it was meant to be in recess.
Government refuses to confirm EU withdrawal agreement vote will be held in first week of June
Mark Spencer, a government whip, is now announcing the government business in the Commons.
He has just announced the business for the week beginning Monday 3 June. Although Downing Street has said the second reading of the EU withdrawal agreement bill (Wab) would take place that week, and Tory MPs were told yesterday that that would happen on Friday 7 June, Spencer did not include the Wab in the list of business for that week. And he said the house would not be sitting on the Friday.
He said the government would “update the house on the publication and introduction of the withdrawal agreement bill on our return from the Whit Sunday recess [on Tuesday 4 June]”.
That implies the Wab will not be published tomorrow, as Theresa May said it would.
Ministers have shelved their plans to debate the EU withdrawal agreement bill in the first week of June. The second reading debate was not included in the list of business announced by the government for next week. That does not mean it definitely will not take place, but it does mean the government is not able to confirm it now.
The government appears to have abandoned plans to publish the bill tomorrow.