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Dominic Cummings is being questioned by MPs – follow live

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Watch live as Dominic Cummings questioned by MPs

Foreign secretary Dominic Raab will on Wednesday warn that democracy around the world is “in retreat”, while suggesting the UK still has a large role to play on the world stage.

His speech comes after he told officials that Britain should seek trade deals with countries which do not meet European standards on human rights.

In a video call leaked to Huffpost, Mr Raab said he believed Britain must trade “liberally” around the world and not ignore nations who fail the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

“If we restrict it to countries with ECHR-level standards of human rights, we’re not going to do many trade deals with the growth markets of the future,” he said.

The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) said the comments had been “deliberately and selectively clipped to distort”, while Labour described them as the “shameful truth”.

Elsewhere, Dominic Cummings, the prime minister’s former aide, will appear before the Commons Science and Technology Committee on Wednesday morning.

MPs will question him over the opaque new “high-risk” scientific research agency he supported during his time in the role.

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Watch live as Dominic Cummings questioned by MPs from 9.30am

Rory Sullivan17 March 2021 09:31

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Tories reportedly cut funding to London mayor candidate Shaun Bailey

The Conservatives have reduced funding to their mayor candidate Shaun Bailey over his poor performance and his inability to fundraise, according to a report in the Daily Mirror.

A Tory spokesperson told The Independent that “operational and fundraising decisions are a matter for the Shaun Bailey campaign, which continues to have our full support”.

Mr Bailey currently lags 26 points behind Sadiq Khan in the latest poll, conducted by Redfield & Wilton Strategies.

Our policy correspondent Jon Stone reports:

Rory Sullivan17 March 2021 09:21

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No 10 has ‘grasping naivety’ over China, Tory MP warns

As usual, Adam Forrest has our daily politics round-up.

Today’s look at Westminster focuses on the prime minister’s review calling for deeper trade links with China. Sir Julian Lewis, chair of the intelligence and security committee, hit out at the decision, saying it showed Downing Street’s “grasping naivety”.

Rory Sullivan17 March 2021 09:05

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Firms may be ‘complicit’ in forced Uighur labour, MPs warn

Large companies operating in Britain could have been “complicit” in the forced labour of Uighurs in China, MPs have said.

The Commons Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee named Walt Disney and Tik Tok among companies linked to Xinjiang, where more than a million Uighurs and other ethnic minorities have been interned in what Beijing terms “re-education” camps.

The committee released a report condemning the government for not taking firm enough action to stamp out business links to human rights abuses in China and elsewhere.

“Given the government’s admission that the situation facing the Uighur people in Xinjiang is harrowing and that international supply chains are likely to be complicit in the perpetuation of forced labour in the region, we are disappointed by the lack of meaningful action that has been taken in relation to these crimes,” the committee said.

Rory Sullivan17 March 2021 08:52

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Minister defends Raab over trade with human rights abusers

Business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has defended Dominic Raab’s comment that the UK should trade with regimes that flout human rights.

Mr Kwarteng said the country needed to be “flexible” and should not refuse to engage with “whole countries”.

The minister told Sky News: “I think the foreign secretary is right, we should be trading with countries.

“But at the same time we have to make very strong representations as we do when we think that countries are mistreating minorities, using torture and not sharing our values.

Rory Sullivan17 March 2021 08:33

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Ministers lack ‘ambition necessary’ to decarbonise industry

Labour has criticised ministers for lacking the ambition needed to address the climate crisis, after the business secretary outlined £1bn of spending to reduce emissions from businesses, hospitals and schools.

Shadow environment secretary Ed Miliband said: “Once again, the government talks a big game on green but doesn’t deliver with nearly the scale or ambition that’s necessary. None of this money is new — these announcements simply allocate money already announced.” 

Our political correspondent Ashley Cowburn has the details:

Rory Sullivan17 March 2021 08:19

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Cummings to be questioned by MPs on Wednesday

Dominic Cummings will be questioned by MPs on Wednesday morning about the “high-risk” scientific research agency he promoted during his time as Boris Johnson’s top aide.

In his first public appearance since leaving the role, Mr Cummings will speak about the Advanced Research & Invention Agency (Aria) before the Commons Science and Technology Committee.

Critics have said the new agency is opaque and needs to be more transparent.

The business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng, who is in charge of setting Aria up, will also be questioned by the committee.

Boris Johnson’s former aide Dominic Cummings leaves Downing Street in November

(PA)

Rory Sullivan17 March 2021 08:04

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UK should trade with human rights abusers, says Raab

In a leaked video, the foreign secretary Dominic Raab suggested that the UK should trade “liberally” around the world – including with countries that do not meet European standards of human rights.

Amnesty International said the comment threw human rights campaigners living under repressive regimes “to the wolves”.

Our political editor Andrew Woodcock reports:

Rory Sullivan17 March 2021 07:49

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Morning, and welcome to The Independent’s rolling UK politics coverage.

Rory Sullivan17 March 2021 07:45

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