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18 March 2015updated 07 Jun 2021 3:38pm

Five things you need to know today: Johnson accused of “fiddling while Rome burns”

By New Statesman

Johnson criticised over Brexit as he promises £300m for devolved nations

Boris Johnson has called for a renewal of “the ties that bind our United Kingdom” and promised £300m to boost growth in the devolved nations as he makes his first visit to Scotland as Prime Minister. During a trip to a military base, Johnson will extra funding for “growth deals” before visiting Wales for talks with the farming community and Northern Ireland to discuss the restoration of power-sharing at Stormont. 

The Prime Minister is due to meet Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson, who has warned that the government has no mandate for a no-deal Brexit and that she will oppose this outcome. “When I was debating against the pro-Brexit side in 2016, I don’t remember anybody saying we should crash out of the EU with no arrangements in place,” Davidson wrote in a column for the Scottish Mail on Sunday. The Scottish government accused Johnson of “fiddling while Rome burns” over his spending announcement. “If Mr Johnson thinks he can win over Scotland with recycled and underfunded spending plans he has a lot to learn in his new role,” said a spokesperson for Derek MacKay, the Scottish Finance Secretary.

4.5 million people trapped in deep poverty, new report says

More than four million people in the UK are trapped in deep poverty, meaning their official income is at least 50 per cent below the official poverty line, a new report has found. The study by the Social Metrics Commission, a group of experts from across the political spectrum, found that a total of 14.5 million people lived in poverty based on its definition, with 4.5 million earning less than 60 per cent of the UK’s average annual income of £28,400. Though overall poverty rates have changed little over the last two decades, poverty among children and pensioners has risen in recent years owing to austerity measures such as the benefits freeze.  

Four shot dead and 15 injured at US garlic festival 

At least four people have been killed and 15 injured after a gunman opened fire at a food festival in California. The man was shot dead by police after targeting visitors on the last day of the Gilroy Garlic Festival. The suspect entered the festival by cutting through a perimeter fence, Gilroy police chief Scot Smithee told reporters. He said witnesses reported that a second suspect may have been involved, possibly in a support role.

Hong Kong: police fire tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters

Hong Kong has seen a third day of violent clashes between pro-democracy demonstrators and riot police firing tear gas and rubber bullets. Tens of thousands of protesters,  dressed in black and wearing protective helmets and goggles, occupied roads and chanted “reclaim Hong Kong”. The demonstrations, which have lasted for eight consecutive weekends, began after the Hong Kong government introduced a bill that would have enabled extraditions to mainland China.

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Vauxhall owner warns Brexit could force closure of UK plant 

The chief executive of Vauxhall-owner PSA has warned that it could pull all production from Ellesmere Port in Cheshire if Brexit makes the British factory unprofitable. Carlos Tavares told the Financial Times that the company would switch to a plant in southern Europe to build future Vauxhall Astra and Opel Astra cars if the UK suffered a disruptive withdrawal from the EU. The Ellesmere Port plant employs more than 1,000 workers and its closure would leave Vauxhall’s Luton-based van plant as its last presence in the UK.

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