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Brexit bill receives royal assent and becomes law – live news

Rolling coverage of the day’s political developments as they happen

3.13pm GMT

From the Brexit department

The Brexit Bill has been given Royal Assent.

Watch the moment Deputy Speaker Nigel Evans announced it in the Commons ⬇️

2.57pm GMT

John Bercow, the former Commons Speaker, has issued a fresh statement in response to the report that Lord Lisvane, the former clerk of the Commons, has submitted a formal complaint about him alleging bullying. (See 9.39am.)

In it he categorically denies ever bullying anyone. He says:

I have seen in the media that Lord Lisvane is formally complaining that I bullied staff. For the record, I categorically deny that I have ever bullied anyone, anywhere at any time.

Therefore, he had not merely a right but a responsibility to act if he thought that he witnessed misconduct.

The simple fact is that he did not at any time do so. Even though he frequently disagreed with me on a wide range of issues, he did not once complain to me and neither did any other official on his behalf.

[Since retiring it has] become increasingly obvious that the government has no intention of honouring the centuries-old convention that a departing speaker is promptly elevated to the House of Lords. Indeed, it has been suggested to me that the government actively seeks to block any other attempt to nominate me for membership of the upper House.

2.50pm GMT

The Brexit bill has received royal assent. It is now an act of parliament, the EU (Withdrawal Agreement) Act.

Jacob Rees-Mogg, the leader of the Commons (and arch-Brexiter), announced it on Twitter.

✅ European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill has been given Royal Assent and is now an Act of Parliament.

2.01pm GMT

And here are the latest nomination tallies for the Labour leadership posted by @CLPNominations.

So far, 27 CLPs have nominated candidates to be leader of the Labour Party.

Keir Starmer: 18
Rebecca Long-Bailey: 5
Emily Thornberry: 3
Lisa Nandy: 1

So far, six affiliates have nominated candidates to be leader of the Labour Party.

Keir Starmer: 3
Lisa Nandy: 2
Revecca Long-Bailey: 1

1.58pm GMT

John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, has released a video message backing his fellow leftwinger Richard Burgon for the Labour deputy leadership.

Its important that Labour Party members have a choice for deputy leader from a full range of candidates. I am backing the candidate supported by the Socialist Campaign Group of MPs Richard Burgon. I urge CLPs to nominate Richard to ensure he’s on the ballot paper.

So far, 27 CLPs have nominated candidates to be deputy leader of the Labour Party.

Angela Rayner: 15
Dawn Butler: 4
Rosena Allin-Khan: 3
Richard Burgon: 3
Ian Murray: 2

So far, five affiliates have nominated candidates to be deputy leader of the Labour Party.

Angela Rayner: 4
Richard Burgon: 1

1.47pm GMT

The likely battle lines between SNP and Scotish Tories in advance of next year’s Holyrood election are becoming clearer every week. At this lunchtime’s FMQs (first minister’s questions), interim Tory leader Jackson Carlaw – who launched his leadership campaign last week with proposals to reverse SNP tax rises for high earners – raised a pretty shocking story that was highlighted by the Courier this morning: the roof of a police station in Broughty Ferry collapsing just hours after the justice secretary dismissed concerns about the crumbling police estate as “hyperbole”.

Carlaw condemned “years of missed opportunities from a distracted government”, noting that the FM would be returning to “her favourite topic” next week when she has promised to update parliament on her next steps after Boris Johnson ruled out granting her the legal powers to hold a second independence referendum.

1.37pm GMT

Emily Thornberry has also tweeted a message of support to her fellow Labour leadership candidate Keir Starmer. (See 1.19pm.)

My thoughts are with Keir and his wife Victoria, and especially their children, at this hugely difficult and emotional time. I hope Victoria’s mum is getting the best of care, and makes a quick and full recovery.

1.34pm GMT

Zac Goldsmith, the environment minister, came up with a particularly unflattering description of himself in his maiden speech in the House of Lords a few minutes ago, Sky’s Aubrey Allegretti reports.

Zac Goldsmith, giving his maiden speech in the House of Lords, says he realises his peerage wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea and he’s been called a “turd that won’t flush”.

But he adds environmental campaigners are “cheered by having another voice in parliament”.

1.19pm GMT

Sir Keir Starmer, the favourite in the Labour leadership contest, has been forced to cancel campaign events as his mother-in-law is critically ill in hospital. A spokesman for Starmer said:

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Following an accident, Keir Starmer’s mother-in-law is critically ill and has been admitted to hospital in intensive care.

In order to support his family at this difficult time, Keir will be cancelling all campaign events today and tomorrow.

Very sorry to hear the news about @Keir_Starmer’s mother in law. We’re sending all of our love and solidarity to Keir and the family.

1.12pm GMT

The police watchdog is facing accusations that it is dragging its feet on a decision about whether to investigate Boris Johnson for possible criminal misconduct over his friendship with the US businesswoman Jennifer Arcuri when he was London mayor, my colleague Matthew Weaver reports.

Related: Police watchdog criticised over Boris Johnson-Jennifer Arcuri inquiry delay

1.04pm GMT

Sajid Javid, the chancellor, is speaking at a CBI lunch in Davis. He has just sought to reassure business that the UK won’t abandon all EU regulations after Brexit, saying:

We won’t diverge just for the sake of it.

Related: Davos 2020: Sajid Javid tries to calm business Brexit fears – live

1.00pm GMT

From Bloomberg’s Ian Wishart

Last night the Brexit deal finally got through parliament.

Today is 7 years since David Cameron’s landmark speech at Bloomberg HQ in which he announced the referendum and called for reform of the EU so he could keep the UK in it.

12.49pm GMT

Ratcliffe says the recent weeks, since the killing of Qassem Suleimani, have been terrifying.

Q: Did Johnson apologise for his own comments about Nazanin (about her being in Iran to teach journalism – a false statement that was used by Iran to justify her ongoing detention.)

12.43pm GMT

Richard Ratcliffe is speaking to journalists now after his meeting with Boris Johnson.

He says he did not come away thinking that his wife, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, will be released very soon.

12.30pm GMT

Richard Ratcliffe has arrived at Downing Street for his talks with Boris Johnson about his wife, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who is detained in Iran. (See 11.12am.) He has brought their daughter, Gabriella, and his own mother Barbara (to help look after Gabriella if she gets distracted during the meeting, he explained on the Today programme this morning).

12.15pm GMT

Turning back to Huawei, Gerard Baker has an interesting column on this topic here in the Times (paywall) today. Here’s an extract.

In the US view, widely supported by intelligence assessments, Huawei’s accountability to political masters is so great that any network that the company builds is going to be in effect a portal for the Chinese government to spy on the activities of anyone using it. So the US has banned Huawei from doing business in the US and blocked American companies from working with it. But the larger struggle is unfolding over Huawei’s business with other countries, in particular US allies.

A senior American official told me that one of the Trump administration’s main priorities for 2020 is to persuade countries around the world not to use Huawei in building their 5G networks. Critics say this is, in essence, a form of barely disguised protectionism, that the Huawei threat is overstated and that the US is simply trying to impede the commercial success of a rival Chinese company.

11.38am GMT

A Welsh Conservative candidate accused of deliberately sabotaging a rape trial has been deselected by his party, PA Media reports. Ross England was giving evidence as a witness in the trial of a male friend when it was halted after he referred to the female victim’s previous sexual history against the directions of the judge. Today the Conservative party said England’s nomination to contest the Vale of Glamorgan seat in the 2021 Welsh assembly election had been withdrawn.

11.34am GMT

The proportion of recorded crimes in England and Wales that resulted in a suspect being charged or summonsed to court has fallen again, fresh figures reveal, as knife crime surges to a record high, my colleague Jamie Grierson reports.

Related: Proportion of crime suspects charged or summonsed drops to 7.8%

11.31am GMT

Sharon Hodgson, the shadow health secretary, is responding to Matt Hancock’s statement. She has some questions.

Will flights from other Chinese cities be monitored?

11.27am GMT

In the Commons Matt Hancock, the health secretary, is making a statement about the coronavirus outbreak.

He says there have been 571 cases, and 17 reported fatalities.

11.22am GMT

In her Sky News interview this morning Andrea Leadsom, the business secretary, hinted that the government is minded to allow the Chinese firm Huawei to play a role in constructing the UK’s 5G network. The US government has been strongly urging London not to use Huawei, claiming that it poses a security risk and threatening to limit intelligence cooperation if Huawei does get the go-ahead.

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Leadsom said the government would take a decision on this soon. But, as Reuters reports, she highlighted difficulties with not using Huawei. She said:

There are other providers but they are limited. Ideally there would be more providers of infrastructure similar to the work that Huawei does but the UK is looking very carefully at this issue and we will be making a final decision soon.

It is an ongoing process and there are all sorts of factors to take into consideration, like the availability of other providers, like the work that Huawei has already done in the United Kingdom, so these discussions are ongoing.

11.12am GMT

Speaking ahead of his meeting with Boris Johnson later, Richard Ratcliffe said that he hoped the PM would “take responsibility” for the detention of his wife Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe in Iran. Ratcliffe told the Today programme:

[Johnson] needs to take responsibility for Nazanin’s case, for upholding the promise he made to us to leave no stone unturned.

Nazanin was told way back in 2016 she was being held over it. It has long been in the shadows of our case.

[Johnson’s] obligation is to protect British citizens. He needs to be brave in doing positive gestures in relation to the debt and other issues that will calm relations down, but also being brave in calling out Iran on hostage-taking. It is not an acceptable way to conduct diplomacy.

Related: Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe: pay £400m debt in aid, urges husband

11.01am GMT

Sajid Javid, the chancellor, has launched a hunt for someone to replace longstanding Office for Budget Responsibility chairman Robert Chote when his term at the fiscal watchdog comes to an end in October. As PA Media reports, Chote has headed up the independent economic forecaster since it was launched in 2010, having served the maximum two five-year terms. The chancellor said Chote had led the OBR with “intelligence, independence and integrity”.

In a statement Javid said:

Finding the right candidate to lead the OBR and build on the significant progress of the last 10 years is vital for maintaining the credibility of the UK’s fiscal framework and our status as a world leader in fiscal transparency.

I look forward to working with Robert Chote to deliver my budget on March 11 before he finishes his second term as chair.

10.28am GMT

Michel Barner’s senior adviser Stefaan De Rynck has warned that the EU will not tolerate any “backsliding” on the commitment to introduce checks on goods crossing the Irish Sea as part of the controversial Brexit deal on Northern Ireland. At an event at University College London last night, De Rynck was clear that checks were part of the Northern Ireland protocol and warned that if the deal was not complied with there could be sanctions.

We will not tolerate any backsliding or half measures on this. It is clear what needs to be done by both sides.

There are clear commitments on the UK which are legally binding and have to be implemented.

That is a pretty generous offer for the EU to consider. Because this is a market of 450m people at the doorstep of the UK. In terms of some of the stories I read this morning in the media, I think we need to stress that this is not something that any other country has, across the board zero tariffs, zero quota access to the market.

I prefer … this kind of pasta where everything is integrated as a main course.

An over-arching institutional framework with linked chapters and agreements is certainly part of the political declaration and certainly one the UK has also agreed to. We will want now to see how that pans out in practice.

10.14am GMT

This is from my colleague John Crace on Liz Truss’s comments about trade and the US.

Having just said the idea of a US trade deal is to eliminate tariffs on UK cars, Liz Truss insists the UK will implement a digital services tax if we want to despite the US saying it will impose tariffs on UK cars if we do. Go figure

10.08am GMT

Here is the full reply from Liz Truss, the international trade secretary, when she was asked in the Commons a few minutes ago by the Labour MP Jonathan Reynolds if the government would back down in the face of American pressure over its plans for a digital services tax. (See 9.55am.) She told him:

Let me be absolutely clear. UK tax policy is a matter for the UK chancellor. It’s not a matter for the US, it’s not a matter for the EU, it’s not a matter for anybody else, and we will make the decisions that are right for Britain, whether it is on our regulatory standards, whether it’s on our tax policy, or whether it is on anything else.

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9.55am GMT

In the Commons Liz Truss, the international trade secretary, is taking questions. She has just suggested that the government will not back down over its plans for a digital services tax despite opposition from Washington, which is worried about the impact on US tech giants. This is from Politico’s Emilio Casalicchio.

International Trade Secretary Liz Truss bullish against US threats of new tariffs in response to the incoming big tech tax: “UK tax policy is a matter for the UK Chancellor. It’s not a matter for the US. It’s not a matter for the EU. And it’s not a matter for anybody else.”

Genuinely interesting answer to me from Liz Truss just now in International Trade Questions – says the Govt will defy US pressure over the Digital Sales Tax and proceed with introduction in April

9.41am GMT

Andrea Leadsom, the business secretary, was giving interviews this morning to promote the announcement that the government is ensuring that parents who suffer the loss of a child under the age of 18 will be entitled to two weeks of statutory paid leave from work. Our story on the announcement is here.

Related: Bereaved parents to be entitled to two weeks’ paid leave from work

9.39am GMT

According to the Times (paywall), Lord Lisvane, the former clerk of the Commons, has submitted a complaint to the parliamentary commissioner standards about alleged bullying by John Bercow when he was Speaker. Other officials have complained about Bercow’s treatment of staff in the past, but Lisvane is the most senior official to have submitted a formal complaint, the paper says.

In a statement to the Times Bercow, who has repeatedly denied claims that he bullied officials, said:

During the five years that we worked together, Lord Lisvane had ample opportunity to raise any accusations of bullying with me. At no stage did he do so, even though he became clerk of the House – the most senior official. The timing of this intervention is curious.

In the event that there are genuine, upheld complaints about any persons that should have an impact on whether they are found suitable for the House of Lords.

9.23am GMT

In Davos Steven Mnuchin, the US treasury secretary, has said Washington expects to conclude a trade deal with the UK by the end of this year, Faisal Islam, the BBC’s economics editor, reports.

NEW: On a UK-US trade deal:

US Treasury Sec Mnuchin says: UK wants to “accomplish both [EU & US] deals in 2020 obviously an aggressive timetable… we expect to complete that [ie UK-US] within this year”.

Ross: “far fewer issues between UK & US than between either of us and EU”

So – according to members of President Trump’s Cabinet, both sides of UK-US deal expect it to be done THIS year.

Related: Davos 2020: US treasury secretary says Greta Thunberg should study economics – live

9.19am GMT

There will be an oral statement in the Commons after 10.30am from Matt Hancock, the health secretary, on the coronavirus crisis.

There will be one oral ministerial statement today on: Wuhan Coronavirus (WN-CoV) – Rt Hon Matt Hancock MP

9.13am GMT

Yesterday the government’s EU (withdrawal agreement) bill, the legislation that will take the UK out of the EU next week, cleared parliament. This was a foregone conclusion ever since Boris Johnson won the general election with a near-landslide majority and, in a curious paradox, the Brexit deal that paralysed parliament for more than two years, and brought down a PM, barely made the news as it finally got over its last parliamentary hurdle. In response, Johnson put out this statement:

Parliament has passed the withdrawal agreement bill, meaning we will leave the EU on 31 January and move forwards as one United Kingdom.

At times it felt like we would never cross the Brexit finish line, but we’ve done it.

There should be no misunderstanding of the fact that the next phase will be more complicated to negotiate than the withdrawal agreement.

The construction of the text for the withdrawal agreement wasn’t always easy — but compared to the construction of the text for the future relationship agreement, we are talking about two different kinds of exercises. The limitation of time must lead to some dose of realism on what can be achieved.

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