Jon Stone, The Independent

Jon Stone

The Independent

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Recent articles by Jon:

Four ways the Brexit transition period could be extended after the deadline has passed

The UK and EU are negotiating a trade deal and have until the end of the year to do it. If nothing is agreed by 1 January, the UK will crash out of the single market without a deal. That is, unless there’s an extension to the Brexit transition period Britain is currently in. It sounds simple, but there’s a catch: the deadline to agree such an extension to the transition → Read More

EU Brexit trade demands won't change to suit UK, Michel Barnier's advisor says

The European Union’s Brexit trade demands will not change under UK pressure, Michel Barnier’s senior advisor has said – with just one month to go to agree an extension. Stefaan de Rynck told an online conference that member states had again backed the “maximalist” negotiating mandate this week in discussions with Brussels’ chief negotiator. But he said the EU was open to → Read More

Boris Johnson accused of launching broken test-and-trace system before it was ready to distract from Dominic Cummings scandal

The Government has been accused of panic-launching its corovirus test-and-trace system before it was ready in order to distract from the Dominic Cummings scandal rocking the Conservative party. The new contact-tracing scheme suffered from major technical problems on Thursday, with staff unable to even log in for most of the day and many only notified the night before that it → Read More

UK trade union membership reversing historic decline thanks to women workers, official figures show

Britain's trade unions appear to be reversing their historic decline in membership, partly thanks to increasing numbers of women joining their ranks. New figures released by the business department on Wednesday show the number of workers who are member of trade unions rose by a net 91,000 in 2019, the third consecutive year in which the number of union members has grown after → Read More

Boris Johnson appears surprised to discover that many migrants can't get coronavirus help

Boris Johnson has said he will look at ways to help families at risk of destitution because they are not eligible for coronavirus help due to their immigration status. Over 100,000 families living legally in the UK are thought to be subject to a "no recourse to public funds" requirement - under which they can live in the UK but not access most benefits. → Read More

Government refusing to sign up to Brexit safeguards so it can change Human Rights Act, Gove admits

The UK is refusing to sign up to human rights safeguards demanded by the EU in exchange for a trade deal so the government has the option of changing the Human Rights Act, Michael Gove has said. The cabinet office minister told a parliamentary committee on Wednesday that the government might want to "enhance" legislation on human rights "in all sorts of ways". → Read More

Labour names political consultant David Evans as new general secretary

Labour has named political consultant David Evans as its new general secretary, in a major internal victory for leader Keir Starmer. Mr Evans, the first choice of Labour's new leader out of six potential candidates, replaces left-winger Jennie Formby, who resigned earlier this month. Sir Keir said Mr Evans, who served as assistant general secretary under Tony Blair until 2001, → Read More

Government could refund people fined for doing what Dominic Cummings did

The government took its campaign to exonerate Dominic Cummings to another level on Tuesday, after Matt Hancock suggested people fined for making similar journeys had been charged in error and could get a refund. Ministers have spent days insisting that Mr Cummings, who contradicted government advice by driving over 200 miles to his parents' estate in Durham at the height of → Read More

Up to half of government coronavirus home tests never returned, officials admit

Significant numbers of home-testing kits sent out under the government's Covid-19 programme are not being used, officials have admitted – throwing fresh doubt on the government's figures. The UK's testing tsar on Friday admitted that the number of kits being sent back was not as high as health authorities would like and said steps were being taken to increase the rate. → Read More

Government has ability to make end of rough sleeping permanent if it wants, MPs say

The government's decision to end rough sleeping during the coronavirus pandemic could be made permanent with the right financial commitment and strategy, a cross-party parliamentary committee has said. MPs on the housing and communities committee said it was "feasible" for the current situation to become "the new norm" if the government took the right action, with the progress → Read More

Constitutional experts warn against Jacob Rees-Mogg plan to make MPs travel to Westminster during pandemic

Ending the 'virtual parliament' brought in for the coronavirus pandemic will disadvantage some MPs and make it harder to scrutinise the government, constitutional experts have warned. A new report by academics at the respected Institute for Government says trying to return to "impossible normality" before the outbreak is over would unfairly penalise MPs who are shielding. → Read More

‘She had him eating out of her hand’: Key revelations from dossier on Boris Johnson’s relationship with Jennifer Arcuri

Boris Johnson won't face a criminal investigation into his dealing with US businesswoman Jennifer Arcuri, after a review by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) recommended against it. But the details of the 112-page dossier make interesting reading and shed some light on the prime minister's conduct while he was Mayor of London. They also may give a clue about → Read More

Boris Johnson's 'ventilator challenge' delivered just 4% increase in machines before coronavirus peak

Boris Johnson's "ventilator challenge" to British manufacturers failed to produce significant numbers of the devices in time for the peak of the pandemic, leaving the NHS with far fewer than ministers said was necessary. The prime minister launched his challenge to much fanfare in March, with Health Secretary Matt Hancock stating at the start of April that the NHS needed → Read More

Michel Barnier says UK has no ‘automatic entitlement’ to EU membership benefits as trade talks sour

Michel Barnier has raised the temperature in the row over deadlocked Brexit trade talks, warning that the UK has no "automatic entitlement" to trade with the EU on favourable terms. The European Commission's chief negotiator was hitting back after his UK counterpart David Frost yesterday claimed the bloc was making a sub-standard offer to Britain, which he said would lead to → Read More

Government admits there will be new trade checks between Britain and Northern Ireland, despite Boris Johnson promise

There will be new controls on goods between different parts of the UK under Boris Johnson's Brexit deal, the government has admitted. An action plan published on Wednesday says businesses will need to fill out export declarations for goods moving from Great Britain to Northern Ireland. Ministers have also admitted there will need to be extra border infrastructure in Northern → Read More

Call for cycling stats to be added to daily coronavirus transport figures

The government is being urged to add cycling to its daily round-up of coronavirus transport statistics in a bid to nudge people onto their bikes during the pandemic. The chief executive of Halfords, Britain's biggest bike retailer, has written to ministers asking for the stats to be included on the slides shown at the beginning of the daily press conference - which show other → Read More

Cheese, wine, and cars to get more expensive if Brexit talks fail but padlocks to get 2.7% cheaper

British consumers will face substantial price hikes for European goods like wine, cheese and cars at the end of the year under plans unveiled by the UK government, unless a trade agreement can be signed with the EU in time. Liz Truss, the trade secretary, announced on Tuesday the levels of tariffs the UK would apply to imported goods from countries without a free trade → Read More

UK government hasn't banned gay conversion therapy two years after pledge to end practice

The government has made no moves to ban gay conversion therapy in the UK – almost two years after pledging to "eradicate" it. In 2018, then-prime minister Theresa May's LGBT action plan said the government would bring forward proposals to "end the practice of conversion therapy" as a priority. But equalities minister Kemi Badenoch said this week ministers considered it "a very → Read More

Why a Brexit extension could break the deadlock

Both sides in Brexit talks agree on one thing: there’s been little progress on any of the hardest issues since trade talks began. The question of an extension to the transition period has inevitably raised its head: under Boris Johnson’s withdrawal agreement, any delay has to be agreed by the end of June at the latest. That’s now next month, but the UK insists it won’t ask → Read More

Specially trained ‘Covid detection dogs’ set to sniff out coronavirus

Specially-trained “Covid detection dogs” could soon be sniffing out coronavirus in infected people in the UK, if a trial by British researchers goes to plan. Canines’ acute sense of smell is already used to detect certain cancers and other diseases, and it is hoped that the animals can turn their noses to helping with the ongoing pandemic. → Read More