Boris Johnson has been accused of an “empty promise” after urging the G7 to get the world’s poorest children into school – despite slashing aid funding for education by 40 per cent.
The prime minister came under fire after he said it was “a source of international shame” that youngsters “bursting with potential” are denied lessons, simply because they are girls or deprived.
He announced £430m for the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) and urged fellow world leaders to match the UK’s commitment to “get more girls into the classroom”.
But aid groups protested that the cash was all but cancelled out by the UK swiping around £390m of funding for improving education over two years – part of £4bn-a-year overall aid cuts.
Rose Caldwell, chief executive of Plan International UK, said: “Covid-19 has created the biggest education emergency of our lifetime. Yet this pledge follows shameful cuts to overseas aid.
“The reality is that, without adequate funding, today’s targets and the flagship Girls’ Education Declaration will be nothing but empty promises.”
This evening, the Queen, the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are at the Eden Project for a reception with the G7 leaders.
We’re wrapping up our coverage of the G7 summit for today.
Join us again in the morning for all the latest updates from Cornwall.
Good night and thanks for reading.
Hello and welcome to The Independent’s rolling coverage as the G7 summit gets underway in Carbis Bay, Cornwall.
Macron attacks UK’s failure to implement Brexit deal ahead of G7 showdown
Emmanuel Macron has launched an angry attack on the UK’s failure to implement the Brexit deal for Northern Ireland, branding the PM’s attempt to reopen the legal protocol governing trade across the Irish Sea as “not serious”, saying: “Nothing is renegotiable.”
The attack – ahead of a face-to-face meeting with Mr Johnson in Cornwall – came after the US issued the UK with an extraordinary diplomatic rebuke for putting the Northern Ireland peace process in jeopardy.
Joe Biden’s top diplomat in London warned David Frost, the Brexit minister, that the government is “inflaming” tensions by refusing to introduce checks at ports, revealed in a memo which No 10 did not deny.
Our deputy political editor Rob Merrick reports:
PM hails ‘indestructible relationship’ between US and UK
Boris Johnson has hailed the alliance between the US and the UK as the “indestructible relationship”.
In an interview with the BBC Mr Johnson said he and Joe Biden were enjoying “terrific” talks at the G7 summit, which begins later with vaccines and climate change on the agenda.
Mr Johnson insisted the US president had not rebuked him over post-Brexit tensions in Northern Ireland. However, Mr Biden is said to have “deep concern” over the situation.
The two men met in Carbis Bay, Cornwall on Thursday ahead of the start of the G7 summit, which will see the leaders of Canada, the EU, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the US and UK gathering in person for the first time since the pandemic.
Speaking to the BBC’s political editor Laura Kuenssberg, Mr Johnson said the UK and US shared a belief in human rights, the rules-based international order and the transatlantic alliance.
He said he thought of the association as “an indestructible relationship” or the “deep and meaningful relationship”.
“It’s a relationship that has endured for a very long time, and has been an important part of peace and prosperity both in Europe and around the world,” he said.
Biden ‘engaged’ in case of Harry Dunn, Johnson claims
Joe Biden is “actively engaged” and “extremely sympathetic” in the case of teenage motorcyclist Harry Dunn, Boris Johnson has said.
The leaders of the US and UK discussed the 19-year-old, who was killed when a car crashed into his motorbike outside a military base in Northamptonshire, ahead of the G7 summit of world leaders in Cornwall.
The death, in August 2019, sparked an international controversy after Anne Sacoolas had diplomatic immunity asserted on her behalf. She has since been charged with causing the death of the teenager by dangerous driving.
Mr Johnson was asked if there had been any progress made on the case following his discussion with his American counterpart and said he understood there were “limits” to what Mr Biden could do.
“You should really – when you get the chance – put your question to the president because he is actively engaged in the case,” the PM said in an interview with the BBC.
“As you know, he has his own personal reasons for feeling very deeply about the issue. And he was extremely sympathetic, but this is not something that either government can control very easily because there are legal processes that are still going on.”
The Dunn family said they were pleased to see the case raised at the “first available opportunity”.
Nandy tells Johnson he ‘absolutely must deliver’ global vaccine aid
Shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy said this morning there was a moral, economic and health case for Britain to help vaccinate the world against coronavirus.
She told BBC Breakfast on Friday that Boris Johnson’s pledge ahead of the G7 summit to donate at least 100 million surplus vaccine doses to some of the world’s poorest countries was a “welcome agreement” but there needed to be a plan not just an ambition.
“What we need over the next 48 hours is not just ambitions to get the world vaccinated but an actual plan,” she said. “That would be in Britain’s interest as well, the International Monetary Fund says that this would represent the biggest return on investment in modern history for wealthier countries because of the economic fallout if we don’t deal with this.”
She added that the “the prime minister absolutely has to deliver this”.
Dunn family keen to met Biden and say justice ‘has to be done’
The mother of Harry Dunn has said his family would welcome the opportunity to meet US president Joe Biden, after remarks made by Boris Johnson this morning (see my post from 8.03am).
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Charlotte Charles, whose 19-year-old son died in Northamptonshire in 2019, was asked if she was hoping to meet Mr Biden.
“I certainly wouldn’t say no. The last time we had a meeting with a president of the United States, Mr Trump, clearly it didn’t go well,” she said.
“We had a pretty nasty trick played on us that has left some quite deep emotional scars to be honest. It was one horrific day. So absolutely, we would very much welcome a meeting with President Biden, considering he has got personal experience of what we are going through.”
Probed about whether a civil claim lodged in the US could represent justice for Harry, if the US continues to assert suspect Anne Sacoolas’ diplomatic immunity, Mrs Charles told Today: “No. Justice means standing up and accepting accountability for your actions. The civil claim is extremely separate to the criminal case. So justice still needs to be done here in the UK. That’s always been my goal – that isn’t going to change.”
“She needs to face UK jurisdiction, it has to be done,” Mrs Charles added.
Johnson defends UK’s international Covid vaccine bid
Boris Johnson has defended his approach to tackling the global pandemic as the UK offered at least 100 million surplus vaccine doses to some of the world’s poorest countries.
The PM made the pledge as leaders of some of the richest democracies on the planet gathered in Cornwall, with the group of seven leading industrialised nations expected to collectively agree to provide a billion doses of Covid-19 vaccine in an effort to end the pandemic in 2022.
Mr Biden has already promised to donate half a billion Pfizer vaccines for 92 low and lower-middle income countries and the African Union. Under Mr Johnson’s plan, the UK will provide five million doses by the end of September, with 25 million more by the end of 2021.
Mr Johnson told the BBC: “I think that the people of this country should be very proud that of the 1.5 billion doses that are being distributed around the world to the poorest and neediest in the world under the Covax programme, one in three come from the Oxford/AstraZeneca deal that the UK did, allowing those vaccines to be distributed at cost.”
The G7 as a whole was offering a “colossal sum of vaccines”, he said.
Have your questions answered live about G7’s impact on Cornwall
Join The Independent’s Colin Drury, who has been reporting on the G7 summit live from Carbis Bay and St Ives, and will this afternoon answer your questions about how the town is responding to being at the centre of the summit.
He will be joined on the phone by Oliver Baines, a Cornwall organic farmer and Extinction Rebellion co-ordinator who will be stewarding protestors through St Ives as your questions come in.
All you need to do is put your questions in the comments section of the below article, and we’ll answer as many as we can from 3pm.
Register here (and remember to submit your question by 1pm on Friday):
PM criticises EU over ‘burdensome’ post-Brexit trade rift
Britain has suggested the EU is taking an “excessively burdensome” approach to post-Brexit trading arrangements for Northern Ireland.
Boris Johnson insisted he was not trying to back out of the agreement but that the UK’s “internal market” had to be respected.
It comes after the EU threatened to launch a trade war against the UK if it fails to implement checks on goods entering Northern Ireland under the terms of the Brexit “divorce” settlement which Mr Johnson signed, and which included the so-called Northern Ireland Protocol.
The prospect of a “sausage war” trade dispute came after Brexit minister Lord Frost refused to rule out the possibility that the UK could unilaterally delay imposing checks on British-made chilled meats which are due to come into force at the end of the month.
The Protocol effectively keeps Northern Ireland in the European single market in order to avoid a hard border with Ireland, meaning a trade barrier in the Irish Sea for goods crossing from Great Britain.
Joe Biden, who has Irish ancestry, is taking a close interest in the dispute and has warned against anything that could destabilise the arrangements put in place by the Good Friday Agreement. The White House has already indicated Mr Biden has deep concerns about the situation.