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  1. ITV Report

Boris Johnson heckled with demand to return to parliament as Brexit clock ticks

  • Video report by ITV News Political Correspondent Paul Brand

Prime Minister Boris Johnson was heckled over his decision to suspend Parliament as he gave a speech on handing power to northern leaders in Rotherham.

As he laid out his commitment to the Northern Powerhouse, a member of the audience shouted: "Why are you not with them in parliament sorting out the mess you have created?"

As some in the crowd booed the heckler, Mr Johnson attempted to carry on with his speech, but was repeatedly interrupted before the man shouting was removed from the room.

The PM went on to say mayors in the north of England should have more powers, including over railways.

"This is not about central government abdicating responsibility, but local leaders have a real power to change local issues," he said as he promised to "do devolution properly".

Asked if he is worried about what David Cameron may write about him in his upcoming memoir, after he called the former PM "a girly swot", he told ITV News Political Correspondent Paul Brand: "Absolutely nothing that David Cameron says in his memoirs will diminish the affection and respect in which I hold him."

Prime Minister to have first sit-down with European Commission President

The speech comes as Downing Street said Mr Johnson will meet European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on Monday, their first meeting since he became Prime Minister.

Mr Johnson will travel to Luxembourg for what has been described as a "working lunch".

A spokesperson for the European Commission said she "was not going to speculate" what Mr Juncker plans to achieve in the talks.

Downing Street also played down the prospect of an imminent breakthrough, insisting there was still "a long way to go".

The announcement of the meeting came as Ireland's leader said the "gap is very wide" between the United Kingdom and the EU in reaching a Brexit deal.

Leo Vardkar has hit out at the UK's Brexit stance ahead of the PM meeting Juncker. Credit: PA

Speaking on Friday morning, the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said: "We have always said we would be willing to look at alternative arrangements but what we're seeing falls far short.

"We are exploring what is possible. The gap is very wide but we will fight for and work for a deal until the last moment, but not at any cost."

Mr Varadkar added that he felt Prime Minister Boris Johnson is acting in good faith in the Brexit negotiations.

During an earlier trip to Doncaster market, Mr Johnson purchased a cob loaf, some scones and English plums, joking with a lobster-seller: "We've got to take a few claws out of that Withdrawal Agreement."

Mr Johnson also told one shoe-seller: "We're going to get a deal. That's the plan, anyway. And if we don't, we're coming out on October 31.

"That's what we're going to do. Here we go, that's democracy."

The Prime Minister did not react as one man was heard telling him: "Find a deal here - this is Doncaster, not Europe."

As one local told Mr Johnson "don't let us down", he responded: "We'll get you out, we'll get us out."

PM promises regional devolvement of transport issues

During his Rotherham speech, Mr Johnson said his experience of running London Underground as mayor of the capital showed services run by local politicians run better than from Whitehall.

He said: "So today I'm announcing my intention to give the railways of the North back to the people of the North, back to the places where they were born - back to Stockton and to Darlington, back to Liverpool and Manchester.

"It is local leadership. Trusting people to take back control and run things in the way they want to.

"Only local champions can really make the difference for their towns and their communities.

"It's time for the North to run its own trains."

DUP dismisses speculation over Northern Ireland only backstop

Arlene Foster has denied rumours of moving its red lines on Brexit. Credit: PA

The comments come as the leader of the Democratic Unionist Party dismissed reports it will offer Prime Minister Boris Johnson the keys to a Brexit deal.

It had been claimed the party, which supports the government with a supply and confidence relationship, was willing to move its red lines on Brexit to back a Northern Ireland only trade deal.

But party leader Arlene Foster said any moves which did make Northern Ireland different from the rest of the UK would be unacceptable to the party.

She insisted the United Kingdom "must leave as one nation".

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