Sign honouring former Prime Minister Harold Wilson’s birthplace put up in wrong village

A sign dedicated to former Prime Minister Harold Wilson was erected in the wrong village.

Highways chiefs put up the road sign stating his correct birthplace as the Huddersfield suburb of Cowlersley in Yorkshire.

But a mix-up saw it erected in the neighbouring village of Linthwaite by mistake.

The mistake was pointed by a local resident who posted a picture of the sign on Facebook alongside the caption: “Our new sign in LINTHWAITE near the church.”

‘Embarrassing mistake’

Our new sign in LINTHWAITE near the church 🤡🤡

Posted by Christine Charlesworth on Sunday, September 8, 2019

According to people in the village of Linthwaite the sign has since been discreetly removed.

Former councillor Donna Bellamy described the error as an “embarrassing mistake” by the local authority.

“I would hope it’s the council that has taken it down and not some random member of the public,” she told Examiner Live.

“And if it reappears I would hope it’s several hundred yards further down the road – so that it’s actually in Cowlersley, not in Linthwaite.

“The fact that Linthwaite Church is across the road was a clue. This is just basic knowledge.”

Wilson’s birthplace

Mr Wilson served as Prime Minister from 1964 to 1970 and 1974 to 1976 (Photo: Getty)

Mr Wilson was born in a terraced house on Warneford Road in Cowlersley in 1916.

He became leader of the Labour Party in 1963 and served as Prime Minister from 1964 to 1970 and 1974 to 1976.

The sign, which stated “Welcome to Cowlersley” with a sub-heading “Birthplace of Harold Wilson”, was spotted on Gilroyd Lane close to Linthwaite Church – around one mile away from his birthplace.

During his time as Prime Minister Wilson oversaw the creation of the Open University, the modernisation of GP surgeries through the 1966 Doctors Charter, ending capital punishment, and the legalisation of homosexuality and abortion.

After his death in 1995 he was honoured with a statue in Huddersfield which was unveiled by then Prime Minister Tony Blair in July 1999.

i has contacted Kirklees Council for comment.

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Number of homeless households in England reaches highest level for 10 years

The number of households considered to be homeless in England has reached its highest level for over a decade.

Figures revealed by the government show a total of 84,740 households are currently living in bed and breakfasts, hostels and other temporary accommodation.

A total of 126,020 children are living in “homeless households”, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) said.

It is the highest number of households in temporary accommodation since mid-2007.

Huge rise

The figure has jumped by more than three-quarters this decade, with the latest statistics showing a 76.5 per cent rise on the low of 48,010 at the end of 2010.

The figures also show that London continues to have a disproportionately high number of households in temporary accommodation, with 66 per cent of the total for the whole of England.

The capital had 56,280 households living in temporary accommodation at the end of March, including 88,080 children.

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By contrast, the North East had the fewest households at 330, while there were 960 in Yorkshire and the Humber, according to the figures.

The statistics, while provisional, complete the first full year’s worth of data since the Homelessness Reduction Act (HRA) came into force in April 2018.

The Act created new legal duties for local authorities and public services in England to support those at risk of becoming homeless.

Since then, 58,290 households were classed as prevented from becoming homeless by securing accommodation for more than six months, according to the data.

The current level is the highest number of households in temporary accommodation since mid-2007. (Getty)

‘Dangerous conditions’

Jon Sparkes, chief executive of homelessness charity Crisis, said: “Everyone has the right to a decent home and it’s great to see the success the HRA has had in its first year, preventing just under 60,000 households becoming homeless in England.

“Despite this over 7,000 households are currently in B&Bs, unable to access safe and secure accommodation.

“Our clients tell us of damaged, and even dangerous conditions, where they lack basic cooking and laundry facilities, and face the constant pressure of eviction at short notice. No-one should have to live like this.”

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The Government recently announced £422m will be spent tackling homelessness and rough sleeping next year, with funding up by £54m in 2020-2021, which represents a 13 per cent real terms increase in funding compared with 2019-20.

Minister for Homelessness Luke Hall said: “The Homelessness Reduction Act is the most ambitious change to homelessness legislation in decades.

“Today’s figures show that progress is being made. The Act is helping people earlier so they are not having to experience homelessness in the first place.

“There is still more to do though, which is why we have committed a record investment to ending homelessness and rough sleeping for good.

“This vital funding will ensure progress continues to be made, with people given the help they need to turn their lives around.”

Additional reporting from the Press Association

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Charlotte Church faces investigation after opening school in her home ‘without permission’

Charlotte Church is facing an investigation over claims she is running an “illegal” school at her Welsh home.

Earlier this week, the singer announced she has applied for planning permission to create classrooms at her house in Dinas Powys.

Ms Church, 33, said she wanted to “liberate” as many as 20 children by teaching them music.

But according to The Sun, Vale of Glamorgan Council said neighbours claim she is already teaching there.

Official investigation launched

Ms Church denies the claims, but the council said it has now launched an official investigation.

Cllr Eddie Williams, Vale of Glamorgan Council cabinet member for legal, regulatory and planning services, told i: “The Council is currently considering an application for a change of use relating to a building at this address.

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“We have also launched an enforcement investigation after receiving a number of complaints suggesting the use has started prior to planning permission. We will decide whether any formal action is necessary in due course.”

Ms Church hit back at claims she was teaching “illegally” by stating that a part-time home-schooling group is currently using her annex for less than 12.5 hours per week.

The singer added that the classes had been approved by Welsh school inspectorate Estyn and the Welsh Government.

“As far as I’m concerned I’m not aware of any breach of planning,” Ms Church said.

“If the council want to look at what we’re doing we will welcome them with open arms.

“If there are any problems we will be completely compliant. This is a charity venture.”

The council confirmed they have now launched an investigation over the school. (Getty)

‘Mainstream is struggling’

Ms Church, a longtime advocate of homeschooling, said this week that she decided to set up the school in response to “underfunded” state schools.

She home schools her two children Ruby and Dexter and said they would attend the school if it gets the go-ahead.

She said: “Since I’ve had kids, I have become much more interested in education and child development.

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“It became apparent that mainstream is struggling with underfunding and overcrowding – teachers are incredibly tested.

“It’s not their fault the way things are – the system is not working.”

The rules of the new school, as well as how lessons would be taught and what food would be on offer would all have input from the pupils.

Pupils would study for qualifications but there would be “lots of creative freedom”, added Ms Church.

The idea is part of The Awen Project which she set up and hopes will eventually grow into a charity to set up other independent schools.

If the plans are passed it would be the first school of its kind in Wales.

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Mum hits out at school for making her daughter ‘feel fat’ by punishing her for school uniform trousers which ‘didn’t fit right’

A single mum has hit out at a school in Devon for repeatedly giving her daughter detention because the trousers they issued her “didn’t fit her right”.

Lisa Daw said her 16-year-old daughter Beth was told off for wearing the “wrong trousers” when she turned up for the first day of term at Queen Elizabeth School in Crediton.

According to Ms Daw, however, Beth had been wearing the correct type of trousers because teachers had forced her to buy them from the school’s own clothing supplier the year before.

The school reportedly claimed the trousers were “too tight”, and on Tuesday took Beth out of class to march her back to the shop the trousers came from.

‘It’s just her shape’

Queen Elizabeth School in Crediton reportedly gave Beth several detentions. (Google)
Teachers at Queen Elizabeth School in Crediton reportedly gave Beth several detentions (Photo: Google Maps)

A shop worker was said to have told the teaching assistant who escorted Beth to the store: “She’s wearing the right ones, it’s just her just her shape,” the Plymouth Herald reported. 

Beth was then allowed to return to class but when she arrived back at school a teacher allegedly told her: “They are the right material, but they don’t fit you right.”

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Despite meeting with the headteacher, however, Ms Daw was told that Beth would continue to receive detentions until her trousers were changed.

Ms Daw says that because she lives on benefits she has no extra money to pay for the trousers to be replaced.

She also said the incident had made Beth self-conscious about her body.

“She’s being made to feel fat and she’s not,” Ms Daw told i on Wednesday. “In this day and age teenagers are all body conscious.

“My daughter has been saying she’s fat. She’s a size 10/12, so she’s not fat.

“I want my daughter to be proud of her shape, I can’t do anything about her thighs.”

Strict uniform rules

Lisa Daw met with the headteacher to try and resolve the issue, but was told her daughter would keep receiving detentions until the trousers were changed (Photo: Supplied)

Ms Daw has urged the school to change their uniform policy and claimed hundreds of children had fallen foul of the rules since returning from the summer holidays.

“There are lots of parents who have to go and buy mens trousers for their kids because they can’t get them in the size,” she added.

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Ms Daw said she believes the school is now punishing Beth “for her parents’ misfortune” since she can’t afford to replace the trousers.

“I’ve always tried to abide by the uniform policy,” she continued. “It doesn’t matter what hurdles you jump, it just seems there’s always going to be something wrong.”

“She’s not embarrassed about her shape. She’s got wider thighs. She has had a lot of positive feedback from people she doesn’t even know.

“But we haven’t had an apology from school.”

i has contacted Queen Elizabeth School for comment.

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Climate strikes: Young people around the world set to march for urgent action on global warming

Students across the globe are set to stage another series of walkouts as part of a worldwide protest on climate change.

The so-called “Global Climate Strike” will take place later this month starting on Friday 20 September and is expected to involve thousands of people in full-time education.

In March this year, an estimated 1.4 million pupils in around 2,000 cities worldwide staged walkouts to urge world leaders to take urgent action to stop global warming.

And it is hoped this year’s events will draw an even bigger following.

The Trades Union Congress (TUC) has called for millions of workers to stop work for half an hour in a show of solidarity, while Amnesty International asked headteachers worldwide to allow their students to march.

When is the Global Climate Strike?

Thousands of protesters marching through London back in April. (Getty)

Strikes are due to take place for seven days beginning on 20 September in several cities including London, Manchester, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Cardiff, and Leeds.

There will also be smaller protests taking place across the UK, mainly in universities and schools.

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However, activists have called on adults to join the movement by calling a halt to work for 30 minutes or more.

Teenage activist Greta Thunberg wrote in The Guardian: “Starting on Friday 20 September we will kickstart a week of climate action with a worldwide strike for the climate.

“We’re asking adults to step up alongside us,” she added.

“There are many different plans under way in different parts of the world for adults to join together and step up and out of your comfort zone for our climate.”

This month’s event comes days before world leaders meet in New York to discuss the climate crisis, and organisers said it was essential that adults join students on the streets to send an unequivocal message.

What do strikers want?

The protests have been called for and inspired by teenage activist Greta Thunberg. (Getty)

Scientists believe the world is currently heading for more than 3C of warming, though the Paris Agreement commits them to curb temperatures to 1.5C or 2C above pre-industrial levels in order to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

Activists say more needs to be done by governments around the world to halt the rising temperatures.

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The strikers are demanding their governments recognise the severity of the unfolding crisis and take appropriate action.

All the opposition parties in Westminster have backed the strikes after Green MP, Caroline Lucas, tabled an early day motion in the Commons.

Among those to support the motion were Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, and the leaders of the Scottish National party, Plaid Cymru and Liberal Democrats.

The meeting is the most important round of UN talks since the global Paris Agreement to tackle climate change was secured in two weeks of negotiations in the French capital in 2015.

News that the UK had won formal international backing to host the “Cop26” meeting has been welcomed by campaigners, who urged the Government to take a lead in cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

Next year’s talks mark the full adoption of the Paris Agreement and the date by which countries are expected to come forward with stronger emissions cuts to meet the goals of the deal.

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Record-breaking number of migrants attempt to cross the English Channel in a single day

A record-breaking number of migrants were intercepted by Border Force while attempting to cross the English Channel on Tuesday, the Home Office has revealed.

Some 86 men, women and children attempted the journey in small boats, with some managing to land on beaches before being detained.

It is thought to be the most intercepted by UK authorities alone on a single day so far and comes amid warnings over the closure of a French migrant camp.

A charity has criticised the imminent closure of a gym in Dunkirk where up to 1,000 migrants are living and said it is likely to prompt even more crossing attempts.

Several crossing attempts

Several ships from the Royal Navy on patrol in the English Channel. (Getty)
  • Early on Tuesday, two small vessels carrying a total of 23 people were intercepted by a Border Force cutter before being taken to immigration officials for questioning. They were Iranians, Afghans, Pakistanis and Filipinos, the Home Office said.
  • At about midday, a boat carrying 18 people near Dungeness, Kent, was taken to Dover by the Border Force, with 14 presenting themselves as Iranian, three as Iraqis, and one as Vietnamese.
  • Around the same time, a boat carrying 23 people was also intercepted in the Channel, with those on board saying they were both Iranian and Ethiopian, the department added.
  • Two separate groups, who said they were from Iran, Iraq and Turkey, made it to beaches in East Sussex without being detected at sea, but were later detained and transferred to immigration officials.

Refugee charity Care4Calais expects French authorities to conduct forced evictions at Dunkirk and Calais this week, with hundreds of migrants displaced as a result.

Founder Clare Moseley said the charity has been told the gym is to be closed following a failed court appeal and she expects this to lead to rise in attempts to cross the Channel to the UK. Many of those living at the Espace Jeunes du Moulin gym are families with young children, some of whom have fled the Islamic State conflict in Iraq.

She said: “There has been a bit of uncertainty as to when it’s going ahead. The latest we have heard is it’s likely to be Thursday. We think the Calais one is probably going to be tomorrow.”

‘Dangerous and illegal activity’

Home Secretary Priti Patel has pledged urgent action to deal with the increased number of crossings. (Getty)

Mrs Moseley said the French government will offer evicted migrants alternative accommodation, but predicts a significant number will return to the coast based on previous instances.

Asked if the closure of the gym will lead to an increase in attempted crossings, Mrs Moseley said: “Absolutely, yes. It’s not that they are not trying to cross now, because they are, but it can only make it worse. At the end of the day they are trying to get their families to safety.”

Last month, Home Secretary Priti Patel said urgent action was needed to put a stop to the wave of crossings, after she met French interior minister Christophe Castaner in Paris.

A plan drawn up in January included a £6 million investment in security equipment, CCTV coverage of beaches and ports and a mutual commitment to return migrants under international and domestic laws, the department said, but the number of migrants taken in by UK authorities so far this year is thought to have already passed 1,000.

A Home Office spokesman said: “We are working closely at all levels with the French authorities to tackle this dangerous and illegal activity.”

Additional reporting from the Press Association

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Israel PM Benjamin Netanyahu vows to annex large parts of the occupied West Bank

Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has promised to begin annexing West Bank settlements if he is victorious at the country’s upcoming elections.

Mr Netanyahu made the controversial pledge on Tuesday just a week before Israel heads to the polls.

The move represents an apparent attempt to shore up support from hard-line nationalist voters, with the election expected to be closely fought.

Mr Netanyahu is locked in a tight race and has turned to a series of dramatic announcements in recent days as part of a frantic effort to mobilise his supporters.

Contested territory

Mr Netanyahu argued that Israel must lay out its vision as US President Donald Trump prepares to unveil his Mideast peace plan.

Annexing settlements would likely spell the end of any lingering hopes of establishing a Palestinian state alongside Israel.

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Mr Netanyahu made no mention of what he would do with the territory’s more than two million Palestinian residents.

Later, rocket fire interrupted a Likud party campaign rally where Mr Netanyahu was speaking in the southern city of Ashdod.

The Israeli military said it intercepted two rockets launched from the Gaza Strip.

After being taken away by security guards, Mr Netanyahu returned minutes later and continued addressing the crowd.

Mr Netanyahu’s announcement was denounced by world leaders.

The Prime Minister point to a map showing which parts of the West Bank are set to be annexed. (Getty)

International outrage

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat labelled the move “manifestly illegal” and added that annexation could be considered a “war crime” that would “bury any chance of peace”.

Stephane Dujarric, a United Nations spokesman, said the organisation maintains that any Israeli move to impose its administration over the Palestinian territory “would be devastating to the potential of reviving negotiations, regional peace and the very essence of a two-state solution”.

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The Arab League also condemned his remarks as “a serious development and an Israeli aggression” that, if carried out, amount to “an Israeli declaration for the end of the peace process”.

Jordan’s foreign minister, Ayman Safadi, said in a statement that annexation of Israel’s West Bank settlements would fan the flames of conflict around the region.

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas said all agreements with Israel will be cancelled if Mr Netanyahu presses forward with his plan.

“We have the right to defend our rights and achieve our goals by all available means, whatever the results, as Netanyahu’s decisions contradict the resolutions of international legitimacy and international law,” he said.

Israel has maintained a presence in the West Bank since 1967 but has stopped short of annexation.

Palestine has claimed the entire area for a future independent state but Mr Netanyahu previously insisted Israel would always have a military presence there.

Despite international condemnation Israel has built about 140 settlements in the West Bank and in East Jerusalem which are considered illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this.

Additional reporting from the Press Association

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Britain’s biggest bus firms vow to switch to ultra-low or zero-emission vehicles from 2025

The UK’s largest bus operators have committed to only buying ultra-low or zero-emission vehicles from 2025 onwards.

The Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT), which represents Arriva, FirstGroup, Go Ahead, National Express and Stagecoach among others, hopes the move will boost the popularity of bus travel across Britain.

The CPT said over the coming years it also hoped to introduce lower fares for jobseekers and apprentices, smart ticketing and innovative, sustainable solutions for rural areas.

Graham Vidler, the CPT chief executive, told The Guardian: “Buses are already the cleanest form of road transport and have a crucial role to play in tackling environmental issues and helping to meet important targets on improving air quality and reducing carbon emissions.

Most popular form of transport

“With the right support from government to make the transition, the bus industry will buy only ultra-low or zero-emission buses by 2025, reducing CO2 emissions by 500,000 tonnes a year.”

Bus travel is currently the most popular form of public transport even though passenger numbers have waned in recent years because of fewer services and higher fares.

On average, more than 2 million people a day travel to work by bus, and 1 million more to school or college.

The CPT has now called on the government to increase spending on bus travel to help fight climate change.

It aims to increase passenger numbers from their current rate of 4.4 billion per year to 5.4 billion by 2030.

Mr Vidler added: “If everyone switched just one car journey a month to bus, there would be 1bn fewer car journeys and a saving of 2m tonnes of CO2 a year.”

Rural bus services have been scaled back in recent years due to budget cuts. (Getty)

Rural communities at risk

Public transport campaigners last year warned that “buses are in crisis” after analysis showed journeys had hit a 12-year low.

Department for Transport figures showed 1.2 billion local bus journeys were made between April and June 2018 in Britain.

That figure represented a 10% decrease since the peak of 1.33 billion between July and September 2008.

Nearly half of all bus routes in England receive partial or complete subsidies from councils.

But budgetary constraints mean councils are spending less on discretionary items such as free peak travel, post-school transport and supported rural services.

Particularly at risk are rural networks which have been severely impacted by falling passenger numbers. Around 134 million miles of network coverage were said to have been lost over the past decade alone.

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School threatens girl, 13, with isolation for wearing the ‘wrong style’ trousers

The mother of a 13-year-old girl has hit out at a school after her daughter was allegedly threatened with isolation for wearing the “wrong style” of trousers.

Holly Valentine’s daughter Bria fell foul of new uniform rules at Tanbridge House School in West Sussex.

Ms Valentine said staff at the school told her daughter that there were strict new rules which governed “how tight” pupils’ trousers should be.

She said staff had threatened to punish Bria if she didn’t change her school trousers and slammed them for being “old fashioned”.

‘Very, very, conservative’

“Children have enough pressure at school. I’m completely fed up with it,” she said.

“[Staff at the school] were particular about how short the trousers could be, how tight the trousers could be.

“They’re not living in the 21st century. It’s old fashioned. Very, very conservative. They have gone backwards,” Holly added.

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Holly said she felt the new rules were “adding pressure” to Bria’s school experience and said the new laws were damaging her confidence.

“Girls feel a lot of pressure about how they should look. It’s hard for them,” she added.

“[The uniform restrictions are] making them feel not very good about themselves.”

“They all have a lot of pressure when they get to secondary school. They should be concentrating on their classes.

“I feel like this new added pressure has made it a lot harder for children to be able to get on and enjoy school.”

Bria Valentine, 13, was reportedly threatened with isolation. (Handout)
Bria Valentine, 13, was reportedly threatened with isolation. (Handout)

‘Added pressure’

Holly has since called for the new rules on uniform to be relaxed, arguing the establishment should be more worried about education than appearance.

But Tanbridge House said parents had been invited to raise concerns over the policy since April this year.

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Headteacher of Tanbridge House School, Jules White, said: “We are very proud of the smart appearance of all our students.

“If any parent has a concern they are most welcome to contact their child’s leader of year to discuss it.

“The opportunity to liaise with our school on this matter has been available since April 2019.

“Tanbridge House has the highest standards of care, behaviour and academic performance and that’s why we had over 440 first choice preference for 300 places in year seven.”

The original source of this story is our sister title West Sussex County Times

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BA strike: British Airways cancels ‘nearly 100% of flights’ as pilots stage historic walkout

British Airways has been forced to cancel “nearly 100 per cent” of its flights after the airline’s pilots launched a 48-hour strike.

Members of the British Airline Pilots Association (Balpa) are taking their first ever industrial action against BA, grounding thousands of flights in a dispute over pay.

Almost all the airline’s 1,700 flights to and from Heathrow and Gatwick on Monday and Tuesday have been disrupted, leaving around 200,000 passengers stranded.

The airline has spent weeks offering refunds to passengers or the option to re-book to another date of travel or an alternative airline.

BA has offered a pay rise of 11.5 per cent over three years but Balpa says its members wanted a bigger share of the company’s profits.

‘Frustration and disruption’

The strike is said to be costing BA £40 million per day
The strike is said to be costing BA £40 million per day. (Getty)

BA said in a statement: “We understand the frustration and disruption Balpa’s strike action has caused our customers. After many months of trying to resolve the pay dispute, we are extremely sorry that it has come to this.

“We remain ready and willing to return to talks with Balpa. Unfortunately, with no detail from Balpa on which pilots would strike, we had no way of predicting how many would come to work or which aircraft they are qualified to fly, so we had no option but to cancel nearly 100 per cent of our flights.”

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The airline operates up to 850 flights a day, with most expected to be cancelled, affecting up to 145,000 passengers. Heathrow airport will be worst affected as it is the busiest hub for BA.

Both sides have said they want to resume talks, but there is little or no sign of the deadlock being broken.

Balpa general secretary Brian Strutton said: “British Airways needs to wake up and realise its pilots are determined to be heard. They’ve previously taken big pay cuts to help the company through hard times. Now BA is making billions of pounds of profit, its pilots have made a fair, reasonable and affordable claim for pay and benefits.

“Balpa has consistently offered up chances for the company to negotiate a way forward. British Airways must now put the needs of its staff and passengers first and accept that its pilots will not be bullied or fobbed off.

“The company’s leaders, who themselves are paid huge salaries and have generous benefits packages, won’t listen, are refusing to negotiate and are putting profits before the needs of passengers and staff. This strike will have cost the company considerably more than the investment needed to settle this dispute. It is time to get back to the negotiating table and put together a serious offer that will end this dispute.”

Thousands of flights from Heathrow and Gatwick were cancelled. (Getty)

£40 million per day

Balpa said the strike will cost BA £40 million per day, claiming the dispute could be settled for £5 million. BA said its offer would take the pay of some captains to more than £200,000.

BA chief executive Alex Cruz apologised to passengers for the disruption and insisted the airline had worked tirelessly to contact everyone affected by the strike to offer alternative arrangements.

He said: “I’m really sorry for the position the cynical actions the pilots’ union has put us in. It’s by all accounts an own-goal for the union.

“It’s going to punish customers, it’s going to punish our brand, it’s going to punish the rest of our colleagues – over 90 per cent (of BA colleagues) have already accepted the 11.5% deal. It will also punish the pilots that want to come to work every day to make it the best airline in the world.”

BA said 195,000 customers will be hit by the two-day strike action. For the first strike period of 9/10 September, the strike has led to more than 1,700 flights being cancelled.

BA Cityflyer flights are not affected by the dispute. The airline said that since Balpa issued the strike dates it has tripled the number of staff supporting customer contact teams.

Since 23 August, when the strike dates were announced, BA said its expanded customer relations teams have received 111,000 tweets and 394,000 calls as they worked to help customers make alternative arrangements including refunds, rebooking, and working with more than 50 other airlines to take their passengers.

Additional reporting from the Press Association

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GPs urge government to ban children from going to school until they get the MMR jab

Senior GPs are urging the government to make the MMR jab compulsory for children before they begin primary school.

A group of leading doctors have penned a letter to health secretary Matt Hancock and education secretary Gavin Williamson, in which they say the move is essential to stop the resurgence of measles and mumps.

The practicioners recommend asking parents to prove their four or five-year-old children have had their two recommended doses of the vaccine before they are allowed to attend school.

Exceptions would only be made for parents who registered a conscientious objection to the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine or for children where the jab could pose a health risk.

‘Complacency’ over vaccination

Vials containing the MMR – measles,
mumps and rubella -vaccine (Getty Images)

“There seems to be a complacency about getting children vaccinated,” the doctors say in the letter, seen by i.

“To achieve herd immunity we need a community approach.

“Parents [and] guardians need to recognise that vaccination saves lives. Health professionals across the board need to make every contact count to encourage vaccination. Schools need to check that all their pupils have been vaccinated.

“In other countries, certificates of vaccination are required prior to school entry. Here in the UK we could mandate that all children need to be vaccinated by a health professional, allowing for exemptions for either conscientious objection or medical contraindication.

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“There is a precedent in the UK. Vaccination against smallpox was made compulsory for all children born after 1853 and today doctors need to show evidence of vaccination or immunity from various illnesses so we do not put patients at risk,” they say.

Sir Sam Everington, the chair of all 32 of London’s NHS clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), was among the four doctors to sign the letter.

He helped advise former health secretary Jeremy Hunt and was acting chair of the British Medical Association.

Other signatories included Dr Mohini Parmar, Dr Andrew Parson and Dr Josephine Sauvage, who also hold senior roles within the NHS.

Education secretary Gavin Williamson and health secretary Matt Hancock were sent the letter. (Getty)

Increase in measles cases

It comes as the proportion of five-year-olds in England receiving both doses has fallen in recent years to 87.2 per cent, below the 95 per cent the World Health Organization guidelines needed to ensure full immunity against the illness.

Last month the UK lost it’s three year “measles-free” status from the World Health Orgnanisation following a rise in confirmed cases and a fall in the number of children getting the vaccination.

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To curb measles outbreaks, unvaccinated adults should have the MMR jab

The virus was eliminated in the UK in 2016, but there have now been 231 confirmed cases of measles recorded in the first quarter of 2019, alongside a decline in the number of children getting the second dose of the MMR jab.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has ordered urgent action in response to the rise in measles cases, and is calling for health leaders to ensure that 95 per cent of the population have full coverage.

Only 87.2 per cent of children in the UK are getting the second dose of the vaccination, a fall from the 88.6 per cent rate recorded in 2014-15.

i has contacted the Department for Health and Department of Education for comment.

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Hurricane Dorian latest: Tropical storm lashes US with 115 mph winds after being upgraded back to category three

Hurricane Dorian has begun battering the east coast of the US after being reupgraded to a category three storm.

Earlier this week, Dorian left widespread devastation and at least 20 dead after striking the northern Bahamas.

The storm crashed into the island nation as its strongest hurricane on record earlier this week, but had weakened greatly since – down from a category five to a category two storm before increasing again late on Wednesday.

It is now threatening to inundate low-lying coasts from Georgia to south-west Virginia with a dangerous storm surge and winds of up to 115 mph.

People seeking shelter

People boarding up doors and windows in Charleston on Wednesday ahead of the storm's arrival. (Getty)
People boarding up doors and windows in Charleston on Wednesday ahead of the storm’s arrival. (Getty)

In South Carolina, more than 1,500 people have sought refuge in 28 shelters as authorities worried about the historic and vulnerable port city of Charleston.

Dorian was centred overnight about 105 miles south of Charleston and moving north, just offshore.

A flood chart posted by the National Weather Service projected a combined high tide and storm surge around Charleston Harbour of 10.3 feet; The record, 12.5 feet, was set by Hugo in 1989.

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Hurricane Dorian: Officials desperately attempt to evacuate stranded Bahamas survivors

Stores and restaurants were boarded up with wood and corrugated metal in the city’s central area, and about 830,000 people were under mandatory evacuation orders on the South Carolina coast.

In North Carolina, where authorities said an 85-year-old man died after falling from a ladder while getting ready for the storm, governor Roy Cooper warned about the threat of storm surge and flash flooding from heavy rains.

The Outer Banks were particularly vulnerable. Georgia’s coastal islands were also at risk, the state’s governor Brian Kemp said.

“We are very worried, especially about the barrier islands getting cut off if we have these storm surges at the same time as … the high tides,” Mr Kemp said.

‘Ready to go’

The storm killed 20 people in the Bahamas and forced millions of people to flee their homes. (Getty)
The storm killed 20 people in the Bahamas and forced millions of people to flee their homes. (Getty)

The acting administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Peter Gaynor, said 4,000 federal emergency personnel; 6,000 National Guard members; and 40,000 utility workers were on standby for the hurricane.

“We are ready to go,” Mr Gaynor said, “We’ll follow Dorian up the coast until it is not a threat to the US.”

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Hurricane Dorian path: latest Florida weather forecast and US travel advice after category 3 tropical storm hits Bahamas

With the threat to Florida easing and the danger shifting northward, Orlando, Florida’s international airport reopened, as did Walt Disney World and Universal.

Dorian forced the Disney Cruise Line to cancel one trip and delay the return of another ship to Port Canaveral, Florida.

The US Navy ordered ships at its huge base in Norfolk, Virginia, to head out to sea for safety, and warplanes at Langley Air Force Base in Hampton, Virginia, were being moved inland to Ohio.

Additional reporting from the Press Association

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Same-sex couples around the world are losing out on paid parental leave, study finds

Same-sex couples around the world are getting less paid parental leave than heterosexual couples, a new study of developed countries has found.

Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) found that same-sex couples in multiple countries have been left struggling to pay household bills because of current paterntity leave laws.

On average, gay men have been left worst off, with five fewer months of paid leave than people in different-sex couples, while gay women received three fewer months of paid leave, researchers said.

Australia, New Zealand, Iceland and Sweden were the only countries across the globe to offer male same-sex couples the same paid leave as both female-same sex and different sex couples, ranging from 18 to 70 weeks.

Turkey and Israel offered same sex couples no leave, and Switzerland offered no paternity leave to any men. The US was the only country to offer no entitlement to new birth parents.

Five fewer months

The study, published in the Journal of Social Policy, involved a team at the World Policy Analysis Centre looking at countries’ employment legislation by studying government websites and other official sources.

A total of 33 member countries of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) were examined as part of the groundbreaking study.

And the research found that male same-sex couples received the same number of weeks off as different sex couples in just 12 per cent of those nations.

Lesbian couples received equitable time off in just under 60 per cent of the countries studied
Lesbian couples received equitable time off in just under 60 per cent of the countries studied. (Getty)

Women same sex couples received equitable time off in just under 60 per cent of the countries studied, it said.

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Study leader Elizabeth Wong, from the University of California in Los Angeles, said: “Many of the differences we found may be the indirect consequences of gender-restrictive language that assumes women are the primary caregivers and that every family has one mother and one father.

“These assumptions often undervalue the importance of fathers’ involvement. When they do, same-sex male couples and male partners of mothers are the most disadvantaged.”

Laws in most countries did not prohibit same-sex couples from paid leave, but policies only referenced the needs of heterosexual couples and did not acknowledge same-sex couples.

As of 2019, same-sex marriage was legal in less than 30 countries, and gay sex remains illegal in about 70 countries.

Equal leave in four countries

The rise of far-right political parties around the world has raised concern around LGBTQ+ rights, and the fight for parenthood or adoption rights is a legislative battle even in countries like Germany.

“There’s little doubt that if you want to avoid discrimination, it’s far better for paid leave to be done through social insurance,” said Heymann of government funded public health programs.

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A 2018 report from the World Policy Analysis Center found that OECD countries that offered six months paid parental leave saw increased numbers of workers and no change to unemployment or economic growth.

Expanding paid leave can also lead to reduced government spending on public assistance, according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research in the United States.

Adoption leave for same-sex couples ranged from zero to 104 weeks, while different-sex could expect seven to 178 weeks, and male couples continued to see a starker difference in leave than female couples.

“Many of these laws have gender unequal assumptions about who is going to provide care and who is going to provide work … we have to undo them,” said Heymann.

Additional reporting from Reuters

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Ryanair strike dates: pilots vote for a further seven days of walkouts in September 2019

Ryanair pilots have announced seven more days of strike action in September in a long-running dispute over pay, pensions and maternity benefits.

A series of 24-hour walkouts have been arranged on 21, 23, 25, 27 and 29 September, while a 48-hour stoppage will take place on 18-19 September.

Members of the British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA) have already taken strike action on 22 and 23 August as well as the first part of this week.

BALPA accused the company of refusing to take part in talks at the conciliation service Acas.

BALPA dispute

Ryanair flights to and from Britain have been running as scheduled over the past three days during BALPA’s latest strike, having also caused no cancellations during the union’s first walkout last month.

So far only 14 Spanish flights have been affected by the industrial action, representing less than one percent of the Irish airline’s daily schedule to and from Spain.

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Ryanair strike: September 2019 dates, how flights are affected and what happens if you’ve got tickets

In a statement Ryanair described the latest BALPA strikes as “pointless” given their initial industrial action had caused zero cancellations.

Ryanair has said only around half of the pilots operating from UK airports are members BALPA.

BALPA said the airline was using contractors, who are not entitled to join unions, and crews from other jurisdictions to ensure flights operated.

General secretary Brian Strutton said: “We are clear that we want to settle the dispute and bring about a change in Ryanair for the better.

The next round of strikes will coincide with multi-day strikes by Ryanair pilots and cabin crew in Spain. (Getty)

Ryanair ‘dragging its feet’

“Pilots in Ryanair are seeking the same kind of policies and agreements that exist in other airlines, our demands are not unreasonable.

“We want to address issues like pensions, loss of licence insurance, maternity benefits, allowances and harmonise pay across the UK in a fair, transparent, and consistent structure.

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“While this action has considerably disrupted Ryanair, forcing them to engage contractors and bring in foreign crews to run its operation, it has had limited impact on the public’s travel plans.

“Ryanair should stop dragging its feet and get back to the negotiating table.”

A Ryanair spokesman said: “These latest strikes are pointless given that during five days of strikes (22-23 August and 2-4 September ) all Ryanair flights to and from UK airports operated as scheduled – with zero cancellations – thanks to the efforts of over 95 per cent of our UK pilots who flew as rostered and did not support these failed BALPA strikes.

“We again call on BALPA to return to talks as these failed strikes have not achieved anything.”

Additional reporting from the Press Association

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Yahoo Mail down: Huge outage leaves users across the world unable to sign in, with AOL also suffering problems

Yahoo Mail users across the world have been left unable to access their email accounts on Thursday.

Most of Europe appears to have been affected by the outage, with parts of the US and south Asia also struggling to connect.

Reports of problems with the site began just after 7am on Thursday, as customers took to social media to say they were unable to log-in or read their mail.

Tech website Down Detector said 61 per cent of people reported problems with the Yahoo website, while 38 per cent had struggled to log-in.

Worldwide disruption

Down Detector said it had logged over 5,000 reports of Yahoo Mail outages, but the actual number of users affected is expected to be considerably higher.

Although the reason for the issues remains unclear, Yahoo posted an apology on its Twitter account in which the company said it is “working extremely hard” to fix it.

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“You may not be able to access some of our services, including email,” Yahoo tweeted, “Our top priority right now is getting this fixed. We appreciate your patience.”

“We understand how difficult this must be for you. We are working especially hard to fix this. Please stay tuned for updates.”

Some users reported being unable to log in for hours on Thursday morning as thousands took to Twitter to complain.

AOL also down

Yahoo Mail has more than 200 million active users and is involved in the transmission of roughly 26 billion emails every day.

The company has been plagued by controversy in recent years after approximately 3 billion users had their information compromised in 2017.

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Users of AOL Mail, which is owned by Yahoo’s parent company Verizon, also reported being unable to access their accounts.

An AOL spokesperson wrote on Twitter: “We apologize for the inconvenience you are experiencing.

“At this time, we have identified the issue and it is being addressed. While we cannot provide a specific time when the issue will be resolved, our team is working to correct it as soon as possible.”

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Company warns staff they could be sacked if they use single-use plastic

A company has told its staff they could be sacked for bringing single-use plastics to work.

Intelligent Hand Dryers (IHD), based in Sheffield, has announced plans to change staff contracts to make having single-use plastics a disciplinary offence.

Under the scheme, employees caught breaching the ban receive three warnings, and could eventually be fired, The Times reports.

Last month, IHD announced a ban on all single-use plastics from its offices, including disposable coffee cups with an inner plastic lining, water bottles and sandwich packets with plastic windows.

‘Drives staff mad’

Andrew Cameron, 41, the company’s founder, said he frequently lectures his 10 members of staff about wasting paper and switching off lights.

Mr Cameron added that he “drives staff mad” about reducing the company’s environmental impact.

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“Staff were creating a lot of waste from going to the supermarket and having a load of unnecessary packaging,” he told the newspaper, and staff were buying meal deals that left the bins overflowing. “It was driving me mad,” he said.

The boss claims his staff were initially supportive of his idea to outlaw single-use plastics but some reportedly didn’t realise there was plastic in coffee cups.

To sweeten the deal, Mr Cameron has provided free cakes and fruit to avoid staff needing to bring in snacks in plastic wrapping.

He now says he wouldn’t feel bad about firing a member of staff who breached his rules as they would “basically be saying I don’t care about the mentality of this business” and what it’s trying to achieve.

The EU recently announced a total ban on single-use plastics because of the damage they cause to marine life. (Getty)
The EU recently announced a total ban on single-use plastics because of the damage they cause to marine life. (Getty)

EU-wide ban

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Last year the EU announced a continent-wide ban on single-use plastics starting in 2021.

A range of plastic items including straws, cotton wool buds, plastic plates, balloon sticks and polystyrene fast food containers will be banned from the EU market in a bid to tackle marine pollution.

There are more than 150 million tonnes of plastic in the oceans, entangling wildlife, polluting beaches and being eaten by creatures such as sea turtles, with impacts on their nutrition and exposure to chemicals, the European Parliament said.

They can also be eaten by fish which are caught for human consumption, with as yet unknown consequences for people’s health.

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School under fire after pulling 120 children out of class for ‘wearing the wrong shoes’

Outraged parents have hit out at a school after teachers reportedly placed around 120 pupils in “isolation” because of their shoes.

Pupils at Ashby School in Ashby de-la Zouch, Leicestershire, were allegedly marched out of classrooms for wearing the wrong type of footwear.

The school reportedly updated its uniform policy over the summer and required children to wear shoes “that can be polished”, but scores of children fell foul of the new regulations on their first day back.

One disgruntled parent posted the news on a local Facebook group called “Spotted: Ashby de-la Zouch” to complain, and soon sparked a heated debate among other parents.

School uniform changes

Sent in:Ashby School have got it hugely wrong today! 127 children in ‘Isolation’ (at times unsupervised) for the wrong…

Posted by Spotted Ashby De-La Zouch on Wednesday, August 28, 2019

“Ashby School have got it hugely wrong today!” the original post read, “127 children in ‘isolation’ (at times unsupervised) for the wrong shoes! Totally inappropriate and completely unnecessary when a letter home would have sufficed.

“Still have no idea what’s wrong with my child’s shoes because no-one from school will tell me,” the post continued, “What’s more important, a child’s education or their shoes? What happens to the families that can’t afford to keep spending on school uniform?”

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A spokesperson for the school told The Mirror that around 120 students were spoken to about uniform throughout the day.

But they also claimed many of the issues were quickly resolved and students were allowed to return to their normal classes.

However one mother, Lisa Watson, claimed her child had missed a “whole day of lessons” because of the uniform changes.

“This isn’t just about not wearing uniform,” Ms Watson commented on Facebook, “My child had the correct uniform and what we thought would class as leather-look shoes.

“A notification to say they didn’t meet the spec is more appropriate than my child missing a whole day of lessons! Appalling priorities!”

Guidlelines published

Ashby School changed its uniform policy over the summer. (Google)
Ashby School changed its uniform policy over the summer. (Google)

The school claimed guidelines on what children are now allowed to wear had been circulated to parents weeks before the start of term.

Headteacher Geoff Staniforth also told the newspaper that parents had been made aware of the consequences of not conforming to the new uniform policy, and said students had been supervised by staff and provided with work to do while thei uniform issues were resolved.

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A post on the school’s website confirmed the changes and clearly outlines rules for the uniform, including what shoes should be worn and accompanying pictures of examples.

It says: “These should be leather or leather look and must be a traditional shoe that can be polished. Canvas shoes, trainers or trainer-style shoes and boots are not acceptable.

“Dr Martens shoes may be worn but not ankle or high boot types.”

Some parents defended the school over the uniform change after the incident.

Tracey Roden commented: “I think the uniform, including shoes, is great! It’s really not difficult to get shoes which can be polished.”

i has contacted Ashby School for comment.

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Hurricane Dorian: Officials desperately attempt to evacuate stranded Bahamas survivors

People left stranded by Hurricane Dorian have been rescued by jet skis and a bulldozer as officials desperately attempt to evacuate survivors.

The US coast guard, Britain’s Royal Navy and aid groups are currently trying to get food and medicine to the worst affected areas after the most powerful storm ever to hit the Bahamas struck earlier this week.

Airports were flooded and roads impassable on Abaco and Grand Bahama islands, as winds of up to 185mph and torrential rains caused carnage before finally moving into open waters towards Florida.

At least seven deaths have been reported in the Bahamas, with the full scope of the disaster still unknown.

Homes and hospitals destroyed

Rescuers used a variety of craft including jet skis to evacuate stranded residents. (PA)
Rescuers used a variety of vessels including jet skis to evacuate stranded residents. (PA)

The storm’s punishing winds and muddy brown floodwaters destroyed or severely damaged thousands of homes, crippled hospitals and trapped people in attics.

“It’s total devastation. It’s decimated. Apocalyptic,” said Lia Head-Rigby, who helps run a local hurricane relief group and flew over the Bahamas’ hard-hit Abaco Islands.

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“It’s not rebuilding something that was there; we have to start again.”

She said her representative on Abaco told her there were “a lot more dead”, though she had no numbers.

The Bahamas’ prime minister also expected more deaths and predicted that rebuilding would require “a massive, co-ordinated effort”.

“We are in the midst of one of the greatest national crises in our country’s history,” Prime Minister Hubert Minnis said at a news conference.

“No effort or resources will be held back.”

More deaths expected

A survivor being evacuated for treatment as authorities warn there will likely be more deaths. (Getty)

Five coast guard helicopters ran near-hourly flights to the stricken Abaco, flying more than 20 injured people to the capital’s main hospital.

British sailors were rushing in aid and a few private aid groups also tried to reach the battered islands in the northern Bahamas.

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“We don’t want people thinking we’ve forgotten them. We know what your conditions are,” Tammy Mitchell, of the Bahamas’ National Emergency Management Agency, told ZNS Bahamas radio station.

Red Cross spokesman Matthew Cochrane said more than 13,000 houses, or about 45 per cent of the homes on Grand Bahama and Abaco, were believed to be severely damaged or destroyed.

UN officials said more than 60,000 people on the hard-hit islands will need food, and the Red Cross said some 62,000 will need clean drinking water.

“What we are hearing lends credence to the fact that this has been a catastrophic storm and a catastrophic impact,” Mr Cochrane said.

Lawson Bates, from Arkansas-based MedicCorps, flew over Abaco and said: “It looks completely flattened. There’s boats way inland that are flipped over. It’s total devastation.”

The hurricane has now “stalled” over Grand Bahama island, with residents facing at least another day of heavy rain, high winds and storm surges.

Additional reporting from the Press Association

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Britain’s neighbours declare plan to abandon oil rigs in the North Sea ‘grotesque’

Britain’s plan to abandon several oil rigs in the North Sea has been labelled “grotesque” by EU nations.

Hundreds of rigs in the region are set to be decommissioned over the next few years as their oil reserves dry up.

Oil giant Shell recently announced it will attempt to offset the huge cost of disassembling the drilling platforms by leaving behind one steel jacket and three concrete bases at its Brent oilfield installation.

The scheme looks set to be approved by the British government despite concern from several EU nations about the estimated 11,000 tonnes of raw oil and toxins which could be left behind.

‘Ticking timebomb’

One senior German official, Jochen Flasbarth, told The Guardian the UK’s proposal is a “grotesque idea” that amounts to a “ticking timebomb”.

“I’m genuinely taken aback by this,” the state secretary at the German environment ministry said, “We usually collaborate very closely with the United Kingdom on environmental issues.

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“Both countries are gravely concerned about the state of our oceans, and then you just leave thousands of tonnes of contaminated water in the North Sea?

“I don’t get it. That isn’t consistent with an environmental policy that has advanced Britain’s reputation.”

Germany has now issued a formal complaint which has been backed by Sweden, Belgium the Netherlands and Luxembourg.

The European Commission wrote a letter to DEFRA secretary Theresa Villiers in August to express concern at Shell’s plans for the platforms.

According to the Commission, the content of the rigs’ storage cells qualifies as hazardous waste under EU law.

The main body of Shell’s Brent Delta Topside offshore oil drilling rig platform is towed by tug boats up the River Tees to Able Seaton Port for decommissioning. (Getty)

Ospar meeting

The EU states fear the remaining oil and pollutants will eventually seep into the sea unless Shell removes them.

Members of Ospar, the EU’s north-east Atlantic marine environement coalition, are set to meet next month in London to discuss the future of the rigs.

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But it is feared Britain could refuse to bow to EU law since the rigs are in British waters and negotiations over Brexit are currently stalling.

“Pumping out all the oil and pollutants won’t be a trivial undertaking, and it won’t be cheap,” said Mr Flasbarth. “But experts say it is possible.”

A report commissioned by the German government says Shell’s methodology is “fundamentally flawed” and contains a “high level of mathematical bias”.

A Shell spokesperson told i: “Our recommendations are the result of 10 years of research, involving more than 300 scientific and technical studies.

“We established an independent group of scientific experts to review the findings and ensure all feasible decommissioning options were investigated thoroughly.

“We submitted our recommendations following extensive stakeholder engagement and only when we were confident that they were safe, technically achievable, and environmentally and socially sound”. 

i has also contacted the Department of Food, the Environment and Rural Affairs for comment.

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Heroin worth £120m seized at Felixstowe in UK’s biggest ever haul of the Class A drug

Bags of heroin worth more than £120m have been discovered on board a container ship, in what officials have said is the largest ever seizure of the Class A drug in the UK.

The 1.3 tonne haul was recovered from a container on board the MV Gibraltar after the vessel docked at the port of Felixstowe on 30 August. The bags had been hidden under towels and dressing gowns the National Crime Agency (NCA) said.

Video footage of the seizure shows the drugs were stored in packets labelled as protein powder, which were inside boxes filled with towels and dressing gowns.

Officers spent almost six hours removing the haul from the ship, which is said to have a street value upwards of £120m and a wholesale value of £27m to organised criminals.

Protein powder packaging

National Crime Agency personnel unpackaging the haul. (NCA)
National Crime Agency and Border Force personnel unpackaging the haul. (NCA)

The NCA said intelligence had ascertained the drugs would be on the MV Gibraltar as it docked in the UK en-route to Antwerp.

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The vessel was searched by Border Force and NCA officers as it arrived at Felixstowe, and 1,297kg of heroin was found inside.

After the drugs were removed, officers returned the container to the ship, which continued to Antwerp and docked in the Belgian port city on 1 September.

The container was kept under surveillance by Dutch and Belgian law enforcement agencies as it was driven by lorry to a warehouse in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

On arrival, officers swooped in and arrested four people as they unloaded the container.

The latest seizure comes after officers discovered 398kg of heroin on a vessel at Felixstowe port on 2 August.

‘Largest in Europe’

Officers said the heroin was disguised to look like protein powder. (NCA)
Officers said the heroin was disguised to look like protein powder. (NCA)

NCA deputy director, investigations, Matt Horne, said: “This is a record heroin seizure in the UK and one of the largest ever in Europe.

“The size of this and other recent shipments demonstrate the scale of the threat we face.

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“We can be certain that some of these drugs would eventually have been sold in the UK, fuelling high levels of violence and exploitation including what we see in county lines offending nationwide.”

Jenny Sharp, Border Force assistant director at Felixstowe, said: “This is a huge seizure, there is no other word for it given the quantities involved, which has kept dangerous drugs off the streets of the UK and mainland Europe.

“The smugglers had hidden the drugs within a cover load of towels, stitching the 1kg blocks of heroin inside some of the towels.

“In total it took my officers nearly six hours, working in the early hours of Saturday morning, to remove the drugs.”

Additional reporting from the Press Association

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UK weather forecast: Flood alerts and heavy rain warnings as September starts with a washout

Flood alerts have been issued in several parts of the UK and forecasters have warned of heavy rainfall as September looks set to be plagued by “changeable” weather.

The north-west of England will be worst affected by the rainfall which could last for most of the next two weeks, according to the Met Office.

The Environement Agency has put several flood warnings in place for coastal areas and rivers across England and Scotland.

Communities on coastlines in Essex, Devon and Lancashire have been warned to “be prepared” for flooding caused by seasonal high tides.

Rain across the UK

Areas near the Thames, including in central London, were also said to be at risk of flooding with “low-lying roads and footpaths” in danger of being covered.

Becky Mitchell, a meteorologist at the Met Office, told i: “The weather over the next week is looking fairly changeable. Weather fronts from Atlantic are pushing in, meaning most parts of the country will see some rain.

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“The showers will mainly be focused in the north west of the country and we can expect to see around 40mm to 50mm of rainfall in places.

“That amount is not unusual for this time of year, particularly over the higher ground where the rain tends to be heavier.”

Temperatures are also expected to be a great deal cooler after a summer of record-breaking heat.

Last week temperatures in London hit a searing 33.2 degrees Celsius, making it the hottest August bank holiday since records began.

Cooler nights

The Notting Hill Carnival took place on the hottest bank holiday weekend on record. (Getty)
The Notting Hill Carnival took place on the hottest bank holiday weekend on record. (Getty)

But the “uncertain” outlook for September means the mercury could drop to 20C during the daytime for most areas of Britain, with night-time temperatures hitting zero degrees.

“For the next couple of days temperatures will be around 20C,” Ms Mitchell added, “It will be quite bit cooler from Thursday onwards and night-time temperatures will be a lot colder.

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“We got to 0C last night in Aboyne in Scotland, so it won’t be unusual to see temperatures dropping.”

Windy conditions and cloud cover are expected to make conditions feel colder, but when skies are clear temperatures should remain warm.

The Met Office predicts highs of 23C on Tuesday, which could drop slightly as the week continues.

“That Atlantic weather front will continue to push across the UK next week with most of the rain coming in the north west of the country.”

“The forecast does look a little more uncertain into next week. But further south it will look to be a bit drier.

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National Trust blames ‘strange weather patterns’ for falling visitor numbers

The National Trust has blamed falling visitor numbers last summer on “one of the strangest weather patterns in modern times”.

The charity published its annual report on Monday, in which it warned that climate change was causing freak weather events could damage its historic properties.

A total of 26.9 million paying customers visited National Trust sites last year, just short of the 27.4 million target the Trust set for itself.

According to figures published in the yearly review, the charity estimated that nearly £15 million was lost because of the lower number of sightseers.

‘Difficult weather conditions’

The National Trust administered property Stourhead in Somerset pictured in last summer’s searing temperatures. (Photo: Getty)

It said: “We had set a budget of £123 million for the year but the difficult weather conditions in the early season and the very hot weather in the summer affected our visitor numbers.

“Admissions income was down nearly £5 million against budget and our commercial contribution missed its target by £10 million.”

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Searing hot temperatures from June to August last year led to widespread crop failures and wildfires across the UK.

Companies such as Thomas Cook and Thompson, however, said the heatwave had caused people to shun expensive foreign trips in favour of British destinations.

In fact, the UK economy grew by 0.7 per cent between June and August last year buoyed by the hot summer, the Office for National Statistics said.

But the National Trust said soaring temperatures represented a growing threat to its longevity, since they could destroy scores of the charity’s properties.

Land and homes at risk

The report added: “The impact of failing to adapt effectively to climate change will be considerable and could significantly impede the delivery of our strategic aims.

“In particular, there may be implications for our ability to restore a healthy, beautiful natural environment and to look after the places in our care both now and into the future.”

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The National Trust is currently responsible for looking after 780 miles of coastline, 248,000 hectares of land and more than 500 historic houses, gardens and parks.

It has committed itself to slashing energy use and minimising its properties’ carbon footprint but conceded both it and its visitors would rely on fossil fuels for “some years to come”.

The charity’s annual report said a strategy has now been put in place to ensure properties are able to cope as best they can with “long-term changes in climate and extreme weather events”.

It added that the risks posed by climate change were “numerous and diverse” and it urged the government to consider ploughing more funding into protecting the environment.

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Hurricane Dorian latest: Bahamas lashed by 185mph winds as category 5 storm bears down on Florida

One of the most powerful storms ever to hit the Bahamas has battered several islands, tearing off the roofs of homes and overturning cars.

Hurricane Dorian hit the territory with record 185mph winds as the catastrophic Category 5 storm looks set to hit the mainland US within days.

Officials say many people are expected to be left homeless on Grand Bahama and Abaco islands, with reports that one eight-year-old boy has been killed so far, according to Eyewitness News in the Bahamas.

Most people went to shelters as the storm approached, with tourist hotels shutting down and residents boarding up their homes.

‘No loss of life’

Boats tied up in Nassau in preparation for the Hurricane. (Getty)
Boats tied up in Nassau in preparation for the Hurricane. (Getty)

“It’s devastating,” said Joy Jibrilu, director general of the Bahamas’ Ministry of Tourism and Aviation. “There has been huge damage to property and infrastructure. Luckily, no loss of life reported.”

On Sunday, Dorian’s maximum sustained winds reached 185mph, with gusts of up to 220mph, tying the record for the most powerful Atlantic hurricane ever to come ashore. It equalled the Labour Day hurricane of 1935, before the storms were named.

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Forecasters said Dorian was most likely to begin pulling away from the Bahamas early on Tuesday and curve to the north-east towards the US.

Still, the powerful and slow-moving storm was expected to stay close to shore and hammer the coast with dangerous winds and waves, while authorities cautioned that it could still make landfall in Florida.

South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster ordered a mandatory evacuation of the entire coast of the state amid Dorian’s threat. The order, which covers about 830,000 people, goes into effect at noon local time on Monday, when state troopers will begin reversing lanes so they all head inland on major coastal highways.

Florida bracing

People in Florida preparing for the incoming storm by boarding up shop fronts. (Getty)
People in Florida preparing for the incoming storm by boarding up shop fronts. (Getty)

“We can’t make everybody happy,” Mr McMaster said. “But we believe we can keep everyone alive.”

On Tuesday and Wednesday, Dorian is forecast to be 40 to 50 miles off Florida with hurricane-force wind speeds extending about 35 miles to the west.

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More than 600 Labour Day flights in the US had been cancelled as of Sunday afternoon, many of them in Florida as Dorian barrelled towards the state’s coast.

The only recorded storm that was more powerful was Hurricane Allen in 1980, with 190mph winds. That storm did not make landfall at that strength.

“Catastrophic conditions” were reported in Abaco, with a storm surge of 18-23 feet (5.5-7 metres), and Dorian was expected to cross Grand Bahama later in the day “with all its fury”.

In the northern stretches of the archipelago, hotels closed, residents boarded up homes and officials hired boats to move people to bigger islands.

Additional reporting from the Press Association

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Boris Johnson’s burqa comments ‘led to surge in anti-Muslim attacks’

Boris Johnson’s comments about women who wear burqas  led to a “significant spike” in anti-Muslim attacks and incidents of abuse, a study has found.

Anti-racism organisation Tell Mama said there was surge in incidents in August last year after Mr Johnson wrote a column in The Telegraph comparing Muslim women who wear the veil as “letterboxes” and “bank robbers”.

Just one week after the article’s publication, anti-Muslim incidents reportedly increased by 375 per cent from the week before compared to the week after – up from eight incidents to 38.

Of those incidents, 22 involved “visibly Muslim women who wore the face veil”, according to the organisation.

Three weeks after the column was published a total of 57 incidents had been recorded, 42 per cent of which were related to Mr Johnson and the language used in his column, according to Tell Mama.

Johnson’s words

In a newspaper column last year, Mr Johnson argued against following the lead of other European countries and banning face-covering veils such as the burka and niqab.

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But he said it was “weird and bullying to expect women to cover their faces” and described the burka as “ridiculous”.

The former foreign secretary went on to say Muslim women wearing burkas “look like letter boxes” and compared them to “bank robbers”.

Then Prime Minister Theresa May and Conservative Party chairman Brandon Lewis urged Johnson to apologise for the column, which he failed to do.

Mr Johnson later defended his words, insisting that the backlash against them was nothing more than “confected indignation” at his “strong views” on Brexit.

An investigation by an independent panel eventually cleared him of breaking the Conservative party’s code of conduct.

A Muslim woman protesting in London after Mr Johnson’s comments. (Getty)

‘Significant spike’

“Between 5 August and 29 August, 42 per cent of the street-based incidents reported to Tell Mama directly referenced Boris Johnson and/or the language used in his column,” a statement from the organisation said.

In its publication of statistics on Islamophobic incidents for 2018, Tell Mama said there was also a “significant spike” in activity after the “Punish a Muslim Day” letters were sent to Islamic households, organisations and places of work suggesting people could win “points” for attacking Muslims.

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Among the suggestions were acts including removing a headscarf from a woman or beating people up.

The letters, which sought to insight violence against Muslims, led to reports of 37 public incidents which directly referenced them.

After the letters were sent there was a period of “heightened tensions, fears, and anxieties around the proposed day”, the statement added.

Tell Mama said it recorded 2,963 anti-Muslim hate incidents in 2018, which includes reports made to both the organisation and the police.

The organisation said that there had been an 11 per cent reduction in reports of anti-Muslim incidents carried out in public from 2017.

This could be because “there were four major terrorist attacks in the United Kingdom in 2017, which led to sharp spikes of reported anti-Muslim hate incidents to Tell Mama”, according to the organisation.

Last year, the majority of victims of Islamophobia were female (57 per cent) and the majority of perpetrators were male (73 per cent), their statement added.

‘Muslims must feel safe’

Communities Secretary, Robert Jenrick said: “I am utterly appalled by hatred aimed at Muslims in Britain or at those of any faith, and I am determined to tackle it.

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“We have put millions into protecting all places of worship and we continue to fund education courses to tackle this scourge at its root. While it is welcome to see that reported incidents of abuse online and on our streets has fallen, it’s clear that there is more to do.

“Muslims, and people of all faiths, must feel safe in Britain. As Communities Secretary, I will do everything in my power to stamp out hatred in all its forms, wherever it appears.”

Iman Atta, director of Tell Mama, told i: “We are in a period of instability, politically and socially. Even in 2018, when there were no major terrorist attacks in comparison to 2017, when there were four of them in the UK, levels of anti-Muslim hatred or Islamophobia have remained stubbornly high. In fact, levels in 2018 equalled those of 2017 when the major terrorist attacks took place.

“Anti-Muslim hatred has become an issue that is not going away and which has been growing since we started supporting victims of anti-Muslim hate in 2011. We ask all politicians to reflect on the future of our country. Do we want a divided country with polarised positions and with extremist groups seeking to gain ground in our country, or do we want proud, settled and valued communities? We opt for the latter and we believe that anti-Muslim hatred can be reduced and challenged if we counter it through social media, through political discourse, through the courts and through schools. Now is that time.”

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Hundreds of Harry Potter fans descend on King’s Cross station for Back To Hogwarts Day

Scores of Harry Potter fans descended on King’s Cross station in London on Sunday to mark the fictional beginning of term.

In JK Rowling’s bestselling novels, the first day back at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry takes place each year on 1 September.

The date is celebrated annually by fans of the franchise with Back To Hogwarts Day.

Harry Potter fans gather to watch as the Hogwarts Express appears on the departure board at London King's Cross
Harry Potter fans gather to watch as the Hogwarts Express appears on the departure board at London King’s Cross (Photo: Chris Radburn/PA Wire)

As part of the celebrations, people gather each year at the busy transport hub to recreate the scene of students pushing through a wall to the hidden Platform 9 and 3/4 where the Hogwarts Express train awaits them.

‘Bond with the story’

Wachirun Terakosolphan was one of hundreds of fans at the station for the communal countdown to the famous locomotive’s 11am departure, which was marked Edinburgh via Hogsmeade on the departures board above the concourse to represent the village where the fictional school is based.

The Hogwarts Express is shown on the information board at London Kings Cross Station
The Hogwarts Express is shown on the information board at London King’s Cross Station (Photo: Chris Radburn/PA Wire)

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“I felt I turned back to be a young boy again when being surrounded by a group of Potterheads who are so much into in the same thing,” the 30-year-old, originally from Thailand said.

“I grew up with this magical story, so did they… It’s a bond between this story, characters, casts and the fans.”

Ellie Hayward, Alex Ariani and Jack Poretsis alongside a LEGO's life-size brick-built Ford Anglia at London Kings Cross Station
Ellie Hayward, Alex Ariani and Jack Poretsis alongside a LEGO’s life-size brick-built Ford Anglia at London King’s Cross Station (Photo: Chris Radburn/PA Wire)

Mr Terakosolphan said it was his first Back to Hogwarts Day, which this year included a dance performance from the cast of the West End musical Harry Potter And The Cursed Child.

Journalist Stefanie Gerdes was also at the King’s Cross event, which she estimated was attended by more than 300 fans, with many dressed as their favourite characters from the books, films and stage franchise.

‘Often laughed at’

“Harry Potter has been such a big part of my life growing up, so doing this feels a little bit like fiction coming true,” she said.

Angel Greech and George Wells by the Floating Sorting Hat installation that celebrates the upcoming release of the new Wizarding World App
Angel Greech and George Wells by the Floating Sorting Hat installation that celebrates the upcoming release of the new Wizarding World App (Photo: Chris Radburn/PA Wire)

“It’s also nice to have such a big, public celebration of fandom itself – something that’s so frequently a thing where young people find home and a community to express themselves, but which is often shamed and laughed at.”

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Last year the 1 September celebration was attended by actors Eddie Redmayne and Jude Law, who surprised fans ahead of the release of the latest in the Harry Potter spin-off film franchise Fantastic Beasts.

Harry Potter fans George Wells, Rodney Zieseniss and Colin Gilby gather at Platform nine-and-three-quarters
Harry Potter fans George Wells, Rodney Zieseniss and Colin Gilby gather at Platform nine-and-three-quarters (Photo: Chris Radburn/PA Wire)

As of 2018, the Harry Potter franchise was the best-selling book series in history having sold more than 500 million copies worldwide. In 2016, the total value of the Harry Potter franchise was estimated at $25 billion.

Cast members from Harry Potter and the Cursed Child perform at London King's Cross Station
Cast members from Harry Potter and the Cursed Child perform at London King’s Cross Station (Photo: Chris Radburn/PA Wire)

Additional reporting from the Press Association

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Artist Alison Lapper, famous for pregnant sculpture, says her son died after being bullied over her disability

Artist Alison Lapper has revealed her son, who died aged 19 in August, was subjected to bullying because of her disability.

Parys Lapper had depression and battled drug addiction for years before he was found dead in a Worthing hotel on 13 August, she said.

According to Ms Lapper, Parys was frequently bullied at school, causing him to become introverted and “anxious”.

She said the bullies mocked him for his mother’s phocomelia, a condition which meant she was born with no arms and shortened legs.

Phocomelia

Alison Lapper at a press conference with son Parys in 2006. (Getty)

Ms Lapper said she first became aware of issues at school when he asked her not to come to parents’ meetings at the age of 13.

“I could see how anxious he was,” she told The Sunday Times. “We were the show. The next day Parys would go in and they would rip pieces out of him.”

She was eight months pregnant with her son when she posed for Marc Quinn’s famous Trafalgar Square statue.

But as his mother’s fame grew, Parys reportedly struggled to cope with the taunting and moved schools before dropping out altogether.

“He was out of control and I couldn’t help,” Lapper said, “Not being able to help, I felt so bloody useless.”

A marble statue featuring Alison while she was pregnant with Parys was famously installed in Trafalgar Square. (Getty)

Body image

Lapper believes Parys was driven towards drugs after he became self conscious about his image.

“Parys didn’t like his body,” she continued. “I thought I could teach him to, but it’s a social media nightmare, isn’t it? There’s always someone with a six pack or bigger.

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“That’s the problem. Everyone’s comparing themselves to everybody else. Nobody puts a duff photo of themselves anywhere.”

Lapper was eventually forced to have him taken into care at 16 but kept in regular contact with him.

She believed Parys had been on the road to recovery, adding that she last spoke to him three days before he died.

Police reportedly told her his death may have been caused by an accidental overdose.

Lapper says she doesn’t want him to be remembered as a junkie, however, and argues the drugs were simply a “consequence of what he had been though”.

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Keir Starmer: MPs will bring forward legislation to block no-deal Brexit this week

A cross-party group of MPs will lay out legislation this week to try and stop a no-deal Brexit, Sir Keir Starmer has revealed.

Appeaing on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, the shadow Brexit secretary said he had been working with Conservative MPs over the summer recess to formulate the legislation.

He argued the proposals were for “a very short, simple exercise” aimed at stopping Prime Minister Boris Johnson from forcing through a no-deal.

According to Sir Keir MPs would also be seeking an extension if there was enough support for the plans in Parliament.

‘Short, simple exercise’

“The legislation is intended to ensure we don’t leave without a deal, that will require an extension,” Sir Keir said.

He added: “The length of the extension is secondary, frankly. We have simply got to stop us leaving without a deal.”

“I’m not going to go into the details, but the purpose of the legislation is clear, and that is to prevent us leaving without a deal.

Michael Gove refused to confirm the Government would abide by the legislation
Michael Gove refused to confirm the Government would abide by the legislation. (Getty)

“Obviously if we’re at the 31 October that will require an extension. But I think this should be a very short, simple exercise designed to ensure we don’t crash out without a deal.”

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Appearing on the same programme just minutes later, Michael Gove, refused to guarantee the government would abide by any such legislation, saying it needed to see what it said.

Mr Gove, who is co-ordinating no-deal contingency plans, said he believed a majority of MPs would back the prime minister and defeat the proposals.

‘Breathtaking’ reply

Keir Starmer announced the new legislation will be brought forward this week. (Getty)
Keir Starmer announced the new legislation will be brought forward this week. (Getty)

Pressed repeatedly on whether the Government would abide by a successful bid by Commons opponents to pass legislation preventing a no-deal withdrawal, Mr Gove added: “Let’s see what the legislation says.

“You’re asking me about a pig in a poke. And I will wait to see what legislation the opposition may try to bring forward.”

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Sir Keir later tweeted, describing Mr Gove’s stance as “breathtaking”.

He tweeted: “For ministers not to confirm that this Government will accept and comply with legislation lawfully passed is breathtaking.

“The Prime Minister must make a statement on this straightaway. No Government is above the law.”

Additional reporting by Press Association

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Michel Barnier warns Boris Johnson the Irish backstop cannot be scrapped

Michel Barnier has quashed Boris Johnson’s hopes of renegotiating the Irish backstop, insisting the solution represents the “maximum flexibility” Brussels can offer.

Writing in The Sunday Telegraph the EU’s lead Brexit negotiator said the measures, aimed at preventing a hard border across Ireland, could not be changed.

Mr Barnier warned that he is “not optimistic” about avoiding no-deal, despite Boris Johnson claiming there were “signs of progress” in Brexit discussions.

Mr Johnson has previously told the EU the arrangement must be ditched if a no-deal Brexit was to be avoided.

‘Not optimistic’

But Mr Barnier said: “I am not optimistic about avoiding a no-deal scenario, but we should all continue to work with determination.

“On the EU side, we had intense discussions with EU member states on the need to guarantee the integrity of the EU’s single market, while keeping that border fully open.

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“In this sense, the backstop is the maximum amount of flexibility that the EU can offer to a non-member state.”

Meanwhile, Mr Johnson restated his case for a harder Brexit, telling The Sunday Times the country needed to “come out of the incarceration of the backstop”.

He added: “Everybody understands what is wrong with the current withdrawal agreement: it keeps the UK locked into the EU. It means they can boss us around on trade policy or on how we legislate forever.”

Boris Johnson said he was positive about getting a deal from Brussels after speaking to EU leaders last week. (Getty)
Boris Johnson said he was positive about getting a deal from Brussels after speaking to EU leaders last week. (Getty)

Eight weeks left

The interventions from both sides come ahead of another pivotal week in the Commons and an expected clash on the green benches when opponents of no deal look set to try to seize control of the parliamentary agenda to push through legislation delaying Brexit beyond 31 October.

Mr Johnson – who spoke of “interesting signs of progress” in conversations with European leaders in Paris, Berlin and at the G7 – took aim at would-be rebels who may look to block a no-deal departure.

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He told the paper: “I just say to everybody in the country, including everyone in parliament, the fundamental choice is this: are you going to side with Jeremy Corbyn and those who want to cancel the referendum?

“Are you going to side with those who want to scrub the democratic verdict of the people – and plunge this country into chaos.”

“There’s a good chance we’ll get a deal and there’s a good chance that we won’t,” Mr Johnson told Cabinet colleagues last week, according to The Sunday Times.

Additional reporting from the Press Association

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Boris Johnson tells rebel Tory MPs to back him or face ‘chaos’ under Jeremy Corbyn

Boris Johnson has warned rebel Tory MPs that Jeremy Corbyn will take over and “plunge the country into chaos” if they fail to back him.

Speaking to The Sunday Times the Prime Minister said he wanted to “put a tiger in the tank” and get on with “delivering the mandate of the people”.

It comes amid reports Conservative MPs who vote against no-deal when parliament returns this week could be barred from standing in a snap general election.

He told the paper: “I just say to everybody in the country, including everyone in parliament, the fundamental choice is this: are you going to side with Jeremy Corbyn and those who want to cancel the referendum?”

Commons returns

Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond leaves 11 Downing Street on July 23, 2019 in London
Former Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond leaves 11 Downing Street(Photo: Getty)

Mr Johnson continued: “Are you going to side with those who want to scrub the democratic verdict of the people — and plunge this country into chaos?”

“Or are you going to side with those of us who want to get on, deliver on the mandate of the people and focus with absolute, laser-like precision on the domestic agenda? That’s the choice.”

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The comments came ahead of an expected Commons clash on Tuesday when opponents of no-deal look set to try and seize control of the parliamentary agenda to push through legislation that would force the PM to seek a Brexit extension from Brussels beyond 31 October.

Staunch ally of the PM and Leader of the Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg strongly attacked such an action.

Writing in the Mail on Sunday, Mr Rees-Mogg said: “They dare not use the confidence procedures because they know that Jeremy Corbyn is too unpopular, and therefore they seek deceitful ends by underhand means.”

Philip Hammond backlash

Reports that any bid to extend Brexit to stop a no-deal exit would be treated as a no confidence issue, with supporting Tory MPs stopped from standing for the party, drew a harsh response from Philip Hammond.

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The ex-chancellor tweeted: “If true, this would be staggeringly hypocritical: 8 members of the current cabinet have defied the party whip this year.

“I want to honour our 2017 manifesto which promised a ‘smooth and orderly’ exit and a ‘deep and special partnership’ with the EU. Not an undemocratic No Deal.”

Some 20 Tory former ministers are considering standing at the next election as independent Conservatives rather than back a no-deal option, The Sunday Times said.

A Government spokesperson said: “All options for party management are under consideration, but first and foremost the PM hopes MPs will deliver on the referendum result and back him on Parliament.

Additional reporting from the Press Association

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Jeremy Corbyn says next week will be the ‘last chance’ to stop a no-deal Brexit

Jeremy Corbyn has said the coming days are the “last chance” to stop a no-deal Brexit before Parliament is suspended under Boris Johnson’s controversial plans.

The Labour leader was asked about comments made by Sir Keir Starmer during an event in Glasgow on Saturday as part of a three-day visit to Scotland .

Mr Starmer said in an interview with The Times on Friday that next week is “almost certainly the last chance,” adding: “What happens next week is for real.”

Echoing Mr Starmer’s warning on Saturday, Mr Corbyn said there was “preparation being done” and that next week “is the chance”.

‘Preparation for next Tuesday’

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“I’m sure he is correct because Keir has worked extremely hard as our shadow Brexit secretary,” Mr Corbyn said.

“Yes, it is the chance and we will do absolutely everything we can to prevent a no-deal Brexit and the Prime Minister taking us into the hands of Donald Trump and a trade deal with the USA.

“That is the real agenda of the Prime Minister. There is a lot of work being done in preparation for next Tuesday.”

Parliament reconvenes after the summer recess on Tuesday, but will sit for just a few days before Boris Johnson’s planned suspension is due to begin.

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Protesters have flooded the streets of Britain this weekend in response to the Prime Minister’s controversial plan to prorogue Parliament.

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Anti-Brexit campaign group Another Europe Is Possible planned 32 #StopTheCoup protests to take place in England, Scotland and Wales.

Mr Corbyn also did an impression of Boris Johnson as he mocked the Prime Minister for lacking detail in his announcements.

Anti-Brexit demonstrators protest in Whitehall on Saturday. (Getty)
Anti-Brexit demonstrators protest in Whitehall on Saturday. (Getty)

‘Lasting damage’

It comes as Mr Johnson warned of “lasting damage” if Brexit is delayed as former prime minister Sir John Major said he would fight the current premier in court.

“I’m afraid that the more our friends and partners think, at the back of their mind, that Brexit could be stopped, that the UK could be kept in by Parliament, the less likely they are to give us the deal that we need,” he told Sky News.

He also said there would be a backlash if people’s votes in the 2016 referendum were not respected.

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“If we frustrate that mandate, if we stop the UK from leaving on October 31, if that’s what parliamentarians end up doing, it will do lasting damage to people’s trust in politics.

“It will do lasting and catastrophic damage to the major parties in this country and I think this political generation won’t be forgiven for failing to honour that promise.”

Legal challenges

The Prime Minister is facing a series of legal challenges over his decision to suspend Parliament for up to five weeks ahead of a Queen’s Speech on 14 October.

Former Conservative leader Sir John will now seek to join an action being brought by campaigner Gina Miller.

Sir John suggested his experience in Number 10 could assist the High Court in deciding whether Mr Johnson’s actions in proroguing Parliament are lawful.

Deputy Labour leader Tom Watson said he was also joining the legal action against what he called “an unprecedented affront to democracy”.

Additional reporting from the Press Association

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