Operation Yellowhammer papers warn of dangers everywhere if UK goes for no-deal Brexit

A leaked Whitehall dossier warning of shortages of fuel, food and medicine and a hard border in Ireland represents a “worst-case scenario” of the UK leaving the EU without a deal rather than what is likely to happen, the minister in charge of no-deal Brexit planning said.

Michael Gove said the “Operation Yellowhammer” documents were out of date and were no longer relevant to the Government’s basic planning assumptions because significant steps had been taken to prepare for no deal.

Since Boris Johnson became Prime Minister a month ago, the Government has announced it is spending an extra £2bn on no-deal contingency planning.

The documents leaked to The Sunday Times suggested there would be delays at ports for three months, a hard border in Ireland, rising costs of food, fuel and social care due to restricted supplies and higher inflation, as well as the closure of two oil refineries and delays at Gibraltar’s border with Spain.

The Yellowhammer dossier was drawn up as an assessment of what the Government expected was most likely to happen – rather than the worst-case scenario.

Downing Street reacts

Anti-Brexit marchers (Photo: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images/File)

But Downing Street and ministers said the document was from the last administration, under Theresa May, and was now out of date because planning had been stepped up.

No 10 also denied the existence of “Operation Black Swan”, reported in The Sunday Times, which supposedly referred to worst-case scenario planning.

A No 10 source suggested it had been leaked by a former minister trying to undermine Mr Johnson’s talks with Germany and France this week and in a bid to prevent no deal.

Mr Gove tweeted : “We don’t normally comment on leaks – but a few facts – Yellowhammer is a worst case scenario – v significant steps have been taken in the last three weeks to accelerate Brexit planning – and Black Swan is not an HMG doc but a film about a ballet dancer…”

The minister for no-deal planning later said the document had onlylooked at “what the very, very worst situation would be” – although he admitted there “will be some bumps in the road, some element of disruption in the event of no deal”.

Sinn Fein fears

The energy minister Kwasi Kwarteng, a former Brexit minister, told Sky News the leak was playing into “project fear” and that “there is a lot of scaremongering around”.

However, the Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Michelle O’Neill said: “The consequences of a no-deal Brexit will result in a hard border which threatens our hard-won peace and undermines the political and economic progress of the past 21 years enjoyed across the whole island, but particularly in border communities which have been transformed.

“It will have devastating effects for the island of Ireland and our people, businesses, farmers, workers and communities. Exclusion from the EU customs union and single market will have a devastating impact on seamless trade and all-Ireland supply chains, slowing business down and putting the cost of doing business up.

“A no-deal Brexit will mean economic apartheid on the island of Ireland and the biggest risk to the economy in a generation, with manufacturing and agri-food sectors becoming the hardest hit.”

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Operation Yellowhammer: Low income groups hit hardest by no-deal Brexit

A no-deal Brexit will disproportionately affect low-income groups because a higher proportion of their money goes on food and fuel, according to the leaked Yellowhammer document.

Price rises are expected in supermarkets as supplies of food – particularly fresh fruit and vegetables imported from the continent – are put under pressure, caused by delays at borders. This decrease in availability of food, and increase in prices, will hit “vulnerable groups”, the dossier says.

Medical supplies are also under threat because of expected delays at Channel crossings. The document says that while demand for energy will be met, with no disruption to electricity or gas interconnectors, there will “probably be marked price rises for electricity customers with associated wider economic and political effects”.

The Government insists that under Boris Johnson’s new administration the “tempo” for no-deal planning has significantly increased. The document sets out worst-case scenarios rather than the base assumptions, ministers say.

Fuel supply risks

The Government insists that under Boris Johnson’s new administration the ‘tempo’ for no-deal planning has significantly increased (Photo: Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images)

Lower income groups could also be disproportionately affected by rising costs in social care, because, the document warns, an increase in inflation will cause staff and supply costs to rise, leading to the closure of smaller providers in an already fragile sector.

Delays at borders could “affect fuel distribution”, disrupting supplies and pushing up the price of petrol and diesel, with the fuel supply in London and south-east England under greatest threat.

Supply of fuel could also be imperilled by petrol import tariffs, set by the Government at 0 per cent, potentially leading to the closure of two oil refineries and a possible 2,000 job losses.

The Office for National Statistics calculates that the poorest fifth of households spend 14 per cent of their earnings on food, compared with 10.5 per cent for the national average, while around 2.6 million households currently live in fuel poverty, meaning they cannot afford to keep their home warm enough.

A no-deal Brexit is also likely to increase food bank use. Garry Lemon, director of policy, external affairs and research at the Trussell Trust, told The Sunday Times: “Any form of Brexit risks increasing the cost of food and therefore increases the need for food banks.”

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Operation Yellowhammer papers warn of a hard border for Ireland

The Government insists the leaked Yellowhammer document is based on worst case scenarios, but the section on Ireland will fuel concerns over a return to a hard border with Northern Ireland.

The dossier says there will be “no new checks, with limited exceptions” but that measures to “avoid an immediate risk of a return to a hard border on the UK side” are “likely to prove unsustainable because of significant economic, legal and biosecurity risks and no effective mitigations to address this will be available”.

This could cause protests, road blockages and “direct action”.

The Prime Minister has previously insisted that a hard border in Ireland can be prevented through technology and a “can-do spirit”.

‘Agri-food sector will be the hardest hit’

The current border where anyone can pass freely (Photo: Paul Faith/ AFP/Getty Images)
The current border where anyone can pass freely (Photo: Paul Faith/AFP/Getty Images)

The Sunday Times claimed it had seen an earlier version of the Yellowhammer document which said the UK’s “unilateral policy seeks to avoid a hard border” but that that commitment was removed in the latest version of the dossier, published this month.

No deal will “severely disrupt trade” with between Northern Ireland and the republic because of cross-border tariffs, pushing firms in border communities out of business, the dossier says.

“The agri-food sector will be the hardest hit, given its reliance on highly integrated cross-border supply chains and high tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade.

“Disruption to key sectors and job losses are likely to result in protests and direct action with road blockages.”

No deal Brexit would lead to a growth in the black market, particularly in the border communities “where both criminal and dissident groups already operate”.

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Priti Patel planning to ‘end freedom of movement rights’ on 31 October

Home Secretary Priti Patel is reportedly planning to impose restrictions on the freedom of movement of EU nationals from 31 October.

The Independent reports that Ms Patel is set to push forward a plan to scrap free movement immediately when the UK leaves the EU.

The Government has repeatedly made clear that EU citizens currently residing in Britain will be permitted to stay, launching a settlement scheme for those wishing to continue living in the UK.

However, Ms Patel is planning to immediately impose restrictions on EU citizens who come to the UK after the 31 October deadline.

A source told The Independent that Ms Patel is planning rapidly overhaul the system on day one, explaining: “[She] wants to toughen the Home Office’s stance. She thinks [her predecessor Sajid Javid] did a great job but, with a new prime minister and new priorities, changes needed to be made.

“For a start, that means properly preparing for no deal, it’s clear those in the centre had no intention of preparing for no deal.”

Change in stance

Former Home Secretary Sajid Javid had said it would 'take time' to implement a new system
Predecessor Sajid Javid planned to implement new immigration rules over time (Photo: Rick Findler/PA Wire)

The plan appears to contradict the policy set out in January by Theresa May’s then-Home Secretary Sajid Javid, who had said it would “take time” to develop and implement a new immigration system.

A policy paper published in January made clear: “It will take some time to implement this new system, and for EU citizens already resident in the UK to obtain their status under the EU Settlement Scheme.

“It is important that we allow sufficient time for granting status to resident EU citizens before we start to implement the new skills-based immigration system because until the resident population have been granted status, it will not be possible for employers, universities, landlords and others to distinguish between pre-exit residents who are eligible to remain in the UK on broadly the same terms as now, and later arrivals.”

The policy paper had indicated that it would not seek to enforce immigration checks for EU citizens before “the end of December 2020,” to allow residents “a reasonable opportunity to apply for and be granted [settled] status.”

Bypass Parliament

The Independent also reports that Ms Patel is planning to bypass MPs by enacting the changes through secondary legislation, avoiding the likely prospect of a showdown in Parliament.

The Liberal Democrats described the plan to bypass Parliament as “outrageous” and hit out at the “absurd” plans to rapidly roll out a new immigration system by October with no preparation.

Campaign group the3million also warned that the decision “opens the door to discrimination.”

Ms Patel previously vowed to deliver an overarching rewrite of immigration laws.

Home Secretary Priti Patel has said people must be able to speak English before coming to the UK
Home Secretary Priti Patel has said people must be able to speak English before coming to the UK (Photo: Paul Ellis/AFP/Getty Images)

Writing in The Mail on Sunday last month, she said: “We will ensure EU nationals, who have made their homes here and done so much for our country, continue to stay. I’m delighted that over one million have now applied to our settlement scheme, and I hope many more will follow.

However, the Home Secretary said she would create an immigration system “where we decide who comes here based on what they have to offer,” with priority given to “brilliant scientists, academics and highly-skilled workers that we want to see more of.”

She added: “We’ll give top priority to those with the highest skills and the greatest talents – to attract those who add the most value to our economy.

“These skilled workers will only be able to come here if they have a job offer from an employer registered with the Home Office, and if they can speak English.”

Ms Patel’s own parents migrated to the UK from Uganda in the 1960s, setting up a corner shop that developed into a chain of businesses.

i has contacted the Home Office for comment.

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If Christian Eriksen wants a move away from Spurs he needs to show more than cute touches

As has been his habit at the home of Tottenham’s top-six rivals, Christian Eriksen was a faint presence at the Etihad on Saturday evening. The midfield remained at a career crossroads throughout the summer and, with two weeks of the European transfer window remaining, his future remains undetermined.

But given those circumstances and Eriksen’s stated desire to explore opportunities beyond White Hart Lane, this was another passive performance which came at exactly the wrong time. And in the wrong place, because what stands between Eriksen and the sort of clubs for whom he might like to play, is the suspicion of wavering influence against the elite sides.

Read more: Why Spurs would rather sell Christian Eriksen to Real Madrid

He is a very fine ball-striker with a sharp creative mind, but those attributes continue to perish in the game’s rarest air. Against City, he was neither prominent in Tottenham’s rare attacking phases, nor an effective part of the resistance. His neat and tidy moments came and went – a cute lay-off here, a delicate pirouette there – but they were not the kind of contributions which catch the eye of a club like Real Madrid.

Part of his problem is profile, of course, because he’s softly spoken in the age of the super ego. A more substantial issue, however, is this tendency of disappearing in the spotlight. His performance at the Etihad didn’t come close to matching the incendiary effect of Kevin De Bruyne or, from his own side, the needling and slightly awkward determination of Erik Lamela.

Read more: Kevin De Bruyne establishes himself once again as Man City’s creative king

There’s little to connect those two players other than their incessant need for the ball and their shared determination to be an influence. Eriksen, by contrast, is just happy to be a face in the crowd and, for now, that continues to be an asterisk against his wonderful ability.

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Refugee who turned to cricket faces deportation from Scotland back to Afghanistan

A cricketer who fled war-torn Afghanistan for Scotland when he was a teenager, is facing deportation, despite fears that it would be dangerous for him to return.

Twenty-eight-year-old Mirwais Ahmadzai is facing a battle to stay in the country he has now lived in for half his life, after being told by the Home Office he will be sent back in October.

His bid to remain is being backed by teammates at the Vale of Leven Cricket Club in Alexandria, West Dunbartonshire.

The club’s president, Hugh Hutchinson, has written to Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, and MSPs Jackie Baillie and Martin Doherty-Hughes to help with the young player’s appeal to stay in the country.

Mr Ahmadzai, who left Afghanistan amid persecution by the Taliban, told the immigration team he has built a life in Scotland and his friends here are like “family” to him.

‘A huge risk’

Mirawis Ahmadzai who moved to Scotland 13 years ago from Afghanistan (Photo: SWNS)

“I know nothing about living in Afghanistan,” he said. “I was a child when I left, I grew up in a village.

“I don’t know anything else about how to survive there, and I have no family left so I don’t know where I could go.”

Returning now would be “a huge risk” he added, amid concerns that he could be seen as a “target” if he returns after spending so long living in the West.

He left the village in Logar province, about 35km from the capital Kabul, when he was 16 and said he lived in a jungle for over a month, before ending up “in the back of a lorry”.

On arrival in Scotland, he stayed with a Scottish family for some time, began playing cricket with the Vale of Leven and studied English as a Second Language (ESL) courses at a local college.

He had been keen to study mechanical engineering at university but said he wasn’t able to because of problems with his documents.

“They [the immigration team] have said ‘You’re an adult now, go back home. It’s safe'”, he added.

Afghanistan is still at war, it isn’t safe to be there for anyone, never mind someone who has lived in the West for almost half his life.”

He does not know if his family in Afghanistan were killed or if they have moved away. He has found out from the Red Cross in 2008 that his old house in the village had been “bombed and destroyed”.

Cricket club support

Mr Hutchinson, said the club’s members have rallied behind their teammate, after the cricket club’s president called a meeting in a desperate bid to do something to help.

“Social work contacted me 13 years ago, saying they had a couple of lads seeking asylum in Scotland and asked if we could help out as they played cricket,” he said.

“We knew he had issues trying to stay in the country, but we thought he would be fine, we never thought he was going to have to leave.

“When we found out a few weeks ago he was leaving on 20 October, we couldn’t let it lie.”

The Home Office has been contacted for comment.

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Strictly stars Neil and Katya Jones announce their divorce in official statement

This year’s Strictly Come Dancing controversies have already begun – weeks before this year’s celebrity competition returns to the BBC.

Professional husband and wife duo Neil and Katya Jones have announced that they are set to divorce in an official statement.

“As our fans and loyal supporters you are really important to us and so we wanted to let you know some news,” they said in a statement.

“After 11 years, we have made the mutual decision to separate.”

Seann Walsh affair

The marriage came under public scrutiny last year after Katya was pictured kissing comedian and former Strictly dance partner Seann Walsh outside a pub in London on what would have been Walsh’s then-girlfriend’s birthday.

However, a spokesperson for the couple said that their decision to part ways was not made based on the scandal.

She said: “It would be incorrect and unfair to attribute their separation to one isolated incident.”

Katya Jones and Seann Walsh, who were caught kissing in public (BBC)
Seann Walsh and Katya Jones as they appeared on BBC’s Strictly spin off It Takes Two to apologise for their drunken kiss (Photo: BBC)

Both Seann and Katya tweeted an apology to fans after the kiss, and also appeared in a joint interview on Strictly spin-off It Takes Two.

Viewers were less than impressed by the pair’s explanation, and criticised the stand-up comic for failing to mention ex-girlfriend Rebecca Humphries once during his apology.

Humphries garnered huge public support after she posted an open letter to Walsh, adding at the end, “I’m not sorry I took the cat though”.

New celebrity and professional line-up

The celebrity line-up for Strictly 2019 was announced earlier this month.

Among the famous faces who will be performing their finest Charlestons and fox trots are TV presenting legend Anneka Rice, drag star Michelle Visage and former England goalkeeper David James.

Motsi Mabuse, an experienced dancer and sister of Strictly professional Oti, is the newest judge to join the panel, replacing Darcey Bussell.

Mabuse has been a judge on the German version of the show, known there as Let’s Dance, since 2011, and declared herself “overjoyed” to be joining the UK line-up.

Professional Pasha Kovalev, who left last year, has been replaced by Latin dancer Nancy Xu. Xu starred in the hit West End and Broadway show Burn The Floor.

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More than £70,000 in donations flood in to support family of killed Pc Andrew Harper

More than £70,000 has been donated to the family of police officer Andrew Harper, who died after being struck and dragged by a vehicle, while on duty.

The 28-year-old, who had got married several weeks before and was due to go on his honeymoon, was killed while investigating a burglary in Bradfield Southend in Berkshire, late on Thursday.

Donations have come flooding in to a Just Giving page set up by the Thames Valley Police Federation, with a goal of raising £100,000 for the family of the officer from the Roads Policing Proactive Unit in Abingdon, who “tragically gave his life while on duty protecting the public”.

The page said police across the country “confront danger on a daily basis” as they go to work.


“We know there is a risk when we put on the uniform but we do so as we are proud to protect the public,” a statement on the donation page said.

“Sadly, on very rare and horrendous occasions, a colleague makes the ultimate sacrifice. We will ensure that heroism is never forgotten,” it added.

“All our thoughts remain with Andrew’s wife, family, friends and close colleagues.”

A police officer lays a floral tribute at the scene Pc Harper, 28, died. Photo: Ben Birchall/PA Wire)
A police officer lays a floral tribute at the scene Pc Harper, 28, died (Photo: Ben Birchall/PA Wire)

Further donations have streamed into a separate fundraising page set up by PC Harper himself before he died, for the charity Children With Cancer UK.

The officer had planned to take part in the 20 Mile 200 Obstacle Dirty Weekend race and had set a fundraising target of £500.

Donations on the page have now surpassed £17,170 for the charity.

He wrote on the appeal: “Please support me in this goal and help us fight for those who can’t fight for themselves”.

Investigations continue 

As well-wishers continue to donate and send messages of support to the victim’s family, murder police are continuing to investigate his death and how the events of the night unfolded.

They are still questioning 10 suspects, including a 13-year-old boy, who were arrested at a caravan park near the scene by Thames Valley Police.

They were given additional time to quiz the suspects, Detective Superintendent Ailsa Kent told reporters on Saturday.

Police we investigating the site around country roads near the Four Houses Corner caravan park on Sunday.

On Saturday, forensic officers gathered around what appeared to be a black hatchback car inside the park.


Tributes have flooded in for the fallen police officer, on the donation pages and at the scene of his death.

One message from a well-wisher on the Just Giving page said: “A young man who was decent, caring and made it his job to look after us and keep us safe.”

Several expressed their condolences to his widow Lissie, who had married Pc Harper  four weeks ago.

Thames Valley Chief Constable John Campbell said on Friday, PC Harper was a “highly regarded, popular member of the team”.

Police search the scene in Berkshire (Photo: Ben Birchall/PA Wire

Pc Harper’s father, Philip, said the family have been “absolutely devastated” by the death, telling Sky News: “We’re in a bad place.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was “shocked and appalled” by the “mindless and brutal” attack, while Home Secretary Priti Patel “instructed the Home Office to urgently explore what we can do to better support the families of our brave police officers who are seriously injured or worse by cowardly criminals”.

Additional reporting by Press Association.

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Brexit Secretary signs ‘commencement order’ to trigger end of EU law on 31 October

Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay has signed the official commencement order to end the jurisdiction of European laws on 31 October.

The Government’s move on Sunday give the strongest signal yet that it will not budge on its Halloween Brexit deadline, by signing an order to repeal the act binding the UK to European law.

Mr Barclay announced on Twitter: “I have signed the legislation setting in stone the repeal of the European Communities Act 1972.

“This is a landmark moment in taking back control of our law. It underlines that we are leaving the EU on 31 October.”

The gesture to Eurosceptics comes the same day as a leaked Government report from no-deal Brexit preparation project Operation Yellowhammer painted a bleak portrait of the potential impact on the UK.

Show over substance

Britain's Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union Stephen Barclay signed the order
Britain’s Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union Stephen Barclay signed the order (Photo: Tolga Akmen/AFP/Getty Images)

Professor Scott Lucas, Professor of Political Science and International Studies at Birmingham University, told i that despite Mr Barclay generating fanfare with the “photo op,” the order simply enacts changes approved by Parliament ahead of Theresa May’s initial Brexit deadline.

He said: “It’s a show, rather than substance, as they hurtle towards a no-deal Brexit. The relevant legislation was passed by parliament last June, which provides for the replacement of European law with UK law.”

The professor explained that the European Communities Act, which Barclay has repealed, is “simply the legal framework for adherence to the European community… that sets out the rules that everybody plays by.”

He added: “Had we had a withdrawal deal in March [as planned], then over the course of the next two years, we would have gone through a systematic process of handing over from European law to UK law.

“All Barclay has done is said, I’m giving my approval to enabling this legislation.”

However, Professor Lucas warned that there is a real prospect of a legal vacuum if the UK leaves without a Brexit deal, as there will be no transition period.

He said: “Under a withdrawal deal, you would have two years to go through the legislation, which covers every aspect of our lives, and say, ‘are we keeping that regulation or are we going to rewrite it?’

“When you crash out with no deal, you’ve got a vacuum. If you look at the Operation Yellowhammer report, you have absolutely no preparation for the laws and regulation of our daily lives.

“It’s not just that there’s uncertainty, nothing is certain. You are in an absolute limbo.”

Landmark moment

Stephen Barclay claims the order sets in stone the UK's plan to leave the EU on October 31.
Stephen Barclay says the order sets in stone the UK’s plan to leave the EU on 31 October (Photo: Peter Nicholls/Reuters)

In a press release, Mr Barclay said: “This is a clear signal to the people of this country that there is no turning back – we are leaving the EU as promised on 31 October, whatever the circumstances – delivering on the instructions given to us in 2016.

“The votes of 17.4 million people deciding to leave the EU is the greatest democratic mandate ever given to any UK Government. Politicians cannot choose which public votes they wish to respect. Parliament has already voted to leave on 31 October. The signing of this legislation ensures that the EU Withdrawal Act will repeal the European Communities Act 1972 on exit day.

“The ECA saw countless EU regulations flowing directly into UK law for decades, and any government serious about leaving on 31 October should show their commitment to repealing it.

“That is what we are doing by setting in motion that repeal. This is a landmark moment in taking back control of our laws from Brussels.”

The move to sign the order was celebrated by Brexiters.

Read more:

Leaked planning document Operation Yellowhammer warns of border chaos and food shortages

Steve Baker of the European Research Group said: “Bringing in repeal of the European Communities Act is absolutely totemic.

“It shows a transformation in the approach, that Boris Johnson is willing to leave on a fixed date with no question of extension.

“It’s the do-or-die pledge in black and white. Once it’s signed, that’s it, the UK is leaving.”

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I struggle with making permanent, adult decisions in this uncertain world- but I’m trying

My father sometimes says to me that I’m his greatest achievement. He says that for everything he’s done in his life, the professional accolades, his marriages, the dedicated reading and thinking he has used his life for, I really was what made it all worthwhile. The very fact of my personhood, my individuality, has justified his own life.

When my father says these things I believe him. I know that his people and his community are the most essential parts of his life and his self, because that’s true for me too. Really the only point of my existence is to be close to others, to love and be loved. And it’s because I know just what he means that it’s so difficult not being able to imagine a world in which I would have my own children.

The world is warming faster than predicted by the United Nations’ top climate change body, with harmful emissions exceeding worst-case estimates. (Photo: Torsten Blackwood – Pool/Getty Images)

I’ve been ambivalent about children forever, always associating them with reluctant abstinence from an active life. I grew up seeing my mother raise me and my two brothers without a long term partner and though she was often happy she was also often frustrated, I think, by the limitations of being a young woman in her prime who had too many responsibilities to enjoy it. But something has changed in recent years.

‘The way we live makes me fearful of any permanent commitments’

Now that I am a little older, it isn’t so much that I’m afraid that I can’t look after children than I’m afraid the society we live in can’t look after them.

All of the things I thought I would now be pursuing have felt too difficult to do, at the precise point I should be nailing them down. I’m too distressed by and scared of what’s happening around us.

Don’t get me wrong, I truly hate the idea that the encroaching climate apocalypse should make us stop having children It seems an unworkably cynical approach- how can we reimagine a sustainable world by way of eliminating the impulse to reproduce? I have seen rude, cruel people on social media make fun of climate activists who have children and I find them laughable and small-minded.

Supporters of far-right figurehead Tommy Robinson demonstrate outside the Old Bailey on September 27, 2018 in London. (Photo: Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

And yet it remains true that I can’t countenance bringing a baby into this world. It’s not purely that I fear for the wellbeing of a child who will come into their middle age fifty years from now- New York submerged, the Arctic melting– it’s that the way we live makes me fearful of any permanent commitments.

They just don’t seem possible, or even desirable, not only because of the climate but because of what is feeling like an inexorable slide toward fascistic governments and impulses and far right violence. I find myself deferring decisions, staying transient, keeping moving.

When friends speak to me about scrimping for years to buy property, all I can think is: why? When I imagine settling in one place and choosing to spend the rest of my life there, I think: how?

Meghan Markle’s engagement ring (Photo credit: DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images)

I’m not proposing my feelings are logical, or proper, or desirable. Last night I went to the engagement party of two of my best friends. Though marriage is one of those things our troubling, shifting world makes me frightened of, around them I suddenly felt safe and hopeful again.

They reminded me about love, about its unmanageable capacities, its infinite potential. They made me want to get busy reimagining, instead of always avoiding.

More from Megan Nolan

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Lidl tells British suppliers to take on the cost of possible no-deal Brexit tariffs

Discount supermarket Lidl has said its UK suppliers must pay any EU tariffs that are brought in as a result of a no-deal Brexit.

The chain wants its UK suppliers to bear the brunt of paying any new export taxes from the UK to Ireland.

Lidl has written to suppliers saying they wanted confirmation that they would be “delivery duty paid-ready” – meaning the supplier pays any new tariffs for cross-border trade.

Boris Johnson has said he does not want to impose tariffs on imports into the UK but the Government will have no say on what the EU or other countries do.

Ireland is key market

Traffic passes a Brexit Border poster on the Dublin road Co Armagh border, between Newry in Northern Ireland and Dundalk in the Irish Republic (Photo: Getty)

A Lidl Ireland spokesperson confirmed to i it is contacting suppliers and that the delivery duty clause was in existing contracts.

The statement did not acknowledge the different tariffs of being an EU member and being outside the bloc without a deal.

According to The Sunday Times, which first reported the letter, tariffs on exports out of the UK would automatically be imposed by World Trade Organisation rules.

One supplier told the paper he expected Lidl to “take us to the precipice and threaten to delist our products” during negotiations.

Brexit trading

In 2018, the UK’s exports to the EU was £289 billion, or 46 per cent of all UK exports.

Wales and Northern Ireland were the UK regions with the highest percentage of exported goods  going to the EU.

Read more:

Operation Yellowhammer: social care providers’will start to go bust’ in a no deal Brexit

And the UK’s largest trade surplus in the EU was exports to Ireland at £16 billion.

Mr Johnson’s pledge to achieve Brexit with or without a deal by 31 October has also hit the pound, meaning higher costs for British companies.

The Sunday Times reported that if there’s a no-deal Brexit, exports to the EU would be subject to an average tariffs of 45 per cent on dairy products, 18 per cent on meat and 12 per cent on fruit and vegetables.

Sainsbury’s warning

The Lidl letter comes a week after former Sainsbury’s CEO Justin King warned a no-deal Brexit would bring shortages of fresh food.

Mr King told the BBC: “Let’s be clear, there’s about 10 days of food in the UK in total. There’s obviously a lot more than that in packaged goods and in frozen. So a very small number of days in fresh food.

Tarrifs could be applied on UK exports, but Boris Johnson wants to avoid the situation (Photo: Getty)

“The kind of disruption that the Government is talking about today, 50 per cent of vehicles being held up, will lead to gaps on the shelves within a week in the UK, significant gaps.”


The secret Brexit document exposes the duplicity of those that led us into this no-deal debacle

A spokesperson for Lidl Ireland told i: “We have been working closely for over two years with external consultants, not only to get our business Brexit ready, but also to ensure our valued suppliers are as prepared as possible.

“We held a number of workshops with our suppliers to ensure they have all necessary information, certification and documentation to avoid any disruption to their respective supply chains.

“All existing Lidl contracts contain a DDP (Delivered Duty Paid) clause. In an effort to understand the level of preparedness of key UK suppliers we are communicating proactively with them and working together to resolve any potential barriers to supply. We are committed to delivering the best prices for Irish customers.”

Lidl Ireland said it was working with suppliers on post-Brexit contracts.

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What I learnt from writing a novel for my GCSE students

Dark, wet mornings in January are not normally considered the best time for creative inspiration. Any sensible 19th-century poet would, I imagine, either have slept through the month entirely, or escaped to Italy by late December. But we still expect school children to write creatively when the muse isn’t striking, and with 50 per cent of the GCSE English Language grades depending on students’ writing, they have to do it a lot.

Two years ago I had tried everything to enthuse my class. As an English teacher at at Luckley House School, I had spent hours writing beautiful, inspirational lessons. I offered them varied tasks; I had tried games, individual targets, even drama. But I had a class who still just didn’t get it. Their needs were diverse, their interests were wide-ranging, and their enthusiasm for writing was low (very). One particularly rainy, depressing day, I threw away my lesson plan. I could see that, once again, what I had spent hours planning was not going to work. I had a giant, teaching strop and…..I bribed them.

I told them that if they all just wrote something, for half an hour in silence, I would complete the same task, but I would project my writing up onto the whiteboard so they could watch me work.

In that lesson I started writing my novel, Jelly, in which a group of young people are stranded on a jellyfish after an environmental disaster.

Writing a book with my pupils changed the way I teach

Jelly by Clare Rees is out now
Jelly by Clare Rees is out now

And I discovered several things. It was hard. Creative writing was pretty much the last thing I wanted to do that morning. Yet it was exactly that attitude I was getting cross with the students for. It was also fun. Once I got started I found I really enjoyed the process. As adults we don’t often give ourselves the time to be properly creative, so it felt exciting. It was also the most successful writing lesson I’d ever had with that class. Not only did they all write for half an hour, they also made progress.

That first experimental lesson changed the way that I teach, and it also resulted in my getting a novel published. Over the course of that teaching module, I used Jelly as a hook for engaging students.

I was never again able to write more than a couple of sentences of the book during a lesson, but I found that even displaying my work on the whiteboard while I helped individual students motivated the class. I found, in particular, that they were extremely enthusiastic about being given the opportunity to critique my work, and were more able to successfully identify errors in my writing than they would have been in their own. So my lesson planning changed.

Instead of spending hours developing powerpoints or activities, I wrote a paragraph of Jelly that deliberately contained a type of error which I wanted to discuss. Students would then start the lesson by identifying the errors, which I would “fix” as they wrote their own work. Their lesson focus would simply be to look for those errors in their own work, and improve it.

Then they killed off the biology teacher…

But writing a book to engage your students, rather than for publication, means that it didn’t necessarily progress in a conventional way. At an early stage, during a lesson on character, I devised an adult character to live on the jellyfish alongside my four protagonists. And I let the class decide on her name. Having just come from a Biology class with a particularly popular teacher, they were keen to name the character after her. The class developed a particular interest in the exploits of Dr Jones on the jellyfish (who is rather different from the lovely Dr Jones in the classroom) even if, later on, they gleefully voted to kill her off.

During the editing process a number of the gorier scenes were cut. I had a higher proportion of these than were needed, because these made ideal lesson starters to fill with errors for the students to critique. I found that my students enjoyed the blood, the fighting scenes and the descriptions of mummified bodies, while my adult editors (correctly) questioned why I needed quite so many.

The teenagers wanted romance

Other issues also occurred. Generally, I’ve found that my students don’t tend to be in relationships. It’s also particularly rare (so rare that I’m not aware of it having happened to any students I’ve ever taught) for one girl to have two handsome boys interested in her at the same time, despite the frequency with which this plot device occurs in stories targeted at teens. I stated that on this basis I wasn’t going to have any romance at all in my book. This was met with horror however, and I was told, vehemently, that it may well be the case that most teenagers aren’t in relationships. But they’d like to be, and they’d like books to reflect this.

Five things my students really care about

Climate change

They’re really worried about our planet and living with the consequences of mistakes made by the older generations.


The generation about to leave school are the most politically-aware group of people I’ve come across. I hope our politicians are ready for the voters of tomorrow.


They are aware that the choices made now will have a big impact on their future lives – more so than the people making the decisions.

Finding a job

Today’s teenagers know that they may not find a job or be able to buy a house. They therefore do take their exams very seriously. I suspect this is a factor in any rise in exam results.

Baby shark

Students way older than you’d think still find this strangely hilarious.

A learning experience for me, too

I am absolutely honoured to have been able to write a book alongside my students, and I’m incredibly lucky that it has now been published. It was a wonderful learning experience for me, and I did see noticeable improvements in my students’ writing. Writing at home has helped me to understand the areas my students most struggle with, and has helped me with giving them practical feedback beyond that necessary for the exams.

And, yes, I owe the wonderful Dr Jones rather a lot of biscuits.

‘Jelly’ (£7.99, Chicken House) is out now

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Jeremy Corbyn pledges ban on people who don’t pay tax in UK donating to politicians

Jeremy Corbyn has pledged to ban donations and loans to the Labour Party from people not registered to pay tax in the UK.

He accused the Conservatives of “buying up our democracy” and claimed that big donors were able to get access to senior politicians.

In the last 15 years, “hedge funds and bankers” have made donations and income worth £953,056.47 to new PM Boris Johnson, according to Labour analysis of the Register of Members’ Interests.

This is made of £720,000 of contributions to the Conservative Association in Henley and Uxbridge, and £233,056 in payments to Mr Johnson for speeches to banks in Europe and the US.

‘Big donors’

Prime Minister Boris Johnson was criticised by Labour (Photo: Getty)

Mr Corbyn told a rally in Bolton: “If you have the money you can get access to ministers. Look at the fracking industry. But if you wish to protest against the frackers because it will damage the environment, you can’t get a hearing.

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Chuka Umunna says ‘significant minority’ Labour MPs would stop Jeremy Corbyn from becoming PM

“We have to stop the influx of big money into politics. Politics should work for the millions, not the millionaires.”

“Our shadow minister for the Cabinet Office, Jon Trickett, has been working on a comprehensive plan to stop big money buying up our democracy, and to empower people and communities, and will outline further plans in the autumn.”

Electoral Commission

The Conservative Party said it only accepts donations from people who are on the UK electoral register, or UK registered companies which are carrying out business in the UK.

A Conservative spokesperson said: “The Conservative party is funded by membership, fundraising and donations.

“Donations are properly and transparently declared to the Electoral Commission, published by them, and comply fully with the law.”

As for Labour, Mr Corbyn claimed that the majority of the party’s funding comes from “workers through their trade unions and small donations, averaging just £22 in the last general election”.

Additional reporting by Press Association.

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Pizzeria denies racism accusations after ejecting award-winning black musician

A London pizza restaurant is at the centre of a row with an award winning jazz musician over claims and counterclaims being made over race.

Soweto Kinch, who has won two MOBO Awards, was asked to leave from L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele in London’s Baker Street on Friday afternoon.

A spokesman for the restaurant denied this was due to his race, and said Mr Kinch had been acting rudely to staff.

Speaking to i, Mr Kinch explained he had been to the restaurant with white friends twice before without incident, but says staff refused to serve him when he turned up on his own.

He shared a video of the incident on social media, adding: “The idea that because I’ve got a different colour skin, I can’t order a pizza, that’s ridiculous.”

The restaurant said it treats “everyone in the same way, no matter which race or religion.”

Ejected from restaurant

Mr Kinch, 41, claims that he was blanked by a waitress at the front of the restaurant, and that when he called over other staff to ask to be seated, they also failed to accommodate him.

The saxophonist said: “I’m flabbergasted, at this point, that nobody has said, do you want a menu, would you like to sit down. I couldn’t believe it was happening.”

He claims the situation quickly grew hostile when took his phone out to record the incident, as a staff member attempted to “slap the phone out of my hand,” before he was ejected from the restaurant.

The restaurant accused Mr Kinch of being “extremely unfriendly to our staff” and of “starting throwing chairs,” which he denies.

CCTV footage posted to the restaurant’s Instagram Story shows Mr Kinch moving a chair after a member of staff attempts to usher him out of the restaurant. It does not appear to be thrown.

Impolite behaviour

In a statement to i, the restaurant said: “We feel accused for something that is not true. He accused us [of being] a racist place and that we have rude staff. We can’t accept that.

“We welcome and serve everyone in the same way, no matter which race or religion, but once someone starts to be rude, aggressive and threatening to [throw] a chair on our staff, we need to ask people to leave the restaurant.

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“This person recorded and cut a video in his way showing that our staff asked him to leave without a reason, obviously avoiding the part where he was rude and violent.

“The truth is that since the moment that he walked in he had a rude behaviour because we didn’t serve him immediately and he started to insult the receptionist for that, and later also the waiters. So we asked the person to leave the premises.

“We are sorry if our staff appears upset due unexpected, unprovoked and impolite behaviour. We do our best every day to make each customer happy and serve as quick as possible.”

‘Micro aggressions’

However, Mr Kinch disputed the restaurant’s claims about his conduct, denying that he was “the kind of person” that would throw a chair.

He said: “These micro and macro aggregations are happening, and it’s important to share, because there are young black people being abused – and if you try to explain it to somebody [without a video], they’d think you’re crazy.

“They should have just said sorry. I found the whole spectacle quite bizarre… this is post-Brexit Britain.”

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Boris Johnson will not attempt to stay as PM if he loses no confidence vote, minister suggests

Boris Johnson will not dissolve parliament in an attempt to cling to power if he loses a no-confidence vote, the government’s energy minister has suggested.

Kwasi Kwarteng dismissed a number of suggested scenarios, instead reiterating that the government intended to deliver Brexit by the 31 October deadline “with or without a deal”.

MPs determined to stop the UK leaving the EU without a deal are expected to bring a no confidence vote against Mr Johnson.

It would require Tory MPs to bring down their own government for the vote to pass.

Speaking to Sky News’ Sophy Ridge On Sunday, energy minister Mr Kwarteng said that the claims contained “lots of ifs and hypotheticals”.

Accepting the ‘letter of the law’

On concerns that Mr Johnson would attempt to stay on as leader if he lost a vote of no confidence, Mr Kwarteng said: “I’m sure the prime minister will accept the letter of the law.”

He addressed fears that Mr Johnson could potentially shut down parliament in the run-up to Brexit in order to stop further delays to the event, adding: “We’re not talking about proroguing parliament.”

“I don’t think anyone is talking about calling an election,” he continued on another potential scenario that would allow Mr Johnson to go ahead with a no-deal Brexit unchallenged.

Mr Johnson will meet Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron before heading to the G7. (Getty)
Mr Johnson will meet Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron before heading to the G7. (Photo: Getty)

Labour’s shadow minister Laura Pidcock talked up the credentials of Jeremy Corbyn as an interim prime minister, should the sitting PM lose a vote.

Claims made by Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson that Mr Corbyn was not the right person to lead the country were “arrogant”, Ms Pidcock said, as she “doesn’t have such a mandate in parliament”.

Johnson heads to Europe

Gina Miller, meanwhile, intervened in the debate to claim she has proof from a government lawyer that Mr Johnson could not prevent MPs from meeting to debate Brexit even if he does prorogue parliament.

Read more:

Voters would prefer no-deal Brexit to Jeremy Corbyn becoming Prime Minister, poll finds

This week, Mr Johnson will travel to Germany and France, where it is thought he will encourage leaders to remain open to a new deal to “replace the failed” offer former prime minister Theresa May negotiated originally.

However, Downing Street has briefed reporters that there is unlikely to be much discussion of Brexit on the trips, with other pressing topics being the focus of the visits.

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Operation Yellowhammer: social care providers ‘will start to go bust’ in a no deal Brexit

The parlous state of social care will be considerably worsened in the event of a no deal Brexit, according to the leaked documents.

Rising costs will hit the sector with “smaller providers impacted within 2-3 months and larger providers 4-6 months after exit”. Experts said the already “fragile” social care system is expected to be tipped over the edge by a no-deal, with providers starting to go bust by the new year.

The publication of a Green Paper on social care has been delayed several times. Originally due to published in “summer 2017”, the latest position is that it will be published “at the earliest opportunity”. However, the Green Paper has now been “ditched” and instead a White Paper – a more authoritative report – will be published in the autumn.

The original rationale for a Green Paper was to explore the issue of how social care is funded by recipients, and a number of policy ideas have reportedly been under consideration for inclusion in the possible Green Paper including: a more generous means-test; a cap on lifetime social care charges; an insurance and contribution model; a Care ISA; and, tax-free withdrawals from pension pots.

Deep concerns

The leaked Yellowhammer document exposes the government’s deep concerns about the impact of a no deal which may have contributed to the delays.

“An increase in inflation following EU exit would significantly impact adult social care providers due to increasing staff and supply costs, and may lead to provider failure, with smaller providers impacted within two-three months and large providers four-six months after exit,” it says.

Recent reports suggest that the government was so concerned about the impact on the sector that it was considering plans to exempt it from new immigration rules to boost the workforce, which is facing an exodus of staff from the EU. Some 104,000 social care staff are from the European Union – almost double the number of EU staff in the NHS.

Vacancies in adult social care are also rising, currently totally 110,000, with around 1 in 10 social worker and 1 in 11 care worker roles unfilled.

Simon Bottery, senior fellow at The King’s Fund charity, said: “Years of underfunding have left adult social care services in England at crisis point. Any reduction in EU social care workers will make this even worse.”

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Operation Yellowhammer: diabetics and child cancer patients ‘to be hit hardest’

Drugs shortages are most likely to hit diabetics and children suffering from cancer, the documents show.

The UK’s supply of medicines is almost certain to be hit hard in the event of a no-deal Brexit and the government concedes that it “will not be practical to stockpile products to cover expected delays of up to six months”, Yellowhammer reveals.

Three-quarters of medicines come via the main Channel crossings into Dover and Folkestone which leaves drug supplies “particularly vulnerable to severe extended delays”. Some drugs — including insulin, flu vaccines and certain new leukaemia treatments — need to be transported under temperature-controlled conditions, and so could become unusable in the event of delays. Other drugs have short shelf lives and cannot be stockpiled.

Last week, the Department of Health and Social Care announced an express freight service that will help transport urgent medicines into the country when the UK leaves the EU. The £25m contract is aimed at ensuring a continued supply chain after Brexit, regardless of whether there is a deal or not.

Private warnings

Britain imports about 37 million medicine packs every month from the EU, industry figures show (Photo: Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty)
Britain imports about 37 million medicine packs every month from the EU, industry figures show (Photo: Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty)

Drugs manufacturers have been ordered by the government to keep an additional six weeks’ supply of medicines in the UK. However, many have warned privately that it will not be possible for all medicines.

Last December, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said he had become the world’s largest buyer of fridges as the NHS stockpiles drugs in order to mitigate the risk of a disruption to supplies in a no deal Brexit. He said the NHS is prepared for disruptions to critical supplies for up to six weeks in the event of a no deal Brexit.

Britain imports about 37 million medicine packs every month from the EU, industry figures show. The October departure date is expected to exacerbate any problems related to drug shortages, owing to the annual winter outbreak of viruses and seasonal pressures on the NHS.

The Yellowhammer document states: “The Department of Health and Social Care is developing a multilayered approach to mitigate these risks”.

However, a senior department source told the Sunday Times: “Our drug supply chain is weak at the best of times — look at the recent shortages in HRT [hormone replacement therapy].”

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Vegetarian teen disqualified from GCSE exam over Islamophobia for criticising halal meat

A vegetarian GCSE student was disqualified from a Religious Studies exam after her comments about halal meat were mistaken by examiners as being Islamophobic.

16-year-old Abigail Ward was accused of making “obscene racial comments … throughout the exam paper” by exam board OCR, which accused her of a “malpractice offence”, according to The Telegraph.

But it emerged that the comments in the June exam made by the student from Gildredge House school in Eastbourne, East Sussex, stemmed from her being a “very strict” vegetarian.

The disqualification was overturned after an appeal by her school explained that the remark that meat from halal butchers is “absolutely disgusting” came from a vegetarian standpoint, rather a racial or religious one.

The exam board also accepted that no other comments in the paper could have been deemed racist, adding that its initial statement about the “frequency and severity of the comments was inaccurate”.


OCR apologised for the stress the disqualification had caused and wished Abigail luck with her GCSE results.

It added that it takes “all incidences of suspected offensive material against a religious group in exams very seriously” but admitted in this case, initially it “did not reach the right conclusion”.

OCR wished Abigail luck in her GCSE results. (Photo: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire)
OCR wished Abigail luck in her GCSE results. (Photo: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire)

Abigail’s Mum, Layla Ward, told The Telegraph she was pleased the disqualification was overturned, but “it should never have happened”.

The 36-year-old nurse said she thinks the disqualification was a result of an examiner being “over-zealous” and “over-righteous”.


She was surprised that her daughter, who she described as an “animal lover”, was penalised, and said the school’s headmaster was equally “shocked” when they were informed about what had happened.

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“We called her [Abigail] downstairs and said, ‘What is this about?’

“She was just as gobsmacked as we were. She’s never had a detention, she’s so good at school,” Mrs Ward said.

“It made me angry when asked a question in the exam, you can’t even express your feelings,” she added.

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Suicide bomber at Kabul wedding brings deadliest carnage of the year

A suicide bomber attacked a wedding party in the Afghanistan capital, Kabul, killing 63 people and injuring nearly 200 – the deadliest attack in the city this year.

The Islamic State terror group’s Afghan affiliate claimed responsibility for the suicide bomb attack at the Dubai City wedding hall on Saturday night.

Officials said nearly 200 people were injured in the blast, in a part of the city that is home to many of its minority Shi’ite Hazara community.

Survivors said the bomber was standing by a stage where children and others had gathered when he detonated his explosives vest.

Amid the carnage at the scene were blood-covered chairs, crushed music speakers and a pile of abandoned shoes.

Graves dug with bare hands

Interior Ministry spokesman Nusrat Rahimi confirmed the casualty toll on Sunday as families began to bury the dead, with some digging graves with their bare hands.

Around 1,200 guests had been invited to the wedding, according to survivor Ahmad Omid.

A wounded man is brought into a hospital after an explosion at wedding hall in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, Aug. 18, 2019.
A wounded man is taken into a hospital after an explosion at wedding hall in Kabul (Photo: Nishanuddin Khan/AP)

Mr Omid, a distant relative of the groom, said: “I was with the groom in the other room when we heard the blast and then I couldn’t find anyone. Everyone was lying all around the hall.”

Condolences have poured in from the international community.

The British Embassy in Kabul said: “The UK utterly condemns the heinous attack on a Kabul wedding last night which killed dozens of innocent civilians.

“Terrorists have inflicted untold suffering to families on what should have been a night of celebration. Our thoughts are with you all. The violence must stop.”

A damaged stage of a wedding hall is seen after a blast in Kabul, Afghanistan August 18, 2019.
A damaged stage at the wedding hall after a blast (Photo: Mohammad Ismail/Reuters)

US Ambassador John Bass added: “Yesterday’s wedding hall bombing in Kabul was an act of extreme depravity. Our heartfelt condolences to the victims and their families. No one should be subject to such an attack, least of all innocent children.”

The blast comes as the US and the Taliban, who have condemned the attack, appear close to a deal to end the war in the country after 18 years.

Negotiations hinge on a US troop withdrawal and Taliban guarantees that they would not allow Afghanistan to become a launching pad for global terror attacks.

But many Afghans fear that terror attacks inside the country will continue, and their pleas for peace – and for details on the talks – have increased in recent days.

Forbidden and unjustifiable

The Taliban, which has perpetrated previous terror attacks, described the wedding bombing as “forbidden and unjustifiable.”

However, President Ashraf Ghani said on Twitter: “The Taliban cannot absolve themselves of blame, for they provide platform for terrorists.”

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President Ghani added: “I strongly condemn the inhumane attack on the wedding hall in Kabul last night.

“My top priority for now is to reach out to the families of victims of this barbaric attack. On behalf of the nation I send my heartfelt condolences to the families of those who were martyred.

“For those who are wounded, I pray for your speedy recovery.”

Additional reporting by Press Association

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Priti Patel announces curfews for 12-year-olds among tough new knife crime laws

Priti Patel has announced that children as young as 12 could be placed under curfews as part of tough new powers given to the courts to tackle knife crime.

The Home Secretary said that anyone aged 12 and over who is suspected by the police to be carrying a blade could find themselves subject to a series of restrictions, including preventing them from interacting with certain people, and banned from certain areas.

The rules will form part of the Offensive Weapons Act, the draft guidance of which is set to be published on Thursday.

“We are cracking down on violent crime, which has a devastating impact on victims, their families, and our communities,” Ms Patel said.

“Our Offensive Weapons Act will help to stop acids and knives making their way onto our streets and being used to carry out horrifying attacks.”

Knife crime

As he took office last month, one of the first announcements Prime Minister Boris Johnson made was a recruitment drive for an extra 20,000 more police officers over the next three years.

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He is under pressure to reverse the cuts to forces made by the previous three Conservative governments, which amounted to around 20,000 officers.

Knife crime has been rising in many cities, including London and Birmingham, and pressure is mounting to counter rising violent crime.

Chicken box controversy

The Home Office will no doubt be hoping the new restrictions prove more popular than the scheme it recently unveiled to feature “#knifefree” slogans on fried chicken boxes across England and Wales.

Tax payer-funded packaging was delivered to 210 fast food outlets earlier this week, including chains such as Chicken Cottage and Dixy Chicken.

The campaign was branded, “crude”, “racist” and “embarrassing” by critics.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Home Secretary Priti Patel visit North Road, Harbourne on 26 July 2019 in Birmingham, England.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Home Secretary Priti Patel visit North Road, Harbourne on 26 July 2019 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Geoff Pugh – WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott criticised the scheme.

She tweeted: “Instead of investing in a public health approach to violent crime, the Home Office have opted for yet another crude, offensive and probably expensive campaign.

“They would do better to invest in our communities not demonise them.”

Ms Patel hit back on social media, accusing Ms Abbott of “playing politics with knife crime”.

“I will do everything in my power to stop it traumatising communities,” she added. “I will not apologise for that.”

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NHS body bans IVF funding for single mothers, claiming they ‘place a burden on society’

An NHS regional body has been labelled “outdated” for banning single women from accessing funding for IVF.

The NHS South East London partnership, which is responsible for the healthcare of more than two million people, states that the children of single parents are at a “known disadvantage”.

While opposite-sex couples in the region are eligible for IVF funding if they have struggled to conceive for three years, the body says single parents and same-sex couples must pay out-of-pocket.

The policy also stipulates that female same-sex couples must be able to show infertility in order to receive funding, and to have paid for “three cycles of privately funded” artificial insemination.

An average cycle of IVF treatment costs £3,500.

‘Greater burden on society’

The ban has been justified by citing a 2011 internal document which claims that “denial of fertility treatment has a limited impact on a woman’s life satisfaction”.

According to The Sunday Times, that document claims: “Single mothers are generally poorer; they are likely to have greater support needs compared to two-parent couples, thereby placing a greater burden on society in general… a woman or man compared to a couple is not equal, and by attempting to think of them as such has no ground or support.”

It adds: “A sole woman is unable to bring out the best outcomes for the child.”

The policy means that women in the area, which controls five hospital trusts and six clinical commissions, who are not partnered and in their 30s face childlessness.

National guidelines state that women should be offered IVF if they are under 40-years-old and have been trying to get pregnant for two years. It does not address single mothers or same-sex couples.

Limited resources available

Access to IVF services is subject to a 'postcode lottery' across England, with regional NHS bodies setting their own rules

The NHS partnership adds that “assisted conception for couples where both partners are male will not be provided,” due to “the implications of a number of important legal points related to surrogate parenting.”

The NHS body also refuses to fund sperm washing, which allows people with HIV and other viral infections to have children without the risk of passing the virus on.

NHS South East London said: “Infertility is a condition that requires investigation, management and treatment in accordance with national guidance.

“As part of the provision of prevention, treatment and care, South East London commissioners are committed to ensuring that access to NHS fertility services is provided fairly and consistently within the limited resources we have available.”

Limited resources

Read more:

Why more parts of the UK are cutting back on free fertility treatment

Under healthcare reforms introduced in 2012, local NHS commissioning groups across England have extensive freedom to set their own rules for fertility services, and provisions vary widely.

Five clinical commissioning groups have ceased all funding for IVF due to a lack of funding, while more generous provisions remain in other areas, leading to accusations of a “postcode lottery”.

In July, Health Secretary Matt Hancock told LGBT website PinkNews that he had ordered a “review inside the Department for Health and Social Care into IVF equality” into current rules.

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The secret Brexit document exposes the duplicity of those that led us into this no-deal debacle

As someone whose father has severe dementia and daughter has profound disabilities, I am well aware of the depth of the social care crisis confronting this country with starved services, diminishing facilities and dwindling staff.

There has been endless talk and much hand-wringing, but no real action to solve a scandal causing immense distress to many families. We have seen 17 white papers, green papers and reviews of funding over the past two decades, while Theresa May’s government delayed a promised green paper six times during its disastrous tenure.

Demonstrators carry placards during a PeopleÕs Assembly demonstration against the Conservative government’s health policy on February 3, 2018 in London. (Photo: Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images)

So I was sceptical when Boris Johnson stood on the steps of Downing Street and promised to ‘fix the crisis in social care once and for all.’ He had, after all, taken minimal interest in this unglamorous issue during his rollercoaster career in politics and journalism.

He was also one of the key apostles of Brexit, which has intensified the staffing crisis as my own family has seen. Now we learn that far from fixing the crisis, he is happily cruising towards no-deal departure that would tip this already ‘fragile’ sector over the edge by driving up costs and closing down care homes.

‘We enter probably the most contentious period of my life at Westminster’

This is not my conclusion. It comes from Yellowhammer, the government’s secret internal planning documents setting out the anticipated impact of no-deal – a scenario that looks increasingly likely under the leadership of Johnson and his fanatical puppet-master Dominic Cummings.

The papers, leaked to The Sunday Times, set out the frightening future facing this country in just ten weeks time with shortages of fuel, food and medicine, logistical chaos for firms, surging bills for consumers, rising civil disorder, businesses shifting jobs abroad, farmers hit hardest and the return of a hard border in Ireland.

The document must be treated cautiously, of course. It may over-estimate damage – or turn out too optimistic. As always with such a leak, there are questions over why the papers were handed to journalists and who benefits, with all sorts of machiavellian interpretations flying around.

Conservative MP and leadership contender Boris Johnson poses with a string of sausages called “Boris Bangers” during a visit to Heck Foods near Bedale, northwest England on July 4, 2019.  (Photo: DARREN STAPLES/AFP/Getty Images)

Inevitably, ministers desperately sought to downplay their own documents. Yet as we enter probably the most contentious period of my life at Westminster, one that threatens major constitutional crisis and exacerbation of alarming societal divisions, this leak underlines the hideous realities of sudden rupture with our most important allies and trading partners.

The detail underlines two points about Brexit. First, the disgusting duplicity of those that led us into this debacle. Voters were assured by its architects that leaving the European Union would be easy, that we held all the cards, that a deal would be simple. Tory MEP Daniel Hannan insisted ‘nobody is talking about threatening our place in the Single Market’ – yet now we confront the disaster of no deal.

‘Democracy is not the tyranny of a one-off majority’

Theresa Villiers, whose seat in cabinet underlines the talent void in politics, claimed there was ‘no reason why the UK’s only land border should be any less open after Brexit than it is today’ while the ludicrous Owen Paterson said the Irish border issue was ‘blown up out of all proportion.’

Former chancellor Philip Hammond is routinely mocked by ultras who have seized control of the Tory party. But he was right to point out no-one voted for no deal since we were assured we would leave with agreement.

Philip Hammond attends the G7 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors’ meeting in Chantilly. (Photo: PASCAL ROSSIGNOL/AFP/Getty Images)

Even in his leadership campaign last month, Johnson told the public that prospects of no-deal were ‘a million to one’ – while claiming negativity about crashing out was ‘wildly overdone.’ No wonder so many people, especially younger generations seeing their future set on fire, have such little faith in politicians after seeing these charlatans play incendiary games.

Brexit has always been about Tory party internal politics. This was the reason for the foolish referendum, it is the reason Johnson demands departure on Halloween night and it is the reason Jeremy Corbyn’s appeasement is such a betrayal of his party. Those that backed this concept will continue to blame others for failure rather than admit to their own mistakes, but Yellowhammer underlines the damage it can cause to this country. Indeed, it is hard to think of another act of similar national self-immolation in recent British history – made all the crazier by the timing, as the world looks increasingly likely to topple into economic downturn amid growing turbulence.

If Brexiteers had been more honest, arguing we face perhaps a decade of pain to reset our global stance, I would have more respect for them. Instead they chose to lie, lie and lie again – and were rewarded by their self-obsessed party with Downing Street.

A man carrying an anti-EU pro-Brexit placard shouts in a counter protest against pro-Europe marchers on a March for Europe demonstration against the Brexit vote in Parliament Square. (Photo: JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP/Getty Images)

My objection to Brexit was not based on love of Brussels, despite sharing Margaret Thatcher’s belief in the single market and admiring free movement. It was a conclusion based on the fact that our nation had spent decades positioning itself as the open gateway to Europe, exploiting trade and linguistic advantages but avoiding fiscal and regulatory excesses. The complexity of unpicking this tangle of ties was glaringly obvious.

So the second point exposed now with sharp clarity is how forcing through Brexit without a deal is a deeply unpatriotic act. And those flip-flopping ministers such as Amber Rudd and Matt Hancock, those MPs staying silent to keep their seats, those business leaders failing to speak out and those journalists ignoring truth, are among the most culpable.

Amber Rudd and Theresa May (Photo: Leon Neal/Getty Images)

Brexit is defended on grounds of democracy, but as I have seen reporting from autocratic states, this noble system of government is about far more than the simple act of voting. It is about accountability, fairness, freedom, rights and trust.

Democracy is not the tyranny of a one-off majority. It is the ability to challenge our rulers, question our decisions and, above all, to change our minds – especially when confronted with fresh facts in changing times.

More from Ian Birrell

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Kevin De Bruyne establishes himself once again as the fulcrum of Manchester City’s irrepressible attacking machine

VAR will continue to swallow games whole for a while longer. As it did at the Etihad, where the compelling theatre of Manchester City’s draw with Tottenham was lost to another controversy.

Pep Guardiola wasn’t happy. Either with the decision to disallow Gabriel Jesus’s late winner or the failure to award a first-half penalty against Erik Lamela. But he spoke with great pride about a dominant performance during which his City side monopolised the ball and the game’s major chances.

Guardiola can sometimes be prone to hyperbole, but this wasn’t one of those occasions. Despite failing to win the game – and exhibiting a strange defensive fragility – City were full of cutting thrust and, at times, made a very capable Spurs look helpless.

Read more: Who will get their money’s worth in the chase for Man City’s crown?

Guardiola was right to find it all so exhilarating. Particularly because it featured a dynamic performance from Kevin De Bruyne, who ran the game with the authoritative class that City have now been without for some time.

Back to full strength

Kevin De Bruyne of Manchester City, pulling the strings (Getty Images)
Kevin De Bruyne of Manchester City, pulling the strings (Getty Images)

Read more: Jose Mourinho is right – Manchester City’s B team probably could win the title

Last season’s hidden and slightly terrifying sub-text was that De Bruyne was really a non-participant. He appeared periodically, but never with his usual dynamic effect and so City, 98 points or not, could really have been considered under-power. Without De Bruyne they remained an excellent side and were well worth their domestic treble, but with him and when endowed by his preposterous range of abilities, all their virtues are accentuated.

His literal effect on Saturday’s game was striking enough: a perfect cross for Raheem Sterling to open the scoring and then a flat, drilled ball which Sergio Aguero turned home for City’s second. But perhaps the most instructive part of his performance was just how often he found space in the same attacking areas and – yet – how powerless Tottenham were to subdue his influence.

That nuance is a very understated part of his game. Mauricio Pochettino had presumably spent much of his week focusing his players on De Bruyne’s threat. Him and his coaching staff probably even built defensive drills around the need to contain him. Yet time and again he was able to slip beyond his markers and into a position to create. The perception was of a disorganised Spurs and a muddled strategy. But what it revealed – or re-emphasised – was just how quickly an in-form De Bruyne processes the game and how fast his recognition of opportunity generally is. Essentially, how redundant he makes all of that planning seem.

That showed vividly for the first goal, when his cross was played so quickly and with so much disguise that Sterling was left alone and unchallenged to convert a simple header. It was seen again for the second, when he slipped beyond Harry Winks and Christian Eriksen, and then left Hugo Lloris watching with a pass that Aguero couldn’t fail to convert. And then, for one of the many chances that City should have converted but didn’t, when De Bruyne wrong-footed Tottenham’s centre-halves with a cut-back which Bernardo Silva steered carelessly wide.

VAR drama

Pep Guardiola, manager of Manchester City reacts during the match against Spurs (Getty Images)
Pep Guardiola, manager of Manchester City reacts during the match against Spurs (Getty Images)

No wonder Guardiola was thrilled. The result displeased him and he continues to find the inconsistencies around the handball laws baffling, but De Bruyne’s return to form has his side looking well-oiled and menacing. When he is the centre point of their attack and when he connects all of Guardiola’s smart little systems, City’s threat grows exponentially. There’s no cross which can’t be played, no running angle which won’t be spotted and exploited.

The question it begs is probably not one the rest of the league cares to think about. If City were able to hold off a near-perfect Liverpool and accumulate 98 points without De Bruyne, what might they do they do with him? Most likely, whatever they choose.

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When and how do we forgive sporting cheats like cricketer Steve Smith?

They booed him each time he walked out and again as he returned to the Pavilion. At Edgbaston and Lord’s, they jeered his runs, rejoiced when he was out. They even cheered as he was hit on the arm and neck during brutal Jofra Archer’s fastest-ever England bowling spell.

Luckily, Steve Smith was not too badly hurt. But what does the best test batsman in the world have to do to earn redemption? Can we forgive tarnished sporting heroes?

For those immune to this summer’s gripping Ashes cricket, Smith the ex-Aussie captain, and David Warner, their cockily aggressive opening batsman, are both “disgraced” because in South Africa last year, Cameron Bancroft was caught on camera using sandpaper to help a roughed-up ball swing more. Young Bancroft did it at Warner’s behest, with Smith’s sanction.

Australia’s Steve Smith is assessed by medical staff after being hit on the neck by a ball off the bowling of England’s Jofra Archer on August 17, 2019.  (Photo: ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images)

All tearfully admitted it. Aussie PM Malcom Turnbull even spoke of the national shame. Despite ridiculously short one-year bans, cheating cost the latter two millions in lost earnings.

Worse, is to be “disgraced”. The indomitable Smith has shrugged it off to score literally tons of runs since, but Bancroft and Warner are struggling. Normally genteel cricket grounds become febrile when they appear.

But, they are hardly the first sportsmen to have been caught cheating, and served bans. When exactly will they be redeemed?

In some sports cheating is or was endemic. Cycling is the obvious example, Lance Armstrong its most famous exponent. After perennially protesting his doping innocence and issuing lawsuits, the seven times Tour de France “champion” confessed belatedly (on Oprah!), was stripped of his titles and stepped down from his own cancer charity, Livestrong. He will never be redeemed.

Lance Armstrong confesses to Oprah Winfrey (Photo: George Burns/Oprah Winfrey Network via Getty Images)

Athletics is scarcely better. Shameless Ben Johnson, the 1988 Olympic 100-metres winner, had eyes that were yellow he had doped so much. Johnson served his ban, returned, was caught again and banned again for life in 1993.

Perhaps it is the pre-meditated nature of the offence? It is not like a cricketer claiming a bump ball catch or a footballer instinctively “hand-balling” like Maradona or Thierry Henry.

We see cheating in almost every football match but players simulating fouls or injury are not disgraced, just abused for 90 minutes. British boxer Tyson Fury appears to be entirely forgiven for his doping offence, which earned him a two-year ban. Is it just that we like the laddish, British Fury?

Do we have an unconscious bias that dictates correct severity of punishment and Smith’s sentence wasn’t long enough? It is certain Smith will be booed all summer and no doubt that he will use our abuse against us. Because it is not cheating that makes him great.


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State Pension Age should be raised to 75 to boost economy, argues think tank founded by ex-Tory leader

People in the UK should work until they reach 75 before receiving a state pension, a think thank has suggested.

Raising the State Pension Age (SPA) to 75 by 2035 could deliver a range of benefits, such as better health for older workers and a boost to the country’s economy, according to a new publication by The Centre for Social Justice (CSJ).

The policy institute, which was co-founded by Iain Duncan-Smith, the former Conservative leader, has suggested that people working to an older age would support public services economically, and increase the UK’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

It calls for more support to realise the potential of older workers, such as access to flexible working hours and training, adding that this could help some people take a “step away from state dependence”.

It also recommends supporting employers to retain older workers.

Older workers

Many workers could be in employment for longer (Photo: Getty)

Currently the retirement age is set to reach 67 by 2028 and to 68 between 2044 and 2046, although in 2017 the Government announced plans to increase it to 68 between 2037 and 2039.

This is in line with increases to life expectancy, according to the government.

But the think-tank’s report said the current situation is “not responding to the potential of an ageing workforce” as hundreds of thousands of 50-64-year olds are “economically inactive”.

It proposes a staged increase, rising to 70 by 2028 and to 75 by 2035, in a bid to help older people “access the benefits of work”

The CSJ added that employing more older people could also reduce the cost of benefits.

‘Removing barriers’

In its report, Ageing Confidently: Supporting an ageing workforce, the think-tank states: “As we prepare for the future, we must prioritise increasing the opportunity to work for this demographic to reduce involuntary worklessness.

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“For the vulnerable and marginalised, a job offers the first step away from state dependence, social marginalisation and personal destitution.”

It continues: “While this might seem contrary to a long-standing compassionate attitude to an older generation that have paid their way in the world and deserve to be looked after, we do not believe it should be.

“Working longer has the potential to improve health and wellbeing, increase retirement savings and ensure the full functioning of public services for all.”

‘Record employment’

A Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) spokesperson told i: “Everyone’s State Pension age is unique to them and in 2017 we raised the future retirement age to 68 so that it is sustainable now and for future generations.

“We’re creating opportunities for people of all generations with record employment.”

The number of over-50s in work is at a high, with more than 10.6million in employment, according to the DWP.

Currently, work coaches at Jobcentres are available to help people of any age develop their careers, while the Fuller Working Lives service is helping employers hire and retain more older workers.

Additional reporting by Press Association. 

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Ivo Graham: The Game Of Life, Edinburgh Fringe 2019: fatherhood maketh the man

Ivo Graham: The Game Of Life
Pleasance Courtyard

Ivo Graham’s sixth show at the Fringe is loosely about him becoming a father for the first time, but luckily he did not gaze into the audience at any point and ask “Any new dads in?”

If he had, this reviewer would have found it difficult to maintain any veneer of professionalism by staying silent. It turns out we both went through the experience within a month of each other.

Building on the success of last year’s coming-of-age show, the 28-year-old comedian has put his time spent at ante-natal classes to good use, producing one the funniest hours at this year’s festival.

It is even more impressive as it manages to completely avoid cliché, with Graham poking fun at the obsessions of modern parenting at the same time as admitting he is conforming to the stereotype.

Some of the lines are exquisite, such as his comparison between his daughter and the political party Change UK, “a symbol of hope emerging from the bloody wreckage of a labour party”.

Many of the topics covered will be familiar to every parent, such as he and his partner’s decision to upgrade to a family car and their sudden realisation that buying a pram costs about as much.

Ivo Graham deals with topic such as choosing a baby's name in his excellent show
Ivo Graham deals with topic such as choosing a baby’s name in his excellent show

He admits that his decision to humiliate himself on ITV2’s Don’t Hate The Playaz was purely in the interests of pram finance, with his appearance fee proving to be “the difference between an UppaBaby Vista and an UppaBaby Cruz”.

Lest the audience ever forget about his posh background, his Eton schooling features prominently in his routine again, allowing him to unleash his polite brand of vitriol on the Tory leadership contest.

This section also gives Graham one of his show’s best one-liners, so good it is sure to feature in Joke of the Fringe lists, which no doubt won’t do it justice in the slightest.

A mention must also go to his impossibly good piece of improvised audience interaction, to which he returned throughout the show as if it was part of his routine all along.

Having dealt with adulthood and parenthood already, Graham’s show next year will presumably be about middle age. If he is this good after six sleep-deprived months, it should not be missed.

Read more on Edinburgh Fringe

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Pig hearts could be transplanted into humans within three years, top surgeon says

It may soon be possible to replace people’s hearts with pig hearts, a leading heart transplantation surgeon has said.

Sir Terence English, who performed Britain’s first successful heart transplant in August 1979, told The Sunday Telegraph of his hopes ahead of an operation by a protege to try and transplant a pig kidney into a human “before the end of this year”.

The retired cardiac surgeon, now 87, explained: “If the result of xenotransplantation is satisfactory with porcine kidneys to humans, then it is likely that hearts would be used with good effects in humans within a few years.

“If it works with a kidney, it will work with a heart. That will transform the issue.”

Pig treatments fuel hopes

If successful, transplanting hearts from pigs could have a large impact on the treatment of heart-related medical issues.

There are currently around 280 patients waiting for heart transplants in the UK, with a shortage in eligible donor hearts.

Pig hearts are anatomically similar to human hearts
Pig hearts are anatomically similar to human hearts (Photo by REUTERS/Shannon VanRaes)

Pigs’ heart anatomy and physiology is similar to that of humans, so they are often used as models for developing new treatments.

Sir Terence’s comments come 40 years on from his landmark operation.

Pioneering treatments

Professor Jeremy Pearson of British Heart Foundation said: “One of the British Heart Foundation’s first grants was given to scientists conducting early research into transplant techniques.

“From that day in 1963 to the present day, the BHF has been funding pioneers just like Sir Terence to carry out cutting-edge research to improve surgical techniques, prevent transplant rejection and develop medical devices to help the failing heart.”

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Mother who lost her 22-year-old son meets six-year-old girl who was saved by his liver

Hopes were previously raised that a genetic therapy could lead to an improved heart attack treatment, after proving effective in pigs.

In May, an international team of researchers found that delivering a small piece of genetic material called microRNA-199 into damaged hearts can cause cells to regenerate.

The new technique shows huge promise in regenerating the crucial cardiac muscle cells that are destroyed during a heart attack – largely healing debilitating scars.

Additional reporting by Press Association

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Ariana Grande: Sweetener tour, O2, London: ‘Euphoric and overwhelming show from pop’s new deity’

Ariana Grande
O2 Arena, London

Seeing Ariana Grande’s first UK arena show since the events of Manchester in 2017, where a suicide bomber took the lives of 22 concert-goers, was always going to be an emotional affair. In the UK, the 26-year-old is not only a hugely successful popstar, but a symbol of resilience, thanks to the One Love Manchester benefit concert she held in the weeks after the attack, a reminder of the hopeful and healing power that love can have following sheer devastation. 

As she rose from the ground at London’s O2, sitting at the centre of a banqueting table in an IRL recreation of Leonardo da Vinci’s “The Last Supper”, and launched into her hit “God is a Woman”, Grande forced us to recognise her as something else: pop music’s new deity; a goddess in platform stilettos and a ponytail as high as the heavens. 

Her arrival at this Messianic position comes after Grande’s two most significant releases. In 2018 Sweetener was an album brimming with optimism and reverence for what she and her fans had experienced. The singer experienced more personal trauma after her ex-boyfriend, the rapper Mac Miller, died from an accidental overdose, and then her engagement to the comedian Pete Davidson came to an end. Channelling her hurt and devastation into her music, Grande took to the studio and, in a few short weeks, recorded another album, 2019’s thank u, next, a concise and brilliant album. 

Read more:

How Ariana Grande became pop’s biggest powerhouse

The tour in support of those two bodies of work, the Sweetener World Tour, has already had been whizzing across the States, but its European leg, which began in London on Saturday night and continues until October, feels significant. On opening night at The O2, there’s an electric energy that arena shows rarely offer, the collective goodwill of 20,000 people who, regardless of their level of fandom, feel a strong sense of kinship with the singer.

Ariana Grande The O2 Arena London tour. Photo: Rich Polk/Getty
Ariana Grande was ‘note-perfect’ throughout. Photo: Rich Polk/ Getty

Perhaps that’s why the show also felt like so much fun. And Grande, who has been known to break down in tears on stage during the set’s more emotional material, looked as if she were feeding off that energy, too. 

Her voice, always her biggest asset as a performer, was strong and note-perfect throughout, even during choreography-heavy numbers like “Be Alright” “Break Up With Your Girlfriend” and “Side to Side”. She embellished songs, too, adding those infamous whistle tones to “God is a Woman” and “Breathin’” for no reason other than she could. 

The songs on Sweetener that never felt quite up to scratch, such as the title track and the dissonant Nicki Minaj-assisted “The Light is Coming”, came alive on stage, too, and the audience popped off to the former’s post-chorus. Similarly, “Successful” and “7 Rings”, which saw the singer fire money into the crowd, were ablaze: never has a celebration of late-stage capitalism been so magnetic. 

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It was “Into You”, a single taken from her third album Dangerous Woman, that gripped the crowd. Rarely does such a venue bubble over with enthusiasm, but if felt like the room was about to take off. Who needs a mosh pit when you have 20,000 people dancing like nobody’s watching?

The only problem the night had was the sheer pace at which Grande moved through her set. Fan favourites like “Love Me Harder” and “Break Free” were cut short, while video interludes sometimes felt too long. There also seemed be a small issue with the sound at one stage. Still, these are minor gripes, and throughout the singer maintained control.

The staging might have been simple, save for some nifty projections and clever lighting, yet the singer’s magnetism allowed for that simplicity as she tugged at the audience in more intimate moments and celebrated with them at others.

Perhaps it’s what they’ve come to represent, but the show’s two closing numbers, “No Tears Left To Cry” and encore “thank u, next”, felt specifically heavy with emotion, their personal significance to Grande and the significance they have to fans amalgamating to create a spine-tingling finale that was both euphoric and completely overwhelming. 

It was the perfect closing act for a show that was a masterclass in pop, rich with conviction and tastefully restrained. Pop goddess? After witnessing last night’s show, it’s a title that Ariana Grande more than deserves.

The ‘Sweetener’ European tour continues to 13 October

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More than 100 MPs demand Boris Johnson recalls Parliament at time of national emergency

More than 100 MPs from are calling on Boris Johnson to recall parliament at a time of “national emergency”.

The letter, sent to the Prime Minister and signed by Conservatives Guto Bebb and Dominic Grieve, among others, demands more time to scrutinise the new government ahead of an increasingly likely no-deal Brexit at the end of October.

“Since the Second World War, parliament has been recalled multiple times in every decade for a wide range of political, security and economic reasons,” it read.

“Our country is on the brink of an economic crisis, as we career towards a no-deal Brexit which will have an immediate effect on food and medical supplies, damage our economy, jobs, the public finances, public services, universities and long-term economic security.

National emergency

Dominic Grieve (Photo: Victoria Jones/ PA Wire)
Dominic Grieve (Photo: PA Wire)

The Speaker, John Bercow, has the power to recall parliament, which is usually done at the request of the government.

“A no-deal Brexit also threatens our crucial security co-operation to keep our country safe from criminals and terrorists,” MPs continued.

“We face a national emergency, and parliament must be recalled now in August and sit permanently until 31 October, so that the voices of the people can be heard, and that there can be proper scrutiny of your government.”

Other signatories of the letter include Westminister leaders of the SNP, Liberal Democrats and Change UK, as well as Labour MPs and the Green Party’s Caroline Lucas.

‘Disturbing populism’

In the letter, MPs detailed what they claim is an increasingly populist direction of Mr Johnson’s new government.

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“In addition there is a creeping and disturbing populism taking over your discourse on the EU,” MPs added.

“You have used the language of fascism and authoritarianism in terms such as ‘collaboration’ to describe parliamentary colleagues who have the temerity to disagree with you.”

Furthermore, it criticised Dominic Cummings, the controversial adviser to the PM, claiming that he had been acting “entirely unaccountable”.

Dominic Cummings, special advisor for Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson, leaves his home in London, Britain 14 August 2019 (Photo: Hannah McKay/ Reuters)

“A true democrat should not fear such scrutiny,” the letter concludes. “The question is whether you are one.”

On 24 June, parliament voted by 223 to 25 to take a summer recess  between 25 July and 3 September.

The decision made by MPs means that there will be only nine weeks before the Brexit deadline of 31 October that parliament is in session.

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