A little girl has been reunited with her beloved lost toy ‘Bunny’ after losing it in a supermarket.
Three-year-old Madison was shopping with her mother Jenna Rachal in Publix, a supermarket chain in the US, when she left the stuffed animal in the trolley.
The toddler was understandably devastated, but when her mother called the shop no one had handed the toy in. In a last ditch attempt to locate Bunny, Jenna posted to a local Facebook group to ask others if they had seen the toy.
Her post went viral, prompting store manager Mike Gayheart to scour CCTV to find where the toy might be, eventually spotting it being thrown in the rubbish outside and sent to landfill.
Mike then called on three employees, Alex Chandonnett, Jordan De La Rosa, and Bobby Barnhart, to form a search party for the toy. Miraculously, they found it.
“Bunny is a special friend to our daughter and we have missed him and so glad he is back,” wrote Jenna.
For those worrying about the cleanliness of the rescued toy, Jenna said: “Mike took bunny home and washed him three times to get him nice and clean. Bunny still [has] a stench but we are so happy he is home. Maddie has not let him go and she says he doesn’t stink.”
HumanKind is HuffPost’s celebration of kindness, featuring people who do incredible things for others or the planet – transforming lives through small but significant acts. Get involved by joining us on Facebook or telling us about the people who you think deserve recognition for their kind works. You can nominate them here or share your personal story by emailing [email protected].
By Matt Bagwell
When the first ‘
Cher Says She ‘Didn’t Have Much Choice’ About Being In ‘Mamma Mia 2’
By Amy Packham
The six-week break with your kids over the summer should be a time for you to relax and spend time with your family. But with the added costs of childcare, days out and missing work, it can become a struggle financially.
“When I’m not working, I’m not being paid,” says Joanne Dewberry, from Dorset, a self-employed small business owner and freelance writer. “It can be hugely daunting. The summer holidays are an absolute nightmare, there is no getting away from that. You go from six hours child-free everyday to 24/7 for six weeks.”
Dewberry, who is mum to seven-year-old Olive, nine-year-old Megan and 11-year-old Charlie, has to try compromise with her husband, who is a gardener, to balance both their jobs throughout the year. She tries to work longer hours in winter and fewer in summer, but navigating this can be tricky.
For Natasha Vale, 31, from Stourport-On-Severn, Worcestershire, financial struggles are apparent during the summer holidays too, but not because she’s losing out on work. The stay-at-home mum to twins Isla and Esme, both seven, five-year-old Bray and Luna, who is 22 months, says she finds the holidays really hard to budget for. “Money over any half-term is certainly a stretch but the summer holidays really do impact us financially,” she says. “It’s such a long period of time to provide additional activities and food compared to the ‘normal’ daily routine of schools.”
During the summer holidays, Vale says her family can use up to four pints of milk and a loaf of bread a day. “My children enjoy fruit and yogurts too so, with four children, the cost of this alone soon mounts up,” says Natasha. “Our shopping bill can increase weekly due to the fact that we are eating more at home or eating out.”
And it’s not just food, days out are also a big cost for Vale. She struggles with the fact most family tickets apply to two adults and two children or one adult two children, when she has four children. Her husband works, so she is usually venturing out as one adult with four kids and often can’t buy a family ticket. “It all soon adds up,” she says.
Fiona Brown, 38, from Essex, is also self-employed as a career coach. “Affording childcare and taking leave is a worry for us,” says Fiona, who is mum to Seth, four and Zachariah, two. “It means a financial loss. It’s a very long period of time so I have to look at whether I can still make appointments with clients and worry that I won’t get any work down.”
Brown feels there is a pressure to be doing things all the time during the summer holidays, such as activities, days out, and “having that extra ice cream”. All these things can add up and make a dent in your wallet. Not only that, but Brown says many activities don’t cater for different age groups, so her two-year-old can’t go to the same activity as her four-year-old – so one of them loses out. “There is definitely a pressure to go out and keep them entertained that can be really difficult for a long period where they’re out of routine,” she adds.
Over the years, Joanne says she has found ways to reduce her spending over the holidays. “You’d be surprised how buying an extra packet of juice cartons, bottles of water and storing those for the summer can make your finances go a lot further,” she says. “I usually have something in the car boot (lollypops, crisps, juice) which helps reduce the chance I’ll spend money in parks and also can help increase the length of an activity because, believe me, it can all soon go downhill if they get thirsty!”
Planning is also crucial in ensuring Joanne has budgeted enough for the holidays. For the past six years, she has spent time leading up to the summer break organising and booking her kids onto free activities and holiday clubs. This also involves squirrelling away money “even if it’s just a few £1 here or there”. She sets herself budgets for days out, so she doesn’t overspend, and tends to organise something quite expensive in between lots of free things like utilising local parks, bike rides, river fun or the local library. Joanne prints off the six weeks on a calendar and starts filling activities in advance so her kids know what’s coming up. “Having a plan stops you getting to the point where you are starting to panic,” she says. “I literally start preparing for the summer from after half-term in May.”
Brown tries to work little and often from home with her kids, making sure she still gets to spend time with them, but also manages to get some work done. “I book childcare in advance and book my diary up weeks in advance so I know where I am at any given time,” she adds.
To save on days out, Vale tries to be savvy where she can to avoid the costs becoming unmanageable. She uses Tesco Club Card points, which can go towards days out, and does a lot of research to find local activities to do. “During the half term in May for example, we visited three farms and a park, we baked and did lots of craft activities and managed to do all of that for the under £40,” she says.
How do you manage to keep your kids entertained during the summer holidays without splashing too much of the cash? Get in touch and let us know by emailing [email protected].
For more information:
Families Online supports families struggling financially. Find out more here.
by Ben Williams, tutor in politics and political theory at the University of Salford
Karl Marx claimed history is a series of recurring political cycles, observing that it repeats itself, “the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce”.
And indeed, prime minister Theresa May appears to be following the same tortuous political route as one of her Conservative predecessors, John Major, who was the troubled incumbent of Downing Street between 1990 and 1997.
There are various parallels to be made between these two political eras. The most obvious is that both periods of government have seen the Conservative party being torn down the middle by the divisive issue of Europe. Indeed, the origins of today’s Brexit saga can be traced back to the EU-related tensions of the 1990s in particular. It was said to be the “fault line” that destabilised Major’s time in office.
For May, it has been the all-consuming Brexit policy agenda which she inherited on taking office that continues to create repeated crises for her administration.
Both leaders also arrived at Downing Street after the dramatic departure of their predecessors. Major took over following Margaret Thatcher’s reluctant resignation in 1990 and May succeeded David Cameron after he resigned in the wake of the Brexit referendum of 2016. Unfolding amid a sense of general crisis, both periods of rule have garnered something of a chaotic image – not least because both leaders were further hampered by significant Cabinet disunity. Major famously grappled with his so-called ministerial “bastards” before facing a leadership challenge in 1995. He eventually won that contest but was politically damaged by it.
In a similar vein, May faced the high-profile resignations of senior cabinet ministers David Davis and Boris Johnson over her Brexit policy direction. She has survived this episode, in the short term at least, but remains vulnerable to a leadership challenge.
This sense of almost permanent political crisis ultimately derives from the fundamental premise that neither of these prime ministers enjoyed a significant parliamentary majority while in office. Major’s narrow majority of 21, achieved in the 1992 general election, was gradually eroded by deaths, defections and adverse by-election results. By late 1996, he headed a minority government. Theresa May gambled away the small majority she had inherited from Cameron by calling the 2017 general election. She now also leads a minority government.
It should be noted that both leaders won an impressively high and almost identical Conservative vote in the elections they fought. Major took 14million (42.2%) in 1992 and May took 13.6million in 2017 (42.4%) in 2017. No other Conservative leaders since the Thatcher era have achieved such high levels of popular support. But that’s cold comfort when the electoral system means the votes fail to translate into a majority.
May, like Major, is feeling the pressure that comes with lacking a parliamentary majority as she tries to get key votes and legislation passed. And, like him, she has had to rely on a smaller party from Northern Ireland to deliver key policies.
Amid such circumstances, it’s perhaps not a surprise that the governments of both May and Major could be said to lack ideological coherence and a clear political identity. Neither leader is seen to have carved out a distinctly different direction from their immediate predecessors, which both were keen to do. Major wanted freedom from Thatcher’s dominant shadow and often polarising ideology, particularly after she publicly declared that she would be his “backseat driver”.
Likewise, May sought to depart from Cameron’s privileged public school image, his “Notting Hill metropolitanism” and gimmicky policies such as the Big Society. She pushed for the restoration of grammar schools and pledged to support the meritocratic aspirations of Britain’s ordinary “hard-working families”. But her policy agenda has been fatally undermined by her electoral setback and divided party.
This nod to traditional values even had echoes of Major’s ill-fated “back to basics” campaign of the mid-1990s, which ultimately backfired thanks to a series of scandals.
The parallels between both troubled and divided periods of Conservative rule continue to resonate in the current political climate, with the country’s relations with Europe the defining issue of the day both then and now. How May’s administration will end has yet to be determined, and the interminable issue of Europe will play a key role in deciding her eventual fate. But based on current political trends, she could well be removed by a significantly damaging electoral defeat, as was the case for Major.
This blog first appeared on The Conversation, and can be read here
The sun is shining (still), another weekend is upon us and you’re about to see five adorable photos and videos starring brilliant animals. What could be better?
A toddler has made quite the impression on his neighbours’ doggo. After throwing a ball over the fence, the two-year-old was thrilled when the playful pooch caught it and returned it to his side of the fence – cue the start of a very beautiful friendship.
A fence can’t stop my two-year-old from playing with his new best friend.
HuffPets: 5 Cute Animal Pictures To End The Week
11 Reasons You Should Talk To Your Pet Instead Of A Human
Feeding Raw Meat Diet To Your Pets Could Be Dangerous
By Charley Ross
“If you’re thinking about what’s going into your food, why don’t you think about what’s going inside your vagina?”
Meika Hollender isn’t a woman to mess about when it comes to the important questions. The co-founder of
Why Is There Plastic In Tampons?
Failings that saw vital evidence withheld from lawyers in rape and sexual assault cases have been blamed on the outgoing director of public prosecutions, Alison Saunders.
MPs sitting on the Justice Committee slammed “insufficient focus and leadership” that left issues unresolved, and said Saunders did not see “the extent and seriousness” of slip-ups which left defence lawyers without key information.
A report published on Friday also concludes the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) may have underestimated the number of cases stopped because of disclosure errors by 90%.
Committee chair Bob Neill said correct disclosure of evidence by the police and CPS is too often seen as an “administrative headache”.
“This is not acceptable,” said the barrister and Tory MP.
“As we’ve seen in high profile cases since last year – disclosure failings are extremely damaging for those concerned and can have a permanent life-long impact.
“These failings have caused miscarriages of justice and – as the director of public prosecutions even admitted to us – some people have gone to prison as a result.”
In the lead-up to trials, police and prosecutors are required to hand over relevant material that either undermines the prosecution case or assists the defence.
Confidence in the criminal justice system was rocked last year after a flurry of cases collapsed when it emerged that vital evidence had not been passed to defence lawyers.
The collapsed rape trial of Liam Allan raised the profile of a string of similar sex cases, where charges were dropped when critical material emerged at the last minute.
The revelations prompted a review of every live rape and serious sexual assault prosecution in England and Wales, which found issues with the disclosure of unused material in 47 cases.
The Justice Committee found failings arose in the “application of disclosure by police officers and prosecutors on the ground” and recommended a shift in culture towards viewing the process as a “core justice duty” rather than an “administrative add-on”.
Its report said the Government must consider whether funding is sufficient, with delayed or collapsed trials putting a further strain on tight resources.
The Attorney General is conducting a review of disclosure, while a raft of measures are being brought in, including a National Disclosure Improvement Plan.
Neill said: “The proliferation of electronic evidence makes disclosure ever more challenging, and we need the right skills, technology, resources and guidelines, to resolve this once and for all.
“The failings are symptomatic of a system under immense strain: without change, we cannot expect the public to have confidence in the criminal justice system.
“We welcome the National Disclosure Improvement Plan, and particularly the commitment of senior police officers we spoke to, and we look forward to reading the Attorney General’s review, but these must deliver much needed improvement.
“There have been too many reviews of disclosure that have not resulted in real change.”
Responding to the report, Saunders said: “I have been very clear that addressing the long-standing problems in managing disclosure across the criminal justice system is my top priority.
“There is an unprecedented focus on finding solutions, and extensive action has been under way over the past year to bring about the necessary change not just in how cases are handled, but in the wider culture within the CPS and policing.
“The National Disclosure Improvement Plan, published jointly with the police in January, is already having a positive effect.
“This is not a quick fix. We will evaluate the measures taken, and agree further commitments to ensure there is continuous improvement.
“We will consider carefully the findings and recommendations of the Justice Select Committee.”
The National Police Chiefs’ Council’s lead for criminal justice, Chief Constable Nick Ephgrave, added: “We have found the Director of Public Prosecutions to be fully aware of the extent and seriousness of the disclosure failures and fully committed to working with us to drive the changes that are needed across the whole system.”
By Jasmin Gray
Football bosses must tackle the “disgusting” online abuse of disabled people by fans, MPs have demanded.
The call comes after an inquiry inspired by former model Katie Price discovered football fans using offensive terms about disabled people to insult players and their performances online – as well as the name of Price’s teenage son.
Harvey, 16, is blind and suffers from the rare genetic condition Prader-Willi Syndrome.
More than 220,000 people signed a petition from Price calling on Parliament to make online abuse a specific criminal offence and create a register of offenders.
She told politicians earlier this year that “the most horrific things” had been aimed at her son on social media, including messages saying “why don’t you just die?”.
Now, MPs on the Petitions Committee have written to football equality charity Kick It Out and its founders – which include the FA and the Premier League – to tackle the issue.
Labour MP Helen Jones – who is chair of the committee – dubbed the high proportion of abusive language about disabled people from football fans “shocking”.
“It’s unacceptable, disgusting and frankly baffling that a child with disabilities is subject to mockery from football fans online,” Jones said of Price’s son Harvey.
“Ms Price has five children. Four of her children are white and able-bodied. One of her children, Harvey, is biracial and has multiple disabilities. It is surely no coincidence that it is Harvey who suffers a torrent of online abuse.
“Football must do more to ensure the sport is inclusive for everyone, no matter what their background,” Jones added.
Kick It Out has yet to respond to HuffPost UK’s requests for comment.
By Jasmin Gray
The NHS will receive a tech boost worth half-a-billion pounds in a bid to make it “the most advanced health system in the world”, Matt Hancock is set to announce.
In his maiden speech as Health Secretary on Friday morning, newly-appointed Hancock will unveil a £487 million funding package to transform technology in hospitals, making “care better for patients” and “life easier for staff”.
While £412 million will be spent in part on allowing patients greater access to health services at home, a further £75 million will be used to save staff time and reduce potentially fatal medication errors by introducing state-of-the-art electronic systems for paperwork.
In a speech at his constituency’s West Suffolk Hospital, the former Digital Secretary will set out his aim to drive a “culture change” within the NHS, calling on staff to “embrace the next generation of technology”.
“The opportunities of new technology, done right across the whole of health and social care, are vast,” the Tory MP is due to say. “Let’s work together to seize them.”
Hancock – who took on the role as Health Secretary after his predecessor Jeremy Hunt was appointed Foreign Secretary at the start of July – will also pledge to fight for “undervalued” health workers, telling hospital staff: “I value you. I admire you.”
Finally, prevention will become a key pillar for the NHS under his leadership, the Cabinet minister will say, calling for investment in primary care and community pharmacies to reduce unnecessary hospital admissions.
The health service must “empower people to keep themselves more healthy at home”, Hancock is to add.
But Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth said Hancock’s first speech would be a disappointment for patients.
“The 4.3 million patients on waiting lists and the nearly 27,000 patients who waited over 62 days for cancer treatment last year will feel sorely let down that reducing waiting lists and stamping out rationing isn’t the first priority of the new Health Secretary,” the Labour MP railed.
“Investment in technology is welcome but years of Tory austerity has seen hospitals build up a £5 billion repair backlog, resulting in clinicians nationwide using hundreds of pieces of equipment that are years out of date, as recently revealed by Labour.”
Figures obtained by the party in June showed that
The NHS Still Has 11,000 Fax Machines – And They Are Costing More Than £130k To Maintain
50 MPs Call For Women In England To Be Able To Take Abortion Pills At Home
US President Donald Trump has asked a senior aide to invite Vladimir Putin to Washington in the autumn, the White House has said.
Trump had rejected the Russian President’s proposal that Russian authorities be allowed to question American citizens, the White House said on Thursday, after the offer drew fierce criticism in the United States.
The Republican president then directed his national security adviser, John Bolton, to invite Putin to DC – four days after Trump held a summit with the Russian leader in Helsinki.
“President Trump asked @Ambjohnbolton to invite President Putin to Washington in the fall and those discussions are already underway,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said in a tweet.
Following their summit on Monday, Putin described the proposal when he was asked about the possible extradition of 12 Russian intelligence officers indicted in the United States on charges of meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
Putin indicated he would permit American law enforcement officials to observe questioning by Russian officials of the indicted Russians in exchange for letting Russian investigators question Americans on other matters, mentioning London-based financier Bill Browder, a onetime investor in Russia.
Trump on Monday called Putin’s idea “an incredible offer”.
“It is a proposal that was made in sincerity by President Putin, but President Trump disagrees with it,” Sanders said in a statement on earlier Thursday.
“Hopefully President Putin will have the 12 identified Russians come to the United States to prove their innocence or guilt.”
In Helsinki, @POTUS agreed to ongoing working level dialogue between the two security council staffs. President Trump asked @Ambjohnbolton to invite President Putin to Washington in the fall and those discussions are already underway.
— Sarah Sanders (@PressSec) July 19, 2018
The White House issued that statement as the US Senate prepared to vote on a resolution expressing congressional opposition to allowing any U.S. officials to be questioned by Russia.
In a rebuke, the Senate – controlled by Trump’s fellow Republicans – went on to unanimously approve the resolution.
It was the latest U-turn from the White House as it struggled to quiet an uproar over Trump’s failure to confront Putin over Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
The White House had said on Wednesday that Trump was considering the proposal, drawing a barrage of criticism from Republicans and Democrats.
Trump on Tuesday said he mis-spoke during a joint news conference in Helsinki when he said he did not see why Russia would meddle in the election.
On Wednesday, Trump answered “no” to a reporter’s question on whether Russia was still targeting the United States, only to have Sanders say hours later he was saying “no” to answering any questions – not to the question itself.
By Paul Waugh
Labour’s Emily Thornberry has categorically ruled out backing a second Brexit referendum, declaring a Jeremy Corbyn government would have to “do as instructed” by the British people in the 2016 EU vote.
In her strongest remarks yet on the issue, the Shadow Foreign Secretary told a private meeting in Islington that the party had to uphold the Leave vote “as much as it breaks our heart”.
Thornberry also said she disagreed with former Cabinet minister Justine Greening, who this week called for a ‘People’s Vote’ with three options -approving the Government’s Chequers plan, a ‘no deal’ Brexit and staying in the EU.
Her comments came at a meeting of Corbyn’s local Islington North constituency Labour party on Wednesday night, which also rejected pleas from activists for a fresh referendum.
Motions calling for a ‘People’s Vote’, backed by an alliance of left wingers and centrists, were tabled but failed to win enough support as supporters of the Labour leader said that any move to shift the current party policy on the issue would be seen as ‘anti-JC’.
Corbyn, whose Shadow Cabinet have studiously avoided committing the party either way on a new referendum, was present for the entire discussion on Brexit.
More than 100,000 people turned out for a ‘People’s Vote’ march in London in June and the idea is gaining support in local Labour parties.
Deputy leader Tom Watson repeated last week Corbyn’s line that Labour was not “calling for” a new plebiscite, but could not rule one out.
Thornberry, whose own seat neighbours Islington North, made a speech rounding on the idea that the country needed either a cross-party ‘Government of National Unity’ or a referendum to sort out the UK’s exit from the EU.
“What we need is not a Government of National Unity, what we need is not a second referendum – we need a general election. That’s what we need,” she said.
“We need to have a Labour government that will be pragmatic. That will turn up in Brussels and say ‘the grown-ups have arrived’. Let’s work out what we are going to do.
“We have to leave, we don’t want to leave, we weren’t the liars, we weren’t the manipulators, we didn’t have any lies on the side of buses, we weren’t pushing to leave the European Union, we were campaigning to remain in the European Union.
“We are internationalists and we believe that we are European. The trouble is we went ahead and had a referendum and we lost it and overwhelmingly, above everything else, we are Democrats, so we have to do as instructed – as much as it breaks our heart.”
Last week Watson told BBC Radio 4 that the current “chaos” in the Tory party meant that there may be no Parliamentary majority for Theresa May’s Chequers compromise plan for Brexit.
“Even though we’d prefer a meaningful vote in Parliament – and I have said many, many times it’s highly, highly, highly unlikely we will support a people’s vote, and we have not called for it – we haven’t taken that off the table.
“Because there are a rare set of circumstances where Parliament just can’t make a decision on it and, in those circumstances, you’d keep your options open.”
Demands for a ‘People’s Vote’ on the final Brexit deal hammered out with Brussels have intensified in recent months and Greening has been joined by ‘Remainer’ Tories Anna Soubry and Dominic Grieve in backing the idea.
No.10 firmly dismissed the proposal but the Liberal Democrats, SNP and large numbers of Labour activists want a fresh vote because the original EU referendum did not specify which type of Brexit the UK would get.
At the Islington North meeting, some activists tabled motions calling for a full Brexit debate at this year’s party conference in September, as well as a new referendum.
However, supporters of Corbyn said that to pass them would send the wrong message.
“Think how it would look if this CLP passes this,” one said. Another said the most important thing was to continue to have faith in the leadership and the Shadow Cabinet.
The People’s Vote campaign is trying to get as many local parties as possible to table motions for conference.
By Owen Bennett
You can sign up for this briefing by clicking here, and you’ll receive it straight to your inbox every Thursday afternoon.
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Parliament was positively crackling with tension this week as the Tory civil war over Brexit cranked up another notch. At times it was hard to know where to look as skirmishes seemed to break out all over the estate.
Anna Soubry delivered the speech of the week (sorry Boris) as she tore into the Hard Brexiteers in her own party on Monday. Soubry – and other pro-EU Tories – were furious Theresa May accepted an amendment to the customs Bill which they believe goes against a key part of the Chequers Agreement.
The amendment would stop the UK collecting EU tariffs on goods unless EU countries reciprocate. Anti-Brexiteers fear this will scupper talks with Brussels as the EU will not accept such a deal, which will effectively mean having to install new customs systems on its borders.
Soubry was furious: “The only reason that the government has accepted these amendments is because it is frightened of somewhere in the region of 40 members of parliament – the hard, no deal Brexiteers, who should have been seen off a long time ago and should be seen off.”
She also blasted “ideologically driven” colleagues with a “gold-plated pension and inherited wealth” for backing Brexit to the detriment of people’s jobs.
When it came to the vote, the Government narrowly won by 305 votes to 302.
While Defence Minister Guto Bebb quit his post in order to vote against the amendment, Lib Dem duo Sir Vince Cable and Tim Farron didn’t even bother to turn up.
Sir Vince was at a meeting off the parliamentary estate, while Farron was taking part in a debate on…you guessed it, gay sex.
Having lost the fight on Monday, pro-EU Tories were determined to force through their own amendment on Tuesday which really would have scuppered the Chequers Agreement.
The change to the Trade Bill would have seen May having to negotiate keeping the UK in a customs union with the EU, if no other deal could be struck by January.
The Government defeated the amendment with a majority of just six – with the final result being 307 to 301.
Prior to the vote, the Tory whips had been very busy. Deputy Chief Whip Chris Pincher told MPs that if the amendment passed, the Government would pull the Bill and trigger a General Election (not sure how under the Fixed Term Parliaments Act, but there we are).
But the real focus of attention is on the actions of Chief Whip Julian Smith. Lib Dem MP Jo Swinson, who is off on maternity leave, noticed after the vote that Brandon Lewis, the Tory MP paired with her and therefore who shouldn’t have voted, indeed did.
Swinson was furious, and on Twitter accused the Tories of “cheating” as she asked May: “How low will your government swoop?”.
Smith and Lewis both claimed it was an error, but that story seemed to unravel over the next few days. Other Tory MPs who were paired told The Times they too were asked to break the convention.
The BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg reported that, according to Tory sources, Smith considered breaking the pairing arrangement, decided against it, then accidentally did break it in the case of Lewis.
Is that clear? No, of course it’s not, because it’s a dog-ate-my-homework excuse. May is backing her chief whip for now, but those of you who open this email on a Friday or Saturday may already know the outcome to this drama.
Some MPs who will be pleased all the attention is on Julian Smith are the four Labour MPs who voted with the Tories on Tuesday – five if you count Kelvin Hopkins who is sitting as an independent while currently suspended from the party.
If that group had voted the other way, the Tories would have lost and an election would have been on its way.
Labour activists in the seats of the four – particularly Kate Hoey’s Remain-heavy constituency of Vauxhall – are furious, with talks of deselection in the air.
It was the most anticipated speech in the Commons since, well, David Davis’s intervention from the backbenches on Monday.
While Davis focused on the technical aspects of the Customs Bill, Boris Johnson used his resignation speech on Wednesday to try to inject some emotion and fire into the Brexit debate – as if that’s what it had been lacking.
“It is not too late to save Brexit. We have time in the negotiations. We have changed tack once, and we can change again,” said the former Foreign Secretary, with his supporters nodding sagely around him.
The main thrust of the speech was the Prime Minister should return to her Lancaster House principles of completely leaving the Single Market and ending all jurisdiction of the ECJ, “not the miserable permanent limbo of Chequers and not the democratic disaster of “ongoing harmonisation” with no way out and no say for the UK.”
It got exactly reception you would expect from exactly the people you would expect to give it. Jacob Rees-Mogg dubbed it “the speech of a statesman”, while Labour’s Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer described it as the “usual self serving hot air from Johnson.”
May was not in the Chamber to hear the speech, and she was also absent when former Brexit Minister Steve Baker made a much more worrying intervention.
As the Prime Minister was lapping up applause from Tory MPs at the 1922 Committee – and also reveling in Middlesbrough South MP Simon Clarke telling her in front of the gathering he was withdrawing his vote of no confidence letter – Baker was planting a ticking bomb under her Brexit plan.
He claimed that as the SNP and Labour would vote down May’s deal for partisan reasons, it would come to Tory MPs as to whether the agreement gets through Parliament.
Baker claimed those who think there are just 40 MPs he could call on to vote against the deal “are out by a factor, not a fraction.”
It is easy to forget, but there is actually another side in these negotiations – the EU. Dominic Raab took his first trip to Brussels today since being appointed Brexit Secretary to meet with his opposite number, Michel Barnier.
After the Ant-and-Dec like symmetry of Davis and Barnier, who sometimes seemed to get on so well they could finish each others…sandwiches, Raab v Barnier is a different proposition.
The former Housing Minister does have the air of looking slightly more digital than his analogue opponent, but then the photos had the feel of Barnier welcoming a new junior partner to his law firm.
There was the usual exchange of gifts, with Barnier handing over a biography of Nelson Mandela, while Raab presented a copy of the essay ‘The Hedgehog and The Fox’ by Isaiah Berlin.
With the pleasantries out of the way, Raab was clear he wanted to crack on with the talks.
“I came out today to discuss the detailed proposals in our White Paper and I am looking forward to, with renewed energy, vigour and vim, looking at the details of this,” he said.
While Raab was trying to strike an upbeat note, the EU was preparing for a more disastrous scenario. A 16-page document was released by the European Commission calling on the EU27 and businesses to step-up preparations for ‘no deal’.
One of the most worrying warnings is that UK citizens may require a visa to visit EU countries. More Project Fear? Or is that the harsh reality of ‘no deal’?
The EU might be stepping up preparations for ‘no deal’, but the UK seems to be some way off getting ready to deliver the deal it actually wants.
Appearing in front of the Liaison Committee this week – made up of the chairs from Parliament’s Select Committees – Theresa May was asked about customs systems preparations.
She admitted that her preferred customs system might not be completely ready by the time the transition period comes to an end, saying: “The majority of what is required for this facilitated customs arrangement will definitely – as we have indicated – be in place by December 2020. There is a question as to the speed with which the repayment mechanism would be in place. So far the suggestion is that could take longer to be put into place. That has yet to be finally determined.”
May also revealed that in next two months around 70 “technical notices” will be sent to “UK citizens and businesses” advising what needs to be done in the case of ‘no deal’.
At HuffPost we love a good blog, and here are the finest Brexit-penned entries from this week. Have a read, and if any of them provoke an urge in you to speak your brain, send a blog to [email protected] and you could find yourself in this very newsletter.
John Mills on why it looks like we might not leave the EU – and that’s a lamentable outcome for the UK
Chuchu Nwegu on why Justine Greening’s student constituents support her call for a second referendum
Paddy Ashdown asks what now if no Brexit outcome can reach a Commons majority
Georgina Wright and Matt Bevington ask what Britain’s role in the world will look like after Brexit
By Daniel Welsh
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Theresa May has been accused by Labour of a “calculated” attempt to mislead the House of Commons and of breaching the ministerial code.
Government Chief Whip Julian Smith and Tory chairman Brandon Lewis are under intense pressure to quit in a row over claims they adopted murky tactics during a crucial Brexit vote.
Lewis, the chairman of the Conservative Party, was not supposed to vote on key amendments to the Trade Bill on Tuesday as he had an agreement with Lib Dem Jo Swinson – who is on maternity leave – not to. But he did.
His votes helped Theresa May to narrowly avoid a defeat which could have triggered calls for a vote of no confidence.
The prime minister told MPs on Wednesday this was “done in error”. Andrea Leadsom, the Commons Leader, told MPs it was a “mistake”.
But in a letter to Mark Sedwill, the acting Cabinet Secretary, Labour’s shadow Cabinet Office minister Jon Trickett said the reports the agreement was broken on purpose showed there was “an orchestrated attempt by the government to cover up their actions”.
Trickett said of May and Leadsom’s comments in the Commons: “We now know that these statements were false and I would argue calculated to mislead the House of Commons.
“These comments, as well as public statements issued by and on behalf of the Chief Whip, constitute a breach of the Ministerial Code as above, and should be investigated immediately.
“Please confirm as a matter of urgency that this has been referred to the Director General for Propriety and Ethics.”
Conservative MPs have publicly spoken out against the move. Anna Soubry, a leading Remainer, said: “If true this is appalling and those responsible must resign. If we cannot behave with honour we are nothing.”
Conservative Brexiteer Peter Bone said he was “very concerned” to hear that a pairing had been broken.
Another Tory MP, Heidi Allen, said: “No matter how tough the going gets, principle, integrity and standards matter. Without those, what’s left?”
Starting next month, US citizens will be legally allowed to find the blueprints for a gun online, download them onto a 3D-printer and then create that firearm from scratch.
These often plastic-based weapons are not registered which can make them virtually untraceable, often resulting in them being called ‘ghost guns’.
Unsurprisingly, the idea of lawfully allowing the public to do this has caused quite a fair amount of controversy. In fact the reason it’s being allowed at all is because of a lengthy court case involving the US Department of State.
In 2013 the State Department ordered that the blueprints for a 3D printed gun created by Texas-based firm Defense Distributed be taken off the internet.
The gun, called the ‘Liberator‘, consisted of 16 parts, 15 of which could be made with a 3D printer. The final part was a simple everyday nail to use as the firing pin.
Defense Distributed designs and sells both the blueprints for 3D-printed weapons and the tools needed to create them including advanced CNC machines that can mill gun parts out of solid blocks of metal.
The State Department at the time, argued that the downloadable instructions were technically classed as exports, and so could not be legally downloaded and distributed in the United States.
What then followed was a lengthy lawsuit during which Defense Distributed and The Second Amendment Foundation sued the State Department for infringing their right to free speech.
Some four years later, both parties have finally settled with the US Department of Justice ruling that in fact, the blueprints don’t technically classify as military materials and so can be shared and downloaded by the public.
As a result of the ruling the State Department has been ordered to pay Defense Distributed’s $10,000 registration fee as well as all of its legal costs.
Starting from the 1 August Defense Distributed says it will start offering its full library of 3D printed components and schematics online.
“The age of the downloadable gun formally begins,” claims its website.
A teenager with a previous conviction for making a pipe bomb which was discovered in his Nazi memorabilia-filled bedroom has been detained in a young offenders’ institution after committing a terror offence.
Jack Coulson, 19, admitted to possessing a document or record for terrorist purposes between January 4 and January 19 this year, namely The Big Book Of Mischief.
At Leeds Crown Court on Thursday, he was sentenced to four years and eight months in a young offender institution.
Coulson, of Mexborough, South Yorkshire, was given a three-year youth rehabilitation order last year after being convicted of constructing a pipe bomb, but this was revoked on Thursday.
The Leeds Crown Court was earlier told The Big Book of Mischief contained information of a kind likely to be useful to a person looking to commit an act of terrorism.
The BBC reported that Coulson had been a member of banned terror organisation National Action and had celebrated the murder of Labour MP Jo Cox in June 2016 by championing her killer, Thomas Mair.
Around 50,000 holidaymakers could be affected as Ryanair cancels another 600 flights next week in the wake of recent strike action.
Flights to and from Belgium, Portugal, and Spain will be cancelled, with the airline grounding 300 flights each day on Wednesday 25 July and Thursday 26 July.
Ryanair said it “deeply regrets” pulling the flights, and said customers have been offered alternative flights over the seven days prior to Wednesday and Thursday.
They are also being offered full refunds if they choose not to take different routes.
The cancellations amount to 12% of its daily European flights, and some customers have complained on social media, with many saying they have struggled to get hold of the airline’s customer service or have been unable to rebook their flight.
shoutout to @Ryanair cancelling our flight to benidorm next week! customer service. SHITE! cancellation policy. SHITE! refund policy. SHITE! App/website. SHITE! flight change fees. SHITE! 0/10 would not recommend! #shite
— shaun smith (@shaunsmith94) July 18, 2018
@Ryanair Why is it I ring to get some clarity on my CANCELLED flight yet before I can even speak with someone your phone lines hang up on me?! This is shambolic!! My whole holiday is ruined with 1 week to go and I can’t get hold of a real person to speak to!!!!
— Aimie (@Aimsie) July 19, 2018
Others have been supportive of the strikes despite the cancellations, with one asking when the airline is going to “sort [itself] out” with the hashtag #RyanairMUSTchange.
— Abdelkarim El-Fassi (@Abdelkarimo) July 18, 2018
— Beth Foskett (@beth_foskett) July 19, 2018
Kenny Jacobs, Ryanair’s chief marketing officer, said the airline “sincerely apologised” for disruptions it had done its utmost to avoid.
“Given that cabin crew enjoy great pay of up to €40,000 a year in countries with high youth employment, industry-leading rosters that allow for 14 days off each month, great sales commissions, uniform allowances and sick pay, these strikes are entirely unjustified and will achieve nothing other than to disrupt family holidays and benefit competitor airlines in Belgium, Portugal, and Spain,” he said.
The planned strikes over working conditions dealt another blow to Ryanair, which has been attempting to quell a staff revolt that began last year.
On 4 July, cabin crew from across Europe joined pilots in the fight, publishing a list of 34 demands including “a fair living wage”, improved sick pay and employment contracts in their own language based on local, rather than Irish, law.
The cancellations came as talks in Dublin between the airline and its Irish pilots, who are directly employed, broke down again on Wednesday.
Ryanair was subject to widespread criticism after it announced that it would be cancelling between 40 and 50 flights per day during September and October 2017.
The cancellations, which amounted to about 2% of total daily flights, left out of pocket due to a lack of alternative flights and accommodation bookings they could not use.
At the time, Ryanair said the cancellations were brought about because of an error with pilot holiday rosters and insisted the reduction in its schedule would “eliminate all risk of further flight cancellations”.