Jeremy Hunt Demands Iran Stop Using Innocent Britons As 'Political Prisoners'

By Press Association

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt.

Jeremy Hunt has warned Iran against using innocent dual-national Britons as political prisoners as he prepared to visit the country for the first time.

The Foreign Secretary called on its hardline Islamic regime to release people including charity worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, currently jailed on what are widely regarded as trumped-up spying charges.

Hunt, the first Western foreign minister to visit Iran since the US pulled out of a nuclear deal and imposed sanctions on Tehran, also called for its leaders to cease “destabilising activity”.

The Foreign Secretary is also due to discuss the war in Yemen during his trip, which will include talks with his counterpart, Mohammad Zarif.

Hunt, who is due to arrive in Iran on Monday, said: “More than anything, we must see those innocent British-Iranian dual nationals imprisoned in Iran returned to their families in Britain.

“I have just heard too many heartbreaking stories from families who have been forced to endure a terrible separation.

“So I arrive in Iran with a clear message for the country’s leaders: putting innocent people in prison cannot and must not be used as a tool of diplomatic leverage.”

Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British-Iranian mother who works for the Thomson Reuters Foundation, was arrested at Tehran’s Imam Khomeini airport in April 2016 and later sentenced to five years in jail after being accused of spying, a charge she vehemently denies.

Her husband, Richard Ratcliffe, has campaigned exhaustively for her release, saying she is suffering extreme mental and physical hardship at the notorious Elvin.

Hunt pressed Zarif on her case in September when they met in New York on the fringes of a United Nations General Assembly.

The previous month she had been granted a three-day release but her request for an extension was denied and she was forced to say goodbye to her four-year-old daughter, Gabriella, and return to jail.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and her daughter Gabriella.

Britain and its European allies responded with dismay to US president Donald Trump’s decision in May to pull out of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) that relieved sanctions on Tehran in return for an end to Iran’s military nuclear ambitions.

Trump said the Iranian regime was not doing enough to halt its nuclear programme or its support for terrorism and groups fighting in Syria.

It is also backing Shia Houthi rebels fighting the Saudi-backed government in the bloody Yemen civil war.

Hunt said: “The Iran nuclear deal remains a vital component of stability in the Middle East by eliminating the threat of a nuclearised Iran.

“It needs 100% compliance though to survive.

“We will stick to our side of the bargain as long as Iran does.

“But we also need to see an end to destabilising activity by Iran in the rest of the region if we are going to tackle the root causes of the challenges the region faces.”

Downing Street said at the start of November that Britain will continue to expand trade relations with Iran despite Donald Trump’s decision.



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‘Strictly' Results: Kate Silverton Is The Eighth Celebrity To Leave The Competition After Spectacular Blackpool Show

By Matt Bagwell

Kate and Aljaž have waved goodbye to the competition.

earned a 10 from all four judges for her spectacular Jive performed at the Tower Ballroom.

It was a high-scoring night, but we had to wait for Ashley and her partner Pasha Kovalev to close the show with their routine to ‘Shake Ya Tail Feather’ from ‘The Blues Brothers’

Craig Revel Horwood finally handed out his first 10 of the series, declaring the routine “fab-u-lous”.

Head judge Shirley Ballas said Ashley had “pushed the envelope”, Darcey Bussell hailed the routine “fantastic”, while Bruno told the singer and TV presenter that she had “earned her place in Strictly history” with the performance.

The remaining seven couples will take to the dancefloor next week when ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ returns on Saturday 24 November at 6.50pm, with the results show on Sunday 25 November at 7.20pm on BBC One.


Jay McGuiness’s Jive

This was the moment the former Wanted singer cemented himself as the favourite to win the 2015 series, and it was only week three (!)

Jake Wood’s Salsa

EastEnders’ used car salesman Max Branning turned into an overnight sex symbol with this Samba to ‘Mambo No. 5’ in 2014.

It was just a pity his partner lifted the choreography from her stint on ‘So You Think You Can Dance?’YouTube

Alesha Dixon’s Cha-Cha-Cha

When Alesha Dixon performed his show-stopping routine on series five, we were convinced she was about to become the next Beyoncé. Instead, she later became the next Arlene Phillips, replacing the veteran on the panel.


Sophie Ellis Bextor’s Charleston

The Charleston was a fairly new dance to ‘Strictly’ when S.E.B took it on in 2013. And despite it only being week two of the competition, she and partner Brendan Cole bagged a whopping 36 points for the routine.


Danny Mac’s Samba

Danny and Oti’s 2016 routine still makes us come over a bit funny. Let’s put it this way – if it was any hotter, it would have been on literal fire.

Abbey Clancy’s Waltz

2013 champ Abbey wowed the judges with this beautiful waltz in week one of the competition, and brought it back for the final, where they scored a perfect 40 and lifted the glitterball trophy.


Jill Halfpenny’s Jive

If you can remember as far back as series two in 2004 (!), you’ll no doubt remember this knockout performance from Jill and partner Darren Bennett.


Lisa Riley’s Samba

We don’t think anyone has ever had as much fun as Lisa and Robin Windsor did performing their Samba on the show in 2012.


Caroline Flack’s Charleston

Cazza’s Turkish interpretation of the Charleston cemented her as the favourite to win in 2014. She also performed the dance again in the final, which eventually saw her crowned winner.


Kara Tointon’s Argentine Tango

Given the sexual tension in this performance, it’s no wonder Kara and Artem Chigvintsev announced they were an item shortly afterwards.

Louis Smith’s Showdance

Not only did Louis Smith capture a lot of attention with his toplessness, but his dancing was pretty good in this too.

Matt Di Angelo’s Salsa

Matt went from Dean Wicks to snake hips with his performance of the Salsa in series five in 2007.



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Teenager Among Three Injured In Drive-By Cab Shooting In North London

By Press Association

A teenage boy was among three people injured when they were the victims of a drive-by shooting while sat in a cab in north London.

Metropolitan Police have appealed for witnesses to come forward after the incident in Gordon Road, Enfield, at around 6pm on Saturday.

Scotland Yard said two 22-year-old men and a 16-year-old boy had been injured when a shotgun was fired into the vehicle they were sitting in.

Police believe that a second vehicle pulled alongside the mini-cab, at least two men got out and approached the victims, one of whom was armed with a shotgun.

None of the injuries are life threatening, although one of the passenger’s injuries are potentially life changing. No arrests have been made.



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Esther McVey Blasts 'Feeble' Ministers After Claims Her Cabinet 'Meltdown' Almost Prompted Call To Security

By Rachel Wearmouth

Esther Mc

Esther McVey reacted angrily to claims she had an “extraordinary meltdown” during a crunch Cabinet meeting over Brexit which almost prompted officials to call security.

The former Work and Pensions Secretary resigned after the five-hour emergency meeting at Downing Street on Tuesday to discuss Theresa May’s blueprint for exiting the bloc.

According to a report in the Mail On Sunday, the Tory MP for Tatton was ”so hysterical and aggressive” during a clash with chief whip Julian Smith and top civil servant Mark Sedwill that MPs thought of calling for help.

An unnamed minister told the Mail On Sunday: “It was the most extraordinary meltdown I’ve seen in Cabinet. I thought security would have to be called, because she seemed so hysterical and aggressive.

“The Prime Minister tried to talk to her, but it was all just empty waffle which Esther talked over. So Julian [Smith, Chief Whip], just started shouting at her to shut up.”

McVey took to Twitter to respond saying it was “hilarious” that her “straight talking” had “made them crumble”.

She added: “Makes you wonder if this is how feeble senior members have been in negotiations with the EU over our future?”

Hilarious; seems a bit of straight talking from me to ask Cabinet members to vote on the most important matter in a lifetime made them crumble!
Makes you wonder if this is how feeble senior members have been in negotiations with the EU over our future?

— Esther McVey (@EstherMcVey1) November 18, 2018

It comes after reports earlier in the week that Sedwill and Smith “shouted down” the ex-minister and that she broke down in tears.

McVey said in her resignation letter that May’s Brexit plan “does not honour the result of the referendum” and “would trap us in a customs union”.

The Withdrawal Agreement would see the UK remain in a customs agreement with the EU if both sides fail to find a way to avoid a hard border in Northern Ireland.

The so-called backstop arrangement could only be ended with the agreement of the EU.

During her tenure as Work and Pensions Secretary, McVey oversaw the heavily-criticised roll-out of the government’s flagship benefit Universal Credit.

She was replaced by the former Home Secretary Amber Rudd.



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Sunday Shows Round-Up: Letters, Plotters And Andrew Marr Losing His Cool

By Rachel Wearmouth

It has been a tough week for Prime Minister Theresa May

To say it has been an extraordinary seven days in the world of politics would be an understatement.

Prime Minister Theresa May finally published her draft Brexit deal on Tuesday and provoked the wrath of backbench Eurosceptics, with Jacob Rees-Mogg calling on fellow MPs to join him in a bid to topple her.

Labour, meanwhile, continues to face demands to back a second referendum after Jeremy Corbyn said it could not stop Brexit.

Here is your round-up of the Sunday politics shows.

Ridge On Sunday

“Of course it’s been a tough week” – : :

— BBC Politics (@BBCPolitics) November 18, 2018

Shadow attorney general Shami Chakrabarti also gave an interview to Marr.

She was asked if Brexit can be stopped, to which she replied that May’s deal was “unacceptable” but Parliament was “long away” from the numbers to stop Brexit.

Chakrabarti and Marr also clashed at one point when the presenter accused the Labour politician of an attempt to patronise him.

Marr pushed on the point that Labour’s manifesto states it respects the result of the Brexit referendum rather than primarily pushing for a second vote.

Chakrabarti held her ground, insisting as a democrat her stance was a reflection of the original referendum.

Here is their extraordinary exchange.

MARR: “I don’t understand why you want to leave the EU.”

Chakrabarti: “I don’t want to leave the EU, I campaigned to Remain. I’m a democrat.”

MARR: “But you’re going to go through a General Election campaign as a member of a party whose manifesto says ‘we are leaving the EU’.”

Chakrabarti: “I’m a democrat, I don’t know about you Andrew, but I’m a democrat.”

MARR: “Don’t try and patronise me, I’m as much a democrat as you are.”

Chakrabarti: “I certainly wouldn’t try to patronise you and I’m sure you would never try to patronise me.”

Pienaar’s Politics

Sir Graham Brady

The main guest on BBC Radio 5 Live’s Pienaar’s Politics was Sir Graham Brady himself.

The chairman of the 1922 committee said that not even his wife knows how many letters he has received from other Conservative MPs.

He told Jon Pienaar: “Victoria does not know, nor do the two vice chairman of the 1922 Committee or the other officers.”

The senior backbencher also revealed he was not totally happy with Mrs May’s withdrawal agreement.

Asked about the deal’s lack of a unilateral exit route from the backstop, Sir Graham said: “I’m not happy about it.

“We’ve got the draft withdrawal agreement, there might be some tweaks to that and I hope there will be.”

He said that it was “very likely” May would win a no confidence vote if one was triggered.

Speaking on the North West edition of the BBC’s Sunday Politics programme, he said: “It would be a simple majority, it would be very likely that the Prime Minister would win such a vote and if she did then there would be a 12-month period where this could not happen again, which would be a huge relief for me because people would have to stop asking me questions about numbers of letters for at least 12 months.”

He said both he and the Prime Minister could technically put in letters calling for a confidence vote but that he would be “very surprised” to receive a letter from himself.



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Donald Trump Thinks 'Raking' Will Stop California Wildfires Because That's What They Do In The Arctic

By Chris York

Donald Trump has once again raised eyebrows after suggesting the humble rake could solve the problem of California wildfires that have killed at least 76 people in recent days.

Speaking from the scene of the devastation on Saturday, the President refused to acknowledge environmental and climate factors, instead telling reporters of how they deal with fires in Finland.

He said: “You’ve got to take care of the floors. You know the floors of the forest, very important.

“I was with the president of Finland and he said, ‘We have a much different —we’re a forest nation.’ He called it a forest nation, and they spent a lot of time on raking and cleaning and doing things.

“And they don’t have any problem. And when they do, it’s a very small problem.”

California is a drought-stricken region which contains Death Valley, where the world’s hottest temperature of 56.7 °C was recorded in 1913.

Finland is covered in snow for much of the year and a quarter of the country is in the Arctic Circle.

Wow, it’s almost like Finland and California have *completely different climates*, with one having year round rainfall and the other in a drought with strong sunshine and winds. But no, Trump’s right, it’s probably to do with raking

— Hadley Freeman (@HadleyFreeman) November 18, 2018

Asked whether the scenes of devastation had changed his view on climate change, Trump said: “No. I have a strong opinion. I want great climate and we’re going to have that and we’re going to have forests that are very safe.”

It’s not clear what the President meant by “great climate”.

Trump has already drawn criticism for blaming the fires on mismanagement – his first tweet on the wildfires was an attempt to politicise the disaster with no mention of the victims.

There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor. Billions of dollars are given each year, with so many lives lost, all because of gross mismanagement of the forests. Remedy now, or no more Fed payments!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 10, 2018

His comments have not gone down well with residents of the areas affected – one told the Guardian: “My kids lost everything. I voted for him – and now? He can kiss my red ass.

“What he said was ridiculous. It hurts my heart. A lot of us voted for him and he [talks] down to us?”

Nearly 1,300 people remain unaccounted for as wildfires devastate California.

Authorities said five more bodies were found on Saturday, including four in the decimated town of Paradise and one in nearby Concow.

Officials also raised the number of people on the missing persons list, hours after Trump surveyed what remained of a decimated community.

Someone please show Donald Trump a globe so he knows how close to the North Pole Finland is in comparison to Southern California.

— Billy Procida (@TheBillyProcida) November 17, 2018

Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea pleaded with fire evacuees to check the list of people reported as unreachable by family and friends and to call in if they are safe.

Hundreds of people have already been located, but the overall number keeps growing because officials are adding names, including those reported as missing during the disaster’s chaotic early hours, he said.



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Brexit Minister Kwasi Kwarteng Shrugs Off UN Poverty Report And Brags About Deficit

By Rachel Wearmouth

Brexit minister Kwasi Kwarteng on the BBC Andrew Marr Show on Sunday

— Rachel Wearmouth (@REWearmouth) November 18, 2018

Kwasi Kwarteng was branded “absolutely shocking” after dismissing a UN report which uncovered “staggering” levels of child poverty by talking about “good management of the economy”.

The Brexit minister was confronted on BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show with the plight of brain-damaged teenager Emily Lydon, who faces losing her home as part of her move to Universal Credit.

The 19-year-old was asked to attend a work capability assessment but is deaf and cannot walk because her mother contracted the human form of mad cow disease (BSE) when she was pregnant.

Kwarteng called it “a sad story” and said “what [the government has] done is manage to reduce the deficit”.

It comes after professor Philip Alston, special rapporteur for the UN on extreme poverty, accused ministers of being in a “state of denial” about the levels of child poverty in Britain.

Prof Alston found “a lot of misery, a lot of people who feel the system is failing them, a lot of people who feel the system is really just there to punish them” during his 12-day tour of UK cities.

But Kwarteng simply said “I don’t know who this UN man is” and claimed “it is a total distortion to suggest that the government has somehow mismanaged the economy”.

When faced with Emily Lydon’s story, he said: “I spent 18 months as the Chancellor’s PPS. I got to know the Treasury very well.

“I was involved in the last Budget. If you look to the last Budget, which was very, very well received, you could see the benefits of good and strong economic management.

“What we’ve done is manage to reduce the deficit, I know Polly doesn’t like going on about it, but the actual economic framework which this country is in is a very strong one.”

Guardian columnist Polly Toynbee, who was also a guest on the flagship politics show, pointed to the Sunday Times article which featured Lydon’s story and said: “They were the ones that paid the price.”

To which Kwarteng replied it was “a sad story” and went on to criticise Labour’s nationalisation agenda as being likely to drive up debt.

Marr then pressed Kwarteng on the UN report, calling it “shameful”.

Kwarteng said: “I don’t know who this UN man is. He obviously comes from the UN but I don’t know what his particular background is and he came up with a report.

“Now, poverty, the benefits, the difficulty people have: that’s absolutely something we should be focused on but I think it is a total distortion to suggest that the government has somehow mismanaged the economy to the extent where this is a massive problem.”

Kwarteng’s appearance on the show was greeted with a torrent of criticism on social media:

Shameless Tory MP Kwasi Kwarteng saying that the actual UN report on poverty in the UK is a distortion. That is Trump-like suppression of facts right there – another example of nasty Tories attempting to cover up their gross failures since their austerity project started. #Marr

— Garrie Coleman (@garrie_coleman) November 18, 2018

Presented with a child born deaf, unable to speak & walk, asked to attend a work capability assessment & faced with losing her home Tory MP Kwasi Kwarteng resorts to sound bites about the benefits of “good & strong economic management” & reducing the deficit! Absolutely shocking!

— Peter Stefanovic (@PeterStefanovi2) November 18, 2018

Nice to see Kwasi Kwarteng is totally relaxed about this. #marr

— David Schneider (@davidschneider) November 18, 2018



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‘Drill Music Isn’t To Blame For Violence – It's Our Way Of Escaping Poverty’, Says Rapper

By Nadine White

There is little agreement about what is behind the wave of stabbings that has swept through Britain this year. But one theme continues to crop up in the national discussion around knife crime: drill music.

A sub-genre of rap music, primarily listened to by young people, the lyrics of drill music describe a world of gang warfare and violence.

Speaking to HuffPost UK, the artist and activist Drillminister, who says his main motivation is to defend the genre and “get people thinking about the harsh realities that young people face”, summed up what the new genre means to him.

“Drill music is the street’s anthems,” he said. “It is the news reported from the streets – directly to you, wherever you are, to your laptops and mobile phones.”

Drill entered the public consciousness earlier this year when Met Police chief Cressida Dick singled it out as one of the reasons for the increase in knife attacks in London, and said that internet companies have a duty to remove content that “glamourises violence”.

We didn’t make society the way it is – we’re just a reflection of it. We live in a cesspool

The Met asked YouTube to delete a number of music videos, and in May the platform confirmed that it had taken down some of the clips that the commissioner had requested be removed.

Another senior Met officer, Detective Superintendent Mike West, has said that the number of videos that “incite violence” have been increasing since late 2015, around the time that drill was coming into its own.

“The gangs try to out-rival each other with the filming and content – what looks like a music video can actually contain explicit language with gangs threatening each other,” he said.

“There are gestures of violence, with hand signals suggesting they are firing weapons and graphic descriptions of what they would do to each other.”

Last week, East London knife attack victim K – a self-described fan of drill – told HuffPost UK that he believes drill is to blame for the increase in violent crime.

Drillminister insists that this isn’t the case. “People that are blaming drill for violent crime in the UK don’t understand it. They’re just pointing the finger. It takes a smart person to delve in and see the truth behind everything that’s going on.

“We didn’t make society the way it is – we’re just a reflection of it. We live in a cesspool – so that’s the music you’re gonna get until the situation has changed. [Until then] the scenario’s going to be the same.”

For many drill artists, the music might create opportunities for legitimate revenue and a comfortable lifestyle that isn’t always available to working-class black men, Drillminister says.

“This is a way of getting out of the hood, making sure we can buy a property and keep our mums on the block and staying where our whole families are and having a community. Areas are becoming gentrified and people are being thrown out of their communities. This is how young men can be legit and get out of the same cycles of going jail and coming back out.”

He says it is easy to marginalise forms of culture that are “attached to the underclasses”.

“If we were playing banjos, they would be saying ‘they’re playing banjos and people are dying – yeah, we need to take the banjos out of the schools’. It doesn’t make any difference what imagery is portrayed. We will get pigeonholed, either way; we’re stained, innit. That’s how it is.”

Universal Credit is messing up the hood

Some of influences behind the genre are, Drillminister claims, economic. “We’re going through mad austerity; people’s mums are going through madness,” he says.

“Universal Credit is messing up the hood. The music will change when the situation changes. It’s gonna get ‘soft’ when society is soft to us.”

Others share Drillminister’s concern that the music is being scapegoated for a wider social problem. Over the years, other music genres of black or urban origin have suffered similar treatment. In the early 2000s, there was a moral panic around grime, prior to it gaining mainstream popularity. In the 1990s, it was dancehall. In the 1980s, gangster rap was widely accused of promoting violence.

Drillminister believes that some young people fall into a life of crime after being let down by the education system. “I can’t speak for every black person in the UK. Children are going to exclusion centres at 14 or 15 after getting kicked out of school,” he says. “Children are not getting entered for GCSEs. Children are dropping out of school and making money their own way and surviving in their own way.”

He says children listen to drill artists like him because they “report the truths – what’s not in school”.

“Not just the violence; we’re telling them other things – knowledge to help them make money and be able to make sure their mum has bread and butter in the house,” he says.

“That motivation doesn’t come from school – they’re teaching you what the square root of pi is…but not how to sort your finances – that’s the reality of life.

“Any black person that’s had to make it through this education system knows they had to work ten times harder than the man next to them. So that already shows you that the school are attacking black students – that’s what it’s there for, so drill is our way of making a new future for ourselves.”



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Labour's Shami Chakrabarti Left Stunned After Bruising Interview With Andrew Marr

By Chris York

Labour‘s Shadow Attorney General was left almost dumbstruck after a heated interview Andrew Marr on Sunday morning.

Shami Chakrabarti was being grilled by the BBC presenter over Labour’s stance on Brexit after a tumultuous week for Theresa May and the Conservatives.

Marr pushed on the point that Labour’s manifesto states it respects the result of the Brexit referendum rather than primarily pushing for a second vote.

Chakrabarti held her ground, insisting as a democrat her stance was a reflection of the original referendum.

Shami Chakrabarti visibly shaken after #Marr tells her: ‘Don’t try and patronise me, I’m as much a democrat as you are.’

— Chris York (@ChrisDYork) November 18, 2018

MARR: “I don’t understand why you want to leave the EU.”

Chakrabarti: “I don’t want to leave the EU, I campaigned to Remain. I’m a democrat.”

MARR: “But you’re going to go through a General Election campaign as a member of a party whose manifesto says ‘we are leaving the EU’.”

Chakrabarti: “I’m a democrat, I don’t know about you Andrew, but I’m a democrat.”

MARR: “Don’t try and patronise me, I’m as much a democrat as you are.”

Chakrabarti: “I certainly wouldn’t try to patronise you and I’m sure you would never try to patronise me.”

Chakrabarti insisted the draft Brexit deal presented to the Commons this week by the PM could be renegotiated but struggled to say what Labour would do differently.

Shadow said it was “the worst kind of bureaucratic fudge that doesn’t deliver for anyone” and had been “designed to look as if it can please everybody and it can’t” .

She said if Labour was in charge, a “completely different atmosphere” would allow for progress to be made, particularly on workers’ rights and environmental protections.

The pair also sparred over who read the most of the draft deal:

MARR: “Have you read it?”

Chakrabarti: “Yes I have actually. I’m sure you have too.”

MARR: “I’ve read an awful lot of it.”

Chakrabarti: “Well I’ve read it all.”

Earlier on Sunday morning, Jeremy Corbyn poured cold water over calls for Labour to back a second referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU, saying it is “an option for the future” but “not an option for today”.

He also revealed that if there was another referendum he does not know how he would vote.

Labour has said it will vote down May’s deal and then push for a general election. If they fail to secure one “all options remain on the table”, including a second referendum.



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Jeremy Corbyn 'Doesn't Know' How He Would Vote In Second Brexit Referendum

By Rachel Wearmouth

“I’ve read a lot of it” – @jeremycorbyn admits to @RidgeOnSunday he hasn’t read all 500 pages of the Withdrawal Agreement #Ridge

Follow live updates:

— Ridge on Sunday (@RidgeOnSunday) November 18, 2018

Jeremy Corbyn has said he does not know how he would vote in a second Brexit referendum.

The Labour leader, who has repeatedly been accused of being a closet Eurosceptic, also said he hasn’t read all of Theresa May’s draft Brexit deal.

He also revealed that he believed another referendum was “an option for the future” and “not an option for today”.

In an interview with Sky News’ Sophy Ridge, Corbyn was challenged about whether he would vote to remain in a re-run of the referendum, he said: “Well, I don’t know how I’m going to vote, what the options would be at that time.

“But I wanted us to remain in the EU, that was my vote in that referendum.”

He also underlined that Labour “couldn’t stop” Brexit as it didn’t have the votes in Parliament.

He said: “As of this moment, the arithmetic in parliament is such that Brexit has been triggered, Article 50. We voted for Article 50 in order to give respect to the referendum.

“I was asked this question by Der Spiegel and what I said was we couldn’t stop it because we don’t have the votes in parliament to do so.”

“All options are on the table in the future” – @jeremycorbyn explains his comments about stopping Brexit to @RidgeOnSunday, admitting he doesn’t think a second referendum is “an option we’re going to get given” #Ridge

Follow live updates here:

— Ridge on Sunday (@RidgeOnSunday) November 18, 2018

He added it was important to honour the result of the referendum, saying: “There was a referendum in 2016, a majority voted to leave the EU, there are many reasons why people voted. I don’t think you call a referendum and then say you don’t like the result and go away from it, you’ve got to understand why people voted and negotiate the best deal you can.”

He also trashed Theresa May’s Brexit deal, telling Sky News that it was a “one-way agreement” in which the EU “calls all the shots”.

He said: “We’ll vote against this deal because it doesn’t meet our tests. We don’t believe it serves the interest of this country, therefore the Government have to go back to the EU and renegotiate rapidly.



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Someone Stole A Bag Of Drugs From Ambulance Workers On A Call-Out

By Chris York

File photo.

A medical bag was stolen from ambulance workers as they responded to a call-out, in what police described as a “despicable” act.

The theft occurred in Edinburgh’s Dalry area on Saturday night.

The green rucksack with the words Emergency Medical Response contained drugs which could be harmful if misused, police said.

The bag was taken as ambulance staff attended an incident on Caledonian Road at around 9.20pm.

Can you help us locate a medical bag which was stolen from ambulance staff earlier. Theft occurred about 9.20pm on Sat 17/11/2018 on Caledonian Road. Any info call 101 quoting incident 4228 of 17th November.

— Edinburgh Police (@EdinburghPolice) November 18, 2018

Police Inspector Gill Lundberg said: “Stealing from emergency service workers trying to help someone is a despicable act.

“While the theft of this equipment has not impacted on the care of the patient, I am concerned what could happen if the stolen drugs were to be taken by a member of the public.

“These drugs can be dangerous if misused. I would appeal for anyone who witnessed the theft, or knows where these items are now, to contact police immediately.”



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These Women Felt Excluded By The Northern Powerhouse, So They Created An Alternative Movement

By Aasma Day

Reading a list of speakers scheduled to speak at a Northern Powerhouse conference in Manchester, Tracy Fishwick found herself feeling disbelief and indignation.

“There were about 80 speakers and only about one in seven of them were women,” Fishwick, managing director of social enterprise Transform Lives Company, told HuffPost UK.

“They were not talking about people: they were talking about trains, investment and businesses.”

The cost of the event, at £450 a head, also felt exclusionary to her.

“The exclusivity was wrong on so many levels. I thought: ‘I’m interested in the North and passionate about being a Northerner – why can’t people like me have a voice?’

“I run a social enterprise and was a public servant and I know lots of female chief executives and leaders in the North and couldn’t understand why their names weren’t there.”

Tracy Fishwick

After other women expressed their annoyance on social media, Fishwick decided to set up an alternative event, with Jo Miller, chief executive at Doncaster Council.

Miller told HuffPost:I make a point of not attending events with such gender imbalance. In this day and age it’s simply not acceptable and I discovered I wasn’t the only one who felt this way.

“A group of us came together and said ‘enough is enough’.

“We decided to arrange an alternative event with the aim of re-focussing conversations, giving Northern people with a diverse range of backgrounds and experiences a meaningful voice about decisions that affect their lives and their communities.”

They decided to call their event a ‘People’s Powerhouse’, in recognition of their belief that regeneration has to be about the people in the North as well as infrastructure.

They were, they said, “completely stunned and overwhelmed by the reaction.”

Miller, the outgoing president of Solace (Society of Local Authority Chief Executives and Senior Managers), secured Doncaster Rovers football grounds for the first People’s Powerhouse event held in July last year. As well as having a diverse range of speakers, there were workshops discussing issues people wanted to talk about.

Fishwick said: “It was a hugely inspirational day and there was a lot of energy and agreement that we needed to change the conversation about the North.”

The success of the event led to the People’s Powerhouse movement which aims to widen decision-making across the North to include a more diverse range of people and experiences. They are holding their next convention in Bradford at the end of November.

Miller said: “The level of engagement for that first People’s Powerhouse Convention in Doncaster was overwhelming.

“Over 250 people from across the North came along to share their experiences – local and combined authorities, business networks, corporates and private sector businesses, central government, housing associations, charities, social enterprises, individuals, think tanks and universities.

“Our next convention in Bradford is all about sharing together, understanding the issues, finding solutions and celebrating the great things that are already happening, creating better lives for all of us in the North.”

Fisher added: “We want more inclusivity and diversity across the North and for people’s authentic voices to be louder.”

Speakers at the People’s Powerhouse convention will include Tony Walsh, a performance poet also known as Longfella, Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, Susan Hinchcliffe, leader of Bradford Council and chair of West Yorkshire Combined Authority and Syima Asiam, director of Bradford Literature Festival.

The idea is to create a People’s Powerhouse charter that will look to address challenges faced by the North such as a low wage economy, mental health and skills gaps, and with a diverse range of local voices are included in local decision-making.

Speaking about the wider context of the movement and its aspirations, Fishwick added: “Our aim is to give everyone in the North a voice and to feel their opinions are heard and respected and to help bring about a long term movement for change.

″In terms of giving people a voice and increasing diversity, the movement has already been successful. Now it is about working together to drive positive changes.”

  • For more information on the event or to attend, visit:



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Students Could Pay 20% More Per Year For Speedy Degrees

By George Bowden

Two-year degrees would cost more per year, but lower overall charges.

Students could fork out 20% more per year for so-called accelerated degrees under new government plans to increase flexibility in higher education.

But scholars opting for the ‘speedy’ degrees – which typically last two years – will pay a fifth (£5,500) less on tuition fees compared with peers taking traditional three-year courses overall, the Department for Education (DfE) said.

It follows a consultation on the proposal to roll out shorter university courses, creating more choice and flexibility for people wanting to study in higher education, particularly mature students.

The shorter courses will meet the same quality assurance measures as standard degrees and will provide the same level of qualification.

For example, a two-year accelerated degree will condense three-year degrees with 30 weeks’ teaching into two years with 45 weeks’ teaching.

The new fee limits, set out in the Government’s response to the consultation published on Monday, will be subject to parliamentary approval.

Universities Minister Sam Gyimah said: “Accelerated degrees not only make it possible for the next generation of students to access higher education and the undeniable financial, academic and personal benefits it has to offer but drives the sector to offer dynamic choices that serve students’ needs.

“Providers will be able to tap into a new market of students, particularly mature students and those who commute, who were previously locked out of higher education.

“This provision creates a new arena of competition that delivers for students, taxpayers and employers.”

Concerns have been raised about the impact shorter courses could have on issues such as university staff contracts and research.

Students choosing accelerated courses have to work more intensively, while their holidays would be significantly shorter than on traditional degree programmes.

Chief executive of the Russell Group, which represents 24 UK universities, Dr Tim Bradshaw, said: “Greater choice for students is always good but I would caution ministers against ‘overpromising’.

“The Government’s own projection for the likely take-up of these degrees is modest and we actually hear many students calling for four-year degrees, for example, to spend a year on a work placement or studying abroad.

“I wouldn’t want disadvantaged students to rule out a traditional three-year course because they didn’t believe they could afford it.

“Upfront support with living costs is available and graduates repay their student loans based on their earnings.

“Doing a more compressed degree also reduces the opportunity for part-time work, potentially increasing short-term financial pressure.”

The Accelerated Degrees Government consultation, which closed in February, said: “Our aspiration is for the number of students enrolled on accelerated degree courses to build over the next decade to around 5% of the total undergraduate population, and for an additional 100,000 students to have studied on this basis over that period.”

Matt Waddup, head of policy and campaigns at the University and College Union, said: “This is not about increasing real choice for students, it about allowing for-profit companies to access more public cash through the student loans system.

“Accelerated degrees will quickly become devalued but the government shows no signs that it understands this.

“Instead of gimmicks which risk undermining the international reputation of our higher education sector, the Government should focus on fixing the underlying problems with our current student finance system, which piles debts on students.”

It comes after it was reported that tuition costs could be cut to £6,500 under proposals
University Tuition Fees Could Be Slashed To £6,500

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    3 Men Injured In North London Shooting

    By Press Association

    The incident happened on Gordon Road in Enfield on Saturday.

    Three men have been taken to hospital following a shooting in Enfield, north London.

    The Metropolitan Police said they were called to Gordon Road at around 6pm on Saturday.

    Officers attending the scene, accompanied by the London Ambulance Service, found four men.

    Three of the men were injured, including two who are believed to have suffered gunshot wounds.

    All the injured men were taken to a hospital in north London for treatment.

    Police said no arrests have been made in relation to the incident and their enquiries are continuing.



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    Almost 50% Of Voters Back Theresa May To Remain PM Until Brexit

    By George Bowden

    Close to half of voters back May to remain in No.10, a poll says.

    Almost half of voters back Theresa May staying on in Downing Street, at least until Britain leaves the European Union, according to a new poll, giving the embattled PM a sliver of solace on what has otherwise been a hellish week.

    A survey for the Sunday Mirror and Sunday Express found 47% of people want May to carry on until Brexit is due to happen in March – including 75% of Conservative voters.

    A third (33%) of those polled by ComRes believe she should quit before Brexit.

    However, there was a more even split when the poll asked if she should carry on “for the foreseeable future”, with 38% saying she should and 41% saying she should not.

    It comes after Brexit-backing Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom said on Saturday that there is still time for “more to be done” on the Brexit deal as the Conservative Party continues to row over May’s Withdrawal Agreement with Brussels.

    Leadsome said she supports May but suggested there is an opportunity before a special European Council meeting on November 25 to get “the best possible deal for the UK”.

    Her comments came after Brexiteers vying to oust May were warned their efforts could drive Remain-voting Tories to attempt to stop Brexit entirely.

    But the new poll brought bad news for some of her possible challengers, with just 8% of voters wanting Environment Secretary Michael Gove to take over if May steps down.

    [READ MORE: Who could replace May? Here are the runners and riders]

    Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt fared little better on 10%, with high profile Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg on 17%.

    Boris Johnson was backed by 21% of those polled – but he was also the most actively opposed, with 61% against his appointment. Just 19% were “don’t knows”, the lowest of all four.

    The survey of 2,000 adults carried out on Wednesday and Thursday at the height of a chaotic week in politics saw the Conservatives drop three points to 36%, while Labour remained on 40%, compared to a Sunday Express poll in September.

    But there was less good news for Labour, with the survey finding only 25% of people want the prime minister to call an immediate general election.

    It also found a second referendum would be a close call, with Remain beating Leave by 45% to 43%, with 10% of people saying they had “had enough of Brexit and wouldn’t vote”.

    This was despite 53% of those polled saying there should not be a second referendum.



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    John Bluthal Dead: 'Vicar Of Dibley' Star Dies Aged 89

    By George Bowden

    John Bluthal as Frank Pickle in BBC sitcom 'Vicar of Dibley'.

    ‘The Vicar of Dibley’ star John Bluthal has died aged 89, his agent announced.

    Bluthal, perhaps best know for his portrayal of Frank Pickle in the BBC sitcom, had also worked on ‘Carry On’ films and had myriad stage credits to his name.

    “We’re sad to announce our wonderful client John Bluthal has passed away. Our thoughts are with his family at this time,” his agent told multiple media outlets on Saturday.

    “John provided us all with years of laughter and entertainment. We will miss John hugely.”

    Dawn French led tributes to Bluthal. She wrote on Twitter: “Tons of happy laughs remembered today. Cheeky, naughty, hilarious. Bye darlin Bluey.”

    Tons of happy laughs remembered today. Cheeky, naughty, hilarious.
    Bye darlin Bluey.

    — Dawn French (@Dawn_French) November 17, 2018



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    France Fuel Protests: One Dead, 47 Injured Amid Fierce Backlash Against Tax Rise

    By George Bowden

    Protesters block the Champs Elysees avenue to protest fuel taxes in Paris, France, on Saturday.

    A protester has died and 47 others injured during roadblocks set up around France to demonstrate against rising fuel taxes, in a new challenge to the country’s embattled president, Emmanuel Macron.

    Police officers lobbed tear gas canisters at demonstrators on the Champs-Elysees in Paris on Saturday as groups tried to make their way to the presidential Elysee Palace.

    The tense scene descended into chaos, with numerous clashes between police and protestors, many of whom are dressed in fluorescent yellow bibs,
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