EU digs heels in over deal: Brexit:

So. how open does the EU seem almost a week on from parliament narrowly voting in favour of an amendment to find alternatives to the backstop guarantee to keep the Irish border open after Brexit?

After all, with every passing day as we’ve heard , again and again and again, the clock is ticking us all towards an increased chance of a no-deal Brexit with all the costs and chaos that could involve.

Well, if I were to speak in weather forecast terms, I might describe current EU attitudes as frosty with a chance of ice.

If Theresa May comes to Brussels later this week, she will be received politely and listened to attentively.

But if her EU ask remains centred around getting a time limit to, or allowing the UK a unilateral get-out mechanism from, the Irish border backstop or if she pushes again for pure technology as a means of avoiding a hard border on the island of Ireland, then the likelihood of her being sent home empty-handed – or as good as – is very high indeed.

Brexit: What are the new ideas for the Irish backstop?

This is not because the EU has suddenly become cavalier about the prospect of a no-deal Brexit – far from it. The club may be over the moon about just sealing the world’s largest ever bilateral deal with Japan but that’s no replacement for trade and cooperation with neighbouring UK.

It’s just that the EU sees so many reasons not to budge over the backstop: solidarity with EU club member Ireland over “caving in” to departing member UK; defending the Good Friday Agreement and the Northern Ireland peace process; and above all (in the eyes, hearts and pockets of many EU politicians and businesses) defending the integrity of the EU’s single market.

Brexit: Theresa May ‘determined’ to leave EU in March’.

So when Sajid Javid, the UK’s home secretary, announced at the weekend that sorting out the backstop would just involve “a bit of good will” on behalf of the EU, I could almost hear the groans of European exasperation from my Brussels living room.

This is something that those in the UK who knowingly repeat that “the EU will give in, in the end” perhaps don’t fully appreciate.

Choice of two evils?

The EU certainly does budge at times, even when it has repeatedly ruled out such a move but it performs U-turns out of self-interest, to safeguard the bloc in some way.

Take the oft-cited Greek debt crisis – the EU acted in the interest of the eurozone currency. That is ultimately why it changed its line on member country Greece.

The Brussels calculation is that a no-deal Brexit would be damaging for the EU but exposing the entire EU single market to clear vulnerabilities would be the worst of two evils.

The backstop guarantee for the Irish border ensures a means of sealing the long, meandering, porous border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland in a way that technology alone (as many Brexiteers are suggesting) cannot.

The EU worries about tariff-dodging and about non-EU standard products being smuggled into the EU’s single market “through the back door” – via Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

If technology alone could seal a border in terms of customs and regulatory checks then you would no longer see the existing infrastructure in place between close allies and neighbours non-EU Norway and EU member Sweden or between Switzerland, which has very tight relations with the European Union, and its EU neighbours.

So, instead of dramatically changing or weakening the backstop, the EU is more than happy – as officials indicated today to visiting members of the UK’s parliamentary Brexit Select Committee – to repeat or re-package its previous reassurances about the backstop.

For example:

  • That the backstop is a fall-back mechanism, not intended to be used
  • That all sides would prefer to complete a “deep and ambitious” trade deal that would obviate the need for the backstop
  • That if such a trade deal were not completed in time, the backstop would not need to be triggered if the transition period (in which the UK legally leaves the EU but remains a member in practical terms while new trade relations are being negotiated) were extended.

An important aside on the transition period: there’s a new proposal the EU understands is now being championed by Downing Street – The Malthouse Compromise. Brussels would likely reject this, not only because it seeks to rewrite the backstop but because it suggests paying the EU to extend the transition period even in the case of a no-deal Brexit.

The EU argues (and this is included in the text of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement) that if the Brexit deal is not passed by the House of Commons, there will be no transition period. Full stop.


Now, the EU is not at all convinced that re-hashing assurances about the backstop will be enough to satisfy MPs who voted to change it. They believe the bar set by the DUP and hard-line Brexiteers is too high for any tweaks the EU might be willing to make. Which leaves EU leaders sceptical that Theresa May actually has the majority of MPs behind her.

Just this weekend for example, the EU’s deputy chief Brexit negotiator, Sabine Weyand, retweeted a UK commentator pointing out signs of splintering in the brief truce inside the Conservative Party.

Which is why the EU will continue to show ice-cold resolve – at least for now. Hoping, by not giving an inch over the backstop, that the Prime Minister will be forced to look across the political divide, to the Labour Party, for another means to find parliamentary support for the Brexit Deal – such as opting for a permanent customs union with the EU.

This is the EU’s hope. But European diplomats see in Theresa May a politician who likes sticking to her Plan A’s.

British Prime Minister Theresa May arrives for a Sunday church service on February 3, 2019 in Maidenhead, England
Is the UK Prime Minister simply playing for time?

From the beginning we’ve discussed the big possibility that with such a divided county, parliament, party and cabinet, the Prime Minister will simply keep playing for time, inching forward small step by small step until so close to the cliff-edge of having no Brexit deal at all that most MPs will end up backing her and her deal at the very last moment.

This is high-risk brinkmanship.

Dublin is deeply concerned about the consequences of a no deal Brexit – for peace above all but also about the impact on the Irish economy. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar heads to Brussels this Wednesday for high-level meetings. That same day his deputy flies to Washington to lobby for US support to safeguard the Good Friday Agreement and to ensure the Irish border stays open.

Could US disapproval over UK pressure on the backstop makes things more complicated for a future UK-US trade deal?

It won’t make things any simpler.

UK to spend £800k on ‘highly likely’ Eurotunnel Brexit case,:

The government plans to pay a law firm £800,000 for advice in case Eurotunnel decides to sue over the effects of Brexit on its business.

The contract description originally said Getlink, previously called Eurotunnel, was “highly likely” to go through litigation.

It said the government could be forced to pay “significant damages” if the firm was successful.

The Department for Transport says it routinely seeks legal advice.

A DfT spokeswoman said. “This multiannual contract is to provide advice on a wide range of areas relating to the Channel Tunnel and EU exit.”

Elsewhere on Monday, that lorries will be able to drive straight off ferries and Channel Tunnel trains without making customs declarations in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Protect their business’

The government website detailing the contract with law firm Slaughter and May originally stated that Getlink had “expressed concern that their business may be disturbed or interfered with… and that this will in turn hit their profits”.

It continued: “It is highly likely that they would seek to protect their business and profits through litigation against the department.”

The contract description was subsequently changed to say simply that it is to provide “advice and assistance to DfT on the Cross Channel Rail Services”.

Last December, it emerged that the government had awarded contracts worth £107m to three companies to provide extra ferry services in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

A BBC investigation found that Seaborne Freight which won a contract for £13.8m to run ferries from Ramsgate to Ostend, had no ships.

In January, Eurotunnel wrote to Transport Secretary Chris Grayling to complain that they had not been considered when the contracts were awarded.

The company also warned that their award of these contracts could be illegal.

Eurotunnel has previously voiced concerns more broadly about the potential impact of a no-deal Brexit on their business.

Slaughter and May declined to comment.

Seaborne Freight said its services were due to commence in March and they expect to be ready “very close to schedule”.

Recent Posts

21 Savage: Rapper ‘will fight’ against deportation from US

A lawyer for US rapper 21 Savage says he will fight to stay in the US after an arrest by immigration agents who say he is British and in the US illegally.

Shayaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, 26, came to America in July 2005 aged 12 and failed to leave when his visa expired a year later, US officials say.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) also say the musician is a convicted felon.

His lawyer accused the US of trying to “intimidate” the rapper into leaving.

What did the lawyer say?

Attorney Charles Kuck said in a statement on Monday that the arrest was “based upon incorrect information about prior criminal charges” and that his client had never tried to conceal his immigration status from authorities.

In 2017, he applied for a US “U Visa” on the basis that he had been the “victim of crime”, his lawyer said.

U Visas are given to non-citizen victims of crime who intend to co-operate with US authorities.

In 2013, the rapper was shot six times on his 21st birthday in an attack that took the life of his best friend.

Mr Kuck added the rapper is “not a flight risk” and is a “prominent member of the music industry” who would be recognised if he attempted to flee.

The lawyer said the rapper also has US-born children, which Mr Kuck argued should prevent his client’s deportation.

“ICE has not charged Mr Abraham-Joseph with any crime,” Mr Kuck continued.

“As a minor, his family overstayed their work visas, and he, like almost two million other children, was left without legal status through no fault of his own.”

The lawyer accused US immigration officials of trying to “unnecessarily punish him and try to intimidate him into giving up his right to fight to remain in the United States”.

Mr Kuck said his client was “clearly not a danger to the community” and is “the type of immigrant we want in America”.

What do US and UK officials say?

A DeKalb County Police Department incident report says the rapper was arrested on Sunday during a traffic stop.

Mr Abraham-Joseph was detained by the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, a federal law enforcement agency.

A fellow musician, Quantavious Thomas, known as Young Nudy, was also arrested during the traffic stop.

Mr Thomas is accused of aggravated assault with a gun and participation in criminal street gang activity.

According to ICE, Mr Abraham-Joseph was convicted of drug charges in 2014 and his arrest on Sunday was a “targeted operation”.

An ICE spokesman added that when the rapper was first arrested, ICE was not aware of his immigration status.

“His whole public persona is false,” said an ICE agent, adding that his childhood was not actually spent in the US.

The UK Foreign Office told BBC News: “Our staff are in contact with the lawyer of a British man following his detention in the USA.”

Who is 21 Savage?

Previous to his arrest by immigration officials, Abraham-Joseph has described a childhood in Atlanta, Georgia, not the UK.

In an interview with Fader magazine in 2016 he said he had first seen a gun at the age of eight – though the article did not specify where this purported incident took place.

The musician is also quoted as saying he was expelled from school in Atlanta aged about 12 or 13 for taking a gun to class.

His music has drawn controversy at times, with the rapper apologising last December for a lyric on his second album that referenced “Jewish money”.

But since finding fame, 21 Savage has contributed to financial literacy programmes with underprivileged youth.

A fan in Atlanta told the BBC: “He’s an icon for here. He’s making great music. We’re losing someone big.”

Recent Posts

Belgium bank robbery: Thieves use sewers to carry out raid, Europe

Thieves in Belgium have used sewers to tunnel into a bank vault near Antwerp’s diamond trading district.

Police were alerted on Sunday to a possible burglary and when they arrived they found the bank door shut with about 30 deposit boxes emptied inside.

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The thieves appear to have had to squeeze through sewage pipes as narrow as 40cm (15 in) wide, before boring another tunnel to reach the bank.

Police have not yet said how much was stolen during the raid.

Els Liekens of the water company, Aquafin, said the robbery had been very risky.

“First of all, digging the tunnel towards the sewage system was dangerous for the robbers themselves because of a possible subsidence,” she said.


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“And inside the sewer, you have all kinds of danger, such as gas concentrations coming from the waste water.”

Troops could return to Irish border, warns Varadkar

Bank customers have been upset at a lack of information from the bank, with some saying the boxes contained their life savings.

“A lot of people are not only keeping money or jewels, but also family pieces,” one said.

A similar raid in the French city of Nice in 1976 saw a gang spend months tunnelling through sewers to access a branch of Société Générale. They plundered more than 200 safety boxes, making off with millions of dollars.

Recent Posts

Quadriga: Cryptocurrency exchange founder’s death locks $140m,:

Canada’s largest cryptocurrency exchange is unable to access millions in digital currency following the sudden death of its founder.

Quadriga has filed for creditor protection and estimates that about C$180m ($137m; £105m) in cryptocurrency coins is missing.

It has not been able to locate or secure its cryptocurrency reserves since Gerald Cotten died in December.

Cotten, 30, had sole responsibility for handling the funds and coins.

In court documents filed with the Nova Scotia Supreme Court on 31 January, his widow Jennifer Robertson, says the laptop on which Cotten “carried out the companies’ business is encrypted and I do not know the password or recovery key”.

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“Despite repeated and diligent searches, I have not been able to find them written down anywhere,” the affidavit states.

The company hired an investigator to see if any information could be retrieved but ongoing efforts have had only “limited success in recovering a few coins” and some information from Cotten’s computer and phone.

The company is also investigating whether some of the cryptocurrency could be secured on other exchanges, according to court files.

They say about 115,000 Quadriga users hold balances in their personal accounts in the form of cash obligations and cryptocurrency.

The company estimates it owes about C$250m ($190m; £145m) – including C$70m in hard currency.

The affidavit says the majority of the cryptocurrency was kept by Quadriga in a “cold wallet” or “cold storage”, which is located offline and used to secure cryptocurrency from hacking or theft.

Liquidity problems for the British Columbia-based company began in January 2018 when Canadian bank CIBC froze C$25.7m linked to its payment processor after the bank had difficulty determining who were the owners of the money.

Those problems have been compounded by Cotten’s passing.

The founder died unexpectedly due to complications with Crohn’s disease while travelling in India, according to court documents.

In a statement posted online last Thursday, Quadriga said it is working to address its “liquidity issues, which include attempting to locate and secure our very significant cryptocurrency reserves held in cold wallet”.

The company is due in court in Nova Scotia on Tuesday for a preliminary hearing on appointing firm Ernst and Young as an independent monitor to oversee the proceedings.

The Papers: Cold call warning and medication costs row

The Daily Mail leads with news of a “crackdown” on cold callers. The paper says dozens of firms who moved to Scotland to escape tough regulations will now be subject to the same strict rules as the rest of the UK.

The i
The i leads on campaigners’ pleas for the government to intervene over the drug Orkambi, which they say children with cystic fibrosis are being denied. The life-extending drug has reportedly been priced by manufacturers at more than £100,000 per patient per year.

Daily Record
The Daily Record says three Strictly Come Dancing stars chased a thief who stole a mobile phone from them as they had dinner before a Glasgow show. The paper hails taxi drivers Greg Macfarlane and Willie Paterson who helped in the chase.

The Scotsman
The Scotsman features a warning from First Minister Nicola Sturgeon that the UK is “not remmotely prepared” for Brexit. Ms Sturgeon will call for the process to be stalled in a keynote speech in the US today.

Daily Express
Theresa May faces a “race against time” to draw up a new withdrawal agreement proposal to take back to Brussels, the Daily Express reports. The paper said the prime minister will thrash out talks with Tory Brexiteers and Remainers in a bid to find a deal that can get through the Commons, and be acceptable to EU negotiators.

The National
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has welcomed the launch of a new organisation “dedicated to advancing the fight for Scottish independence”, according to The National. Progress Scotland has been set up by former SNP depute leader Angus Robertson.

The Sun
The Sun leads with news that TV presenter Ant McPartlin has bought two Maltipoo puppies “to help with his fresh start”. It also features Nicola Sturgeon being accused of “abandoning the day job” by campaigning for Scottish independence while on a visit to the US.

Daily Star
The Star carries a story about a US professor who has criticised the Step In Time scene in the original Mary Poppins film.

The Herald
The Herald leads with claims that taxpayers have been hit with a £1bn bill over the last five years because of the collapse of the high street and the demise of other big businesses.

Press and Journal
The Press and Journal says Westminster’s Scottish Affairs Committee has urged the UK government and business to invest in three new centres of excellence for the North Sea oil and gas industry. The paper says the move could boosy the north-east economy by as much as £110bn over the next 15 years,

The Times
The government is considering withdrawing a £60m support package for Japanese car maker Nissan after it broke a pledge to build one of its new cars at its Sunderland plant, the Times reports. The car maker has said its X-Trail SUV would be built in Japan rather than the UK.

Daily Telegraph
Chief Secretary to the Treasury Liz Truss has said women should be less “squeamish” about making money, the Daily Telegraph reports. It is part of the paper’s campaign called Women Mean Business, which highlights the funding gap for female entrepreneurs in the UK.

Brexit: What are the new ideas for the Irish backstop?

Prime Minister Theresa May says she intends to return to Brussels with new ideas on the Irish backstop.

The EU has already dismissed the idea of putting a time limit on the backstop, so what other ideas have been suggested?

The backstop: a reminder

The backstop is an insurance policy – designed to avoid a hard border “under all circumstances” between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic.

If the UK leaves the customs union and the single market that could mean goods would have to be checked as they crossed the frontier.

The UK and EU would instead like to keep the border frictionless through a comprehensive trade deal.

If such an agreement could not be reached, then to avoid those checks with customs posts or other infrastructure, the backstop would come into force.

Confused by Brexit jargon? Reality Check unpacks the basics
Confused by Brexit jargon? Reality Check unpacks the basics

It would keep the UK in a “single customs territory” with the EU, and leave Northern Ireland in the EU’s single market for goods.

Many MPs fear the UK could be “trapped” in that arrangement for years, leaving it unable to strike its own trade deals on goods with the rest of the world.

The prime minister’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) allies also do not want to see Northern Ireland treated differently from the rest of the UK.

So what could be done?

Clarification – and another referendum

The Irish economist Karl Whelan has suggested that the EU should clarify that it has no objections to Great Britain leaving the customs union backstop while Northern Ireland stays in it.

“This is the original version of the backstop that the EU offered, so it should be clear they are willing to still offer this,” says Prof Whelan.

That would leave Great Britain free to strike trade deals but Northern Ireland would not be part of them.

That would be anathema to the DUP and other MPs.

Nigel Dodds and Arlene Foster at Downing Street
The DUP’s Nigel Dodds and Arlene Foster want NI to be treated the same as the rest of the UK after Brexit

The second part of Prof Whelan’s plan is to use the Brexit political declaration to promise the citizens of Northern Ireland a referendum on the backstop, should it ever come into effect.

He suggests that five years after the beginning of the operation of a Northern Ireland-only backstop there would be a vote on whether to remain within the EU’s customs union and single market.

He says: “A promise to hold a referendum five years after the end of the transition period would provide a clear concession to those who believe the backstop arrangements would be harmful to Northern Ireland by offering them a chance to convince their fellow citizens to end the arrangements after a period.”

A European customs association

A paper for the German Ifo Institute suggests that the difficulties with the backstop should cause both sides to fundamentally rethink their red lines.

It proposes a new European customs association – a permanent customs union between the UK and the EU.

It would be superior to the customs deal Turkey has with the EU giving the UK “full and active participation”, instead of merely being a rule-taker.

However, it acknowledges even that would not be enough to keep the Irish border frictionless and the UK would have to effectively remain in the single market for goods and perhaps services.

A boy writing anti-Brexit slogans on a wall on the Irish border
The Irish border has been one of the most contentious Brexit issues

In return for such an enormous u-turn by the UK, the institute says that the EU should also make a radical change on free movement.

The EU’s position is that the UK cannot enjoy full participation in the single market unless it accepts the four freedoms – one of which is the free movement of people.

The institute says the EU could “abandon its indivisibility dogma by which the four freedoms are inseparable, offering the UK to participate in product market integration but allowing it to make its own choices in other areas”.

It adds: “Most importantly, this concerns the mobility of people.”

Beef up the political declaration

The political declaration was published alongside the withdrawal deal and sets out the broad shape of the future relationship between the UK and EU.

EU leaders have said they are open to redrafting the declaration if the UK presents new ideas.

The former Liberal Democrat MEP Andrew Duff has, in a paper for the European Policy Centre, suggested improvements aimed at “rescuing” the withdrawal agreement .

He says that the language on the temporary nature of the backstop could be clearer and “more forceful”.

However, given the prime minister’s intention to seek legally binding changes to the withdrawal agreement changes to the political declaration are unlikely to impress pro-Brexit MPs.

Ireland leaves the EU customs union

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, the prime minister’s former senior adviser Nick Timothy suggested that Ireland could leave the EU’s customs union and instead create a joint customs territory with the EU.

That would eliminate the possibility of customs checks at the Irish border but mean new customs procedures between Ireland and the EU.

Mr Timothy said that would build on existing policies and would help to protect Irish consumers and businesses.

However, in Ireland there is near universal hostility to any suggestion that Brexit should force it to weaken its position in the EU.

Mr Timothy appeared to acknowledge that reality, writing: “No doubt this idea will be attacked as another unicorn.”

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Backstop discussions start andSala plane wreckage found: News Daily:

Brexit: MPs discuss backstop ‘alternatives’

If not the backstop, then what? Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay is beginning three days of discussions with MPs and government officials, after the Commons voted last week to find another way of avoiding a hard Irish border after the UK leaves the EU.

The backstop is described as an “insurance policy” – designed to avoid a hard border “under all circumstances”. And it’s proved the single biggest sticking point in getting MPs to back Theresa May’s Brexit agreement with the EU.

According to Downing Street, Mr Barclay’s Alternative Arrangements Working Group, including Conservative Leave and former Remain MPs, meets amid “significant support” for the so-called “Malthouse Compromise”. This includes extending the transition period for a year until the end of 2021 and protecting EU citizens’ rights, instead of using the backstop.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid says “existing technology” can be used to ensure there’s no hard Irish border, but Irish PM Leo Varadkar says it’s “very frustrating” that the UK government is referring to this idea. BBC Reality Check looks at what might happen.

Matters are undoubtedly complex, so here’s our simple guide to Brexit.

Emiliano Sala plane wreckage found

Accident investigators will later inspect the wreckage of the plane

carrying Cardiff City footballer Emiliano Sala. The Piper Malibu N264DB, lost on 21 January, was found off Guernsey on Sunday. The 28-year-old Argentine striker and pilot David Ibbotson, 59, were the only people on board. “I cannot believe it,” Mr Sala’s father told Argentinian broadcaster Cronica TV. “This is a dream. A bad dream. I am desperate.”

Get news from the BBC in your inbox, each weekday morning
Get news from the BBC in your inbox, each weekday morning

Hermes to offer pay benefits to couriers

Parcel delivery firm Hermes has agreed to offer couriers paid holiday and guaranteed wage rates under what it calls a “self-employed plus” status. It has reached a deal with the GMB union, allowing workers to opt in to receive up to 28 days’ paid leave and choose pay rates of “at least” £8.50 an hour. In return, Hermes couriers will have to follow routes set out by the firm, to ensure they are working efficiently.

‘The day I went to prison, I got my life back’

Written by Jon Kelly, BBC Stories

As she sat in the dock, waiting for the judge to send her to prison, Lilly Lewis found to her surprise that she couldn’t stop laughing. She didn’t understand why. It wasn’t nerves, exactly, and there wasn’t anything remotely funny about her situation. Lilly’s lawyer had warned she was looking at an eight-year sentence.

But somehow the entire court case had seemed unreal to her, like a huge, elaborate joke.

What the papers say

Newspaper headlines index image

The Guardian reports that a life-extending drug for patients with cystic fibrosis has been priced by manufacturers at more than £100,000 per patient per year. The i speaks to campaigners who say this means some children are being denied the treatment. Meanwhile, the Times leads on Nissan’s decision not to build one of its new cars at its Sunderland plant, saying ministers could withdraw a £60m support package for the Japanese car manufacturer. And the Daily Telegraph quotes Chief Secretary to the Treasury Liz Truss saying that women should be less “squeamish” about making money.

Obesity-related cancers rise for younger US generations, study says

Cancers linked to obesity are rising at a faster rate in millennials than in older generations in the United States, the American Cancer Society has said.

It said a steep rise in obesity in the past 40 years may have increased cancer risk in younger generations.

And it warned the problem could set back recent progress on cancer.

The Society studied millions of health records from 1995 to 2014, publishing its findings in The Lancet Public Health.

In the last few decades, there has been mounting evidence that certain cancers can be linked to obesity.

‘Dangers of extra weight’

Researchers found that the rates of six out of 12 obesity-related cancers (colorectal, uterine, gallbladder, kidney, pancreatic and multiple myeloma – a blood cancer) all went up, particularly in people under the age of 50.

And they found steeper rises in successively younger generations aged 25 to 49 – and particularly in millennials, in their 20s and 30s.

For example, the risk of colorectal, uterine and gallbladder cancers has doubled for millennials compared to baby boomers, now aged 50 to 70, at the same age.

Some of these cancers increased in people over 50 too, but the rises were not as steep.

Researchers say this trend may be down to the rapid rise in obesity in the last few decades with “younger generations worldwide experiencing an earlier and longer exposure to the dangers of extra weight”.

Which cancers are linked to obesity?
Breast cancer is linked to obesity in post-menopausal women.

Dr Ahmedin Jemal, from the American Cancer Society, said: “Our findings expose a recent change that could serve as a warning of an increased burden of obesity-related cancers to come in older adults.

“Most cancers occur in older adults, which means that as the young people in our study age, the burden of obesity-related cancer cases and deaths are likely to increase even more.”

Other risk factors

But the researchers could not explain why the rates of only half of the 12 obesity-related cancers had increased.

Meanwhile, they found cancers linked to smoking and infections were declining in younger age groups.

Dr Brenda Birmann, from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, told the Lancet Public Health that it was possible that risk factors other than obesity could play a part and this warranted further investigation.

“Importantly, the findings suggest the need for further close epidemiological monitoring of cancer incidence trends in younger adults,” she said.

A line

Graphic highlighting liver cancer
Liver cancer is one of a list of cancers linked to obesity

Which cancers are caused by obesity?

According to the charity Cancer Research UK, obesity is the second biggest preventable cause of cancer in the UK, after smoking.

Research suggests bowel cancer, womb cancer, oesophageal (food pipe) cancer, cancer of the kidney, liver, upper stomach, gallbladder, ovarian, thyroid, meningioma (a type of brain tumour) and multiple myeloma (a type of blood cancer) and breast cancer in women after the menopause have all been linked to obesity.

Researchers say the risk increases as people get more overweight.

But of course, obesity is only one factor – the environment, genetics and other issues can also come into play. Not everyone who gets these cancers will be overweight and everyone who is obese will not necessarily get these cancers.

And scientists are clear that losing even small amounts of weight can help reduce the risk of cancer.

How does obesity lead to cancer?

Scientists still have a lot of questions to answer but there are currently three main theories about this.

Extra body fat does not just sit in the body doing nothing.

Fat cells help store energy, but they can also send chemical signals to other parts of the body. These signals may tell cells to divide more quickly, which can put people at risk of cancer.

In other words:

  • fat cells make extra hormones and growth factors
  • growth factors and hormones tell cells in the body to divide more rapidly
  • this increases the chance of cancer cells being produced and these can continue to divide and cause a tumour

Recent Topics

Maduro warns of civil war: Venezuela crisis:

Miraflores press office shows Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro during an event with members of the military, in Turiamo, Venezuela, 3 February 2019
Nicolás Maduro has retained the support of the Venezuelan military

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has said he cannot rule out the possibility of civil war as pressure mounts on him to stand down.

In a TV interview, he warned that US President Donald Trump would leave the White House “stained with blood” if he intervened in the crisis.

He also defiantly rejected the EU’s Sunday deadline to call snap elections.

Opposition leader Juan Guaidó declared himself interim president last month and won US backing.

He said on Sunday he would build an international coalition to deliver humanitarian aid to Venezuelans but Mr Maduro has accused him of organising a coup.

What did Maduro say?

In the interview with Spanish television programme Salvados, broadcast on Sunday, Mr Maduro was asked if the crisis in Venezuela could result in civil war.

“Today no-one could answer that question with certainty,” he said.

Masked anti-Maduro protesters in Caracas, 2 February
Masked anti-Maduro protesters could be seen in Caracas on Saturday

“Everything depends on the level of madness and aggressiveness of the northern empire [the US] and its Western allies.

Peru landslide kills at least 15 at hotel wedding party

“We ask that nobody intervenes in our internal affairs… and we prepare ourselves to defend our country.”

President Trump has told US broadcaster CBSthe use of military force remains “an option” .

But Mr Maduro warned the US leader he risked a repeat of the Vietnam War if he intervened.

Who is really in charge in Venezuela?
Who is really in charge in Venezuela?

“Stop. Stop. Donald Trump! You are making mistakes that are going to stain your hands with blood and you are going to leave the presidency stained with blood,” he said.

“Let’s respect each other, or is it that you are going to repeat a Vietnam in Latin America?”

Sunday saw the expiry of a deadline set by several European countries – including France, the UK, Austria, Germany and Spain – for Mr Maduro to call early presidential elections. They said that they would recognise Mr Guaidó as interim president if no such pledge was forthcoming.

On Monday, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Mr Guaidó had the “legitimacy to organise presidential elections.”

“People are on the streets, people want change,”he told broadcaster France Inter.

But Mr Maduro responded: “We don’t accept ultimatums from anyone. It’s like if I told the European Union: ‘I give you seven days to recognise the Republic of Catalonia, and if you don’t, we are going to take measures’.

Venezuela crisis: White House ‘will respond to threats against diplomats’

“No, international politics can’t be based on ultimatums. That was the era of empires and colonies.”

What is the situation in Venezuela?

Thousands took to the streets of the capital Caracas on Saturday for protests in support of both President Maduro and Mr Guaidó.

Mr Maduro retains the support of the military, but ahead of the demonstrations Mr Guaidó received a boost when an air force general – Francisco Yanez – became the highest-ranking military official yet to pledge support for him.

Mr Guaidó says he has held private meetings with the military to win support for ousting Mr Maduro. He says he has also reached out to China, one of Mr Maduro’s most important backers.

What is Guaidó’s aid plan?

He does not control any territory in Venezuela, so instead he plans to set up collection centres in neighbouring countries where Venezuelans have fled to.

He said he wanted to set up an international coalition to gather aid at three points, and press Venezuela’s army to let it into the country.

Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido waves to supporters in Caracas, Venezuela February 2, 2019
Juan Guaidó is head of Venezuela’s National Assembly

US National Security Adviser John Bolton said on Twitter that plans were being advanced over the weekend.

Mr Maduro has rejected letting aid into the country, telling supporters on Saturday “we’ve never been nor are we a country of beggars”.

What’s the background?

Venezuela has suffered economic turmoil for years, with hyperinflation and shortages of essentials such as food and medicine. Millions have fled.

Why Venezuela matters to the US... and vice versa
Why Venezuela matters to the US… and vice versa

In January, Mr Maduro was sworn in for a second term following disputed elections which many opposition leaders did not contest because they were in jail or boycotting them.

Mr Guaidó, who is head of Venezuela’s National Assembly, declared himself president on 23 January.

He says the constitution allows him to assume power temporarily when the president is deemed illegitimate. On Saturday he said protests would continue until his supporters had achieved “freedom”.

Map shows where countries stand on Venezuela presidency

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