Category Archives: U.K

TOP STORIES, U.K

Climate strike: Schoolchildren protest over climate change,”:


Schoolchildren across the UK have gone on strike as part of a global campaign calling for action over climate change.

Students around the country walked out of school to call on the government to declare a climate emergency and take active steps to tackle the problem.

“Save our planet” was the message chanted by thousands of people gathered in Parliament Square in London.

Organisers Youth Strike 4 Climate said protests were taking place in more than 60 towns and cities across the UK.

The action is part of a much wider global movement, known as Schools 4 Climate Action.

It began with 15-year-old Swede Greta Thunberg skipping class to sit outside government buildings in September, accusing her country of not following the Paris Climate Agreement.

Since then, tens of thousands of children across Belgium, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland and Australia have been inspired to hold their own demonstrations.

A Downing Street spokeswoman said that while it was important for young people to engage with issues like climate change, the disruption to planned lesson time was damaging for pupils.

However, energy minister Claire Perry said she was “incredibly proud” of young people’s passion and concern.

She told the BBC: “I suspect if this was happening 40 years ago, I would be out there too.”

Lola and Christina in Parliament Square
Christina (right) says she’s worried for her future

In London, 15-year-old Christina, from London, said the issue was too big to ignore.

“A lot of us are very good, obedient students but when it comes to climate change, it’s really important,” she says.

“The youth of our time tend to get pushed to one side. We often stay quiet but when it comes to climate change we are going to have to pay for the older generation’s mistakes.

“It really scares me.”

Scarlet at protest in London
Scarlet, one of the organisers, says they will keep making noise until they are heard

Part of the UK Student Climate Network, 15-year-old Scarlet, from Suffolk, says the group has a detailed list of demands.

“We want the UK government to declare a climate emergency and make moves to achieve climate justice, prioritising this above all else,” she told BBC News.

“We’re demanding the government listen to us and we will continue to make a noise until they do so.

“It can’t be about behaviour change any more; it has to be about system change.”

Scarlet says she has been vegetarian since she was six, wears second-hand clothes and avoids plastic bags; she also carries a reusable straw.

Hannah Jane at protest in London
Eleven-year-old Hannah Jane’s mum wrote a letter to the head teacher asking for her permission to give her daughter the day off
Banners in Parliament Square
Banners filled London’s Parliament Square
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At the scene

By BBC education reporter Judith Burns

Protestors sitting down in the road
Some of those involved staged a sit-down protest

Teenagers brandishing brightly-coloured posters packed Parliament Square chanting “save our planet”.

Many were keen to point out it is their generation who will be left to pick up the pieces of our civilisation’s waste and pollution.

They don’t feel the government is listening to scientists’ warnings on climate change. Without a vote, protests like this one are their only option, they say.

Some climbed onto statues but were quickly ordered down by police.

The organisers had planned a revision session to show the protestors take their education seriously but instead, shortly after noon, some of the teenagers, sat down on a crossing, blocking traffic.

Again they moved on quickly, but took an unplanned walk up Whitehall. Most of the protesters left the square and marched to Downing Street.

The protest is good-humoured, but the organisers’ plans have been abandoned.

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Hundreds of young protesters chanted for climate justice in Cambridge, carrying banners with slogans including ‘There is no planet B’ and ‘When did the children become the adults’.

Ten-year-old Zachary, who attended with his mother, said he thought climate change was more important than lessons.

He said: “People just have to change their ways as we don’t want the world as it is right now.

“We just want to make people aware of it. We were talking about it in our class, so we just came along.”

Protesters at a Youth Strike 4 Climate demonstration outside Shire Hall in Cambridge
Students in Cambridge gathered outside the Cambridgeshire County Council’s offices
Brighton
Students marched down the streets of Brighton
Ivy in Sheffield
Ivy, 9, is home-schooled; she received permission from her mother to join the protest in Sheffield

In Wales, hundreds of primary and secondary school pupils descended on the Welsh Assembly in Cardiff Bay.

Protest outside the National Assembly for Wales

Meanwhile in the Scottish Highlands, pupils staged hour-long walkouts outside their school gates.

Shamima Begum: IS runaway teen ‘could face prosecution in UK’:


Ms Begum was 15 and living in Bethnal Green, London, when she left the UK in 2015

A British woman who ran away to Syria as a schoolgirl to join the Islamic State group has been told she could face prosecution if she returns home.

Shamima Begum, now 19 and pregnant, told the Times she had no regrets but wanted to have her baby in the UK.

She said she had heard that Amira Abase, one of the two girls she fled to Syria with, might still be alive.

Her father, Abase Hussen, broke down on hearing the news and appealed to the UK government to bring both women home.

He said that Ms Begum’s comments had given his family hope about Ms Abase.

In her interview with the newspaper, Ms Begum, who married an IS fighter, showed little remorse for her involvement with the terror group, saying she was not fazed by seeing “beheaded heads” in bins.

“I don’t regret coming here,” she told Times journalist Anthony Loyd, who found her in the camp.

“I’m not the same silly little 15-year-old schoolgirl who ran away from Bethnal Green four years ago.”

Anthony Loyd of the Times describes how he found Shamima Begum in a Syrian refugee camp
Anthony Loyd of the Times describes how he found Shamima Begum in a Syrian refugee camp

“The caliphate is over. There was so much oppression and corruption that I don’t think they deserved victory,” she said.

“I just want to come home to have my child. I’ll do anything required just to be able to come home and live quietly with my child.”

Earlier, security minister Ben Wallace told the BBC he would not risk any British officials’ safety trying to bring back Ms Begum, who is currently in a refugee camp in northern Syria.

But Mr Wallace said any Britons who had gone to Syria to engage or support terrorist activities should be prepared to be questioned, investigated and potentially prosecuted if they came back to the UK.

He said there was no consular assistance in Syria and insisted he would not attempt to rescue Ms Begum.

“I’m not putting at risk British people’s lives to go and look for terrorists or former terrorists in a failed state,” he told the BBC.

Abase Hussen appealed to the British government to bring home his daughter, Amira Abase, and her friend Shamima Begum
Abase Hussen appealed to the British government to bring home his daughter, Amira Abase, and her friend Shamima Begum

However, the father of Ms Abase believes that the UK should help bring back both his daughter and Ms Begum.

Abase Hussen told the BBC that his daughter had not spoken to him since she sent some texts two years ago, telling him not to worry about her.

The Times interview “gives us some kind of positive hope for the family,” he said. “We were just waiting for something to come out.”

Ms Begum and Ms Abase, both 15, along with Kadiza Sultana, 16, were pupils at Bethnal Green Academy when they left the UK in February 2015.

The schoolfriends flew from Gatwick Airport to Turkey after telling their parents they were going out for the day.

They later crossed the border into Syria.

On arriving in Raqqa, Ms Begum stayed at a house with other newly-arrived brides-to-be.

“I applied to marry an English-speaking fighter between 20 and 25 years old,” she said.

Ten days later she married a 27-year-old Dutch man who had converted to Islam – and has been with him since then.

The couple escaped from Baghuz – IS’s last territory in eastern Syria – two weeks ago.

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Kadiza Sultana, Amira Abase and Shamima Begum (l-r) in photos issued by police

Her husband surrendered to a group of Syrian fighters as they left, and she is now one of 39,000 people in a refugee camp in northern Syria.

Asked whether living in the one-time IS stronghold of Raqqa had lived up to her aspirations, Ms Begum said: “Yes, it did.

“It was like a normal life. The life that they show on the propaganda videos – it’s a normal life.

“Every now and then there are bombs and stuff. But other than that…”

She said that seeing her first “severed head” in a bin “didn’t faze me at all”.

“It was from a captured fighter seized on the battlefield, an enemy of Islam.

“I thought only of what he would have done to a Muslim woman if he had the chance,” she said.

Map of Ms Begum's travels

Will Shamima Begum be allowed to return to the UK?

Shamima Begum was legally a child when she pinned her colours to the Islamic State mast.

And if she were still under 18 years old, the government would have a duty to take her and her unborn child’s “best interests” into account in deciding what to do next.

But she’s now an apparently unrepentant adult – and that means she would have to account for her decisions, even if her journey is a story of grooming and abuse.

Another British jihadi bride, Tareena Shakil, who got out of the war zone with her child, lied to the security services on her return and was jailed for membership of a terrorist group.

If Ms Begum got out of the country, that is the kind of charge she could face – along with encouraging or supporting terrorism.

But that’s a long way off. Assuming she made it to an airport, the UK could temporarily ban her from returning until she agreed to be investigated, monitored and deradicalised.

Social services would also certainly step in to consider whether her child should be removed to protect him or her from radicalisation.

In her interview, Ms Begum talked about Kadiza Sultana who accompanied her to Syria.

She said her school friend had died in a bombing on a house where there was “some secret stuff going on” underground.

“I never thought it would happen. Because I always thought if we got killed, we’d get killed together,” she added.

A lawyer for Ms Sultana’s family said in 2016 that she was believed to have been killed in a Russian air strike.

‘Overprotective’

Ms Begum said losing her two children came as a shock. “It just came out of nowhere, it was so hard.”

Her daughter died at the age of one year and nine months and was buried in Baghuz a month ago.

Her second child died three months ago at just eight months old of an illness compounded by malnutrition, the Times reports.

She said she took him to a hospital but there were no drugs and not enough staff.

She said she was now “really overprotective” of her unborn child and was scared it would become ill if she stayed in the refugee camp.

“That’s why I really want to get back to Britain because I know it will be taken care of – health-wise, at least,” she said.

Her family back in the UK told lawyer Tasnime Akunjee they wanted “time and space to process what’s happened”.

The BBC asked people in London's Bethnal Green, where Shamima Begum went to school, whether she should be allowed back to the UK
The BBC asked people in London’s Bethnal Green, where Shamima Begum went to school, whether she should be allowed back to the UK

Dal Babu, a former Metropolitan Police Chief Superintendent, said it should be remembered that Ms Begum was groomed as a child to become a radicalised woman and was a “victim of brainwashing”.

Lord Carlile, a former independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, said Ms Begum would have to be accepted back into the UK if she had not become a national of any other country.

Under international law, it is not possible to render a person stateless.

He said he thought it was unlikely she would be allowed to return quickly and expected that, if tried for any offences, she would be tried as an adult, he told BBC Radio 5 Live’s Emma Barnett.

Sir Peter Fahy, a retired senior police chief who led the Prevent terrorism prevention programme at the time the girls ran away, said he could understand why the government was “not particularly interested” in facilitating her return.

“If the woman was showing complete remorse, it would be completely different,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

It would cost a “vast amount of money” and the biggest challenge would be for local police to keep her safe and ensure she did not become a lightning rod for both right-wing extremists and Islamic extremists, he added.

IS has lost control of most of the territory it overran, including its strongholds of Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria.

However, fighting continues in north-eastern Syria, where the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) say they captured dozens of foreign fighters in recent weeks.

We asked people in Bethnal Green, where Shamima Begum previously went to school, whether the teenager should be allowed back to the UK

Prince Philip will not be prosecuted over crash”:


The Duke of Edinburgh will not face prosecution over his road crash near the Sandringham estate, the Crown Prosecution Service has said.

The 97-year-old voluntarily gave up his driving licence on Saturday after his Land Rover Freelander collided with another vehicle in Norfolk last month.

He later apologised to the occupants of the other car – two women and a baby.

The CPS says it decided that it would not be in the public interest to prosecute the duke.

Chris Long, Chief Crown Prosecutor from CPS East of England, said: “We took into account all of the circumstances in this case, including the level of culpability, the age of the driver and the surrender of the driving licence.”

The duke escaped injury after his vehicle landed on its side following the collision with a Kia on 17 January on the A149 near the Queen’s country estate.

Two days later Norfolk Police gave him “suitable words of advice” after he was pictured driving without a seat belt.

He wrote to one of the passengers in the Kia – Emma Fairweather, who broke her wrist in the accident.

In the letter, dated 21 January andreproduced by the Sunday Mirror , the duke acknowledged the “very distressing experience”.

“I would like you to know how very sorry I am for my part in the accident,” he wrote, on Sandringham House headed paper.

“The sun was shining low over the main road. In normal conditions I would have no difficulty in seeing traffic coming… but I can only imagine that I failed to see the car coming, and I am very contrite about the consequences.”

Ms Fairweather had previously criticised the duke for a lack of communication following the crash.

British IS schoolgirl ‘wants to return home’:


Ms Begum was 15 when she left the UK in 2015

One of three schoolgirls who left east London in 2015 to join the Islamic State group says she has no regrets, but wants to return to the UK.

In an interview with the Times, Shamima Begum, now 19, talked about seeing “beheaded heads” in bins – but said that it “did not faze her”.

Speaking from a camp in Syria, she said she was nine months pregnant and wanted to come home for the sake of her baby.

She said she’d had two other children who had both died.

She also described how one of her two school friends that had left the UK with her had died in a bombing. The fate of the third girl is unclear.

‘It was like a normal life’

Bethnal Green Academy pupils Ms Begum and Amira Abase, were both 15, while Kadiza Sultana was 16, when they left the UK in February 2015.

They flew from Gatwick Airport to Turkey after telling their parents they were going out for the day. They later crossed the border into Syria.

After arriving in Raqqa, she stayed at a house with other newly arrived brides-to-be, she told the Times.

“I applied to marry an English-speaking fighter between 20 and 25 years old,” she said.

Ten days later she married a 27-year-old Dutch man who had converted to Islam.

She has been with him since then, and the couple escaped from Baghuz – the group’s last territory in eastern Syria – two weeks ago.

Her husband surrendered to a group of Syrian fighters as they left, and she is now one of 39,000 people in a camp in northern Syria.

Asked by Times journalist Anthony Loyd whether her experiences of living in the one-time IS stronghold of Raqqa had lived up to her aspirations, Ms Begum said: “Yes, it did. It was like a normal life. The life that they show on the propaganda videos – it’s a normal life.

“Every now and then there are bombs and stuff. But other than that…”

“I’m not the same silly little 15-year-old schoolgirl who ran away from Bethnal Green four years ago,” she told Mr Loyd.

“I don’t regret coming here.”

‘I always thought we’d die together’

But Ms Begum said the “oppression” had come as a “shock” and said she felt the IS “caliphate” was at an end.

“I don’t have high hopes. They are just getting smaller and smaller,” she said. “And there is so much oppression and corruption going on that I don’t really think they deserve victory.”

She referred to her husband having been held in a prison where men were tortured.

Kadiza Sultana, Amira Abase and Shamima Begum
Kadiza Sultana, Amira Abase and Shamima Begum (l-r) in photos issued by police

A lawyer for the family of Kadiza Sultana said in 2016 that she was believed to have been killed in a Russian air strike.

Ms Begum told the Times her friend had died in a bombing on a house where there was “some secret stuff going on” underground.

She added: “I never thought it would happen. At first I was in denial. Because I always thought if we got killed, we’d get killed together.”

‘Scared this baby is going to get sick’

Ms Begum said losing two children “came as a shock. It just came out of nowhere, it was so hard”.

Her first child, a girl, died at the age of one year and nine months, and was buried in Baghuz a month ago.

Her second child – the first to die – died three months ago at the age of eight months, of an illness that was compounded by malnutrition, the Times reports.

She told the paper she took him to a hospital. “There were no drugs available, and not enough medical staff,” she said.

As a result she said she was “really overprotective” of her unborn child.

“I’m scared that this baby is going to get sick in this camp,” she said. “That’s why I really want to get back to Britain because I know it will be taken care of – health-wise, at least.”

She said she should be giving birth “any day now”.

“I’ll do anything required just to be able to come home and live quietly with my child.”

IS has lost control of most of the territory it overran, including its strongholds of Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria.

However, fighting continues in north-eastern Syria, where the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) say they captured dozens of foreign fighters in recent weeks.

El Chapo trial: Mexican drug lord Joaquín Guzmán found guilty


El Chapo trial: Five facts about Mexican drug lord Joaquín Guzmán

Mexican drug kingpin Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán has been found guilty on all 10 counts at his drug-trafficking trial at a federal court in New York.

Guzmán, 61, was convicted on numerous counts including the distribution of cocaine and heroin, illegal firearms possession and money laundering.

He has yet to be sentenced, but the verdict could mean life in jail.

Guzmán was arrested in January 2016 after escaping from a Mexican prison through a tunnel five months earlier.

He was extradited to the US in 2017.

The Mexican was accused of being behind the all-powerful Sinaloa drug cartel, which prosecutors say was the biggest supplier of drugs to the US.

What happened in court?

Tuesday’s unanimous verdict by a jury in Brooklyn, which was read out in a packed courtroom, followed an 11-week trial.

Guzmán, wearing a dark suit jacket and tie, showed no visible sign of emotion as the verdict was announced, CBS News reported.

US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Richard Donoghue, called it “a day of reckoning”

As he was escorted from the courtroom, he exchanged glances with his wife, Emma Coronel, a 29-year-old former beauty queen, before shaking hands with his lawyers.

Judge Brian Cogan, who presided over the trial, thanked the jurors for their dedication at what he described as a complex trial, saying it was “remarkable and it made me very proud to be an American”.

Who is El Chapo?

“El Chapo” (or “Shorty”) ran the Sinaloa cartel in northern Mexico.

Mexico’s drug war: Has it turned the tide?

Over time, it became one of the biggest traffickers of drugs to the US and, in 2009, Guzmán entered Forbes’ list of the world’s richest men at number 701, with an estimated worth of $1bn (£775m).

He was accused of having helped export hundreds of tonnes of cocaine into the US and of conspiring to manufacture and distribute heroin, methamphetamine and marijuana.

He was also said to have used hitmen to carry out “hundreds” of murders, assaults, kidnappings and acts of torture on rivals.

Key associates, including one former lieutenant, testified against Guzmán.

Emma Coronel, the wife of Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán, leaves court in New York, 12 February 2019
El Chapo’s wife, Emma Coronel, was in court in New York for Tuesday’s verdict

What was heard during the trial?

It provided shocking revelations about the Mexican drug lord’s life.

Court papers accused him of having girls as young as 13 drugged before raping them.

Guzmán “called the youngest of the girls his ‘vitamins’ because he believed that sexual activity with young girls gave him ‘life'”, former associate Colombian drug trafficker Alex Cifuentes was quoted as saying.

During the trial Cifuentes also alleged that Guzmán gave a $100m (£77m) bribe to former Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, who is said to have contacted him after taking office in 2012 and asked for $250m in return for ending a manhunt for him. Mr Pena Nieto has not publicly commented.

Sketch of Alex Cifuentes (L) and Guzmán
Former associate Cifuentes (L) alleged that Guzmán (R) bribed Mexico’s then president

Another witness described seeing Guzmán murder at least three men.

Former bodyguard Isaias Valdez Rios said Guzmán beat two people who had joined a rival cartel until they were “completely like rag dolls”. He then shot them in the head and ordered their bodies be thrown on a fire.

In another incident, he had a member of the rival Arellano Felix cartel burned and imprisoned before taking him to a graveyard, shooting him and having him buried alive.

Guzmán is also alleged to have had his own cousin killed for lying about being out of town, and ordered a hit on the brother of another cartel leader because he did not shake his hand.

When asked by a former cartel lieutenant why he killed people, he is alleged to have said: “Either your mom’s going to cry or their mom’s going to cry.”

Guzmán's wife Emma Coronel attended the trial in New York
Guzmán’s wife Emma Coronel attended the trial

The court heard details of his 2015 escape from Mexico’s maximum-security Altiplano prison. His sons bought a property near the prison and a GPS watch smuggled into the prison gave diggers his exact location.

At one point Guzmán complained that he could hear the digging from his cell. He escaped by riding a specially adapted small motorcycle through the tunnel.

He also used software on his phone to spy on his wife and mistresses, which allowed the FBI to present his text messages in court.

In one set of texts, he recounted to his wife how he had fled a villa during a raid by US and Mexican officials, before asking her to bring him new clothes, shoes and black moustache dye.

Why was this trial significant?

Guzmán is the highest profile Mexican drug cartel boss so far to stand trial in the US.

The drug war in Mexico – pitting the Mexican and US authorities against cartels smuggling drugs into the US and the cartels against each other – has killed about 100,000 people over more than a decade.

A former DEA agent describes capturing Guzmán in 2014 – he later escaped

Guzmán achieved notoriety for twice escaping custody in Mexico as well as avoiding arrest on numerous other occasions.

Among some in his home state, he had the status of a folk hero a popular subject of “narcocorridos” – musical tributes to drugs barons.

In 2016, he gave an interview to Hollywood actor Sean Penn in a Mexican jungle following his escape the previous year and boasted that he was the world’s leading supplier of heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana.

He was later recaptured in the north-western town of Los Mochis. During the raid he fled through a drain but was later caught by troops in a shootout.

The Brooklyn Bridge was closed each time Guzmán was driven across it
New York’s Brooklyn Bridge was closed each time the motorcade containing Guzmán drove across it

The US indictment against him was a consolidation of charges from six federal jurisdictions across the country, including New York, Chicago and Miami.

Prosecutors pooled together evidence acquired over more than a decade, including from international partners such as Mexico and Colombia, to build their sweeping case.

The trial jurors were anonymous and were escorted to and from the courthouse in Brooklyn by armed marshals after prosecutors argued that Guzmán had a history of intimidating witnesses and even ordering their murders.

High Court judge apologises after falling asleep”


Mrs Justice Parker is the second longest-serving judge serving in the Family Division

A High Court judge has been given “formal advice” after “momentarily” falling asleep during a hearing.

The Judicial Conduct Investigations Office (JCIO) said the conduct of Mrs Justice Parker was found to have the potential to undermine public confidence in the judiciary.

The judge, 68, who serves on the Family Division of the High Court in London, was investigated following a complaint.

The JCIO said she “expressed remorse” for the incident.

A statement published on the JCIO’s websitedid not provide details about when the court hearing took place but said “parties in a case” had complained the judge had fallen asleep.

Lord Chancellor David Gauke and Lord Chief Justice Lord Burnett considered her conduct.

The JCIO said: “While concluding that this amounted to conduct which had the potential to undermine public confidence in the judiciary, the Lord Chancellor and the Lord Chief Justice took into consideration that the judge fell asleep only momentarily and has expressed remorse for doing so.”

Mrs Justice Parker is the second longest-serving judge serving in the Family Division of the High Court, after being appointed in 2008.

She received a damehood shortly after being appointed, as is tradition for all female High Court judges.

What happens in the Family Division of the High Court?

Most cases involving family matters in England and Wales will be heard by the Family Court.

Some cases, such as those involving complex issues, may be referred up to the High Court.

The court can also handle certain cases of child abduction, forced marriage and female genital mutilation.

The Family Division is one of three divisions of the High Court of Justice, along with the Chancery Division and the Queen’s Bench Division.

Brexit: May to make plea to MPs for time to change deal


The prime minister is to urge MPs to give her more time to secure changes to her Brexit deal.

Theresa May is expected to pledge in the Commons this week that MPs will get another say on Brexit if she cannot recommend a revised plan this month.

Meanwhile, shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer told the Sunday Times that Labour plans to force another vote on her deal anyway.

He said the move was necessary to stop Mrs May “running down the clock”.

With 47 days until the UK is due to leave the European Union, some ministers have considered resigning so they could support backbench proposals to force the government to delay Brexit.

But Downing Street aims to reassure them by promising another vote where they can put forward alternative options, if a new deal has not been struck by 27 February.

Mrs May has been seeking legally binding changes to the plans for avoiding a hard border in Ireland.

‘Pretending to make progress’

Critics of the current plans say they could tie the UK to EU rules indefinitely or mean Northern Ireland ends up under a different system to the rest of the UK.

But the Irish government and the EU have repeatedly rejected calls for changes.

If Mrs May does not succeed by the end of the month, MPs will be told they can put forward alternatives such as extending the deadline for the UK’s departure from the European Union from 29 March.

Speaking to the Sunday Times, Sir Keir Starmer accused the prime minister of “pretending to make progress” over issues such as the Irish border.

He said that Mrs May intends to return to Parliament after the 21-22 March European summit – with just one week before Brexit – and offer MPs a choice between her deal and a no-deal Brexit.

“We can’t allow that to happen. There needs to be a day when Parliament says ‘that’s it, enough is enough’,” Sir Keir said.

Sir Keir called the prime minister’s approach “reckless” and “blinkered”, blaming “tunnel vision” for the defeat of her Brexit deal by a record 230 votes in January.

Labour intends to put forward an amendment that will require the prime minister to hold a new vote on her deal by 26 February.

He said: “We have got to put a hard stop into this running down the clock. And that’s what we want to do this week.”

Prince Philip, 97, gives up driving licence,”:


The Duke of Edinburgh is to voluntarily give up his driving licence, Buckingham Palace has said.

It comes after the 97-year-old duke apologised over a car crash near the Sandringham estate in Norfolk, in which his Land Rover Freelander landed on its side after a collision with a Kia.

Two days later Norfolk Police gave him “suitable words of advice” after he was pictured driving without a seat belt.

Buckingham Palace said that he surrendered his licence on Saturday.

In a statement, the palace said: “After careful consideration the Duke of Edinburgh has taken the decision to voluntarily surrender his driving licence.”

Norfolk Police confirmed that the duke had surrendered his licence to officers and it would now be returned to the DVLA.

The investigation file for the collision has been passed to the Crown Prosecution Service, which said it would take the latest development into account.

BBC royal correspondent Jonny Dymond, said the decision to give up his licence was entirely down to the duke, according to Buckingham Palace.

“The duke is reported to have acknowledged that the collision last month was his fault,” he said.

“There was a fair deal of criticism of his decision to drive just two days after the crash. Now he has chosen to give up some of his independence and will have a driver from this point on.”

The duke wrote to a woman injured in the crash, which happened on 17 January on the A149 near the Queen’s country estate.

He escaped injury, but Emma Fairweather, a passenger in the Kia, broke her wrist.

The Kia was carrying three people, including a nine-month-old baby boy, his mother who was driving and Ms Fairweather, 46.

In the letter to Ms Fairweather, dated 21 January and reproduced by the Sunday Mirror , the duke acknowledged the “very distressing experience”.

“I would like you to know how very sorry I am for my part in the accident,” he wrote, on Sandringham House headed paper.

“The sun was shining low over the main road. In normal conditions I would have no difficulty in seeing traffic coming… but I can only imagine that I failed to see the car coming, and I am very contrite about the consequences.”

Ms Fairweather had previously criticised the duke for a lack of communication following the crash.

The mother-of-two told the Sunday Mirror: “I thought it was really nice that he signed off as ‘Philip’ and not the formal title. I was pleasantly surprised because of the personalised nature.”

Map of where the Sandringham accident happened

After the crash, Royal biographer Hugo Vickers told BBC News: “Any kind of car accident at the age of 97 is likely to produce shock.

“Some years ago he gave up flying planes long before he needed to because he was scared that if something happened there would be a lot of criticism.

“You know, why was he, at the age of 55, still flying a plane when he should have retired at 48 or something like that.

“So he does listen to these things – he’s very, very sensible.”

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What happens when you surrender your driving licence?

There is no legal age at which motorists must stop driving, however doctors can advise drivers to give up their entitlements.

If a motorist has a medical condition which affects their driving, it may mean they have to give up their licence until they can meet the medical standards to drive again.

If a driver decides to surrender their licence, or they are advised to do so by a doctor, they must write a letter to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA), accompanied by the existing licence, or a good excuse for not enclosing it.

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In 2016, the duke famously drove the Obamas when the then US president and First Lady visited Windsor.

Prince Philip was 94 when he drove the Obamas and his wife, the Queen
Prince Philip was 94 when he drove the Obamas and his wife, the Queen

Prince Philip retired from public life in August 2017 having spent decades supporting the Queen and attending events for his own charities and organisations.

Buckingham Palace calculated he had completed 22,219 solo engagements since 1952.

Since retiring from official solo duties, he has appeared in public alongside the Queen and other members of the Royal Family at events and church services.

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The battle over Britain’s newest student movement


To say that the launch of Britain’s newest right-wing student organisation suffered a few snags is a bit like reporting that Brexit negotiations have not all been plain sailing.

Turning Point UK (TPUK) is an offshoot of Turning Point USA, a controversial and staunchly pro-Trump presence on American campuses.

The group announced its arrival last week, proclaiming itself a cheerleader for capitalism, free speech and limited government. It was enthusiastically received by leading Brexiteers including Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg and former UKIP leader Nigel Farage.

But Twitter was not entirely welcoming, and TPUK almost immediately found itself hit by a tsunami of online mockery. Dozens of parody accounts quickly appeared.

The accounts posted caricatures of leading TPUK members such as Darren Grimes, a pro-Brexit campaigner fined £20,000 for breaking EU referendum spending laws

Much of the humour revolves around portraying TPUK as privileged, or extremists.

There are also multiple memes depicting Turning Point USA’s founder Charlie Kirk in nappies – a reference to a backfiring publicity stunt in which American activists dressed as babies to ridicule the idea of campus “safe spaces”.

Mock image of Charlie Kirk in diapers from Twitter

Many of the parody accounts are visually almost indistinguishable from actual TPUK accounts. To add to the confusion, both the parody and genuine accounts furiously denounced each other on Twitter. In Cambridge, each accused the other of being socialist saboteurs who should be removed from the platform. Victory was eventually claimed by the genuine account when the parody one was handed a Twitter ban.

Tweets by rival TPUK Cambridge accounts denouncing the other as fake.

At first, the main national TPUK account appeared mildly irritated and promised to help supporters navigate their way through the fakes.

But as the parody army continued to grow, TPUK staged a tactical retreat. The national account now says that it is the only real one, even though some apparently genuine branch accounts remain.

Happy with launch

Despite all the confusion, TPUK chairman George Farmer says that he is broadly happy with how the launch has gone.

“You can never stop people creating fake accounts. It’s one of the joys of the internet,” he told BBC Trending. “People are always going to create hundreds of fake accounts in the same way that they do for Trump.”

Farmer says that TPUK is seeking Twitter verification – which comes with that coveted blue tick – to help make clear which are the organisation’s real accounts. The main account, @TPointUK, has already attracted more than 19,000 followers.

But there’s another problem – there’s already a well-established Turning Point in Britain. It’s not political at all, rather it’s an organisation that supports people with drug and alcohol problems.

The original Turning Point told Trending it received no advance warning of the creation of a similarly-named group.

“Turning Point would like to make it clear that we have no connection to TPointUK or any political movements,” the charity said in a statement. “Many people are concerned about the confusion.”

But Farmer says his group has done nothing wrong: “We don’t have the same name. We don’t have the same logo. It’s completely different.”

Parody network

So who is behind the online onslaught against Turning Point UK?

Many of the parody accounts have posted a link to a satirical version of the TPUK website created by a student blogger who goes by the alias “Skeptical Seventh”.

The website makes a mock plea for an end to the online harassment of TPUK: “Our organisation has been labelled ‘a glorified incel support group.’ This is just plain misleading, some of us like UKIP”.

Skeptical Seventh, who declined to give his real name, says that the parody accounts were a spontaneous reaction by individuals concerned about what they regard as the import of a “sinister” right-wing movement whose US operation is funded by big Republican Party donors .

“A lot of the people who are involved with the parody accounts are broadly left-leaning,” says Skeptical Seventh. “It’s really unified all corners of the left and even some of the centre and maybe even centre-right,” he says.

“There was a Twitter group chat with all the different fake accounts and 50 is the limit on the number of people you can have in group chat, and they couldn’t get everybody in,” Skeptical Seventh says.

‘Professor Watchlist’

The people behind the parody accounts have also set up at least two fundraising pages to seek donations for the charity Turning Point’s drink and drug services.

Skeptical Seventh rejects the accusation of TPUK supporters that the parodies are puerile and evidence of the intellectual poverty of the left.

“I think for an organisation that once had a chapter dressing up as as toddlers in nappies, it’s a bit rich of them to try to call the people opposing them immature,” he says.

The group’s critics have also taken issue with Turning Point USA’s “Professor Watchlist” – an online registry of professors that the group accuses of advancing “a radical agenda”.

“They must know that what they are doing will lead to people being harassed, being shut down,” says Skeptical Seventh. “It is undermining academic freedom, which is ironic for an organisation that claims to be in favour of free speech.”

The British organisation won’t be setting up a similar list, one of the group’s “influencers”, Dominique Samuels, told BBC Radio 5 Live.

TPUK says it wants to challenge the notion that students will naturally gravitate towards left-wing politics.

“Why is it that all young people feel obliged to vote for Labour?” Farmer asks. “Just talk some of my friends, if you tell them you’re a conservative, it’s like you’re banished. That’s not freedom of thought. That’s thought control.”

Samuels says she has suffered online abuse for publically identifying herself as a young black woman who is a conservative.

Funding questions

The American group has been organised as a type of non-profit organisation which is not required to disclose its sources of funding. That lack of transparency has given additional fuel for its critics. Questions have also been asked about TPUK’s accounts.

George Farmer is a former Tory party donor and son of Lord Farmer, a multi-millionaire and former Conservative Party treasurer. The foundation of TPUK was announced with an event at the Royal Automobile Club, hosted by another multi-millionaire, John Mappin.

Farmer says TPUK won’t identify its donors because to do so would make them targets for abuse. He rejects assertions that TPUK is sponsored by the privileged elite rather than a “grassroots” organisation.

“I would love it if these privileged people gave us some money because we don’t have much money coming in,” he says. “We are raising money from UK-based donors. We are trying to do things the right way.”

The Trump factor

Although Turning Point USA cannot officially work on behalf of candidates – and has faced allegations that it has broken election campaign laws – its founder Charlie Kirk is an outspoken supporter of President Trump and a close friend of Donald Trump Jr.

Farmer is engaged to Candace Owens, the US organisation’s communications director, who has been heavily involved – not always happily – with Kanye West’s unusual interactions with the president.

Farmer also says he’s an admirer of Trump, who he sees as a bombastic but effective disruptor.

“Anecdotally, loads of conversations I’ve had with people are like: I don’t like his style but I like his policies,” he says. “You don’t have to like him as a person… He’s elected to get the job done.”

Though TPUK has won endorsement from several leading Tories, there are indications that some in the party are not so keen. The right-wing website Breitbart website reported that university Conservative associations had been advised not to get involved with the new movement. A Conservative Party spokesman would not comment beyond saying that TPUK was not affiliated to the party.

Perhaps not surprisingly given the online battles, TPUK is bracing itself for further turbulence when it ventures beyond the internet next month to stage “campus clash” events in London, Nottingham and Brighton. Farmer says TPUK personalities including Kirk and Owen will engage in debates about issues such as free speech. Farmer acknowledges that there are “security concerns” that they are working to address.

“I imagine, if I’m honest, a whole bunch of antifa [anti-fascist] leftists will turn up at the event and try to mob us and prevent us going in,” he says. “A bunch of interested students who are genuinely interested and want to be provoked – in terms of thought – will come and will listen and will probably take away some interesting conclusions.”

A Spotify end of year chart which claims you spent 6 hours with your favourite artist Bergenulo Five

Mysterious musicians have cropped up on Spotify, racking up thousands of listens and (perhaps) hundreds of pounds. It’s a phenomenon that experts say could indicate a security flaw.

Briton held in UAE in Qatar football shirt row”:


A Briton has been arrested and detained in the United Arab Emirates after reportedly being assaulted when he wore a Qatar football team shirt to a match.

Ali Issa Ahmad, 26, from Wolverhampton, is said to have been unaware of a law against “showing sympathy” for Qatar – brought in amid a diplomatic dispute.

His friend says he was held after telling police he had been attacked.

The UAE embassy in London said Mr Ahmad has been charged with wasting police time and making false statements.

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

Responding to earlier media reports, a UAE official said he was “categorically not arrested for wearing a Qatar football shirt”.

The Foreign Office said it is providing assistance to a British man and is in touch with the UAE authorities.

The UAE and four other countries in the region are currently engaged in a political and diplomatic stand-off with Qatar after they accused the state of supporting radical and Islamist groups.

On its website, the Foreign Office warns travellers to the UAE of a June 2017 announcement “that showing sympathy for Qatar on social media or by any other means of communication is an offence.

“Offenders could be imprisoned and subject to a substantial fine”.

‘Loved sport’

Mr Ahmad is said to have travelled to the UAE for a holiday. He was arrested after watching Qatar play Iraq in an Asian Cup match in Abu Dhabi on 22 January.

Speaking to the BBC World Service programme Newshour, his friend Amer Lokie said Mr Ahmad had called him from a police station on 30 January to tell him about the arrest.

Mr Lokie said: “After he left the stadium he was followed by a couple of people and they assaulted him.”

Mr Ahmad had been wearing a Qatar football shirt and was holding another one in his hands, he said.

“They took away his T-shirt and he went home. Afterwards he went back to police station to report the assault and they held him,” Mr Lokie said.

Asked whether Mr Ahmad had indicated whether the people who attacked him were members of the public, police or security officials, Mr Lokie said: “I was trying to ask him to clarify but he could not clarify because his time was limited.”

“He was just a person who loved sport so much,” Mr Lokie added. ” I don’t think he knew he could get into problems for wearing a T-shirt or supporting a particular team.”

‘Self-inflicted injuries’

The UAE embassy in London initially said it was unable to comment specifically on the case, adding “allegations of human rights violations are taken extremely seriously and will be thoroughly investigated”.

In a later statement issued through the embassy, a UAE official said Mr Ahmad was a dual Sudanese-British citizen.

The official said Mr Ahmad had gone to a police station to say he had been harassed and beaten up by local football fans for cheering the Qatar team.

“Police took him to hospital where a doctor who examined him, concluded that his injuries were inconsistent with his account of events and appeared to be self-inflicted,” the official said.

They said Mr Ahmad was charged on 24 January, adding: “We are advised that he has since admitted those offences [wasting police time and making false statements] and will now be processed through the UAE courts.”

The tiny oil- and gas-rich Qatar has been cut off by some of its powerful Arab neighbours – including the UAE – over its alleged support for terrorism.

The continuing rift meant there were very few Qatar fans in attendance during its Asian Cup matches.

When Qatar knocked the UAE out in the semi-final, objects and shoes were thrown at their players.

Qatar went on to win the tournament, defeating Japan 3-1 in the final on 1 February.