• The European Union has bigger problems to deal with than Brexit
    News
    The Guardian

    The European Union has bigger problems to deal with than Brexit

    When plans for the euro were being drawn up 30 years ago, the assumption was that it would make the single market work more efficiently. Photograph: John Walton/PA As the clock has ticked down towards Brexit, the state of the UK has attracted even more attention than normal. Every scrap of official data and every survey of business opinion has been pored over by leavers and remainers alike. Much less attention, understandably enough, has been paid to what is happening in the rest of the European Union, where the recent news has been poor. The frustration of the leaders of the other 27 EU countries towards Theresa May is that Europe has plenty of issues that need addressing, with Brexit not even the most serious of them. The EU’s biggest problem is that its economic model has aged alongside its population. Europe has plenty of world-class companies but, unlike the US, none of them were set up in the past 25 years. In Europe’s golden age, Volkswagen was a rival to Ford, and Siemens could go toe to toe with General Electric. But there is no European Google, Facebook or Amazon and in the emerging technologies of the fourth Industrial Revolution, such as artificial intelligence, Europe is nowhere. China is making faster progress than Europe in the development of machine learning and has companies that pose a threat to the giants of Silicon Valley. That’s why China rather than Europe is the main target for Donald Trump’s tariff war. When plans for the euro were being drawn up 30 years ago, the assumption was that the single currency would make the single market work more efficiently and so generate faster growth. It hasn’t happened. The performance of the eurozone countries has got worse not better, but so much political capital has been invested in the monetary union project that there is an unwillingness to accept as much. A real solution to Europe’s growth problems means fixing the design flaws in monetary union Three separate events last week highlighted the extent of the economic challenges Europe faces. Firstly, the latest health check on the eurozone economy showed that growth remains chronically weak. Italy is suffering from its fifth recession in two decades, while Germany’s export-dominated economy is being hit hard by the slowdown in the global economy. Germany escaped recession only by the skin of its teeth in the second half of 2018 and early 2019 has seen little improvement. The eurozone as a whole appears to be on course to grow by 0.2% in the first three months of the year, unchanged on the last three months of 2018. There was a brief period when heavy doses of stimulus from the European Central Bank (ECB) lifted the eurozone’s growth rate. But the impact of zero interest rates and the money-creation process known as quantitative easing (QE) has now worn off. A real solution to Europe’s growth problems means fixing the design flaws in monetary union, something that has been glaringly obvious since the financial crisis of a decade ago. The lack of a political underpinning to the single currency proved costly back in 2008-09. While the US and the UK moved quickly to cut interest rates and embrace unconventional monetary policies such as QE, it took much longer for the eurozone to crank itself into gear. In part, that was due to the ultra-conservative nature of the ECB, which imported its culture from Germany’s Bundesbank, but it was also due to the fact that there was no real mechanism for taking the sort of speedy decisions made in Washington and London. Like any convoy, the eurozone moved at the speed of its slowest ship. There were two important consequences of this: it took a lot longer for the eurozone to return to growth; and its banks were left saddled with large quantities of non-performing loans. The Americans socialised the bad debts of the big US banks, which enabled them to start lending again. Europe’s banks remain weak and highly vulnerable to another economic downturn, which is why the second significant event last week was the announcement by two of Germany’s biggest banks – Deutsche and Commerzbank – that they were in merger talks. Sign up to the daily Business Today email or follow Guardian Business on Twitter at @BusinessDesk Italy has tired of waiting for monetary union to deliver. Its banks are in even worse shape than Germany’s, Rome has no control over monetary policy and its attempts to boost growth by running a bigger budget deficit have fallen foul of Europe’s hardline fiscal rules. Last week, Italy’s government announced it would be the first EU country to take part in China’s Belt and Road initiative – an attempt to link Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Europe with a series of ports, railways, bridges and other infrastructure projects. Italy’s willingness to take part in the attempt to recreate the old silk road reflects its desperation to revive its economy by any means available. It also reflects Europe’s diminished status in the global pecking order. Emmanuel Macron is convinced the answer to Europe’s economic problems is closer integration. The French president wants the eurozone to have its own finance minister in charge of tax and spending policy for the single currency zone. But for the idea to catch on, Macron needs the support of Germany and Angela Merkel has not been wildly enthusiastic. It’s not hard to see why. German exporters have done well out of monetary union and Merkel knows that German taxpayers would be expected to bankroll spending in poorer eurozone countries. Macron’s plan has a logic to it. The eurozone is a half-completed project, lacking the political structure that would give it a chance of working. What’s more, if Europe continues to underperform economically, the alternative to closer integration is disintegration. Not immediately, because returning to national currencies or moving to a hard and soft euro, would be fraught with difficulties. Crunch time will only come when the next recession blows in. It might not be all that far away.

  • Meghan avoids age-old royal birth custom
    News
    PA Ready News UK

    Meghan avoids age-old royal birth custom

    The arrival of royal babies used to be attended by a government minister to ensure no changeling had been smuggled in.

  • Mel B claims she and Geri Horner slept with each other during Spice Girls fame
    News
    Evening Standard

    Mel B claims she and Geri Horner slept with each other during Spice Girls fame

    Melanie Brown has claimed she and Geri Horner slept with each other during the height of Spice Girls fame. Brown made the claim to Piers Morgan on Friday during the recording of an episode of his Life Stories programme. The singer, who is bisexual, also complimented Horner's "great boobs".

  • Yorkshire pub which hosted Oliver Cromwell's soldiers at centre of row over 'trendy' bar plan
    News
    The Telegraph

    Yorkshire pub which hosted Oliver Cromwell's soldiers at centre of row over 'trendy' bar plan

    A Yorkshire pub rumoured to have hosted Oliver Cromwell’s soldiers the night before a famous 17th century battle is at the centre of a new fight over plans to turn it into a "trendy" bar.

  • In Sri Lanka, the new Chinese Silk Road is a disappointment
    News
    France 24

    In Sri Lanka, the new Chinese Silk Road is a disappointment

    Chinese President Xi Jinping has launched the French leg of his European tour to try to drum up cooperation for his global infrastructure project. Xi Jinping arrived in France on Sunday for a three-day trip in which he hopes to gain French cooperation for his new Silk Road initiative. He already has one European success under his belt, having signed an agreement with Italy a day earlier, in which the euro-zone's third largest economy formalised its support of China’s vast programme of infrastructure investment in more than 70 countries.For Italian President Sergio Mattarella, the agreement is crucial. Italy is counting heavily on Chinese investments to, among other things, breathe new life into the Port of Trieste, which looks set to be the flagship project of the forthcoming economic cooperation between Beijing and Rome.A port built from scratch in south Sri LankaFor critics of the new Silk Road, Washington being the chief one, Italy has "no need" for these investments which, ultimately, could backfire against Europe’s third biggest economic power. The Sri Lankan experience is often highlighted as an example of the dark side of the new Silk Road plan.In the mid-2000s, Colombo (the commercial capital of Sri Lanka) agreed to let Beijing build a new port from scratch in the town of Hambantota, in the south of the island. It wasn’t yet thought of as part of a new Silk Road -- that programme was conceptualizsed by Xi Jinping in 2012 -- but all the ingredients were there. "Chinese funds and engineers are mobilised to build infrastructure outside China, as part of a partnership that was meant to be win-win: this is the very definition of the rationale of the Silk Road," said Jean-François Dufour, economist and director of DCA China-Analysis. The Chinese president integrated the Sri Lankan project into his Silk Road initiative in 2013.At the time, Colombo thought it could make a profit from the operation of the port, while Beijing would get a key point of transit in "the very strategic Indian Ocean, through which a large percentage of Chinese commercial ships travel to Europe," the European Union Institute for Security Studies noted in an April 2018 report. The project provided China with a presence in an area of fierce competition between Beijing and the other great Asian power: India.But in 2015, financial clouds began gathering over the future of Hambantota’s port, which cost $1.1 billion. Sri Lanka was crumbling under the debt, and was unable to repay the more than $8 billion in loans it had taken from China for several infrastructure projects in the country. Furious, Beijing turned up the heat and threatened to cut off financial support to the island nation if it didn’t quickly find a solution. In December, 2017, after two years of negotiations, Colombo finally agreed to turn over the port to China for 99 years in exchange for the cancellation of its debt.The ports of Hambantota and Trieste: the same struggle?The concession was humiliating for Sri Lanka, while "the opponents of China, like India, painted the entire operation as a deliberate plan to acquire strategic positions in the region," Dufour said. China was suspected of intentionally strangling Colombo with loans at a 6 percent interest rate, which was much higher than the other lenders - such as the World Bank – from which Colombo had previously borrowed.Dufour acknowledged that "this episode shocked and pushed countries like Malaysia to reconsider their participation in the new Silk Road”. But he doesn’t see China risking compromising the credibility of its entire investment program for one port in Sri Lanka.In any case, the episode "is a stinging reminder that the sums invested by China are not donations, but loans with consequences,” the French economist said. Italy should keep the precedence in mind as it signs the Silk Road agreement because the Italian situation bears similarities to that of Sri Lanka, Dufour said. In both cases, the ports had strategic importance for China -- Trieste would be the new gateway to Europe for Chinese goods -- and Italy is already a country heavily in debt, Dufour noted.Admittedly, Italy is economically much more powerful than Sri Lanka, but "the risk of seeing the port of Trieste get away from Italy remains real," Dufour said. And for a government as nationalist as that of Giuseppe Conte, that would be a major political failure.

  • Rochelle Humes serenaded by Gary Barlow at star-studded 30th birthday bash
    News
    PA Entertainment

    Rochelle Humes serenaded by Gary Barlow at star-studded 30th birthday bash

    Cheryl, Phillip Schofield and Emma Willis were among the revellers at the glitzy event.

  • Prince William 'to reach out' to family of tragic schoolgirl Molly Russell
    News
    PA Ready News UK

    Prince William 'to reach out' to family of tragic schoolgirl Molly Russell

    The duke has previously spoken about social media companies and their responsibilities to stop the spread of harmful material online.

  • Game of Thrones season 8: Petyr Baelish actor responds to Littlefinger theory
    News
    The Independent

    Game of Thrones season 8: Petyr Baelish actor responds to Littlefinger theory

    A popular Game of Thrones fan theory about Littlefinger has been debunked by actor Aiden Gillen ahead of season 8 launching in April. One of the wildest and somehow widely believed predictions was that Petyr Baelish survived having his throat slit by Arya Stark (Maisie Williams), and would go onto become one of the most likely successors to the Iron Throne. It was been speculated that the Littlefinger seen throughout most of season 7 was in fact one of the Faceless men disguised as the Master of Coin.

  • Brexit: Minister warns MPs they face general election if they vote to remain in customs union or single market
    News
    The Independent

    Brexit: Minister warns MPs they face general election if they vote to remain in customs union or single market

    Theresa May will ignore any Commons vote for a softer Brexit and push for a general election instead, a cabinet minister has warned MPs. An ‘indicative vote” to keep the UK in the EU customs union or single market would be unacceptable because it collided with the Conservative election manifesto, Stephen Barclay said. “The risk of a general election increases,” the Brexit secretary said, in a threat to MPs refusing to pass the prime minister’s unpopular deal.

  • EastEnders reveals Keanu return drama in 45 pics
    Digital Spy

    EastEnders reveals Keanu return drama in 45 pics

    Tiffany is back in Walford too. From Digital Spy

  • Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao 2: 'Pacman' leaves it to the fans to decide his next fight
    News
    Evening Standard

    Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao 2: 'Pacman' leaves it to the fans to decide his next fight

    Manny Pacquiao has left it to his fans to decide his next opponent –a rematch with Floyd Mayweather Jnr. Eight-weight world champion Pacquiao has repeatedly called for another meeting with Mayweather – who secured a unanimous points victory over ‘Pac-Man’ when the two originally met in 2016 in one of the richest fights in boxing history. After a comprehensive victory over Adrien Broner in January, the Filipino fighter is hoping for another big fight at welterweight, conducting a poll on Twitter asking his legion of followers to choose between four opponents in Mayweather, WBA champion Keith Thurman, Shawn Porter and Danny Garcia.

  • Pigcasso creates Swatch Watch's best selling design
    AFP UK

    Pigcasso creates Swatch Watch's best selling design

    She's already made waves in the art world and now the pig who loves to paint - also known as Pigcasso - is starting to hog the limelight in the fashion world too. Having had her artistic talents nourished by South Africa's Farm Sanctuary where she was rescued as a piglet, Swatch Watches commissioned a design by Pigcasso and it's become their best seller.

  • Nicola Sturgeon: UK Government has no credible way forward
    News
    PA Ready News UK

    Nicola Sturgeon: UK Government has no credible way forward

    Speaking on the BBC's Marr programme, the First Minister said that the public must be allowed to vote again on the question of EU membership.

  • Thousands attend New Zealand vigil to honour mosque dead
    News
    PA Ready News World

    Thousands attend New Zealand vigil to honour mosque dead

    Officials estimate up to 40,000 people attended the event on a sunny Sunday evening at Hagley Park.

  • 'Treasure trove' of new animal species discovered at 500m-year-old fossil site in China
    News
    The Independent

    'Treasure trove' of new animal species discovered at 500m-year-old fossil site in China

    A “treasure trove” of new species have been discovered in a newly-unearthed fossil site in southern China that dates back 518 million years, according to a new study. More than half of the remains found at the Qingjiang site, in Hubei province, were previously unknown to scientists. Researchers said the discovery, which will help fill in gaps in the fossil record, was comparable in importance to the Burgess Shale site in the Canadian Rocky Mountains - famous for its exceptionally well-preserved fossils.

  • Dora the Explorer: Watch the first trailer from live-action movie City of Gold
    News
    The Independent

    Dora the Explorer: Watch the first trailer from live-action movie City of Gold

    The first trailer for Dora and the Lost City of Gold has been released by Paramount Pictures. The live-action film is based on Nickelodeon's popular, long-running animated series Dora the Explorer. It stars Eva Longoria, Michael Peña, and Isabela Moner in the title role.

  • May's time is up. She must make way for a caretaker prime minister
    News
    The Guardian

    May's time is up. She must make way for a caretaker prime minister

    Theresa May during a press conference in Brussels on 22 March. Photograph: Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images There is an unforgettable moment in Richard Pryor: Live on the Sunset Strip that comes unexpectedly to mind in these strange and desperate times for our country. In it, the comedian recalls an encounter with his close friend, the legendary NFL running back Jim Brown. Pryor is in a wretched mess, confined to his room, freebasing cocaine with a pipe that he imagines is whispering to him. Brown is unimpressed. He simply asks: “What you gonna do?” Again. And again. And again. In March 2019, the UK is Pryor – strung out, in this case, on Brexit – and the rest of the world is Jim Brown. Everyone can see that this is a country on the edge of nervous collapse. Theresa May’s deal with the EU has been twice rejected, heavily, by the Commons. Her cabinet is a spider’s web of plots and schemes. A million marchers took to the streets in London on Saturday to demand a people’s vote. At the time of writing, 5 million had signed the digital petition to parliament to revoke article 50. Nigel Farage warns that, if the exit process is delayed for long, he will ‘tear [May’s] party limb from limb' Meanwhile, Nigel Farage warns that, if the exit process is delayed for long, he will “tear [May’s] party limb from limb”. The very public trust that Brexit was supposedly intended to restore has been further disfigured by three years of failure. The Brexit pipe billows lethal smoke. What you gonna do? Here’s what could be done. This is no time for wishful thinking – nor, however, is it a moment for self-indulgent fatalism either. At the risk of sounding portentous, this is an hour of civic obligation that should soar way above party politics. First, May should announce her resignation now, immediately, without delay. Though I have been arguing that she should quit since the 2017 election, I was not persuaded that the present crisis would be alleviated by her departure – until, that is, last week. By pitting parliament against the public in her horrendous speech on Wednesday, she disgraced the high office that she holds. Desperate and cornered, she rummaged in the populist’s toolkit and deployed the scuzzy rhetoric of the leader posturing as the friend of the people against the treacherous elites. This, remember, is the politician who once had the courage to tell the Tories that they were perceived as the “nasty party” and promised to address the “burning injustices” of our society. It has been a long fall. As defects in a prime minister negotiating a complex international treaty, May’s inertia, lack of agility and fixation with Conservative party unity have always been serious problems. But to that is now added toxicity. Resented by MPs, derided by the EU27, reduced to a Margaret Thatcher tribute act, she is now a clear and present threat to our chances of avoiding a no-deal disaster on 12 April. Every additional hour she remains in office chips away at the national interest. Second: her replacement should be David Lidington, the Cabinet Office minister who is already her de facto deputy. Lidington – who has denied “any wish to take over” – should do so unchallenged, exactly as Michael Howard assumed the leadership of the Conservative party in 2003 after Iain Duncan Smith was sacked by his own MPs. But he must also do so on the explicit basis that he will himself announce his own resignation before, say, the Tory party conference opens in September. The Conservative tribe will indeed insist on a fullblown, no-holds-barred leadership battle some time soon. It would be horrendously unpatriotic for the party to engage in that particular conflict at this particular moment. What the nation desperately needs now, especially in the next few weeks, is a caretaker prime minister to lower the temperature, create space for parliament to think and behave imaginatively, to encourage cross-party negotiations. Neither Michael Gove nor Jeremy Hunt, the other two names mentioned by Tory MPs as potential short-term successors to May, is interested in being a caretaker. Both men want the job for real, and have already started to take soundings among their colleagues. With all due respect, Lidington is not a serious candidate for long-term tenancy of No 10: which is precisely why he is the ideal candidate for this unique context. Yes, he is a remainer. But he is also a decent man who would listen to everyone, and try to get us all over the line without catastrophe. That’s no small consideration. Third, as parliament moves centre-stage – which it will this week – the main parties must unambiguously offer MPs the right to vote freely on the different options with which they will be presented. Last week, Kwasi Kwarteng, the Brexit minister, conceded in the Commons that this was indeed the logic of the case. But chancellor Philip Hammond was much more hesitant on this particular matter in his interview with Sophy Ridge on Sky News on Sunday. Meanwhile, shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer told the BBC’s Andrew Marr that Labour MPs should expect to be whipped when an opposition “policy position” was at stake – which covers just about everything. As hard as it will be for the party managers to let go, they must do so if this exploratory exercise is to mean anything at all. It has become a cliche that parliament knows what it does not want – May’s deal – but is nowhere near a consensus on what it would prefer instead. To stand even a chance of reaching such a consensus, all 650 MPs must be free to speak their mind, and to think as public servants rather than lobby fodder. We have seen where the flailing efforts at command and control have taken us. It’s time to give creativity a chance. Fourth: hardest of all, parliament must come up with a workable alternative to May’s deal. There are endless assertions about the true state of the parliamentary arithmetic: usually, that the Commons, left to itself, is likely to back something like “Norway plus”, the arrangement whereby the UK would remain in both the customs union and the single market, perhaps with bespoke opt-outs. I am not yet persuaded by such claims. Why be a rule-taker when you cannot be a rule-maker? How many MPs would have the sense to back continued freedom of movement? Still: I would definitely like to learn the truth of the matter. I would like to know where the critical mass of unconstrained parliamentary opinion really lies, and then see the government given binding instructions to return to Brussels with a mature plan: a new blueprint, to be implemented subject to the EU’s approval and a public vote in this country. The odds, I readily accept, are still against the smooth enactment of this four-phase strategy. Demons have indeed been unleashed by Brexit to wage war with reason and decency. So all one can say with confidence is that this truly is one of those moments that occur quite rarely in the life of a nation; when all MPs – all of us, in fact – must summon the courage to look in the mirror and ask: what you gonna do? • Matthew d’Ancona is a Guardian columnist

  • Does Britain really want an isolated future, buffeted by forces beyond our control?
    News
    The Guardian

    Does Britain really want an isolated future, buffeted by forces beyond our control?

    EU supporters on the ‘People’s Vote’ march in central London Photograph: Henry Nicholls/ReutersLeave our shores and Brexit appears even more hopelessly strange – and the people perpetrating it even more peculiar – than they do when you are at home. In Asia, where I have spent the past week, figures such as Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg are seen as curiosities with views that are openly risible. Of course it’s stupid to leave the world’s biggest trading bloc and make your now lonely future dependent upon the kindness of unforgiving strangers. Can’t they see that?No country has ever done what Britain is attempting because it is so obviously crazed. Trade agreements are a carefully balanced mutual opening of partners’ markets with a hard-to-work-through calculus of gains and losses that takes years – even decades – to negotiate. Brexiters promised that Britain would be different and that unravelling a 45-year-old web of deep relationships would be quick and effortless, with Britain “holding all the cards”. All palpably false.Do they understand, asks anyone familiar with Asia, how merciless the Chinese and Japanese are in pursuing their own interests, how carefully they size up who has power and to what degree? How can a credo so plainly delusional seize hold of so many people?Just take an issue such as aviation safety, very live in Asia after the two Boeing 737 Max 8 crashes. The US Federal Aviation Authority subcontracted substantial parts of the evaluation of the plane’s safety to Boeing itself. How crucial it is now that there is Airbus and the European Union’s Civil Aviation Safety Agency as alternatives.Indonesia has just cancelled all its Boeing 737 Max orders because there has been an irreparable breakdown in trust between it, the company and the US government. Why do British Brexiters, such as Johnson, not see this, but seek instead to swap the influence that Britain has in Europe for becoming a satrapy of the protectionist, self-interested, even dangerous United States? And why are they so little challenged by the British media and the British political opposition? These conspire to create a moment of perfect crassness in which there is every chance Britain could leave with no dealYou have to explain that Brexit is the expression of a malaise that is now accelerating the dynamics of economic and political decline. The Conservative party stands at the centre, but the roll call of culprits extends to the Labour party’s factionalism; Britain’s overwhelmingly rightwing media, which act as propagandists for Toryism and Brexit; our class system, in which plummy accents are seen as evidence not of potential bird-brains but, rather, “natural” authority; our unbroken faith in British exceptionalism; and our connivance in mind-boggling social inequalities. All of these now conspire to create a moment of perfect crassness in which there is every chance Britain could leave the EU with no deal in three weeks’ time.Former attorney general Dominic Grieve’s wrenching admission that he is ashamed of his party is further evidence that its thinking adherents now acknowledge its dysfuctionality. Toryism is a unique amalgam of a social movement, obsessed with sustaining privileges, and a political party. It possesses all the social signifiers of status, including received pronunciation and public-school entitlement, particularly important in England’s counties and small towns, and it has the capacity to transmute that standing into political office.Traditionally, the party’s tools have been pragmatic ones such as the willingness to do whatever works, but only to ensure that the same sort of people occupy as many formal and informal positions of power as possible, from the lord lieutenants in the counties to those running quangos.Anglicanism once gave moral spine to this English nomenklatura: most bishops were Tories, along with judges and newspaper editors. To be Tory was a badge of one’s soundness and social acceptability. The first-past-the-post voting system and a fiercely partisan press sealed the deal. To be a Tory was to exemplify the top of England, which is why its leaders consistently put party unity before loyalty to country. In their mind, it is one and the same. Mrs May magnified her problems by her ineptitude: but any Tory leader would have faced the same impossible forcesThis whole edifice is being undermined by two big trends: the transformation of Thatcherism into an unthinking religion conflating total fealty to markets with English nationalism; and Conservatism’s new secularism, which eschews even kindly Anglican morality and concern for the disadvantaged. It is becoming a vengeful English national party whose strategic goal is the blind assertion of sovereignty in order to build an English Thatcherite utopia. Hence Johnson, although a dishonest and feckless chump, is the frontrunner to succeed Theresa May; hence also the implacable resistance of the European Research Group to any kind of reason. Mrs May magnified her problems by her ineptitude, but any Tory leader would have faced the same impossible forces.The Labour party has never thought through how to beat the destructive forces that it confronts, even as they implode. Tony Blair chose to connive in them, resulting in them eating him; Jeremy Corbyn imagines they can be beaten by turning Labour into a socialist sect, but one whose narrowness of reach and appeal will never allow him to build the necessary broad coalition to assault the Tory citadels. Meanwhile, the millions facing stagnating living standards and diminishing opportunity are ever easier prey to the appeals of English nationalism. Foreigners and the dastardly EU are to blame for all our ills – we must stand up to the “humiliations” of the “bullying” EU.Thus we are where we are. I returned early from Asia to march yesterday with my fellow countrymen and women who see this clearly. We want to remain in the EU as the best deal possible, confirmed by a second referendum, but we also understand the profundity of the economic, constitutional and social reforms necessary to make membership sustainable. The English settlement has to change. Above all, we see that Toryism and Labour are broken as parties, causes of, not solutions to, the current emergency. Whatever happens next, we are just at the beginning of many convulsions.The old order has been shattered. Time to fight for the new order.• Will Hutton is an Observer columnist

  • Royal adviser fired over Khashoggi murder absent from Saudi trial - sources
    News
    Reuters

    Royal adviser fired over Khashoggi murder absent from Saudi trial - sources

    A Saudi royal adviser fired over the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi is not among the 11 suspects on trial at secretive hearings in Riyadh despite Saudi pledges to bring those responsible to justice, sources familiar with the matter said. The Saudi public prosecutor indicted 11 unnamed suspects in November, including five who could face the death penalty on charges of "ordering and committing the crime." The CIA and some Western countries believe Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the killing, which Saudi officials deny. Two regional intelligence sources told Reuters weeks after the killing that Qahtani oversaw Khashoggi's murder and dismemberment by giving orders via Skype to a team of security and intelligence operatives.

  • Labour could fight snap election with second referendum pledge
    News
    The Guardian

    Labour could fight snap election with second referendum pledge

    Labour could fight a snap general election pledging to hold a public vote on any Brexit deal, Keir Starmer has said, saying the party was now clear that any deal should be subject to a confirmatory referendum.Speaking after a mass demonstration in London in support of a second vote, which was addressed by the party’s deputy leader, Tom Watson, the shadow Brexit secretary was asked whether he could guarantee there would be a second referendum if Labour came to power.“I would expect our manifesto to build on those commitments, both in relation to the type of deal and a public vote,” he told BBC One’s The Andrew Marr Show.Starmer said “no one should doubt” his commitment to the Labour policy adopted at party conference: that a referendum would remain an option should the party fail to force a general election.“What the party has said is there must be a public vote and we said we’d either put down an amendment ourselves or support an amendment, and that needs to be between a credible leave option and remain,” he said.“If a deal goes through, if the prime minister’s deal, if she tries it a third time, goes through, it ought to be subject to a lock or a check which is it’s got to be confirmed by the public.”The shadow Cabinet Office minister, Jon Trickett, had sounded a note of caution before Starmer’s appearance on Marr, saying the party’s priority was to bring the country back together.Asked about the People’s Vote march on Saturday, which organisers claimed was attended by a million people, he said: “It was a lovely crowd, but the job of the alternative government is to try to find a way of bringing all the sides together in our country, rather than dividing it in the way that the government has, on a Brexit, but a Brexit that works for everybody.”MPs are expected to force a series of indicative Commons votes this week on possible Brexit options, though Labour is likely to face a dilemma as to whether to whip its MPs to support several options.Ideas likely to be put to MPs, should the votes take place, include a second referendum and a softer Brexit, called “common market 2.0” by its supporters, who include high-profile Labour figures such as Stephen Kinnock and Lucy Powell.Sources close to those involved in promoting the Norway-style plan have suggested the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, has been privately enthusiastic about the idea in meetings with the group’s leaders, who also include the Tories Nick Boles, Sir Oliver Letwin and Robert Halfon.Supporters of the People’s Vote campaign may withhold their backing for a softer Brexit option, however, in the hope of forcing a second poll with the option to remain.Theresa May is expected to begin the week by making a statement to the Commons on Monday before MPs are given the opportunity to vote on an amendable motion on the progress of the Brexit talks.A key amendment has been tabled by tabled by Letwin and the Labour chair of the Brexit select committee, Hilary Benn, which would set aside Wednesday for MPs to take control of the House of Commons business, in order to hold the series of votes on different Brexit outcomes.Though the amendment has been rejected on previous occasions, its backers are confident it will succeed and have been in private discussions with May’s deputy, David Lidington.Should May put her Brexit deal to MPs for the third time this week, MPs are also likely to get the opportunity to vote by an amendment on a “confirmatory referendum”, drawn up by the Labour backbenchers Peter Kyle and Phil Wilson, which the Labour frontbench is likely to back.Speaking on Sky News’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday, Benn said he had come round to the idea of a confirmatory referendum. “Whatever deal parliament is prepared to put forward should go back to the British people given the crisis that we’re in,” he said.“Whoever is the leader of the Conservative party, if parliament decides that it is prepared to support a way forward, and if parliament decides that it then wants to put that to the British people in a confirmatory referendum, then the nation needs leadership that is prepared to compromise.“That’s the crucial point, and the reason Theresa May is in such difficulty this morning is she has steadfastly refused to shift an inch, and it’s no good saying: ‘My door is open, come and talk to me,’ if her mind is closed and I’m afraid that’s what the last two and three-quarter years has demonstrated, plus there’s been an unwillingness to tell the British people the truth about the real choices we face.”

  • 40 albums to listen to before you die, from Illmatic to Pet Sounds
    News
    The Independent

    40 albums to listen to before you die, from Illmatic to Pet Sounds

    Hopefully you can still feel the electricity of invention in The Beatles’ Revolver, Public Enemy’s It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back and Nas’s Illmatic. It was Andy Warhol who wanted Lou Reed and John Cale to let his beautiful new friend Nico sing with their avant-garde rock band. Truthfully, though, Victor Frankenstein himself couldn’t have sewn together a creature out of more mismatched body parts than this album.

  • Passengers airlifted to safety from stricken Norwegian cruise ship
    News
    RFI

    Passengers airlifted to safety from stricken Norwegian cruise ship

    Seventeen people were taken to hospital after nearly 500 passengers were airlifted from a cruise liner that ran into trouble off the coast of Norway on Saturday. Following a distress call from the captain, authorities launched an airlift."We would rather have the passengers on land rather than on board the ship," police chief Tor Andre Franck said.On Sunday, the crew restarted three of the ship's four engines and it was being aided by two tugs as it and the remaining 800 passengers headed for the port of Molde."It is dangerous to encounter engine problems in these waters, which hide numerous reefs," said Franck.RecoveryA reception centre was set up in a gym on shore to care for the evacuees. "For the moment everything appears to be going well," said a rescue centre spokesman, Einar Knutsen.Video footage of the passengers' ordeal showed furniture and plants sliding round the vessel as parts of the ceiling came down. Dozens of passengers wearing life jackets were filmed seated and waiting to get off the ship."I have never seen anything so frightening," said Janet Jacob, who was rescued. "I started to pray. I prayed for the safety of everyone on board," she told the NRK television channel."The helicopter trip was terrifying. The winds were like a tornado," she added.Passenger Rodney Horgen said he had been reminded of the Titanic. "The best word, I guess, is surreal," he said."Sea water just came rushing in, hit the tables and chairs. There was broken glass and 20-30 people just ... went past right in front of me."I was standing, my wife was sitting in front of me and all of a sudden, she was gone. I thought this was the end."

  • Countdown to Brexit: Britain to leave on April 12 or May 22
    Press Association video

    Countdown to Brexit: Britain to leave on April 12 or May 22

    Theresa May is to make a last-ditch drive to persuade MPs to back her EU withdrawal plan after Brussels agreed to delay Brexit to May 22 if she can secure support from the Commons for the deal next week.

  • Birmingham crash: Children aged 3 and 5 among those injured in Erdington road collision
    News
    The Independent

    Birmingham crash: Children aged 3 and 5 among those injured in Erdington road collision

    Two young children, aged three and five, were among five people injured in a “serious collision” between a car and a people carrier in Birmingham. West Midlands Police said two adults who were in the people carrier suffered serious, possibly “life-changing” injuries following the incident on Summer Road in the Erdington area on Saturday night. A five-year-old child in the people carrier suffered a broken leg, and a three-year-old child has suspected internal injuries.

  • The Dolphin, Grampound, Cornwall, pub review
    News
    The Telegraph

    The Dolphin, Grampound, Cornwall, pub review

    Shed a tear. The Dolphin in Grampound, Cornwall, is up for sale by St Austell Brewery after 102 years as a tied pub. Lord knows I’ve had some memorable times there, sipping Cornish Rattler, Tribute Ale or Proper Job with family who live in the village.