Folderol, hokum and flapdoodle – the usual absurdities of the Queen’s speech rigmarole were reduced to their ultimate fatuity on Monday. As she named those 26 never-to-be-enacted bills engraved laboriously on goatskin vellum, they might as well have been scribbled in ballpoint pen, these electioneering geegaws and giveaways, embellished with thumbscrews on crime and migration. But nothing matters here except the evanescent promise of an EU withdrawal deal, always just beyond reach. “My government will …” she intoned as if sucking lemons, but she has no government capable of doing anything at all.What heavy lifting it would take to turn this country into Boris Johnson’s “greatest place on Earth”, in its present miserable state caused mainly by him. Leave aside Brexit devilment that hangs by a thread, look at the rest of his empty prospectus. If this was a hunting expedition designed to shoot Labour’s fox, it may have the opposite effect. The Institute for Fiscal Studies says his spending plans match those in Labour’s last manifestoBlack Rod summoned the Commons to hear the end of austerity, but that’s almost as much sham humbuggery as all the rest. There is indeed to be spending, enough to set both the last Tory chancellors gnashing their teeth at the loss of their ill-gotten austerity savings. But come an election, mere announcements of a bit of easing up won’t expunge the bitter era of cuts that will scar the public service landscape for years to come. Bungs may ease the worst, preventing deeper cuts, but Johnson’s “sacred” NHS, schools and police are as stretched and stricken as ever, the jam promised for next year only thinly spread. And there’s still the rawness of a million public sector jobs axed and 2,000 food banks serving those who lost working tax credits.But here’s the tripwire, Johnson’s catch-22. He will only win if he has pulled off Brexit – but his version, Britain out of both customs union and single market, will drastically shrink his own Treasury receipts. His Brexit will push the economy into near-recession just as the world teeters towards a Trump trade war slowdown. Already his Brexit referendum victory has made us £55bn poorer, Paul Johnson of the Institute for Fiscal Studies says, pointing to three years of lost productivity on top of this decade of stagnant living standards. Johnson’s Brexit will push his government back into austerity, so in his victory would be his own defeat.Strip away his florid bluster on the NHS and schools, and the reality for public services will be continued belt-tightening. Next year the NHS gets a slight breather: not the 40 new hospitals emblazoned across his favourable press, but just six, the repairs problem acute in mental and community health units. The 10,000 doctors and 40,000 nurses missing due to George Osborne’s early cuts in training places will not be found: expect decades of shortages, as the Nuffield Trust says twice as many training places are needed.The pain of the cuts was never fairly distributed, so watch these small easements go to better-off places. Take schools: the 5% increase next year is what Johnson calls a “levelling up”, taking from the schools with most to give to those with less funding. Sounds fair? Not when that means giving to well-heeled Tory shires while taking from deprived areas in greater need. Analysts find 83% of schools will still be worse off next year than in 2015, with £245 less for each primary pupil, and £304 for secondary pupils. No Tory Queen’s speech is complete unless it commands “Boris blitz on crooks” front pages the following day. True, Labour often did it, ratcheting up punishment for one day’s headlines, each cheap gesture doubling the number of prison cells with inmates deprived of any means to prevent reoffending.Priti Patel’s hostile-environment Home Office ends free movement and vows to round up every EU unfortunate who failed to apply for settled status, chasing away migrants that the economy desperately needs. It’s easy to predict her “control with compassion” watchword will cause more Windrush abominations, with lifelong inhabitants wrongly removed. Popular? No longer, as migration has dropped in public concerns.Little surprise that there is no plan for social care – now “on its knees”, warns the Nuffield Trust. But as Theresa May found, that’s far too hot to handle; like climate change, which gets no mention as to how Johnson would ever get on track to reach net-zero carbon emissions.Little in his menu is what it seems, none frames a vision or idea: just focus-grouped pleasers. For political skulduggery, a bill forcing voters to turn up with passport or driving licence will exclude the poor and the young, with 9 million not registered, since David Cameron stopped colleges automatically signing up their over-18s.Shoot Labour’s fox? More likely Johnson has shot himself in the foot. The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) says his spending plans match those in Labour’s last manifesto, which were roundly condemned by May as unaffordable. With one bound, he has freed Labour from accusations of financial incontinence. Jeremy Corbyn’s manifesto will offer far more, appealing to those the Tories forget, particularly women, with free childcare, social care and tuition fees.Though the IFS may accuse both parties of busting their budgets, as it always adds, that isn’t overspending if they raise taxes too. In this low-tax country that pays a lot less tax than it did, Labour will tax the rich and corporations, while Johnson gifts top earners a £9bn cut. “Tired of stasis, gridlock and waiting for change” was Johnson’s biting portrait of the country’s mood; but who should voters blame for that? His Brexit is the cause, and if he pushes it through it will be his downfall, too.• Polly Toynbee is a Guardian columnist
A 32-year-old man has been accused of embarking on a 350-mile walk in order to have sex with a teenage girl, only to discover he was the target of a police sting.Authorities have said Tommy Lee Jenkins, of Whitestown, Indiana, believed he was speaking via instant messages with a 14-year-old girl called Kylee, and hatched a plan to meet her.
Britain's Oct. 31 departure from the European Union will be delayed, according to the vast majority of economists polled by Reuters who again said the two sides would eventually agree a free trade agreement as the chance of a no-deal exit had fallen. Michel Barnier, the EU's chief Brexit negotiator, said on Tuesday that reaching a deal on Britain's departure from the bloc before the scheduled date of Oct. 31 had become "more and more difficult". Barnier told EU ministers that he saw three possible scenarios ahead: a deal with Britain later on Tuesday, another delay to Britain's departure, or a "breakdown" of talks, according to diplomats.
Former England footballer, Paul Gascoigne, told a police officer who arrested him for alleged sexual assault: "I know what it's about, I kissed a fat lass," a court has heard.
Donald Trump’s ex-national security adviser John Bolton urged former Russia adviser Fiona Hill to warn the White House about a campaign to pressure Ukraine orchestrated by the president’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, describing the latter as a “hand grenade who’s going to blow everybody up”.“I am not part of whatever drug deal Rudy and [acting chief of staff Mick] Mulvaney are cooking up,” Mr Bolton told Ms Hill, according to reports of her 10-hour closed-door testimony before a panel of congressional investigators on Monday, which moved ex-aide Anthony Scaramucci to declare it “just a matter of time” before the president is removed from office.
Jeremy Corbyn heavily criticised the Queen’s Speech during a Labour Party rally in Westminster. The Labour leader labelled it a "farce" that was "bereft of any hope, any content, any belief”, adding that it was “just a ramble of nonsense and a parody of ideas".
A British family has been detained in the US for accidentally crossing the border from Canada after taking a wrong turn.David Connors, 30, and wife Eileen, 24, claim they were locked up with their three-month-old son after swerving to avoid an animal in Vancouver and detouring onto an unmarked road.
Nicola Sturgeon visits the SNP store at the SNP conference. Photograph: Andrew MacColl/REX/ShutterstockSometimes “don’t know” is the most intelligent answer to a question: 45% of Scots think Scotland would be better off economically as an independent country within the EU than as part of a post-Brexit UK; 35% disagree; and 20% don’t know, because how could you? There is so much chaos contained in that sequence of events: under what terms would the UK leave? Under what terms would Scotland and the UK separate? How would Scotland rejoin? And how long would all this take?The only thing you could say for certain is that nobody will be as well off, individually or collectively, as they would have been had the Conservative party washed its laundry in private. Perhaps that goes without saying, but it still seems important that history doesn’t record this destructive phase as culpritless, like a typhoon.Nevertheless, there are some things Scottish people could be reasonably sure of: in 2016, it was considered very unlikely that they could rejoin the EU without England; some nation with its own independence issues – Spain the most obvious – would surely veto that. That is no longer the case. The Spanish foreign minister, Josep Borrell, said explicitly at the end of last year that Scotland would be accepted.As important is the Brexiters’ mood music: three years ago it was assumed that their intense nationalism and nostalgia made them the natural defenders of the United Kingdom. The opposite was true: they had no respect for the Good Friday agreement; most leavers were prepared to see the breakup of the UK. Worse still, these radical stances tumbled out without the ghost of a plan, giving the unavoidable impression that no ardent Brexiter had even considered the voters of Northern Ireland or Scotland or Wales.It is completely understandable that in Scotland support for independence reached an all-time high of 50% last week. It is, likewise, reasonable for the first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, to push hard for a second referendum in 2020, the roadmap for which has been widely discussed at the Scottish National party’s conference in Aberdeen.But it is easy to forget, since its result was the status quo, how bitter the 2014 referendum was: there was a strong sense among many expat Scottish people living in England – who didn’t have voting rights – that independence was a narrow, nationalistic project, dressed up as a grand social one. This debate has been made irrelevant by the crisis in English politics. There is nothing narrow or nationalistic about wanting to separate from a government that actively seeks its own economic destruction.It is perfectly reasonable to look back at the joint pledge to give Scotland more powers – made by David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg just before the referendum – and say “this hasn’t been met” (only 9% of Scots think it has). Perhaps the insufficiencies of the Scotland Act in March 2016 were due to a lack of enthusiasm in Westminster for deeper devolution. Now, however, the one thing every party leader can agree on is the absolute constipation of the British state. Who, given the chance, would not try to escape? On pessimistic days, I’d vote for an independent London that could rejoin the EU.But Sturgeon’s immediate tactical hurdle segues into a fundamental contradiction. Her plan is to force a general election via a motion of no confidence in Boris Johnson. She then plans to use her leverage with whoever emerges as the largest party to bring about a second independence referendum next year.Realistically, the SNP stands no chance of exerting that pressure on a minority Conservative government, which would be implacably opposed, and wouldn’t be relying on a prop-up from the SNP in the first place. So she’s throwing that gauntlet down for the Labour party, which has often let slip the softer stance on an indy ref of “not now, but maybe at some time in the future”. Sturgeon’s argument relies heavily on the very area where it is weakest: the Scottish people must have a vote because 50% of them want seismic constitutional change. But 50% don’t. Further, she relies on the inevitability of Brexit to give momentum to the case for independence, yet a Labour government would have a people’s vote as its first order of business. The result, if it went remain, would suck the air out of Sturgeon’s enterprise.Most importantly, the case for Yes in 2014 was a radical, progressive one: the SNP flipped from Tartan Tories to leftwing crusaders; grassroots groups such as Common Weal made a powerful case for social renewal based on equality, pluralism and justice, if only Scotland could throw off the yoke of the self-interested, austerity-obsessed government in Westminster.Were the campaign replayed, this time against a British prime minister holding the same progressive values, they’d be fighting in the cracks: not whether to nationalise, but what to nationalise first; not whether to go carbon-neutral, but wind or solar; not whether to have a humane benefits system, but whose sense of humanity was the keenest. It would be an ugly and pointless scene, in which narrow nationalism might well emerge as the most solid ground, and lofty talk of “sovereignty” the best call to arms. And we’ve all seen where that ends.• Zoe Williams is a Guardian columnist
A salsa to Who Let The Dogs Out and a Viennese waltz to Whitney Houston are just some of the routines in store for Saturday’s episode of Strictly Come Dancing.The remaining 12 celebrities and their professional partners will vye to impress judges Motsi Mabuse, Craig Revel Horwood and Shirley Ballas, as well as guest judge Alfonso Ribeiro.
Zoë Kravitz has landed the role of Catwoman in The Batman, a fresh take on the DC superhero film.The actress is set to star opposite British actor Robert Pattinson, who will play the Dark Knight in director Matt Reeves' new flick.
South Korea has displayed the first full-size mock-up of the KF-X fighter jet it is developing with Indonesia, after officials said the programme passed key design reviews in September. The next-generation aircraft being developed by Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) is designed to be a cheaper, less-stealthy alternative to the U.S.-built F-35, and the plan is to eventually replace most of South Korea's older fighter jets and produce more for export. The mock-up was displayed on Monday at the Seoul International Aerospace and Defense Exhibition (ADEX).
The hosts spared little effort in preparing a welcome fit for another century.Vladimir Putin — in Saudi Arabia for only the second time in his presidency — was greeted in Riyadh by an honour guard of Arabian horses and royal soldiers. He was transported to the present, by electric buggy, for a grand reception inside King Salman’s palace. Monday’s state visit on the one hand underlined the maturing relations between two enfants terribles of international politics.
A three-year-old boy in Chicago was shot in the head while sitting in a car with his mother and two other children, police have said.Three people approached the vehicle before midnight on Sunday and opened fire, striking the toddler, who was in critical condition at Chicago’s Comer Children’s Hospital on Monday, according to the Chicago Tribune.
The Duchess of Cambridge arrived in Pakistan with a nod to both her hosts and the memory of her mother-in-law, wearing a traditional shalwar-kameez style outfit from one of Princess Diana's favourite couture houses.
Debbie Harry was contacted by the FBI after her name and phone number appeared on a serial killer’s possible hitlist.
A teenager’s body has been found on the northern coast of France after he apparently tried to cross to the UK on a dingy, according to reports.The Iraqi Kurd, aged 17, is said to have been discovered on a beach in Touquet on Monday morning. Another body, of a 22-year-old man, also Iraqi, was reportedly found close by on the same day.
Police have raided the headquarters of the Bulgarian Football Union following the resignation of its president over racist abuse aimed at England players. Special forces arrived at the base in Sofia just hours after Borislav Mihaylov quit his post, having been told to leave by the prime minister. Bulgaria has come in for heavy criticism for the conduct of home fans during the Euro 2020 qualifier on Monday night, which was played in a partially closed stadium as punishment for "racist behaviour" by fans during a previous match against Kosovo in June.