Cabinet Office Minister David Lidington told BBC Panorama that a senior EU official offered to put Brexit on hold for five years then talk about a 'new deal for Europe'.
Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said on Thursday he was willing to listen to alternative proposals from the next British prime minister on keeping Northern Ireland's border open after Brexit and could compromise if his objectives were achieved. Both candidates for the leadership of the ruling Conservative Party, Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt, have said they oppose Ireland's proposal for a "backstop" clause in Britain's withdrawal agreement that would ensure regulatory alignment between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
There are fears for the future of No 10’s chief mouser, Larry the Cat, The Londoner understands. With new residents about to move in, hacks and Spads are said to have raised concerns about whether Larry — an 11-year-old tabby who moved into Downing Street eight years ago under David Cameron’s government — would still be welcome after the changing of the guard. One source told The Londoner that civil servants have been making enquiries at Battersea Dogs & Cats Home to see if Larry might be able to return there, though Battersea told us this morning it had not been contacted, and No 10 dismissed concerns. Larry, who is renowned for his sharp claws, is not beloved of everyone. He was recently in trouble after giving the Tory director of communications Robbie Gibb’s daughter a scratching at the No 10 summer party, and is also known to have been catty to the Foreign Office’s much younger cat, Palmerston. On the other hand, he is also considered to be a bellwether for the nation. While he warmed to Barack Obama, during Donald Trump’s visit last month, he lay down under POTUS’s car so that it was unable to move. A wry (unofficial) Twitter account dedicated to the tabby has 290,000 followers. There are other concerns for Larry. One source close to the cat says they are more worried about his health, saying this morning that “Larry is sleeping a lot these days. He might be going to the cattery in the sky”. But happily, both Johnson and Hunt’s teams were keen to offer assurances this morning that Larry would be safe. “Larry’s position is safe under Jeremy,” confirmed a Hunt source. “His record at the FCO with Palmerston shows he can be trusted to deliver for all the Whitehall cats. “What this country needs is an entreprepurr.” They added: “Jeremy might prefer Palmerston but that doesn’t mean he’s got his claws out for Larry.”And despite rumours that Johnson might be a dog person, Team Boris said this morning: “If Boris wins, Larry has nothing to fear.” The wurst tasteLast year the Canadian embassy started a trend by inviting government Spads over for drinks and food. Since then the US, Australia and Ireland have followed suit. Last night, it was the Germans’ turn to host, serving up bratwurst and a giant keg of beer (which the Spads drained). Overall, the atmosphere was friendly, though the German ambassador raised eyebrows when he announced that boisterous Speaker John Bercow has amassed a cult following in his country and that Germans wish the Bundestag had a livelier speaker. “He’s the wurst brat,” a grumpy Spad muttered.\---The BBC’s Nick Robinson says Sir Kim Darroch has a way with words. “Darroch proves the truth of my favourite definition of a diplomat,” he writes in this week’s Spectator, “as someone who tells you to go to hell in a way that leads you to ask for directions and look forward to the trip.”\---Rather poor diplomacy, meanwhile, from Boisdale owner Ranald Macdonald at last night’s Scotland vs USA dinner in Mayfair. Scottish lobster and Scottish beef won the diners’ vote but when Macdonald boasted, over the third course, that Britain was “the greatest cheese-producing nation on Earth”, his French master of wine Edouard Baijot’s face turned puce. Jungle Toff swings back to Johnson campGeorgia Toffolo is a friend of the Johnson family — specifically Johnson elder Stanley, with whom she forged a close bond on reality TV show I’m A Celebrity... Nonetheless, The Londoner hears that she wanted to work on Jeremy Hunt’s leadership campaign — and not just because of his Spad, who is nicknamed SpAdonis. Sadly, her help was not required on Team Hunt and she was spotted at last night’s Tory hustings wearing a “Back Boris” badge. Stanley will be pleased. Rising stars flock to Shoreditch for Warner’s tropical summer shindigThrobbing beats and up-and-coming talent filled the Maya bar on top of a tropical-themed and packed-out Shoreditch House last night for the Warner Music annual summer drinks party. Guests including Laura Whitmore, Louise Redknapp, Nick Hendrix, James Atherton and Portia Freeman nibbled on poké and fresh salads while waiting for the margaritas to kick in to get down to some serious dancing. Alfie Allen was also in attendance, celebrating his recent Emmy nomination for Best Supporting Actor in Game of Thrones. Sister Lily congratulated her little brother with an Instagram story, writing: “OMG he has an Emmy nom, GO ALF!!!!!!!!”The Smile singer once dedicated a song called Alfie to her sibling. Lyrics include “I just can’t sit back and watch your waste you life away, you need to get a job because the bills you need to pay” and “how the hell do you ever expect to get laid?”. SW1ANick Clegg — now head of global affairs and communications at Facebook — finds California rather different to SW1A. “There’s lots of sleeveless Patagonia puffa things and shoes with no socks,” he tells The New Statesman. “I never wear a suit... You don’t have any of the Westminster lunching culture here. Lunch is basically broccoli with some suspect sauce while you’re in a meeting. I’m constantly using phrases that I shouldn’t, which then leave everybody utterly stunned... I stick out like a sore thumb.”\---Outgoing PM Theresa May asked in her Chatham House speech yesterday: “Has every phrase I’ve used been perfect in every way? No.” Someone had to say it. \---Boris Johnson told the audience at last night’s Tory hustings at ExCel London: “When I was mayor of this great city, the population increased by 200,000.” A pause. “Nothing to do with me.” Quote of the day‘This is going to sound pretty weird, but ultimately, we will achieve symbiosis with artificial intelligence’Yes, Elon Musk, it does sound pretty weird
Teen climate activist Greta Thunberg has told Sky News that the UK's pledge to produce net zero carbon emissions by 2050 is "actually doing more harm than good". The 16-year-old Nobel Peace Prize nominee - who has inspired an international movement to fight climate change - urged politicians to act now on the issue or risk being viewed as "some of the greatest villains in human history". In an interview with Sky News in Stockholm, Thunberg said many young people felt "sad, angry and scared" at the failure of adults - including politicians - to tackle the climate crisis.
The Queen has opened a new exhibition about Queen Victoria for this year's Summer Opening of the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace. The exhibition tells the story of Queen Victoria's life at Buckingham Palace in the year marking the 200th anniversary of her birth.
Geraint Thomas is back 12 months on from his brilliant Tour de France victory to defend his crown, but he faces a battle to win the yellow jersey. Riders like Jumbo-Visma’s Steven Kruijswijk and Astana’s Jakob Fuglsang carry general classification ambitions while any one of Movistar’s Nairo Quintana, Bahrain-Merida’s Vincenzo Nibali and FDJ’s Thibaut Pinot could mount a challenge.But perhaps Thomas’s most serious competition comes from within his own team. Egan Bernal may be raw but he is a supreme talent in excellent form and has the ability to conquer what is a gruelling route.Peter Sagan is chasing a record seventh green jersey but faces competition from Elia Viviani, while Julian Alaphilippe is the favourite to win the King of the Mountains famous polka dot jersey, and the talented Belgian Wout van Aert will try to challenge Bernal for the right to wear the best young rider’s white.Take a look at the current standings and stage results below. Stage results * Stage 1 – Mike Teunissen (Jumbo-Visma) winner, yellow jersey * Stage 2 – Jumbo-Visma (team time-trial) winners), Mike Teunissen (Jumbo-Visma) yellow jersey * Stage 3 – Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck Quick-Step) winner, yellow jersey * Stage 4 – Elia Viviani (Deceuninck Quick-Step) winner, Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck Quick-Step) yellow jersey * Stage 5 – Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) winner, Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck Quick-Step) yellow jersey * Stage 6 - Dylan Teuns (Bahrain-Merida) winner, Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) yellow jersey * Stage 7 – Dylan Groenewegen (Jumbo-Visma) winner, Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) yellow jersey * Stage 8 – Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soundal) winner, Julian Alaphlilippe (Deceuninck Quick-Step) yellow jersey * Stage 9 – Daryl Impey (Mitchelton-Scott) winner, Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck Quick-Step) yellow jersey * Stage 10 – Wout van Aaert (Jumbo-Visma) winner, Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck Quick-Step) yellow jersey * Stage 11 – Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal) winner, Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck Quick-Step) yellow jersey Standings General classification (yellow jersey)1\. Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck Quick-Step) 2\. Geraint Thomas (Team Ineos) + 1min 12sec3\. Egan Bernal (Team Ineos) + 1min 16sec4\. Steven Kruijswijk (Team Jumbo-Visma) + 1min27sec5\. Emanuel Buchmann (Bora Hansgrohe) +1min 45sec6\. Enric Mas (Quick-Step) +1min 46sec7\. Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) +1min 47sec8\. Nairo Quintana (Movistar) +2min 04sec9\. Dan Martin (UAE) +2min 09sec10\. Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) +2min 33sec Sprint points (green jersey)1\. Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) 257 points2\. Elia Viviani (Quick-Step) 184 King of the Mountains (polka dot jersey)1\. Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal) 43 points3\. Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) 37 Young rider (white jersey)1\. Egan Bernal (Team Ineos)2\. Eric Mas (Quick-Step) +30sec
Get your telescopes and cameras ready as space fans are in for another celestial treat this July and August. The Perseids, one of the brightest meteor showers of the year, is set to grace our skies, with the chance to see up to 50-100 meteors per hour.
German captain Carola Rackete, who sparked international headlines by forcibly docking in an Italian port with rescued migrants, faces questioning by an Italian prosecutor on Thursday over allegedly aiding illegal immigration. The captain of the Sea-Watch 3 is expected to be questioned in the southern Sicilian town of Agrigento from 10am (0800 GMT).Rackete was arrested on June 29 for entering Italy's Lampedusa port despite a veto imposed by far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, and knocking a coast guard boat out of the way to land 40 migrants after over two weeks blocked at sea.A judge overturned the arrest three days later, saying the 31-year old had merely acted to save lives.But the Sea-Watch 3 remains in police custody in the Sicilian port of Licata and Rackete is still the object of two investigations -- one for entering Italian waters despite a direct order to stop, and another for aiding illegal immigration.Rackete will be heard on the latter on Thursday, and will have to explain why her crew rescued the migrants without waiting for the Libyan coastguard, which has jurisdiction over the stretch of water in which they were found.The 31-year-old will also be asked why she then sailed the Dutch-flagged vessel to Italy rather than a Libyan or Tunisian port.Salvini insists that Italy's ports remain closed to people who attempt the perilous Mediterranean crossing.Prosecutors in Agrigento appealed to Italy's highest court this week against the decision to drop charges against Rackete for forcibly entering the port of Lampedusa, in the hope of establishing a precedent to put off other privately run ships.A few days after the Sea-Watch drama, another charity vessel forcibly landed in Lampedusa, a scenario that is likely to recur.'Criminal' Salvini's hard-line stance has led to an upsurge in investigations into charity rescue vessels.In March 2017, the Spanish vessel Open Arms was seized and its captain and head of mission were prosecuted after the crew refused to hand saved migrants over to the Libyan coastguard, which arrived at the scene during a rescue operation.A month later a judge ordered the vessel be released on the grounds that crisis-hit Libya could not be considered a safe port.And the prosecutor's office in Catania, eastern Sicily, recently archived the case against the captain and mission head.The same prosecutor closed a similar probe against the NGO Sea-Watch after a rescue operation in January, concluding that the crew's actions were justified.But the Sea-Watch 3's dramatic port entry in June marked a new chapter in the war between Salvini and charity vessels.The arrest of the dreadlocked Rackete sparked an online campaign which raised over 1.4 million euros ($1.57 million) in a few days to pay her legal fees and enable the German NGO to continue its operations -- with a new boat if necessary.On Tuesday the parliament of Catalonia in Spain voted unanimously to honour Rackete with a Gold Medal, its highest award.And the city of Paris announced a donation of 100,000 euros to Sea-Watch, as well as a medal for Rackete and Pia Klemp, another German captain prosecuted in Italy.Paris's move infuriated Italy's far right, which noted that the French government had remained silent throughout the 15 days the ship had been blocked at sea, despite Rackete's numerous appeals for a safe port.Salvini has stepped up his attacks on the rescue charities, which he has accused of aiding people-smugglers, while calling Rackete a "bigmouth" and a "criminal".Rackete filed a complaint last week for defamation and incitement to violence, noting that Salvini's hostile messages on social networks have prompted an outpouring of sexist, violent and threatening comments from users.(AFP)
The trial is hoped to stop the platform from feeling like a competition and encourage people to share the things they enjoy.
A man who went to the doctor for an irritated eye discovered that the cause of his discomfort was a tick. Chris Prater, an electrical worker from Kentucky, was working at a tree-cutting job in Johnson County when he felt something enter his eye. “The thing of it is, I really didn’t want to go to the doctor,” Prater told WYMT. “I figured if it was something it would come out on its own."Assuming the irritation was from sawdust, he flushed his eye but the discomfort continued - eventually prompting Prater to seek the help of an optometrist. According to Prater, the doctor was immediately able to identify the source of his eye irritation. “When the doctor finally comes in, he was looking at it. He said: ‘I know what’s in your eye.’" Prater recalled. “He said: ‘It’s a tick.’ That’s when I got scared a little bit. “I leaned around and looked at him and I asked him if he was joking and he said ‘No, you have a deer tick or some type of tick.’”To remove the tick, the doctor first numbed Prater’s eye and then used tweezers to pull the creature out. “Once he grabbed ahold of it and pulled it off, the tick made a little popping sound when it came off of my eye,” Prater said. According to Prater, who was sent home with antibiotics and steroid drops, he sprays himself with bug repellant everyday before work. He also urged kids who are hiking or camping to spray themselves - but acknowledged that you can’t “spray your eyes”.Fortunately, the situation is unlikely, according to Vivian Shibayama, OD, an optometrist with UCLA Health, who told Prevention it is “very uncommon” to find a tick on an eyeball.If a tick does manage to make it to the eye area, they are most likely to be found on the lid.
Climbers are being urged to stop leaving banana skins and orange peel on Britain’s most popular mountains as they essentially freeze and fail to biodegrade.
The World Health Organisation says the deadly Ebola outbreak in the DemocraticRepublic of Congo is now an international health emergency
The White House said on Wednesday that Turkey's decision to purchase the Russian S-400 air defence system renders its continued involvement in the F-35 joint strike fighter programme impossible. "The F-35 cannot coexist with a Russian intelligence collection platform that will be used to learn about its advanced capabilities," the White House said in a statement. The White House sought to downplay the impact of the decision on the U.S. relationship with Turkey, saying that Washington still "greatly values" its strategic relationship with Ankara.
SeaWorld has hit out at Virgin boss Sir Richard Branson for "succumbing to pressure from animal activists" after he announced his travel firm would no longer sell tickets to the theme parks. The entrepreneur said that Virgin Holidays would stop selling and promoting attractions involving "captive cetaceans, such as whales and dolphins", with SeaWorld parks in San Diego and Florida among those affected. In a blog post on the Virgin website, Sir Richard said the move was a "significant milestone" in his bid to "drive positive change in the tourism industry".
Dozens of sheep have been slaughtered in farmers’ field this year in “unprecedented” crimes.
Germany is to make measles vaccinations compulsory for all children from next year amid concern at the rise in infections.