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‘No interest in answers, only bringing down a political opponent,’ wrote Compston
Viktor Orbàn, Hungary’s prime minister, has pulled his party out of the largest political group in the European Parliament before they could be expelled over EU concerns over Budapest’s respect for democracy and the rule of law. Fidesz's 12 MEPs were withdrawn from the centre-Right European People’s Party (EPP) coalition before it voted on changes to rules on the expulsion of members. Mr Orbàn has long been at loggerheads with Brussels over his crackdown on media and other freedoms. EPP members have backed EU institutions in their criticism of Fidesz, which they accuse of trampling on “European values”. But he stopped short of leaving the EPP’s pan-EU political party, which has members including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission. Fidesz will now have less speaking time and access to less EU funding after leaving the biggest single voting bloc in the Brussels and Strasbourg parliament. It was suspended from the pan-EU party alliance in March 2019 but until now remained part of the European Parliament group. The EPP’s 180 members voted by 148 to 28 in favour of the new rules, with four abstentions, in the culmination of years of strained relations after Fidesz resigned. Mr Orbàn accused the EPP of curtailing the democratic rights of Fidesz MEPs in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic in a letter to group leader Manfred Weber. He branded the vote on rule changes “anti-democratic, unjust and unacceptable” and a “hostile move”. “The message is clear and duly noted. If Fidesz is not welcome, we do not feel compelled to stay,” he wrote. The pressure on the close political relationship between the most influential pan-EU party had increased after Mr Orbàn launched a string of attacks against Brussels, including a poster campaign against then European Commission president, and EPP member, Jean-Claude Juncker. Mr Orbàn is expected to try and join other political groups in the European Parliament such as the Eurosceptic European Conservatives & Reformists or the hard right Identity & Democracy group. A spokesman for the EPP Group said it would not comment on Mr Orbàn’s “personal decision”. David Cameron pulled the Conservatives out of the EPP in 2009, which some in Brussels see as a key moment that eventually contributed to Brexit.
UK to extend grace periods for supermarkets without EU approval
Although Rishi Sunak is extending the weekly £20 uplift, the government has missed an opportunity to given the benefits system the overhaul it needs
Meghan's Oprah trailer signals no-holds-barred take on 'the firm'Unclear if Meghan’s ire is directed at particular royals but teasing trailer is sign ‘never complain, never explain’ era is over
Nicola Sturgeon was fighting for her political career when she faced MSPs during a marathon eight-hour hearing on Wednesday. Her opponents believe the multiple accusations she faces over her handling of complaints against Mr Salmond may well be enough to force her from office. The Scottish Tories have already called for her resignation. However, she denies wrongdoing and the accusation that she broke the ministerial code on multiple occasions. She also faces a separate inquiry, specifically into whether she broke the ministerial code. Here are the main allegations facing the First Minister, and what she said to rebut them.
When can I go on holiday The destinations most likely to make the 'green list' this summer The countries already rolling out vaccine passports Which of our 10 favourite summer holiday destinations could reopen by June? Sign up to the Telegraph Travel newsletter Britons are racing to book holidays in Spain this summer following the announcement that a ‘green corridor’ could be set up for vaccinated travellers. The bookings boom has been sparked by comments made by the Spanish Minister for Tourism, Fernando Valdés, who confirmed earlier this week that Spain and the UK are in “discussions” over potentially lifting travel restrictions for those who have been inoculated against Covid, as long as there is no collective EU decision on vaccine passports in the next few months. With the UK government also revealing its roadmap out of lockdown last week, with international travel a possibility by May 17 at the earliest, Spanish holiday firms are now experiencing a surge in demand from UK customers keen to fly south for the summer. One Ibiza hotel, the Nobu Hotel on Talamanca Beach, has already seen a 250% week-on-week spike in bookings, while the Puente Romano Beach Resort in Marbella has already reached 50% occupancy for the whole of August. Villa holidays are in high demand too, with one rental company, The Thinking Traveller, reporting a 100% increase in enquiries compared to this time last year, and a threefold increase compared to last week. Airlines have also witnessed a boost in the last week thanks to renewed passenger confidence: EasyJet sales for June, July and August have more than quadrupled in recent days, while TUI has seen reservations in Spain, Greece and Turkey rise by 600%. Scroll down for more updates
Daughter calls for Kent man to be recognised as UK's first Covid victim. Peter Attwood died in hospital on 30 January last year, weeks before first UK Covid death was declared
An extension to the stamp duty holiday announced in the Budget will spark a modest rise in house prices and stimulate additional transactions, the Treasury’s independent forecaster has said. Rishi Sunak announced on Wednesday that the tax relief would continue for another six months, in a boost to the housing market and a major victory for The Telegraph's Stamp out the Duty campaign. As the Chancellor read out the measure, the Prime Minister, who was sitting beside him, gave a thumbs up signal to The Telegraph’s journalist present in the Press Gallery of the Commons. The Chancellor said the current holiday, which sees the nil-band rate apply up to a threshold of £500,000, would be extended for three months until June 30.
The brotherhood of Princes William and Harry – once so powerful, appealing and close – is steadily crumbling. It’s said William now rarely talks to his younger brother and is apparently furious and shocked that Harry has snubbed the Queen, making a tell-all Oprah interview the focus when their 99-year-old grandfather, the Duke of Edinburgh, remains ill in hospital. William has always been protective of Harry and, until he met Meghan Markle, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge happily joined ranks with him. He stood with them on countless engagements, which, despite stating at the time that Catherine was the sister he had always wanted, he later revealed it had made him feel like a gooseberry to the young married couple. When Meghan joined The Firm in November 2017, the young foursome were nicknamed the ‘Fab Four’ – appearing on stage together at the first (and what would turn out to be the last) annual Royal Foundation forum, at which they launched their vision for a shared working future. Harry joked that they were “stuck together for the rest of our lives.” How poignant that seems now.
Nicola Sturgeon choked back tears and insisted "I would never have wanted to 'get' Alex Salmond" as she rejected as "absurd" his claims of a plot among senior SNP figures to destroy him. The First Minister told a Holyrood inquiry the "simple" truth was that several women made complaints about Mr Salmond's behaviour and "I refused to follow the usual pattern of allowing a powerful man to use his status and connections to get what he wants." In an appearance spanning more than eight hours, against the backdrop of calls for her resignation, Ms Sturgeon insisted she had seen "nothing that comes within a million miles" of backing Mr Salmond's conspiracy claims. Although she reiterated it was "beyond question" that Mr Salmond had been cleared of all criminal charges, she said his behaviour was still "deeply inappropriate" and "there was not a single word of regret" from him during his six hours of testimony last week. Ms Sturgeon appeared on the verge of tears, with her voice breaking, as she was invited to apologise to the Scottish people for arguing for years they could trust Mr Salmond to take them to independence. Murdo Fraser, a Tory MSP, pressed her when she had decided he "was no longer the Charles Stewart Parnell of Scotland, and was in fact a liar and a fantasist?’"
Ian Brown pulls out of music festival over Covid vaccination row. Brown, a noted Covid sceptic, has withdrawn from the Neighbourhood Weekender festival in Warrington in September
NAACP accuses Trump of disenfranchising Black voters and trying to ‘destroy democracy’
Teachers have had a “little bit higher risk” of infection with coronavirus during the national lockdown, new figures suggest. People who work in education and childcare appear to have had increased risk of infection compared to people who do not work in these professions, experts said. To date more than 1.4 million people have provided swabs so experts can assess infection rates across the country.
The Duchess of Sussex wore earrings given to her by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia three weeks after the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, against advice from palace aides, The Telegraph understands. The Duchess, 39, had been given the Butani earrings as an official wedding present from the Saudi Royal Family. When she wore them to a formal dinner in Fiji in October 2018, during a royal tour, the media were told that they were “borrowed” but unusually, declined to offer further information or guidance. The dinner took place three weeks after Mr Khashoggi was killed at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. The Duchess’s lawyers insisted that at the time of the dinner, she was unaware of speculation that the crown prince was involved in the murder of the journalist. However, a royal source claimed that palace staff had advised the Duchess not to wear the jewellery. “Members of Royal Household staff sometimes advise people on their options,” one said. “But what they choose to do with that advice is a very different matter.”
World Health Organisation warns report is a ‘wake-up’ call to governments
‘It’s the British government essentially breaking the protocol – breaking their own commitments again’
The Duchess of Sussex has been accused of bullying staff and "destroying" one individual, ahead of her "tell-all" television interview with Oprah Winfrey. The Times newspaper reported allegations that during her time as a working royal, Meghan drove out two personal assistants and staff were "humiliated" on several occasions. Valentine Low, the Times journalist who broke the story, says his sources state staff 'felt bullied' and experience emotional distress. .
The lies Trump told at CPAC about the election and his record were not new, but his request for supporters to give money to his new political committee was a first.
Sir Keir Starmer has criticised the government's Budget over cuts to the NHS. Speaking during a visit to the Royal Derby Hospital, the Labour leader said: "I think a lot of people will be pretty astonished to know that the day-to-day funding for the NHS is being cut in yesterday's Budget, hidden in that Budget was that cut." Mr Starmer talked of the "backlog of cases" that the NHS has not been able to deal with since coronavirus hit.