He played Sam opposite Liam Neeson in the 2003 film
He played Sam opposite Liam Neeson in the 2003 film
Back in March, the University of Oxford was on the brink of signing a deal with the German drugs giant Merck to research and develop a coronavirus vaccine. The Government stepped in and helped steer Oxford towards a partnership with British-based AstraZeneca instead, taking a huge gamble by helping to fund the research and development of a vaccine that might have proved useless. Instead, the Oxford vaccine became only the second in the Western world to be approved for use, and both the UK and AstraZeneca are now reaping the benefits of the deal that was struck last April. AstraZeneca has, so far, remained fiercely loyal to the Government, resolutely refusing to give in to EU demands that it should redirect supplies of its UK-made vaccine to the bloc. But that close relationship has come under unprecedented strain as the company found itself under huge pressure from Brussels.
Rishi Sunak has told Tory MPs that implementing tax rises soon will hand the Government greater leverage to slash them ahead of the next election in 2024. The Chancellor made his pre-budget appearance at the powerful 1922 committee of backbench Conservatives on Wednesday evening to take soundings before the fiscal event on March 3. He told MPs that honesty and fairness were his guiding principles, as he signalled that difficult decisions lie ahead on raising revenue and reducing the deficit, according to several sources present on the call. Laying the groundwork for potential tax rises in the coming budget and the next one, Mr Sunak argued that the public would respect candour about what is to come. Such moves will also burnish the Conservatives’ reputation for responsible management of the public finances, and are essential to differentiate the party from the opposition, he added. One MP summarised Mr Sunak’s argument: “He basically said we can’t be Labour lite.” The budget can be the Government’s “signature moment” in the fight against coronavirus, the Chancellor is understood to have declared. After a series of piecemeal bailout packages responding to the pandemic over the past year, he signalled he wants to set out a broader, philosophical approach to the economy. MPs said they now expect him to set out a detailed roadmap on his strategy for spending, tax rises, the deficit and other economic levers at the budget. He urged his backbench colleagues to judge him over the “arc of the parliament”, not just on the coming budget alone. One MP said: “People asked, ‘Why can't you cut taxes now?’ His point was that we have to look at this over three to four years. “He [Mr Sunak] said he wants to be tax cutting towards the end of the parliament, that there will probably be some rises in the middle, and that we’re going to be frank with people about the tough choices ahead.
Flooding expected in Northern Ireland and northwest of England
‘I am a conservative. You come after us, you come after our Capitol, we gonna come after you’
Former minister reportedly suggested official Covid figures have been ‘manipulated’
Police have not released a motive in the attack
Italy's ruling parties are reluctantly coming to terms with the prospect of having to forge a new deal with the centrist Italia Viva party which quit the government and forced this week's resignation of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, political sources said on Wednesday. The government crisis could hardly come at a worse time, with Italy in its steepest recession since the end of World War Two and having registered 86,000 deaths from COVID-19. Conte, a lawyer with no direct political affiliation, still hopes to pull together a new administration to manage some 200 billion euros ($240 billion) that Italy expects from a European Union fund to help relaunch its COVID-battered economy.
Cases of Covid likely to have been caught in hospital have halved in three weeks, bringing hope that the rollout of vaccines to staff is beginning to slow transmission. NHS data shows the number of cases has fallen from a high of 635 a day at the start of this month to 367 last week. The trend came despite a rise in the total numbers of Covid sufferers in hospital from around 25,000 to 37,000 over the period. On Wednesday night, Sir Patrick Vallance, the chief scientific adviser, said early findings from Israel – which has already given first jabs to almost a third of its population – suggested they could cut rates of transmission by around 60 per cent. However, Sir Patrick told a Downing Street briefing that he would be "extremely cautious" about making an assessment of the impact of the vaccines on transmission until there was "proper data" to assess. Boris Johnson said proof about the impact of vaccines should emerge by the middle of February. A study by Public Health England (PHE), tracking 40,000 health workers – including those given jabs early in the vaccination programme – is expected to report its findings next month. NHS staff were among those offered Covid jabs when the vaccination programme began in December, with a concerted push at the start of this month after the AstraZeneca jab became available.
New first lady signals she will be an active and constant presence in the White House - drawing stark contrasts to her predecessor
Police and bomb disposal personnel arrive at the AstraZeneca vaccine manufacture facility on the Wrexham Industrial Estate in north Wales. The police were called after the discovery of a suspicious package. Staff were evacuated, but have now returned. The company says the production schedule has not been affected.
A senior Conservative MP has been accused of spreading “dangerous misinformation” after reportedly suggesting that the scale of the coronavirus pandemic was being exaggerated. Sir Desmond Swayne urged anti-vaccination campaigners to continue fighting against restrictions and told them NHS capacity figures were being “manipulated.” Labour has accused the former minister of spreading “dangerous misinformation” about coronavirus and has called for the Tories to take action.
The Labour leader said the prime minister angered mourning relatives with a gag about 'Calvin Klein briefs'.
‘We must vaccinate Britain, and to do that we need a plan to ensure that no one from black, Asian and ethnic minority communities is left behind,’ says shadow women and equalities minister Marsha de Cordova
Around one in 16 local areas are currently recording a week-on-week rise.
The leader of the Proud Boys extremist group has been unmasked as a "prolific" former FBI informant. Enrique Tarrio, 36, worked undercover exposing a human trafficking ring, and helped with drug and gambling cases, according to court documents. Tarrio's documented involvement with law enforcement related to the period 2012 -2014. There was no evidence of him cooperating after that. But the revelation raised further questions over why police did not take further steps to secure the US Capitol ahead of the riots on Jan 6. At least half a dozen members of the Proud Boys were arrested over involvement in the riots. Tarrio denied ever being an informer, telling Reuters: "I don’t know any of this. I don’t recall any of this."
Eva Gicain had an emergency Caesarean section at 35 weeks pregnant.
Scotland’s First Minister has said Boris Johnson’s proposed visit to Scotland on Thursday is “not essential”. Nicola Sturgeon said there should not be one rule for the public and another for politicians, as the Prime Minister prepares to head north. Under current regulations put in place by the Scottish Government, only people making essential journeys across the border are allowed to enter Scotland.
The new coronavirus variants are “a warning of what is coming, which we must take incredibly serious” said a member of the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage). Sir Jeremy Farrar said it was crucial to roll out as many vaccines as possible to prevent the spread of mutated strains of the virus, like the variants that have been identified in the UK and South Africa. The thing to do at the moment is to vaccinate as many people as we can in the world to drive down the amount of transmission and prevent these new variants coming.
Ghost actress opened Fendi’s Spring-Summer 2021 show in a design by artistic director Kim Jones
Parts of the UK could be blanketed with up to seven inches (20cm) of snow in the next couple of days, while a band of heavy rain could also trigger flooding, forecasters said. Yellow weather warnings for "heavy snow" have been issued by the Met Office, covering much of Scotland and parts of northern England. Forecasters said snowy conditions could bring "significant" disruption to travel across central and northern Scotland, with a warning in place from 4am on Thursday until 9am on Friday. Another warning of heavy snow for an area of England, covering north of Lancaster, west of Newcastle and running up to the Scottish border, is in place from 4am to 3pm on Thursday. Meanwhile, most of Northern Ireland and areas in north-west England could see flooding as 20-30mm of rainfall is predicted from Wednesday evening. A yellow warning of heavy rain over Northern Ireland is due to run up to 9am on Thursday, while another warning over Liverpool, Manchester, Stoke and Preston in England is in place for the whole day. People living in the affected areas should expect disruption to public transport, delays on the roads and some flooding of homes and businesses, the Met Office said. However, temperatures are set to increase in most areas as milder air moves in from the Atlantic, causing a "battleground" as it combines with colder air in the north. Parts of southern England and Wales could see "spring-like" weather, with temperatures rising as high as 14C (57F). It comes after large swathes of the UK were left blanketed in snow last weekend.