HuffPost UK - Athena2 - All Entries (Public)

HuffPost UK - Athena2 - All Entries (Public)

15/07/2018 11:18 PM
Family Photos Of Prince Louis’s Christening Released By William And Kate
The photographs were taken by Matt Holyoak in the Morning Room at Clarence House.

The christening of Prince Louis has been marked by the release of a collection of family photographs.

Four official images were taken by British photographer Matt Holyoak at Clarence House after Louis was baptised in The Chapel Royal at St James’s Palace last Monday.

The photographs have been released by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to mark the milestone.

In one photo, Kate and William are joined by their children, along with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, and the Middleton family including Kate’s sister Pippa Matthews and her husband James.

Members of the royal family appear in another photo without the Middletons, a third photo features the Cambridge five and the fourth photo is an image of just Kate and Louis.

The photographs were taken in the morning room and garden at Clarence House.

Holyoak said: “I was truly honoured at being asked to take the official photographs at the christening of Prince Louis, and to witness at first hand such a happy event.

“Everyone was so relaxed and in such good spirits, it was an absolute pleasure.

“I only hope I have captured some of that joy in my photographs.”

Louis was sound asleep as he was carried into the Chapel Royal by Kate for the christening ceremony which lasted 40 minutes.

After the ceremony, the baby prince looked content and wiggled his fingers as Kate gazed down and beamed at him as she held him in her arms.

With Prince George and Princess Charlotte joining their parents for Louis’s big day, it was the first time the Cambridges were seen together as a family of five.

Holyoak has worked with a host of celebrities and his photos have regularly been splashed on the covers of magazines such as Harper’s Bazaar, Shortlist and Dazed and Confused.

He is not new to working with the royals, as he photographed the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh as part of a series of portraits released to mark their 70th wedding anniversary.


15/07/2018 09:56 PM
Donald Trump Has Left The UK - Here's What The Hell Just Happened

It may surprise you to learn that Thursday was only four days ago.

But in that time so much has happened that it feels like far longer as Donald Trump’s controversial UK visit arrived, dropped a few bombs, and then left.

Despite only being here for four days (two of which he spent playing golf) there was quite a lot going on.

So now the dust has settled, let’s have a quick recap.

DAY 1

The Expectation

During a surprise press conference just before Trump landed in the UK last Thursday, Trump said: 

They like me a lot in the UK.

The Reality

Trump turned out to be slightly wide of the mark and from the very first moment his motorcade appeared on the streets of London, spontaneous protests like this emerged.

Trump wasn’t even in the country yet.

The Arrival

Presumably wary of middle fingers all over the capital being pointed in his direction, the US President skipped the roads all together and was ferried by Transformers to Regent’s Park and the home of the US Ambassador to the UK, where he would spend Thursday night.

Still plenty of middle fingers but a bit more distance than the motorcade would have afforded.

The Protest That Didn’t Quite Work

That very shouty crowd in the video above was a group that congregated in Regent’s Park with the sole intention of keeping him awake all night.

Around 150 people were armed with placards, drums, vuvuzelas and good old-fashioned lung power but their attempts at an all-night noise protest were scuppered at 9pm when a frustrated park official announced over a megaphone: “Come on people, everybody out - we’re locking the gates.”

The First Engagement

First stop on the official tour was at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire for a fancy gala black tie dinner with Theresa May.

Inside the Palace it was a picture of cordiality and good old British hospitality.

Outside it was a bit different...

The Bombshell

Trump repaid the PM’s hospitality by essentially dumping on her from a great height.

In an exclusive interview with The Sun, which landed probably around the same time dessert was being served, Trump said that Britain remaining so closely aligned to the European Union under May’s plans would undermine a UK-US trade pact - which is seen as one of the biggest prizes after quitting the bloc.

Bear in mind Trump has been in the UK for a little over eight hours at this point.

The US President also attacked May’s negotiating strategy, adding: “I would have done it much differently. I actually told Theresa May how to do it but she didn’t agree, she didn’t listen to me.”

And on Sunday morning we found out why - he told the PM she should “sue the EU”, which, quite frankly, barely qualifies as advice and sounds more like the petulant ramblings of a six-foot baby. Speaking of which...

DAY 2

THE BABY BLIMP!!!

On Friday morning this happened.

Yes it was silly, yes it was childish but LOOK AT HIS TINY LIFELIKE HANDS!!!

 

The Press Conference

Meanwhile in the supposedly grown-up world of Westminster, May and Trump were holding a press conference which, bearing in mind all of the above, promised to be entertaining to say the least.

Trump attempted to clean up his criticism of the PM and her Brexit negotiations by blaming “fake news” - despite it being quotes from his own mouth, uttered to a reporter on the record, during an interview.

Then, apparently oblivious to the current Prime Minsiter stood next to him, he said this:

Then to cap it all off he bald-shamed a reporter.

 

For the record, we’ve only just passed the 24-hour mark at this point. 

The Big One

As this was happening one of the largest ever protests seen in the UK was gathering around Trafalgar Square - around 100,000 people.

Rather than go over al the grand speeches and guest speakers, we’ll just give you what you really want - the most British protest signs.

There was also a fine selection of doggos.

The Lesson In The Basics From The Queen

Later on Friday afternoon Trump arrived at Windsor Castle where the Queen literally had to teach him how to walk in a straight line.

Speaking to Piers Morgan aboard Air Force One later on, Trump said: ”“The Queen is fantastic!

“She’s a fantastic woman; so much energy and smart and sharp. She was amazing!”

The Queen has retained a stoic silence over the encounter.

Things calmed down slightly after this as Trump made his way to Scotland.

But while the protestor numbers may have been smaller, the levels of ingenuity on display were superb.

The banner read Trump Well Below Par and was revealed shortly after the US president arrived at the Ayrshire hotel.

The pilot was later arrested and charged by police although he’s presumably lucky not to have been sniped to death by them instead.

Meanwhile in London a small rally in support of Trump and the jailed Tommy Robinson attracted the likes of this chap who after being asked to explain something simple instead chose to call a reporter a “slag”.

 DAY 3

Golf.

 

DAY 4

More golf.

 

Your turn Putin.


15/07/2018 07:31 PM
France Win The World Cup And Emmanuel Macron Is Absolutely Loving It

France have won the World Cup and the country’s president has made no attempt to conceal his joy.

Emmanuel Macron, elected last year with two-thirds of the vote, was captured celebrating in this spectacular picture as France beat Croatia 4-2 to win their second title.

Social media seized on the shot.

Here are some of the other pictures that summed up the Macron mood during the game, with Croatia’s President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic sat close by.

After the game, US President Donald Trump, heading to Finland for talks with Vladimir Putin, tweeted his congratulations to the Russian President and Russia for putting on a “truly great” World Cup.

Putin was watching the game alongside Macron and Fifa president Gianni Infantino.

As the heavens opened in Moscow, only Putin appeared to have been afforded an umbrella to shield himself from the downpour. 

Not that Macron appeared to care much about the soaking.

It was a game that seemed to have been marked by iconic imagery.

Pussy Riot claimed responsibility for the four pitch invaders who disrupted the final just after Croatia’s goalkeeper saved a Kylian Mbappe shot in the 51st minute.

The women of Pussy Riot, a Russian punk rock group, rose to global prominence with their daring outdoor performances critical of Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2012 that sent two members to prison for nearly two years.

Before being hauled away, one woman managed to reach the centre of the field and share a double high-five with France forward Kylian Mbappe, who had a shot saved a minute earlier. 

“Hello everyone from the Luzhniki field, it’s great here,” the group said on Twitter, and released a statement calling for the freeing of political prisoners, an end to “illegal arrests” of protesters and to “allow political competition” in Russia.


15/07/2018 06:12 PM
Wanstead Flats Blaze: Huge Grassland Fire In East London Tackled By More 200 Firefighters
Images from a police helicopter showing smoke rising from the scorched Wanstead Flats in east London.

More than 225 firefighters are tackling a large grass fire in east London, which has led to huge plumes of smoke being seen across the capital.

London Fire Brigade sent 40 fire engines to the blaze, on Wanstead Flats near Stratford, just after 4pm after receiving more than 110 calls.

Police warned people to avoid the area in Epping Forest due to “very heavy smoke” coming from the “tinder-dry” grasslands.

The fire service said there was no immediate risk to life or property from the blaze despite around 100 hectares of grass - or one square kilometre - being alight.

Images posted on social media show big orange flames and thick plumes of grey smoke that were visible for miles around.

London Fire Brigade’s group manager Rob Davies, who is at the scene, said: “Keep windows and doors shut, a lot of smoke is drifting across roads and while there is no immediate threat to property you should avoid the area if you can

“Crews are working very hard at the scene and are using a variety of hose reels, water packs but also beaters to tackle the fire.”

Fire engines from stations including Walthamstow, Leytonstone and Hainault stations are involved. 

Images from a police helicopter showed smoke rising from the scorched field.

Metropolitan Police from a ward neighbouring the fire tweeted: “Very large fire on the tinder-dry #WansteadFlats. Very heavy smoke will affect roads in the area.”

This is a breaking news story and will be updated. Check back for the fullest version. Follow HuffPost UK on Twitter here, and on Facebook here.


15/07/2018 06:03 PM
'Put Up!' Tories Wait For Boris Johnson To Make His Next Move In A Crunch Week For Theresa May
Westminster is waiting to see what Boris Johnson does next

Theresa May faces one of her most difficult weeks as Prime Minister as Tory MPs opposed to her Brexit plans step up their efforts to change her policy.

In a critical few days for May, hard Brexiteer Tory MPs will have the chance to make wrecking amendments to the Trade Bill which could restrict her negotiations with Brussels.

More than 100 MPs are now part of a WhatsApp group run by former Brexit Minister Steve Baker, which will be used to coordinate rebellions against the Government, according to the Telegraph.

HuffPost UK understands former Brexit Secretary David Davis is planning to make his first Parliamentary contribution since quitting Cabinet last Sunday in the debate on the Bill, most likely on Monday.

But most attention is likely to be on the former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who could use a resignation statement to the Commons to launch a direct challenge to May’s leadership.

Such a move would be reminiscent of the events which saw Margaret Thatcher booted out of Downing Street by her MPs in 1990, when outgoing Deputy Prime Minister Geoffrey Howe delivered a damning speech from the backbenches. 

Thatcher was out of office within three weeks.

Theresa May launched a defence of her Brexit plan on Sunday, but saw further resignations from Government.

Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show on Sunday, May refused to explicitly say whether she would contest a leadership contest, instead claiming she was “in this for the long term.”

Mansfield MP Ben Bradley, who quit as a Tory vice-chairman last week in protest at the Brexit plans, urged the PM to change her stance.

He told HuffPost UK:It’s important that we all try to lay out the alternative Brexit vision this week, the big guns like Boris and DD have a big role to play in doing that, and we have to try to change the policy.

“If the PM is willing to listen and we can find a direction that delivers what was promised, then we won’t have to have all these conversations about leadership.”

But it is not just May who is under pressure.

Johnson, who helped lead the successful Vote Leave campaign in the referendum, is facing calls from both sides of the Brexit debate to finally set out his vision for the negotiations with Brussels.

One Remain-backing former minister had a simple message for Johnson.

“Put up,” they told HuffPost UK.

One Tory Brexiteer told HuffPost UK they were worried Johnson’s intervention could be “nuclear”, while another said the former Mayor of London had backed himself into a corner.

The senior Tory source said: “If he stands up and tries to calm it all down, people will ask why did you resign? Or if he doubles down and does a Geoffrey Howe, he can hardly then say to the PM she’s got his full support.”

The MP said the only way Johnson could not cause an incident is by “making that statement so bland and saying ‘I hope I’m wrong’.”

Geoffrey Howe's resignation statement in 1990 sparked the end of Margaret Thatcher's premiership

If Johnson does issue a call to arms and present an alternative vision for the Brexit negotiations, it could prompt more resignations from Cabinet.

The Sunday Times has reported that Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey and International Development Penny Mordaunt are both considering with to quit in protest at May’s Brexit plan.

In order to trigger a vote of no confidence in May, 48 Tory MPs need to send in letters to the chair of the Conservative backbench committee, Sir Graham Brady.

It is not known how many letters have already been submitted, but last week North West Leicestershire MP Andrew Bridgen went public with his call for May to go and it is rumoured the number is already in the 40s.

Even if a vote of no confidence is triggered, those wishing to oust May would need to get a majority of MPs to back getting rid of the PM – although if a sizeable minority want her gone she may fall on her sword.

Under the party rules, May would be unable to stand in the subsequent leadership contest – meaning a new Prime Minister could be in place by the party conference in October.

Downing Street’s attempts to calm down fears May is delivering a ‘soft Brexit’ took another blow on Sunday when Foreign Office ministerial aide Robert Courts quit his role.

The MP for Witney – who replaced former Prime Minister David Cameron in the constituency – tweeted his resignation on Sunday afternoon, saying: “I have taken very difficult decision to resign position as PPS to express discontent with #Chequers in votes tomorrow. I had to think who I wanted to see in the mirror for the rest of my life. I cannot tell the people of WOxon that I support the proposals in their current form.” 

The resignation came as May’s closest advisor, Gavin Barwell, called a number of local Conservative associations on Sunday to offer reassurance to grassroots members.

But Downing Street’s attempts to quell any rebellion from the bottom-up may be undone by the actions of those at the top of the party.

Want to know what’s really going on with Brexit? Sign up for HuffPost UK’s Brexit Briefing - sent straight to your inbox every Thursday.  


15/07/2018 04:36 PM
Theresa May Hit By Another Resignation As Tories Threaten Revolt Over Her Brexit Plan

Theresa May has been hit by another resignation as Tory MPs continue to protest against her Brexit plans ahead crunch votes in the Commons.

Robert Courts has become the latest ministerial aide to quit the Government in protest at the Chequers plan, which has prompted criticism from hard Brexiteers.

The MP for Witney – David Cameron’s former seat – said on said on Twitter: “I have taken very difficult decision to resign position as PPS to express discontent with #Chequers in votes tomorrow.

“I had to think who I wanted to see in the mirror for the rest of my life. I cannot tell the people of WOxon that I support the proposals in their current form.”

The Prime Minister faces threats of Commons revolts this week by pro- and anti-EU MPs that risks undermining any chances of a deal with Brussels.

Last week, May was forced to reshuffle her top team after Boris Johnson quit as Foreign Secretary, David Davis resigned as Brexit Secretary and Steve Baker walked out as a junior Brexit Minister.

The next day, Mansfield MP Ben Bradley and Lewes MP Maria Caulfield  resigned as Vice-Chairs of the Conservative Party in opposition to the policy.

Earlier on Sunday, May warned Tory rebels they could be left with “no Brexit at all” unless they fall into line.

In an article for The Mail on Sunday, she called for MPs to take a “practical and pragmatic” approach rather than face a “damaging and disorderly” Brexit.

But ministers who quit the Government over her negotiating stance attacked the Prime Minister in other Sunday papers - with Davis accusing her of making an “astonishingly dishonest claim” that Brexiteers had not come up with an alternative to her plan. 

Baker claimed the Brexit Department was little more than a “Potemkin structure to [distract from] what the Cabinet Office Europe unit was doing for the Prime Minister.” 

Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show on Sunday morning, May hit back at the claims, saying: “Let me very clear that no department was cut out of these discussions. Discussions have been taking place for some considerable time…We have been discussing this option.”

Writing in the Mail on Sunday, May acknowledged some MPs had concerns about her plan for a “common rule book” with the EU for goods and customs traded within what she called a new “UK-EU free trade area”.

However, she insisted that she had yet to see a “workable alternative” to the proposals – agreed by the Cabinet at Chequers – that would ensure trade remained as “frictionless” as possible while avoiding the return of a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic.

“We need to keep our eyes on the prize. If we don’t, we risk ending up with no Brexit at all,” she said.

“I know there are some who have concerns about the ‘common rule book’ for goods and the customs arrangements which we have proposed will underpin the new UK-EU free trade area. I understand those concerns.

“But the legacy of Brexit cannot be a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland that unpicks the historic Belfast Agreement.

“It cannot be the breaking up of our precious United Kingdom with a border down the Irish Sea. And it cannot be the destruction of integrated supply chains and just-in-time processes on which jobs and livelihoods depend.”


15/07/2018 02:47 PM
Man Charged Over Donald Trump Fly-By Protest In Turnberry

A man has been charged in connection with an incident where a paraglider flew over Donald Trump’s Turnberry resort in Scotland and unfurled a protest sign.

The banner read Trump Well Below Par and was revealed shortly after the US president arrived at the Ayrshire hotel on Friday.

Police Scotland said in a statement: “Police Scotland can confirm that a 55-year-old man has been arrested and has now been charged in connection with an incident when a powered parachute was flown in the vicinity of the Turnberry Hotel around 9.45pm on Friday 13 July 2018.”

He is expected to appear at Ayr Sheriff Court on Monday and a report will be submitted to the Procurator Fiscal.

The force earlier said the incident was being treated as a breach of the air exclusion zone that was in place.

 

The president and his wife Melania are staying at the Turnberry resort this weekend during a private leg of their visit to the UK, after Trump had meetings with Theresa May and the Queen.

The US played golf at his Turnberry resort on Sunday morning as police announced they had arrested a man in connection with an aerial protest at the hotel.


15/07/2018 01:49 PM
Nigel Farage Interviewed Steve Bannon And It Caused Quite A Ruckus

Steve Bannon, the far-right’s favourite former White House aide, has said Tommy Robinson is “the backbone” of the UK and that middle England must “fight to take your country back, every day”.

He added: “This is war.”

The doom-laden interview was conducted by Bannon’s close friend and political ally, Nigel Farage during his show on LBC on Sunday.

The broadcaster’s political editor, Theo Usherwood, was also present and tweeted of an expletive-laden off-air exchange made after the programme.

Bannon appears to have severely misjudged the mood of the nation as the recent protests against Donald Trump suggest most people in the UK don’t agree with the brand of politics Bannon was instrumental in installing in the White House.

In contrast to the hundreds of thousands present at anti-Trump demos, only around 2-3,000 took to the streets to protest the recent jailing of Tommy Robinson.

But Bannon said that he didn’t think Tommy Robinson was “a bad guy” and he thinks “he’s got to be released from prison”.

Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Christopher Yaxley-Lennon, was locked up in May after he filmed people involved in a criminal trial and broadcast the footage on social media.

The footage, lasting around an hour, was watched 250,000 times within hours of being posted on Facebook.

The far-right activist was given 10 months for contempt of court, which he admitted, and a further three months for breaching a previous suspended sentence.

Farage’s interview with Bannon prompted may to complain to LBC, accusing it of “normalising fascism”.

Fellow LBC journalist, James O’Brien, also tweeted his displeasure at Farage’s continued employment.

In a similar vein, last week fellow-Trump pal Piers Morgan was heavily criticised for his interview with Bannon.

Piers - who doesn’t usually appear on ‘GMB’ on Fridays, but made a special exception - sat down with Steve Bannon, and as you can see from this clip, allowed him to speak for a full 40 seconds about Brexit, Trump and “elitism”.

This was in stark contrast to an interview with journalist Ash Sarkar earlier in the week to talk about the anti-Trump demonstrations taking place during the POTUS’s first UK visit.

In a clip posted on the official ‘GMB’ Twitter page, Piers waited just six seconds before interrupting his guest. 


15/07/2018 12:32 PM
Sunday Show Round Up: Theresa May Fights Back Over Brexit

The Sunday shows were dominated by Brexit, and here is all you need to know from more than four hours of programmes.

May Defends Her Brexit Plans

Theresa May sat down for what was a rare live interview on Sunday morning, with Andrew Marr given the opportunity to grill the PM on her Brexit plans.

There seemed to be five key moments in the 20 minute chat.

1) May admitted she changed her Brexit position because the EU weren’t budging.

“If we’re going to find something that was in Britain’s interest, that delivered on the referendum and that was negotiable – we had to make, what is a compromise but is a positive in terms of the benefits that it gives us,” she said.

2) May hit back at claims from now ex-Brexit ministers David Davis and Steve Baker that their department was kept out of the loop on the white paper.

She said: “I’ve been talking with David Davis about the approach we should be taking for some time.”

3) May was repeatedly unable to say a hard border wouldn’t go up between Northern Ireland and Ireland if the UK diverged from the common rulebook.

4) Donald Trump told May to sue the EU

Because of course he did.

5) May said she was “in this for the long term”, but would not explicitly commit to standing in a future leadership contest if one was triggered.

Tories Turn On Each Other

With the PM having had her say, it was left to other players in this Tory civil war to man their respective barricades.

Jacob Rees-Mogg, one of the most high profile and unforgiving hard Brexiteers, told the BBC’s Sunday Politics that Theresa May “is a Remainer who has remained a Remainer.” 

He said May’s acceptance of the EU position on common rules is a “hopeless way to negotiate.”

Foreign Office Minister Alan Duncan was sent out to bat on behalf of the Government, and on appearances on Sky News’ Ridge on Sunday and BBC Radio 5Live’s Pienaar’s Politics he delivered some forthright statements.

Labour Is Playing A Waiting Game

May received support from an unlikely source on Sunday, with Labour Brexiteer John Mann backing her Chequers agreement and chastising Rees-Mogg and his followers.

Mann said leaving on World Trade Organisation terms would lead to “decimation of the car industry and the aerospace industry.” 

Mann also warned that Jeremy Corbyn would “lose the working class vote” if he backed another referendum on the UK’s relationship with the EU.

Labour Deputy Leader Tom Watson was much more open to the idea of a ‘People’s vote’, telling Ridge: “To take that off the table completely when there might be a set of circumstances where Parliament cannot deliver a meaningful vote would be a mistake, but we don’t want that.” 

 Appearing on Marr, London Mayor Sadiq Khan was seemed to hint he too would back a second vote, but only if the choice was between staying in the EU and ‘no deal’.

On the Chequers Agreement more broadly, Watson said “it’s not good enough for us yet”, and went as far as agreeing with Johnson, Davis, and Baker that the customs plan was “unworkable”.

Watson also made a vow for England launch a bid to host the 2030 World Cup if Labour got into government.

Found this in any way useful? Sign up for HuffPost UK’s Brexit Briefing - sent straight to your inbox every Thursday. 


15/07/2018 11:54 AM
UK Weather Forecast: The Legend Of St Swithin’s Day* Means You Might Roast For Weeks
A man sits on the sand of a beach revealed by a low tide of the River Thames.

England and Wales are set for a dry sunny Sunday with temperatures soaring as high as 32C (89.6F), while heavy rain will fall in parts of Scotland and much of Northern Ireland.

And if the legend of St Swithin’s Day is to be believed this could dictate the weather for the next few weeks.

The weather myth states that if it rains on July 15, wet weather will persist for 40 days and 40 nights.

So while people in England and Wales are in for a glorious dry summer those in Scotland and Northern Ireland might not be so lucky.

But Met Office forecaster Rachael West allayed fears as she said people who have enjoyed a dry Sunday will probably see some showers over the next week, and vice versa.

“Certainly some changes in forecast over the next week, never mind the next coming 40 days. But if people want to believe in St Swithin’s Day then that’s up to them,” she joked.

St Swithin was an Anglo-Saxon bishop of Winchester, who died in AD862.

When he was made a saint in 971, his body was dug up and moved to an indoor shrine in the city’s cathedral.

Some writers claimed this outraged the heavens, causing rain to pour on the church and continue uninterrupted for 40 days.

But the Met Office said there had not been a record of 40 dry or 40 wet days following St Swithin’s Day since records began in 1861.

Ms West said some people are probably pleased to see the rain, especially those in Northern Ireland where there is a hosepipe ban.

Bookmaker Ladbrokes believe there is a 100/1 outside chance that rain will fall consecutively for 40 days and 40 nights, and Jessica Bridge from the bookie said: “We’re hoping and praying that the odds are on the money.

“While the heatwave may not last all summer, it looks like moderate temperatures and sunshine will instead of rainfall.”

Temperatures could potentially soar to 31C or 32C on Sunday and Monday, probably in the London area.

As the week goes on, it is expected to get a little cooler, and not as hot as it has been.


15/07/2018 11:30 AM
Sunday Train Timetable Chaos Blamed On Staff Watching World Cup And Sunbathing

Hundreds of trains were cancelled or delayed on Sunday amid staff shortages blamed on the World Cup and hot weather.

Great Western Railway (GWR), Northern and CrossCountry services were disrupted on Sunday as fewer train crews than normal agreed to work.

There was a chance that England could have been playing in the World Cup final at 4pm, until the team lost on Wednesday.

GWR issued a statement on Friday warning of disruption on Sunday because there would be a “significantly reduced number of available staff” due to factors including the World Cup final, the spell of warm weather and the start of the school holidays.

But a spokesman for the operator said on Sunday that more staff than expected have been available to work, meaning around 95% of services were running and 35 out of 850 were cancelled.

Full refunds are available for holders of Advance tickets, or passengers can use tickets on Monday instead.

Northern announced more than 170 services will be cancelled on Sunday.

The train operator said it is “likely” more services will be scrapped, with Cheshire, Lancashire and Greater Manchester faring the worst, and Yorkshire also affected.

A spokesman said “many Northern staff have made themselves unavailable for work” on Sunday.

Staff contracts mean they do not have to work Sundays if they provide seven days’ notice.

The Northern spokesman apologised and said: “Unfortunately we have so far had to cancel more than 170 services across our network and it is likely more will be cancelled as we continue to plan our services.”

CrossCountry trains were also disrupted due to a shortage of conductors.

Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham and his Liverpool counterpart Steve Rotheram recently criticised Northern for causing “extreme chaos” on networks for “far too long”.

Hundreds of services have been cancelled by the operator, Thameslink and Great Northern since departure schedules were modified on May 20.

Thameslink and Great Northern introduced a third new timetable in two months on Sunday.

The latest change will still see some services cancelled in advance, but rail bosses hope the number of on-the-day cancellations will be reduced.

An interim timetable was introduced on June 4 which saw around 6% of daily services removed, but reliability continued to struggle.

Charles Horton, chief executive of Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) – parent company of Thameslink and Great Northern – announced his resignation.


15/07/2018 10:21 AM
Ewan Hope, Son Of Amesbury Novichok Victim, Calls On Trump To 'Get Justice For My Mum'

The grieving son of Amesbury Novichok victim Dawn Sturgess has called on Donald Trump to raise his mother’s death with Vladimir Putin.

The US president, who is on the last day of his visit to the UK, is due to meet the Russian leader in Helsinki on Monday.

Ewan Hope, 19, said he wants his mother’s killer, or killers, “to get what they deserve”.

“I don’t share Donald Trump’s politics and I’ll never be a supporter of his, but I would like him to raise mum’s case with the Russian president,” he told the Sunday Mirror.

“We need to get justice for my mum.”

The Government has blamed Russia for the failed nerve agent attack on former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury in March.

Sturgess, 44, and her partner Charlie Rowley fell ill in Amesbury, around eight miles from the Wiltshire city, on June 30.

It is believed they handled an item contaminated with the Russian-made chemical weapon.

Traces of the nerve agent were found in a small bottle in the Amesbury home of Rowley, 45, who remains in a serious but stable condition at Salisbury District Hospital.

Experts are trying to determine whether the Novichok that poisoned them was from the same batch used in the attempted murder of the Skripals.

Hope said he had been told it could be “weeks or even months” before he is able to bury his mother, who died on July 8.

Dawn Sturgess.

He told the paper police had informed him that the mother-of-three’s body is currently “property of the Crown”.

A post-mortem is scheduled to take place on Tuesday and an inquest into her death is set to open and adjourn in Salisbury on Thursday.

Search teams investigating the poisoning have recovered more than 400 exhibits, samples and items – with police warning that searches could last months.

Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu, national lead for Counter Terrorism Policing in the UK, described the process as “painstaking and vital work”.

Counter-terror detectives are trying to establish where the bottle came from and how it came to be in Rowley’s home.

The UK has invited experts from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to independently confirm the identity of the nerve agent.


15/07/2018 10:20 AM
'Sue The EU!' - Donald Trump's Brexit Advice To Theresa May Revealed

Donald Trump told Theresa May to “sue the EU” instead of entering into Brexit negotiations, the Prime Minister has revealed.

The US President made the suggestion – which he himself described as “brutal” – in order to help the UK get a good deal with Brussels.

There had been speculation that Trump had advised May to ask for more than she wanted in the negotiations, or even withhold the so-called ‘divorce payment’ for leverage in the talks.

But speaking on the BBC this morning, May revealed his advice was even more dramatic.

“He told me I should sue the EU,” she said, adding: “Not go into negotiations – sue them. Actually, no, we’re going into negotiations with them.”

Trump revealed he had given May advice on how to conduct the talks with Brussels during an at-times surreal press conference alongside the PM on Friday.

Speaking in the grounds of the Prime Minister’s official country residence of Chequers, the US President said: “I think she found it maybe too brutal - and that’s ok, I can see that - I gave her a suggestion, not advice. 

“I could fully understand why she thought it was a little bit tough

“Maybe someday she will do that, if they don’t make the right deal, she might very well do what I suggested - that she might want to do, but it is not an easy thing.”

While May was dismissive of Trump’s suggestion to launch legal proceedings against Brussels, she did highlight his concerns over ‘no deal’ with Brussels.

She said: “Interestingly, what the President also said at that press conference was ‘don’t walk away, don’t walk away from the negotiations because then you’re stuck’.”

May’s interview on The Andrew Marr Show on Sunday morning came as she fights to keep alive her plan for Brexit in the face of opposition from a number of Tory MPs.

David Davis, Boris Johnson and Steve Baker all resigned from Government last week over the plan, which would see the UK follow a common rulebook with the EU in goods and agri-foods.

They believe that would leave the UK as a ‘rule-taker’ from Brussels, and could thwart future trade deals with countries including the USA.

Davis, who quit as Brexit Secretary, used a Sunday Times article to accuse May of making an “astonishingly dishonest claim” that Brexiteers had not come up with an alternative to her plan.

Baker, who was a junior minister under Davis, claimed the Brexit Department was little more than a “Potemkin structure to [distract from] what the Cabinet Office Europe unit was doing for the Prime Minister.”

May hit back at those claims, telling Marr: “Let me very clear that no department was cut out of these discussions. Discussions have been taking place for some considerable time…We have been discussing this option.”

She added: “David Davis was discussing with Michel Barnier. Michel Barnier had made it clear to him the unnegotiability of the position that we had, so we had a choice.

“We could have said we’ll stick where we are and see what happens and risk actually ending up with a chaotic leaving, which I don’t think is in people’s interest.

“Or we could have said: ‘OK let’s look at moving forward, let’s look at an alternative proposal,’ which we have put forward.” 

 


15/07/2018 09:46 AM
Piers Morgan's Donald Trump Interview Shows The US President Didn't Quite Understand All The Protests

Donald Trump is putting a positive spin on the huge protests across Britain against his presidency, insisting there were ”many, many in my favour”.

SPOILER: There were not.

The US President was interviewed aboard Air Force One by Piers Morgan on Friday as 100,000 people took to the streets of London.

The centre of the capital was brought to a standstill by the anti-Trump marchers, a giant inflatable “Baby Trump” had attracted thousands in Parliament Square that morning and a nationwide “Carnival of Resistance” was being enjoyed by many more.

But it appears Trump was either not watching the wall-to-wall TV coverage closely or had been fed information by those around him designed to insulate his delicate ego.

In the interview published in the Mail on Sunday, Morgan reports the President as saying:

‘Some of them are protesting in my favour, you know that?’ he insisted. ‘There are many, many protests in my favour.’

HuffPost UK was at the protests on Friday and struggled to find any in support of Trump.

Around 10 people were engaged in debate around the Trump Baby...

And a small group had been corralled into a pub just off Trafalgar Square.

Meanwhile, the anti-Trump crowds were everywhere.

Pro-Trump rallies on Saturday don’t appear to have been anymore successful.

Morgan boarded Air Force One at Stansted Airport in Essex to speak with the US president and quizzed him on the Queen, Brexit and Kim Jong Un.

During the interview, Trump suggested he would run for a second term in 2020.

“Well I fully intend to [run in 2020]. It seems like everybody wants me to,” he was quoted in the Mail on Sunday as saying.

On the Queen, Morgan quoted Trump as saying: “The Queen is fantastic! She’s a fantastic woman; so much energy and smart and sharp. She was amazing! Such a wonderful lady and so beautiful! It was such an honour to finally meet her. To have a Queen like that is great.”

During the Queen’s 66-year reign there have been 13 American presidents – from Harry S Truman to Trump – and she has now met all of them barring Lyndon B Johnson.

Trump said his mother, Mary Anne Trump, who died in 2000 at the age of 88, was a “tremendous fan” of the Queen.

He said: “I was walking up and I was saying (to Melania) ‘Can you imagine my mother seeing this scene? Windsor. Windsor Castle.’ And it was beautiful, it was really beautiful but the Queen is terrific.

“She is so sharp, so wise, so beautiful. Up close, you see she’s so beautiful. She’s a very special person. And the way she’s conducted herself for so many years.”

He added: “And she’s got a lotta years left.”

Speaking of his historic summit with North Korea dictator Kim Jong Un, he said: “I get along with him great, yeah. He’s very smart, great personality, he’s funny and tough, good negotiator.”

Morgan’s interview with Trump airs on ITV’s Good Morning Britain at 6am BST on Monday.


15/07/2018 08:18 AM
Theresa May Threatens Tory Rebels With 'No Brexit At All'
Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May greets U.S. President Donald Trump at Chequers.

Theresa May has warned Tory rebels they could be left with “no Brexit at all” unless they fall into line.

The Prime Minister said threatened Commons revolts this week by pro- and anti-EU MPs risked undermining any chances of a deal with Brussels.

In an article for The Mail on Sunday, she called for MPs to take a “practical and pragmatic” approach rather than face a “damaging and disorderly” Brexit.

But ministers who quit the Government over her negotiating stance attacked the Prime Minister in other Sunday papers - with ex-Brexit Secretary David Davis accusing her of making an “astonishingly dishonest claim” that Brexiteers had not come up with an alternative to her plan. 

Steve Baker - a junior minister under Davis - claimed the Brexit Department was little more than a “Potemkin structure to [distract from] what the Cabinet Office Europe unit was doing for the Prime Minister.”

Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show on Sunday morning, May hit back at the claims, saying: “Let me very clear that no department was cut out of these discussions. Discussions have been taking place for some considerable time…We have been discussing this option.”

Writing in the Mail on Sunday, May acknowledged some MPs had concerns about her plan for a “common rule book” with the EU for goods and customs traded within what she called a new “UK-EU free trade area”.

However, she insisted that she had yet to see a “workable alternative” to the proposals – agreed by the Cabinet at Chequers – that would ensure trade remained as “frictionless” as possible while avoiding the return of a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic.

“We need to keep our eyes on the prize. If we don’t, we risk ending up with no Brexit at all,” she said.

“I know there are some who have concerns about the ‘common rule book’ for goods and the customs arrangements which we have proposed will underpin the new UK-EU free trade area. I understand those concerns.

 “But the legacy of Brexit cannot be a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland that unpicks the historic Belfast Agreement.

“It cannot be the breaking up of our precious United Kingdom with a border down the Irish Sea. And it cannot be the destruction of integrated supply chains and just-in-time processes on which jobs and livelihoods depend.”

Boris Johnson resigned as Foreign Secretary.

Her warning came as the Trade Bill returns to the Commons on Tuesday with rival amendments tabled by pro- and anti-EU Conservatives.

She said a series of “wrecking” changes backed by members of the pro-Brexit Tory European Research Group would put at risk the Government’s plans for a “no deal scenario”.

“This could lead to a damaging and disorderly Brexit because without this Bill passing we would not be able to retain the benefits of more than 40 existing trade arrangements; and neither will we have the means to protect consumers, industries and workers from being undercut by unfairly traded goods in a post-Brexit Britain,” she said.

She also warned the Government could not accept an amendment by pro-EU Tories which would keep Britain in a customs union with the EU after Brexit.

“This would be the ultimate betrayal of the Brexit vote. It would remove our ability to have an independent trade policy at all, conceding Britain’s role on the global stage as a force for free trade and endangering people’s jobs and livelihoods. This Government will never stand for that,” she said.

In practice, the Brexiteers stand little chance of success as Labour will not support them while it is unclear whether the pro-EU faction, who largely supported the Chequers plan, will press ahead with their amendment.

Baker said the Chequers plan was the work of an “establishment elite” bent on thwarting the EU referendum vote.

David Davis.

“It does appear to me that there has been a year’s worth of cloak and dagger to land us into the Chequers position,” he told The Sunday Telegraph.

“An establishment elite who never accepted the fundamental right of the public to choose democratically their institutions are working towards overturning them.

“We’re back to what civil servants wanted a year ago, the advice they were giving then, of something like the EEA (European Economic Area membership) plus something like the customs union.

“In terms of who ultimately holds the pen on the papers that go to Cabinet for collective decision, it has been the Cabinet Office’s Europe Unit, and they have clearly been operating to a different ultimate goal to the one what we were operating to.”

Davis meanwhile branded claims that there was no alternative to the Chequers plan as “astonishingly dishonest”.

Writing in The Sunday Times, he said the Cabinet had agreed “concessions to the EU that were so fundamental they risked undermining the whole Brexit process”.

He added: “None of this amounts to taking back control … some are saying that those on the other side of the argument have not worked out an alternative. This is an astonishingly dishonest claim.”


15/07/2018 08:18 AM
Theresa May Threatens Tory Rebels With 'No Brexit At All'
Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May greets U.S. President Donald Trump at Chequers.

Theresa May has warned Tory rebels seeking to wreck her blueprint to leave the EU that they could be left with “no Brexit at all” unless they fall into line.

The Prime Minister said threatened Commons revolts by pro- and anti-EU MPs risked undermining any chances of a deal with Brussels.

In an article for The Mail on Sunday, she called for MPs to take a “practical and pragmatic” approach rather than face a “damaging and disorderly” Brexit.

May acknowledged some MPs had concerns about her plan for a “common rule book” with the EU for goods and customs traded within what she called a new “UK-EU free trade area”.

However, she insisted that she had yet to see a “workable alternative” to the proposals – agreed by the Cabinet at Chequers – that would ensure trade remained as “frictionless” as possible while avoiding the return of a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic.

“We need to keep our eyes on the prize. If we don’t, we risk ending up with no Brexit at all,” she said.

“I know there are some who have concerns about the ‘common rule book’ for goods and the customs arrangements which we have proposed will underpin the new UK-EU free trade area. I understand those concerns.

“But the legacy of Brexit cannot be a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland that unpicks the historic Belfast Agreement.

“It cannot be the breaking up of our precious United Kingdom with a border down the Irish Sea. And it cannot be the destruction of integrated supply chains and just-in-time processes on which jobs and livelihoods depend.”

Boris Johnson resigned as Foreign Secretary.

Her warning came as the Trade Bill returns to the Commons on Tuesday with rival amendments tabled by pro- and anti-EU Conservatives.

She said a series of “wrecking” changes backed by members of the pro-Brexit Tory European Research Group would put at risk the Government’s plans for a “no deal scenario”.

“This could lead to a damaging and disorderly Brexit because without this Bill passing we would not be able to retain the benefits of more than 40 existing trade arrangements; and neither will we have the means to protect consumers, industries and workers from being undercut by unfairly traded goods in a post-Brexit Britain,” she said.

She also warned the Government could not accept an amendment by pro-EU Tories which would keep Britain in a customs union with the EU after Brexit.

“This would be the ultimate betrayal of the Brexit vote. It would remove our ability to have an independent trade policy at all, conceding Britain’s role on the global stage as a force for free trade and endangering people’s jobs and livelihoods. This Government will never stand for that,” she said.

In practice, the Brexiteers stand little chance of success as Labour will not support them while it is unclear whether the pro-EU faction, who largely supported the Chequers plan, will press ahead with their amendment.

May’s intervention came as former Brexit minister Steve Baker, who quit over the Chequers plan along with Boris Johnson and David Davis, said the proposal was the work of an “establishment elite” bent on thwarting the EU referendum vote.

David Davis.

“It does appear to me that there has been a year’s worth of cloak and dagger to land us into the Chequers position,” he told The Sunday Telegraph.

“An establishment elite who never accepted the fundamental right of the public to choose democratically their institutions are working towards overturning them.

“We’re back to what civil servants wanted a year ago, the advice they were giving then, of something like the EEA (European Economic Area membership) plus something like the customs union.

“In terms of who ultimately holds the pen on the papers that go to Cabinet for collective decision, it has been the Cabinet Office’s Europe Unit, and they have clearly been operating to a different ultimate goal to the one what we were operating to.”

Davis meanwhile branded claims that there was no alternative to the Chequers plan as “astonishingly dishonest”.

Writing in The Sunday Times, he said the Cabinet had agreed “concessions to the EU that were so fundamental they risked undermining the whole Brexit process”.

He added: “None of this amounts to taking back control … some are saying that those on the other side of the argument have not worked out an alternative. This is an astonishingly dishonest claim.”


15/07/2018 08:00 AM
'I Missed My Daughter's School Play': Dad-Of-Three Reveals How Sex Addiction Ruled His Life

Considering 1 in 25 people are thought to live with sex addiction, it’s still not widely known about.

“You mention the word sex and it sounds very seedy, like I’m putting a plastic bag over my head with an orange in my mouth wearing marigolds,” says Michael*, who lived with sex addiction for 15 years.

“But that’s not what it is. It’s an obsession to go and use. With an addiction it’s never enough.”

The World Health Organisation recently listed compulsive sexual behaviour disorder as a mental health condition, which led to some publications conflating the disorder with sex addiction. But they are actually two separate issues.

Compulsive sexual behaviour disorder sits within the broader issue of sex and love addiction. The latter is more about struggling to have healthy relationships, according to addiction treatment firm UKAT, while people with compulsive sexual behaviour disorder will specifically need to have sex to get their ‘high’. Because an inability to have healthy relationships is often at this root of sexual behaviour disorder - one essentially feeds the other.

*Michael’s name has been changed to protect his privacy.

Stock image.

For 43-year-old Michael, sex (particularly the build up to it) was his high. It stemmed from an unhealthy relationship with himself, which in turn impacted his relationships with those around him.

He has been in recovery for both sex and drug addiction for a decade now, since the age of 33, and it’s safe to say he’s come a long way since the days when he’d miss important family events in order to meet women and have sex. He can’t recall how many people he slept with during this time, but says quite often it was a different person a day.

“It wasn’t so much the act itself but the thrill of the chase,” he explains. “It’s like the anticipation of the coke dealer turning up rather than the taking of the coke. I needed people to need to be with me.”

He says ultimately “it was a need to be wanted or liked” that seemed to drive his addiction, fuelled by low self-esteem. He likens the feeling of getting that attention to using drugs: “Once I’ve got that and I’ve done that line, I need another line. [You’re] continually chasing that thing.”

Symptoms of compulsive sexual behaviour disorder:

:: Repetitive sexual activities become a central focus of the person’s life to the point of neglecting health and personal care or other interests, activities and responsibilities.

:: They undergo numerous unsuccessful efforts to significantly reduce repetitive sexual behaviour.

:: The repetitive sexual behaviour continues despite adverse consequences or deriving little or no satisfaction from it.

:: The pattern of failure to control intense, sexual impulses or urges (and resulting repetitive sexual behaviour) is manifested over an extended period of time - for example, six months or more.

:: It causes marked distress or significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.

Michael says the moment he realised something needed to change was when he missed a school play which his daughter starred in. “I made up an excuse,” he says. “I really wanted to see it, but the obsession to go and use - to go and meet somebody - was just on me. I was powerless over that.”

He was using work events as an excuse to go out and hook up with people too. A high-flying job in the insurance industry led to long lunches and time unaccounted for. “There were a lot of opportunities to meet people,” he says. “It was a difficult balancing act to find that perfect buzz. It’s contradicting emotions - it’s causing the pain but you’re always chasing it.”

The now 43-year-old, who is a father to three children, went into recovery aged 33. He says it wasn’t the cocaine or sex that made him realise he needed help, it was the constant lying to those he loved. But it was too late and just over four years ago he and his long-term wife separated. “The trust had gone. There’s only so much someone’s going to take,” he reflects. “As much as she loved me and I loved her, the trust had gone and I’d damaged the situation.

“I wasn’t comfortable in my own skin. That’s what this is about. You can’t have a relationship with somebody until you can have a relationship with yourself. If you’re lying to yourself, then how is that going to work?”

Eytan Alexander, founder of UKAT, which is a private treatment centre, says a lot of people with sex and love addiction might not recognise they have a problem because they tend to mask it with some form of substance abuse.

“When we treat our patients, and we really dig deep into the why they do what they do, we generally reveal their struggle with relationships, boundaries and respect,” he says. Treatment tends to involve a mixture of group therapy, individual counselling and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). At present it is not treated on the NHS, meaning most people have to seek help privately.

“Sex addicts will have huge egos but incredibly low self-esteem. They’ll be addicted to love but at the same time will avoid love,” he continues. “They’ll experience both sets of conflicting emotions at the same time which causes them real mental pain.”

In the past few years, Michael says he’s had far healthier relationships with women, however at present he’s single and in a good place. He has shared his story to encourage others to seek help. “Today I’m happy being alone, whereas before that would have been like turning around to an alcoholic and telling them they’re never going to drink again,” he says. 

“I feel grateful that I do not have to live a lie anymore.”

If you think you might have a sex addiction:
:: Call relationships charity Relate for details of Relate Centres that offer a sex addiction service.
:: Find details of a trained sex addiction therapist by visiting the Association for Treatment of Sex Addiction and Compulsivity website.
:: Access details of support groups at the Sex Addiction Help website.
:: Call UKAT’s free 24/7 confidential helpline on 0808 250 4523 (please bear in mind they are a private treatment centre).


15/07/2018 07:00 AM
Fortnite On Your iPhone Is Unlike Anything You've Played Before

Game of Phones: Every week I’ll pick a game for iOS or Android that’s perfect for long journeys, the commute or just when you want to switch off from the outside world.

Fortnite has grown beyond a level of popularity that I honestly thought was possible within video games. Football players are ‘flossing’ after their goals while kids are learning to do the ‘Scrubs’ dance.

The popularity of this game is down to a number of reasons, but I truly believe that one of them is that you can play it on an iPhone.

Through some form of what I can only assume is voodoo magic, Fortnite’s developers Epic Games have somehow ported over a near perfect version of the entire game onto your iPhone or iPad.

That means you can get on the train, load up Fortnite and explore the same vast island and see the same beautiful graphics that a moment ago were appearing on your TV running on your PlayStation 4. Just take a moment to consider that.

Yes, playing it is harder than if you were using a controller. What makes it really special though is it isn’t that much harder. Normally playing a game like this on a phone would be a clumsy, infuriating mess.

After just a few hours however you start to feel like you’re getting the hang of it and by the end of the week it has become second nature.

The game’s battle royale premise is simple: 100 players, one island and you battle it out till one person is left. To stop things feeling stale, Fortnite’s map and content are constantly evolving.

The game is based around seasons and much like TV shows, each season gets teased inside the game, leading up to a huge in-game moment when something big happens.

Season 5 started this week, and along with it the game has undergone some huge changes. A vast rift has appeared in the sky and start teleporting objects all over the place. Locations have disappeared, new ones have popped up and dotted around the island are tiny rifts that can teleport you from one side to the other.

Other new features include rifts that are now dotted randomly around the map. These little teleporting anomalies will send you across the map to another location.

There are now vehicles, or rather one vehicle, in the form of a hilariously OTT golf buggy that can hold you and three of your teammates.

This combined with the new shrinking game boundary makes the game faster, harder to master and ultimately leaves you feeling all the more satisfied when you actually win.

Ultimately what makes the game so addictive, and so compelling though is the way it makes money.

It’s completely free-to-play so technically you don’t have to spend a single penny to enjoy all of the things I mentioned above. Instead Fortnite makes money from all the cosmetic items (clothes, gliders, dance moves) that can be earned or bought from playing.

Each season comes with a new ‘Battle Pass’ that for around £10 gives you access to all of these cosmetic items as you level up. That’s not a huge amount of money and at no point did I feel like I was being pressured into spending it.

It’s this combination of a pressure-free environment with the game’s utterly addictive gameplay that makes it utterly unique as far as I’m concerned.

Fortnite is available to download for free on iPhone via the App Store.


15/07/2018 07:00 AM
What Works For Me: Author Matt Haig On Practising Yoga In His Kids' Bedrooms To Relieve Anxiety

In ‘What Works For Me’ - a series of articles considering how we can find balance in our lives - we talk to people about their self-care strategies. If you’d like to contribute your story, email us.

When things get too much for author Matt Haig, the dad-of-two will fire up his laptop, roll out his yoga mat and begin 20 minutes of stretching and deep breathing.

“If I’m in an anxious patch, I do it every day,” he says. “We’ve got two children and they’re both bad at getting to sleep, so we go into their room [he and his wife take it in turns] and my daughter will say, ‘daddy put on the yoga video’ because it helps her get to sleep. So I’ll be in the dark with the laptop, just doing yoga on the floor of their bedrooms.”

Sometimes the children will join in, other times they’ll drift off to the sound of meditation music. If Matt has been working late and is finding it hard to switch off, or is still feeling particularly anxious later that night, he will lie in bed with his legs in a diamond shape (also known as the reclining goddess pose) to try and settle his mind.

Haig has been incredibly open about his mental health over the years and his books have changed lives. The 43-year-old lives with depression and anxiety, and has written at length about his experiences which, in his early twenties, almost led him to take his own life.

Matt Haig with his wife Andrea and their two children. 

The author’s latest book ‘Notes On A Nervous Planet’ is a guide for staying sane in a world that’s constantly switched on. Released on 5 July, it details the numerous coping mechanisms that have helped him over the years, one of which is yoga. 

Matt says he practises it primarily for dealing with anxiety rather than getting fit. He doesn’t attend classes at his local gym, preferring instead to follow YouTube videos. “Yoga TX do a lot of videos,” he says. “I tend to use a lot of their stuff. It’s nothing strenuous but I notice when I’m on the brink of a patch of anxiety, just being religious about following these yoga videos in sequence calms me down.”

He says the best thing about yoga, for him, is the breathing. “My anxiety is linked to shortness of breath and getting a tight chest,” he explains, adding that yoga helps to “elongate your breathing or make you conscious about breathing in slowly”.

“Anxiety will tighten your chest, it’ll hunch your shoulders, and yoga reverses all that,” he adds. “With chest openers I feel the biggest release of tension.”

The author says child’s pose, pigeon pose and chest openers like camel pose really help. Leaning forward and grinning he tells me his favourite “show-off move” is the crow pose (where you balance on your hands with your feet off the floor). “That one doesn’t rely on flexibility - it’s just strength and I can do that,” he adds proudly.

Matt caveats that there are times when no amount of yoga has helped his mental health - and that’s OK. “It’s not made me worse, it just hasn’t made me any better,” he says. When you start to rely on one particular self-care strategy, it can be scary when it doesn’t work. “It’s like if you’ve been taking an antidepressant and then it suddenly stops working.” 

Five other self-care techniques Matt swears by:

:: Running

:: Limiting social media time

:: Limiting hours of work (especially of an evening) 

:: Going to bed before midnight

:: Not drinking alcohol on consecutive days.

On the whole, yoga has played a crucial part in helping him keep his head above water. He recognises that he will always have depression and anxiety but knows there are ways to better manage it. He has also overcome severe agoraphobia and, most recently, an overwhelming fear of speaking publicly to embark on a UK book tour. 

“It’s not simply the yoga moves themselves that help psychologically, it’s the fact I know it’s there,” he says. “When I first had anxiety and mental health issues, one thing that made me feel worse was that I felt like I had no defence from them - and I never knew why I was getting it.

“But over the years I’ve understood the relationship between the mind and the body - and one of the big things I write about in both my books about mental health is how the line that we draw between the body and the mind is like a false line. I think yoga is one of the things that bridges that.”


14/07/2018 08:50 PM
Business Minister Andrew Griffiths Resigns After Reports He Sent 'Depraved' Texts To Two Female Constituents

A Government minister has quit after reportedly sending “depraved” messages to two female constituents.

Andrew Griffiths is said to have bombarded a 28-year-old barmaid and her friend with lewd comments over social media during a three-week period.

He sent 2,000 messages in which he referred to himself as “Daddy”, suggested renting a flat so they could meet for sex and asked them to send him explicit photos, the Sunday Mirror reports.

The married father, who once worked as Theresa May’s chief of staff, resigned as minister for small business on Friday night.

In a statement he said he was “deeply ashamed” and was seeking “professional help to ensure it never happens again”.

Barmaid Imogen Treharne told the newspaper that, after meeting him online, the MP for Burton “didn’t want to speak to me about anything other than sex”.

She said: “I wanted him to be a nice guy, but by the end I felt dirty.

“I felt like I was being used for this wealthy man’s gratification.”

One of the messages printed by the newspaper read: “Take off the bra and panties … you’ve got Daddy in a frenzy.”

In a statement to the Sunday Mirror, Mr Griffiths apologised to “all those who put their trust in me and that I have let down so terribly”.

He said: “I am deeply ashamed at my behaviour which has caused untold distress to my wife and family, to whom I owe everything, and deep embarrassment to the Prime Minister and the Government I am so proud to serve.

“Following discussions today with the Chief Whip, I have referred myself to the Conservative Party’s code of conduct procedures. I entirely accept that pending this investigation it is right the whip is withdrawn.

“I do not seek to excuse my behaviour and will be seeking professional help to ensure it never happens again.”

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said Mr Griffiths had stepped down for “personal reasons”.

Elected in 2010, Mr Griffiths was appointed to the small business role in January, having been a Government whip from July 2016.

Among his activities as a minister, this year he led the Government’s response to findings of the Hampton-Alexander Review into gender equality at the top of business.

He also launched a campaign to encourage more fathers to take paternity leave.

In a statement to the Sunday Mirror, which said it would be publishing details of the texts, Mr Griffiths, a former chief of staff to Theresa May, apologised to his local Conservative Party and to his constituents in Burton.

“I am deeply ashamed at my behaviour which has caused untold distress to my wife and family, to whom I owe everything, and deep embarrassment to the Prime Minister and the Government I am so proud to serve,” he said.

“Following discussions today with the Chief Whip, I have referred myself to the Conservative Party’s code of conduct procedures. I entirely accept that pending this investigation it is right the whip is withdrawn.

“I do not seek to excuse my behaviour and will be seeking professional help to ensure it never happens again. In time I hope to earn the forgiveness of all those who put their trust in me and that I have let down so terribly.

“The Prime Minister and the Government she leads will continue to have my full support.”


14/07/2018 05:54 PM
British Teen Dies In Balcony Fall In Magaluf

A British teenager has died after falling from a balcony in Majorca, becoming the third Briton to die from a fall in the same resort this year.

The victim has been named locally as 18-year-old Thomas Channon, from Rhoose, Barry, in Wales.

Channon is understood to have fallen from a 65ft raised walkway at the Eden Roc apartment complex in Magaluf in the early hours of Thursday morning after becoming separated from his group on a night out.

It is believed he and friends had taken the trip to celebrate finishing their A-levels.

A spokesman for the Foreign Office said: “We are assisting the family of a British man who has died in Mallorca, and are in contact with the Spanish authorities.”

Last month 20-year-old Thomas Hughes, from Wrexham in north Wales, also died after falling from a walkway.

He was staying at a nearby hotel and investigators say he may have mistaken Eden Roc for his own accommodation.

In April, 19-year-old Natalie Cormack, from West Kilbride, Ayrshire, was killed while trying to climb from one balcony to another.

She had been working in a bar in the resort, and Spanish police believe she may have been trying to get in to her flat after forgetting her keys.


14/07/2018 05:18 PM
Novichok Poisoning Investigators Recover Over 400 Items
A police officer stands in front of screening erected behind John Baker House earlier this month.

Search teams investigating the Novichok poisoning of a couple in Wiltshire have recovered more than 400 exhibits, samples and items – with police warning that searches could last months.

The nerve agent was found in a small bottle in the Amesbury home of Charlie Rowley, 45, who along with partner Dawn Sturgess, 44, was exposed to the deadly substance last month.

Sturgess died while Rowley is seriously ill in hospital.

Experts are trying to determine whether the Novichok that poisoned them was from the same batch used in the attempted murder of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia.

Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu, national lead for Counter Terrorism (CT) Policing in the UK, described the process as “painstaking and vital work”.

Scientists at the nearby Defence, Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) at Porton Down confirmed the substance in the bottle is Novichok.

But further tests will be carried out to try to establish whether it is from the same batch that poisoned the Skripals in March.

Dawn Sturgess.

Scotland Yard said this “remains a main line of enquiry for the investigation team”.

Counter-terror detectives are trying to establish where the bottle came from and how it came to be in Rowley’s home.

On Saturday, the Met said more than 400 exhibits have been recovered as part of the Amesbury investigation, of which a “significant number are potentially contaminated” and have been submitted to DSTL labs for analysis.

The force also said searches are expected to continue “for several weeks, if not months”.

Protective equipment for each individual takes around 40 minutes to put on, and with the recent hot weather, temperatures inside the forensic tents have been reaching in excess of 40C, police said.

Once inside the scene, those carrying out the searches are limited to around 15-30 minutes working time before they have to exit due to the effects of heat and exhaustion.

Officers will be looking to identify any other potential sites or sources of contamination, as well as gathering further evidence.

Basu said: “It is not an exaggeration to say that the search process linked with both this and the Salisbury investigation has been one of the most complex and difficult that UK policing has ever faced.

“The work being carried out is extremely important. Not only are we trying to solve an extremely serious crime that has been committed, but we’re also working to identify any potential outstanding risks to the public; all whilst ensuring that all those involved in the search process are not themselves exposed to any risk of contamination.

“It is painstaking and vital work, which unfortunately takes a very long time to complete, but I am sure that the public understands why it is absolutely necessary.

“The scientists and forensic officers have all volunteered to be a part of the search teams, knowing that they are risking themselves to exposure to a deadly nerve agent. This shouldn’t be taken for granted and their bravery and dedication is remarkable.”

The UK has invited experts from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to independently confirm the identity of the nerve agent.

Sturgess, a mother of three, died in hospital on Sunday night having been exposed to Novichok.

A post-mortem is scheduled to take place on Tuesday and an inquest into her death is set to open and adjourn in Salisbury on Thursday.

Rowley, who regained consciousness this week, remains in a serious but stable condition in Salisbury District Hospital.

About 100 counter-terror detectives are working on the investigation along with officers from Wiltshire Police.

Investigators have spoken to Rowley and will speak to him again in a bid to find out how he and his partner were poisoned.

Public Health England reiterated its advice to members of the public and urged residents not to touch, or pick up, unfamiliar objects.


14/07/2018 04:57 PM
Ryanair Flight Depressurises In Mid-Air
File photo.

Oxygen masks were deployed on a Ryanair flight which was diverted due to the cabin becoming depressurised.

Some passengers on the Dublin to Croatia flight received medical attention when it landed in Frankfurt on Friday, with reports of a number of people taken to hospital.

The airline said there was a shortage of accommodation for passengers who had to wait until Saturday morning for another flight.

A passenger reported on Facebook that the air went cold and the oxygen masks dropped, adding that there was a “dive of 3000 metres in less than one minute”.

He said a lot of people complained about sore ears, but praised the pilots for doing an “excellent job”.

The Tagesspiegel newspaper reported that 33 passengers were taken to hospital, adding that Federal Police said passengers were complaining of “headache and earache and suffered from nausea”.

A Ryanair spokesman said: “This flight from Dublin to Zadar [July 13] diverted to Frankfurt Hahn due to an inflight depressurisation.

“In line with standard procedure, the crew deployed oxygen masks and initiated a controlled descent.

“The aircraft landed normally and customers disembarked, where a small number received medical attention as a precaution.

“Customers were provided with refreshment vouchers and hotel accommodation was authorised, however there was a shortage of available accommodation.

“Customers will board a replacement aircraft which will depart to Zadar this morning and Ryanair sincerely apologised for any inconvenience.”


14/07/2018 04:30 PM
Pro And Anti-Tommy Robinson Marches Clash In London

A union leader was attacked after speaking at a counter-protest to a rally in support of Donald Trump and jailed far-right leader Tommy Robinson.

Steve Hedley, senior assistant general secretary of the RMT, was assaulted by supporters of the US President and Robinson, according to anti-fascism campaigners Hope Not Hate, but the perpetrators could not be immediately verified independently.

Witnesses said a mob ambushed two men at the Westminster Arms pub in central London on Sunday afternoon in a targeted attack.

“They (the attackers) knew what they were doing,” one witness, who asked not to be named, said.

Smashed glass was strewn across the pavement outside the establishment on Storey’s Gate, and pictures showed Hedley with a bandaged head and bloodied face. 

Scotland Yard feared violence ahead of the rally in support of Trump during his visit and 35-year-old Robinson, who was jailed for 13 months for contempt of court after filming people involved in a criminal trial and broadcasting the footage on social media.

Both demonstrations were kept separate by police but scuffles broke out as some of the demonstrators met.

Twelve people have been arrested.

No official estimates of the number of attendees have been released but pictures posted on social media suggest both marches were in the low-thousands.

The ‘Free Tommy Robinson’ demonstration centred around Whitehall where activists applauded and cheered when a large cut out picture of Donald Trump was unveiled.

The few thousand strong group were made up of a handful who were on a “Welcome Trump” march and another larger one in support of a jailed far-right activist.

Both were dwarfed by the huge anti-Trump march that brought central London to a standstill on Friday as 100,000 people gathered in Trafalgar Square.

Some outside Downing Street waved “Britain Loves Trump” placards, wore Trump’s red Make America Great Again caps and cheered at mentions of the US leader, but the main focus was Robinson, real name Stephen Christopher Yaxley-Lennon.

The Metropolitan Police said Trump supporters were due to leave the US Embassy and meet Robinson fans on the way to Whitehall, but ordered both must depart Temple Place and follow a strict route after “serious violence” at a June 9 march resulted in five officers being injured.

A small group on Saturday breached the order by starting at the US Embassy, pictures on social media showed.

People stand in the road as supporters of English Defence League founder Tommy Robinson demonstrate in London.

Images also showed minor clashes between supporters and opponents in Parliament Square, and officers at the scene said cordons had been bolstered after breaches from the right-wing group.

The Met could not immediately comment on Hedley’s attack.

The force said a total of 12 people have been arrested as part of the demonstrations.

Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Christopher Yaxley-Lennon, was locked up in May after he filmed people involved in a criminal trial and broadcast the footage on social media.

The footage, lasting around an hour, was watched 250,000 times within hours of being posted on Facebook.

The far-right activist was given 10 months for contempt of court, which he admitted, and a further three months for breaching a previous suspended sentence.

Despite the legal justification for his imprisonment, speakers addressing the pro-Robinson crowd in London on Saturday continued to insist it was a freedom of speech issue and he was jailed for airing his opinions.

Also on Staurday, Reuters reported that Sam Brownback, the US Ambassador for International Religious Freedom, complained to the British ambassador in Washington DC about the treatment of Robinson.

Brownback raised the case of the activist known as Tommy Robinson in a June meeting with Sir Kim Darroch, Britain’s Ambassador to the United States, according to a British official and two sources close to the organisers of a pro-Robinson demonstration planned for London on Saturday.

Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, though he also uses other aliases, is a founder of the English Defence League, which has organised violent demonstrations against Islamic immigrants in the UK in the past decade.

More recently, Robinson has branded himself a journalist and campaigner against Islamic extremism, a move that won him contacts with American anti-Muslim activists.


14/07/2018 03:09 PM
Daily Mail Describes London Anti-Trump March As 'Rent-A-Leftie Mob'

The Daily Mail has described the 100,000-strong anti-Donald Trump march that brought the capital to a standstill on Friday as a “rent-a-Leftie mob” that “shames Britain”.

The newspaper also portrayed Jeremy Corbyn as the leader of the protests calling him a “pygmy” and insisting it showed “the worst” of the country to Trump during his controversial UK visit.

In what it describes as an “extraordinary day of contrasts” the Daily Mail instead made much of “the pomp” of the President’s visit with the Queen in Windsor.

Matt Zarb-Cousins, who used to work as Corbyn’s media spokesperson described the front page as a “spectacular self-own” and suggested the portrayal of the Labour leader was in fact positive.

It was a sentiment shared by many others.

Despite the Daily Mail’s positive spin on Trump’s meeting with the Queen, it didn’t quite go to plan.

The President ended up walking in front of Her Maj as he messed up a ceremonial inspection of the Guard of Honour.

At the same time, tens of thousands of protesters swarmed the streets of central London to protest during Trump’s first visit to the UK as US president.

Organisers of the Together Against Trump mass demonstration claimed they had been told by police that more than 100,000 protesters had joined the march by mid-afternoon.

And in Parliament Square a giant inflatable Donald Trump was the centre of attention for much of Friday morning.

It then travelled north where the 20ft inflatable was flown at a protest in Edinburgh

It prompted Trump to say it made him “feel unwelcome” in the city, on his second day of a four-day UK visit.

Campaigners confirmed the blimp will fly in the Meadows, where a protest march against the US presidents ends, from around noon.


14/07/2018 03:00 PM
The Boat That's Definitely Not Called Boaty McBoatface Has Launched

Sir David Attenborough has said he was “extraordinarily emotional” as he launched a polar research ship named after him into the water for the first time.

The 92-year-old broadcaster said the ship, which the public voted to call Boaty McBoatface but which was officially named the RRS Sir David Attenborough, could be key to the preservation of the planet as it was launched into the River Mersey from the Cammell Laird shipyard in Birkenhead.

Asked how he felt when he saw the ship enter the water, Sir David said: “It was an extraordinarily emotional moment. I’m surprised myself really.

“I’ve never seen a ship of that size get down a slipway and there was something very noble about it and very emotional. Irresistible.”

They even gave it a face - kind of.

Asked how he felt when he saw the ship enter the water, Sir David said: “It was an extraordinarily emotional moment. I’m surprised myself really.

“I’ve never seen a ship of that size get down a slipway and there was something very noble about it and very emotional. Irresistible.

“And, to think that it’s going to go to the other end of the globe and do such valuable work and carry so many people from this country who will be working to find out all they can about the working of our planet is a marvellous thought.

“I am more honoured than I can say that that wonderful hull has got my name on it.”

The £200m vessel, the largest civilian ship to be built in the UK for 30 years, is the most technically advanced survey ship ever built and will accommodate 60 scientists on research trips to Antarctica when completed.

Sir David said: “The perils facing this planet are far, far greater than they have ever been in its entire history, or at least since the end of the dinosaurs, certainly for the last few million years.

“There’s nothing to compare with the perils we are facing, not only in the scale but in the speed at which they are happening and of course we now know that we are responsible for a lot of these changes that are taking place.

“You have to know what they are before you know how you can fix them so this ship is going to be key to the future salvage of our plant or at least its preservation.”

More than 124,000 people voted to name the vessel Boaty McBoatface in a public poll, but that name was vetoed and it was instead named after the broadcaster.

However, Boaty lives on, in the form of a miniature, unmanned, yellow submarine on board the boat, which will be operated by the British Antartic Survey (BAS).

Sir David and Professor Dame Jane Francis, director of BAS, pressed the button to launch the vessel into the water in front of more than 2,000 shipyard workers, scientists, engineers and special guests, including Minister for Energy and Clean Growth Claire Perry MP.

In a speech ahead of the launch, Ms Perry said: “This ship will help us with the tools we need to understand what the world will look like if we let climate change run away and what we need to do to stop it.”

The ship was blessed by Bishop of Birkenhead Keith Sinclair before its launch and a field gun was fired by soldiers from the Royal Artillery 103 Regiment as it entered the Mersey.

Once in the water, tug boats pulled the ship into the wet basin where construction work will continue.


14/07/2018 01:11 PM
Trump's Ambassador Lobbied Britain On Behalf Of Jailed Right-Wing Activist Tommy Robinson, Report Claims
A Free Tommy Robinson rally is due to take place in London on Saturday

The US Ambassador for International Religious Freedom has reportedly complained to the British ambassador in Washington about the treatment of jailed right-wing activist Tommy Robinson. 

Reuters on Saturday reported that Sam Brownback had raised the case of Robinson - real name Stephen Yaxley-Lennon - in a June meeting with Sir Kim Darroch.

Robinson’s supporters are staging a demonstration in London today from 1pm, marching from Temple Place in Whitehall along a pre-set route, but are expected to meet Trump followers at the American Embassy in an event that will be heavily policed.

Scotland Yard said earlier this week that both events will be subject to a series of restrictions “due to concerns of serious public disorder and disruption to the community”.

Robinson was jailed for 13 months in May after using Facebook Live outside Leeds Crown Court to broadcast details of a child grooming trial, despite a court order banning it from being reported.

US Ambassador for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback

The 35-year-old’s imprisonment has sparked a rash of protests across the country, with one in London on June 9 leading to violent clashes between his supporters and police. Five police officers were injured at the rally and nine people were arrested.

According to Reuters, Brownback raised the jailing of Robinson during a meeting with Darroch that covered a range of “religious freedom issues”.

Brownback reportedly told Darroch that if Britain did not treat Robinson more sympathetically, the Trump administration might be compelled to criticise Britain’s handling of the case, Reuters said, quoting unnamed sources in contact with the organisers of today’s rally in support of Robinson. 

Demonstrators clash with police during an earlier Free Tommy Robinson rally in London on June 9

The sources said Robinson’s supporters, who have also been in touch with the Trump administration about the issue, were concerned that he could be attacked by other prisoners.

During one of Robinson’s previous incarcerations he claimed prison authorities had put his “life at risk” by putting him on a “wing full of Muslims”.

Reuters said it was unable to determine why Brownback would try to intervene with the British government on behalf of an activist who has expressed ant-Islamic views.

In November last year Donald Trump caused widespread outrage after re-tweeting three inflammatory anti-Islam videos spread by Britain First’s Deputy Leader Jayda Fransen.

Britain First has at times worked with Robinson, who founded the English Defence League and was a co-ordinator for Pegida UK. 

Robinson, real name Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, during his days as the leader of the English Defence League

Brownback, who is a former governor of Kansas and former US senator, was not available for comment.

However, on Thursday a US State Department spokesman said the “characterisations” of Brownback’s meeting with Darroch by Reuters sources were “completely false”.

The spokesman did not elaborate further.

The British Embassy did not comment.

Last week, the Middle East Forum, a Philadelphia group, said it was sponsoring and organising the “Free Tommy Robinson” demonstration in London in collaboration with British and European groups.


14/07/2018 11:50 AM
Thailand Cave Rescue Leader John Volanthen Describes 'Bittersweet' Mission
British cave-diver John Volanthen walks out from the Luang Nang Non Cave in northern Thailand during the rescue mission to free a football team and their coach

The man who led the expedition to free a young football team trapped in a cave in Thailand has downplayed the significance of the rescue mission that transfixed people around the world for 17 days. 

In his only solo interview, Briton John Volanthen was asked by the BBC if he would admit that the rescue was “remarkable”, but conceded only that, “I can see it was a first”.

The ‘Wild Boars’ and their coach were missing for nine days - since June 23 - in the Luang Nang Non Cave in northern Thailand before they were discovered by Volanthen and fellow Briton, Rick Stanton.

The last of the boys was freed on July 10 and they are expected to be discharged from hospital on Thursday. 

Volanthen told the BBC of the moment he found the boys, saying that a lot of media reports had suggested that it was through “luck” which was “absolutely not the case”.

Volanthen said due to the size of the young boys he was concerned “how well they’d hold up in the journey”.

“Alive in a cave and alive outside of a cave are different things,” he said. 

The rescuer told of carrying the children out of the cave like a “shopping bag”.

“Some times you would hold it close to your chest if the passage was narrow and deep. If the passage was low and wide you’d hold it to the side,” he said. 

Volanthen said the death of Thai Navy SEAL Saman Kunan, who died while replenishing oxygen canisters along the escape route, made the rescue “bitter sweet”.

 “It is a shame with the rescue being so successful... that adds a bittersweet flavour. It was a tragedy.”

Footage showing one of the young boys being rescued from the caves

After landing at Heathrow Airport on Thursday, Volanthen spoke of the “relief” he felt at seeing the boys brought to safety in an equally humble way. 

“We were very pleased and we were very relieved that they were all alive but I think at that point we realised the enormity of the situation and that’s perhaps why it took a while to get them all out,” he told Sky News.

He added: “We are not heroes. What we do is very calculating, very calm. It’s quite the opposite.”

After arriving back in the UK, fellow British diver, Rick Stanton denied he was a hero saying that he was simply using a “very unique skill set” to “give something back to the community”.

“Are we heroes? No, we were just using a very unique skill set, which we normally use for our own interests and sometimes we are able to use that and give something back to the community,” he said.

“That’s what we did.”

Stanton told reporters at a press conference: “This was completely uncharted, unprecedented territory and nothing like this has been done. So, of course there were doubts.

The boys are expected to be discharged from hospital on Thursday

“I knew that we had a good team, with good support from the Thai authorities, the caving community and rescue organisations, so we had the best we could do to make a plan work.”

Stanton would not describe how his team rescued the children, describing it as “too detailed for this point in time”.

“The most important thing to have was a full face mask which had been applied inside with positive pressure to enable them to breathe and to be relaxed enough so not to feel any anxiety during the process,” he said.

“There was a lot of chaos but we were so task-orientated, focused and we blanked that out and carried on with the job in hand, step by step, until we achieved success.”


14/07/2018 10:09 AM
Donald Trump Waves At Protesters As He Enjoys Round Of Golf At Turnberry
US President Donald Trump waves to protesters as he enjoy a round of golf as Turnberry

Donald Trump on Saturday waved to protesters as he enjoyed a game of golf with his son Eric at his Turnberry resort in Scotland. 

The US president, who was surrounded by an entourage, was playing on the Alisa course - one of two at the resort - which was surrounded by police today in an attempt to keep demonstrators at bay.

Trump looked unfazed by crowds chanting “No Trump, no KKK” as he stopped his round briefly to acknowledge them.

Trump arrived in Scotland on Friday evening after completing his two-day “working trip” and will spend the weekend at his resort with wife Melania.

Trump’s leisure time came after he and Melania dined with the Queen, something the First Lady tweeted about on Saturday, writing:  “It was an honor to meet and have tea with Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. @POTUS and I enjoyed the visit and her company very much!”

Trump’s arrival in Scotland was marked with an aerial protest by a Greenpace activist on Friday who used a powered parachute to stage a fly-by of Turnberry calling the American leader out for being “well below par”.

 

Police were going to extraordinary lengths to keep demonstrators away from Trump with large cordons in place around the resort today.

Some protesters were said to be attempting to swim around the cordon early this afternoon. 

No-parking traffic cones lined the road into Turnberry on Saturday from Maybole, a small Ayrshire village about seven miles away from the luxury resort. 

A group of protesters, including members of Common Weal, were stationed on the road where it was diverted away from the resort. 

Corrie Wilson, a life coach told HuffPost UK: “We wanted to be where everyone would see us, including Trump. He’s sexist, he’s a misogynist and he is locking up children.”

The group’s protest included a mock up cage with baby dolls tied to it.

Trump protesters outside Turnberry resort on Saturday

Tracy Harvie, a nurse from Ayr, said: “We are local and we want to be heard. We have cared about Turnberry all our lives. It doesn’t belong to him.

Elizabeth Firth, retired healthworker, also from Ayr, added: “I would echo that. The heart of the protest is here because he is physically here. We hope so much that Trump sees us.

“I would say there are far more thumbs up and positive tooting of the horns as they go by.”

Nicole Witnar-McKay, who moved to Scotland from Oregon, joined protesters on Saturday while dressed in Handmaid’s Tale outfits, along with her 4-year-old daughter Abigail and husband Edward.

Explaining her choice of costume, Witnar-McKay said: “I’m dressed as a Handmaiden today specifically because I am concerned with the way it is going.”

She said she was concerned with the rights of women and children being “stripped away”. 

“Whether those rights belong to immigrants or US citizens it doesn’t matter, it’s that they are being stripped away. I am a former defence contractor and a Republican. I am still a Republican but right now my heart is broken and I cannot return to my country while Trump is president.”

Not everyone in Turnberry, however, was against Trump. 

Bill McGibbon, 74, who had union jacks and the American flag in his garden, was keen to defend the US President. 

He told HuffPost: “Everybody has a different opinion. I like what Mr Trump is doing for the United States. He is trying to help people. I don’t think he is what they make him out to be. They say he is a warmonger but what about the Tony Blairs and the rest of them.

Trump supporter Bill McGibbon

“I grew up in a socialist family in the east end of Glasgow when morals and ethics were important. I think Trump is trying to bring that back for the States. We have lost it in Britain.

“Scotland is for the Scots. China is the Chinese. I’m fed up with all this integration and if Donald wants to say that about America then it’s up to POTUS. I’m fed up of the erosion of the UK, especially in Scotland.”

Thousands of people are expected in Edinburgh for a “Carnival of Resistance” in the Meadows area of the capital.

The carnival will feature the giant Trump Baby balloon that was the centrepiece of the London protests on Friday. 

The balloon was banned from both Turnberry and Holyrood.

Campaigners will also gather outside the Trump International Golf Links in Balmedie, Aberdeenshire, on Saturday, and it is predicted there could be further demonstrations at Turnberry.

Shortly before midday the Press Association reported that more than 100 protesters had gathered outside Trump International Golf Links.

Speakers rallied demonstrators who waved Mexican and CND flags and carried placards with slogans including “Britain Says No to Trump” and “Trump not Welcome Here”.

Passing motorists sounded their horns while half a dozen police officers stood at the entrance to the Menie Estate, where Mr Trump opened his first Scottish golf course in 2012.

Bus-loads of Scots filled George Square in Glasgow on Friday ahead of Trump’s arrival in Scotland.

A Greenpeace protester is being investigated by police for this fly-over demonstration at Trump's Turnberry resort

The president and his wife Melania waved as they left Air Force One shortly after arriving at Prestwick, before being taken away in a huge convoy of black vehicles for the 20-mile journey to Turnberry.

Scottish Secretary David Mundell greeted the president at Prestwick and said: “(Mr Trump) said he had been in Scotland many times and was very pleased to be here as president.

“He obviously feels very strongly about his mother’s Scottish heritage and he’s looking forward to playing golf at Turnberry and is hopeful that the weather will be conducive to that.”

Ahead of his arrival at Turnberry police snipers were positioned on tiers of temporary scaffolding overlooking the golf course, with a large number of other officers patrolling the grounds and surrounding area, the BBC reported.

Police patrol at the Turnberry resort in South Ayrshire, where Trump and first lady Melania are spending the weekend

At the end of the protests, Police Scotland Assistant Chief Constable Mark Williams said: “The weekend’s planned protests have now concluded.

“Around 2,000 people were in Glasgow and approximately 250 were in Dundee on Friday evening, a further 9,000 marched and took part in a rally in Edinburgh today.

“The detailed planning which took place in advance meant the events passed without incident and I would like to thank everyone who took part for their good behaviour.”

The force confirmed there were no arrests during the rallies.

The main focus of Trump’s UK visit was meeting with the Prime Minister on Friday, which took place in the wake of an explosive newspaper interview in which he said Theresa May’s Brexit plans would kill off a trade deal with America and Boris Johnson would be a “great prime minister”.

At a press conference later in the grounds of the PM’s country residence, Trump insisted he “didn’t criticise” May, hit out at “fake news” and hailed UK-US relations as the “highest level of special”. 

Trump’s meetings took place as 100,000 protesters staged demonstrations across the UK.

Trump is due to leave Scotland on Sunday, when he will travel to Finland ahead of talks with Russian president Vladimir Putin.


14/07/2018 09:17 AM
Michael Bublé Makes Emotional Return To Stage In London Following Son’s Cancer Diagnosis

Michael Bublé was back on stage in London on Friday night - the first time he’s performed a live show since his son was diagnosed with cancer two years ago.

The Canadian singer topped the bill at Barclaycard Presents British Summer Time in Hyde Park, and his four-year-old son Noah, who has beat the disease, was there to watch his dad perform.

Michael Buble performs live at Barclaycard present British Summer Time Hyde Park at Hyde Park.

The 42-year-old star told the sell-out crowd that he’d been worried about returning to the stage - after joking about the torrential downpour that had soaked the audience.

“This is exactly how it was in my mind. I shit you not,” he said.

He added: “It’s been two years since I’ve been on stage, and like any human of course I worry that whatever I had at one point might have gone.

“But after two songs, I’m even better than before.”

He also paid tribute to his fans for their love and support.

He said: “There are no words for how much love, affection, gratitude, that I have in my heart on behalf of myself, my family, for your love, for your prayers, for your support.

“I want to thank you not only for tonight, but for every night, for everything you’ve done for me. Each one of you has made such a difference in my life.”

His fans got a soaking.

And the crooner is evidently a bit of a reality TV fan, as not only did he name-check ‘Love Island’, but he had former ‘TOWIE’ star Megan McKenna supporting him.

“This isn’t a concert, this is Love Island…. and just like Love Island, incredibly sophisticated people are going to come together to connect, to meet…. and maybe do it in a swimming pool,” he joked.

A post shared by Michael Bublé (@michaelbuble) on

Michael and his actress wife Luisana Lopilato cancelled all work commitments after Noah was diagnosed with liver cancer in 2016.

The singer previously spoke of the “hell” he and his family had been through since Noah’s diagnosis.

Talking to the Herald Sun, the ‘Feeling Good’ singer said: “You know what? Hell seems like a really nice place to vacation compared to where we’ve been.

“I’ve been to hell. I don’t talk about the whole story, not even to my friends because it hurts too much

“It’s my boy. He’s a superhero, he doesn’t need to relive it over and again. But I’ve been to hell.”

Michael and his wife are currently expecting a baby girl. The couple already have Noah, and another son, Elias, who was born in January, 2016.


14/07/2018 09:12 AM
Donald Trump Told He Is 'Well Below Par' By Greenpeace Activist In Fly-Over Protest Being Investigated By Police

Police are investigating after a Greenpeace protester used a powered parachute to let Donald Trump know exactly what they thought of his performance as US president.

Dragging a sign reading, ‘Trump well below par #resist’, the protester flew over Trump’s five-star Turnberry resort where the American leader and his wife Melania are spending the weekend. 

Despite extensive efforts to keep demonstrators away from Trump, footage of the fly-over appears to show the billionaire being ushered inside on Friday evening as the pilot entered the no-fly zone.

Environmental campaign group Greenpeace shared a video of the incident, captioning it: “Watch as @realDonaldTrump tries to hide from our message flying right over his head.” 

Police Scotland confirmed on Twitter that they are aware of the incident and are investigating as it is a “criminal offence to fly within the airspace restriction zone”.

Greenpeace said officers at the perimeter were informed of the “fly-past” before it happened.

The group also called the police’s Air Accident and Incident Adviser 10 minutes beforehand and alerted Prestwick air traffic control by telephone, a spokesperson said. 

Ben Stewart, from the campaign group, said: “Theresa May should not have dignified Trump with a visit to the UK. The vast majority of British people are appalled by his words and deeds. He is, simply, the worst president ever. That’s why we flew over him with a message branding him well below par.”

The Greenpeace protester flies a microlight

Trump on Friday flew on Air Force One to Glasgow Prestwick Airport in Scotland for a two-day private stay at his golf resort where protests are expected to continue today.

Thousands of people are also expected in Edinburgh for a Carnival of Resistance in the Meadows area of the capital.

Campaigners will also gather outside the Trump International Golf Links in Balmedie, Aberdeenshire.


14/07/2018 09:00 AM
Why The Scandis Make Us Feel Inadequate When It Comes To Eco Living

Aside from a deft way with street style and an aptitude for cinnamon-based bakes, the Scandis have another thing that they are really, really good at. Sustainability.

Fifty per cent of Copenhagen dwellers cycle commute every day, while the city has a carbon neutral by 2025 target. Swedes are the EU’s biggest buyers of organic food and Stockholm was the first city to win the European Green Capital Award. But aside from the government-led stuff, your average Nordic on the street has a sustainable attitude that’s driven by pragmatism, rather than a huge desire to be green.

One woman fully dosed up on the model is Brontë Aurell, Danish owner of London’s ScandiKitchen and author of Scandi lifestyle bible, ‘Nørth: How To Live Scandinavian,’ (£19.99 Aurum Press). 

With a career spun out of what it means to live la vida hygge, we asked for her insight.

“I’m 42 and I have never lived in a house without several bins. For Scandiavians, composting food, splitting up plastic and paper and taking it all seriously is second nature. It’s not something special, it’s just what you do.”

“Our societies put a holistic idea of sustainability at their core. They’re mostly made up of a broad middle class, with few very poor people and few very rich people. Taxes are high and everyone gives money to the pot in the middle. A decent way of life is sustainable for everyone.”

“Climate change denial isn’t really a thing - it’s not something I’ve ever experienced in any Scandinavian country. Wind turbines and other renewable energy sources are incredibly popular. Samsø, a little island off the coast of Denmark, generates more green energy than it consumes and has drawn a lot of international attention for its dedication to going green.”

“When it comes to being more sustainable, we need to change our mindsets. In Scandi countries, there is an ingrained hate of waste. If you go to a restaurant, you won’t be served massive portions - we don’t take more than we need. Food is very expensive over there - I was visiting my parents recently and a load of rye bread cost the equivalent of £4 - which obviously plays a part.”

“Scandi sustainability is tied into the Swedish concept of ‘lagom’. All about having enough, not too little, not too much, it comes from the longer phrase laget om, which means ‘around the team.’ In Viking times, it was applied to the situation of having a cup of mead, which would be passed around everyone. We know that if we don’t protect the environment and protect nature then there won’t be enough resources for us all.”

“We love the outdoors. Even in winter we’re out hiking, cycling and being in nature. When you feel closely connected to the earth, you naturally want to protect it.”   

‘Nørth: How To Live Scandinavian’ is out now, £19.99 (Aurum Press).


14/07/2018 08:29 AM
Scarlett Johansson Pulls Out Of Playing Transgender Character In 'Rub And Tug' Following 'Insensitive' Comments

Scarlett Johansson has pulled out of the film ‘Rub And Tug’, in which she was set to play a transgender character.

The 33-year-old actress signed up to play Jean Marie Gill - preferred name Dante ‘Tex’ Gill - in the real-life drama about a massage parlour and sex work business in Pittsburgh in the ’70s and ’80s.

Scarlett Johansson

Following a backlash to the decision to cast Scarlett as a trans man, her rep issued a statement, saying: “Tell them they can be directed to Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto, and Felicity Huffman’s reps for comment.”

Felicity Huffman was nominated for an Oscar after playing a transgender woman in 2005’s ‘Transamerica’, Jared Leto won a best supporting actor Oscar for playing a trans woman in ‘Dallas Buyers Club’, and Jeffrey Tambor won two Emmys for his role as a transgender woman in the TV series ‘Transparent’.

After being accused of “ciswashing”, Scarlett issued a statement to LGBT lifestyle publication Out on Friday (13 July) stating she had withdrawn from the project and admitted her original statement had been “insensitive”.

“In light of recent ethical questions raised surrounding my casting as Dante Tex Gill, I have decided to respectfully withdraw my participation in the project,” the statement reads.

“Our cultural understanding of transgender people continues to advance, and I’ve learned a lot from the community since making my first statement about my casting and realise it was insensitive.

“I have great admiration and love for the trans community and am grateful that the conversation regarding inclusivity in Hollywood continues.”

She added: “While I would have loved the opportunity to bring Dante’s story and transition to life, I understand why many feel he should be portrayed by a transgender person, and I am thankful that this casting debate, albeit controversial, has sparked a larger conversation about diversity and representation in film.

“I believe that all artists should be considered equally and fairly.”

It’s not the first time Scarlett Johansson has been at the centre of controversy after being cast in a major movie.

She took the lead role in 2017’s ‘Ghost In The Shell’ – playing Major Motoko Kusanagi - who was Japanese in the original manga series, resulting in accusations of ‘whitewashing’.


14/07/2018 08:07 AM
‘Explosive Devices’ Thrown At Homes Of Gerry Adams And Sinn Fein Figure

The homes of prominent Sinn Fein figures Gerry Adams and Bobby Storey have been attacked with explosive devices, the party said.

The republican party condemned the “reprehensible and cowardly” attacks in Belfast on Friday night – with former leader Adams saying no-one was hurt.

Gerry Kelly, Sinn Fein’s Policing and Justice spokesman, said two devices were thrown, one of which caused damage to a car.

Significant damage was visible to a vehicle on Adams’ driveway in the aftermath of the attack and a blast mark could be seen on the windscreen.

A heavy security presence was outside the home of Storey, with a number of police Land Rovers and armed officers standing guard.

Kelly, the north Belfast MLA, said: “These were reprehensible and cowardly attacks on the family homes of Gerry Adams and Bobby Storey.

Police at the scene of an explosive device attack on the west Belfast home of Sinn Fein figure Bobby Storey

“Grandchildren were in the driveway of Adams’ home minutes before the attack.

“I would appeal for calm. These attacks are the desperate acts of increasingly desperate and irrelevant groups.”

The Police Service of Northern Ireland said officers were “dealing with two incidents at two separate addresses in west Belfast”.

While police have not yet attributed responsibility, the attacks are likely the work of dissident republicans.

The extremist groups oppose Sinn Fein’s involvement in the peace process and are engaged in localised turf wars in republican strongholds in an effort to wrest support away from the mainstream movement.

Sinn Fein dismiss the dissidents as unrepresentative gangs with no political strategy that use the cloak of republicanism to engage in criminality.

Friday’s attacks in west Belfast came after six successive nights of dissident-orchestrated violence in the republican Bogside neighbourhood of Londonderry.

Sinn Fein leaders, including current president Mary Lou McDonald, were scathing in the criticism of the extremists behind the rioting and attacks on police in Derry.

Adams led Sinn Fein from 1983 until February 2018, while Storey has served as the party’s northern chairman.

Following the attacks, the leader of the Alliance party Naomi Long said the attacks “Must be condemned without equivocation”.

She said: “This week we have seen those who remain wedded to violence bring chaos and fear onto our streets, in scenes which we had all hoped we would never witness again.

“These latest attacks on the homes of Gerry Adams and Bobby Storey are a deliberate and calculated attempt to cause fear and raise tensions in our community.

“We have all worked too hard and come too far to see the peace we have enjoyed put at risk by those who offer nothing to this society but destruction.”


14/07/2018 07:36 AM
Pakistan Election Violence Sees Bomb Attacks Kill At Least 132 People
At least 132 people have been killed in attacks in Pakistan

The deadliest attacks in Pakistan’s troubled election campaign killed at least 132 people, including a candidate, on Friday, just before the arrest of disgraced former prime minister Nawaz Sharif on his return to the country.

In the southwestern province of Baluchistan, a suicide bomber killed 128 people, including a politician running for a provincial legislature.

Four others died in a strike in Pakistan’s northwest, spreading panic in the country.

The attacks came hours before Sharif returned from London along with his daughter Maryam to face a 10-year prison sentence on corruption charges, officials said.

Maryam Sharif faces seven years in jail.

Sharif was taken into custody to serve his sentence, however he is expected to appeal and seek bail.

In the southern town of Mastung, candidate Siraj Raisani and 127 others died when a suicide bomber blew himself up amid scores of supporters who had gathered at a rally.

Pakistani men watch a televised addresses to the nation by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif who has returned to Pakistan to face a 10-year prison sentence on corruption charges

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement carried on its Aamaq news agency.

The group gave no reason for the bombing that killed Raisani, who was running for the election on the Baluchistan Awami Party ticket.

Raisani is the brother of the former Baluchistan chief minister, Aslam Raisani.

Caretaker home minister Agha Umar Bungalzai told The Associated Press another 300 people were wounded in Friday’s bombing.

Meanwhile, Sharif arrived in the eastern city of Lahore from London where he was visiting his ailing wife when a Pakistani court convicted him and his daughter of corruption.

Sharif’s son-in-law is currently serving his one-year prison sentence on the same charge, which stems from the purchase of luxury apartments in Britain that the court said were bought with illegally acquired money.

Ahead of his return, police swept through Lahore, arresting scores of Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League party workers to prevent them from greeting him at the airport.

Barbed wire was strung across some roads leading to the Lahore airport on Friday and barricades were positioned at the roadside ready to close off main boulevards should crowds start to gather.

In a video message Friday reportedly from aboard his aircraft en route to Pakistan, Sharif said he was returning knowing he would be taken directly to prison.

Sharif has been banned from participating in politics, and his brother Shahbaz Sharif now heads his Pakistan Muslim League and is campaigning for re-election on July 25.

In a televised appeal to supporters from London earlier this week, Sharif said he was not afraid of prison and asked people to vote for his party.

He also used the opportunity to again criticise Pakistan’s powerful military, which has ruled the country directly or indirectly for most of its 71-year history, saying Pakistan now has a “state above the state”.

Rescuers carry wounded victims of the blast to hospital

Pakistani and international rights groups have accused the military of seeking to maintain its influence in Pakistani politics by keeping Sharif out of power.

Underscoring the security threat were Friday’s bombings, the first of which killed four people in the northwest near the election rally of a senior politician from an Islamist party.

The explosion targeted candidate Akram Khan Durrani, who escaped unhurt, and wounded 20 people, said local police chief Rashid Khan.

Durrani is running in the July 25 vote against popular former politician Imran Khan. He is a candidate of Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal, an election alliance of radical religious groups.

The attacks came days after a suicide bomber dispatched by the Pakistani Taliban killed secular politician Haroon Ahmed Bilour and 20 others at his rally in the northwestern city of Peshawar.

Imran Khan, who hopes to become the next prime minister, condemned Friday’s attack against his opponent, Durrani.

In a tweet, he said there seems to be a conspiracy to sabotage the July 25 vote. But he said the people of Pakistan will not allow anything to prevent “historic” elections from taking place.


14/07/2018 07:00 AM
Tennis: Could This Be Your New Workout?

“HEADS!”

It’s a warning I’ve not heard since secondary school when the football hurtled towards me in the playground, but now it’s the terrifying cry I hear for about an hour every week at my beginners’ tennis lessons. With balls flying all over the place, I’m grateful for the warning - I don’t want to rock up to work with a black eye.

Having never played tennis before - apart from one PE lesson which ended with my best friend and I in fits of giggles as we tried (and failed) to rally - I decided to take the plunge and start learning. Every year when summer rolls around my friends, inspired by Wimbledon fever, dust of their rackets to play tennis and I can’t help but feel a pang of envy. 

So here I am at Better’s Islington Tennis Centre ready(ish) to royally embarrass myself. 

It’s a scary thing to start learning something new as an adult. Heading to my first lesson, I almost turn back. With other gym classes I have no qualms with just walking in and giving it a go, but I’m dreading that awkward moment when you have to pick someone to pair up with - and them realising just how terrible I am.

Each session consists of around 12-15 participants and three coaches, one to every four or five people. Even though it’s for beginners there is a pretty big gulf in ability, I later learn some people have been coming to lessons for over a year, but they do take newbies on all the time. This means the room is a mix of people who can actually play a little and those like me who don’t even know how to hold a racket properly.

Each session will have a focus - be it backhand or serves - and the whole class will work on these. Because of the ratio of coaches to participants we’re often split into groups with some learning the absolute basics (me), while others build on what they’ve already learned.

“Whenever anyone joins the courses, we ask what their level is and coaches will observe from the beginning,” explains Joachim Treasurer, tennis manager at Better’s Islington Tennis Centre & Gym. “Even during warm-ups they are looking at every single person, their training is to identify certain things - hand/eye coordination, footwork (some people are a bit clumsy) and their perception. It looks like the coaches are walking around, but they are always looking.”

In my first lesson, I’m paired up with another beginner and we start working on our forehand technique. Her name is Danielle and it turns out she started just three weeks ago. We’re not far off each other in terms of ability, which makes me feel better. We laugh, encourage each other and forgive each of the missteps. I can get used to this, I think.

Then, some 45 minutes into my first lesson, our coach Luis serves a bit of a curveball and makes us start rotating around to play with different people. I know everyone else seems better than me and my current partner, so I’m effectively cacking my pants. “Welcome to the jungle,” he says, cracking a smirk.

But, even though I’m definitely one of the worst here, once we start playing you realise nobody is a perfect tennis player here - it is a beginners’ course after all. “Everyone started like you,” says Luis, reassuring me after sending yet another ball flying in the wrong direction.

Lisa Bunclark, a 28-year-old account manager for a travel publisher, has been coming to sessions for around four months and admits that she too was initially hesitant about coming on her own, but she soon learned not to take herself so seriously. “Every week I’ve got to know people, you start to share jokes and I know a few people by name,” she says. “I look forward to coming every week - you know you’re going to have a laugh, miss a few balls and have a laugh at yourself.” 

In my handful of lessons, I’ve definitely had my fair share of awful cringeworthy moments. That time a stray ball of mine hit one of the coaches in the back (this is before I’d been conditioned to shout “HEADS”), that time I was asked to demo in front of the entire group and completely missed the ball or that time I hit the ball into a load of tennis rackets, sending them crashing to the ground. 

What I am doing though is learning a hell of a lot. At the end of each session I feel completely exhausted - not physically, as I’m not at the level where I’m running around on court, but mentally exhausted. There is just so much to remember.

I’ve never been a particularly patient person (I quit almost every sport I tried as a kid because I didn’t think I was good at it) but my expectation of how quickly I would pick up tennis was particularly unrealistic - I genuinely thought after six sessions I’d be able to play.

“People don’t realise just how much is going on when you’re playing tennis. From hand-eye coordination, footwork to movement, there is so much going on and as you get better there’s even more that goes on,” says Joachim, adding that some people have been attending sessions for nine years before reaching the advanced classes. “As you advance, hitting the ball gets easier, but overall it’s much harder and there are more things to do. When you get to a good level, during a two-hour match a tennis player will make 700 decisions.”

But, he adds, the complicated nature of the sport means some people get frustrated that they can’t improve as quickly as they’d like to. He believes it’s also one of the reasons participation numbers aren’t as high as other sports.

“All club coaching or tennis centres is focused foremost on fun, not about making you an excellent tennis player,” he says. “Trying to be active, teach a new skill, and build confidence.”

I soon learn firsthand that learning tennis even at a basic, social level isn’t something you can pick up overnight. It requires patience, dedication and - above all - not taking yourself too seriously.

Better offers adult tennis lessons across the UK. Some are available to purchase as individual classes, while others are provided as part of a monthly membership. Find out more here.


13/07/2018 09:24 PM
May And Trump Meet The Press: Not 'Love Actually', Just Chaos

He came suddenly out of a clear blue sky. Ensconced in his Black Hawk Marine One helicopter, and flanked by three Osprey MV22 tiltrotor military choppers, Donald Trump descended on the English countryside like an alien invader.

The engines were deafening and a dust cloud blown up from the dry paths below almost obscured the view of Chequers, Theresa May’s grace-and-favour Tudor home. 

It proved to be a taste of things to come, as the President proceeded to stage an extraordinary press conference in which he generated so much noise, and kicked up so much chaff, that Britain’s so-called ‘special relationship’ with the US was left reeling. 

Things had started off so well. This was the morning after the night before’s Sun interview, in which he slated her Brexit plan, backed Boris Johnson and suggested May had spurned his advice. Trump largely stuck to the script in front of him as he stood at the lectern in the un-British hot sunshine, trying to lower the temperature.

May referred to him as ‘Donald’ and the President read slowly, like a schoolboy reading a particularly tricky piece of prose, from his prepared speech. He said how delighted he was to be at Chequers, which he claimed he’d read about as a child.

Trump began by being conciliatory about Brexit and for May he needed to be. He was standing in front of the very building where exactly a week earlier the PM had secured what she thought was one of her greatest political triumphs, getting her entire Cabinet to agree to a ‘soft’ customs plan.

Yet within minutes he departed from the words in front of him, raising the idea that Britain may not actually leave the EU at all.

There was a supremely Trump-like moment when he said she had not taken up his ‘suggestion’ on Brexit. This ‘suggestion’ remains a mystery, though some present speculated that it could be the refusal to pay the UK’s bills to the EU. “I think she found it too brutal, I could fully understand why it was a little bit tough,” he said.

For good measure, he again raised the prospect that there would be no UK-US trade deal if May remained too close to Brussels. “I don’t know what you’re going to do. Perhaps the UK will have left, but whatever you do is OK with us – just make sure you can trade with us”.

Not for the first time during the event, May was firm in response. “I heard the turn of phrase the President used earlier, let me be clear: we are leaving the European Union.”

 

May listens as Trump addresses the press. 

 

Love Actually Moment? 

It was during the Q&A that Trump really let rip on what seemed to be his main theme, the dangers of immigration, linking it explicitly to terrorism and claiming it was the real reason Brits voted for Brexit. It felt like the most borderline racist set of remarks by any President on British soil in living memory.

Again, May made clear she disagreed. Asked if immigration had damaged the cultural fabric of Europe, as Trump claimed in his Sun interview, she replied by talking about the UK’s “proud history of welcoming people who flee persecution or want to contribute to our economy and society”. “Over the years, immigration has been good for the UK,” she said.

It wasn’t quite the ‘Love Actually’ moment some had been urging on her, but it put down a marker. If she’d really wanted to ram home the point, May could have pointed out that Trump’s own mother was a migrant from Scotland to the US. Still, No.10 did perhaps the next best thing, later presenting to him a gift of an illustrated ancestral chart of the lineage of his maternal line Mary Anne Macleod.

 

The Prime Minister and President at Chequers in front of the world's press. 

 

The press conference itself was supposed to be more tightly controlled than Trump’s previous free-wheeling displays. Both the White House and Downing Street prefer a controlled environment. So much so that when May was planning her trip to Washington in 2017, there was even the idea of ditching the traditional press conference.

Instead, the plan was to stage a three-minute pooled clip of the two leaders, sitting together sipping Earl Grey tea. And not in the White House, in Trump Tower in New York. The idea was killed off amid fears that a 40-strong press pack would not see the funny side of a plan that didn’t include a single media question. 

Fast forward to Chequers, July 2018, and Trump’s loathing of the media proved too tempting. What was meant to be a 10 minute Q&A turned into a full-blown, 28-minute shoot-from-the-lip performance, Trump firing out news lines on everything from immigration to nuclear disarmament to Brexit. 

Squeaky Bum Time

Just before the event, the CNN anchor had said it may be unlikely that the President would repeat his praise of Boris Johnson. He added this rider: “It’s a day that ends with a ‘y’ so anything is possible”.

And so it proved, and May had to look on helplessly as the ex-Foreign Secretary received the Presidential seal of approval as a future PM. Jeremy Hunt, who was sitting in not far away and wearing sunglasses, appeared to visibly shift in his seat. 

Right from the start, the hostility between Trump and his own media was palpable. This was the first ever press conference where I’ve not seen the White House press corps stand to attention on the arrival of their Commander in Chief. British journalists never get to their feet for our PM, but it was a strange sight to see the Americans follow suit.

At one point, the mobile phone of Robert Peston, ITV’s political editor, went off, its hunting horn ring tone sharply apt as the President tried to shoot down his critics with cries of ‘Fake News!’. From refusing CNN a question, to the press hacks heckling him and his bizarre decision to suggest a bald reporter took his hat off, it was classic Trump, 2018 vintage.

In Chequers itself, there is a stained glass window that reads: “This house of peace and ancient memories was given to England as a thank-offering for her deliverance in the great war of 1914–1918 as a place of rest and recreation for her Prime Ministers for ever.”

 

The scene at Chequers on Friday. 

 

Trump at least made a nodding reference to the need to maintain alliances as he pointed out that Churchill was in Chequers when he rang Roosevelt after Pearl Harbour, the act of aggression that finally forced the US to ally with Britain once more to fight a second war in Europe. “It was a victory and a total victory,” he said.

Yet for all his talk about uniting Nato and the benefit of having US troops to protect Europe, he swiftly undermined it by adding “there is also a benefit not to do it”. One big surprise came when he suggested he could sort a deal with Putin to reduce both America’s and Russia’s nuclear arsenals.

Nuclear Disarming

Quixotic, folksy, with an eye on the bottom line, his words were a study in Trumpism: “Proliferation, to me, is the biggest problem in the world. I understand nuclear. I used to talk nuclear with my uncle. It is the biggest problem the world has. We aren’t the only ones who have nukes. It would be the other ones that have to come along. Ideally get rid of them, that’s a dream. It’s also very expensive.”

Another US President, Richard Nixon (who curiously arranged for Chequers to have a swimming pool installed after a visit in the 1970s) was the first to come up with what he called the “madman theory” of nuclear warfare: the idea that American’s enemies would be deterred if they thought the US President was so unhinged he would press the button. 

 

President Nixon meets Prime Minister Harold Wilson at Chequers, 1970. 

So far in his dealings with North Korea, Trump may have shown that the madman theory works. His ‘friend’ Boris Johnson was famously caught on tape recently saying “I have become more and more convinced that there is method in his madness”. And after today’s word-blizzard of a press conference, there is some supporting evidence.

Sir Alan Duncan tried to play down the Sun interview by saying: “He’s a controversialist”. One former aide said that the No.10 team had long known Trump’s style. “He’s a provocateur, deliberately so. Steve Bannon [Trump’s former strategist] once told us: ‘He’s going to say stuff like that, that’s just his style’. Now everyone’s talking about Nato and spending. So, in a sense it’s effective, but it’s the way he does it that causes problems. 

“I think the jury’s out on whether he doesn’t understand the consequences of what he says or whether he understands them all too well. It’s possible the whole thing is much more strategic than people give it credit for, not necessarily because of him but those around him.”   

In some ways perhaps, we should be grateful to Trump for exposing the reality behind the carefully choreographed sham of summits and foreign visits. He’s laid bare that all that matters is raw national interest. It would be stretching it to call his approach to politics ‘strategic’, as it is instead just him setting a serious of goals and bullying his way into getting them.

On Nato spending, he has indeed forced European countries to increase their contributions. On North Korea, he’s so far stopped missile testing. However much he’s disliked overseas, back home he is delivering his Republican backers a huge tax cut plan and the most socially conservative Supreme Court in a generation.

“The Highest Level Of Special”

For Theresa May, Friday was yet another day where she had to wade through Trump’s excesses and bank the small victories. Trump had been forced to say the ‘special relationship’ between the UK and US was “the highest grade... the highest level of special”. He had to agree that he couldn’t reduce sanctions on Putin over Crimea.

At the start, she said the US leader was “prepared to say things that others might rather not hear”, while gently making clear her own position. On Nato, she offered a subtle reminder that its nations had only ever invoked its Article 5 edict on joint defence – to rally around America after the 9/11 attack.

Amid the chaos of the press conference, May even seemed to loosen her usual reserve. “Lots of people give me advice about how to negotiate with the EU,” she said pointedly. But few actually have to do it, she added. And the biggest prize of all for her, on this very trying day, came when Trump admitted to the Daily Mail that “she can’t walk away” from the EU with no deal.  That one answer gave her all the ammunition she may need to fend off the Borises, Bills and Bernards in coming months.

 

 

It was as if she had come to the realisation that Trump was so predictably unpredictable that the only way to handle him was to watch for what he did rather than said. Trump still has the power to surprise, but not to shock. As they packed up, even the photographers seemed bored by yet another hand-holding snap, its currency devalued from over-use.

As the final questions of the press conference were asked, in a nearby field cows were lowing, as if to say ‘we’ve heard enough now’. May’s face seemed to say the same. As Trump’s helicopters left with another dust cloud, she looked like she’d survived the storm.


13/07/2018 06:11 PM
6 Key Moments From Donald Trump And Theresa May’s Extraordinary Chequers Press Conference

In an incredible joint press conference on Friday, Donald Trump heaped praise on “incredible” Theresa May and hailed UK-US relations as the “highest level of special”, just hours after explosive comments he made about her premiership were published in a British newspaper.

After intensive talks at Chequers, the Prime Minister’s country residence, in the wake of an interview in which he said May’s Brexit plans would kill off a trade deal with the US, the President told May “whatever you do is OK with me” but urged her to “make sure we can trade together”.

Here are the key moments from the press conference, where both leaders took questions from reporters.  

The ‘Love Actually’ moment 

Ahead of the press conference, fans of the kitsch Christmas film Love Actually expressed hope the Prime Minister would strike back against Trump’s less-than-gracious comments about her in The Sun. 

Some of them may have hoped that May was taking inspiration from Hugh Grant, who plays a recently-elected UK Prime Minister in the film, when she slapped him down over the topic of immigration.

Pressed on claims that immigration had damaged the cultural fabric of Europe, Trump said: “I think it has been very bad for Europe. I think that what has happened is very tough. It’s a very tough situation.

“I mean, you see the same terror attacks that I do. We see them a lot. I just think it’s changing the culture. It’s a very negative thing for Europe. I think it’s very negative.”

Theresa May's Love Actually moment saw her disagree with Donald Trump's views on immigration 

May however responded by saying Britain has a proud history of accepting immigrants. 

She said: “We have a proud history of welcoming people who want to come to our country to contribute to our economy and contribute to our society.

“And over the years immigration has been good for the UK. It’s brought people from different backgrounds and with different outlooks to the UK and that has made a positive contribution to our society.

“But what is important is that we have control of our borders and that we have a set of rules that allow us to decide who comes into our country.” 

When Trump went anti-nuclear

Trump said: “We discussed a range of priorities including stopping nuclear proliferation. I thanked (May) for her partnership in our pursuit of a nuclear-free North Korea. We both agreed that Iran must never possess a nuclear weapon.

“I will discuss nuclear non-proliferation with Putin. To me it would be tremendous if we could do something with Putin on nuclear non-proliferation

“I mean to me, it’s the biggest problem in the world, nuclear weapons, biggest problem in the world,” Trump said.

“If we can do something to substantially reduce them, I mean, ideally get rid of them, maybe that’s a dream, but certainly it’s a subject that I’ll be bringing up with him,” he claimed.

Trump added: “It’s also a very expensive thing but that’s the least important.”

For context, the US and Russia are by far the world’s biggest nuclear powers.

Trump plays kingmaker on Boris

After lavishing praise on Boris Johnson in his incendiary interview with the Sun just days after he walked out of Theresa May’s cabinet over her Brexit plans, Trump told reporters that Johnson would be a “great prime minister.”

He added: “He’s been very nice to me. He’s been saying very good things about me as president. I think he thinks I’m doing a good job. I am doing a great job, I can tell you, just in case you haven’t noticed.

“Boris Johnson, I think, would be a great prime minister.”

‘The highest level of special’ 

While May made mention of the historic special relationship enjoyed by the countries, she was decidedly measured in her tone.  

'I grade the relationship the highest level of special' 

When Robert Peston, ITV’s Political Editor, asked Trump whether the relationship with the UK is now “more special” than ever before, an ebullient Trump replied: “I grade the relationship the highest level of special. Especially now after 2 days – the highest level of special. Am I allowed to go higher than that?”

‘Fake news’

After listening to Trump lavish praise upon May, the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg cut straight to the chase on his interview with The Sun, telling him: “You seem rather to have changed your tune from earlier this week.

“Our countries are meant to have a special relationship and yet you publicly criticised the Prime Minister’s policy and her personally for not listening to you this week - is that really the behaviour of a friend? 

A belligerent Trump leapt in with the retort: “I didn’t criticise the Prime Minister, I have a lot of respect for the Prime Minister and then proceeded to brand the interview “fake news.” 

Trump had left May badly wounded when he criticised her negotiating style, lavished praise on Boris Johnson and attacked her Brexit plan in his interview with The Sun.

When asked about his remarks, Trump said The Sun story was “generally fine” but missed out his positive comments about May, adding that the White House records all interviews.

“I didn’t criticise the Prime Minister… It’s called fake news and we solve a lot of problems with the good old recording instrument,” the president said.

Later, during an exchange with The Sun’s reporter Tom Newton Dunn, who wrote the article in question, Dunn said the article did include the positive comments he made, to which Trump replied that he was upset they weren’t in the headline, rather inferring he had not read the piece. 

Responding to Trump’s remarks, a Sun spokesman said: “We stand by our reporting and the quotes used – including those where the President was positive about the Prime Minister, in both the paper and in our audio – and we’re delighted that the President essentially retracted his original charge against the paper later in the press conference.

“To say the President called us ‘fake news’ with any serious intent is, well… fake news.”

Bald-shaming

Reuters reporter Jeff Mason attempted to direct a question at Trump, who instead asked: “I like your hat. You look without it too, a good head of hair, a good, solid head of hair.”

When the reporter protested he did not, Trump continued to press him, saying: “I know exactly what you have Jeff… I like you better without the hat”, until Mason removed the hat to reveal, yes, a balding head.

 

 


13/07/2018 05:54 PM
‘Three Lions’ Tops The Official UK Singles Chart Despite England’s World Cup Defeat

England may have suffered a heartbreaking defeat in the World Cup semi-finals on Wednesday night, but the loss hasn’t stopped ‘Three Lions (It’s Coming Home)’ from storming to the top of the Official UK Singles Chart.

On Friday evening it was announced that the Baddiel And Skinner’s collaboration with The Lightning Seeds is number one, with a weekly combined sales total of 79,779. 

George Ezra - who had actively campaigned for his fans to help ‘Three Lions’ top the chart - wound up in second place with 3,500 fewer sales of his track ‘Shotgun’.

Announcing the news on Radio 1, Scott Mills said: “England gave us everything at this World Cup. The whole country got swept away with it.

“Three Lions being the official number one shows how we really got behind our amazing team.” 

When it was recorded in 1996, ‘Three Lions’ was named the England team’s official anthem and had two seperate stints at the top of the charts.

A new version was released two years later for the France 1998 World Cup and even though it wasn’t officially endorsed this time around, it still topped the charts for a second time.

Ahead of Wednesday’s semi-final between England and Croatia, The Lightning Seeds were joined by David Baddiel and Frank Skinner for a special performance at London’s Hyde Park.

Sadly (as we’re sure you already know), it simply wasn’t meant to be and England suffered a defeat in extra time.

The result, understandably, left many fans distraught and numerous famous faces were among those who tweeted commiserations following the match.


13/07/2018 05:38 PM
Trump UK Visit: Thousands Join 'Wall Of Resistance' Rally In Glasgow As US President Heads To Scotland

Bus-loads of Scots descended on Glasgow to rally against Donald Trump’s arrival, as the baton of protest passed from London north of the border. 

The US President’s private jet was on its way to Glasgow Prestwick Airport as thousands of protesters packed into the city’s George Square for a rally, which hit the sweet spot between joy and defiance.

On stage, the SNP’s deputy leader, Keith Brown, was greeted with laughs as he reminded the crowd that Trump thinks Scotland loves him.

He said: “Lets do a poll here right now. Does Scotland love Trump?”

A huge cry of “no” lifted the square as everyone jabbed their placards and signs into the air.

He continued: “People ask why Donald Trump isn’t meeting Nicola Sturgeon. It’s because she’d tell him what she thought, unlike Theresa May.

“With Theresa May desperately chasing this trade deal with the US, we now face the prospect that the NHS across the UK will be opened up to American private healthcare firms.

“Scotland rejects these plans and sends a message to Trump and to Theresa May: ‘Hands off Scotland’s NHS’.”

In the crowd, Gary Fry, Glasgow, 51 is holding a sign of a red cap with the words “Naw” emblazoned on it.

He said: “I oppose every thing this man stands for. He will love this and it will be a huge ego trip for him. But we aren’t doing it for him. We are doing it for us and cause we want to show everyone that we oppose him.”

Nearby Gemma Elliott, 27 from Glasgow and Kirsty Lusk, 26 from Paisley held homemade signs aloft.

Asked why she was protesting, Elliot said: “Donald Trump’s visit to Scotland is pointless and he is wasting our country’s money, our airport, our police. It’s also been fun.”

Lusk said: “I think Trump is a symbol of everything that is wrong with the world and society. This is an opportunity to speak against him and his policies, which are sexist, racist, anti-immigration and anti-LBGTQ.”

Prominent Scottish lawyer Amer Anwar made clear that Scotland loves the US when he took to the stage.

He said: “We are more interested in the special relationship between people of the United States of American and the people of this country.”

After listing Martin Luther King, Dolly Parton and Bruce Springsteen, he said: “We love them and many, many more who will live on long after Donald Trump’s name is dust. We will not meet you with hate but with a carnival of resistance.”

Earlier volunteers were busy at work building a “wall of resistance” to surround a stage on which community and political leaders will give speeches. 

Further protests are planned in Edinburgh and the campaign group Scotland Against Trump has organised coaches to take people to Trump Turnberry, a golf course he owns in Ayrshire, where the President is thought to be headed for a round of golf on Saturday.  

Although Police Scotland has denied protesters permission to fly the now famous Trump baby blimp over the golf course, it was confirmed on Friday that the balloon will fly along with the march in Edinburgh as it passes the US embassy there.

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard is among those set to speak in Glasgow. He blasted the SNP-led Scottish Government for failing to intervene and bar Trump from using a publicly-owned airport.

“Donald Trump is not welcome here,” said Leonard. “The horrific scenes at the Mexican border are a repudiation of decent human values. Caging children like animals is barbaric. We cannot roll out the red carpet for a US President that treats human beings this way” 

After hitting out at Trump’s travel ban, misogyny and withdrawing the US from the Paris climate change accord, he added: “For Donald Trump to travel to Scotland with public assistance and ease when his travel ban has caused outrage and despair around the world would simply not be acceptable.”

Trump’s visit to Scotland follows an astounding press conference at Chequers, the Prime Minister's country residence, after an explosive interview in The Sun newspaper in which he said a soft Brexit would jeopardise a potential post-exit UK-US trade deal.

The Commander in Chief appeared to row back from the claim, however, and insisted his relationship with Britain was “very, very strong”. 

Trump is not scheduled to meet Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who has spoken out against the President numerous times. 

The President himself is known to have a fondness for Scotland, given his mother hails from Isle of Lewis. 


13/07/2018 05:22 PM
Police Find Bottle Containing Novichok Which Poisoned Two People In Amesbury
Officers in Amesbury

Counter terrorism police believe they have found the source of the Novichok nerve agent which poisoned a couple in Amesbury.

Dawn Sturgess, 44, died on Sunday after she was exposed to the substance, which also left her partner Charlie Rowley fighting for his life in hospital. 

Police launched a murder inquiry following her death and had been combing the local area for the source of the poison - warning local residents not to pick up discarded containers. 

In a statement on Friday, the Met Police said they had discovered a bottle containing Novichok in Rowley’s home.

“It was taken to the Defence, Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) at Porton Down, Wiltshire, for tests,” the force said.

“Following those tests, scientists have now confirmed to us that the substance contained within the bottle is Novichok.

“Further scientific tests will be carried out to try and establish whether it is from the same batch that contaminated Sergei and Yulia Skripal in March – this remains a main line of enquiry for police.

“Inquiries are under way to establish where the bottle came from and how it came to be in Charlie’s house.”

A post-mortem is due to take place next week to establish Sturgess’ cause of death and an inquest will be opened and adjourned on Thursday, July 19.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid visited Amesbury this month

Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu, head of UK counter terrorism policing, said further traces of the substance could still remain in the area and urged people to continue to heed health warnings. 

“This is clearly a significant and positive development. However, we cannot guarantee that there isn’t any more of the substance left and cordons will remain in place for some considerable time,” he added.

“This is to allow thorough searches to continue as a precautionary measure for public safety and to assist the investigation team. 

“I also appreciate there is a lot of interest in this; however, we are not in a position to disclose any further details regarding the bottle at this stage.

“The safety of the public and our officers remains paramount and we are continuing to work closely with Wiltshire Police, scientists, health experts from Public Health England and other partners.”

Around 100 detectives from the Counter Terrorism Policing Network are continuing to work on the investigation, alongside Wiltshire Police officers.

Rowley, 45, regained consciousness earlier this week.  Police said they had spoken “briefly” with him and will interview him further to establish how he and Sturgess came to be contaminated. 

“This contact is being done in close consultation with the hospital and the doctors,” the Met statement said.

“The risk to the public in Salisbury and Amesbury remains low. We have not seen any further cases of illness linked to this incident.

“As a precaution Public Health England continues to advise the public not to pick up any strange items such as syringes, needles, cosmetics or similar objects made of materials such as metal, plastic or glass.

“The advice remains ‘if you didn’t drop it, then don’t pick it up’.”

A dedicated helpline - 0800 092 0410 - has been set up for anyone with health concerns in relation to this incident and anyone with information that may help the investigation is urged to contact counter terrorism police on 0800 789 321. 


13/07/2018 05:02 PM
Donald Trump Arrives At Windsor Castle For Tea With The Queen

US President Donald Trump has arrived at Windsor Castle for tea with the Queen.

The controversial American leader and the First Lady were treated to a Guard of Honour as they arrived at the historic royal residence in Berkshire, which is the Queen’s favourite home.

Trump did not bow as he shook hands briefly with the Queen on the dais, and First Lady Melania Trump did not curtsy as she shook the head of state’s white gloved hand.

The monarch smiled broadly and shared a few words with the Trumps before indicating they should stand either side of her for the military band’s rendition of the American national anthem.

Trump and the First Lady spent a total of 57 minutes with the Queen at the castle, and 47 of those minutes inside the monarch’s favourite residence. The Trumps stayed 17 minutes longer than their expected departure time.

Trump has spoken at length of his admiration for the Queen, most recently in his interview with the Sun on Thursday, in which he called her a “tremendous woman”.

He told the paper: “If you think of it, for so many years she has represented her country, she has really never made a mistake. You don’t see, like, anything embarrassing. She is just an incredible woman.

“My wife is a tremendous fan of hers. She has got a great and beautiful grace about her.”

Trump and his wife Melania stand with Prime Minister Theresa May and her husband Philip May at Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire

In 2008, when then US president George W Bush had tea with the monarch at Windsor, he enjoyed a traditional English afternoon spread of tea, small sandwiches and cakes in the White Drawing Room.

The Queen has received three other US Presidents at Windsor Castle since the 1980s – Barack Obama in 2016, Mr Bush in 2008 and Ronald Reagan in 1982.

Trump’s royal encounter is not a state visit – an offer that was extended to him by Prime Minister Theresa May in the early days of his presidency.

There will be no carriage procession and no opulent state banquet, and Buckingham Palace said no other members of the royal family will call in to Windsor to meet the billionaire-turned-politician.

When the then US president Barack Obama dropped in to see the Queen at Windsor Castle in 2016 – the day after her 90th birthday – he and Michelle Obama had lunch with the monarch and the Duke of Edinburgh in the castle’s private dining room.

Queen Elizabeth II and the then US President Barack Obama in the Music Room of Buckingham Palace, London in 2011

Philip, who has now retired from public duties, even took the responsibility of driving the Obamas, and the Queen, the short distance from their helicopter to the castle in the Queen’s Range Rover.

In the evening, the Obamas dined with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry at Kensington Palace, and Prince George stayed up late to meet them.

Obama carried out a state visit to the UK in 2011, as did George W Bush in 2003.

Ronald Reagan’s visit to Windsor in 1982 was also not a state visit but, unlike Trump, he was hosted with a glittering banquet for 160 guests in the castle’s St George’s Hall. 

US President Ronald Reagan and the Queen riding in Home Park in Windsor in 1982 

13/07/2018 04:55 PM
Donald Trump Comments On Journalist's Baldness

13/07/2018 04:43 PM
The Most British Anti-Trump Protest Signs At The Carnival Of Resistance

Donald Trump’s first visit to the UK is well underway and so is the carnival of resistance – a joyous series of marches and protests against the US president which are taking place across the country. 

The biggest of all the planned events is in London, with both the Women’s March, called Bring The Noise, and the Stop Trump march converging on the capital this afternoon. 

As could be expected there have been some very creative – and exceedingly British – placards and banners on display. 

Here are some of the best:

Could there be a more 2018 sign?

The royalists were out in force

Some of the signs were incredibly insulting

There were important language lessons

Mary Poppins, the horror film version?

Tony Robinson was there with a Pink Floyd reference

The most British sign yet?

These protestors are just barking about Trump

The babies and toddlers brought the noise

14-month-old Linus Hemphreys and his mother Alexandra Heminsley from Brighton take part in the march.

Some of those marching were terribly polite

A Trump Dalek made an appearance 

Boris Johnson didn’t escape a mention

Ouch.


13/07/2018 04:26 PM
Trump On Mass Migration Into Europe

13/07/2018 04:06 PM
Donald Trump Stokes Brexit Hardliner Fears Over Theresa May's Exit Plans

Donald Trump has tried to backtrack on his criticism of Theresa May’s Brexit plans – but has instead confirmed the fears of many Tory MPs over the policy.

During a press conference on Friday afternoon, the US President said a trade deal between the UK and the US “would absolutely be possible” after Brexit, despite telling The Sun that May’s negotiating position had ruled one out.

But speaking at Chequers alongside the Prime Minister, Trump went on to attack EU rules on farming standards – something the UK would still follow after Brexit thanks to the “common rulebook.”

The lack of divergence on rules in the farming sector is one of the main concerns of Tory MPs opposed to May’s plan, and they will see Trump’s statement as proof that the Brexit plan will indeed thwart a trade deal.

However, Trump ruled out May pursuing “no deal” – a move favoured by hard Brexiteers – saying there was no way the Prime Minister could walk away from the Brussels talks without an agreement.

During the hour-long press conference, Trump went out of his way to praise May, and admitted he had apologised to her for The Sun’s front page today. 

The press conference kicked off with the PM telling reporters from the UK and US that a trade deal between the two countries would be discussed after Brexit.

“We agreed today, that as the UK leaves the European Union, we will pursue an ambitious US-UK Free Trade Agreement,” she said, adding: “The Chequers agreement reached last week provides the platform for Donald and me to agree an ambitious deal that works for both countries right across our economies.”

Theresa May faced a battle to agree her Brexit plans

When asked about the potential for an agreement, Trump said: “The only thing I ask of Theresa is make sure we can trade, that we don’t have any restrictions.

He added: “If they go a certain route, I just said that I hope you are going to be able to trade with the United States. I read reports where that won’t be possible but I believe that after speaking with the Prime Minister’s people and representatives and trade experts it will absolutely be possible.”

While it seemed Trump had backtracked on his criticism of the Brexit plan, as the press conference went on he flagged up areas of concerns with the US’s current trade with the EU.

He said: “They have barriers that are beyond belief. Barriers where they won’t take our farm products, they won’t take many of our things, including our cars. They charge us tariffs on cars far greater than we charge them.”

While the UK would be able to charge lower tariffs on cars under May’s Brexit plan, the Government would still be bound by Brussels rules on goods and agricultural products.

Speaking to HuffPost UK after the press conference, Tory MP Nigel Evans, who backed Brexit in the referendum, said he was not completely reassured by Trump’s remarks.

“If Liam Fox can play golf he should leg it to Scotland tonight - if he can’t salvage a trade deal with the President then the white paper isn’t worth salvaging,” he said.


13/07/2018 04:05 PM
Theresa May Slaps Down Donald Trump Over Immigration Claims

Theresa May has slapped down Donald Trump over his claims on immigration, dismissing the idea it has “damaged the cultural fabric” of Europe.

At a joint press conference at the Prime Minister’s Chequers residence in Buckinghamshire on Friday, the President was pressed by reporters on comments he made about migrants contributing to an erosion of British and European identity. 

Quick to link immigration to recent terror attacks, Trump said: “I think it has been very bad for Europe. I think that what has happened is very tough. It’s a very tough situation.

“I mean, you see the same terror attacks that I do. We see them a lot.

“I just think it’s changing the culture. It’s a very negative thing for Europe. I think it’s very negative.”

But the Prime Minister disagreed, in something of a ‘Love Actually’ moment of defiance that people earlier in the day had been calling for.

Telling British and American reporters gathered in the garden at her countryside residence that the UK “has a proud history of welcoming people” and that immigration has been good for the country. 

Earlier on Friday, the PM’s spokeswoman stressed the positive contribution made by those who have moved to Britain, but made clear freedom of movement will end when the UK leaves the EU in March next year. 

“On immigration, we have always said that people from all over the world have come here and made this country what it is and we welcome their contribution,” she said.

“Britain is one of the best countries in the world to come and live – but at the same time we want to put in place a system which ensures we have control of our borders and that is what we are going to do later this year.

“But let’s be clear, this is a country where people come from all over the world and make a fantastic contribution.”

But despite the strong anti-immigration language, more reminiscent of far-right protesters than a sitting president, Trump supporters in London for the ‘carnival of resistance’ said the President was right to voice concerns.

One 20-year-old man from Hungary, who said he was in London to support Trump, told HuffPost UK: “I think that he is absolutely correct, because the thing is millions of refugees flooding in to Europe is only going to be bad for European people.

He went on to say: “They have vastly different cultures than ours. In some of their cultures – not all of their cultures – it is common for a woman to be stoned to death for adultery.”

Nick Harris, 20, from Sheffield, said he believed Trump was “standing up for his country” and supporting the UK “in getting out of the EU and getting our country back”. 

He added: “All I think he’s trying to do is stand up for American culture, as I think the British government should be standing up for British culture, and I think having national cultures in each country is important.

“I think any form of immigration into this country, people should be signing up to British values when they come over.”

He said he believed a “small minority” of immigrants do not support British values, but that immigration had had “a positive impact on this country overall”.

“I don’t think you can deny that, but I think when immigration is mass and uncontrolled we will have a problem,” he added.

“What we need is a fair Australia-style points-based system which will make immigration fairer and controlled.”

In an interview with The Sun newspaper on Thursday, Trump singled out London Mayor Sadiq Khan for critcisim, claiming he “has done a very bad job on terrorism”.

Trump singled out Sadiq Khan for criticism 

Khan said on Friday that he was “trying to rise above” the jibe, but when asked if the door of City Hall would be open to Trump if he wanted a face-to-face meeting, he added: “I’m happy to meet President Trump and to explain to him, in a respectful, courteous manner where I think he’s wrong on a number of issues, to hear him out, see what his explanation is for holding me responsible for the attacks we saw in London last year.”

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the way the President treats London and Khan was “without precedent and quite unreasonable”.

He went on: “When a terrible incident happened… then surely you should recognise that the police and community have a job to do and what Sadiq has sought to do is bring people together in unity to keep London together, just as happened after 7/7 all those years ago.

“The statement by Donald Trump condemning the mayor and then going on with a general condemnation of Muslim migration into the United States is not helpful, in fact is very dangerous to community relations, and I think the statement that Sadiq has made in response is very good.”


13/07/2018 03:38 PM
This Week Has Seen Policing Stretched To Its Limit - Time To Admit Cuts Have Cost Us Dear

Since I was appointed as shadow policing minister a year ago I’ve found myself time and again coming back to the disastrous effects of the Tories’ decision to cut around £3billion from the police over the last eight years and the consequent loss of more than 21,000 officers. 

Even during the recent surge in violent crime, Ministers have been in denial about its relationship to the massive reduction of neighbourhood policing in particular. But another impact that has been overlooked both by the government and in the wider debate is the impact on police officers themselves.

Taking officers off our streets doesn’t just leave the public exposed to the threat of harm, it also has a knock-on effect on those officers that are left, attempting to keep up with spiralling demand and provide an acceptable service to the public while the standards and expectations on them as individuals remain the same but with ever less support.

The unprecedented mobilisation of officers this week ahead of the Trump visit, the World Cup and demonstrations by far-right extremists will not be accompanied by new, additional officers, as politicians sometimes imply with phrases like “extra police”.

Instead, every force in the entire country will be lending their own existing police officers to cover the additional demand, particularly from the Met, Thames Valley, Essex and Scotland. The vast majority of these will be covered by cancelling pre-planned ‘Rest Days’ (known as ‘weekends’ to most of us) and annual leave.

We’ve all had to cancel holiday, come in on a planned day off or work overtime in our jobs but in policing at the moment these burdens are relentless and there is no end in sight.

Most police forces now receive the same number of 999 and 101 calls on any given day in June as they used to only receive on New Year’s Eve, and demand is only going in one direction.

83% of those calls are ‘non-crime related’, which often means they involve cases to do with mental health, missing persons or other kinds of vulnerability, most of which should really be picked up by other over-stretched services but because they too have been left struggling after funding cuts, the responsibility falls to the police.

The consequent impact on the mental health of officers, who are not trained or equipped to deal with the extent of these vulnerabilities, is obvious. 

Police Oracle recently revealed that nearly 10,000 police officers have taken time off because of stress, depression or other mental health problems over the past year.

The number has soared by 77% in four years, from 5,460 in the year to March 2014, and is now the highest in the history of the police service.

Some of this will be because people are more open about their mental health and where once they would have cited ‘back pain’, they can now speak honestly about stress. But that cannot be the whole picture. The strength and resilience of our police force should worry us all.  We simply cannot keep asking more and more of them while denying officers the time and support to recuperate.

This week we’ll see policing in our country stretched to its absolute limit.  With every force deprived of thousands of officers who would normally be servicing their own demand, the short-term consequences will be that significant swathes of the country are not fully policed but in the longer-term the consequences for our most important policing asset, dedicated police officers who have already given their all, will be severe. 

The Government must finally admit that their reckless policing cuts have cost us dear and start to put it right.

Louise Haigh is the shadow policing minister and Labour MP for Sheffield Heeley


13/07/2018 03:01 PM
For Many Across Britain, Summer Is A Time Of Loneliness Rather Than Celebration

Summer. It’s a time of fun and friendship, sun and sea and, this year, sport. With the World Cup and Wimbledon injecting a festival feel across the world, many of us are now looking forward to an extended party with loved ones, catching some rays and indulging on ice cream and (Long Island) iced teas.

But for many people, summer isn’t a time of celebration. Instead, the long days and balmy nights – and the sense everyone is having fun – can create a sense of longing. Times and Trafalgar Squares may be thronging with tourists, but for those who are unable to travel, or have no one to travel with, that heavy feeling of loneliness can creep in.

For Lil, who is 85 years-old and has lived alone since losing her partner a decade ago, summer is an exercise in battling solitude. I met Lil in London seven years ago, so I know she keeps a busy schedule – film nights on Tuesdays, bingo on Wednesdays – because she “can’t bear to be between four walls.” When daylight drags into summer evenings, Lil takes a cab around her neighbourhood just to have someone to talk to. She arrives at the local fish and chip shop, where she snatches at conversation with hungry punters as they rush in and out for fast food – just to have someone to chat to.

This summer loneliness is not a rare phenomenon. Last year, one UK hotline for older people reported a 7% spike in calls from people over 55 in the first week of July – and its busiest day of the year was 7 August. 68% of callers reached out because they felt lonely or isolated. 90% lived alone. 54% reported having no one else to speak to. This side of the pond, studies have shown that three quarters of older people feel lonely; in the US, almost a third do.

And yet, as new loneliness minister Tracey Crouch powerfully told HuffPost’s Paul Waugh last week, that feeling of being left out or left behind is not uniquely a later life problem. With professional expectations, the proliferation of machine interaction, and FOMO (‘Fear of Missing Out’) heightened by the seasonal lifestyle brinkmanship of cocktail captures and hot dog legs on social media, young people, too, are suffering. And as Crouch said, the problem is trans-Atlantic: this year, a US poll found that people between 18 and 22 are most likely to report feeling lonely.

This issue matters because loneliness kills. It is as bad for people’s health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. It brings on heart attacks and strokes, dementia and depression. This makes sense when you consider that what makes us human is how we interact – how, amongst other species, it is our expression of empathy that marks us out. But it still may surprise people that while living with obesity increases the odds of dying early by 20%, and excessive drinking by 30%, living with loneliness – with too few relationships of depth or quality – increases our chance of premature death by up to a staggering 45%

Clearly, in the UK, our government has begun to take this issue seriously. With an increased understanding that loneliness is bad for individuals, communities and our beloved National Health Service – with doctors reporting an increasing number of appointments taken by older people with no other condition than that they’re lonely – Theresa May has announced new funding, metrics and a cross-governmental strategy to follow the appointment of Crouch as minister.

But in Britain, as in the US, we know government can’t really fix this problem. Treasury departments can’t make friends for people and social security can’t help people to share the type of meaningful experiences that truly bond. Thankfully, there’s something we can all do to help meet the challenge.

Seven years ago, I started The Cares Family, which brings those two loneliest age groups – people over the age of 70 like Lil, and under the age of 40 like me – together to share time, new experiences, and friendship. Today, 8,000 older and younger people are involved, and similar new initiatives are springing up across Britain.

But participating in organised community is not the only way to make a difference. In fact, it may not even be the best way. I have found that I feel most connected when I feel I belong. That’s why I set up The Cares Family, and it’s why I often encourage friends to make authentic human contact to help them to feel the same way. This can be as simple as taking off your headphones and saying hello to the bus driver in the morning; being playful with strangers; waving across the street to the barber you visit once a month; or stopping and chatting with neighbours like Lil. Loneliness works both ways – and so does its solution. 

So this summer, everyone should take their “five a day” – not just five sets of tennis or five minutes to enjoy a sunset; but a recommended five meaningful conversations in their community – conversations about love and loss, hope and heartbreak, mischief and misadventure. For us Brits, so accustomed to buttoning up, it may feel uncomfortable. But wherever you are, it may just save your life.

Alex Smith is Founder and CEO of The Cares Family and a 2018 Obama Foundation Fellow


13/07/2018 03:00 PM
It Shouldn’t Take Public Airing Of Ruined Lives To Shame MPs Into Acting On Harassment

The harassment and bullying scandal that has rocked Westminster over the last nine months was one of those moments where an almost unstoppable momentum for change was created.

The scandal uncovered a culture that would be almost unrecognisable in any modern workplace. Careers - and lives - have been ruined by the actions of a minority of MPs. Heartbreaking stories have emerged of systematic bullying, often with misogynistic undertones and, in some cases, serious allegations of sexual misconduct.

The scandal also laid bare the origins of this behaviour. Power structures in parties that prioritised political expediency over the protection of staff. MPs - and parties - left to govern their own conduct, with no real external challenge or scrutiny. Too much power vested in the Speaker, with no meaningful sense of corporate governance.

Too many MPs, Committee chairs or Whips wilfully ignored these incidents, or felt unable to challenge them. In this environment, misconduct was not only tolerated, but almost encouraged.

As the scandal unfolded, Andrea Leadsom was courageous as Leader of the House in setting out a vision to address this, quickly setting up a cross-party group to investigate and make recommendations.

That group, after much deliberation, will be setting out its proposals for change over the next week. Symptomatic of the inherent conflict of interest in Parliament, the MPs themselves will have to agree it.

The FDA has argued that these proposals are rushed. There are still a number of areas where there is a lack of clarity. Also, crucially, Dame Laura Cox QC was asked to conduct an independent inquiry to investigate the systematic bullying of House staff and provide recommendations. For the last two months, she has been hearing the testimonies of staff who have been subjected to this behaviour. Her report, delayed until September due to the volume of testimony she is receiving, should be a significant contribution to understanding the problems and addressing them for the future. Instead, the steering group has decided to press ahead without the benefit of Dame Laura’s report.

There is much to commended in their proposals. A new behavioural code will be established, covering everyone in the Palace of Westminster including politicians, staff, contractors and even jaded hacks. The code sets a yardstick that everyone can be measured against equally. There will be independent investigations, overseen by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards. There will be support and training, critical if culture is to be changed. All of this is to be commended. 

But here’s the rub: an independent investigation is one thing; independent decision-making is another. Minor misdemeanours can be dealt with by the Commissioner, but as yet undefined more “serious” ones will be judged by a committee of MPs. All the more ironic is that said committee contains lay members, but they don’t get a vote. In what is viewed as a concession - which in itself gives you an indication of the mindset of some - the lay members may get an “indicative” vote, but only when hearing appeals. Their votes won’t actually count, but at least they get to put their hands in the air. This was the same committee that recently voted 3-2 not to investigate allegations against the Speaker and, it transpired, had the lay members been allowed a vote, the decision would have been different. MPs marking their own homework is how we’ve characterised this and the proposals do not go any way near far enough in addressing this; one of the root causes of the problem in the first place.

Then we come to what has probably been the most problematic issue: historical cases. Let’s take a moment to reflect on where we are currently. Staff employed by MPs have effectively had no process to raise complaints. House staff have had a process called the “Respect” policy. It suffers from the same inherent weaknesses as outlined above and in its four years of operation, not a single complaint has been formally made - clear evidence that staff do not have confidence that a complaint will be dealt with either independently or meaningfully.

In essence, the very people that a process is there to protect have not been able or felt willing to make a formal complaint. One of our key objectives has been to ensure that, as we’ve put it, the slate is not wiped clean for those who have bullied or harassed staff. Not least because this behaviour often occurs over many months or years and those who behave in this way may well have done so to others over a period of time.

We recognise that this is difficult territory - difficult, not impossible. Historical cases can be complex to investigate. Memories fade and potential witnesses may have left. Once a meaningful process is in place for dealing with complaints, there is no reason why this process cannot be used for past cases. To be fair to all parties and to genuinely allow everyone to get closure and move on from the past, there could be a window of opportunity when the new policy is introduced to allow staff members to come forward and raise their complaint about past behaviour.

Andrea Leadsom’s group sought legal advice on this issue, as did we. The advice indicated that historical cases could be dealt with. It wouldn’t be simple, more work would be needed, it was not an unequivocal green light, but it was clear that if there was a will, there was a way. Instead, for no apparent good reason other than “fairness” (fairness to whom we might wonder) the steering group has chosen to restrict this provision and only allow cases from the beginning of this Parliament - June 2017 - to be investigated.

There is no legal impediment to going back further, this is simply a choice. A choice I’m afraid that sides with the perpetrators of bullying and harassment, rather than with the victims. It may be uncomfortable for some members of the steering group to hear their decision characterised like that, but that will be the effect of their decision.

Whatever promises there are of reviews after six months, I have no doubt that this is the time to effect real change. Politics and politicians will have moved on unless another scandal erupts and it shouldn’t take the public airing of ruined lives and careers to shame MPs to act. They should protect the staff that work in the House of Commons because, put simply, it is the right thing to do.

Dave Penman is general secretary of the FDA, the union for civil servants