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Latest Politics news, comment and analysis from the Guardian, the world's leading liberal voice



Published: Sat, 22 Jul 2017 17:16:25 GMT2017-07-22T17:16:25Z

Copyright: Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. 2017
 



Boots apologises over morning-after pill pricing row

Fri, 21 Jul 2017 23:22:45 GMT2017-07-21T23:22:45Z

Retailer to seek cheaper alternatives after intervention by female Labour MPs and calls for a boycott

Boots has said it is “truly sorry” for the way it responded to a campaign calling for it to cut the price of emergency contraception and said it is looking for cheaper alternatives.

The announcement, late on Friday night, came after news that the women’s parliamentary Labour party (PLP) had written to the store’s chief pharmacist to express “deep concern” about the company’s refusal to reduce the price of emergency contraception, and as calls for a boycott continue to grow.

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Diane Abbott fires back after ITV News tweets her interview stumble

Fri, 21 Jul 2017 15:37:19 GMT2017-07-21T15:37:19Z

Writing in the Guardian, Labour MP accuses broadcasters of missing the story, treating her differently to white, male MPs, and ignoring racist abuse

Diane Abbott has accused broadcasters of being proud to pursue “fact-free, research-free and investigation-free” journalism and of failing to acknowledge racist abuse against her.

Related: TV journalists set out to make me look stupid – and missed the real news | Diane Abbott

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Budget deficit leaps as Brexit-fuelled inflation troubles Hammond

Fri, 21 Jul 2017 17:34:23 GMT2017-07-21T17:34:23Z

Government borrowing rises by more than expected to £6.9bn in June – almost 50% higher than in the same month last year

The government was forced to borrow more than expected in June after a jump in the UK’s budget deficit to £6.9bn – almost 50% higher than the same month last year.

The sharp rise followed a spike in the cost of financing the UK’s debt, a drop in corporation tax receipts and a larger than forecast contribution to the EU in June.

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EU and Britain fail to reach agreement on half of issues in Brexit talks

Fri, 21 Jul 2017 14:59:43 GMT2017-07-21T14:59:43Z

Teams working on future rights of EU citizens in UK and Britons in Europe are still to resolve 22 of 44 issues under discussion

The EU and UK Brexit teams working on the future rights of EU citizens in the UK and Britons in Europe have failed to reach agreement on 22 of the 44 issues under negotiation, a joint working paper has revealed.

A detailed colour-coded document reveals there is agreement on 22 “green areas” but fundamental disagreements on 14 “red” issues and a further eight “amber” areas that need further clarification.

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Michael Gove 'deeply regrets' Trump's approach to Paris climate agreement

Fri, 21 Jul 2017 09:51:08 GMT2017-07-21T09:51:08Z

In first speech since cabinet return, environment secretary says he hopes US president will have a change of heart

Michael Gove has said he “deeply regrets” Donald Trump’s approach to the Paris agreement on climate change and hopes the president will have a change of heart, in his first speech since returning to the cabinet.

The environment secretary said international cooperation was crucial to resolve the problem of climate change, adding: “The world’s second-biggest generator of carbon emissions can’t simply walk out of the room when the heat is on.”

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Tories were warned about anger at austerity before the election

Fri, 21 Jul 2017 17:53:46 GMT2017-07-21T17:53:46Z

MPs warn that Corbyn has identified “the right grievances” as damning findings of internal research are revealed

Concerns about austerity and the public-sector pay cap were highlighted in internal Conservative research carried out before the general election, leaving senior figures aghast that the party failed to act upon the warnings, the Guardian understands.

Individuals taking part in a series of in-depth focus groups raised widespread concerns over issues such as school cuts and the lack of pay rises for loved ones working in public services, such as nurses and teachers, sources have revealed.

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Banks and companies plan expansion in Frankfurt after Brexit

Fri, 21 Jul 2017 17:53:07 GMT2017-07-21T17:53:07Z

US investment bank Morgan Stanley is latest to choose city as it vies to become EU’s principle financial centre and win back jobs lost in banking crisis

Several hundred banks and companies have contacted German authorities about expanding in Frankfurt, as the city vies to become the EU’s principal financial centre after Brexit.

Lucia Puttrich, Europe minister in the government of the state of Hesse, told the Guardian she had been in talks with several banks about expanding their presence in Frankfurt or the Rhine-Main area.

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Rendition case against Jack Straw must be held in secret, judge rules

Fri, 21 Jul 2017 13:43:53 GMT2017-07-21T13:43:53Z

Decision means couple allegedly abducted and sent to Libya and their lawyers will be excluded from hearing parts of the trial

The high court should sit in secret when the former foreign secretary Jack Straw faces a damages claim over his alleged role in the abduction and torture of a Libyan dissident and his pregnant wife, a ruling has said.

Having failed in a previous attempt to have the case against Straw struck out, government lawyers successfully sought to have it heard behind closed doors under controversial new justice measures.

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Michael Gove says cabinet is united on Brexit transition period

Fri, 21 Jul 2017 17:07:27 GMT2017-07-21T17:07:27Z

Eurosceptic Tory backbenchers bristle after environment secretary says ministers agree on ‘pragmatic’ approach to free movement

Michael Gove has said the cabinet is committed to a post-Brexit transition period that takes a “pragmatic approach” to free movement, as Eurosceptic Tory backbenchers warned the UK must not “check out and never leave”.

The environment secretary said a transition was needed to give businesses and the agriculture industry reassurance and different sectors had impressed upon the government the importance of avoiding a cliff edge exit from the EU, after his first major speech since returning to the cabinet.

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Politics Live - readers' edition - Friday 21 July

Fri, 21 Jul 2017 06:42:39 GMT2017-07-21T06:42:39Z

Discuss today’s politics and share links to breaking news, and to the most interesting stories and blogs on the web 7.41am BST I’m not writing my usual blog today but here, as an alternative, is the Politics Live readers’ edition. It is a place for you to discuss today’s politics, and to share links to breaking news and to the most interesting stories and blogs on the web.Feel free to express your views robustly, but please treat others with respect and don’t resort to abuse. Guardian comment pages are supposed to be a haven from the Twitter/social media rant-orama, not an extension of it. Related: Cabinet accepts Brexit transition will mean years of free movement Related: Tories use 'take out the trash' day to dump controversial reports Related: Vince Cable named Lib Dem leader as no other candidate emerges Related: Contaminated blood inquiry runs into trouble as victims boycott consultation Related: Severn crossings tolls to be scrapped next year Nine council by-elections tonight, previewed by @andrewteale:https://t.co/nI1sQWURKi pic.twitter.com/TKpwiIrBnGLabour HOLD Billingham North (Stockton-on-Tees).Billingham North (Stockton):LAB 40.5% (+5.3)CON 38.7% (+19.0)IND 11.0% (+11.0)LD 5.3% (+5.3)NEP 4.5% (+4.5)No UKIP/Oth as prevConservative HOLD Chiddingly & East Hoathly (Wealden).Ketton (Rutland) result:CON: 68.8% (+12.7)LDEM: 31.2% (+4.2)Conservative HOLD.No UKIP as prev.Whissendine (Rutland) result:IND (I. Arnold): 54.1% (+54.1)CON: 26.0% (-0.8)IND: 11.7% (+11.7)LDEM: 8.2% (-56.9)Ind GAIN from LDem.Labour GAIN Leek East (Staffordshire Moorlands) from Conservative.Leek East (Staffordshire Moorlands) result:LAB: 45.0% (+25.6)CON: 28.9% (+1.1)IND: 19.5% (+19.5)LDEM: 6.6% (+0.7)No UKIP/Oth as prev.Labour GAIN Alston Moor (Eden) from Liberal Democrat.Alston Moor (Eden) result:LAB: 55.8% (+55.8)CON: 34.7% (-10.7)IND: 7.8% (+7.8)GRN: 1.8% (+1.8)Lab GAIN from LDem.No LDem candidate.New Romney (Shepway) result:CON: 35.2% (+6.2)LAB: 32.5% (+21.5)IND: 27.5% (+27.5)LDEM: 4.8% (-3.7)Con HOLD.No UKIP and Grn as prev.St Helier (Merton) result:LAB: 74.1% (+3.1)CON: 15.6% (+1.7)LDEM: 4.8% (+1.9)GRN: 3.0% (+0.3)UKIP: 2.5% (-7.0)[Corrected % chgs]Tonight's council by-election results:Lab: 4 (+2)Con: 3 (-1)Ind: 1 (+1)LDem: 0 (-2)Awaiting St Michaels (Knowsley): Lab defence. pic.twitter.com/wuaE0l6hEp Continue reading...[...]


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Cabinet accepts Brexit transition will mean years of free movement

Thu, 20 Jul 2017 21:00:35 GMT2017-07-20T21:00:35Z

Senior source tells Guardian mood has shifted under pressure from British businesses to secure a workable deal

The British cabinet has accepted that free movement of people for up to four years after Britain leaves the EU will be part of a Brexit transition deal, according to a senior source.

As the EU chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, underlined the need for clarity on the British side at the end of the latest round of exit negotiations, soft Brexiters in the cabinet are now confident they have achieved a consensus about an “off the shelf” transition deal.

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Tories use 'take out the trash' day to dump controversial reports

Thu, 20 Jul 2017 18:58:40 GMT2017-07-20T18:58:40Z

Official documents that include details of deep cuts to police numbers published too late to be scrutinised by MPs

Theresa May has been accused of an “absolute affront” to democracy after dumping dozens of official documents online on parliament’s last day of term, showing the police force numbers have dropped to a 30-year low and the number of soldiers has fallen by 7,000.

The government has published very little for weeks after the election but about 22 written statements and dozens of Whitehall reports were released on Thursday, just as MPs embark on their long summer break.

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Rising crime spells deep trouble for Theresa May

Thu, 20 Jul 2017 15:34:02 GMT2017-07-20T15:34:02Z

Problem for PM is that crime figures are accompanied by news that police numbers have reached lowest level since 1985

The latest set of police recorded crime figures published on Thursday showing accelerating double-digit rises across England and Wales spells serious political trouble for Theresa May and her home secretary, Amber Rudd.

Related: Crime rise is biggest in a decade, ONS figures show

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Vince Cable named Lib Dem leader as no other candidate emerges

Thu, 20 Jul 2017 17:39:02 GMT2017-07-20T17:39:02Z

Former business secretary officially announced as leader of the Liberal Democrats after resignation of Tim Farron

Vince Cable has pledged to offer an “exit from Brexit” as the new leader of the Liberal Democrats, signalling he will continue to push his party’s demand for a second referendum on EU membership.

The 74-year-old former business secretary was named party leader as the only candidate on the ballot paper when nominations closed at 4pm on Thursday. Former leader Tim Farron, who stood down after the election citing conflicts with his Christian faith and the demands of leadership, said his successor would be “strong and Cable”.

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Britons living in Europe could lose right to live in another EU country

Thu, 20 Jul 2017 13:00:06 GMT2017-07-20T13:00:06Z

Threat of potential restriction on UK citizens after Brexit emerges at end of intense technical talks in Brussels

British people living in the European Union could lose the right to live in another EU member state after Brexit, it emerged at the end of talks in Brussels.

British officials raised the issue with their European counterparts during three-and-a-half days of intense technical talks. The EU made clear it would not move without a reciprocal offer for European nationals living in Britain that would allow them to move to another EU country and return to the UK.

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MP calls for clock-in cards to prove peers are putting in 'full shift'

Thu, 20 Jul 2017 11:58:35 GMT2017-07-20T11:58:35Z

SNP spokesman wants tap-out system in parliament after claims that lords popped in just to claim £300 daily allowance

Peers and MPs should use security cards to tap in and out of parliament so the public can see how much time they are spending in Westminster, a senior MP has proposed.

Tommy Sheppard, SNP spokesman in the Commons, has written to the Speakers of both houses and the head of security in the Palace of Westminster asking them to consider his proposal. He suggests it would not only help transparency, but would also aid the authorities in emergency situations.

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More ex-ministers take private sector jobs amid 'revolving door' claims

Thu, 20 Jul 2017 16:46:03 GMT2017-07-20T16:46:03Z

Watchdog says 52 former ministers took roles outside parliament, up from 33 the previous year

The number of former ministers taking up jobs outside parliament has risen by nearly 60% in a year, official figures disclose.

The increase, from 33 former ministers to 52, coincides with complaints that lawmakers are routinely making use of a “revolving door” to pursue lucrative contracts in the private sector.

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Vince Cable plans wealth taxes to win back Labour voters

Sat, 22 Jul 2017 16:56:59 GMT2017-07-22T16:56:59Z

Scandinavian-style policies could counter Labour’s ‘cult’, the new Liberal Democrat leader believes

Vince Cable has signalled he will examine radical new taxes on wealth to ease inequality in Britain, as he vowed to win over voters from the “cult” of Labour under Jeremy Corbyn.

The new Liberal Democrat leader, who secured the job last week after he emerged as the only candidate, said he wanted to look at ideas such as aligning capital gains tax with income tax to ensure the richest pay more.

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Briton in Spain fears losing access to healthcare after Brexit

Sat, 22 Jul 2017 09:30:04 GMT2017-07-22T09:30:04Z

Pensioner Tony Stone fears his future healthcare costs have become a bargaining chip in Brexit negotiations

An 81-year-old British retired antiques dealer who lives in Spain has said he fears his marriage to his Russian wife could be destroyed because Theresa May’s proposals for EU citizens will not cover his healthcare.

Tony Stone has retired to Spain and relies on the current rules whereby the NHS reimburses UK pensioners for treatment in another country.

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Jeremy Corbyn is not the Messiah | Letters

Fri, 21 Jul 2017 17:11:47 GMT2017-07-21T17:11:47Z

Readers engage with Owen Jones’s enthusiasm for the Labour leader

Owen Jones suggests that “to understand the future, we must reconsider the past” (Blair should accept his era is over, 20 July), adding that the lesson of the past is that “Labour’s role is to tear down a bankrupt social order, not defend it”. Noble sentiments – but surely not an accurate historical assessment? The early Labour party of a century ago was a reformist, social-democratic movement, not a revolutionary Marxist organisation. If it had been intent on tearing down “a bankrupt social order” there would have been no need for the British Communist party. Instead, it has seen its job – from Ramsay MacDonald to Tony Blair – as giving capitalism an acceptable face. And in that respect it has some notable achievements to its credit. If there is any lesson at all from history, it is that there are no lessons from history; as the election this year demonstrated once again with startling clarity, no one has a clue what’s coming down the pike.
Peter Lyth
Southwell, Nottinghamshire

• Owen Jones notes that we are living in an age when the ideas of Jeremy Corbyn fit the reality and those of Tony Blair don’t. Change can sometimes happen quickly but ideas and the individuals who have them are often slow to catch up, which means New Labour and its supporters will be around for a while yet.

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Brexit talks: the key dividing lines between Britain and the EU

Fri, 21 Jul 2017 05:00:09 GMT2017-07-21T05:00:09Z

As David Davis and Michel Barnier face each other across the negotiating table, what are the main stumbling blocks?

The most bitter arguments in a divorce are often about money, and Brexit is no exception. The EU wants Britain to agree a “single financial settlement” covering debts and unpaid bills accrued over 44 years of membership. The British acknowledged last week they have “obligations” to the EU, a move seen as a breakthrough on both sides.

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The UK’s Brexit negotiators are powered by little more than hope

Sat, 22 Jul 2017 16:00:42 GMT2017-07-22T16:00:42Z

David Davis and Liam Fox may believe that Britain can have its cake and eat it, but few others do

Don’t worry, the Brexiters say – when the negotiations reach their nail-biting conclusion, Brussels will cave in.

In parliament, there are more than enough Tory backbench MPs who hold this view to stymie any backsliding by chief negotiator David Davis and his cabinet colleagues. Or so they think.

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From the railways to the NHS – why can’t Britain think anything through? | Ian Jack

Sat, 22 Jul 2017 06:00:31 GMT2017-07-22T06:00:31Z

The saga of delayed and failed rail electrification suggests our politicians and officials are more comfortable with talking than with deliberation

• Ian Jack is a Guardian columnist

The line from Gospel Oak to Barking used to be one of London’s more obscure railways, looping 14 miles through the northern and eastern suburbs and never penetrating the capital’s centre. A railway enthusiast could have told you that the boat trains from Tilbury to St Pancras used to use it – for many visitors and migrants from the British empire, including MK Gandhi and some of the passengers from the Empire Windrush, the line offered a first view of England’s back gardens.

Related: Grayling sparks fury by scrapping rail electrification plans

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Vince Cable leads a party that has lost all that it stood for | Deborah Orr

Fri, 21 Jul 2017 17:02:28 GMT2017-07-21T17:02:28Z

Why didn’t he stand for the Lib Dem leadership 10 years ago? He might have avoided all the calls that led his party to disaster

• Deborah Orr is a Guardian columnist

Vince Cable has become leader of the Lib Dems, and just 10 years after he should have taken his chance. Acting leader after the resignation of Menzies Campbell in 2007, he didn’t stand, leaving Chris Huhne and Nick Clegg to slug it out. The rest is disaster. The best that can be said about Clegg is that at least he wasn’t Huhne, who ended his political career in prison.

The funny thing is that Campbell’s resignation was in part prompted by suggestions that, at 67, he was “too old”. We will leave aside the obvious point, that the man hadn’t even reached the Britain’s new retirement age. Cable, the oldest party leader since Churchill, is not “too old” at 74. He’s just far, far too tardy.

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Theresa May can flee the UK, but remainers will have to take solace in the Proms

Fri, 21 Jul 2017 15:12:53 GMT2017-07-21T15:12:53Z

The prime minister must be fed up after recent events, although appointing Michael Gove to environment will have made her chuckle

To celebrate the start of the Proms, I bought a soundbar to go with the TV. Predictably, this led to several hours of torment as I struggled to connect it. The only instructions that came with the speaker gave little away other than “Plug in and play”. There were few clues about what to plug in where, and it was only by trial and error and a bit of tape to hold an optical cable in its socket that I got the thing up and running. But once connected, all was forgiven as the sound added a depth I didn’t realise I had missed. It’s the best £80 I’ve spent in a long time. Even third-rate crime dramas that I would normally doze through began to sound like Hollywood epics. The highlight, though, has been Igor Levit’s performance of Beethoven’s Third Piano Concerto, which was just spellbinding. He was also wearing a lapel badge of the EU flag and when he came to give his encore, he played an arrangement of Beethoven’s Ode to Joy – the official hymn of the EU. The remainers’ resistance continues in the Albert Hall. Catch it on iPlayer.

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Michael Gove’s green dream: like Brexit, the reality awaits

Fri, 21 Jul 2017 14:39:09 GMT2017-07-21T14:39:09Z

Gove’s vision for the environment is undoubtedly ambitious but it is at odds with much government action – making it real will be a gargantuan task

Who knew? Environment secretary Michael Gove, arch Brexiter and seen just months ago grinning and thumbs up in eco-villain Donald Trump’s lair, turns out to be – in words, at least – a deep green.

His first major speech railed against “corporate greed and devil-take-the-hindmost individualism”, “extractive and exploitative political systems” and the “selfish agenda” of vested interests.

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TV journalists set out to make me look stupid – and missed the real news | Diane Abbott

Fri, 21 Jul 2017 14:27:41 GMT2017-07-21T14:27:41Z

This week I was caught up in a ‘gotcha’ storm. The headlines should have been about the alarming rise in crime, not about an interview stumble

• Diane Abbott is shadow home secretary and MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington

I found myself in the middle of a “gotcha” journalism storm this week. The government released new crime statistics on Thursday, revealing the highest annual rise in crime in a decade. This, together with the fact that we are seeing the lowest police numbers in 30 years, is a story. It shows that Tory austerity is actually making all of us less safe. So I sent out a press release which included the fact that Labour in government would recruit 10,000 more police officers. And I did a series of media interviews.

Related: Rising crime spells deep trouble for Theresa May

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Of course the Maybot needs to recharge her batteries. I propose a holiday in balmy Brexit Britain

Fri, 21 Jul 2017 14:07:19 GMT2017-07-21T14:07:19Z

Rather than rambling in Italy, our PM should try a tour of our newly sovereign paradise and take in the cool culinary trend of ‘food banks’. And then there’s the chance to spot a rare police officer in the wild

It seems Theresa May is finally listening to suggestions that she take a hike. The prime minister is about to head off on her hols, a three-week walking tour of northern Italy and Switzerland with a quick stop in Brussels. Even the Maybot has to recharge her batteries now and again, and there’s nothing like a nice stroll for clearing the mind and figuring out your next steps. Just look what happened last time May went on a walking holiday: she came up with the brilliant idea of holding a snap election. I can’t wait for the exciting eureka moments that will reveal themselves to the PM on her upcoming rambles.

However, while I support our tireless leader’s decision to get a little R&R, I’m somewhat shocked by her choice of destination. After carefully consulting a map, it turns out both Italy and Brussels are in the EU! Ewww! What’s more, I’m afraid to report that mediocre Switzerland isn’t part of Great Britain. I thought the whole point of this Brexiting business was to avoid fraternising with foreigners and ensure the UK was completely isolated from the rest of the world? Shouldn’t May be holidaying at home? Wouldn’t that be the patriotic thing to do?

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The Black Country flag row shows Britain is still blind to its colonial past | Matthew Stallard

Fri, 21 Jul 2017 12:51:24 GMT2017-07-21T12:51:24Z

Local MP Eleanor Smith raised concerns over the emblem – and caused outrage. But the region’s connection to slavery cannot be ignored

• Matthew Stallard is a historian of class and race at the University of Manchester

The recently designed flag of the Black Country achieved its most prominent national coverage yet on Wednesday at prime minister’s questions when Theresa May came to its defence following the newly elected MP for Wolverhampton South West’s expression of “serious concerns” about its “racist connotations”. That a row ostensibly about local heritage had reached the attention of the highest office in the land says a great deal about the way in which our collective memory is coloured by the social impacts of deindustrialisation and our amnesia over the legacies of slavery and imperialism.

Created by a local 12-year-old schoolgirl to represent the area’s industrial heritage, with the shape of a white glassmaking chimney and three linked chains, it was chosen by public vote in 2012 as the “official” flag of the region. The chimney is flanked by black and red panels inspired by Elihu Burritt’s famous description of the area as “black by day and red by night”.

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William and Kate have been duped into endorsing Poland’s ugly nationalism | Kate Maltby

Fri, 21 Jul 2017 11:58:49 GMT2017-07-21T11:58:49Z

The royal couple’s Polish trip was all about sucking up to a deeply unpleasant government. Why? We might need its help over Brexit

• Kate Maltby is an associate fellow of Bright Blue, a thinktank for liberal conservatism

If you stuck “Poland” into Google News this week, you will have been rewarded with a slew of headlines about the Duchess of Cambridge’s latest dress. Today, the duke and duchess finish their summer tour of Europe. The Telegraph has gushed: “‘She reminds us of Princess Diana’: how Germany and Poland fell in love with the Duchess of Cambridge”. This has been billed as the Brexit tour: a visit to shore up links with Poland’s Eurosceptic leaders, followed by a few days making nice to Angela Merkel in Germany. Down on your knees, Britons, and thank God for Jenny Packham diplomacy.

Related: Brexit can wait. Europe’s pressing worry is its fracturing eastern democracies | Jan Kubik

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Peter Dutton's new mega department will streamline dog whistling and fear whipping | First Dog on the Moon

Thu, 20 Jul 2017 03:49:31 GMT2017-07-20T03:49:31Z

It is too easy to poke fun at Peter Dutton, to blame him for the steaming heap of death and madness that is the Manus Island mental illness factory

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London must remain open to the world

Tue, 31 Jan 2017 11:55:27 GMT2017-01-31T11:55:27Z

The capital should have its own migration system to help it to help Britain survive leaving the EU

There are always exceptions. Since the nation voted to leave the European Union, the mayor of its capital city, Sadiq Khan, has declared that “London Is Open”, but he wouldn’t mind it being closed to Donald Trump. Hundreds of thousands of Londoners sympathise, judging by the map of signatories of the petition to stop the US president paying a state visit and making life difficult for the Queen.

This isn’t typical behaviour. In general, the capital welcomes foreigners, including those who, unlike Trump, plan to stick around and do something useful. About two million of the city’s work force of five million were born overseas, of which at least half come from elsewhere in the EU. London-haters find this frightening, a foretaste of foreignness eating the green and pleasant land. They hope Brexit will stem the alien tide, buttressing a fading Britannia of yore. They may not have yet grasped how damaging for them a cut in incomers from overseas could be.

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Plots, feuds and summer reading – Politics Weekly podcast

Wed, 19 Jul 2017 17:34:46 GMT2017-07-19T17:34:46Z

Heather Stewart is joined by Kate Maltby, Steve Richards and Jonathan Freedland to discuss the cabinet infighting threatening to derail the government. Plus we get tips from MPs Keith Simpson and Chris Bryant on summer reading lists

As parliament approaches its summer recess, a period of plots, feuds and political machinations is in store as Conservative cabinet ministers escalate a war of briefings and damaging leaks. Can Labour sit back and watch the mayhem ensue?

Joining Heather Stewart to discuss it all are political commentators Kate Maltby, Steve Richards and Jonathan Freedland.

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Fail to prepare, prepare for glorious success in Brexit negotiations | John Crace

Thu, 20 Jul 2017 15:18:04 GMT2017-07-20T15:18:04Z

Michel Barnier searched for the British position, and there it was, standing with a finger in your ear, staring at the floor

More than half an hour later than planned, Michel Barnier and David Davis walked into the lecture theatre to give their joint press conference to mark the end of the latest round of Brexit negotiations in Brussels.

The extra time didn’t appear to have been put to any noticeable useful effect. The handshakes were no more than polite and neither man made much effort to look the other in the eye. The entente appeared not that cordiale.

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The Snap: Theresa May – still prime minister, but for how long?

Sat, 10 Jun 2017 05:48:17 GMT2017-06-10T05:48:17Z

Tories (and press) turn on May … Labour wins in Kensington …most diverse parliament ever … and can DUP deal survive questions over hardline beliefs?

Here we are, the morning after the morning after, with Theresa May still in No 10, still prime minister and still without a majority.

Related: General election 2017: chastened Theresa May to name her team – live

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Contaminated blood inquiry runs into trouble as victims boycott consultation

Fri, 21 Jul 2017 06:00:10 GMT2017-07-21T06:00:10Z

Officials forced to rethink plans as all key campaign groups refuse to attend meeting due to involvement of Department of Health

Ministers are working on a plan to rescue the troubled inquiry into contaminated blood after none of the victims of the scandal turned up to its first consultation meeting.

All the key campaign groups boycotted the meeting because of the involvement of the Department of Health. Survivors lack trust in the department and its officials after fighting for 30 years for an investigation into how contaminated blood transfusions infected thousands of people with hepatitis C and HIV.

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Theresa May's ratings slump in wake of general election – poll

Sun, 02 Jul 2017 09:23:17 GMT2017-07-02T09:23:17Z

As support for Jeremy Corbyn surges, over 60% of voters now view prime minister less favourably than they did before

Theresa May has suffered a startling decline in popularity since last month’s general election with a new opinion poll showing 61% of voters now view her in a more negative light than they did when the electorate denied her an overall majority on 8 June.

The extraordinary transformation in the prime minister’s ratings, which were sky high in early April after she called the snap election, has been accompanied by a rise in public respect for Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, according to a new Opinium survey for the Observer.

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UK may fail to get trade deal with EU unless it agrees not to lower standards, says Barnier - Politics live

Thu, 20 Jul 2017 16:43:54 GMT2017-07-20T16:43:54Z

Rolling coverage of the day’s political developments as they happen, including David Davis’s press conference with Michel Barnier at the end of this week’s Brexit talksDavis/Barnier press conference - Summary and analysisDavis/Barnier press conference - Verdict from the Twitter commentariatAfternoon summary 5.43pm BST 5.17pm BST Just in case you haven’t had enough of Michel Barnier, the House of Lords European Union committee has now published the transcript of the meeting it had with Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, in Brussels on Wednesday last week. There are several good lines.You talked about the risk of divergence. It is a risk, not a certainty. The repeal bill is meant to bring EU legislation into British laws, and that is very good and important, but what will happen D plus 10 or D plus 20? How will your law and your standards develop?These are also questions for the other member states. The mechanics of this divergence should not lead to unfair competition, because if we do not answer this question - of course, you can help us to find solutions to this because you have so much expertise, skill and competence, and you can help us to have a level playing field - I can tell you that there will be major difficulties in obtaining ratification of any future agreement in all countries, because there will be campaigns against the negotiations. It will be said that Brussels is conducting negotiations with the UK to downgrade environmental and social standards, for example, which will lead to more tax competition. If that happens, everything is over. I do not want that. I want us to make progress.There are thousands of town halls, municipalities, businesses and universities that have undertaken projects on the basis of those undertakings and commitments. If we are to cut 15% or whatever—that is the UK share—there will be an explosion everywhere across the board. You cannot build a relationship in trust on a situation like that. That is why we have to solve this question calmly and objectively.I am concerned, to be very frank with you, that the 27 Governments, the 27 national parliaments that are behind each Government, and the European Parliament, where I spend a lot of my time, need objective reasons to trust what we can do together in the future. If we do not find that trust and if we cannot find an agreement on settling the accounts, there will be no trust later. That is what I think. There will be no trust to do anything else later, and I want there to be trust later to do things together.There is an important point here relating to when withdrawal actually occurs. It cannot be that the longer it takes the less you pay. This is not an insignificant point. If we are looking at the date of March 2019 or maybe 2020, commitments will have been made before this period going to 2021, 2022, 2023, and perhaps later, so this is what we have to sort out. The UK has lots of commitments and will have to pay them.In the speech I gave [...]


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Call for vice-chancellors paid more than May to prove their worth

Wed, 19 Jul 2017 18:01:42 GMT2017-07-19T18:01:42Z

Universities minister Jo Johnson wants clampdown on higher education salaries that dwarf prime minister’s pay

University vice-chancellors earning more than the prime minister will be asked to prove they are worth it as part of a clampdown on accelerating pay increases among higher education leaders.

In a speech on Thursday, the universities minister, Jo Johnson, will tell higher education institutions that in future they will have to justify exceptionally high salaries.

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Blow-by-blow Brexit: how the main players see the seven key areas

Thu, 20 Jul 2017 08:47:47 GMT2017-07-20T08:47:47Z

Negotiations on the UK’s withdrawal from the EU are happening on several fronts simultaneously, with multiple seemingly contradictory positions being stated almost daily. At least on the UK side. Find out what the latest state of play is, and how the mood is changing

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'Vince Cable is a building block': Lib Dems on the party's future

Thu, 20 Jul 2017 15:50:52 GMT2017-07-20T15:50:52Z

From optimism to fears the party is at a crossroads, we hear from Liberal Democrat readers as Vince Cable becomes leader

Vince Cable is officially the new leader of the Liberal Democrats. He stood unopposed in the leadership election, with no other candidates putting their name forward before nominations closed at 4pm on Thursday.

Related: Vince Cable named Lib Dem leader as no other candidate emerges

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Britons in Europe 'face huge loss' if EU and UK cannot agree on rights

Thu, 20 Jul 2017 16:42:26 GMT2017-07-20T16:42:26Z

UK citizens in EU react with dismay as Brussels threatens to withdraw offer on free movement unless Britain matches it

British citizens living in the European Union say they will suffer “a huge loss” if negotiators from the UK and Brussels do not settle their differences over the rights of citizens to live and work across the continent after Brexit.

The EU had offered to allow the 1.2 million Britons living in Europe before Brexit to continue to have the right to freedom of movement, so they could live, work, study and enjoy visa-free travel in any EU country.

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PMQs verdict: Corbyn is transformed, even if the arguments are not

Wed, 19 Jul 2017 11:47:40 GMT2017-07-19T11:47:40Z

Final exchange before parliamentary recess is a mostly dull affair but the Labour leader increasingly has the upper hand

Jeremy Corbyn opened with a dig at cabinet infighting, wondering if Phillip Hammond’s alleged remark about public servants being overpaid was directed at the chancellor’s ministerial colleagues. Theresa May responded that the plight of the low paid, or just-about-managing, in both the public and private sectors had been a central concern of her leadership and that the government had responded by introducing the national living wage and cutting tax for those on the basic rate.

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Tell us how the Brexit negotiations affect you

Thu, 20 Jul 2017 13:30:47 GMT2017-07-20T13:30:47Z

If you’re a British citizen in an EU country or an EU citizen in Britain, we want to know what impact the Brexit process is having on your life

Divisions between the EU and UK positions on Brexit have emerged as three and a half days of intense talks in Brussels come to an end.

Related: Britons living in Europe could lose right to live in another EU country

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Hundreds of thousands of retired Britons in EU 'may be forced to return'

Wed, 18 Jan 2017 17:02:38 GMT2017-01-18T17:02:38Z

Campaigners say pensioners in countries such as Spain will have to go back to UK if they can no longer get free healthcare

Hundreds of thousands of elderly Britons living in Europe may be forced to return to the UK unless the government guarantees that their healthcare will continue to be reimbursed by the NHS, campaigners for British people settled in Spain and France have warned.

The House of Commons Brexit select committee was told on Wednesday that an unintended consequence of Brexit could be a surge in immigration of British migrants both working and retired.

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