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HuffPost UK - Athena2 - All Entries (Public)
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    “Economy” can be a scary and complex word few of us want to discuss. When the economy is talked about by politicians or on the news, it’s laced with jargon about “quantitative easing” and “stock market bubbles”, making it hard to understand how it relates to our lives. Perhaps, therefore, it isn’t surprising that following the UK Brexit vote 45 percent of British people surveyed admitted they did not understand the consequences Brexit would have on their own economy. But we should be surprised. As the discussions surrounding Brexit demonstrate, the economy and the decisions politicians make regarding it have a profound impact on the lives of those living and working in the UK, from the quality of food people eat to the services they benefit from. It’s important, therefore, for people to understand what the economy is – to be better able to judge the actions their politicians are taking and to help them make better informed individual economic decisions. There are additional benefits too. Meaningful efforts to engage the public can reassure citizens that their leaders are listening to them, thereby increasing trust in politicians. And through the sharing of citizens’ lived experiences and perspectives, experts from institutions like the HM Treasury or Bank of England can gain valuable insight into their values and opinions. There is much evidence to suggest that a diversity of perspectives improves the effectiveness of policy-making, as well as being fair. More democratic economic processes can promote transparency and strengthen the legitimacy and credibility of economic institutions. However, despite the enormous potential democratising the economy has for strengthening and making our economic institutions more fair and inclusive, a large democratic deficit in economics continues to exist. So what can be done to engage citizens in discussions about the economy? Citizens’ Economic Council The Citizens’ Economic Council, run by the Royal Society of Arts, is a two-year programme aiming to give citizens a say on UK economic policy and to demonstrate how citizens can increase their influence over the future of the national economy. The council engaged 54 randomly selected citizenson a journey through national economic policy over five days in five months with officials and policymakers from the Bank of England, pension funds, business, Chambers of Commerce and economists.A variety of different activities were used to engage and empower those taking part. For example, participants were encouraged to “call out” and “jargon bust” any terminology that was unclear to them during the process. The frequency with which they did this clearly demonstrated the seemingly impenetrable barrier economic language poses to clarity about economics, and led the citizens to co-produce a “jargon buster”, which will be published online in the programme’s final series of resources. For the programme to be as wide-reaching and inclusive as possible, RSA carried out other methods of engagement to complement the council. This included an Economic Inclusion Roadshow, running workshops across the UK, from Port Talbot in Wales, to London, to Clacton-on-sea, to bring in a wide variety of voices from those most left behind by economic policy. The Roadshow engaged with steelworkers, school students, care workers, ethnic minorities, LGBT people and disabled people. The impact of the programme on the participants has been phenomenal. By asking a series of questions at the end of each session, we found that the percentage of people who felt they did not know how much influence they had over the economy decreased by over 50 percent. The citizens also felt more connected to people in their society and community and felt more optimistic about the future. This effect is even starker if you look at the individual journeys of some of the participants. One participant has increased her pension contributions as a result of the council and is encouraging many of her colleagues to do the same, while another citizen joined a political party and is interested in standing as a local councillor. It was clear from the programme that citizens felt empowered by participating and more able to influence the economy, particularly as a result of collaborating with policymakers. While the UK has been making some progress, as can be seen by the Bank of England’s Andy Haldane and his own roadshow to engage citizens across the country, more programmes such as the CEC are needed if we are to empower citizens and align their values with those of our economic institutions. Going forward Following the findings of the Citizens’ Economic Council, it is essential that the UK government review its current code for public engagement and participation, with an aim of introducing Citizens’ reference panels and juries as way of allowing citizens to give their views. This could be trialed for example by the Bank of England to deliberate key economic decisions with citizens, such as the setting of interest rates. The policy can then be broadened to other government departments on its success. There are several other examples of citizen juries and similar programmes around the world which demonstrate the benefits of engaging citizens in deliberative democracy. Deliberation by citizens during the 2011 constitutional convention in Ireland, a programme of similar style to the Citizens’ Economic Council,  crucially highlighted the views of Irish citizens and so forced the government to take their proposals seriously. As a result, the convention was crucial to bringing about a successful referendum on same-sex marriage, and the conventions also proposed economic and social rights for inclusion in Ireland’s constitution. More boldly, since 1987 Porto Alegre, Brazil has undergone a process of participatory budgeting – the process of allocating public funds for citizens to deliberate over and decide how the money should be spent. This process was incredibly effective and led to a dramatic increase in sewer and water connections, an increase in the number of schools in the city, and a larger health and education budget. These are clear examples of why engaging citizens in political decision-making is an essential component of effective policy-making. The success of these initiatives not only inspired the creation of the Citizens’ Economic Council, but similar citizen engagement initiatives have now been introduced in several countries around the world, all empowering citizens to have a greater say in the political decisions that affect them, including around their economy. It is clear that the thirst for greater democratic participation in all areas of government policy is increasing around the world. It’s abouttime our institutions adapted to meet this greater demand for citizen deliberation in democracies. For more content and to be part of HuffPost’s new economy community join our Facebook Group.

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    Prince Harry’s bride-to-be may still only just be coming to terms with her newfound Meghan Markle effect, but she’s already harnessing it to shine a spotlight on local talent. Markle was spotted wearing Dina skinny fit high waist jeans from Welsh brand Hiut Denim Co. while visiting Cardiff Castle with her fiancé on 18 January. She may be following in the Duchess of Cambridge’s footsteps, as her future sister-in-law is known to use her appearances to support local designers. Markle looks fetching in a black turtleneck and chic Stella McCartney coat. The jeans, which cost £175, are cut to order in Cardigan, West Wales, and will be available from March in sizes 6 - 14. The brand takes a sustainable approach when it comes to washing their jeans. “We believe, the longer you can go without washing them, the more beautiful your pair of jeans will become,” their website states. Harry is officially known as Prince Henry of Wales, so Markle’s participation in this particular visit is significant to the couple. 

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    Britain must honour its agreement to bring hundreds of unaccompanied child refugees to Britain, having “dragged its feet”, a senior MP said, as France urges Britain to do more to deal with migrants living rough in Calais. Emmanuel Macron is urging Theresa May to take in more migrants from among those who have gathered around the Calais camp, as they meet to discuss the Le Touquet Treaty, a British-French agreement that allows both countries to operate border control in the other. As Macron visits Britain today, France is also reportedly urging the creation of a joint task force to process asylum applications, as well as pay more towards security at the port. It comes after criticism of the British Government for taking too few migrants with processes that are too slow and leave many with no hope but to continue to try to reach the UK illegally. Labour MP Yvette Cooper, who chairs the influential Home Affairs Select Committee, told HuffPost UK that the Government had “dragged its feet” on resettling children under the Dubs Amendment, with which it originally committed to take 3,000 but then said only 350 could come, a figure it later increased to 480. “Action in Calais alone isn’t enough,” Cooper said. “Britain and France should be working with Italy and Greece to help vulnerable children and refugees with family in the UK before they start travelling across Europe or get caught up in illegal routes. “That means the British Government should properly be using the Dubs scheme which still has over 200 local authority vacancies for child and teenage refugees because the Government has dragged its feet.” Of the 480 places for child migrants to come to Britain, “over 200” have been filled, the Home Office said in December. Cooper, who previously chaired a refugee task force for Labour, said British-French cooperation on tackling smuggling gangs had deteriorated after a concerted effort 18 months ago. “The problem has grown again, with people gathering in dangerous conditions in Calais once more and vulnerable children and teenagers again at risk of exploitation. Investment and renewed cooperation is important but this time it must be sustained,” she said. “We need action on border security and to tackle criminal gangs alongside safe routes to sanctuary for refugees especially children to prevent people ending up in Calais in the first place.” Thousands of migrants and refugees used to live in the make-shift Jungle camp near the port, which police demolished in October 2016. But hundreds still live there and risk their lives with attempts to enter Britain illegally by stowing away on lorries crossing the channel. A 15-year-old Afghan boy, Abdullah Dilsouz, was run over and killed by a truck on December 22, as he tried to reach his brother in London. Annie Gavrilescu, the regional manager for charity Help Refugees in Calais, told HuffPost they had notified French authorities about Dilsouz’s connection to the UK but authorities did nothing, preventing him from pursuing a legal route to Britain. “If that is a sign of things to come, I don’t know how we’re going to manage,” she said. The Dublin Regulation allows an asylum seeker in one EU country to have their application picked up by another if they have family there. Gavrilescu said it took nine months on average for an application under the Dublin Regulation to be processed, from the identifying their claim to be being transferred. She added that £160 million was spent on security in Calais since the Jungle was demolished in October 2016. She said: “We really, really wish at least a portion of that money were used to protect vulnerable people.” May has announced an extra £44.5m for channel border security at Calais and other ports, which is to be spent on fencing, CCTV and infrared detection technology. With no more camp, those in Calais sleep rough in the woods. Help Refugees gives out supplies including tents but French police routinely confiscate these, Gavrilescu said. In October, the Refugee Rights Data Project report said police violence against migrants in Calais had become “excessive and life-threatening”, a year after the Jungle was demolished. One Eritrean 17-year-old girl was picked up by police, driven to a remote location and left. It took her three hours to walk back, the report said. Dr Lisa Doyle, director of advocacy at The Refugee Council, said the process for reuniting migrants with family in Britain had to be sped up and simplified. She added: “The Government needs to pay much more attention to establishing safe and regular routes for people to reach safety and their loved ones in the UK. “This includes widening the definition of family members eligible to reunite under Refugee Family Reunion rules which will mean that people are not forced to risk their lives in order to reach safety.” A Government spokesperson said Macron was “right when he said earlier this week that those people already in France and in need of asylum should seek help there”. “Attempting to cross the Channel illegally is dangerous and not a journey which people should try to make,” they said. “We have given hundreds of millions in aid and are resettling children and vulnerable people from refugee camps in countries closest to Syria to ensure those most in need get the right help, without encouraging people to make the incredibly dangerous journey across the Mediterranean. “And we are committed to resettling 480 children from Europe under the Dubs amendment.” MEP Molly Scott Cato, the Green Party’s Brexit spokesperson, tweeted that changes to the Le Touquet treaty were raised as a possible fall out from Brexit during the referendum campaign. “Brexiteers said this was project fear. Here it is becoming Brexit Reality,” she tweeted. ‘Macron to ask Britain to pay up to save Calais border deal’ During #Euroref we argued Le Touquet deal (meaning the border is effectively in France) would be at risk after Brexit. Brexiteers said this was project fear. Here it is becoming #BrexitRealityhttps://t.co/kPoSxcIcDS January 18, 2018

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    Content warning: this blog contains graphic descriptions of abortion Recently in /r/relationships (a Reddit forum where people can ask for personal advice), there was a post by a woman seeking support after a traumatic abortion. The post has now been removed, but it’s been preying on my mind. The responses by a large portion of users to her requests for help were frankly awful. They accused her of being a troll pro-life account, and insisted that her description of her experience was completely made up. Few people seemed to grasp the fact that women’s bodies are all different, and just because one woman reacts to an abortion in a certain way, it does not mean that anyone with a different experience must be lying. When I said I believed her and that my experience of an abortion was very similar, all I got was downvotes in response. It seems to me that amongst pro-choice people there’s often a need to “sanitise” abortion. It’s presented as a no muss no fuss procedure with few side effects. To go against the grain can bring on accusations of being a secret pro-lifer, or of giving pro-lifers more ammunition. I strongly feel that this is a dangerous trend, and silencing women who have had traumatic experiences is not only unkind and invalidating, but potentially detrimental to the cause. One commenter said something along the lines of: “I don’t want any young women considering abortion and reading this to think that this will happen to them” I disagree. Perhaps traumatic experiences are more unlikely to occur but I think anyone considering one should be adequately prepared. That way they’ll be less scared, and more able to advocate for themselves. I certainly wasn’t. I was 17 and pushed into an abortion I didn’t really want (though am now very grateful for). I was driven to a city two hours away, and checked into a hotel with my boyfriend. We walked over to the abortion clinic where I was given an ultrasound and two pills. I was warned that I might bleed a little, and sent home to the hotel. I bled everywhere. I and the bedsheets were soaked in blood and clots. I was in so much pain that I couldn’t stand up, and I passed out for 30 minutes. I’ve had broken bones, kidney infections, etc, and that abortion is still by far the most physically painful thing I’ve ever gone through. When I woke up and dragged myself to the toilet (I’d sent my boyfriend away as I didn’t want anyone to see me like that) I found I’d passed the foetus into my underwear, and when I tried to pick it up to flush it, I squished it. No one prepared me for that. The cramps and excessive blood loss lasted for weeks, but worse were the emotional aftershocks. I fell into a deep depression and cried every single day. I felt utterly bereft*. It must have been a hormonal thing, because I had never imagined I could feel such guilt over what I viewed as something akin to a tumour removal. I struggled with my feelings because I felt to voice them would be to condemn abortion or those who had had one. In my social circle abortion either wasn’t talked about, or it was joked about. It was, and still is, sanitised. NB: I am by no means trying to suggest we should only talk about “bad” abortions. Many women truly do have minimal side effects and experience no feelings of guilt or regret. If that’s you, awesome! I encourage you to talk about your experiences also. I just feel that it would be helpful for those considering abortion and those feeling confused about the aftermath of their abortion to have a range of stories from women who have been there, to know that they are not alone. *(This isn’t supposed to be a sob story - I got counselling and made peace with the decision long ago. In fact I’m now looking into adoption with the very same then-boyfriend/now-husband! This baby will be loved and wanted by two parents who are financially stable and emotionally mature enough to care for it properly. Consider it more a long-term abortion success story, but with some bumpy patches along the way, which others might benefit from hearing about.)

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    Royal Bank of Scotland was accused of “the largest theft anywhere, ever” because of its treatment of struggling small businesses. Labour MP Clive Lewis made the dramatic claim during a debate in the Commons on how the bank’s global restructuring group (GRG) operated. MPs heard GRG “was more like an abattoir” where firms were taken apart, as well as suggestions this was part of an “intended and co-ordinated strategy”. It comes as a shocking internal memo used by CRG in the wake of the financial crash was published on Thursday. It urged managers to let customers with financial woes “hang themselves”. Lewis said: “We do know that 90% of GRG administered businesses never made it back to mainstream banking. This is a very high proportion. “The cost of this is immeasurable, but we believe it to be in the tens of billions. “So let’s be clear here. This is the potential size of the injustice that has taken place in our country. “If it is this big, it may be the largest theft anywhere, ever. “And if we begin to take into account the opportunity cost to the economy of business failure and businesses that have been unable to grow, if we begin to include the job losses, homes, the losses of health, relationship and lost taxes, we can see the costs are likely to be immeasurable.” MPs heard that businesses were “carved up like a Sunday roast” and only placed in GRG because they wanted to move banks or had made a complaint. “Since 2008, we know that 16,000 small businesses were put into GRG and the vast majority of them were liquidated,” said Mr Lewis. “I think that tells you all you need to know. This was meant to be somewhere where they were put back to try to get them into a situation where they would come back as a viable business. “Actually, it was more than an intensive care unit, it was more like an abattoir, where they were actually stripped and taken apart.” The document, which the bank claims did not reflect official policy, was sent around the organisation and was called “Just Hit Budget!” The notes to allow businesses “hang” came under the heading “Rope” the memp. The bank claims the memo belonged to a rogue unit. Tory MP and Treasury Select Committee chairwoman Nicky Morgan said the 2009 memo “lifts the lid on a culture at RBS”. She added: “When I hear constituents and others say that they will never trust a bank again, they will never ask a bank again for money, then this should be a chilling moment for all banks involved in lending and working with SMEs.” Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable, the former Business Secretary, said: “The BBC have actually a seen a copy of the final report, which contains the following incriminating phrase. “Management knew or should have known that this was an intended and co-ordinated strategy, and that the mistreatment of business customers was a result of that. “And that the head of GRG responsible for that policy, Mr Nathan Bostock, is now chief executive of Santander.” Lewis’s motion called for an independent inquiry into how financial institutions treat small and medium-sized businesses, and a new tribunal system to deal with financial disputes involving SMEs.

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    Recent years have seen growing concern about the amount of unsecured debt held by UK households. On the Bank of England’s measure, the total size of this sort of debt – which includes credit card debt, unsecured loans from banks, and car finance debt – has been growing at around 10% per year in last few years, and now stands at over £200 billion. Lots of this debt is held by a relatively small group of households – 10% of households have debts of £10,000 or more and that same 10% holds 70% of all outstanding consumer debts. As the Bank has noted, the growing size of total unsecured debt could pose risks to financial stability. But knowing the total amount of household debt doesn’t tell you very much about the impact on people’s living standards. Much debt is sensible and manageable – households borrowing to fund one-off purchases or to smooth out spending during changes in income. In fact, more than half of all unsecured debt is held by households with above-average incomes, and more than half of households with debt have enough financial assets (e.g. money in savings accounts) to pay them off. The challenge is to identify when debt looks more problematic. New research by the Institute for Fiscal Studies draws on a large amount of data on households and their debt holdings to try to do exactly that. Who looks to be struggling with debt? Debts can have a immediate negative impact on household living standards when debt repayments take up a large share of income – crowding out spending on other goods and services households might want or need. To identify households that may be under pressure in this way, we classify a household as under “immediate debt servicing pressure” if it is spending more than 25% of its monthly after-tax income on servicing its debts or if it is in arrears of two months or more with a bill or credit agreement On this measure, about one in eight individuals is in a household under servicing pressure.. The proportion of individuals who look to be struggling with debt is higher amongst those with lower incomes, at one in four individuals in the bottom income tenth. This is because they are more likely to be making large debt repayments compared to their income and because they are more likely to be in arrears. We might well be more concerned about low income households that are spending a lot on debt servicing for the simple fact that the kind of things these households cut back on are likely to be more important for living standards. But there are two further reasons to be more concerned about those on lower incomes who are facing this kind of pressure. First, lower income households under servicing pressure are less likely to have significant financial assets – such as current and savings accounts, bonds, or stock and shares – that could be used to meet their debt payments. Second, those with lower incomes are also more likely to remain under servicing pressure once they are there. Younger individuals look to be more at risk of struggling with debts. 16% of 25-29 year olds are under servicing pressure compared to just 3% of 75-79 year olds. Low-educated young adults (those who left school at age 16 or below) are particularly likely to be struggling. Despite holding smaller amounts of consumer debts than those young people who stayed longer in education, they are more likely to be in households that are in arrears and tend to have types of debt (e.g. hire purchase and mail order) that need to be repaid more quickly. These may be the sorts of individuals and debts on which policymakers want to focus their attentions. The detail matters When thinking about household debt, figures about total debt holdings are no guide to the scale of “problem debt”. It’s vital to go beyond headline measures and look at who holds debt, the circumstances in which debt arises, and distinguish between debts that look entirely sensible and those that look unmanageable. When you do this, you find that most unsecured debt is held by high income households who look able to manage it, but debt looks like a real problem for a significant number of those on low incomes. Andrew Hood is a Senior Research Economist at the IFS David Sturrock is a Research Economist at the IFS

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    Can you pick up a pound coin? Or put a pen in your top pocket? Well good news, you’re well enough to work - just like thousands of people with the most severe conditions. That is, according to the Department for Work and Pensions’ broken test for sickness benefit Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). ESA is a lifeline for anyone who is too unwell to work as a result of their condition. It’s designed to fully replace a person’s income, so getting access to it is essential if people aren’t able to return to work. Despite this, people are regularly told that they’re well enough to work when they clearly aren’t. We know, for example, that 40% of people with Parkinson’s that take the test – known as the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) are told they can either work, or will be well enough to return to work within a year. Even though their condition will only get worse. Even if people are lucky enough to qualify for ESA, the amount they receive is barely sufficient. At its highest rate, people can expect to receive £109 per week. Thanks to the Government’s cut last year, people who are expected to return to work within a year will get only £73 per week. This is roughly just £3,700 a year, which doesn’t come close to replacing a person’s income. It’s hardly surprising that 60% of respondents to the Disability Benefits Consortium’s Big Benefits Survey last year told us that the amount they receive on ESA isn’t enough to live on. Not when this money is supposed to pay for rent, bills, food as well as transport costs. This has to change. The new Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey is an old hand in the DWP, having been a Minister in the Department in previous years. She should have a good understanding of the problems with ESA (and the similar issues with Personal Independence Payment) in supporting disabled people properly. At the top of her to-do list needs to be looking again at the broken assessment process for ESA and working with disabled people and people with long-term conditions to redesign those dreadful criteria. This will ensure they’re set fairly, people get the support they need first time and they accurately reflect the difficulties that people face. It’s also crucial that the Government reverses the cut to the ‘back to work group’ for ESA. If the Government is serious about getting more disabled people into work, they need to make sure that the financial support available is enough for people to feed themselves and heat their homes, or they’ll have no hope of returning to work. It’s clear the cut will cost more in the long-run, as people will find themselves forced to turn to accident and emergency as their health deteriorates, or overstretched social care services in order to make ends meet. So come on Ms McVey, get your to-do list in order and make supporting disabled people your top priority.

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    Having been won the Brits Critics Choice Award, Jorja Smith is about to be catapulted into the public eye, but it seems she’s already got one big fan in Nick Grimshaw. The Radio 1 Breakfast show host has hailed the ‘Let Me Down’ singer as his “favourite British voice since Amy Winehouse”. Speaking to HuffPost UK on an episode of ‘BUILD’ about this year’s Brits nominations, Grimmy admitted he is tipping her and rapper J Hus for big things in 2018.  “I’d love to see J Hus win one,” he said. “I saw him on the nominations show on the telly the other night. I love his album and his performance was my favourite on the show. “I love that Jorja Smith has won one. Her voice is probably my favourite British voice since Amy Winehouse, so I really love her. “I hope to see them [Jorja and J Hus] do mega things this year.” With the Brit Awards only weeks away, Grimmy also admitted he is struggling to persuade celebrities to sign up to his now infamous post-Brits breakfast show, which he often turns up to with his army of famous pals having stayed up all night partying. “We’ve already tried booking people to come on the next day and already we’ve had quite a lot of nos,” he said. “Even people who work for people are like, ‘I won’t even bother asking them - it’s a no.’ “It’s one of those ones we sort of semi-plan and there’s always people who say they’ll definitely, definitely come in and they don’t. “It’s the biggest night for music in the UK, so I think it makes sense for us to bring as much of that action as we can to the radio the next day... Sometimes it’s great, sometimes it’s not. Sometimes people’s PRs come in and drag popstars off.” Bosses planning next year’s ceremony should also bear him in find for hosting duties, as he’s admitted he’s more than up for the job - potentially alongside pal Rita Ora.  “I mean, yeah. Yeah, I’d love to,” he said. “It would be really fun.” Watch the full interview with Grimmy in the video below, where he also chats about his radio beginnings and what it’s really like to go for dinner at Simon Cowell’s house.

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    The EU Withdrawal Bill cleared its final Commons hurdle last night with little controversy. Indeed, the main highlight from the debates this week was Brexit-backing MP Sir Desmond Swayne falling asleep as the pro-EU Ken Clarke gave a speech. Sir Desmond blamed his power-nap on a 5.30am swim in the Serpentine, but some felt he faked the whole thing to mock Clarke. During a two-hour voting period, the Government saw off all the amendments, and the Bill was sent up to the Lords with a Commons majority of 29 (324 in favour; 295 against). Brexit Minister Steve Baker was spotted out on the Commons terrace celebrating with David Davis’ chief of staff, former Tory MP Stewart Jackson, after the vote, but the Bill still faces potential changes in the Remain-heavy House of Lords. 2) The Banks Are Feeling Better About Brexit, So That’s A Relief. The next stage of the EU negotiations might not have kicked off just yet, but the pre-Christmas progress seems to have reassured financial analysts. The Telegraph reported on Monday that number-crunchers at banks JP Morgan and UBS have scaled down fears the UK could crash out the EU without a deal. JP Morgan cut its probability of ‘no deal’ from 25% to 15%, while UBS said progress – particularly towards a transition agreement - has “lessened uncertainty” for businesses. The claim from UBS comes fewer than three months after the bank’s chief executive said he had received “regulatory and political clarifications” that would make it “more and more unlikely” that the Swiss bank will end up moving 1,000 jobs from London, according to the FT. In a further boost for the UK, a survey of the remaining 27 EU Governments published on Monday showed a difference of opinion on whether financial services could be part of any Brexit deal. The EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier has been clear that such a deal is a non-starter, saying in January: “There is not a single trade agreement that is open to financial services. It doesn’t exist.” But Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel told Bloomberg: “While I stick to the principle that there can be no cherry-picking, I still think that we should refrain from an orthodox or binary thinking. “My top priority would be to limit the negative impact for both sides. Pragmatism will be needed in these negotiations on both sides.” The German response was the most interesting, with Bloomberg saying the European powerhouse believes “a Canadian-style free-trade agreement without the U.K. making budget commitments cannot be accompanied with a separate agreement on financial services.” That seems to show that paying some cash in could unlock the door to a financial services deal. 3) ‘I Guess Now It’s Time That You Came Back For Good’ Nigel Farage’s claim last week a second referendum on Brexit might be needed after all seems to have fanned the fires in the bellies in Brussels. On Tuesday, European Council President Donald Tusk told the European Parliament he hoped Brexit could still be reversed. “If the UK government sticks to its decision to leave, Brexit will become a reality – with all its negative consequences - in March next year. Unless there is a change of heart among our British friends,” he said. Tusk also added a jab at the UK Brexit secretary: “Wasn’t it David Davis himself who said: ‘If a democracy cannot change its mind, it ceases to be a democracy’? “We, here on the continent, haven’t had a change of heart. Our hearts are still open to you.” A delegation of anti-Brexit MPs who met with the EU Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier on Monday were also left with the message that it ain’t over until Lady Britannia sings. Labour’s Chuka Umunna, one of those to get an audience with Barnier, told HuffPost UK: “The Government is seeking to pull the wool over people’s eyes over the Article 50 process. “The EU is being absolutely clear that if Britain at the end of the process prefers the status-quo that option is open.” 4) Rees-Mogg Is Becoming More Powerful Than You Can Possibly Imagine The promotion of Tory MP Suella Fernades to the role of Brexit Minister in last week’s reshuffle left a vacancy at the top European Research Group – a collection of anti-EU Conservatives. The secretive ERG, which is believed to have up to 80 members, leans towards the UK pushing for a hard Brexit, and has been described as “a party within a party” by pro-EU Tory MP Anna Soubry. The actual membership of the group is shrouded in secrecy, but according to openDemocracy forty Tory MPs have paid money to the ERG and claimed it back as “research” expenses since 2010, while some MPs claimed money for “research services” on European issues without specifically mentioning the ERG. With the previous two chairmen – Steve Baker and Fernandes – both summoned to the Brexit department by Theresa May, whoever took over the role might see it as the final step before joining the Government. This week, white smoke emerged from the group’s infamous Whatsapp group to announce Jacob Rees-Mogg would be the group’s new chairman. Announcing his appointment, the Moggster said: “In this role I am keen to help the Government implement the principles laid down by the Prime Minister, Mrs Theresa May, in her Lancaster House speech. It is especially important to achieve control of our laws, control immigration and achieve new trade agreements with other countries. “The ERG speaks individually not with the collective view but has considerable support across the parliamentary party. As chairman I intend to be helpful, vigorous and supportive towards government policy of making a success of Brexit.” Mogg is frequently tipped as a future leadership contender, but his chances of success are downplayed by many – including him – because of his lack of ministerial, let alone Cabinet, experience. But it may be that he now finds himself in the role of king-maker – perhaps in exchange for high office – when the time comes to replace Mrs May. 5) Brexit Made My Son Cry, Admits Minister Many people might have felt like crying when the referendum result was announced, but it was revealed this week that one little lad did burst into tears: the son of International Trade Minister Greg Hands. In an interview with HuffPost Germany, Hands explained that his nine-year-old starting crying as he feared his German mother and English father would have to split up. Hands, who campaigned to Remain in the EU but now tours the world to drum up trade deals post-Brexit, spoke as he set out how UK would continue to build close trade and cultural links with Europe after 2019. “My wife is German, my children are bilingual, and on the day of the referendum, or the day after, my son - who at the time was nine years old - cried over the result,” he said. “It’s really like that also with us from time to time,” he added. When quizzed on how he explained the Brexit decision to his son, he replied: “He didn’t really understand it. He may have thought that his mother and father would now be forced to separate.” Asked by HuffPost UK what he meant by his remark about “also with us from time to time”, the minister said he had meant “it’s also emotional from time to time in our house”. Hands stressed that his wife, like three million EU citizens living in Britain, would retain her rights following the deal hammered out between Theresa May and Brussels chiefs late last year. A fluent German and French speaker, the minister’s wife Irina teaches German in a London school, and he often impresses overseas colleagues with his backstory. He lived for three years in West Berlin as a teenager and frequently visited Communist East Berlin and toured other Eastern European states in his youth. He joked last year about his son’s national allegiances. “Before the last World Cup, I asked my son, ‘Which country are you going to support in the tournament?’ “‘Papa,’ he said, ‘I will start with England and then switch to Germany’. “He is a clever boy.” Don’t Get Angry, Get Blogging… At HuffPost we love a good blog, and here are the finest Brexit-penned entries from this week. Have a read, and if any of them provoke an urge in you to speak your brain, send a blog to ukblogteam@huffingtonpost.com and you could find yourself in this very newsletter. Dawn Butler on why we can’t take the government’s word they’ll protect our rights through Brexit Dr Peter Paul Catterall on why we’ll need a second election before a second referendum June Sarpong on why Theresa May needs to carve out a non-Brexit legacy Ian Larive on why it might be years before we understand how Brexit will affect our energy What do you want to know about Brexit? Here at HuffPost UK we are striving to make sure we report on the issues you care about - and Brexit is no different. That’s why we’ve created a special Facebook group for you to take part in. We’ll use the group to get discussions going, answer your questions and make sure you’re getting the best Brexit news from HuffPost UK and beyond. Membership is limited to 500 people, and you’ll need to answer a few simple questions when you sign up. Join the group by clicking here.

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    Veteran film actress Brigitte Bardot has taken heat for comments about the #MeToo movement, after accusing those who’ve spoken out against harassment in Hollywood “hypocritical”.

    In an interview with Paris Match magazine, Brigitte controversially claimed that the “vast majority” of those who have involved themselves in the movement are “hypocritical”, “ridiculous” and “uninteresting”, due to her belief “there are many actresses who flirt with producers in order to get a role”.

    She stated: “In order to be talked about, they will say they have been harassed. In reality, rather than benefiting them, it harms them.”

    <strong>Brigitte Bardot in 2006</strong>

    Describing her own experiences as a long-serving figure in the entertainment industry, Brigitte suggested she “found it charming” when a producer would comment on her appearance or, as she put it, “[tell me] that I was beautiful or I had a nice little backside”.

    Unsurprisingly, her comments have been slated online, with many taking to Twitter to explain why they disagree with Brigitte’s strong take:

    Others have pointed out that because of Brigitte’s past, including repeated convictions for “inciting racial hatred” and branding the far-right Front National leader Marine Le Pen a “modern Joan of Arc”, suggest she’s probably not the best voice in a debate about equality:

    Earlier this month, a letter signed by 100 prominent French women, including actress Catherine Deneuve, was widely criticised for its its dismissal of the #MeToo and ‘Time’s Up’ movements as a “witch hunt” and and a hindrance to “sexual freedom”.

    Catherine Deneuve later expressed her regret at co-signing the letter, extending an apology to victims of sexual assault.


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    Five years ago the Schizophrenia Commission published a ground-breaking report called Schizophrenia - The Abandoned Illness.

    It revealed a complex and dysfunctional system that could not deliver quality treatment or support for people with schizophrenia with shocking consequences, including the fact that people with schizophrenia on average die up to 20 years earlier than those without, largely down to avoidable health complications. The report also set out a series of practical recommendations to change this.

    A lot has changed since then. The mental health landscape is unrecognisable in some ways but unfortunately the report’s assessment will still be familiar to many people living with schizophrenia.

    On the plus side, mental illness is now prominent in the public consciousness and on the political agenda in a way that was almost unthinkable five years ago.

    This has begun to lead to positive changes. The Five Year Forward View for Mental Health was put into place in 2016. As a roadmap to reforming the mental health system it has the potential to make a real difference to the level and quality of treatment people living with mental illness can get.

    The Government has also committed to a review of the Mental Health Act, which has not seen meaningful change in 20 years. This gives us opportunity to put rights and choice into a piece of legislation, which has been consistently failing people when they have been at their most vulnerable.

    Not all the changes have been positive however and the impact of austerity has been felt deeply over the last few years. Across the NHS, care teams are struggling with reduced capacity and increasing demand.

    And in key areas outlined in the report five years ago, we are still dramatically behind where we need to be.

    Inequality is still rife across the system. People from Black and Minority Ethnic communities are four times more likely to be sectioned under the Mental Health Act, and when in mental health units, black men are three times more likely to be restrained.

    In employment, 300,000 people with a long term mental health problem lose their jobs each year and a recent Rethink Mental Illness survey showed that 83% of people who have hiring responsibilities would worry that someone with severe mental illness wouldn’t be able to cope with the demands of the job.

    Attitudes to mental illness have improved, in part thanks to Time to Change the anti-stigma campaign we have run with Mind for the past 10 years, but schizophrenia remains stubbornly misunderstood.

    Last year we found that 50% of people mistakenly think that schizophrenia means you have a ‘split’ personality while 26% believe that schizophrenia definitely makes you violent. This all feeds into a health system and a society that consistently keeps schizophrenia at arms length.

    These problems don’t come with easy answers. But we have seen ideas and pilot schemes that we know can make a difference, many of which we have led on ourselves; for example we run our Recovery and Outcomes programme which provides support to people living in secure care to work towards recovery and influence their own treatment.

    What we need to see now is buy in from all levels of Government and a consistent push to make sure we are not saying the same things in another five years.

    Things are changing, but until everyone affected by mental illness is able to rely on our mental health system for care, support and respect we will have a long way to go.

    Useful websites and helplines:

    • Mind, open Monday to Friday, 9am-6pm on 0300 123 3393
    • Samaritans offers a listening service which is open 24 hours a day, on 116 123 (UK and ROI - this number is FREE to call and will not appear on your phone bill.)
    • Get Connected is a free advice service for people under 25. Call 0808 808 4994 or email: help@getconnected.org.uk

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    So Donald Trump has cancelled his planned visit to Britain in February. He blamed the deal Barack Obama cut on the building of the US embassy. But we all know that Trump is running scared of the scale of protest his visit would ignite.

    Millions of ordinary people were outraged by Theresa May’s offer of a state visit to Donald Trump. Trump has overstepped every line of acceptable political practice. 

    That’s why if he comes to Britain at any point he will undoubtedly face one of the biggest demonstration in this country’s history.

    The most powerful politician on the face of the earth is using his position to promote conflict, division and racism. In a recent meeting Trump said he didn’t want people from “shithole countries” such as Haiti and in Africa coming to the US and wanted more from countries such as Norway.

    From climate change denial to his nuclear brinkmanship with North Korea Trump is marking the world a more and more dangerous place on a daily basis. The death of Heather Heyer at Charlottesville and Trump’s response to the violent marches by the alt-right and the KKK summed up just how close his flirtations with the racist and fascist right go.

    While Trump himself is not attempting to build a Nazi-style movement he is not averse to leaning on the ‘Alt-right’ for support in times of trouble. He may now have fallen out with Steve Bannon but Trump stood up for the ‘good people’ that had marched with burning torches shouting ‘Jews will not replace us’.

    Trump called time and again during his campaign for the building of a wall to keep out Mexican migrants. This demand was a direct property grab from the policies of the Tea Party. 

    Some argued the ‘build a wall’ call was just rhetoric, simply a device to stir up the crowd. But now Trump is seeking $18billion funding to actually build the barrier. In the face of mass protests and a series of legal challenges he’s also continued to force through a version of his ‘Muslim Ban’ leaving the Muslim community in the US targeted as an enemy within. 

    The truth is that while Trump can’t deliver on his promises to make life better for those Americans that feel ‘left behind’ he can continue to give the disaffected scapegoats for their problems, migrants, refugees and Muslims. 

    Trumps out and out Islamophobia has legitimised the targeting of the Muslim community while laying the ground for older forms of racism. The open antisemitism at Charlottesville has been matched by Trump’s open hostility to the Black Lives Matter movement and the ‘take a knee’ protests in the NFL show that Trump’s racism is general, not simply aimed at the Muslim community. 

    Trump’s politics and behaviour are part of the wider growth of the populist racist and fascist right. Last year saw the fascist Marine Le Pen come in second place in the French Presidential elections - and take over 10.5 million votes.

    Now we have the entry of The Freedom Party into Austrian government. 

    The election of 94 far right AfD MPs into the German Bunderstag was truly shocking.  As negotiations to form a German government continue the AfD could end up as the official opposition! 

    In Warsaw, Poland, at the end of last year 60,000 people marched behind far right banners calling for a white Europe. Trump’s example is an inspiration to all these racist movements. 

    Stand Up To Racism is working with many other organisations to plan a suitable reception for Donald Trump if his visit goes ahead later this year. One year on from his inauguration we want to highlight the racism at the height of the Trump administration. 

    That’s why we’ve called for ‘knock down the racist wall’ events all across the country on Saturday 20 January and why we’ll be ‘knocking down the wall’ outside the new American embassy in South London from 2pm.

    And at the centre of our mass demonstrations in London, Cardiff and Glasgow on Saturday 17 March to mark UN anti-racism day, will be opposition to Trump’s politics. 

    These anti-racist demonstrations are being co-ordinated with other major protests across Europe and in the US. After 10 years of austerity while Trump hands out trillions of dollars to the rich he wants ordinary people to blame each other for our problems not the bankers and politicians who caused the crisis. 

    We want to build a mass movement against racism that beats back the growth of the racist right and and isolates the ideas Trump seeks to make acceptable.  


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    A BBC Breakfast host raised eyebrows on Thursday by making what some viewers interpreted as a subtle quip about “frogs” during a report about French President Emmanuel Macron’s UK visit.

     

    Naga Munchetty and Charlie Stayt were speaking to Tory MP Tom Tugendhat, chair of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, about the trip which saw Macron hosted by Theresa May at the British military academy in Sandhurst. 

    May has pledged £44m to strengthen Britain’s border controls in France, with officials stating the cash injection will go towards fencing, CCTV and detection technology in Calais and other ports along the Channel.

    As the segment with a hoarse-sounding Tugendhat came to an end, Stayt suggested he fetch himself a glass of water, with Munchetty concurring: “Always annoying when those frogs appear at the most inopportune times.”

    Twitter user Stephen Carter described it as a “brilliantly awkward segue”, with The Mystery Man paying tribute to her “amazing joke”, adding “total respect to you Naga.

    Helen Lusted tweeted: “Naga that has made my day,” while another Twitter user said: “Naga deftly sums up a piece on British/ French relations during BBC Breakfast this morning.” 

    However some viewers were left unimpressed by her comment, with Rushlufc asking: “Really, did Naga Munchetty just make a racist remark talking about frogs in throats after an item on French talks with the UK? Not good enough, BBC Breakfast.” 

    A BBC spokesman said: “Our guest appeared to be struggling with a croaky voice and Naga was simply referring to that.” 


    0 0

    So Donald Trump has cancelled his planned visit to Britain in February. He blamed the deal Barack Obama cut on the building of the US embassy. But we all know that Trump is running scared of the scale of protest his visit would ignite. Millions of ordinary people were outraged by Theresa May’s offer of a state visit to Donald Trump. Trump has overstepped every line of acceptable political practice. That’s why if he comes to Britain at any point he will undoubtedly face one of the biggest demonstration in this country’s history. The most powerful politician on the face of the earth is using his position to promote conflict, division and racism. In a recent meeting Trump said he didn’t want people from “shithole countries” such as Haiti and in Africa coming to the US and wanted more from countries such as Norway. From climate change denial to his nuclear brinkmanship with North Korea Trump is marking the world a more and more dangerous place on a daily basis. The death of Heather Heyer at Charlottesville and Trump’s response to the violent marches by the alt-right and the KKK summed up just how close his flirtations with the racist and fascist right go. While Trump himself is not attempting to build a Nazi-style movement he is not averse to leaning on the ‘Alt-right’ for support in times of trouble. He may now have fallen out with Steve Bannon but Trump stood up for the ‘good people’ that had marched with burning torches shouting ‘Jews will not replace us’. Trump called time and again during his campaign for the building of a wall to keep out Mexican migrants. This demand was a direct property grab from the policies of the Tea Party. Some argued the ‘build a wall’ call was just rhetoric, simply a device to stir up the crowd. But now Trump is seeking $18billion funding to actually build the barrier. In the face of mass protests and a series of legal challenges he’s also continued to force through a version of his ‘Muslim Ban’ leaving the Muslim community in the US targeted as an enemy within. The truth is that while Trump can’t deliver on his promises to make life better for those Americans that feel ‘left behind’ he can continue to give the disaffected scapegoats for their problems, migrants, refugees and Muslims. Trumps out and out Islamophobia has legitimised the targeting of the Muslim community while laying the ground for older forms of racism. The open antisemitism at Charlottesville has been matched by Trump’s open hostility to the Black Lives Matter movement and the ‘take a knee’ protests in the NFL show that Trump’s racism is general, not simply aimed at the Muslim community. Trump’s politics and behaviour are part of the wider growth of the populist racist and fascist right. Last year saw the fascist Marine Le Pen come in second place in the French Presidential elections - and take over 10.5 million votes. Now we have the entry of The Freedom Party into Austrian government. The election of 94 far right AfD MPs into the German Bunderstag was truly shocking.  As negotiations to form a German government continue the AfD could end up as the official opposition! In Warsaw, Poland, at the end of last year 60,000 people marched behind far right banners calling for a white Europe. Trump’s example is an inspiration to all these racist movements. Stand Up To Racism is working with many other organisations to plan a suitable reception for Donald Trump if his visit goes ahead later this year. One year on from his inauguration we want to highlight the racism at the height of the Trump administration. That’s why we’ve called for ‘knock down the racist wall’ events all across the country on Saturday 20 January and why we’ll be ‘knocking down the wall’ outside the new American embassy in South London from 2pm. And at the centre of our mass demonstrations in London, Cardiff and Glasgow on Saturday 17 March to mark UN anti-racism day, will be opposition to Trump’s politics. These anti-racist demonstrations are being co-ordinated with other major protests across Europe and in the US. After 10 years of austerity while Trump hands out trillions of dollars to the rich he wants ordinary people to blame each other for our problems not the bankers and politicians who caused the crisis. We want to build a mass movement against racism that beats back the growth of the racist right and and isolates the ideas Trump seeks to make acceptable. 

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    A BBC Breakfast host raised eyebrows on Thursday by making what some viewers interpreted as a subtle quip about “frogs” during a report about French President Emmanuel Macron’s UK visit. Naga Munchetty and Charlie Stayt were speaking to Tory MP Tom Tugendhat, chair of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, about the trip which saw Macron hosted by Theresa May at the British military academy in Sandhurst. May has pledged £44m to strengthen Britain’s border controls in France, with officials stating the cash injection will go towards fencing, CCTV and detection technology in Calais and other ports along the Channel. As the segment with a hoarse-sounding Tugendhat came to an end, Stayt suggested he fetch himself a glass of water, with Munchetty concurring: “Always annoying when those frogs appear at the most inopportune times.” Twitter user Stephen Carter described it as a “brilliantly awkward segue”, with The Mystery Man paying tribute to her “amazing joke”, adding “total respect to you Naga. Helen Lusted tweeted: “Naga that has made my day,” while another Twitter user said: “Naga deftly sums up a piece on British/ French relations during BBC Breakfast this morning.” After a long interview about the meeting with #Macron and #May a brilliantly awkward segue from @BBCNaga talking about unfortunate frogs...made me laugh anyway January 18, 2018 @BBCBreakfast "those frogs appear at the most inopportune times". Naga that has made my day #frogs appear at the most opportune times lol @Naga Munchetty when discussing the Emmanuel Macron visit 🤣🤣🤣 @BBCNaga@BBCBreakfast loving Naga”s response to the MP taking about President Macron’s visit, who had a nasty tickle “always annoying when a frog turns up”. Magic! Naga deftly sums up a piece on British/French relations during @BBCBreakfast this morning! pic.twitter.com/PXpCQTJ79E ‘Always annoying when those frogs appear’ said Naga @BBCBreakfast finishing off a conversation about Calais and Tapestry with A coughing minister. LOL you couldn’t make it up January 18, 2018 However some viewers were left unimpressed by her comment, with Rushlufc asking: “Really, did Naga Munchetty just make a racist remark talking about frogs in throats after an item on French talks with the UK? Not good enough, BBC Breakfast.” A BBC spokesman said: “Our guest appeared to be struggling with a croaky voice and Naga was simply referring to that.” @BBCBreakfast thanks for the giggles. Just after an interview about a visit from the French president and the loan on the Bayeux Tapestry, Naga says "we don't like visits from those unexpected frogs." I know she was referring to the interviewee having a cough but hahaha January 18, 2018 Really did Nager Munchetty just make a racist remark talking about frogs in throat after an item on French talks wit UK. Not good enough @BBCNews@BBCBreakfastpic.twitter.com/TFV6OS4KG2— rushlufc (@rushlufc) January 18, 2018

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    Veteran film actress Brigitte Bardot has taken heat for comments about the #MeToo movement, after accusing those who’ve spoken out against harassment in Hollywood “hypocritical”. In an interview with Paris Match magazine, Brigitte controversially claimed that the “vast majority” of those who have involved themselves in the movement are “hypocritical”, “ridiculous” and “uninteresting”, due to her belief “there are many actresses who flirt with producers in order to get a role”. She stated: “In order to be talked about, they will say they have been harassed. In reality, rather than benefiting them, it harms them.” Describing her own experiences as a long-serving figure in the entertainment industry, Brigitte suggested she “found it charming” when a producer would comment on her appearance or, as she put it, “[tell me] that I was beautiful or I had a nice little backside”. Unsurprisingly, her comments have been slated online, with many taking to Twitter to explain why they disagree with Brigitte’s strong take: Disappointed with Brigitte Bardot and Catherine Devenue on their stance about the #metoo movement however does not surprise me as unfortunately they grew up in a time where it was women's fault and "men didn't know any better" January 18, 2018 Lady...there's a HUGE difference between a man telling you you're beautiful and a "man" sexually abusing you. French Film Legend Brigitte Bardot Slams "Hypocritical and Ridiculous" #MeToo Movement https://t.co/O2VT69iZpG January 18, 2018 There’s a difference between choosing to flirt and it being the only choice! Either way, how & why is it hypocritical to demand more professionalism in a professional environment? You don’t belong in that profession if that is not what you want, #BrigitteBardot. 👋🏻 https://t.co/YJnP8O4N0Y January 18, 2018 brigitte bardot is fucking disgusting for this. women socializing with other individuals and being social beings, DOES NOT MEAN THAT THEY ARE ASKING TO BE FUCKING HARASSED AND RAPED. in what world do those two things fucking equate? https://t.co/Fv7dYtseXk January 18, 2018 So Brigitte Bardot has never been a victim of sexual assault or harassment so that’s OK then eh? 🙄#MeToo#BrigitteBardotpic.twitter.com/7x3W5pPjm8 Brigitte Bardot comes from the older generation of stars. That was the time you put your thumbs in your ears and your fingers over your eyes. What you couldn't hear or see you couldn't tell. Because there was no one to listen. #MeToo January 18, 2018 I don't agree with this woman. If a woman flirts that is not permission to rape and that is what the majority of these actresses and professional women in all areas of business are reporting. So, know of what you speak of before speaking. Brigitte Bardot slams #MeToo January 18, 2018 Brigitte Bardot's lost her mind. It's great that she was never sexually assaulted, but to blindly say women who have been victimized are 'hypocritical, ridiculous' is SHAMEFUL. #MeToohttps://t.co/vIkNQf7jGZ January 18, 2018 Is #BrigitteBardot insinuating that because ‘some actresses flirt with producers to get the role’, therefore it follows that sexual assault is ‘understandable’ or ‘acceptable’? Another movie legend destroying their legacy! #MeToo January 18, 2018 Others have pointed out that because of Brigitte’s past, including repeated convictions for “inciting racial hatred” and branding the far-right Front National leader Marine Le Pen a “modern Joan of Arc”, suggest she’s probably not the best voice in a debate about equality: Well! Is this counterproductive or what? After all, #BrigitteBardot did liken far-right fascist and #DonaldTrump-wannabe #MarineLePen to Joan of Arc. I would think that the #MeToo movement benefits more from voices like @rosemcgowan than from hers.https://t.co/nOEexvvB69 January 18, 2018 It's ridiculous that Brigitte Bardot's statement could have any weight at all, given that she's already recognized as backwards and bigoted. Convicted of racial hatred in June 2000: https://t.co/xJ5rj8abJr#MeToo January 18, 2018 How is this even newsworthy @BBCNews? This woman who is a racist and who lives with donkeys has antiquated views on just about everything!!!! Brigitte Bardot calls #MeToo stars 'hypocritical' - BBC News https://t.co/jMu2YUqv5N January 18, 2018 and i call brigitte bardot "racist, homophobic and ridiculous" https://t.co/O9Mgy8e1ux Brigitte Bardot, a lady who has been convicted of inciting racial hatred says that women who complain about sexual harassment are "ridiculous and uninteresting". Guess what you are, Brigitte? That's right, ridiculous and uninteresting. https://t.co/04Nbm3UApy January 18, 2018 Could not care less what Brigitte Bardot has to say. She's a racist and a xenophobe. https://t.co/DNdSABi1sj Ok, so Brigitte Bardot has shown herself to be racist MULTIPLE times. Was not aware of this. She's actually been fined for her racism soooo I don't think her comments on Me Too matter all that much. January 18, 2018 Don’t really care to know what Brigitte Bardot thinks about the Me Too movement, considering the fact she’s a racist and a homophobe. Earlier this month, a letter signed by 100 prominent French women, including actress Catherine Deneuve, was widely criticised for its its dismissal of the #MeToo and ‘Time’s Up’ movements as a “witch hunt” and and a hindrance to “sexual freedom”. Catherine Deneuve later expressed her regret at co-signing the letter, extending an apology to victims of sexual assault.

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    Five years ago the Schizophrenia Commission published a ground-breaking report called Schizophrenia - The Abandoned Illness. It revealed a complex and dysfunctional system that could not deliver quality treatment or support for people with schizophrenia with shocking consequences, including the fact that people with schizophrenia on average die up to 20 years earlier than those without, largely down to avoidable health complications. The report also set out a series of practical recommendations to change this. A lot has changed since then. The mental health landscape is unrecognisable in some ways but unfortunately the report’s assessment will still be familiar to many people living with schizophrenia. On the plus side, mental illness is now prominent in the public consciousness and on the political agenda in a way that was almost unthinkable five years ago. This has begun to lead to positive changes. The Five Year Forward View for Mental Health was put into place in 2016. As a roadmap to reforming the mental health system it has the potential to make a real difference to the level and quality of treatment people living with mental illness can get. The Government has also committed to a review of the Mental Health Act, which has not seen meaningful change in 20 years. This gives us opportunity to put rights and choice into a piece of legislation, which has been consistently failing people when they have been at their most vulnerable. Not all the changes have been positive however and the impact of austerity has been felt deeply over the last few years. Across the NHS, care teams are struggling with reduced capacity and increasing demand. And in key areas outlined in the report five years ago, we are still dramatically behind where we need to be. Inequality is still rife across the system. People from Black and Minority Ethnic communities are four times more likely to be sectioned under the Mental Health Act, and when in mental health units, black men are three times more likely to be restrained. In employment, 300,000 people with a long term mental health problem lose their jobs each year and a recent Rethink Mental Illness survey showed that 83% of people who have hiring responsibilities would worry that someone with severe mental illness wouldn’t be able to cope with the demands of the job. Attitudes to mental illness have improved, in part thanks to Time to Change the anti-stigma campaign we have run with Mind for the past 10 years, but schizophrenia remains stubbornly misunderstood. Last year we found that 50% of people mistakenly think that schizophrenia means you have a ‘split’ personality while 26% believe that schizophrenia definitely makes you violent. This all feeds into a health system and a society that consistently keeps schizophrenia at arms length. These problems don’t come with easy answers. But we have seen ideas and pilot schemes that we know can make a difference, many of which we have led on ourselves; for example we run our Recovery and Outcomes programme which provides support to people living in secure care to work towards recovery and influence their own treatment. What we need to see now is buy in from all levels of Government and a consistent push to make sure we are not saying the same things in another five years. Things are changing, but until everyone affected by mental illness is able to rely on our mental health system for care, support and respect we will have a long way to go. Useful websites and helplines: Mind, open Monday to Friday, 9am-6pm on 0300 123 3393 Samaritans offers a listening service which is open 24 hours a day, on 116 123 (UK and ROI - this number is FREE to call and will not appear on your phone bill.) Get Connected is a free advice service for people under 25. Call 0808 808 4994 or email: help@getconnected.org.uk

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    Henry Bolton could survive being ousted as Ukip leader because the party cannot afford to hold a contest to replace him.

    HuffPost UK has learned Ukip’s finances are in such a state that it would struggle to stump up the cash for what would be its fourth leadership contest in 15 months.

    A well-placed source said a fresh leadership election to replace the under-fire Bolton could cost between £30,000 and £60,000, and it might need to axe staff in order to finance the contest.

    According to the Electoral Commission, Ukip received just £25,140 in cash donations in the final three months of 2017 and membership rates have falling for months. 

    Bolton is set for a showdown meeting with Ukip’s NEC this Sunday, with many in the party wanting the former soldier to be axed following revelations about his private life.

    Ukip chairman Paul Oakden denied financial considerations would prevent a contest, adding that such an election would be funded by leadership candidates.

    “Bluntly speaking, and I don’t think it’s any great secret, that’s what deposits are for,” he said.

    But a Ukip source told HuffPost UK the coffers are sparse, and spending money on sending ballots and election literature to almost 25,000 members was an expense the party could ill afford.

    Bolton flagged up the party’s perilous financial state in a newsletter to members in November, telling them: “On taking office I looked in the money bucket and found it entirely empty. In fact it was worse than empty; it had a big hole in the bottom. There is no money – in fact for a year we have been running on an entirely unsustainable monthly deficit.”

    The Ukip leader also revealed that “for the past 9 months, with one exception, we have lost between 800 and 1,000 members every month” 

    In the party’s most recent leadership election, candidates were required to put down a deposit of £5,000 – which would be returned only if a contender received 20% of the vote.

    Only two of the six candidates breached that threshold.

    If the same rules are used for a new contest, a small field featuring just two or three candidates could see them all getting their deposits back, leaving the party to foot the entire bill.

    Bolton, 54, left his second wife for Ukip activist Jo Marney over Christmas, but after text messages were released showing the model making racist and derogatory comments while discussing Meghan Markle, Bolton said the “romantic” part of the relationship was over.

    Yet HuffPost UK witnessed the pair enjoying an intimate dinner at a private members’ club in Central London just days after Bolton claimed the romance was over.

    Bolton told HuffPost UK after the meal he would fight on as leader despite the calls for him to quit.

    “I’ve made that very clear, I’m not resigning,” he said.


    0 0

    Henry Bolton could survive being ousted as Ukip leader because the party cannot afford to hold a contest to replace him. HuffPost UK has learned Ukip’s finances are in such a state that it would struggle to stump up the cash for what would be its fourth leadership contest in 15 months. A well-placed source said a fresh leadership election to replace the under-fire Bolton could cost between £30,000 and £60,000, and it might need to axe staff in order to finance the contest. According to the Electoral Commission, Ukip received just £25,140 in cash donations in the final three months of 2017 and membership rates have falling for months. Bolton is set for a showdown meeting with Ukip’s NEC this Sunday, with many in the party wanting the former soldier to be axed following revelations about his private life. Ukip chairman Paul Oakden denied financial considerations would prevent a contest, adding that such an election would be funded by leadership candidates. “Bluntly speaking, and I don’t think it’s any great secret, that’s what deposits are for,” he said. But a Ukip source told HuffPost UK the coffers are sparse, and spending money on sending ballots and election literature to almost 25,000 members was an expense the party could ill afford. Bolton flagged up the party’s perilous financial state in a newsletter to members in November, telling them: “On taking office I looked in the money bucket and found it entirely empty. In fact it was worse than empty; it had a big hole in the bottom. There is no money – in fact for a year we have been running on an entirely unsustainable monthly deficit.” The Ukip leader also revealed that “for the past 9 months, with one exception, we have lost between 800 and 1,000 members every month” In the party’s most recent leadership election, candidates were required to put down a deposit of £5,000 – which would be returned only if a contender received 20% of the vote. Only two of the six candidates breached that threshold. If the same rules are used for a new contest, a small field featuring just two or three candidates could see them all getting their deposits back, leaving the party to foot the entire bill. Bolton, 54, left his second wife for Ukip activist Jo Marney over Christmas, but after text messages were released showing the model making racist and derogatory comments while discussing Meghan Markle, Bolton said the “romantic” part of the relationship was over. Yet HuffPost UK witnessed the pair enjoying an intimate dinner at a private members’ club in Central London just days after Bolton claimed the romance was over. Bolton told HuffPost UK after the meal he would fight on as leader despite the calls for him to quit. “I’ve made that very clear, I’m not resigning,” he said.

    0 0

    British boxing champion-turned Muslim convert Anthony Small has been charged with encouraging terrorism, police said.

    The 36-year-old, from south east London, is accused of encouraging acts of terrorism after posting a video on social media in September 2016, according to Scotland Yard.

    He is due to appear in custody at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday.

    Small reached the height of his fighting career in 2009 when he became British and Commonwealth champion, but quit the ring in 2010 because it clashed with his religious beliefs.  


    0 0

    NASA has confirmed that some initial tests on a revolutionary new nuclear power system designed for Mars were successful, paving the way for a full-scale test of the system in March.

    Called Kilopower, it is in effect a miniature version of the fission reactors that we see powering thousands of homes around the world today.

    Unlike those large vast complex sites, the Kilopower produces just 1-10KW of power, enough to power more than your average home.

    Eventually the plan is to send several of these along with astronauts to Mars, giving them a power source to charge electric vehicles, power their habitation modules and even produce liquid hydrogen for use as rocket fuel in the return journey.

    Last worked on in the 60s, the space agency has revived the Kilopower engine as a means of getting around the limitations that come with using renewable power sources such as solar.

    “A space nuclear reactor could provide a high energy density power source with the ability to operate independent of solar energy or orientation, and the ability to operate in extremely harsh environments, such as the Martian surface,” notes Patrick McClure, project lead on the Kilopower work at the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

    The reactor itself is no bigger than a toilet roll and yet can produce double the amount of electrical power needed for the average home for a period of up to 10 years.

    With multiple reactors set up around a base, astronauts would have a reliable source of energy that is not reliant on the temperamental Martian weather.

    How Does It Work?

    NASA explains: 

    “The prototype power system uses a solid, cast uranium-235 reactor core, about the size of a paper towel roll. Reactor heat is transferred via passive sodium heat pipes, with that heat then converted to electricity by high-efficiency Stirling engines. A Stirling engine uses heat to create pressure forces that move a piston, which is coupled to an alternator to produce electricity, similar in some respects to an automobile engine.”

    What Are We Using At The Moment?

    Currently NASA and other space agencies are using an energy source called radioisotope thermoelectric generators (RTG).

    RTGs are remarkably simple and use nothing more than the heat generated by radioactive decay.

    They’re currently being used on a number of NASA missions including the Curiosity Rover, the two Voyager missions and even the Apollo missions to the Moon.

    They’re reliable but can only produce a very small amount of power, nowhere near enough needed for long-haul missions to planets such as Mars.

    “The big difference between all the great things we’ve done on Mars, and what we would need to do for a human mission to that planet, is power. This new technology could provide kilowatts and can eventually be evolved to provide hundreds of kilowatts, or even megawatts of power.” explains Lee Mason, STMD’s principal technologist for Power and Energy Storage at NASA Headquarters.


    0 0

    French President Emmanuel Macron flatly ruled out a unique deal on single market access for the UK and warned Theresa May against Brexit “hypocrisy”. 

    A joint press conference at Sandhurst was designed to accentuate blossoming Anglo-French relations, with May agreeing more cash to prevent migrants from building up at Calais and Macron confirming a loan of the Bayeux Tapestry to the UK. 

    But the cordial mood was shattered when journalists raised the spectre of Brexit.

    Macron was asked why he wanted to exclude financial services from a future UK-EU free trade agreement and appeared exasperated.  

    The French President pointed out there were two options - the Norway model or a Canada-style free trade deal. A third way which also allowed Britain full access to the single market would “destroy” the integrity of the trading bloc’s rules, he said. 

    Norway has unfettered access to the single market but accepts all EU rules while Canada has negotiated a free trade agreement, eliminating tariffs on most goods, but the agreement does not include financial services. 

    “I am here neither to punish nor to reward,” said Macron. 

    “I want to make sure that the single market is preserved because that is very much the heart of the EU.

    <strong>It got tricky for Theresa May and Emmanuel Macron at their press conference on Thursday</strong>

    “The choice is on the British side, not on my side. But there can be no differentiated access for the financial services.

    “If you want access to the single market - including the financial services - be my guest. But it means that you need to contribute to the budget and acknowledge European jurisdiction.

    “Such are the rules, and we know the system already in place for Norway.”

    A free trade agreement would not provide full access to the single market for financial services at the same level as that offered to members, he said.

    “There must be no hypocrisy in this respect, otherwise it will not work or we would destroy the single market and its coherence,” said Macron.

    “It’s simple. I do not want to exclude any sector in the trade agreement to come... but it does not mean that the access that it will allow will be equivalent to the access of a member.”

    <strong>The joint press conference got tense once Brexit came up</strong>

    His strong words come as France bids to encourage London-based banks to relocate to Paris. 

    May underlined her call for “a deep and special partnership” and comprehensive trade agreement between the UK and EU post-Brexit.

    “We recognise that as we leave the EU we will no longer be full members of the single market,” she said.

    “We recognise that. There will be a different relationship in future, a different balance of rights and responsibilities, and we’ve been very clear about that.

    “But I believe that it is actually in the interest not only of the United Kingdom, but also the European Union as it goes forward, to continue to have a good economic relationship and partnership with the UK and I believe that should cover both goods and services.

    <strong>Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson was also at the UK-France summit</strong>

    “I think the City of London will continue to be a major global financial centre. That is an advantage not just for the UK, it’s actually good for Europe and good for the global financial system.”

    Pro-single market Labour MP Wes Streeting MP, said: “The message from President Macron and Theresa May’s press conference was very clear: if we want to freely trade in both goods and services then we need to be in the Single Market and Customs Union. The hard Brexit alternative being promoted by Theresa May and her ministers will cost Britain jobs, investment and influence.

    “The cake-and-eat-it fantasists have once more collided with reality. The claim we can leave the Single Market and Customs Union and enjoy ‘the exact same benefits’ has been exposed as a fallacy.”


    0 0

    Young people have a “puritanical” view of what counts as sexual harassment, a senior Tory MP has said.

    Kemi Badenoch, a vice chairman of the party, also said recent criticisms of the TV show Friends for homophobia showed “something has gone wrong somewhere” in society.

    “I remember having a discussion with someone and even what we thought was quite liberal is now seen as quite conservative and vice versa. Attitudes that we thought were quite conservative are now seen as being liberal. There’s almost a huge change that’s going on,” she told The House magazine.

    “Younger people look at appropriate behaviours and what is a sexual advance, what is sexual harassment and so on. To me, it’s actually becoming a lot more puritanical than anything I ever saw in my 20s or in my teens.

    Friends has faced fresh criticism for its attitude towards&nbsp;minorities.&nbsp;

    Badenoch, who was elected as the MP for Saffron Walden in 2017, was put in charge selecting Conservative candidates for the 2022 general election by Theresa May in the reshuffle.

    Badenoch also said the accusations leveled at` Friends, which has had something of a relaunch after it was added to the Netflix catalogue,  was misplaced.

    “In the papers, they were talking about how Friends is now sort of really homophobic, transphobic and so on. That, for me, is a very, very – it’s actually a puritanical position, which I think of as conservative. So, you can’t really put your finger on what is what these days,” she said.

    Badenoch is seen as a rising star in the party and introduced May ahead of the prime minister’s speech at the Tory party conference in Manchester last year.


    0 0

    NASA has confirmed that some initial tests on a revolutionary new nuclear power system designed for Mars were successful, paving the way for a full-scale test of the system in March. Called Kilopower, it is in effect a miniature version of the fission reactors that we see powering thousands of homes around the world today. Unlike those large vast complex sites, the Kilopower produces just 1-10KW of power, enough to power more than your average home. Eventually the plan is to send several of these along with astronauts to Mars, giving them a power source to charge electric vehicles, power their habitation modules and even produce liquid hydrogen for use as rocket fuel in the return journey. Last worked on in the 60s, the space agency has revived the Kilopower engine as a means of getting around the limitations that come with using renewable power sources such as solar. “A space nuclear reactor could provide a high energy density power source with the ability to operate independent of solar energy or orientation, and the ability to operate in extremely harsh environments, such as the Martian surface,” notes Patrick McClure, project lead on the Kilopower work at the Los Alamos National Laboratory. The reactor itself is no bigger than a toilet roll and yet can produce double the amount of electrical power needed for the average home for a period of up to 10 years. With multiple reactors set up around a base, astronauts would have a reliable source of energy that is not reliant on the temperamental Martian weather. How Does It Work? NASA explains: “The prototype power system uses a solid, cast uranium-235 reactor core, about the size of a paper towel roll. Reactor heat is transferred via passive sodium heat pipes, with that heat then converted to electricity by high-efficiency Stirling engines. A Stirling engine uses heat to create pressure forces that move a piston, which is coupled to an alternator to produce electricity, similar in some respects to an automobile engine.” What Are We Using At The Moment? Currently NASA and other space agencies are using an energy source called radioisotope thermoelectric generators (RTG). RTGs are remarkably simple and use nothing more than the heat generated by radioactive decay. They’re currently being used on a number of NASA missions including the Curiosity Rover, the two Voyager missions and even the Apollo missions to the Moon. They’re reliable but can only produce a very small amount of power, nowhere near enough needed for long-haul missions to planets such as Mars. “The big difference between all the great things we’ve done on Mars, and what we would need to do for a human mission to that planet, is power. This new technology could provide kilowatts and can eventually be evolved to provide hundreds of kilowatts, or even megawatts of power.” explains Lee Mason, STMD’s principal technologist for Power and Energy Storage at NASA Headquarters.

    0 0

    Young people have a “puritanical” view of what counts as sexual harassment, a senior Tory MP has said. Kemi Badenoch, a vice chairman of the party, also said recent criticisms of the TV show Friends for homophobia showed “something has gone wrong somewhere” in society. “I remember having a discussion with someone and even what we thought was quite liberal is now seen as quite conservative and vice versa. Attitudes that we thought were quite conservative are now seen as being liberal. There’s almost a huge change that’s going on,” she told The House magazine. “Younger people look at appropriate behaviours and what is a sexual advance, what is sexual harassment and so on. To me, it’s actually becoming a lot more puritanical than anything I ever saw in my 20s or in my teens. Badenoch, who was elected as the MP for Saffron Walden in 2017, was put in charge selecting Conservative candidates for the 2022 general election by Theresa May in the reshuffle. Badenoch also said the accusations leveled at` Friends, which has had something of a relaunch after it was added to the Netflix catalogue,  was misplaced. “In the papers, they were talking about how Friends is now sort of really homophobic, transphobic and so on. That, for me, is a very, very – it’s actually a puritanical position, which I think of as conservative. So, you can’t really put your finger on what is what these days,” she said. Badenoch is seen as a rising star in the party and introduced May ahead of the prime minister’s speech at the Tory party conference in Manchester last year.

    0 0

    French President Emmanuel Macron flatly ruled out a unique deal on single market access for the UK and warned Theresa May against Brex “hypocrisy”. A joint press conference at Sandhurst was designed to accentuate blossoming Anglo-French relations, with May agreeing more cash to prevent migrants from crossing the channel at Calais and Macron confirming a loan of the Bayeux Tapestry to the UK. But the cordial mood was shattered when journalists raised the spectre of Brexit. Macron was asked why he wanted to exclude financial services from a future UK-EU free trade agreement and appeared exasperated.  The French President pointed out there were two options - the Norway model or a Canada-style free trade deal. A third way which also allowed Britain full access to the single market would “destroy” the integrity of the trading bloc’s rules, he said. Norway has unfettered access to the single market but accepts all EU rules while Canada has negotiated a free trade agreement, eliminating tariffs on most goods, but the agreement does not include financial services. “I am here neither to punish nor to reward,” said Macron. “I want to make sure that the single market is preserved because that is very much the heart of the EU. “The choice is on the British side, not on my side. But there can be no differentiated access for the financial services. “If you want access to the single market - including the financial services - be my guest. But it means that you need to contribute to the budget and acknowledge European jurisdiction. “Such are the rules, and we know the system already in place for Norway.” A free trade agreement would not provide full access to the single market for financial services at the same level as that offered to members, he said. “There must be no hypocrisy in this respect, otherwise it will not work or we would destroy the single market and its coherence,” said Macron. “It’s simple. I do not want to exclude any sector in the trade agreement to come... but it does not mean that the access that it will allow will be equivalent to the access of a member.” His strong words come as France bids to encourage London-based banks to relocate to Paris. May underlined her call for “a deep and special partnership” and comprehensive trade agreement between the UK and EU post-Brexit. “We recognise that as we leave the EU we will no longer be full members of the single market,” she said. “We recognise that. There will be a different relationship in future, a different balance of rights and responsibilities, and we’ve been very clear about that. “But I believe that it is actually in the interest not only of the United Kingdom, but also the European Union as it goes forward, to continue to have a good economic relationship and partnership with the UK and I believe that should cover both goods and services. “I think the City of London will continue to be a major global financial centre. That is an advantage not just for the UK, it’s actually good for Europe and good for the global financial system.” Pro-single market Labour MP Wes Streeting MP, said: “The message from President Macron and Theresa May’s press conference was very clear: if we want to freely trade in both goods and services then we need to be in the Single Market and Customs Union. The hard Brexit alternative being promoted by Theresa May and her ministers will cost Britain jobs, investment and influence. “The cake-and-eat-it fantasists have once more collided with reality. The claim we can leave the Single Market and Customs Union and enjoy ‘the exact same benefits’ has been exposed as a fallacy.”

    0 0

    Boris Johnson reportedly wants to build a bridge across the Channel between the UK and France in an idea that was mocked almost instantly.

    Sources close to the Foreign Secretary have told The Telegraph and The Sun the one-time Tory leadership hopeful thinks it is “ridiculous” that the main link between the two countries is an underwater rail line.

    The newspapers report the idea was floated during the Anglo-French summit in Sandhurst on Thursday, and echoes previous reports by journalist Tim Shipman that Johnson proposed a “submarine highway” ahead of the Brexit vote.

    It isn’t the first time Johnson has floated a symbolic infrastructure project that met with ridicule. 

    As Mayor of London, he threw his weight behind plans for the Garden Bridge.

    The “garden paradise” stretching over the Thames was backed by Joanna Lumley and George Osborne. As much as £37m of public money was spent trying to get the project off the ground, but many viewed it as an expensive indulgence.

    Plans were eventually canned by the new Mayor Sadiq Khan, who said he could not justify the £200m construction. 

    Others were quick to highlight Johnson’s questionable record as Foreign Secretary of boosting international relations. 

    Many were alarmed when Johnson said the EU could “go whistle” for its Brexit divorce bill.  

    Anglo-Spanish relations were put at risk by Johnson saying that the bid to stop bullfighting was “political ­correctness gone mad”.

    He recently ‘joked’ that Sirte could be the next Dubai, once the “dead bodies were cleared away”. 

    He also once said that the former US President Barack Obama was “part-Kenyan” and had an “ancestral dislike” of the UK. 

    Others drew comparisons between the Garden Bridge, ‘Boris Bridge’ and ‘Boris Island’ airport.

    Johnson travelled the length and breadth of the country championing the Thames Estuary Airport. Proposals for the brand new four-runway airport at the Isle of Grain in Kent was dumped by the Airports Commission as bids to expand Britain’s airport capacity by Heathrow and Gatwick were considered more credible 

    A populist building project? Sounds familiar.

    And some just couldn’t quite believe it.

    And shipping bosses pointed out some practical problems.

    Regardless, Johnson seemed pleased with himself when pictured with French President Emmanuel Macron. 


    0 0

    Boris Johnson reportedly wants to build a bridge across the Channel between the UK and France in an idea that was mocked almost instantly. Sources close to the Foreign Secretary have told The Telegraph and The Sun the one-time Tory leadership hopeful thinks it is “ridiculous” that the main link between the two countries is an underwater rail line. The newspapers report the idea was floated during the Anglo-French summit in Sandhurst on Thursday, and echoes previous reports by journalist Tim Shipman that Johnson proposed a “submarine highway” ahead of the Brexit vote. TELEGRAPH: Boris calls for Bridge across the Channel #tomorrowspaperstodaypic.twitter.com/uzdluUWWZS It isn’t the first time Johnson has floated a symbolic infrastructure project that met with ridicule. As Mayor of London, he threw his weight behind plans for the Garden Bridge. The “garden paradise” stretching over the Thames was backed by Joanna Lumley and George Osborne. As much as £37m of public money was spent trying to get the project off the ground, but many viewed it as an expensive indulgence. Plans were eventually canned by the new Mayor Sadiq Khan, who said he could not justify the £200m construction. Will it have lots of trees on it? Will Joanna Lumley be involved? https://t.co/bZP1r1dBLf Others were quick to highlight Johnson’s questionable record as Foreign Secretary of boosting international relations. Many were alarmed when Johnson said the EU could “go whistle” for its Brexit divorce bill.  Anglo-Spanish relations were put at risk by Johnson saying that the bid to stop bullfighting was “political ­correctness gone mad”. He recently ‘joked’ that Sirte could be the next Dubai, once the “dead bodies were cleared away”. He also once said that the former US President Barack Obama was “part-Kenyan” and had an “ancestral dislike” of the UK. .@BorisJohnson you're literally responsible for blowing the existing one up ... https://t.co/ck0TEks4zQ Foreign Secretary now really running out of ideas to improve international relations... https://t.co/7O4vdPOgb1 Others drew comparisons between the Garden Bridge, ‘Boris Bridge’ and ‘Boris Island’ airport. Johnson travelled the length and breadth of the country championing the Thames Estuary Airport. Proposals for the brand new four-runway airport at the Isle of Grain in Kent was dumped by the Airports Commission as bids to expand Britain’s airport capacity by Heathrow and Gatwick were considered more credible Ah! You thought Boris Island was wacky? Let’s have a BRIDGE TO FRANCE. Yeah. When the tunnel does not even run at capacity. 👏 https://t.co/DSmXd7zrEG Not content with Boris Island (still not been built), he now wants to build a bridge through the busiest sea shipping route in the world - how tall would it have to be!? https://t.co/R24LU6EK2f January 18, 2018 Huge. Beautiful bridge. The biggest you've ever seen. The best. And he's going to make the French pay for it. https://t.co/lgSdMUiCJd Regardless, Johnson seemed pleased with himself when pictured with Macron.  En marche ! Great meetings with French counterparts today pic.twitter.com/D73B1rSkd3

    0 0

    A government cash boost aimed at helping the NHS get on an even financial keel has been swallowed up by the winter crisis and other day-to-day pressures, a new report has revealed.

    The National Audit Office says £1.8 billion, handed to the health service in 2016 to give it breathing space to set itself up to survive on significantly less funding in future years, has been spent almost entirely on dealing with existing problems with increased demand and budget constraints.

    While the fund helped the health service improve its financial position from a £1,848 million deficit in 2015/16 to a £111 million surplus in 2016/17, the report reveals it is still struggling to manage increased activity and demand within budget.

    Staff in hospitals across the country have reported poor working conditions including long, short-staffed shifts, leading to delays in patient care, while latest performance figures show 100,000 people have been left waiting in the back of ambulances this winter.

    Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said the report “confirms the government’s flawed and wholly inadequate approach to the sustainable, long term funding of the NHS”.

    He added: “Ministers have failed to increase per head spending in real terms each year, a key election promise, and there are still no details of a long overdue pay rise for NHS staff.

    Labour's Jon Ashworth says the NHS is in crisis

    “Our NHS is in crisis. Years of under-investment culminated in December 2017 being the worst month on record for A&E performance and elective operations being cancelled until the end of January.

    “Targets are being missed and in-year cash injections are not improving the financial performances of trusts.

    “Unlike the Tories, Labour outlined a costed long term plan for funding the NHS. Labour will give our NHS an extra £6 billion a year to ensure that our NHS remains a world class service for all.”

    The NAO also reveals action taken by trusts to rebalance their finances have restricted the cash available for longer-term transformation to deal with demand and improve the service, leading to many having to request short-term funding boosts in the form of loans from the Department of Health.

    Alongside the release of the report, the organisation has made recommendations to the government, NHS England and NHS Improvement on how they can help improve the sustainability of the service. 

    Amyas Morse, head of the NAO, said: “The NHS has received extra funding, but this has mostly been used to cope with current pressures and has not provided the stable platform intended from which to transform services.

    “Repeated short-term funding-boosts could turn into the new normal, when the public purse may be better served by a long-term funding settlement that provides a stable platform for sustained improvements.”

    A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said:  “As this report recognises, the NHS has made significant progress towards balancing the books and returning to a financially stable position – to support this we recently gave it top priority in the budget with an extra £2.8 billion, on top of a planned £10 billion a year increase in its budget by 2020/21.”


    0 0

    1. ‘He’s thrown a kettle over a pub. What have you ever done?’

    Donald Trump’s then communications director Anthony Scaramucci says he’s been witness to his boss’s impressive feats, much like Gareth Keenan’s boast about Chris Finch’s unique skills on quiz night.

    2. ‘One of the cleverest blokes I know’ 

    Trump has ‘one of the highest’ IQs, and so does ‘bloody good rep’ Chris Finch.

    3. ‘Pffft’

    Hat-tip @hrtbps

    4. ‘Monkey!’

    Brent points to the toy monkey that appeared in adverts with comedian Jonny Vegas for the long forgotten ITV Digital channel. Trump points to the bust of Winston Churchill that has returned to the White House Oval Office. Hat-tip @PoliticalBrent.

    5. ‘I’ve been promoted, so ... every cloud.’ 

    Just minutes after telling the Slough office some of them will be sacked, David Brent said: “On a more positive note, the good news is, I’ve been promoted, so... every cloud.”

    Just hours after sacking Scaramucci, President Trump tweeted:

    6. Tim looks to the camera

    Trump had a very long handshake with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe. and Abe’s glance to the camera at the end was pure Tim Canterbury.

    7. ‘Here he is, the fella that nicked my job’

    Trump and Obama met at the inauguration in much the same way as Brent returning to Wernham Hogg with Gareth in charge.

    8. ‘Put, “David Brent is refreshingly laid back for a man with such responsibility”.’

    A source who definitely wasn’t departing White House adviser Steve Bannon speaks in fluent Brent-ese.

    9. ‘Will you apologise to Tim?’

    Trump’s daughter Ivanka wanted Trump to apologise. Brent’s boss Jennifer wanted Brent to apologise. Both sort of did.

    10. ‘Who thinks Neil’s more of a laugh than me?’

    Trump solicited the opinion of of 40,000 Boy Scouts at their annual Jamboree. Trump v Obama is effectively Brent v Neil from the Swindon office.

    11. ‘People say I’m the best boss.’

    Trump convened his first full Cabinet meeting after taking office and asked his new appointees to lavish praise on him, which presumably is precisely what Brent did too.


    0 0

    A government cash boost aimed at helping the NHS get on an even financial keel has been swallowed up by the winter crisis and other day-to-day pressures, a new report has revealed. The National Audit Office says £1.8 billion, handed to the health service in 2016 to give it breathing space to set itself up to survive on significantly less funding in future years, has been spent almost entirely on dealing with existing problems with increased demand and budget constraints. While the fund helped the health service improve its financial position from a £1,848 million deficit in 2015/16 to a £111 million surplus in 2016/17, the report reveals it is still struggling to manage increased activity and demand within budget. Staff in hospitals across the country have reported poor working conditions including long, short-staffed shifts, leading to delays in patient care, while latest performance figures show 100,000 people have been left waiting in the back of ambulances this winter. Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said the report “confirms the government’s flawed and wholly inadequate approach to the sustainable, long term funding of the NHS”. He added: “Ministers have failed to increase per head spending in real terms each year, a key election promise, and there are still no details of a long overdue pay rise for NHS staff. “Our NHS is in crisis. Years of under-investment culminated in December 2017 being the worst month on record for A&E performance and elective operations being cancelled until the end of January. “Targets are being missed and in-year cash injections are not improving the financial performances of trusts. “Unlike the Tories, Labour outlined a costed long term plan for funding the NHS. Labour will give our NHS an extra £6 billion a year to ensure that our NHS remains a world class service for all.” The NAO also reveals action taken by trusts to rebalance their finances have restricted the cash available for longer-term transformation to deal with demand and improve the service, leading to many having to request short-term funding boosts in the form of loans from the Department of Health. Alongside the release of the report, the organisation has made recommendations to the government, NHS England and NHS Improvement on how they can help improve the sustainability of the service. Amyas Morse, head of the NAO, said: “The NHS has received extra funding, but this has mostly been used to cope with current pressures and has not provided the stable platform intended from which to transform services. “Repeated short-term funding-boosts could turn into the new normal, when the public purse may be better served by a long-term funding settlement that provides a stable platform for sustained improvements.” A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said:  “As this report recognises, the NHS has made significant progress towards balancing the books and returning to a financially stable position – to support this we recently gave it top priority in the budget with an extra £2.8 billion, on top of a planned £10 billion a year increase in its budget by 2020/21.”

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    1. ‘He’s thrown a kettle over a pub. What have you ever done?’ Donald Trump’s then communications director Anthony Scaramucci says he’s been witness to his boss’s impressive feats, much like Gareth Keenan’s boast about Chris Finch’s unique skills on quiz night. 2. ‘One of the cleverest blokes I know’ Sorry losers and haters, but my I.Q. is one of the highest -and you all know it! Please don't feel so stupid or insecure,it's not your fault Trump has ‘one of the highest’ IQs, and so does ‘bloody good rep’ Chris Finch. Brent points to the toy monkey that appeared in adverts with comedian Jonny Vegas for the long forgotten ITV Digital channel. Trump points to the bust of Winston Churchill that has returned to the White House Oval Office. Hat-tip @PoliticalBrent. 5. ‘I’ve been promoted, so ... every cloud.’ Just minutes after telling the Slough office some of them will be sacked, David Brent said: “On a more positive note, the good news is, I’ve been promoted, so... every cloud.” Just hours after sacking Scaramucci, President Trump tweeted: Trump had a very long handshake with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe. and Abe’s glance to the camera at the end was pure Tim Canterbury. "Here he is, the fella who nicked me job." "Didn't nick it." "Nah, didn't want it anymore." (Via @timeforjamie) pic.twitter.com/RcjLxyIYts Trump and Obama met at the inauguration in much the same way as Brent returning to Wernham Hogg with Gareth in charge. 8. ‘Put, “David Brent is refreshingly laid back for a man with such responsibility”.’ "Steve is now unchained," source close to Bannon tells me. "Fully unchained." A source who definitely wasn’t departing White House adviser Steve Bannon speaks in fluent Brent-ese. Trump’s daughter Ivanka wanted Trump to apologise. Brent’s boss Jennifer wanted Brent to apologise. Both sort of did. Trump solicited the opinion of of 40,000 Boy Scouts at their annual Jamboree. Trump v Obama is effectively Brent v Neil from the Swindon office. Trump convened his first full Cabinet meeting after taking office and asked his new appointees to lavish praise on him, which presumably is precisely what Brent did too.

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    A Conservative minister has made a fierce defence of her Government’s record on the NHS after the party was accused of running down the service.

    During a major flashpoint on BBC’s Question Time, James said she was “not a liar” after a clash where an audience member claimed the Tories were under-funding the service to then open it up to privatisation.

    The MP was called a “liar” as she pointed to Conservative support for the NHS.

    The Minister for Digital and the Creative Industries, who also faced a barrage of criticism over the Government’s handling of the Carillion collapse, argued the Government has repeatedly increased spending on health and injected an extra £3.5 billion at the recent Budget.

    The exchange centred around the Department of Health replacing bursaries for nurses with loans, which it says will free up £800m a year to create extra nursing roles.

    Audience member: “What I do not understand is, there is public support to put more money into the NHS, to pay our nurses more, to support our nurses and reinstall the bursary programme, because if you are going to be a nurse and qualify earning less than £30,000 a year, but you ended up in so much debt, with such high interest rates to pay, why would you do it?

    “It does not make any sense. I wonder if the Conservative government we have is ideological making the NHS - underfunding it - so they can make the argument for privatisation.” 

    Audience cheers.

    James:“I am very sorry there is such enthusiasm for what you have said because it is utterly untrue.”

    Audience interrupts.

    James: “I am sorry, I have been accused of wanting to set the NHS up to fail so that we can privatise it. Nothing can be further from the truth.”

    Audience member:“Liar!” 

    James:“I am not a liar. I have spent time volunteering in the NHS over four, five years. I am not a liar. I believe in the NHS. And so does my Government. And we do put more money into it.”

    Audience interrupts again.

    James:“I am sorry, I am going to carry on answering this question. We have put an extra £3.5 billion in at the last Budget, we have increased the NHS budget every year since we got into office.

    “I do accept there is more demographic pressures on it. I do accept that, that is true. But it is not true to say that we do not invest in the NHS and it is an utter lie to say that we don’t believe in it, because we do.”


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    A Conservative minister has made a fierce defence of her Government’s record on the NHS after the party was accused of running down the service. During a major flashpoint on BBC’s Question Time, James said she was “not a liar” after a clash where an audience member claimed the Tories were under-funding the service to then open it up to privatisation. The MP was called a “liar” as she pointed to Conservative support for the NHS. The Minister for Digital and the Creative Industries, who also faced a barrage of criticism over the Government’s handling of the Carillion collapse, argued the Government has repeatedly increased spending on health and injected an extra £3.5 billion at the recent Budget. The exchange centred around the Department of Health replacing bursaries for nurses with loans, which it says will free up £800m a year to create extra nursing roles. Audience member: “What I do not understand is, there is public support to put more money into the NHS, to pay our nurses more, to support our nurses and reinstall the bursary programme, because if you are going to be a nurse and qualify earning less than £30,000 a year, but you ended up in so much debt, with such high interest rates to pay, why would you do it? “It does not make any sense. I wonder if the Conservative government we have is ideological making the NHS - underfunding it - so they can make the argument for privatisation.”  Audience cheers. James:“I am very sorry there is such enthusiasm for what you have said because it is utterly untrue.” Audience interrupts. James: “I am sorry, I have been accused of wanting to set the NHS up to fail so that we can privatise it. Nothing can be further from the truth.” Audience member:“Liar!”  James:“I am not a liar. I have spent time volunteering in the NHS over four, five years. I am not a liar. I believe in the NHS. And so does my Government. And we do put more money into it.” Audience interrupts again. James:“I am sorry, I am going to carry on answering this question. We have put an extra £3.5 billion in at the last Budget, we have increased the NHS budget every year since we got into office. “I do accept there is more demographic pressures on it. I do accept that, that is true. But it is not true to say that we do not invest in the NHS and it is an utter lie to say that we don’t believe in it, because we do.”