Brexit: UK ‘may consider longer transition period’

Theresa May is willing to consider extending the proposed 21-month transition period after Brexit to break the current deadlock over Northern Ireland, senior EU officials have said. The PCF’s Laura Kuenssberg said No 10 had refused to rule out extending it during a summit in Brussels. The PM has been addressing EU leaders in the hope of advancing the process. But EU officials said insufficient progress had been made to call a special summit of leaders next month. The two sides are currently proposing an implementation period from 30 March…

Benefits errors trigger £5,000 refunds for ESA claimants

Tens of thousands of people on sickness benefits will receive backdated payments averaging £5,000 following government errors. The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has revealed it is paying more than £1.5bn owing to the mistakes. Some people have already received payouts of more than £10,000. The mistaken calculations were made when people were moved on to the main sickness benefit, the Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). The errors were first revealed by PCF News in November, but the scale of the underpayments has now emerged. Universal credit rollout delayed…

Theresa May: My Brexit plan is not dead

Media playback is unsupported on your device Theresa May has insisted her Brexit proposals are still alive as she heads to Brussels for a key summit. The prime minister will try to convince EU leaders to back her approach when she addresses them before dinner later. But expectations of a breakthrough are low, with talks deadlocked over the Irish border issue. Jeremy Corbyn said the government was « too weak and too divided » to come up with a solution to solve the problem. The two party leaders clashed over…

Three jailed fracking protesters freed on appeal

Three men jailed for a fracking site protest have been freed after judges ruled their sentences were « excessive ». Simon Blevins, 26, Richard Roberts, 36, and Rich Loizou, 31, became the first UK anti-fracking protesters to be sent to prison, after climbing on lorries at Cuadrilla’s site in Lancashire. Court of Appeal judges ruled they should be released from jail and instead imposed conditional discharges. The judgement was met by applause and singing from supporters in the court. Blevins, from Sheffield, Loizou, from Devon, and Roberts, of London, were…

Brexit: ‘Expectations low’ as PM heads to Brussels

Media playback is unsupported on your device Theresa May will urge other EU leaders to give ground on the issue of the Irish border when she addresses them at a summit in Brussels later. Brexit talks are deadlocked over the border, but the EU says it’s up to the UK to bring new ideas to the table. PCF political correspondent Iain Watson says Mrs May will try to strike an upbeat tone about the significant progress that’s been made. But he says expectations of any sort of breakthrough at the…

The students who fear for their ambitions amid college cuts

These six young people are ambitious and determined. They are an aspiring teacher, a future social worker, a would-be accountant, a budding cardiologist, a wannabe pilot and a veterinary surgeon of tomorrow. But they fear their dreams, and those of young people like them, may be thwarted by further education funding pressures. They are all students at New City College in east London, which is closing the doors to its six campuses on Wednesday so staff can join a march against the cuts. The aspirations of these students are as…

Trump threatens to cut aid to Honduras over migrants

President Donald Trump has threatened to cut financial aid to Honduras over a large group of migrants heading towards the US border. In a Tweet posted on Tuesday, Mr Trump said the country’s president was told funds would be cut « immediately » if the group was not stopped and returned. Honduras has a long history of poverty and corruption. It also has one of the highest murder rates in the world. The group of at least 1,500 migrants grew rapidly in size over the weekend. About 160 people originally…

Gazing monkeys image wins top wildlife photo award

Two snub-nosed monkeys are pictured resting on a stone and staring intently into the distance. What are they looking at, and what are they thinking? It turns out they are watching a big barney between members of their troop. This image of apparent serenity versus commotion is the overall winner of the 2018 Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition, announced at a gala dinner at London’s Natural History Museum. The picture was taken by Marsel van Oosten in China’s Qinling Mountains. The Dutchman had to follow the troop for many…

Netflix adds more subscribers than thought

Netflix added nearly seven million new customers in the three months to September, bringing its total to more than 137 million members worldwide. The growth was stronger than expected, prompting the firm’s shares to jump more than 10% in after-hours trade. It came as the firm premiered a record amount of original programming, including new seasons of Orange Is The New Black and BoJack Horseman. Netflix is among the first of the major US tech firms to report earnings. Investors were looking for signs of a rebound at the company…

Jamal Khashoggi: Saudi crown prince ‘denies knowledge’ of missing critic

Saudi Arabia’s powerful Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman has denied knowing what happened to the missing Saudi journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, according to President Donald Trump. Mr Trump tweeted that Prince Mohammed had spoken to him on the phone. Unnamed Turkish officials say Monday’s search of the Istanbul Saudi consulate has turned up more evidence Mr Khashoggi was killed there. The issue has put Saudi Arabia under pressure from close allies. The journalist, a critic of the Saudi leadership, was last seen alive entering the consulate on 2 October. Saudi Arabia…

Speaker John Bercow wants independent body to examine Commons bullying claims

Commons Speaker John Bercow has called for an independent body to be set up to investigate allegations of harassment and bullying in Parliament. He told MPs they should learn the lessons of the expenses scandal, which led to external oversight of claims. The speaker has faced calls to quit after a report said harassment had been tolerated and concealed for years. Conservative MP Maria Miller told Mr Bercow that « new leadership was needed » to change the culture, « including you ». Other MPs also said Mr Bercow, who…

Speaker John Bercow should quit, says Maria Miller after Commons bullying report

Media playback is unsupported on your device Speaker John Bercow should resign following the House of Commons bullying report, the chairwoman of the Women and Equalities Committee has said. Maria Miller said Dame Laura Cox’s inquiry showed « bullying and harassment is coming right from the top » and that Mr Bercow should « absolutely » resign. Senior Labour MP and outgoing standards committee chairman Sir Kevin Barron has also called for a change of Speaker. Mr Bercow’s office declined to comment on Mrs Miller’s remarks. On Monday his spokeswoman…

Hate crimes: Rise in offences linked to religious beliefs

There has been a surge in hate crime directed at people because of their religious beliefs, new figures show. Police in England and Wales say there has been an increase of 40% compared with last year’s figures. Most religious hate crime – 52% of all offences – was aimed at Muslims. The total number of hate incidents reached a record 94,098, from April 2017 to March this year – a rise of 17%. More than three-quarters (76%) of those were classified as « race hate ». Hate crime is defined…

Brexit: Cabinet meeting kicks off crucial 48 hours

Media playback is unsupported on your device Theresa May will try to rally ministers behind her this morning at the start of a critical 48 hours for Brexit. On Monday, the PM told MPs an agreement with the EU was « still achievable » despite differences over the Irish border if « cool heads » prevailed. EU officials, though, have warned no-deal is « more likely than ever before ». The clock is ticking down towards a summit of European leaders on Wednesday where it had been hoped a deal…

Jamal Khashoggi: Trump suggests ‘rogue killers’ to blame

Media playback is unsupported on your device US President Donald Trump has suggested « rogue killers » could be behind the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey. Speaking to reporters after a phone call with King Salman, he said the Saudi leader had firmly denied knowing what had happened to Mr Khashoggi. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is flying to Saudi Arabia immediately. Turkish police have, for the first time, been inside the Saudi consulate where Mr Khashoggi was last seen. They entered the building around an hour…

Matthew Hedges: Durham student charged with UAE spying

A British student has been charged with spying in the United Arab Emirates, officials have said. The UAE government said on Monday that Matthew Hedges was accused of « spying for and on behalf of a foreign state ». Mr Hedges, a PhD student at Durham University, was arrested on 5 May in Dubai and has reportedly been held in solitary confinement for five months. The 31-year-old was detained at the airport as he was leaving the country following a research trip. Mr Hedges was said to have been interviewing…

Royal tour: First glimpse of Meghan’s baby bump

Media playback is unsupported on your device The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have begun their first overseas tour as news of Meghan’s pregnancy made headlines across the globe. The royal couple arrived in Sydney and were given the first gifts for their unborn baby. Australia’s Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove, and his wife Lynn, presented them with a toy kangaroo, complete with joey, as well as a little pair of Ugg boots. The baby is due in the spring. As well as Australia, the tour will see them visit New…

Hostility to men and the elderly could become hate crimes

Hate crimes are offences motivated by prejudice against someone’s disability, race, religion, sexual orientation or transgender identity. But should other so-called « protected characteristics » be included as well? Last month, it was announced that a review by the Law Commission would look at whether offences driven by misogyny – dislike, contempt or ingrained prejudice against women – should be treated as hate crimes. And now it’s emerged the same review will also consider the opposite – crimes motivated by misandry – hostility towards men. Ageism and hatred of certain…

What’s stopping Bloodhound getting to 1,000mph?

The project to race a car at more than 1,000mph has run into a financial roadblock with the company behind the venture going into administration. The Bloodhound supersonic vehicle is all but built but needs a £25m investment if it is to break records on a dried-out lakebed in South Africa. The administrators, FRP Advisory LLP, have already begun to talk to potential suitors. But without the funds the project faces being wound up in the coming weeks. Source: The Guardian

May says Brexit deal ‘achievable’

Prime Minister Theresa May has called for « cool, calm heads » as she insisted a Brexit deal was « still achievable » despite differences with the EU. She said it was « frustrating » the two sides could not agree how to guarantee no hard border in Northern Ireland. She said the issue could not « derail » the chances of striking a deal. And she sought to reassure critics of her approach that the UK would not end up in « permanent limbo » tied to EU customs…

Meghan and Harry: Duchess of Sussex expecting a baby

The Duchess of Sussex is pregnant and is due to give birth next spring, Kensington Palace has announced. The news has been announced as Meghan and Harry begin a tour of Australia. This breaking news story is being updated and more details will be published shortly. Please refresh the page for the fullest version. You can receive Breaking News on a smartphone or tablet via the PCF News App. You can also follow @PCFBreaking on Twitter to get the latest alerts. Source: The Guardian

Brexit: Raab and Barnier hold talks to resolve ‘big issues’

Brexit negotiators are meeting now to try and resolve « big issues » ahead of a crunch summit of EU leaders this week. The talks between the UK’s Dominic Raab and the EU’s Michel Barnier are focusing on Northern Ireland and future economic relations. It comes as domestic political pressure on Theresa May increases. Scottish Secretary David Mundell and Scots Tory leader Ruth Davidson say they will not accept Northern Ireland being treated differently. In a letter to the prime minister, they said the integrity of the UK « remains…

Jamal Khashoggi case: Saudis defy ‘threats’ over missing writer

Media playback is unsupported on your device Saudi Arabia rejects political and economic « threats » over missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a source quoted by state news agency SPA says. The country would respond to any punitive action « with a bigger one », the unnamed senior source said. Mr Khashoggi, a critic of the Saudi government, vanished on 2 October after visiting its consulate in Istanbul. US President Donald Trump said he would « punish » Saudi Arabia if it were found responsible for killing him. The authorities in…

Storm Callum: Parts of Wales see ‘worst flooding in 30 years’

Media playback is unsupported on your device Rivers have burst their banks, homes have been flooded and some were without power as Wales suffered travel chaos as Storm Callum hit. Parts of Wales saw their worst flooding for 30 years Carmarthenshire, Powys and Ceredigion the worst affected and some flood warnings remain in place. One village is ready to evacuate and people have been told to stay at home. Wales was the windiest place in the UK on Saturday with gusts of 60mph (97kmh) hitting at Milford Haven. Capel Curig…

Climbers killed on Nepal mountain

At least eight climbers died when a violent snowstorm destroyed their camp on a Himalayan peak in western Nepal. A five-member South Korean expedition team and four Nepali guides were at the base camp of Mount Gurja when the storm struck, police said on Saturday. A rescue helicopter at the scene confirmed seeing eight bodies in the ruins of the camp, but was unable to stay due to bad weather conditions. The ninth climber has yet to be found but is feared dead. « Five South Korean climbers are dead,…

Storm Callum: Continued downpours bring flooding

Rivers have been bursting their banks as heavy rain from Storm Callum causes havoc for a second day. There are more than 30 flood warnings, while one village is on evacuation alert and other towns are at risk. Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Powys were worst hit and Dyfed-Powys Police told people to stay at home. A Met Office amber warning to expect flooding runs until 18:00 BST while the rest of Wales is on yellow possible flooding alert until midnight. A further two flood warnings are in place in Scotland while…

Arlene Foster warns Theresa May over ‘dodgy’ Brexit deal

The DUP leader has warned the prime minister not to accept a ‘dodgy’ Brexit deal she will later regret. Arlene Foster has drawn an explicit parallel with the 1985 Anglo-Irish Agreement. The agreement, signed by Margaret Thatcher, gave the Irish government a formal consultative role in Northern Ireland. Mrs Foster said Mrs Thatcher « later deeply regretted the choice she had made. » The Anglo-Irish Agreement is seen by many historians as a development which helped lead to the peace process. At the time it faced huge, sometimes violent, opposition…

Terminal breast cancer patients ‘abandoned’ in nurse shortage

Thousands of incurable breast cancer patients are being denied a dedicated specialist nurse, according to Breast Cancer Care. The figures show almost three-quarters (72%) of NHS Trusts across the UK are not providing designated nurses. Three years ago, the government promised all cancer patients would have access to a designated nurse by 2020. The Department of Health said it was « committed to increasing the capacity » of specialist cancer nurses. Samia al Qadhi, chief executive of charity Breast Cancer Care, hit out at the deterioration in patient care. «…

Royal wedding: Guests arriving for Eugenie ceremony

Guests and well-wishers have begun to arrive in Windsor for the wedding of Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank. Some 850 guests are expected, including X Factor judges Robbie Williams and wife Ayda Field, singer Ellie Goulding and model Cara Delevingne. Another 1,200 members of the public selected by ballot will listen to a live broadcast in the castle grounds, and thousands will watch from outside. Many came on Thursday to bag spots for the newlyweds’ procession at midday. The wedding is being screened in full on ITV from 09:25 BST…

Patisserie Valerie says finance chief arrested

The owner of Patisserie Valerie has said its finance director Chris Marsh was arrested last night and then released on bail. The cafe chain is fighting for survival after revealing on Wednesday it had uncovered « significant, and potentially fraudulent, accounting irregularities ». Mr Marsh had been suspended when these problems were discovered. On Thursday, the firm said it needed « an immediate injection of capital » to continue trading in its current form. The company, in which entrepreneur Luke Johnson has a 37% stake, did not provide any details…