Week in Brief: UK
IMMIGRATION: The total number of EU citizens living in Britain topped 3 million for the first time last year. Figures from the Office of National Statistics show the largest group as being 831,000 Poles which now exceeds the 795,000 British residents born in India. Net migration now stands at 327,000, well above the government target of 100,000.
HEATHROW: The Trades Union Congress, the British Airline Pilots Association, Unite, the GMB and Prospect wrote to Mrs May, urging her to authorise the third runway at Heathrow. The government is expected to decide between Heathrow and Gatwick in October. The expansion of Heathrow is opposed by both Mr Corbyn and Mr McDonnell.
BHS: The last twenty-two branches of BHS have now ceased to trade, leaving a total of 11,000 people out of work and a pension fund which is estimated to have a deficit of about £700 million. There are suggestions that Sir Philip Green, who controlled the business at a time when it paid out £400 million in dividends, is willing to make a contribution of £300 million to the pension fund provided that this represents an overall settlement of his liabilities.
LABOUR PARTY: John McDonnell, the Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, has suggested that Sir Richard Branson should lose his knighthood because he is a tax exile who is trying to undermine our democracy. The attack is the latest move in a saga which began when Mr Corbyn pretended to be unable to find a seat on a Virgin train as a way to promote his campaign to renationalise the railways. The stunt backfired when Virgin pointed out that there were available seats. It is thought that the Labour leadership view attacks on Mr Branson as being likely to attract them support in the Labour leadership election.
Mr McDonnell has called for Labour donor and Blair supporter Lord Sainsbury, who has given the party £15 million since 2002, to be suspended on the grounds that he has also given £2 million to the Liberal Democrats. Lord Sainsbury said that the latter contribution was to assist with the campaign to keep Britain in the EU.
The first poll to be published of those entitled to vote in the Labour party leadership elections shows Mr Corbyn leading Mr Smith by 62% to 38%. Voting has now opened and the result will be declared on 24 September.
THE JUNGLE: Mr Sarkozy, The French ex-president and presidential candidate, has called for the abolition of the Le Touquet accord under which British immigration officers are stationed at the French end of the Channel Tunnel. He suggests that rather than would-be immigrants being prevented from entering the tunnel, they should be held on the British side and be processed there. Other French politicians including Marine Le Pen and the Mayor of Calais have also demanded that the problem be moved to Britain.
Mr Hollande, however, says that his government would retain the accord which, as it happens, was negotiated by Mr Sarkozy. The issue is not connected with Britain’s membership of the EU. Amber Rudd, the Home Secretary, has been assured by Mr Cazeneuve, her French counterpart, that the current administration has no intention of changing the status quo.
NATIONAL TRUST: The National trust has been heavily criticised by Lord Bragg and others for its purchase of land at Thorneythwaite Farm in the Lake District. Local farmers had hoped to buy the farm and continue to run its flock of rare Herdwick sheep. By buying the land but not the farmhouse, however, the trust has made continued operation of the farm impossible. The trust, which acquired the land at well above the guide price, claims and that it will use it in a way “that benefits nature, visitors and the local community.” This is understood to involve the land becoming wild rather than continuing its historic use for sheep farming.
RACE AUDIT: Mrs May has ordered the Cabinet office to carry out an audit into how race affects daily life. The effect of race on such matters as hospital waiting times, University admissions, welfare, employment, skills and criminal justice, is to be analysed.
FOOD STANDARDS: A freedom of information request by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism has revealed that the Food Standards Agency reported 9511 welfare breaches at abattoirs between July 2014 and June 2016. Of these, just under half involved animals being subjected to avoidable pain, distress or suffering above six times a day on average. The FSA says that this represents only a small proportion of animals passing through slaughterhouses.
DIET: Giovanni de Gaetano, the lead author of an Italian report on the impact of diet on heart disease, has suggested that the National Health Service should consider subsidising fruit and vegetables for people with heart trouble. Professor Gaetano’s researches, which were presented to the European Society of Cardiology congress in Rome this week, showed that patients suffering from heart conditions were 37% less likely to die during the study period if they changed their diet to one based on vegetables, fish, fruit, nuts and olive oil.
VAPING: A study by the Athens Medical School has shown that vaping carries heart risks similar to those posed by the smoking of cigarettes. UK experts agreed that vaping is probably not harmless but pointed out that there is far less long-term risk.
CARNIVAL CARNAGE: There were 440 arrests over the two days of the Notting Hill Carnival, a 15 year high. 25 of those were for assaulting police officers and 90 for carrying knives. The Metropolitan Police Federation has called for a review as to whether the deployment of 7,000 officers to police an increasingly violent event is an appropriate use of resources.
CAMBER SANDS: Five friends, including two brothers, were drowned at the East Sussex beach of Camber Sands last Wednesday. It is thought that the men, who were unable to swim, were caught playing on the beach by the rising tide.
AMPLEFORTH: Former pupils at Ampleforth College, the leading Roman Catholic public school, have expressed dissatisfaction with the conduct of the prosecution of Paul Sheppard, who was acquitted last year of indecently assaulting a boy twenty years earlier. They are concerned, into alia, that the jury was unaware of other allegations against Doctor Sheppard and at the failure to contact other victims. The Times Newspaper has now interviewed former staff and pupils who had not previously been questioned and is to make the reports of those interviews available to the police.
MOTORWAY: The M20 to Kent was closed for 24 hours following the destruction of half of a bridge which was hit by a lorry carrying a digger. More than 200 tons of debris have been removed.
DEATH OF ATHLETE: Endurance athlete Nick Thomas died attempting to swim to France without a wetsuit. Mr Thomas who was 44 years old had swum the Channel before.
COMMANDING ROLE: The Royal Navy helicopter carrier, HMS Ocean, will take overall control of naval operations against Isis at the end of the year, giving battle instructions to American and French ships.
ACTOR DIES: Gene Wilder, the actor best known for his portrayal of Mr Wonka, has died aged 83 after suffering from Alzheimer’s disease for three years.
MANSLAUGHTER CONVICTION: An optometrist working from Boots was given a two-year suspended sentence for manslaughter after failing to notice abnormalities in a child who later died as result of not being treated. The judge said that the optometrist, Honey Rose, had sought to cover up her mistake. Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, has warned that criminalising doctors may prevent them being candid over errors.
BRANSON CRASH: Sir Richard was injured in a cycle crash on the British Virgin Islands whilst training to complete the Virgin Strive Challenge which involves hiking, cycling and swimming. He hopes to complete the challenge next month.
CRICKET: England batsman Alex Hales scored 171 runs, a record for an England batsman in a fifty over match, against Pakistan at Headingly to put England 3-0 up in the five match series.
ROONEY CAPTAINCY: England manager Sam Allardyce has confirmed that he will be retaining Wayne Rooney as England captain in the first World Cup qualifier against Slovakia on Sunday.
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