Oxford student Lavinia Woodward spared jail for knife attack

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Lavinia Woodward had ambitions to enter the medical profession

An “extraordinary” Oxford University student who stabbed her boyfriend in the leg has avoided a prison sentence.

Lavinia Woodward, 24, admitted attacking the man at her student accommodation at Christ Church College after drinking heavily.

At an earlier hearing Judge Ian Pringle QC said he believed a custodial sentence would damage her career.

On Monday she was given a 10-month jail sentence suspended for 18 months for inflicting unlawful wounding.

Oxford Crown Court heard Woodward attacked her then boyfriend, who she had met on dating app Tinder, while he was visiting her in December.

She became angry when he contacted her mother on Skype after he realised she had been drinking.

She threw a laptop at him and stabbed him in the lower leg with a breadknife, also injuring two of his fingers. Woodward then tried to stab herself with the knife before he disarmed her.

‘Relatively minor’ injuries

The court heard Woodward had become addicted to drugs while in an abusive relationship with a previous boyfriend.

The case was the subject of huge debate about inequality in the criminal justice system, prompted by the judge deferring sentencing and describing the attack as “a complete one-off”.

He had described Woodward as “an extraordinary able young lady” and said a custodial sentence would damage her hopes of becoming a surgeon.

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The judge said Woodward had had shown a “strong and unwavering determination” to get over addiction

Handing down a suspended sentence, Judge Pringle said there were “many, many mitigating factors” and the injuries inflicted were “relatively minor”.

He said she had shown a “strong and unwavering determination” to get over her class A drug and alcohol addiction.

“I find that you were genuinely remorseful following this event. whilst you are a clearly highly-intelligent individual, you had an immaturity about you which was not commensurate for someone of your age.”

Woodward faced a possible maximum sentence of three years in prison.

The Dean of Christ Church, the Very Revd Professor Martyn Percy, said Woodward had voluntarily suspended her studies.

“It is clearly a matter of regret and sadness when any young person blights a promising career by committing a crime.

“The question of her future will now be decided by the University, which has procedures in place when a student is the subject of a criminal conviction.

“The result of deliberation can be penalty of expulsion by the Student Disciplinary Panel, but the length and outcome of this confidential process… cannot be pre-judged.”

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-oxfordshire-41389520

Third of state schools in cash deficit

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There are 9,000 schools in deficit, according to an answer revealed by ministers

“We’re trying to operate on a shoestring,” says Tim Rawling, chair of governors of a South Gloucestershire primary school.

Staple Hill Primary School is expecting to go into budget deficit this year, with fears of cuts and job losses.

It will not be alone as there were more than 9,000 state schools in England in a similar position last year, according to figures revealed by ministers.

Schools minister Nick Gibb said schools would have “the resources they need”.

The figures were revealed in an answer to a parliamentary question about school finances, against a background of warnings about budget cuts.


The government’s figures showed there were more than 9,400 schools which had been in deficit in 2015-16, more than a third of the total.

At Staple Hill, near Bristol, Mr Rawling said there were concerns about whether such budget pressures would lead to staff cuts.

“It’s frustrating, we’re not being given enough money,” he said.

The reply from Mr Gibb said such a deficit within the year was “not an issue in itself unless it is symptomatic of a trend towards a cumulative deficit”.

“Schools may draw on their reserves in a particular year – for example to spend on capital projects,” he added.

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School leaders have been running a campaign over funding shortages

But the figures show that almost 4,000 schools have been in deficit for two years, nearly 1,600 for three years, more than 400 for four years and 100 for five years.

The question was put by Liberal Democrat education spokeswoman Layla Moran, who said: “It is shocking to see thousands of schools across the country reporting budget deficits year after year, and perhaps more shocking still that the minister has played down the issue by claiming in-year deficits are not a cause for concern.

“It should be seriously concerning to this government that 4,000 schools have now reported deficits for two years in a row, and that nearly 4,000 more schools have in-year deficits this year than did five years ago.

“We know parents are being asked to contribute to school funds out of their own pockets, that schools are considering closing early and that subjects are being dropped from the curriculum, as they try to make ends meet,” said Ms Moran.

A coalition of teachers’ unions has also warned that funding problems have not been resolved – publishing figures that 88% of individual schools will have lost funding in real terms between 2015 and 2020.

Head teachers’ leader Geoff Barton said ministers needed to “recognise that the overall level of education funding is totally inadequate”.

In his parliamentary answer, schools minister Mr Gibb said the government wanted to ensure schools “have the resources they need to deliver a high quality education for their pupils” and would have an additional £1.3bn up to 2020, as part of a new funding formula.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-41388079

Uber: London Mayor Sadiq Khan backs talks after firm’s apology

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London Mayor Sadiq Khan chairs Transport for London

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has asked the city’s transport regulator to meet Uber’s boss after the firm apologised for the “mistakes” it has made.

Uber chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi issued the apology after the taxi-hailing firm lost its London licence.

Mr Khosrowshahi said in an open letter that Uber would appeal against the city’s decision, but accepted the company “must change”.

On Friday, Transport for London (TfL) denied Uber a new licence to operate.

Uber has said it wants to meet TfL to discuss the regulator’s concerns over public safety and security.

The London mayor welcomed Mr Khosrowshahi’s apology, saying: “Even though there is a legal process in place, I have asked TfL to make themselves available to meet with him.”

In deciding not to renew Uber’s licence beyond the end of September, TfL cited concerns about the firm’s treatment of criminal offences, medical certificates, and drivers’ background checks.

When asked about a possible meeting, a spokesman for TfL said: “We are always available and happy to meet at any time.”

Uber says it has followed the regulator’s rules and works closely with the Metropolitan Police.

The firm, which is used by an estimated 40,000 drivers and 3.5 million customers in London, also says it will continue operating while its appeal is heard.

Mr Khosrowshahi, who took over at the firm less than a month ago, wrote on Monday: “While Uber has revolutionised the way people move in cities around the world, it’s equally true that we’ve got things wrong along the way.”

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Dara Khosrowshahi took over as Uber boss last month after Travis Kalanick resigned

In a letter addressed to Londoners, the new Uber boss said the firm “won’t be perfect, but we will listen to you”.

“On behalf of everyone at Uber globally, I apologise for the mistakes we’ve made,” Mr Khosrowshahi said.

Earlier, the mayor of London accused Uber of putting “unfair pressure” on TfL, with an “army” of PR experts and lawyers.

Mr Khan, who is also chairman of TfL, told the BBC: “What you can’t do is have a situation where unfair pressure is brought on a quasi-judicial body, where there are officials working incredibly hard.

“I appreciate Uber has an army of PR experts, I appreciate Uber has an army of lawyers – they’ve also made aggressive threats about taking us to court.”

Uber-TfL talks

When asked if he would meet Uber personally, the mayor said it would be “improper for politicians to interfere with a quasi-judicial matter”.

The mayor’s office said Mr Khan would not be directly involved in discussions or meetings with Uber if they took place.

While Mr Khan chairs the TfL board, according to the organisation he was not involved in the process of deciding whether to issue Uber with a licence.

That is handled by TfL’s taxi and private hire department.

Uber is keen to hold talks with officials from that department “as soon as possible”, Fred Jones, a senior executive with Uber in the UK, told the BBC’s Today Programme.

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More than 750,000 people have signed an online petition to keep Uber operating

Mr Jones said that Uber was “not clear” about the issues raised by TfL when it denied the company a licence.

One of the points raised by TfL was Uber’s “approach to how Enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks are obtained” for its drivers.

That part of the process was not even handled by Uber, said Mr Jones. Instead, the drivers organised their own DBS check and took that paperwork to TfL.

TfL then reviews that application before giving the driver a licence allowing them to drive for Uber.

TfL would not elaborate further on its issue with the way in which Uber organises DBS checks, because that would be likely to come up when Uber appealed against the decision.

It would only repeat that it was Uber’s “approach” to DBS checks that was the problem.

More than 750,000 people have signed an online petition in a bid to keep Uber operating in London after its licence expires on 30 September.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-41384499

Corrie Mckeague: Missing airman’s mum to walk his final steps

Corrie Mckeague with his mum Nicola Urquhart

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Corrie Mckeague’s mother will return to the site where her son was last seen

The mother of a missing airman has offered to walk people through her son’s final known steps on the anniversary of his disappearance.

Corrie Mckeague, 23, has not been seen since 24 September 2016 following a night out in Bury St Edmunds.

Suffolk Police believe he was taken to a landfill site after falling asleep in a bin, but have not found his body.

On Facebook his mother Nicola Urquhart said she hoped walking the route would jog someone’s memory.

‘Not time to give up’

She said she wanted to do “something positive” to assist police in their search to find her son, after the 20-week trawl of rubbish at the landfill site in Milton, Cambridgeshire, ended.

“Now is not the time to give up and sit quietly somewhere to remember Corrie,” she said.

“Information is what will find Corrie, we desperately need you for this.”

Corrie Mckeague: The mystery of the missing airman

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Suffolk constabulary

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Corrie Mckeague went missing after a night out in Bury St Edmunds

Throughout the day and evening of the first anniversary of his disappearance, Ms Urquhart, along with her two other sons and their uncle Tony, will be in Langton Place, near So Bar, where Corrie started his night out.

The final CCTV footage of him was behind a row of shops, in an area known as the Horseshoe.

“We will be happy to walk you all the route that Corrie took that night ending at the horseshoe area, while explaining all the facts that we have to date,” she wrote.

“This is being done in the hope that we may jog someone’s memory that may have been out that night or has heard something since, or that after seeing the route and hearing the facts, may ask a question we have not thought of yet.”

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A 20-week search of a landfill site in Cambridgeshire ended after no traces of the airman were found

Mr Mckeague, from Fife, was first reported missing when he failed to turn up at RAF Honington on Monday, 26 September 2016.

Police had initially ruled out searching the landfill site, but later revealed a bin lorry, seized shortly after the gunner vanished, was carrying a heavier load than first thought.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-suffolk-41159163

Meghan Markle attends as Prince Harry launches Invictus Games

Media captionInvictus Games opening ceremony

Meghan Markle has attended the opening ceremony of Prince Harry’s Invictus Games for injured service personnel.

The prince’s girlfriend was in the stands at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, but she was not sitting next to Harry.

Athletes from 15 countries will compete in 12 sports over eight days.

Launching the Games, the prince told the audience he wanted the world to be inspired “by the spirit of those who wear the uniform”.

There had been speculation that the event would be the first time Prince Harry, 33, and Ms Markle would be seen in public together.

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Prince Harry’s girlfriend was at the opening ceremony but not next to Harry

The actress, who lives in the city, clapped and smiled as the competitors arrived in the stadium.

Ms Markle recently spoke about her relationship with the prince to Vanity Fair magazine.

“We’re two people who are really happy and in love,” the 36-year-old said.

The prince was sitting in a separate VIP area, next to US First Lady Melania Trump and near Canadian PM Justin Trudeau.

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Prince Harry was next to the First Lady of the United States, Melania Trump

Taking the platform for his speech, Harry, who served as a helicopter pilot in Afghanistan, told how he felt compelled to raise awareness of the sacrifices made by servicemen and women after a harrowing flight back in 2008.

“As I was waiting on board the plane, the coffin of a Danish soldier was loaded on by his friends.

“Once on the flight, I was confronted with three British soldiers, all in induced comas with missing limbs and wrapped in plastic.

“The way I viewed service and sacrifice changed forever and the direction of my life changed with it.

“I knew it was my responsibility to use the great platform that I have to help the world understand, and be inspired by, the spirit of those who wear the uniform.”

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The UK squad was chosen through selection trials at Bath University in April.

The UK team trained at the University of Bath sports training village after selection trials there in April.

Some of the competitors have lost limbs or suffered long-term injuries.

Others are struggling with the mental scars of the conflicts they have experienced.

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Captain Trevor Greene of the Canadian Armed Forces said he chose to be captain of his destiny

Retired Captain Trevor Greene of the Canadian Armed Forces was attacked by a Taliban insurgent in Afghanistan in March 2006 and as a result, suffered an axe wound to the head.

He has spent years in hospital and rehab recovering.

“When I got home the docs took one look at me and said if I lived – which they doubted – I’d be a vegetable the rest of my life,” Captain Greene told the crowds.

“They told my wife Debbie to stick me in a home somewhere and get on with her life.

“My army brothers fought for me against all the odds. They believed in me in the fight and they still do. I had a choice: to accept the prognosis and give up, or to fight like a soldier.

“I chose to be captain of my destiny, master of my fate.”

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Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau welcomed the crowds to Canada

The inaugural Invictus Games took place in London in September 2014.

They were held in Orlando, Florida, in 2016, and will be hosted by Sydney, Australia, in 2018.

Earlier on Saturday, Harry held separate bilateral meetings with Mrs Trump and Mr Trudeau.

The first lady is in Canada to support the large American contingent taking part in the Games.

She praised the “wonderful spirit and determination” and said she was “honoured to lead the US delegation”.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-41376139

Six injured in east London ‘acid attack’

Media captionFootage of police and other emergency services around Stratford has been shared on social media

Six people have been injured in Stratford, east London, in a reported acid attack.

Police were called to Stratford Centre, opposite Westfield, just before 20:00 BST, following an “altercation” between two groups of males where a noxious substance was thrown.

Ambulance crews treated six males at the scene for their injuries, and three of them were taken to hospital.

A 15-year-old boy has been arrested on suspicion of grievous bodily harm.

Those reported injured were believed to be in a number of different locations, sparking initial fears that people had been sprayed at random.

However the Met Police said those injured were connected to the initial attack.

Media captionPolice cordon off part of the area

Ch Supt Ade Adelekan said: “I would like to be very clear concerning this incident.

“What initially may have been perceived as a number of random attacks has, on closer inspection, been found to be one incident involving two groups of males.”

No-one suffered life-threatening or life-changing injuries.

Witnesses at the scene said an argument had broken out among a group of people.

A man who gave his name as Hossen, an assistant manager at Burger King, said a victim had run into the fast food chain to “wash acid off his face”.

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One man said a victim ran into a Burger King to “wash acid off his face”

The 28-year-old added: “There were cuts around his eyes and he was trying to chuck water into them.”

Tahseen Taj lives in one of the buildings just opposite the shopping centre and was disturbed by the noise.

“I could hear a lot of ambulances and police from around 20:45, but also there’s a West Ham match today; I thought it must be a football brawl,” she said.

“But after some time it just increased and increased, and there were a lot of fire brigades and ambulances and police, and it was quite chaotic to be honest.

“I was quite worried.”

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A cordon remains in place around the Stratford Centre area

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-41376150

Uber London loses licence to operate

Media captionDrivers and passengers react to news that Uber’s licence in London will be revoked

Uber will not be issued a new private hire licence, Transport for London (TfL) has said.

TfL concluded the ride-hailing app firm was not fit and proper to hold a London private hire operator licence.

It said it took the decision on the grounds of “public safety and security implications”.

Confirming it would appeal against the decision, Uber said it showed the world “far from being open, London is closed to innovative companies”.

TfL’s concerns include Uber’s approach to carrying out background checks on drivers and reporting serious criminal offences.

What does the ruling mean?

Seven things Londoners will miss if Uber goes

Now what next for Uberisation?

Your views: Uber London loses licence

Uber’s current licence is due to run until 30 September.

It has 21 days to appeal against TfL’s decision and can continue to operate while any appeals are ongoing.

Some 3.5 million passengers and 40,000 drivers use the Uber app in London.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: “I fully support TfL’s decision – it would be wrong if TfL continued to license Uber if there is any way that this could pose a threat to Londoners’ safety and security.”

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Taxi drivers have been campaigning against Uber, such as engaging in this “go slow” protest in 2014

Fred Jones, head of cities for Uber across the UK and Ireland, told the BBC Uber drivers had to pass the same safety checks as black cab and mini cab drivers in London.

There had been growing speculation that the app could be banned from London.

Opponents of the firm claim it causes gridlocked roads and does not do enough to regulate its drivers.

But one driver with Uber in London said: “I don’t think it is a fair decision. Uber offers a flexible schedule, and a weekly income.”

Uber controversies

  • Chief executive Travis Kalanick, who helped found the company in 2009, resigned in July following a series of scandals and criticism of his management style
  • In June, 20 staff were sacked after a law firm investigated specific complaints made to the company about sexual harassment, bullying, and retaliation for reporting problems
  • At the start of 2017, the firm paid £16.2m ($20m) in the US to settle allegations it gave false promises to drivers over how much they would earn
  • In October 2016 Uber lost a landmark employment tribunal in the UK which ruled drivers should be classed as workers rather than being self-employed
  • A few months later Uber announced it would offer English courses, financial advice and introduce an appeals panel for its UK workers after facing criticism over lack of support and rights for its drivers
  • In 2015 the New Delhi government banned app-based taxi companies after an Uber driver raped a passenger in his vehicle
  • Uber stopped operating in Austin, Texas, when it was told drivers would have to have fingerprint background checks, but it reinstated its services after the requirement was ended

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Some 3.5 million passengers and 40,000 drivers use the Uber app in London

Uber’s general manager in London Tom Elvidge said: “By wanting to ban our app from the capital, Transport for London and the mayor have caved in to a small number of people who want to restrict consumer choice.

“If this decision stands, it will put more than 40,000 licensed drivers out of work and deprive Londoners of a convenient and affordable form of transport.

“To defend the livelihoods of all those drivers, and the consumer choice of millions of Londoners who use our app, we intend to immediately challenge this in the courts.”

He said Uber operated in more than 600 cities around the world, including more than 40 towns and cities in the UK.

Analysis: From BBC technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones

Throughout its short, tempestuous life, Uber has clashed with regulators around the world – and more often than not it has come out on top.

Its tactic has often been to arrive in a city, break a few rules, and then apologise when it’s rapped over the knuckles. Some regulators have backed down, others have run the company out of town.

In London, despite protests from angry taxi drivers, the company has had a relatively easy ride until now.

But a wave of bad publicity about its corporate culture, its lax attitude to checks on its drivers and its treatment of this freelance army seems to have spurred TfL into action.

Make no mistake, Uber will use every legal avenue to fight this ban. It will argue that consumers, in the shape of the millions of mainly young Londoners who rely on its service, will be seriously let down if it can no longer operate.

But the courts will have to balance that with the serious concerns about public safety raised by TfL.

On social media, a fierce debate has broken out over the decision.

An online petition launched by Uber urging Sadiq Khan to reverse the decision to strip its London licence has been signed by tens of thousands of people in the space of a few hours.

Twitter user @Gabbysalaza_ said that she was “annoyed” at the decision as Uber allowed to her to get out of “uncomfy” situations if out at night.

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Labour MP Wes Streeting, chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Taxis, called the decision “courageous” in a tweet.

James Le Lacheur called the decision a “victory” on Twitter.

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General secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association Steve McNamara said it was the “right call” not to re-license Uber in London.

“This immoral company has no place on London’s street,” he said.

Across the world, Uber has been pushed out or denied access by local licensing laws.

Legislators in Darwin, in Australia’s Northern Territory, are debating whether to allow Uber to return after a raft of reforms designed to open up the ride-sharing market were announced.

Uber is currently fighting a test case in Denmark after four if its drivers were found to be in violation of the country’s laws requiring taxi meters.

‘Devastating blow’

David Leam, of London First which campaigns for business in the capital, said London needed to be open to new ideas, business and services.

He said: “This will be seen as a Luddite decision by millions of Londoners and international visitors who use Uber, and will also hit London’s reputation as a global tech hub.”

James Farrar, chairman of the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain’s United Private Hire Drivers branch, said it was a “devastating blow” for the drivers who now face losing their jobs.

“To strip Uber of its licence after five years of laissez-faire regulation is a testament to a systemic failure at TfL,” he said.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-41358640

Parsons Green attack: Man in court charged with attempted murder

A court scetch of Ahmed Hassan

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Ahmed Hassan faces charges of attempted murder and causing an explosion likely to endanger life

An 18-year-old man has appeared in court charged with attempted murder in connection with the bomb attack on a London Tube at Parsons Green.

Ahmed Hassan, of Sunbury, Surrey, is also accused of causing an explosion likely to endanger life or cause serious injury on 15 September.

Hassan confirmed his name, date of birth and address at Westminster Magistrates’ Court.

He was remanded in custody and is due at the Old Bailey on 13 October.

A 17-year-old man who was arrested by counter-terrorism officers investigating the attack has been released with no further action, police said on Friday. Two other men had already been released without charge.

Two further men, aged 25 and 30, remain in custody.

Meanwhile, Suleman Sarwar, of Aladdins chicken shop in Hounslow, said his takeaway has received abuse and threats after an employee was arrested as part of the investigation.

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Owner Suleman Sarwar said Aladdins Fried Chicken has received abuse and threats

Mr Sarwar said abuse began after the arrest of Yahyah Farroukh, who was not named by police but whose name emerged in the media. He has since been released without charge.

He said: “The investigation brought Yahyah, his friends, family, place of employment and the wider Muslim community under scrutiny and indignity.

“Once again, the community has received backlash and animosity from the public.”

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-41363943

Theresa May urges EU to retain trade terms for two years after Brexit

Media captionTheresa May says an “implementation period” of two years “will create valuable certainty” for the UK and EU

PM Theresa May has said there should be a transition period of “about” two years after Brexit, during which trade should continue on current terms.

EU migrants will still be able to live and work in the UK but they will have to register with the authorities, under her proposals.

And the UK will pay into the EU budget so member states are not left out of pocket.

She hopes this offer, made in a speech in Italy, will unblock Brexit talks.

The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier described the speech as “constructive” and said the prime minister had shown “a willingness to move forward”.

  • Reality Check: Decoding the PM’s speech
  • Will Tory MPs swallow May’s Brexit formula?
  • Recap: May speech and reaction
  • A guide to the Brexit negotiations

The prime minister also proposed a “bold new security agreement” and said the UK would be the EU’s “strongest partner and friend”.

On trade, she said the two sides could do “so much better” than adopt existing models.

There was “no need to impose tariffs where there are none now”, the prime minister said.

She did not mention how much the UK would be prepared to continue to pay into the EU for two years after it leaves in March 2019, but it has been estimated as being at least 20bn euros (about £18bn).

‘Time limited’

In her speech, Mrs May said the UK would “honour commitments” made while it had been a member to avoid creating “uncertainty for the remaining member states”.

She also suggested that the UK and EU would continue working together on projects promoting long-term economic development and the UK would want to “make an ongoing contribution to cover our fair share of the costs involved”.

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UK expats gathered in Florence to protest ahead of the speech

When the two-year transition period is up, the UK and EU could move towards a new “deep and special partnership,” she said in her speech.

But by March 2019, neither the UK or EU would be ready to “smoothly” implement new arrangements needed: “So during the implementation period access to one another’s markets should continue on current terms and Britain also should continue to take part in existing security measures.”

Such a period should be “time limited”, she said, as neither the EU nor the British people would want the UK to remain in the EU longer than necessary – with its length being determined by how long it takes to set up new systems.

As new immigration systems would take time to introduce, she said “people will continue to be able to come and live and work in the UK, but there will be a registration system – an essential preparation for the new regime”.


By BBC Political Editor Laura Kuenssberg

It is an offer, not a blinding revelation, but a limited flash of ankle to her continental counterparts.

Today was not about lavishing detail on the EU side who are eager to understand more about what it is the UK actually wants from them after we leave.

It was the notional writing of an undated cheque from us to them, that government insiders hope means next week, when the official talks get back under way, some progress can actually be made.

Read Laura’s full blog

But she hoped to build a “comprehensive and ambitious” new economic partnership with the EU in the long-term.

This should not be based on existing agreements with Canada or European Economic Area membership, she said, but a “creative solution” should be found to reflect the existing relationship between the UK and EU.

To EU citizens in the UK she offered reassurance that “we want you to stay, we value you” and acknowledged differences with the EU over which courts should guarantee their rights after Brexit.

She said she wanted UK courts to take account of rulings by the European Court of Justice and hoped “on this basis, our teams can reach firm agreement quickly”.

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Cabinet ministers were in the front row in Florence to hear the speech

Mrs May opened her speech by saying Brexit was a “critical time in the evolution of the relationship between the United Kingdom and European Union”.

“I look ahead with optimism, believing that if we use this moment to change not just our relationship with Europe but also the way we do things at home – this will be a defining moment in the history of our nation,” she told the audience of cabinet members, journalists and Italian dignitaries.

Responding to the speech, EU Brexit negotiator Mr Barnier, who did not attend, said the prime minister had “expressed a constructive spirit which is also the spirit of the European Union during this unique negotiation – the speech shows a willingness to move forward, as time is of the essence”.

‘Listened to Labour’

But he added that while her statements on EU citizens were “a step forward”, they “must now be translated into a precise negotiating position of the UK government”.

And he said he would have to examine the “concrete implications” of the UK’s pledge that no member state would have to pay more as a result of Brexit adding: “We shall assess … whether this assurance covers all commitments made by the United Kingdom as a member state of the European Union.”

The European Parliament’s Brexit negotiator Guy Verhofstadt, said the UK’s position was becoming “more realistic” but “a new registration mechanism for EU citizens going to live and/or work in the UK is out of the question”.

Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn said the speech suggested the PM had “listened to Labour and faced up to the reality that Britain needs a transition on the same basic terms to provide stability for businesses and workers”.

He added: “There has to be a transition period to protect jobs. Our whole point throughout this whole process has been a Brexit that damages employment and jobs is very, very dangerous for everybody in this country.”

The speech was broadly welcomed by pro-EU Conservative MPs Ken Clarke and Anna Soubry but pro-Brexit former cabinet minister Owen Paterson expressed concern about a two-year period during which “we are still bound in by European rules”.

And former UKIP leader Nigel Farage said: “Theresa May’s vision is that we leave the European Union but we do it in name only.

“We have a transitional period, that begins for a two year [period] and it could go on of course much longer than that, in which case we effectively don’t leave anything.”

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-41355642

Quit smoking campaign Stoptober backs e-cigs for first time

Stoptober advert

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The Stoptober campaign runs from 1 October

The annual Stoptober campaign in England is embracing e-cigarettes for the first time – in a sign vaping is being seen as the key to getting people to quit.

Health experts have tended to shy away from explicitly promoting e-cigarettes.

But the government campaign during October will feature vaping in its TV adverts for the first time.

It comes after e-cigarettes proved the most popular tool for quitting during last year’s campaign.

Some 53% of people used them, helping push the numbers of people taking part in Stoptober since its launch in 2012 to over 1.5 million.

E-cigarettes are not yet officially prescribed on the NHS.

However, doctors and other health professionals are encouraged to advise smokers who want to use them that they are a better alternative to smoking.

New draft guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) does not list e-cigarettes as a recommendation to help people quit, but says patients should be told some smokers have found them helpful when they want to give up.

Nice advises that patients should be told that there “is currently little evidence on the long-term benefits or harms of these products”.

Government experts have been encouraged by newly released research suggesting record numbers of attempts to give up are proving successful.

University College London researchers found 20% of attempts were successful in the first six months of 2017, compared with an average of 16% over the previous 10 years.

A successful attempt was judged to be one where the person had tried to stop smoking in the past year and was still abstaining at the time of the survey.

The biggest rise in successful attempts to quit was among people from poorer backgrounds, who have traditionally been the least likely to give up.

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Image caption

The Stoptober TV advert features a man in an allotment using an e-cigarette

Deputy chief medical officer Prof Gina Radford said e-cigarettes were playing an important role and as they had “95% less harmful products” in them than cigarettes it was only right that they were promoted during Stoptober.

But she also said there were a number of other factors that were proving effective in reducing smoking rates, including restrictions that have been brought in such as standardised packaging and bans on displays in shops.


Over 18s smoked in England in 2016

  • 26.8% Over 18s smoked in England in 2000

  • 1 in 5 Attempts to quit successful in early 2017

  • 5 “Stoptober” campaigns have been run

  • Over 1.5m have tried quit during them

Latest figures suggest just over 15% of people were smoking in 2016, down from 21% in 2007, when the smoking ban was introduced, and over 26% at the turn of the century.

As smoking has decreased, vaping has increased. About one in 20 people over 16 regularly uses e-cigarettes currently – a quarter of them are smokers or ex-smokers.

But Prof Radford said: “The battle against smoking is far from over – it is still the country’s biggest killer, causing 79,000 deaths a year.

“And for every death, another 20 smokers are suffering smoking-related disease.”

Meanwhile, NHS Health Scotland has stated for the first time that e-cigarettes are “definitely” less harmful than smoking tobacco.

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Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-41339790