Eviction threat over complaints about crying baby

Wurth family

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The Wurth family were told they might be evicted because their baby was crying

A family renting their home in London has been threatened with eviction after complaints that their baby was crying.

They received a warning from the management company that if the noise continued they would be given “two weeks’ notice to vacate”.

The parents, with a 15-month-old daughter and a three-year-old son, say it is “horrible discrimination” against families renting with children.

The management company says neighbours had complained “on a daily basis”.

Attila and Ildiko Wurth, with their two young children, have been threatened with eviction from their privately rented top-floor flat in a converted house in Hammersmith, west London.

‘Heartless and harsh’

They say they were shaken to receive an email from the managing agent, saying there had been a “complaint stating that at 05:30 this morning a baby was crying and stamping and then further noise starting again at 06:45, which woke one of the other tenants in the property”.

“We have subsequently liaised with your landlord and are instructed that we are to agree arrangements with you to vacate the property as soon as possible.”

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Attila and Ildiko say they were shocked by the threat to evict them from their west London flat

Attila says they were shocked by this “heartless and harsh” attitude and deeply upset by the idea of being thrown out of their home.

Another email said there had been further complaints and “if this continues we will have no choice but to issue a Section 8 notice, which will give you two weeks’ notice to vacate”.

The Wurths were told: “Please ensure to keep all movement and noise to a minimum.”

Uncertain about what to do next, they sought advice and were directed towards a housing helpline, which they said was always engaged.

In the end it was social media that got them some support, putting their problem on to Facebook.

“We felt so scared. We didn’t know what happens next. Will we come home and find our things in the road?”

Generation rent

Rising numbers of families are now living long-term in rented accommodation.

While once couples with children might have bought their own place, more are renting into their 30s and 40s – and the case highlights the pressures facing “generation rent”.

Attila works as a vet, but says the couple can’t afford to buy in London.

“We pay our own way, but we have no more to spare.

“You have to be extremely rich to have children in London,” he says.

The local authority, Hammersmith and Fulham, says that about a third of the residents in the borough are private renters.

This year it extended a licensing scheme to try to give private renters more protection and to ensure their legal rights.

Grounds for eviction?

The email to the Wurths warns of a “Section 8″ eviction – referring to the Housing Act of 1988, which would allow a landlord to remove tenants before the end of their tenancy agreement.

The housing charity Shelter says this would require grounds such as not paying rent, anti-social behaviour or a breach of the tenancy agreement.

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More families like the Wurths are staying in rented accommodation

This could include being a “nuisance” to neighbours – but a court would have to decide whether such claims were reasonable.

“We have been very careful about noise,” says Attila. But if landlords rent to a family with young children, he says, it is unrealistic to think that a baby won’t cry sometimes.

“We don’t even have a stereo or a TV to make noise with – and we have avoided making any noise with household activities,” says Attila.

The managing agent, Sheraton Management Ltd, says the Wurths “were in breach of contract as they were causing disturbance to the other occupants of the building… not only relating to noisy children, but also other noise nuisance”.

“Reluctantly, as there was no remission in the problem, it was on this basis that we advised Mrs Wurth that we may be left with no alternative but to serve a notice for possession,” it says.

The management company says it has a responsibility to other tenants in the building – and to claims “that their contractual right to quiet enjoyment has been breached”.

Sheraton’s statement says: “We manage numerous properties lived in by families, some with very young children. Our policy is always to avoid the necessity for repossession proceedings.”

The Wurths are waiting to hear what will happen next.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-41996972

2 Sisters chicken supplier problems ‘not one-off’, say MPs

Chicken processing in a factoryImage copyright
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MPs said their inquiry should act as a “wake-up call” for the wider food industry

Problems at a major UK chicken supplier forced to suspend operations over hygiene concerns were “not a one-off”, MPs have claimed.

A site run by the 2 Sisters Food Group in the West Midlands had a “far from pristine” past record, the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee said.

Its month-long inquiry also raised concerns about how the production plant was being monitored by authorities.

2 Sisters, which has 12 UK sites, said it took safety “extremely seriously”.

Marks Spencer, Aldi, Lidl and The Co-op stopped taking chickens from the West Bromwich site after the Guardian and ITV News claimed workers were changing the slaughter dates to extend the shelf life of meat.

Undercover reporters also alleged workers were repackaging chicken portions that had been returned by supermarkets – before sending them out to other retailers.

MPs said their investigation looked at the “apparently patchwork” nature of the industry’s accreditation process and how the 2 Sisters site had been checked for quality, rather than whether it breached food standards.

MPs also looked at the role and performance of the Food Standards Agency (FSA), Sandwell Metropolitan Council and other bodies.

Committee chairman Neil Parish said the inquiry should act as a “wake-up call” for food accreditation firms to “improve their processes”.

He said: “Food supply chains are sensitive and easy to disrupt when retailers and consumers lose confidence in food quality or safety.

“Large producers and retailers have a responsibility to protect, rather than undermine, the UK’s food producers.”

‘Surprise’ inspections

The report said it was easy for processors to “game the system and hide infractions” from inspectors – for example by opting out of unannounced visits by accreditors.

MPs said even unannounced visits were not truly a “surprise”, because workers were given about 30 minutes and so they tend to be on their “best behaviour”.

The inquiry found that Assured Food Standards, which licenses the Red Tractor quality mark, did not “immediately and especially” inform the FSA when it briefly suspended the 2 Sisters accreditation between 2 and 9 October.

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Ranjit Singh Boparan, chief executive of 2 Sisters, gave evidence to MPs last month

Ranjit Singh Boparan, 2 Sisters’ chief executive, wrote to MPs, promising that he would make a number of changes – including placing a full-time FSA inspector at all plants.

He also invited the committee to visit a 2 Sisters Food Group plant, unannounced if members wished.

He said he would install CCTV with complete coverage in all plants within 120 days, and put “mystery workers” into all factories by the end of January 2018.

The committee’s report concluded: “The problems identified at the 2 Sisters plant at West Bromwich were not a one-off.”

It added: “The past record of the 2 Sisters Food Group is far from pristine and there are valid questions to be asked of its corporate governance structure.”

The FSA’s own investigation into the firm has been widened to 2 Sisters’ poultry operations across England and Wales, which process about six million chickens a week, with Food Standards Scotland looking at its Dundee site.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-42013168

Brexit: ‘Don’t put politics above prosperity’, Davis urges EU

David DavisImage copyright
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Mr Davis laughed off a question about the UK being prepared to pay 60bn euros for financial obligations

David Davis has warned against “putting politics above prosperity” in Britain’s post-Brexit relationship with the EU.

In a speech in Berlin, the UK’s Brexit Secretary outlined his hopes for a deal that “allows for the freest possible trade in goods and services”.

He also said he thought it “incredibly unlikely” there would be no deal.

The EU says negotiations cannot move on to trade until questions about the UK “divorce bill”, citizens’ rights and Northern Ireland are resolved.

BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg said Mr Davis’s speech was delivered politely but implied “pretty significant frustrations on the UK side with the EU’s attitude”.

In a question and answer session following the speech, a German interviewer got a round of applause for suggesting the UK government looked to be “in chaos”.

Mr Davis replied: “One of the issues in modern politics is that all governments have periods of turbulence.

“This is a period of turbulence, it will pass.”

In his speech to an economic conference organised by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, he said trade between Germany and the UK was worth 176bn euros a year or “more than a thousand euros to every man, woman and child in each of our countries”.

He said the “close economic ties” with the EU “should continue, if not strengthen” after Brexit, and he warned: “Putting politics above prosperity is never a smart choice”.

‘Think creatively’

The UK was seeking a “deep and comprehensive free trade agreement” of a scope the EU had never seen before as well as “continued close co-operation in highly regulated areas such as transport, energy and data”, he said.

Britain would use an independent trade policy to lead a “race to the top on quality and standards” rather than engage in a “race to the bottom” that would mean lower standards, he told the audience.

He said the EU and UK needed to “think creatively” about their post-Brexit relationship but stressed the need for a “time limited transition period” to implement the new arrangements.

“And that would mean access to the UK and European markets would continue on current terms. Keeping both the rights of a European Union member and the obligations of one, such as the role of the European Court of Justice.

“That also means staying in all the EU regulators and agencies during that limited period. Which would be about two years.”

Financial obligations

He added that tariff-free trade should be maintained and there must be an “effective dispute mechanism” for any disputes that may arise, that should be neither the UK courts, nor the European Court of Justice.

“It must be appropriate for both sides so that it can give business the confidence it needs that this partnership will endure.”

In a question and answer session following his speech, Mr Davis laughed off a question about whether the UK would be prepared to pay 60bn euros to settle its financial obligations.

He said the UK’s aim was that “nobody will have to pay more … nobody will receive less” but would not give a figure that the UK would be prepared to pay.

Asked if he thought the Brexit negotiations would end in “no deal”, he said: “I think that’s incredibly unlikely.”

While the UK government has not put a figure on the amount it is prepared to pay to settle the UK’s obligations but it has been estimated at 20bn euros (about £18bn).

The Sun newspaper reported on Thursday that the prime minister was preparing to offer an additional £20bn to the EU to clear the way for talks about a transitional and future trade deal. Downing Street described that as “yet more speculation”.

EU sources told the BBC last week that the UK had only two weeks left to make progress on the so-called withdrawal issues, including the amount the UK will pay as it leaves and Mr Davis’s EU counterpart Michel Barnier said “time is pressing” to get agreement on the bill.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-42020008

British and Canadian backpackers die in Cambodian hostel

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Natalie Seymour was described her as a “lively and positive young lady with bags of energy”

A British tourist and her Canadian friend have been found dead at a backpackers’ hostel in Cambodia.

Natalie Seymour, 22, from Bedfordshire, and 27-year-old Canadian Abbey Gail Amisola are understood to have been feeling unwell in the city of Kampot.

Staff at the Monkey Republic Hostel say the pair had been to a pharmacy but were found dead on Monday.

Miss Seymour’s family, from Shefford, were told of her death on Tuesday and are receiving Foreign Office support.

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Miss Seymour had been posting pictures of her travels in south east Asia

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Miss Seymour was found dead at the Monkey Republic Hostel on Monday

Dave Goode, vice principal at Samuel Whitbread Academy where Miss Seymour went to school, said: “I remember Natalie as a lively and positive young lady with bags of energy.

“She had a passion for sport and was a key part of the mixed hockey team.

“Natalie got on well with others and played an important role in working with pupils from our middle schools in a research project into attitudes to learning.

“This is terribly sad news and our thoughts and condolences go to all her family and friends.”

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Staff at the hostel are said to be “devastated by the tragic deaths”

A spokesman for the hostel said: “The staff at Monkey Republic are devastated by the tragic deaths of the two young women on Monday morning.

“They had been feeling unwell and had visited a pharmacy to get medication.

“The local police are investigating possible causes, and we’re respecting the privacy of the women’s families, who are in contact with the British and Canadian embassies.”

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Miss Seymour, who studied for a City and Guilds in beauty therapy at Bedford College, had held a number of jobs in recent years including for BT and as an account manager for Mayflex in St Neots.

More recently she worked as a freelance make-up artist.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-beds-bucks-herts-41996042

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe: Government considers diplomatic protection

Richard Ratcliffe holds a press conference after his meeting with Boris JohnsonImage copyright
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Richard Ratcliffe told a press conference he raised the issue of diplomatic protection for his wife

The Foreign Office is still considering whether it will give diplomatic protection to a British-Iranian woman jailed in Iran.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been held by Tehran since April 2016 after being accused of spying – charges she denies.

Her husband raised the issue of her being given diplomatic protection in a meeting with the foreign secretary.

The Foreign Office said lawyers would discuss the issue but said the question was whether it would help her case.

Richard Ratcliffe met with Boris Johnson after the foreign secretary said during a Commons committee hearing that Mrs Zhagari-Ratcliffe was in Iran to “train journalists” – which could lead to her five-year jail term being doubled.

He has since apologised for the remarks – made on 1 November – and retracted “any suggestion she was there in a professional capacity”.

Her family have always maintained she was on holiday with her daughter.

Mr Ratcliffe told a press conference after the meeting that diplomatic protection – which allows a state to take diplomatic action on behalf of a national – would be “important and helpful”.

The protection would signal that the UK is treating the case as a formal, legal dispute between the UK and Iran.

But he said the Foreign Office expressed reservations about whether the protection would help his wife’s case.

“They have agreed to answer the questions and then for the lawyers to sit down and talk it through. Both legally and then also practically.

“But certainly, I think it is an important thing for us to be pushing for.”

The Foreign Office said its lawyers would meet in the coming fortnight to discuss the issue further.

  • Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe: Caught in Iran power struggle
  • What is diplomatic protection?
  • Johnson ‘sorry’ over jailed mother remarks
  • Medical concern for Briton held in Iran

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Richard Ratcliffe and Boris Johnson met at the Commonwealth office

Mr Ratcliffe said he discussed with the foreign secretary the possibility of a joint trip to Iran before the end of the year.

He said Mr Johnson had no fixed date for his planned visit to Iran, but the foreign secretary was “keen” for him to travel with him.

He also spoke about the health of Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who he said had found lumps in her breasts.

“She talks about being on the verge of a nervous breakdown. I absolutely believe that’s true.

“I think it’s important I don’t exaggerate anything in the media and I’m not melodramatic, but she is in a difficult place.”

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AFP/Getty Images

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Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe had been visiting Iran with her daughter Gabriella when she was arrested

Mr Ratcliffe’s MP, Tulip Siddiq, who joined him in the meeting, said he had failed to obtain a visa to visit Iran over the last 19 months and had not seen his daughter Gabriella, who is living in the country with her maternal grandparents, during that time.

She said they had communicated over Skype but his daughter had lost the ability to speak English.

“So, if he gets to go with the foreign secretary, he gets to see his daughter for the first time in 19 months. And if he’s there, he has the right to visit Nazanin in prison as her relative,” she said.

Ms Siddiq added that Mr Johnson had made clear he would “certainly” push to see Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe himself in prison if he goes to Iran.

Media captionMr Ratcliffe previously rejected suggestions that Boris Johnson should resign over his comments

The Foreign Office said the meeting had been “positive”.

It said the British ambassador in Iran had raised the case with the country again, urging for consular access, appropriate medical treatment, a decision on Mr Ratcliffe’s visa application and access for him to visit his wife if a trip takes place.

“The foreign secretary concluded the meeting by saying that no stone would be left unturned in the case of Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe, and that of our other dual nationals detained in Iran,” the Foreign Office added.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-41992068

Search on for UK explorer Benedict Allen missing in Papua New Guinea

Media captionIn a recent documentary Benedict Allen described his experiences of living in Papua New Guinea

A search has been mounted for British explorer Benedict Allen, whose family say has gone missing during an expedition to Papua New Guinea.

The 57-year-old was travelling on his own to try to find the reclusive Yaifo tribe, whom he first met 30 years ago.

His sister says she was expecting to hear from him by Monday – and he hasn’t taken planned flights home.

A helicopter pilot, who dropped Mr Allen off several weeks ago, is trying to find him, the BBC has learned.

Our security correspondent Frank Gardner, who recently travelled through Papua New Guinea with Mr Allen for a BBC documentary, said he understood the pilot was tracking Benedict’s route from his starting point in a remote place called Bisoria.

They have spoken to local police chiefs, and were looking to locate him by helicopter and get him out, our correspondent said.

Mr Allen’s older sister, Katie Pestille, said it was “out of character” for him to miss his scheduled flight out of Papua New Guinea to Hong Kong.

“It’s ghastly,” she told BBC Radio 4′s Today programme.

“For everybody else, it’s very exciting – all the expeditions and all the things he does, but for his sister and his wife, it’s more of a worry,” she explained.

Who is Benedict Allen?

First solo adventure: To the Amazon at 22, during which he was shot at by two hitmen

Tough time: An initiation into manhood in Papua New Guinea. He was kept in a “crocodile nest” with 20 others, and repeatedly cut with bamboo blades to leave scars that looked like crocodile scales

Low moment: Eating his own dog to survive

Travel habit: Always keeps loo paper in a back pocket. “You know how it is,” he tells the Lonely Planet.

Philosophy: “For me personally, exploration isn’t about conquering nature, planting flags or leaving your mark. It’s about the opposite: opening yourself up and allowing the place to leave its mark on you.”

Career: Six TV series for the BBC, author, motivational speaker

Family: Lives in Twickenham, south-west London, with his wife and three children

Mr Allen, from London, has previously crossed the Amazon Basin on foot and in a dug out canoe, and participated in a six-week male initiation ceremony in which crocodile marks were carved onto his body.

He has filmed a number of his adventures for BBC documentaries and written books on exploration.

The Foreign Office said its staff were assisting family members and were in contact with local authorities.

‘Normal schedules don’t apply’

By BBC Security Correspondent Frank Gardner

Travelling in Papua New Guinea is hugely unpredictable and normal schedules don’t apply, so there is a good chance that Benedict Allen has been detained by natural causes.

Landslides, torrential downpours and sometimes an eruption of fighting between local tribes can all throw itineraries off-course.

Foreign travellers though, are rarely targeted outside the main towns.

Knowing Benedict, it is also quite possible that he has accepted an invitation to stay on longer for a tribal ceremony – it can also be considered an insult to refuse.

The Yaifo tribe who Benedict visited in the 1980s initially greeted him with suspicion and hostility but then accepted him.

He told me last month, just before he set off, that he had no idea how they would receive him, or even if he would be able to find them in such a remote part of the country.

‘Bows and arrows’

In a blog posted in September, Mr Allen described his plan to assemble a group at an abandoned mission station in Bisorio before heading into the remote jungle.

His aim, he said, was to create a brief record of the lives of the Yaifo and track down some of those he met on his last visit.

“Last time, the Yaifo ‘greeted’ me with a terrifying show of strength, an energetic dance featuring their bows and arrows,” he said.

“On this occasion who knows if the Yaifo will do the same, or run off, or be wearing jeans and T shirts traded eons ago from the old mission station.

“But of course I may not even make it there – even aged 26, it was a very hard hike up through rather treacherous terrain.”

He said his journey out of the jungle was unplanned. “Either I must paddle down river for a week or so – or enlist the help of the Yaifo, as I did last time,” he said.

He added that he would be travelling without a satellite phone, GPS or companion, “because this is how I do my journeys of exploration”.

In his last tweet from 11 October, Mr Allen wrote: “Marching off to Heathrow. I may be some time.”

Image Copyright @benedictallen

Twitter post by @benedictallen: Marching off to Heathrow. I may be some time (don't try to rescue me, please - where I'm going in PNG you won't ever find me you know...) Image Copyright @benedictallen

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-41994592

Two arrested over missing Dorset teenager Gaia Pope

Gaia PopeImage copyright
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Gaia Pope was last seen in Swanage on 7 November

A man and woman have been arrested on suspicion of murdering a teenager who has not been seen for nearly a week.

Dorset Police said a 19-year-old man and a 71-year-old woman were arrested in connection with the disappearance of Gaia Pope, 19, who has severe epilepsy.

The teenager, from Langton Matravers, was staying in Swanage when she disappeared on 7 November.

Searches took place at two addresses in Swanage and the man and woman were arrested.

Police said they were both known to Gaia.

The last reported sighting of the teenager was at an address in Manor Gardens on Morrison Road in Swanage.

She was said to be wearing a red checked shirt with white buttons, grey and white woven leggings and white trainers and she went missing without her medication.

‘Come to harm’

On Saturday, Dorset Police released CCTV footage of what they believe was Gaia running past a house in Morrison Road at about 15:40.

Det Ch Insp Neil Devoto, who is leading the investigation, said on Monday: “It has been almost a week since Gaia’s last confirmed sighting and she has not been seen or heard from since.

“We have looked through CCTV that covers the Swanage area, including transport hubs, and there is nothing to suggest she has left the area.

“Her disappearance is completely out of character and, following our extensive inquiries, we sadly now believe that she may have come to harm.

“We have not yet found Gaia and our searches will continue.

“Our specially-trained officers have updated Gaia’s family and are supporting them at this very difficult time.”

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-dorset-41976025

Theresa May accuses Vladimir Putin of election meddling

Theresa May and her husband Philip arrive at Lord Mayor's BanquetImage copyright

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The prime minister said a “global Britain” would continue to exert its influence around the world

Theresa May has launched her strongest attack on Russia yet, accusing Moscow of meddling in elections and carrying out cyber espionage.

Speaking at the Lord Mayor’s banquet in London, the prime minister said Vladimir Putin’s government was trying to “undermine free societies”.

Mrs May said they were “planting fake stories” to “sow discord in the West”.

But, she added, whilst the UK did not want “perpetual confrontation” with Russia, it would protect its interests.

Her comments are in stark contrast to those of US President Donald Trump, who last week said he believed President Putin’s denial of intervening in the 2016 presidential election.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson is due to visit Russia next month.

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In a major foreign policy speech at Mansion House in London, Mrs May described as a “very simple message” for President Putin, she said he must choose a very “different path” from the one that in recent years had seen Moscow annex Crimea, foment conflict in Ukraine and launch cyber attacks on governments and Parliaments across Europe.

Russia could be a valuable partner of the West but only if it “plays by the rules”, she argued.

“Russia has repeatedly violated the national airspace of several European countries and mounted a sustained campaign of cyber espionage and disruption.

“This has included meddling in elections and hacking the Danish Ministry of Defence and the Bundestag among many others.”

Media captionWhat Boris Johnson told MPs about Russian meddling in UK elections

“We know what you are doing and you will not succeed. Because you underestimate the resilience of our democracies, the enduring attraction of free and open societies and the commitment of Western nations to the alliances that bind us.”

She said as the UK left the EU and charted a new course in the world, it remained absolutely committed to Nato and securing a Brexit deal which “strengthens our liberal values”, adding that a strong economic partnership between the UK and EU would be a bulwark against Russian agitation in Europe.

Mr Johnson, who will be making his first trip to Russia since becoming foreign secretary in December, has said the UK’s policy to Russia must be one of “beware but engage” following a decade of strained relations.

He told MPs earlier this month that he had not seen any evidence of Russia trying to interfere in British elections or the 2016 Brexit vote, in which Moscow has insisted it remained neutral.

“We will take the necessary action to counter Russian activity,” Mrs May added.

“But this is not where we want to be and not the relationship with Russia we want.

“We do not want to return to the Cold War or to be in a state of perpetual confrontation.

“As a permanent member of the UN Security Council, Russia has the reach and the responsibility to play a vital role in promoting international stability.

“Russia can, and I hope one day will, choose this different path. But for as long as Russia does not, we will act together to protect our interests and the international order on which they depend.”

In her speech, she also said the authorities in Myanmar – formerly known as Burma – must take “full responsibility” for what “looked like ethnic cleansing” of the Rohingya people in Rakhine province.

Responding to Mrs May’s speech, former Labour cabinet minister Ben Bradshaw – who has been raising the issue of Russian interference in UK elections for nearly a year – tweeted: “Asking why May suddenly acknowledging Russian interference now having stonewalled for months.”

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-41973043

Parliament to get binding vote on final Brexit deal

Media captionDavis: Parliament will be given time to debate, scrutinise and vote on the final deal with the EU

Parliament is to be given a take-it-or leave-it vote on the final Brexit deal before the UK leaves the EU.

Brexit Secretary David Davis said the terms of the UK’s exit, such as money, citizen rights and any transition must become law via a new Act of Parliament.

Labour welcomed a “climbdown” but some MPs warned of a “sham” if ministers could not be asked to renegotiate.

Sources have told the BBC some Tory rebels were unimpressed, with one saying the promise was “meaningless”.

BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg said the announcement was significant because it represented a big concession to potential Tory rebels and Labour MPs at a highly important moment in the Brexit process.

It comes as MPs prepare to debate key Brexit legislation later this week with the government facing possible defeat on aspects of the EU Withdrawal Bill, which will convert EU law into UK law.

The UK is due to leave the EU in March 2019, irrespective of whether MPs back or reject the terms of the deal negotiated by Theresa May’s government.

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But updating MPs on the sixth round of talks which concluded on Friday, Mr Davis told MPs they would still play a major role and “there cannot be any doubt that Parliament will be intimately involved at every stage”.

The government had previously agreed to give MPs and peers a vote on a Commons motion relating to the final Brexit deal – before it has been voted upon by the European Parliament.


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By Laura Kuenssberg, BBC political editor

A confident government wouldn’t have conceded like this the day before the Brexit debate was due to come back to the Commons in earnest.

This climbdown does not remotely mean that other grievances over the existing Brexit legislation will disappear.

It doesn’t mean that the next few weeks will suddenly become plain sailing. And if there isn’t a withdrawal deal with the rest of the EU, well, then there can’t be a bill that covers the withdrawal bill.

It’s only in the coming days that the government will know if they have done enough to get the existing plans through.

And the move also of course adds to a massive load of complicated Parliamentary business that has to be cleared before we actually leave.

  • Why Brexit vote announcement matters

Mr Davis said he still “intended and expected” this to happen but went further – agreeing to Labour and Tory MPs’ demands for any vote to take place on substantive primary legislation, which would allow MPs and peers to amend the bill before it became law.

The bill, he told MPs, would contain the contents of the withdrawal agreement that the UK hopes to seal in time ahead of its scheduled departure and all key aspects of it – such as the financial settlement between the two sides, the future status of UK and EU citizens and the terms of any implementation period.

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“This means that Parliament will be given time to scrutinise, debate and vote on the final deal we strike with the EU,” he said, adding that it was not clear when such a bill would be published.

Labour’s Keir Starmer said it was a “significant climbdown from a weak government on the verge of defeat”.

“With less than 24 hours before they had to defend their flawed bill to Parliament, they have finally backed down,” the shadow Brexit secretary said.

“However, like everything with this government, the devil will be in the detail.”

Labour’s Chris Leslie said what “could have been a very welcome concession instead looks like a sham that pretends to respect the sovereignty of Parliament but falls well short of what is required”.

The Lib Dems reiterated their call for the final deal to be put to a referendum while several Tory MPs questioned what would happen if a deal was only agreed at the last minute before the 29 March deadline – a scenario Mr Davis has suggested was conceivable – and MPs could only vote after exit.

Dominic Grieve, the Conservative former Attorney General, said this would not be acceptable and if time ran out then negotiations with the EU should be extended “so all parties are able to deal with it”.

And Conservative MP Antoinette Sandbach pressed Mr Davis to reassure MPs how “if the bill intended to ensure a meaningful vote only comes forward after that date, the vote is in any sense meaningful”.

Mr Davis responded by saying MPs would have the opportunity to say “either you want the deal or you don’t want it” and if the UK and EU could not agree a deal, there would be no legislation.

But, in a meeting with the Conservative chief whip, a group of about a dozen Tory MPs expressed anger at the government’s plans, sources have told the BBC.

One of the MPs, Anna Soubry, said the idea of a Brexit Act of Parliament was “‘insulting… it sounds in theory very good but there’s no guarantee”.

She suggested that the promise was “meaningless” and that the government is in “grave difficulty” over passing its Brexit legislation in the coming months.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-41975277

Orphan woman, 90, prepares to meet her ‘lost’ family

May Webber on her 90th birthday in April this yearImage copyright

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May Webber celebrated her 90th birthday in April this year

Orphaned at seven and packed off to live with a “cruel” aunt, May Webber had a more difficult start in life than most.

Only wartime evacuation spared her further misery.

But her traumatic, fragmented childhood caused her to lose contact with her three older sisters and brother.

Now, more than 80 years on, Mrs Webber is preparing to meet her “lost” family at a get-together at her Port Talbot home.

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May Webber lost contact with her three sisters and brother when she was aged seven

Intrigued by Mrs Webber’s stories of her challenging childhood, a relative with an interest in genealogy, Angela Doyle, set about trying to track down the family she had lost.

Mrs Doyle spent seven years trawling through public records and ancestry websites in her search for Mrs Webber’s siblings.

Alice, Mary, Nellie and Edward had, like Mrs Webber, been born with the surname Mitchell in Peckham, south east London.

All four siblings were older than Mrs Webber and had left home when their parents died – their mother from a brain tumour and their father, just three months later, from the tuberculosis he developed after being gassed during World War One while fighting in the trenches.

Mrs Webber said was legally adopted by an uncle, whose wife relentlessly “tormented and bullied” her.

When she was 12, World War Two broke out and she was evacuated to a family in Ascot, Surrey, where she remained for several years after the war.

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Five-year-old May Mitchell, as she was called then, with her father, Edward (back row, centre), Uncle Sid (back row, right), who was to adopt her two years later, and two of her cousins

She later met her first husband, David Williams, while working as a nanny in Pwllheli, Gwynedd, and the couple settled in Port Talbot, where they raised a family.

Widowed in 1984, she remarried in 1987 to Geoff Webber, who died from asbestosis 10 years later.

Mrs Doyle’s detective work located several descendants of Mrs Webber’s siblings in the south of England, although sadly her siblings themselves had died.

Alice, 102, and Nellie, 100, died within six weeks of each other just two years ago, during Mrs Doyle’s search for them.

“If only the breakthrough had happened sooner,” said Mrs Doyle.

Her sister Mary and brother Edward had died in the 1970s.

Mrs Doyle said that although her search for Mrs Webber’s family began in 2010, she had to wait until two weeks ago for a breakthrough.

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Mrs Webber, aged 20, and her first husband, David Williams, on honeymoon in London in 1947

“Because May had been adopted and because she remembered so little of her parents and sisters, I was not making much progress,” Mrs Doyle explained.

She left a message on an ancestry website “in desperation” asking for anyone looking for Mrs Webber to get in touch.

“As luck would have it, her sisters’ family were also searching and found my message, so they got in touch two weeks ago,” she said.

“The only sadness of it was that we were too late to reunite May with her brother and sisters.”

She will be reunited with Alice’s daughters, Elaine Lewis, 76, and Margaret Wellington, 73, Mrs Lewis’ daughter, Kay Lewis, 48, all from Portsmouth, Hampshire, and Mary’s daughter, Ann May, from Sidcup, Kent.

Preparing to welcome the family she did not know she had, Mrs Webber said: “We will have so much to talk about. There’s so much I want to know about my sisters and brother and I hope they will be able to fill in the 83 blank years.

“But I do have feelings of sadness too. I had a very unhappy childhood and my way of dealing with it ever since has been to put it out of my mind as best I could and to put all my energies into creating a loving, happy home for my three sons.

“So for 80-odd years, I’ve done my best not to live in the past and now that past is right here.

“I have had mixed feelings about the get-together, if I’m honest, but my family has convinced me this is the right thing to do and I do of course have so many questions I want to ask them.”

Mrs Webber, who worked at the former JR Freeman cigar factory in Port Talbot for almost 50 years, plans to serve her guests home-made shepherd’s pie and “plenty of tea”, she said.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-south-west-wales-41928277