Top story: ‘Far-right element’ behind ugly scenes
Good morning, I’m Warren Murray bringing you news that doesn’t go round the houses.
At least 55 parliamentarians have written to the Metropolitan police commissioner calling for action over abuse of MPs, most of them women, by pro-Brexit protesters outside parliament. The Conservative MP Anna Soubry faced chants from protesters calling her a “Nazi” and a “traitor”. Labour’s Mary Creagh said such “vile, misogynist thuggery, abuse and harassment” raised particular worries following the murder of Jo Cox in 2016 by a far-right terrorist.
The MPs’ letter to the Met chief, Cressida Dick, reads: “After months of peaceful and calm protests by groups representing a range of political views on Brexit, an ugly element of individuals with strong far-right and extreme-right connections, which your officers are well aware of, have increasingly engaged in intimidatory and potentially criminal acts targeting members of parliament, journalists, activists and members of the public.” The Commons Speaker, John Bercow, has also urged officers to do more to protect MPs. Scotland Yard has confirmed it is investigating.
In parliament today, Labour is poised to support a backbench amendment to prevent a no-deal Brexit. And despite praising Benedict Cumberbatch’s portrayal of Vote Leave director Dominic Cummings, Lucy Mangan gives two out of five stars to Brexit: The Uncivil War which has gone to air on Channel 4 overnight. A superficial treatment that puts Cummings too firmly at the centre of everything, Mangan suggests – “Farage and Banks become cartoonish buffoons instead of dangerous shit-stirrers”. Carole Cadwalladr, who exposed dirty tricks in the leave campaign, takes writer James Graham to task. Meanwhile in Bolsover, a constituency that voted 70% leave, Helen Pidd finds that even some remain voters now support Brexit – “The way the EU has treated the UK on its exit has opened my eyes up a little bit,” says one – while the idea of a second referendum is anathema.
Privatisation: no further, say NHS chiefs – Health service leaders want Theresa May to scrap Conservative legislation that forces the tendering of contracts for care. Their latest long-term plan, which Downing Street has endorsed, warns that the Health and Social Care Act 2012 is damaging the health service and curtailing its improvement. An estimated £8.7bn of the health service budget went to non-NHS providers of care in 2017-18. The NHS bosses say having to obey general competition rules prevents them choosing the best option for spending the “NHS pound” – Virgin Care has come under heavy criticism for suing the health service after having a bid rejected. Here is what the long-term plan means for patients.
Uber shooter switches plea – An Uber driver who told police he was compelled to kill by a “devil figure” on the app has entered guilty pleas to murdering six people in between fares. Defence attorney Eusebio Solis said he had advised Jason Dalton not to plead guilty over the 2016 shooting spree in and around Kalamazoo, Michigan. But Dalton dropped an insanity defence and told the judge: “I’ve wanted this for quite a while.” Solis said: “There are personal reasons for him. He does not want to put his family through that, or the victims’ families, through the trial. It’s his decision.” The pleas mean he could be sentenced to life without parole.
Drone users face curbs – Police will be handed extra powers to combat drones after the mass disruption at Gatwick airport in the run-up to Christmas. Exclusion zones around airports will be extended to about a three-mile radius, and further from runway ends, while police will be able to issue on-the-spot fines. Operators of larger drones will be required to register and take an online drone pilot competency test, and the Home Office is to test the use of counter-drone technology at airports and prisons. Police will be empowered to land, seize and search drones.
Gene pairs – “You have to tolerate another animal next to you for an extended period of time and that is not easy.” It might sound to some like the institution of marriage, but the scientist is talking about monogamous species and what makes them stick together. Researchers say they have located the DNA that correlates with certain animals staying paired up to survive and raise offspring while others go their separate ways. “What evolution came up with is brilliant,” says Hans Hoffman, a senior author on the paper. “When we enter into a pair bond, or have offspring we must take care of, we find it rewarding. The reward system gets hijacked.” Future studies might manipulate genes in animals to see if it makes monogamous species promiscuous and vice versa.
From mugshots to happy snaps – The privately run Lowdham Grange prison in Nottinghamshire has been praised by inspectors for putting in a photo booth so inmates can take pictures with their visiting families. The Ministry of Justice says helping prisoners keep up family ties leads to lower rates of reoffending. Lowdham Grange, run by Serco, was found to have a high rate of violent incidents, and has put in a hotline where inmates can report violent or antisocial behaviour. “We did see some innovative practice, and recent improvements needed to be embedded,” said Peter Clarke, the chief inspector of prisons.
Today in Focus podcast: What does 2019 hold for North Korea?
As Kim Jong-un visits China again and attempts to negotiate a fresh summit with Donald Trump, the Guardian’s Tania Branigan looks at his leadership so far, while Emma Graham-Harrison describes a rare trip to Pyongyang and the humanitarian conditions for ordinary North Koreans. Plus: Catherine Shoard, at the start of the annual film awards season, argues prizes are not necessarily a mark of quality …
Lunchtime read: ‘Bounced from place to place’
The commission on the future of social housing believes 3.1m new social homes are needed to house people in three groups: those in greatest need, including the homeless, younger trapped renters and older renters. Robert Booth speaks to people from each of these groups.
Rúben Neves’s second-half goal gave Wolverhampton Wanderers a 2-1 win over Liverpool in the FA Cup third round before last night’s fourth-round draw pitted Arsenal and Manchester United against each. Newport were rewarded for their exploits against Leicester City with a trip to Middlesbrough. Crucial talks on the future of European club rugby are about to commence with Heineken Champions Cup organisers seeking assurances that all parties are fully committed to the tournament beyond 2022.
Alex Hepburn, a Worcestershire CCC all-rounder, raped a sleeping woman after helping to set up a sexual conquest “game” with friends on WhatsApp, a court has heard. World Anti-Doping Agency experts hope to finally get their hands on secret Russian doping data after a row over specialist IT equipment was resolved. The Ferrari Formula One team have replaced their team principal, Maurizio Arrivabene, with Mattia Binotto, their chief technical officer. And when a mugger approached a woman on the streets of Rio, he had little idea how things badly would turn out for him – his would-be victim was UFC strawweight fighter Polyana Viana, who ensured the encounter ended in predictable and bloody fashion.
Overnight the ousted Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn has declared he is innocent of any wrongdoing as he appeared in a Tokyo court charged with financial misconduct. “I have always acted with integrity,” Ghosn said. “I never received any compensation from Nissan that was not disclosed, nor did I ever enter into any binding contract with Nissan to be paid a fixed amount that was not disclosed.”
Shares have been mixed in Asia with officials keeping silent after two days of talks on the China-US trade tensions wrapped up. A short time ago Japan’s Nikkei 225 index was up 1.1% while the Hang Seng had added 0.3%. Australia’s S&P ASX 200 gained 0.6% and the South Korean Kospi gave up 0.2%. Shares fell in Taiwan and Thailand but rose in Singapore and Indonesia. The FTSE is forecast to open higher, while the pound has been trading at $1.276 and €1.115 overnight.
Most front pages lead with news of May’s NHS plan and the tens of thousands of new staff needed for it to work. The i says: “The NHS needs YOU”, while the Mirror claims the plan is “Wrong medicine”. The Mail (“The doctor will see you by Skype”) and the Times (“Millions of patients to see doctor by Skype”) focus on the teleconferencing part of the plan. The Express seems to eat up the PM’s announcement, hailing an “NHS fit for 21st century”, whereas the Guardian says: “Time to curb privatisation of care, NHS chiefs tell PM”.
The Telegraph runs a Brexit story: “UK ‘puts out feelers’ to pause Article 50”, the FT has “SoftBank slashes back WeWork investment plans after tech rout” and the Sun is still on Wayne Rooney’s arrest: “Wait till I get Roo home”.
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