Diplomatic Immunity Row Continues
Anne Sacoolas has agreed to meet with the parents of Harry Dunn, a 19-year-old motorcyclist killed in a road collision earlier this year. The wife of a US diplomat, Sacoolas is believed to have been driving the car which collided with Dunn. After leaving the UK under diplomatic immunity, Sacoolas has now reportedly agreed to meet with Dunn’s parents and cooperate with the British police inquiry investigating the crash. Her decision to agree to a meeting comes shortly after Dunn’s parents received the advice of lawyers specialising in diplomatic immunity – prompting the couple to say they would pursue a civil claim against Sacoolas in the US courts.
According to Mark Stephens, a specialist lawyer advising Dunn’s family, their preference is for a private meeting “to discover what happened and to secure some kind of emotional closure”. However, they have insisted they will only meet with Sacoolas if she agrees to return to the UK. Through her lawyers, Sacoolas has indicated her support for meeting with Dunn's parents "so that she can express her deepest sympathies and apologies for this tragic accident.” However, while her legal team have said she intends to cooperate with the police investigation, they are yet to confirm whether Sacoolas will return to the UK to face British prosecutors.
‘SIGNIFICANT’ WORK REMAINS ON BREXIT DEAL
Boris Johnson has warned his cabinet that there is still a “significant amount of work” to do before a Brexit deal can be agreed. The prime minister’s words were echoed by the European commission yesterday, which released an official statement saying: "A lot of work remains to be done." However, Johnson has insisted he can now see “a way forward” to securing a withdrawal deal with the EU in “all our interests” by 31st October. Talks between the UK and the EU resumed in Brussels yesterday following a significant low in negotiations last week. On Tuesday, one No 10 source reportedly claimed that agreeing a Brexit deal had become “essentially impossible” due to the EU's demands.
Talks between the UK and EU are expected to continue in Brussels today. However, opposition MPs remain sceptical of the government’s progress in negotiations – with shadow business secretary, Rebecca Long-Bailey, saying: "We don't think the Tories have moved too far on their deal." The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, is expected to brief EU leaders tomorrow on whether a deal has been arranged ready for them to sign off. Under the Benn Act, if a deal is not agreed by Saturday, the prime minister must request a Brexit extension, ensuring Britain does not crash out of the EU on 31st October.
A Kurdish man speaks out about Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw American troops from the Turkish-Syrian border. The move was widely deemed to have given Turkey a ‘green light’ to invade north-eastern Syria. Kurdish forces, which have been instrumental in battling Islamic State in the war-torn country, are considered terrorists by Ankara because of their connections to banned Kurdish separatist groups in Turkey. Since Trump announced the US decision to withdraw from the border last week, Turkey has begun an offensive in Syria, prompting thousands of Kurdish civilians to flee the border region.
Many people have expressed outrage at Trump’s decision to abandon his former Kurdish allies, who have lost thousands of troops to the battle against IS. Discussing the withdrawal with a reporter, one Kurdish man said: “After giving 5,000 martyrs, this is how they respond to our sacrifice.” Just days into the Turkish invasion, shelling close to a Kurdish-controlled prison has reportedly led to the escape of more than 750 IS-affiliated women and children. The detainees are believed to have broken out of the prison gates yesterday as fighting raged nearby.
In other news...
KENYAN SMASHES MARATHON RECORD
Brigid Kosgei has smashed the women’s world marathon record previously held by British runner Paula Radcliffe. The 25-year-old Kenyan athlete broke Radcliffe’s time of 2:15:25 by an impressive 81 seconds, running 26.2 miles in just 2:14:04. The new record was set during the Chicago Marathon yesterday, with cold and sunny weather reportedly providing the perfect conditions for the record attempt. Kosgei admitted being surprised by her speed, saying: “I was not expecting this, but I felt my body was moving, moving, moving, so I went for it.” It follows a new unofficial record marathon time set by Eliud Kipchoge on Saturday. The Kenyan athlete has become the first person to run a marathon in under two hours, covering the distance in 1:59:40. The time will not be recognised as an official marathon record as it was not set in open competition.
TORIES ACCUSED OF ELECTION RIGGING
The government has been accused of attempting to rig future elections after plans proposing the introduction of compulsory photo ID for voters were leaked. The government’s Queen speech, due to be unveiled later today, reportedly includes plans for new election rules which would make it compulsory for voters to show photo ID such as driving licences or passports at the ballot box. Critics have condemned the government for using a “sledgehammer to crack a nut” – highlighting the tiny number of personation fraud cases. Only eight allegations of personation fraud – the form of fraud photo ID is intended to prevent – were made during votes held last year. Introducing compulsory voter ID could potentially disenfranchise tens of thousands of people, the Electoral Reform Society has warned – with elderly and ethnic minority voters likely to be most significantly affected.
ETHIOPIAN PM WINS NOBEL PRIZE
The prime minister of Ethiopia has been awarded this year’s Nobel peace prize. Abiy Ahmed was chosen for his efforts to “achieve peace and international cooperation” after resolving hostilities with Ethiopia’s bitter enemy, Eritrea, last year. The prime minister’s peace deal ended a military stalemate between the neighbours that had lasted almost two decades since their 1998-2000 border conflict. The Nobel committee said Abiy had shown “decisive initiative to resolve the border conflict”, adding that the award was also intended to recognise “all the stakeholders working for peace and reconciliation” in east African countries. The Ethiopian leader will be awarded the 100th Nobel peace prize at a ceremony in Stockholm later this year.
ZAGHARI-RATCLIFFE'S DAUGHTER BACK IN UK
The daughter of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has returned to the UK after more than three and a half years in Iran. Five-year-old Gabriella had been living with her grandparents in Tehran while her father, Richard Ratcliffe, continued petitioning for his wife’s release. A British-Iranian citizen, Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been imprisoned on spying charges in Iran since 2016. She has always denied the charges. Her daughter had stayed in Tehran to continue visiting her mother in prison. She returned to the UK on Friday after her parents decided she should start school. Welcoming his daughter home, Richard Ratcliffe said: “The job is not yet done until Nazanin is home. It was a hard goodbye for Nazanin and all her family. But let us hope this homecoming unlocks another.”
'STORMZY EFFECT' BOOSTS BLACK STUDENTS
The ‘Stormzy effect’ has helped raise the number of black students being admitted to the University of Cambridge, the institution has claimed. New statistics released by Cambridge show more than 200 black students started as undergraduates this year – a record figure for the university. It follows a pledge made by grime artist Stormzy to fund the tuition fees and living costs of two black students admitted to Cambridge each year. Since the pledge was made, the university said it had seen an increase in the number of black students engaging in its outreach activities and seeking information about its courses. The work of student societies and proactive campaigning has also been credited with the increased admission of black students.
The cost of a new payment card launched by the Royal Mint. The first of its kind to be released by the company, the card is made of 18-carat gold and can be personalised for those in search of “high-quality luxury items that make a statement". The Royal Mint has partnered with Mastercard and payments technology firm Accomplish to create the gold card, which has been heralded by the Mint’s CEO Anne Jessopp as "a combination of over 1,100 years of Royal Mint craftsmanship with tomorrow's payment technology".