Lib Dems Vow To Cancel Brexit
The Liberal Democrat party has vowed to cancel Brexit if they win a majority at the next general election. Lib Dem members overwhelmingly voted to back the new policy at the party’s conference in Bournemouth yesterday. Under the new plans, the party will still support a second Brexit referendum – including the option to remain – but have also pledged to revoke article 50 if the Lib Dems win an outright majority at the next general election. While a Lib Dem victory at the polls is seen as highly unlikely, the new policy provoked concerns from some delegates at the conference, who warned the promise to cancel Brexit could alienate some voters.
Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson said the plans would allow the party to be “straightforward with people in an election”. Former Labour MP Chuka Umunna, who joined the Lib Dems in June, was among those advocating for the policy. Speaking at the conference, Umunna said the plans would reinforce the Lib Dems' “unequivocal” message on Brexit. However, Niall Hodson, a Lib Dem councillor in Sunderland – which voted heavily to leave the European Union – argued the policy appeared to be aimed at “piling up” more Lib Dem votes among remain supporters in London, rather than developing the party’s support in new areas.
RUGBY STAR REVEALS HIV DIAGNOSIS
Former Wales and British Lions rugby captain Gareth Thomas has revealed he is living with HIV. In an interview with the Sunday Mirror yesterday, the 45-year-old said he had received the diagnosis several years ago. However, in a video later shared on his Twitter, the rugby star said he had now been “forced” to disclose the information after being “threatened by people who said they would give away my secret”. The video was shared as Thomas competed in a 140-mile Iron Man triathlon yesterday. He said he hoped to “fight and educate” people on myths surrounding the condition by speaking out about his diagnosis.
Thomas is the first British sportsman to disclose he has the virus. The Terrence Higgins Trust has praised his decision to go public with his diagnosis and said the news would have a “massive impact” in helping to dispel the stigma around the illness. CEO of the charity, Ian Green, said advances in medicine meant those being effectively treated for HIV would not pass on the virus to their partner and could expect to have a normal life expectancy. Despite the advances, Green said: “That has all changed but what hasn’t changed is the stigma”. Thomas now takes one tablet containing four medications each day, making the condition “undetectable”.
Terry Strada, a member of the 9/11 Families & Survivors United for Justice Against Terrorism, welcomes the US Department of Justice’s decision to disclose the name of a Saudi official involved in the terror attacks. It follows a 2012 report by the Federal Bureau of Investigation which investigated two Saudi officials, Fahad al-Thumairy and Omar Ahmed al-Bayoumi, who allegedly helped the 9/11 attackers. A third name in the report – which was released in a redacted form – was blacked out.
The release of the third name comes as some families of 9/11 victims launch legal action against Saudi Arabia over its alleged involvement in the hijackings. The justice department said it recognised “the need and desire of victims' families to understand what happened” and confirmed it plans to share the name with lawyers representing the families. It remains unclear whether the individual’s name will be released to the public.
In other news...
ARTIST DENIES STEALING TOILET
The artist behind the solid gold toilet stolen from Blenheim Palace has denied any involvement in its theft. The functioning 18-carat toilet was ripped from a wall at the Oxfordshire estate during the early hours of Saturday morning. Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan, who created the piece, titled America, has denied being involved in the break-in. Despite being known for his playful stunts, Cattelan told reporters: “I wish it was a prank". He added: “Who’s so stupid to steal a toilet? America was the 1% for the 99%, and I hope it still is. I want to be positive and think the robbery is a kind of Robin Hood-inspired action.” The theft came just two days after Cattelan opened his latest exhibition at Blenheim Palace – of which the toilet was the centrepiece. A 66-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the theft as police inquiries continue.
MORE FAMILIES AT RISK OF HOMELESSNESS
The number of families on the brink of becoming homeless has increased by more than 10% according to new figures published by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. The data shows 70,430 households were judged to be at risk of homelessness in the first three months of 2019, up from 63,620 in the previous quarter. Almost 85,000 families and couples have been placed in temporary accommodation by local authorities – including more than 126,000 children, the highest number in ten years. The withdrawal of temporary shelter by family or friends is the most frequent reason for people becoming homeless, followed by the termination of tenancies by landlords.
SAINSBURY'S INTRODUCE REFILL PACKAGING
Sainsbury’s has announced plans to introduce refillable packaging after pledging to halve its plastic use by 2025. The supermarket has already reduced its use of plastics by 1% over the last year by removing plastic trays from asparagus and some tomatoes and carrots. It is now investigating ways to slash its use further, such as introducing refillable milk bottles and reusable bags for fruit and vegetables. The plans to reduce plastics are largely focused on fizzy drinks, water and fruit juices – as well as milk and fresh produce. CEO Mike Coupe said reducing the packaging was “not easy” as alternatives must “protect the quality of our food while minimising our impact on the environment." Sainsbury’s currently uses around 120,000 tonnes of plastic each year.
MENU 'MISLED' ALLERGY DEATH TEEN
A coroner has concluded a menu at the burger chain Byron “misled” a teenager who suffered a fatal allergic reaction earlier this year. Owen Carey, who had a dairy allergy, died on his 18th birthday in April after unwittingly eating a Byron chicken burger that had been marinated in buttermilk. The menu had made no mention of buttermilk in the burger’s ingredients, leading assistant coroner Briony Ballard to conclude that a lack of information on the menu had “misled” both Carey and waiting staff. Ballard also claimed it was unclear whether the restaurant’s allergen training would have been effective for “less diligent staff”. The teenager collapsed 55 minutes after eating the burger at Byron’s O2 Arena branch and later died in hospital. The coroner is expected to discuss recommendations for the prevention of further deaths at a later date.
1,300 MISSING AFTER HURRICANE
Authorities in the Bahamas have said 1,300 people remain missing following Hurricane Dorian. The “catastrophic” category 5 storm struck the group of Caribbean islands on 1st September, bringing winds of 185mph and storm surge of up to 23ft. Emergency services said 1,300 people remain unaccounted for – revised down from 2,500 people last week after the National Emergency Management Agency cross-referenced the names of the missing with those in shelters. Bahamian prime minister Hubert Minnis has vowed his government will be transparent regarding the impact of Hurricane Dorian and has pledged to "provide timely information on the loss of life as it is available." At least 50 people have been confirmed dead so far – a number which is expected to rise as the recovery operations continue.
Organisers of next year’s Olympics Games in Tokyo have trialled the use of a snow machine, spraying around 300kg of artificial snow over crowds attending a canoeing event in the Japanese capital. The trial came as Tokyo 2020 organisers attempt to find ways of lowering temperatures and humidity ahead of next year’s events. There are concerns Olympic spectators could suffer heatstroke, with temperatures regularly rising as high as 35C in the capital. Unfortunately, the snow machine trial results were “not as expected”: temperatures at the venue before its use stood at 25.1C – and remained exactly the same afterwards.