Kim Darroch Resigns As Ambassador To US
Kim Darroch has resigned from his role as the UK’s ambassador to Washington. Darroch had been at the centre of a diplomatic row after internal memos, in which he criticised the Trump administration, were leaked to the press. The ambassador reportedly concluded that his position was untenable after Conservative frontrunner Boris Johnson refused to back him during a leadership debate on Tuesday. Johnson instead insisted that a good relationship with the US was “of fantastic importance” – prompting one Foreign Office minister to claim Johnson had thrown him “under the bus” to serve his own interests.
In a letter to the Foreign Office’s leading official Simon McDonald, Darroch said the fallout from the leaked memos had made it “impossible” for him to carry out the role. It follows significant speculation over whether Darroch would be forced to resign after President Trump said he would no longer deal with the ambassador – labelling him “stupid” and “wacky”. Both the prime minister and foreign secretary have defended Darroch, launching an inquiry into the source of the leak. Accepting the diplomat’s resignation letter, McDonald said Darroch had always behaved with “dignity, professionalism and class”.
MAJOR VOWS TO BLOCK NO-DEAL BREXIT
Former Conservative prime minister John Major has said he would pursue a judicial review if Britain’s next prime minister attempted to prorogue parliament to force a no-deal Brexit. His comments follow Boris Johnson’s refusal to rule out the move – which could see parliament suspended in order to stop MPs from blocking a no-deal departure. Speaking on Radio 4’s Today programme, Major labelled the tactics “totally unacceptable" and claimed he would be willing to seek judicial review “to prevent parliament from being bypassed”.
Responding yesterday, MP and Johnson supporter Chris Philip dismissed Major’s comments. Philip said he believed the threat of judicial review was “a stunt” and not a serious proposition. According to a BBC reporter, another source close to Johnson accused Major of going “completely bonkers”. Unlike his rival leadership candidate, Jeremy Hunt has taken a clear stance against the proroguing of parliament. During a head-to-head leadership debate on Tuesday, Hunt insisted he would not consider such a move – adding that previous suspensions of parliament had resulted in civil war.
US women’s football captain Megan Rapinoe speaks out against Donald Trump during an interview on CNN. The World Cup champion took aim at Trump’s ‘Make America Great Again’ slogan, saying: “You’re harking back to an era that was not great for everyone.” She added: “Your message is excluding people. You’re excluding me, you’re excluding people that look like me, you’re excluding people of colour.”
An active supporter of LGBTQ+, racial and gender equality, it is not the first time Rapinoe has criticised the president. The player was previously quoted as saying she was “not going to the f***ing White House”, should the US football team be invited. Despite being labelled disrespectful by Trump, Rapinoe has stood by the comment – claiming she did not want the team’s platform to be co-opted by Trump’s administration.
In other news...
STARMER CALLS FOR ANTISEMITISM EXCLUSION RULE
Keir Starmer has called for changes to the Labour party rulebook to ensure members are automatically expelled in clear cases of antisemitism. The shadow Brexit secretary said it was vital Labour takes “decisive action” on antisemitism and insisted those denying there was a problem in the party were “part of the problem”. Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme, Starmer also said the party should “throw open the books” to the equalities watchdog, which is currently investigating whether Labour has unlawfully discriminated against Jewish people. Labour has denied allegations it interfered with a disciplinary process investigating antisemitism in its ranks after eight whistleblowers spoke to the BBC's Panorama programme about the alleged problem. Labour has complained to the BBC about the story, labelling the whistleblowers "former disaffected employees".
UK CLIMATE PLANS LIKE “DAD’S ARMY”
The committee on climate change (CCC) has condemned the government’s failure to properly prepare for the effects of climate change. According to the CCC, the UK has a “ramshackle, Dad’s Army” approach to planning for the impact of global warming. A report from the government’s climate advisors has found just one of its 25 emissions policy recommendations has been enacted by Theresa May’s administration. According to the CCC, ten of the recommendations have not seen even partial progress. It has called for rapid, ambitious action to phase out petrol and diesel vehicles and gas boilers in the wake of its findings. Responding, the government admitted it had “more to do” and vowed to announce its plans in the coming months.
NHS TEAMS UP WITH AMAZON
The NHS has teamed up with Amazon to help bring health advice to patients. The health service hopes to utilise Amazon’s AI-powered voice assistant Alexa to provide health advice to those who cannot easily access information on the internet. Amazon intends to use its algorithms to generate answers from the NHS website in response to questions such as: “Alexa, how do I treat a migraine?”. The plans have been backed by the Department of Health, with health secretary Matt Hancock commending the service for reducing pressure on GPs and pharmacists. The Amazon Echo device which connects to Alexa currently costs £24.99 – but those wishing to access NHS information via the voice assistant will also be able to do so through a free app.
WELSH SCHOOLS INTRODUCE GENDER-NEUTRAL UNIFORMS
Welsh schools are to offer pupils cheaper, gender-neutral uniforms as part of efforts by the Welsh government to reduce rising costs for families. The changes mean schools in Wales that are revising their uniform code will now need to ensure items are widely available and not part of an exclusive deal with a single supplier. Clothing must also avoid expensive logos and uniform codes must be the same for both boys and girls. It comes amid concern over the cost of uniforms for Welsh families, with some estimates suggesting school uniforms can cost upwards of more than £300 per child at secondary school level. Under the changes, parents in Wales who believe their child’s school is failing to meet the new rules will be able to lodge a complaint.
24 KILLED IN TRIBAL MASSACRE
At least 24 people have been killed in a tribal massacre in Papua New Guinea. The violence took place in Hela province in the country’s Highlands area. The clashes were part of long-standing rivalries between tribes. Children and pregnant women are believed to be among those killed. Speaking to reporters, the governor of Hela, Philip Undialu, said: "It was retaliation of a previous attack. Both attacks were made in an innocent community where people were not expecting it and all of us are in a state of shock." Rivalries often occur in the remote communities in response to thefts or disputes over tribal territories. However, the high death-toll of this week’s attack makes it one of the worst outbreaks of tribal violence seen in Papua New Guinea in recent years.
Egypt has called on Interpol to investigate Christie’s after the auction house sold a Tutankhamun sculpture allegedly looted in the 1970s. While Christie’s claims the statue can be traced back to a German prince, Egyptian authorities have said they believe it was stolen from a temple complex north of Luxor. The ministry of antiquities also threatened to sue the auction house over the sale of the statue – a bronze quartzite sculpture of King Tutankhamun’s head.