Brexit Talks Face Breakdown
A Downing Street source has claimed a Brexit deal now looks to be “essentially impossible” following a fraught phone call between the prime minister and Angela Merkel. Boris Johnson is believed to have called the German chancellor to discuss his latest Brexit proposals with Merkel yesterday. However, the German leader reportedly struck the plans down, making clear that a deal based on Johnson’s proposals was “overwhelmingly unlikely”. A No 10 briefing held after the call allegedly claimed it was Merkel’s demands that had made a Brexit deal “essentially impossible not just now but ever” – prompting European council president Donald Tusk to accuse Johnson of playing a “stupid blame game”.
In a direct tweet to the prime minister, Tusk added: “You don’t want a deal, you don’t want an extension, you don’t want to revoke, quo vadis? [Where are you going?]”. Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon was similarly critical, accusing Johnson of attempting “to shift the blame for the Brexit fiasco”. Officially, Downing Street has continued to insist that the government remains focused on agreeing a deal. However, sources at No 10 are believed to have expressed growing scepticism towards the possibility. The breakdown in talks comes less than two weeks before the crucial EU summit on 17th October, at which Johnson is expected to make a final case for a Brexit deal.
TRUMP THREATENS TO 'OBLITERATE' TURKISH ECONOMY
Donald Trump has threatened to obliterate Turkey’s economy if Turkish forces go “off limits” in north-eastern Syria. It follows the US president’s decision to withdraw American troops from the Turkish-Syrian border, potentially making way for Turkey’s military. The US had previously been allied with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a militia dominated by Kurdish fighters which has been critical in the battle against Islamic State in Syria. However, Turkey considers the SDF to be terrorists, and Trump’s decision to withdraw from the border could potentially open a path for Turkey’s military to attack the Kurdish forces.
Explaining his decision, Trump said he had been elected on the basis he would remove US soldiers from “these ridiculous endless wars”. “Turkey, Europe, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Russia and the Kurds will now have to figure the situation out,” he added. The withdrawal was met with criticism from across the political spectrum in the US, with the SDF also claiming that it had been “stabbed in the back” by the move. Trump has sought to reassure his critics, insisting that he would “obliterate” the Turkish economy if the country’s military did “anything outside of what we would think is humane”. There would be “big trouble” if any of the US allies “get hurt”, the president claimed.
Boris Johnson criticises Extinction Rebellion protesters after the climate campaign group blocked roads in London. Speaking at the launch of a new book about Margaret Thatcher on Monday night, Johnson said his security had warned him not to come as there was some risk he “would be egged” by the protesters. The prime minister has been dismissive of the demonstrations, describing Extinction Rebellion activists as “importunate nose-ringed climate change protesters” and claiming they should abandon their "hemp-smelling bivouacs".
This week’s demonstrations in London are part of a civil disobedience movement being staged by Extinction Rebellion activists in 60 cities worldwide. Police have already arrested more than 500 people in connection with the protests in the capital, including those who have blocked roads and glued themselves to government buildings. The campaign group is calling for immediate action to address the climate crisis and has called on global governments to declare a "climate and ecological emergency".
In other news...
PARENTS OF CRASH VICTIM ‘OPTIMISTIC’
The parents of a teenager killed in a car crash have said they are “optimistic” that Donald Trump will look into their case. Harry Dunn, 19, was killed in August when his motorcycle collided with a car driven by Anne Sacoolas, the wife of a US diplomat. A suspect in the crash investigation, Sacoolas initially cooperated with the police investigation before returning to the US under diplomatic immunity. The prime minister has urged the US to waive Sacoolas’s immunity so she can face justice in the UK. Dunn’s parents said they had been encouraged by Johnson’s stance and claimed they had received “immense” messages of support from those in the US. “We will go to Washington if we have to, we've taken [legal] advice on that," they added.
TYPHOON THREATENS RUGBY WORLD CUP
A super typhoon is threatening to disrupt the Rugby World Cup after sudden wind changes placed it on a direct course for the Japanese island of Honshu, where this weekend’s matches are due to take place. According to forecasters, Super Typhoon Hagibis “rapidly intensified” yesterday and is now expected to be the strongest typhoon of the Japanese season, bringing torrential rain and peak winds of 160mph. Its change in course has prompted concern that the final pool matches between England and France and Scotland and Japan could be called off. If this is the case, the games could be rescheduled or scored as 0-0 draws with each team claiming two points. England’s assistant coach Scott Wisemantel said the team would be preparing as usual. “One thing I have learnt in Japan is that they prepare for the worst and then usually it doesn’t eventuate,” he added.
ROYAL AD PROMPTS WEBSITE CRASH
A new website designed to help people look after their mental health has crashed after featuring in a television ad voiced by the royal family. A video promoting the Every Mind Matters website aired on Sky, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5 and MTV on Monday night and was narrated by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. Shortly after the video aired, the website crashed. Public Health England (PHE) suggested the crash could have been down to a surge in traffic but assured those seeking help that the website was back up and running. Written by Richard Curtis, the video aims to raise the profile of Every Mind Matters, a new PHE and NHS initiative designed to help people look after their mental health and support others who may be struggling.
CHINA COULD INTERVENE IN HONG KONG PROTESTS
The leader of Hong Kong has refused to rule out potential Chinese intervention to quell long-running protests in the city. Speaking to reporters yesterday, Carrie Lam said she felt strongly that Hong Kong’s authorities should “find the solutions ourselves,” but added: “If the situation becomes so bad, then no options could be ruled out.” Her statement comes as protesters stage an angry backlash against a new ban on face masks imposed under sweeping emergency powers. Lam has insisted she has no plans to use the powers to introduce further restrictions. Initially triggered by changes to Hong Kong’s extradition law which would have allowed people to be sent for trial in mainland China, the protests have since escalated into a wider pro-democracy movement.
GARY GLITTER SET TO PROFIT FROM FILM
Disgraced music star Gary Glitter is set to profit financially from the new film Joker after one of his songs was used in the movie’s soundtrack. Glitter’s 1972 song ‘Rock and Roll Part 2’ is featured in a key scene in the Joker, a film about beginnings of the Batman villain. Concerns have been raised that Glitter, who is a convicted paedophile, could profit from the track’s inclusion in the blockbuster. While estimates vary on how much money the disgraced star will receive in royalties, The Sun has claimed Glitter could cash in “hundreds of thousands of pounds”. Now aged 75, Glitter was sentenced to 16 years imprisonment in 2015 after being found guilty of historic sex assaults on three schoolgirls.
The jackpot won by a UK ticket-holder in the Euromillions draw last night. The record jackpot has made the lucky ticket-holder Britain's richest ever lottery winner. It is currently unknown whether the winner is a single person, a family or a syndicate. If the ticket-holder is an individual, the huge jackpot would rocket them into the Sunday Times' Rich List – making them wealthier than Ed Sheeran, who is worth £160m, and Sir Tom Jones, who is worth £165m.