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Princes Dismiss ‘Offensive’ Story At Royal Summit

Prince Harry and Prince William have issued a furious joint statement over a newspaper story speculating on the alleged rift between the brothers. Issued yesterday, the statement from William and Harry’s senior spokespeople said a “false story” had run in a UK newspaper speculating about the princes’ relationship – “despite clear denials”. “For brothers who care so deeply about the issues surrounding mental health, the use of inflammatory language in this way is offensive and potentially harmful,” they added. While the statement did not specify which story it was responding to, it’s thought to refer to a report in Monday’s Times which alleged Prince Harry and Meghan Markle had been pushed away from the royal family by Prince William’s “bullying” attitude.

The statement came as the Queen hosted a crisis summit at Sandringham yesterday, attended by Prince Charles, Prince William and Prince Harry. Meghan Markle reportedly dialled in to join the talks from Canada. The meeting was held to decide the future role of Harry and Meghan after the couple announced plans to “step back” from their royal duties. In a statement shared after the summit, the Queen said she "would have preferred" for the couple to remain full-time working members of the royal family but was "entirely supportive" of their desire to create "a new life". The Queen has agreed to a "period of transition" in which the couple will split their time between Canada and the UK – with final decisions on their future expected "in the coming days". 

PM VISITS STORMONT AFTER POWER-SHARING DEAL

Boris Johnson travelled to Northern Ireland yesterday to meet the leaders of its newly restored power-sharing executive. The prime minister met for talks with first minister Arlene Foster and Sinn Fein deputy first minister Michelle O'Neill at Stormont to discuss the landmark deal tabled by the British and Irish governments. It follows the establishment of a new power-sharing government formed by Stormont’s five main parties on Saturday. The new deal, titled New Decade, New Approach, was agreed on Friday and is believed to include increased funding pledges from both the British and Irish governments.

Meanwhile, the field of candidates competing to succeed Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader narrowed yesterday, as Clive Lewis withdrew from the race. Lewis's withdrawal proved helpful for Emily Thornberry after several of his supporters switched to back her, giving her a last-minute boost over the required nomination threshold. Thornberry joins four other remaining candidates: shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer, shadow business secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey, and backbench MPs Lisa Nandy and Jess Phillips. Starmer currently leads the race after winning 86 nominations. His supporters include former leader Ed Miliband, who said Starmer had "the best experience and vision to deliver 21st century socialism”.

#QOTD
QuoteOfTheDay
If this rainfall forecast comes to fruition then this will be all of our Christmas, birthday, engagement, anniversary, wedding and graduation presents rolled into one.

The New South Wales (NSW) Rural Fire Service posts a tweet welcoming rainfall forecast by the state’s Bureau of Meteorology on Sunday. The forecast predicted rain for parts of Australia’s central and northern coasts yesterday, as well as thunderstorms and showers forecast for most of NSW on Thursday.

While many have expressed relief at the news after months of drought, firefighters have warned the rainfall may not be heavy enough to extinguish the 100 bushfires burning across NSW. “With the period of drought we’ve experienced, we’d need to get extended periods of consistent rainfall in order to get the moisture content up enough for it to put out fires… which is unlikely,” said Rural Fire Service spokesperson Anthony Bradstreet.

In other news

Same-sex marriage is now legally recognised in Northern Ireland, meaning couples can register to marry. The first ceremonies are expected to take place in February, while same-sex couples who are already married will now have their marriages legally recognised in Northern Ireland. It follows an amendment to the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation etc) Act 2019 passed in Westminster, which required the government to extend same-sex marriage to Northern Ireland if devolution was not restored by 21st October last year. This deadline was not met, meaning Northern Irish legislation has now been brought in line with the rest of the UK. “Today is an incredible moment for same-sex couples who can finally marry and have their relationships recognised as equal,” Amnesty International said.

OSCAR NOMINATIONS REVEALED

The nominations for this year’s Academy Awards have been revealed, with Joker leading the pack with a total of 11 nods. Todd Phillips’s Batman origins story has been nominated for awards including best picture, best director and best actor in a leading role for its star, Joaquin Phoenix. Joker is closely followed by Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman, Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and Sam Mendes’s 1917, each of which has received 10 nominations. Greta Gerwig’s take on Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel Little Women is also up for six awards – although Gerwig failed to be selected on the award’s all-male best director shortlist. The 92nd Academy Awards ceremony will be held in Los Angeles on 9th February.

FLYBE AIRLINE IN CRISIS TALKS

Britain’s largest regional airline was locked in crisis talks yesterday as it attempted to stave off financial collapse. Flybe, which handles over half of the UK’s domestic flights outside London, has been attempting to secure a rescue deal – including emergency government financing. Accountancy firm EY has reportedly been put on standby to handle an administration of Flybe. The airline employs more than 2,000 employees and operates about 75 aircraft. The airline has refused to comment on any potential rescue deal, saying: “We don't comment on rumour or speculation.” Flybe’s latest survival talks come less than a year after the company was bailed out by a Virgin Atlantic-led consortium deal, which was completed last March.

SEVERAL PROTESTERS WOUNDED IN IRAN

Several people have been injured after Iranian authorities cracked down on anti-government protests in Iran. The demonstrations were sparked after Iranian officials admitted the military had been responsible for the downing of a commercial airliner last week, killing all 176 people on board. Iran had initially denied responsibility. Hundreds of protesters took to the streets in Tehran to protest the disaster and hold vigils for its victims over the weekend. The government responded with a heavy security presence – with some reporting that authorities had fired live ammunition and teargas to disperse crowds. “Forces were firing teargas back to back. A young girl beside me was shot in the leg,” one witness claimed. Tehran’s police chief has insisted no shots were fired.

STORM BRENDAN HITS BRITAIN

Storm Brendan swept into Britain yesterday, bringing gusts of up to 80mph and a significant risk of coastal flooding. The Republic of Ireland was most heavily hit by the storm, prompting its meteorological service, Met Éireann, to issue an orange wind warning for the entire country. In the UK, two days of weather warnings were put in place by the Met Office, warning of strong winds and potential travel disruption across the west of England, Scotland and Wales. “As Storm Brendan pushes though, pretty much every part of the UK will feel the influence,” Met Office forecaster Simon Partridge said. The windy weather is expected to continue in England and Wales today as the storm sweeps eastwards.

HAVE YOU HEARD?

A Japanese millionaire has launched an online appeal searching for a female “life partner” to join him on a mission to the moon. Fashion mogul Yusaku Maezawa is set to embark on Space X's maiden tourist voyage to the moon in 2023. The 44-year-old, who recently split from his actress girlfriend Ayame Goriki, says he hopes to share the space trip with a “special” woman. Those interested have been invited to take part in a three-month application process, including a planned match-making event. "I want to find a 'life partner’… I want to shout our love and world peace from outer space," Maezawa said.

Picture Of The Day
Taal volcano erupts in the Philippines (Source: Rex)
Lightning strikes over the province of Batangas in the Philippines as the Taal volcano continues to erupt yesterday. Residents of towns surrounding the volcano have been evacuated after it emitted a huge plume of ash and lava over the weekend. Taal is the Philippines’ second most active volcano and sits around 70km south of the capital Manila. Officials have warned that a “hazardous eruption” is possible “within hours or days”.