Corbyn says he will be neutral in second Brexit referendum

Labour leader would negotiate new deal with EU, which would be put to a public vote alongside remain

Jeremy Corbyn has confirmed that he would take a “neutral stance” in a future Brexit referendum, after facing mounting pressure in recent days to say which side he will take.

Labour’s policy is to negotiate a new Brexit deal within three months of coming to power – and then to put that deal to a referendum within six months.

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Trump resurfaces debunked theory Ukraine interfered in 2016 election

President gave a rambling 55-minute interview on Fox & Friends, continuing to push claim a top Russia expert called ‘fictional’

Donald Trump has continued to promote a debunked conspiracy theory that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election, a day after the former top Russia expert in the White House called it a “fictional narrative” in dramatic impeachment testimony.

In her testimony on Thursday, British-born Fiona Hill said Republicans loyal to Trump must stop pushing the idea that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 presidential election because it plays into Vladimir Putin’s hands.

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John Bolton accuses White House of blocking access to Twitter account

Bolton’s account has been conspicuously silent since his resignation in September, until he tweeted he’d share a ‘backstory’

John Bolton, Donald Trump’s hardline former national security adviser, has accused the White House of blocking access to his personal Twitter account after he left the administration in September.

In a series of cryptic tweets on Friday, Bolton teased his 770,000 followers, telling them to “stay tuned” for a “backstory” following his two month absence.

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Concern over use of ‘rough sex gone wrong’ defence in UK courts

Lawyers and women’s groups demand action as researchers find tenfold increase in usage

Senior lawyers and women’s organisations have condemned the increasing use of “rough sex gone wrong” as a courtroom defence to the murder of women and called for a change to the law in the UK.

In the wake of the conviction of British backpacker Grace Millane’s killer in New Zealand, researchers have revealed a tenfold rise over the past two decades in the number of times similar claims have been made in UK courts.

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Scott Morrison can’t attack Australia’s political circus and pretend he isn’t its ringmaster | Katharine Murphy

The prime minister is relentlessly pursuing the politics of panic, but validating voter anxiety can only go so far

It’s possible I have Harold Bloom lodged in my head lately because he loomed large in my youth, and he died recently, but when I listen to Scott Morrison, increasingly I think of Bloom, and The Anxiety of Influence.

If you are too young or productively educated to have encountered Bloom, he is the literary critic who held that all writers have to confront the writers who came before them, in the process creating imaginative space for themselves. Bloom’s theory is more complex than my simple rendering, but that’s the primary idea.

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A 12-year-old girl, online sexual exploitation and lax financial rules

The Westpac scandal has brought the role of financial institutions in enabling child sexual abuse into sharp relief

On 25 October plainclothes police barged through the red door of a family home in a dense neighbourhood in Rizal, a province two hours away from Manila.

There they arrested a mother who was allegedly sexually exploiting her own 12-year-old daughter. The 45-year-old woman was clutching her phone. Police took it and then handcuffed her.

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Six phoney claims to watch out for from Boris Johnson tonight | Tom Kibasi

In the BBC leadership debate expect the prime minister to deploy his favourite myths about Labour and the economy

The first winter election in decades has been characterised by a blizzard of untruths. Boris Johnson’s party appears to have learned a lesson from Donald Trump’s winning 2016 campaign: if you lie early and often, voters will abandon any attempt to sort truth from fiction. The Tories are barely even pretending to care about policies. Their manifesto may surprise us, but what has dripped out so far suggests it will be thin gruel.

Instead the Conservative fake-facts factory has produced a series of misrepresentations about Labour’s economic plans – which we should expect Johnson to repeat in tonight’s special BBC Question Time leaders’ debate.

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BA pilots’ strike: airline agrees provisional pay settlement

British Airways avoids festive disruption as union backs deal worth 12% over three years

British Airways has agreed to a provisional pay settlement with its pilots, heading off the threat of Christmas disruption and bringing to an end one of the most damaging disputes in its history.

The pilots union, Balpa, has recommended a deal worth 12% over three years to its members, more than a year after talks started and following strikes in September that cost the airline tens of millions of pounds a day.

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No more orphans expected to be returned to UK from Syria

Home Office unhappy with Foreign Office for potentially opening door to more Isis returnees

No other British children are expected to be repatriated from Syria in the foreseeable future, despite the announcement from the foreign secretary on Thursday that a small number of orphans who had been caught up in the conflict with Islamic State had been brought home.

Home Office officials view the repatriation of the children, who cannot be named for legal reasons, as highly exceptional – and there is unhappiness with the Foreign Office for potentially opening the door to more Islamic State returnees.

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New York City may ban flavored vapes as soon as next week

  • Ban halts sale of all flavored e-cigarettes, except tobacco flavors
  • Juul stopped selling flavors other than tobacco and menthol

New York City could ban flavored vaping products as soon as next week, in a move that would make the metropolis of 8.6 million people the most populous place in America to ban flavored e-cigarettes.

The backlash against flavored e-cigarettes has gained momentum after a vaping-linked illness swept across the United States, killing at least 40 people and sickening 2,000 more. Vaping bans have emerged in an effort to curb e-cigarettes’ appeal to young people.

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Christine Lagarde calls for more public investment in first ECB speech

President of the European Central Bank says US/China tariff war should be seen as an opportunity

Christine Lagarde has called for European governments to boost innovation and growth with higher rates of public investment, in her first major speech as president of the European Central Bank.

Speaking to an audience of bankers in Frankfurt, Lagarde said that rising trade barriers triggered by the US/China tariff war should be grasped by European governments as an opportunity to build a stronger internal market.

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The Guardian view on election economics: there is an alternative | Editorial

Economics dominates public debate while being seen as an abstract authority over which people have little control. That must change

On BBC Question Time on Thursday there was an exchange between an audience member and a Labour politician – Richard Burgon – that revealed how poor economic literacy deepens the democratic deficit. The audience member, a man who said he earned more than £80,000, rounded on Mr Burgon and called him a liar for claiming that Labour’s manifesto pledge of raising income taxes for those with salaries like his and larger would only affect the top 5% of the population.

Yet Mr Burgon did not lie and the Labour party is right: 95% of workers earn less than £81,000. The man was undeterred, with a heartfelt plea that he was “not even in the top 50%” of earners. In fact, anyone with an annual salary of more than £25,500 would be in the top half of UK wage earners. Plenty of heads nodded along with the questioner’s falsehoods, underlining perhaps the post-truth nature of our times that many consider it better to be sincere than to be correct. The back-and-forth also exposed how mainstream economic stories have been successful in convincing people that there is no alternative to help the country.

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Frozen II fever reaches UK as Disney sequel opens in cinemas

Film studio will be hoping that fan reaction is warmer than than that of most critics

Dust off the Elsa costume, get ready to play Into the Unknown on repeat and – most importantly – make sure the tickets are booked: Frozen II mania has come to the UK.

The much-anticipated follow-up to the 2013 original finally hit the screens on Friday and, for many children, that means dragging their parents to the cinema this weekend.

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Zero chance of a Labour majority? Maybe. But Corbyn doesn’t need one | Jonathan Freedland

Labour’s leader could get into Downing Street with as few as 270 MPs. Though it will still be a steep and narrow path to get there

I have never trusted opinion polls less than I do now. Part of that is bitter experience, after polls proved their fallibility in 2015, 2016 and 2017. Part of it is a more specific lesson taught by the US presidential election three years ago, when Hillary Clinton learned to her cost that a hefty national poll lead means nothing in a contest that is settled one state at a time. This logic applies in spades to a UK election, which is not won nationally but seat by seat by seat.

The importance of that enduring truth was brought home afresh last weekend as I tramped the streets of Enfield Southgate, the marginal London suburb won from the Tories in 2017 by Labour’s Bambos Charalambous, best known for a rather wonderful meme in which John Bercow incants the MP’s name to the tune of Queen’s Under Pressure. I followed him for an afternoon’s canvassing, a session that would prove to be a masterclass in the inherent unpredictability of politics.

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The ‘rough sex’ defence is indefensible | Joan Smith

Grace Millane’s murder trial shows how it’s being used in courtrooms to justify unconscionable violence against women

We all know that it is not unusual to hear a pack of lies told in court. Defendants will say anything to avoid a prison sentence, especially when they’re facing serious charges. But the lies told by the man convicted in Auckland of the brutal murder of a British backpacker, Grace Millane, have exposed something profoundly disturbing about the way women are treated in modern criminal justice systems.

Many people in the UK and in New Zealand have followed the trial with visceral horror, disturbed by the intense focus on the victim. The 27-year-old defendant, who was found guilty after a trial lasting three weeks, didn’t deny killing the young woman he had met on a Tinder date. But he claimed that she died accidentally after she asked him to choke her during consensual sex.

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Prince Andrew’s private secretary steps down after Newsnight interview

Amanda Thirsk, who orchestrated disastrous BBC interview, will run prince’s mentoring initiative

The aide who orchestrated Prince Andrew’s disastrous interview about his links to the convicted child sex offender Jeffrey Epstein is no longer his private secretary, it has emerged as organisations continue to sever ties with the beleaguered royal.

Amanda Thirsk, who was said to have played a key role in persuading him to agree to the BBC interview, has reportedly moved on to run his business mentoring initiative.

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Malta’s PM urged to step back from case of murdered journalist

Two members of government linked to man arrested over Daphne Caruana Galizia killing

A senior European monitor is calling for Malta’s prime minister to distance himself from the investigation into the killing of the prominent investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia due to a potential conflict of interest.

Malta’s prime minister, Joseph Muscat, has the power to grant immunity from prosecution to a key witness who may have vital evidence about those who commissioned Caruana Galizia’s assassination two years ago.

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Understanding Englishness and the national identity crisis | Letters

Prof John Denham argues that to be English is, for many, not wanting to be ignored, Jim Grozier thinks it is time for someone to come up with new, ‘neutral’ names for the various parts of England, while Rev Ray Skinner debates devolution

Alex Niven (‘Englishness’ was never enough to build a nation on, Journal, 20 November) makes the reasonable point that English identity as it now exists is unlikely to become the single unifying national identity of England. Britishness faces the same problem. But like too many on the left, his desire to dismiss the English prevents him from asking who they are and what they want.

While there is not a single monolithic Englishness, those who emphasise their English identity, and who were more likely to vote leave, do not, by and large, share Boris Johnson’s Anglocentric British nationalism. They are, very largely, not the people in power in England, whether in corporate business, the media, politics or academia. They are more likely to live in places that have been on the losing side of social, economic and political change for 30 years, outside the liberal cultures of the metropolitan city centres. To be English is, for many at least, not wanting to be ignored any longer, to want to be heard or – to coin a phrase – to “take back control”. There is no successful future for England, or the union, that does not involve bringing the English back into the national conversation. Denying they exist or slamming the door in their face is not a good way to start.
Prof John Denham
Centre for English Identity and Politics, University of Southampton

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