Philosopher Mary Warnock dies aged 94

Lady Warnock laid foundations for special needs teaching and fertility treatment regulations

The philosopher Mary Warnock, whose work laid the foundations for special needs education and for the regulation of fertility treatments, has died aged 94.

After an early career researching ethics and philosophy and then as a headteacher, Lady Warnock was appointed in 1974 to chair a UK inquiry on special education. Her subsequent report brought about radical change by placing priority on teaching children with special educational needs within mainstream schools, and introduced the system of “statementing” children, which provides additional support.

Continue reading...

Brexit is not the cause of Britain’s political breakdown. It’s a symptom | Gary Younge

We are an international laughing stock at the moment. But something like this has been coming for decades

The French EU minister, Nathalie Loiseau, has called her new cat Brexit. “He wakes me up every morning meowing to death because he wants to go out,” she says. “And then when I open the door he stays put, undecided, and then glares at me when I put him out.” The Dutch prime minister has compared Theresa May to the knight in Monty Python who has all his limbs lopped off and insists “It’s just a flesh wound” and calls it a draw. “She’s incredible,” says Mark Rutte. “She goes on and on. At the same time, I do not blame her but British politics.” Italian friends tell me Brexit now comes on at the end of the news, in that wacky slot just before the sport and weather.

Related: Theresa May has trashed our democracy and put MPs in danger | Lisa Nandy

Continue reading...

Corbyn not ruling out revoking article 50 to avoid no-deal Brexit

Labour leader makes comments in Brussels ahead of PM’s arrival for leaders’ summit

Jeremy Corbyn did not rule out seeking to revoke article 50 to avoid Britain sliding into a no-deal Brexit as senior EU officials privately talked up the possibility before a crunch summit in Brussels.

Speaking outside the European commission headquarters in Brussels, the Labour leader insisted that his focus “at the moment” remained on trying to push the prime minister into a soft Brexit.

Continue reading...

Five million EU citizens have spent 1,000 days in limbo. It has to end | Tanja Bueltmann

I have seen the impact Brexit’s uncertainty is having. The EU must protect citizens’ rights – it is a question of basic humanity

What does it feel like to live in limbo for 1,000 days? Millions of EU citizens in the UK, and our British friends who live in another EU country, no longer have to imagine it. We have now reached that milestone. A milestone we never wanted to reach nor should have had to reach. But here we are. And the chaos and uncertainty has never been greater.

These 1,000 days tell two stories. First, they tell our story – the human story of 5 million people and our employers, friends, lovers and families who have, in many ways, been in limbo with us for all this time. Our story now remains largely silent. It is a silence interspersed with bouts of outrage and shame, but such feelings, however well meaning, do not help anyone. They cannot undo 1,000 days of uncertainty, and they cannot, on their own, give certainty now.

Continue reading...

Theresa May has trashed our democracy and put MPs in danger | Lisa Nandy

Last night’s statement was poisonous. Credible threats have been made to MPs – she should not be unleashing populism

The sense of anger is hard to adequately put into words. Yesterday, in the toxic climate that now defines British politics the prime minister took to a Downing Street podium to place the blame for this national crisis on MPs. She pitted parliament against “the people”, deploying an inflammatory rhetoric reminiscent of far-right populists whose influence is steadily growing in Britain, America and across the world. Reckless doesn’t do it justice.

Frustration in parliament was already high. For nearly three years the prime minister has refused to listen, reach out or compromise – rejecting efforts to find an accommodation not just with MPs, but with the varied currents of opinion we represent in vastly different and divided communities across the country. She has refused us vital information, asked for our trust and then broken promise after promise. It has brought Britain to the brink and the strain is showing.

Continue reading...

Brexit: EU rejects May’s request for three-month delay

European council takes control, saying 22 May is latest date for Britain’s withdrawal

The European Union is poised to take control of Britain’s exit by rejecting Theresa May’s request for a three-month delay and setting a new withdrawal date of no later than 22 May.

The prime minister is seeking an extension of the negotiating period to 30 June to allow the necessary legislation to be passed should she finally get MPs to back her deal next week.

Continue reading...

May’s attack on MPs is the dangerous act of a desperate politician | Polly Toynbee

The prime minister’s angry refusal to countenance any Brexit plan but her own has left her petulant, defiant and doomed

Attempting to turn voters’ anger against parliament is the dangerous and despicable act of a prime minister thrashing around in her terminal desperation. Tantamount to calling for insurrection against democracy, the only saving grace of her extraordinary late-night eruption of bad temper was its futility. Unlikely to gain traction with the people, she lost yet more respect from her own MPs.

During the wait for her delayed speech, rumours grew wild. What would she do? Resign unless her deal passes. Call a general election. Call a referendum. Press the revoke button, her nuclear option. But no, none of that. Instead she gave us just another ill-judged diatribe against parliament, achingly lacking in remorse or self-awareness.

Continue reading...

We’re working like it’s 1975, but the jobs boom isn’t all it seems. Here’s why | Larry Elliott

Unemployment figures are at a historic low but there are also bleaker parallels with the 1970s

Britain’s recent jobs record has been remarkable. The economy is chugging along but the last time the unemployment rate was as low as it is today was in the winter of 1974-75. Harold Wilson was prime minister, Derby County were on course to win the old first division, David Bowie was about to release Young Americans.

Back then things were about to take a turn for the worse. Prices were rising fast, and later in 1975 inflation would hit a postwar peak of more than 25%. Unemployment also rose, leading to the coining of a new term – stagflation. In 1976, there was the mother and father of a sterling crisis that ended with spending cuts being imposed by the International Monetary Fund.

Continue reading...

‘Acting like Trump’: Theresa May sparks MPs’ Brexit fury

PM faces calls for resignation after blaming Commons for delay to UK’s exit from EU

  • Follow all the latest on Brexit with our live blog

Theresa May is facing a furious backlash from her own backbenchers and calls for her resignation after she blamed squabbling MPs for delaying Brexit.

In a defiant statement on Wednesday night she told the British public: “I am on your side,” and now hopes to force her deal through parliament next week at the third time of asking.

Continue reading...

Corbyn walks out of PM’s Brexit meeting over Umunna invite

Labour leader left after realising May had asked Independent Group’s spokesman to attend

Jeremy Corbyn has walked out of an early evening meeting of party leaders with Theresa May after he realised the prime minister had invited Independent Group spokesman, Chuka Umunna.

The Labour leader had been due to meet May to discuss the Brexit crisis alongside the SNP’s Ian Blackford, the Lib Dems Vince Cable along with the parliamentary leaders of Plaid Cyrmu and the Greens.

Continue reading...

Prime Minister faces increasing pressure from Tory party to quit

Divided Conservatives despair over decision to ask for a three-month Brexit delay

Several times during the torrid Brexit drama of the past two years, Theresa May has adopted her own version of what Tony Blair used to call his “masochism strategy” – in her case by making herself available for hostile cross-examination by her backbenchers.

On Tuesday, though, as both wings of her deeply riven party erupted in fury and despair after the decision to ask for a three-month Brexit delay, she sent the ebullient Tory chairman Brandon Lewis in her stead.

Continue reading...

UK politicians ignore mass public protests at their peril | Martin Kettle

Theresa May would be wise to learn from Tony Blair’s mistake over Iraq

It is still just about possible, with a sustained deployment of the imagination, to conceive of a set of circumstances in which Theresa May might still be able to regard her Brexit policy as a success. If, for instance, she agrees in Brussels on Thursday on the conditional short extension offered by Donald Tusk on Wednesday ; if she gets her third “meaningful vote” motion past the Speaker next week; if her MPs take Tusk’s offer seriously; if she proves better at persuading enough of them to back her deal than in the past, then – just possibly – it may all seem to have been worthwhile. Or at least it may do so for about 48 hours, until the leadership challenge begins and the policy conflicts of the next – and longer – phase of Brexit negotiations with the EU start to split her party yet again.

Related: Britain is in a hole – Europe, we need you to dig us out | Timothy Garton Ash

Continue reading...

The Guardian view on Theresa May and Brexit: a prime minister gone rogue | Editorial

Theresa May has put no deal firmly back on the table in flagrant defiance of parliament and the dictates of responsible government

To achieve anything in EU diplomacy it helps to speak European. That does not require a command of continental languages. What matters, when dealing at the highest level in Brussels, is an ability to acknowledge the common political and economic interests that underpin the whole European project.

Theresa May has no fluency in that idiom. She cannot even fake it. Since becoming prime minister, her relations with the EU have been marked by tin-eared diplomacy. She is bad enough at cultivating relationships in Westminster. In Brussels she has none.

Continue reading...

Britain is in a hole – Europe, we need you to dig us out | Timothy Garton Ash

Brexit just got serious. If parliament can somehow take control, EU leaders must take pity and offer a long delay

When European leaders discuss Brexit on Thursday, they should have in mind a fundamental question: is the EU just a union of governments, or is it also a Europe of citizens, peoples, democracy and destiny? If it’s just the former, they should continue the current mainstream Brussels line of trying to help Theresa May to get her deal over the line, and the UK out of the European Union as soon as possible. If Europe is also the latter, as French president Emmanuel Macron has eloquently argued, then they must recognise that May’s government is the problem, not the solution, and give time for the citizens, peoples and democracy of Britain to work their way to a better place.

More than 16 million British citizens voted for Britain to remain in the EU in 2016. Were European citizenship personal and direct, rather than contingent upon being a citizen of a member state, the EU would have a clear responsibility towards us, the British Europeans. If we were a country, we would be the ninth largest in the EU, after the Netherlands and before Belgium. We are joined by some 3 million citizens of other EU countries who live in Britain. That makes 19 million.

Continue reading...

Lives are ruined by shame and stigma. LGBT lessons in schools are vital | Hannah Jane Parkinson

Forget the parent protests. Children need to be taught that their identities are valid – and Andrea Leadsom needs to apologise

One of the most dangerous and destructive things in the world is shame. Shame can burrow into you so deep that it shrinks the brain and constricts the heart.

Related: Parents complain to Manchester schools about LGBT lessons

Continue reading...

May’s latest screeching U-turn makes her utterly unfit to lead | Jonathan Freedland

The PM’s insistence on a short Brexit extension confirms her as a broken reed and a prisoner of the hardline ERG

No matter how bad you think Theresa May is, she always manages to get worse. Her record of insisting on one thing, only to U-turn weeks, days or even hours later is almost impressive in its scope. There would be no snap election, she vowed – and then there was one. Her Brexit deal would be subject to a meaningful vote in December – and then the vote was pulled, punted into the new year. Brexit would happen on 29 March – and now it won’t.

This latest example is the Russian doll of reversals, with several other reversals contained within it. For just last week, May’s de facto deputy, David Lidington, was adamant that any delay to Brexit would have to be lengthy, since a short, one-off extension would be both pointless – leaving too little time to do anything – and “downright reckless”, as well as being “completely at odds with the position” MPs had taken the previous evening. May had told the Commons that, if MPs voted down her agreement with the EU – which they did – she would be seeking a long extension. She delivered the same message to the cabinet only yesterday.

Continue reading...

Leader of pro-Brexit party resigns over anti-Islam messages

Catherine Blaiklock sent racist posts and retweeted those of far-right figures before joining party backed by Nigel Farage

The leader of the new pro-Brexit party backed by Nigel Farage has abruptly resigned, after the Guardian asked her about a series of deleted anti-Islam Twitter messages sent from her account before she took on the role.

Catherine Blaiklock, the leader of the Brexit party, repeatedly retweeted posts from far-right figures as well as sending her own messages. Among the messages she shared was one by Mark Collett, a former British National party (BNP) activist, referring to “white genocide”.

Continue reading...

HS2 gives the game away: the plan for northern towns is managed decline | Lynsey Hanley

The high-speed rail network may never be built any further north than Birmingham. It is utterly nonsensical

Yesterday, on the day a report from the New Economics Foundation comprehensively exposed the HS2 project as a London-boosting white elephant, I found myself writing this sitting in a station Wetherspoons because my train from Liverpool to Huddersfield had been cancelled. Last Saturday, I missed a talk for which I had tickets because my train to Manchester, again from Liverpool, was cancelled. On Monday, I was an hour late dropping my daughter at her grandma’s because our train – a Northern Pacer due for the knacker’s yard – broke down at the terminus.

NEF’s report, which can be read as much as an utter indictment of a directionless, actively neglectful government as a cool-headed analysis of a single bad idea, exposes the fact that high-speed rail is unnecessary for everyone except London-based frequent travellers who dislike leaving the capital unless they can be there and back in half a day. The report demands a better service for northern commuters, the electrification of rail lines stuck in the mid-20th century, and the reopening of old branch lines to places lost to the car.

Continue reading...