Maximum Temperature: 12°C (53°F), Minimum Temperature: 11°C (51°F), Wind Direction: South Westerly, Wind Speed: 25mph, Visibility: Poor, Pressure: 1014mb, Humidity: 88%, UV Risk: 1, Pollution: Moderate, Sunrise: 06:50 GMT, Sunset: 17:53 GMT
Maximum Temperature: 11°C (53°F), Minimum Temperature: 9°C (48°F), Wind Direction: Westerly, Wind Speed: 25mph, Visibility: Moderate, Pressure: 1020mb, Humidity: 90%, UV Risk: 2, Pollution: Moderate, Sunrise: 06:54 GMT, Sunset: 17:50 GMT
Artist David Hockney had to be rescued by firefighters after getting trapped in a hotel lift in Amsterdam on Wednesday. But he wasn’t alone. Among those with him were the Daily Mail’s editor and the BBC’s James Naughtie, who shares the experience here.
It was all a bit unexpected. I suppose when you get stuck in a lift, it always is.
We were coming down in David Hockney’s hotel next to the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam so we could find a quiet spot for an interview.
He wanted to have a smoke outside: he usually does. A little crowd packed into the lift: a correspondent from the New York Times, a Dutch artist with a TV cameraman in tow, a few others. Nine of us. It jerked to a halt. There was a suspicious silence. We knew we were stuck.
We pressed the alarm a few times. Nothing. Nobody’s mobile phone could get a signal. There was a bit of feeble shouting and we shuffled around, wondering if the lift would be tricked into moving again. But it only wobbled.
We didn’t know whether we were in the basement, between floors, or whether we’d somehow gone up by mistake. Someone suggested pushing on the ceiling, because that’s what happened in the movies when people climbed out by scrambling up the metal wires. Somehow, that didn’t seem very realistic to us.
Eventually there were shouts from outside. Of all people, the editor of The Daily Mail, Geordie Greig, a very old friend of Hockney’s, was waiting for us in the lobby… and we realised where we were.
Geordie went into super boy scout mode and began to reassure us: the general manager of the hotel had been summoned, with his chief engineer. So had the Amsterdam fire department.
By this time, we’d prised the door open three inches and or so and we could see light. Someone started to pass bottles of water through the gap. Then Geordie got someone to find a folding stool that was slipped through so that Hockney – 81, after all – could sit down.
I thought the community singing was going to start soon. People were making jokes, but realised that the fun would only last for so long.
“Get a crowbar,” said Hockney (there was a pithy adjective attached).
We’d been there for getting on for half an hour. Then feet on the roof of the lift, the sound of clanking – some heavy tools were on the scene – lights from torches, the glimpse of a fireman’s uniform. Much heaving and groaning.
The New York Times correspondent said she’d spent her whole life in that city – a place built on elevators – and this had never happened to her before. That wasn’t much help.
We exchanged stories. I thought of Tony Hancock’s sketch, from half a century ago, about what happened when a bunch of strangers got marooned in a lift. This seemed more like a Pinter play.
I’m afraid I was worried most about whether after all this we’d get our interview.
But the cranking and heaving was helping. Eventually, with a creak and a bang, the door was wrenched back, light poured in, and we climbed out, to cheers from the crowd that had gathered in the lobby.
It hadn’t been exactly life-threatening; more a bit of weird fun. Afterwards, the firemen crowded round. They wanted a picture with Hockney. It was Amsterdam, after all. A very civilised city.
The exhibition Hockney-Van Gogh: The Joy of Nature opens at the Van Gogh Museum on Friday.
Net migration to the UK from countries outside the European Union has hit its highest level for 15 years, the Office for National Statistics says.
Figures show 261,000 more non-EU citizens came to the UK than left in the year ending September 2018 – the highest since 2004.
In contrast, net migration from EU countries has continued to fall to a level last seen in 2009.
The figures are the last set before the UK is due to leave the EU next month.
And separate figures released by the Home Office show the number of EU nationals applying for British citizenship hit an all-time high last year, rising by 23% to about 48,000.
In December, the prime minister said the government was sticking to its longstanding ambition to bring net migration down to the “tens of thousands”.
In the year to September, a total of 627,000 people moved to the UK and 345,000 people left the UK – a net migration of 283,000, ONS figures show.
Jay Lindop, director of the Centre for International Migration at the ONS, said: “Decisions to migrate are complex and a person’s decision to move to or from the UK will always be influenced by a range of factors, including work, study and family reasons.
“Different patterns for EU and non-EU migration have emerged since mid-2016, when the EU referendum vote took place.”
Overall, net migration, immigration and emigration figures have remained broadly stable since the end of 2016, the ONS said.
Immigration minister Caroline Nokes said the UK was continuing to attract and retain highly skilled workers, including doctors and nurses, but was “committed to controlled and sustainable migration”.
“As we leave the EU, our new immigration system will give us full control over who comes here for the first time in decades, while enabling employers to have access to the skills they need from around the world.”
She added that the government had “always been clear” it wanted EU citizens to stay and the EU Settlement Scheme, which allows EU nationals to apply to stay, made that simple.
The ONS report also showed:
- More citizens from Central and Eastern European countries known as the EU8 – which includes Poland, Slovakia and Lithuania – are leaving the UK than arriving. This pattern differs from all other EU countries
- The number of people coming to the UK for work has fallen to its lowest level since 2014 – this follows a fall in the number of EU citizens arriving to work
- More people are coming to the UK to study, with non-EU student immigration at its highest level since 2011
Madeleine Sumption, from the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford, said the data showed Britain was not as attractive to EU migrants as it was a couple of years ago.
“That may be because of Brexit-related political uncertainty, the falling value of the pound making UK wages less attractive, or simply the fact that job opportunities have improved in other EU countries,” she said.
She added that EU net migration happened to be unusually high in the run-up to the referendum, so at least some of the decline would probably have happened even without Brexit.
Diane Abbott, Labour’s shadow home secretary, said: “Once again the number of migrants coming here vastly outstrips its unworkable 100,000 net migration target.
“Its policy is not really about reducing numbers but allows it to maintain a constant campaign against migration and migrants.”
She criticised the immigration bill currently going through Parliament and accused the home secretary of promising more business access to overseas workers, at the same time as effectively removing all their rights.
Marley Morris, of the Institute for Public Policy Research, a centre-left think tank, said the “marked fall” in EU net migration meant the government needed to “act now to reassure EU citizens and contain the economic damage”.
“It must ramp up its communications campaign on settled status, send a strong message to employers that rights must be protected, and clarify its proposals for a no deal scenario.”
A man has admitted assaulting a Liverpool fan outside the club’s Anfield stadium ahead of a Champions League semi-final.
Simone Mastrelli pleaded guilty to attacking Sean Cox, 53, who was left with severe brain injuries before Liverpool played Roma last April.
At Preston Crown Court, Mastrelli, 30 and from Rome, admitted the attack but denied violent disorder.
Mr Cox, from Dunboyne, County Meath, was left in a coma after the attack.
Mastrelli, who was extradited last month after being arrested on a European Arrest Warrant in Italy, is due to be sentenced later.
Two others jailed
Mr Cox, a father-of-three, suffered serious catastrophic head injuries in the attack and has been recovering at the National Rehabilitation Hospital in Dun Laoghaire.
He spent four-and-a-half weeks at the Walton Centre in Liverpool, a specialist neurological unit for brain injuries, following the attack on 24 April, before being airlifted to another specialist unit at Dublin’s Beaumont Hospital.
Mastrelli entered a guilty plea to unlawfully and maliciously inflicting grievous bodily harm on Mr Cox.
He pleaded not guilty to a separate count of violent disorder, which he was told will lie on file after the Crown accepted his plea.
Another Roma fan, Filippo Lombardi, 21, was cleared in October of inflicting grievous bodily harm on Mr Cox, though he was jailed for three years for violent disorder.
A third man, Daniele Sciusco, 29, from Rome, admitted violent disorder ahead of the match and was jailed for two-and-a-half years, last August.
Stacey Dooley has challenged MP David Lammy after he said “the world does not need any more white saviours” following her Comic Relief posts from Africa.
She tweeted: “David, is the issue with me being white? (Genuine question)… because if that’s the case, you could always go over there and try raise awareness?”
She’s posted images on Instagram of her holding a young African child.
Mr Lammy said: “This isn’t personal and I don’t question your good motives.”
The Labour MP for Tottenham added: “My problem with British celebrities being flown out by Comic Relief to make these films is that it sends a distorted image of Africa which perpetuates an old idea from the colonial era.”
Dooley, who recently won Strictly Come Dancing and has made documentaries for the BBC on topics including fast fashion and an Isis sex slave, said: “Comic Relief have raised over £1bn since they started. I saw projects that were saving lives with the money. Kids’ lives.”
Mr Lammy also appeared on BBC Two’s Victoria Derbyshire programme, saying: “Charity is a good thing, all of us understand that, but how we do charity is important.
“Comic Relief is a 20-year-old formula that asks comedians to perform and sends celebrities – most often white – out to Africa and that image evokes for lots of ethnic minorities in Britain a colonial image of a white beautiful heroine holding a black child with no agency, no parents in sight.
“The charity is doing very little to educate the public,” he added, talking about the “emerging middle class in Africa.”
He said Dooley has “done some fantastic journalism”, but that “the image she wants to promote is her as heroine and black child as victim”.
Mr Lammy added that he thought Comic Relief founder Richard Curtis should “use the platform responsibly”.
Comic Relief said in a statement: “We are really grateful that Stacey Dooley, an award-winning and internationally acclaimed documentary-maker, agreed to go to Uganda to discover more about projects the British people have funded there and make no apologies for this.
“She has filmed and reported on challenging issues all over the world, helping to put a much-needed spotlight on issues that affect people’s lives daily.
“In her film, people working with or supported by Comic Relief projects tell their own stories in their own words. We have previously asked David Lammy if he would like to work with us to make a film in Africa and he has not responded. The offer is still open.”
Last year Mr Lammy said in a BBC video that African people were “equals to be respected, not as victims to be pitied”.
In 2017, Ed Sheeran’s video from Africa for Comic Relief was handed a “Rusty Radiator” award, given to the “most offensive and stereotypical fundraising video of the year”.
Challenge to be ‘responsible’
Comic Relief chief Liz Warner told The Guardian earlier that year that films for Comic and Sport Relief would depict “people talking in the first person in their own voices, with local heroes and local heroines talking to us about the work they’re doing”.
She said the award for Sheeran’s video, “rightly challenges organisations like Comic Relief to be as responsible, fresh and relevant as possible when conveying our issues”.
“That’s a challenge we have always tried to meet and will continue to do so, perhaps now with a little extra energy.”
She added: “We’re grateful to Ed Sheeran for his time and commitment, to the people who’ve given money and to the people who run the projects we support. And we really hope that we don’t win this award again.”
Following a flurry of newspaper scare stories, some schools have warned parents about the “momo challenge” – but fact-checkers say it is a hoax.
The character, shown with bulging eyes, supposedly appears on WhatsApp and sets children dangerous “challenges” such as harming themselves.
But charities say there have been no reports of anybody receiving messages or harming themselves as a result.
They warn that media coverage has amplified a false scare story.
“News coverage of the momo challenge is prompting schools or the police to warn about the supposed risks posed by the momo challenge, which has in turn produced more news stories warning about the challenge,” said the Guardian media editor Jim Waterson.
What is ‘momo’?
Earlier this week, versions of the momo story went viral on social media. They attracted hundreds of thousands of shares and resulted in newspaper articles reporting the tale.
According to the false story, children are contacted on WhatsApp by an account claiming to be momo. They are supposedly encouraged to save the character as a contact and then asked to carry out challenges as well as being told not to tell other members of their family.
The UK Safer Internet Centre told the Guardian that it was “fake news”.
Several newspaper articles claim the momo challenge had been “linked” to the deaths of 130 teenagers in Russia. The reports have not been corroborated by the relevant authorities.
The image of momo is actually a photo of a sculpture by Japanese special-effects company Link Factory. According to pop-culture website Know Your Meme, it first gained attention in 2016.
Fact-checking website Snopes warned that although the momo challenge was a hoax, the reports and warnings could still cause distress to children.
“The subject has generated rumours that in themselves can be cause for concern among children,” wrote David Mikkelson on the site.
Police in the UK have not reported any instances of children harming themselves due to the momo meme.
The charity Samaritans said it was “not aware of any verified evidence in this country or beyond” linking the momo meme to self-harm.
The NSPCC told the Guardian it had received more calls from newspapers than from concerned parents.
What should parents do?
Police have suggested that rather than focusing on the specific momo meme, parents could use the opportunity to educate children about internet safety, as well as having an open conversation about what children are accessing.
“This is merely a current, attention-grabbing example of the minefield that is online communication for kids,” wrote the Police Service of Northern Ireland, in a Facebook post.
Broadcaster Andy Robertson, who creates videos online as Geek Dad, said in a podcast that parents should not “share warnings that perpetuate and mythologise the story”.
“A better focus is good positive advice for children, setting up technology appropriately and taking an interest in their online interactions,” he said.
To avoid causing unnecessary alarm, parents should also be careful about sharing news articles with other adults that perpetuate the myth.
A crowd funded search has found “no trace” of the pilot of the plane which crashed with Cardiff City striker Emiliano Sala on board.
David Ibbotson was flying the footballer to the UK when their Piper Malibu aircraft crashed near Guernsey on 21 January.
A helicopter was used to search remote coastal areas and two divers went down to the aircraft wreckage.
Organiser David Mearns said that the “active search” had ended.
The shipwreck hunter, who led the successful search for Sala’s body, said the divers had searched “every nook and cranny” of the plane
“Sadly there was absolutely no trace of David, no trace of any clothing, no trace of any of his personal items,” said Mr Mearns.
He added: “In terms of the active search, it ended today. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a chance that that David’s body will still wash ashore.”
The hunt for Mr Ibbotson, of Crowle, North Lincolnshire, is being funded via an online campaign launched by his family.
The appeal launched by Mr Ibbotson’s family has raised nearly £250,000.
It was boosted with contributions from French footballer Kylian Mbappe, who donated £27,000, and former England captain Gary Lineker who gave £1,000.
On the page, his sister Danielle Ibbotson wrote: “We can not bear the thought of him being alone, we need him home so that we are able to lay him to rest to be able to say goodbye.”
A preliminary report into the crash by the Air Accident Investigation Branch confirmed the pilot held a private licence but not one for commercial flights.
The Piper Malibu N264DB was en route from Nantes in France to Cardiff, two days after the Argentine striker’s £15m transfer was announced.
Labour MP Chris Williamson has apologised for comments he made about the party’s handling of anti-Semitism amid calls for him to be disciplined.
The Derby North MP said he was wrong to suggest the party had “given too much ground” in the face of criticism.
He said he “regretted his choice of words” and Labour “can never be too apologetic about racism in our ranks”.
But deputy leader Tom Watson said the apology was “heavily caveated” and the MP should be suspended immediately.
Amid growing anger over the MP’s conduct, Mr Williamson is reported to have held a meeting with aides of Jeremy Corbyn’s shortly before Prime Minister’s Questions began at midday.
Minutes later, he issued a statement on Twitter apologising, saying he never meant to downplay the “pernicious and cancerous” nature of anti-Semitism.
“I deeply regret and apologise for my recent choice of words,” he wrote. “I was trying to suggest how much the party has done to tackle anti-Semitism.
“Our movement can never be too apologetic about racism in our ranks. While it is true there have been very few cases of anti-Semitism in Labour, something I believe is often forgotten when discussing this issue, it is also true that those few are too many.”
Mr Williamson said he would be more “considered” in his language in future and said he wanted to be “an ally” in the fight against anti-Semitism.
‘Present but not involved’
Labour had urged the MP to say sorry for the “deeply offensive and inappropriate” remarks made clear that “downplaying the problem of anti-Semitism makes it harder for us to tackle it”.
But senior figures say Labour must go further and take disciplinary action, ex-leader Ed Miliband describing the row as “a test” for the party.
Mr Watson said the MP’s statement was “not good enough and if it was in my gift I would have removed the whip from him already”.
Urging Labour to suspend the MP, Theresa May said the fact Jewish MPs like Luciana Berger felt they had no choice but to quit Labour while Mr Williamson stayed put “summed up” the state of the opposition.
“It tells you all you need to know about the Labour leadership,” she said at Prime Minister’s Questions. “Present but not involved.”
London Mayor Sadiq Khan told the Emma Barnett show on BBC Radio 5 Live that Labour needed to get its house in order through “swift, robust action” against offenders.
Labour has struggled to contain a long-running row over claims of anti-Semitism – hostility or prejudice directed against Jewish people – within its ranks. Nine MPs quit the party last week, criticising the leadership’s handling of the issue.
In footage published by the Yorkshire Post, Mr Williamson, who is a close ally of Jeremy Corbyn, told activists Labour was being “demonised as a racist, bigoted party”.
“I have got to say I think our party’s response has been partly responsible for that because in my opinion… we have backed off far too much, we have given too much ground, we have been too apologetic.”
Amid applause from the audience, he went on to say: “We’ve done more to address the scourge of anti-Semitism than any political party.”
Who is Chris Williamson?
- The 62-year old is one of the most outspoken MPs on the left of the party
- A former bricklayer and social worker, he was a councillor before entering Parliament
- Led Derby Council twice in the 2000s, where he formed a coalition with the Tories
- Elected as MP for Derby North in 2010
- Lost the seat in 2015 but won it back two years later
- Has called on critics of Jeremy Corbyn to be de-selected
On Tuesday, Labour officials criticised Mr Williamson for booking a room in Parliament for a screening of a film about anti-Semitism and the activist Jackie Walker.
Ms Walker was suspended by Labour over allegedly anti-Semitic comments in 2016, and the documentary, Witch Hunt, looks at those and other allegations within the party.
Earlier this month, the Labour Party’s general secretary, Jennie Formby, said the party had received 673 complaints in 10 months alleging acts of anti-Semitism by its members.
MPs will have their say on the next steps for Brexit later as Theresa May urges them to “do their duty”.
Writing in the Daily Mail, the prime minister said the UK remained “firmly on course” to leave the EU with a deal “if MPs hold their nerve”.
A number of amendments to the government negotiating strategy will be voted on in the Commons on Wednesday.
The votes are not on Mrs May’s Brexit deal itself, but they will show what support she can or cannot get.
After her Brexit deal was overwhelmingly rejected by MPs last month, the prime minister has been trying to seek assurances from the EU to address MPs’ concerns.
She is still in talks with Brussels over the Irish backstop policy in her plan – which aims to prevent a hard border returning to the island of Ireland – and has assured MPs they will get to vote again on the deal by 12 March – just 17 days before the UK’s scheduled leaving date.
However, on Tuesday, Mrs May bowed to pressure to accept that the 29 March deadline might not be achievable, and promised MPs a vote on whether or not to delay Brexit or rule out leaving the EU without a deal if her plan is rejected for a second time.
In the Mail, Mrs May stressed that she did not want to see the Article 50 process extended and her “absolute focus” was on getting a deal in place for 29 March.
The prime minister’s critics have accused her of “kicking the can down the road”, but she insisted her efforts to persuade the EU to make concessions had “already begun to bear fruit”.
Debate to come later
Later there will be a debate on the next steps for Brexit after 12 amendments – alternative plans – were tabled by MPs.
Home Secretary Sajid Javid said the government will back the Costa amendment, which seeks to protect the rights of UK citizens in the EU, and vice versa, regardless of the outcome of UK-EU negotiations.
The amendment – tabled by Conservative MP Alberto Costa – has gained significant cross-party backing from 141 MPs – including leading Tory Brexiteers and Remainers.
Mr Costa has left his job as aide to Scottish Secretary David Mundell.
Mr Javid told the Home Affairs Select Committee: “When was the government not supporting it? I’m perfectly happy with that amendment.”
He said the amendment tries to find more ways for Parliament to give reassurance on the issue, but he did say it is outside of the government’s control what the EU does.
Labour has tabled an amendment calling on the House to support its alternative Brexit plan, which would include a “comprehensive customs union” and close alignment with the EU in the future.
This would mean no customs checks or charges would be imposed on goods moving between the UK and the rest of Europe.
If that proposal is voted down, Jeremy Corbyn has said the party would move to formally back another referendum “in order to prevent a damaging Tory Brexit” or no-deal outcome.
Mrs May criticised the Labour leader’s approach, saying “his cynical political games would take us back to square one.”
“Instead, Parliament should do its duty so that our country can move forward,” she said.
What does it mean to table an amendment?
The process starts with the government putting down a motion. It is a plain piece of text, asking the House to note the prime minister’s most recent Brexit statement – made on Tuesday – and that discussions between the UK and the EU are ongoing.
This then allows MPs to table amendments – alternative options – to that motion, setting out their proposals on what they think should happen next.
Speaker John Bercow makes the final call on which amendments are put to a vote, and we won’t know which ones he has chosen until later on Wednesday. Voting is likely to take place around 19:00 GMT.
The other amendments – named after the MPs or groups which propose them – that have been tabled include:
- The Independent Group amendment – The former Labour and Conservative MPs call on the government to make time in Parliament before 8 March to debate and decide what steps are necessary to prepare for another EU referendum
- The Cooper amendment – This calls on the government to bring forward a motion on whether Parliament wants to seek a “short limited extension” to Article 50 if the prime minister’s deal is rejected and if the House then rejects leaving without a deal. It reiterates the statement made by Mrs May on Tuesday.
- The Caroline Spelman/Jack Dromey amendments – The first is to give over the parliamentary schedule to MPs for a day to enshrine in law a vote on extending Article 50. Their second amendment would put aside Tuesday 19 March to have a debate and to hold a vote on the form of the future relationship, which could be an indicative vote. Following Tuesday’s announcement from Mrs May, they are not expected to put their amendments to a vote.
Mrs May said any delay to the UK’s departure should not go beyond the end of June and “would almost certainly have to be a one-off”.
Extending Article 50 would require the unanimous backing of the other 27 EU member states – something they have indicated they would be happy to do.
BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg says it is now extremely unlikely that the UK will leave at the end of March without a deal.
Environment Secretary, Michael Gove said that Mrs May had “done the right thing”, saying: “I think it’s important that we concentrate everyone’s mind on trying to make sure that we get a deal.”
Leader of the House of Commons Andrea Leadsom said that the government was “not talking about delaying Brexit”.
“The prime minister’s completely clear – she does not want to delay Brexit and nor do I,” she said.
Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd denied any intentions to frustrate Brexit and said: “I’m part of a plot to back the prime minister and make sure we get a good Brexit deal through Parliament as soon as possible.”
Meanwhile, Jacob Rees-Mogg, the leader of the Eurosceptic European Research Group of Conservative MPs, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that he “can live with the defacto removal” of the backstop – which has been a sticking point for Mrs May’s deal in Parliament.
“I mean that if there is a clear date that says the backstop ends and that is in the text of the treaty or equivalent to the text of the treaty – if it was to be an appendix to the treaty…then that would have a reasonable effect from my point of view,” he said.
Critics dislike the backstop because they believe it kept the UK too closely aligned to the EU and fear that it could become permanent.