US air strikes
Donald Trump has launched US air strikes against the Assad regime in Syria in retaliation for Tuesday’s chemical weapons attack. 59 Tomahawk missiles were launched from US ships in the Mediterranean and struck the Shayrat air base in central Syria. The Russian military, who had a presence at the air base, were informed by the Pentagon about the air strikes before the missiles struck.
The United States launched a missile strike on a Syrian airfield last night in retaliation for the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons on civilians. On President Trump’s orders, US warships fired about 60 Tomahawk missiles at the Shayrat airfield in western Syria. Officials said the base was used to stage a gas attack which killed at least 86 people, including 27 children, in a rebel-held town in Idlib province on Tuesday. Mr Trump said it was vital that America deter the use of chemical weapons and urged “all civilised nations to join us in seeking to end the slaughter and bloodshed in Syria”.
President Donald Trump launched a deadly US airstrike against a Syrian air base after a horrific nerve gas attack which killed more than 80 of his own citizens. The US military fired 59 tomahawk missiles at the Bashar al-Assad controlled al-Shayrat military airfield near Homs at 8.45pm (EDT) on Thursday, killing at least four and injuring many more. President Trump, speaking from his Mar-a-Lago estate where he is hosting the Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife Peng as part of a two day summit, said the US had to act after the Syrian dictator launched the ‘horrible chemical weapons attack’ on innocent civilians. ‘Even beautiful babies were cruelly murdered in this very barbaric attack,’ he said. ‘It was a slow and brutal death for so many.’
The UK government says it “fully supports” the US missile strike against an air base in Syria in response to a suspected chemical weapons attack. A No 10 spokeswoman said: “We believe [it] was an appropriate response to the barbaric chemical weapons attack launched by the Syrian regime, and is intended to deter further attacks.” Dozens of civilians, including children died in the attack on Tuesday. The Pentagon said 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles were fired overnight. The No 10 spokeswoman said: “Overnight, the US has taken military action against the Syrian regime, targeting the airfield in Shayrut which was used to launch the chemical weapons attack earlier this week.”
Another senior Ukip figure quit the party today as Mark Reckless announced he is defecting to the Tories. The Welsh Assembly member and former MP declared he was leaving, tweeting that he regarded it as ‘job done’ after Brexit. However, bizarrely he will not be formally rejoining the Conservative Party – instead merely aligning with its bloc in the Cardiff assembly. The move comes less than a fortnight after Ukip lost its sole MP when Douglas Carswell resigned the whip to sit as an independent.
FORMER MP Mark Reckless was accused of “dishonourable behaviour” today after quitting Ukip to return to the Tory fold. The Welsh Assembly member followed his close friend Douglas Carswell in leaving the anti-Brussels party to become an independent. He pledged to sit with the Tory group in Cardiff but insisted he was not re-joining the Conservative Party. Angry Ukip officials described his defection as “disappointing” and urged him to quit the assembly today. And former party leader Nigel Farage said: “I have always liked Mark Reckless, but if he thinks he can just leave after being elected on a list system that is very dishonourable behaviour.
Ex-MP Mark Reckless has quit Ukip and will sit with the Tories in the Welsh Assembly – saying it’s “job done” after Article 50 was triggered. Reckless was Ukip’s third MP, following Douglas Carswell to cross the floor from the Tories in September 2014. He lost his Rochester and Strood seat in the 2015 general election, but was elected to the Welsh Assembly last year. Carswell quit the party to become an independent MP last week, after months of speculation that he was planning to rejoin the Conservative Party. In a statement, Reckless said: “I leave Ukip positively, having achieved our joint aim, a successful referendum to leave the EU.
Former MP Mark Reckless has quit Ukip to rejoin the Conservatives, the party has announced. Mr Reckless praised the “exemplary” leadership of Theresa May since becoming Prime Minister, as he abandoned the party of Nigel Farage and Paul Nuttall. The move is yet another blow for Ukip, whose only elected MP Douglas Carswell also just quit the party, with senior figures now demanding Mr Reckless resign his seat on the Welsh Assembly.
Mark Reckless, the former Tory MP who defected to Ukip, has quit the party to support the Conservative group in the Welsh assembly, where he now sits. Reckless’s decision follows the move last month by Douglas Carswell, who defected to Ukip from the Conservatives and remains an MP, to quit the party and sit in the Commons as an independent. The move had been expected by Ukip after Reckless cut contact with the party in recent days. In a statement posted on his Twitter account, Reckless said he was joining the Conservative group in the Welsh assembly.
UKIP Chairman Paul Oakden said, “We are disappointed to hear that Mark Reckless has decided to leave UKIP in order to join the Conservatives in the Welsh Assembly. “When Mark joined UKIP in 2014 we admired his long-term commitment to Brexit and his decision to put his country first. “Having been elected as a Conservative in Rochester & Strood, Mark didn’t think it right to sit as an MP for another party without asking the electorate for their endorsement in a by-election. A position that was right as it was honourable. In the campaign that followed, our membership worked incredibly hard to ensure that Mark retained his seat. “After losing his seat at the General Election, Mark was a popular colleague and a diligent Head of Policy for the Party, before being awarded a top position in the UKIP list for the Welsh Assembly Elections in 2016. Those elections gave voters in Wales the opportunity to support a party rather than a particular candidate and one in eight voters backed UKIP. As a result, Mark was one of two UKIP candidates from South Wales East elected to the Senedd.
Suzanne Evans has confessed she faces calls to leave UKIP “on an hourly basis”, revealing how unpopular her decision to back Douglas Carswell’s campaign to undermine Nigel Farage has made her. Replying to a Twitter user who asked if she would “come back into the fold” of the Conservative Party, the 52-year-old replied cryptically that “there are plenty who are just gagging for it”, posting a tweet from a UKIP supporter asking for her to be booted out and stating that she receives such messages “on an hourly basis”. Evans was a key ally of Douglas Carswell, who defected to UKIP from the Tory Party in order to undermine Nigel Farage’s leadership of the campaign to take Britain out of the European Union – a plan he concocted with the help of Tory MEP Daniel Hannan.
FORMER Ukip leader Diane James has revealed she’s received “overtures” from the Conservatives and would consider a bid to become a Tory MP in 2020. The MEP, who dramatically quit just 18 days into her spell in charge of Ukip last year, admitted “there’s been discussions” with the Conservatives about signing up to Theresa May’s party. Ms James’ tenure was so short she never actually signed official papers to formally take the reins of Ukip in the wake of her leadership election victory last October. She now sits as an independent in the European Parliament having cut her ties with Ukip altogether a matter of weeks after sensationally standing down as the party’s leader. But despite the “overtures” from the Tories, Ms James insisted in an interview with Express.co.uk there’s “nothing on the table yet” that would see her join another political party.
Theresa May and Donald Tusk have agreed to try and “lower tensions” over Gibraltar in Brexit talks following the recent furore over the issue. The Prime Minister made clear however that there would be “no negotiation on the sovereignty” of the British territory without the consent of its population. The two leaders met to discuss pending Brexit negotiations amid concerns that Gibraltar could become a flash-point in an already difficult situation. Their meeting at Downing Street comes after former Tory leader Michael Howard suggested the UK would go to war over Gibraltar in the same way it had over the Falklands.
THERESA MAY today defiantly told European Council president Donald Tusk she will not negotiate over the status of Gibraltar during Brexit talks. The Prime Minister welcomed the top Brussels official to 10 Downing Street this afternoon for their first meeting since she formally triggered the UK’s exit from the EU. Since sending her Article 50 letter to Mr Tusk last week, the European Council has since responded with draft negotiating guidelines for the remaining 27 EU member states. The draft document stunned the Government by including an effective veto for Spain on any future EU-UK trade deal that affects Gibraltar. Since the Brexit vote last summer, Spain has consistently warned it will use the UK’s EU exit to raise its long-held sovereignty claim to the British Overseas Territory.
There will be no negotiation on Gibraltar’s sovereignty without the consent of its people, Theresa May has told Donald Tusk. Draft Brexit negotiating guidelines, sent out on Friday, contained a clause suggesting Spain will be able to veto any future trade deal between the EU and the UK. Following talks between the Prime Minister and the President of the European Council in Downing Street, a Number 10 spokesperson said that on Gibraltar, Mrs May had made it clear that “the UK’s position had not changed”. The spokesperson added that the UK “would seek the best possible deal for Gibraltar as the UK exits the EU and there would be no negotiation on the sovereignty of Gibraltar without the consent of its people”.
MEPs have rejected a UKIP motion to protect Gibraltar in the upcoming divorce negotiation. The motion read: “There is genuine concern among the people of Gibraltar regarding the border between Gibraltar and Spain; stresses, therefore, that these withdrawal negotiations must not be used as a mandate to question the sovereignty of Gibraltar and introduce any obstacles along the border between Gibraltar and Spain; points out furthermore that in the 2002 referendum 98.97% of voters in Gibraltar voted against shared sovereignty with Spain.” The amendment was rejected by 496 to 139 votes. Nigel Farage slammed Eurocrats as “vindictive and nasty” for refusing to take Gibraltar off the table as a bargaining chip. This is disgraceful behaviour by the EU, thank god in two years we’ll be out of it!
Foreign investors are buying up chunks of new housing developments across Britain, making it even harder for young people to purchase their first home, an investigation by The Times has found. Overseas buyers are spreading beyond London, purchasing flats in the midlands, the north and the capital’s satellite towns as the fall in the value of the pound makes property cheaper. The Times has established that more than 93 per cent of flats in one of Manchester’s biggest housing developments have been bought by foreign residents or companies registered overseas. Only 17 of the 282 flats were bought by British residents and only two are being lived in by UK owners. The rest are empty or being rented out.
Some locum doctors are refusing to work unless they get pay rises of more than 50 per cent, the NHS watchdog has warned. This could open up worrying gaps in rotas over Easter, it is feared. NHS Improvement, which regulates hospitals, said some doctors were collaborating and effectively threatening to strike if they aren’t paid extortionate rates. Jim Mackey, the chief executive, told the Health Service Journal their behaviour should see them struck off the doctors’ register.
A record number of GP practices closed last year, forcing thousands of patients to find a new surgery, in spite of government attempts to stop local doctors shutting their doors. NHS England data showed nearly a hundred practices closed in 2016, a 114% increase in GP closures compared with figures from 2014. Of the 92 practices that shut, 58 did so completely, while 34 merged with other local surgeries in order to pool resources. The drop in GP numbers meant 265,000 patients – an increase of 150% from 2014 – had to change their practice last year, often travelling further for care. Brighton was particularly badly affected with 9,000 patients displaced when four practices closed. There have been a total of seven closures in the city over the past two years.
Record numbers of GP practices are closing, following a rise in the number of doctors retiring early ahead of a tax clampdown on pension pots, new figures show. More than 250,000 patients have been “displaced” by surgery closures in the last year, amid plummeting GP numbers, the figures reveal. In total, the number of practices closing has risen five-fold since 2013. Senior doctors last night said communities were being left bereft, with elderly patients increasingly enduring long journeys to see a GP, and longer waiting times. The exodus follows a series of tax clampdowns on bumper pensions, which have seen a sharp rise in the number of GPs retiring early, and reducing their tax burden.
More than 250,000 patients had to change GPs last year – double the figure of two years ago – as more doctors retire, move abroad or quit. In many cases, patients were assigned to a new doctor after surgeries merged, but others were removed from surgery lists altogether when their practice closed – leaving soaring numbers without a GP. Last year, an unprecedented 58 surgeries closed. A further 34 merged, in which case patients are meant to be transferred automatically to a new register. But they will often have to travel miles further to the next town or village and be under the care of a new GP.
GP SURGERY closures hit a record level last year, forcing over a quarter of a million patients to change practices, according to new figures published today. A shocking 57 surgeries closed their doors last year, with a further 34 being lost due to mergers, according to NHS England data. And no fewer than 254,000 patients changed their practice last year — a 150 per cent increase on 2014 figures, according to statistics obtained through the Freedom of Information Act. NHS England agreed an additional £500 million in funding for struggling GP surgeries last April under the General Practice Forward Review.
Wind farms could be paid to switch off their turbines this summer as the growth of solar panels leaves the national network swamped with too much power. National Grid, which manages the network, forecast yesterday that the minimum demand on the high-voltage power grid would fall to a record low this summer because of the continued installation of rooftop panels and solar farms. As more households and businesses generate their own electricity and more solar farms supply power directly into local networks, National Grid has experienced a significant drop in the amount of electricity that needs to be drawn from the national system.
SCIENTISTS have claimed they are close to an “extraordinary” discovery as they attempt to finally solve the mystery of black holes. Space boffins look set to attempt zooming in on a supermassive black hole for the very first time. Within minutes, a supermassive black hole could obliterate all life on Earth, and scientists have no idea when it could happen, experts have claimed. But now, a new telescope will be used to try and gain some insight into the monstrous black hole at the very centre of our solar system – the Milky Way. The massive celestial phenomenon is a whopping four million times bigger than the Sun. No photographs from the inside of a black hole will ever be able to exist as light cannot make it out. But groundbreaking technology in the Event Horizon Telescope will attempt to look at two supermassive black holes – one in the centre of our galaxy and one in the nearby M87 galaxy.