The number of patients placed on mixed-sex wards has soared by 70 per cent in a single year despite a Government promise to end the practice. More than 7,100 patients were put on the controversial wards last year as the NHS grappled with rising demand and intense pressure on A&E services. That was 70 per cent higher than the number in 2015 and three times higher than in 2014, the new figures reveal. Ministers had pledged to end the undignified practice in 2010 but it is becoming increasingly common once more as the NHS struggles to cope. Health officials said hospitals were so ‘exceptionally busy’, patients were being put wherever there was room. Many patients – particularly the elderly – find mixed-sex wards humiliating and sometimes threatening. Research has shown that patients are more vulnerable to assaults, with rates up to two times higher on mixed-sex wards. The Government announced a crackdown on the practice in 2010 following a Daily Mail campaign, and introduced a fining system the following year. Hospitals must now pay out £250 for every mixed-sex breach – defined as a night spent by a patient on a mixed-sex ward.
A senior Italian official has warned that the UK and the European Union are heading into an “economic cold war” over Brexit that could wreak havoc on the west and weaken the continent. Mario Giro, Italy’s deputy foreign minister, said that while many countries in the EU had said the UK’s vote to leave the EU represented a loss to the union, there were more hardliners in the EU against the UK than it appeared. “When we are among the 27 [countries within the EU, not including the UK], the hardliners are more numerous than it appears. I cannot quote a country in particular at the moment. We will see it at the beginning of the negotiation,” Giro said in an interview with the Guardian. He added: “We are hearing more and more that there are people – economic interests – who are thinking they can inherit some economic position, thinking that they can take away from the UK some of the position of the City of London. Not Italy, of course, because we are not in that position. And this will be an economic war. Let’s say an economic cold war, and we are not in favour of it.”
The bill for Britain’s foreign aid cash handouts in Pakistan has reached a staggering £420.3million, it was revealed last night. Aid officials admitted an extra £120million had been lavished on the controversial scheme dogged by claims of corruption than previously thought. Around 235,000 families are pocketing payments every three months to boost their incomes, funded by UK taxpayers, the Mail revealed last month. An official report from Britain’s aid spending watchdog a fortnight ago warned a quarter of recipients are not the country’s poorest. Families get 4,500 rupees (£34.50) a quarter, which they can spend however they want, as part of the Benazir Income Support Programme. British taxpayers currently fund 7 per cent of the BISP programme, although in previous years the UK contribution has been nearly 20 per cent. One in ten people get their money in envelopes at post offices, while others get cash cards that are regularly topped up with money that they can withdraw or use in shops.
Switzerland’s economy minister said Sunday he wants to have “background” talks with Britain so that a trade deal can be in place as soon as the UK leaves the European Union (EU). “My objective is clear. Not one day should pass after Britain’s exit [from the EU] without new regulations in place,” Johann Schneider-Ammann told Blick Daily. “It should be at least as good” as the present deal, he said. The paper said Britain’s international trade minister, Liam Fox, showed strong interest in a deal with Switzerland at this month’s World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos. British Prime Minister Theresa May has promised to start the two-year process of leaving the EU by the end of March. The European Commmision has warned London against negotiating any new third-party trade deals as long as it remains an EU member. But Schneider-Ammann suggested negotiations with Britain could take place “in the background and in parallel with the exit discussions” with the EU.
Remember when the windbags in the Remain campaign told us nobody would want to deal with us if we dared leave the EU? It looks as if they are set for another humiliating bloody nose after South African Trade Minister, Rob Davies, announced their intention to sign a trade deal with us after Brexit. He told Liam Fox, the man in charge of lining up new trade deals for Britain to sign, he wanted “a predictable trade and investment environment for mutual benefit for both parties”. While Eurocrats obsess over how they can punish Britain for leaving, our friends from all over the globe are welcoming us back to the world stage. Considering South Africa is our biggest export market in Africa, this is definitely a deal to keep an eye on.
Jeremy Corbyn has told his shadow cabinet they must resign if they vote against Brexit. Labour’s frontbench walk-out looks set to continue after the leader said it was “impossible” for MPs to stay in his shadow cabinet if they vote against Article 50. Mr Corbyn said the decision had been agreed at a meeting last week and all his top team must abide by it. “It’s obviously impossible to carry on being in the shadow cabinet if you actually vote against a decision made after a very frank and very long discussion of the shadow cabinet earlier this week,” he told ITV’s Peston on Sunday Show. It means Shadow Business Secretary Clive Lewis and Shadow Environment Secretary Rachael Maskell could both quit in the coming days, having suggested they may vote against the Article 50 Bill. Shadow Welsh Secretary Jo Stevens has already resigned along with junior whip Tulip Siddiq.
JEREMY Corbyn warned his Shadow Cabinet yesterday they faced the sack if they voted against triggering the start of Britain’s divorce from the EU. The Labour leader said it would be “impossible” for them to carry on in their jobs. He is facing an exodus from his front bench following two resignations – with more expected. Shadow Business Secretary Clive Lewis and Shadow Environment Secretary Rachael Maskell have both signalled they may vote against triggering Article 50. Mr Corbyn also revealed he will back the Brexit vote – even if he doesn’t secure the amendments Labour have asked for. He told ITV’s Peston on Sunday: “It’s obviously impossible to carry on being in the shadow cabinet if you vote against a decision made after a very frank and long discussion of the shadow cabinet earlier this week.”
SHADOW cabinet members can’t stay on the front bench if they vote against the Brexit process, Jeremy Corbyn said yesterday. The Labour leader told ITV’s Peston on Sunday: “It’s obviously impossible to carry on being in the shadow cabinet if you vote against a decision made after a very frank and very long discussion of the shadow cabinet earlier this week.” Shadow Welsh secretary Jo Stevens and shadow early years minister Tulip Siddiq announced their resignations on Friday in response to the imposition of a three-line whip on Labour MPs to back the Bill that will open EU exit negotiations. Both Ms Stevens’s and Ms Siddiq’s constituencies — Cardiff Central and Hampstead & Kilburn — voted Remain in last year’s EU referendum. Ms Stevens said Brexit was a “terrible mistake.” Labour whips Jeff Smith and Thangam Debbonaire — who are meant to enforce party discipline — have indicated they will rebel in this week’s vote, according to the Press Association, which also suggested that more resignations would follow after Mr Corbyn said he had made it clear that Article 50, the cue for Brexit talks, “has to be implemented.”
US Immigration ban
Britain has secured assurances from the White House that the vast majority of UK citizens will be exempted from Donald Trump’s immigration ban. Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, has been told by some of Donald Trump’s closest advisers that British citizens will be allowed to continue to travel from the UK to the US. It comes after the US president provoked a backlash after signing an executive order banning people from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from travelling to the US. The Prime Minister condemned the policy and told Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, and Amber Rudd, the Home Secretary, to contact their US counterparts and “fight for the rights” of British citizens. It has now emerged that Mr Johnson has been told by some of Mr Trump’s closest advisers that the ban will only apply to those flying to the US directly from the seven nations.
Britons were exempted from Donald Trump’s travel ban last night following talks brokered by Theresa May and Boris Johnson. The White House agreed to ease the blanket exclusion of dual nationals from seven mainly Muslim countries on its blacklist. The diplomatic breakthrough followed a chaotic day in which Olympic star Mo Farah and Tory MP Nadhim Zahawi warned they could be among those prevented from seeing their families in America. Sir Mo, who was born in Somalia, a country on the list, said the ban made him feel like an alien. He later spoke of his relief at the climbdown.
The US border clampdown should not affect UK nationals travelling to the US, even if they were born in one of the countries on which restrictions have been placed, officials say. But new guidance says those with dual nationality travelling from Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria or Yemen could face extra border checks. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson earlier contacted US officials for clarification over the 90-day ban on visa holders from the seven countries ordered by President Trump. Earlier Mr Johnson tweeted it was “divisive and wrong” to stigmatise people on the basis of nationality. It came after Prime Minister Theresa May came under fire for not condemning the order earlier. A spokesman for British Olympic champion Sir Mo Farah, who was born in Somalia and lives in the US, said he was “relieved” to learn that the order would not apply to him, but said he “fundamentally disagrees with this incredibly divisive and discriminatory policy”.
Donald Trump’s senior team backed down last night on plans to ban certain dual-nationality Britons from travelling to the United States. Amid a global outcry at the president’s executive order, Boris Johnson, the foreign secretary, won assurances that UK citizens affected — including the Olympian Sir Mo Farah — could continue to enter freely. The agreement came after talks with Jared Kushner, the president’s senior adviser and son-in-law. Only British citizens who are travelling direct from one of seven blacklisted countries — and hold passports from those nations — will be affected by the ban, reducing the numbers caught up. The high-level conversations between Washington and Westminster are the latest sign of the strength of transatlantic ties after Theresa May’s White House meeting on Friday.
The SNP is close to ditching one of its longest-held principles for Scottish independence — full membership of the European Union, The Times has learnt. Senior party figures want to adopt a Norway-style model under which an independent Scotland would stay inside the single market, but outside the EU, after Brexit, according to sources. They believe that this would allow Scotland to retain the benefits of the European single market while continuing to trade within the UK as it does now. A poll published yesterday found that more than a third of people who voted for an independent Scotland in the 2014 referendum want to stay outside the EU. SNP strategists believe that this new approach would keep these voters behind their independence cause.
Theresa May has made it clear the devolved administrations will not be given a decisive role in the UK’s divorce from the European Union ahead of talks with leaders from across the UK. The Prime Minister said she hoped the meeting would be constructive but warned they “will not agree on everything”. And she highlighted how the Supreme Court ruling on triggering Article 50 had set out “beyond doubt” that relations with Brussels would be determined by the UK government. Mrs May said: “We will not agree on everything, but that doesn’t mean we will shy away from the necessary conversations and I hope we will have further constructive discussions today. “We have also had the Supreme Court judgment which made clear beyond doubt that relations with the EU are a matter for the UK Government and UK Parliament. We should not forget that that means MPs representing every community in the UK will be fully involved in the passage of Article 50 through Parliament.”
Theresa May is set for a bracing final round of Brexit talks with the leaders of the devolved nations before the likely triggering of article 50, with the prime minister warning her counterparts from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland that they can have no veto over the process. May is to see the other leaders in Cardiff on Monday at a meeting of the joint ministerial committee (JMC), the forum for soliciting views from around the UK on the process of leaving the UK. While the first ministers of Scotland and Wales, Nicola Sturgeon and Carwyn Jones, have stressed they cannot accept a hard Brexit without membership of or full access to the EU’s single market, May is set to tell them this will not be possible. “We will not agree on everything, but that doesn’t mean we will shy away from the necessary conversations and I hope we will have further constructive discussions,” May said in comments released ahead of the meeting.
Benoît Hamon, a leftwing rebel, scored a crushing victory over Manuel Valls, the recent prime minister, to win the presidential candidacy for the French Socialists in a primary vote that threatens the existence of the governing centre-left party. Mr Hamon, 49, who served briefly in President Hollande’s cabinet before staging a mutiny, won 58 per cent of the primary vote over 41 per cent for Mr Valls, 54, leader of the pragmatic wing of the party. Mr Hamon, who was denounced by Mr Valls as an unelectable utopian, said in his victory speech that the French left had voted for a humane future. “Our country needs the left but a modern left capable of creating a desirable future,” he said.
Benoit Hamon will be the French Socialist Party’s candidate for April’s presidential election. He beat ex-prime minister Manuel Valls in the vote on Sunday, partial results showed. Former education minister Mr Hamon was dismissed from current French President Francois Hollande’s government for criticising a pro-business shift in policy. He won 59% of the vote, but is not expected to perform well in the presidential elections as Conservative Francois Fillon, right-wing Marine Le Pen, and centrist Emmanuel Macron led the polls.
Britain is on high alert for an onslaught on “potent” storms forecast to slam into the country from Tuesday next week. Powerful winds and horrendous downpours will blast large swathes of the UK in what could be the first named storm of 2017. The potential storm – named Doris – is building up due to low pressure systems swirling around in the Atlantic ocean. Now the jet stream – the air currents in the Earth’s atmosphere – is sending the surge of horrid weather hurtling towards our shores. Weather maps show the huge blob of wind meandering its way through the ocean before lashing the UK in the coming days. Eric Leister, forecaster for Accuweather, has warned of a “significant change” as high pressure shielding the UK from torrid weather is blown away. He said: “A shift in the overall weather pattern will bring the return of potent Atlantic storms to the United Kingdom from late January into February. “This expected outbreak of storms will be a significant change from what has occurred across the UK so far this year.