Brexit

Express
A SENIOR minister has blasted the EU over pushing for a solution to a controversial Brexit deal which will make the situation worse and further endanger peace in Northern Ireland.
Speaking exclusively to Express.co.uk, Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis has expressed his deep “disappointment” in the eurocrats in Brussels over their “lack of flexibility” arguing they are only interested in talking not agreeing on ending the Protocol crisis. He insisted that the UK Government had been left with no choice but to act unilaterally because the EU’s only solution was “to make the situation worse.
Speaking ahead of introducing the historic Northern Ireland legacy bill tomorrow, he said: “I find it strange that the EU keep saying they have shown flexibility when you find what they say is that they will flex from a fully implemented protocol which is quite disingenuous because we don’t have a fully implemented protocol.
“What they are proposing would actually take us backwards from where we are today and that is just not fair on the businesses and people of Northern Ireland.
“Fundamentally the way the EU has sought to implement the EU I would argue actually breaches the core purpose of the protocol.

Russia

Express
A RUSSIAN official has proposed Poland to be the next country targeted after Ukraine for “denazification”.
Russia’s State Duma deputy proposed to put “Poland next in line for denazification after Ukraine” with a post on his Telegram account. Oleg Morozov is a member of the Kremlin’s party United Russia’s Superior Council and Duma deputy. It comes as the Russian authorities blocked the accounts of the Polish embassy in Moscow on Friday.
The high-level Russian official wrote that a potential military operation against Poland would be a response to Warsaw’s statement that Russia is a “cancerous tumour”.
He wrote on Telegram: “With its statements about Russia as a “cancerous tumour” and about the “indemnity” that we must pay to Ukraine, Poland encourages us to put it first in line for denazification after Ukraine.”
The Russian authorities blocked the accounts of the Polish embassy in Moscow as a retaliatory measure to the condemnation and sanctions.

Mail
A Russian tank officer who was captured after one month fighting in Ukraine was found to have been filming a home movie about the invasion on his mobile phone.
The footage, in which he talks about comrades being turned into ‘scraps of meat’ and ‘mince’, offers an astonishing insight into Moscow’s spluttering invasion as his gun jams, his vehicle explodes and a raid on a Ukrainian military base goes wrong.
It was filmed by Yuri Shalaev – a 23-year-old lieutenant who trained at Moscow’s top military academy and was stationed in Chechnya before the war – in defiance of Kremlin orders to avoid using personal mobile phones on security grounds.

Star
Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin will soon unleash a bloody barrel bomb campaign in Ukraine after he brought in troops linked to the brutal Syrian army.
The under-pressure Russian president has taken on 50 lethal weapons specialists to work alongside his own officials as they prepare to begin a new stage in the conflict, according to European intelligence officers speaking to the Guardian.
Barrel bombs, containers packed with explosives and projectiles that are dropped from helicopters, killed more than 11,000 civilians in Syria after the outbreak of civil war in 2012 — including 1,821 children.
Human rights groups have since accused airborne forces from Bashar al-Assad’s government of using the weapon indiscriminately to unleash fear and terror upon entire populations.
Now it is being claimed that the Russian army is planning to bring in men from its Middle Eastern allies to revive the flailing war effort in Ukraine, though some experts believe significant differences between the two conflicts may doom them to failure.

Evening Standard
Vladimir Putin’s troops are suffering a “high casualty rate” in Ukraine which will lead to public criticism of his war growing in Russia, British defence chiefs said on Monday.
They stressed his generals were “reinforcing failure” by sticking to mistakes made since the start of the invasion of Ukraine on February 24.
The fact that the Russian air force had not won control of the skies was leaving Russian forces more vulnerable, they added.
Britain’s armed forces minister James Heappey recently said that more than 20,000 Russian military personnel had been killed in Mr Putin’s military campaign, more than the Soviet death toll in its ten-year war in Afghanistan which ended in 1989.
In its latest intelligence update, the Ministry of Defence said in London: “A combination of poor low-level tactics, limited air cover, a lack of flexibility, and a command approach which is prepared to reinforce failure and repeat mistakes has led to this high casualty rate, which continues to rise in the Donbas offensive.

Independent
Volodymyr Zelensky has said Ukraine is facing the most difficult fighting situation in Donbas and accused Russia of organising a massacre in the region.
“The most difficult fighting situation today is in Donbas. Bakhmut, Popasna, Severodonetsk – in this direction the occupiers have concentrated the greatest activity so far,” Mr Zelensky said in his nightly address on late Monday.
Mr Zelensky said Russian soldiers have “organised a massacre there and are trying to destroy everything living there”.
“Literally. Nobody destroyed Donbas as much as the Russian army does now,” the Ukrainian president said, adding that the approaching weeks of the war will be difficult.
However in a message to Moscow, Mr Zelensky said that Ukraine is ready for an exchange of prisoners with Russia “even tomorrow”, as hundreds of trapped soldiers from the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol remain captured by the Kremlin.

Mirror
The UK could send Navy warships to provide a safe passage for the export of grain from Odesa along with NATO allies, it is reported.
A Russian blockade of Black Sea ports could spark a global famine, putting millions of lives at risk as many tonnes of grain are waiting to be taken from Ukraine around the world.
Ukraine, one of the world’s biggest grain producers, used to export most of its goods through its seaports, but since Russia sent troops into Ukraine, it has been forced to export by train or via its small Danube River ports.
And now Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said that he had spoken to UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss about creating a “protective corridor” from the port of Odesa.
He reportedly also said that some other NATO allies and countries reliant on the grain like Egypt would be willing to provide military support.
The operation would mean warships would clear the port of Odesa of mines and then provide protection for them as they head across the Black Sea, reported The Times.
It is also claimed that long-range missiles would be used as a deterrent.
Ukrainian First Deputy Prime Minister Yulia Svyrydenko has called for such a corridor, saying it would help Ukraine and help avoid world hunger.

Boris

Telegraph
Scotland Yard is under pressure to explain why the Prime Minister was not fined for attending a partygate gathering in Downing Street, as photographs emerged showing him raising a toast with a group of colleagues.
It comes as Sue Gray’s report into the events in Number 10 during the Covid crisis could be published as soon as Tuesday.
The pictures were taken at a leaving party for Lee Cain, Boris Johnson’s former director of communications, on Nov 13 2020, when the country was in a second lockdown.
In the photographs, the Prime Minister can be seen holding a glass of what appears to be champagne with a group of about seven other people, who are all standing in close proximity to one another.
It is understood that while at least one other attendee at the party received a fixed penalty notice, Mr Johnson never received a questionnaire asking him to explain his presence.

Sun
BOMBSHELL new photos show Boris Johnson and top aides surrounded by bottles of booze at one of the Partygate gatherings.
The PM is seen leading a wine toast with a handful of staff at a leaving do for his comms chief Lee Cain on November 13, 2020.
They are all gathered round a table crowded with several bottles of plonk with the PM’s red box propped up on a chair.
At the time meetings between people from separate households were prohibited – unless they were in an “exclusive support bubble”.
Cops did NOT fine Mr Johnson over the event and only stung him for a single birthday bash in the Cabinet Room.
Scotland Yard detectives trawled through more than 500 pics during their £460,000 Partygate investigation.
But the latest snaps obtained by ITV News gives the PM a fresh headache as publication of the Sue Gray report looms within days.

ITV News
Photographs obtained by ITV News cast fresh doubt on the Prime Minister’s claims that he was unaware of rule-breaking in Downing Street during the pandemic.
The four images show the Prime Minister raising a glass at a leaving party on 13th November 2020, with bottles of alcohol and party food on the table in front of him.
They were taken at a gathering in honour of the Downing Street’s then Director of Communications Lee Cain, with eight people pictured standing closely together, as well as the photographer.
ITV News understands there were also other participants out of shot at the party, which one source has dubbed “Fizzgate”, despite the rules at the time only allowing two people from different households to mix indoors.
In several of the photographs, Boris Johnson appears to be making a speech and raising a toast, with half a glass of fizz in his hands.
On a chair sits his red box, and on the table next to him are two bottles of champagne or cava, four bottles of wine and half a bottle of gin.

BBC News
Boris Johnson is facing fresh questions after photos show the prime minister drinking at a party during a Covid lockdown.
The pictures, released by ITV News, are believed to show the prime minister at a leaving party on 13 November 2020.
Asked in Parliament in December whether the gathering had taken place, Mr Johnson denied it had and said all rules were followed.
The Metropolitan Police are also facing calls to explain why he was not fined.
The BBC has been told that at least one person who attended the event was fined, but the PM was not.
A government source told the BBC that the photos may have been taken by the official Number 10 photographer and prove Boris Johnson was there is a work capacity.
Meanwhile, civil servant Sue Gray’s report into No 10 parties is imminent, a Downing Street source said.
The police watchdog has been urged to review the force’s handling of the Partygate investigation.

Mail
Downing Street scrambled to defend Boris Johnson last night after pictures emerged of him raising a glass at a lockdown leaving do as sources claim he suggested Sue Gray should drop plans to publish her Partygate probe.
Leaked images show the Prime Minister apparently toasting his outgoing communications chief Lee Cain on November 13, 2020 – a time when social gatherings were banned.
One Tory source pointed the finger at Dominic Cummings, who has repeatedly called for ‘regime change’ in No 10. They said: ‘This has got Dom’s fingerprints all over it.’
The pictures were leaked to ITV News hours after the PM’s former aide said more photos of events in No 10 would emerge to coincide with the publication – possibly as soon as today – of Miss Gray’s Partygate report. A Government source last night said the ‘brief’ gathering did not amount to a party.
They added: ‘He’s in a suit, he’s got his [ministerial] red box with him – he’s at work – he’s just dropped in to say goodbye to a long-serving staff member as any boss would. It’s not a party.’
Mr Johnson is said to have made a speech thanking Mr Cain and stayed at the event for ten to 15 minutes before going to his flat.
Mr Johnson received a fixed-penalty notice over a birthday party in the Cabinet Room in June 2020 but was told he would face no further action over other gatherings covered by the Metropolitan Police’s Operation Hillman inquiry.

Guardian
The new photos from the Partygate saga have left police facing questions about the credibility of their investigation and a former police chief demanding that they explain themselves urgently.
Last week. the Metropolitan police ended its investigation into a string of Downing Street and Whitehall parties having issued Boris Johnson with only one fine. Westminster insiders say the prime minister had been a willing participant at several social gatherings that breached lockdown rules, yet the police decision appeared to suggest he had broken no rules.
The former Met police deputy assistant commissioner Brian Paddick said public confidence in the Met was being further damaged by the revelations.
Lord Paddick, a Liberal Democrat peer, said it should have been obvious to the Met that photos would become public and undermine the credibility of their decision-making, which was already hugely debated.
Paddick said: “It is naive of the Met to think the person who supplied them with the photos would not supply them to the media if the police decided not to take action against him over other events.

Covid

Mail
The number of Covid deaths over the winter was similar to those caused by flu in previous years, official figures have revealed.
Deaths caused by the virus rocketed during the first waves of the pandemic before a vaccine was developed and rolled out.
This, along with immunity from natural infection, now means the Covid mortality rate has ‘fallen more in line’ with that of flu or pneumonia during pre-pandemic years.
In January this year, there were 4,100 deaths caused primarily by a Covid infection in England and Wales, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
That compares with a January average of 4,048 deaths from flu or pneumonia in the four years preceding the onset of the pandemic in March 2020.
The trend is similar for the other winter months of December, February and March, the data shows.
Figures for flu and pneumonia deaths during the pandemic years were significantly lower than average due to reduced socialising and mixing, the experts say.
The findings form part of the first detailed attempt to contrast Covid and flu as causes of death during the pandemic.

Telegraph
Covid deaths in England and Wales during the omicron wave fell to similar levels as usual winter mortality from flu and pneumonia, latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) have shown.
The ONS reported that from December 2021 to March 2022, deaths due to coronavirus had “fallen more in line” with what would normally be expected during the winter in pre-pandemic years.
Figures showed that an average of 3,178 people a month died from flu or pneumonia in the four winter months between 2001-02 and 2018-19.
Last winter, 2,909 people died on average each month due to Covid.
“Deaths due to flu and pneumonia have fallen to historic lows during the coronavirus pandemic,” the ONS said in a release.
“While deaths due to Covid-19 in the latest winter were still double that of those due to flu and pneumonia, they were more in line with those seen due to flu and pneumonia in pre-pandemic years.
“However, it’s too soon to tell whether Covid-19 will develop a similar seasonal pattern to flu and pneumonia.”
The latest data showed that there were more deaths where flu and pneumonia were mentioned on the death certificate than Covid between March 2020 and April 2022.

BBC News
Covid-19 is associated with impaired function of the right side of the heart, new research on intensive care patients has found.
Led by experts from NHS Golden Jubilee, the Covid-RV study was carried out in 10 intensive care units in Scotland.
It assessed the impact the virus had on 121 critically ill patients who required treatment on ventilators.
About one in three patients showed abnormalities in the side of the heart that pumps blood to the lungs.
Nearly half (47%) of ventilated patients in the study died because of Covid-19, a figure comparable to national and international death rates.
The research, conducted at the height of the pandemic from September 2020 to March 2021 before the full impact of the vaccine programme kicked in, sought to help improve future care and outcomes for those most at risk from the virus.
Dr Philip McCall, lead author of the study and consultant in cardiothoracic anaesthesia and intensive care at NHS Golden Jubilee, said a combination of factors “create the perfect storm for Covid-19 to damage the right side of your heart”, which can ultimately cause death.
“If you’re pumping blood to the lungs and the lungs become very sick, you have an additional problem because the lungs are not willing to receive blood,” he explained.

Tube strike

Evening Standard
A Tube union is planning a network-wide strike on the London Underground and a ban on staff working overtime over the Queen’s platinum bank holiday weekend, the Evening Standard can reveal.
The RMT is to call up to 4,000 station staff out on strike on Monday June 6, the day that many Londoners would be returning to work after the four-day jubilee celebrations.
The action will start a minute after midnight and last for 24 hours.
It also announced an overtime ban from next Friday, June 3 – the second day of the celebrations – until July 10.
This is a dramatic escalation of its dispute with Transport for London over feared threats to staff pensions and concerns that the loss of up to 600 station posts will lead to remaining staff having to work more unsociable hours or be left alone in stations at night.
The walkout, which will also involve revenue protection officers belonging to the RMT but not Tube drivers, is separate to a much smaller walkout planned for Friday June 3 at Euston and Green Park stations.
The strike threatens to cripple the entire Underground to an extent not seen since March, when two 24-hour network-wide protests caused widespread chaos. More than 200 stations were shut and passenger numbers falling to just four per cent of normal, losing TfL £13m in fares income.

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