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Heathrow strikes on almost every weekend over summer | Business News

Security staff at Heathrow Airport have announced an escalation of strike action, with walkouts to take place nearly every weekend from mid-June to the end of August.

Members of Unite are embroiled in a long-running dispute over pay which led to industrial action last month and Easter.

From 24 June, 31 days of strikes will take place by more than 2,000 security staff. Officers from Heathrow terminal 3 are joining the industrial action for the first time in the coming dates.

The workers will be on strike on:

• June 24, 25, 28, 29 and 30

• July 14-16, 21-24, and 28-31

• August 4-7, 11-14, 18-20 and 24-27

Heathrow said similar strikes in recent weeks, by campus security and staff in terminal five, have not been disruptive.

“Unite has already tried and failed to disrupt the airport with unnecessary strikes on some of our busiest days and we continue to build our plans to protect journeys during any future action,” a spokesperson for the airport said.

Passengers can rest assured that we will do everything we can to minimise strike disruption so they can enjoy their hard-earned summer holidays.”

During the periods of industrial action – by roughly 1,400 security staff – passengers were only able to bring two carry-on items through security.

The union said the dispute could escalate further in the coming weeks.

It said Heathrow security officers are paid less than others at major airports in London and the south east. The officers, Unite said, were the highest paid before the COVID-19 pandemic but are now paid between £5,000 and £6,000 less a year than counterparts at Stansted and Gatwick airports.

Heathrow says this is untrue and that Unite is not using like for like comparisons with airports that require anti-social work hours and to be on shift seven days a week.

The airport also says it was one of the only organisations during the pandemic not to make any frontline redundancies and a very small number of contracts were “aligned with current market rates”.

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Onay Kasab from Unite the Union says that changes to strike action in the NHS

But Unite’s general secretary says Heathrow has “its priorities all wrong”.

“This is an incredibly wealthy company, which this summer is anticipating bumper profits and an executive pay bonanza,” Sharon Graham said.

“It’s also expected to pay out huge dividends to shareholders, yet its workers can barely make ends meet and are paid far less than workers at other airports.”

Joe Wicks makes dedicated workout video for people with Parkinson’s disease | UK News

Fitness coach Joe Wicks has teamed up with the NHS to create a dedicated workout video for people with Parkinson’s disease.

Regular exercise has been shown to have a positive impact on the symptoms that can cause involuntary shaking of parts of the body, slow movement and stiff or inflexible muscles.

Wicks has worked with experts at St Thomas’ Hospital in London to help people with the condition exercise at home.

“I’m so passionate about making exercise accessible for all people, no matter their ability,” Wicks said.

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“It was great to come down to St Thomas’ Hospital to hear more about how exercise can help people with Parkinson’s manage their symptoms and to create this workout video tailored specifically for them.”

Milly Khan, a highly specialist neuro-physiotherapist at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NSH Foundation Trust, said: “Physical activity is a really important component of treatment for Parkinson’s and the condition shouldn’t be a barrier to being physically active.

“Having this specially created resource that people can do in the comfort of their own home will make a huge difference to not only the patients I see at St Thomas’, but those across the country.”

The specialised workout video has 10 different exercises put together by Wicks, known as The Body Coach, who was hailed for hosting daily PE lessons online during lockdown.

The exercise video for people with Parkinson’s is available free online on The Body Coach YouTube channel.

Nova Khakovka: ‘New low’ if Russia behind dam attack – Rishi Sunak | Politics News

The prime minister said Russia would have hit “new lows” if it turns out that Moscow is responsible for what he described as the largest attack on civilian infrastructure in Ukraine since the start of the war, following the destruction of a critical dam.

Speaking en route to Washington, Rishi Sunak told reporters that the intelligence agencies had yet to make a definitive judgement on whether President Putin was behind the “appalling attack” on the Nova Kakhova dam as he condemned the incident.

“If it’s intentional, it would represent, I think, the largest attack on civilian infrastructure in Ukraine since the start of the war, and just demonstrate the new lows that we would have seen from Russian aggression,” he told the press ahead of his two-day trip to Washington.

War latest: US working to share intel on dam disaster

“Attacks on civilian infrastructure are appalling and wrong. We’ve seen previous instances of that in this conflict so far, but it’s too early to say definitively.”

The prime minister also said that the UK’s immediate response to this attack was to offer humanitarian assistance.

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Why is the PM going to Washington?

“We had already put resources and funding in place to support both the UN and the Red Cross to respond to situations like this,” he said. “And they are now being able to divert those resources to particularly help humanitarian response and the evacuation in this area as a result of what’s happened.”

As with the G7 in Japan but two weeks ago, the matter of Ukraine and how Western allies can best support Kyiv in its battle against Russia will be a central part of discussions between the UK and US leaders when Mr Sunak holds bi-lateral talks in the Oval Office on Thursday.

“One of the things the prime minister and President Biden will discuss is how we can sustain the huge level of global support for Ukraine while providing them with the capabilities they need, including air defence,” the prime minister’s spokesperson said ahead of the trip.

These discussions come as allies intensify support before Ukraine’s expected summer counteroffensive.

A big breakthrough came at the G7 last month when the US signalled it and allies would provide training and F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine, a request President Zelenskyy hammered home to allies for months before the US moved.

Read more:
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Number 10 is keen to stress not just the Rishi Sunak reset after the testy era of the Boris Johnson and Liz Truss reigns, but the strengthening of relations between the US and UK under a Sunak premiership.

In his favour has been the resolution with the EU over post-Brexit trading arrangements in Northern Ireland, and Mr Sunak’s steadfast support for Ukraine.

And this will certainly be a trip full of photo-ops to reinforce the “special relationship”. As well as the images of the prime minister on Capitol Hill and in the Oval Office finished off with a White House press conference, Mr Sunak will also attend the Washington Nationals baseball game as the guest of honour to celebrate the annual UK-US friendship day – although he won’t be throwing the ceremonial first pitch, instead leaving that task to a British veteran.

The Prime Minister Rishi Sunak holds a bilateral meeting with the US President Joe Biden during his visit to Northern Ireland. Picture by Simon Walker / No 10 Downing Street
Rishi Sunak with Joe Biden during his visit to Northern Ireland. Pic: Simon Walker / No 10
Rishi Sunak talks with Joe Biden before a session on the first day of the G7 Leaders Summit in Hiroshima Japan 
Pic:No 10 Downing Street
Rishi Sunak talks with Joe Biden before a session on the first day of the G7 Leaders Summit in Japan. Pic: No 10

A prime minister with a background in finance and an interest in tech – he met his wife in California while studying at Stanford – Mr Sunak is trying to play to his strengths with his emphasis on greater economic interoperability and deeper trade ties, while also making a pitch to President Biden to get the UK more deeply involved in the regulation of AI.

But as he tries to forge a post-Brexit place in the world for the UK – Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak’s leadership on Ukraine an undoubted positive – London is disadvantaged: When it comes to AI, it is the US, China and the EU at the leading edge with the UK largely on the sidelines.

When it comes to trade, the Biden administration has put the much-vaunted US-UK free trade deal into the deep freeze, so much so that neither side plan to even raise it in these bilateral talks.

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Ukraine War: Major dam attack

While Mr Sunak will use the trip to try to drum up more US investment, with an announcement of £14bn of US backing into the UK and an address to the “business roundtable chief executive” forum, the absence of any trade deal is another broken Conservative manifesto promise.

Mr Johnson and his government had championed a US trade deal as a big Brexit bonus, while President Trump insisted in 2017 the UK was “at the front of the queue”.

It now appears that President Obama’s “back of the queue” warning ahead of the 2016 EU referendum is more apposite, with no timeline as to when, if ever, a bilateral trade deal will be dusted down.

“Neither side is pursuing a US free trade deal currently, but our trading relationship with the US is vital,” the prime minister’s spokesperson said.

Trade between the countries now stands at £279bn a year. Back in 2020, government analysis suggested a trade deal could increase trade – which then stood at £221bn – by £15.8bn and also said wages could get a long-term bounce worth £1.8bn from a US deal.

Pic: AP
Pic: AP

On Artificial Intelligence, the PM wants to take a lead in setting a regulatory framework, something he has raised as the G7, but post-Brexit, the UK has been locked out of key forums between the EU and The US where AI governance plans are negotiated on a bilateral basis. Britain’s requests for a similar dialogue with Washington have been repeatedly rebuffed, which has left Mr Sunak forced to pursue direct channels to president Biden, which he will do this week.

The PM hopes to make the UK the venue for an international summit on generative AI summit later in the year, and is also pushing for a new inter-governmental regulator for this emerging technology to be based in the UK.

And some do see a post-Brexit opportunity for Britain, offering the US a more flexible middle ground between the EU and US approach to standards and regulations, while also being potentially tougher on Beijing than Brussels might be.

AI could be a policy area where the UK could act as a transatlantic bridge between the US and Europe – if Mr Sunak can land it.

Darren Jones, chair of the business select committee, said a “key test” for the PM will be to “successfully pitch the UK as a useful partner that offers a different approach to the EU. Failure will leave us out of the room, not at the table and out in the cold.”

For the Prime Minister, the continue focus on Ukraine amplifies a global issue in which the UK has been able to demonstrate strong leadership post Brexit, and claim the US can work together on building stronger ties on trade and regulating AI.

But without a trade deal in sight, or even on the horizon, and struggling to insert the Uk into the EU-US discussions on AI, he really does have his work cut out.

Dylan Curran, 23, in court charged with murder after Peter Mullen’s death in Edinburgh | UK News

A suspect has appeared in court charged with the murder of a man in Edinburgh.

Peter Mullen, 30, was found with serious injuries after emergency services were called to a disturbance in the city’s Leith Street, near Greenside Row, at around 7.45pm on Friday.

He was taken by ambulance to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, where he died a short time later.

Dylan Curran, 23, was later arrested and charged by Police Scotland in connection with Mr Mullen’s death.

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Curran, of Bonnyrigg in Midlothian, made no plea to the murder charge when he appeared at Edinburgh Sheriff Court on Tuesday.

Curran was remanded in custody and is due back in the dock within the next eight days.

COVID inquiry chair insists it is for her to decide what material is ‘relevant’ amid row over Johnson WhatsApps | Politics News

The chair of the COVID inquiry says it is up to her to decide what evidence is “relevant or potentially relevant” amid a legal row with the government over Boris Johnson’s WhatsApp messages.

Baroness Hallett refused to withdraw her order for the government to hand over unredacted material for her investigation as she formally opened the COVID inquiry on Tuesday.

It comes just days after the government launched a judicial review over her order to the Cabinet Office that it hand over Mr Johnson’s unredacted WhatsApp messages and other documents.

The former prime minister has already sent “all unredacted WhatsApps” directly to the inquiry.

Acknowledging the legal battle, Baroness Hallett said: “As has been widely reported in the media, an issue has arisen between the inquiry and the Cabinet Office as to who decides what is relevant or potentially relevant.

“I issued a notice under Section 21 of the Inquiries Act 2005 making it clear that, in my view, it is for the inquiry chair to decide what is relevant or potentially relevant.

“The Cabinet Office disagrees, claiming they are not obliged to disclose what they consider to be unambiguously irrelevant material. They invited me to withdraw the Section 21 notice. I declined.

“They are now challenging my decision to decline to withdraw the notice in the High Court by way of judicial review.

“With litigation pending and as the decision-maker, I can make no further comment.”

COVID-19: Government ‘too slow’ to recover taxpayer money lost to fraud | Politics News

The government is still being “too slow” to recover taxpayer money lost to fraud and error over the pandemic, MPs have said.

The cross-party Public Accounts Committee (PAC) also said Whitehall needs a “step change” in its approach to risk in order to prevent a similar “panic response” in the future.

In a wide-ranging report, the group laid bare a number of “repeated problems”.

Total fraud and error across COVID employment schemes delivered by HMRC was an estimated £4.5bn, of which the department expects to recoup just £1.1bn, PAC said.

“Some increase in fraud and error was an inevitable short-term consequence of providing support quickly, but government is being too slow to recover taxpayer pounds lost,” the report said.

“Whitehall departments have an opportunity to do better by the taxpayer by prioritising work to tackle current levels of fraud and error; improving how they measure fraud and error so we can be clearer about the extent of the problem and measures to tackle it; and planning and implementing better fraud and error safeguards.”

And the committee also found the Department of Health and Social Care wasted an “extraordinary” £14.9bn on PPE and related COVID expenditure across the last two years.

“No-one could predict the COVID-19 pandemic, but we could have been better prepared,” the report added.

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COVID-19: PPE storage still costs taxpayers £580,000 a day, new figures reveal

“The scale of the losses incurred in a panic response on issues such as PPE procurement are documented in this report. We need to learn the lesson that there is always unpredictability.”

A Government spokesperson said: “In the last two years, we have recovered more than £3.1bn of fraud losses, including within COVID-19 schemes, and as the report acknowledges, we have already made significant progress by establishing the Public Sector Fraud Authority.

“However, we are not complacent, which is why we are expanding the Government’s Counter-Fraud Profession, developing new technologies and boosting skills and training to further protect the public purse.”

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‘A scandal of a huge proportion’ (12 Dec, 2022)

Angela Rayner, Labour’s deputy leader, said: “This is a damning indictment of eye-watering Tory waste, with Rishi Sunak writing off billions in taxpayers’ money lost to COVID fraud after ignoring basic checks and warnings.”

Lord Morris of Aberavon, who was Labour minister under Harold Wilson and Tony Blair, dies aged 91 | Politics News

Lord Morris of Aberavon, the last surviving member of Harold Wilson’s cabinet and the last surviving Labour MP elected in the 1950s, has died aged 91.

As John Morris, he was Welsh secretary under Harold Wilson and James Callaghan, and attorney general under Tony Blair.

He was one of only a handful of senior Labour politicians to serve under Wilson, Callaghan and Blair. He also served under Neil Kinnock in opposition.

Former attorney general John Morris
He received his knighthood in 1999

It has been claimed that Lord Morris was the “father of devolution” in Wales, after drawing up legislation in 1978 that led to a no vote in a 1979 referendum.

And although that title is disputed, he claimed his “fingers were on the strings of that harp from beginning to end” and the current Aberavon MP told Sky News that Lord Morris was indeed a “champion of devolution”.

‘Moral imperative’ to stop small boats, says Braverman – politics latest

Stephen Kinnock, son of the former Labour leader Neil Kinnock, said: “John Morris was a Welsh Labour politician and minister of great distinction in both the Commons and the Lords.

“He served the people of my Aberavon constituency with dedication and huge commitment for 40 years and my deepest sympathies go to Margaret and his family.

“He was a great legal brain and played an absolutely crucial role as attorney general in the British government and he was a leader in Welsh politics, as a champion of devolution and a source of wisdom, in particular on the legal and constitutional aspects of the devolution process.”

A leading barrister and later a QC, Lord Morris became an MP in 1959 and, as a Labour MP for 41 years, was the longest-serving Welsh MP in parliament.

Together with his time in the House of Lords, after a peerage when he left the Commons in 2001, Lord Morris served in parliament for 60 years.

In Wilson’s 1964-70 government, he was a junior minister at both the ministry of power and ministry of transport, before becoming minister of state for defence during the war in Biafra.

He was Welsh secretary throughout the whole of the 1974-79 Labour government and attorney general from 1997 to 1999 during the conflict in Kosovo.

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As secretary of state for Wales, he drafted the devolution bill passed by Callaghan’s government in 1978 which paved the way for the 1979 referendum.

But that vote was lost, as only just over 20% of the electorate voted in favour of the creation of an assembly in Wales.

“I had no idea the defeat would be such a big one,” Lord Morris said in a 2015 TV documentary. “The truth had to be faced, we had failed abysmally.”

He claimed, however, that the devolution proposals in that 1979 referendum were largely the same as were put to the public in 1997 by the Blair government.

“There was very little difference between the old Act of 1978 and the new one,” he said. “It’s the same piece of legislation.

“New work wasn’t needed and that’s how the measure was prepared so quickly. My fingers were on the strings of that harp from beginning to end.”

The 1997 referendum was won, narrowly with just over 50% of the vote in favour, and in 2011 a referendum to give the assembly law-making powers secured a 63.5% Yes vote.

Princess Eugenie announces birth of second child | UK News

Princess Eugenie and her husband Jack Brooksbank have announced the birth of their second child.

In an Instagram post, Eugenie, the 11th in line to the throne, confirmed she had given birth to a boy, named Ernest George Ronnie Brooksbank.

The baby replaces Prince Edward as the 13th in line to the throne.

“Jack and I wanted to share the news that we had our little boy, Ernest George Ronnie Brooksbank on 30th May 2023 at 8.49 weighing 7.1Ibs,” she wrote.

“He is named after his great great great Grandfather George, his Grandpa George and my Grandpa Ronald.

“Augie is loving being a big brother already.”

Eugenie, the youngest daughter of Prince Andrew and Sarah, Duchess of York, gave birth to her first child, August Brooksbank, in February 2021.

The princess, 33, shared a picture of Ernest, wearing a knitted blue-and-white hat, asleep in a Moses basket, and one of August tenderly stroking his brother’s head.

Buckingham Palace has said in a statement: “A small announcement we are pleased to share.

“Princess Eugenie and Mr Jack Brooksbank are delighted to announce the safe arrival of their son, Ernest George Ronnie Brooksbank. Ernest was born on Tuesday, 30th May, and weighed 7lbs 1oz.

“Her Royal Highness has shared photographs on her Instagram account this afternoon.”

Britain's Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank pose in the Picture Gallery after they announced their engagement, at Buckingham Palace, London January 22, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Brady/Pool
Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank

Ernest is the first of Elizabeth II’s great-grandchildren to be born since her death last September.

A heavily pregnant Eugenie, daughter of the Duke of York and Sarah, Duchess of York, joined the Windsors to witness her uncle Charles’s coronation in Westminster Abbey at the start of May, with Mr Brooksbank seated next to the Duke of Sussex in the third row.

Buckingham Palace has said in a statement: “A small announcement we are pleased to share.

Holly Willoughby’s statement in full as she returns to This Morning for first time since Phillip Schofield’s exit | Ents & Arts News

Holly Willoughby has returned to This Morning for the first time since Phillip Schofield’s departure.

She began the show with the emotional statement delivered straight to camera, while holding hands with co-presenter Josie Gibson.

It comes after Schofield, 61, resigned from ITV last month over an affair with a younger colleague. He insists he “did not” groom the man.

Here is Willoughby’s statement from This Morning in full:

Hi there. Good morning. Josie, thank you for being here. Right, deep breath.

Firstly, are you OK? It feels very strange indeed sitting here without Phil.

And I imagine that you might have been feeling a lot like I have – shaken, troubled, let down, worried for the wellbeing of people on all sides of what’s been going on, and full of questions.

You, me and all of us at This Morning gave our love and support to someone who was not telling the truth, who acted in a way that they themselves felt that they had to resign from ITV, and step down from a career that they loved. That is a lot to process.

And it’s equally hard to see the toll that it’s taken on their own mental health. I think what unites us all now is a desire to heal for the health and wellbeing of everyone.

I hope that, as we start this new chapter and get back to a place of warmth and magic that this show holds for all of us, we can find strength in each other.

And, from my heart, can I just say thank you for all of your kind messages. And thank you for being here this morning.

Myself, Josie (Gibson), Dermot (O’Leary), Alison (Hammond), Craig (Doyle), and every single person that works on this show will continue to work hard every single day to bring you this show that we love.

Kidney disease ‘could become public health emergency’ without more funding, charity warns | UK News

Kidney disease could become a public health emergency without more government funding, a charity has warned.

The illness already costs the UK economy £7bn a year, according to a new report by Kidney Research UK, and that could rise to £13.9bn in the next decade if no action is taken.

That covers the direct cost of treatment to the NHS, as well as money lost by those left unable to work.

The main factor which could drive up costs is an increase in demand for dialysis – a crucial treatment for patients who suffer kidney failure.

More than seven million people live with chronic kidney disease across the country, the charity estimates.

But that figure could rise, with people with diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and those who are obese most at risk.

The charity wants the government to commit £50m a year into kidney disease research – way up from the £17.7m its report says was provided in 2021-22.

NHS ‘risks being overwhelmed’

Kidney Research UK said the greater funding could be put towards developing better prevention strategies and treatment options, as well as earlier diagnosis.

Chief executive Sandra Currie said without it, the NHS “risks being overwhelmed with demand”.

“There is no cure for kidney disease, a transplant does not last a lifetime and dialysis patients face hours of gruelling treatment every week, taking them away from loved ones and making it harder to work,” she added.

“We know the only hope for stopping the growth of kidney disease and the increasing burden to the health system, the economy and to patients is better prevention strategies, earlier diagnosis and better treatment options, and yet kidney disease isn’t even included in NHS long-term strategic plans.”

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said the government is “committed” to improving services for patients living with kidney disease.

“We fund research for all aspects of health, including research into kidney disease, through the National Institute for Health and Care Research,” they added.