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Tyson Fury releasing Sweet Caroline single for mental health charity | UK News

Tyson Fury is releasing a version of Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline for a mental health charity.

His fans often belt out the song before his fights and the world heavyweight champion is well known for singing classics such as American Pie and Walking in Memphis in the ring.

The boxer has now been in the studio and the track will be released on 11 November, three weeks before his bout against fellow Briton Derek Chisora in London.

All proceeds will go to Talk Club, a men’s mental health charity that offers talking groups, sports groups and other therapy.

The 34-year-old has previously spoken frankly about his own struggles and suicidal thoughts.

“Boxing has been a massive platform for me to spread the word on mental health and I have done it to the best of my ability,” said Fury.

“I have been very vocal about my mental health struggle, especially since my comeback.

“It has been widely printed about my highs and lows, ups and downs, so I’ve tried my best to keep talking about it as much as I can and keep trying to smash the stigma.”

Fury is well known for taking the mic in the ring. Pic: AP
Fury is well known for taking the mic in the ring. Pic: AP

Fury says he also hopes his version of Sweet Caroline will go down well with England fans heading to the World Cup in Qatar, with the tournament starting next month.

The song is also popular with football fans and was sung by supporters after the Lionesses’ Euro 2022 triumph.

There’s also a special dance remix being worked on, according to record label bosses.

It’s also not the first time Fury has been in the studio – he recorded a duet with Robbie Williams for the star’s 2019 Christmas album.

Fury’s next fight is at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on 3 December when he takes on Chisora for a third time.

Anyone feeling emotionally distressed or suicidal can call Samaritans for help on 116 123 or email in the UK. In the US, call the Samaritans branch in your area or 1 (800) 273-TALK.

Rishi Sunak will need all the help he can get from cabinet – he faces toughest situation any PM has had for decades | Politics News

If he cherished the moment or savoured the win after losing out in the summer, Rishi Sunak kept it from view.

From his audience with the King straight to Downing Street, the new prime minister went straight to the lectern and made his inaugural address to the nation.

There were no staffers or MP supporters applauding their man. His wife did not stand outside No 10 and look on.

From the choreography of the moment to the words he spoke, much about Mr Sunak’s launch day was an attempt to show the public his premiership was a break from the past – which is exactly how he wanted it.

Because this is a prime minister who resigned from Boris Johnson’s government after concluding that the business of government was not being conducted “properly, competently or seriously”.

New PM – latest updates from Downing Street

He is a prime minister who warned Liz Truss that her “fantasy economics” would damage the economy. In the end, he had little time for either politician politically or policy-wise, and he used his first speech to try to and put clear blue water between him and them.

When it came to Ms Truss, the new PM was crystal clear, telling the public what she chose not to in her short final speech outside No 10: “Some mistakes were made,” Mr Sunak told the public as he acknowledged he has been made leader “to fix them”.

And he also took a swipe at the policies – those unfunded tax cuts – she tried to implement as prime minister and which he detested, making it clear that his approach was different to hers: “The government I lead will not leave the next generation, your children and grandchildren, with a debt to settle that we were too weak to pay ourselves.”

And when it came to Mr Johnson, Mr Sunak on the one hand praised his “warmth and generosity of spirit” to indirectly criticising the manner in which he ran his administration.

“This government will have integrity, professionalism and accountability at every level. Trust is earned. And I will earn yours.”

And finally, Mr Sunak made a pledge to the public that he’d turn the page on Conservative Party introspection and infighting and “put your needs above politics”.

“I understand too that I have work to do to restore trust after all that has happened.”

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Sunak makes first address outside Downing Street

But this was a speech that also hinted at what was to come – with possible spending cuts and tax rises to help tackle the “profound economic crisis” the country is facing.

This a former chancellor-turned-PM who wants to right the wrongs of his predecessor and put “economic stability and confidence at the heart of this government’s agenda”, while sticking very clearly to the promises made in the 2019 manifesto as he sought to claim a mandate for his appointment, rather than public election, on the back of Mr Johnson’s general election win.

There would be “difficult decisions” ahead. His new fiscal plan is expected next week, in which he will have to try to reassure the markets that debt is under control, and outline some of those agonising choices over possible tax rises and spending cuts.

Perhaps that’s why faced with this level of economic pain, Mr Sunak didn’t choose to make significant cabinet changes.

Big beast moves (and more bruised egos) a risk Mr Sunak right now was not minded to take.

The change PM became Mr continuity cabinet as he kept Jeremy Hunt as chancellor and James Cleverly as foreign secretary.

He even brought Suella Braverman back as home secretary, despite her having to resign from that role just six days ago for a security breach (sending official documents via her personal email) which broke the ministerial code.

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Rishi Sunak has made Suella Braverman home secretary, just a week after she quit the cabinet for breaking the ministerial code

Overall, about a third of his cabinet were still in post. He did, however, try to build a unity cabinet in a way that his two predecessors did not, bringing in Ms Braverman and Kemi Badenoch from the right of the party, and keeping Liz Truss’s deputy and key ally Therese Coffey in this top team.

There were jobs too for arch-Johnsonites, be that James Cleverly at the Foreign Office or Chris Heaton at the Northern Ireland office.

He also brought back experience and brought in his own people – be that putting Michael Gove back into the department of levelling up, or his key ally Oliver Dowden into the powerful Duchy of Lancaster role to run the Cabinet Office.

Grant Shapps was put into the Department of Business while Dominic Raab was reappointed deputy prime minister and made justice secretary.

“Unity, experience and competence,” is how one No 10 insider explained the reshuffle to me on Tuesday night. “We do need a bit of experience around the cabinet table with the economy and the international situation.”

He will need all the help he can get from this team in the coming days.

Read more:
A cabinet photoshoot, a selfie and a new PM in Number 10 – how the day unfolded

Who is Rishi Sunak? The UK’s first British Asian prime minister
Six questions Rishi Sunak must answer in appointing his cabinet

For this is a new prime minister who is about to be tested in the toughest set of political and economic circumstances than any leader has faced in decades.

The lingering question has to be whether he is up to the extreme challenges of being prime minister.

At just 42 years old, he is the youngest serving prime minister in over 200 years and has clocked up just seven years in parliament and three years in cabinet.

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MPs resign as Sunak picks cabinet

He is relatively untested and has, say his critics, displayed a shocking lack of political nous for someone with ambitions for the highest office.

They point to revelations in April that Mr Sunak’s multi-millionaire wife Akshata Murty was claiming non-domicile status – a scheme that allows people to avoid tax on foreign earnings – when her husband was chancellor as politically naive (Ms Murty has since changed her tax status).

There was also his admission that he’d held a US green card for two years – which means he had to pay US tax on worldwide income and pledge the US as his forever home – while serving as chancellor, with perhaps ambitions to run as PM.

Whether he was advised badly, or he didn’t see the red flags himself, these were scandals that could have been avoided, which in turn question his judgement.

That political judgement was questioned again within hours of him becoming prime minister, as he reappointed Suella Braverman as home secretary just six days after she was forced to resign from her post for breaching security rules and the ministerial code by sending official documents via her personal email.

It was all too easy for the Labour Party who derided the new prime minister for on the one hand pledging professionalism while on the other putting, to quote shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper, someone “so careless and slapdash into that job”.

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Dominic Raab made deputy PM

Meanwhile, his decision to leave his challenger Penny Mordaunt in the relatively junior cabinet role of Leader of the Commons – friends told me she wanted foreign secretary – may been seen as her backers as a rather peevish thing to do, although one of her supporters told me Ms Mordaunt was happy with the job.

But for all the politics of this moment, it is the policies that will matter for Mr Sunak in the coming days as he tries to set out an economic plan that will reassure the markets, his party and the public, that he is up to the job and can handle the task in hand.

He told the British public on the steps of Downing Street that he “understood how difficult this moment is”.

This no doubt a message to himself too.

Cats are as good as dogs at helping us beat stress | UK News

For too long cats have been overlooked when it comes to stress-busting programmes in American universities, say researchers, who believe they could make a big difference.

Dogs are most often used as assistance animals but new research suggests that cats could also help to reduce stress in very emotional people.

More than 85% of “Pet Your Stress Away” events at American universities feature only dogs, but a paper published in the journal Anthrozoös suggests more people would benefit if they also had cats.

The study found a strong correlation between the personality trait of emotionality and a preference towards cats.

Patricia Pendry, co-author of the study, said: “Emotionality is a pretty stable trait; it doesn’t fluctuate and is a quite consistent feature of our personalities. We found that people on the higher end of that scale were significantly more interested in interacting with cats on campus.

“Given that prior research has shown that such individuals may be more open to forming strong attachments to animals, it makes sense they would want cats to be included in these programs.

“Anecdotally, we’ve always been told that cat people are different from dog people, and that most students are not interested in interacting with cats. Our results revealed that students are interested in interacting with cats and that this interest may be driven by personality traits.”

The study involved more than 1,400 students and staff from more than 20 universities.

Mother and son playing with cat at home

“There’s a perception that dogs exist to please people,” said Pendry, who categorises herself as both a dog and a cat person. “While I may describe cats as discerning, they are often perceived as unpredictable, aloof, or finicky-traits that can be difficult for some to be around.”

“Some people came in and made an immediate beeline for cats and others for dogs. I was pleasantly surprised by how many people were interested in interacting with cats, which made me interested in learning more about why they made those choices.”

“Our study shows that we may be able to reach a larger audience by offering interventions that include dogs and cats. People who are on the higher end of the emotionality trait may be more likely to participate and benefit from these interactions. We’re looking for ways to help more people reduce their stress levels. Adding cats may be another way to reach a broader audience.”

Lowest-cost groceries have become 17% more expensive in the past year, ONS data finds | Business News

The price of low cost everyday grocery items has increased 17% in the 12 months to September, data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) has shown, more than the average rate of food and drink inflation.

The figures, based on web-scraped supermarket data for 30 everyday grocery items, showed the cost of items had already increased 7% in the year up to April.

Some items increased by more than the 17% yearly rate. Vegetable oil has increased 65% in price, pasta 60% and tea 46%.

The increase in low-cost food is greater than the overall rate of inflation for food and drink that was released by the ONS last week. That rate stood at 14.5%.

Some items did reduce in price.

The largest price decrease recorded was fruit orange juice with which fell 9%. Beef mince also fell 7% in price.

While announcing the data the ONS cautioned that it had been produced using new, innovative methods and as a result was less robust than official statistics.

For half of the 30 sampled items monitored, the average lowest price, across the retailers, increased at a faster rate than the latest available official consumer price inflation measure for food and non-alcoholic beverages, the ONS said.

But it added that caution should be taken when comparing with the official measure of food and drink inflation as it contains many more than the 30 items used in this analysis and different methodology.

For example, items may not always be available instore or online, which is reflected in the data collected, so the analysis can be sensitive to product availability and the specific products that are being substituted.

Chinese consulate claims diplomat was ‘choked’ by protester at Manchester demonstration | UK News

A staff member at the Chinese consulate in Manchester has claimed he was “choked” by a protester who “posed a severe threat” to his life when disorder broke out during a demonstration outside the building. 

Speaking at a media conference hosted by the consulate and the Chinese embassy in the UK, consul Gao Lianjia claimed he was attacked by a man wearing a black combat glove on his left hand.

In his statement, he said: “I was standing close to the front gate when all of a sudden the protester knocked me down by running against my belly.

“He then knocked off my eyeglasses and attacked me on the face.

“In a split second, he grabbed my collars tightly and knelt forcefully on my body with my back on the ground. I struggled, but to no avail. I had difficulty breathing and lost consciousness.

“When I came back to life, I saw the attacker being taken out of the compound by the police.”

Gao Lianjia also said he had been left with injuries to his forehead and right knee, as well as a concussion, dizziness, numbness in his head and pain below the ribs.

His remarks come just over a week after the scenes at a pro-Hong Kong democracy rally outside the consulate on 16 October.

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What really happened at the Chinese consulate?

Greater Manchester Police (GMP) are investigating the alleged assault of Bob Chan, a man who was pictured being dragged into the consulate grounds, before being punched and kicked.

He says he was left with cuts and bruises all over his body.

A senior diplomat accused of being involved and pulling Mr Chan’s hair also spoke at the media conference, but refused to comment specifically on the incident.

Instead, Zheng Xiyuan, the consul-general, criticised the way the police and British government responded to the incident.

Protester Bob Chan says he was left him with cuts and bruises all over his body. Pic: AP
Bob Chan says he was left with cuts and bruises all over his body. Pic: AP

“We hoped the police would step in to support us, but they didn’t do so,” he said.

“It was under such a circumstance that in order to safeguard our country’s dignity, we took action.”

Zheng Xiyuan also showed journalists videos that he said prove protesters attacked consulate staff, including clips that involved them “knocking down staff, then running away,” and one protester “seizing a member of staff, without letting him go”.

When asked if he had shared this footage as well as the consul’s assault allegations with police, he failed to answer, calling it a “very special legal matter”.

A consulate source later told Sky News that they were seeking advice from lawyers.

GMP said it was still in the process of “gathering, reviewing and assessing evidence from a variety of sources” and will not be commenting further at this time.

Rishi Sunak to become PM tomorrow after mid-morning meeting with King Charles | Politics News

Rishi Sunak will become the UK’s next prime minister tomorrow after meeting King Charles at Buckingham Palace in the morning.

At the start of the day, outgoing PM Liz Truss will hold her last cabinet meeting before she is expected to make a departing statement outside Number 10 at 10.15am.

Ms Truss, who became the shortest-serving leader in UK history when she resigned after just 44 days, will then travel to Buckingham Palace for her final audience with King Charles.

Rishi Sunak wins race to be prime minister – live updates

After Ms Truss has left the palace, Mr Sunak will then also travel to Buckingham Palace to be officially appointed as the next PM by the King.

The new Conservative Party leader is expected to then travel back to Downing Street where he will make a public address in front of Number 10 at around 11.35am.

Mr Sunak won the leadership race earlier today after Commons leader Penny Mordaunt bowed out at the eleventh hour, having failed to get the 100 nominations from Tory MPs required by the 2pm deadline.

Sources in the Mordaunt camp said she got 90 nominations, though the number of those who publicly announced their backing of her fell far short of this.

“We all owe it to the country to each other and to Rishi to unite and work together for the good of the nation. There is much work to be done,” Ms Mordaunt said in a tweet.

Her decision came after Boris Johnson also withdrew from the contest on Sunday evening, despite claiming he had the backing of at least the 100 MPs required to make it on to the ballot.

Mr Sunak enters Number 10 unopposed and has avoided an online ballot of the Conservative members that rejected him for Ms Truss last month.

He will be the UK’s first Hindu prime minister, the first of Asian heritage, and the youngest for more than 200 years at the age of 42.

The title of youngest ever prime minister belongs to William Pitt the Younger, who was just 24 when he took office in 1783. Tony Blair was 43.

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The challenges faced by Sunak as PM

In his first comments after being announced as the next prime minister, the new Conservative Party leader said the UK faces a “profound economic challenge”.

He said he was “humbled and honoured” after he was selected by Conservative MPs to lead the party and the nation, describing it as the “greatest privilege in my life”.

Read more:
Who is Rishi Sunak? The UK’s first British Asian prime minister
Who could be in Rishi Sunak’s cabinet?
Sunak v Starmer – How do they measure up in the eyes of voters?

Mr Sunak also paid tribute to outgoing prime minister Liz Truss for her “dedicated public service” in a brief speech at the Conservative Party headquarters in Westminster.

“The United Kingdom is a great country, but there is no doubt we face a profound economic challenge,” he said.

“We now need stability and unity, and I will make it my utmost priority to bring our party and our country together.”

The former chancellor is taking over from Ms Truss, just two months after she beat him in the last leadership election.

Just Stop Oil protesters smear King Charles III waxwork with chocolate cake | UK News

Two supporters of Just Stop Oil have covered the Madame Tussauds waxwork model of King Charles III with chocolate cake.

The climate activists are demanding the government halts all new oil and gas licences and consents.

Eilidh McFadden, 20, from Glasgow, and Tom Johnson, 29, a painter and decorator from Sunderland, stepped over the barrier in the London venue on Monday morning and smeared the model with cake.

In a statement the pair said: “We are here because we seek to protect our freedoms and rights, because we seek to protect this green and pleasant land which is the inheritance of us all.

“The science is clear. The demand is simple: just stop new oil and gas. It’s a piece of cake.”

(Pic: Just Stop Oil)
(Pic: Just Stop Oil)

The Metropolitan Police tweeted: “We responded quickly to an incident at Madame Tussauds after two people threw food at a statue at approximately 10:50hrs.

“They have both been arrested for criminal damage.”

The force later confirmed that four people had been arrested.

Just Stop Oil said Monday was their 24th day of civil unrest.

Previous protests have included activists gluing themselves on to the famous Abbey Road crossing in London.

Just Stop Oil block famous Abbey Road zebra crossing
Just Stop Oil block famous Abbey Road zebra crossing

Others have scaled the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge 200ft (60m) above the Dartford Crossing, which had to close for 36 hours and caused six-hour delays around much of the M25.

Two Just Stop Oil protesters also threw tomato soup over Van Gogh’s Sunflowers painting at the National Gallery in London.

On Sunday, the group praised activists in Germany who threw mashed potatoes over Claude Monet’s Les Meules painting, which sold for $110m in 2019.

David Tennant surprises Doctor Who fans as show bosses pledge future of ‘horror, robots and puppets’ | Ents & Arts News

David Tennant surprised Doctor Who fans as he reprised his role as the Time Lord – with the actor set to star in three special episodes before handing over control of the Tardis next Christmas.

Jodie Whittaker’s 13th Time Lord regenerated into Tennant in the dramatic conclusion of the show’s BBC centenary special.

It was previously announced that the Scottish actor, who first stepped into the Tardis in 2005 to play the 10th Doctor, would be returning to the sci-fi series for the show’s 60th anniversary celebrations.

Following Sunday’s 90-minute special, the BBC confirmed Tennant will become the 14th incarnation with Catherine Tate reprising her role as his former companion Donna Noble for three special episodes set to air in November 2023.

Ncuti Gatwa will then take control of the Tardis as the 15th Doctor, with his first episode due to air over the festive period in 2023.

Returning showrunner Russell T Davies, said: “If you thought the appearance of David Tennant was a shock, we’ve got plenty more surprises on the way.

“The path to Ncuti’s 15th Doctor is laden with mystery, horror, robots, puppets, danger and fun.

“And how is it connected to the return of the wonderful Donna Noble? How, what, why? We’re giving you a year to speculate, and then all hell lets loose.”

Whittaker’s last venture as the Doctor was loaded with drama as it saw her fight for her existence against some of her deadliest enemies: The Master, the Daleks and the Cybermen.

It also saw her land in a limbo world where she was confronted with former incarnations of the Doctor who offer her advice.

The Doctor (Ncuti Gatwa) during Doctor Who - The Power of the Doctor. Issue date: Sunday October 23, 2022
Ncuti Gatwa will become the 15th Doctor

Among them were Colin Baker, Peter Davison, Paul McGann and actor David Bradley to portray the late William Hartnell’s First Doctor, with Sylvester McCoy appearing as well.

After the episode, a teaser trailer for the 60th anniversary special episodes aired which showed Tennant and Tate facing a deadly enemy played by Neil Patrick Harris and a brief glance at Gatwa’s 15th Doctor.

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Whittaker, 40, became the first woman to portray the Doctor when she took over the role from Peter Capaldi in 2017.

Showrunner Chris Chibnall is also set to leave the programme, to be replaced by Davies, who was behind the 2005 revival of the show.

It was the most Johnson way of admitting defeat – and there was even a hint he might make a comeback | Politics News

After a mad dash back from his Caribbean holiday, a flurry of canvassing, secret summits with rivals Rishi Sunak and Penny Mordaunt, and a significant air war campaign, Boris Johnson announced shortly before 9pm last night that he would not run for PM after all.

It was the most Boris Johnson way of admitting defeat: I am a winner who could deliver a Conservative victory in 2024, I have the numbers (he claimed 102 supporters), I could do it if I wanted to, but now is not the time.

All weekend, his team had been saying that he had the numbers and was preparing to run – despite only having 59 public endorsements at the last tally.

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What would it take to force a general election?

‘Grateful’ Sunak reacts as Johnson backs down – live updates

So his withdrawal was a bit of a shock to some of his supporters. Conservative MP James Duddridge tweeted: “Well that was unexpected. Off to bed!”

There had been a lot of scepticism – and still is – as to whether Mr Johnson had really hit the required threshold of 100.

But what was far clearer was that the momentum is firmly with his rival Rishi Sunak, who now has more than 150 backers.

Support has come from all wings of the party – including, crucially, flagbearers on the right such as Lord Frost, Kemi Badenoch and Suella Braverman.

What became apparent over the weekend for Mr Johnson was that – while he had a core of support – the memories of July’s chaos, his resignation and the turmoil that followed is still very fresh in many MPs’ minds.

As one of his key backers put it to me last night: “The anti-Boris coalition is very vocal and he thinks two-thirds of the party are against him and it will make the party ungovernable, so he can’t do it, and it will go the way of Liz Truss.”

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PM resigns: How the day unfolded

In his statement, Mr Johnson said as much – writing that he had “sadly come to the conclusion” that trying to get back into No 10 now wasn’t the right thing to do. “You can’t govern effectively unless you have a united party in parliament.”

While Mr Sunak was hoping to beat Mr Johnson by two to one among MPs, the former PM would have likely won the vote if Conservative Party members had their say.

The embattled Tories would then be in the worst of all worlds, with another PM the parliamentary party didn’t want.

There was a question mark over whether Mr Johnson would even be able to fill all the roles (up to 170 MPs) in his government given so many would simply not serve under him.

At least one MP said he would resign if Mr Johnson returned to No 10 in those circumstances – while there was talk of mass revolts, defections and even the possibility of a group of Tories collapsing the government in favour of a general election. Mr Johnson perhaps concluded he didn’t have a choice.

But seeds of disunity were visible in his statement last night. Mr Johnson’s remarks that he “reached out” to Rishi Sunak and Penny Mordaunt to “come together in the national interest” – but was spurned – is likely to agitate his most ardent backbench supporters.

This was Nadine Dorries last night: “Boris would have won members vote – already had a mandate from the people. Rishi and Penny, despite requests from Boris refused to unite which would have made governing utterly impossible. Penny actually asked him to step aside for her. It will now be impossible to avoid a general election.”

And just as Mr Johnson faced a tranche of diehard enemies on the backbenches, so will Mr Sunak – in the form of Johnsonites who will never forgive the man they believe brought about the downfall of the former PM.

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Johnson a ‘guaranteed disaster’

Read more:
Why Johnson dropped out – in his own words
Could we get a new PM today? Key timings

It looks likely that Mr Sunak will be the next prime minister, having lost out to Liz Truss over the summer.

He could be declared as the new party leader at about 2pm should he be the only MP to receive 100 nominations.

There will, however, be a mad scramble for votes from Ms Mordaunt as she tries to use Mr Johnson’s withdrawal to get across the line and onto the ballot.

She currently only has 25 public backers so is a long way off – but some Johnson supporters might pivot to her, just to try and block Mr Sunak.

One figure familiar with the Johnson camp suggested last night that many of his backers might privately move over to Ms Mordaunt in the ballots to scupper Mr Sunak’s coronation.

And as for Mr Johnson, he might be reluctantly sitting this one out for now, but there is a hint in this statement – as there was when he quit with the words “hasta la vista baby!” – that he could be back: “I believe I have much to offer but I am afraid that this is simply not the right time.”

Will he stay in parliament and sit it out for when, if ever, it is?

Ukraine war: UK rejects Russian claim West is helping Ukraine escalate conflict | World News

Russian claims that Britain and its allies are planning to help Ukraine escalate the war have been rubbished by the defence secretary.

In a call with Ben Wallace, his Russian counterpart Sergei Shoigu alleged Ukraine was “planning actions facilitated by Western countries, including the UK” to “escalate the conflict in Ukraine“.

But in a short, straight-forward official statement after the call, the Ministry of Defence said: “The Defence Secretary refuted these claims.”

Russia's President Vladimir Putin and Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu attend the opening of the Army 2022 International Military and Technical Forum in the Patriot Park outside Moscow, Russia, Monday, Aug. 15, 2022. Putin vowed to strengthen Russia's military cooperation with its allies. (Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin with his defence minister Sergei Shoigu. Pic: AP

It said both ministers had been “professional and respectful” during the call, but that Mr Wallace had “cautioned” Mr Shoigu against using such allegations as “a pretext for greater escalation”.

The exchange came after a second call in three days between Mr Shoigu and US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin.

It follows a similar conversation between Mr Shoigu and his French counterpart on Sunday, where the Russian warned the situation in Ukraine was rapidly deteriorating and trending towards “uncontrolled escalation”.

He told Sebastien Lecornu, the French defence minister, that Moscow had concerns Ukraine could use a “dirty bomb” in the conflict.

Read more:
‘Massive new strike’ targets energy grid as 1.5 million Ukrainians left without power

Some Russian nationalists have blamed Mr Shoigu for Moscow’s setbacks since the 24 February invasion and most recently for Ukraine’s rapid gains in the northeastern Kharkiv region, which saw several thousands of square kilometres of territory regained from Russian takeover.

In his call on Sunday, Mr Wallace also reiterated UK and wider international support for Ukraine and a desire to de-escalate the conflict.

“It is for Ukraine and Russia to seek resolution to the war and the UK stands ready to assist,” his statement added.