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Leah Croucher’s family says hope she was alive has been ‘brutally extinguished in the cruellest and harshest of ways’ | UK News

The family of Leah Croucher have said their “faint glimmer of hope” of her being alive has been “brutally extinguished” after the teenager’s remains were found in the loft of a house.

In a tribute to their “bright, funny young” daughter, the 19-year-old’s family said they knew the “heartbreaking news” of her death would “come one day” but they are “devastated” to have been proven right.

“The deepest, darkest grief that we, Leah’s family and friends are experiencing over the past weeks shows us that glimmer was actually, foolishly, a shining beacon of hope, which has now been brutally extinguished in the cruellest and harshest of ways,” they said.

“It has been a long way to fall back to reality.”

Leah’s remains were found last week, more than three years after she went missing on her way to work at a finance company in Milton Keynes.

Items belonging to the teenager, who was a European Taekwondo champion, were also found in the same property in Loxbeare Drive, Furzton, a few minutes from her home.

Her family described feeling a “pain almost too big to bear” following her disappearance, but added: “There is little that compares to the deep chasm Leah’s death has brought to us”.

“Leah was a bright, funny young woman who was a kind, loyal, helpful and caring soul,” their statement continued.

“Her smile lit up the room, and her laugh cheered all who heard it. Leah had a wonderful sense of humour, who found joy in everything she did.”

 Leah Croucher
Leah Croucher was a Taekwondo champion

‘We will soon be able to lay Leah to rest’

They added that while their “lives are darker”, they have taken “solace” in believing Leah “will only finally die when the last of us who remember her dies”.

“We will soon be able to lay Leah to rest, as she deserves, and say our final goodbyes, be able to grieve at Leah’s graveside and lay flowers for her,” her family added.

Read more:
Violence and rape drive crime to a new high
Leah Croucher’s murder: How prime suspect evaded police

“We have missed Leah for so long already, and now have the rest of our lives to mourn her, as well as the memories we will never be able to make.

Writing to Leah directly, the family said: “We hope soon that we will be able to look at pictures of you again, but they are too painful to even think about at the moment.”

“Give Haydon a big kiss and a big hug from us baby, we miss and love you both so much, but hope that you are together now, looking out for each other as always.

The tribute was referring to Haydon Croucher, Leah’s brother, who died on 24 November 2019, nine months after she went missing.

 Leah Croucher
Leah Croucher went missing on her way to work at a finance company

Who is the prime suspect?

The prime suspect in Leah’s murder investigation has been named by police as convicted sex offender Neil Maxwell, who was found dead on 20 April 2019 after he took his own life.

Police started searching the property on 10 October this year after receiving a tip-off from a member of the public.

Neil Maxwell
Neil Maxwell, who had keys to the house where Leah’s body was found, took his own life

Officers had visited the house on two earlier occasions but insisted this was the first time Leah’s disappearance was linked to the address – despite conducting about 4,000 house-to-house calls.

It has since emerged Maxwell was the only person with keys to the house, which was unoccupied when police were conducting their inquiries.

He was wanted in connection with a sexual assault and used false names and changed his mobile phone and vehicles to avoid police.

Library book returned 84 years late by the grandson of the man who borrowed it | UK News

A library book has been returned 84 years late by the grandson of the man who took it out.

The copy of Red Deer by Richard Jeffries was borrowed from the Earlsdon Carnegie Community Library in Coventry back in 1938 by Captain William Humphries who took the nature book out for his daughter Anne.

It remained on the shelves of his home until he died in 1957 but went unnoticed.

Anne also recently die, but the book still went undiscovered until Paddy Riordan found it when he was going through his grandfather’s belongings.

Mr Riordan took it back to the library, along with the fine of £18.27, or one old penny week. At today’s level of 25p a day the total fine would have been £7,673. Copies of the book are for sale on Amazon for less than £4.

The book had been taken out just eight times before Captain Humphries borrowed it.

A notice on the books front page kindly asks borrowers to return the books as soon as they’ve finished with them, even if it is before the deadline.

It reads: “Books may be retained for 14 days. it is requested, however, that, with a view to the convenience of borrowers generally, all books be returned at once when done with, although the 14 days may not have expired. For detention beyond 14 days fines will be charged as provided in the Regulations: for each week (or portion of a week) One Penny.”

Library book returned 84 years late in Coventry

A staff member posted on Facebook: “Here’s something you don’t see every day . . . a copy of Red Deer by Richard Jefferies has been returned to us – a mere 84 years and two weeks overdue!

“Paddy returned the book to us from his grandfather’s collection and kindly donated the fine calculated at the then rate of 1d per week, totalling £18.27 in today’s money.

“How wonderful the book has finally made its way home.”

£17,000 severance for 36 hours in the job: How much year of political turmoil will cost taxpayers | Politics News

Britain’s year of political turmoil could cost the taxpayer up to £726,000 in severance payments to former ministers and whips, Sky News analysis of House of Commons library data has found.

Since the beginning of the year, 79 government ministers and whips have either been sacked or have resigned.

And 71 of them are likely to be eligible for payments averaging more than £10,000 – no matter how long they were in the job.

To receive the lump sum, they cannot return to government within three weeks of leaving their post.

This means anyone shuffled out by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Tuesday will be eligible for a payment as long as they do not return to a paid government role by 15 November.

Our calculations are based on what they will be eligible to receive if they remain on the backbenches for that period.

Newly installed Lord Chancellor and Justice Secretary Brandon Lewis leaving Downing Street, London, after meeting the new Prime Minister Liz Truss. Picture date: Tuesday September 6, 2022.

Brandon Lewis: £34,000

Mr Lewis, who most recently served as justice secretary under Liz Truss, is eligible for the largest sum, with two payments totalling nearly £34,000 – more than the £31,676 that nurses earn on average in a year.

He is eligible for one payment due to his resignation as Northern Ireland secretary in July – in protest at Boris Johnson’s refusal to stand down – and for a second payment due to the loss of his position as justice secretary during Mr Sunak’s reshuffle.

In a year of political chaos, 2022 has seen three prime ministers and numerous reshuffles. The result has been a record level of turnover on the government benches, resulting in a large number of people eligible for severance payments.

The number of cabinet appointments this year is already more than twice as high as in any year since 1979, according to the Institute for Government.

In July, Boris Johnson announced he would stand down as PM after dozens of MPs resigned in protest at his handling of sexual assault allegations against former deputy chief whip Chris Pincher.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and military representative to NATO Ben Bathurst leave NATO Headquarters following a summit on Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in Brussels, Belgium March 24, 2022. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls/Pool

Liz Truss: £385 per day

Ms Truss consigned a further 30 ministers and whips to the backbenches in her first three days as PM.

Both Mr Johnson and Ms Truss are eligible for the most generous individual payments, at £18,860 each.

For Ms Truss, who served just seven weeks in the top job, that represents £385 per day in office. Her total potential sum is more than the £10,120 which she would have earned in the role from her salary, if paid on a pro-rata basis.

Kwasi Kwarteng: £444 per day

Mr Kwarteng, who was forced to resign as chancellor over the mini-budget, is eligible for nearly £17,000.

That’s equivalent to £444 for each day he was in the job, and is more than twice the amount he would have earned from his official salary as chancellor if paid pro-rata (£7,023).

Suella Braverman, who resigned as home secretary on 19 October, will not be eligible for a payment as she returned to the frontbench just six days later – within the three-week cut-off window.

Overall, 32 MPs could claim more in severance payments than they earned in the job.

Minister of State for Northern Ireland Conor Burns during a press conference following a British-Irish Council (BIC) summit meeting at the St Pierre Park Hotel in Guernsey. Picture date: Friday July 8, 2022.

Conor Burns: £7,290

Former trade minister Conor Burns is set to receive a severance payment of £7,290 – three times his pro-rata salary of £2,602.

He was fired in October after just one month in the role after losing the whip for an allegation of “serious misconduct” at the Conservative Party conference.

Anyone leaving a paid position in government can claim – regardless of whether they willingly resigned, were fired or stepped down in disgrace.

The only conditions are that they don’t return to a job within three weeks, are under the age of 65 and did not die in office.

Chris Pincher: £8,000

Mr Pincher, who resigned as a government whip in July following allegations of sexual assault, was eligible for a payment of nearly £8,000.

Sky News has contacted those eligible for payments, but many of them have yet to respond.

British Culture Secretary Michelle Donelan walks through conference hall during Britain's Conservative Party's annual conference in Birmingham, Britain, October 3, 2022. REUTERS/Hannah McKay

Some donate severance payments to charity

Michelle Donelan has said she will donate her payment to a local charity.

She qualified for a payment of nearly £17,000 after serving as education secretary for less than 36 hours under Boris Johnson.

The office of Dominic Raab, who was reappointed as justice secretary on Tuesday, told Sky News he is planning to return part of his £16,876 payout.

Grant Shapps spent just 43 days out of ministerial office after resigning as transport secretary under Mr Johnson, but could claim nearly £17,000 in severance for his trouble. His office said he will be donating around half of his payment to an HMRC-recognised charitable account he uses.

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Reshuffle: How the day unfolded

Severance pay to Labour in 2010: £1m

When responding to an Urgent Question about severance payments in July, then Cabinet Office minister Harriet Wheeler said: “The severance pay for ministers is established in legislation that was passed by Parliament in 1991 and that has been used by successive administrations over several decades.

Ms Wheeler added: “Reshuffles are a fundamental part of the operation of government and, by their nature, routinely remove ministers from office, and that, unlike in other employment contexts, there are no periods of notice, no consultations and no redundancy arrangements.”

She pointed out severance payments had been made and accepted during the Blair and Brown years in office, adding: “To ensure transparency, severance payments are published in the annual reports and accounts of government departments.

“As an example of the previous operation of this provision, the data published in 2010 indicated severance payments made to Labour ministers in that year amounted to £1m.”

Rishi Sunak can’t rock the boat – his political legitimacy in No 10 hangs by a thread | Politics News

On the face of it, Rishi Sunak’s first Prime Minister’s Questions was an assured performance.

The former chancellor was combative, confident and fluid. But it was also a session in which the new prime minister showed us how conscious he is that his political legitimacy hangs by a thread.

Because being appointed as the UK’s 57th prime minister behind closed doors by 200 or so Conservative MPs will invariably raise questions about his democratic mandate.

That it happened just seven weeks after a different prime minister – Liz Truss – was foisted on the British public by the Conservatives turns those questions into accusations of a democratic stitch-up.

Sunak under pressure over Braverman – follow live updates

Labour, the SNP and the Lib Dems all know it, which is why at PMQs they laid into Mr Sunak for being at that despatch box at all.

Sir Keir Starmer accused his new opponent – the third in four months – as someone who was “not on the side of working people” before adding: “That’s why the only time he ran in a competitive election he got trounced by the former prime minister, who herself got beaten by a lettuce.”

He called, again, for a general election.

Mr Sunak however is having none of it, as he teased Sir Keir for backing a second EU referendum – “he talks about mandates, it’s a bit rich coming from the person who tried to overturn the biggest democratic vote in our country’s history” – and spoke again about sticking to the 2019 manifesto.

Sticking to it, because Mr Sunak knows he’s on sticky ground trying to tiptoe into Number 10 and stay there until the next general election in a couple of years asking the British people their view.

That’s why on the steps of Number 10 and in the Commons on Wednesday, Mr Sunak spoke of the Conservative Party mandate won in 2019 as he sought to wrestle that victory squarely from the hands of campaigner-in-chief Boris Johnson.

“I will always be grateful to Boris Johnson for his incredible achievements as prime minister, and I treasure his warmth and generosity of spirit,” he said.

“And I know he would agree that the mandate my party earned in 2019 is not the sole property of any one individual, it is a mandate that belongs to and unites all of us.”

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How did Sunak get on at first PMQs?

And that manifesto – which Liz Truss sought to deviate from – is now being reinstated by Mr Sunak as he tries to settle his party and cement his ground.

The big move from him on Wednesday was to reinstate the fracking ban, a manifesto commitment from 2019 that Ms Truss sought to reverse and that ultimately became her undoing as she turned a Labour motion on that matter into a confidence vote in her government.

On paper, she won, but the motion triggered her downfall in the chaos that ensued around that vote.

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

What’s almost more significant is that in the summer leadership race, Mr Sunak told Sky News that he supported fracking where local people approved of it.

His desire then to row back from this is a sign that he doesn’t want to rock the boat either with Conservative MPs or the public when it comes to testing this mandate.

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Sunak ‘stands by manifesto’ pledge on fracking

That has a read across too for the pensions triple lock – the promise to lift pensions by inflation, average wages or 2.5% depending on what’s highest.

An inflation-linked increase would cost the Treasury £5.7bn, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS).

But it’s hard to see how on November 17 Mr Sunak does anything but.

He might have fallen out with Boris Johnson, but he’s tied to his predecessor’s plan.

Ms Truss was brought down because she didn’t respect the limit of her mandate.

Mr Sunak knows sticking to it will be his best chance of surviving, not just with his party, but with a thoroughly fed up country too.

Man found guilty of murdering gangster Salem Koudou in revenge for birthday party attack | UK News

A man has been found guilty of murdering a street gangster who was hacked to death in swift retribution for crashing a party on rival turf and attacking a man celebrating his birthday with a machete.

Salem Koudou, 19, was stabbed 32 times after he was chased by up to 15 people intent on revenge in Brixton, south London, jurors heard.

Darius Kwakye, 29, was found guilty of his murder at the Old Bailey on Wednesday after a jury deliberated for nearly 19 hours.

During the trial, prosecutor Oliver Glasgow KC told jurors there could be no excuse for the “murderous attack”.

Kwakye’s co-defendants Donte McCalla, 21, and Tristan Bullock, 21, were cleared of wrongdoing.

On 20 August 2020, Mr Koudou and two others armed themselves with at least one knife and possibly a gun and set off in a stolen VW Golf to attack rivals, it was claimed.

Jurors were told Mr Koudou was a member of Stockwell-based gang All ‘Bout Money (ABM) which was in violent dispute with gangs known as 17 or Wandsworth Road, One Five O (150) or Get Back Gang (GBG), and Four Ten (410).

Mr Koudou and his companions first went to Wandsworth where a potential target was chased but managed to escape, the court heard.

They went on to Brixton where they allegedly came across an “ideal target”, a birthday party on Marcella Road for Tyreicke Williams, 28, who was affiliated with GBG.

The Old Bailey is seen, ahead of the arrival of Ali Harbi Ali, 25, suspect in the murder of British MP David Amess, who is due to appear in court, in London, Britain, October 22, 2021. REUTERS/Hannah McKay
Darius Kwakye was found guilty of murder at the Old Bailey

Response was ‘immediate and violent’

Just before 6pm the VW Golf was driven into Kwakye’s parked Mercedes and turned over onto its roof, jurors heard.

Two of the unidentified occupants pulled themselves from the wreckage and ran off.

Mr Koudou got out with an “enormous knife” and began to chase guests, including Mr Williams and Kwakye, it was alleged. The defenceless Mr Williams fell to the ground and was set upon by Mr Koudou but managed to get away despite being hurt.

The prosecutor said the response was “immediate and violent”, “swift and aggressive” as party guests armed themselves and gave chase.

He told jurors: “The roles were now reversed” and Mr Koudou “had 15 or more people to escape from.”

Some wounds ‘as deep as 14cm’

He ran and used his knife to ward off his pursuers. Realising he was “hopelessly outnumbered”, Mr Koudou fled but fell down and was set upon by members of the group, the prosecutor said.

Mr Glasgow told jurors Mr Koudou was stabbed “more than 30 times” sustaining “catastrophic injuries”.

“His lungs, liver and stomach were damaged by the knives that were used to stab him, and the blades were wielded with such ferocity that some of the wounds were as deep as 14cm.

“Others damaged the bones of his rib cage, and one went through his skull.”

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He said: “There was no hope of survival and yet seconds was all it took for this attack to take place, for his pursuers to have their revenge, and for the killers to disappear calmly as if nothing had happened.”

The prosecutor added: “Given the build-up to this shocking violence, there can be no doubt that Salem Koudou’s pursuers wanted to avenge the attack upon Tyreicke Williams.”

The defendants had denied they had anything to do with the murder. Following his conviction, Kwakye was remanded into custody to be sentenced at a later date.

Backlash to Braverman builds as foreign secretary defends her re-appointment | Politics News

James Cleverly has defended the re-appointment of Suella Braverman as home secretary, saying she has “a very clear agenda” that the prime minister wants to see delivered.

Ms Braverman resigned from the role seven days ago, having breached the ministerial code by sending secure information from her private email, and left with scathing remarks about Liz Truss’s government.

But she was hired back by new PM Rishi Sunak yesterday as he chose a number of familiar faces to make up his cabinet.

Politics live updates: Sunak’s first PMQs at noon as Braverman backlash grows

Labour attacked the move, accusing Mr Sunak of “putting party before country” by appointing Ms Braverman to win over the right wing of his party.

But Mr Cleverly said she had “very, very clear ideas about how we improve the performance of the Home Office” and had apologised for the mistakes of the past.

“Suella made a mistake,” he told Sky News. “She has said herself that she made a mistake. She’s apologised for that mistake and she stood down at the time.

“She has shown a willingness to take responsibility for what happened – but ultimately [the PM] has decided that he wants to see the agenda that she has set out, that very important crime fighting agenda, back in the heart of government.”

Suella Braverman, who has been appointed Britain's Secretary of State for the Home Department, walks outside Number 10 Downing Street, in London, Britain, October 25, 2022. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
Suella Braverman was brought back into her old role by new prime minister Rishi Sunak.

Ms Braverman has made a name for herself in parliament with her strong views on the so-called culture wars, recently attacking the “Guardian-reading, tofu-eating wokerati” .

And she holds firm positions on policy, especially around cutting new migration and her unwavering support for the Rwanda deportation scheme.

Labour’s shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper pointed to Mr Sunak’s speech on the steps of Downing Street after becoming prime minister, saying his government would have “integrity, professionalism and accountability at every level”.

“Yet he has just appointed Suella Braverman to be home secretary again a week after she resigned for breaches of the ministerial code, security lapses, sending sensitive government information through unauthorised personal channels, and following weeks of non-stop public disagreements with other cabinet ministers,” she added.

“Our national security and public safety are too important for this kind of chaos. We don’t just need a new cabinet, we need a general election and a fresh start with Labour.”

Liberal Democrat MP Alistair Carmichael⁩ also claimed Ms Braverman’s appointment “makes a mockery of Rishi Sunak’s claims to be bringing integrity to Number 10”.

He called for an independent inquiry into the hiring, adding: “A home secretary who broke the rules is not fit for a Home Office which keeps the rules.”

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Labour’s Yvette Cooper criticises Rishi Sunak’s appointment of Suella Braverman to home secretary, describing it as a

Meanwhile, questions remain over whether the new prime minister will go ahead with the planned economic statement at Halloween, organised in response to the market turmoil caused by Ms Truss’s tax-slashing mini-budget last month.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt, who has stayed in post at the Treasury, reversed most of her policies when he came into his role just over a week ago.

But the Commons statement set for 31 October is due to provide longer term plans to fill to fiscal blackhole the government has been left with after Ms Truss’s short tenure, along with a much anticipated forecast from the Office for Budget Responsibility – something that was missing from the mini-budget.

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Chancellor Jeremy Hunt reversed the majority of Liz Truss’s policies after she appointed him last week.

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly told Sky News this morning he had not had “specific confirmation of dates” and Mr Sunak will “want to take some time to work on the detail” alongside his chancellor.

But he added: “We know it needs to come soon. We know people want certainty.

“We know people want a clear idea of the government’s plans [but] whether it happens exactly on that day, I’m not able to confirm.”

Labour’s shadow education secretary Bridget Phillipson said she was “surprised and alarmed” that the Halloween statement could be delayed, and said it showed “never-ending chaos… at the heart of government”.

“We don’t yet fully know the scale of the damage that the Conservatives have cause to our economy,” she told Sky News. “We’ve seen all this chaos and we do need to see those forecasts… as soon as possible.

“Big decisions not being taken and it creates massive problems for our country… that are not being addressed.”

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.