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More than 1,000 officers drafted in to help Met Police amid pressure to prevent remembrance disruption | UK News

More than 1,000 officers from forces around the country will be drafted in to help the Metropolitan Police this weekend amid intense political pressure to prevent disruption to remembrance events.

Police chiefs have backed Met commissioner Sir Mark Rowley’s decision to resist banning a pro-Palestinian march on Armistice Day despite comments from the prime minister and the home secretary.

Gavin Stephens, who is chairman of the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC), said demonstrations which have seen hundreds of thousands of people take to the streets across the country over the past five weeks in response to the Israel-Hamas war had been “largely peaceful”.

He told reporters there had not been “serious violence or serious disorder”, other than some highly publicised incidents, although there was a “minority intent on disrupting the law-abiding masses”.

With protesters and counter-demonstrators expected to travel to London this weekend from across the country, more than 1,000 officers are being drafted in from other forces in every region of England and Wales.

Rishi Sunak said he would hold Sir Mark accountable for allowing the pro-Palestine march to go ahead, while Suella Braverman provoked widespread condemnation for an article she wrote in The Times.

She once again described those taking part as “hate marchers” and accused police of “playing favourites” with left-wing groups over right-wing and nationalist activists.

More on Metropolitan Police

Mr Stephens said it is not the job of police to hold the home secretary to account but stressed the importance “that the public debate doesn’t feature in our operational decision-making” because it would “fundamentally undermine” policing.

“In policing we need the space to make difficult operational decisions in an independent manner,” he said.

“The decisions that we take are not easy ones, but we do so impartially, without fear or favour, and in line with both the law and our authorised professional practice.”

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Will the PM sack Braverman?

Asked if police were biased, he said decisions were taken “without fear or favour”, adding: “We do not take into account whatever our personal view may be on a topic.”

Mr Stephens also said he considered it a civic responsibility to use language carefully and not stoke community tensions.

“I do what I can to give that reassurance to keep temperatures low when we are in times of such awful, tragic international conflict that is affecting so many families across the world and language is important,” he said.

“And our actions in diffusing tensions are important. And we take those very seriously in policing.”

Read more:
Sunak has ‘full confidence’ in Braverman after controversial article

Braverman’s hat-trick of own goals in Northern Ireland
The home secretary’s long list of controversies

Some 29 people were arrested over the protest last weekend, during which fireworks were thrown, while previous weeks, where up to 2,000 officers have been on duty, have seen troubling incidents of antisemitism and support for banned terrorist group Hamas, and a member of the crowd at a fringe Hizb ut-Tahrir protest chanting “jihad”.

Organisers say Saturday’s protest will be “well away” from the Cenotaph – going from Hyde Park, around a mile from the war memorial in Whitehall, to the US embassy – and won’t start until after the 11am silence.

The route marchers plan to take on Armistice Day.
The route marchers plan to take on Armistice Day

Chief Constable Chris Haward, who is leading the national police response to the Israel-Hamas war, said even if the march was banned, protesters would still have the right to gather in one place.

“The threshold (for a ban) is extremely high. It is about serious violence, and not about the words that might be chanted,” he said.

“Even if you ban the march, you cannot ban the assembly. You will still expect to have 100,000 people, maybe more, turning up who will then be in a static position.”

He said counter-protests would be facilitated “without bias” but warned hate crime or law-breaking will not be tolerated.

Mr Haward also revealed a surge in hate crime following the Hamas attack on Israel on 7 October has been particularly big in London, with the Met currently accounting for more than 70% of offences nationally, compared to less than a quarter normally.

Carol Vorderman thanks ‘bloody marvellous’ fans after leaving BBC show over social media guidelines | Ents & Arts News

Carol Vorderman has said she is “overwhelmed” by the support shown by her “bloody marvellous” fans after leaving her BBC radio show over the corporation’s new social media guidelines.

The former Countdown co-host announced she was leaving on Wednesday because she was “not prepared to lose [her] voice on social media”.

In a post on Instagram on Thursday, she said: “I want to say from my heart thank you.

“I am overwhelmed by all of your support, it’s just extraordinary.

“You know, we’re all in this together and we absolutely will make it right, ’cause you are bloody marvellous. You are.”

She said she recorded the clip when she got home on Wednesday night.

It comes as celebrities including Alan Carr and Dame Kelly Holmes expressed their “respect” for Vorderman.

In the comments section of her original Instagram post announcing her departure, comedian Carr wrote “big respect Carol” while Olympian Dame Kelly wrote: “You do you Carol! Much respect for sticking up for who you are and not allowing corporations to silence you!”

Elsewhere, presenter Cat Deeley told Vorderman “you are bloody brilliant” while comedian Joe Lycett joked: “I have informed the BBC I am available to replace you.”

In her statement, Vorderman explained she had decided to continue with her criticisms of the UK government following the implementation of the new guidelines.

Read more:
Gary Lineker backs BBC social media rules
Match of the Day host stands by ‘factually accurate’ post
Why lines are blurring between news and politics

She said: “Since those non-negotiable changes to my radio contract were made, I’ve ultimately found that I’m not prepared to lose my voice on social media, change who I am, or lose the ability to express the strong beliefs I hold about the political turmoil this country finds itself in.”

She added: “I’m sad to have to leave the wonderful friends I’ve made at Radio Wales.

“I wish them, and all of our listeners, all the love in the world. We laughed a lot, and we will miss each other dearly.”

Vorderman has presented the Saturday morning show on BBC Wales for the last five years.

She has been vocal in her criticism of the government and engaged in arguments on X, formerly Twitter, with Tory MPs.

Under the BBC’s social media guidelines, presenters on flagship programmes have been banned from making attacks on political parties.

The guidelines were introduced following a row after Match Of The Day host Gary Lineker was taken off the air by the BBC after criticising the government’s asylum policy on social media.

Ms Vorderman previously told the Sky News Daily podcast she would “wait and see” what the guidelines were and “make a decision based on that”.

Click to subscribe to the Sky News Daily wherever you get your podcasts

“I’ve had all sorts of experiences in broadcasting, some of them not so good,” she said.

“The vast majority of them are wonderful. So I’m a very lucky woman. Life is what life is.”

A BBC spokesperson said: “Carol has been a presenter on BBC Radio Wales since 2018. We’d like to thank her for her work and contribution to the station over the past five years.”

Andrew ‘Freddie’ Flintoff’s Top Gear co-host ‘proud’ show team ‘kept everything quiet’ after test track crash | Ents & Arts News

Andrew ‘Freddie’ Flintoff’s Top Gear co-host has praised the team behind the programme for keeping the details of the cricket star’s test track crash out of the public eye.

Chris Harris said on BBC Breakfast today that the former England cricket captain is still recovering from his injuries but is “healing”.

Flintoff, 45, was taken to hospital after he was hurt while filming Top Gear at its test track at Dunsfold Aerodrome last December.

He had facial injuries when he appeared in public for the first time with England’s cricket team in September, nine months afterwards.

Harris, who joined Top Gear in 2016, said of his co-star: “I think he’s healing.

“It was a serious incident. I’m not going to say any more than that.

“As I’ve said in the book and in the few interviews I’ve given, I’m so proud of the fact that team Top Gear kept everything quiet and we were dignified.

“There is nothing out there about what happened and there won’t be. There’s no mole in the organisation. I’m really, really proud of that.

“As long as he’s healing, it’s great to see him out and about being passionate about cricket.

“I’m sad I’m not doing Top Gear with him at the moment, but that’s life.

“It’s the best thing for him right now.”

Top Gear presenters Freddie Flintoff, Paddy McGuinness and Chris Harris. PA Photo/BBC/Lee Brimble.
Chris Harris (pictured, right) said: ‘I think he’s healing. It was a serious incident’

Filming on the series was halted following the incident.

Flintoff’s son, Corey, said at the time that he was “lucky to be alive” and described it as a “pretty nasty crash”.

The BBC said in October it had agreed a financial settlement with the injured presenter following his crash – reported to be worth £9m.

Both Flintoff and the BBC were “satisfied” with the agreement, according to The Sun, which also quoted a “show insider” who said there was “no way it [Top Gear] could continue”.

A BBC spokesperson said last month: “A decision on the timing of future Top Gear shows will be made in due course with BBC Content.”

Read more from Sky News:
BBC bosses ‘decided’ Vorderman ‘must leave’ show
Viewers divided over new festive John Lewis ad
Volcanic eruption under the sea creates new island

Flintoff in September

‘I had nothing to do’ – Harris

Discussing the impact the crash had on his own life, Harris told the BBC: “I suddenly had nothing to do.

“I have got another business, which is an online car platform which is great. I do stuff there.

“But my day job went and you can imagine your muscle memory of working life is really important – you guys have your routines – if that suddenly stops and suddenly you don’t talk to those people, you don’t see those people, then you go into a slightly dark place. I think I really missed it.”

He added: “It does make you reflect on the times that it might have gone wrong, maybe.

“And that made me think I’ve got responsibilities. I’ve got children. Have I been reckless?

“The answer is I don’t think I have. But I did have moments I thought ‘have I pushed this too far’?

“Also, I’m old and I don’t bounce the way I used to. When you’re 25, you bounce nicely. Later you don’t bounce so well. It’s all about bouncing.”

Israel-Gaza war: Half of Britons think pro-Palestinian marches should be banned on Armistice Day, poll finds | UK News

Half of people in Great Britain think pro-Palestinian marches should not be allowed to take place in London on Armistice Day, despite more people overall sympathising with Palestinians than Israel, according to an exclusive poll for Sky News.

A third of those asked thought the planned protests should be allowed to go ahead, according to a YouGov poll of 2,080 adults, carried out for Sky News on the 7th and 8th of November.

The chief of the Metropolitan Police, Sir Mark Rowley, has said the London demonstration calling for a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip will take place as planned on Saturday.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman has criticised the decision publicly, while Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has said he would hold Sir Mark “accountable” for allowing it, and Health Secretary Steve Barclay told Sky News that 11 November was the “wrong day” for protest action in London.

But Sir Mark said the “legal threshold” to stop the march on security grounds “had not been met”, and while there was “no mechanism to ban a gathering, a static protest”, people “should be very reassured that we’re going to keep this away from the remembrance and armistice events”.

How have sympathies changed since the 7 October attacks?

Sympathy from the British public is evenly split between the Israeli and Palestinian sides since the latest conflict broke out.

Support for the Palestinians has grown most since the immediate aftermath of the 7 October Hamas attacks on Israel.

The number of people who say they “don’t know” if they have the most sympathy for either side has almost halved in the last month, with a third of people now saying they have equal sympathy for both sides.

Splits by generation and politics

There are significant divides of opinion along lines of age and political support.

Older people and Conservatives are three times more likely to have sympathy for Israel than younger people and Labour voters, who tend to have more support for the Palestinians, the poll found.

The political divide is particularly interesting in the context of the government and official opposition having similar policies to one another, in terms of how Britain should respond to the war and escalating conflict.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, like Rishi Sunak, has supported calls for a “humanitarian pause” in Israel’s military action, to allow aid into Gaza, but has stopped short of calling for an outright ceasefire.

While Conservatives appear relatively united on the stance, a portion of Labour members, councillors and even MPs have been vocal in their opposition to the position of the party’s leadership.

Type of ceasefire affects public support

The poll also reveals that more than half of people who voted Labour in the 2019 general election think the UK should oppose Israeli military action and call for an outright ceasefire, while fewer than one in five agree with the current policy.

More than a third of 2019 Tory voters thought a temporary ceasefire was the best option, twice as many as those who would oppose Israel’s military action entirely.

A third of people – the most popular option – believe recent similar demonstrations to the one planned on Saturday have mostly been about expressing support for Palestinians and opposition to war, the poll also found.

That’s almost twice as many as those who believe they have mostly been about expressing hatred of Israel and Jewish people, as suggested by Suella Braverman on Monday.

Almost three-quarters of people said the events in Israel and Gaza had made them feel upset, while two-thirds said it made them feel angry.

The Data and Forensics team is a multi-skilled unit dedicated to providing transparent journalism from Sky News. We gather, analyse and visualise data to tell data-driven stories. We combine traditional reporting skills with advanced analysis of satellite images, social media and other open source information. Through multimedia storytelling we aim to better explain the world while also showing how our journalism is done.

Suella Braverman accuses Met of ‘double standards’ over pro-Palestinian protests | Politics News

Suella Braverman has accused the police of “double standards” in the way they handle protests – after Rishi Sunak conceded that a pro-Palestine march on Armistice Day will go ahead.

The home secretary has sharply criticised the Metropolitan Police in an op-ed for The Times newspaper – saying there is “a perception that senior police officers play favourites when it comes to protesters”.

It comes after Mr Sunak described Saturday’s planned march in London as “disrespectful”.

Israel-Gaza latest: ‘Security circumstance’ forces Rafah border crossing to close

The prime minister met the chief of the Metropolitan Police on Wednesday afternoon – and had vowed to hold Sir Mark Rowley “accountable” for his decision to greenlight the demonstration.

Sir Mark had resisted calls to try and block a march taking place – and said that, after looking at intelligence, the legal threshold for a ban had not been met.

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The Prime Minister says he’ll hold the Met Police chief ‘accountable’ over a planned protest on Armistice Day

Ms Braverman once again described pro-Palestinian protesters as “hate marchers” – writing that it is “a phrase I do not resile from”.

That is despite numerous government ministers saying they would not use such language.

She wrote that the marches are “problematic, not just because of violence around the fringes but because of the highly offensive content of chants, posters and stickers”.

She added: “This is not a time for naiveté. We have seen with our own eyes that terrorists have been valorised, Israel has been demonised as Nazis and Jews have been threatened with further massacres.”

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The Home Secretary Suella Braverman has criticised pro-Palestinian protests in London

Ms Braverman went on to say that the “heart of the matter” is that she does not “believe that these marches are merely a cry for help for Gaza” but “an assertion of primacy by certain groups – particularly Islamists – of the kind we are more used to seeing in Northern Ireland”.

“Also disturbingly reminiscent of Ulster are the reports that some of Saturday’s march group organisers have links to terrorist groups, including Hamas,” she added.

Claiming that a double standard exists within the Met, she asked: “Right-wing and nationalist protesters who engage in aggression are rightly met with a stern response yet pro-Palestinian mobs displaying almost identical behaviour are largely ignored, even when clearly breaking the law?”

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Pensions minister Laura Trott distances herself from Braverman’s comments

Calling for protests to be policed “even-handedly”, the home secretary also questioned why protests for Black Lives Matter were allowed to go ahead during the COVID pandemic, while “lockdown objectors were given no quarter by public order police”.

In words seeming to pile pressure onto Sir Mark Rowley, she concluded: “This weekend the public will expect to see an assertive and proactive approach to any displays of hate, breaches of conditions and general disorder.”

Labour MP resigns as shadow minister over Starmer’s position on Gaza ceasefire

Tearful Israeli mother describes how she escaped Hamas capture – but husband and son were taken hostage
Welsh parliament calls for immediate ceasefire

In response to Ms Braverman’s article, Yvette Cooper, the shadow home secretary, described her as “out of control”

She wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter: “Her article tonight is a highly irresponsible, dangerous attempt to undermine respect for police at a sensitive time, to rip up operational independence and to inflame community tensions.

“No other home secretary of any party would ever do this.”

And London Mayor Sadiq Khan posted: “The Home Sec’s article in The Times is inaccurate, inflammatory & irresponsible.

“At a time when we should be seeking to unite communities – she is dividing them. The Home Sec should support the police to keep everyone safe at this delicate time, not make their job harder.”

And the Liberal Democrats have accused her of “running a Conservative Party leadership campaign, not the Home Office”.

Tory govt source on Braverman’s comparison of “hate marches” by pro-Palestinian protesters to sectarian rallies held in NI during Troubles

A senior Tory government source, commenting on Ms Braverman’s comparison of “hate marches” by pro-Palestinian protesters to sectarian rallies held in Northern Ireland during the Troubles, told Sky’s Beth Rigby: “This is wholly offensive and ignorant of where people in Northern Ireland stand on the issues of Israel and Gaza.

“It would be good to know what she knows about what NI people think about the current Israel-Palestine situation before she casts aspersions.

“It’s clear that the Home Secretary is only looking after her misguided aspirations for leader than responsible leadership as a Home Sec.”

Sunak labels pro-Palestine march ‘disrespectful’

In a statement following a meeting with Met Police chief Sir Mark Rowley, the prime minister conceded that the protest this weekend will go ahead.

He said in a statement: “Saturday’s planned protest is not just disrespectful but offends our heartfelt gratitude to the memory of those who gave so much so that we may live in freedom and peace today.

“But part of that freedom is the right to peacefully protest. And the test of that freedom is whether our commitment to it can survive the discomfort and frustration of those who seek to use it, even if we disagree with them. We will meet that test and remain true to our principles.”

He added: “It’s welcome that the police have confirmed that the march will be away from the Cenotaph and they will ensure that the timings do not conflict with any remembrance events.

“There remains the risk of those who seek to divide society using this weekend as a platform to do so. That is what I discussed with the Metropolitan Police Commissioner in our meeting.”

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The Prime Minister ‘politicking’ over pro-Palestine protest says Ben Jamal.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer had accused Mr Sunak of “cowardice” for “picking a fight” with the police.

He tweeted: “Remembrance events must be respected. Full stop.

“But the person the PM needs to hold accountable is his home secretary. Picking a fight with the police instead of working with them is cowardice.”

Downing Street denied seeking to put pressure on the Met, which is operationally independent, and insisted the meeting was about “seeking assurances” that their approach is “robust”.

The Met has said its officers were already preparing for remembrance events over the weekend and “we will do everything in our power to ensure that people who want to mark the occasion can do so safely and without disruption.”

Organisers say protest will be ‘well away’ from Cenotaph

The route marchers plan to take on Armistice Day.
The route marchers plan to take on Armistice Day.

Tens of thousands have demonstrated in London in recent weeks over Palestinian deaths in the Israel-Hamas war – with 29 arrested during a fourth week of protests last Saturday, during which fireworks were thrown.

Organisers of this Saturday’s protest say it will be “well away” from the Cenotaph – going from Hyde Park, around a mile from the war memorial in Whitehall, to the US embassy – and won’t start until after the 11am silence.

Several cabinet ministers have spoken out about the situation, with Health Secretary Steve Barclay telling Sky News that 11 November was the “wrong day” for protest action in London.

He said: “There is a legal threshold and the commissioner is of the view that that legal threshold has not been met.

“Obviously, the Home Office and colleagues will discuss that over the course of the day.”

Government under pressure over ‘ghost children’ missing from class | Politics News

The government “remains committed” to legislate to establish a register of pupils who are not in school, the education secretary said.

It comes after criticism that the King’s Speech on Tuesday, which set out the legislative agenda for the year, did not include anything about the plan to reduce the number of so-called “ghost children”.

As Sky News has reported, since the pandemic there has been a rise in the number youngsters who have stopped going to school.

Often this is pupils who have been excluded from the classroom and then fall out of the system – making them vulnerable to being targeted by gangs.

Making an intervention as Education Secretary Gillian Keegan opened a debate in the House of Commons, Lib Dem MP Munira Wilson said: “What was crystal clear from the King’s Speech yesterday is despite her [Ms Keegan’s] grandiose statements here, education is not a priority for this government.”

Ms Wilson asked why there was no announcement “about bringing forward legislation for a children-not-in-school register” – something ministers promised they would still do after scrapping the Schools Bill last year.

The education secretary said that remains the government’s position – though she did not say when the plans would be brought before parliament, only saying it would happen at a “suitable opportunity”.

“We do remain committed to legislating to take forward the children-not-in-school measures and we will progress these at a future suitable legislative opportunity,” Ms Keegan said.

“We are continuing to work with local authorities to improve the non-statutory registers. And we have also launched a consultation on revised elective home education guidance.

“So there is work going on, the consultation is open until January 18, 2024. So there is a lot of work going on and we do intend to bring forward that legislation.”

Read more:
Thousands are missing school
The ‘ghost children’ crisis explained
Absence in schools is now at crisis point

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Excluded teen stabbed in Croydon

The law requires all children of school age to receive suitable full-time education, but last year 141,000 children spent more time out of class than in – up by 137% since the pandemic.

Local councils blame funding problems for not being able to keep track of missing pupils well enough.

Last May the government launched a piece of legislation known as the Schools Bill, which promised to raise standards through a series of measures including the creation of local authority-administered register for children not in school.

However, come December it was scrapped, with ministers insisting they were committed to its objectives despite not taking the legislation further.

Speaking in the Commons, shadow education secretary Bridget Phillipson paid tribute to Sky News “for being relentless in pursuing this issue”.

She said persistent absenteeism means we are now on track for two million children to be regularly missing school by 2025.

She said: “That’s one in four of our children. There is no greater failing by this government than standing by as more and more children are missing from school for days on end, term after term, a lost generation of children missing from England’s schools.”

Ms Phillipson earlier told Sky News that if she becomes education secretary after the next election, she will “take action to make sure our children are supported, that every day in school matters”.

She said that would mean: “More mental health support, with mental health hubs in every community, improved access to mental health support within our secondary schools, and alongside that for our younger children, universal free breakfast clubs to support children with a softer start to the school day, and also wider help for families during what’s a really difficult time with the cost of living crisis.”

Meanwhile, Andy Cook, chief executive of the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), a centre-right think tank, warned the crisis could have far-reaching consequences for society.

He told Sky News: “You go into any prison and you talk to the people there, 90% of them say they missed a lot of school on a regular basis. So we need to take this seriously.”

Carol Vorderman leaves BBC radio show over new social media guidelines | UK News

Carol Vorderman has left her BBC radio show over the corporation’s new social media guidelines.

The former Countdown co-host said she was “not prepared to lose [her] voice on social media”.

Ms Vorderman said BBC Wales management had “decided [she] must leave” as she had “breached the new guidelines”.

She has presented the Saturday morning show on the station for the last five years.

Ms Vorderman said it had been explained to her that the new guidelines would apply to “all and any content” posted by her throughout the year.

This was “despite [her] show being lighthearted with no political content,” she added.

She said she did not want to lose the ability to express her “strong beliefs” on “the political turmoil this country finds itself in”.

“My decision has been to continue to criticise the current UK government for what it has done to the country which I love – and I’m not prepared to stop,” she said.

“I was brought up to fight for what I believe in, and I will carry on.”

Earlier this year, Match of the Day host Gary Lineker was taken off the air by the BBC after criticising the government’s asylum policy on social media.

Read more:
Gary Lineker backs BBC social media rules
Match of the Day host stands by ‘factually accurate’ post
Why lines are blurring between news and politics – Adam Boulton

In a statement posted on X, formerly Twitter, Ms Vorderman thanked her listeners, saying: “You made me laugh so much.”

She also said she was “sad to have to leave the wonderful friends I’ve made at Radio Wales”.

“I wish them, and all of our listeners, all the love in the world,” she added.

A BBC spokesperson said: “Carol has been a presenter on BBC Radio Wales since 2018.

“We’d like to thank her for her work and contribution to the station over the past five years.”

Good news for homeowners with average house price predicted to be £45,000 higher by 2028 | Business News

There could be some good news ahead for homeowners with house prices expected to be around £45,000 higher on average by 2028, according to a forecast.

Property adviser Savills, which released the research, said the market looks set to “bottom out” around the middle of next year.

Across Britain, the average property value will increase to £300,108 in 2028, marking a £45,521 or 17.9% increase from an average house price of £254,587 in 2023, according to Savills.

The average house price is projected to fall by 3.0% in 2024 but Savills said this will be followed by price increases in 2025, 2026, 2027 and 2028 as affordability pressures slowly ease.

Lucian Cook, head of residential research at Savills, said: “Interest rates are expected to have peaked and the worst of the house prices falls look to be behind us, but the first cut to rates still looks to be some way off.

“This means continued affordability pressures are likely to result in further modest house price falls over the first half of 2024, resulting in a peak-to-trough house price adjustment in the order of minus 10%.

“The expectation of a gradual reduction in rates suggests a progressive restoration of buying power and steady recovery in demand.”

Transactions are expected to remain at around 1.01 million in 2024, rising to 1.16 million per year at the end of the forecast period in 2028, as mortgage buyers gradually return to the market.

The research used data from Oxford Economics and Nationwide Building Society.

Below are the average house prices predicted by Savills by 2028, followed by the increase it predicts compared with 2023 house prices in cash terms:

• North East, £186,695, £32,940
• Wales, £239,663, £42,224
• North West, £241,944, £40,645
• Scotland, £206,850, £34,820
• Yorkshire and the Humber, £230,323, £38,692
• West Midlands, £283,954, £47,799
• East Midlands, £266,712, £43,759
• South West, £348,082, £52,797
• South East, £423,702, £60,642
• East of England, £397,060, £56,830
• London, £577,256, £70,376

The forecasts apply to average prices in the second hand property market. New-build property values may not move at the same rate.

Imran Hussain resigns as shadow minister over Starmer’s position on Israel-Hamas ceasefire | Politics News

Shadow minister Imran Hussain has quit Labour’s frontbench in protest at Sir Keir Starmer’s position on the Israel-Hamas war.

Mr Hussain’s decision will be a blow for the Labour leader, who has been attempting to hold his party together in an increasingly fractious debate over whether the leadership should back a ceasefire in Gaza.

In his resignation letter to Mr Starmer, Mr Hussain said: “It has become clear that my view on the ongoing humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza differs substantially from the position you have adopted.

“I believe the party needs to go further and call for a ceasefire.”

Israel-Gaza latest: Hamas leader ‘surrounded in bunker’,

The MP for Bradford East was explicit in condemning Hamas’s 7 October attack on Israel, but said the situation in Gaza was horrific.

“As I write, more than 1,400 Israeli and over 10,000 Palestinian civilians have been killed in the last month,” he wrote.

“This shocking number of fatalities is set to grow as indiscriminate attacks and the siege of Gaza continues.”

Mr Hussain had been on Labour’s front bench for eight years, most recently as shadow minister for the new deal for working people.

He said he wanted to be a “strong advocate for the humanitarian ceasefire”.

“It is clear that I cannot sufficiently, in all good conscience, do this from the frontbench given its current position,” he wrote.

Mr Hussain said he was “deeply troubled” by Sir Keir’s comments on the war in an LBC interview last month and that the party must come out for a ceasefire.

Sir Keir has resisted calls for a full ceasefire on the grounds it would “embolden” Hamas and allow it to carry out similar attacks to 7 October, when 1,400 Israelis were killed and more than 200 taken hostage.

Instead, he has taken the same stance as the US and backed calls for a humanitarian pause to allow aid into Gaza, where the Hamas-run health ministry says more than 10,000 people have now been killed.

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Israeli airstrikes on Gaza’s south

Despite attempting to hold off further rebellions with a series of interventions last week, the leader of Burnley Council and 10 other councillors resigned from Labour over Sir Keir’s decision not to push for a ceasefire.

Afrasiab Anwar, who has been in the party for 10 years, said it had been a “really difficult decision” to leave Labour and was among those calling for Sir Keir to step down on Thursday.

It takes the total number of councillors who have resigned over the row to 50, while 18 shadow ministers have defied the official Labour position by calling for a ceasefire, as well as London mayor Sadiq Khan, Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham and Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar.

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‘Is ceasefire issue tearing Labour apart?’

Read more from Sky News:
Starmer attacks ‘divisive brand’ of Suella Braverman
King booed by protesters after setting out Sunak’s agenda

Sir Keir has attempted to set out his reasoning for not backing a ceasefire as the calls from within his party grow louder.

In a speech last week, in which he sought to calm tensions over his position on the conflict, Sir Keir said he “understands” calls for a ceasefire but he did not believe it was the “correct position” to take.

He said a ceasefire “always freezes any conflict in the state where it currently lies” and would “embolden” Hamas and that a humanitarian pause was the “only credible approach” to the conflict in Gaza.

“Our current calls for pauses in the fighting, for clear and specific humanitarian purposes and which must start immediately, is right in practice as well as principle,” he argued.

“In fact it is at this moment, the only credible approach that has any chance of achieving what we all want to see in Gaza, the urgent alleviation of Palestinian suffering.

“And it’s why it is also a position shared by our major allies in the US and the EU.”

‘Let the bodies pile high’: Boris Johnson did make controversial remark despite ex-PM’s denials, veteran aide claims at COVID inquiry | Politics News

Boris Johnson said he would rather “let the bodies pile high” than impose another lockdown in September 2020, according to one of his most veteran aides – despite the former prime minister denying making the remark several times.

Edward Udny-Lister made the revelation to the COVID inquiry today – and also told Lady Hallett that Mr Johnson asked to be injected with COVID live on TV in March 2020 to show the virus was not a threat.

The bodies comment backs up reports in The Daily Mail and allegations made by Dominic Cummings in 2021.

Mr Johnson denied making the remarks on numerous occasions – both on television and in the House of Commons.

Politics latest: Johnson wanted to be injected with COVID on TV

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Misleading the House of Commons was at the centre of Mr Johnson’s resignation from the Commons as an MP.

Lord Udny-Lister worked with Mr Johnson when he was mayor of London, as well as when he was the foreign secretary.

He was one of the most senior aides to Mr Johnson in Downing Street – alongside Mr Cummings – and ultimately replaced Mr Cummings as chief of staff.

Lord Udny-Lister’s statement to the inquiry said: “In September 2020, the R number was rising. A circuit breaker was proposed in response to this increase and the health secretary was pushing hard for this to take place.

“However, the opposition to any form of lockdown was intense.

“I recall the PM saying in September 2020 that he would rather ‘let the bodies pile high’ than impose another lockdown.

“Whilst this was an unfortunate turn of phrase, it should be born [sic] in mind that by this point the government was trying to avoid a further lockdown given the already severe impact on the economy and education.”

A spokesman for Mr Johnson said the former prime minister would be giving evidence to the inquiry in due course.

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2021: PM asked about ‘bodies pile high’ comment

Unlike Mr Cummings, Lord Udny-Lister is a long-term ally of Mr Johnson.

His evidence was given on another illuminating day at the official COVID inquiry.

As well as the above claims, Lord Udny-Lister laid out the dysfunctionality of Downing Street – especially in the early days of the pandemic.

The adviser – who had a desk opposite Mr Cummings – said: “Some of the personalities made it very, very toxic… Dominic Cummings’s relationship with other people had become very strained.”

And messages released to the inquiry revealed that Mark Sedwill – then the head of the civil service – said in July 2020 that “it’s hard to ask people to [march] to the sound of gunfire if they’re shot in the back”.

Simon Case – who is now the head of the civil service – responded by saying: “I’ve never seen a bunch of people less well-equipped to run a country.”

Chief Strategic Advisor to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Sir Edward Lister, in Downing Street, Westminster, London.
Lord Udny-Lister was a senior adviser to Boris Johnson

Read more:
Final message between Johnson and Cummings revealed
The moments you may have missed at the inquiry last week

He added that “top-drawer” potential recruits had refused to work in Downing Street because of the “toxic reputation” of the setup.

Lord Udny-Lister also spoke of a distrust or dislike within Downing Street for including devolved administrations within decision-making, as it was felt that that decisions would be briefing or introduced early by Scotland for “political” reasons.

Before the political appointee gave evidence, Simon Ridley – who was head of the COVID-19 taskforce within Number 10 – was before the lawyers.

At one point, he confirmed that the taskforce – which coordinated COVID policy – was “blindsided” by Rishi Sunak’s Eat Out to Help Out announcement. He said the decision was instead made by the then chancellor and Mr Johnson.

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Another point to come out of Mr Ridley’s evidence was an email sent by Alexandra Burns, a Number 10 official, in April 2020. This asked if there was an “overall strategy” for care homes – adding that looking at Europe made it seem like one was necessary as “once someone gets [COVID] in one of these places many die”.

A diary extract from Sir Patrick Vallance, the former chief scientific adviser, wrote in his diary in October 2020 that he had a “very bad meeting” in Downing Street, in which Mr Johnson called for a “whisky and a revolver” and Mr Sunak was “using increasingly specific and spurious arguments against closing hospitality”.