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    Zelensky calls on Starmer to ‘show leadership’ and allow Ukrainian strikes on Russia

    Support trulyindependent journalismFind out moreCloseOur mission is to deliver unbiased, fact-based reporting that holds power to account and exposes the truth.Whether $5 or $50, every contribution counts.Support us to deliver journalism without an agenda.Louise ThomasEditorVolodymyr Zelensky used his historic address to the UK cabinet to urge Sir Keir Starmer to “show leadership” and let Ukraine use British weapons for strikes deep inside Russia.The Ukrainian president on Friday became the first foreign leader to address the cabinet in person since Bill Clinton in 1997, calling for support with his country’s “long-range capability”.In his address to the Cabinet Mr Zelensky said “if the restriction on western weapons is lifted” it would help Kyiv to strengthen its defence and secure its frontline positions.Volodymyr Zelensky urged Sir Keir Starmer to ‘show leadership’ on the issue More

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    Nigel Farage sparks anger over ‘inflammatory’ Leeds riot comments

    Support trulyindependent journalismFind out moreCloseOur mission is to deliver unbiased, fact-based reporting that holds power to account and exposes the truth.Whether $5 or $50, every contribution counts.Support us to deliver journalism without an agenda.Louise ThomasEditorNigel Farage has been accused of inflaming tensions after blaming rioting in Leeds on the “politics of the subcontinent”.The Reform UK leader, who was in the US for the Republican National Convention in Minnesota, posted on social media on Thursday evening as scenes of disorder in the city emerged.“The politics of the subcontinent are currently playing out on the streets of Leeds,” he wrote on X within hours: “Don’t say I didn’t warn you”.People in the Harehills area of the city were urged to stay at home as officers were called to Luxor Street at about 5pm on Thursday due to an “ongoing disturbance” involving agency workers and children.While the children were moved to a safe place, crowds gathered and the situation escalated, with objects thrown at police.Flames engulf double-decker bus after riot breaks out in Leeds with hundreds on streets. More

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    Border Force returns small boat Channel migrants to France for first time

    Support trulyindependent journalismFind out moreCloseOur mission is to deliver unbiased, fact-based reporting that holds power to account and exposes the truth.Whether $5 or $50, every contribution counts.Support us to deliver journalism without an agenda.Louise ThomasEditorThe UK took migrants saved in the Channel back to France for the first time in a sign of increased Anglo-French cooperation on small boats.A Border Force Ranger catamaran and an RNLI lifeboat were dispatched from Dover after France called for help on Wednesday.French ship PSP Cormoran picked up 59 people in the operation, and the British vessel rescued another 13.One migrant died when their small boat deflated near Calais and they could not be resuscitated, but the other 71 people were taken back to France in both ships.It was the first time a British vessel picked up migrants in French waters and returned them to France.A Border Force vessel and an RNLI lifeboat were dispatched from Dover More

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    Leader of Belarus marks 30 years in power after crushing all dissent and cozying up to Moscow

    Support trulyindependent journalismFind out moreCloseOur mission is to deliver unbiased, fact-based reporting that holds power to account and exposes the truth.Whether $5 or $50, every contribution counts.Support us to deliver journalism without an agenda.Louise ThomasEditor For three decades, European leaders have come and gone by the dozens, but Alexander Lukashenko remains in absolute control of Belarus.His longevity is due to a mixture of harshly silencing all dissent, reverting to Soviet-style economic controls and methods, and cozying up to Russia, even as he sometimes flirted with the West.Lukashenko, 69, was dubbed “Europe’s last dictator” early in his tenure, and he has lived up to that nickname.On Saturday, he marks 30 years in power — one of the world’s longest-serving and most ruthless leaders.As head of the country sandwiched between Russia, Ukraine and NATO members Poland, Lithuania and Latvia, Lukashenko was elected to his sixth term in office in 2020, in balloting widely seen at home and abroad as rigged.Months of mass protests that followed were harshly suppressed in a violent crackdown that sent tens of thousands to jail amid allegations of beatings and torture. Many political opponents remain imprisoned or have fled the nation of 9.5 million.But the strongman shrugged off Western sanctions and isolation that followed, and now he says he will run for a seventh five-year term next year.Lukashenko owes his political longevity to a mixture of guile, brutality and staunch political and economic support from his main ally, Russia.Most recently, in 2022 he allowed Moscow to use Belarusian territory to invade Ukraine and later agreed to host some of Russia’s tactical nuclear weapons.“Lukashenko has turned Belarus into a fragment of the USSR, dangerous not only for its own citizens but also threatening its Western neighbors with nuclear weapons,” said independent political analyst Valery Karbalevich.He describes the Belarusian leader as “one of the most experienced post-Soviet politicians, who has learned to play on both on the Kremlin’s mood and the fears of his own people.”When the former state farm director was first elected in July 1994 just 2½ years after Belarus gained independence following the USSR’s collapse, he pledged to fight corruption and boost living standards that had plunged amid chaotic free-market reforms.An admirer of the Soviet Union, Lukashenko pushed soon after his election for a referendum that abandoned the country’s new red-and-white national flag in favor of one similar to what Belarus had used as a Soviet republic.He also quickly bolstered ties with Russia and pushed for forming a new union state in the apparent hope of becoming its head after a full merger — an ambition dashed by the 2000 election of Vladimir Putin to succeed the ailing Boris Yeltsin as Russian president.Under Lukashenko, Belarus’ top security agency retained its fearsome Soviet-era name of the KGB. It also has been the only country in Europe to keep capital punishment, with executions carried out with a shot to the back of the head.In 1999 and 2000, four prominent Lukashenko critics disappeared, and an investigation by the Council of Europe concluded they were kidnapped and killed by death squads linked to senior Belarusian officials. Belarusian authorities stonewalled European demands to track down and prosecute the suspected culprits.“Lukashenko never bothered with his reputation,” said Anatoly Lebedko, leader of the now-outlawed United Civil Party of Belarus. “He relished in calling himself a dictator and bragged about being a pariah even when he was publicly accused of political killings and other crimes.”Lukashenko initiated constitutional changes that put parliament under his control, removed term limits and extended his power in elections that the West didn’t recognize as free or fair. Protests following the votes were quickly broken up by police and organizers were jailed.His Soviet-style centralized economy depended heavily on Russian subsidies.“Instead of helping Belarus, cheap Russian oil and gas have become its curse, allowing Lukashenko to receive windfall profits from exporting oil products to Europe and freeze the situation in Belarus,” said Alexander Milinkevich, who challenged him in a 2006 election. “Opposition calls for reforms and movement toward the European Union literally drowned in the flood of Russian money.”But even while relying on Moscow, Lukashenko repeatedly clashed with the Kremlin, accusing it of trying to strong-arm Belarus into surrendering control of its most prized economic assets and eventually abandoning its independence.While maneuvering for more subsidies from Russia, he often tried to appease the West by occasionally easing repressions. Before the 2020 election, the U.S. and EU lifted some sanctions as Belarus freed political prisoners.The balancing act ended after the vote that sparked the largest protests ever seen in Belarus. In the subsequent crackdown, over 35,000 people were arrested, thousands were beaten in police custody, and hundreds of independent media outlets and nongovernmental organizations were closed and outlawed.While Putin had been annoyed by Lukashenko’s past maneuvers, he saw the protests as a major threat to Moscow’s influence over its ally and moved quickly to shore up the Belarusian leader who came under Western sanctions.Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, who challenged Lukashenko in that election and then fled the country to lead the opposition from exile, said the vote marked a watershed as it became clear that he had “lost support of the majority of the Belarusians.”“Lukashenko has survived primarily thanks to Russia, which offered him information, financial and even military support at the peak of the protests,” she told The Associated Press. “The Kremlin’s intervention prevented a split in the Belarusian elites. Now Lukashenko is paying back that support with the country’s sovereignty.”Belarus’ leading human rights group Viasna counts about 1,400 political prisoners in the country, including group founder and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Ales Bialiatski, who has been held incommunicado like other opposition figures.“Lukashenko has created a harsh personalist political regime in the center of Europe with thousands of political prisoners where civic institutions don’t function and time has turned back,” said Bialiatski’s wife, Natalia Pinchuk. “Torturous conditions in which Ales has been held are emblematic for thousands of Belarusian prisoners and Lukashenko’s path in politics.”In one of the most vivid episodes of the crackdown, a commercial jet carrying a dissident journalist from Greece to Lithuania was forced to land in Minsk in May 2021 when it briefly crossed into Belarusian airspace in what the West condemned as air piracy. The journalist, Raman Pratasevich, was convicted of organizing protests and sentenced to eight years in prison. He later was pardoned and become a Lukashenko supporter.The Belarusian leader is sometimes blustery and mercurial. He once praised Adolf Hitler for “raising Germany from ruins.”Lukashenko shrugged off the COVID-19 pandemic as “psychosis” and advised people to “kill the virus with vodka,” go to saunas and work in the fields because “tractors will cure everybody!”Amid the 2020 crackdown, Lukashenko declared that “sometimes we shouldn’t care about the laws and just take tough steps to stop some scum.”He kept his youngest son, 19-year-old Nikolai, at his side at official events, fueling speculation that he could be nurturing him as a successor.Lukashenko maintained a tough-guy image by playing hockey, skiing and doing other sports. After contracting COVID-19, he said he recovered quickly, thanks to physical activity.But he’s become visibly less energetic in recent years amid rumors of health problems that he denied with his usual bravado.“I’m not going to die,” he said last year. “You will have to tolerate me for quite a long time to go.” More

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    Poll reveals popularity of Keir Starmer after first week as PM

    Support trulyindependent journalismFind out moreCloseOur mission is to deliver unbiased, fact-based reporting that holds power to account and exposes the truth.Whether $5 or $50, every contribution counts.Support us to deliver journalism without an agenda.Louise ThomasEditorSir Keir Starmer ended his first week as Prime Minister as popular as Boris Johnson was at the height of the vaccine rollout, a poll has found.Some 36% of the public told pollster Ipsos they thought Sir Keir was doing a good job as Prime Minister, the highest rating for a premier since February 2021 when 37% said the same about Mr Johnson.But conversely, just 14% of the public think the new Prime Minister is doing a bad job, well below the 41% that thought negatively of Mr Johnson in February 2021 – and the 57% that thought badly of Rishi Sunak just before he called the election.Keiran Pedley, director of politics at Ipsos, said: “Looking at Keir Starmer’s poll ratings there are increasing signs of the new Prime Minister enjoying something of a honeymoon period during his first few days in office.”Sir Keir’s Government as a whole enjoyed similar approval ratings, with 34% saying they thought it was running the country well and a similar proportion saying they thought it was doing better than expected.Enthusiasm for Labour is particularly high among those aged 18-34, with 45% saying they thought the Government was doing better than expected.That figure fell to 29% of those aged 35-54 and 31% of those aged 55-75.Mr Pedley added: “Of course, time will tell how long such ratings last, with Starmer and his Government’s ability to deliver against public priorities likely to dictate their respective political fortunes in the long term.”Just 16% of people thought Labour was doing a bad job running the country, well below the figures saying the same about recent Conservative governments.The Ipsos poll surveyed 1,092 British adults online between July 12 and 15.Prime Minister Sir Keir Starmer said the Government would carefully consider the report’s findings (Benjamin Cremel/PA) More

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    Zelensky to brief cabinet as first foreign leader to visit No 10 under Starmer

    Support trulyindependent journalismFind out moreCloseOur mission is to deliver unbiased, fact-based reporting that holds power to account and exposes the truth.Whether $5 or $50, every contribution counts.Support us to deliver journalism without an agenda.Louise ThomasEditorVolodymyr Zelensky will address an extraordinary meeting of the UK Cabinet on Friday as he becomes the first official visitor to Downing Street under Sir Keir Starmer’s premiership.The Ukrainian president, who is making his third visit to the UK, will also be the first foreign leader to address the cabinet in person since US president Bill Clinton in 1997.He is expected to brief ministers about the situation in Ukraine and the need to expand Europe’s industrial defence base, as well as agreeing a £3.5bn defence export finance deal with Sir Keir.The Labour leader made his first visit to Ukraine in February last year and has been keen to underline Britain’s ongoing support for the embattled country, despite a change of government in the UK.The King with Volodymyr Zelensky at Blenheim Palace on Thursday More

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    Council’s ‘spreadsheet’ blunder sees more than 6,500 general election votes missed

    Support trulyindependent journalismFind out moreCloseOur mission is to deliver unbiased, fact-based reporting that holds power to account and exposes the truth.Whether $5 or $50, every contribution counts.Support us to deliver journalism without an agenda.Louise ThomasEditorMore than 6,000 votes cast in a London constituency for the general election were missed off due to a “spreadsheet issue”.Wandsworth Council has apologised after revealing it had mistakenly failed to include 6,558 votes in the declaration of the election result in Putney.The first published result had shown Labour’s Fleur Anderson held onto the seat with 20,952 votes, beating Conservative Lee Roberts who received 10,011.However, almost two weeks after the 4 July general election, the council revealed it had made a mistake and published a revised list of the results on its website.The revision did not impact the overall result, or ranking, but provided Ms Anderson with a greater majority. She took 24,113 votes, increasing her share of the vote to almost 49 per cent.Mr Roberts received 11,625 votes. He was followed by Kieren Michael McCarthy, the Lib Dem candidate, with 5,932 and Fergal McEntee, of the Green Party, with 3,721.In a statement, Wandsworth Council said: “We acknowledge a spreadsheet issue that resulted in not all the properly counted and allocated votes being included in the announcement on the night in the Putney election count for the general election 2024.“This was identified and the figures on this page have been updated. This did not affect the result or the order of the candidates.“While we are confident this was an isolated incident we are taking this opportunity to review processes with a particular focus on spreadsheet procedures.”However, some expressed anger at the mistake.Aled Richards-Jones, the leader of the Conservative group on the council, said: “Wandsworth residents deserve urgent clarification about how an error of this magnitude could have occurred, why it wasn’t detected at the time and the steps the council is taking to ensure this can never happen again.”Former education minister Justine Greening had held the Putney seat for the Tory party from 2005, until in 2019 she rebelled against Boris Johnson’s government and became an independent MP.The seat was then won by Ms Anderson for Labour with a majority of more than 4,700 in 2019. More

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    Starmer seeks urgent migration deal at European summit as he vows to repair ties with EU leaders – live

    Lammy clashes with Naga Munchetty over his ‘neo Nazi’ comment on TrumpSupport trulyindependent journalismFind out moreCloseOur mission is to deliver unbiased, fact-based reporting that holds power to account and exposes the truth.Whether $5 or $50, every contribution counts.Support us to deliver journalism without an agenda.Louise ThomasEditorSir Keir Starmer is attempting to forge new migration deals with European countries and become EU’s “friend and partner” during a meeting with continental leaders as part of the fourth European Political Community summit. The prime minister is using the 47-member EPC meeting at Blenheim Palace, the birthplace of Winston Churchill, to push for action to secure the continent’s borders, and reiterate the UK’s support to Ukraine. Volodymyr Zelensky urged European leaders to channel Winston Churchill’s “bravery” in the fight against the Russian aggression and declared that Putin has sacrificed “tens of thousands of his citizens but has achieved nothing significant”.During the meeting, senior European leaders and representatives welcomed Sir Keir’s approach on improving post-Brexit relations with Josep Borrell praising the “new tone of the British Government” Despite the positive noises being made by EU leaders, David Lammy has warned the UK is unlikely to be able to begin renegotiating a deal with the bloc for some time.Speaking this morning, he said the European Union and the European Commission will not be up and running until December following their elections.Show latest update 1721314310Starmer welcomes the King at Blenheim Palace King Charles has arrived at Blenheim Palace where he will be hosting a reception as part of Sir Keir Starmer’s European summit. The King will meet all European leaders at the historic palace in Woodstock, Oxfordshire. The prime minister greeted the King as he arrived at Blenheim’s Great Court before they both headed to the Long Library for the reception. Salma Ouaguira18 July 2024 15:511721314080Pictured: Inside the gardens of Blenheim PalacePrime Minister Sir Keir Starmer with Italy’s Prime Minister Georgia Meloni during a bilateral meeting at the European Political Community summit at Blenheim Palace in Woodstock, Oxfordshire More