Foreign aid: More Conservative rebels join bid to reverse cuts

The government is facing a growing rebellion that could force it to reverse cuts to foreign aid.

Thirty Tory rebels, including former prime minister Theresa May, have now promised to back a bid to increase aid spending in 2022.

Next week’s planned Commons vote will come in the same week the government hosts world leaders at the G7 summit.

A minister said despite the “temporary” cut, the UK remained “one of the largest donors of aid in the world”.

The rebels want to restore aid spending to 0.7% of national income from next January, after ministers reduced it to 0.5% this year, a cut of almost £4bn.

The group is hoping to use a technical procedure, involving an amendment to a new law setting up the UK’s new “high risk” science agency, to bring about the change.

The aid reduction has meant millions of pounds less is being spent on supporting girls’ education, reproductive health, clean water, HIV/AIDS, the humanitarian crisis in Yemen and Syria, and hundreds of other projects.

Charities warned that millions of women and children would not receive food and support and have predicted that more than 100,000 people could die as a result of the government’s decision.

The United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, has described the aid cuts as a “death sentence”.

The reductions to the overseas development assistance budget were introduced by the government this year without a vote, in part because ministers feared defeat at the hands of MPs.

Initially ministers conceded the change would require a change to the 2015 law, passed during the Tory-Lib Dem coalition, which made the 0.7% target legally binding.

But in March, Boris Johnson argued a change would not be required because the current law allows the target to be temporarily missed in exceptional circumstances.

The government has promised to restore spending to the 0.7% level “when the fiscal situation allows” – but has not specified a date.

Critics have argued the decision to cut spending without changing current legislation is unlawful, and have been looking for an opportunity to test opinion in the Commons.

On Thursday, former Tory premier Theresa May, her former de facto deputy PM Damian Green, former Welsh secretary Stephen Crabb and former defence minister Johnny Mercer joined those supporting the rebellion.

It means there are now 30 Tory MPs supporting the amendment, including seven former cabinet ministers.

Former International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell – who is leading the rebellion – said he was confident of finding the 45 or so Conservative rebels needed to defeat the government.

He said more Conservative MPs were coming forward to support the amendment to “stand by” the party’s manifesto promise to spend 0.7% of national income on aid.

On Wednesday, Mr Mitchell tabled his amendment to the Advanced Research and Invention Agency Bill.

The bill, which would set up a new agency designed to come up with innovative policy, is due to receive detailed scrutiny in the Commons on Monday.

Mr Mitchell’s technical amendment would oblige the new agency to make up any shortfall in aid spending if the government were to miss the 0.7% target.

Whitehall officials are studying whether the amendment is likely to be considered within the scope of the bill. It will be up to Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle to decide on Monday whether it should be put to a vote.

One of the Conservative rebels, Caroline Nokes, said the group had put “an awful lot of work” into designing their amendment, and she was “very hopeful” it would be selected.

But, speaking to BBC News, she added the group was “entirely in the hands of the Speaker at this point”.

Labour’s shadow international development secretary Preet Kaur Gill said the aid cut had “risked lives” during the pandemic and undermined the UK’s credibility as a “leader on the greatest global challenges”.

She urged ministers to “do the right thing” ahead of the G7 summit and reinstate the UK’s commitment to spending 0.7% on foreign aid.

Responding to the move, Home Office Minister Victoria Atkins said the cut was a “small temporary reduction,” and the UK still remained “one of the largest donors of aid in the world”.

She told Sky News: “The prime minister has made clear that this is a temporary measure.

“In 2019, no one could have foreseen the extent of the pandemic and the measures we were going to have to take as a country in order to deal with this; it has had a huge impact on our economy.”

“So we’ve had to make some very, very difficult decisions,” she added.

“I do believe we still have a record of which we can very much hold our head up high in terms of international development.”

Channel crossings: Patel calls on social media companies to take down videos

Home Secretary Priti Patel has called for the removal of social media posts that “glamourise” dangerous migrant crossings from Europe.

In a letter to social media companies, Ms Patel said videos promoting “lethal crossings” were “unacceptable”.

Facebook, which also owns Instagram, said people smuggling was illegal and that content encouraging the activity was “not allowed” on its platforms.

Several hundred migrants have attempted to cross the Channel in the past week.

Reports that a Border Force ship entered French waters and picked up migrants from a UK-bound dinghy are being investigated by the Home Office.

Ms Patel’s letter was sent after a video that appeared to show a group of men crossing the Channel in a dinghy went viral on TikTok.

People smugglers use posts – which also feature on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter – to promote crossings to desperate migrants, the Home Office added.

“Posts which promote and even glamourise these lethal crossings are totally unacceptable,” Ms Patel said.

“They encourage others to leave a safe European country and put their and their family’s lives at risk and are even used by people smugglers to promote their deadly business.”

“What these posts don’t mention are the people who have died trying to make this crossing, or those forced to spend 13 hours in unseaworthy boats in freezing waters,” Ms Patel said.

She added that social media companies had “made progress” in removing the posts but “must quickly and proactively… before more men, women and children die in the Channel”.

A Facebook spokesman responded: “People smuggling is illegal and any ads, posts, pages or groups that co-ordinate this activity are not allowed on Facebook.

“We will continue to work closely with law enforcement agencies around the world, including the NCA (National Crime Agency) and Europol to identify, remove and report this illegal activity.”

Border Force dealt with four boats carrying 83 people across the Channel on Friday.

So far this year, there have been more than 4,000 arrivals, a trend that could see this year’s numbers outstrip last year’s total of about 8,500.

The Home Office said it was “cracking down on the despicable criminal gangs behind people smuggling” and more than 4,000 people had been prevented from making the crossing so far this year.

But Enver Solomon, chief executive of the Refugee Council, said the government’s approach was not working.

“The reality is that when fleeing war, terror and persecution, ordinary people are forced to take extraordinary steps to seek safety in another country,” he said.

“Creating safe and regular routes to the UK – through an expanded resettlement programme, humanitarian visas and reforming the restrictive family reunion rules – is the way to effectively address the issue.”

Meanwhile, the Home Office is investigating a Daily Mail report that a Border Force officer asked a French ship for permission to collect a group of migrants in French waters last weekend.

Lucy Moreton, from the Immigration Services Union, said she had no first-hand knowledge of the incident, but there had apparently been no threat to life.

She said it was a common tactic for migrants to threaten to throw someone overboard if a French vessel came too close, because migrants knew if they were picked up by a UK ship they were “as good as here”.

The Prefecture Maritime de la Manche in France said the risks that migrants crossing the Channel faced included overloaded boats, makeshift vessels, lack of life jackets, cold sea temperatures and inappropriate clothing.

“The priority is therefore to be able to rescue them,” a statement said.

Boris Johnsons flat: Top official to review funding of revamp

Boris Johnson has said any donations linked to the refurbishment of his Downing Street flat will be declared “in due course”.

The prime minister is under pressure to explain how works on the official residence were paid for, following claims from his former top adviser.

Dominic Cummings has alleged the PM once planned to have donors “secretly pay” for the revamp.

The defence secretary has said Mr Johnson “personally paid the bill”.

Speaking earlier, Ben Wallace added that Mr Johnson had covered the costs “from his own money” and complied with the rules “at all times”.

Labour has called on the Electoral Commission, which regulates political donations in the UK, to launch a formal investigation.

The watchdog has said it is talking to the Conservative Party about whether the spending on the flat falls within its remit.

The claims about the flat are contained in a blog posted by Mr Cummings on Friday, his first since leaving his role in No 10. In the blog he also:

Asked on Monday whether he had ever discussed using donations to pay for refurbishments, Mr Johnson replied: “If there’s anything to be said about that, any declaration to be made, that will of course be made in due course.”

The UK’s most senior civil servant, Cabinet Secretary Simon Case, is facing questions from MPs about Mr Cummings’s allegations.

Appearing before a Commons committee this afternoon Mr Case said the inquiry into the leak of plans for a second lockdown is “ongoing”.

Downing Street says the prime minister has “never interfered in a government leak inquiry”.

Like several of his recent predecessors, the PM is living in the flat above No 11 Downing Street, which is larger than the one above No 10.

Asked whether a loan had initially covered the refurbishment costs, Mr Wallace told BBC Breakfast: “The prime minister paid the money, from his own money”.

He said this came “on top of” public money from the annual £30,000 taxpayer grant available to all prime ministers for the upkeep of their accommodation.

In a written statement on Friday, the government said no money from this grant was spent in the 2019/20 financial year. Figures for this year are expected to be published in the summer.

“At all times the prime minister has complied with the rules. He’s paid for it out of his own money, ” he said.

Mr Wallace also dismissed as “nonsense” a newspaper report that Mr Johnson said he would rather see “bodies piled high in their thousands” than order a third national lockdown.

The Daily Mail quoted sources saying the remark came after the PM reluctantly imposed a lockdown in England in November. Downing Street has strongly denied he made the comment.

Asked about the claims, Mr Wallace said: “I’ve known the prime minister for many years, that is not the prime minister I know. That is just nonsense.”

Speaking to reporters on Monday, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer urged a “full and transparent investigation” into the allegations about the Downing Street flat, arguing they risked undermining trust in government.

“It’s all very well the prime minister saying now ‘I paid for it’, the critical question was: what was the original arrangement – and why is it so complicated?”

“If there’s a straightforward answer, well give it. And if there isn’t, then there are very serious questions to be asked,” he added.

A No 10 spokesperson said: “At all times, the government and ministers have acted in accordance with the appropriate codes of conduct and electoral law.”

Donations and loans to political parties of more than £7,500 must be reported to the Electoral Commission.

The Conservative Party has previously said that all “reportable donations” are “correctly declared to the Electoral Commission, published by them and comply fully with the law”.

The party said “gifts and benefits received in a ministerial capacity” are declared in government transparency returns.

Commonwealth war graves: PM deeply troubled over racism

Boris Johnson said he is “deeply troubled” by failures to properly commemorate black and Asian troops who died fighting for the British Empire during World War One.

Some troops were commemorated collectively or their names were recorded in registers, while their white counterparts had headstones.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace apologised in the Commons after a report blamed “pervasive racism”.

Mr Wallace pledged to “take action”.

The prime minister offered an “unreserved apology” over the findings of the review by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

“Our shared duty is to honour and remember all those, wherever they lived and whatever their background, who laid down their lives for our freedoms at the moment of greatest peril,” he said.

Mr Wallace expressed “deep regret” in the House of Commons, as he told MPs there was “no doubt” prejudice had played a part in what happened after WWI.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission, which is tasked with commemorating those who died in the two world wars, has also apologised over its findings.

Labour MP David Lammy, who was critical to bringing the matter to light, called it a “watershed moment”.

Mr Wallace said: “On behalf of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and the government both of the time and today, I want to apologise for the failures to live up to their founding principles all those years ago and express deep regret that it has taken so long to rectify the situation.

“Whilst we can’t change the past, we can make amends and take action,” he said.

He said there were cases where the commission “deliberately overlooked evidence” that would have allowed it to find the names of the dead.

And he said there were examples of officials employing an “overarching imperial ideology connected to racial and religious differences” in order to “divide the dead and treat them unequally in ways that were impossible in Europe”.

Outlining the next steps, Mr Wallace said the Commonwealth War Graves Commission will:

Mr Wallace also announced a public consultation over plans to waive the visa fee for service personnel from the Commonwealth and Nepal who choose to settle in the UK in order to honour their contribution.

An inquiry by the commission was set up following a 2019 Channel 4 documentary, called Unremembered, which was presented by Mr Lammy.

The report found that at least 116,000 casualties from WW1, most of whom were of African, Indian or Egyptian origin, “were not commemorated by name or possibly not commemorated at all”.

But that figure could be as high as 350,000, it said.

It also cited racist comments such as the governor of a British colony saying in 1923 that: “The average native… would not understand or appreciate a headstone.”

Shadow justice secretary Mr Lammy told the BBC that while making the documentary in Kenya and Tanzania, he discovered mass graves in which Africans had been “dumped with no commemoration whatsoever”.

He said it was a travesty that men who served the British Empire were not commemorated properly, but welcomed the report.

“I’m just really, really pleased that the dignity that these men deserved – who were dragged from their villages and commandeered to work for the British Empire – that dignity that they deserve in death can be granted to them,” he said.

Mr Lammy added that work must be done to find their names in archives where that is possible, and to establish how local communities would like them to be commemorated.

He also said Commonwealth soldiers should not be “whitewashed” out of history books, while Mr Wallace said it was a “deep regret” that his own WW1 education had included “very little about the contribution from the Commonwealth countries and the wider at the time British Empire”.

Historian Prof David Olusoga, whose TV company produced Unremembered, told BBC Breakfast that apologies were not enough and resources would need to be committed if the commission was serious about restorative justice.

“If the Commonwealth War Graves Commission had set up a committee and discovered that 100,000 white British soldiers lay in mass graves – unmarked, uncommemorated – and the documentation proved that that had been deliberate, what would they do?” he said.

Six million soldiers from the British Empire served in WW1.

Between 45,000 and 54,000 Asian and African personnel who died in the conflict were “commemorated unequally”, the commission said.

The report concluded that the failure to properly commemorate the individuals was influenced by a scarcity of information, errors inherited from other organisations and the opinions of colonial administrators.

“Underpinning all these decisions, however, were the entrenched prejudices, preconceptions and pervasive racism of contemporary imperial attitudes,” it added.

The report picked out an example from 1923 when the governor of the Gold Coast colony, now Ghana, argued for collective memorials rather than individual ones.

At a meeting in London, it was said that the governor, F G Guggisberg, said: “The average native of the Gold Coast would not understand or appreciate a headstone.”

In response, commission employee Arthur Browne said: “In perhaps two or three hundred years’ time, when the native population had reached a higher stage of civilisation, they might then be glad to see that headstones had been erected on the native graves and that the native soldiers had received precisely the same treatment as their white comrades.”

The report said Mr Browne’s response showed “what he may have considered foresight, but one that was explicitly framed by contemporary racial prejudice”.

The commission, which was founded in 1917 as the Imperial War Graves Commission, said the events of a century ago were wrong then and were wrong now.

Its director general, Claire Horton, said: “We recognise the wrongs of the past and are deeply sorry and will be acting immediately to correct them.”

As part of the commission’s work to search for unnamed war dead and those who are potentially not commemorated, it will also look at those who died in World War Two, although it is not thought that inequalities seen in WW1 were as widespread then.

Ms Horton said the report was “sober” reading but gave the commission the ability – “now that we know the numbers and the areas to look” – to start the searches properly to “right the wrongs of the past”.

The war graves commission was founded with a remit to remember every individual who had died in World War One, regardless of rank, class, religion or race.

The idea of equal treatment was controversial, but it became a cornerstone of remembrance.

Outside Europe, however, the commission enacted a policy of extreme discrimination, categorising the fallen as “white”, “Indians” or what it called “natives”.

In southern Kenya, white soldiers lie beneath named memorials in a well-tended cemetery. Next door in a scruffy field is where their African comrades are buried – no names, just a general memorial.

The consequence of the commission’s failings is not only to do a great injustice to the black and Asian soldiers, sailors and airmen who fought alongside their white European comrades in two world wars, it is to misrepresent our history.

Greta Thunberg becomes bunny hugger on Twitter

Teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg has updated her Twitter biography to describe herself as a “bunny hugger”.

The change comes after remarks made by the prime minister, Boris Johnson, to US President Joe Biden’s virtual climate summit on 22 April.

In his speech, Boris Johnson described “the politically correct green act of bunny hugging”.

The remarks made were met with bemusement from some on social media.

It is not the first time the Swedish climate activist – who’s also changed her Instagram profile – has used her Twitter bio to make a joke.

She changed her Twitter bio to feature the words “currently chilling” after former US President Donald Trump told her to “chill” in 2019.

In the same year, she also changed her description on the site to “pirralha” (the Portuguese word for brat) after Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro used the word to describe her.

She also responded to Russian President Vladimir Putin calling her “a kind but poorly informed teenager” by putting the quote into her social media biography.

In his speech, delivered virtually, Mr Johnson argued that tackling climate change is about “growth and jobs” not “expensive bunny hugging”.

He quickly backtracked, saying there was “nothing wrong with bunny hugging but you know what I’m driving at”.

His speech attracted thousands of comments on social media, with Dragon’s Den star Deborah Meaden telling her followers on Twitter that the prime minister’s speech was best watched “curled up behind the sofa”.

Others on the site expressed concern that the remarks made by Mr Johnson may not have translated well for those watching without English as a first language.

The virtual climate summit was organised by US President Joe Biden.

He described the coming years as a “decisive decade” for action on the climate crisis.

Later this year, the UK is due to host the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow.

Uyghurs: MPs state genocide is taking place in China

The House of Commons has declared for the first time that genocide is taking place against Uyghurs and others in north-west China.

More than a million people are estimated to have been detained at camps in the region of Xinjiang.

The motion approved by MPs does not compel the UK to take action, but is a sign of growing discontent towards the Chinese government in Parliament.

In response, China said the UK should “immediately right its wrong moves”.

Tory Sir Iain Duncan Smith heralded the vote as “a historic moment”, bringing the UK Parliament in line with Holland, Canada and the United States.

Sir Iain was one of five UK parliamentarians sanctioned by China for spreading what it calls “lies and disinformation”.

Speaking in the debate, Nus Ghani – another MP to be targeted by China – said genocide meant intent to “destroy in whole or in part” a national, ethnic, racial or religious group.

“All five criteria of genocide are evidenced as taking place in Xinjiang,” she said.

Ms Ghani said detainees were subject to “brutal torture methods, including beatings with metal prods, electric shocks and whips”.

She also said women in the Uyghur region were being fitted with birth control devices, adding: “The Handmaid’s Tale is a fairy tale compared to the reproductive rights of Uighur women.”

“This abuse is evidenced by the Chinese government’s own data – 2014, over 200,000 birth control devices were inserted in women in Xinjiang. By 2018, this had increased by 60%,” she said.

In a statement, the Chinese embassy to the UK said: “The unwarranted accusation by a handful of British MPs that there is ‘genocide’ in Xinjiang is the most preposterous lie of the century, an outrageous insult and affront to the Chinese people, and a gross breach of international law and the basic norms governing international relations.

“China strongly opposes the UK’s blatant interference in China’s internal affairs.”

Labour’s shadow Foreign Office minister Stephen Kinnock said the party supported the motion arguing that “genocide can never be met with indifference or inaction”.

The government opposed the motion arguing that deeming an event to be a genocide was a matter for “competent national and international courts after consideration of all the available evidence”.

Despite government opposition, the motion passed because ministers did not vote against it.

Foreign Office Minister Nigel Adams insisted the UK was “ramping up pressure” on Beijing through the United Nations.

Earlier this year, Canada, the European Union, the UK and the US imposed sanctions on Chinese officials in protest at rights abuses in the country.

China has denied allegations of abuse and argued that the camps are a tool to fight terrorism.

Joe Biden to visit UK in June for first overseas trip as president

US President Joe Biden will visit the UK in June for his first overseas trip since his election victory last year.

The president will travel to Cornwall for the G7 summit, which takes place between 11 and 13 June.

From there, he will travel to Brussels, in Belgium, to participate in the Nato Summit on 14 June.

President Biden’s trip will focus on “restoring our alliances” and “revitalising the Transatlantic relationship”, the White House said.

During his time in the UK, Mr Biden is due to hold bilateral meetings with fellow G7 leaders, including Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

“This trip will highlight his commitment to restoring our alliances, revitalising the transatlantic relationship, and working in close cooperation with our allies and multilateral partners to address global challenges and better secure America’s interests,” the president’s press secretary said.

The G7 summit is an opportunity to “reinforce our commitment to multilateralism, work to advance key US policy priorities on public health, economic recovery, and climate change, and demonstrate solidarity and shared values among major democracies,” they added.

The UK, US, Germany, France, Canada, Italy and Japan make up the G7, while leaders from Australia, India, South Korea and the EU will also attend the summit as guests.

It will be held in Carbis Bay, near St Ives.

The US president’s trip to the UK will be his first to any nation since defeating Donald Trump in November’s election.

Following his victory, Mr Biden also chose to call the UK prime minister before any other European leader.

During that call, the two leaders talked about “the benefits of a potential free trade deal” between the UK and the US, with Mr Johnson reiterating his intention “to resolve existing trade issues as soon as possible”, Downing Street said at the time.

Both Mr Johnson and Mr Biden have been taking part in a climate action summit – hosted by the US – this week.

The US has pledged to cut carbon emissions by 50-52% below 2005 levels by the year 2030.

This new target, which was unveiled at a virtual summit of 40 global leaders, essentially doubles their previous promise.

Earlier in the week, it was revealed that the UK hopes to cut its own carbon emissions by 78% by 2035.

European Super League: Why Johnson and Starmer dived into the row

Boris Johnson did not waste a moment wading into the row over the European Super League – vowing to do everything in his power to stop it.

Within hours of the announcement from the clubs involved, he had tweeted his condemnation.

And all this from a prime minister who isn’t even a football fan himself.

So why did he want to get stuck in?

He was still at it during Prime Minister’s Questions, even dipping into the book of football cliches to declare the decision to ditch the ESL the “right result”.

As the mayor of London during the 2012 London Olympics, Mr Johnson discovered first hand the power of sport to unite people and lift the national mood, as well as boosting his own popularity.

But there are other, deeper factors at play.

Firstly, let’s think about some of the big concepts that have driven British politics in recent years: Belonging, identity and pride.

And yes, that famous slogan of five years ago from the Vote Leave campaign – a desire to “take back control.”

The European Super League felt like a laser guided strike on these amorphous but powerful feelings.

“It is pretty much the first thing I thought,” the pollster Deborah Mattinson told me.

Mattinson wrote a book, Beyond The Red Wall, about those swathes of seats in the Midlands and north of England that voted Conservative for the first time at the last general election.

“It is about ‘my place, my community’. It is a sense of what is yours, versus globalism.”

Look at the ESL through this lens and we see a group of powerful global brands cooking up what critics see as a self-serving, money-spinning scheme, without even asking the people upon which their empires were built – the supporters – what they make of it.

But why shouldn’t these companies seek to maximise their assets?

What about the Conservative instinct for the free market?

Downing Street argued that this was different.

“The clubs aren’t just global brands, they originate from local communities,” No 10 said. “This is not just a pure business decision. It is important for the fans and for their local communities.”

Sir Keir Starmer was just as outspoken as the prime minister in his condemnation of the ESL, and just as quick to welcome its demise.

“Even as an Arsenal season ticket holder,” said the Labour leader, with a reference to one of the six English clubs who wanted to be part of the ESL, he felt the move would have “destroyed football”.

Starmer and Johnson both appear to understand how politics is changing in the aftermath of Brexit.

“The big message in politics of the last 10 years – with Brexit and the realignment of party support – is people want power and influence sent down towards them, not up and away from them.

“Football, which has local roots, is drifting away from people, when the currents in politics are going in the opposite direction,” says Matthew Goodwin, Professor of Politics at the University of Kent.

And then there is geography to consider.

“There is a new political geography in Britain. In the vast majority of the constituencies the Conservatives won from Labour at the last election, there are loads of people who feel passionately about this,” says Matthew Goodwin.

In other words, in England’s political battleground, towns, this issue has disproportionate resonance.

As Paul Waugh, of HuffPost, has reflected many of these towns, such as Burnley, Blackpool, Lincoln and Crewe, are Leave-voting and home to smaller clubs whose supporter base is much more geographically concentrated.

These are places where identity, belonging and taking back control matters – and whose football teams aspire to climb the league pyramid, their success the only determinant of how high they might get.

They are also places enthused by Brexit and, arguably, drawn to a promise to “level up”, to use the government’s jargon for spreading wealth and power to previously neglected areas.

Matthew Goodwin, who wrote a well-regarded book on the rise of UKIP, says: “This is a crucial cultural point as well. The British sense of fair play. An aspiration to rise up the social and economic ladder. This league violates that. It says we are just cementing the elite.”

And, as Prospect magazine has previously pondered, there is another, more nuanced, geographical point worth reflecting on too.

The footballing elite, the Premier League, is overwhelmingly based in Labour-voting, urban, Remain leaning seats.

And not a single top flight side has the word “town” in its title, even if a few sides are based in towns.

Yes, this stuff can be overdone, and it appears the vast majority of fans of the six English clubs that were involved in the Super League were as appalled by it as many other football fans.

But it underlines how geography matters.

So the European Super League managed to unite the usual squabbling political tribes, who only competed in how strong their condemnation of the idea was.

“This is about something that you feel belongs to you, being taken away from you,” Deborah Mattinson reflects.

In that sense, this was always a row about much more than football.

It also tells us about some of the forces reshaping our political landscape, and the way in which our political leaders are being forced to adapt.

Key Boris Johnson aide Lord Udny-Lister leaves Downing Street

One of Boris Johnson’s closest aides, Lord Udny-Lister, is leaving his role as the prime minister’s special envoy to the Gulf, Downing Street has said.

The 71-year-old peer, who served as Mr Johnson’s chief of staff when he was mayor of London, had been appointed to the post earlier this year.

He was first brought into No 10 as chief strategy adviser when Mr Johnson became prime minister in 2019.

No 10 said Lord Udny-Lister had “been an outstanding servant to the country”.

A Downing Street spokesman said the prime minister “is hugely grateful for Lord Lister’s dedicated service over many years… to the government and to the prime minister when he was mayor of London”.

Earlier this month it was confirmed that Mr Johnson had asked Lord Udny-Lister, a Middle East expert, to check on a Saudi Arabia-backed takeover bid of Newcastle United Football Club.

It came after the Daily Mail reported the prime minister was contacted when the £300m deal ran into difficulties.

The government denied it was involved “at any point” with the failed bid.

Downing Street said Lord Udny-Lister was asked to look into the progress of the deal but was not asked to intervene.

Hartlepool by-election: Voyeur Christopher Killick stands

A sex offender hoping to be Hartlepool’s next MP has vowed to continue his campaign despite his voyeurism conviction being revealed.

Christopher Killick is standing as an Independent in the 6 May by-election.

He was convicted last year for filming a naked woman in a hotel room while she was unconscious, following the woman’s five-year campaign for justice.

Killick, 41, who recently moved to Hartlepool, said it was “inevitable” his conviction would come out.

He did not, however, declare his conviction on any election forms or tell anyone who nominated him as a candidate about the offence.

“I decided not to mention it to them to make it simpler or easier for me,” he said.

The former shop assistant was given a 30-month community order and was fined £2,000 after admitting voyeurism.

He was also put on the sex offenders register for five years and ordered to pay his victim £5,000 in compensation.

Killick had filmed a 62-second clip of the woman in a hotel room in Bethnal Green, east London, in 2015.

His victim campaigned for five years to have him prosecuted after the CPS claimed his actions were not illegal.

To be an MP, a candidate has to be at least 18 years old on the day they are nominated and a citizen of Britain, Ireland or the Commonwealth.

According to the Electoral Commission, certain people can be disqualified from standing though.

These include:

Killick expressed regret over the offence, the Local Democracy Reporting Service said.

He said: “I’ve always maintained that it was a big mistake and I want to say I’m sorry.

“Although I didn’t talk about the offence on my election leaflet, I’m not trying to hide what happened.

“I’m here, I’ve been sentenced in court, I’m not barred. 

“I do want to emphasise that I am actually here to campaign politically. My goal is purely to help this country.

“It was inevitable it would come out so I’m just playing it as it comes really.”

Killick is one of 16 candidates vying to be Hartlepool’s next MP, after Labour’s Mike Hill resigned.

Mr Hill is facing claims of sexual harassment and victimisation, which he denies.