The Telegraph 2024-03-05 10:30:28

Live Public deserve a tax break at tomorrow’s Budget, suggests minister

Taxpayers deserve a “bit of a tax break this year”, a minister suggested this morning as Jeremy Hunt prepares to deliver his Budget tomorrow.  

Greg Hands, a trade minister, said a “responsible” Budget would include both money for public services and measures to help people feel better off. 

Asked what a “responsible” Budget would look like, Mr Hands told Sky News: “I think a responsible Budget would be making sure the country, the economy continues to recover from the pandemic, from Putin’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, the spike in inflation that we have had to deal with. 

“And I think that means continuing to put a record amount of funding into public services while still giving the British people I think a bit of a tax break this year as well.”

Mr Hunt, the Chancellor, has signalled that he wants to move towards a “lower tax economy” in a hint at a pre-election giveaway to voters in the form of a national insurance or income tax cut.

But he has been clear that he will not pay for tax cuts with borrowing, meaning a combination of spending cuts and tax rises elsewhere would likely be required to find the money. 

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Live Ukrainian sea drones sink Russian patrol ship off Crimea – follow latest

Ukrainian sea drones have sunk a Russian Black Sea Fleet patrol ship off occupied Crimea, Kyiv said on Tuesday.

Ukraine’s military intelligence agency said that a unit called Group 13 attacked the Russian Black Sea Fleet patrol ship Sergey Kotov near the Kerch Strait.

“As a result of a strike by Magura V5 maritime drones, the Russian ship Project 22160 Sergey Kotov sustained damage to the stern, starboard and port sides,” it said. The message added that the ship was worth about $65 million (£51million).

Andriy Yermak, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s chief of staff, said on Telegram on Tuesday that “The Russian Black Sea Fleet is a symbol of occupation. It cannot be in the Ukrainian Crimea,” in an apparent reference to the attack.

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Live Israel-Hamas war latest: Gaza ceasefire talks end with no breakthrough

Ceasefire negotiations between Hamas and mediators in Egypt have come to a close without finding a breakthrough, with just days remaining to halt fighting before the start of Ramadan.

Bassem Naim, a senior Hamas official, said the terrorist group had presented its proposal for a ceasefire agreement to the mediators during two days of talks, and was now waiting for a response from the Israelis, who did not attend, Reuters reported.

“(Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu doesn’t want to reach an agreement and the ball now is in the Americans’ court” to press him for a deal, Mr Naim said.

While Israel has declined to comment on the ceasefire talks, reports suggest it stayed away because Hamas had rejected its demand to provide a list of all hostages who are still alive.

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Princess of Wales seen for first time since abdominal surgery

The Princess of Wales has been photographed by paparazzi for the first time since her abdominal surgery in January, seen being driven by her mother near Windsor Castle as she continues her recovery.

The Princess, wearing sunglasses, was photographed at long range in the passenger seat, with Carole Middleton at the wheel.

The images have been published on a US gossip website after global speculation about the Princess’s health. The accompanying report states that she is “maintaining a low profile … or trying to, anyway”.

The photographs are reported to have been taken shortly before 9am on a Monday, suggesting the Princess and her mother may have been on their way back from the school run. 

It is the first time she has been photographed since Christmas Day, when she walked to Sandringham with the rest of the Royal family.  The photographs were not authorised by Kensington Palace, which has regularly emphasised the Princess’s wish for privacy.

She has been recovering at home at Adelaide Cottage since undergoing surgery and is not expected to return to public duties before Easter.

Her whereabouts have been the subject of extreme social media conspiracy theories, from intended jokes to offensive speculation about her health and well-being.

Members of the public have been calling for updates on the Princess, with some suggesting the palace should release a photograph to prove all is as it seems.

On Jan 17, Kensington Palace said in a written statement: “The surgery was successful, and it is expected that she will remain in hospital for 10 to 14 days before returning home to continue her recovery. Based on the current medical advice, she is unlikely to return to public duties until after Easter.

“The Princess of Wales appreciates the interest this statement will generate. She hopes that the public will understand her desire to maintain as much normality for her children as possible and her wish that her personal medical information remains private.

“Kensington Palace will, therefore, only provide updates on Her Royal Highness’ progress when there is significant new information to share.”

Since then, a spokesman has reiterated that the Princess is “doing well”, saying there are no changes from that original statement.

The Princess and her mother were photographed hours before her uncle, Gary Goldsmith, was due to appear on Celebrity Big Brother.

The images are likely to cause some alarm at the Palace. The Prince of Wales has been determined to ensure his wife is given privacy and rest during her recovery, attending engagements alone once she was safe and settled at home.

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Bullseye host Tony Green dies aged 85

Bullseye game show co-host Tony Green has died at the age of 85, according to a statement posted to the TV show’s social media accounts.

Green was a former amateur darts player, who was also a darts commentator at the BBC, and was most well-known for being the co-host of ITV’s dart-based show Bullseye from 1982.

A statement on Monday, announcing his death, said: “It’s with a very heavy heart that we announce the passing of our dear friend and much loved colleague Mr Tony Green.

“Tony passed away peacefully today after a long battle with Alzheimer’s.

“Our love, thoughts and prayers go out to all of Tony’s family, who we hold such affection for, to all of Tony friends and those who were lucky enough to work with him.

“Thank you Tony for all the memories, all the laughs (and trust us there were many!) and all the special times filming Bullseye together, what wonderful years those were and we are honoured to have shared them with you.

“You will be missed our dear friend.”

English professional darts player Steve Beaton, who was nicknamed the Bronzed Adonis on the oche, paid tribute to the star on his X account and posted a picture of the two together.

He said: “So sad to hear the news that Tony Green has passed away my thoughts are with Jacky and all the family.

“Such a nice guy did plenty of exhibitions together and golf days and he gave me my nickname. RIP my friend.”

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Government defeated in Lords over Rwanda Bil

The Government has been defeated multiple times in the House of Lords over the Rwanda Bill as peers voted add tougher safeguards to the scheme.

Amendment 2, which was supported by 274 peers to 172 on Monday, states: “This amendment seeks to ensure that the eventual Act is fully compliant with the rule of law while maintaining full compliance with international and domestic law.”

Peers proceeded to back Amendment 4, which requires there to be proof that Rwanda is safe before any deportation flights take off.

Then they voted with a majority of 91 to allow Parliament’s designation of Rwanda as a safe country to be “rebutted by credible evidence presented to decision-makers, including courts and tribunals”.

The vote is likely to set into motion ‘ping pong’ between the Lords and the Commons when the Bill eventually returns for votes by MPs, although it is unlikely the Lords will be able to scupper the plan altogether as this back and forth can only happen three times before the Government can invoke the Parliament Act and override the Upper House.

It came as Lord Clarke, a former Tory chancellor, said the Supreme Court was “likely” to “strike down” Rishi Sunak’s flagship deportation policy again.

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Grandchildren whose lack of visits ‘hurt’ retired soldier lose legal battle over his will

A retired soldier who was “hurt” that his grandchildren did not visit him more often was entitled to leave them only £50 each of his £500,000 fortune, a judge has ruled.

“Strong-willed” Frederick Ward Snr died in 2020, splitting almost all of his estate between his children, Terry Ward and Susan Wiltshire.

However, his late son Fred Jnr’s five adult children were handed just £50 each in envelopes, leading to a family row.

Mr Ward, who died aged 91, told his legal representatives he was upset because he had not been visited by Fred Jnr’s children when he was in hospital three times with a lung condition.

After learning they had been all but disinherited, the five – sisters Carol Gowing, Angela St Marseille, Amanda Higginbotham, Christine Ward and Janet Pett – sued, claiming they should get their late father’s one-third share of their grandfather’s money.

They argued that their uncle and aunt had “unduly influenced” their relative into changing his will at their expense.

‘Entirely rational’

However, their case was thrown out by High Court judge Master James Brightwell, who said it was “entirely rational” for the “disappointed” grandfather to cut out his grandchildren because of their “very limited contact” with him in his last years.

He said that “the evidence does not come close to persuading me” that Terry Ward had “coerced” his father or that Mrs Wiltshire had “controlled” him such as to cast doubt on his will.

In his ruling, Master Brightwell described the 2018 will as “rational” in the circumstances, given that Fred Jnr’s children had not seen much of their grandfather after their father died in 2015.

They had not visited him in hospital because they were not informed he was there, but that was because of how often he was admitted and also “because contact between the parties had stopped in any event”, he said.

The five sisters had made only “very occasional short visits” to see their “disappointed” grandfather, while he was on close terms with his son Terry and Mrs Wiltshire was his full-time carer.

‘Became disappointed’

“It is most likely that given the changed circumstances following Fred Jnr’s death and the limited contact with the claimants after then that Fred became disappointed with the claimants,” he said.

Clearing both Terry Ward and Mrs Wiltshire of influencing their father into effectively cutting his granddaughters out of the will, he said: “The evidence does not come close to persuading me that it is more likely than not that the 2018 will was procured by the undue influence of the defendants or either of them.”

The judge also rejected claims that Mr Ward did not have “capacity” to make the will in 2018 or that it was invalid for “want of knowledge and approval” of its effect.

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