The Telegraph 2024-04-21 10:00:30

Braverman calls for Met chief to quit over treatment of Jews

Suella Braverman is leading calls for the head of the Metropolitan Police to quit as the force faces mounting pressure after threatening to arrest an “openly Jewish” man during a pro-Palestine rally.

The former home secretary’s intervention comes as Oliver Dowden, the deputy prime minister, suggested that Scotland Yard has been “disrespecting” Jews. Speaking exclusively to The Telegraph, he said that it was “hard to think of any other minority that would be treated as disrespectfully as Jews seem to be”.

Sir Mark Rowley has been summoned to a meeting with Chris Philp, the policing minister, who said he was “deeply concerned” by the Met’s handling of counter-protestors at Pro-Palestine rallies.

“No one should be told their religion is provocative, nor an innocent person threatened with arrest solely because of someone else’s anticipated unreasonable reaction,” Mr Philp said.

The Met has faced repeated criticism over pro-Palestinian marches, which have become regular weekend events in central London and have been criticised for displays of anti-Semitism.

Two leading Jewish groups – the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism and the National Jewish Assembly – have added their voices to calls for Sir Mark to quit, while Lord Wolfson, a former justice minister, said the Met “needs a new approach and also, it would seem, new leadership”.

Gideon Falter, the Jewish man threatened with arrest, said last night: “The time has come for Sir Mark Rowley to go. He must resign or be removed by the Mayor of London and the Home Secretary.

“What happened to me was a disgrace. Imagine what it felt like to be told by police officers that being ‘quite openly Jewish’ would ‘antagonise’ people and so I must leave the area on pain of arrest.”

He added: “Sir Mark has the distinction of presiding over the worst surge in anti-Semitic criminality in our capital city since records began.”

Lord Walney, the Government’s independent adviser on political violence and disruption, said he believed there was “institutional anti-Semitism” across public sector bodies including the police and called for a “systematic review”.

“The ways in which Jewish people are being challenged openly about the conduct of Israel – sometimes within official settings – is shocking,” he said. “Jews are singled out for criticism by people who have a particular view of the conflict in Gaza. And that is a pervasive form of anti-Semitism.”

Sir William Shawcross, the independent reviewer of the government’s counter-extremism Prevent strategy, said it was “appalling” that so many Jewish people were “frightened of being in central London when these protests are taking place. That is intolerable”.

He added: “The police’s tasks are not easy. But it is crucial that they do everything to protect Jews and others from any such fears. That is also absolutely incumbent on the organisers of these marches.”

Priti Patel, the former home secretary, said the incident was “beyond unacceptable”, adding that it was time for Scotland Yard to “stop the nonsense” and to be “respectful and to understand the needs of the Jewish community at this particularly sensitive time”.

Writing for The Telegraph, Mrs Braverman said that “after such a litany of failure and a wholesale refusal to change, the Met Commissioner needs to accept responsibility. And he must go”.

She added: “I’ve seen too much fear and even more favouritism in the policing of pro-Palestinian protests.”

The Met’s handling of Pro-Palestine marches, which have continued throughout the Israel-Hamas conflict, has come under fresh scrutiny after an incident last Saturday when officers threatened to arrest a man they described as “openly Jewish” for walking in central London during a rally.

An officer had suggested that the presence of Mr Falter, the chief executive of the Campaign Against Antisemitism, was “provocative” and that he was “antagonising” protesters in central London. He was later warned by a second officer that he would be arrested if he did not leave the location.

On Friday, the force was forced to issue an apology for a statement issued by Assistant Commissioner Matt Twist, one of the Met’s most senior officers, who said that being present when marches were taking place could be “provocative”, in comments that were described as “victim blaming”.

Last night Sir Mark issued another apology.

“Every member of the Met is determined to ensure that London is a city in which everyone feels safe,” he said.

“We absolutely understand how vulnerable Jewish and Muslim Londoners feel since the terrorist attacks on Israel.

“Some of our actions have increased this concern. I personally reiterate our apology from earlier this week.

“Today, as with every other day, our officers will continue to police with courage, empathy and impartiality.” 

Perception force is ‘institutionally anti-Semitic’

However, Gary Mond, chairman of the National Jewish Assembly, said: “The buck stops at the top and if Rowley is not prepared to properly police the demonstrations, he has to go and be replaced by someone who can.”

He added that there was a perception within Britain’s Jewish community that the force was “institutionally anti-Semitic” and called for a Macpherson-style review, which followed in the wake of the murder of Stephen Lawrence in 1993.

Mr Dowden told The Telegraph that the police “have a hugely difficult job and we should all acknowledge that” but said that Sadiq Khan, London’s mayor, had shown “indifference” rather than “solidarity”.

His criticism of the Met Police’s treatment of Jews was echoed by Lord Pickles, the former communities secretary, who said the force’s “blinkered attitude to public order is endangering British Jews”.

He said the Met had been “confused, leaderless and useless throughout the whole of the demonstrations. They have lost their moral compass and need to urgently reassess their attitude towards anti-Semitism”.

Paul Scully MP, a former London minister, said the Met’s approach to policing protests risked “inflaming” tensions in the capital.

“If you get community policing wrong it risks leading to a breakdown in anti-social behaviour and you end up with New York in the Seventies – a Gotham City scenario,” he said.

“It may sound extreme but it is the cumulative impact of not treating communities equally and not policing protests properly. That can lead to community fault lines and it has an impact on things like tourism and investment.”

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$60 billion military aid for Ukraine approved by US House of Representatives

Zelensky says ‘history is on the right track’ as months-long deadlock is ended

The US House of Representatives has passed a major package of military aid for Ukraine after a six-month hold-up in a move Volodymyr Zelensky praised for keeping “history on the right track”.

Democrats waved Ukrainian flags on the floor of the House as the bill authorising $60 billion (£48.5 billion) in lethal aid to be sent from US stockpiles passed by 311 votes to 112, 

Joe Biden’s plan to send aid to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan had been held up in Congress for six months, amid opposition from Republicans who argued the war with Russia had become too expensive.

Mike Johnson, the House Speaker, put the Ukraine bill to representatives on Saturday alongside separate votes on other foreign funding. It will now pass to the Senate for approval.

Mr Zelensky welcomed the news in a post on X, where he said he was “personally grateful” to Mr Johnson for “the decision that keeps history on the right track”.

“Democracy and freedom will always have global significance and will never fail as long as America helps to protect it,” he said.

“The vital US aid bill passed today by the House will keep the war from expanding, save thousands and thousands of lives, and help both of our nations to become stronger.

“Just peace and security can only be attained through strength.”

Military officials in Ukraine, the US and other Western countries had warned that without further American aid, Kyiv will lose significant territory to Russia this year.

Last week, Gen Christopher Cavoli, the US military commander in Europe, warned that Russia was outgunning Ukraine by five to one on the front line, and that the figure would soon rise to 10 to one.

Other allies, including the UK, had increased their support in an attempt to make up the shortfall, but face supply chain issues in European arms factories.

Welcoming the news, President Biden said: “Today, members of both parties in the House voted to advance our national security interests and send a clear message about the power of American leadership on the world stage.

“At this critical inflection point, they came together to answer history’s call, passing urgently needed national security legislation that I have fought for months to secure.”

He added that the package “comes at a moment of grave urgency, with Israel facing unprecedented attacks from Iran, and Ukraine under continued bombardment from Russia”.

Lord Cameron, the Foreign Secretary, said the bill was a “vital step forward”.

“If Putin ever doubted the West’s resolve to back Ukraine, this shows our collective will is undimmed,” he said.  “With support, Ukraine can and will win.”

Jens Stoltenberg, the Nato secretary general, added that the package would “make us all safer”.

“Ukraine is using the weapons provided by NATO allies to destroy Russian combat capabilities,” he said.

The Kremlin said it would lead to more deaths in Ukraine.

“It will further enrich the United States of America and ruin Ukraine even more, by killing even more Ukrainians,” said Dmitry Peskov, Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, according to state news agency TASS.

The package of measures totals $95 billion (£77 billion), and will be put to a vote in the Senate, which the Democratic majority leader Chuck Schumer has suggested could take place on Tuesday.

The House also passed a bill that would force ByteDance, the owner of TikTok, to sell the platform or face being banned from app stores in the US.

Another vote approved measures to sanction China, Russia and Iran, and to send aid to Taiwan.

A $26 billion package for Israel will be used to replenish supplies for the country’s Iron Dome missile defence system, while another package of humanitarian aid will be sent to Gaza.

All of the votes will form one bill when they have been approved by the Senate this week.

Mr Biden has said he will sign it as soon as it reaches his desk, allowing the Pentagon to reallocate US weapons stockpiles as soon as possible.

The US president has been constrained in the funding and weapons he can offer Kyiv since the last of the existing funding ran out at the end of last year.

The White House has attempted to continue its support through other routes, but has been unable to send already manufactured weapons.

Despite the victory, Mr Johnson faces significant opposition to his willingness to work with Democrats to pass the bill, including from Republicans in Congress who hope to depose him as Speaker.

Marjorie Taylor Greene: Speaker has ‘betrayed America’

Marjorie Taylor Greene, a conservative hardliner who is leading the charge against Mr Johnson, said he had “betrayed America” by putting the Ukraine package to a vote.

“House Republicans and the American people would be stronger without his disloyalty and betrayal of his principles,” she said.

“Now it’s time for my colleagues to go home and hear from their constituents. We need a new Speaker of the House!”

The Ukraine aid supplemental was first proposed by Mr Biden in October, after the existing budgetary authorisation from Congress began to dwindle.

Aides suggested that a “one-and-done” package to fund the war effort beyond November’s election was needed to overcome Republican resistance in the House.

By December, the Pentagon warned it had almost exhausted the budget, and aid dried up entirely in January.

One final package of $300m was sent by Washington in March, after the Pentagon identified savings it had made by buying previous shipments of weapons in bulk.

Other European allies have already begun to prepare for an end to US aid, which could be exhausted after November’s election if Donald Trump secures a second term in the White House.

Mr Trump has suggested he would not renew the budget for foreign aid for Ukraine, and would apply diplomatic pressure to Mr Zelensky to end the war through a negotiated settlement with Russia.

Mr Zelensky has signalled his intention to continue the war until Ukraine has won back the territory it lost after Vladimir Putin’s invasion in February 2022.

Mr Trump did not respond to the result of the vote on Saturday evening, but posted on his Truth Social platform about the criminal proceedings against him in several court cases.

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London drivers ‘could pay per mile’ so that Sadiq Khan can hit net zero target

Drivers in London could have to pay-per-mile charges by the end of the decade in order to achieve Sadiq Khan’s “accelerated” plan to hit net zero, documents reveal.

In an official report, the Mayor of London said that his ambitious plans for decarbonisation were “only possible” by charging drivers.

Mr Khan recommitted to the plans, published two years ago, last week.

With less than a fortnight to go before the mayoral election on May 2, Mr Khan has become locked in a fierce row with Susan Hall, his Conservative opponent, on whether he plans to introduce pay-per-mile charging.

Last week, The Telegraph reported that the Mayor’s official transport strategy continues to include a commitment to “investigate proposals for the next generation of road-user charging”, despite Mr Khan having had opportunities to update the legally mandated document that was first published in 2018.

Mr Khan has been adamant that he has “ruled out” introducing pay-per-mile charging but the Tories say the mayor has himself admitted that his target to achieve net zero in the capital by 2030 relies on road user charging.

Mr Khan first proposed the 2030 goal for London – a full 20 years ahead of the Government’s 2050 target for the country – in 2020, enshrining it a year later in his 2021 re-election manifesto.

He restated the goal in his latest manifesto, published on Thursday, which says: “We have an ambitious target of making London a net zero-carbon city by 2030 – faster than any comparable city”.

To help him get to the target, Mr Khan previously commissioned research by the sustainability consultancy, Element Energy, which in January 2022 published a report on the potential “pathways” to carbon neutrality.

Net zero-carbon city

The report said that “all scenarios would benefit from London-wide road user charging being introduced as early as possible”, with charging “one of the key early building blocks of any package”.

Mr Khan ended up picking an “accelerated green” pathway that involves reaching 22 per cent “residual emissions” by 2030, which would have to be offset. The element energy report says this needs “London-wide road-user charging” from the “mid-late 2020s”.

In his formal response to the report, which was also published in January 2022, Mr Khan said: “The scale of reductions required – a 27 per cent reduction in vehicle kilometres according to the ‘accelerated green’ scenario – is only possible with some form of road user charging.”

He went on: “Such a system could abolish all existing road user charges – such as the Congestion Charge and Ulez (Ultra Low Emission Zone) – and replace them with a simple and fair scheme where drivers pay per mile, with different rates depending on how polluting vehicles are, the level of congestion in the area and access to public transport.”

The Tories also point out that Mr Khan’s 2023 book, Breathe, says “we have plans to introduce a new, more comprehensive, road user charging system”.

At an election hustings last week, Mete Coban, a Hackney Labour councillor, said that Breathe was a “personal book, it is not the manifesto for London” and that “Sadiq has ruled out pay-per-mile for now”.

Ms Hall told The Telegraph there was “no doubt that he will put [pay-per-mile] in”. 

“We’ve seen all the evidence,” she said.

But a spokesman for Mr Khan said: “Sadiq has repeatedly and categorically ruled out pay-per-mile for as long as he is mayor. It will not be introduced in London, despite misleading statements from the Tories saying otherwise.

“The road-user charging scheme was originally proposed by Boris Johnson as mayor and by Rishi Sunak as chancellor.

“Sadiq has repeatedly ruled out any such scheme while he is mayor.”

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Western appeasement of Iran has failed, says shah’s son

The West needs a Reagan-Thatcher style leadership pairing to confront Tehran because the current policy of appeasement has failed, Iran’s exiled crown prince told The Telegraph.

Reza Pahlavi, the eldest son of the late last Shah of Iran, is the founder and former leader of the National Council of Iran, an exiled opposition group he left in 2017, and a prominent critic of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s Islamic regime. 

He said there had been a “weak approach” by Western leaders “on both sides of the Atlantic” towards the Islamic Republic and called for a “reset” of Europe’s relationship with Tehran, starting with proscribing the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terror organisation.

The prince, 63, also implicitly criticised Rishi Sunak for not doing enough to counter threats and intimidation of Iranian journalists based in London.

“The regime is trying to harm or threaten not only dissidents, but even British citizens,” he said, referring to the stabbing of Pouria Zeraati, the Iran International television host, outside his Wimbledon home last month.

What was being gained from not being “willing to respond in some form?” he asked.

He argued that the “root cause” of Iran’s malign influence across the Middle East – particularly its antagonistic role with regards to Israel – was the West’s policy of “appeasement”.

“That has always been based on expecting a behaviour change by the regime that hasn’t panned out,” he said, adding that what was needed was a revival of “an era where there was some stronger leadership that changed the world in a very significant way: Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher at the end of the Cold War”.

“Right now you see what [Vladimir] Putin is doing in Moscow, you see what the Chinese are doing,” he added. “What is [being done] to counter that in terms of decisive, strong, co-ordinated leadership in the West? I don’t see any.”

The prince spoke to The Telegraph in an discreet apartment building in a smart corner of downtown Washington earlier this week, before Israel struck an Iranian air defence radar system near the city of Isfahan in retaliation for Tehran’s assault.

The US capital’s suburbs have been home to him, his wife and three daughters for decades, though he has previously referred to it as a “temporary place to live”, amid hopes he may one day return to his homeland.

The prince left Iran in 1977, aged 17, to undergo air force training in America. Two years later, his father Mohammad Reza Pahlavi was deposed during the Islamic Revolution and the royal family has been in exile ever since.

Following his father’s death in 1980, the prince declared himself the new shah of Iran in exile, although as Iran’s royal family was a constitutional monarchy, he was never formally appointed.

Dressed in a smart dark suit, with an expensive-looking watch adorning his wrist, the prince’s retinue refer to him as “his majesty”. So do his most devoted followers among the several-million-strong Iranian diaspora.

He has previously said he has no aspirations to restore the monarchy in Iran, but he remains an important figurehead for opposition figures and Iranians in exile.

It is a role he takes seriously, saying “we” as he discusses Iranians’ plight during the interview.

Over the past few decades, he made rallying opposition against Iran’s theocratic regime his life’s work, regularly travelling across Europe and America to campaign for a secular and democratic Iran and advocate for its oppressed citizens.

He became visibly frustrated when asked about ongoing diplomatic attempts with Tehran.

“There’s still some people in the Western world who think that they still have that dialogue within the status quo and are hoping ‘maybe we can revive this deal’ or ‘maybe we can cut this agreement’,” he said, leaning forward in his chair and using hand gestures to stress his point.

“This is basically kicking the can down the road,” he added. “Diplomacy has failed. Appeasement has failed. Any continuation of the same, frankly, is insanity.”

When asked which Western leaders he was thinking of, the prince did not want to single out individuals.

However, he did say that Tehran’s revenue had swelled in the last two years amid the Biden administration’s failure to enforce sanctions.

The exiled prince said the West needs to take the same approach with Tehran as it did with South Africa under apartheid.

“Finally the world said ‘you know what, this is no longer tolerable or acceptable’,” he said. “I think the scenario is similar in the case of Iran, except that while South Africa was having a racial policy, this is a terrorist-promoting regime. It’s not just a matter of being repressive. It’s actually a threat to the world.”

It is a point he has been making all week on US cable news following Iran’s unprecedented direct strike on Israel, which involved more than 300 drones, rockets and missiles.

After almost a half-century living in the shadow of exile, he is optimistic that the end is closer for Tehran’s rulers now than at any other point in the last 45 years.

“Regimes that are confident don’t start bashing their own people or killing children or doing what they’re doing,” he said, referring to the recent brutal repression of peaceful protests sparked by the 2022 death in custody of Mahsa Amini, a young woman detained for not wearing her hijab properly.

That’s a sign of weakness and insecurity.”

Underscoring the dangers of his position, however, is the coterie of bodyguards and aides who sit nearby in the elegant living room-cum-study that looks out on to a terrace with a panoramic view of the Washington skyline.

It is Iran’s “Gen Z” that he believes offers the best hope for regime change. “These kids today, they follow Twitter, they follow Instagram or X or whatever other platforms, they’re not cut off from the world,” he said.

“They say: why shouldn’t I have the same opportunities that some young girl or boy has today in Doha or in Abu Dhabi or in Dubai?”

“They are trying to do their best but they’re denied every possible opportunity. That’s not tenable. And they talk about this, they voice their ideas, the fact of how united they are as a nation.

“Everything that this regime has tried to destroy in Iran is now coming as a retaliation to what has been done to them, manifesting itself in such a beautiful way,” he said.

With a smile, he added: “That’s what gives me hope, what gives me energy”.

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China to rethink Taiwan seizure after Iran’s failed attack on Israel

China will be re-calibrating its plan to seize Taiwan to take into account lessons learned from Iran’s failed attack on Israel, defence experts say.

Beijing, which has a history of military co-operation with Tehran, will be looking at ways to break through the advanced technology and effective alliance that led to almost all of the Iranian drones and missiles being intercepted.

Rupert Hammond-Chambers, the president of the US-Taiwan business council, said: “They will be picking apart what transpired, not just in the way in which the Iranians attacked but also how we responded – the Israelis and the coalition that supported them.

“The kill rate for the drones and the missiles was extremely high, almost perfect. The walk-away for the PLA [People’s Liberation Army] will be that the Americans and their allies have the technology to significantly blunt an attack.”

A barrage of drone and missile strikes would be a critical part of any conventional attack on Taiwan, an island of 23.5 million people.

China has invested hundreds of billions of dollars in upgrading its military capabilities, including a rapidly expanding arsenal of thousands of short to intercontinental-range ballistic missiles and an estimated 500 operational nuclear warheads.

A recent purge by Xi Jinping, China’s president, of the top ranks of the strategic rocket force overseeing this growing stockpile has raised questions about whether widespread corruption could undermine efforts to modernise the armed forces and China’s war readiness.

Taiwan, on the front lines of China’s formidable military build-up, remains outmatched and facing a huge threat from medium-range ballistic missile systems along the south-eastern Chinese coast. The arsenal is reported to include the DF-17 hypersonic ballistic missile that, say experts, could reach Taiwan in just six to eight minutes.

Taiwan’s defence capabilities were progressing in the right direction with investment in US-made PAC-3 missile defence systems and its own missile programmes, and it would soon have the largest F-16 combat aircraft fleet in the region, said Mr Hammond-Chambers.

But the “X-factor” in a Taiwan Strait conflict would be whether Taipei could rely on its partners for help in the same way Israel did.

“The Jordanians, the Brits, the States and the Israelis all worked together to negate the Iranian attack. To what extent do we have that in place in North Asia?” said Mr Hammond-Chambers.

“It’s coming but I’ve not seen that yet – that common operating platform that allows for seamless interoperability.”

Japan, a supportive neighbour, is building up its own F-35 fighter jet fleet and the United States, Taipei’s largest arms supplier, has significant forces deployed near Taiwan.

Washington’s Taiwan doctrine of “strategic ambiguity” should be switched to “strategic clarity” as a better deterrent, argued Mr Hammond-Chambers.

According to the Times of Israel, the US-based Arms Control Association reports Iranian missiles are largely based on North Korean and Russian designs and enhanced with Chinese technology.

Fu S Mei, the director of the New York-based Taiwan Security Analysis Centre, said Beijing had likely learned from Iran’s failed assault about the feasibility of intercepting slower-moving drones and cruise missiles launched over significant distances that allowed sufficient reaction time.

But he said the Chinese leadership may not be too concerned if they believed their own missiles and drones were of better quality, with greater precision and ability to penetrate air defences.

“These missiles are also likely to fly less than half the distances, thus affording significantly less reaction time and battlespace for engagement by the defences,” he said.

Shorter range requirements would lower costs, allowing the deployment of a larger number of missiles.

Taiwan, too, could learn from Israel’s successful defence model, which combined robust integrated air and missile defence system (IAMDS), appropriate sensors, and integrated command and control with assistance from allies.

Taiwan “already possesses many of these key components” but needed to improve battle management systems and find ways to secure assistance from the US and other regional partners, he said.

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Wines from the north of England and Scotland are the future, French experts say

Wine produced as far north as Northumberland and Scotland will threaten the future of traditional grape growing regions, experts have found.

A new global map created by scientists from France’s Bordeaux and Burgundy wine provinces predicts that wine production will be forced to shift from the traditional terroir of southern Europe to the northernmost reaches of Britain.

Changes in global temperatures are set to make mid-latitude regions – such as southern France, northern Spain and Italy, and the New World vineyards of southern California and Barossa in Australia – unsuitable for production. 

Areas once considered too cool and wet for viticulture, such as the northern British Isles, southern Scandinavia and the Pacific north-west of the US, will be the winemaking “winners”, according to the study.

Increased heat waves and erratic rainfall could wipe out vineyards from Greece to California by 2100, researchers found.

The map, created by teams from Inrae, a public research institute for agriculture, food and the environment; Bordeaux Sciences Agro, the French National Centre for Scientific Research; and the universities of Bordeaux and Burgundy shows southern Britain as likely to enjoy “improved suitability”, while the north of the UK is designated as a “new wine region”.

At the same time Southern Europe is predicted to face a “high risk of unsuitability” for wine production as the mercury rises.

Researchers considered two scenarios: one where warming remains within two degrees Celsius of pre-industrial average, the limit set by the 2015 Paris climate accord, and another where global temperatures rise by 2C to 4C.

Either way, French scientists predict British vines will benefit at the expense of their Mediterranean counterparts. 

The report found around half of current wine regions might benefit or maintain their suitability for winemaking with a temperature increase of 2°C or below, but a rise beyond 2°C could make up to 70 per cent of traditional wine regions unsuitable.

Overall, the suitable surface area of traditional wine-producing regions is predicted to decline by 20 per cent to 70 per cent by the end of the century, depending on the severity of global warming.

Cornelis van Leeuwen, professor of viticulture at Bordeaux Sciences Agro and lead author of the report, said: “Climate change is changing the geography of wine – there will be winners and losers.

“You can still make wine almost anywhere, even in tropical climates, but here we looked at quality wine at economically viable yields.”

The report, published in the journal Nature Reviews Earth & Environment, warns that under “far more severe warming scenarios, most Mediterranean regions might become climatically unsuitable for wine production”.

There are currently 37 vineyards in northern England and three in Scotland, says Ian Sargent, Midlands and North regional director for trade body WineGB.

In 2015, Scotland’s first homegrown wine was infamously described as “undrinkable” after Christopher Trotter, from Aberdeen, set up his own vineyard in Fife three years earlier.

Plantations north of the border are concentrated in the Scottish Borders area, but Mr Sargent revealed plans are afoot for a new vineyard near Inverness in the Scottish Highlands.

Mr Sargent, who with wife Ann planted vineyard Laurel Vines in the East Riding of Yorkshire in 2011, said: “The [French] report confirms our data and results; we are seeing an increase in the sunlight hours per year and increasing temperatures; this is resulting in larger, high-quality vintages.

“We have also seen an increase in the number of vineyards across the country, including the north, and there is more interest in finding suitable sites on which to plant vines in the region.”

‘Scotland is a younger market’

He added: “The Midlands and North have some excellent vineyards and wineries producing first-class, award-winning wines.

“The 2023 yield was a record year and for a lot of vineyards this comes on the back of previous fantastic vintages.

“Regarding Scottish vineyards, it’s fair to say that this is a younger market, but as with the north of England, there are sites being acquired and planted.”

British viticulture-climatologist and CEO of vineyard consultancy Vinescapes, Dr Alistair Nesbitt, said: “There is urgent need for adaptation in both warmer established regions and newer, cooler viticulture areas, such as the UK, to better cope with change and variability.”

A report by WineGB last year found the area of Britain covered by vineyards had soared by 74 per cent in just five years.

More than 940 vineyards cover 3,928 hectares of land – mainly in southern England – with that figure expected to almost double within 10 years to 7,600ha, equivalent to more than 10,000 football pitches.

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Al Murray: I’ll turn myself in to the police before next gig in Scotland

The comedian Al Murray has suggested he could turn himself in to the police in anticipation of falling foul of Scotland’s new hate crime laws.

Murray, best known for his act featuring a politically incorrect pub landlord, fears the legislation could land him in trouble.

“This is a very interesting moment actually, that piece of legislation. To be honest, for comedians it is a wonderful opportunity to get yourself arrested and get written about. Or maybe next time I go to Scotland I should simply turn myself in,” he said.

The new legislation creates a crime of “stirring up hatred” concerning religion, transgender identity, disability, religion, sexual orientation or age.

Murray said that he would not be able to tone down his character now after two decades as his pub landlord’s alter ego.

“I am too far down the track with him. The one I maybe want to experiment with is being me, but I sort of would not know where to start,” he said.

Murray says the pub landlord now talks less about nationalism in his shows but he remains committed to National Service.

“There is no sneering. But I do have a bit in the current show about national service because the pub landlord is all for it now that he is too old to have to do that for himself. They always get a murmur of approval,” he told Radio 4’s Loose Ends:

In 2022, Murray admitted that he felt sympathy for politicians after he stood for Parliament.

Murray, who campaigned for a seat at South Thanet in Kent in 2015, says that life in Parliament is a “rotten life”

He earned just 318 votes in the constituency, but came away shocked by how much voters appeared to want him to “screw up”.

Murray, who also faced conspiracy theorists alleging he defrauded voters, said he had no plans to repeat his run in politics.

“The strangest thing about that is that I came away quite sympathetic towards politicians, in a way I didn’t expect.

“At the time I was very much a plague on their houses. At the time [I was saying]: ‘They are all no good, duds and the ones that aren’t duds are corrupt.’

“I very much felt that. By the time we were done, I had some sympathy for the fact that all anyone wants from politicians is for them to fail.

“The central demand from the British public is that politicians fail and journalists are trying to catch them out.

“I came away thinking, that is a rotten life. That is a rotten situation to find yourself in.”

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