The Telegraph 2024-04-23 16:00:36

Sunak: It’s not right to reduce China to a ‘threat’

It is not right to reduce China to a “threat”, Rishi Sunak has said as he announced the UK would raise defence spending to 2.5 per cent of GDP in 2030.

The Prime Minister was speaking at a press conference with Jens Stoltenberg, the Nato secretary general, as part of a visit to Warsaw, where he announced.

Asked by The Telegraph about the challenges posed by China and whether it was time to designate the nation as a threat, Rishi Sunak replied: “I think we’ve been consistently clear, that China is a country with different values.

“It is behaving in a way that is more authoritarian at home, more assertive overseas. And it’s right that we protect ourselves against that.

“Now I wouldn’t reduce complex foreign policy down to one word or phrase. But what I am confident about is that we are taking practical steps that keep us safe… That’s been our consistent approach to China, robust and tough to protect ourselves, but also recognising the fact China is an indisputable part of the global economy.”

Mr Sunak also warned Britain and Europe cannot just expect the US to foot the bill to keep Nato and the Western world safe.

“We cannot keep expecting America to pay any price or pay any burden if we ourselves are unwilling to make greater sacrifices for our own security,” he added.

You can recap the day below and join the conversation in the comments section here.

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Pictured: Prince Louis poses for new photo to mark his sixth birthday

A new photograph of Prince Louis taken by the Princess of Wales has been released to celebrate his sixth birthday, showing him smiling from a picnic blanket.

Barefoot Prince Louis, wearing a checked shirt and blue shorts, beams in a close-up image taken on the lawn, with his tongue slightly poking through a new gap in his bottom teeth.

The photograph was taken by the Princess of Wales in Windsor, where the family live at Adelaide Cottage, in the last few days.

It was published on social media by Kensington Palace on the Prince’s birthday.

An accompanying message reads: “Happy 6th Birthday, Prince Louis! Thank you for all the kind wishes today.”

The photograph, which palace sources said had not been edited, was released as part of a now ten-year-old tradition set by the Wales family, in which they share an image of their children on their birthdays.

It is the fifth year Louis has been photographed by his mother, with just one professional photoshoot to date.

The family was criticised earlier this year for a Mother’s Day photograph, taken by the Prince and edited at home by the Princess. She later apologised for confusion caused by the amateur edits.

It then emerged that she had been dealing with a cancer diagnosis, and was undergoing preventative chemotherapy.

In a video released before the Easter holidays, she told the world how she has guided her children through the process of understanding the treatment, and asked again for privacy.

“It has taken us time to explain everything to George, Charlotte and Louis in a way that is appropriate for them, and to reassure them that I am going to be OK,” she said in the video.

“As I have said to them; I am well and getting stronger every day by focusing on the things that will help me heal; in my mind, body and spirits.”

The family spent the Easter holidays in Norfolk, and the children are now back at school in Windsor. The Prince of Wales is expected to continue with a programme of public engagements, balancing them with caring for his family.

Prince Louis was last seen in public on Christmas Day when the Royal family made their traditional festive appearance on the King’s Sandringham Estate to walk to church.

He was pictured holding hands with Zara and Mike Tindall’s eldest daughter Mia on one side and grasping his father’s fingers with his other hand.

Earlier that month, the young royal joined his older brother Prince George, aged 10, and sister Princess Charlotte, eight, at the annual Westminster Abbey carol concert staged by their mother Kate.

He had also joined his mother and siblings for an engagement at the Baby Bank in Holyport near Maidenhead, where he helped sort through donated goods.

It is likely a family birthday celebration, perhaps involving the prince’s grandparents Carole and Michael Middleton, will be held after the school day is over.

The Prince and Princess of Wales’ youngest child is fourth in line to the throne and was born on St George’s Day, April 23, 2018, at the private Lindo Wing of St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington, London, weighing 8lb 7oz.

He was christened Louis Arthur Charles at 11 weeks old by the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby at the Chapel Royal, St James’s Palace in front of friends and family.

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Live Judge says Trump lawyer ‘losing all credibility’ amid heated exchanges – follow latest

Donald Trump’s lawyer is ‘losing all credibility’, the judge presiding over the former president’s hush money trial has warned amid heated exchanges.

Prosecutors claim that Mr Trump has flouted a gag order 10 times since the trial began last week by repeatedly attacking his former “fixer”, Michael Cohen, who is expected to be a key witness.

However, Todd Blanche, acting for the defence, argued that Mr Trump was merely responding to a “barrage of political attacks”.

Tensions flared with the judge, Juan Merchan, as he asked Mr Blanche to name specific examples of how Mr Cohen had provoked the former president into lashing out.

“I keep asking you over and over again for a specific answer, and I’m not getting an answer,” Justice Merchan said, as exchanges between the pair grew heated.

Mr Blanche insisted that Mr Trump was “being very careful to comply” with the gag order. Justice Merchan responded: “Mr Blanche, you are losing all credibility.”

Follow below for the latest updates.

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St George’s Day rally descends into chaos amid clashes

Police in central London are dealing with disorder ahead of a St George’s Day rally after a group of people forced their way through a cordon.

The event is due to begin at 3pm, but the Metropolitan Police said there had been disturbances ahead of the organised gathering.

Additional policing resources, including public order officers, have been deployed in Westminster, supported by colleagues from the British Transport Police and the City of London Police.

A Scotland Yard spokesman said: “The event is not due to start for an hour, and regrettably officers are already dealing with disorder. There is an area allocated for this event in Richmond Terrace. This group went past it and continued up Whitehall.

“When officers formed a cordon and asked the group to turn round, they reacted by violently forcing their way through. Mounted officers intervened with horses to restore the cordon.”

Whitehall had to be closed to traffic while police dealt with the incident.

An earlier post by the Met said a number of people had been seen wearing masks in the area, and a Section 60AA order is in force in the boroughs of Lambeth and Westminster “giving officers the power to require the removal of face coverings”.

A Section 60 order, giving officers additional search powers, is in force in the same area to prevent crime and disorder, the force added.

After the incident, a group gathered on Whitehall, opposite Downing Street, where there was also a large police presence.

They waved St George’s Cross flags and listened to speeches including one by Tommy Robinson, who was cleared of breaching a dispersal order at court on Tuesday.

This is a breaking story. More will follow.

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French navy lets packed migrant boat reach England despite five deaths on board

The French Navy allowed a dinghy packed with migrants to continue across the Channel to Britain despite the deaths of five people, including a seven-year-old girl, on board.

Three men and a woman died alongside the girl, who was crushed when people smugglers crammed more than 100 migrants onto the dinghy.

It crossed the Channel after setting off from Plage des Allemands beach in Wimereux, near Bologne, northern France.

Some 49 of the 112 migrants on the dinghy were brought back to shore or taken to Boulogne after being rescued.

However, 58 people remained on the small boat after refusing to be rescued and were allowed to continue their journey to Britain, escorted by a French navy ship. One of the women brought to shore in the UK had a broken leg.

The five were pronounced dead despite attempts to resuscitate them after they were brought to the beach. French officials said they had never experienced so many migrants being packed onto a single boat.

The deaths came hours after Parliament finally passed Rishi Sunak’s Safety of Rwanda Bill into law, paving the way for the first deportation flights aimed at deterring the Channel crossings.

The Prime Minister said criminal gangs were exploiting the vulnerable and “packing more and more people into these unseaworthy dinghies”. Speaking during a flight to Poland, he said the tragedy “underscores why you need a deterrent”.

“This is what tragically happens when they push people out to sea and that’s why, for matters of compassion more than anything else, we must actually break this business model and end this unfairness of people coming to our country illegally,” he said.

Former minister Tim Loughton, a member of the home affairs committee, said the way the French had acted was “incredible” and “unacceptable”. If it had happened in UK waters, he said the boat would have been impounded as a potential crime scene and all the migrants taken ashore as witnesses to the deaths.

He asked: “Why was the whole boat and passengers not impounded as a potential crime of entering the UK illegally, having paid people smugglers, was being committed and there were dead bodies making the whole [situation] a potential crime scene?”

Natalie Elphicke, the Dover MP, said she was “deeply saddened” by the loss but added: “There needs to be a comprehensive UK-French agreement right across the Channel to ensure boats are taken physically back to the French coast and that there are joint patrols on the French beaches.”

On Monday, Home Office figures showed that the number of migrants arriving by small boats across the Channel had increased by 24 per cent to 6,265 in the first four months of this year, compared with 5,049 last year.

Andrew Harding, a BBC reporter, witnessed the migrants charging from sand dunes to reach the boat, with several of the men brandishing long sticks and throwing flares or firecrackers. Two women and a child who could not keep up were stopped by police.

He said: “Once the migrants had boarded the inflatable boat they’d been dragging across the sand, the police made no further attempt to stop them.”

The Maritime prefecture said the victims had been crushed under the weight of migrants desperate to board the dinghy.

The seven-year-old girl’s father saw her die, according to charity workers who found him on the beach at Wimereux. “He was in tears. We know him well because we often see him here,” an aid worker told La Voix du Nord, a local newspaper. “These are people who have tried to cross several times.”

Jacques Billant, the prefect of Pas-de-Calais, said the 112 people who were crammed on board was unprecedented. The numbers being carried on dinghies have doubled in the past two years to average between 50 and 60.

“This has never been seen before,” said Mr Billant. “A few hundred metres from the coast, the engine stopped and several people fell into the water.”

A patrol boat sent to rescue the migrants had found several people unconscious, he added.

The remaining 58 people on the boat continued their journey, and Mr Billant said: “They managed to restart the engine and decided to continue their sea route towards Great Britain under the surveillance of course of the French navy.”

Under the French interpretation of maritime law, the French navy will not intervene to stop or turn back migrants at sea unless they request assistance because of the risk to life.

Although the weather was calm on Tuesday morning, conditions remained difficult, with an air temperature of zero degrees Celsius early on Tuesday morning and a water temperature of no more than 10C.

Several dozen boats carrying migrants are reported to have left beaches around Calais at 3am as people smugglers exploited the favourable weather conditions and relatively calm sea.

During the night, French police officers had intercepted two boats, two fuel cans, two engines and life jackets before they could be used to put migrants to sea.

James Cleverly, the Home Secretary, said: “These tragedies have to stop. I will not accept a status quo which costs so many lives. 

“This Government is doing everything we can to end this trade, stop the boats and ultimately break the business model of the evil people smuggling gangs so they no longer put lives at risk.”

Enver Solomon, the chief executive of the Refugee Council, said: “This is another devastating human tragedy that could and should have been avoided – and for it to happen just hours after the Government’s Rwanda Bill became law makes it all the more tragic.

“The only sustainable way to reduce dangerous journeys across the world’s busiest shipping lane is for the Government to reduce the need for desperate people to take desperate actions.

“Instead of hostile, headline-grabbing legislation, we need to see safe routes for those fleeing conflict and persecution, including more options for family reunion, refugee visas, and cooperation with our European neighbours. 

“We don’t need costly and unworkable laws – we need a fair and humane process that upholds the right to asylum, ensuring refugees are treated with dignity and respect.”

The incident comes six weeks after a seven-year-old girl drowned in the Aa canal at Watten, which flows into the North Sea, while in a small boat with 15 other migrants.

At the end of February, a 22-year-old Turkish man died when he fell from his boat off the coast of Calais. An Eritrean was indicted and detained on Saturday in connection with the case.

On the night of Jan 13, five migrants, including a 14-year-old Syrian teenager, died at Wimereux as they tried to reach a boat already at sea in 9C water.

Tuesday’s deaths in the Channel takes the total number of people known to have died risking the crossing to 14 so far this year. Five died on Jan 14 and a further three drowned on Feb 28.

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Live Post Office ‘used Orwellian language to describe Horizon issues’ – follow latest

Post Office chiefs used Orwellian language to describe Horizon issues, the Post Office Horizon IT Inquiry heard.

On Tuesday the inquiry was told changing language around system “bugs” for the less emotive alternative “exception” came on the back of advice from the husband of then chief executive Paula Vennells.

An email from Vennells to Mark R Davies, the organisation’s former communications director, which was shown to the inquiry, said: “My engineer/computer literate husband sent the following reply to the question: ‘What is a non-emotive word for computer bugs, glitches, defects that happen as a matter of course?’

“Answer: ‘Exception or anomaly. You can also say conditional exception/anomaly which only manifests itself under unforeseen circumstances xx.”

When asked if the change amounted to “smoke and mirrors tactics”, Susan Crichton, the Post Office’s former most senior in-house lawyer, said: “It certainly reads that way, yes.”

The counsel to the inquiry then criticised the move as “absolutely Orwellian”.

The faulty software resulted in the wrongful prosecution of hundreds of sub-postmasters, some of whom received jail sentences.

Follow the latest updates below.

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GP who attended Just Stop Oil protest suspended

A GP who was arrested for taking part in a Just Stop Oil protest has been suspended from practising for five months.

Dr Sarah Benn was imprisoned for 31 days after being found to be in breach of a civil injunction during a Just Stop Oil protest at the Kingsbury oil terminal in 2022.

The Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service ruled last week that the 57-year-old’s fitness to work was impaired, after the case was referred by the General Medical Council.

On Tuesday it ruled that she should be suspended from practising as a doctor for five months, with a review hearing to take place before the end of the period.

Dr Benn, who was pictured at the protest in 2022 holding a sign saying “stop new oil” has previously said the climate crisis is “the most significant existential threat to global health we have ever faced”.

An injunction had been in place against climate change protests around the oil terminal at the time of Dr Benn’s arrest in 2022.

The British Medical Association (BMA) said on Monday that it was “very concerned” about the tribunal’s finding that Dr Benn’s participation in the protest was professional misconduct.

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