INDEPENDENT 2024-05-03 01:05:03


Trump rants that ‘unrecognisable’ London has ‘opened its door to jihad’

Donald Trump has claimed that London is “unrecognisable” because it has “opened its doors to jihad” in a bizarre rally speech.

The former president ranted about pro-Palestine college protests and the idea of letting Palestinian refugees into the country from war-torn Gaza, before declaring that he would “never let” America become unrecognisable as he claims London and Paris have become.

“We’ve seen what happened when Europe opened their doors to jihad,” he told his supporters at the event. “Look at Paris, look at London – they’re no longer recognisable,” he said offering no evidence whatsover for his wild statements.

His remarks came while speaking at a campaign rally in Wisconsin on Wednesday afternoon while on a break from court proceedings for his criminal hush money trial in New York.

“And I’m going get myself into a lot of trouble with the folks in Paris and the folks in London, but you know what, that’s the fact,” Trump continued. “They are no longer recognisable, and we can’t let that happen to our country.”

“We have incredible culture, tradition – nothing wrong with their culture, their tradition – we can’t let that happen here, and I’ll never let it happen to the United States of America.”

The former president and current London mayor Sadiq Khan have often criticised each other over the years, fuelled at one point by Mr Khan’s office giving anti-Trump activists permission to fly a blimp of Trump as a crying baby in a nappy during a protest in 2018. During Trump’s state visit to the UK that year, he said that Mr Khan had “done a very bad job on terrorism”.

Responding to Trump’s latest comments Mr Khan told the Daily Mail as voting in London’s mayoral election took place on Thursday that “today is an opportunity to show Donald Trump… that London will always choose hope over fear and unity over division.”

Trump brought up the European cities at his rally after he took aim at the administration of President Joe Biden for reportedly weighing up measures they could possibly take to welcome Palestinians who already have relatives living in the United States into the country.

“Your towns and villages will now be accepting people from Gaza and various other places,” Trump said, with the crowd responding with a chorus of boos. “Under no circumstances shall we bring thousands of refugees.”

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said on Wednesday that the administration is “constantly evaluating policy proposals” to try and support Palestinians who have American citizen family members, but have no further details on how the procedures may work.

More than 34,000 Palestinians have been killed amid the war in Gaza, according to health officials in the besiged strip, after Israel launched a bombing campaign and ground assaults in the wake of the brutal Hamas attack inside Israel on 7 October. Around 1,200 people were killed in that attack, with another 250 people taken hostage.

The situation in Gaza has sparked pro-Palestine protests on college campuses across the US. Trump also touched on the college demonstrations, referring to protestors as “raging lunatics and Hamas sympathizers” and lashed out at MrBiden for not stepping in.

“To every college president, I say remove the encampments immediately,” he said in Wisconsin.

“Vanquish the radicals and take back our campuses for all of the normal students who want a safe place from which to learn.”

It is thought that more than 1,000 people have been arrested across US universities.

Laurence Fox faces police probe after sharing upskirt image of TV host

Police are investigating a social media post by Laurence Fox, in which he shared an upskirt photograph of a female TV presenter.

The actor-turned-Reclaim Party politician posted a paparazzi photograph of television personality Narinder Kaur – which was reportedly removed from photo agency archives when upskirting became a criminal offence – in a post on X/Twitter on Tuesday. The post remained on the site until Thursday when it was deleted.

The Metropolitan Police told the Independent it had “been made aware of a post on social media regarding an up-skirting offence” and was carrying out inquiries.

Responding to criticisms of his post, Fox suggested he had shared the unsolicited picture because Ms Kaur had mocked right-wing commentator Leilani Dowding “for her page three days”.

“She can go cry victim all she wants. It’s not my fault she forgot to put her pants on, the whining cry bully hypocrite,” he said.

Ms Kaur, 51, regularly appears as a guest on programmes including Good Morning Britain, after rising to fame on Big Brother series two, where she came in ninth place.

Before the tweet had been removed, she claimed it had been reported to X hundreds of times by users.

Writing on the social network on Thursday morning she told her followers: “This is now a police matter. I know people are saying not to feel embarrassed and mortified but I am. I’m so incredibly upset that people are looking at my privates and laughing. It’s unimaginably mortifying.”

A friend of Ms Kaur told the Daily Mirror: “The fact that a standing politician like Laurence Fox would stoop to such lows is completely disgusting.

“Narinder has always been vocal about issues she cares about and while she’s endured horrendous backlash before, she never expected to become the target of such vicious attacks.

“It’s appalling that more high-profile figures, who Narinder regularly works with, haven’t spoken out in support of Narinder. But the truth is, they’re scared.”

Fox was last week ordered to pay £180,000 in damages in a libel case involving two people he falsely claimed were paedophiles.

The actor was fired from GB News after being suspended in October following a misogynistic on-air rant about journalist Ava Evans.

The Independent has contacted Fox for comment.

Worcestershire cricketer Josh Baker dies aged 20

Worcestershire have announced the death of 20-year-old spin bowler Josh Baker, and paid a moving tribute to the young cricketer.

Baker turned professional for the club in 2021 having risen through the ranks as a youngster, and made his first-class debut against Warwickshire at New Road that year.

The left-arm spinner made 22 first-class appearances for the club between his debut and his most recent match for the first team in April against Durham just a fortnight ago.

Baker played for Worcestershire’s second XI against Somerset at Bromsgrove School, taking three wickets, on May 1 2024, just one day before his passing, and had signed a new three-year deal with the Pears lasting until 2025.

Worcestershire chief executive officer Ashley Giles said: “The news of Josh’s passing has left us all devastated.

“Josh was much more than a teammate; he was an integral part of our cricket family.

“We will all miss him terribly. All our love and prayers go out to Josh’s family and friends.”

In his career, the left-arm spinner played 22 first-class matches, taking 43 wickets, 17 List A matches and eight T20s, and was capped twice at England under-19 level, playing against Sri Lanka in 2021.

The club issued a statement saying: “Worcestershire County Cricket Club is heartbroken to announce the untimely passing of Josh Baker, who was aged only 20 years old.

“During this profoundly difficult time, the club is dedicated to supporting Josh’s family, friends, and colleagues. We are united in our grief and committed to honouring his memory in a manner befitting the remarkable person he was.

“It was his vibrant spirit and infectious enthusiasm that endeared him to everyone he met. His warmth, kindness, and professionalism were remarkable, making him a true credit to his family and a loved member of our team.

“Plans to pay tribute to Josh will be made in consultation with his family and will remain private at this time. The club, along with Josh’s family, requests the respect of privacy as we mourn this immense loss. Further comments will not be provided during this sensitive period.”

The Professional Cricketers’ Association chief executive, Rob Lynch, said: “Everybody at the PCA is heartbroken to hear of Josh’s passing and we offer our sincere condolences to all his family, friends and teammates.

“Josh was a cricketer with his full career and life ahead of him and this news is impossible to comprehend.

“The PCA and the Professional Cricketers’ Trust are working to support Josh’s family, his teammates and all PCA members who are affected.

“Rest in peace, Josh.”

The England and Wales Cricket Board said on X: “This is devastating news. We extend our best wishes to Josh’s family and friends, to everyone who knew and loved him, and to everyone at Worcestershire CCC.”

Other counties have paid tribute to the young spin bowler.

Marcus Wareing reveals why he’s hanging up his apron after 35 years

Following critical acclaim, a coveted Michelin star and a simmering feud with Gordon Ramsay, MasterChef judge Marcus Wareing has revealed why, after 35 years, he’s finally getting out of the kitchen.

The 53-year-old hung up his apron at the celebrated Marcus Wareing at the Berkeley Hotel, in Knightsbridge, London, last year and now says he has no plans to go back.

“I don’t need to open another restaurant. I’ve done a lot. Since the age of 25, I’ve been dealing with chefs and rotas and suppliers and bills and accounts and HR and customers and complaints.

“It’s been fabulous. But do I want to do it for ever? No chance. I don’t want to continue on the same boring path. I wanted a change in my life and to do different things,” he told The Times.

Father-of-three Wareing, who has long been embroiled in a feud with former business partner Gordon Ramsay, has previously said he’d always “wanted to be in his shoes.”

But despite his admiration for his former boss and mentor, the northerner who moved to London to make his start was unable to reach the same heights – including an elusive second and third Michelin star, achieved by both Ramsay and before that Marco Pierre White.

“I can’t be in his shoes ­­– they’re too big. I knew I couldn’t fill them and I think I had another ambition and I had another goal. So I had to try,” he told the MailOnline at the time about his venture into working independently.

He added that there was only one chef “that’s conquered global cookery, TV and holding top accolades here in this country. And that’s Gordon.”

Wareing had started out as Ramsay’s understudy at various restaurants including Aubergine and had been dubbed his protégé.

A legal battle over the name of restaurant Pétrus which both wanted to keep but Ramsay eventually won, led to a rift between the pair with Wareing saying: “If I never speak to that guy again for the rest of my life, it wouldn’t bother me one bit.”

Wareing has been a judge on BBC series MasterChef: The Professionals since 2014, a spin-off of the original MasterChef series. The show sees working chefs compete to be Champion after a series of cooking heats.

The news of the chef’s permanent departure from the industry comes three years after he closed another restaurant Gilbert Scott in 2021.

He added that his TV work had come in the way of operating his businesses and was conscious of how his staff looked at him.

“I was missing out because I wasn’t there. I’d go into the restaurant, and I felt that the staff were looking at me like: where have you been?”

In addition to being busy, Wareing suggested that the fine dining experience had become dull for him with finnicky food preparation and high prices for dinners.

“They’re quiet. We use water baths; tweezers to put food on plates. No one chops anything anymore. No one sautés anything.”

He estimated that he would have to charge a £600 for a standard dinner for two people at his restaurant were it still open.

“Who goes out and has £600 for two for a meal?” he questioned.

But the star appears content with his new path, grateful he is not forced to continue for financial reasons.

“I’ve chosen a new path,” he said. “I’m free of my professional kitchen to do the things that I want to do. A lot of chefs have to carry on cooking to the end because they need to pay their bills.”

He credited Ramsay with doing “a lot for my career” and revealed that the hot-headed TV personality had sent him a gift with a personal message.

“He sent me a beautiful book not that long ago from his restaurant group that I really was appreciative of and he wrote a fabulous message in it. And so whatever happens in the past it’s water under the bridge. We’ve all moved on.”

His revelation comes just days after fellow MasterChef judge, Monica Galetti, announced the closure of her restaurant, Mere. Named after Galetti’s mother, Mere specialised in South Pacific and French cuisines, and was described as “an elegant and contemporary restaurant, offering a relaxed yet refined dining experience”.

The Independent has contacted representatives for Wareing and Ramsay.

Emery meets his match as the Spanish conqueror of European football

The problem with assuming a Europa League winner with Sevilla is bound to conquer the continent is that there is more than one of them. Unai Emery can seem the king of Europe, but a defending champion has one foot in the Europa Conference League final. Rather than Emery’s fifth European trophy, it could be Jose Luis Mendilibar’s second in as many years after, courtesy of Ayoub El Kaabi’s hat-trick, Olympiacos stormed Villa Park.

Aston Villa may retain hope of two trips to Athens this month, for the final as well as the semi-final second leg, but they came Acropolis in Birmingham.

After penalties brought them to this stage, they could rue two more: the one Douglas Luiz conceded and the one he missed.

Villa’s first European semi-final for 42 years was a classic, but one they could regret, their defensive frailties allied with different types of misfortune for Olympiacos’ third and fourth goals. A historic occasion may lead to a landmark outcome if Olympiacos become the first Greek club to win a European trophy.

A night when Villa mustered one comeback, with Moussa Diaby creating one goal and scoring another either side of half-time, leaves them needing another.

Frenetic entertainment left Villa, in their first European campaign for 14 years, looking naive, despite Emery’s extensive experience. They can play a game of brinkmanship with their high defensive line but El Kaabi breached it twice in 14 first-half minutes. Olympiacos were cutting on the counterattack. Emery lost out to a fellow Basque; indeed, a more recent Sevilla Europa League winner. If Mendilibar had a reputation as a kind of Spanish Tony Pulis, he is shrugging it off to become a European specialist, parachuted in mid-season again, having another immediate impact.

For Villa, having won all six European home games this season, as the favourites for the competition, this represented an unwanted shock. The atmosphere was electric, Villa Park a sea of claret and blue. Yet Olympiacos were not to be intimidated. Enterprising and excellent, they scored four and could have got more, with Kostas Fortounis whistling a shot over and Chiquinho drawing a fine save from Robin Olsen.

And any sense Villa could do without Emi Martinez was misplaced. Not that Olsen was particularly culpable for any of the goals and the Swede was luckless for the fourth, when Santiago Hezze’s shot took a huge deflection off the back of Ezri Konsa. They could have done with a penalty specialist for the third, though, but Martinez’s antics in the shootout in Lille, earning him a second yellow card but not a red, meant the World Cup winner was missing. Perhaps a goalkeeper of his brilliance might have conjured something special, though; with Villa so open, they required rescuing.

It hardly helped that, lacking Youri Tielemans, they were short of midfielders. Emery picked a more attack-minded team than usual and a six-goal thriller was the consequence. El Kaabi’s treble took him to 31 for the season, 13 of them in Europe. The menacing Moroccan is now the joint top scorer in the Conference League, despite spending autumn in the Europa League.

He pounced when Olympiacos twice sprang the offside trap, with Villa’s full-backs both found faulty. His first goal was chalked off then awarded, the initial verdict of offside overturned by the VAR. The watching owner Evangelos Marinakis presumably did not complain about this decision. As Chiquinho flicked the ball forwards, Matty Cash was caught behind the rest of the defence, rendering the goal legitimate. Then Daniel Podence, a loanee from the West Midlands, chipped the ball forward, El Kaabi headed it down and dispatched a half-volley. His was a magnificent display, a No 9 with purpose and presence, power and pace.

Villa had a threat of their own. They had already seen a Leon Bailey strike disallowed for a foul by Clement Lenglet and were denied a spot kick when the Jamaican seemed to be fouled by Francisco Ortega.

They pulled level with two quality strikes. The first was a typical Villa goal, Ollie Watkins making a diagonal run to meet Diaby’s through pass and arrow in a shot. Emery signalled to calm down. No one did and Diaby continued to exert an impact, racing on to Bailey’s pass, finishing from an acute angle, with the aid of a misjudgement by Kostas Tzolakis, who left a gap at his near post as he anticipated a cross.

Yet they only had parity for four minutes. Then Panagiotis Retsis’s header on to the raised elbow of Douglas Luiz. It was an unnatural position but the Brazilian was barely a yard away. El Kaabi sent Olsen the wrong way. Then Hezze’s strike put Olympiacos two goals to the good again.

Villa’s response was forceful but the outcome added to a sense of wastefulness. David Carmo fouled the substitute Jhon Duran but the usually reliable Douglas Luiz clipped the post with his spot kick.

If Villa’s capacity to give gifts to Greeks could prove their undoing, they may wish Sevilla had not sacked Mendilibar, months after he led them to continental glory. Now instead of Emery, he could be the Spaniard adding the Conference League to the Europa League.

Ultimate Athens city break: from sightseeing to shopping, must-dos

Whether from school-time lessons about Zeus and Hera, or a more recent dip into Disney’s Hercules, the fascinating world of Ancient Greece is sure to sit somewhere in your mind. But seeing the sights in real life is an experience quite unlike any other. Vast temples perch on top of cliffs, seemingly held suspended against all gravitational odds, columns stretch into the clouds, and carvings are so creative it’s hard to believe there was no 3D printer back in 5 BC. Even better, it’s never been easier to get out here and explore, with my trip seamlessly organised from flights and hotel to sight-packed tours, by Jet2CityBreaks. The UK’s number one tour operator wraps up your flights, hotel and 22kg baggage into an ATOL-protected package, so everything’s taken care of. What’s more, if you’re booking a solo holiday, you’ll be automatically eligible for their solo traveller discount, which takes £30 off* your holiday booking.

While Athens may be known for its rich history, beyond the fascinating sites and artefact-laden museums, there are plenty of modern attractions to enjoy in this dynamic destination. Think bustling bars, a glistening coast and winding streets full of shops to stroll through. In fact, it’s this blend between these two worlds that makes Athens such a fascinating city, with peeks into the ancient world (think statues, ruins, and archaeological remnants) popping up in unexpected places, from gaps in the pavement to my personal favourite, hidden inside a metro station.

So, after a pleasant morning flight from London Stansted, I check into Skylark, a chic hotel, boasting everything from a stylish restaurant, stunning rooftop pool and bar, gym, spa and even an in-house club on-site. Just a short walk from the old town area of Plaka, it’s perfect for soaking up Athens’ fascinating past and buzzy present from the moment I arrive.

For those seeking a trip back in time via dramatic ruins and ancient tales, Athens’ compelling history feels ever-present as you make your way around the city. I wasn’t joking about the metro station moment, as Monastiraki Square houses a small ‘River of Hades’ exhibition, so you can take in a small archaeological site before stepping onto a train. Truly fascinating. Although, if you prefer to see your artefacts in a more structured setting, there are plenty of museums to choose from – the Acropolis Museum, National Archaeological Museum and Benaki Museum are just a few highlights.

No matter where you are in Athens, you can spot the Acropolis standing tall in the centre, and visiting it is a must. Home to the famous Parthenon, the Temple of Athena Nike and the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, to name but a few, this cluster of historical sites on top of the hill will take your breath away. On your way out, be sure to pass through the Acropolis Museum to see more incredible artefacts from the site, before making your way down to Hadrian’s Gate and the Temple of Olympian Zeus where you can get up close to dramatic stone arches and Corinthian columns.

Further afield, a one-day tour of Delphi (main image, above) is a must for history buffs. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Delphi was considered by the Ancient Greeks to be the centre of the world, and it’s where you’ll find the famed temple and Oracle of Apollo, where a series of high priestesses, known as Pythia, would share prophecies, advice and counsel with leaders and lawmakers, often forecasting the outcome of projected wars or political actions. Surrounded by the stunning Greek countryside, this well-preserved site makes for a truly memorable trip, taking in the ancient site, ruins and temple, plus an on-site museum housing mosaics and sculptures.

Unsurprisingly, given their famed cuisine, there’s an abundance of eateries in the Greek capital, and a stroll through Plaka reveals countless tempting options. A favourite of mine was the Bookbar, where, as the name suggests, you can sit down with a good read plucked from the shelves around you while you sip your Greek coffee (a stronger, richer form of Espresso).

For gyros, a staple in Greek culture, consisting of fine strips of meat (and sometimes chips) inside a pita bread, Tylixto is the takeaway that is the most popular pick, with no fewer than 20 people in the queue at any given time.

Louis Bistrot offers a more formal food setting, serving Mediterranean food under New Orleans-esque architecture, while Thespis provides a more authentic Athens vibe, nestled under olive trees and twinkling fairy lights on the way up to the Acropolis. Plus, if you’re after a tasty tipple, Fine Wine sits just next door, so you can sample some Greek wines while sitting outside on one of the city’s pretty winding streets.

Another Athens must-see is the changing of the guards that stand in front of the war memorial, the grave of the Unknown Soldier. Head to Syntagma Square at 11am on a Sunday and join the growing crowd to see the elaborate, dance-like display of soldiers in traditional dress.

Fashion fans may be familiar with Athens’ famous sandal man, Stavros Melissinos, who has made leather shoes for The Beatles, Sarah-Jessica Parker, Jill Biden and many more famous faces. To join his star-studded clientele, head over to his store on the edge of the old town. For more souvenir shopping, Adrianou Street is bustling with options, with everything from jewellery (including classic ‘Evil Eye’ bracelets) Greek honey and hand-crafted trinkets in plentiful supply.

Finally, if you fancy taking in some sea air, a metro ride from the city centre to the port of Piraeus will have you watching boats and tucking into fresh fish in a mere half hour. Head straight to Zea Marina and Mikrolimano Harbor for a picturesque place to perch.

To find out more about destinations, hotels, and book your perfect city adventure, visit Jet2CityBreaks

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Can Monty Panesar spin his way into the House of Commons?

Cricket legend Mudhsuden Singh “Monty” Panesar has been adopted as parliamentary candidate for George Galloway’s Workers Party of Britain in the Ealing Southall constituency in west London. As with his sporting career, England’s former left-arm spin bowler is aiming high: still only a little over 40 years of age, he wants to be prime minister. Britain has never had a leader from the world of sport (or any other type of celebrity) but other nations have, and many former sportsmen and sportswomen have entered British politics with varying degrees of success…

There’s no reason why not, except that the odds are against him becoming the next MP for Ealing Southall. On the plus side is Panesar’s name recognition, engaging personality and his Sikh background, which would do him no harm in a constituency with the largest Sikh population of any in the UK. On the negative side is the sheer size of the Labour majority won by Virendra Sharma in 2019: 16,084, or 38.1 per cent. The hard-left Workers Party of Britain hasn’t contested the seat before, and Panesar and Galloway will need to build a local organisation and win support for their controversial policies, which include taking Britain out of Nato.

A devastating, damning picture of maternity care failings is emerging

Although local authorities, police and crime commissioners, and directly elected mayors have little to do with the National Health Service in their respective localities, many voters will still have used the opportunity provided by the local elections to register a protest about the state of the NHS as well as the cost of living and other pressing concerns.

As has been well documented, satisfaction with the service is running at a multi-decade low – far below where it was before the change of government in 2010.

Some of that disillusion, to be fair to the Conservatives, is down to the grim legacy of the Covid pandemic – longer waiting lists and the burden of dealing with long Covid. The NHS has also suffered from inflation, post-Brexit shortages of staff, and unfavourable and inexorable demographic trends.