The Telegraph 2024-05-24 10:00:47

Live General election latest news: Scotland will decide if Labour wins election, says Starmer

Sir Keir Starmer suggested Scottish voters could make or break Labour’s hopes of winning the general election on July 4. 

Sir Keir said there would be “no change without Scotland” as he urged voters north of the border to return to supporting Labour. 

Speaking at a campaign event in Glasgow, Sir Keir said: “I know there are voters here in Scotland who wanted in the past to get the Tories out but felt that they couldn’t vote for Labour because they didn’t think that we would win. 

“Well, we are a changed Labour Party and we now have that opportunity to kick the Tories out but you have to take that opportunity by voting Labour. 

“Because there is no change without Scotland, there is no Labour without Scotland. Scotland is central to the mission of the next Labour government.” 

Scotland used to be an electoral fortress for Labour but support collapsed in 2015 as the party lost 40 seats and finished with only one MP. 

You can follow the latest updates below and join the conversation in the comments section here.

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Live Putin ‘wants Ukraine ceasefire on current front lines’

Vladimir Putin is ready to halt the war in Ukraine with a negotiated ceasefire that recognises the current battlefield lines, Russian sources have said.

The Russian leader had expressed frustration to a small group of advisers about Western attempts to stymie negotiations, three of the sources, who are familiar with discussions in Putin’s inner circle, told Reuters. 

They added that he was also vexed by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s decision to rule out further truce talks.

“Putin can fight for as long as it takes, but Putin is also ready for a ceasefire – to freeze the war,” said one of the sources, a senior Russian figure who has worked with the Kremlin chief.

Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the Russian President had repeatedly made clear Russia was open to ceasefire discussions, saying the country did not want “eternal war.” 

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Terminally ill British woman ends life by euthanasia on New Zealand beach

A terminally ill British woman ended her life by euthanasia on New Zealand beach on a beach in New Zealand, according to a friend…

Reform poses a threat to Tories in 28 seats

Reform UK poses a major threat to the Conservatives in 28 seats, analysis by The Telegraph shows…

Andrew Scott says group chat with Taylor Swift’s ex did not inspire her new album

Andrew Scott has played down rumours that Taylor Swift’s new album was based on his WhatsApp group with Joe Alwyn, her former boyfriend.

The Ripley actor, 47, addressed speculation by the singer’s fans about the group chat, which included actor Paul Mescal and was titled Tortured Man Club, insisting that it was short-lived and “collapsed”.

In an interview with Variety magazine, he set the record straight, saying: “Let me tell you what that [group] is … So they were about to play these tortured characters, and I had played a tortured character in Fleabag. It wasn’t about our own characteristics!

“I think there were three texts, like, ‘Hey, guys.’ You know those groups that you set up, and they just collapse.”

Swift’s fans had speculated that the pop star’s new album, The Tortured Poets Department, was inspired by the group chat after Alwyn had revealed its existence while they were still together in 2022.

It was later discussed during an interview Alwyn had with Mescal, the star of Normal People, for Variety’s Actors on Actors series. They also revealed that Scott had created the group.

“It hasn’t had much use recently,” Alwyn said at the time, with Mescal adding: “I feel like we’re less tortured now.”

They later joked that Scott was “on it by himself” with Alwyn quipping that he was “just messaging himself good mornings”.

Now the Sherlock Holmes actor’s comments to Variety appear to confirm the existence of the shared dialogue between the three men was short-lived.

Scott added that he reached out to Swift to tell her “how amazing” her new 31-track album is, before describing her as “an extraordinary human” and “a force of nature”.

His favourite song, The Smallest Man Who Ever Lived, appears to address her brief romance with musician Matty Healy, while other tracks are understood to be nods to her six-year relationship with London-based Alwyn.

During the interview, Scott also discussed his dislike of the term “openly gay”, explaining that he feels “straight people don’t have to explain or talk about their sexuality every time they go to work”.

The Bafta award-winning actor added: “The idea that I’m being defiant by just being exactly who I am … Be open about it? Why wouldn’t you be open about it?

“The word ‘openly’, for me, just seems a little loaded.”

He also discussed the challenges of his starring role as Tom Ripley in the new Netflix TV drama, based on Patricia Highsmith’s best-selling thriller novels.

Scott said he was “concerned about how it would be perceived” and how it might change things for his career.

He addressed some backlash against his age for the part, which is based on a 25-year-old male, insisting: “When I played James Moriarty [in Sherlock], I was younger than people wanted the character to be.

“And they’d go: ‘I wanted the character to have a beard and wear a top hat, and this little f—– is now playing it like this, and I don’t want that!’ The biggest challenge for you is to put your dukes up and go, ‘Sorry, but this is this’.”

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Boy, 11, shot in head after climbing garden fence to retrieve football

A schoolboy has been shot in the head after climbing a garden fence to retrieve a football.

The 11-year-old suffered a fractured skull after being hit by a pellet fired from what is believed to be an air weapon.

Police said it was sheer luck that he did not suffer more significant injuries or was even killed.

The boy was playing football with friends in the back garden of a house on Roadtrain Avenue in Leyland, Lancs, on Monday evening when the ball went over a fence.

As he climbed the fence to look over, he was struck by the pellet at around 7.20pm. He was taken to Alder Hey Hospital, in Liverpool, for surgery and is now recovering.

Lancashire Police have launched an investigation to find the person responsible and in a statement on Thursday evening, said a juvenile had been identified as “someone of interest”.

A spokesperson for the force said: “Following a number of inquiries we have now identified someone of interest to our investigation and we will be speaking to them in due course. That person is another juvenile.”

‘It narrowly missed his brain’

Speaking to The Telegraph, the boy’s mother said: “He’s doing ok considering he’s been shot in the head’’.

She said she discovered her son had been injured when he appeared with a tea towel on his head.

“All the other kids were shouting he had been shot,’ she told the Mail Online. “I was in shock. One minute he was playing football and the next he is collapsed on the floor.

“He spent three nights at Alder Hey Hospital in Liverpool and he’s been left with a hole the size of a 5p coin. It narrowly missed his brain so he has been lucky. He’s a tough lad.”

One resident, who did not wish to be named, said: “My daughter was playing in our garden at the time and I heard all the commotion in the road.

“I heard that the boy’s mother had gone to a friend’s house to get help and it was her who dialled 999. The friend told me the boy had been shot in the head with a BB gun.”

The woman added: “I can’t understand why it happened. And it makes you think if it’s safe for kids to be playing out.”

Another neighbour said police had asked for her Ring doorbell footage, saying: “They didn’t tell me what it was about. It was only later I heard about the boy being shot. Poor him, I just hope he’s going to be OK.”


Roadtrain Avenue is part of a newly built residential development on the edge of Leyland, close to open countryside and popular with young families.

One mother of two, who lives close to where the shooting took place, told The Telegraph: “It’s really frightening. I’ve got kids, a boy and a girl, and it’s appalling to think someone is taking shots at a child who was just climbing a fence to get their ball back.

“None of the families round here are happy about this at all.”

Det Con Paul Brown, of South CID, said: “This incident has left a young boy with some really significant injuries, and it is fortunate he was not more seriously hurt or even killed.

“We are carrying out a number of enquiries to try and identify the person or persons responsible and I would appeal to anyone who saw what happened, has any dashcam or Ring doorbell footage, or who has any information which could assist our investigation to get in touch.

“I’m sure someone in the local community knows who is responsible for what’s happened to this young boy and I would urge them to come and speak to us.”

Anyone with information can call 101and quote log 1410 of May 20, or alternatively they can contact independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously and in confidence on 0800 555 111.

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Owners of rottweilers that mauled woman to death avoid jail

A mother and son whose rottweiler dogs fatally savaged a woman in a “frenzied” attack have avoided jail.

Marie Stevens, 40, went to pet the two dogs owned by Brian Walshe, 42, and his mother, Rachel Walshe, 69. One of the dogs, Frankie, bit her on the arm, before the other pet, Rocky, joined in the “frenzied” attack, Liverpool Crown Court heard.

Handing the mother and son suspended jail sentences, Judge Andrew Menary KC, Recorder of Liverpool, said: “The circumstances of this case are shocking and deeply tragic.

“Marie Stevens was a kind and loving person who particularly loved animals and particularly loved dogs and what happened was a terrible irony.

“That is the problem with huge and powerful dogs like these, this is why the public is so concerned about casual ownership of such animals.”

Some of Mrs Stevens’s family walked out in disgust as Judge Menary said he would suspend the prison sentences.

Showing signs of aggression

Records showed Frankie had been taken to a vet, after showing signs of aggression, two days before the fatal attack in Park Lane West, Netherton, Liverpool.

Mrs Stevens, a care worker, of Brighton-le-Sands, Merseyside, had put down her bag to stroke Rocky when she was attacked by Franky on Aug 18, 2023.

Both dogs began biting Mrs Stevens who was “screaming” during the attack, lasting just over a minute, before Brian Walshe managed to wrestle the dogs under control, Robert Dudley, prosecuting, told the court.

Mrs Stevens was bitten multiple times and had to have skin grafts before being discharged from hospital two weeks later.

But the next day she collapsed and died at home following a deep vein thrombosis that pathologists said was a direct result of the dog attack.

Both defendants, of Grosvenor Close, Netherton, admitted a single charge of owning a dog dangerously out of control, causing injury resulting in death.

Both were given 10-month prison sentences, suspended for 18 months and a 20-day rehabilitation order and ordered to pay £3,500 for the upkeep of the dogs in police kennels, since the attack.

Judge Menary also ordered the destruction of the dogs and disqualified Mrs Walshe from owning a dog indefinitely and her son for five years.

In a victim impact statement, Mark Stevens said of his partner of 20 years: “I’m struggling to find the exact words to describe the utter turmoil I have been left in.

“I can’t admit she’s gone. I’m lonely. I can’t even begin to process what’s happened.”

He said his wife had gone to pet the rottweilers after they had lost their own beloved dog 12 months before, adding: “That’s what makes the way she died even harder to come to terms with.”

Nicola Newton, her sister, said: “She died after stroking dogs. Who would believe that?”

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