The Telegraph 2024-07-05 08:12:38

Sunak announces dissolution honours an hour before polls close

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Rishi Sunak has named Craig Mackinlay and Theresa May in the dissolution honours list, published less than an hour before the polls closed.

A list of seven new Conservative peers, including the first “bionic MP” and the former prime minister, appeared on the Government website after 9pm on July 4.

The dissolution honours list allows parties to nominate MPs who are standing down and leaving the House of Commons at the end of a parliament to enter the House of Lords.

Eight new Labour peerages were also awarded, as well as one for the Liberal Democrats and one for the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).

Dr Hilary Cass, who authored the Cass review into NHS gender services for children and young people, was also made a crossbench peer.

Oliver Dowden, the deputy prime minister and Julian Smith, the former chief whip, Ben Wallace, the former defence secretary, and Alister Jack, the Scotland Secretary, have been nominated for knighthoods. Thérèse Coffey, the former deputy prime minister, has been made a dame.

The Prime Minister also included Sir Graham Brady, the former chairman of the 1922 Committee of backbench Tory MPs and Liam Booth-Smith, who had been Mr Sunak’s chief of staff in Downing Street, in his list.

Dame Eleanor Laing, the former deputy speaker, and Sir Alok Sharma, the ex-Cop26 president and Cabinet minister, have also been made peers.

Among Sir Keir Starmer’s nominations for peerages are Dame Margaret Beckett, Harriet Harman, Margaret Hodge and Kevan Jones.

Mr Jones played a prominent role in campaigning for justice for sub-postmasters caught up in the Post Office Horizon scandal.

Mrs May, who was the first prime minister in more than 60 years to choose not to publish a dissolution honours list in 2017, has now been given a seat in the House of Lords.

Mr Mackinlay made an emotional return to the Comons in May following months in hospital, and used his first speech to raise awareness of sepsis and to ask for better provision of prosthetics for amputees.

He announced he would not stand again at the general election days afterwards, explaining it would be “impossible” to seek re-election while continuing his rehabilitation.

Mr Mackinlay said he was “overwhelmed” by the honour and would use his platform to campaign for sepsis, limb loss and appropriate prosthetics, as well as “sensible” net zero. Writing on X he said: “The Bionic MP changes into the Bionic Lord.”

Dr Cass’s report into the support and treatment offered to children who believe they are transgender was welcomed widely, with Mr Sunak saying that the Government had already acted swiftly on her previous call to stop routine use of puberty blockers for under-16s.

He said: “We will continue to ensure we take the right steps to protect young people. The wellbeing and health of children must come first.”

The Liberal Democrats nominated Caroline Pidgeon, former leader on the London Assembly, who said it was a “huge honour” and that she looked forward to working to “champion liberal values, mend our broken political system and hold the government to account”.

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Holly Willoughby speaks out after Gavin Plumb found guilty of plot to kidnap, rape and murder her

Women should not be made to feel unsafe in their own homes, said Holly Willoughby, after a security guard was convicted of plotting to kidnap, rape and murder her.

Gavin Plumb, from Harlow, Essex, was found guilty of planning “unspeakable violence” against the former This Morning host following a week-long trial.

The 37-year-old shook his head and closed his eyes before sobbing in the dock as the jury announced its unanimous verdict after 12 hours and 19 minutes deliberation. He could now face life imprisonment and will be sentenced on July 12.

The security guard had been attempting to live his “ultimate fantasy” and was described by the prosecution as someone who had an “obsession” with Willoughby.

In a statement following the verdict, Willoughby, who waived her right to anonymity, said: “As women we should not be made to feel unsafe going about our daily lives and in our own homes. I will forever be grateful to the undercover police officer who understood the imminent threat, and to the Metropolitan and Essex police forces for their swift response.”

She thanked the prosecutors, the judge, and the members of the jury for “ensuring that justice was done and that [Plumb] will not be able to harm any more women”.

She added: “I would also like to commend the bravery of his previous victims for speaking up at the time. Without their bravery this conviction may not have been possible.”

The week-long trial heard how Plumb had made an “abduction kit”, complete with metal cable ties, handcuffs, a ball gag and a blindfold, in preparation for the attack.

He scouted Willoughby’s home address in advance of a potential home invasion and searched for abandoned buildings where he could “keep” the former This Morning presenter, the prosecution told jurors.

Officers stormed Plumb’s flat on Oct 4 last year after he unwittingly revealed his plot to an American undercover officer online.

Detectives examining his phone and devices discovered “vast” amounts of images of women – 10,322 of which were of Willoughby.

So vast was the amount of material that officers were only able to analyse around 10 per cent, amounting to “more than tens of thousands of images”, Det Con William Belsham, of Essex Police, told jurors.

Plumb, a father of two, was also found to have made web searches including “how to meet people who plan to kidnap celebs” and “what does it feel like to be raped” in 2021.

In “sexualised” messages on WhatsApp, Wickr and Kik between Plumb and a man called Marc, the pair exchanged 57 images of Willoughby across 46 WhatsApp messages between Jan 12 and Jan 19 2022. Nine of these images were “deepfake pornography”, Alison Morgan KC, prosecuting, said.

Jurors heard how Plumb had sent voice notes detailing his plan to hold Willoughby at his home, which he had rigged with CCTV cameras.

As part of his preparations for the attack, he ordered bottles of Chloroform from a homeopathy website, which he claimed were to clean a stain on the floor.

Plumb’s violence against women began in 2006, when he was given a 12-month suspended sentence after attempting to force two stewardesses off a train using a fake gun and a threatening note on two separate occasions.

He was later jailed for 32 months after an attack on two teenage girls in 2008, in which he threatened them with a “box-cutter/Stanley knife-type instrument”.

During her closing speech, Ms Morgan said Plumb, who used the username “Big Bear” online, went to “great lengths to suggest to other people it was not fantasy”.

Following the guilty verdicts, Det Chief Insp Greg Wood, Essex Police’s senior investigating officer, said Plumb was a “dangerous, predatory individual”.

He continued: “He was not just simply obsessed with Holly Willoughby, he meticulously and carefully planned, over a number of years, to carry out a depraved and violent attack, in which he plotted to deprive her of her liberty and ultimately her life.

“His claims in court that he was a ‘fantasist’ are simply not true and were evidenced by the extent with which he plotted with others to carry out his wicked plan.”

Nicola Rice, a specialist prosecutor in the Crown Prosecution Service, said that Plumb had “plotted unspeakable violence against one of the nation’s most familiar faces”.

“The chilling details of his plans were laid bare with the help of an undercover officer from the US who alerted the FBI to the threat, and the seriousness of Plumb’s scheme was exposed when the prosecution successfully applied to tell the jury about Plumb’s previous convictions.

“I hope his conviction brings some comfort to Holly Willoughby and her family, and shows others that the Crown Prosecution Service will always seek the strongest possible charges against those who plot violence against women.”

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Wimbledon goes green with coconut cream Victoria sponge cake

Wimbledon has replaced traditional cream with a coconut alternative for some of its Victoria sponge cakes, in an attempt to be more sustainable.

All England Club (AELTC) chefs have replaced the cream filling for VIP hospitality ticket holders to create a “plant-based” cake.

The dairy-based sponge has got almost twice the carbon impact of the plant-based recipe, with a “high” rating and the same amount of carbon as emitted with 123 smartphone charges, according to analysis from the All England Club.

However, one of Britain’s best known farmers has criticised the move and called on Wimbledon to use local produce to help the farming and dairy industry.

Adam Fargin, executive chef at the All England Club, said they wanted to move away from trays of small cakes “loaded with butter and cream”.

Mr Fargin revealed they had trialled an “oat-based solution” for the Victoria sponge filling but it lacked the correct “viscosity” to hold itself in place.

He said: “I think it is really poignant [sic] to note that we make these changes on flavour as well.

“So we wouldn’t serve that because it’s plant-based, we believe that it tastes as good as a Victoria sponge that’s made [traditionally].

“It is really important for us that we have that balance between, does it taste great and is it great for the environment.”

It is the first time Wimbledon has offered an alternative version of the classic Victoria sponge, with oil-based Flora being used instead of butter for the mix.

Gareth Wyn Jones, farmer and BBC presenter, questioned the move, saying replacing cream with coconut cream was an “insult to British farming”.

He said: “They are living in cloud cuckoo land, it is sad they are going to use processed rubbish. It is never going to be as healthy and nutritious as milk.

“Vegan cream in cake is an absolute joke.”

Mr Jones added that using plant-based alternatives was “not going to make an iota of difference” and stressed that eating, and drinking, seasonal, local produce will have a far more beneficial impact.

‘Cows are not creating this climate disaster’

He added: “Cows are not creating this climate disaster”.

“This is not going to help the farming industry, it is insulting to the British and dairy farming industry.

“They [Wimbledon] could find a farmer in the local area to bring in milk. This is not going to help the farming industry.

“How many coconuts are grown here?”

The cakes are included as part of the afternoon tea at the Rosewater Pavilion, with the guests also receiving Centre Court tickets, canapes, a cheese course and complimentary drinks.

Prices for the VIP experience begin from £1,905 + VAT per person.

Banana muffins, made with recycled banana skins, are also being offered to this year’s competitors. The skins are removed and fermented in a vacuum sealed container, to help break down the fibres, before being blended into the muffin mix.

Marcelo Arévalo, who is due to play Andy Murray and Emma Raducanu in the first round of mixed doubles, was seen trying to grab a slice of the cake for his partner, who celebrated her birthday on Wednesday.

In the middle of a photoshoot for the cake, he said: “It looks delicious, it looks delicious, it looks good, looks good.”

Asked how he manages to avoid eating cake while training, Arévalo replied: “I do sometimes, I do, but not every day.”

A spokesman for AELTC confirmed that traditional Victoria Sponge cakes are still available for all visitors, including hospitality ticket holders – along with a wide range of other options.

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Football fans drive surge in alcohol-free celebrations during the Euros

Football fans are dodging post-match hangovers by opting for alcohol-free drinks during Euro 2024, retailers say.

Sales of no- and low-alcohol drinks (NoLo) have jumped by as much as 20 per cent since the beginning of the tournament on June 14, according to online store Ocado.

Alcohol-free wines were up by nine per cent, while no-alcohol beer and canned cocktail sales also increased, by seven per cent and six per cent respectively.

The most popular drinks include Marks & Spencer’s low-alcohol canned mojito, and its “peach sunset” carbonated cocktail, as well as BrewDog Elvis Alcohol Free beer.

But sales of lager, which made up 80 per cent of the beer and cider sold in the 2006 World Cup, according to Tesco, will make up just 50 per cent of what fans buy for the 2024 tournament.

Ocado said that sales of pickle juice, which elite footballers are using to cure muscle cramps, had jumped 24 per cent ahead of England’s quarter finals appearance against Switzerland on Saturday.

Oscar Biggs, buyer for NoLo at Ocado, said: “The increase in sales of our no-and-low drinks reflects a shift toward mindful consumption, with customers opting for more conscious choices while enjoying the football this summer.”

The trend towards NoLo options is well-established. Sales were up nearly 40 per cent compared to July last year, Waitrose said.

‘Footy fever’

Sarah Holland, Waitrose’s buyer for NoLo, said: “We’ve all got footy fever, and our customers are looking for a different drink of choice when watching the nail-biting games.

“Last week was our biggest week of the year for no-and-low, as fans chose to skip the hangover to enjoy the England match.”

Ms Holland said spirits and cider were proving “particularly popular”, as drinkers are “experimenting and being more mindful of what they’re drinking”.

What watching England play football does to your body

Read more

Supermarket Tesco also said it was seeing its highest-ever sales of NoLo beer and cider outside of Christmas, even beating Dry January.

Sales peaked on days when England played, showing football fans were moderating their consumption of alcohol, the retailer said.

James Renshaw, Tesco’s buying manager for beer and cider said: “We have been surprised at how high demand for no- and low-alcohol beer and cider has been since the tournament started.

“It’s definitely been driven by football fans as the highest sales have come on the days that England play,” he said.

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Postal ballots ‘delayed after postmen told to prioritise parcels’

Postal ballots were delayed after postmen were told to prioritise parcels, voters have claimed.

As many as 120 constituencies have experienced delivery delays or problems as the postal voting system struggled to cope with rocketing demand.

Thousands of people found themselves unable to cast their votes on Thursday after postal votes were delayed in constituencies across the country.

Some voters said they had been told by their postmen that their ballots were delayed because sorting offices were making sure parcels were delivered first.

One couple said that they had not received their postal ballots in time to send them back before they went to France.

Sandra Javens and her husband Dave, who live in West Sussex, had applied to vote by post ahead of the start of their holiday on June 20. But they did not receive their ballots in time, and said that they “haven’t been given a choice – and that’s not right”.

Mrs Javens said she was told by a postman that they were “prioritising parcels at the moment”, adding: “When the postman came to the door, I asked: ‘Have you not got anything for me?’ He said ‘I’m sorry madam, but they are prioritising parcels at the moment.’”

Jon Pinches, a director of MPS, a company that works with local authorities to print ballot papers and polling cards, said he was “aware” that parcel deliveries were being prioritised. He added that he had been told of staffing problems at delivery offices by postmen and Royal Mail workers.

Royal Mail denied parcels were being prioritised, and said there are no delays with either parcels or post in West Sussex.

A spokesman said: “We have a specialist elections team that plans every aspect of the elections delivery programmes and works closely with local authorities to ensure everything runs as smoothly as possible.

“We have investigated concerns with the delivery of postal votes in Westbourne and can confirm that all postal votes we have received for the area have been delivered without delay.”

In February, staff members told BBC Panorama that letters were left behind in sorting offices, with tracked items and parcels prioritised for delivery.

In 2023, Ofcom, the regulator, accepted Royal Mail’s assertion that it did not prioritise parcels, but still fined the postal service £5.6 million for missing targets. The postal service denied that it gives less priority to letters.

Voters had to apply for a postal vote by 5pm on June 19, and were advised to immediately return them.

Those who have not had time to send their ballots back by post are able to hand in their vote at polling stations or council offices in their constituency, although changes in the Elections Act 2022 mean they will have to fill in a form when they do so.

People who cannot travel to a polling station to cast their vote in person, or who have already gone on holiday, have effectively been disenfranchised by the chaos.

Across the UK, 21 per cent of people voted by post in the 2019 election. The number voting by post is expected to increase by more than a million this year, with more voters are away on summer holidays.

The Electoral Commission confirmed that the postal voting problems would form part of its post-election research.

There have been days of back and forth between party leaders, councils and Royal Mail over who is responsible for the postal vote chaos.

The Telegraph understands that the short timescale of the election, problems with printing ballots and delivery issues have all contributed to the delays.

Royal Mail has repeatedly denied that there are backlogs of postal ballots in sorting offices. Sources told The Telegraph that extra staff would be in depots on Thursday to ensure no postal votes were left ahead of the 10pm deadline for them to be returned.

North West Essex, where more than 2,600 ballots were delayed as the result of “human error” by the council, has experienced some of the most severe problems.

Last week, the council chief executive said he was “mortified” by the delays, and that council workers were hand-delivering ballots to get them to voters in time.

Kemi Badenoch, the Business Secretary, said on X, formerly Twitter, on Thursday that the Labour-led council had “potentially disenfranchised up to 2,600 postal voters by forgetting to send them their ballot papers”.

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How the 2024 manifestos compare: Labour, Reform, Lib Dems and the Conservatives on key issues

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As Britain head to the polls today to elect its next government, each party is hoping that the promises set out in their manifestos last month have connected with voters.

Heading into the general election with a 20-point lead, Sir Keir Starmer urged voters to back Labour to “rebuild our country”, having unveiled his Change document in Manchester on June 13.

But he was forced to reject allegations of being “captain cautious”, with the manifesto not containing any major surprise policies.

On June 11, Rishi Sunak said, as he launched the Tory manifesto at Silverstone, that he had “bold” ideas, warning the electorate against handing Sir Keir a “blank cheque”.

But the Prime Minister’s document was met with private doubts from some Tory candidates that it would be enough to win.

  • Read the latest election polls

Nigel Farage set out Reform UK’s vision for repairing a “skint” UK as he launched its “contract with the people” on June 17. However, his spread of tax cuts, spending increases and spending reductions faced accusations of “magical thinking”.

Elsewhere, Sir Ed Davey’s Liberal Democrats launched their manifesto in north London on June 10, hoping to win voters over with the motto: “For a fair deal.”

  • Labour’s full manifesto 
  • Reform UK’s full manifesto 
  • Conservative’s full manifesto
  • Lib Dem’s full manifesto

Here, The Telegraph looks at how the manifestos and their promises stack up on polling day:

Tax policy

Labour has unveiled £8.6 million of tax rises by 2028-29, with raids on private schools, overseas property investors and non-doms.

It also set out its plans for a windfall tax on oil and gas giants, which it says will raise £1.2 billion per year.

The manifesto reiterated the promise not to raise National Insurance, income tax or VAT.

Meanwhile, the Conservatives offered a variety of tax cuts, including a further 2 per cent cut to NI and abolishing it altogether for four million self-employed workers, as well as abolishing stamp duty for first-time buyers on homes worth up to £425,000.

Reform proposed raising the minimum income tax threshold from £12,571 to £20,000, scrapping stamp duty for properties worth less than £750,000 and “abolishing” inheritance tax for estates under £2 million.

Their raft of tax cuts also includes lowering fuel duty and reducing VAT, which they would not charge on energy bills.

The Liberal Democrats promised to more than double capital gains tax for top earners, triple the digital services tax on social media firms and tech giants, and implement a one-off windfall tax on the “super-profits” of oil and gas producers.

Immigration policy 

Labour has promised to reduce net migration, with measures such as banning employers who breach employment law from recruiting overseas workers.

The party also pledged to reform the current points-based approach, and to upskill British workers in sectors where immigration is currently used to address skills shortages.

Meanwhile, the Conservatives have unveiled plans to introduce a “binding, legal” annual cap on visas, giving Parliament an annual vote on the numbers recommended by Government migration advisers.

The manifesto also includes a commitment to raise salary requirements for skilled workers in line with inflation every year so that they do not “undercut UK workers”.

Leaving the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and an immigration tax on foreign employees headline Reform’s central aim of ending illegal immigration and freezing “non-essential” legal migration.

The Liberal Democrats would negotiate “low-cost, fast-tracked work visas” to tackle labour shortages in “key economic sectors”, exempt NHS staff from the immigration skills charge and reverse the ban on care workers bringing partners and children.

Tackling small boats

On tackling illegal migration, Labour has committed to putting an end to the Rwanda scheme, which it called a “desperate gimmick”.

Instead, it plans to set up a new Border Security Command with “hundreds of new investigators, intelligence officers and cross-border police officers”.

It will also seek a new security agreement with the European Union in order to access intelligence and lead joint investigations with EU counterparts.

The Conservatives are sticking with the Rwanda scheme as they promised to run a “relentless, continual process of permanently removing illegal migrants” .

The manifesto also opens the door to possibly leaving the European Court on Human Rights by vowing to put UK border security ahead of membership of a foreign court.

The party has also set up plans to sign further returns deals, like the one agreed with Albania.

Reform said they would deem illegal migration a national security threat and that migrants would be picked up out of boats and taken back to France.

The party also wants to replace the Home Office with a new Department for Immigration.

The Liberal Democrats fiercely oppose the Government’s Rwanda plan and would scrap it along with the Illegal Migration Act, instead providing “safe and legal routes to sanctuary for refugees” and increasing cooperation with Europol.


Labour has said it will cut NHS waiting lists so that patients will wait no longer than 18 weeks from referral for non-urgent health conditions.

This would involve delivering an extra 40,000 more appointments each week and training “thousands more GPs”, although it does not state how many. They also want to overhaul the “8am scramble” appointment booking system.

Sir Keir’s party has also set out a Dentistry Rescue Plan to provide 700,000 more urgent dental appointments a year, 100,000 of which will be for children. It will also introduce a supervised tooth-brushing scheme for three to five year olds.

Meanwhile, the Conservatives have said that they will deliver 92,000 more nurses and 28,000 more doctors by the end of the next Parliament as part of the NHS Long Term Workforce Plan – a pledge that Labour has matched.

The Tories will also provide 2.5 million more dental appointments, and have committed to increasing NHS spending above inflation each year.

The party has also vowed to drive up productivity in the NHS, move care closer to people’s homes by utilising pharmacies, and create more community diagnostic centres.

Reform vowed to cut NHS waiting lists to zero in the space of two years with an income tax exemption for front-line workers and a 20 per cent tax relief for private healthcare and insurance, with more private providers used by the NHS.

The Liberal Democrats promised to give everyone the right to see their GP within seven days, or 24 hours if it’s urgent, boosting the number of full-time equivalent GPs by 8,000 in order to achieve this.

Sir Ed Davey also wants to introduce free personal care, increase the minimum wage for carers by £2 per hour and create a “dad month” to encourage paternity leave.

Education and childcare policy

Labour has promised to recruit 6,500 more teachers and put mental health specialists in every school, funded by imposing VAT on private school fees. It will also introduce free breakfast clubs in every primary school.

In terms of childcare, the party has said it would open an additional 3,000 primary school-based nurseries, and has promised to review the parental leave system within the first year of government.

Meanwhile, the Conservatives have promised that new teachers in priority areas would receive bonuses of up to £30,000 tax-free over five years, to boost recruitment. Rishi Sunak also pledged to create a further 100,000 apprenticeships by 2029, paid for by scrapping “poor quality” degrees.

The Tories vowed to deliver the largest expansion of childcare in history, giving parents with children from nine months old access to 30 hours of free childcare a week from September 2025.

Reform would also target “rip off” degrees, scrapping interest on student loans and requiring universities to provide two-year courses to reduce student debt and allow graduates to enter the workforce earlier.

The party also want to ban teaching gender ideology and critical race theory in schools and review the curriculum to make it more “patriotic”.

Elsewhere, the Liberal Democrats would match Labour’s pledge to put a qualified mental health professional in every school. It would also increase school and college funding per pupil above the rate of inflation each year and hand out £10,000 to every UK adult to spend on “education and training throughout their lives”.

Defence policy

The Conservatives have sought to put defence at the heart of today’s election, with promises to increase military spending to 2.5 per cent of GDP by 2030, a timeline Labour does not match.

The Tories also pledged £3 billion a year to support Ukraine, and to bring back National Service for school leavers.

Meanwhile, Labour said it will “set out a path” to 2.5 per cent defence spending and in its manifesto states its commitment to the nuclear deterrent as “absolute”.

Reform have also promised to increase defence spending, to 2.5 per cent by 2027 before rising to 3 per cent by 2030. 

Mr Farage wants to form a fully-fledged Department for Veterans’ Affairs and offer free education to troops and veterans alike, as well as increase basic pay across the forces.

The Liberal Democrats said they would reverse government cuts to troop numbers and maintain UK support for Nato but would also seek multilateral global disarmament and block arms exports to countries with poor human rights records.

Net zero 

Labour has set the date to reach clean power by 2030, working with the private sector to double offshore wind, triple solar power and quadruple offshore wind by that date.

Its plans will be partly achieved through the creation of a new publicly-owned energy company, Great British Energy.

Labour will not issue new oil and gas licences in the North Sea, but pledges not to revoke existing ones.

Meanwhile, the Conservatives have branded their net zero plans “affordable and pragmatic”, saying they will ensure annual licensing rounds for oil and gas in the North Sea.

They have pledged to treble offshore wind and have said they would seek “democratic consent” for onshore wind and “support solar in the right places”.

Mr Sunak’s party has also pledged to ensure household green levies on household bills are cut.

In contrast, Reform insists the UK’s flagship green goals make taxpayers worse off and would abandon all existing carbon emissions targets, with plans to accelerate oil and gas licences in the North Sea, build high-efficiency gas turbines and restart coal mines instead.

The Liberal Democrats would take a different approach, promising to cut greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2045, five years earlier than the current UK target.

The party says they will achieve this with a raft of green policies including generating 90 per cent of electricity from renewables by 2030, providing free retrofits for low-income homes, requiring new cars to produce zero emissions from 2030 and shifting the tax burden onto frequent flyers.

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