The Telegraph 2024-07-08 04:11:44

LIVE France election 2024 live: French PM resigns after shock exit polls

French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal says he will resign as exit polls showed the Left-wing New Popular Front taking the biggest share of the seats in the French National Assembly.

Mr Attal is part of the Ensemble bloc, which is projected to have come in second place.

With no party expected to take a majority, negotiations will now begin on forming the next government.

Shock exit polls are projecting that Marine Le Pen’s party will come third, a major disappointment after leading in the first round of voting.

Follow for more updates.

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Work already begun to improve relations with EU, says Starmer

Sir Keir Starmer said “work has already begun” to improve relationships with the EU as he refused to rule out a free trade agreement with the bloc. 

The Prime Minister said he wanted better trading and security relationships with Brussels as he vowed to rip up the “botched” deal struck by Boris Johnson.

Asked if the UK will have a free trade agreement with the EU, he said: “We intend to improve our relationship with the EU. And that means closer trading ties with the EU, it means closer ties in relation to research and development and closer ties in relation to defence and security. 

“Obviously, there are many discussions to be had and negotiations to be had, but I do think that we can get a much better deal than the botched deal that Boris Johnson saddled the UK with.”

He added: “I think we’ll have a much better deal than the one we’ve got now, that depends on respectful relationships, talking to leaders across the EU. And of course that work has already begun.”

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Russian forces advance on town named after New York

Russian forces have advanced into the southwestern suburbs of New York, a town in the Donetsk region of Ukraine. 

Ukrainian and Russian sources said that Moscow’s forces have taken up positions on Petrovskyi Street, which is roughly half a mile from the centre of the town. 

Ukraine’s general staff confirmed that fighting had taken place within New York, also known as Niu York, in its mid-afternoon situational report. 

On Saturday, Ukrainian media reported that soldiers in the area were complaining of a lack of mechanised support, and that that had led to Russian advances into the town. 

The attack is understood to be part of a larger Russian offensive aimed at capturing the coal-mining city of Toretsk, which is around six miles north of New York. 

Toretsk is also facing a Russian assault from the east, where the Ukrainian military has confirmed that fighting is ongoing in the city’s outskirts. 

Russia continues to make incremental gains across the front. On July 4, Ukraine’s army confirmed it had retreated from a neighbourhood on the outskirts of Chasiv Yar, a strategically important town in eastern Donetsk.

New York was established by German Mennonite settlers in 1892. It is said to have taken its name from the birthplace of a wife of one of the founders: New York City, USA. 

The town was known as Novgorodske from 1951-2021, but changed its name in a bid to distance itself from the Soviet era. 

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Major General charged with sexual assault

A special operations general has become the most senior officer in centuries to be charged with sexual assault.

Maj Gen James Roddis, who recently left the British Army, is due to attend Bulford Military Court Centre late this month to enter a plea.

Maj Gen Roddis, who was one of the pallbearers who helped carry Prince Philip’s coffin in 2021, has received a number of accolades over his military career.

They include a Distinguished Service Order which is given for highly successful command and leadership during active operations.

He was made an MBE and also earned two Queen’s Commendations for Valuable Service in 2008 and 2017.  

Until recently Maj Gen Roddis, who has been charged under Section 3 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003, was the director of strategy for Strategic Command – an organisation comprised of special forces and intelligence units with a focus on the cyber and electromagnetic domains.

In 2014, Maj Gen Roddis was the commanding officer of The Highlanders, which consisted of troops from the 4th Battalion the Royal Regiment of Scotland, who were then the last Scottish battalion to serve in a combat role in Afghanistan.

The last time a Major General faced court-martial was in 2021 when Maj Gen Nick Welch was convicted of fraud regarding school fees.

Welch, who left the military in 2018, was convicted of a single fraud charge in March 2021 and was jailed for 21 months for falsely claiming more than £48,000 in allowances to pay for his children’s boarding school fees.

It is unusual for an officer of Roddis’ rank to face court martial.

In 1815 Sir John Murray, a Lieutenant General, was convicted of abandoning his siege guns without due cause in the Napoleonic wars. He was cautioned and denied permission to become a member of the Order of the Bath.

Roddis’ case is expected to go to trial later this year before a jury of military officers, according to the Mail on Sunday. 

The 52-year-old married father of three was charged after the Service Prosecuting Authority, the military equivalent of the Crown Prosecution Service, reviewed his case.

The Telegraph contacted Maj Gen Roddis for comment.

An army spokesman said: “We expect very high standards of behaviour from all our personnel and take any allegations of misconduct extremely seriously.

“Ex-Major General James Roddis will appear at Bulford Military Court Centre on 17th July 2024 charged with Sexual Assault contrary to Section 3 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003. We will not offer further comment while legal proceedings are ongoing.”

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Bergerac will return to screens with a new face as the troubled detective

Bergerac will return to TV screens with a new face in the leading role.

The original crime drama aired on the BBC from 1981 to 1991, and followed Jim Bergerac, a detective on the Channel Island of Jersey.

Bergerac will now be played by Damien Molony, who was Hal Yorke in BBC Three’s Being Human, in a reimagining of the original material which is being produced by UKTV.

Producers have promised a modern twist on the much-loved crime classic, which originally starred John Nettles in the role of the troubled titular detective.

The new series will feature My Family actress Zoë Wanamaker and Life on Mars star Philip Glenister and will differ from the original in format, following one case over six episodes, rather than having a crime in each instalment.

Stars including Happy Valley’s James Norton and Poldark’s Aidan Turner had been linked to the role before it was secured by Mr Molony, who said: “I’m incredibly excited to be stepping into the role of Jim Bergerac.

“John Nettles has left an incredible legacy with big shoes to fill, and I hope I can bring a fresh new take on this iconic character. I can’t wait for audiences to join me on this journey.”

Bergerac will begin as a man grappling with grief and alcoholism following his wife’s recent death, and struggling to care for his daughter.  Like the original series, the action will take place in Jersey.

Tricia Warwick, chief executive of Visit Jersey, said: “For many, the words ‘Jersey’ and ‘Bergerac’ are synonymous, and we are delighted for the iconic TV series to return to our island’s beautiful shores for filming this summer.

“The modern re-imagining of Bergerac presents an opportunity to celebrate the show’s legacy in Jersey, whilst reaching a new generation of fans who will be eager to ‘jet set’ to the featured locations.”

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Racially diverse cast to play Anglo-Saxons in BBC drama

Anglo-Saxons will be played by a diverse cast in a new BBC historical drama about the Battle of Hastings.

The eight-part series King and Conqueror will tell the story of Harold and William’s epoch-defining struggle for the throne of England in 1066.

Some Anglo-Saxon characters, including a real 11th-century leader, will be played by a diverse set of actors.

Jason Forbes and Elander Moore have joined the cast of the drama which boasts James Norton and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau in starring roles.

Adding diversity to a high medieval period setting follows the BBC’s “colour-blind” casting of non-white stars as Tudor courtiers in another upcoming historical drama, Wolf Hall: The Mirror and the Light.

King and Conqueror is a CBS Studios co-production series acquired by the BBC.

When announced in 2023, CBS Studios executive Lindsey Martin said the scripts would offer “a bold and fresh take on a story that has endured for nearly 1,000 years”.

The BBC said at the time that the series would bring “Harold and William to life” with details of their personal lives, adding: “In the UK we learn about William the Conqueror, the Battle of Hastings and King Harold’s gruesome death in our school history lessons – but those headlines are all most of us can remember.”

The cast includes Norton as Harold Godwinson and Game of Thrones star Coster-Waldau as William, Duke of Normandy, alongside co-stars Juliet Stevenson and Clemence Poesy.

Without any official announcement, further details have emerged of greater diversity in the cast, with up-and-coming talents Forbes and Moore chosen for the roles of Anglo-Saxons.

Forbes will play the fictional character Thane Thomas, with the “thanes” being a layer of nobility in the ethnically homogeneous society of Anglo-Saxon England.

Moore, of Trinidadian descent, will play the real historical figure of Morcar, an Earl of Northumbria who fought against Viking and Norman invaders, before being subdued by William after the battle of Hastings.

Morcar, whose parents were Anglo-Saxon nobles, later rebelled against William’s rule. The colour-blind approach has drawn criticism, with historian and sometime BBC collaborator Dr Zareer Masani saying: “Some of us, including people of colour, grew up thinking actors ought to look like characters they played.”

He warned that going against this approach could be “hugely confusing and downright misleading” adding that it was “absolutely crazy that they’ve applied this colour-blindness to a period when Britain was at its least multicultural, before even the Norman Conquest”.

Cambridge historian Prof David Abulafia, referencing the recent decision of the Anglo-Saxon England journal to scrap its name, said: “ Since the whole series will undoubtedly bear little relation to historical fact, I think we shall have to put up with the bizarre notion that there were black earls in Anglo-Saxon England.

“All the more so, since we are no longer supposed to talk about ‘Anglo-Saxons’. If they didn’t exist, we can do what we like.”

Several period series have chosen to disregard realistic depictions of historical demographics to facilitate a diverse cast.

Bridgerton, based on a series of romantic novels, has cast non-white stars for the roles of multiple Regency-era nobles, and Queen Charlotte.

It emerged in April 2024 that the follow-up series to the acclaimed Wolf Hall would employ a diverse cast to portray courtiers in 16th-century England, including the portrayal of white historical figures.

Lady Margery Seymour, the mother of Jane Seymour, would be played by Sarah Priddy, a British actress of Bahamian descent. Seymour’s sister-in-law Anne would be played by Cecilia Appiah, a British mixed-race actress, and Thomas Wyatt, the Tudor courtier and poet who introduced the sonnet to England, by Amir El-Masry, an Egyptian-British actor.

The BBC and CBS Studios have been contacted for comment.

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Justin Welby says wife felt pressured to have abortion

The Archbishop of Canterbury has revealed that years ago his wife felt pressured into having an abortion by hospital staff who feared their child would have a disability.

The Most Rev Justin Welby’s daughter, Ellie Welby, 32, was born with dyspraxia, a condition causing difficulty in coordination and movement.

Speaking to the General Synod, the Church’s legislative body, the Archbishop said when his wife, Caroline, was pregnant, it was “expected” that she would ask for a termination if a disability test she was offered came back positive.

He added that staff brought up the cost of raising a child with a disability when advising him and his wife on their decision.

The Archbishop said: “Before [Ellie] was born, during the pregnancy, there was some concern and a test was offered, but it was made very, very clear to my wife that if the test was taken and proved positive, it would be expected that we ask for a termination.

“It was not a neutral process, because they said it’s expensive.”

Support for families

The Archbishop’s comments came during a motion on disabled children put forward by the Ven Pete Spiers, an archdeacon from Liverpool, challenging the assumption that bringing a disabled child into the world is a tragedy.

Archdeacon Spiers urged healthcare providers to improve the support they give to the parents and families of disabled children and called on the Government to ensure they are provided with unbiased information about their unborn child’s condition.

He also implored the Church to consider ways of improving the human dignity of disabled children by offering better advice and support to parents and families.

The Archbishop told Church leaders gathered in York that his daughter was “exceptionally precious”. He said: “She’s precious because she’s wonderful, she’s kind, she is someone who gets cross and gets happy and gets sad. She’s not that severely disabled.

“She’s been chucked off a bus, or tried to be on one occasion, by a ticket inspector who didn’t believe that her disability card was genuine.”

‘Belief in human dignity’

He added that his family once discussed: “What would happen if she was healed, what would it look like? And one of the other children said: ‘She wouldn’t be Ellie.’

“I hope that this motion passes, not just because of Ellie, but because of our belief in human dignity.”

The motion, which passed by 312 votes to none, included emotional testimonies from other speakers who either lived with a disability or who cared for people with a disability.

The Archbishop has previously said he does not pray for his daughter in relation to her disability because it is part of her.

Under the current law, abortions are permitted until 24 weeks in most circumstances. However, if there is a “substantial risk” of a child being “seriously handicapped”, then an abortion can take place up to birth.

The Church has long campaigned against abortions on the grounds of disability, describing the law as “discriminatory” during a 2013 parliamentary debate.

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Watch: Cows stampede down suburban street in Yorkshire town

This is the moment a herd of 45 cows broke loose and charged down a residential street.

Footage shows Leon Box, 16, racing away from the animals as they run past houses in Ripon, North Yorkshire.

The boy had gone out to the corner of their street after hearing cows were on the loose but was taken aback when he saw them bearing down on him.

His mother Jess, 36, said the whole family ran out to see the animals pass their home at around 8.10pm on Friday.

She believes the cows pushed through a kissing gate from the field at the end of their street.

‘An earthquake’

Mrs Box, who works for a housing association, said: “It sounded like an earthquake.

“My eldest had just got to the corner. A few of his friends have said there are some cows loose. They couldn’t see any road – just a load of cows.

Her electrician husband Matt, 37, and their two younger children Charlie, nine, and Archie, seven, watched as the herd ran into their neighbours’ gardens, before heading into town.

The family said it took a few hours for all the cows to be herded up, with the help of North Yorkshire police.

Mrs Box added: “They made a mess. There is quite a lot of excrement. It’s pretty gross. Quite a lot of people have said it’s the funniest thing they’ve seen.”

North Yorkshire Police have been contacted for comment.

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