Search for Sturgeon successor begins
The search for a new First Minister of Scotland is underway after Nicola Sturgeon decided to stand down. The SNP leader, who made the surprise announcement after more than eight years in the job, plans to remain in office until her successor is elected. Among those tipped to run for the post are John Swinney, deputy first minister, Kate Forbes, the finance secretary and Humza Yousaf, the health secretary who has held several senior posts in government. A recent poll over the weekend suggested Forbes was a frontrunner, said The National.
Corbyn attacks Starmer move
Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has described Keir Starmer’s decision to bar him from standing for the party at the next general election, as a “flagrant attack” on democracy. In a statement posted on Twitter, Corbyn said it was up to local party members to choose their candidate, not Labour leaders. If Corbyn decides to run at the next election as an independent it would “pose an existential dilemma for Momentum, the grassroots leftwing group that emerged out of his leadership campaign”, said The Guardian.
France could outgun Britain
A think tank has warned that Britain could fall behind France as Nato’s leading military power in Europe. The International Institute for Strategic Studies said France has more combat aircraft, more frigates and more troops than Britain despite spending significantly less on defence. France has 203,250 personnel across its navy, air force and army compared with 150,350 in the Britain armed forces, which is set to shrink even further. President Macron has unveiled a multi-year plan to boost defence spending by a third but Rishi Sunak is “reluctant to sanction a similar increase”, said The Times.
Ambulance callers could be diverted
Some ambulance callers will be told to go elsewhere under a new way of screening calls, reported the BBC. NHS England is asking ambulance crews to review which non-life-threatening calls can be treated elsewhere. The category will include incidents that may not need such a fast response, such as burns and severe headaches. About 40% of calls under this category will receive callbacks from a doctor, nurse or paramedic to see whether there is an alternative to sending an ambulance. Sir Julian Hartley, chief executive of NHS Providers, which represents ambulance services, called it a “welcome step”.
Police reveal Bulley ‘vulnerabilities’
Police have said that missing mother Nicola Bulley had “significant issues” with alcohol brought on by her ongoing struggles with the menopause. Lancashire police said the issues “caused some real challenges” for her partner and family. After previously saying Bulley had “specific vulnerabilities”, the force acknowledged it was an unusual move to divulge such personal information about a missing person, but said it wanted to explain what it meant by “vulnerabilities”. Since the 45-year-old went missing on 27 January during a riverside dog walk in St Michael’s on Wyre there has been a huge amount of speculation and intrigue into the case.
Brockovich tells Ohio residents to leave
The environmentalist Erin Brockovich has told residents of a US town where a train carrying toxic waste derailed to ignore government guidance and leave if they do not feel safe. Around 50 carriages derailed earlier this month in East Palestine, Ohio, and the chemical cargo was burned to minimise risk of an explosion. The large fire sent a vast plume of toxic smoke into the air. Speaking to Newsnation, the activist, whose campaign against a utilities giant was turned into a Julia Roberts movie, said: “I need the community to act for themselves.”
Sacked Russian general found dead
A Russian general killed himself a month after he was relieved from his post by Vladimir Putin, reported The Independent. Journalists in Moscow said Major General Vladimir Makarov, 72, was the main organiser in the “hunt” for those deemed an inconvenience by the Kremlin, spearheading the oppression of journalists, opposition activists and protesters. He was found with gunshot wounds to the head at his suburban home in Golikovo, northwest of Moscow, Moskovsky Komsomolets newspaper reported.
NYT writers attack trans coverage
The New York Times has been accused by its own writers of fuelling “bigotry and pseudoscience” against trans people. Sex and The City actress Cynthia Dixon, writer Lena Dunham and whistleblower Chelsea Manning are among the contributors to have penned a letter raising “serious concerns” about the newspaper’s coverage of transgender, non-binary and gender nonconforming people. In a statement to NPR, the paper’s spokesperson, Charlie Stadtlander, defended the coverage, saying the issues are reported “deeply and empathetically”.
Pompeo says Israel is not occupying
Former US secretary of state Mike Pompeo has said Israel has a biblical claim to Palestine and is therefore not occupying it. “[Israel] is not an occupying nation,” he told the One Decision podcast, adding that “as an evangelical Christian, I am convinced by my reading of the Bible that 3,000 years on now, in spite of the denial of so many, [this land] is the rightful homeland of the Jewish people”. As Donald Trump’s diplomat, Pompeo oversaw a “shift in US policy away from mediating a two-state solution and toward more openly siding with Israel”, said The Guardian.
Waitrose tries to lure back middle-class
Waitrose will slash prices across “hundreds of grocery staples” as it “battles to win back cash-strapped middle class shoppers”, said The Daily Telegraph. The grocery chain said nearly a quarter of price cuts are worth 20% off. Fresh vegetables, meats and cheese are among the 300 Waitrose own-brand items enjoying reductions, with a 1kg bag of carrots dropping from 60p to 50p and Savoy cabbages falling from 90p to 70p. Clive Black, a retail analyst at Shore Capital, said Waitrose’s prices have been “top of the charts, at a time of clear economic hardship”.