Cameron tells Israeli PM Netanyahu of need for two-state solution
Lord David Cameron told Benjamin Netanyahu of the need for a two-state solution after the Israeli prime minister rejected allies’ demands for Palestinian statehood.
The foreign secretary reiterated his call for an ‘immediate humanitarian pause’ as they held a meeting at Netanyahu’s office in Jerusalem on Wednesday. He urged Israel to open more crossing points into Gaza to allow crucial humanitarian aid into the besieged strip, and also called for the protection of medics and hospitals after their destruction in the war in Gaza triggered by Hamas’s wave of bloodshed in Israel on October 7.
Netanyahu has maintained his objection to Palestinian statehood despite calls from the US to work towards the two-state solution after the conflict.
Next UK government faces biggest debt challenge since 1950s – report
Sluggish economic growth and high national debt will leave the next UK government facing one of the bleakest fiscal challenges since the 1950s, according to an Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) report.
The 1950s saw a debt-to-GDP ratio of around 200% – about double what it is today – after public debt increased rapidly during the Second World War. A new government will inherit taxes at record levels, stagnant living standards and struggling public services, yet government spending plans suggest further cuts to areas other than health, the report says.
Under reasonable assumptions for day-to-day spending on the NHS, schools, defence, international aid and childcare, the UK is on course for a £20bn reduction in funding for other services, the IFS said.
Boy, 15, charged with murdering 17-year-old in city centre stabbing
West Midlands Police have charged a 15-year-old boy with murder after a teenager was stabbed in Birmingham city centre.
The suspect is accused of murdering 17-year-old Muhammad Hassam Ali, who was found seriously injured in Victoria Square, Birmingham, shortly before 3.30pm on Saturday. He was taken to hospital but died later the same day.
The charged youth, who cannot be named because of his age, will appear before Birmingham Magistrates Court on Thursday, West Midlands Police said. A second boy, also aged 15, has been released on conditional police bail.
Former political rivals call for sale of NHS data to drive AI treatment
Former political rivals Tony Blair and Lord William Hague have called for access to medical records to be sold to help develop cutting-edge treatment.
Blair, the former Labour prime minister, and the ex-Conservative leader have set out more than 40 recommendations on regulation and state support to help the UK stay at the forefront of growth in biotechnology and artificial intelligence.
The former rivals’ report says the NHS is a valuable source of data and a new approach is needed to provide commercial access to records, via a separate company.
Yousaf and ex-adviser to Sturgeon to give evidence to Covid inquiry
Scotland’s first minister Humza Yousaf is due to give evidence to the UK Covid-19 Inquiry amid ongoing scrutiny over messages exchanged by ministers and officials during the pandemic.
Former first minister Nicola Sturgeon’s use of private party emails is also likely to be examined as her former chief of staff Liz Lloyd gives evidence on Thursday morning.
A spokesperson for Yousaf issued a statement earlier this week explaining his actions as former health secretary after the inquiry was shown a WhatsApp exchange he had with Scotland’s national clinical director Professor Jason Leitch in November 2021. In the exchange, Yousaf asked Prof Leitch about the rules around the wearing of masks ahead of an event he was attending.
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Storm in a teacup! US embassy wades into row over author’s salt claim
The US embassy in London has intervened in a row over how to make the perfect cup of tea after an American scientist made a controversial suggestion.
Bryn Mawr College chemistry professor Michelle Francl said one of the keys to making tea is a pinch of salt. The tip is included in her book Steeped: The Chemistry Of Tea published on Wednesday by the Royal Society of Chemistry.
The salt suggestion drew howls of outrage from tea-lovers in Britain. The US Embassy in London issued a social media post reassuring ‘the good people of the UK that the unthinkable notion of adding salt to Britain’s national drink is not official United States policy’.
Scotland ‘leading the UK’ with record year for solar and heat pump installations
A record number of heat pumps and solar power systems were installed across Scotland last year, figures show.
The MCS Foundation, which collates the data, said 25,875 solar power systems were fitted to homes and businesses across the country in 2023 – 56% more than in 2021 and 174% up from the 2020 total.
There were also 6,388 heat pumps installed last year – 37% more than 2021 and 113% up from 2020. Almost one in 10 Scottish households (8.23%) now has some kind of green energy system at their property.
A warm front has engulfed the UK bringing milder air, cloud and patchy rain. The north-east and Scotland will see heavy rain to start the day, while other areas will be cloudy with the odd splash of rain. Some sun may even break through later today. Temperatures will be very mild – highs of 13 degrees.
A band of rain extending along the length of the country will push eastwards, meaning most areas will be wet overnight. Clearer skies towards dawn. Chilly in the north-west with temperatures hovering around five degrees; milder at 11 degrees in the south-east.