Environment

Telegraph
Conservationists have issued a demand for urgent international action after a major report uncovered an unprecedented crisis in nature that threatens to devastate the world economy and imperil humanity itself. Only a global pact on the scale of the Paris Agreement on climate change will save the natural world from irreversible collapse, the World Wide Fund for Nature said after publishing a report showing a cataclysmic decline in global wildlife populations. Global vertebrate populations have fallen by 60 per cent since 1970 as human activity destroys their natural habitats in grasslands, forests, waterways and oceans, the organisation said. Until the turn of the 20th century, humanity’s consumption of the world’s natural resources was smaller than Earth’s ability to replenish itself.

Times
Wildlife populations have fallen globally by an average of 60 per cent since 1970 and loss of habitat is the biggest cause, conservationists have said. A “global deal” similar to the Paris agreement to tackle climate change is needed to protect animals, according to the Living Planet Report 2018 compiled by the Zoological Society of London and the conservation charity WWF. They examined 16,700 populations of 4,000 species of mammals, reptiles, birds, fish and amphibians and found that they had declined by an average of 60 per cent between 1970 and 2014, the most recent year for which data is available. The decline has been much steeper for some populations, with elephants in Tanzania down by 60 per cent since 2009.

ITV News
Wildlife populations around the world have decreased by 60% since 1970 as humans overuse natural resources, drive climate change and pollute the planet, a report has warned. The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) has warned that current efforts to protect wildlife are failing and that more needs to be done to stop numerous species becoming extinct in the near future. The Living Planet Report 2018 warns that it between 2009 and 2014 (the last year for which data was available) African elephant populations in Tanzania fell by 60%, largely due to poaching. The WWF estimates there are only around 415,000 African elephants left.

Brexit

Westmonster
Nigel Farage has blasted the government’s handling of the Brexit negotiations as the Article 50 deadline approaches. Speaking to the Daily Express, Farage said: “We are not on the point of surrender. Yet the Prime Minister is behaving as if we are. It’s pathetic.” He also described how he would handle the process: “You go to our European friends and neighbours and treat them as friends and neighbours. But you say, look we are leaving. Now look, guys, this isn’t entirely up to you. If you want to be grown up and have a free trade deal we will do it. And if you don’t and you want to be silly b*****s then we are just going to leave anyway.”

Breitbart
Just 19 percent of the British public have faith in the Prime Minister’s ability to deliver a good Brexit, opinion polling suggests, in news that will inevitably pile further pressure on Theresa May’s leadership at a time where she is facing a potential leadership challenge from members of her own Conservative Party. While sentiment on the possible impact of Brexit on British standards of living remains comparatively stable, concern about British Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit has soared. Just 19 percent believe May will “get a good Brexit deal for Britain”, while 78 percent are “not confident”, the latest release of Political Monitor figures by British polling firm Ipsos Mori reveals. Those with confidence in the Prime Minister’s personal plan for Brexit have tumbled from 44 percent in March 2017.

Express
THERESA May’s Brexit plans are a betrayal of Britain as it is not taking back control, Boris Johnson said in a fiery attack. The former foreign secretary said it was no surprise Sir James Dyson had announced plans to to produce his new car in Singapore. He said under current plans the UK will be shackled to the EU’s customs union. In a fiery column in the Daily Telegraph, Mr Johnson said: “My interest is in what happens when I want to buy that Dyson EV when it is at last imported from Singapore to this country. “What kind of tariffs will there be on that car, and who will collect them? I ask this crucial question because at the moment there is no doubt. Come 2021, it is plain that Britain will still be locked in the EU customs union, and still with no plan for exit.

Mail
Theresa May last night insisted that her promise to end austerity was not reliant on Brexit – despite Philip Hammond‘s threat to rip up his Budget in the event of no deal. In his statement yesterday, the Chancellor repeatedly spoke of the country reaping a double ‘deal dividend’, but only if there was an agreement with Brussels. And he hinted that he could revisit his pledges by turning next year’s Spring Statement into a full Budget if talks broke up acrimoniously and the financial outlook changed. Meanwhile, official forecasters also issued a stark warning that a ‘disorderly’ Brexit would hit house prices, see sterling plummet and hammer the economy. Downing Street, however, insisted that yesterday’s moves to loosen the purse strings with a raft of spending pledges would be fully funded regardless of the outcome of Brexit talks.

Times

The cost of preparing Britain for Brexit will be at least £4.2 billion, Philip Hammond admitted yesterday, as he increased funding allocations to government departments. In his budget speech the chancellor said that the £3.7 billion already allocated to Whitehall for contingency planning would need to rise by another £500 million. He also implicitly warned that the cost would rise further if no deal had been agreed by the time of Brexit on March 29. While Mr Hammond did not say which departments would receive the cash, the lion’s share is expected to go to the business and environment departments and the Cabinet Office, which is co-ordinating Whitehall planning.

Express
THE 2018 Budget has seen Chancellor Philip Hammond lay out a “three-pronged” plan to deal with Brexit in his last budget before Britain formerly leaves the European Union. Speaking in front of a packed chamber at the House of Commons, Mr Hammond said: “We are at a pivotal moment in our EU negotiations and the stakes could not be higher. “Get it right and we will not only protect Britain’s jobs, businesses and prosperity but we will also harvest a double deal dividend, a boost from the end of uncertainty and a boost from releasing some of the fiscal headroom that I am holding in reserve. “We are confident we will secure a deal that delivers that dividend. “Confident but not complacent, we will continue to plan for all eventualities with a three-pronged approach.

Mail
Philip Hammond boosted no-deal Brexit planning by £500million today – as the government’s watchdog warned of ‘severe’ consequences if talks with the EU fail. 
The Chancellor insisted he was still confident an agreement could be secured and raised the prospect of a ‘double dividend’ from higher economic growth and releasing his Brexit warchest. But he also announced he was ploughing more money into preparations – taking the total to £4.2billion. The announcement came as the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) warned the scale of the impact of leaving without a deal was almost impossible to predict. It said disorderly Brexit ‘could have severe short-term implications for the economy, the exchange rate, asset prices and the public finances’. Mr Hammond said he was ‘retaining firepower to intervene’ if the economy needs more support in the coming months, with £15 billion in fiscal ‘headroom’ to deploy.

Sky News
An emergency budget would have to be drawn up if the UK leaves the EU without a deal, Philip Hammond has said. The chancellor admitted he would have to “look at a different strategy” if talks with Brussels fail to produce a breakthrough. He suggested that could mean the government changing its promise that the end of austerity is “in sight”. Speaking ahead of the biggest spending announcement speech of the year, Mr Hammond told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday it was “extremely unlikely” there would be a “no deal” divorce. “Of course we have to prepare and plan for all eventualities as any prudent government would,” he said. 
“If we were to find ourselves in that situation then we would need to take a different approach to the future of Britain’s economy.

Sun
CHANCELLOR Philip Hammond will announce a special Brexit coin in a major victory for The Sun. The Chancellor will unveil advanced plans for the seven-sided 50p piece in his Budget. It will be available from March 29 next year, the day Britain exits the EU at 11pm. And in a bid to send out a positive signal to the world, it is expected to bear the phrase, ‘Friendship With All Nations’. The Sun has campaigned for the Government to create an enduring gesture to mark Brexit as a landmark national moment, such as a special stamp or coin. 
The commemorative coin has had to be personally signed off by the Queen, as it will bear her head.

BBC News
A commemorative 50p coin will be issued to mark the UK’s departure from the European Union (EU) next year. The Budget documents confirmed the coin would be made available in spring 2019. According to The Sun, the coin will feature the Queen’s head and the date 29 March 2019 and on the reverse the phrase “Friendship with all nations”. A 50p coin was struck when the UK joined the European Economic Community In 1973 and when the UK held the presidency of the EU in 1998. It is not yet known exactly what the new Brexit coins will look like. Last year, the Royal Mint issued more than 66 million new 50p pieces in five different designs featuring the Beatrix Potter characters Peter Rabbit, Tom Kitten, Jeremy Fisher and Benjamin Bunny, as well as the physicist Isaac Newton.

Westmonster
A new 50p coin which is set to be released into circulation next year will celebrate Britain’s historic vote to leave. The coin will read: “Peace, prosperity and friendship with all nations.” Philip Hammond announced the new coin at the Budget in which the Chancellor used to claim austerity is coming to an end. 
The new coin is a great symbol to promote post-Brexit Britain.

Breitbart
A 50 pence coin designed to commemorate the UK’s historic exit from the European Union (EU) and retaking of national sovereignty will be issued next year. The announcement came in Monday’s budget, with the news welcomed by Brexit-supporting MPs and campaigners. The coin will feature the Queen’s head and the date 29 March 2019 and on the reverse the phrase ‘Peace, Prosperity, and Friendship with all nations’, according to a graphic of the design released by the treasury as Chancellor Philip Hammond spoke. Brexiteer Tory MP Andrew Rosindell told Breitbart London: “It is very important we mark the historic significance of Brexit in more symbolic ways.

GE

Express
A LABOUR Lord has predicted Britons will be heading to the polls in May next year, claiming earlier-than-expected tax cuts and increased public spending revealed in today’s Budget are all part of a plan to drum up support ahead of a 2019 general election. Lord Stewart Wood labelled Philip Hammond’s taxation and spending plans a “pre-election Budget” and said today’s announcements could be part of a plot by the Chancellor and Theresa May “to save their political skins”. The Labour peer said the fact that Mr Hammond had decided to spend extra cash generated by healthy public finances combined with the surprise announcement that planned tax cuts had been brought forward a year indicated an election could be imminent. And he predicted May 2019 as a possible date for the poll. He said: “This feels like Philip Hammond’s attempt at a pre-election Budget. Which makes me think we are going to have an election in 2019.”

Bercow

Times
John Bercow, the Speaker of the Commons, has received free tickets worth almost £13,000 to football and tennis matches since the general election last year, more than any other MP. The register of members’ interests shows that Mr Bercow was given 13 sets of football tickets, valued at £7,340, and six lots of tennis tickets, totalling £5,589, including two tickets for the royal box at Wimbledon provided by the Lawn Tennis Association, which were worth £3,480. 
MPs have received tickets worth a total of £123,798 since June last year, research by Gloucestershire Live news site showed. The second biggest share went to Laurence Robertson, the Conservative MP for Tewkesbury. He was given £7,433 worth of tickets, all to watch horseracing.

South Thanet

Mail
A Tory MP’s general election expenses form was forged, a handwriting expert has told the court. Craig Mackinlay, 52, is on trial alongside staff accused of overspending in his successful bid to beat the then UKIP leader Nigel Farage to the seat of South Thanet, Kent, in 2015. Mackinlay, his election agent, Nathan Gray, 29, and campaign manager, Marion Little, 63, have denied deliberately filing false expenditure returns. The declaration submitted to authorities for the ‘long campaign’ period of the run-up to the election was likely a forgery, Southwark Crown Court was told on Monday. As election agent, Gray was to produce and sign the declaration and, to the untrained eye, his signature appeared on it.

Independent
A Conservative MP‘s expenses form for his general election campaign may have been forged, a handwriting expert has told the politician’s trial. Craig Mackinlay, 52, is on trial alongside his staff after they were accused of overspending in his successful bid to beat the then Ukip leader Nigel Farage to the seat of South Thanet, Kent, in 2015. Mr Mackinlay, his election agent, Nathan Gray, 29, and campaign manager, Marion Little, 63, have all denied deliberately filing false expenditure returns. Mr Gray’s signature appeared on the declaration form but Oliver Thorne, a forensic scientist specialising in handwriting, said this was an “imitation” and that there were also “significant differences” to show the writing on the form was forged too. The culprit is not likely to be Ms Little or Mr Mackinlay, he added. Mr Mackinlay, an accountant by profession, was elected to Parliament on 7 May 2015 with a majority of around 2,800. His declared spending came in under the strict £52,000 limit.

Child grooming

Times
More than 420 suspects are under investigation in a £100 million criminal inquiry triggered by the Rotherham sex grooming scandal. The figure was released by the National Crime Agency (NCA) as seven men were convicted yesterday of multiple past offences against five teenage girls in the South Yorkshire town. One told a jury that she had sex with “at least 100 Asian men” by the age of 16. Another described a gang-rape by abusers who threatened to abandon her in a forest unless she complied with their demands. The trial was the first in what is expected to be a series of prosecutions in which networks of men will be accused of sex crimes against Rotherham children who were targeted for exploitation.

Terrorism

Times
The revamp of the government’s counterterrorism strategy, including the first compulsory deradicalisation programme, underscores official concerns at how to deal with the heightened terror threat. A terrorist is being freed from prison at a rate of almost one a week, according to Home Office figures showing that 46 were released in the year to March. A dossier last month revealed that at least 23 of the hate preacher Anjem Choudary’s acolytes have been released, with another five to become eligible for parole in the next year. More than 500 terrorists have been freed in Britain since the 9/11 attacks in 2001, while Choudary himself was released this month halfway through his sentence for supporting Islamic State.

Armed forces

Times
The chancellor pledged £1 billion over the next two years to modernise defence in a move that will stave off deep short-term cuts. The extra cash is designed to boost cybercapabilities and anti-submarine warfare capacity, and to maintain the pace of the Dreadnought submarine programme. It came on top of £800 million handed to the MoD in March, of which £600 million was earmarked for the Dreadnought submarines. They will carry the Trident nuclear deterrent when the Vanguard class goes out of service. Gavin Williamson’s allies claimed that the budget package was a success for the defence secretary.

Fracking

Times
A fracking company is calling for the safety limits on earthquakes caused by its activity to be relaxed after it was forced to stop work because of a small tremor for the second time in four days. Cuadrilla caused what is described as a “microseismic event” measuring 1.1 on the Richter scale at Preston New Road in Lancashire yesterday, the strongest of 27 tremors since it resumed fracking two weeks ago. Under the government’s “traffic light” system, designed to prevent more serious earthquakes, the company has to cease fracking for 18 hours after a tremor of more than 0.5 on the Richter scale, even though tremors below 1.5 magnitude cannot be felt at the surface.

Earthquake

Mail
A powerful earthquake has struck New Zealand‘s North Island, which the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are visiting on their royal tour. The 6.2-magnitude earthquake hit near Taumarunui on Tuesday afternoon. The centre of the quake was about 280km south of Auckland, where Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are visiting. New Zealand’s Parliament was suspended after the quake, and more than 15,000 people reported feeling it. The tremor was one of the largest felt in the country since a 7.8 magnitude quake struck near Kaikoura in the South Island in November 2016, killing two.

Chocolate

Times
The origins of chocolate have been pushed back more than 1,000 years by new DNA research. It was long thought that cacao, the plant that produces cocoa beans, was first farmed about 3,900 years ago by civilisations such as the Maya in central America. Research now suggests it was domesticated 1,400 years earlier hundreds of miles to the south, by people living on the eastern slopes of the Andes and around the tributaries of the Amazon. The study, published in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution, examined ceramic artefacts from Santa Ana-La Florida in Ecuador, the earliest known site of the Mayo-Chinchipe culture.

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