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‘Parliament should be leading the way’: #AskHerToStand Day encourages women to become MPs

https://www.standard.co.uk/news/uk/50-50-parliament-ask-her-to-stand-day-women-mps-b75045.html

‘Parliament should be leading the way’: #AskHerToStand Day encourages women to become MPs

This launches #AskHerToStand Day on November 21, celebrating the Qualification of Women Act, which allowed women to stand for Parliament for the first time ever. It was passed 102 years ago.

Since then, over 5000 MPs have been elected – but only 552 of them have been women. In the corridors of power, men still outnumber women 2:1.

50:50 Parliament, the campaign for women to have equal seats and equal say in parliament, have found evidence that unlike men, women need to be asked three times before they will consider standing.

Boris Johnson releases message in support of 50:50 Parliament’s female MP drive

Now, alongside Boris Johnson and other senior political figures, 50:50 Parliament are calling on everyone to ask women to #SignUpToStand – where they will then receive a special network of support and mentoring.

Frances Scott, the founder and director of 50:50 Parliament, spoke about the need for more women in politics via the 4 R’s: representation, resources, responsibility and respect.

“If you’ve only got 20% women in the room, then the male opinion and the male view will dominate – take the tampon tax as an example”, Scott says.

<p>Frances Scott (centre) and 50:50 Parliament campaign outside of Westminster</p>
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Frances Scott (centre) and 50:50 Parliament campaign outside of Westminster

/ 50:50 Parliament )

“In terms of resources and responsibility, there are about 33 million women in the UK, and our parliament should draw upon the widest possible pool of talent, expertise and experience. It’s not just a man’s world, it’s a woman’s too, and we should be involved in all the major decision-making.

“We need to have an equal voice when it comes to economic policy, defence strategy, climate change, and more.

“And finally, respect. Parliament should be leading the way in showing respect for women, our life experiences and our opinions. It has to start at the top.”

So what are the main barriers still facing women getting into politics, or signing up to stand as an MP?

“The way women are socialised is fascinating”, says Dolly Theis, co-founder of the #AskHerToStand campaign. “It’s laced into our very language. You can be in a conversation with an incredible woman but never consider to ask them if they want to stand as an MP.

“We are so under-socialised to consider going into politics, which is why we want to make it part of a normal conversation.”

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Dolly Theis, co-founder of the #AskHerToStand campaign

/ Dolly Theis )

Another barrier is practicality. Often, MPs move between two areas frequently – their constituency and Westminster -, voting can place at random hours including late at night, and it was only recently that breastfeeding was allowed in the chamber. For women with children, these barriers can be substantial.

Scott also points out that even with a name as blatant as “50:50”, people forget they are campaigning for equality: “It literally means equal demographics. But people forget that it’s not just a women’s issue – lack of equality is an issue that impacts everybody and ripples through society.

“A more gender-balanced parliament would benefit men as well. We could move away from maternity leave and towards parenting leave, giving men as much time off as women – such as in Norway – equaling the gender balance in the home and allowing men to forge better relationships with their families.”

Theis says 50:50 Parliament research has also shown that female MPs who have had babies face a torrent of abuse for taking time off to look after their child. And it’s not just women with children – a number of high-profile women in politics have cited abuse as a factor in their decision either to step down from the role, or to deter them from running initially.

( 50:50 Parliament )

A small silver lining in a difficult year however, has been that the shift into online events and Zoom meetings has meant the campaign has got a step closer to breaking down the ‘Westminster bubble’.

“We used to organise events in parliament, in Westminster or London generally. We love those events, and it’s great being at Westminster and walking the halls – and showing women what it’s like to walk the halls”, says Scott.

“But the wonderful thing about online events has been we’re talking to women from Aberdeen to Plymouth, all at the same time. It has broadened our reach and it’s improving democracy. Frankly, I think parliament isn’t truly grasping this opportunity to modernise”.

( 50:50 Parliament )

The campaign’s aim of sustainable and successful leadership comes from diversifying the current parliament, with 50:50 taking an “intersectional approach”.

“Within the 50:50 we hope to have proper representation across all sorts of demographic types,” says Theis, “We absolutely cannot lump all women into one category together. We recognise that some women face greater barriers than other women.”

From working cross-party, to having ambassadors and task forces for different diversity groups, 50:50 take an outreach focused approach, also working with external organisations to better understand how they can communicate more effectively with communities such as ethnic minority women, disabled women, and women or non-binary people in the LGBTQ+ community.

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50:50 Parliament campaigning team visit a local school

/ 50:50 Parliament )

“We know there’s a lot more work to do, but we recognise that people can hold multiple identities”, says Theis, “and we have two ears and one mouth for a reason. Our approach is listening and developing, deeds not just words”.

Scott adds that she is proud of 50:50’s welcoming and positive approach, which has “naturally” attracted diverse participants and employees.

Both have an overwhelmingly positive outlook on the future.

“Every time we expand, every new person that we reach out to, every time we develop the campaign, we’re attracting more women, women who may have never thought about standing before – and that gives me huge hope for the future”, says Theis.

“I am extremely positive,” says Scott, “Women are signing up every day. And we have the resources to support them.

“No one can tell us that women don’t want to do this job. We know they do”.

You can #SignUpToStand here, or #AskHerToStand here.

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Boris Johnson says England’s tiers could have February 3 expiry date in bid to quell Tory rebellion

https://www.standard.co.uk/news/politics/coronavirus-tiers-february-3-sunset-boris-johnson-b94232.html

Boris Johnson says England’s tiers could have February 3 expiry date in bid to quell Tory rebellion

Under his so-called “sunset” clause, the tiers would be lifted on February 3, with MPs offered a vote to extend them.

The gesture marks a ramping up in the PM’s efforts to head off a backbench rebellion in the Commons this week amid widespread fury of the allocation of the new tiers.

Mr Johnson has angered a number of high profile members of his party with his post-lockdown plans to place 99 per cent of the country under the toughest Covid-19 alert levels.

This means he may struggle to push the measures through Parliament when they come to a vote on Tuesday.

But, in a bid to avert such challenges, the Prime Minister’s letter to Tory MPs stresses that the Government will review local areas’ tiers every fortnight.

“Regulations have a sunset of 3 February,” he wrote.

“After the fourth fortnightly review (27 January), parliament will have another vote on the tiered approach, determining whether the measures stay in place until the end of March.”

Mr Johnson also said the first such review, on December 16, would consider the views of local directors of public health, with a final decision on whether any areas should change tiers made at a Cabinet committee. The changes would come into effect on December 19.

<p>England’s national lockdown ends on December 2</p>
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England’s national lockdown ends on December 2

/ PA )

In a further olive branch to MPs, the Prime Minister committed to publish more data and outline what circumstances need to change for an area to move down a tier, as well analysis of the health, economic and social impacts of the measures taken to suppress coronavirus.

Only the Isle of Wight, Cornwall, and the Isles of Scilly will be under the lightest Tier 1 controls, while large swathes of the Midlands, North East and North West are in the most restrictive Tier 3.

In total, 55 million people will enter Tier 2 or 3, which will see tough restrictions placed on bars and restaurants and a ban on households mixing indoors.

Several senior Tories have expressed opposition to the plan, including the 1922 Committee chairman Sir Graham Brady who said he wanted to see people “treated as adults” and trusted with their own health decisions.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Any Questions on Saturday: “I find so many people have been engaged in a wholly responsible way in trying to make sure they can continue some kind of family life, some kind of social life, but being safe, being responsible throughout.

“Especially the older people, who are typically more vulnerable to Covid-19, are also the people who are likely to be most responsible.”

Tory MP Craig Mackinlay, who represents South Thanet which has the second highest R-rate in the UK, said he is planning to vote against the new tiered restrictions on Tuesday.

He told BBC Breakfast that he would instead favour natural “self-regulation” which he says happens when people see the R-rate in their local area starting to rise.

But Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, urged MPs to think what the NHS might be like in January, saying: “You need to take the precautions now to ensure that the NHS doesn’t get overwhelmed at what is always its busiest time of year.”

Mr Johnson acknowledged on Friday that people felt “frustrated”, particularly in areas with low infection rates which now face tighter restrictions than before the lockdown.

He said: “The difficulty is that if you did it any other way, first of all you’d divide the country up into loads and loads of very complicated sub-divisions – there has got to be some simplicity and clarity in the way we do this.

“The second problem is that, alas, our experience is that, when a high incidence area is quite close to a low incidence area, unless you beat the problem in the high incidence area, the low incidence area, I’m afraid, starts to catch up.”

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Anti-lockdown protesters descended on central London on Saturday

/ AFP via Getty Images )

– Mr Johnson appointed Nadhim Zahawi as a health minister responsible for the deployment of coronavirus vaccines.

Meanwhile, Conservative former health secretary Lord (Andrew) Lansley said the Government was “wrong” to relax coronavirus restrictions over Christmas, though admitted saying so made him “feel like the Grinch”.

Asked in an interview with Times Radio whether ministers had made an error by allowing families to gather for five days over the festive period, he said: “I think the short answer is yes – I think it was wrong…

“We’ve got to protect old people. And it really is difficult, I think, to suddenly say Christmas, well, let’s not do that. Let’s allow people to mix. Why would we do that?

“We are potentially only maybe weeks, well, perhaps months, but not many months away from the point at which we may be able to vaccinate the most vulnerable and our oldest population?

“Why expose them to any risk in that period? Why allow transmission potentially to accelerate even for a short period?”

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Migrant crossings into UK from France to be curbed as Priti Patel annouces new Channel clampdown

https://www.standard.co.uk/news/uk/uk-france-migrant-crossing-agreement-b92343.html

Migrant crossings into UK from France to be curbed as Priti Patel annouces new Channel clampdown
T

he number of migrants reaching British shores is to be slashed after the UK reached a new deal with France.

Home Secretary Priti Patel and her French counterpart Gerald Darmanin signed a new agreement aimed at preventing migrants from crossing the English Channel in small boats.

They have agreed to double the number of French police patrolling a 150km stretch of coastline targeted by people-smuggling networks.

However, the Home Office did not say how many more officers would be deployed.

Announcing the news on Saturday, Ms Patel insisted the agreement “will make a difference” to migrant numbers.

She added: “In fact the joint agreement that I signed, which secured the joint intelligence operation, has made a difference – even in the last six months – we have seen that.

“So we know that the French authorities have stopped over 5,000 migrants from crossing into the United Kingdom, we’ve had hundreds of arrests and that’s because of the joint intelligence and communications that we share between both our authorities.

“This new package today that I have just signed with my French counterpart, the French interior minister, effectively doubles the number of police on the French beaches, it invests in more technologies and surveillance (…) and on top of that we are now sharing in terms of toughening up our border security.”

<p>More than 8,000 migrants have crossed the Channel this year</p>
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More than 8,000 migrants have crossed the Channel this year

/ PA )

The Home Secretary said the number of migrants making the crossing had grown exponentially, in part due to good weather.

But, she went on: “We should not lose sight of the fact that illegal migration exists for one fundamental reason: that is because there are criminal gangs – people traffickers – facilitating this trade.”

On top of that, she said, the cost charged by people traffickers has gone down so “people are putting their lives at risk”.

The announcement was criticised by a charity as an “extraordinary mark of failure” akin to “rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic”.

UK and France agree to make intelligence cell to tackle migrant crossings

Ms Patel and Mr Darmanin also agreed an enhanced package of surveillance technology, with drones, radar equipment, cameras and optronic binoculars.

It is hoped the equipment will help the French deploy officers to the right places to detect migrants and stop them before they start their journey.

The agreement also includes steps to support migrants into accommodation in France, and measures to increase border security at ports in the north and west of the country.

It builds on measures previously agreed which the Home Office said had seen the proportion of crossings intercepted and stopped rise from 41 per cent last year to 60 per cent in recent weeks.

Despite deteriorating weather conditions, the UK’s Border Force has continued to deal with migrants making the dangerous trip from northern France.

The number crossing aboard small boats has rocketed this year, with more than 8,000 reaching the UK – compared with 1,835 in 2019, according to data analysed by the PA news agency.

This is despite the Home Secretary’s vow last year to make such journeys an “infrequent phenomenon”.

A recent report chronicled nearly 300 border-related deaths in and around the English Channel since 1999.

Written by Mael Galisson, from Gisti, a legal service for asylum seekers in France, it described the evolution of border security in and around the Dover Strait as a “history of death”.

It claimed responses to the migrant crisis have become increasingly militarised, forcing people to resort to more dangerous routes.

Bella Sankey, director of humanitarian charity Detention Action, said: “It is an extraordinary mark of failure that the Home Secretary is announcing with such fanfare that she is rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic.

“No amount of massaging the numbers masks her refusal to take the sensible step of creating a safe and legal route to the UK from northern France, thereby preventing crossings and child deaths.

“Instead she throws taxpayers’ money away on more of the same measures that stand no chance of having a significant impact on this dangerous state of affairs.”

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London protests: Santa among 155 arrests as anti-lockdown demonstrators march on capital

https://www.standard.co.uk/news/crime/london-protests-antilockdown-arrests-santa-b93072.html

London protests: Santa among 155 arrests as anti-lockdown demonstrators march on capital
M

ore than 150 people have been arrested after anti-lockdown demonstrators descended on central London.

By 7pm on Saturday, police had detained 155 people for a host of offences including breaching coronavirus restrictions, assaulting a police officer and drug possession.

One man, dressed as Santa, was filmed being escorted through the crowds by a swarm of officers.

Onlooker Samatha Hurst told the Standard: “The mood seemed peaceful for a while then once the police were arresting people it seemed to escalate.

“I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.”

Scotland Yard said police had made a number of “early interventions” to prevent people from gathering and urge them to go home.

As part of this, coaches transporting demonstrators into the capital were intercepted and those who did not turn back and go home were either arrested or issued with fixed penalty notices, the force said.

<p>Police clashed with protestters during the heated action</p>
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Police clashed with protestters during the heated action

/ REUTERS )

Chief Superintendent Stuart Bell, overseeing the action, said: “This was a challenging day for Met, City of London and British Transport Police officers and I would like to thank them for the professionalism they have shown throughout the day.

“On Friday, we made it very clear how we would police this event, warning those looking to attend that they risked facing enforcement action if they attended a gathering in London.

“Today’s enforcement action is a direct result of those individuals deliberately breaking the law and at times, targeting our officers with aggression and causing disruption to the road network.

“Our policing plan will continue well into the evening and I would urge anyone who hasn’t already dispersed to go home.”

Activists marched from Hyde Park to Oxford Circus and Regent Street, clashing with helmeted police who arrived in several vans and ran to respond to the chaos.

Officers grappled with people on the ground in attempts to detain them at different locations as onlookers jeered and filmed on their phones.

At one point, green smoke was released as protesters were surrounded by police at the top of Carnaby Street.

The main crowd of protesters appeared to disperse near Piccadilly Circus before reforming elsewhere in the shopping district.

Protesters, including some dressed as Christmas elves, brandished signs reading “All I want for Christmas is my freedom back”, “Ditch the face masks” and “Stop controlling us”.

Several people were handcuffed by officers, while police action was met with booing as demonstrators, many not wearing face masks, ignored requests to go home.

Responding to the scenes, Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “We’ve seen our police officers yet again do incredible work to ensure that they help to stop the spread of this awful virus.

“The people that are protesting today have been protesting for many months, and we’ve seen this over successive weekends.”

She added: “We ask everybody to be conscientious – we all know the regulations and the guidance, we have brought these measures in to save lives and to prevent preventable deaths.”

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Police lined the streets around Oxford Circus

/ PA )

Protest is not a permitted exemption to the prohibition on gatherings under current coronavirus regulations in England and those who attend risk enforcement action by officers, the Metropolitan Police had warned ahead of the weekend.

The grassroots group Save Our Rights UK, which says it is working for democracy, appeared to be leading the protest, called Unite For Freedom – Time For Action.

The group used its Twitter account throughout the afternoon to encourage people to head to central London locations.

Rights groups Liberty and Big Brother Watch argued that the right to safely protest should be explicitly outlined as an exemption in regulations covering England’s tiered restrictions, due to come into force next week.

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UK coronavirus LIVE: Lockdown protests sweep London as Covid death toll rises by 479

https://www.standard.co.uk/news/uk/uk-coronavirus-live-latest-updates-gove-hospitals-b88211.html

UK coronavirus LIVE: Lockdown protests sweep London as Covid death toll rises by 479

Live updates

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Cardiff police stop 110 vehicles for Covid-19 offences in first day of operation

Police have stopped 110 drivers for Covid-19 offences during the first 24 hours of random checks in Cardiff.

Officers in the Welsh capital were granted powers to stop and fine drivers from 9am on Friday in an effort to prevent people from outside the nation travelling into its capital.

South Wales Police said they handed out 12 fixed penalty notices in the first day, and warned a further 15 people, instructing them to leave Cardiff.

People from high-risk areas outside Wales are prohibited from travelling into the country under Welsh Government rules.

Those found breaching the legislation included a couple travelling from Essex who told officers they were heading to Cardiff to give family Christmas presents, and a group of nine people travelling in convoy to visit friends at university.

Cardiff and Vale of Glamorgan Chief Superintendent Wendy Gunney said: “I would like to thank the vast majority of people who are enjoying their weekend with caution and within the confines of the existing regulations, but those not adhering to the rules are continuing to put others at increased risk.

“The measures which are in place are in place for a reason. Our checks will continue throughout the weekend, and anybody blatantly flouting the rules, which have been made very clear, face being fined.”

Police were given the temporary extra powers following concerns that groups of people from locked-down areas of the UK where pubs and bars are closed helped pack out Cardiff city centre’s streets last weekend.

South Wales Police said alongside the vehicle checks, they have had more officers on duty, and these changes will be in place until 5pm tomorrow – covering the final weekend of England’s lockdown.

1606589595

Here’s the moment Santa was arrested at today’s anti-lockdown protest:

1606588691

Coronavirus deaths hit new daily record in Greece

Greece has reported 121 coronavirus deaths overnight – its highest daily today to date.

The country’s death toll now stands at 2,223.

Meanwhile, health authorities reported 1,747 Covid-19 cases today, bringing the total since the first case was detected in February to 103,034.

“This year’s Christmas will be very different,” Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis told a local radio station.

The country is under lockdown until December 7, with repeated appeals to the public to conform to distancing regulations.

“I really ask for some more patience and one more effort ahead of Christmas,” Mr Mitsotakis said.

A two-month lockdown in March helped contain the spread of infections but a renewed spike since October prompted new restrictions.

Greece continues to report a low number of deaths compared to other European nations
( Greece continues to report a low number of deaths compared to other European nations / Pexels )
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Priti Patel’s response to lockdown protests:

Responding to the anti-lockdown protests, Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “We’ve seen our police officers yet again do incredible work to ensure that they help to stop the spread of this awful virus.

“The people that are protesting today have been protesting for many months, and we’ve seen this over successive weekends.”

She added: “We ask everybody to be conscientious – we all know the regulations and the guidance, we have brought these measures in to save lives and to prevent preventable deaths.”

1606586580

Priti Patel’s response to lockdown protests:

Responding to the anti-lockdown protests, Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “We’ve seen our police officers yet again do incredible work to ensure that they help to stop the spread of this awful virus.

“The people that are protesting today have been protesting for many months, and we’ve seen this over successive weekends.”

She added: “We ask everybody to be conscientious – we all know the regulations and the guidance, we have brought these measures in to save lives and to prevent preventable deaths.”

1606582383

Here’s more on the latest figures, and the action over in central London:

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UK death toll up by 479 as cases continue to drop

The Government said a further 479 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Saturday, bringing the UK total to 58,030.

Separate figures published by the UK’s statistics agencies for deaths where Covid-19 has been mentioned on the death certificate, together with additional data on deaths that have occurred in recent days, show there have now been 73,000 deaths involving Covid-19 in the UK.

The Government said that, as of 9am on Saturday, there had been a further 15,871 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK.

It brings the total number of cases in the UK to 1,605,172.

1606578002

England’s hospital death toll up by 289

A further 289 people who tested positive for coronavirus have died in hospital in England.

This brings the total number of Covid deaths reported in the country’s hospitals to 40,197.

The patients were all aged between 27 and 100.

All except 16, aged between 45 and 92, had known underlying health conditions.

The deaths occurred between October 14 and November 27.

1606576917

Scotland records another 44 coronavirus deaths

Scotland has recorded a further 44 coronavirus deaths over the past 24 hours, Scottish Government figures show.

There have been 788 new cases of Covid-19 reported, with the daily test positivity rate at 4.4 per cent, up from four per cent on Friday, figures released on Saturday show.

Since the start of the outbreak, 3,720 people have died after testing positive for the virus within the previous 28 days.

There were 1,077 people in hospital on Friday, down from 1,099 the previous day.

Of these 77 were in intensive care, down from 80.

1606576193

More on today’s protests here:

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UK coronavirus death toll jumps by 479 as London lockdown protesters clash with police

https://www.standard.co.uk/news/uk/uk-coronavirus-death-toll-latest-cases-b91783.html

UK coronavirus death toll jumps by 479 as London lockdown protesters clash with police
T

he UK has recorded 15,871 new coronavirus cases and a further 479 deaths overnight.

Today’s rise in infections follows a steady decrease in case rates across the country.

The total number of infections recorded over the past week is 35,955 fewer than over the previous seven days – a fall of 24.1 per cent.

It takes Britain’s total Covid-19 infection count since the start of the pandemic to 1,605,172.

However, the positive trend in cases comes amid an ongoing rise in weekly deaths.

A total of 3,406 virus fatalities were recorded over the past seven days, a rise of 19 per cent on the previous week.

This takes the country’s official Covid death toll to 58,030. But separate figures published by the UK’s statistics agency show that Britain has now recorded more than 73,000 fatalities involving the disease.

Officers arrested dozens of people on Saturday afternoon as hundreds of demonstrators, including a man dressed as Santa Claus marched through Westminster. 

The Metropolitan Police said officers had made more than 60 arrests by 3pm, as the crowds chanted “shame on you” and “freedom”, causing traffic disruption across the capital.

<p>Police hancuffed protesters as they marched through the streets of London</p>
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Police hancuffed protesters as they marched through the streets of London

/ REUTERS )

The force said: “These were for a number of different offences, including breaching coronavirus restrictions.

“We expect this number to rise. We continue to urge people to go home.”

Several people were handcuffed by officers, while police action was met with booing as demonstrators, many not wearing face masks, ignored requests to go home.

Protest is not a permitted exemption to the prohibition on gatherings under England’s current Covid rules.

Anyone who attends such meet-ups risks enforcement action by officers, Scotland Yard warned ahead of the weekend.

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