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Liz Truss to be Britain’s new prime minister, replacing Boris Johnson

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  • Liz Truss beat Rishi Sunak to become Britain’s new prime minister
  • Boris Johnson resigned as prime minister in July


Britain will get its third prime minister in just over three years as the ruling Conservative Party announced Monday it had chosen Liz Truss to be its new leader after an internal party contest.

Truss replaces Boris Johnson, a controversial maverick who defied many of Britain’s political traditions. Johnson resigned in July after senior members of his government turned against him amid a series of scandals connected to breaking his own coronavirus lockdown rules and waning appetite for his brand of populist politics .Because Britain elects a party, not a specific leader, the party in power has some scope to swap in a new prime minister. Truss was selected by about 172,000 grassroots members of the Conservative Party. That figure represents less than 1% of the U.K.’s 67 million population.

The new prime minister takes office Tuesday and assumes power as household energy bills in the U.K. soar to unaffordable levels for millions of people.

In a brief speech, Truss thanked Johnson.

“Boris, you got Brexit done. You crushed Jeremy Corbyn, you rolled out the vaccine. And you stood up to Vladimir Putin. You were admired from Kyiv to Carlisle.”

Truss won 81,326 votes to Sunak’s 60,399, or 57% to 43%.

Truss, 47, has sought to portray herself as the political heir to Margaret Thatcher, Britain’s “Iron Lady” and first female leader who advocated with zeal for free markets, lower taxes and the privatization of large state enterprises from telecoms to energy. Truss served in Johnson’s government, first as a trade minister and then as foreign secretary. She has taken a hardline stance on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.

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“The thread that runs through Truss’s career is a belief in small government,” Daniel Hannan, a former Conservative party politician, wrote in an opinion piece published on his website.  Hannan is now known as Lord Hannan of Kingsclere in the House of Lords, the unelected upper House of Parliament to which he was appointed by Johnson.

Sunak, 42, served in Johnson’s government as finance minister, where he oversaw a multi-billion dollar coronavirus support package for businesses and workers. His campaign struggled to shake off the perception, anathema to Conservative political ideology, that he presided over a big state intervention during the coronavirus pandemic. It was aimed at warding off mass unemployment and an economic depression.

Political experts say Britain’s new leader is unlikely to usher in major changes to the U.K.’s foreign policy that would upend its close relationship with the White House. But one possible flashpoint that Truss inherits from Johnson is what to do with the border between Northern Ireland, part of the U.K., and Ireland, part of the European Union, as a result of the U.K.’s departure from the European Union, known as Brexit.

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This previously open border is now subject to checks on some goods and services and Conservatives want to change the customs and immigrations rules at the risk, say U.S. and European officials, of damaging the fragile peace that’s existed in Northern Ireland since the U.S.-brokered Good Friday Agreement took effect in1998.

“Truss is a full-throated Atlanticist, as is Sunak, who thinks that the U.K. is the keystone NATO partner,” said Matt Beech, director of the Center for British Politics, University of Hull, England, referring to close U.S.-U.K. security cooperation.

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The first order of business for Truss will be to reassure the British public that she has a plan to deal with rapidly increasing energy costs and an inflationary spiral caused by the lingering coronavirus pandemic, Russia’s unprovoked war in Ukraine and Britain’s almost two-year-old exit from the EU bloc. All three events have disrupted supply chains and led to higher consumer costs.

The U.K. uses little oil and gas supplied by Russia, but by next month the typical British household is expected to pay around $4,200 a year to heat and power a home, according to Ofgem, Britain’s energy regulator. That’s an 80% annual rise and reflects the way the British government has engineered its energy market to be reliant on wholesale prices, which have skyrocketed amid the war in Ukraine.

Forecasts suggest U.K. energy bills could reach more than $7,700 early next year, more than many U.K. residents pay for rent or a mortgage and threatening to trigger so-called fuel poverty for millions and force many small businesses to close.

“Unless the government steps in there will be a social catastrophe,” independent personal finance expert Martin Lewis told a BBC radio program recently.

“How (Truss) reacts to the energy crisis will not only have a direct impact on the lives of U.K. citizens and the survival of many businesses, but also affect perception of the competence of the administration,” said Antony Froggatt, an environmental policy expert at Chatham House, a London-based think tank.

“It is a baptism by fire.”

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As part of the hand over of power, Queen Elizabeth will receive Johnson and Truss at Balmoral, her estate in Scotland, on Tuesday, Buckingham Palace said.

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It is a break from tradition. Normally the queen would host the departing and new British leaders at her London residence, which she has done 15 times before during her 70-year reign. In recent months the monarch, 96, has participated in fewer royal duties. (USA TODAY)

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How United Kingdom deliberately infected thousands with HIV, Hepatitis – Report

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Infected blood victim Brendan West poses for a photograph at his home in Farnborough, Hampshire, England, Thursday March 28, 2024. Mr West lost his leg in 1979 and was given a blood transfusion while at a British Military Hospital in Germany. After trying to give blood three years ago he learned he has been infected with Hepatitis C for decades. (Andrew MatthewsPA via AP)
British authorities and the country’s public health service knowingly exposed tens of thousands of patients to deadly infections through contaminated blood and blood products, and hid the truth about the disaster for decades, an inquiry into the U.K.’s infected blood scandal found Monday.


An estimated 3,000 people in the United Kingdom are believed to have died and many others were left with lifelong illnesses after receiving blood or blood products tainted with HIV or hepatitis in the 1970s to the early 1990s.

The scandal is widely seen as the deadliest disaster in the history of Britain’s state-run National Health Service since its inception in 1948.

Former judge Brian Langstaff, who chaired the inquiry, slammed successive governments and medical professionals for “a catalogue of failures” and refusal to admit responsibility to save face and expense. He found that deliberate attempts were made to conceal the scandal, and there was evidence of government officials destroying documents.

“This disaster was not an accident. The infections happened because those in authority — doctors, the blood services and successive governments — did not put patient safety first,” he said. “The response of those in authority served to compound people’s suffering.”

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak apologised to the victims and said the report’s publication marked “a day of shame for the British state.”

Campaigners have fought for decades to bring official failings to light and secure government compensation. The inquiry was finally approved in 2017, and over the past four years it reviewed evidence from more than 5,000 witnesses and more than 100,000 documents.

SEE ALSO:  Woman dies in attack by registered XL bullies at East London home

Many of those affected were people with hemophilia, a condition affecting the blood’s ability to clot. In the 1970s, patients were given a new treatment that the U.K. imported from the United States. Some of the plasma used to make the blood products was traced to high-risk donors, including prison inmates, who were paid to give blood samples.

Because manufacturers of the treatment mixed plasma from thousands of donations, one infected donor would compromise the whole batch.

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The report said around 1,250 people with bleeding disorders, including 380 children, were infected with HIV -tainted blood products. Three-quarters of them have died. Up to 5,000 others who received the blood products developed chronic hepatitis C, a type of liver infection.

Meanwhile, an estimated 26,800 others were also infected with hepatitis C after receiving blood transfusions, often given in hospitals after childbirth, surgery or an accident, the report said.

“I am truly sorry,” Sunak told a packed and silent House of Commons. “Today’s report shows a decades-long moral failure at the heart of our national life. From the National Health Service to the civil service to ministers in successive governments, at every level, the people and institutions in which we place our trust failed in the most harrowing and devastating way.”

He vowed to “right this historic wrong” and said details of a compensation package, expected to total 10 billion pounds ($12.7 billion), would be announced Tuesday.

The report said many of the deaths and illnesses could have been avoided had the government taken steps to address the risks linked to blood transfusions or the use of blood products. Since the 1940s and the early 1980s it has been known that hepatitis and the cause of AIDS respectively could be transmitted this way, the inquiry said.

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Langstaff said that, unlike a long list of developed countries, officials in the U.K. failed to ensure rigorous blood donor selection and screening of blood products. At one school attended by children with haemophilia, public health officials gave the children “multiple, riskier” treatments as part of the research, the report said.

He added that over the years authorities “compounded the agony by refusing to accept that wrong had been done,” falsely telling patients they had received the best treatment available and that blood screening had been introduced at the earliest opportunity. When people were found to be infected, officials delayed informing them about what happened.

Langstaff said that while each failure on its own was serious, taken “together they are a calamity.”

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Andy Evans, of campaign group Tainted Blood, told reporters that he and others “felt like we were shouting into the wind during the last 40 years.”

“We have been gaslit for generations. This report today brings an end to that. It looks to the future as well and says this cannot continue,” he said.

Diana Johnson, a lawmaker who has long campaigned for the victims, said she hoped that those found responsible for the disaster will face justice — including prosecution — though the investigations have taken so long that some of the key players may well have died since.

“There has to be accountability for the actions that were taken, even if it was 30, 40, 50 years ago,” she said.

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Woman dies in attack by registered XL bullies at East London home

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XL bully dog IMAGE SOURCE, REUTERS


A woman in her 50s has died after she was attacked by her two registered XL bullies at a house in east London.

The woman was treated by paramedics at the home in Cornwall Close, Hornchurch, but died at the scene on Monday afternoon.

The two dogs were seized by armed officers after being contained in a room.

It is believed to be the first fatal attack by XL bully dogs that were known to have been registered under new laws.

A blue forensic tent was put up outside the woman’s home in the small residential street following the attack.
Forensic team walking out of house with bags
Image caption, Officers can be seen working at the property

Officers and forensic teams can be seen removing items from the property.

The family of the woman, who was the owner of the dogs, is being supported by officers, the Metropolitan Police says.

Neighbours have described seeing paramedics administer CPR to the victim in her front garden.

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A woman, who has asked to remain anonymous, said: “I came out of the house and looked to see what had happened. We hadn’t heard anything but saw a helicopter overhead and loads of police.
“I stood by the road and saw a paramedic administering CPR. That poor woman. It’s shocking.”
Scene on Cornwall Close
Image caption, Two XL bully dogs were seized by armed officers at the home.

Another woman, who also did not want to be named, said she heard barking during the incident and had previously warned her child about going near the XL bully dogs.
‘A lot of barking’
“I said ‘don’t ever touch those dogs. They’re dangerous’.

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“I didn’t see anything but I heard a lot of of barking and saw a lot of people outside,” she said.
One neighbour said he did not hear the incident but saw the police helicopter followed by up to three ambulances and about nine police cars arriving at the scene.
He said: “I looked out and saw two or three ambulances and eight or nine police cars. We asked police what had happened, they said there’d been ‘an unfortunate incident’.
Neighbour Sejal Solanki

“At around 4.15pm we were told to evacuate. We were out for around half an hour while police blocked off the road.”

Neighbour Sejal Solanki called the woman’s death “very very sad”.
“The fact that that’s happened with her own dogs is scary,” she said.
“We have children and they’re playing in the field there, near her house, and it could happen to anybody really.”
What is the XL bully ban and how dangerous are they?
Julia Lopez, the MP for Hornchurch and Upminster, told BBC Radio London: “I think the whole community is in shock at this incident.”

“To find out it was as a result of her two dogs was deeply distressing and I obviously think of her family and her neighbours who will have been deeply affected by this,” she said.

Michaela Scott
Image caption, Local dog trainer Michaela Scott, who specialises in working with XL bully dogs, said there were “quite a lot” of people in the area with XL bullies
From 1 February, it became an offence in England and Wales to own an XL bully without an exemption certificate.
‘She was complying with law’

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Anyone who owns one of the dogs must have the animal neutered and microchipped, and keep it muzzled and on a lead in public, among other restrictions.

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According to the Office for National Statistics, there were 16 deaths due to dog attacks in 2023, a sharp rise from preceding years where the number had been in single figures.

As of late 2023, around 60% of dogs held in police kennels were a bull breed of some kind.

Ms Lopez added that while incidents like this would “provoke a new debate” on the rules surrounding XL bully ownership, it was her understanding the “lady affected had those dogs under the new licences that requires the dogs to be neutered, to be chipped, to be muzzled”.
“So she was complying with the law.”

Scene on Cornwall Close
Image caption, Items have been removed from the home
Dog behaviourist Michaela Scott, who lives near the house where the woman died in Hornchurch, said attacks like this could be scary for people who did not work with this breed.
“It’s really sad for the person, the neighbours, for the local community,” she said.

Ms Scott, who specialises in working with XL bully dogs, said there were “quite a lot” of people in the area with the breed.

She said there had been a rise in demand from owners for her training program to help their dogs adapt to the new rules.

“Owners want to do what’s right for their dog,” she said. “They want to know how to keep their dog safe as well as everyone else safe.”

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South Africa’s top court bars Jacob Zuma from standing in election

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South Africa's top court bars Jacob Zuma from standing in election


South Africa’s highest court has barred former President Jacob Zuma from running for parliament in next week’s general election.

The Constitutional Court ruled that his 15-month prison sentence for contempt of court disqualified him.

Mr Zuma was convicted in 2021 for refusing to testify at an inquiry investigating corruption during his presidency which ended in 2018.

He has been campaigning under the banner of the newly formed uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) party after falling out with the governing African National Congress (ANC).

MK secretary general Sihle Ngubane said the party was disappointed with the ruling, but it would not affect the party’s campaign for the 29 May election.

“He is still the leader of the party. It [the ruling] doesn’t affect our campaign at all,” he said.

South Africans vote for political parties, with the candidates at the top of their lists getting parliamentary seats depending on the number of votes the party gets.

The electoral commission said Mr Zuma’s name would now be removed from MK’s list of parliamentary candidates, while confirming that his image would remain on ballot papers, alongside his party’s logo.

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MK members sang and danced outside the court portraying Mr Zuma as a victim, while those inside – some dressed in traditional Zulu regalia – sat silently as Justice Leona Theron read out the unanimous judgement.

Mr Zuma has not yet commented on the ruling.

His supporters rioted after he was sent to jail in 2021, and some of its leaders had threatened violence if the court disqualified him from standing for parliament.

SEE ALSO:  Woman dies in attack by registered XL bullies at East London home

But MK officials have since changed their rhetoric, saying the party’s focus was on getting a two-thirds majority so that South Africa’s constitution could be changed, and Mr Zuma could be returned to power.

In court, his lawyers had argued that because he was released after three months in prison by his successor, President Cyril Ramaphosa, the rest of his sentence was cancelled.

But the court disagreed, saying the length of time he actually spent in prison was irrelevant.

South Africa’s constitution barred anyone sentenced to 12 months in prison, without the option of a fine, from serving in parliament in order to protect the integrity of the “democratic regime” established after the end of the racist system of apartheid in 1994, Justice Theron said.

Mr Ramaphosa told a local radio station that he “noted” the ruling.

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“The court has ruled, and as I have often said, that is the highest court in the land and we have given the judiciary the right to arbitrate disputes amongst us in terms of our constitution,” he said in an interview with 702.

Political analyst Levy Ndou told the BBC that the ruling had the “potential to test his [Mr Zuma’s] character – whether he joined the party for selfish reasons or whether he joined it to take South Africans forward”.

The ruling could weaken MK’s chances in the election if its members joined the party out of loyalty to a “single individual”, but if they genuinely believed in its cause then they “would have to focus the activities of the party without him”, he added.

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MK has been plagued by in-fighting since last month, with Mr Zuma rising to the helm of the party after ousting its founding leader, Jabulani Khumalo. He insists he is still the leader of the party.

Mr Ramaphosa ousted Mr Zuma as president in 2018 after a vicious power struggle, and is leading the ANC’s campaign to extend its 30-year rule.

Mr Zuma’s removal was welcomed by many South Africans as his nine years in office were marred by widespread allegations of corruption, which he has always denied.

The former president said last December that he could never vote for a party led by Mr Ramaphosa and has spearheaded MK’s campaign. This will be the first election that it will contest after it was registered as a party last September.

The party’s emergence has raised the prospect that the ANC could lose its parliamentary majority for the first time in 30 years ago.

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MK’s support is mainly in Mr Zuma’s home province of KwaZulu-Natal, and the economic heartland, Gauteng.

These two provinces have the highest number of registered voters, and have been the main battleground in the election.

South Africans will be voting for the national parliament, and nine provincial legislatures.

The president is elected by the new parliament, while each legislature elects a provincial premier.

The court’s ruling bars Mr Zuma from taking up a seat in parliament or any of the provincial legislatures.

An Ipsos opinion poll released last month gave MK 8% of the vote, and the ANC 40% as it loses support to MK and other opposition parties.

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But some analysts suggest that with the governing party stepping up its campaign in recent weeks, it could still cross the 50% mark.

The ANC got 57.5% in the 2019 election.

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Former President Thabo Mbeki, who remains popular among many voters, recently joined the ANC’s campaign in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng, denouncing Mr Zuma as a “wolf in sheep’s skin” and a “counter-revolutionary”.

uMkhonto we Sizwe, which roughly translates as Spear of the Nation, is the original name of the ANC’s armed wing, which fought apartheid. (BBC)

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