Power rangers – Defence cuts make Britain’s armed forces leaner but not meaner | Britain


AT AN ARMY base in Dorset, 16 soldiers nestle in the woodland next to dune buggies. Drones, some of them no larger than a sparrow, weave through the conifers above, beaming footage to a phone strapped to each soldier’s chest. Specialists in electronic warfare hoover up enemy signals; a member of Britain’s 77 Brigade, dedicated to psychological operations, clutches a camera.

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Light, high-tech and globally deployed troops like these lie at the heart of a command paper published by the Ministry of Defence on March 22nd, building on a review of foreign policy the previous week. The soldiers are part of a new £120m ($165m) “Ranger Regiment”, modelled on America’s Green Berets, which will train and accompany friendly foreign troops and rebels in “high-threat and hostile environments”. The 1,000-strong regiment will deploy its first battalion next year, probably to east Africa.

The Rangers are the “vanguard” of a new “expeditionary posture”. Troops will no longer sit in barracks, springing forth in wartime, but will be deployed in hotspots, building influence and countering Russian and Chinese activity. British special forces like the SAS have done this for decades, most recently deploying covertly alongside Kurdish militia to fight Islamic State. The Rangers will do it more frequently, openly and in larger numbers.

The question is whether such “permanent and persistent global engagement” will bend the armed forces out of shape. The paper says the army’s mandated strength will shrink by 10,000 to 72,500 troops, its smallest size since 1714. General Sir Nick Carter, chief of the defence staff, insists that it would still be able to produce the same type of force, including the equivalent of an armoured brigade, that it did for the Iraq war 18 years ago. Adding in 30,000 reserves—available on six months’ readiness—will bulk out its size beyond 100,000.

It is true that a smaller force can be a more lethal one. Some of the new British units will have utility in a high-end war. The Royal Marines, for instance, are transforming from traditional amphibious infantry into a roving “Future Commando Force”, kitted out with kamikaze drones and advanced weapons previously confined to elite special forces. At an exercise in California last year, a company of British commandos defeated a force of 1,500 American marines by infiltrating their rear areas and striking command nodes.

Army cuts are also offset with new investments. Britain’s offensive cyber-capabilities will be offered to NATO. Admiral Tony Radakin, the First Sea Lord, notes that between 2015 and 2030 the Royal Navy’s tonnage will grow by 50%, with seven new classes of submarines and ships—including a new spy ship to monitor undersea cables—all of which will likely be built in Britain. “That level of shipbuilding in this country hasn’t been seen since the 1970s,” he says. Yet for all that, there is a tangible sense that Britain has long ceased cutting fat, and is now shaving off bone.

One problem is the loss of “mass”, in the military jargon. Consider the case of Britain’s tanks. The army will upgrade these, but cut the force to just 148—half as many as France. Two regiments of tanks would typically allow an armoured advance along just six kilometres of fighting front, says Jack Watling of the Royal United Services Institute. And if they run into trouble, there is nothing in reserve.

A lighter, nimbler and more global army also has other weaknesses. Traditionally, combat support—like logistics, engineering and artillery—has been handled centrally by large divisional headquarters, which lend those enablers out to smaller brigades which do the fighting.

Under the new plans, these enablers will be pushed down into new “brigade combat teams”. The advantage is that those teams can be deployed more widely, without relying on an unwieldy headquarters above them. The downside is that enablers are spread thinly. “It is a less efficient system for warfighting,” says Mr Watling.

The final problem is one of timing. Many of the cuts create gaps that will not be filled for years. The navy will shrink before swelling to its larger size. The withdrawal of all 700 Warrior infantry fighting vehicles without a comparably armed replacement or suitably long-range artillery leaves infantry dangerously vulnerable as they close with the enemy.

In many cases, it is not even clear what will fill these gaps. The defence paper is evasive on many details, including the size and timing of investment in drones and autonomous systems, and kicks many decisions down the road.

This article appeared in the Britain section of the print edition under the headline “Power rangers”

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Ballot boxing – Britain struggles to define who should get the vote | Britain


COUNCIL ELECTIONS rarely generate much excitement. Only about a third of those eligible to vote bother to do so. Yet an online rally ahead of this year’s local elections in May pulled in scores of enthusiastic 20-somethings. “This is so exciting,” boomed Antonia Boorman, one of the organisers. “I wish we could have some confetti.” The hoopla was intended to encourage citizens of other European countries who live in Britain to register for the ballot. “At the moment you can vote,” she reminded them. “It might be the last chance.”

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Britain’s rules on political participation are, as Sir John Curtice, an elections expert at Strathclyde University, puts it, “all over the place”. Some, but not all, non-resident citizens get a vote in general elections, as do some, but not all, non-citizen residents.

As is often the case in Britain, this owes more to history than to logic. Britain’s empire explains the first exception to the citizenship rule. Parliament restricted the right of former imperial subjects to move to Britain following waves of immigration after the second world war, but did not alter the franchise, says Ruvi Ziegler of Reading University. As a result, citizens of any of the 53 mostly ex-colonies in the Commonwealth have the vote, so long as they are resident in Britain. Citizens of most other countries—like the 130,000-odd Americans in Britain—cannot vote.

The roughly 320,000 Irish citizens who live in Britain also qualify. This anomaly dates back to Irish secession in 1922. When Westminster set in law the constitutional position of the Irish republic in 1949, the government decided that giving the Irish the vote was the easiest option. “I do not pretend that the solution at which we arrived is completely logical,” conceded Clement Attlee, the prime minister.

Then there are non-resident citizens. British expats may vote in general elections, but only for the first 15 years they live abroad. The government accepts this time limit is arbitrary and plans to remove it.

Brexit will make things more complicated. All EU citizens have the right to vote in local and European (but not national) elections in whatever European country they live, regardless of nationality. For now this remains true for the 4m or so EU citizens in Britain, since the upcoming local elections were originally due to take place last year, when EU rules still applied for a “transition period”. Things may soon become less clear. Europeans can opt to apply for British citizenship, so long as they have lived in the country for six years and been granted permanent residency, guaranteeing them a vote in general as well as local elections. But many balk at the cost, which the Home Office has hiked from £200 in 2005 to £1,330.

Scotland and Wales, which have the power to set their own electoral rules, took the chance to simplify their franchises last year. All long-term residents, regardless of nationality, will have a vote in elections for local councillors and for the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly. There are few signs that politicians at Westminster will take such a consistent approach. Having failed to persuade the EU to include reciprocal voting rights for expats in the Brexit deal, they have struck bilateral agreements guaranteeing the local-government franchise with Poland, Spain, Portugal and Luxembourg, raising the prospect that the roughly 800,000 Polish nationals in Britain might be able to choose their councillors, but not, for instance, the 300,000 or so Italians.

Cypriot and Maltese residents would get the vote anyway, as Commonwealth members, as of course would the Irish. “It’s arbitrary and deeply unfair,” says Maike Bohn of the 3 Million, a lobby group for EU citizens in Britain. That may be right, but the history of the franchise suggests that MPs are unlikely to go for consistency when they could plump for fudge.

For more coverage of matters relating to Brexit, visit our Brexit hub

This article appeared in the Britain section of the print edition under the headline “Ballot boxing”

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Bagehot – The disruptive rise of English nationalism | Britain


ENGLISH NATIONALISM is the most disruptive force in British politics. Brexit would have been impossible without it. The clash between Scottish and English nationalism may well break up the country. It’s also the most perplexing. The distinction between “English” and “British” has always been hazy, and now the very meaning of “Englishness” is changing before our eyes.

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Its current transformation makes the nationalism on display in England perhaps the newest in the world, as well as the oldest. Historians argue that England already had a sense of national identity under the Anglo-Saxons, a millennium before the Germans and the Italians. Yet today’s English nationalism is a very different beast from the classic variety that George Orwell celebrated in “England, Your England” in 1941.

Classic English nationalism was more cultural than political. Aside from the explosive problem of Ireland, Britain was an integrated country divided by class, whose constituent parts moved in mysterious harmony at election time. Today British politics is being deconstructed by competing national identities. In 2015, for the first time in the country’s history, and twice thereafter, four different parties topped the polls in the state’s four different territories. Classic English nationalism, moderate and self-deprecating, regarded flag-waving rallies as embarrassing. Today’s nationalism is radical and angry; flags are everywhere.

Given its importance, this new force has been subjected to remarkably little scholarly analysis. Too many academics, snug in their class-based certainties, dismissed it as a compound of racism and bigotry and waited for it to disappear. “Englishness”, a new book by Ailsa Henderson and Richard Wyn Jones, is an admirable exception as well as a scholarly testimony to the union’s strengths: Ms Henderson teaches at Edinburgh University and Mr Wyn Jones at Cardiff. The nine big quantitative surveys of “Englishness” they have conducted since 2011 demonstrate that the number of people who describe themselves as exclusively or mainly English rather than British is growing, and that the idea of “Britishness”—once the glue that held the kingdom together—is splintering. Londoners use it to signal their cosmopolitanism; Scots to signal their unionism.

Scottish nationalism and Euroscepticism gave birth to new English nationalism. From the English perspective, the Scots have always had a good deal from the union: they get higher public spending and more MPs per head. But instead of showing gratitude for the cash, they demanded political power. Nigel Farage, former leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party, said what many Tories were thinking: that “the Scottish tail” was wagging the “English dog” and that the Scots were “getting our money” while “being horrible to us”.

The 2014 Scottish referendum stoked English grievances without satisfying the Scots, and the 2015 election turned a growing political division between the two into a chasm. The Tories played relentlessly on the fear that Labour couldn’t govern without the support of the Scots Nats, plastering England with posters showing a tiny Ed Miliband in Alex Salmond’s top pocket. Labour, which had dominated Scottish politics for decades, was wiped out north of the border, and the nationalists entrenched in power.

Yet as Ms Henderson and Mr Wyn Jones show, there is more to English nationalism than grievance. It is certainly true that people who describe themselves as “English” first and foremost are more likely to feel “left behind”—either because they live in unfashionable corners of the country, such as seaside towns, or because they are older or less educated. But grievance is animated by a strong set of values: commitment to fair play and parliamentary democracy, and a fierce pride in England’s history. The English feel that by pocketing more money than they deserve, the Scots are not playing fair; membership of the EU was wrong because Parliament is the only legitimate source of power; English history has provided “our island nation” with both a web of ties with the Anglo-sphere and a unique global economic and strategic niche.

Riding tigers

The Conservatives have used this powerful identity to grab power, and like to think that they can direct it where they will—applying the spur whenever they choose and the bridle whenever they need. But can they really? They may have harnessed English nationalism, but it has reshaped their party. Conservatives also like to comfort themselves with the thought that English nationalists are also unionists. But are they? Two-thirds of those who describe themselves as English not British say they would be happy if Northern Ireland left the union; and, though they say they want to keep Scotland, they want to keep it on their own terms—by closing Holyrood, reducing public spending to the national average, and preventing Scottish MPs from voting on English laws. A growing number support giving the Scottish nationalists what they want and giving it to them good and hard—depriving the new nation not just of use of sterling but also of passport-free travel.

The problem with English nationalism, in its newly radicalised and politicised form, is that it may be too big to be tamed. Too big geographically: England accounts for 84% of the British population (and growing) and London has more people than Scotland and Wales combined. And too big historically: England played such a central role in the creation of the modern world that ties of blood and history can be found across the world. Yet there is little appetite south of the border for breaking up the country into smaller regions. And there is even less appetite for abandoning the idea that Britain is an exceptional nation. In 1908 G.K. Chesterton wrote a poem called “The Secret People” which included the refrain “we are the people of England that never have spoken yet”. Now that the people of England have started speaking they are not going to be silenced soon.

This article appeared in the Britain section of the print edition under the headline “England speaks up”

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The 2021 Census – Britain’s census form reveals the obsessions of different eras | Britain


ON HIS RETURN for the 1911 census William Rigby, a plumber from Birkenhead, listed his tomcat, Tobit Crackit, as part of his household. Mr Crackit was eight years old and had spawned 16 children, all while working three jobs: “Mouse-Catcher, Soloist and Thief.” Mr Rigby also noted: “All the above mentioned have Breakfast, Dinner, Tea and Supper. Eat standard bread. Drink sterilised milk. Sleep with the windows open. Wash our feet once a week etc. God Save the King.” An incensed official scribbled this out.

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Mr Rigby may have been driven to ridicule the census by irritation at the intrusiveness of its questions, which were nosier than previously. But the 1911 version has nothing on the 32-page form that will land on doormats across England and Wales this week asking people about, among other things, their sexuality and gender identity. All censuses are different, but all have this in common: they reflect the concerns of the governing class at the time.

In the early 19th century, population was the national obsession. Britain was at war with France, so needed more manpower, but Thomas Malthus warned that population growth would lead to starvation. From 1801 to 1831, local clergy were required to count their flocks. As the 19th century got morality, a question on illegitimacy appeared in 1831, and soon religious observance was under scrutiny. When the census revealed in 1851 that in many places there were more non-conformists than members of the Church of England there was “a real stink,” says Edward Higgs, a professor of history at the University of Essex.

As epidemics raged in growing cities, public health came to the fore. Under the influence of William Farr, an epidemiologist pushing for sanitary reforms, health appeared in the 1851 census. A few decades later, concerns spread from disease of the body to those of the mind. Health questions were refined to allow officials to distinguish between “lunatics” and “imbeciles”. Eugenics fed worries about the decline of the imperial race. Social Darwinists popularised the view that the high birth rate among the poor would lead the imperial race to decline, so in 1911 a question was added about how many children people had. A father in Hastings, responding to a question about his children’s ailments, said they were: “quarrelsome”, “stubborn”, “greedy”, “vain” and “noisy”.

Censuses after the second world war reveal a focus on material expectations—such as, between 1951 and 1991, the availability of inside or outside toilets. Ethnicity, regarded as too sensitive a subject in 1981, was added in 1991. That took the ONS down the identity rabbit hole. Religion was added in 2001; 400,000 people identified as “Jedi”. Some wanted to record their ethnicity as Cornish or Welsh, so national identity was included in 2011. And now those identities have been supplemented by gender and sexual orientation.

This new direction has taken the ONS into dangerous territory. Campaigners against gender self-identification mounted a legal challenge to its guidance to answering the apparently simple question of “what is your sex?”, on the grounds that it allowed people to enter as their sex the gender identity they had chosen without a legal process. On March 17th, the ONS backed down. Censuses were easier when the biggest problem was fecund cats.

This article appeared in the Britain section of the print edition under the headline “Question time”

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Eyes right – Two conservative upstarts aim to disrupt British TV news | Britain


“HE SAYS THEY’RE ignorant!” complained a member of the audience of “Question Time”, a BBC current-affairs show, at a recording in Derby, a Brexit-voting town in 2019. “They’re not ignorant. They knew what they were voting for.”

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Moments like this persuaded some TV news executives that they were missing an audience. Britain’s broadcasters are practised at balancing political left and right, but their staff of young, London-based graduates means that, as Andrew Marr, the BBC’s main political interviewer, once said of his employer, they have an “innate liberal bias”. As Brexit has ignited cultural debates—on identity, migration and more—that bias increasingly irks conservatives.

Two new channels hope to hoover them up. News UK TV, part of Rupert Murdoch’s empire, plans to launch in late spring. With content and reporters from titles like the Times and the Sun, it will make right-leaning news and entertainment. Initially it will produce just a few shows a day, to be distributed by streaming, though the company has acquired a broadcasting licence.

Hot on its heels is GB News, a more ambitious startup backed by Discovery, an American media giant, and others. It too will stream, but its emphasis is on broadcast TV, where it will pump out 18 hours of original shows a day. Its primetime presenter and chairman, Andrew Neil, has promised to challenge the “woke worldview”.

Launching in a pandemic is proving tricky. GB News had hoped to be on air this month, but has hired just 20 of a planned staff of 140 and has yet to build a studio. Mr Neil is stuck at home in France. The channel now aims to launch before July, when people may want to escape their screens.

Its longer-term problem is that live TV is in decline (see chart). Within a couple of years it will account for less than half of video consumption in Britain. Among under-35s it already makes up only a quarter. Optimists point out that news is something the insurgent streamers, like Netflix, have so far ignored: in America cable-news ratings are breaking records.

But whereas American news networks make most of their money from the fees they charge cable companies, GB News and News UK TV will rely on advertising, a tough market. GB News is looking at other moneyspinners, such as paid newsletters or chances to meet presenters. Mainly it will cope by keeping costs down: the £60m ($84m) it has raised for its first three years would sustain the BBC for less than a week.

Some nonetheless feel threatened by what they call British versions of Fox News. Stop Funding Hate, a campaign group, is trying to organise an advertisers’ boycott of GB News. Two of the nine presenters the channel has hired so far are former Brexit Party candidates. But insiders insist that it will be no more right-wing than Channel 4 News, an existing broadcaster, is left-wing.

The law will mostly hold them to that. Britain has wild newspapers, which helped drive the Duke and Duchess of Sussex to America, but TV is required to be staid. Broadcasters follow a code enforced by Ofcom, a regulator whose output includes a 126-page report on rude words, from “jizz” to “Jesus”. This year it has penalised a Sikh station for inciting violence and Loveworld, a religious channel, for covid mumbo-jumbo. News must maintain “due accuracy” and “due impartiality”; CGTN, a Chinese network, had its broadcast licence revoked last month for failing to do so. Fox, which showed American programming in Britain till 2017, fell foul of Ofcom’s impartiality rules before it left.

Yet online, Ofcom is less fierce. It regulates streamers such as Amazon and Disney+. But the rules cover only things like inciting hatred and product placement. Streamed news need not be impartial. Indeed, Britons can stream Fox. A planned “online harms” bill will let Ofcom regulate user-generated video, from YouTube to TikTok. But the bill’s focus is on child abuse and wild misinformation, not unbalanced news.

Viewers’ drift from linear TV may make life hard for GB News. But it means that opinionated shows, of left and right, will become a bigger part of the national news diet. America abolished its “fairness doctrine”, an obligation on broadcasters to provide balance, in 1987, as cable gave viewers a choice of what to watch. Three decades on, as Britain embraces the choice offered by streaming, it is, in effect, letting go of rules on TV news.

Correction (March 11th, 2021): An earlier version of this article said that Hope Not Hate, a campaign group, was trying to organise an advertisers’ boycott of GB News. It is actually Stop Funding Hate, another campaign group, which is organising the boycott. Sorry.

This article appeared in the Britain section of the print edition under the headline “Eyes right”

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By royal disappointment – The royal interview puts racism in Britain back in the spotlight | Britain


NOT LONG ago, any report on the state of race relations in Britain would have featured a large photograph of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. According to a long line of commentators, their marriage in 2018 symbolised a country at ease with itself. “A reverend quoting Martin Luther King, a swaying black gospel choir, and a mixed-race duchess,” ran a typical headline, on Mail Online: “the day the monarchy embraced multicultural Britain’s future”.

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In their interview with Oprah Winfrey, the couple offer a rather different commentary on race. They attributed their decision to quit Britain for America partly to the “bigoted” tabloid press and said that a member of the royal family had queried how dark their baby’s skin would be.

Britons think theirs a less racist society than America’s. That is truer of white than non-white Britons, but holds for a plurality of ethnic minority voters (see chart 1). Britons are less likely than Americans to cite racist explanations for disparities in income and unemployment rates (see chart 2) and about as likely to approve of their country’s increasing diversity. Both are more relaxed about mixed marriages than in the past, but particularly Britons. Mixed-race Britons are more likely to marry a white partner than are their American counterparts, according to analysis by British Future, a think-tank. Black Britons also report less racist harassment than their peers elsewhere in Europe (see chart 3).

But white and black Britons see things differently. A poll for The Economist last year found 31% of white Britons reckon Britain “a racist country” and 46% of ethnic minorities do. There is a similar gulf in attitudes towards the behaviour of the police. Britain may not be America, but it is not a model of harmony.

This article appeared in the Britain section of the print edition under the headline “By royal disappointment”

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Brexit – Anger and division among loyalists over the Northern Ireland protocol | Britain


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Farming and the pandemic – Less barley, more deer: how covid-19 is changing rural Britain | Britain


CLIMB A HILL in Britain this summer, and the view will be subtly different. Some of the fields will be a duller shade of green than they were last year. Stand quietly, and you might spot more large mammals moving through the landscape. Other changes are invisible, being underground or underwater. A year after covid-19 struck Britain, it is affecting the countryside in all sorts of strange ways.

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On-and-off lockdowns mean that Britons are eating less than they used to in sandwich shops, restaurants, pubs and canteens, and more at home. When they do that, they consume more of some things and less of others, even if the number of calories they take in stays about the same. That, in turn, affects what farmers grow, and the countryside.

The changing shade of green reflects a change in cereal crops, caused partly by altered drinking habits. People swallow less beer and more wine when pubs are closed—overall beer consumption fell by about 15% between 2019 and 2020, according to the British Beer and Pub Association. That has suppressed demand not just for hops but also for barley, Britain’s second most important crop by land area.

Growing barley for malting is tricky at the best of times. Brewers are picky about levels of nitrogen; get it wrong and your crop is good only for animal feed. Teddy Maufe, a farmer and brewer in Norfolk, says that many growers switch between barley and wheat depending on prevailing prices. This year more are sowing wheat. The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) estimates that barley will be planted on 1.15m hectares this year, down from 1.39m hectares last year.

Fewer chips are being eaten, as a result of the closure of pubs, restaurants and many takeaways. Alice Bailey, an analyst at the AHDB, expects some growers to move out of chipping potatoes this year and into Maris Pipers—a variety often sold in supermarkets. Egg sales are roughly flat, but Britons are buying fewer cooked ones (which are often laid by caged hens) and more raw ones off supermarket shelves (which are usually free-range). That change has boosted the farm-gate price of free-range eggs from 80p to 90p per dozen over the past year, enticing so many farmers into the business that the British Free Range Egg Producers Association is now concerned about over-production.

A bigger change could be caused by falling demand for a rare meat. Venison is usually eaten in restaurants, and their closure has lowered the value of deer carcasses. Fewer are being shot as a result. The National Game Dealers Association says that the number of carcasses being sold is running at about 60% of normal levels.

Deer were multiplying anyway, partly because more trees are being planted. There are probably more of them in Britain now than at any time in the last thousand years, says Charles Smith-Jones, an adviser to the British Deer Society. With fewer culled over the winter, their numbers could jump this year. Deer munch shrubs and young trees, making woods more open. When they thrive, some creatures (like dung beetles) benefit, while others (like ground-nesting birds) suffer.

The waters around Britain are changing, too. In 2020 British fishing vessels landed 25% fewer crabs and 32% fewer langoustines than the year before, as demand weakened domestically and beyond. Daniel Whittle of Whitby Seafoods, a large scampi processor, says that some langoustine fishermen are likely to leave the trade; there is plenty of work guarding offshore wind-farms these days. Crabs, in particular, could do with a respite. They have been heavily fished in the past few years, partly because of rising demand from China.

These changes in eating and drinking patterns have created some strange opportunities. Oddbox, a company that sells unwanted fruit and vegetables directly to households (unwanted because they are not pretty enough for supermarkets, or because there is a glut) has been busy in the pandemic. Last year it “rescued” 18 tonnes of salad leaves from one grower who normally supplies restaurants. Some venison is even being given away to food banks. Britain’s neediest people are eating its poshest food.

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All our stories relating to the pandemic and the vaccines can be found on our coronavirus hub. You can also listen to The Jab, our new podcast on the race between injections and infections, and find trackers showing the global roll-out of vaccines, excess deaths by country and the virus’s spread across Europe and America.

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Piers Morgan’s former Good Morning Britain co-host Susanna Reid missing from screens


Piers Morgan’s former Good Morning Britain co-host Susanna Reid was missing from television screens this morning just a day after addressing his shock exit to viewers.

After being left reportedly in tears over Morgan’s controversial departure and fronting the show the next day to address the drama and pay tribute to her former colleague, the 50-year-old was nowhere to be seen.

Reid, who spent more than five years co-hosting the show with Morgan, was replaced by Kate Garraway and Ben Shephard.

Her absence was ignored during the program, with presenter Charlotte Hawkins simply telling its 6am telling viewers: “We’re here all the way through until 9am this morning, with Ben Shephard and Kate Garraway joining us at 6.30am.”

It comes as Morgan tweeted his support of the cast and crew claiming: “They don’t all agree with me, some don’t even like me, but we were a team”.

RELATED: Piers Morgan erupts outside London home after quitting

Yesterday, an emotional Reid opened the first show since Morgan left and addressed the “opinionated and disruptive” Morgan and the controversy.

The Sun reports she was “left in tears” when she learned her co-host had quit.

“A number of people will know the news and many of you will not and will be surprised that Piers Morgan is not here this morning. Now Piers and I have disagreed on many things, and that dynamic was one the things that viewers loved about the program,” she said yesterday,

“He is, without doubt, an outspoken, challenging, opinionated, disruptive broadcaster. He has many critics and he has many fans.

“You all know that I disagreed with him about Meghan’s interview, he himself clarified his comments about her mental health on the show yesterday.

“There are many voices on GMB and everyone has their say. But now Piers has decided to leave the program. Some of you may cheer and others will boo.

“It is certainly going to be very different. But shows go on, and so on we go.”

Meghan Markle had filed a complaint to the broadcaster’s CEO raising concerns over Morgan’s wording towards mental heath after she said she had suffered suicidal thoughts during her explosive interview.

ITV’s royal editor Chris Shipp confirmed the rumours last night, saying Meghan filed the complaint on Monday to chief executive Carolyn McCall.

“I’m told that the letter was written by the duchess for one reason only — to raise and share concern over the serious impact that Morgan’s comments could have on anyone struggling with their mental health or thinking about seeking help,” Harper Bazaar’s Omid Scobie continued.

Piers was “not going to back down” and Susanna was “seen in tears” after a series of meetings at ITV’s studios failed to reach an agreement.

The source added: “It’s been a difficult 24 hours for Susanna, too.

“She’s exceptionally close to Piers, but is now left holding the baby. She also doesn’t want to look like she condones his behaviour as she often disagrees with him, but respects his right to have an opinion.”

Meanwhile on the latest program, co-host Kate Garraway said the show was now “different”.

“That’s the thing about Piers, he is very passionate, he does fly kites and have debates but it always come from a place of authenticity, he always believes in what he says.

“And he’s left, he’s decided to quit and has he put it himself, ‘fallen on his sword of free speech’, but as you rightly say, I’ve known him a long time before this programme, our friendship will go on, our personal friendship, and he’s been very supportive of me personally.

“It’s a different show but the show goes on.”

Despite the controversy Morgan said his exit from the program was “amicable” and that he and ITV “agreed to disagree”.

“I’m just going to take it easy and see how we go.”

Morgan said the comments as he lashed Meghan Markle outside his London home and offered no apology or regret over his resignation, laughing and defiant while labelling her “contemptible”.

The 55-year-old spoke to reporters yesterday after his controversial exit from Good Morning Britain, saying he was willing to “fall on his sword” after “agreeing to disagree” with ITV over apologising for his on-air rant about Meghan.

Experts and commentators are divided on this issue, with some describing it a “melodrama” while others, like Sharon Osbourne, tweeting: “I am with you. I stand by you.”

Questioned as he walked his young daughter, Elise, to school on the first day after his departure, he claimed people were trying to cancel him and boldly confirmed he would “re-emerge”.

“I believe in freedom of speech, I believe in the right to be allowed to have an opinion. If people want to believe Meghan Markle, that’s entirely their right.

“I don’t believe almost anything that comes out of her mouth and I think the damage she’s done to the British monarchy and to the Queen at a time when Prince Philip is lying in hospital is enormous and frankly contemptible.

“If I have to fall on my sword for expressing an honestly held opinion about Meghan Markle and that diatribe of bilge that she came out with in that interview, so be it.”



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Levelling up – Rishi Sunak’s plans for Darlington and Teesside | Britain


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