MPs debated in Westminster Hall whether or not to ban Donald Trump from the UK. The debate was triggered by a petition signed by over 500,000 people, after Trump proposed a ban on Muslims travelling to the USA. MPs discussed the proposition to prevent the businessman from entering the UK on the grounds that he incites hatred. Although MPs branded Trump a “wazzock”, they decided that there were not enough grounds to prevent his entry into Britain.
David Cameron has announced a £20 million fund to teach Muslim women to speak English in the UK. The government states that 22% of Muslim women in England have minimal English which is said to isolate them in society. The Prime Minister, speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme stated: “I’m not saying there’s some sort of causal connection between not speaking English and becoming an extremist” but “if you’re not able to speak English, you’re not able to integrate” and as such, “you could be more susceptible to the extremist message that comes from Daesh”. The fund has been introduced alongside new rules meaning that new arrivals to the UK on five-year spousal visas must take a test after two and half years to demonstrate improvements in their English.
A heterosexual couple has challenged the restriction on civil partnerships. The couple have taken their case to the High Court hoping to open up civil partnerships to couples of the opposite sex. Currently, the Civil Partnership Act of 2004 only applies to couples of “two people of the same sex”.
An inquiry has revealed that the murder of ex-Russian spy, Alexander Litvinenko, was “probably” approved by Russian President, Vladimir Putin. Litvinenko was granted asylum in the UK in 2001 but was murdered in 2006 after his drink was poisoned with polonium-210. The new report from Sir Robert Owen finds two Russian agents, Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitry Kovtun, responsible for the murder. It was alleged that the pair were ordered by Moscow’s FSB intelligence service chief, Nikolai Patrushev, to commit the crime – a fact that would implicate Putin in the affair. Moreover, Owen’s report has suggested that the motives for Litvinenko’s assassination were not just because of his association with British Intelligence. It stated that there was “undoubtedly a personal dimension to the antagonism” between Putin and Litvinenko.
Stephan Moffat, the long-running writer of BBC’s Doctor Who, , has announced he will step down after the 10th series. Moffat, who is currently its head writer and executive producer, has been running the popular TV series since 2010, and will be replaced by Broadchurch writer, Chris Chibnall. Chibnall stated: “it’s a privilege and a joy to be the next curator of this funny, scary and emotional family drama.”
Google has agreed to pay £130m in back taxes to HMRC. On Saturday it was revealed that, after an inquiry run by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, a deal has been struck to repay taxes owed going back to 2005. Talking to the BBC, the head of Google Europe, Matt Brittin, said: “Today we announced that we are going to be paying more tax in the UK.” The inquiry into Google came after concerns were raised about companies operating in the UK with headquarters abroad not paying enough tax.
An outbreak of the Zika virus in Brazil has been blamed for an increase in babies born with birth defects. Since October the number of babies born in Brazil with suspected microcephaly has reached 4000. Whilst there is no proven connection between the Zika virus and microcephaly, which causes babies to be born with abnormally sized heads, women have been advised by officials from Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador and Jamaica to delay pregnancy until more is known.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has pledged to double female and minority members by 2020. The president of the Academy which organises the prestigious Oscars, Cheryl Boone Isaacs, confirmed the pledge after huge controversy in the wake of the nominations for the 2016 awards. That announcement saw all the acting nominations go to white actors and actresses. The controversy has seen high-profile members of the industry, such as actor Will Smith and director Spike Lee, announce their decision to avoid the ceremony. Best Actress Nominee, Charlotte Rampling, described the accusations of a lack of diversity as “racist against white people” in an interview with France’s Europe 1. She has since claimed her comments were misunderstood.
Four people were killed in shootings in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan. A male suspect has since been detained by police. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) said that “an active shooter” was reported at 13:00 local time. The shootings occurred at two locations including La Loche Community School where 900 students attend. The RCMP stated: “There’s no risk to public safety at this time. This is truly a tragedy.”