- David Cameron has said that Britain will never ‘retreat from the world’ in the week before his crunch summit with EU leaders in Brussels. The Prime Minister, addressing business and political leaders in Hamburg, declared: ‘We have the character of an island nation – independent, forthright, passionate in defence of our sovereignty – and of institutions that have served us well for many hundreds of years’. The European Council President, Donald Tusk, who is brokering Britain’s renegotiation process, has reiterated that the political process remains “very fragile”.
- Arguments over the future of Britain’s Trident nuclear deterrent have resurfaced. Ash Carter, US defence secretary, has said that Britain must keep its Trident nuclear deterrent to maintain its “outsized” role in the world. On the other side of the argument is Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. This week his new Shadow Defence Secretary, Emily Thornberry, was heckled at a 70-minute meeting of Labour MPs after comparing Trident submarines to Spitfire fighter planes. MPs are expected to vote on government plans to renew the weapons system either in March or July, after the EU Referendum.
- Jeremy Hunt has incurred the wrath of the British Medical Association (BMA) after announcing that he will impose new contracts on junior doctors. This news follows a series of strikes by junior doctors who felt aggrieved by the Health Secretary’s proposals. Hunt is hoping to re-define terms of employment, such as anti-social hours, to make it cheaper for hospitals to roster doctors on weekends and evenings. The Government says this will improve care at weekends and in the evenings. However, Dr Johann Malawana, the BMA’s junior doctor committee chair, has stated that ‘junior doctors cannot and will not accept a contract that is bad for the future of patient care, the profession and the NHS as a whole, and we will consider all options open to us.’
- Adam Johnson, a midfielder for Sunderland AFC, has been sacked by his club after pleading guilty to a string of sex offences. Bradford Crown Court heard that the 28 year-old ‘abused his revered position in society’ when he sexually touched a 15-year-old fan who ‘idolised’ him after giving her a signed football shirt. Sunderland said: ‘In light of Adam Johnson’s guilty pleas, the club has today terminated his contract with immediate effect.’ The footballer played twelve times for England (scoring twice), but is now expected to be jailed for 18 months.
- Olympic Bronze medallist Beth Tweddle has taken her first steps after undergoing neck surgery. The 30 year-old Gymnast was competing on the Channel 4 reality show, The Jump, when she suffered a fall during training. She was rushed to hospital in Austria where surgeons took a bone from her hip and fused it to two fractured vertebrae. In a statement she said: ‘The doctors are happy with my progress and next week we will have a better idea of when I can be discharged from hospital.’ Swimmer Rebecca Adlington and actress Tina Hobley have also been injured during the making of the series.
- Businessman Donald Trump and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders both cruised to victory in the New Hampshire primaries. In results that have shocked their respective party establishments, Trump acquired 35.3% of the Republican vote (Ohio Governor John Kasich trailed behind in second with 15.3%) whilst Sanders defeated long-time favourite for the Democratic nomination, Hillary Clinton, by 22%. Casualties emerging from the results include former HP boss, Carly Fiorina, and New Jersey Governor, Chris Christie, who both dropped out of the Republican race. Attention now turns to the South Carolina and Nevada primaries.
- Russian Prime Minster, Dmitry Medvedev, has claimed that tensions between Russia and the West have pushed the world ‘into a new cold war’. He went on to say that ‘[o]n an almost daily basis, we are being described the worst threat – be it to NATO as a whole, or to Europe, America or other countries’. This news comes in the same week that Syrian President, Bashar al-Assad, vowed to reclaim his ‘whole country’ from rebel control. One observers’ group says at least 1,015 civilians have been killed in Russian air strikes that are supporting Assad’s control of the region.
- Pop Star Beyoncé stole the show at American Football’s showpiece event, the Super Bowl. Although British Band Coldplay were headlining its halftime show, their 13 minute set was dominated by their guest-star who performed her new single ‘Formation’ in what appeared to be a costume celebrating the Black Panther movement. The political statement didn’t go unnoticed and an anti-Beyoncé group is planning a protest outside the NFL headquarters in New York. In the match itself, the Denver Broncos, with the help of veteran Quarterback Peyton Manning, defeated the Carolina Panthers 24–10.
- Pope Francis held an unprecedented meeting with Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill in Cuba. Calling for restored Christian unity between the two churches, the historic talks are the first of its kind since the Western and Eastern branches of Christianity split in the 11th Century. Pope Francis is now in Mexico City where he was welcomed on Friday by 300,000 people.