Thursday briefing: Hammond does it again with insult to disabled people | World news

Published on December 7, 2017

Top story: Disabled workers blamed for sluggish economy

Hello, it’s Warren Murray helping you make sense of it all.

The chancellor, Philip Hammond, faces an outcry this morning after appearing to partly blame people with disabilities for a fall in Britain’s productivity.

Hammond said “far higher levels of participation by marginal groups” in the workforce was almost certainly a cause of sluggish productivity in Britain’s economy. The high engagement of disabled people in the workforce was “something we should be extremely proud of”, he said, but “may have had an impact on overall productivity measurements”.

But the “extremely proud” bit did not do its job. Anna Bird, director of policy and research at Scope, said: “These comments are totally unacceptable and derogatory. They fundamentally undermine the government’s policy to get more disabled people into work, and the ambition set out by the prime minister just a week ago.” There are 7 million people of working age in the UK who have a disability, or health condition but only 47.6% of disabled adults are employed, compared with 79.2% of non-disabled people. This is despite laws against employment discrimination towards people with disabilities.

It comes after Hammond said just before the autumn budget that there were no unemployed people in Britain. The shadow minister for disabled people, Marsha de Cordova, said that as a disabled person she was “shocked and appalled … He should apologise immediately for this disgraceful comment”.


36 hours – That is roughly how long Theresa May now has left to put a solution on the table to the Irish border question. The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, has specified a deadline of Friday evening, otherwise there will not be time for next week’s European council meeting to move talks on to trade and transition. May is scrambling to work something out that is acceptable to the DUP, the Irish government, and her own MPs. David Davis, meanwhile, has escaped censure by the Brexit committee for only partially releasing reports on the economic impact of leaving the EU. But in the Commons, the pro-remain Labour MP Chuka Umunna has written to speaker John Bercow asking him to investigate whether Davis is in contempt of parliament. Our sketch writer says it’s time for Davis to drop the “my dog ate it” excuse.


‘Very dangerous speech’ – Quite how Donald Trump thinks recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital will catalyse Middle East peace escapes most observers today.


‘It is time to officially recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,’ says Trump – video

Theresa May has said Trump’s announcement is “unhelpful in terms of prospects for peace in the region” and the UK does not intend to follow suit. The French president, Emmanuel Macron, and the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, have also condemned the move, as have too many others to list here – though Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, welcomed it as an “important step toward peace”.

The status of Jerusalem is the thorniest of “final status” issues in the stalled efforts to reach a two-state settlement with the Palestinians, seen as the future capital for both peoples. “President Trump just destroyed any policy of a two-state solution,” said Saeb Erekat the chief Palestinian negotiator. In Jerusalem itself, after Trump made his announcement, both Palestinians and Israelis were anxious about where it might lead. Read our analysis on what US recognition of Jerusalem means.


‘It beggars belief’ – A Polish man evicted at knifepoint from his home along with his wife has been held in immigration detention for more than two months after they reported the crime. Miroslaw Zieba, 48, and his wife Mariola Zieba, 37, said they went to the police after their landlord and two other men attacked them in their flat. Miroslaw Zieba is an EU national who was legally working in the UK. He has criminal convictions in Poland dating back to the 1990s for which he has already served prison time, and which cannot be used to deport him. He remains in the Colnbrook removal centre at Heathrow. Solicitor Fahad Ansari said Theresa May’s “hostile environment” for foreign nationals left them at risk of becoming easy prey for criminals because of the fear of being deported if they contacted police.


California fires – Rupert Murdoch’s winery in Bel Air, Los Angeles is among the multimillion-dollar properties threatened by one of a number of wildfires that have raged through southern California. Flames fanned by strong winds reached a temperature-controlled wine storage shed on the mogul’s Moraga Vineyards estate on Wednesday after destroying at least six properties in Bel Air. Fire chiefs have warned that the Santa Ana winds blowing hot air from the desert towards the coast are the worst the city has ever faced and that the fires could get worse. Almost 200,000 people have been told to evacuate their homes.


Time to be heard – The “Silence Breakers” who gave rise to the #MeToo movement against sexual mistreatment of women have been made Time Person of the Year. The magazine’s cover features prominent whistleblowers such as Ashley Judd and Taylor Swift, and inside profiles Tarana Burke, the #MeToo movement’s creator. “It doesn’t have a leader, or a single, unifying tenet,” reads Time’s cover story. “The women and men who have broken their silence span all races, all income classes, all occupations and virtually all corners of the globe … now they have a voice.”

Lunchtime read: Terror of the Slender Man

In 2014, two 12-year-old girls playfully led a friend into the woods – then stabbed her over and over with a steak knife and left her to die. The victim survived, and the girls were soon arrested. The crime shocked the city of Waukesha, Wisconsin. Why did they do it?



Rescue workers take the 12-year-old stabbing victim to an ambulance in Waukesha. Photograph: Abe Van Dyke/AP

Morgan Geyser and Anissa Weier had become so swept up in shadowy online horror tales about a fictitious Slender Man that they constructed a shared delusion where in return for killing their friend Bella, they would be welcomed into the monster’s forest mansion. In Morgan’s case there was a family history of schizophrenia. Anissa was dealing with the divorce of her parents and bullying at school. Alex Mar explores the disturbing case, and draws parallels with one from 1950s New Zealand where the lives of two girls became closely entangled – with tragic results.

Sport

After their 7-0 trouncing of Spartak Moscow, Jürgen Klopp says Liverpool’s strike force will have their last-16 Champions League rivals worried. Manchester City fielded a mostly second-string side in their 2-1 away loss to Shaktar Donetsk, but still topped their group, while Tottenham strolled to a 3-0 win over Apoel Nicosia at Wembley. Two down with three Ashes matches to play, Vic Marks ponders if there is any way back for England, while Andy Bull gets to grips with the fear of an England whitewash. Alex Hales is set to lose the opener’s spot for the coming ODIs against Australia, but the controversial Ben Stokes is back. In rugby union, England’s Ellis Genge will miss the start of the Six Nations after shoulder surgery.

Business

The IMF has warned that China’s increasing dependency on debt poses a growing threat to financial stability. Reckless risk-taking and assumptions that Beijing will bail out any state-owned enterprises and heavily indebted municipal governments have created a situation with similarities to the US before the 2008 crash, it said.

Stock markets in Asia were unfazed by the report and climbed on the back of gains in the US. The FTSE100 is expected to rise by about 0.25% this morning while the pound is buying $1.337 and €1.133.

The papers

Guardian front page, Thursday 7 December 2017



Guardian front page, Thursday 7 December 2017

The Guardian leads this morning on the angry response to the Trump administration’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, alongside a demand from EU negotiator Michel Barnier that Theresa May has 48 hours to strike a deal over the Irish border. According to the Daily Telegraph, European commission president Jean-Claude Juncker thinks May’s government could tumble next week if no deal emerges. With this and David Davis’s admission that impact reports do not exist, the i brands Britain “clEUless”.

The Financial Times also dabbles with Brexit and Jerusalem but leads on the creation of Britain’s biggest property company, while the Times warns of NHS drug shortages as prices rise. Defence secretary Gavin Williamson tells the Daily Mail that British citizens who fight for Isis should be killed instead of being allowed to return to the UK. The Mirror leads on news that a man has appeared in court over alleged terror threats to Prince George. The Sun’s splash has Simon Cowell’s neighbour allegedly getting cross over parking, while Metro plumps for a fight in a House of Commons bar. And the Daily Express is battening down the hatches for Storm Caroline.

For more news: www.theguardian.com

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