Passengers described scenes of “carnage” at Heathrow Airport as heavy snow that blanketed much of the UK in white caused flight cancellations and long delays.
The disruption at the UK’s busiest airport was blamed on planes having to be de-iced before take-off and after they land, with a backlog caused by aircraft stands being full.
It meant flights being diverted as far away as Newcastle - around 300 miles away - and aircraft held on the airport’s apron for hours before taking off.
The Twitter account of British Airways, believed to be the worst affected airline, received a deluge of messages from customers unhappy about long waits but also no response on their customer service phone line.
It has reportedly cancelled 24 long-haul flights as well as dozens of shorter flights.
But as a hub airport, delays have a knock-on effect across Europe, with reports of one flight from Berlin to Heathrow being forced to turn back after an hour.
A BA spokeswoman added: “We’re very sorry that some of our customers’ travel plans have been affected by severe weather conditions.
“Heavy rain overnight and snowfall this morning, combined with a reduction in the number of flights able to land at Heathrow have caused disruption to our flight schedule. Like other airlines, we are experiencing some delays and cancellations.
“We’re asking customers to check for information about their flights on ba.com before they set off for the airport, and not to come to the airport unless their flight is operating.
“We have put a flexible re-booking policy in place so that all customers due to fly from Heathrow today, Sunday December 10 and tomorrow, Monday December 11 can re-book to travel on alternative flights until Monday December 18.”
A spokeswoman for Heathrow Airport said: “Heathrow airport remains open however we regret that weather across the UK is resulting in some passengers experiencing disruption to their travel arrangements.
“Airlines are responsible for ensuring their flights are fully de-iced before they are operated and this is resulting in some delays and cancellations.
“The safety and comfort of our passengers is always our first priority and we are working closely with our airlines to ensure affected passengers are looked after.
“Passengers should continue to check the status of their flight with their airline before coming to the airport. We apologise to those affected by today’s weather.”
It’s fair to say this year’s ‘I’m A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here!’ hasn’t been on its usual top form.
A lacklustre cast has led to its least-talked about series in the show’s 15-year history, with the only real discussion points being Jack Maynard’s exit, and the accusations of bullying viewers levelled at Dennis Wise, Amir Khan and Jamie Lomas over their treatment of Iain Lee.
As a result, its taken a knock in the ratings - just seven million tuned into the penultimate episode on Saturday, which will be a blow to ITV given it is was its most popular show following The X Factor’s fall from grace.
But ‘I’m A Celebrity’ seems to have unearthed a star in its winner Georgia Toffolo, who is predicted to earn £5million over the next year - although it remains to be seen if she will go on to become a household name like previous Queens of the Jungle, such as Scarlett Moffatt and Stacey Solomon.
While it hasn’t been a vintage series, Ant and Dec have, of course, been on top form, and it often felt like they were the only ones worth tuning in for. And it was fantastic to see Ant on such good form following his rehab stint earlier this year.
Let’s just hope the lads can attract some bigger names - or at least bigger personalities - to the jungle next year.
Dec: Jenny just missed out, so spare a thought for me as I had Jenny in the sweepstake and just missed out on a place in the final.
Ant: Shame, mate.
Dec: Who did you have?
Ant: Jack Maynard.
Ant: Your fifth and final Bushtucker dish is... A pig’s vagina.
Iain: Brazilians haven’t reached pigs yet, have they? Look at that. Bloody hell.
Georgia ‘Toff’ Toffolo has been crowned the latest winner of ‘I’m A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here!’.
The ‘Made In Chelsea’ star beat former ‘Hollyoaks’ star Jamie Lomas and presenter Iain Lee to the title of Queen Of The Jungle during Sunday (10 December) night’s final.
Jamie was declared the runner up, after Iain finished in third place earlier in the evening.
After hosts Ant and Dec announced Georgia had won the 17th series of the ITV reality show, the said: “I don’t know what to say. I didn’t think anyone would like me. I’m really taken aback.
“Wow, thank you so much.”
In the lead up to the climax of the series, viewers had seen the final three compete in an individual Bushtucker Trial in a bid to win their dream meals.
Toff took part in John T-Revolting, where she was put in a transparent box that eventually filled with biting green ants, soldier crabs, cockroaches yabbies, mud crabs, spiders and scorpions in order to win the starters.
Iain was playing for three main courses, and had to take part in an eating challenge, devouring two turkey testicles camel brain; blended cockroaches, crickets, meal worms and beach worms; and pig’s vagina.
Jamie took part in Panic Pitt, where he had to stay in and underground chamber for 10 minutes while 40 snakes joined him.
Each of the trio passed their challenge, winning a complete slap up meal of their choice, complete with drinks and treats.
Toff now joins the likes of Scarlett Moffatt, Vicky Pattison, Stacey Solomon, Joe Swash and Matt Willis, who have all previously won the ITV reality series.
Find out how the celebrities adjust back to life in the real world on ‘I’m A Celebrity... Coming Out’ on Friday 15 December at 9pm on ITV.
London and Dublin have clashed over whether the Brexit agreement intended to trigger trade talks is legally binding or not.
The Irish government responded strongly, stating the deal was “binding” and it would hold the UK “to account” on it.
The document on legacy issues like the Irish border was hammered out in order to allow the remaining EU27 states to approve Brexit talks shifting to a phase two trade negotiation at a summit this week where Dublin wields a veto.
Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar heralded the last-minute deal meant to prevent the return of a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic as “politically bullet-proof” and “cast iron”.
The Irish government’s chief whip, Joe McHugh, branded the Brexit Secretary’s comments as “bizarre”.
He told RTE: “We will as a government, a sovereign government in Ireland, be holding the United Kingdom to account, as will the European Union.
“My question to anybody within the British Government would be, why would there be an agreement, a set of principled agreements, in order to get to phase two, if they weren’t going to be held up? That just sounds bizarre to me.
“This, as far as we’re concerned, is a binding agreement, an agreement in principle.”
McHugh said the Irish government would not “back away” from the Brexit principles if it comes under pressure from the rest of the EU during trade talks with the UK.
In the wake of some Brexiteers expressing concern the agreement said the UK would have “full alignment” with the EU on regulations and standards that impacted on Northern Ireland, Mr Davis told BBC1’s The Andrew Marr Show: “This was a statement of intent more than anything else.
Much more a statement of intent than it was a legally enforceable thing.”
The comments came after reports that some hardline Brexiteers had been assured by the Government that the term full alignment was “meaningless”.
Davis said the chances of Britain leaving the EU without a trade deal have “dropped dramatically”.
The Cabinet heavyweight insisted the agreement with Brussels to trigger talks on a post-Brexit relationship made the prospect of the UK being forced back into World Trade Organisation (WTO) tariff arrangements after withdrawal much less likely.
The Brexit Secretary said: “The odds, as it were, against a WTO, or no deal outcome, have dropped dramatically.”
Davis said a trade deal was “not that complicated”, and suggested a version of the agreement the EU made with Canada, which he dubbed “Canada plus, plus, plus” because it would include areas such as financial services.
Further weather warnings are in place for snow around the UK, with the Met Office warning that some people could be “cut off” by the drifts.
Amber “be prepared” warnings are in place for snow for the east and west Midlands, East of England, London and the South East, North West England, Wales and Yorkshire and the Humber.
These are in place between 4am and 6pm on Sunday.
A number of warnings are in force across the UK including strong winds for southern areas on Sunday - gusts could approach 70 mph in places - stay #weatheraware pic.twitter.com/f6wIsvOpIt
December 9, 2017
The Met Office said: “A spell of heavy snow is likely over parts of Wales, the Midlands and parts of Northern and Eastern England on Sunday.
“Road, rail and air travel delays are likely, as well as stranding of vehicles and public transport cancellations.
“There is a good chance that some rural communities could become cut off.”
Yellow “be aware” alerts are in place for wind, snow and ice in other areas (full details can be found here).
Forecasters say 10-20 cm is possible for some locations and the worst areas affected mainly in northern Scotland.
At 8pm on Saturday evening, temperatures had already plummeted to -9C in Dalwhinnie in Scotland.
After school closures and power cuts in Scotland on Friday, the heaviest and most frequent snow showers are predicted in the north east of the country during Saturday.
Around 18,000 homes across Scotland were affected by power cuts due to the weather, according to Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks, with power returned to the majority of affected homes by Friday evening.
However, further cuts are expected with more snowfall.
Highways England advised road users intending to travel through the West Midlands and the northwest of England to check the forecast and road conditions before they travel, with the threat of disruption throughout the weekend.
Council gritting teams are on standby to cover roads across the country with fleets of vehicles out overnight into Saturday morning.
Birmingham Airport have warned passengers travelling on Sunday morning to allow more time for their journey as a result, while Manchester Airport advised passengers to check before travelling.
Arriva Trains Wales and Scotrail also issued warnings.
Iraq’s prime minister has declared victory in the fight against the so-called Islamic State - but Theresa May has warned the extremist group is “not yet defeated”.
Haider al-Abadi declared final victory over IS on Saturday after Iraqi forces drove its last remnants from the country, three years after the militant group captured about a third of Iraq’s territory, Reuters reported.
The announcement comes two days after the Russian military announced the defeat of the militants in neighbouring Syria, where Moscow is backing Syrian government forces.
Iraqi forces recaptured the last areas still under Islamic State control along the border with Syria, the military said.
He said in a televised address: “Honourable Iraqis: your land has been completely liberated. The dream of liberation is now a reality.
“We have accomplished a very difficult mission. Our heroes have reached the final strongholds of Daesh and purified it. The Iraqi flag flies high today over all Iraqi lands.”
Several squadrons of Iraqi helicopters flew over Baghdad carrying Iraqi flags at noon, in an apparent rehearsal for a victory parade that Iraq is planning to hold in coming days.
The government said the declaration meant Iraqi forces had secured the western desert and the entire Iraq-Syria border, and marked the end of the war against Islamic State.
Abadi declared 10 December a national holiday to be celebrated every year. State television aired celebratory songs praising government forces and militias, and showed scenes of celebration on the streets of Baghdad and other provinces.
Theresa May congratulated Abadi on a “historic” moment, adding “Daesh no longer hold significant territory in Iraq or Syria. This signals a new chapter towards a more peaceful, prosperous country”.
However she said that the fight against IS was not yet over.
The US-led coalition that has been supporting the Iraqi forces against Islamic State welcomed the news, as did Brett McGurk, the U.S. Special Presidential Envoy to the coalition.
“We congratulate the Prime Minister and all the Iraqi people on this significant achievement, which many thought impossible,” he said in a series of tweets.
“We honour the sacrifices of the Iraqi people, its security forces, and the Kurdish Peshmerga, and admire the unity in their ranks that had made this day possible.”
This week M&S launched the stoneless ‘Cocktail Avocado’ That’s right, it’s an avocado without a stone - and the supermarket chain has said the fruit could reduce instances of “avocado hand.” Millennials rejoice! It has an edible skin and measures in at around 5-8cm.
But the big question is, how will people react to their first encounter with the latest upgrade to the humble fruit?
You may well have noticed that something rather big happened today - that’s right, a YouTube prankster cemented his head inside a microwave.
There was also another important story that may have just edged it in the “most read” stakes - but only just.
Tough competition for the top story on the BBC News website#BrexitDeal pic.twitter.com/jSyLpLyOM4
on a deal which allows the Brexit talks to move on to trade negotiations.
So we are to stay aligned to both single market and custom union rules but have no say in future rule changes nor representation in the European Parliament. So surely it would make sense just to stay in both? #BrexitDeal
December 8, 2017
Remarkably, the deal appears to have united both Leavers and Remainers albeit in a unified chorus of displeasure at the PM’s negotiation skills.
Scanning Twitter reaction to the #brexitdeal - although neither Leavers nor Remainers are happy with it - it's seems to be the Leavers who are the most unhappy with it.
December 8, 2017
The 17.4m did not vote for a large exit fee, the ECJ continuing to have a say over our country or a 2 year transition. This is not a deal, it's a capitulation. pic.twitter.com/cX9qrCi9iP
December 8, 2017
Farage campaigned for Britain to no longer be under EU regulation and achieved not only to still be under those regulations but removed our ability to influence them and made us pay more for the privilege. And put himself out of a job. Truly a political giant. #BrexitDeal pic.twitter.com/6FcORuvvYn
December 8, 2017
Regardless, one bright spot of the day was the flood of imaginative analogies for the day’s events.
That time that drunk idiot climbed out of the club window, wearing Union Jack shorts, and then queued for two years, argued with the doormen and then paid to get back in - just to sit almost where he was before. Then vomited on his shoes. #BrexitDeal
December 8, 2017
Me: You need to reduce my rent. Landlord: No, I’m going to increase it. Me: But... Him: And I will no longer do repairs. Me: No, that’s- Him: And you can only live there on weekends. [goes home to wife] Me: I have made a great breakthrough in my negotiations.#BrexitDeal
December 8, 2017
Brexit is now a bit like trading in your car for a new car, only to discover that you've just paid a fortune to buy back the same car but with slashed tyres and no steering wheel.#BrexitDeal
December 8, 2017
The Prime Minister and the European Commission say "Sufficient Progress" has been made on reaching the next step of a #BrexitDeal. Here is that progress: pic.twitter.com/2mD2NqrAGg
December 8, 2017
See #TheresaMay has decided to take the student approach towards deadlines, leave it till near the deadline and pull an all nighter and compromise on quality due to running out of time. Wonder if she had a bottle of monster to keep her going #BrexitDeal
December 8, 2017
#BrexitDeal this is not the end, nor the beginning of the end, but it might be the end of the beginning
New Government department to replace Dept. International Trade... #BrexitDeal pic.twitter.com/bnl93D23TR
I haven't seen this much fudge since the last time I visited a Cornish gift shop. #BrexitDeal #bbcdp pic.twitter.com/6camLQ5ju7
A deal has been reached between the European Union and the United Kingdom on phase one of the Brexit talks.
The European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker revealed early on Friday morning that “sufficient progress” has now been made.
This opens the way for negotiations on the future trade relationship between the UK and EU to begin.
Theresa May said the deal makes sure there will be “no hard border” between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
The prime minister said the rights of EU citizens living in the UK and British citizens living in the EU will be protected
A financial settlement will be paid by the UK to the EU which is “fair to the British taxpayer”, May said.
DUP leader Arlene Foster said she was now satisfied there would now be “no red line down the Irish Sea” separating Northern Ireland from Great Britain.
May will personally guarantee to the people of Ulster six promises, including leaving the EU customs union and single market and upholding the Good Friday Agreement peace deal
After so spectacularly crashing the negotiations on Monday, just getting the car back on the road with the engine running was enough to generate cheers from Tory MPs.
Theresa May’s early morning trek to Brussels after a night of repairing her conked-out deal gave her the result she wanted, and everyone can now move on to round two of these Brexit talks.
But if May thinks the draft agreement will stop any more sabotage from people back home, she could well be mistaken - especially when hard-core Brexiteers begin looking under the bonnet.
This deal has the feel of a George Osborne Budget about it: Looks good initially, but wait for the day two headlines.
On the face of it, the agreement has been welcomed by all the right people.
Brexit-supporting Cabinet minister Michael Gove said May had “won” in her negotiations with Brussels.
Suella Fernandes, chair of the influential European Research Group of Tory eurosceptics, described it as “pragmatic and flexible”, while former head of Vote Leave Matthew Elliott effused that it was “superb news to wake up to”.
But beneath the exclamation mark laden tweets and virtual pats on the back, some of the older heads in the Brexit world are worried.
Boris Johnson took to Twitter to caveat his initial welcoming of the deal.
Replying to a photo posted of him meeting with May on Thursday afternoon - an attempt to ensure the Foreign Secretary was seen to have signed off on the deal, Johnson tweeted: “Yes, great meeting with PM...found her totally determined that ‘full alignment’ means compatibility with taking back control of our money, laws and borders.”
John Redwood, whose eurosceptism dates back to him campaigning for out in the 1975 referendum, said “a good deal has to be better than this”.
Former Northern Ireland Secretary Owen Paterson said that while this is a “big improvement” on the version torpedoed by the DUP on Monday, there are “still problematic areas”.
Veteran Eurosceptic Sir Bill Cash described it as a “landmark document” – but that is more because it gets the UK onto trade talks and one step closer to actual Brexit than for anything actually in the agreement. On the detail, Sir Bill said the European Scrutiny Committee, which he chairs, “will be looking at that.”
Other Eurosceptic MPs simply refused to speak to the media until they had properly digested the text.
One told HuffPost UK that while the deal seemed to be a victory for May, “this feels a bit like Maastricht” – a reference to the treaty in the 1990s which created the modern European Union and the single currency.
Then-Prime Minister John Major was initially lauded for securing opt-outs for the UK from certain areas of the treaty, but when Eurosceptic Tories realised how much power was being handed over to Brussels, they proceeded to defeat the Government on key votes.
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One person who has gone through the draft agreement line-by-line is Martin Howe. The Brexit-backing QC is chair of the Lawyers for Britain, and has written extensively on EU law.
Speaking to HuffPost UK, he flagged up several areas of concern for those who want the UK to have a clean break from the EU.
“I have major concerns over the continuing role of the ECJ, as it will still have power to give judgments which alter the law, thereby requiring our courts strike down Acts of Parliament.
“This is a major constitutional issue.
“This creates an effective backdoor for eight years for a foreign court to influence UK law.
“Even after those eight years a significant body of case law will have built up meaning its influence will continue. I can’t think of any precedent in international law of courts of one treaty party making decisions which bind another country which is party to a treaty.”
The continued power of the ECJ to have an impact and influence on laws in the UK is a hill many Tories are prepared to get at least extremely wounded on.
Speaking last week ahead of this latest flurry of activity, a leading Tory Eurosceptic told HuffPost UK that while a possible financial settlement of €40billion was a “pinprick”, the “real battle will be over the ECJ.”
The main fight dominating the talks this week was not over the role of foreign judges of course, but how to keep Northern Ireland’s border with Ireland invisible.
In the coming weeks, much of the talk will be about the true meaning of paragraph 49 of the draft agreement:
The United Kingdom remains committed to protecting North-South cooperation and to its guarantee of avoiding a hard border. Any future arrangements must be compatible with these overarching requirements. The United Kingdom’s intention is to achieve these objectives through the overall EU-UK relationship. Should this not be possible, the United Kingdom will propose specific solutions to address the unique circumstances of the island of Ireland. In the absence of agreed solutions, the United Kingdom will maintain full alignment with those rules of the Internal Market and the Customs Union which, now or in the future, support North-South cooperation, the all-island economy and the protection of the 1998 Agreement.
Former Brexit Minister David Jones summed up the concerns about that section when he appeared on BBC Radio 4 on Friday lunchtime:
“The worry about that of course is that that could well relate to very important areas, for example agriculture, which we would want to throw into the mix in negotiating a free trade agreement with a third country…and if this were to persist then it could severely handicap our ability to enter into those free trade agreements. So I think we do need to see that particular provision refined.”
Howe agrees that this section is worrying, and told HuffPost UK: “This depends on how the EU interpret it.
“They will put clauses into the free trade agreement which will limit what the UK can do in certain sectors, including limiting our ability to import goods from third countries which will interfere with our ability to conclude free trade agreements.”
If the EU does present the UK with a list of sectors it believes needs to remain aligned with its rules, May will be forced to make the decision she is currently avoiding - i.e. what kind of Brexit she actually wants.
If she decides to accept the EU’s demands, Johnson may decide that is the moment to walk, knowing he has an army of eurosceptics behind him who could help wrestle the steering wheel free from May and put him in the driving seat.
As it is, May has kept the car on the track with the engine ticking over, but no one is quite sure what has been put into the Sat-Nav.
A Brexit ‘divorce’ deal is so close to being agreed Theresa May is reportedly poised to fly to Brussels on Friday morning to sign the agreement - though the Democratic Unionist Party could still block the package.
Reports were surfacing late on Thursday that the UK and Ireland could reach agreement within hours on how to run their post-Brexit Irish land border.
This would pave the way for a deal that would remove the last obstacle to opening free trade talks with the EU, and draw a line under talks that collapsed earlier this week.
May, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and European Council Chairman Donald Tusk could meet early on Friday to seal the border deal, the European Commission’s chief spokesman said.
“We are making progress but not yet fully there,” Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas said. “Talks are continuing throughout the night. Early morning meeting possible.”
A spokesman for PM May said Brexit discussions were ongoing while a senior Irish official that talks were moving swiftly and that a deal was possible in hours.
“It is moving quite quickly at the moment,” the Irish official told a British Irish Chamber of Commerce event in Brussels. “I think we are going to work over the next couple of hours with the UK government to close this off. I say hours because I think we are very close.”
It insists that Northern Ireland, as part of the UK, must leave the EU in the same way as the rest of the UK - so no ‘special’ deal for Northern Ireland alone.
All sides say they want to avoid a return to a ‘hard’ border between EU member Ireland and the British-ruled province of Northern Ireland, which might upset the peace established after decades of violence.
May get the support of the DUP, which is propping up her minority government.
Moving to talks about trade and a Brexit transition are crucial for the future of May’s premiership, and to keep trade flowing between the world’s biggest trading bloc and its sixth largest national economy after Britain leaves on March 29, 2019.
The EU will only move to trade talks if there is enough progress on three key issues: the money Britain must pay to the EU; rights for EU citizens in Britain and British citizens in the EU; and how to avoid a hard border with Ireland.
As speculation swirled about whether London, Dublin and Brussels were about to clinch a border deal, Tusk’s office said he would brief reporters at 6.50am.
The EU says May has an effective deadline of Sunday night if she wants to seal a deal and hope to have agreement on trade talks in time for the EU summit on December 14.