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May summons ministers over Syria
An emergency meeting of the cabinet this afternoon will discuss possible British backing for military action in Syria in response to the alleged chemical weapons attack. Theresa May will set out the evidence for placing blame with the Assad regime, what role British forces might play and what the overall strategic aim would be. She is likely to receive the backing of her ministers, but it’s what happens after that which could prove divisive.
The BBC’s diplomatic correspondent James Landale says Mrs May is prepared to authorise the use of force without the consent of Parliament. Does she need it? Well, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn thinks so and is likely to resist any attempt to cut MPs out of the loop. However, while the vote in 2003 called by Tony Blair to authorise action in Iraq set a precedent, it is not Parliament’s right to decide when Britain goes to war. Mrs May is also running a minority government, so all votes for her are dicey.
Any action will be led by the US and the White House reiterated on Wednesday that nothing is off to the table.
A reminder for you of what we know about the chemical attack and why there’s a conflict in Syria in the first place.
‘No-one speaks for me’
Yulia Skripal, the poisoned daughter of ex-spy Sergei, has rejected assistance from the Russian embassy. Moscow has been pushing for access to the 33-year-old, suggesting the UK is trying to “abduct” her and her father. Her cousin Viktoria has also questioned Britain’s response.
But Ms Skripal, who was discharged from hospital on Monday, said in a statement she had “access to friends and family”, and while she was aware the Russian embassy had “kindly offered” their assistance, “at the moment” she did not wish to take up that offer. She added: “No-one speaks for me, or for my father, but ourselves.”
Here’s a reminder of what happened to the Skripals. Tests on the nerve agent used against them have been completed by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and an executive summary will be published later today.
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Airline row guard sues
Video footage of a man being dragged off a United Airlines flight last year sparked an international outcry. The Chicago aviation security officer responsible was fired, but now he has filed a lawsuit against the airline and the city. James Long alleges he was not trained on how to use force. Dr David Dao lost two front teeth, suffered a broken nose and a “significant” concussion in the incident.
Carmakers fear looming Brexit barriers
By Jorn Madslien, BBC Business reporter
A storm is brewing as clouds gather over Bristol Port, with the rain set to fall on tens of thousands of vehicles parked in the port’s car compounds, ready for export by ship, or destined for UK dealerships. It is an apt backdrop for the UK automotive sector’s current predicament. “Brexit has derailed the industry,” says [analyst] Sarwant Singh. Each year, about 80% of the vehicles built in the UK are exported, so smooth international trade relations are vital. But these days, the relations are as choppy as the sea.
Read the full article
What the papers say
The Guardian is one of several papers to highlight what it calls Donald Trump’s “incendiary tweet”, telling Russia to “get ready” for US missiles in Syria. The Daily Express asks whether we are “One Tweet from War?” Elsewhere, the papers cover the continuing stand-off between residents in south London and the gypsy family of a suspected burglar stabbed to death by a pensioner. The Daily Telegraph calls it a “clash of cultures”, while the Daily Mail is unhappy that police have asked for flowers left by the relatives to be respected. Finally, BBC sports presenter Mike Bushell gets a ribbing after falling into a swimming pool live on air.
Space industry Big players invest in UK engine
Clinic ban Anti-abortion campaigners vow to continue
Gaming Baftas Your guide to the gongs
Sporting action What’s happening today at the Commonwealth Games
If you see one thing today
The paramedic couple who mostly collect bodies
If you listen to one thing today
Stumped: A line in the sandpaper?
If you read one thing today
‘The most British crime of all time’
Today Lawyers for Cliff Richard will open their case against the BBC – the singer is suing for misuse of private information and breaking data protection rules when covering the raid on his home in 2014.
09:30 Full performance data for the NHS in England for 2017-18 will be made public – it may be the worst year of statistics since records began.
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On this day
1986 The Soviet Union launches the world’s biggest space station, Mir – it was manned almost continuously during its 15 years in orbit.
How Mean Girls became less bitchy for Broadway (Slate.com)
Why a new centrist party will never succeed (Scotsman)
The winter storms cost councils millions – in lost parking fines (City Metric)
Did Brian Easley have to die? (Longreads)