If you want to get this briefing by email, sign up here
There are signs of hope this morning for Matthew Hedges, the British PhD student jailed for life earlier this week for spying in the United Arab Emirates. His sentencing prompted widespread shock and anger, and calls for a tough diplomatic response from the UK. The 31-year-old was researching the UAE’s security and has always denied spying.
The UAE’s ambassador in London is due to issue a statement at 10:00 GMT on Friday, and on Thursday evening, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said he had engaged in “constructive” talks with his opposite number. BBC diplomatic correspondent Paul Adams agrees things are “looking a bit more positive”, with Foreign Office sources suggesting the Emirati foreign minister had offered an “olive branch”.
BBC Reality Check has looked closely at why the UAE’s legal system has come in for such strident criticism over the case.
EU officials will meet later to finalise the document that will take Britain out of the union. The aim is for all nations to sign it off on Sunday. Spain has thrown a last-minute hurdle up though, demanding a say on future decisions about Gibraltar. The Spanish prime minister has threatened to “veto Brexit” – although no single member state actually has the power to do that. The UK has said it won’t compromise on the issue.
On Thursday, agreement was reached on the political declaration – outlining how UK-EU trade, security and other issues would work. What does it include? BBC Brussels correspondent Adam Fleming explains. If all goes as planned, the document will form the basis of a permanent trade agreement to be hammered out during the 21-month transition period.
It’s fair to say, though, that it wasn’t universally welcomed by MPs. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn described the declaration as “26 pages of waffle”. One Conservative backbencher said it “reads like a letter to Santa”. And Scottish MPs are concerned it will not protect the interests of the UK fishing industry.
Before you click confirm on that Black Friday bargain, stop. The National Cyber Security Centre, part of intelligence service GCHQ, is warning that eager shoppers are “prime pickings” for cyber-crime and is issuing advice on avoiding trouble. The NCSC says it has taken down almost 140,000 “phishing” websites used by fraudsters in the last 12 months alone. Experts from the NCSC will be answering questions from the public on cyber security via its Twitter account later.
Quiz of the week
Have you been paying attention? Find out.
Loos save lives, but why are they still so expensive?
By Padraig Belton, Technology of Business reporter, BBC News
About 2.3 billion people still lack basic toilets, according to the World Health Organization. And 4.5 billion don’t have safely managed sanitation, with waste disposed in a way that won’t contaminate drinking water. Each year contaminated water kills half a million children under five. So many inventors, entrepreneurs and research institutions around the world have been working on hi-tech loos that can function without the need for expensive mains sewerage systems. So why do so many still lack this basic amenity?
What the papers say
Brexit dominates the headlines yet again and the Daily Mail may well echo readers’ thoughts with the front page plea: “Now let’s get on with it!” However, with papers digesting the draft UK-EU political declaration, the tone of the coverage is set by the Guardian, with its headline: “May battles on all fronts to save her Brexit deal.” The Daily Express says Theresa May endured another Commons mauling after it was published. According to the Independent, only two MPs spoke in favour of it during two hours of debate. And an un-named cabinet minister tells the Daily Telegraph they fear it has “zero” chance of surviving a vote. The Financial Times, though, says the PM believes she can turn the political debate in the run-up to the vote by going over the heads of MPs – mobilising corporate Britain and the wider public to support her.
Tommy Robinson UKIP appoints former EDL leader as an adviser
FGM aid UK pledges £50m to help end the practice in Africa
Smart meters Deadline for national roll-out “not realistic”
Question Time Fiona Bruce “in talks” over presenting role
If you see one thing today
If you listen to one thing today
If you read one thing today
Today Sri Lanka v England, the third Test, begins in Colombo
12:30 Theresa May will answer questions from the public about her Brexit deal live on Radio 5 live and the BBC News Channel
On this day
1978 A Birmingham nightclub is told it must admit black and Chinese people – becoming the first recipient of a non-discrimination order