News Daily: Brexit talks and council tax rises

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Brexit: UK pushes for backstop changes

Theresa May is looking to alter her Brexit deal with the EU, so that MPs can give it their backing in a week’s time – having overwhelmingly rejected it in January. So a UK delegation is going to Brussels to try to secure legally binding changes to what was agreed previously.

It wants a guarantee that the backstop – the plan to ensure there’s no hard border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic under any circumstances – cannot be allowed to remain in place indefinitely. Here’s an explanation of what the backstop is and what all the controversy is about.

The UK is due to leave the EU in 24 days’ time. If MPs reject Mrs May’s withdrawal agreement for a second time, they will then be able to vote on quitting without any deal at all. If they decide against this, they can vote on whether to extend negotiations and push Brexit back.

But the EU’s other 27 countries also have to agree unanimously to allow any such delay. It’s getting complicated, so why not try our simple guide to Brexit?

Council tax rises

Eight out of 10 councils in England are planning to impose the maximum possible increase in council tax bills, a survey by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (Cipfa) says. That means an extra 4.5% rise on average. Cipfa says this will mean households in Band D paying £75.60 more a year on average. Here’s a chart explaining how council spending works.

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Adverts to ‘normalise’ cervical screening

The number of women in England undertaking cervical screening has hit a 20-year low. Public Health England thinks the term “smear test” might be putting people off, so it’s launching an advertising campaign aimed at “normalising” the procedure. “The technical process used today no longer smears the sample of cells from the cervix on to a glass plate,” said director of screening Anne Mackie. “We now put cells that we collect into a tube of liquid, so technically ‘smear’ is incorrect.”

‘Please, leave your children an emotional legacy’

By Dougal Shaw, BBC Stories

When Gaby Eirew’s father died from pancreatic cancer one of his last pieces of advice was: “Grieve for me for two years. After that you’re grieving for yourself.”

She thought she would be good at grieving. After all, she had worked as a counsellor dealing with cases of childhood trauma. But she found herself struggling more than she had expected.

Read the full article

What the papers say

The Times leads with an investigation into school funding, saying parents are being asked to help pay for books, staff and equipment. But the lead stories on several front pages are on knife crime. The Guardian says there is “outrage” at what it calls Theresa May’s “denial” of a link between the problem and reductions in police numbers. Meanwhile, the Daily Mail shows the faces of 27 teenagers it says have been stabbed to death in the past year and asks: “How many more?”

Daily digest

Trudeau Crisis grows for Canadian PM Trudeau as minister quits

Knife crime Ex-minister wants it treated with urgency of terrorism

Car seats New mothers could injure themselves by carrying them, experts warns

Devastation Aerial shots show impact of Alabama tornadoes

If you see one thing today

How to get on with someone you hate at work

If you listen to one thing today

Image copyright Science Photo Library

Could insects become extinct?

If you read one thing today

Image copyright Alex McClure

Is buying with friends the future of housing?

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Today The Queen gives a reception at Buckingham Palace to mark the 50th anniversary of the investiture of the Prince of Wales.

09:30 Theresa May chairs her weekly cabinet meeting.

On this day

1983 A tanker carrying 85,000 tonnes of crude oil runs aground in hurricane force winds off the Shetland Islands.

From elsewhere

The elderly left behind in Venezuela (Washington Post)

The gay-rights activists hoping for a legal breakthrough in Kenya (New Yorker)

Seven-figure bonuses are spreading for Europe’s energy traders (Bloomberg)

Being trans in Greece (Independent)


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