Health Minister Salvador Illa unveiled a raft of new measures to be enforced nationwide, including closing restaurants and bars.
He attended an emergency meeting of regional health authorities as the country battles a surge in the disease, with nearly 2,935 new cases in 24 hours reported on Thursday.
It takes the country’s total cases to 337,334, while the country’s death toll to 28,605, prompting fears of a second wave of the pandemic in Spain
The nationwide smoking ban comes after Spain’s northwestern region of Galicia introduced a ban on smoking in outdoor public places yesterday.
The move is supported by research from Spain’s health ministry, who last month found that smoking can spread the virus because people project droplets when they exhale smoke.
In addition, the virus could be spread when a person removes their face mask to smoke a cigarette, and by touching their cigarette before bringing it to their mouth.
But experts have warned there is not yet enough evidence to say for certain that the disease could be spread through tobacco smoke.
Spain announced it was banning smoking in the street without social distancing as it stepped up restrictions to stop the spread of coronavirus today as the country’s 7-day average cases have spiralled up in recent days
The Spanish Society of Epidemiology in July called for smoking to be banned in outdoor spaces. Above, a man smokes a cigarette in a street of Valencia on August 13, 2020
Can smoking in public spread coronavirus?
Spanish authorities say smokers who have coronavirus could blow their droplets towards other people, allowing the virus to spread.
While there has been little research into whether the smoke itself can spread the virus, the act of smoking produces the respiratory droplets which are thought to be the main way the virus spreads.
Smokers are also unlikely to be wearing a mask, which may increase the risk of transmission in itself.
The WHO also says that smoking is a coronavirus risk because it involves ‘contact of fingers with the lips, which increases the possibility of the transmission of viruses from hand to mouth’.
Shisha pipes are also regarded as risky because they ‘often involve the sharing of mouth pieces and hoses’.
While chewing tobacco would not produce smoke, it still often involves hand-to-mouth contact and could produce a further risk when people spit out their excess saliva, the WHO says.
However, Spanish epidemiologist Fernando Garcia said there was ‘not yet enough solid scientific information’ to show that smoking can spread the disease in open spaces.
The move comes despite a mountain of research suggesting smokers are less likely to catch coronavirus.
Experts across the world have discovered very few smokers are getting hospitalised by Covid-19, suggesting they are protected or aren’t getting infected as much.
It is mandatory in all of Spain, except in the Canary Islands, to wear a face mask in all outdoor and indoor public spaces.
The Spanish Society of Epidemiology in July called for smoking to be banned in outdoor spaces, arguing there is a risk that smokers infected with COVID-19 but who are asymptomatic ‘could release droplets’ containing the virus ‘which put at risk the rest of the population’.
Alberto Fernández Villar, head of the pneumology department at Vigo hospital, and a member of the Galician government’s clinical committee, said: ‘We know smokers with Covid-19 have a greater viral load and are potentially bigger spreaders.’
Viral load refers to the number of particles of the coronavirus – called SARS-CoV-2 – someone is first infected with.
No scientific studies have conclusively proven that smokers have a higher viral load, compared to coronavirus-infected non-smokers.
But evidence has shown smokers may have more ACE-2 receptors, which the virus latches on to to infect humans.
This means someone with more ACE-2 receptors may be more susceptible to a large viral load entering their bloodstream.
Spain’s highly decentralised system of government makes regions responsible for healthcare, leading to a patchwork of different measures to curb the virus across the country of 47million people.
The World Health Organization has said tobacco users are likely to be more vulnerable to being infected by the virus and could increase the possibility of transmission of the disease since it involves contact of fingers with the lips.
While the smoking ban was applauded by many medical experts, some questioned its effectiveness.
‘There is not yet enough solid scientific information to show that in open spaces, tobacco smoke can transmit the disease,’ Fernando Garcia, an epidemiologist at the Carlos III institute for health, said.
‘To take such an extreme measure when there is not enough evidence, I think is a bit disproportionate.’
The ban on smoking comes as the country grapples with the worst infection rate in western Europe. Spain now has 376,864 confirmed total cases, and 28,579 deaths.
ARE SMOKERS AT MORE RISK FROM CORONAVIRUS?
Dr James Gill, a locum GP and honorary clinical lecturer, Warwick Medical School, said: ‘Smoking is a significant risk factor for coronavirus infections and, in fact, infections generally.
‘There are many interlocking factors as to why smoking reduces the body’s ability to fight an infection.
‘Possibly one of the biggest reasons smokers are at increased risk of respiratory infections is the impairment and death of the cilia in the airways and lungs.
‘In simple terms, the airways are lined with cilia – small brush-like hairs – these structures provide an absolutely vital function in moving mucous, inhaled debris and potentially infectious agents out of the airways and lungs before an infection can take hold.’
Increased levels of carbon monoxide in the blood, a by-product of smoking, blocks the blood’s ability to carry oxygen to cells in the body.
It puts smokers at a pre-disposed disadvantage if they catch coronavirus, considering the disease leaves patients unable to get enough oxygen into the bloodstream due to lung inflammation.
Dr Tom Wingfield, a senior clinical lecturer and honorary consultant physician, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM), said: ‘Smoking both increases someone’s vulnerability to infection (repetitive touching of hand-to-face and hand-to-mouth) and reduces their ability to fight against it resulting in more severe disease.’
He highlighted the tendency of smokers to have a health condition, such as high blood pressure, high disease and chronic lung, ‘all of which themselves are risk factors for severe COVID-19’.
Professor Gordon Dougan, department of medicine, University of Cambridge, said: ‘The real danger lies in the lung and systems damage COVID causes. It will make people more vulnerable to secondary bacterial and viral infections. It is known that lung damage per say does that.’
Galicia and the Canary Islands had already announced their own smoking bans in what is thought to be the first such restriction in Europe.
Officials in regions including Madrid and Andalusia had said they were considering similar smoking restrictions before the national measure was announced.
The Canary Islands have also toughened their mask rules in public spaces, having previously been the only region not to make them mandatory.
The Spanish Medical Colleges Organisation said it was ‘disappointed and outraged’ at the lack of co-ordination between Madrid and regional governments.
‘The disputes and rivalries between political forces and institutions, when they should all be rowing in the same direction, drive us to despair,’ the body said.
The organisation blamed the spike in cases on looser social distancing, family gatherings and the re-opening of nightclubs and bars as well as the poor living conditions of migrant farm workers.
Spain’s different layers of government provide ‘contradictory’ figures about the virus which ‘give everyone the impression of a lack of co-ordination in the fight against the pandemic,’ it added.
Bars and restaurants will also have to close by 1am as part of the new restrictions, health minister Illa told a news conference.
He also advised against gatherings of more than 10 people and specifically warned young people not to gather outside to drink alcohol.
‘We cannot afford not to be disciplined,’ Illa said. ‘We cannot ignore the virus circulating among us.’
The increase in infections has led to worries the country could return to the grim situation it experienced in early April when the daily Covid-19 death toll approached 1,000, but Illa played down such concerns.
Official data shows 70 people have died over the past week, bringing Spain’s total coronavirus death toll to 28,605.
‘The situation is not comparable with March and April,’ the minister said, remarking that more young people were now becoming infected, many of them showing no symptoms, and patients in general were getting less severely ill.
Spain is still in good shape compared with many countries in the Americas, where the spread seems unchecked in the United States, Mexico and several South American countries.
But hospitalisations with Covid-19 have quintupled in Spain since early July, when cases were down to a trickle.
Spain imposed one of the toughest lockdowns in Europe, which stopped a first wave of the virus that had pushed the health care system to breaking point.
Britain has identified a threshold of 20 cases per 100,000 people in the space of a week as the key to its quarantine rules. France was added last night after crossing that threshold – while Switzerland and Denmark are hovering close to it and Germany and Italy have seen an alarming increase in cases partly linked to summer holidays
Elsewhere, France last night announced another 2,669 cases of the disease while the 7-day average is now at 1,962, a level not seen since April.
The government today declared Paris and Marseille as high-risk zones, giving authorities more power to impose strict measures at a local level.
Local authorities in Paris and the Bouches-du-Rhone region which includes Marseille can now limit traffic, restrict access to public transport and close down bars and restaurants if necessary.
Paris and Marseille, the two largest cities in France, had already made face masks mandatory in busy public areas in recent days.
Health authorities warned last night that virus cases were rising fastest among younger people, in common with trends seen in Spain and Italy in recent weeks.
In mainland France, the pace of growth in cases in the week of August 3-9 was fastest among people aged 15-44, the health ministry said.
Among the new infections were 50 gendarmes based in Tarbes, out of a group of 82 who had just returned from a deployment in Polynesia.
Meanwhile, Germany’s daily infection count hit its highest since May 1 today after 1,449 more people tested positive.
The latest spike brings Germany’s 7-day average from 985 daily cases to 1,028, the first time since May 6 that it has been above 1,000.
Germany has suffered 7,199 cases in the last week – but would need to reach around 16,750 per week to cross the UK’s threshold.
Germany also faced testing chaos this week as 44,000 people had to wait more than a week for their results including around 1,000 who tested positive.
Many of those tested were travellers returning to Bavaria and other parts of Germany after their holidays.
DO SMOKERS REALLY HAVE A HIGHER VIRAL LOAD?
ACE-2 receptors are structures found on the surface of cells in the lungs and airways which work with an enyzme called ACE (angiotensin-converting enzyme) to regulate blood pressure.
Its exact function in the lungs is not well understood but studies suggest it is protective against lung damage and low levels of it can worsen the impact of viral infections.
Scientists say that the coronavirus which causes COVID-19 enters the body through the ACE-2 receptor, which the shape of it allows it to latch on to.
This means that someone with more ACE-2 receptors may be more susceptible to a large viral load – first infectious dose of a virus – entering their bloodstream.
ACE-2 receptors have a shape which matches the outside of the coronavirus, effectively providing it with a doorway into the bloodstream, scientists say
People who have higher than usual numbers of ACE-2 receptors may include those with diabetes or high blood pressure because they have genetic defects which make them produce more. Emerging evidence shows that smokers may also produce more.
High levels of ACE-2 receptors may also be protective, however.
They are thought to be able to protect the lungs during infection and a study on mice in 2008 found that mice which had ACE-2 blocked in their bodies suffered more damage when they were infected with SARS, which is almost identical to COVID-19.
Smoking has in the past been repeatedly linked to lower than normal levels of ACE-2 receptors, potentially increasing the risk of lung damage from COVID-19.
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What happens after the migrant boats land here daily? Sue Reid reports from Kent
All Sue Cook wanted was to get to work and help the friend she has looked after for years, a woman in her 70s with health problems.
But the road to her friend’s house was blocked. Migrants were standing on it, police had parked up their squad cars and were milling about trying to gather them up. It wasn’t the first time Sue had found the road blocked in this way and she let her frustration show.
What happened next in this attractive corner of Kent hit the headlines this week. Sue was filmed shouting at the 16 migrants from Syria and Sri Lanka who, an hour earlier, had landed from Calais on the nearby beach in a small grey inflatable boat.
The men, women and children were among the many hundreds who have sailed illegally to this part of the English coast in the past month. And to say the huge number of arrivals has frazzled the nerves of residents near the ferry port of Dover is an understatement.
A video clip was put online by a photographer who, by chance, found Sue Cook (pictured) confronting a group of migrants in Kent last Tuesday morning
Men, women and children are among the many hundreds who have sailed illegally to this part of the English coast in the past month and the huge number of arrivals has frazzled the nerves of local residents in Kent
More new arrivals head inland this week. Most of the migrants are whisked off in coaches by Border Force officials (now billeted in droves at hostels around the ferry port) to be put in hotels in different parts of the country for asylum checks
A video clip was put online by a photographer who, by chance, found Sue confronting the group of migrants last Tuesday morning at 10.45. It shows her using unexpectedly rich language for a housewife and pensioner of 68.
But when, with a warm smile, Sue opens the door of her townhouse in the shadow of Dover Castle, she does not strike me as an unreasonable or angry woman. ‘Come in and have a coffee,’ she says when I knock and say I am from the Press, adding a minute later: ‘I don’t mind what you say about me but don’t call me a bigot or a racist.’
Sue is a devotee of the Royal Family and says her proudest moment was when she stood just a few feet from the Queen during the Monarch’s 90th birthday celebrations at Windsor Castle four years ago.
Yet the unfortunate footage doesn’t embarrass her one bit. As she sits on the sofa in her pristine living room, she explains: ‘The morning I met the migrants was Battle of Britain Day and that was in my mind.
‘My father was in the Royal Marines and spent five years in a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp. I was on my way in my car to look after my friend. ‘I go twice a week for a few hours to help her and have done for years. This was the second time the entrance of the road to her house had been blocked by migrants who had just come across the Channel.’
The footage doesn’t embarrass Sue (above) one bit. As she sits on the sofa in her pristine living room, she explains: ‘The morning I met the migrants was Battle of Britain Day and that was in my mind’
They had hung spare clothes, including a brown Barbour-style jacket, on a road sign; a smart travel case was on the pavement and the police who had found them were busy on their phones, alerting immigration officials. ‘I couldn’t get past them. I was getting late and I got out and told them to move. A woman police officer warned me to mind my language.
I said that in England we all have freedom of speech. ‘In the end, the police escorted me in their car, with a flashing blue light, to my work. So we were friends in the end.’
Sue has lived in Dover for years. She finds herself on the front line of a battle against a never-ending stream of arriving migrants. This year alone, 6,000 have turned up in Kent after crossing by sea, making a mockery of Boris Johnson’s Government’s election promise to control Britain’s borders.
‘I feel sorry for many of the migrants,’ she says. ‘What we in Dover worry about is the number of young men between 18 and 35. ‘What will they do in this country? They may be coming in with weapons. Are there jihadis, wouldbe terrorists or criminals among them? No one really knows. ‘
This all began about five years ago with a trickle of migrant boats. We didn’t worry. Some locals gave them sandwiches and water. Now it is out of control.’
A boatload of migrants lands on Kingsdown Beach on the Kent coast
It has to be said that this Sue appears very different from the one shown on the video clip, in which, dressed in shorts and a Tshirt, she struts about in front of the migrants and tells them to clear the road.
They obviously don’t understand a word she is saying, as they give her blank stares and the police point out, rather obviously, that they are foreigners. ‘Whatever language they spoke, my message was clear,’ Sue admits, with a roll of her eyes and a laugh. ‘I wanted them to get out of the way so I could reach work on time.’
After the video was posted online, among the emails and texts Sue received were some from friends, family and even strangers saying she did the right thing. From Surrey, Sue’s daughter, a 41-year-old single mother, called to say she was proud of her. And her long-term partner, former mechanic called Rod, 71, is equally chuffed.
Locals say they do feel sorry for many of the migrants but worry about the number of young men between 18 and 35 and what will they do in this country for jobs
As we talk, I remind her of another lady of a certain age — Gillian Duffy, a 65-year-old widow, grandmother and lifelong Labour voter who, in 2010, tangled with then Prime Minister Gordon Brown over the thorny issue of uncontrolled immigration.
Mrs Duffy bumped into Mr Brown as she was out buying a loaf of bread in Rochdale. He was election-campaigning on the streets of the town in Greater Manchester.
Afterwards, as the PM was whisked away in his Jaguar, he was overheard by a Sky News microphone that he had carelessly left on his lapel, calling Mrs Duffy a ‘bigoted woman’. ‘
I cannot be called that word,’ says Sue with feeling, although she confides during our chat: ‘I don’t much like the French.’ Her lone-woman confrontation with the migrants was, she insists, caused by frustration and was not politically inspired.
Like many others I talked to in Dover this week, she feels Kent is taking the brunt of what appears to be unrelenting boat migration. Most of the migrants are whisked off in coaches by Border Force officials (now billeted in droves at hostels around the ferry port) to be put in hotels in different parts of the country for asylum checks.
But it is Dover residents walking their dogs by the shore, having a cup of tea in seaside cafes and fishing on the beaches who witness the scale of the problem, as flotilla after flotilla reaches Britain.
Migrants who are not intercepted in the Channel and plucked to safety by Border Force cutters or RNLI lifeboats and brought into Dover port run immediately off the shore when they arrive, as did the migrants that Sue Cook confronted this week.
They try to avoid the authorities because they don’t want to be caught up for months, if not years, in the asylum system and hope to make their own way in Britain by whatever means. Earlier this month, three African girls were found hiding in bushes near the town’s golf course above the beaches at 10.20am.
Migrants have been spotted in back gardens, sitting on roadsides and at the nearby Martin Mill railway station, where, locals say, they get on trains without tickets and travel by the direct route to London
The man who found them believes they were destined for the sex trade. ‘They had no English and could only say “Get London”,’ he said this week. He called Border Force officials, who took them away.
Migrants have been spotted in back gardens, sitting on roadsides and at the nearby Martin Mill railway station, where, locals say, they get on trains without tickets and travel by the direct route to London.
‘With Covid, there have been few ticket collectors,’ one woman walking her spaniel on a Dover beach told me. ‘No one stops them and they get away.’ As the Mail has revealed and the Government has highlighted, the sea journeys in little craft are orchestrated by ruthless people smuggling gangs based in Calais, who make millions out of a criminal trade ferrying desperate people across the Channel, a distance of some 22 miles.
The boats set off around midnight from the north French coast and arrive seven hours later, if the weather is good, under the White Cliffs of Dover. Many of those on board are genuinely fleeing persecution or war. Yet the background of their customers is of no interest to the gangs.
With tentacles reaching back through Europe to the Greek islands, where migrants wait with the word ‘England’ already on their lips, they take money from anyone who will pay to cross to Britain. Among them are those who have no right to asylum but hope to enter the thriving black market for jobs and improve their lives financially — and those with more dubious plans.
Some of the migrants have suspiciously expensive clothes and trainers. A quartet of young men spotted on a Dover beach after jumping from a boat earlier this month were so well-dressed — one sporting a straw trilby, another a fashionable black flat cap — that locals dubbed them ‘the boy band’ before they posed for a picture.
First the migrants came hiding in lorries that were crossing by ferry. Then it was in trains going through the Channel Tunnel. Now, a third highly successful travel option is on offer: the small boats.
It is a sorry story. But the people- smuggling gangs sending migrants from France have gained the upper hand. For 20 years they have operated with near-impunity around Calais, where today 2,000 migrants wait in hope of getting to Britain.
First the migrants came hiding in lorries that were crossing by ferry. Then it was in trains going through the Channel Tunnel. Now, a third highly successful travel option is on offer: the small boats.
In a somewhat belated fightback by the Home Office, on Monday Britain’s first migrant camp is to open. It will house 400 male migrants at a former military barracks a few miles from Dover, along the coast in Folkestone.
The official reason for this? To cut the cost to the taxpayer of hotels, which currently provide thousands of emergency rooms for the newcomers at a cost of many millions a month. The camp will, of course, be a more uncomfortable environment for migrants waiting to get asylum than a hotel.
The Government hopes this will send a message to smugglers and the migrants in Calais that Britain is no longer a soft touch.
When the Mail visited the camp this week, it looked uninviting and crumbling. It has lines of brick cabins, has remained unoccupied for years and is surrounded by wire fencing. Mattresses were being delivered as workmen carried in cleaning equipment. But even a scrub down won’t make it a palace. There is no doubt that the option of a camp, as opposed to a hotel, could deter some migrants from heading to Britain, and the Government has plans to open other camps around the country in disused barracks.
But in Kent this week, locals were unimpressed. Many complained the camp was the final straw. After the huge scale of illegal boat immigration, which the Government described this week as an ‘unprecedented’ episode in our national history, they say enough is enough.
Folkestone and Hythe District Council leader David Monk said: ‘We are all up in arms. The site is in the middle of nowhere. We believe the concentration of hundreds of single males is not sensible. Our concern is that they will gravitate to town and form groups and trouble will ensue.’
Local residents fear the concentration of hundreds of single males is not sensible. Their concern is that they will gravitate to town and form groups and trouble will ensue
Back in Dover, the Zetland Arms is a pub on the ferry town’s delightful Kingsdown beach, where many of the boats arrive. I ask a man in his 60s walking along the shoreline if he has seen any migrants arrive himself.
He says he often watches them sail in. But it is the camp that really irks him. ‘What are hundreds of young men going to do all day and night? It could be a disaster,’ he says. ‘We don’t know who they really are.’
His concerns have a ring of truth to them. On Wednesday afternoon, the Dover lifeboat was called out to a green rigid inflatable boat (RIB) carrying ten migrants that was six miles off Kingsdown beach, on the Kent side of the Channel.
The little craft was being monitored by a French Navy vessel that had given the occupants bottles of water and red lifejackets, even though the RIB was bobbing precariously in the waves four miles into British waters. This is controversial enough.
The French Navy should not be operating outside France’s waters or be seen to be helping migrants get to Britain. But what happened next, according to our sources, was even more worrying. The Dover lifeboat took on board the ten migrants, leaving the inflatable — with an expensive Suzuki outboard engine — to float away, as it had no towline.
On Monday Britain’s first migrant camp is to open. It will house 400 male migrants at a former military barracks a few miles from Dover, along the coast in Folkestone
Into the port at six came the lifeboat, where I watched nine South Asian men in their 20s and 30s emerge to be greeted by Border Force and immigration officials. However, there was another mystery man on board. He towered over the rest and had pale skin.
Wearing an expensive orange sports watch, a heavy gold neck chain and a black gym vest, he was led to one side forcefully by an official wearing plastic anti-Covid gloves. Later, we saw him rejoin the group before they were all taken for questioning at the port’s migrant assessment centre.
This odd man out is likely to have been a smuggler who was paid by the South Asians to drive the boat, say our sources. Before they were rescued by the lifeboat, was this man planning to land on the beach and simply disappear with his migrant passengers into Britain? That is the sort of question on the fertile minds of Kent men and women such as the redoubtable Sue Cook. And who, perhaps, can blame them?
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Dominic Raab’s bodyguard sparks police dash after his loaded, semi-automatic pistol found on plane
Dominic Raab‘s bodyguard sparked a police scramble at Heathrow airport after leaving his loaded, semi-automatic Glock 19 pistol on the seat of a plane.
The alarm was raised by a cleaner after she found the unattended weapon in its holster on board the United Airlines jet from Washington DC before officers descended on the scene.
But they were eventually stood down after realising the gun belonged to a protection officer assigned to the Foreign Secretary who had been in the US to discuss the issues of Brexit and Northern Ireland with political leaders.
The Metropolitan Police have since confirmed that the security officer has been suspended from operational firearms duties pending an investigation.
Dominic Raab’s bodyguard sparked a police scramble at Heathrow airport after leaving his loaded, semi-automatic Glock 19 pistol on the seat of a plane
The United Airlines flight landed at Heathrow’s Terminal 2 shortly before 6.30am yesterday.
‘The protection officer began sorting out passports and preparing to escort Mr Raab off the flight,’ a source told The Sun.
‘For whatever reason, he took off his holster with the loaded Glock pistol inside and laid it on the seat.
‘The officer then went off with the Foreign Secretary, leaving the gun behind. The cleaners came on and one of them found the gun in its holster.
‘She was understandably shocked and called for help and police were called.’
The alarm was raised by a cleaner after she found the unattended weapon (stock image) in its holster on board the jet from Washington DC before officers descended on the scene
The United Airlines flight (stock image) landed at Heathrow’s Terminal 2 shortly before 6.30am earlier today
A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police told MailOnline: ‘We are aware of the incident on a flight into the UK on Friday, 18 September and we are taking this matter extremely seriously.
‘The officer involved has since been removed from operational duties whilst an internal investigation into the circumstances is taking place.’
Civil Aviation Authority rules allow UK police to carry firearms on board in ‘specific, controlled circumstances’.
The Foreign Office has been contacted for comment.
Earlier this year, one of David Cameron’s security officers was suspended after he also left his gun, believed to be a 9mm Glock 17, in a toilet on board an aircraft.
It had been found along with Mr Cameron’s passport and that of his bodyguard.
A terrified passenger handed the stash to flight attendants on board the British Airways scheduled service from New York to London with take-off delayed by an hour because of the commotion.
The officer was later removed from operational duties and is expected to face disciplinary action and an investigation by the force’s Directorate of Professional Standards.
Earlier this year, one of David Cameron’s bodyguards was suspended after he also left his gun, believed to be a 9mm Glock 17, in a toilet on board an aircraft. Pictured: The former PM on board a flight in 2010
Mr Raab had been in Washington to meet politicians threatening to block a UK-US trade deal if Boris Johnson breaks international law during the Brexit deal.
The Prime Minister wants to introduce measures in new British legislation that would allow ministers to unpick part of the Withdrawal Agreement he signed last year relating to Northern Ireland’s status.
Earlier this week, a No10 spokesman defended the bill, telling reporters: ‘The PM has been clear throughout that we are taking these steps to precisely make sure that the Belfast Agreement is upheld in all circumstances and any harmful defaults do not inadvertently come into play.
‘We continue to remain absolutely committed to no hard border and no border infrastructure between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland and we will continue to engage with our US partners on a bipartisan basis to ensure that our positions are understood.’
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Is Gary Lineker’s playboy brother the most deluded dater on the web?
For a 58-year-old bloke who seems to have enraged thousands of women this week, Wayne Lineker is pretty unrepentant. ‘Would I ever go out with someone my age? Never say never. But no,’ he says.
‘You have to be attracted to a person, don’t you? I prefer girls who look around 30, 35. It’s not my fault. It’s just the way I am. But I’m not sexist. That post was banter — a joke.’
He is, of course, referring to the astonishing list of criteria for a girlfriend the millionaire club owner, playboy and younger brother of soccer pundit Gary Lineker posted on Instagram this week with the hashtag #wifeywhereyouat.
As well as his prospective lover having to be a ‘worldie’ (ladspeak for extremely attractive) and considerably younger than him, the wishlist included being ‘prepared to give up your career or job’, ‘able to cook’, and, bizarrely, know where the city of Lincoln is.
The post soon sparked outrage on social media as Wayne, who has been single for two years since separating from his 27-year-old model girlfriend Danielle Sandhu, was branded a ‘creep’ and ‘an embarrassment’.
Millionaire club owner and playboy Wayne Lineker is the younger brother of soccer pundit Gary Lineker, pictured together
His post that went round the world…
So, my family have decided I need a girlfriend for my own sanity and health . . . so here’s my criteria . . .
Ok — Let’s start this off like I’m normal:
Strong nice loving personality.
Now to more important things:
You must like older men but only me . . . You have to be a worldie and above 30 (Ok 28, 29 could work) but not my age as that would just look weird. You must like to fly business class and stay in incredible hotels. Be prepared to give up your career or job or at least be able to work from a laptop on a tropical beach somewhere. You will need to spend the summer in Ibiza and the winter in Dubai . . . and holidays to the Maldives . . . You must be able to cook as I love cooking, especially Waitrose ready-made meals . . . No chick flicks, watch them with your mates . . . You will need a driving licence to share a Bentley and a Lamborghini Jeep (pending) . . . You must love the gym, health food and have body definition as I will have soon. Accept and love my children and grandchildren and realise no more kids for me . . . (never say never though) you must be able to let my PA book all . . . flights and purchase items online for you . . . You must be able to accept my friends . . . as I will accept yours . . . accept I have to reply to girls DMs [social media messages] not just guys . . .
One last thing. Your geography needs to be on point as girls that think Lincoln is in Wales is not good. Be intelligent but not boring. Outgoing suits #wifeywhereyouat #justbanter
‘People must have realised I was having a laugh,’ he says. ‘I’m a fantastic boyfriend. I’m 100 per cent dedicated to the partner I’m with. I never cheat on them. I make sure they’re treated like a princess.
‘I wake them up with a cup of tea. I put them to bed after I’ve made them hot chocolate. I’ll wrap them up in a towel when they get out of the bath or shower. I do all the things I feel they’d like as somebody who’s in love with them.’
It seems that Wayne, the silver-haired Peter Pan of the Mediterranean’s fleshpots who has had two marriages, four children with three different women, a broken engagement and about as many flings as his brother has caps for England, finally wants to settle down.
‘When I’m single, I’m a bit of a loose cannon,’ he says. ‘I go out, I party and I get silly.’
Last month, he was filmed at his Ocean Beach Club in Ibiza, a favourite haunt of footballers and reality TV stars, picking a ‘dream doll’ to take on a date from a line-up of women in orange swimsuits. Rejects were pushed into the swimming pool.
‘My kids [Duane, 35, Sean, 32, Tia, 22, and Freddie, 16] want to see me nice and settled and behaving myself. They’ve been on at me for more than a year now. They say, ‘Dad, you need a girlfriend to settle you down, to keep us happy and you healthy.’
‘I don’t party when I’m in a relationship. I do what normal couples do. We go out for dinner or watch TV and cook at home. I can’t do that on my own, which is why I go out so much. What else am I going to do? Stay in and watch Loose Women?’
As if on cue, a group of lads in high spirits and wearing girls’ bikini tops gather round Wayne for a selfie.
With a portfolio of bars and venues believed to be worth £30 million across Europe — including in Puerto Banus, Zante, Tenerife and Ibiza — Wayne is to the club scene what his brother is to the world of football.
‘My party days are done now,’ he says. ‘I’m ready to settle down . . . hopefully, with the one I’ll be with for the rest of my life. I’d like a girl to be funny and have some form of intelligence so they can hold a conversation.
‘I can’t stand it when girls don’t know where cities are in their own country. I don’t get it. It’s like they never leave their hometown.
‘I’m not pretending to be the most intelligent guy in the world, because I’m definitely not, but it does baffle me when they don’t even know where certain cities are in the British Isles.’
Now, Wayne is a decent looking man for 58, who eats healthily and works out in the gym, but why would a sexy, 30-year-old woman who, as he also stipulates, ‘doesn’t want children, is funny, bright and willing to give up her career’ want to go out with you?
He roars with laughter: ‘I have absolutely no idea. She would have to be crazy to go out with me but you’ve got to try, haven’t you?’ He flashes a smile.
Wayne has been single for two years since separating from his 27-year-old model girlfriend Danielle Sandhu, pictured together
‘I might have hung up my boots as far as children are concerned, but it doesn’t mean I can’t get them down again,’ he says, ever the optimist.
Wayne was seven years old when he kissed his first girl.
‘It was in the wendy house at school and I can even tell you her name,’ he says. ‘Jennifer Grundy.’
Born 18 months after his brother Gary into a solid family of market traders, both boys were as thick as thieves and had trials with the local football team, Leicester City.
‘I had more skill than Gary but he had the dedication, commitment and determination,’ he says. ‘I never had any of those things — just skill and a wish to go out with my mates.
‘I was at Leicester City football club at 14 when I decided to pack in football. I had to go training after school and it wasn’t my bag,’ he says.
Wayne packed in school, too, to work on the fruit and veg market stall with his father Barry. Within a year, he had his own business and was employing 40 people at 16.
‘I used to work on the markets 16 hours a day from 4am six days a week,’ he says. ‘All I did was work, work, work. I didn’t kick a ball again until I was 21.’
Not that he harbours any jealousy over his brother’s glittering football career and punditry which made him the BBC’s highest earning star.
‘I was the proudest man alive of my brother. I still am very proud of him. I was his number one fan and still am.’
Wayne set up his first bar in Tenerife in 1986, the same year Gary won the Golden Boot at the World Cup. At the time, Wayne was married to his first wife Debbie and had already had two sons, Duane and Sean.
‘I married young at 21,’ he says. ‘Supermarkets were ending the market game so I thought: ‘What can I do?’ Debbie’s parents lived in Tenerife so I thought: ‘I’ll open a bar and I’ll call it Linekers.’
He grins. ‘That was the best thing I ever did.’
His first marriage lasted 12 years and when it ended he was awarded custody of his sons. He won’t say why the marriage broke down but he moved to England for the boys’ education and you begin to realise that, for all his tomfoolery, he is at heart a decent man.
The 58-year-old, pictured middle, with friends at a party in Ibiza, is on the hunt for a girlfriend
Indeed, he takes all his children to the Maldives every year, says they are a ‘super-close family’ and remains on good terms with his previous girlfriends and wives, the second of whom, Sasha, is mother to his youngest son Freddie.
Relationships become tired, don’t they?’ he says. ‘A girl called Zoe helped me bring my children up and we had Tia together. Once they’d grown up, I parted ways with Zoe and moved back to Tenerife for a few years. Then I lived in Marbella for ten years before moving to Ibiza in 2008.
‘I stay in touch with them all. Danielle and I still WhatsApp each other every single day. I was very sad [when we separated]. She’ll be very difficult to replace. It was a mutual decision but a very tough one.
‘I like to travel and see different cultures. It’s nice to be able to share that with someone, isn’t it? I’m not really one for going away with my mates.
‘It’s not really my thing, although I go away with my friend Calum Best [George Best’s celebrity son] once a year. We normally go to Dubai.
‘I love to eat amazing food, that’s my life hobby, so we [visit] all the nice restaurants, have drinks after dinner. Do a few Instagrams and go and do the same thing.
‘I’m not super rich but I’m comfortable. I can afford to travel and like to travel business class. But Danielle was a very, very successful model who began working more and more. We hardly saw each other.
‘She couldn’t come to Ibiza which put a huge strain on our relationship and in my environment, she was wondering what I was up to. I wasn’t up to anything but, from her point of view, it was difficult we couldn’t spend summers together.’ He shakes his head.
‘I said to Danielle, ‘Obviously, if you’d had a career where you could have worked from a laptop, we wouldn’t be in this position, would we?’
‘But what is being heartbroken? I cry all the time. I cried at Finding Nemo. I cry at all the Disney movies — all romantic movies.
‘I’ve been sad but never to the point where I can’t cope with life. . . I just move on, console myself with some company and my family and I’m OK. You go on Instagram, have a look round and get busy.’
He leans forward.
‘I mean, I say 30 but there’s no limit really. Mid-40s maybe? Like you say, someone might come along who’s my age and who I think looks amazing and everything’s fine. I don’t know, do I?’
He flashes that silver-fox smile. ‘If you ever fancy a date sometime we could go out for dinner.’
Never say never, Wayne.
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