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Warning at start of The Crown to stop viewers accepting attacks on Royals, writes WILLIAM SHAWCROSS

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warning at start of the crown to stop viewers accepting attacks on royals writes william shawcross

It is hard not to admire the fine production values of The Crown: the beautiful costumes, the fabulous locations, the meticulous research and, above all, the seemingly well-informed access it gives us to the thoughts, words and motives of the most famous family in the world.

Television critics certainly seem to approve, lavishing yet more praise on this new, fourth series of the drama, which covers the period 1977 to 1990, including the arrival of our first female Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, and the start of the relationship between Prince Charles and Diana.

Millions of people around the world will see it, no doubt accepting the Netflix version of events as something approaching gospel truth. 

Yet the reality is this: The Crown is a cruel and mendacious attack on public servants who cannot defend themselves – the Royal Family.

Prince Charles is portrayed in a deeply unflattering light, seeming to continue a relationship with his lover Camilla Parker Bowles (pictured) even as he marries 19-year-old Diana Spencer

Prince Charles is portrayed in a deeply unflattering light, seeming to continue a relationship with his lover Camilla Parker Bowles (pictured) even as he marries 19-year-old Diana Spencer

Prince Charles is portrayed in a deeply unflattering light, seeming to continue a relationship with his lover Camilla Parker Bowles (pictured) even as he marries 19-year-old Diana Spencer

For all the millions that went into the production, at its heart lies falsehood and, in my view, a deliberate attempt to undermine our constitutional Monarchy – towards which the show’s writer, Peter Morgan, seems rootedly antagonistic.

But, first, I will own up to my own prejudices. They are the opposite of Morgan’s.

I have been closely interested in the Monarchy since making a BBC series about it in the 1990s and another for the Queen’s Golden Jubilee in 2002. 

In 2003, I was lucky enough to be invited by the Queen to write the official biography of the Queen Mother. Her 100 years of life took six years to research.

I have written three books on the British Crown. 

I have met many of the leading family members and have seen them not just as Royal figureheads, but as hard-working and patriotic human beings.

All this has led me to agree with the French philosopher Simone Weil that our constitutional Monarchy is the main guarantor of British liberties.

It is the second-oldest institution in Europe after the Papacy and helps define the nation. 

The fourth series of the drama, which covers the period 1977 to 1990, includes the start of the relationship between Prince Charles and Diana (pictured)

The fourth series of the drama, which covers the period 1977 to 1990, includes the start of the relationship between Prince Charles and Diana (pictured)

The fourth series of the drama, which covers the period 1977 to 1990, includes the start of the relationship between Prince Charles and Diana (pictured)

At least since Queen Victoria came to the throne in 1837, it has provided this country with unequalled leadership – symbolic, yet actual and sympathetic.

In the real world, as opposed to that of meretricious TV drama, the Royal Family softens the state and is seen to provide a bulwark against arbitrary power.

How, then, are the Windsors rewarded in the latest series of The Crown? From the off, we see the Queen as mean-spirited and snobbish towards her new Prime Minister, Mrs Thatcher. 

Prince Charles, meanwhile, is portrayed in a deeply unflattering light, seeming to continue a relationship with his lover Camilla Parker Bowles even as he marries the 19-year-old Diana Spencer.

These are just two of the many things that are simply not true, and the consequences of such lies are serious. 

They help shape, colour and in some cases twist the public’s view of its Royal Family, traducing them as snobs at best, monsters at worst.

Morgan has made no secret of his distaste for the institution and those who represent it.

Republicanism is a minority stance, held by only around a fifth of the British people, but it is perfectly defensible. 

From the off, we see the Queen as mean-spirited and snobbish towards her new Prime Minister, Mrs Thatcher (pictured)

From the off, we see the Queen as mean-spirited and snobbish towards her new Prime Minister, Mrs Thatcher (pictured)

From the off, we see the Queen as mean-spirited and snobbish towards her new Prime Minister, Mrs Thatcher (pictured)

It is harder to defend any political position laced with cruelty and contempt for others.

In an astonishing interview with The Sunday Times in October 2017, Morgan declared the Queen to be a woman of ‘limited intelligence’.

She and her family, he asserted, could be described less as human beings than as ‘survival organisms, like a mutating virus’. 

The Monarchy itself, he concluded, is clearly ‘insane… and I am blessed because the system she is in is so ridiculous and illogical that even just to unpack it from a point of view of reason or logic is such a joy’.

I still find it hard to understand how anyone would believe, let alone say, such things. I even checked with The Sunday Times to see whether Morgan had complained he’d been misquoted. He had not.

It is true that in the early episodes, the series was kind to the young Princess Elizabeth as she was shown growing up in the 1930s and during the Second World War. 

The depiction of her mourning the premature death of her beloved father in 1952 could not be anything but touching.

But from the moment of accession onwards, Morgan began to sharpen his knives.

One of the first victims was Prince Philip, with whom Princess Elizabeth fell in love during the war. 

Last week, they celebrated their 73rd wedding anniversary. Seventy-three years!

The Crown portrayed Philip in the 1950s as a chippy and unpleasant serial philanderer. 

That was bad enough, but those who know the Prince well say that the most painful lies came in the episode Paterfamilias, which alleged that, as a schoolboy at Gordonstoun in the 1930s, he was personally to blame for the death of his sister, Cecile.

Yet the reality is this: The Crown is a cruel and mendacious attack on public servants who cannot defend themselves – the Royal Family, writes William Shawcross (pictured)

Yet the reality is this: The Crown is a cruel and mendacious attack on public servants who cannot defend themselves – the Royal Family, writes William Shawcross (pictured)

Yet the reality is this: The Crown is a cruel and mendacious attack on public servants who cannot defend themselves – the Royal Family, writes William Shawcross (pictured)

In The Crown’s version of events, Philip’s bad behaviour at school led to his being ‘gated’ and unable to travel. 

Cecile, therefore, had flown from Germany to Britain to see him. Her plane crashed and she was killed, along with everyone else on board. 

The film states that when Philip went to her funeral in Germany, his father shouted at him: ‘It’s true, isn’t it, boy? You’re the reason we are all here burying my favourite child.’

All of this is fabrication. Cecile had been flying to London for a wedding. Philip had nothing to do with her death.

What sort of a person prefers melodramatic lies over the truth, particularly when they are likely to be so hurtful?

Some of The Crown’s ‘mistakes’ are trivial, some are born of ignorance or careless research. But to me, many feel vindictive. 

In this fourth series, Morgan’s animus is directed against Prince Charles.

‘Strip the bark off him,’ he told one historian whom he was interviewing as a possible consultant on the series. 

She declined the position and he sought assistants more amenable to his view about the Monarchy.

I’m not the only person to be dismayed by the poison running through the series. Penny Junor, a distinguished Royal biographer, most recently of the Duchess of Cornwall, wrote in this newspaper last weekend that the Royals in The Crown ‘are wild, cruel distortions’. I agree. 

Sally Bedell Smith, the leading American Royal biographer, believes the new series includes ‘extreme and egregious misrepresentation’.

Hugo Vickers, pre-eminent Royal historian, concludes that the latest series ‘is yet more subtly divisive than earlier seasons’.

For many viewers, these events will be a part of the recent past, still vivid in the memory as the action marches ever closer to the present. 

It is all the more regrettable, then, that Netflix has failed to provide even the mildest health warning at the start of each episode, the sort of warning that is common nowadays. 

‘This is a work of fiction based on real events’ might do the trick. It is the least that an honourable company should do.

You might think an honourable writer might wish for such a disclaimer before a work in which mendacity is concealed by glamorous verisimilitude.

But Morgan has no such interest. The Crown, after all, is a wonderful vehicle for promoting his own world view. 

Hereditary monarchy is not, as Morgan asserts, ‘insane, ridiculous and illogical’. But it is certainly a lottery. I believe that his country has been an incredibly fortunate winner in that game of chance since Queen Victoria came to the throne.

Times change and in a much less deferential society, the Royal Family is subject to unique pressures.

Other great or rich families are able to defend their privacy or to control their images through law. 

The only reason we could see the film The Assassination Of Gianni Versace, for example, was because his family authorised it. For all its influence, the Royal Family has no such power. 

The Queen could never go to court to protest that any film or book misrepresents her. The same goes for Prince Charles, and all other members of their family.

That is not to say that the Royal Family should be above criticism. Of course not. We have a strong democracy and each and every part of government, including the Monarchy and members of the Royal Family, must be subject to public scrutiny.

But is it fair to make living people the subject of expensive, ‘faction’ – half fact and half fiction – particularly when they are unable to answer back?

For almost 70 years, Elizabeth II has presided over tumultuous, continual changes in British society. 

As the eminent constitutional historian Vernon Bogdanor has pointed out, for the head of state – the living symbol of the nation – to be above all political controversy is ‘something of inestimable value’.

You would never understand that from watching The Crown. Morgan shows almost nothing of the constitutional role of the Monarchy or the immense work that the Queen and other members of the family put into it. 

Nor of the family’s commitment to philanthropy.

Since the reign of King George III, every Monarch has supported charities and, as a result, Britain has one of the most generous and vibrant charitable sectors in the world. 

The Queen Mother, who is unrecognisable from her unpleasant caricature in The Crown, was one of the family’s biggest supporters of charities in the 20th Century. 

Prince Charles’s Prince’s Trust has helped more than a million vulnerable young people turn their lives around since he founded it in 1976.

Neither the Queen nor any of the other members of her family are the people who strut and smirk through The Crown. 

They are humans with weaknesses like us all. But our Monarchy is the vital core of a fundamentally decent, responsive constitutional system which has served us all, including Morgan, faithfully and very well.

The real Crown deserves better. So does the nation.

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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British hiker missing in Pyrenees is not in the mountains, rescuers believe

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british hiker missing in pyrenees is not in the mountains rescuers believe

A British ‘van life’ blogger who vanished hiking solo in the Pyrenees is no longer in the mountains, rescuers believe, as they look at ‘options beyond an accident’.

Teams from both France and Spain have spent a week scouring hiking trails in the mountainous border region for 37-year-old Esther Dingley – from Durham – but have found no trace of her despite using drones, helicopters and dogs.

Search coordinators now believe the reason they cannot find her is because she is no longer there, partner Dan Colegate has revealed, and have listed her as a ‘missing person’ case across the whole of Spain.

The case has also been passed to a specialist team in France. 

Esther Dingley, 37, was hiking the Pyrenees mountains on the border between France and Spain when she vanished last week

Esther Dingley, 37, was hiking the Pyrenees mountains on the border between France and Spain when she vanished last week

Esther Dingley, 37, was hiking the Pyrenees mountains on the border between France and Spain when she vanished last week

Dan revealed the new information on a joint Facebook page where the couple have documented six years of their nomadic travels across Europe.

He penned the post just hours before snowy weather hit the Pyrenees, which rescuers believe will be the start of the winter snow dump, making search efforts much more difficult.

He wrote: ‘With no result day after day, taking into account Esther’s high level of experience, the nature of the terrain, the good weather she would have had, the fact she had a clearly defined route for Sunday evening and Monday, and various other factors, both search coordinators have essentially told me that although they can never be 100% sure, the prevailing opinion in the search teams is that she isn’t there. 

‘That if she had fallen from one of the paths, they really would have expected to find her given the intensity, the closeness of the search and the fact most of the trails are really quite straightforward across open ground.

‘As things stand tonight, Esther is now listed as a national missing persons case in Spain and the case has been passed to a specialised judicial unit in France. 

‘This means they will be looking at other options beyond a mountain accident.

‘While this is a terrifying development in many ways, I’m trying to focus on the fact that it leaves the door open that Esther might still come home. 

‘She was so utterly happy and joyful when we last spoke, I’d do anything to see her face and hold her right now.’

It is unclear exactly what rescuers now believe happened to Esther, since her car was found abandoned in the Spanish town of Benasque, from where she had set out on the final leg of a month-long solo hiking adventure on November 21.

Dan Colegate, the British partner of missing hiker Esther Dingley, was searching for her alone in the Pyrenees last night

Dan Colegate, the British partner of missing hiker Esther Dingley, was searching for her alone in the Pyrenees last night

Dan Colegate, the British partner of missing hiker Esther Dingley, was searching for her alone in the Pyrenees last night

After a week of searches Dan said search teams have concluded that the reason they cannot find Esther in the mountains is because she is no longer there (couple pictured together)

After a week of searches Dan said search teams have concluded that the reason they cannot find Esther in the mountains is because she is no longer there (couple pictured together)

After a week of searches Dan said search teams have concluded that the reason they cannot find Esther in the mountains is because she is no longer there (couple pictured together) 

Her plan had been to hike from the town to Pic de Sauvegarde, a mountaintop in the Pyrenees, which she reached on November 22 – sending Dan a picture via WhatsApp, which was their last contact.

From there she planned to walk between Port de la Gléré and Port de Venasque – a route of some eight miles – before hiking down from the mountains on Wednesday.

But after two days without contact, Dan reported Esther missing on November 24, just a day before her trip was due to end, sparking a massive manhunt. 

Faced with encroaching bad weather, Spanish police had broadened the search on Tuesday in a last-ditch attempt at finding Esther.  

Footage released on Tuesday shows the helicopter crossing rocky outcrops and icy peaks on the border between Spain and France. 

On Saturday, Mr Colegate said on the couple’s Facebook page: ‘I’m broken. Shattered to report that my beloved Esther, the person who taught me how to feel, is missing. Search and rescue teams have so far found no trace of her.’

On Monday, he added in a new post on social media: ‘ I just wanted to write a short thank you for all the support and messages that have arrived in the past few days.

‘I want to write a more complete update soon, but as of now there is still no sign of Esther anywhere in the area she was intending to explore, despite extensive searching from both sides of the border.

‘I am going to do some more walking myself now before the sun goes down.’

The 37-year-old from Durham was on a month-long solo trip and was supposed to return on Wednesday

The 37-year-old from Durham was on a month-long solo trip and was supposed to return on Wednesday

The 37-year-old from Durham was on a month-long solo trip and was supposed to return on Wednesday

At one point in the Spanish police film, the helicopter hovers over a lone woman on a hillside while an officer, using a microphone, asks her: ‘Are you Esther?’

The woman shakes her head as if to say no. Then the officer asks if she is Spanish and she nods in agreement before the helicopter flies away.

A spokesman for Spain’s Civil Guard said: ‘We have broadened the search to nearby hills and the search party has increased. We are not only using mountain rescue personnel but also all members of the environmental team who are available in the Huesca area. We continue to keep an open mind about where Ms Dingley might be now.’

French police sent a search team of sixteen people up the mountain on Monday along with national police experts.

On his Facebook page, Mr Colegate’s father, Mick, said: ‘We’ve spoken son and you know that I will be on the first available flight when you come down from the mountains ..you don’t have to be strong and face this all alone…love you son.’

Ms Dingley started walking from Benasque, Spain, on November 21. French police said all trace of her was lost at 4pm on Sunday, November 22. No more phone messages were received after then.

Spanish authorities were alerted on November 25 of her disappearance and alerted their French counterparts the following morning. They found her vehicle on the Spanish side of the border.

Miss Dingley was a yoga enthusiast who had been a private trainer before giving up her career to travel around Europe

Miss Dingley was a yoga enthusiast who had been a private trainer before giving up her career to travel around Europe

Miss Dingley was a yoga enthusiast who had been a private trainer before giving up her career to travel around Europe

The paths she was taking were marked, well-indicated on maps and pretty well-frequented in normal times, French police said.

Several witnesses saw her on the Spanish side on Sunday and spoke to her.

There is an unmarked refuge just over the French border but police said there was no sign that it had been used.

A spokesman for the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, said: ‘Our staff are supporting the family of a British woman reported missing in the Pyrenees.’

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Michelle Mone gives a glimpse into her VERY lavish thrice delayed wedding on the Isle of Man

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michelle mone gives a glimpse into her very lavish thrice delayed wedding on the isle of man

Michelle Mone’s wedding guests tucked into a Sunday brunch of oysters, roast beef, crudités and pavlova as one of her dogs wore a bow tie and tuxedo to the event. 

Ultimo boss Michelle showed off an array of flowers as she and guests tucked into the feast following her wedding to billionaire Doug Barrowman on the Isle of Man.

Baroness Michelle, 49, who had earlier this week revealed her husband had been given a horse as his second wedding present, admitted she had never seen so many flowers as she filmed inside her home for the occasion.

Stunning: Michelle Mone's wedding guests tucked into a Sunday brunch of oysters, roast beef, crudités and pavlova as one of her dogs wore a bow tie and tuxedo to the event

Stunning: Michelle Mone's wedding guests tucked into a Sunday brunch of oysters, roast beef, crudités and pavlova as one of her dogs wore a bow tie and tuxedo to the event

Stunning: Michelle Mone’s wedding guests tucked into a Sunday brunch of oysters, roast beef, crudités and pavlova as one of her dogs wore a bow tie and tuxedo to the event

Holding her dog Rusty, one of her three new puppies who had been at the dog sitters the day before, she said: ‘Oh look he’s got his bow tie on. Are you ready for the party Rusty? Are you ready for the party?’

After showing at least seven separate flower arrangements with balloons in just her hallway, Michelle then filmed her dining room table complete with more bouquets and arrangements.

She then said: ‘After the big day we now have got our wedding brunch. It looks beautiful. The whole house is packed with flowers. I’ve never seen so many flowers.’

Michelle later wrote: ‘Our beautiful brunch. The flowers have been donated to hospices and care homes across the Isle of Man.’

Wow-factor! Michelle wed billionaire Doug Barrowman over the weekend after delaying their wedding three times

Wow-factor! Michelle wed billionaire Doug Barrowman over the weekend after delaying their wedding three times

Wow-factor! Michelle wed billionaire Doug Barrowman over the weekend after delaying their wedding three times

Best Man? Holding her dog Rusty, one of her three new puppies who had been at the dog sitters the day before, she said: 'Oh look he's got his bow tie on. Are you ready for the party Rusty? Are you ready for the party?'

Best Man? Holding her dog Rusty, one of her three new puppies who had been at the dog sitters the day before, she said: 'Oh look he's got his bow tie on. Are you ready for the party Rusty? Are you ready for the party?'

Best Man? Holding her dog Rusty, one of her three new puppies who had been at the dog sitters the day before, she said: ‘Oh look he’s got his bow tie on. Are you ready for the party Rusty? Are you ready for the party?’

A vision: She gave another look at her Suzanne Neville dress

A vision: She gave another look at her Suzanne Neville dress

A vision: She gave another look at her Suzanne Neville dress

Showing off the spread of oysters, crudités with dips and roast beef with Yorkshire puddings and roasties she added: ‘Can we have this every Sunday. Every Sunday would be good. Oh my goodness I am now seriously going to eat this.’

As she eyed up a huge Strawberry Pavlova she added: ‘We are ready. Now that I’ve been juicing for so long to get into that dress this is all for me. Do you have a big spoon?’

Michelle’s wedding to Doug took place after her ceremony was delayed three times due to COVID – much to her chagrin and heartache. 

Delicious! She also shared a snap of a pavlova

Delicious! She also shared a snap of a pavlova

Delicious! She also shared a snap of a pavlova 

'Wish we could have this every Sunday!' Showing off the spread of oysters, crudités with dips and roast beef with Yorkshire puddings and roasties she added: 'Can we have this every Sunday. Every Sunday would be good. Oh my goodness I am now seriously going to eat this'

'Wish we could have this every Sunday!' Showing off the spread of oysters, crudités with dips and roast beef with Yorkshire puddings and roasties she added: 'Can we have this every Sunday. Every Sunday would be good. Oh my goodness I am now seriously going to eat this'

‘Wish we could have this every Sunday!’ Showing off the spread of oysters, crudités with dips and roast beef with Yorkshire puddings and roasties she added: ‘Can we have this every Sunday. Every Sunday would be good. Oh my goodness I am now seriously going to eat this’

Michelle and Doug exchanged vows at Peel Cathedral on the Isle of Man on Saturday, with the parliamentarian unveiling her breathtakingly elegant gown in recent snaps shared to her social media account.

The latest updates come after Michelle revealed she’s purchased a horse worth £80,000 as a second wedding gift to her new husband.

The entrepreneur took to Instagram on Monday to introduce the ‘newest member of our family’ following her ceremony with the billionaire.

Tuck in! She enjoyed a beef dinner

Tuck in! She enjoyed a beef dinner

Tuck in! She enjoyed a beef dinner 

Horsing around: The entrepreneur took to Instagram on Monday to introduce the 'newest member of our family' following her ceremony with the billionaire

Horsing around: The entrepreneur took to Instagram on Monday to introduce the 'newest member of our family' following her ceremony with the billionaire

Horsing around: The entrepreneur took to Instagram on Monday to introduce the ‘newest member of our family’ following her ceremony with the billionaire

Businesswoman Michelle – who didn’t disclose what her first treat for her new spouse was – wrote: ‘Introducing the newest member of our family, Monbeg Genius. This gorgeous horse was a second wedding gift for my husband, Doug…

‘We are delighted with him.  I want to say the warmest of thank-yous to the legendary @jonjooneillracing, his wife Jacquie and his son AJ for guiding us through… 

‘Jonjo is an amazingly charming man who was patient throughout, whilst his son, as demonstrated in the video, is a very talented jockey too!

‘We are so excited about Monbeg Genius being a part of the family, and we are looking forward to him starring in tartan in the weeks to come!’

Stunning: She revealed the flowers had been donated to care homes after the event

Stunning: She revealed the flowers had been donated to care homes after the event

Stunning: She revealed the flowers had been donated to care homes after the event

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Tier Two drinkers rejoice as lockdown ends… but those in Tier Three are left pining for a pint

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tier two drinkers rejoice as lockdown ends but those in tier three are left pining for a pint

England’s second national lockdown came to and end overnight, sparking a wave of excitement across social media as people prepare to return to the pubs – and landlords prepare to serve substantial meals with every drink.

Social media users rejoiced the ending of the month-long shutdown, which ended last night.

It will be replaced by a new tiered system from today. The rules mean pubs in Tier 2 areas, including London and large parts of the south-east, can reopen.

And social media users in Tier 2 were quick to show their readiness to return to the pubs today, while those in Tier 3, where pubs can only open for takeaway, were left pining for a pint.

One Twitter user, Neil Hughes, said: ‘I’m off for a cooked breakfast and a pint.’

Nay Evans, said: ‘End of lockdown, tomorrow we made it. See use (sic) in the pub for 5 Guinness and a Cesar salad.’

Another said: ‘Lockdown is over, you can catch me at the pub with my friends tonight, unless you are in Tier 2 or 3.’ 

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What can you do in a pub in each tier? 

  • Tier 1 – Pubs are open for alcohol or food with people from different households allowed to sit together.
  • Tier 2 – Pubs can only serve alcohol with a ‘substantial meal’. People from different households can only sit together outside, and must follow the ‘rule of six’. Those sitting inside the pub at the same table must be from the same household.
  • Tier 3 – Pubs are closed for everything but takeaway.
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Another user of Twitter said: ‘Me getting ready to go to the pub tomorrow.’

Jo Mac, a Twitter user, said: ‘And we are out of lockdown! Wohoooo!!! Who wants to come to the pub with me for a pint and a substantial meal?’ 

Another said: ‘Woohoo!! Lockdown has ended. We are free to have a beer down the pub.

‘With a scotch egg of course. Do we have to sit at a table and use a knife and fork to eat it, or can we stand at the bar?’

Another said: ‘Lockdown is over, you can catch me at the pub with my friends tonight, unless you are in Tier 2 or 3.’ 

But while people in Tier 2 were left excited for a trip to the pub, those in Tier 3 were left pining for a pint.

One said: ‘Back in Tier 3, well done everyone! – Now let’s get Tier 2 so I can go to the pub!’

Another said: ‘Oh great, after four weeks I can go to non-essential shops again. But not to the pub or anything enjoyable.

‘Tier 1 before lockdown, Tier 3 today, utter madness.’ 

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Diners will be able to eat al fresco outside central London restaurants for next six months 

Diners will be able to eat in al fresco outside central London restaurants for the next six months, it was revealed today.

Pubs and restaurants in the capital will be allowed to reopen tomorrow under Tier 2 coronavirus rules, along with much of the rest of the country.

Diners will be allowed to eat together as long as there are a maximum of six people sat with each other and everyone in the group is from the same support bubble or household if sat inside.

And Westminster Council has announced the new rules allowing groups to eat al fresco in groups of up to six in mixed households from tomorrow will be continued for a further six months.

Council leader Rachael Robathan, said the scheme, which allows venues to provide ‘pop up’ dining areas in streets, would be an important way of supporting the hospitality industry.

She said: ‘We have 3,700 restaurants, pubs and bars in central London and they help to support around 80,000 jobs.

‘Hospitality is a big employer for us and while the sector faces another tough few months under tier two restrictions, at least we can support those venues who can offer outside space.’

At the same time, Westminster City Council has launched a ‘shop safe’ campaign, which emphasises measures the authority has taken to make the streets as safe as possible.

These include widening pavements, installing 7 miles (11km) of cycle lanes, social distance signage and hand sanitiser stations across the City.

A social media campaign being launched by Westminster City Council on Wednesday will underline the safety messages.

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It comes as yesterday a row deepened over whether a scotch egg can be classed as a ‘substantial meal’ under rules only allowing alcohol to be served with food from tomorrow.

Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove told LBC two scotch eggs would be ‘a starter’, 24 hours after Environment Secretary George Eustice said one is a substantial meal.

Mr Gove reiterated his stance on LBC in a second interview on Good Morning Britain – before backtracking and then telling ITV News: ‘A scotch egg is a substantial meal.’

The confusion comes after the Government said people going into tier two from today will have to have a ‘substantial meal’ to allow them to buy a pint.

The law says a substantial meal is ‘might be expected to be served as breakfast, the main midday or main evening meal, or as a main course at such a meal’.

Some pubs have now brought out new menus, with one offering a ‘Boris Menu’ of £1.99 meals – while Wetherspoon has launched a new breakfast muffin range. 

Landlords accused the Government of providing ‘no clarity’ on the substantial meal rule.

One Essex pub has launched a new £1.99 simplified food menu so that customers can enjoy alcoholic drinks, but do not have to spend lots of money or have a large meal.

Named ‘The Boris Menu’, The Kings Head in Gosfield is offering plates such as a hotdog and chips; baked beans on toast with cheese; and cheeseburger and chips.

Pub owner Matthew Arnold, 38, told Essex Live: ‘Every time a new regulation is implemented it incurs a lot of time and cost for pubs to abide.

‘It’s the frustration that prompted the menu idea initially at the same time as catering for customers that don’t necessarily want a large and costly meal each time they want to visit us.’

Meanwhile the Wetherspoon pub chain has launched a new breakfast menu ahead of tomorrow’s reopening, include a muffin range and reducing the price of coffee and tea to 99p.

Customers can choose from four new breakfast muffins – egg and bacon; egg and sausage; breakfast (with bacon and sausage); and egg and cheese.

In Worcester, one pub is teaming up with a fish and chip shop in order to stay open under Tier 2 rules.

Mark and Debie Daniels, of The Brewers Arms, which has no kitchen, has partnered with Nick Zipiti of St John’s Fish Bar, according to Worcester News.

It means The Brewers Arms can keep pulling pints – which they would be otherwise unable to do without serving a substantial meal alongside.

The pub will operate around the chip shop’s usual hours and customers will be asked to order food at the bar before being able to buy a drink. 

It comes as people in England have been quick to seize upon greater freedoms after the national lockdown ended and was replaced by a tiered system of restrictions.

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A row has broken out over whether a scotch egg can be classed as a ‘substantial meal’

The Kings Head in Gosfield, Essex , is offering £1.99 plates on a 'Boris Menu' such as a hotdog and chips; baked beans on toast with cheese; and cheeseburger and chips

The Kings Head in Gosfield, Essex , is offering £1.99 plates on a 'Boris Menu' such as a hotdog and chips; baked beans on toast with cheese; and cheeseburger and chips

The Kings Head in Gosfield, Essex , is offering £1.99 plates on a ‘Boris Menu’ such as a hotdog and chips; baked beans on toast with cheese; and cheeseburger and chips

London and Liverpool will be put into Tier 2, while only the Isle of Wight, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly are in the bottom tier

London and Liverpool will be put into Tier 2, while only the Isle of Wight, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly are in the bottom tier

London and Liverpool will be put into Tier 2, while only the Isle of Wight, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly are in the bottom tier

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36341878 9008711 image a 61 1606892908420

Fury at government’s ‘token’ one-off £1,000 payment for ‘wet’ boozers

Pub landlords have warned that the tier system will force traditional old fashioned pubs out of business after the government’s proposed support package was met with derision.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced today that all ‘wet’ pubs that do not serve food would be given a one-off grant of £1,000.

He said the payout was to recognise ‘how hard they have been hit by this virus in what is typically their busiest month’.

But one pub landlord accused the Prime Minister of using the ‘token gesture’ as a means to appease Tory rebels criticising the tier system.

The chair of the Campaign for Pubs, Paul Crossman, who runs The Swan, The Slip Inn and Volunteer Arms pubs in York, said the meagre £1,000 grant has ‘offended’ pub owners.

He also warned it spells the end for many old fashioned pubs that do not serve food.

‘A lot of publicans are saying they are really offended by this amount,’ he said.

‘It might sound a lot to someone in the street but the revenues that pubs have to take to stay afloat, £1000 is nothing. It won’t save any pub, put it that way.’ 

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Some of the most hardcore fitness fanatics even hit the weights for a midnight workout as one London gym owner threw open his doors at the stroke of midnight.  

All non-essential shops are allowed to open from today, paving the way for a festive spending spree that will likely drive people back to the nation’s ailing high streets. 

A fire sale at Debenhams is expected to fuel the shopping bonanza as bargain-hunters are lured by price cuts of up to 70 per cent ahead of the company’s impending liquidation following the collapse of rescue talks.

A precursor to today’s likely stampede for generous discounts – as the chain reopens its soon-to-be axed 124 stores – was seen last night when more than a million people swamped the department store’s website.  

The sudden burst of activity as England flings off the blanket restrictions is being dubbed ‘Wild Wednesday’ – but will still see the overwhelming majority of the public living under draconian laws.  

Boris Johnson last night overcame the largest Tory rebellion of his premiership for his new tier system to clear the Commons by 291 to 78, with abstaining Labour MPs getting the vote across the line.

It heralds a tack back to the Government’s previous strategy of carving the country into three ‘alert levels’ – albeit this time with harsher measures and with 99 per cent of the country facing the top two tiers. 

Pubs have had their curfew extended to 11pm but are grappling with the fresh regulations. In Tier 2, they can only serve alcohol with a ‘substantial meal’ and in Tier 3 they are limited to just takeaways. 

But despite the presence of the pandemic still looming large over everyday life, many Britons were jubilant as the showering of freedoms came into effect today. 

Some of the most hardcore fitness fanatics even hit the weights for a midnight workout as one London gym owner, Andreas Michli, (pictured), who was previously fined for breaching lockdown, threw open his doors on the stroke of 12

Some of the most hardcore fitness fanatics even hit the weights for a midnight workout as one London gym owner, Andreas Michli, (pictured), who was previously fined for breaching lockdown, threw open his doors on the stroke of 12

Some of the most hardcore fitness fanatics even hit the weights for a midnight workout as one London gym owner, Andreas Michli, (pictured), who was previously fined for breaching lockdown, threw open his doors on the stroke of 12

Hundreds of thousands of shoppers have swamped the Debenhams website to snap up generous discounts as the department store tries to clear its stock before closing for good

Hundreds of thousands of shoppers have swamped the Debenhams website to snap up generous discounts as the department store tries to clear its stock before closing for good

Debenhams  are prepared for liquidation after 242 years of trading with 12,000 jobs at risk after JD Sports declined to buy the brand in the chaos caused by Arcadia's collapse

Debenhams  are prepared for liquidation after 242 years of trading with 12,000 jobs at risk after JD Sports declined to buy the brand in the chaos caused by Arcadia's collapse

Hundreds of thousands of shoppers have swamped the Debenhams website to snap up generous discounts as the department store tries to clear its stock before closing for good

Debenhams on Oxford Street in London last night. The 242-year-old brand entered administration and shops will shortly close

Debenhams on Oxford Street in London last night. The 242-year-old brand entered administration and shops will shortly close

Debenhams on Oxford Street in London last night. The 242-year-old brand entered administration and shops will shortly close

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36288628 9008711 image a 29 1606891449029

 

 

Boris Johnson said there was a 'compelling case' for the regional tiers as he faced a Commons showdown over his new coronavirus rules

Boris Johnson said there was a 'compelling case' for the regional tiers as he faced a Commons showdown over his new coronavirus rules

Boris Johnson last night overcame the largest Tory rebellion of his premiership for his new tier system to clear the Commons by 291 to 78, with abstaining Labour MPs getting the vote across the line 

PM suffers biggest revolt of his premiership – but wins tiers vote  

Boris Johnson got his brutal post-lockdown tiers approved by the Commons last night thanks to Sir Keir Starmer’s tacit support after suffering the biggest Tory revolt of this Parliament as more than 50 Tories defied the whip. 

The new three-tier system was signed off by a margin of 291 to 78 and came into force at midnight after Labour opted to abstain, despite complaining the regime was not tough enough and there was not enough support for hospitality firms which have been crippled by government shutdowns.    

While the headline 213 majority was healthy, the rebellion of 55 Tories – including Julian Lewis, who is suspended – made the uprising the biggest of this Parliament yet, after 44 previously went against the pubs curfew. 

Another 17 appear to have abstained, though it is not clear how many were given permission to stay away. Sir Keir also suffered his own revolt, with 15 defying the whip, alongside Jeremy Corbyn and eight DUP politicians. 

Though the Labour move guaranteed No10 victory, it left Mr Johnson exposed to the anger of his own benches. Had all the opposition parties voted against the Government, the PM would have easily been defeated.

The rebellion may have permanently dashed the possibility of using blanket shutdowns to suppress the virus in the future, and is likely to have set off alarm bells in No10 as the premier’s authority continues to wane. 

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As England woke up to eased restrictions of varying degree: 

  • Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove has said two scotch eggs would be ‘a starter’, 24 hours after Environment Secretary George Eustice said one is a substantial meal for the purposes of buying alcohol in pubs in Tier 2. But Mr Gove added to the confusion by saying later it could also count as a main meal;
  • Sir Keir Starmer was accused of ‘playing politics’ in the middle of the pandemic after he ordered his MPs to sit out the crucial vote tonight on the rules that will replace lockdown; 
  • Stratford-on-Avon District Council mounted a legal challenge against being placed into Tier 3; 
  • Mr Gove has denied that Britons will need ‘immunity certificates’ to go to the pub – despite a fellow minister raising the prospect yesterday;
  • Mr Gove pointed to Wales as an example of how lockdown should not be done, after it announced pubs will be forced to close at 6pm and banned from selling alcohol drinks from Friday as the country faces new curbs just weeks after the ‘firebreak’ ended; 
  • The Government announced a further 603 Covid deaths on Tuesday, bringing the UK total to 59,051. 

Gym boss Andreas Michli, 34, was mobbed by supporters tonight as he threw his doors open on the stroke of midnight.

The owner was fined £67,000 and taken to court last month by Haringey Council after a stand-off with more than 30 police officers over three days at the Zone Gym in Wood Green, North London.

But last night he was back in business and welcomed around 60 people through his doors – and boasted the prime minister had been swayed by his protest.

As crowds queued up to get back on the treadmills, Mr Michli told MailOnline: ‘There’s no doubt in my mind we succeeded in changing the Prime Minister’s mind about allowing gyms to open.

‘He saw what was going on and he listened. But the war goes on and now it’s not just about gyms anymore. I feel like I’m fighting on behalf of businesses of all kind.

‘So many business owners are suffering, so it’s great to see the buzz here tonight and the excitement now that we are opening up again.’

Among those first in the door was personal trainer Sophia Sammee, 35, from Friern Barnet, North London who said: ‘You can see the happiness in people’s faces here tonight.

‘Everyone is buzzing that lockdown is over.’ This gym has been my home and I really wanted to be here on the stroke of midnight. Andreas was brave to stay open and I was proud to support him.’

Paralegal Dennis Adjei-Sarpong, 26, said: ‘There are so many smiles here tonight now that this place is back open. People just want to get lost in their work-outs and their fitness again. I myself can’t wait to hit the weights. It’s a great moment.’ 

Paralegal Dennis Adjei-Sarpong, 26, said: ‘There are so many smiles here tonight now that this place is back open. People just want to get lost in their work-outs and their fitness again. I myself can’t wait to hit the weights. It’s a great moment.’ 

Zone Gym in Wood Green in North London welcomed around 60 people through his doors at the stroke of midnight

Zone Gym in Wood Green in North London welcomed around 60 people through his doors at the stroke of midnight

Zone Gym in Wood Green in North London welcomed around 60 people through his doors at the stroke of midnight

Mr Michli told MailOnline: 'There's no doubt in my mind we succeeded in changing the Prime Minister's mind about allowing gyms to open'

Mr Michli told MailOnline: 'There's no doubt in my mind we succeeded in changing the Prime Minister's mind about allowing gyms to open'

Mr Michli told MailOnline: ‘There’s no doubt in my mind we succeeded in changing the Prime Minister’s mind about allowing gyms to open’

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36023954 9008711 image a 39 1606891506991

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The UK recorded another 13,430 coronavirus infections and 603 deaths in the past 24 hours as England exits shutdown

The UK recorded another 13,430 coronavirus infections and 603 deaths in the past 24 hours as England exits shutdown

The UK recorded another 13,430 coronavirus infections and 603 deaths in the past 24 hours as England exits shutdown

Just 18 local authorities see Covid cases rise 

Just eighteen authorities in England have seen a rise in Covid-19 cases over the most recent week, according to official figures that call into question whether 99 per cent of the country needs to be in the toughest two tiers of lockdown.

Only eight areas – Ashford, Dover, Folkestone and Hythe, Maidstone, Medway, Tonbridge and Malling, Boston in Lincolnshire and South Ribble in Lancashire – will be subject to Tier Three restrictions, which will see all pubs, bars and restaurants forced to shut.

The other areas that have seen a spike in infections – Mendip, Torridge, Surrey Heath, Woking, Basildon, Harlow, Ipswich, North Norfolk, Peterborough and Waltham Forest – will fall under the second harshest bracket. Residents living in Tier Two will be banned from mixing indoors with other households.

It means the other 297 lower-tier authorities in England – home to around 53million people – saw a fall in coronavirus cases in the seven-day spell ending November 25, the most recent week of data.

Despite Public Health England data showing Covid outbreaks are shrinking across the rest of the country, 55million people will find themselves living in either Tier Two or Tier Three when the national lockdown ends tomorrow.

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Mr Michli clocked up a fortune in fixed penalty notices only to rip them up on his Instagram channel and invite members back to his gym -only for magistrates to close him down.

Despite breaking the law during lockdown he says he had been swamped with messages of support from well-wishers across the country.

‘I’m not paying the fine and if Haringey Council want the money then they will have to take me to court, because I’m not handing over a penny. I feel like the public have swayed behind me and it’s an incredible feeling.

‘We were expecting a big crowd at twelve because we’ve had so many people saying on social media they wanted to be here for when the doors open.

‘We’ve had a lot of love and support from across the country backing us. Because we’re a 24-hour gym, it made sense to open on the stroke of midnight.’

Mr Michli has 1,200 members but social distancing rules mean he will be limited to 85 members in his gym at any one time.

‘We will be following the government guidelines relating to how many people can be on the premises at any one time. And we will be enforcing social distancing. Still it’s a big step back to normal life.’ 

Wild Wednesday is also expected to see a blitz of high street stores as people look to snap up gifts weeks out from Christmas.

It will be fuelled by a bargain bonanza from Debenhams which has slashed prices on handbags, shoes, boots, watches and dresses.

The chain has become the latest high street casualty and will be liquidated in the New Year after rescue talks with JD Sport fell through, drawing a line under 242 years of trading and jeopardising 12,000 jobs.   

Late Tuesday night there was a 20-minute wait ‘due to exceptional demand’ with over 300,000 trying to get on to the website at one point, and the total number of shoppers topping one million.

A bruising year for the retail sector amid the pandemic climaxed this week when both Debenhams and Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia group collapsed. 

Arcadia, which owns Topshop, Miss Selfridge, Dorothy Perkins and Burton, tipped into administration, putting 13,000 jobs at risk. 

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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