Matthew Parris: At 90, she insists on her independence

“I am here — come through,” she called from the bathroom. She was naked and standing on her head, steadied somewhat by the bath edge. “A yoga exercise,” she said, but if you knew my mother you would have guessed already that the reason would be strange and, quite likely, otherworldly. We six Parris children had a yogic, creative-writing, sometime-schoolmistress, sometime-political-demonstrator, sometime-broadcaster, one-time actress — and full-time tender carer for her husband and children. Her name is Theresa, but like the prime minister she was called Terry by family and friends, one of the reasons I cannot but wish Theresa May well.

March 25, 2017 00:00 UTC

Pickford heroics fail to disguise gulf in class

After the optimism of the England senior team’s lively and luckless display in Dortmund, this was a different sort of 1-0: a defeat to remind you of the distance that separates England and Germany as footballing powers and the reasons for it. Up close, the spire of the edifice might not look too dissimilar (if you squint) — but the foundations on which the two nations build are quite different. This encounter in front of a small but passionate crowd in Wiesbaden may have been an under-21s fixture, but in terms of experience, this was men against boys. Germany’s starting XI boasted 726 Bundesliga appearances and 15 senior caps; England’s had 128 Premier League appearances between them, and zero senior caps. “There’s nothing we can…

March 25, 2017 00:00 UTC

Corbyn suffers new blow as three more aides join exodus

A senior Labour source said the departures meant that Jeremy Corbyn’s team would be going “deeper and deeper into the bunker” Times photographer Richard PohleJeremy Corbyn’s office suffered a fresh blow this week after three more senior aides joined an apparent exodus from his team. Matt Zarb-Cousin, a spokesman for the Labour leader, is leaving after less than 12 months to return to his old job with the Campaign for Fairer Gambling. Jayne Fisher, who ran Sinn Fein’s London office for ten years and became Mr Corbyn’s head of stakeholder engagement at the beginning of this year, is also quitting. At the same time, Nancy Platts, trade union liaison officer for the Labour leader’s office, has handed in her notice after a year and a half in post. One senior source said that Ms Platt’s departure was the most significant.

March 25, 2017 00:00 UTC

Europeans blocked from jobs in department running Brexit

The Department for Exiting the European Union said it was following civil service guidance that certain posts be reserved for Britons when “special allegiance to the Crown is required” SCOTT BARBOUR/GETTY IMAGESEU citizens are being banned from applying for a significant number of new jobs in the Brexit department on grounds of national security. The Department for Exiting the European Union is undertaking a recruitment drive to hire dozens of new civil servants for Article 50 talks. However, ministers have been accused of being in the grip of paranoia after it emerged that a number of jobs will be reserved for British citizens only. Among the posts deemed too sensitive for European Union citizens is a £35,000-a-year job for a knowledge and information manager, collating department records and ensuring that they comply with the Freedom of Information Act. Another is as a senior portfolio analyst, charged with making sure that other government departments are on track…

March 25, 2017 00:00 UTC

Prudential cuts chief’s payout by £3m despite higher profits

The Prudential posted a 7 per cent rise in overall profits to £4.3 billion last week, driven by growth in China where it sponsors the Hong Kong Open Getty ImagesThe chief executive of Prudential was paid £6.9 million last year after a 30 per cent fall in his annual package. Mike Wells, 56, the former boss of the Pru’s Jackson business in the US, earned a salary of almost £1.1 million, pensions and benefits of £1.1 million and a bonus of about £2.2 million, which has been partly deferred into shares. The decline in Mr Wells’s total pay from £9.9 million the previous year was caused by incentives under his long-term plan falling to £2.5 million, which the Pru said was “notwithstanding his exceptional leadership and personal performance”. Mike Wells earned a salary of almost £1.1 million Not knownMr Wells, who joined the Pru’s board in 2011, succeeded Tidjane Thiam as chief executive in June 2015. His benefits included £330,680 to cover taxes on…

March 25, 2017 00:00 UTC

Beaver fever proves giant rodents are not a dam nuisance

Beavers’ dams control the flow of water after rain and act as natural filters of chemical fertilisers MIKE SYMES/DEVON WILDLIFE TRUSTIt is a wonder that anyone wants to reintroduce beavers almost 400 years after they were hunted to extinction. They sound like a farmer’s nightmare, creating soggy fields, rotten trees and pools of standing water, and infuriate anglers, as their dams are believed to hinder fish migration. Yet a study into their effect on flooding on a farm in Devon has led to “beaver fever”, a clamour for more, not fewer, of the huge rodents and similar trials across England. Beavers’ dams control the flow of water after rain and act as natural filters of chemical fertilisers that run off fields. In summer they also stop streams drying up, according to researchers at Exeter University, while coppicing trees creates a patchwork of different habitats that…

March 25, 2017 00:00 UTC

Isis supporters celebrated London attack on Facebook

Isis supporters in Mosul. One Facebook user who praised the attack on Westminster urged supporters to “Do your Jihad even while you are in Europe” Associated PressIslamic State supporters used Facebook to celebrate the Westminster terror attack and to share propaganda praising the terrorist. Jihadist members of the social networking site gleefully shared IS-manufactured images showing the Hyundai car driven by Khalid Masood smashed into the railings encircling the Palace of Westminster. “Do your Jihad even while you are in Europe,” one image, which was uploaded by a Facebook user called Mohin Khan, implored. On the bottom right, it contained the hashtag “#londonattack”.

March 25, 2017 00:00 UTC

Automatic refunds to combat poor broadband

People who suffer poor landline and broadband services should be compensated automatically, the industry watchdog has proposed. Ofcom says that customers should not have to ask for money back or go through a claims process but should get a cash payment or credits on their bill. Such a payment would be triggered whenever an engineer did not arrive for an appointment, if services were not fixed quickly enough or were not back up and running on a specified day. Ofcom estimates that under its proposals 2.6 million people a year would get compensation, with service providers paying about £185 million. It is looking at a range of charges including £30 for a missed appointment and £10 for each day that a service is not working.

March 25, 2017 00:00 UTC

Share of the week: Kingfisher

The first mail-order catalogue sent out by the Woodscrew Supply Company in 1979 contained only one page, dedicated entirely to screws. Perhaps not the most exciting piece of post, but it turned out that the home-order DIY business was built to last. The catalogue was expanded to four pages eight years later, offering a much broader range of DIY hardware to tradesmen, and five years after that the company had a turnover of £4 million. Such milestones appear paltry by today’s standards. The humble Woodscrew, from Yeovil in Somerset, has, over the decades, ballooned into Screwfix, the UK’s largest seller of trade tools and accessories, with an annual turnover of £1 billion and 517 stores.

March 25, 2017 00:00 UTC

Police search secret texts of terrorist

Police raided a house in Birmingham with a suspected link to the killer known as Khalid Masood SWNSThe Westminster attacker is suspected of taking instructions from accomplices in the moments before he struck, counter-terrorism investigators believe. Khalid Masood, 52, used an encrypted messaging service minutes before he carried out his murderous rampage, strengthening the police’s suspicion that he was not acting alone. He fatally stabbed PC Keith Palmer after driving his hire car into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge, killing three and injuring more than 30. A manhunt of possible associates of the British-born Muslim convert was stepped up as police hailed the two most recent arrests, in Birmingham and the northwest, as significant. Khalid Masood was using WhatsApp three minutes before his attack beganMasood’s communications are at the core of the investigation, with the security services keen to establish whether he received instructions from a terrorist group such as Islamic State, which…

March 25, 2017 00:00 UTC

‘NatWest failed to make things clear’

The Times’s consumer champion Laura Whateley dips into her postbag and tries to help readers who have been let down by retailers or service companies. I want to release £39,000 of equity from my house for a loft conversion. Having initially been positive about facilitating this, my mortgage provider, NatWest, tells me that because I have a Help to Buy mortgage, I am prohibited from receiving any such advance. Under the original mortgage I needed to make a 5 per cent deposit against the £365,000 value of the property. After two years of repayments on a fixed rate of 4.9 per cent and the value of the property increasing to £453,000, my loan-to-value (LTV) is down from 95 per cent to about 70 per cent.

March 25, 2017 00:00 UTC

Strike is on as communication breaks down

Bus Éireann employees are striking over proposals which would lower their pay by about €200 a week LEAN FARRELL/ROLLINGNEWSThe all-out strike at Bus Éireann is to continue throughout the weekend after the unions and management failed to make contact with each other to try to solve the dispute. More than 100,000 passengers were affected when workers began picketing the company’s bus depots and offices yesterday morning. The disruption spread to a number of rail services which share a base with Iarnród Éireann. Rail drivers did not cross the picket lines at a number of shared locations including Tralee, Limerick, Galway, Rosslare and Waterford, meaning a number of services did not run. A second round of discussions at the Workplace Relations Commission between unions and management to prevent industrial action collapsed last week.

March 25, 2017 00:00 UTC

Bombproof vehicles hit the streets

The vehicles have bulletproof windscreens and tires. Two of the Metropolitan Police’s 13 Jankel Guardians were seen parked off Parliament Square yesterday as hundreds of extra firearms officers were stationed across the country. The number of armed officers in London is at double strength. Essex police have additional armed patrols in place and West Yorkshire are reporting a rise in armed response vehicles. Mark Rowley, the Met anti-terror head, said: “The police service will sustain an enhanced armed and unarmed presence over the next few days.

March 25, 2017 00:00 UTC

Art of the fail: Trump's healthcare dreams die

2 Trump blames Democrats“They own it. This is Democrat healthcare,” Donald Trump said after the failed push. He predicted the collapse of Obamacare. “I never said repeal it and replace it within 64 days,” he said. ‘We will do it very quickly’

March 24, 2017 21:22 UTC

We are all chained to policies that are toxic and inhuman. History will judge us | Christos Tsiolkas

In forcing us to confront the evil we are capable of they also ask us to acknowledge our shared humanity. But the books I mentioned above are both works of art and also works of witnessing. For nearly two decades now, Australian politics has been corrupted by a toxic and destructive national debate about asylum seekers and refugees. That great leveller, history, will ultimately judge us on what kind of country we created for ourselves at the beginning of the 21st century. I hope that in the future that many of the narrators will be the writers of a great new wave of Australian literature.

March 24, 2017 21:00 UTC

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