Nigel Farage to 'stand again as an MEP' as he warns of second Brexit referendum

Brexit campaigner Mr Farage admitted he fears the House of Commons will “effectively overturn” Brexit adding: “To me, the most likely outcome of all of this is an extension of Article 50.”

Article 50 is the legal mechanism for a country to withdraw from the EU.

Speaking to Sky News the morning after a Leave rally in which he told Brexiteers to be ready for a second vote, he said: “There could be another referendum.

“The remain side is well-funded, well-organised. They are getting ready for another referendum. It would negligent of the Eurosceptics not to do so.”

Unable to throw his weight behind his former party, Mr Farage said he would be looking for a “new vehicle”.

Mr Farage quit the party in December over its ties to far-right figure Tommy Robinson, and described UKIP as now “unsalvageable”.

His comments led UKIP to question “who he is really working for”, accusing him of splitting the pro-Brexit vote.

Mr Farage has said he will stand again for the European Parliament, warning that Britain will contest more elections if Article 50 is extended by as little as three months.

He said his current political party membership was a “work in progress” adding: “There are lots of parties out there that one could pick up and use right now. I’m working on it.”

He rubbished attempts to introduce a Norway model in the UK, saying “we would be Norway without the fish – that is not what people voted for”.

Mr Farage said he still believes Britain is doing the right thing by leaving the EU, adding: “We are not putting up barriers, we are bringing down barriers across the world.

“We are going to make food cheaper, we are going to make clothes cheaper, we are going to re-engage with the Commonwealth and other parts of the world that we have turned our backs on.

“I am absolutely certain we are doing the right thing, it’s just that parliament doesn’t see it.”

At the rally in London on Thursday evening, Mr Farage told Leavers: “I’ve talked in the past about being worried that they may force us into a second referendum.

“I don’t want it anymore than you do but I am saying to you we have to face reality in the face.

“Don’t think the other side aren’t organised, don’t think the other side aren’t prepared, don’t think they haven’t raised the money, don’t think they haven’t got the teams in place, they have.”

Olivia Utley, deputy editor of The Article, told Sky News the Leave campaign was preparing a new slogan of “tell them again”.

Theresa May is in Number 10 holding talks with MPs for much of today and is due to go to Chequers before the evening.

She has until Monday to draw up her Brexit Plan B before she must present it to the Commons.

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The women who had to escape twice

Trafficked into the sex industry after defecting from North Korea, two young women spent years in captivity before finally getting the chance to escape.

From the third floor of a residential tower block in the Chinese city of Yanji, two young women hurl their torn up, knotted bedsheets out of a window.

When they pull the sheets back up, a proper rope has been tied on.

They climb out of the window and begin their descent.

“Quick, we don’t have much time,” urges their rescuer.

Safely on the ground, they turn and run to a waiting people carrier.

But they are not yet out of danger.

Mira and Jiyun are both North Korean defectors and, years apart, both were tricked by traffickers.

After crossing the border into China, the same people who helped them to escape North Korea, known as “brokers” in the smuggling trade, handed them over to a sexcam operation.

Mira for the past five years, and Jiyun for the past eight, were confined to an apartment and made to work as “sexcam girls”, performing often pornographic acts in front of a live webcam.

Leaving North Korea without the regime’s permission is illegal. And yet many risk their lives to escape.

There is safe refuge in South Korea but the strip of land between North and South Korea is heavily militarised and filled with mines – it’s nearly impossible to defect directly.

Instead, many defectors have to turn north and cross into China.

But in China, North Korean defectors are considered “illegal immigrants” and are sent back if caught by the authorities. Once back in their homeland, defectors are subject to torture and imprisonment for their “treason against the Fatherland”.

Many defectors fled during the mid 1990s when a severe famine known as The Arduous March caused the death of at least one million people.

But since Kim Jong-un came to power in North Korea in 2011, the total number of people defecting each year has fallen by more than half. This decline has been attributed to tighter controls at the border and brokers increasing their price.

Mira defected when she was just 22.

Born close to the end of the famine, Mira grew up in a new generation of North Koreans. Thanks to a growing network of underground markets, known locally as Jangmadang, they could access DVD players, cosmetics, fake designer clothes, as well as USB sticks loaded with illegal foreign movies.

This influx of materials from outside helped persuade some to defect. The films smuggled in from China gave a glimpse of the outside world, and a motivation for leaving North Korea.

Mira was one of those affected.

“I was really into Chinese movies and thought all men from China were like that. I wanted to marry a Chinese man and I looked into leaving North Korea for several years.”

Her father, a former soldier and party member, was very strict and ran the household to a tight schedule. He would even occasionally beat her.

Mira wanted to train as a doctor, but this was also stopped by her father. She became more and more frustrated and dreamt of a new life in China.

“My father was a party member and it was suffocating. He wouldn’t let me watch foreign movies, I had to wake up and sleep at exact times. I didn’t have my own life.”

For years Mira tried to find a broker to help her cross the Tumen River and escape over the tightly controlled border. But her family’s close ties to the government made many smugglers nervous that she would report them to the authorities.

Finally after four years of trying, she found someone to help her.

Like many defectors, Mira didn’t have enough money to pay the broker directly. So instead she agreed to be “sold” and work off her debt. Mira thought she would be working in a restaurant.

But she had been tricked. Mira had been targeted by a smuggling ring who recruit female North Korean defectors into the sex industry.

After crossing the Tumen River into China, Mira was taken directly to the city of Yanji where she was handed over to a Korean-Chinese man she would come to know as “the director”.

Yanji is in the heart of the Yanbian region, which retains a level of independence from the central Chinese government in Beijing.

A large population of ethnic Koreans live there, and it has become a busy hub for trade with North Korea, as well as one of the main Chinese cities where North Koreans live in hiding.

Women make up a large majority of defectors. But with no legal status in China, they are particularly vulnerable to being exploited. Some are sold as brides, often in rural areas, some are forced into prostitution or, like Mira, into sexcam work.

Arriving at the apartment, the director finally revealed to Mira what her new job would entail.

He paired up his new recruit with a “mentor” who would share her room. Mira was to watch, learn and practise.

“I couldn’t believe it. It was so humiliating as a woman, taking off your clothes like that in front of people. When I burst into tears, they asked if I was crying because I missed home.”

The sexcam site, and most of its users, were South Korean. They would pay by the minute, so the women were encouraged to hold the men’s attention for as long as possible.

Any time Mira wavered or showed fear, the director would threaten her with being sent back to North Korea.

“All my family members work in the government, and I would be bringing shame to the family name if I returned. I’d rather vanish like smoke and die.”

There were up to nine women in the apartment at any one time. When Mira’s first roommate escaped with another girl, Mira was put together with another group of girls. This is how Mira met Jiyun.

Jiyun was just 16 when she defected in 2010.

Her parents divorced when she was two, and her family fell into poverty. She stopped going to school at 11 so she could work, and finally decided to go to China for a year to bring money back home.

But like Mira, she was also tricked by her broker and not told she would be doing sexcam work.

When she arrived in Yanji, the director tried to send her back to North Korea. He said she was “too dark and ugly”.

Despite the situation, Jiyun did not want to go back.

“It’s a kind of work that I despise the most, but I risked my life in order to come to China so I couldn’t go back empty-handed.

“My dream was to feed my grandparents some rice before they leave this world. That’s why I could endure everything. I wanted to send money to the family.”

Jiyun worked hard, believing that the director would reward her for her good performance. Holding on to the promise that she would be able to contact her family, and send money back to them, she was soon bringing in more money than the other girls in the house.

“I wanted to be acknowledged by the director, and I wanted to contact my family. I thought I would be the first girl to be released from this work if I was the best in the house.”

She would sometimes sleep for only four hours a night, in order to hit the daily target of $177 (£140). She was desperate to earn money for her family.

At times Jiyun would even console Mira, telling her not to rebel but to try to reason with the director.

“First, work hard,” she would tell Mira, “and if the director doesn’t send you home afterwards, then you can reason with him.”

Jiyun says that during the years she was earning more than the other girls, the director favoured her a lot.

“I thought he genuinely cared for me. But on the days my earnings went down, the expression on his face would change. He’d tell us off for not trying hard, and doing other bad activities such as watching dramas.”

The apartment was closely guarded by the director’s family. His parents slept in the living room and kept the entrance door locked.

The director would deliver food to the girls, and his brother who lived nearby came every morning to empty their rubbish.

“It was a complete confinement, even worse than a prison,” says Jiyun.

The North Korean girls were allowed outside once every six months, or if their earnings were high enough, once a month. In those rare moments, they did shopping or went to get their hair done. But even then, they were not allowed to talk to anyone.

“The director walked very close to us like a lover, because he feared we would run away,” says Mira. “I wanted to walk around as I wished but I couldn’t. We weren’t allowed to speak to anyone, even to buy a bottle of water. I felt like a fool.”

The director had appointed one of the North Korean women in the apartment to be a “manager”, and she kept an eye on the rest when the director was away.

The director promised Mira that he would marry her to a good man if she worked hard. He promised Jiyun he would let her contact her family.

When Jiyun asked him to release her, he told her that she would need to earn $53,200 to pay for her trip. He then told her that he was unable to release her because he could not find any brokers.

Mira and Jiyun never saw the money they earned through their sexcam work.

The director initially agreed to give them 30% of the profits, and they were to receive this when they were released.

But Mira and Jiyun became more and more anxious as they realised they might never be free.

“Killing myself is not what I would normally think about, but I tried to take a drug overdose and tried to jump from the window,” says Jiyun.

The years went by – five for Mira and eight for Jiyun.

Then a sexcam client of Mira’s, who she had known for three years, took pity on her. He put her in touch with Pastor Chun Kiwon, who has been helping North Koreans defect for the past 20 years.

The client also remotely installed a messaging application on Mira’s computer, so that she could communicate with the pastor.

Pastor Chun Kiwon is well-known among North Korean defectors. North Korean state TV frequently attacks him, calling him a “kidnapper” and a “con-man”.

Since setting up his Christian charity Durihana in 1999 he estimates he has helped about 1,200 defectors to safety.

He receives two or three rescue requests a month, but he found Mira and Jiyun’s case particularly distressing.

“I’ve seen girls who’ve been imprisoned for up to three years. But I’ve never seen a case where they’ve been locked up for this long. It really breaks my heart.”

Chun claims the trafficking of female defectors has become more organised and that some North Korean soldiers guarding the border are involved.

The trafficking of women is sometimes referred to as the “Korean pig trade” by the locals living in the border region of China. The women’s price can range from hundreds to thousands of US dollars.

Although official statistics are hard to obtain, the UN has raised concerns about high levels of trafficking of North Korean women.

The US State Department’s annual Trafficking in Persons Report has consistently designated North Korea as one of the worst human trafficking nations.

Over the course of a month, Chun kept in touch with Mira and Jiyun on the sexcam site, posing as a client. That way, the girls could pretend they were working while planning their escape.

“Usually imprisoned defectors are not aware of their location because they are taken to an apartment blindfolded or at night. Luckily, they [Mira and Jiyun] knew that they were in Yanji and they could see a hotel sign outside.” he says.

Working out their exact location from Google Maps, Chun was able to send a volunteer from his organisation Durihana to scout out the apartment ahead of the escape.

Getting out of China is dangerous for any defector.

Most want to get into a third country, and to a South Korean embassy, where they will be granted a flight back to South Korea and asylum.

But travelling across China without ID is dangerous.

“In the past, defectors could get away with travelling with fake ID. But these days, the officials carry around an electronic device which can tell whether the ID is real or not,” explains Chun.

After escaping from the apartment, Jiyun and Mira began their long journey across China with the help of Durihana volunteers.

Without any ID they could not risk checking into a hotel or hostel, and so were forced to sleep on trains or spend sleepless nights in restaurants.

On the last day of their journey in China, after enduring a five-hour climb up a mountain, they finally crossed the border and entered a neighbouring country. The route and the country they entered cannot be named.

Twelve days after escaping from the apartment, Mira and Jiyun met Chun for the first time.

“I think I’m perfectly safe only when I receive citizenship in South Korea. But just meeting pastor Chun made me feel safe. I cried at the thought of having found freedom,” says Jiyun.

Together, they travelled by car for a further 27 hours to the nearest South Korean embassy.

Chun says some North Koreans find the final part of their journey particularly difficult to bear, unused as they are to car travel.

“The defectors often get car sick and sometimes faint after vomiting so much. It’s a hellish road, travelled by those seeking heaven.”

Just before arriving at the embassy, Mira smiles nervously and says she feels like crying.

“I feel like I’ve come out of hell,” says Jiyun. “Many feelings come and go. I may never see my family again if I go to South Korea and I feel guilty. That was not my intention of leaving.”

Together the pastor and the young women entered the embassy gate. A few seconds later, only Chun returns. His job is done.

Mira and Jiyun will be flown directly to South Korea, where they will undergo a rigorous screening process by the national intelligence service to make sure they are not spies.

Then they will spend three months at the Hanawon resettlement centre for North Koreans, where they will be taught practical skills to adjust to their new life in South Korea.

Defectors learn how to do grocery shopping, how to use a smartphone, are taught the principles of the free market economy and receive job training. They can also receive counselling. Then, they will become official citizens of South Korea.

“I want to learn English or Chinese so I can become a tour guide,” says Mira when asked about her dreams in South Korea.

“I want to live a normal life, drinking coffee in a cafe and chatting to friends,” says Jiyun. “Somebody once told me that the rain will one day stop, but for me, the monsoon season lasted for so long that I forgot the sun existed.”

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DR Congo urged to delay election results

The African Union (AU) has called on the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo) to postpone the release of its presidential election results.

The pan-African organisation, which aims to promote unity and democracy, says it has “serious doubts” about provisional results released last week.

Opposition candidate Felix Tshisekedi was declared the winner but another opponent of the current administration, Martin Fayulu, insists he won.

Final results are due on Friday.

A number of AU heads of state and government met in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, on Thursday and released a statement about the disputed 30 December election.

“There were serious doubts on the conformity of the provisional results, as proclaimed by the National Independent Electoral Commission, with the votes cast,” it read.

“Accordingly, the [AU] called for the suspension of the proclamation of the final results of the elections,” it added.

What’s the latest on the election?

Mr Fayulu alleges that provisional winner Mr Tshisekedi made a deal with the outgoing President Joseph Kabila.

Mr Kabila has been in office for 18 years and the result, if confirmed, would create the first orderly transfer of power since independence from Belgium in 1960.

The electoral commission said Mr Tshisekedi had received 38.5% of the vote, compared to 34.7% for Mr Fayulu. Ruling coalition candidate Emmanuel Shadary took 23.8%.

Mr Fayulu filed an appeal in the Constitutional Court on Saturday demanding a manual recount of votes.

But the court has never overturned results before, and some think most of its judges are close to the ruling party.

The declaration of Mr Tshisekedi as winner has also been disputed by the influential Catholic Church which says it deployed 40,000 election monitors across the country.

International experts based in the US, and the French and German governments, have also raised doubts.

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Hitachi to suspend work on £20bn nuclear reactor in Wales

The Japanese company said it plans to write off its 300bn yen (£2.1bn) investment in the project. The decision comes after Hitachi’s British arm Horizon Nuclear Power failed to find investors to back the project.

Duncan Hawthorne, chief executive of Horizon Nuclear Power, said: “We have been in close discussions with the UK Government, in cooperation with the Government of Japan, on the financing and associated commercial arrangements for our project for some years now.”

He added he was “very sorry” that despite the best efforts of all involved they were “not able to reach an agreement to the satisfaction of all concerned”.

“As a result we will be suspending the development of the Wylfa Newydd project, as well as work related to Oldbury, until a solution can be found,” Mr Hawthorne added.

“In the meantime we will take steps to reduce our presence but keep the option to resume development in future.”

About 65 people are employed at its site in Angelsey and more than 300 at its headquarters in Oldbury, Gloucestershire.

Those jobs will be “scaled back”, the company said.

Halting the scheme is a blow to the North Wales economy, with the plant expected to have provided 9.000 jobs at the height of its construction.

Once up and running by the mid-2020s it was set to create up to 850 permanent jobs, many of them highly skilled.

The 2900 MW plant, which under the proposals would be built on a site next to the former Magnox Wylfa power station, would have provided around 6% of Britain’s energy needs.

Its a setback to the UK government’s drive to move away from the reliance on dirty coal and meet global climate targets.

Towards the end of last year, Toshiba scrapped its UK nuclear venture behind the development of the planned Moorside power station in Cumbria.

The Japanese engineering firm revealed its NuGen project was to be shut down after its US reactor unit Westinghouse went bust.

Hitachi, which had been in talks with the government over the price it would receive for producing electricity, said its decision was taken from an “economic standpoint.”

A Business Department spokesman said: “As the Business Secretary set out in June, any deal needs to represent value for money and be the right one for UK consumers and taxpayers.

“Despite extensive negotiations and hard work by all sides, the Government and Hitachi are unable to reach agreement to proceed at this stage.

“This Government is committed to the nuclear sector, giving the go-ahead to the first new nuclear power station in a generation at Hinkley Point C, investing £200 million through our recent sector, which includes millions for advanced nuclear technologies.

“We are also reviewing alternative funding models for future nuclear projects and will update on these findings in summer 2019.”

Justin Bowden, national officer of the GMB union, said: “Hitachi’s announcement, coming so soon after the Moorside fiasco, raises the very real prospect of a UK energy crisis.

“As coal is taken out of the equation in the next few years and the existing nuclear fleet reaches the end of its natural life after 50 years, decisions are already long overdue for construction to be completed in time and not leave the country at risk of power cuts or reliant on imported electricity, much of it from unreliable regimes.

“While the Government has had its head up its proverbial backside over Brexit, vital matters like guaranteeing the country’s future energy supply appear to have gone by the wayside.”

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Donald Trump urged to delay State of the Union address as shutdown persists

Nancy Pelosi, the House of Representatives speaker, has said the speech – scheduled for 29 January – would place an undue burden on the departments responsible for security if the government does not reopen this week.

As an alternative, she suggested that his address should be delivered in writing instead.

In a letter, Ms Pelosi wrote: “Sadly, given the security concerns and unless government reopens this week, I suggest that we work together to determine another suitable date.

“Both the US Secret Service and the Department of Homeland Security have not been funded for 26 days now – with critical departments hamstrung by furloughs.”

While there is no formal obligation that the president deliver an actual address before Congress on a yearly basis, a high-profile speech has become a ceremonial rite of passage for a president.

The address to a joint session of Congress gathers leaders from all three branches of government in the House chamber.

With so many officials in one room, the event takes weeks to co-ordinate and involves law enforcement agencies at the local, state and federal level.

The House speaker’s letter comes as the White House attempts to persuade moderate House Democrats to change course and vote for border-wall funding.

Ms Pelosi’s latest urging raises the political temperature and further quashes hope in Washington of tensions cooling down anytime soon.

The letter looks like both an attempt to assert power and a strategic effort to deprive Mr Trump of the platform and spotlight he loves.

Despite the ensuing political impasse, the White House tried to sound a note on optimism about negotiations.

Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said: “The president and his team had a constructive meeting with bipartisan members of the problem solvers caucus.

“They listened to one another and now both have a good understanding of what the other wants. We look forward to more conversations like this.”

However, the Trump administration began Wednesday by warning that the shutdown is inflicting far greater damage on the US economy than previously estimated.

The president’s own economists doubled projections of how much economic growth is being lost each week the standoff with Democrats continues.

The analysis and other forecasts from outside the White House suggests that the funding lapse has already weighed significantly on growth and could ultimately push the US economy into contraction.

Nearly 800,000 federal employees are currently furloughed or working without pay.

The State of the Union is a symbolic statement of where the country is and where it might go.

But with stalemate gripping the snowy capital, progress seems well and truly on ice.

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El Chapo ‘paid $100m bribe to ex-president’

Former Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto accepted a $100m (£77m) bribe from drug cartel kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, a witness has testified.

Alex Cifuentes, who says he was a close associate of Guzman for years, told a New York City courtroom that he had told authorities of the bribe in 2016.

Guzman is accused of being behind the Sinaloa drug cartel, which prosecutors say was the largest US drug supplier.

Mr Peña Nieto served as the president of Mexico from 2012 to 2018.

Mr Guzman, 61, has been on trial in Brooklyn since November after he was extradited from Mexico to face charges of trafficking cocaine, heroin and other drugs as leader of what the US has called the world’s largest drug cartel.

According to reporters in the Brooklyn courthouse, Mr Peña Nieto had requested $250m before settling on $100m.

Cifuentes claimed the delivery was made to Mexico City in October 2012 by a friend of El Chapo.

Cifuentes, a Colombian drug lord who has described himself as El Chapo’s “right-hand man”, worked as his secretary and spent two years hiding from authorities with him in the Mexican mountains, according to prosecutors.

He was arrested in Mexico in 2013 and was later extradited to the United States where he pleaded guilty to drug trafficking in a deal with prosecutors.

Mr Peña Nieto has not responded to the latest claim, but has previously rejected allegations of corruption that have surfaced during the trial since it began in November.

Mr Guzman’s lawyer, Jeffrey Lichtman, has argued that the real leader of the Sinaloa cartel is Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada.

He claims Mr Zambada has survived prosecution by bribing the “entire” Mexican government, including Mr Peña Nieto and former president Felipe Calderóne.

President Peña Nieto and Mr Calderón immediately rejected the accusation, with the latter calling it “absolutely false and reckless”.

In November another cartel member testified that an aide to current Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador was allegedly paid a bribe in 2005.

Cifuentes testified earlier on Friday that El Chapo had ordered a $10m bribe be paid to a general, but later decided to have him killed instead. The hit was never carried out.

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Teenager to star in West Side Story remake


A high school student has been cast as Maria in Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story remake.

Rachel Zegler, 17, was chosen from 30,000 applicants after responding to a casting call for Latino and Latina actors in January 2018.

Some past performances of the musical, including the 1961 film, have been accused of whitewashing its Puerto Rican characters.

Zegler will star alongside a cast of Broadway veterans.

Writing on Instagram, Zegler said she was “honoured” to have been cast in the role, having only ever played Maria in a high school musical.

“When I played Maria on stage a few summers ago, I never could have imagined that I’d be taking on the role again in Steven Spielberg’s ‘West Side Story’,” she wrote.

“As a Colombian-American woman growing up in this day and age, strong roles like Maria are so important. To be able to bring that role to life – a role that means so much to the Hispanic community – is so humbling.”

The young actor describes herself as a “singer/songwriter who works as a wedding singer” on her YouTube channel, where she has uploaded videos of herself singing hits from Queen, Ariana Grande and Sia.

One clip of her singing Shallow by Lady Gaga, which she posted on Twitter last December, was retweeted more than 81,000 times.

The original film has drawn criticism in the decades since its release in 1961, mainly for having a predominantly white cast play Hispanic characters.

Natalie Wood, who played Maria in the film, was of Russian descent.

In 2017 Rita Moreno, one of the few Puerto Ricans in the film, told the In The Thick podcast that at the time she felt uncomfortable with everyone’s “extremely dark” make-up.

Moreno, who won an Oscar for her original role as Anita, will also star in the remake as an expanded version of the character Doc.

Announcing the reboot, Spielberg made clear that he would only cast Latina and Latino actors for the Puerto Rican roles.

“I’m so happy that we’ve assembled a cast that reflects the astonishing depth of talent in America’s multifaceted Hispanic community,” the director told Deadline.

“I am in awe of the sheer force of the talent of these young performers, and I believe they’ll bring a new and electrifying energy to a magnificent musical that’s more relevant than ever.”

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Theresa May urges MPs to give Brexit deal a 'second look' on eve of historic vote

Addressing the Commons on the eve of the vote on her EU withdrawal agreement, Mrs May acknowledged it was “not perfect”.

But she urged critics to reconsider, telling MPs: “When the history books are written, people will look at the decision of this House tomorrow and ask: did we deliver on the country’s vote to leave the European Union? Did we safeguard our economy, our security and our Union? Or did we let the British people down?”

And, speaking later at a meeting of Tory MPs, she warned them they need to keep Labour and Jeremy Corbyn “as far away” from Downing Street as possible.

According to Sky News analysis, the PM’s pleas look set to fall on deaf ears.

Our tally of MPs’ voting intentions projects she is on course for a heavy defeat, with over 400 MPs voting against the deal.

Mrs May could even suffer the ignominy of enduring the biggest ever Commons reverse for a government, which currently stands at 166.

Mr Corbyn said the need for a general election and a change of government was “clear” in the event Mrs May’s deal fails.

He also addressed his MPs late on Monday, and was pressed by them on when he would table a no-confidence motion in the government.

Mr Corbyn told them the move, which he hopes will trigger a general election, is “coming soon”.

There is some speculation in Westminster that the Labour leader could table the motion immediately after the result of the vote is announced.

As the PM’s efforts to win over opponents entered its endgame on Monday, the EU issued assurances on the controversial Irish border backstop.

Brussels said they do not want to the controversial insurance policy, which is designed to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland, to be permanent.

Attorney General Geoffrey Cox then issued advice saying such assurances “would have legal force in international law”, while Mrs May said the EU’s letter made clear the backstop was “not a threat or a trap”.

But Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party, which normally backs Mrs May’s minority government in key votes, dismissed the exchange of letters as “meaningless”.

In another blow for the PM, Conservative MP Gareth Johnson quit as an assistant whip in order to vote against her deal, saying it was clear there was “no significant change” to it.

Ahead of the vote on the deal itself on Tuesday evening, a number of amendments tabled by MPs will be voted on.

Tory MP Andrew Murrison, chairman of the Commons Northern Ireland committee, has tabled an amendment to create a “sunset clause” for the backstop, preventing it being extended beyond the end of 2021.

Sky News has been told it is being considered by government whips, with speculation it could help change the mind of some opponents to the deal.

Labour MP Hilary Benn, meanwhile, has put forward an amendment which seeks to rule out Mrs May deal as well as a “no-deal” divorce.

Conservative former ministers Nick Boles, Sir Oliver Letwin and Nicky Morgan have proposed a plan to give parliament control over the Brexit process if the PM is defeated on her deal.

The prospect of an impending defeat for the PM has focused minds on what could come next.

As well as talk of a no-confidence motion from Labour, some are lobbying for Brexit to be delayed through extending Article 50.

Others think the only way out of the current impasse is to go back to the people and hold a second referendum.

Former foreign secretary Boris Johnson made clear his contempt for such options, telling MPs any delay would be seen as a conspiracy by the “deep state to kill Brexit”.

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California Today: What to Know About the L.A. Teachers’ Strike

Good morning.

(Here’s the sign-up, if you don’t already get California Today by email.)

The last couple of weeks have been a roller coaster for Los Angeles public schoolteachers, parents and students.

After months of tense back-and-forth, more than 30,000 teachers were set to walk off the job on Thursday. But on Wednesday, legal questions prompted union leaders to postpone the strike until today.

And as the two sides didn’t renew negotiations over the weekend, pickets are set to begin at 7 a.m. My colleagues, like Jennifer Medina, will be covering the action today, but in the meantime, here’s what you need to know:

Why are the teachers striking?

Teachers and employees of the Los Angeles Unified School District, the nation’s second-largest school system, say that working conditions have become untenable. Despite California’s reputation as a progressive bastion, the state still spends relatively little on public education — about half as much as New York spends on the average child.

Now, educators are demanding higher pay, smaller class sizes and the hiring of more support staff like counselors and librarians.

How did things get to this point?

Money, of course.

More specifically, profound disagreements about how much money the district has now and how much will likely be available in years to come.

While union leaders say that the district has big reserves that could help pay for all that they’re asking, other officials — most visibly Austin Beutner, the district superintendent — say that meeting the demands would bankrupt the district.

I have no ties to Los Angeles schools. Why should I care?

The strike is a new front in the debate about the role of public education in American life.

While teachers protesting severe underfunding of public schools have staged walkouts in six states over the past year, those have been largely in conservative or swing states with weaker unions.

The strike in Los Angeles shows that even in staunchly liberal areas many of the same tensions are bubbling over. And educators’ frustrations in L.A. could ripple across the state.

In Silicon Valley, for instance, teachers are facing not just tough working conditions, but also skyrocketing housing costs that often make it impossible for them to live near the students they teach.

I am a parent of a child in the district. What do I need to know?

You can still send your child to school, but there’s no question that classes will be disrupted: The district is enlisting highly paid substitutes and holding lessons in larger spaces.

Although absences will be counted as unexcused, some parents say they’ll be keeping their children home as a show of solidarity.

California Online

(A note: We often link to content on sites that limit access for nonsubscribers. We appreciate your reading Times stories, but we’d also encourage you to support local news if you can.)

• A man the authorities say gunned down a Davis police officer as she responded to a traffic collision was previously ordered to surrender an AR-15 rifle after punching a co-worker. The suspect was found dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. [The Sacramento Bee]

• Friends and family remembered the officer, Natalie Corona, 22, as a dedicated officer for whom law enforcement was a lifelong dream job. “Anything she did, she would make sure people had every resource available. It wasn’t about driving a fast car or making an arrest.” [The Sacramento Bee]

• In his first week in office, Gov. Gavin Newsom came out swinging at some of progressives’ most intractable bugaboos, including paid parental leave and housing. He also signed an executive order proposing a plan that would allow California to negotiate directly with drug manufacturers. [The New York Times]

• Geisha Williams, the chief executive of Pacific Gas and Electric, has stepped down amid the utility’s continuing woes over the role its equipment played in starting devastating wildfires. The company has also said it intends to file for bankruptcy protection. [The New York Times]

PG&E equipment started more than one fire a day on average in recent years. Some of those were quickly extinguished. Some burned thousands of acres. [The Wall Street Journal]

• The partial government shutdown, now the longest ever, has claimed more Joshua trees as victims. The desert has taken a hit without enough National Park Service employees to prevent visitors from damaging the fragile environment. [The New York Times]

• SpaceX, the Elon Musk-led spaceship company, will lay off 10 percent of its work force. [The Los Angeles Times]

• Los Angeles had a mixed weekend in the N.F.L. playoffs: The Rams made the Cowboys look hapless on Saturday. On Sunday, the Chargers got thrashed by the Patriots. [The New York Times]

• The first baby gray whales of 2019 have been spotted off the coast of Orange County. [The Orange County Register]

• People have watched this video of a U.C.L.A. gymnast’s perfect floor routine millions of times. And for good reason — Katelyn Ohashi is pretty amazing. [UCLA Gymnastics]

And Finally …

How much would you pay for doggy day care? How much would you believe other people would pay?

If your answer was south of $1,500 a month, then you’re probably not living in San Francisco.

Yep, hyper-luxe, exclusive babysitting for your canine companion is the latest outrage-inducing display of wealth to roil residents of the city.

The Guardian reported that Doggy Style (that’s its real name) in Noe Valley offers perks for those who spring for its most expensive membership package including a “hand-painted mural” of their dogs on a wall of fame, as well as a private birthday party “for 12 pups and their humans.”

It may sound outrageous to pay more than the average rent on an Antelope Valley apartment for pet pampering, but the prices are actually in line with other similar services, the article says.

California Today goes live at 6:30 a.m. Pacific time weekdays. Tell us what you want to see: [email protected].

Jill Cowan grew up in Orange County, went to school at U.C. Berkeley and has reported all over the state, including the Bay Area, Bakersfield and Los Angeles — but she always wants to see more. Follow along here or on Twitter,@jillcowan.

California Today is edited by Julie Bloom, who grew up in Los Angeles and graduated from U.C. Berkeley.

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Campaigners urge police to treat misogyny as a hate crime

MPs Jo Swinson, Stella Creasy and Peter Bottomley, former home secretary Jacqui Smith, and women’s rights campaigner Helen Pankhurst are among those who have signed the letter, sent by gender equality charity the Fawcett Society.

The letter was sent to Metropolitan Police commissioner Cressida Dick and National Police Chiefs Council chair Chief Constable Sara Thornton.

Sam Smethers, chief executive of the Fawcett Society, said: “We have to recognise how serious misogyny is. It is at the root of violence against women and girls.

“Yet it is so common that we don’t see it. Instead it is dismissed and trivialised.

“By naming it as a hate crime we will take that vital first step.”

Analysis of crime figures by the Fawcett Society estimated there were around 67,000 incidents of hate crime based on gender last year – with 57,000 of those being targeted at women, the charity said.

Ms Smethers added: “This data should be a wake-up call to all of us, but it is just the tip of the iceberg.

“Women are routinely targeted with abuse and threats online and in our streets.

“We know that black women, Muslim women and Jewish women are particularly affected. The way we tackle hate crime must reflect that.”

Unlike other hate crime categories – such as race, sexual orientation or religion – police currently do not record crimes that are driven by the hatred of women.

Responding to the letter, Chief Constable Thornton said in a statement: “We do not have the resources to do everything that is desirable and deserving.

“There are well reasoned arguments for recording misogyny as a hate incident, even when no crime has been committed, but it cannot be prioritised when policing is so stretched.

“Protecting women and girls from violence, harassment and sexual or domestic abuse continue to be priorities for the police.”

Campaigners want police chiefs to follow the lead of forces in Nottinghamshire, North Yorkshire, Avon and Somerset which have already adopted misogyny or gender as a form of hate crime for recording purposes.

In November, Ms Dick said “stretched” police forces should focus on violent crime rather than recording incidents of misogyny that are not crimes.

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