Harlequins number eight Alex Dombrandt would flourish in the international environment, says England scrum-half and club team-mate Danny Care.
The uncapped 22-year-old is thought to be pushing for a place in England’s Six Nations squad after starring for Quins of late.
“He reads the game so well, he’s smart and makes the right decisions all the time,” Care said.
“You put him in an England shirt and he is only going to excel.”
Care believes Dombrandt would provide England with an extra dimension if he made his international debut.
The former university student is on head coach Eddie Jones’ radar after appearing for an England XV in a non-cap game against the Barbarians in May.
“For me he’s got everything. He’s hungry for it, he’s got the work-rate and the work ethic, and he’s a good boy,” Care told the Rugby Union Weekly podcast.
Dombrandt only broke into the Quins first team a year ago after completing his undergraduate studies at Cardiff Metropolitan University.
But after a breakthrough season last time around, he recently signed a new deal to stay at The Stoop despite firm interest from Northampton Saints.
“He went to uni, did it properly and enjoyed himself, but he’s got a chance to play professional rugby and he’s grasped it with both hands,” Care added.
“I’m not picking the England squad, but 100% [he should be in].
“I just think if you throw him in there, and you have him running lines alongside Billy Vunipola, Mako Vunipola, Joe Marler – which attacker is the defender going to take?
“He is different, and there aren’t many of him around. And he can play six [blind-side flanker], seven [open-side flanker] or [number] eight.”
US President Donald Trump has said he could “work with anybody” in No 10 – nine days ahead of a general election.
Speaking on a three-day visit to the UK, Mr Trump said he would “stay out of the election”, that he was a “fan of Brexit” and he thought PM Boris Johnson was “very capable”.
Mr Trump is in the UK for a Nato summit being held in Watford on Wednesday.
He will attend a reception hosted by the Queen at Buckingham Palace later, where protests are expected.
The US president was speaking during a breakfast meeting with Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the US ambassador’s residence in London.
During a press conference Mr Trump also said:
- The US wanted “absolutely nothing to do with” the NHS, when asked if it would form any part of future trade talks. He added: “Never even thought about it, honestly.”
- He himself was “a very easy person to work with”
- The US was “trying to work something out” with the family of teenager Harry Dunn
- French President Emmanuel Macron was “very disrespectful” for suggesting Nato was “brain dead”
The US president’s comments came moments after he told reporters that he was staying out of the election on 12 December “because I don’t want to complicate it”.
President Trump is visiting the UK to attend a Nato summit commemorating the 70th anniversary of the transatlantic organisation.
Scotland Yard has said road closures will be in place in central London during the summit.
He is due to have separate talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron.
President Trump will attend a working lunch with representatives from Estonia, Greece, Latvia, Poland, Romania, Lithuania, Bulgaria and the UK.
However, it is unclear whether Mr Trump will hold a one-on-one meeting with Mr Johnson.
Mr Trump said he would be meeting the British prime minister during his visit, adding: “I have meetings set up with lots of different countries”.
And Mr Johnson said he would be discussing Syria, Russia and China during discussions with Nato leaders.
However, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab – who will meet US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo later – said on Tuesday that arrangements for such bilateral meetings were “always quite fluid”.
BBC diplomatic correspondent James Lansdale said the Conservatives’ HQ is not keen on such a meeting “to avoid pictures that could be used by his (Boris Johnson’s) opponents” in the upcoming general election.
Mr Johnson and Mr Trump did speak on Saturday, when Mr Trump expressed his condolences after the London Bridge attack.
The Queen will host a reception for world leaders, including Mr Trump, at Buckingham Palace later.
Protesters are expected to gather outside the palace ahead of the event on Tuesday evening.
The friends and family of teenage motorcyclist Harry Dunn are expected to be among them. Mr Dunn’s death led to a diplomatic row between the US and UK after a suspect over his death returned to America, claiming diplomatic immunity.
A spokesman for Mr Dunn’s family said they will join demonstrations in order to “make our feelings known” to Mr Trump.
‘Respect and politeness”
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has called for Mr Trump to be treated “with respect and politeness” during his visit.
Ahead of the visit, Mr Corbyn wrote to Mr Trump, demanding assurances that the NHS will be “off the table” in any post-Brexit US-UK trade talks. However, Mr Johnson said the claims were “nonsense” and the NHS would not be part of any such trade discussions.
Meanwhile, Mr Johnson has told the Sun newspaper that Mr Corbyn wants to “disband” Nato and accused the Labour leader of being “naive” to the risk of terrorism.
Labour’s manifesto says that, in government, it would maintain a commitment to Nato.
A spokesman for the party said that Mr Corbyn “will do whatever is necessary and effective to keep the British people safe”.
Elsewhere, Nigel Farage has said it is “awkward” that his “friend”, Mr Trump, had arrived during the election campaign. The Brexit Party leader said he would keep any “personal exchanges” between them private.
Mr Trump has previously been criticised for voicing his opinions of British political leaders.
The US president was warned against getting involved in the upcoming general election by Mr Johnson last week.
Mr Trump later said he was “absolutely cognisant” of the importance of not interfering in other countries’ elections.
Coldplay may have put their touring plans on hold, but a select group of fans were treated to a one-off show among the fossils at London’s Natural History Museum on Monday.
It was a spectacular setting, with the museum’s great hall bathed in pastel lights as the band played beneath Hope, a giant 128-year-old skeleton of a blue whale.
“I said, when we launch our album can we play a gig near Wales, and look what happened,” joked Chris Martin, as he took to the stage.
“It’s so hard, as a British person, not to come up with Natural History Museum puns for the whole show,” he added. “But the last artist who tried that was Dodo and you know what happened to her.”
His jokes may have prompted groans but, when it came to the songs, Martin was drowned out by the 1,000-strong audience singing along to hits like Sky Full Of Stars and Viva La Vida.
For the most part, though, the set concentrated on Coldplay’s latest record, Everyday Life – a playful and probing double album that cautiously ventures away from their lighters-out pop template.
They were joined on stage by Afrobeat scion Femi Kuti and his brass section for the limber and funky Arabesque, while Norah Shaqur added a beautiful Arabic verse to Church.
And some moments that fall flat on the new record – notably the anti-firearm anthem Guns – gained a little bite on the stage, with Martin spitting invectives at gun rights activists as he thrashed his acoustic guitar.
In some respects, Coldplay have always felt like a church worship band, with their earnest goofiness and hand-on-heart positivity. It’s an instinct they embraced on Monday night, handing out badges declaring “love”, while supporting musicians wore T-shirts emblazoned with the Bible verse “Do everything in love”.
They were even joined by a four-piece gospel choir, who embellished the harmonies (while politely declining to show up Martin’s vocals) on tracks like BrokEn and Cry Cry Cry.
Martin was so enraptured by their presence that he asked them to reprise the final chorus of Fix You a capella, “so we can hear what our band would sound like if we had really good singers”.
“Just imagine,” he added. “We’d be playing much bigger venues than this place.”
It was a knowing nod to the band’s more usual habitat, playing to tens of thousands of fans in open-air stadiums. It’s a mode of touring they have decided they can no longer pursue in good conscience – citing the environmental impact of taking a full-production rock concert on the road for 18 months or more.
“The hardest thing is the flying side of things,” Martin told the BBC last week. “But, for example, our dream is to have a show with no single-use plastic, to have it largely solar powered. We’ve done a lot of big tours at this point. How do we turn it around so it’s not so much taking as giving?”
In that respect, playing the Natural History Museum felt like a recalibration, with the band exploring whether their music could work in smaller venues, with a minimal production. Proceeds went to the non-profit organisation ClimateEarth (regrettably, though, the beer cups on the night were all single-use plastic).
Songs like Daddy and Sparks felt more intimate, while the big-tent anthems like Orphans lost none of their impact. And no-one missed the flashing wristbands or pyrotechnics of Coldplay’s bigger shows.
Well, no-one except the frontman.
“Normally we have some fireworks at this point,” he observed during Sky Full Of Stars. “But they said this building was too precious.”
After 23 years, Coldplay might be rock dinosaurs, but they’re not fossils yet.
See the set list below (Sky Full Of Stars was a last-minute addition to the encore, just before Guns).
A man accused of rape was caught on camera at a hotel just before one of his alleged victims smashed him over the head and escaped, a court heard.
Joseph McCann went into the Phoenix Lodge Hotel in Watford on 25 April, leaving two women in a car outside, the Old Bailey was told.
He was allegedly captured on CCTV entering the hotel wearing a tracksuit and a baseball cap.
Mr McCann, 34, from Harrow, denies 37 offences against 11 victims.
After going into the hotel, he held the front door open and glanced repeatedly outside while rapping on the window of the reception desk to speak to staff, the court was told.
He then told his alleged captives to get out of the car and smile as he put his arms around them.
Instead, one of them, a 25-year-old woman, grabbed a bottle of vodka and hit him over the head with it before running for help, jurors heard.
The trial continues.
Cardiff City chairman Mehmet Dalman says the club are targeting a younger manager to replace Neil Warnock and expect a quick appointment.
Warnock left the Championship club on Monday following three years in charge.
Dalman said owner Vincent Tan will play an active role in naming the 70-year-old’s successor.
“We’re down to a small number of names. I’d be surprised if we don’t announce something in the next 72 hours, certainly by the weekend,” he said.
Former Millwall manager Neil Harris is among the early favourites to replace Warnock, who Dalman said was relieved to leave his role.
Speaking to Radio Wales Breakfast with Claire Summers, Dalman claimed it was Warnock’s decision to leave the club who are14th in the Championship following Sunday’s 1-0 defeat by Bristol City.
“It was Neil’s decision to go,” he said.
“I really wanted him to stay until the end of the season, but he felt it was time for a change. I think he was quite relieved actually when I had a chat with him and we felt maybe it was right, so he left on his own terms.”
Dalman said Tan would have a say on who replaces Warnock.
“I think Vincent wants to take a much more hands-on involvement in (appointing) the next manager, which I think is right, after all he’s the owner of the club,” he said. “I think he wants somebody younger, maybe a little bit more (of an) offensive type of manager.”
Dalman added the club could consider a director of football type appointment in conjunction with the new manager, saying he would welcome “more football knowledge at board level.”
And, in terms of a new manager, he did not rule out a move for Harris, the 42-year-old currently out of work having left Millwall last month after four years with the south London club.
When asked specifically about bookmaker’s favourite Harris, Dalman said: “I don’t know. At the moment, we’re still going through the thought process, we’ll go through the names that we have and we’ll focus on one of them.”
Harris ‘worth a gamble’ – Kavanagh
Ex-Cardiff captain Graham Kavanagh says ex-Millwall boss Harris, 42, could be worth a “gamble” to replace Warnock.
Although he has only managed the Lions, ex-Republic of Ireland midfielder Kavanagh says Harris could do the job.
“If Neil Harris comes in I think it is a slight gamble,” said Kavanagh.
“He’s been in the Millwall job four years and hasn’t managed anywhere else, but he’s done a magnificent job.”
Harris, who scored 138 goals over two separate spells with Millwall as a player, took over as caretaker manager in March 2015 following their relegation to League One.
He guided the Lions to promotion back to the second tier in 2017, after reaching the League One play-off final for a second consecutive season, while the London club reached the FA Cup quarter-finals twice, in 2017 and 2019.
He stepped down as boss at the Den in October 2019 after a seven-match winless streak left Millwall five points above the relegation zone.
Harris – who briefly played alongside Kavanagh on loan at Cardiff in December 2004 – remains Millwall’s record goalscorer, despite being diagnosed with cancer when he was just 23.
“He’s a great lad, he works very, very hard, he’s very diligent and honest in his work and he does like to play,” Kavanagh, 45, said.
“He’s never had too much money to spend, but what he has spent at Millwall he’s done a remarkable job.”
Kavanagh says that Warnock will be a hard act to follow.
“He’s [Warnock] done a phenomenal job at the club, getting it promoted. I know obviously he then got relegated but it’s very, very tough to stay in the Premier League,” Kavanagh said.
“He spent quite a bit of money but it looked like he was buying Championship players with the thought that if they went back down, then they’d be able to jump back up.
“Obviously that hasn’t been how they’ve started the season, so he’s paid the price of that.
“A man of his experience and his wealth of knowledge… he’s going to be a massive loss to the club.”
Premiership and European champions Saracens have been docked 35 points for breaching salary cap regulations.
The punishment comes after an investigation into business partnerships between chairman Nigel Wray and some of the club’s players.
Saracens have also been fined £5.36m, with the points deduction coming into immediate effect in the Premiership.
The charges relate to a failure to disclose player payments in each of the 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons.
In the five seasons that Saracens have finished as Premiership champions, a 35-point deduction would have meant they would not have reached the play-offs. They would have finished 10th last season had the same punishment been imposed in 2018-19.
Saracens, who have won two of their three Premiership matches so far this season, are entitled to seek a review of the decision by an arbitration body.
Premiership Rugby introduced their salary cap in 1999 to ensure the financial viability of all clubs and the competition.
The regulations are also designed to control inflationary pressures on clubs’ costs and provide a level playing field for clubs and a competitive Premiership.
More to follow.
The London Fire Brigade (LFB) has been condemned for “serious shortcomings” and systemic failures in its response to the Grenfell Tower fire, in a report after the first phase of an inquiry.
Fewer people would have died in the 2017 fire if the LFB had taken certain actions earlier, the report by inquiry chairman Sir Martin Moore-Bick said.
The head of the Fire Brigades Union said the inquiry was “back to front”.
The BBC has seen sections of the report ahead of Wednesday’s publication.
The document follows the first phase of the inquiry, which looked at what happened on the night that 72 people died in the tower block fire on 14 June 2017.
The second phase will focus on wider circumstances of the fire, including the design of the building.
General secretary of the Fire Brigades Union, Matt Wrack, said: “The truth is that the fire spread the way it did because it was wrapped in flammable cladding. The firefighters turned up after that had happened, after the building had already been turned, in reality, into a death trap.
“Firefighters’ actions on the night, which were remarkable in the circumstances, are now being scrutinised. Nobody is trying to avoid scrutiny, but we think that the ordering of the inquiry is completely back to front.”
The council, the tower’s tenant management organisation, the police and the fire service were all questioned during the inquiry’s first phase.
The inquiry has criticised the Daily Telegraph, which first published leaked details of the report, and other media which followed suit. A spokeswoman said publication had deprived “those most affected by the fire – the bereaved, survivors and residents – of the opportunity to read the report at their own pace”.
Sir Martin’s report praised the courage of firefighters on the night.
But it found many “institutional” failures that meant the LFB’s planning and preparation for the incident was “gravely inadequate”.
For example, Sir Martin said control room staff who fielded 999 calls “undoubtedly saved lives” but “a close examination” of operations revealed “shortcomings in practice, policy and training”.
He said staff that night were in an “invidious” position when they were outnumbered by 999 calls.
“Supervisors were under the most enormous pressure, but the LFB had not provided its senior control room staff with appropriate training on how to manage a large-scale incident with a large number of FSG [Fire Survival Guidance] calls,” he said.
“Mistakes made in responding to the Lakanal House fire were repeated,” he added – referring to a fire in Camberwell, south London, in 2009, which killed three women and three children.
By Lucy Manning, special correspondent
This report could not be more critical of the London Fire Brigade.
The Grenfell families wanted this level of criticism, especially those whose relatives died when they were told for nearly two hours to stay put in the building as it was covered in flames.
But there is also some frustration that this first part of the inquiry wasn’t about those who made the cladding and oversaw the refurbishment of Grenfell.
That will only happen in the second phase of the inquiry next year and then they’ve got even longer to wait for the police investigation to finish.
So they are seeing some blame apportioned and they hope they will eventually see justice but the Grenfell survivors will always suffer the loss and grief and ask the question how did 72 people die in what was supposed to be the safety of their homes?
Sir Martin also criticised the LFB for following a “stay put” strategy, where firefighters and 999 operators told residents to stay in their flats for nearly two hours after the blaze broke out.
The strategy was rescinded at 02:47 BST, the report said. Sir Martin wrote: “That decision could and should have been made between 01:30 and 01:50 and would be likely to have resulted in fewer fatalities.”
Firefighters who attended the fire did not have training on how best to combat a cladding fire, the report added.
Four members of the first crews to have fought the blaze had 52 years of combined experience. However, they had not received any training on the risks posed by exterior cladding or the techniques to be deployed in fighting fires involving cladding, the report found.
Sir Martin said the “principal” reason the fire spread so quickly “up, down and around the building was the presence of the aluminium composite material (ACM) rainscreen panels with polyethylene cores, which acted as a source of fuel”.
The report also said evidence given by the LFB’s commissioner, Dany Cotton, suggested lessons from the fire might be missed.
Sir Martin wrote: “Quite apart from its remarkable insensitivity to the families of the deceased and to those who escaped from their burning homes with their lives, the Commissioner’s evidence that she would not change anything about the response of the LFB on the night, even with the benefit of hindsight, only serves to demonstrate that the LFB is an institution at risk of not learning the lessons of the Grenfell Tower fire.”
A spokesperson for the LFB said it would be “inappropriate” to comment on the report’s findings before they were officially released on Wednesday.
Speaking on Monday, Sir Martin said the report was long and detailed.
He stressed that readers of the report “should understand as clearly as possible the terrifying conditions faced by those who were in the building, at the time”.
The cause of the fire was found by the report to be “an electrical fault in the large fridge freezer in the kitchen” in a fourth-floor flat.
“It occurred without any fault on the part of the tenant… and I am pleased to clear him of any blame, given that some people have unfairly accused him of having some responsibility for what happened,” Sir Martin said.
- Additional reporting by Vinnie O’Dowd.
Former EastEnders actress Katy Jarvis says she felt “degraded” and “hurt” after a newspaper splashed pictures of her working as a shop security guard.
On Sunday, the Daily Star revealed the actress, who played Hayley Slater, was now working at a B&M store in Romford.
It prompted an outpouring of empathy on social media, as many actors noted the uncertain nature of the profession.
Speaking to the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire Show on Tuesday, Jarvis said the story was “really quite nasty”.
“To be honest, on Sunday morning I woke up really embarrassed and made to feel quite ashamed,” said Jarvis, who now works alongside her sister.
“Over my career I’ve done by best to try and stay away form social gatherings, get-togethers and celebrity things, to keep my private life as private as possible.
“So to wake up with my kids and see myself on the front of the pages just for simply having a job in between my acting, it really did hurt me.”
She added: “It took me a day or so to let it all digest and realise I had nothing to be ashamed about.”
Jarvis said she had worked in a range of jobs, including as a waitress and for a credit card company, to support her acting career.
She admitted she’d been “overwhelmed” by the support she’s received from her acting colleagues.
Jarvis, who has two children, first made her name starring as Mia Williams in the 2009 British drama film Fish Tank, before heading to Albert Square for a year-long stint which ended in February 2019.
Actor and writer Kathy Burke showed her support for the 28-year-old by re-interpreting the headline of the tabloid story – or non-story, as she thought.
In a show of solidarity, many other TV stars revealed they too supplement their acting careers with other types of employment.
Tamzin Outhwaite posted: “Yes, I am a landlady, a voice over artist, car boot salesperson, art dealer, up cyclist, interior designer, motivational speaker, and many other jobs… it’s what artists do to earn a living. They work in between jobs.”
“It’s called grafting!” she added. “Or not being afraid of hard work… or loving your family enough to drop your dream for a bit to earn a living so the family can live life. And there is no shame in wanting to work hard to make sure your offspring are cared for.”
TV critic Emma Bullimore told the BBC she understands why actors are getting upset with the newspaper for splashing Jarvis’s new non-acting job all over the front page in a “humiliating” manner.
But, she says, the situation is “more complicated” than some of the above soap stars are making out.
“I can see both sides of it really as it does feel quite cruel in the way that they did it, kicking her while she’s down I suppose,” says Bullimore.
“But with a tabloid hat on, you can totally see that it is the perfect story – she was in one of the biggest shows on TV, had a massive part in it and she was basically in every scene for a little while.
“Then she disappeared, slightly oddly, and now suddenly she’s working at B&M. I think if she was working at Waitrose it would not be as good a story.”
Charlie Condou, who played Marcus Dent in Coronation Street, called the Jarvis story “shameful journalism,” adding he’d done something similar himself.
“When I left Corrie I had a string of very nice TV and theatre jobs,” he tweeted. “Then I didn’t.
“So I got a job working in a restaurant to pay my bills and take care of my kids. That’s what responsible adults do.”
‘Feels like a choice’
Since leaving EastEnders, Jarvis has kept a relatively low profile. However, in March, she tweeted to say she was “absolutely fine” following reports she had been “glassed” on a night out.
Bullimore believes “it feels like a choice”, in this instance, for her to make the move away from the camera so soon, which makes it all the more intriguing for readers.
“I can see why people would want to read it because they’ll think ‘surely you’re really well paid if you’re on EastEnders and you’re living the life of an actress.’ And she was in it so recently, so ‘why would you need the money so quickly?’
“That’s not to say that I think it [the story] is fair, but I don’t think it’s necessarily any worse than the way that tabloids treat actors in general.”
Jarvis is not the first and won’t be the last actor to do a “normal job” before, during or after an acting career.
In fact, award-winning director Ken Loach told the BBC’s arts editor Will Gompertz he actively shied away from casting big name Hollywood stars in his latest drama, Sorry We Missed You, in favour of actors who have had recent experience working in relevant industries.
The film features actor/plumber Kris Hitchen and actress/care worker Debbie Honeywood at the head of a Newcastle family, struggling to make ends meet on zero-hour contract jobs.
“Finding people to bring a story to life is the second-most important decision you ever make in filmmaking, second to the script – which is the most important,” explained Loach.
“The camera can see who you are, maybe in ways you’re not aware of – how you stand, how you use your hands, the quality of your skin depends on your diet, every mannerism that you’re not aware of. And you’ve also got to believe that people can do the job they say that they can do in the film and reach the character and absolutely have the capacity to draw the audience in.
“So the audience laughs with them and cries with them and is angry with them and identifies with them and has solidarity with them. And we were really lucky to find Chris and Debbie.”
He added: “But they can act, make no mistake.”
Elsewhere, former Hollyoaks and Holby City actor Jeremy Edwards found work, like Jarvis, as a security guard, and as a gardener. As Celebs Now reported, in 2011, he said: “I don’t know any actors who work consistently without other work. A lucky few, but not many, I had a good 10-year run!”
Gemma Merna, who played Carmen McQueen in Hollyoaks for eight years – winning best comedy performance at the 2007 British Soap Awards – now also works as a yoga instructor and personal trainer.
Meanwhile, Geoffrey Owens, who played Elvin in the Cosby Show between 1985 and 1992, thanked supporters last year after photos of him working as a cashier at US grocery Trader Joe’s were mocked online.
Rap star and Cosby Show fan Nicki Minaj donated $25,000 (£22,433) to the “legend” after he was job-shamed, however, Owens donated the amount to a fund helping actors in need.
Margaret Atwood and Bernardine Evaristo have been named the joint winners of the 2019 Booker Prize after the judges broke their rules by declaring a tie.
Atwood’s The Testaments, the Canadian writer’s follow-up to The Handmaid’s Tale, was recognised alongside Londoner Evaristo’s novel Girl, Woman, Other.
The pair will split the literary award’s £50,000 prize money equally.
The Booker rules say the prize must not be divided, but the judges insisted they “couldn’t separate” the two works.
Atwood, 79, is the oldest ever Booker winner, while Evaristo is the first black woman to win.
After their names were called, the pair stood arm-in-arm on stage and Atwood joked: “I would have thought I would have been too elderly, and I kind of don’t need the attention, so I’m very glad that you’re getting some.
“It would have been quite embarrassing for me… if I had been alone here, so I’m very pleased that you’re here too.”
The award’s rules were changed after the last tie in 1992, and organisers told this year’s judges they were not allowed to pick two winners.
But after five hours of deliberations, Peter Florence, the chair of the judges, said: “It was our decision to flout the rules.”
He told reporters: “The more we talked about them, the more we found we loved them both so much we wanted them both to win.”
Evaristo and Atwood spoke together on Radio 4’s Today programme on Tuesday morning.
Evaristo said winning was “a real game changer”, adding: “It means my work gets out there to a much wider audience around the world.
“There are lots of prizes which people from certain communities don’t win, certainly black people don’t win lots of literary awards. No one seems to notice, but it’s really important.
“A black woman has never won [the Booker before]. Only four black women have ever been shortlisted and there have been about 300 books shortlisted.
“Hopefully this signals a new direction for the Booker and the kind of judges they have. This year there were four women judges and one male.
“I hope more black women win this prize.”
Atwood, who is from Ottawa, said: “It’s great to be sharing with Bernardine… and I certainly hope you’ll come to Canada, bring your warm clothing!”
She told Evaristo: “What you have done is to make it possible for more black women to consider that writing is something they can do.”
Atwood ‘more urgent than ever’
It is 19 years since Atwood won the Booker for The Blind Assassin, and 33 years since she was nominated for The Handmaid’s Tale.
With the latter book enjoying newfound popularity and resonance against the backdrop of Donald Trump’s America, The Testaments picks up 15 years after the end of that novel.
Returning to the totalitarian, patriarchal Gilead, it is narrated by Aunt Lydia, one of the handmaids’ instructors, and two teenage girls.
Peter Florence said: “It does massively more than follow the single story that we had from Offred. This is beautiful in its depth and exploration of the world of Gilead.
“As [Atwood] has said, it might have looked like science fiction back in the day, although all of the extremities are rooted in fact. Now it looks more politically urgent than ever before.”
Published in September, The Testaments sold more than 100,000 copies in the UK in its first week, making it the fastest-selling hardback novel in four years.
Speaking before the ceremony, Atwood said winning would be “a double-edged sword for me, but for a younger person I think it would be great”.
Evaristo’s ‘groundbreaking’ characters
Bernardine Evaristo was born the fourth of eight children, in Woolwich, south east London, to an English mother and a Nigerian father. Her father was a welder and local Labour councillor; her mother was a schoolteacher.
She spent her teenage years at Greenwich Young People’s Theatre, which was where she first became involved in the arts..
She went on to study at Goldsmiths, University of London, where she earned her PhD in creative writing.
A career in theatre followed and she was a co-founder of the Theatre of Black Women company in 1982.
She also set up the Spread the Word writer development agency, the Complete Works mentoring scheme for poets of colour and the Brunel International African Poetry Prize. She was made an MBE in 2009 for services to literature.
Girl, Woman, Other is 60-year-old Evaristo’s eighth novel. It gives a chapter each to the lives of 12 intertwining characters, who are mostly black British women.
“We black British women know that if we don’t write ourselves into literature no one else will,” the author has said.
Lesbian theatre director Amma, non-binary Morgan (formerly Megan), Barbadian bride Winsome and Northumbrian farmer Hattie are among the characters in a book that spans more than 100 years.
Peter Florence said there was “something utterly magical” about the book’s characters, whom he said “give a wonderful spectrum of black British women today”.
“There are stories there of people who haven’t been visibly represented in contemporary literature, and in that sense this book is groundbreaking, and I hope encouraging and inspiring to the rest of the publishing industry.”
In her acceptance speech, Evaristo said she hoped it would not be long before another black woman won the prize.
“It’s so incredible to share this with Margaret Atwood, who’s such a legend and so generous,” she said.
“A lot of people say, ‘I never thought it would happen to me’, and I will say I am the first black woman to win this prize, and I hope that honour doesn’t last too long. I hope other people come forward now.”
She has called Girl, Woman, Other “a readable experimental novel”. The experimental element mainly comes from the unorthodox punctuation, which often dispenses with quotation marks and capital letters.
Judges’ stand-off with Booker bosses
The Booker Prize rules state that the prize “may not be divided or withheld”.
The award has been shared twice before – in 1974 and 1992 – but the rules were then changed.
“The thinking was it just doesn’t work – it sort of detracts attention from both, rather than drawing attention to either,” said Gaby Wood, literary director of the Booker Prize Foundation.
So when Florence told her the five judges wanted to announce a tie, she said no. The judges got back around the table.
Again, they told Wood they wanted two winners. This time, Wood phoned Baroness Kennedy QC, chair of the Booker Prize Foundation, who told her: “Absolutely not.”
The judges deliberated again. “We tried voting, it didn’t work,” Florence said.
“There’s a metaphor for our times. And equally, today of all days, when rebellion is in the air, maybe we were a little moved by that.”
The panel resolved to hold firm on their split decision. Baroness Kennedy was called again.
“She said, ‘Well, if that’s what they’ve chosen to do, there’s nothing we can do,'” Wood said.
“We had to move on.”
Florence added that both winning books “have urgent things to say”.
He told reporters: “They also happen to be wonderfully compelling, page-turning thrillers, which can speak to the most literary audience, to readers who maybe are only reading one, or in this case I hope two books a year, and can speak at different levels to all sorts of different readerships.
“So in that sense they are, I hope and believe, really valuable Booker Prize winners.”
The other nominated novels:
- Lucy Ellmann – Ducks, Newburyport
- Chigozie Obioma – An Orchestra of Minorities
- Salman Rushdie – Quichotte
- Elif Shafak – 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World
Extinction Rebellion protesters on the streets of London have been labelled “uncooperative crusties” by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
The demonstrators – who are demanding action on climate change – should abandon their “hemp-smelling bivouacs” and stop blocking roads, the PM added.
Police have already arrested more than 300 people at the start of two weeks of protests by environmental campaigners.
Mr Johnson made the comments at a book launch on Monday evening.
“I am afraid that the security people didn’t want me to come along tonight because they said the road was full of uncooperative crusties and protesters of all kinds littering the road,” he said.
“They said there was some risk that I would be egged.”
Mr Johnson added protesters could learn from former PM Margaret Thatcher, who he said had taken the issue of greenhouse gases seriously long before activists such as Greta Thunberg were born.
“I hope that when we go out from this place tonight and we are waylaid by importunate nose-ringed climate change protesters, we remind them that she was also right about greenhouse gases.”
Extinction Rebellion activists are protesting in cities around the world, including Berlin, Amsterdam and Sydney.
The Metropolitan Police said there have been 319 arrests in relation to the demonstrations since 00:01 BST on Tuesday.
Some 200 campaigners who camped overnight on streets in central London also faced arrest on Tuesday morning after being issued with warnings by police.
Under section 14 notices, which were handed out to tents at around 07:30 BST, protesters will be allowed to demonstrate in a specified location – Trafalgar Square.
Those who do not comply with the order will be arrested.
On Monday, organisers blockaded key sites in central London, in addition to demonstrating outside government departments.
Some glued and chained themselves to roads and vehicles – those who did so outside Westminster Abbey were later removed by police.
The roads behind Downing Street were blocked throughout the day by protesters, some of whom had erected tents in the street and were sitting down and singing songs together.
‘A last resort’
By Becky Morton, BBC News
Behind Parliament Square there are dozens of tents where protesters from Scotland, Cumbria and north-east England have camped overnight.
Mikaela Loach, 21, travelled from Edinburgh on Monday with a friend on a bus organised for protesters.
She says she has attended protests before but this is her first time camping out overnight.
“I was a bit worried about police coming in the middle of the night, but it was a nice atmosphere having people around you that are here for the same cause,” she said.
“I’ve spoken to my local MP, I’ve taken part in protests, I just feel like I haven’t been listened to. This is a last resort,” she said.
“I have been changing things in my lifestyle for a long time to try and be more eco-friendly, but I had a realisation that it doesn’t matter if I go vegan or zero waste if the government doesn’t do anything.
“There need to be big structural changes.”
Extinction Rebellion claims protests in the capital will be five times bigger than similar events in April.
The protests are calling for urgent action on global climate and wildlife emergencies.
What is Extinction Rebellion?
2025group’s aims for zero carbon emissions
298,000followers on Facebook
1,130people arrested over April’s London protests
2018year the group was founded
Source: BBC Research
Extinction Rebellion (XR for short) wants governments to declare a “climate and ecological emergency” and take immediate action to address climate change.
It describes itself as an international “non-violent civil disobedience activist movement”.
Extinction Rebellion was launched in 2018 and organisers say it now has groups willing to take action in dozens of countries.
In April, the group held a large demonstration in London that brought major routes in the city to a standstill.