The renowned designer Jean-Paul Gaultier is bowing out from creating clothes after a 50-year career, he has said. But he has told fans not to worry, because he will be turning his hand to other creative projects.
The EU trade commissioner has said the UK can “call Donald Trump’s bluff” on threats to withdraw the US’s cooperation with the UK on intelligence and security over Huawei, the Chinese telecoms giant.
Phil Hogan has also risked the wrath of the US president by declaring that the EU is not, in principle, opposed to giving the Chinese tech group access to 5G plans.
At a press conference in London he said the US did not have exclusivity on safety and security of its citizens, and predicted Trump would come round to the EU view that they had shared interests in that regard.
When asked how he felt about the US threat that the UK would lose access to US intelligence and counter-terrorism security strategy if it did not “fall into line” and bloc the Chinese from the cellular network, Hogan was blunt.
“I think that is a bit of sabre-rattling. I don’t think that will actually happen,” he said.
““We can call [Trump’s] bluff on that one [the US laying down conditions over Huawei],” he said.
An estimated 900,000 EU citizens in the UK have yet to apply for settled status, which most will need to remain in the country long-term after Brexit.
The data comes a day after the European parliament raised concerns that EU citizens risked discrimination after Brexit in seeking housing and employment.
Home Office statistics for December show that just over 2.7 million EU citizens and their family members have applied for settled status, a special immigration category set up for nationals from member states.
The figures underline a huge take-up of the scheme, which was launched nationally in March 2019, but also show the scale of the task that still lies ahead for the Home Office.
Although there is no official data on how many EU citizens live in the UK, it is estimated to be between 3 million and 3.6 million.
The Liberal Democrats said the figures raised concerns as they showed “more than 1 million EU citizens have now been given the weaker pre-settled status” which is allocated to those who have been in the UK less than five years.
Lawyers have raised concerns that the Home Office may be issuing pre-settled status by default to some citizens who do not, at first glance, seem to qualify for settled status. They have urged EU citizens not to accept pre-settled status, under which they can reapply for settled status, if they have been in the country for longer than five years.
The Lib Dem home affairs spokeswoman, Christine Jardine, said: “Boris Johnson promised to automatically guarantee their rights in law, but today’s figures show that his government’s settled status scheme is anything but automatic.
“Unless the government changes course, tens of thousands of EU citizens will be left without legal rights in less than 18 months – at risk of eviction, detention and deportation.”
Nicolas Hatton, the co-founder of the 3million campaign group, said: “It’s infuriating to see Brandon Lewis gloating about the number of applicants, while refusing to address the main issue of vulnerable EU citizens facing the full force of the law if they do not manage to apply successfully by the June 2021 deadline.”
Lewis, the security minister, said he was pleased with the response to the scheme and urged EU members to put the same effort into guaranteeing the status of British nationals living in their countries beyond Brexit.
He said of EU citizens in the UK: “The UK is their home and the EU settlement scheme has already granted status to 2.5 million people so they can stay.
“We have done more than other EU member states to support EU citizens and it’s time other countries made the same generous offer to the million UK nationals who live among them.”
EU nationals have until June next year to apply to the Home Office for settled status (SS).
According to the data, just over 300,000 of the 2,756,100 people who applied for settled status, are still waiting for a conclusion from the Home Office.
EU nationals have until June next year to apply to the Home Office.
So far, 58% of applicants were granted settled status and 41% were granted the more precarious pre-settled status, which allows people to stay in the UK for a further five years. The Home Office said six applications were refused on suitability grounds.
EU fears over the future of its citizens in the UK after Brexit have mounted since Lewis told a German newspaper last October that EU nationals risked being deported if they failed to apply for settled status.
Vladimir Putin has pulled off a significant diplomatic coup by arranging a mini-summit in Moscow between the two sides in Libya’s long-running civil war.
Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, the leader of the Libyan National Army forces in the east, and Fayez al-Sarraj, the leader of the UN-recognised government in Tripoli, held eight hours of indirect talks rather than meeting face-to-face but the presence of the two sides in the Russian capital is a confirmation of Russia’s increasingly important role in Libya.
Divided European countries have failed to bring about an end to an increasingly bloody nine-month assault on Tripoli by Haftar.
The Tripoli government led by al-Sarraj signed a truce deal, consolidating an agreement the two men separately made for a ceasefire over the weekend, but Haftar asked for further time to consult on the proposal.
The ceasefire, demanded jointly by Moscow and Turkey last week, came into force on Sunday, but was sporadically broken.
Sarraj had previously demanded that Haftar’s troops withdraw to their positions before the start of their April offensive. A ceasefire is seen as a necessary precursor to wider talks. Turkey’s foreign minister, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, will also be present at the Moscow meeting.
If the two Libyan antagonists met face to face it would not be for the first time, but it would be the first direct meeting since Haftar launched his attack on Tripoli, which has been denounced by Sarraj as a war crime.
The two men have previously met face to face in Abu Dhabi and in Paris to sign various peace agreements that have then fallen apart.
Only last week Sarraj refused to go ahead with a planned meeting in Rome with the Italian prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, after he learned that Conte was also meeting Haftar. Sarraj finally went ahead with the Rome meeting on Saturday, but without Haftar.
Russia has increased its leverage in Libya by allowing a small number of Russian mercenaries tied to the private Wagner Group to operate near Tripoli on behalf of Haftar. Putin insists if any Russian troops are operating they do not have his sanction.
The diplomatic jockeying between Europe, Turkey and Russia over Libya is significant since the country credited with finally bringing peace to Libya is likely to benefit in terms of diplomatic prestige and even future contracts.
Although Libya and Syria are very different cases, there are some parallels with the way an uneasy alliance of Turkey, Russia and Iran grabbed hold of the political negotiations in Syria, wresting the initiative from the US, Europe and the UN.
It is not yet clear if Putin is trying to push Europe out of the peacemaking process, or is willing to work in conjunction with European nations.
Putin met the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, at the weekend in Russia. Berlin has been due to hold a peace conference with the main interested parties and the array of external actors. Germany announced the much-delayed conference will be held on January 19 in Berlin, in a further sign of diplomatic momentum. The Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has already said he will attend, along with Conte and Putin.
Italy, once seen as the pre-eminent decision-maker in Libya, has been trying to recover lost ground by proposing a trilateral peace process with Russia and Turkey. Conte has come under ferocious domestic criticism for mishandling the crisis, and for being seen as irrelevant. He is due to meet Erdoğan on Monday.
Separately the new European commission has been seeking to take a more active role.
The EU council president, Charles Michel, on Sunday went to Cairo to talk to the Egyptian president, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, one of the strongest backers of Haftar. The new commission, anxious that the US is pulling back in the Middle East, is desperate not to leave a western void filled by Turkey and Russia.
Turkey appears to have bought itself some leverage in the future of Libya talks by announcing it is prepared to send troops there to help up prop up Sarraj’s Government of National Accord (GNA).
Military figures in the GNA claim as many as 500 Russian mercenaries have been operating in southern Tripoli, and there were signs that they were being pulled back from the frontlines at the weekend.
The French president, Emmanuel Macron, spoke to Putin on Monday to tell him he supported a ceasefire that was “credible, durable and verifiable”.
The victims of a paedophile priest at the heart of the biggest scandal to hit the Catholic church will face their attacker in a French court.
Bernard Preynat, 74, who has been defrocked, is believed to have sexually abused scores of boys over a 30-year period, many of them while they attended catechism classes or Boy Scout camps he ran.
Even after he admitted he was “sick” and had a problem with children, he was allowed to remain a priest in his diocese in Lyon.
He appeared in court on Monday, almost 40 years after he is thought to have begun abusing the boys in his charge.
The hearing was immediately postponed for 24 hours because of a strike by lawyers protesting outside the court against the government’s pension reforms.
Preynat, who is facing 10 charges of “sexual aggression” against boys aged seven to 15 between 1971 and 1991, has admitted the abuse.
Asked by the judge for his view on the postponement, the disgraced priest told the court: “I would like this trial to happen as quickly as possible. It is five years since the legal case began and when I met some of the victims during the investigation, I heard their suffering for which I am guilty,” he said.
Nine victims were expected to give evidence in the case out of more than 90 who are believed to have come forward. Many of the claims have been deemed legally out of date.
Preynat’s abuse of young boys was known, documented and covered up by his superiors in the diocese, who were accused of putting the church’s reputation before the victims’ suffering.
In an apologetic letters to parents, Preynat admitted he was “sick” and “had a problem with children”, but was allowed to keep working with young people and run scout camps.
Last March, his superior, Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, was convicted of failing to report the abuse and failing to protect the children. He was given a suspended six-month sentence but has appealed against his conviction.
The abuse is the subject of a film by the French director François Ozon, called By the Grace of God, which echoed the words Barbarin said when asked why he had not acted to remove Preynat from contact with children.
“By the grace of God most of these cases are now out of date,” he replied, referring to the statute of limitations.
Ozon, who met some of Preynat’s victims, told the Observer in October: “Preynat was honest and that was part of the drama. He never denied it. He said he had a problem with kids; he sent letters to the parents in the 1990s in which he admitted it. Barbarin knew about it. Still nothing happened.”
Preynat could face 10 years in prison if convicted.
Spain’s prime minister has called for calm and cooperation as the country’s first coalition government since the 1930s prepares for office.
The plea by Pedro Sánchez follows a tumultuous and extraordinarily bad-tempered week of political argument that presages another fraught legislature.
The prime minister has spent the past few days putting together a cabinet made up of ministers from his own Spanish Socialist Workers’ party and its new partners, the far-left, anti-austerity Unidas Podemos alliance.
On Sunday afternoon, Sánchez spoke of the need for “social, territorial and generational dialogue”, adding that Spain had grown tired of political deadlock, splits and squabbling.
“The citizens are calling on us politicians for a Spain of moderation and not a Spain of tension,” he said. “A Spain that builds bridges of collaboration and not a Spain of vetoes and ruptures. We’ve had enough of those over the past few years.”
Sánchez last Tuesday secured the backing of congress to form his new government by the narrowest of margins, winning 167 votes to 165, with 18 abstentions.
The coalition’s path to victory was far from easy – or polite. The two investiture debates began with the leader of the conservative People’s party (PP) calling Sánchez a sociopath.
It was at least in keeping with the epithets Pablo Casado has hurled at Sánchez in the past, which include traitor, squatter, villain, catastrophe, hostage and compulsive liar.
Casado warmed to his theme still further on Tuesday, when he accused the Socialist leader of being an egotistical “extremist” who had left the country’s future in the hands of “terrorists and coup-mongers” from Catalonia and the Basque country.
Sánchez, meanwhile, branded his rightwing opponents a “coalition of the apocalypse” and sore losers to boot.
An MP from one of the pro-independence Catalan parties loathed by Casado informed congress that she “didn’t give a damn about the governability of Spain” – shortly before her party’s abstention returned Sánchez to office.
The week was rounded off by a frank assessment of the new cabinet from the general secretary of the far-right Vox party on Friday.
What did Javier Ortega Smith make of the ministers in the new coalition government? “I’ll be honest,” said Ortega Smith. “I don’t know them but I’m sure they’re all really bad.”
Not all the barbs, however, were rhetorical, as one of Spain’s newest MPs soon discovered.
Tomás Guitarte, a 58-year-old architect, was elected to congress last November, becoming the sole MP for Teruel Exists, a movement that campaigns to improve conditions in the overlooked eponymous region of eastern Spain.
Guitarte’s decision to support the new coalition provoked a furious reaction. Graffiti denouncing him as a traitor appeared on walls in Teruel and he received thousands of threats and abusive messages. He was assigned protection officers by Spain’s interior ministry and decided for himself that it would be best not to sleep at home before Tuesday’s decisive vote.
“The very last thing you expect when you stand in an election is that you’ll to have to deal with something like this,” Guitarte told the Guardian.
“It’s meant to be about arguing and defending your positions through reasoned debate when you’re an MP. But they were trying to force an MP to change the way they vote, which is totally anti-democratic and doesn’t make any sense.”
What Guitarte refers to as his “social media lynching” also saw online calls for a boycott of Teruel and its produce. But the initiative backfired after a rival campaign #YoVoyaTeruel (#I’mGoingtoTeruel) was launched and began trending on Twitter.
“The boycott has had the opposite effect,” said Guitarte. “A lot of hotels and businesses say they’ve seen their business increase online. There haven’t been any negative repercussions at all. The sympathy movement was far stronger than the boycott.”
The threats and vilification were not the only things that have caught him unawares; Guitarte was also shocked by the aggressive nature of the investiture debates.
“You can argue your case and your convictions perfectly well without having to resort to attacks and insults,” he said.
“Some of my fellow MPs said that there’s always a bit of theatre in the chamber, but these are people who are also meant to be able to get round a table and decide things for the entire country.”
Bonnie Field, professor of global studies at Bentley University in Massachusetts, said that although “very heated debate” had long been a feature of contemporary Spanish politics, “the tone of this week’s investiture debate was the most corrosive, aggressive and divisive of all investiture debates” since Spain’s return to democracy after 1977.
“It is, in part, a result of greater polarisation – particularly on territorial and national identity issues, and very much intertwined with the Catalan crisis,” said Field.
“However, competition within political blocks also contributes greatly, particularly at a time of party system flux and when voters are less committed to a particular party.”
Much of the most fierce language has come from parties on the Spanish right, which used to be the exclusive territory of the PP. The emergence of Vox, which won 52 seats in November, has dragged both the PP and the once-centrist Citizens further to the right and upped the rhetorical ante.
Pablo Simón, a political scientist at Carlos III University in Madrid, also pointed out that crispación, or heightened tension, is hardly a new feature of Spanish politics. But with the binary certainties of the past long gone, some parties had been pitched into very loud and public identity crises.
“The PP still hasn’t managed to work out what it’s job will be in opposition,” said Simón.
“It’s pretty easy for Vox, which can carry on using tough, crude language as part of its populist rhetorical strategy – a strategy we’ve seen in other far-right parties elsewhere. But the PP is trying to work out how not to get left behind.”
The danger for the PP, he added, was the temptation to keep trying to ape Vox, as the strategy would only alienate more moderate rightwing voters.
On Sunday, thousands of people across Spain took part in a Vox-led demonstration against the new government.
For Field, the week’s scenes in congress revealed both real divisions and underlying political strategies. But, she said, they risked “worsening political disaffection and/or contributing to further political polarisation”.
Guitarte, meanwhile, was struggling to make sense of all that he had seen and heard in congress.
“I know things may be different behind office doors, but the image we project to the country is of what goes on in the chamber, and all the attacks and language and tension can’t be good for society,” he said.
“And besides, there was very little talk of the problems of daily life – it was purely ideological.”
A record-breaking satirical comedy about migrants attempting to reach Europe has provoked a row in Italy, infuriating far-right politicians and their supporters.
Tolo Tolo, starring and directed by the comedian Luca Medici, AKA Checco Zalone, 42, took in €8.7m (£7.4m) on 1 January, the best opening day of all time in Italian cinema.
The movie features a debt-ridden Italian businessman, played by Zalone, who leaves Italy to take refuge in Kenya. The outbreak of civil war forces him to pack his bags and return to Italy with some of his new African friends aboard a migrant vessel.
In early December, Zalone, known for his politically incorrect humour, publicised the film by posting a video on YouTube of a song titled “Immigrato”, meaning Immigrant. In the clip, which featured a series of stereotypes of asylum seekers, Zalone is stalked by an African migrant who begs him for money, enters his flat and flirts with his wife. The footage prompted criticism, with the actor accused of racism and of inciting stereotypes of migrants.
The clip was well received by far-right politicians, who took it as a signal that the film would promote an anti-migrant agenda. A few days after the video’s release, the former deputy prime minister Matteo Salvini said at rally: “I understand that they’ve accused Zalone of being racist and politically incorrect. I say long live Checco Zalone. I want him as a senator for life!”
However, Salvini and his extremist supporters may have been disappointed when the full film was released and it became clear that it derides Italian populism and the language of extreme rightwing politicians. Far from promoting an anti-migrant agenda, the film tackles stereotypes and the racism migrants face on a daily basis. It highlights the suffering of the thousands of people who attempt to cross the sea in order to reach Europe. In one scene, Zalone ends up in a Libyan detention centre during his quest to return home.
Following the film’s release, the praise rightwing politicians had showered on Zalone swiftly turned to criticism. One of the first comments came from Ignazio La Russa, a senator in the extreme rightwing party Brothers of Italy, who tweeted: “I’ve just seen Tolo Tolo: zero applause at the end of the film. Besides, it’s boring and of little value.”
Maurizio Gasparri, a senator and member of Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party, said in a video posted on Facebook: “It is too politically correct. The moral is too far left. Checco, come back as you were, don’t sell out to political correctness in the name of immigrants.” In reference to the video of the song that preceded the film, Gasparri said: “That song was perhaps better than the film.”
In a press conference, Zalone addressed the controversy with irony. “It is not a film against Salvini, because Salvini’s not even in the film. If it’s against him, only he can tell.” He added: “There is, however, a character who is reminiscent of [the foreign minister and leader of the anti-establishment Five Star Movement] Luigi Di Maio, who dresses like Prime Minister Conte and speaks like Matteo Salvini. I guess I’ve created a modern monster.”
“I wouldn’t have invested €20m to make a film against Salvini,” said Pietro Valsecchi, the film’s producer.
In the first week of January, Tolo Tolo was viewed by 5 million people and made €36m. The film could ultimately take in as much as €80m and become the highest grossing Italian film based on domestic box office receipts, according to the financial newspaper Milano Finanza.
Poland’s president has pulled out of an event in Israel to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz after being told he would not be allowed to speak at the event, but Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, would.
The move comes amid anger in Poland over Putin’s recent comments accusing Poland of complicity in the start of the second world war. It is one of a number of disputes that is threatening to overshadow the anniversary events later this month.
On 27 January, more than 100 Auschwitz survivors will travel to southern Poland for a day of commemorations at the site of the sprawling network of extermination and concentration camps, on the anniversary of the date in 1945 that Auschwitz was liberated by the Red Army. It is the last significant anniversary at which a large number of survivors are expected to be alive and well enough to attend.
Four days earlier, an event titled Remembering the Holocaust: Fighting Antisemitism is planned at Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial on the western slope of Mount Herzl in Jerusalem. More than 45 heads of state and world leaders are set to fly in for the ceremony, which will include orchestra performances and Jewish mourning prayers. The organisers hope it will lead to a firm plan of action to combat rising antisemitism and Holocaust denial.
Instead, the buildup to the event has been hit by controversy.
“It turns out that the presidents of Russia, Germany and France – whose government collaborated with Nazi Germany at the time – will speak, but the organisers do not agree to a speech by the president of Poland,” Andrzej Duda said in a television interview on Sunday. “I absolutely do not agree to this.” On Tuesday, his office announced he would not take part.
Błażej Spychalski, a spokesman for Duda, told Polish news outlets that “a situation in which the president of Poland will sit and listen to the false words of President Putin without being able to reply is unacceptable”.
The Russian government has recently launched a campaign to whitewash the Soviet Union’s 1939 non-aggression pact with Nazi Germany and subsequent invasion of Poland, and instead claims Poland was partly responsible for starting the second world war.
In a statement, Yad Vashem said it had never received an official Polish request for President Duda to speak, a claim denied by Marek Magierowski, Poland’s ambassador to Israel, who said that both Yad Vashem and the Israeli authorities had known about “the conditions for the participation of President Duda” for at least four months.
Yad Vashem also rebutted comments from Duda that he should speak because Poland was the country that had the most citizens murdered at Auschwitz.
“It is important to note, that out of 1.1 million victims of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp, some 1 million were Jews who were murdered simply because they were Jewish, unrelated to the countries of origin. Hence, the nationalities of the victims of Auschwitz-Birkenau have no bearing on the identity of leaders who will address the Fifth World Holocaust Forum,” said the statement.
Relations between Poland and Israel have been strained in recent years, with accusations that the nationalist government in Warsaw wants to play down instances of Polish collaboration in the Holocaust.
Last February, the acting Israeli foreign minister, Yisrael Katz, said that “Poles suckle antisemitism with their mothers’ milk”. In response, the Polish prime minister, , accused him of racism and pulled out of a planned summit in Jerusalem.
Daniel Blatman, who teaches Holocaust studies at the University of Jerusalem and is chief historian at a new museum of the Warsaw ghetto in Poland, said he understood Duda’s decision to pull out of the event.
“I can understand that a representative of Russia should speak at the anniversary, since it was the Red Army which liberated the camp. But why should the president of France speak, when the French government deported 30,000 Jews to Auschwitz, but not the president of Poland?”
As well as the international disputes, concern has also been raised about how the event will play inside Israel, where a new election to break political deadlock is due in March.
While the country’s president, Reuven Rivlin, and prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, will address the forum, the head of the opposition, Benny Gantz, had a request to speak denied.
Israeli media reported that Gantz’s party, which is hoping to topple the prime minister’s ruling Likud party in the March election, was concerned Netanyahu would use the podium to promote his political agenda.
Croatia’s prime minister has championed his country’s refusal to erect barbed wired barriers to block migrants from Bosnia and Herzegovina and pledged to investigate “problematic” allegations in response to claims of brutality by Croatian border police.
Andrej Plenković, whose country is taking over the six-month presidency of the European council, said any claims against his security forces would be investigated but he suggested that his government deserved praise for its approach.
In a criticism of the approach of Viktor Orbán’s far-right government in Hungary, which has set up barbed wire fences on its southern border, Plenković said his administration instead wanted to maintain good relations with its neighbours.
Plenković said that claims about the behaviour of officers manning the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina had not been proven and that two reported gunfire incidents had been found to be accidental.
In 2018, the Guardian released footage of asylum seekers from Algeria, Syria and Pakistan, being captured and seemingly beaten by the Croatian police as they attempted to cross the Bosnia-Croatia border into the EU.
In November last year, an 18-year-old Afghan man was left with life-threatening injuries to his chest and abdomen after an officer opened fire, apparently unintentionally.
Plenković told reporters in Zagreb that claims against officers were allegations and not facts.
He said: “Croatia unlike some other countries did not opt for the erection of barriers nor install barbed wires with Bosnia and Herzegovina. Why? Because Bosnia and Herzegovina is a neighbouring country, a friendly country.
“We shall not do that. What we shall do in preventing illegal migration is to respect our laws, international standards and conventions and all humanitarian aspects. If there are any allegations which might be problematic, everything we have heard is verified, checked and investigated. This is what we shall continue doing.”
Plenković, taking part in a joint press conference with the European council president, Charles Michel, said there was an urgent need to reinforce the EU’s “most external borders … between Turkey and Greece and between Turkey and Bulgaria”.
Croatia hopes to join the border control-free Schengen Area of the EU by the end of 2020. The youngest EU member state is one of only six countries in the bloc that is not part of Schengen.
Tafida Raqeeb, a five-year-old British girl treated in Italy for a serious brain injury after her parents won a high court battle to keep her on life support, is out of intensive care.
Tafida was brought to Genoa’s Gaslini children’s hospital on 15 October after the high court ruled against the opinion of doctors at the Royal London hospital, where the child was on life support, who said it was in her best interests for treatment to be withdrawn because she had no awareness or prospect of recovering.
Doctors at Gaslini said on Wednesday that Raqeeb has been transferred to a residential unit for children with chronic or incurable illnesses, where she will receive rehabilitative care and be partially weaned off assisted ventilation.
“Tafida no longer needs intensive care,” said Andrea Moscatelli, who leads Gaslini’s neonatal intensive care unit. “In cases of very serious neurological damage such as these, the prognosis is practically impossible. We will know over time. We are trying to give this little girl time to understand if there’ll be a potential improvement, and much of that potential improvement is yet to be understood.”
Moscatelli said the aim is to support the child’s vital functions up to a point where it would be possible for her parents, Shelina Begum and Mohammed Raqeeb, from Newham, east London, to care for her at home. “This would make it possible for her to be fed and have mechanical ventilation at home,” he said.
At a press conference at Gaslini, Begum thanked medics “for taking extremely good care of Tafida”.
“Today is an extremely special day for us because Tafida is finally out of intensive care,” she said. “I would also like to say that the opinion expressed by British doctors before the high court and the prognosis made has been proven incorrect. We should be able to give you good news in the coming months.”