Tory leadership debate – LIVE: Conservative candidates take part in first hustings as Boris Johnson empty-chaired

The leadership candidates have arrived in Stratford, east London, ahead of the debate.

Underdog Rory Stewart, speaking as he entered the studio, said he was “looking forward” to the debate and hoped that Boris Johnson was going to “make a last-minute appearance”.

He added: “We’re choosing a prime minister and the public has the right to hear from us and judge who had the qualities to be prime minister Minister.”

Stewart said he was hoping to discuss “what we can achieve after Brexit, the way we can make this country fairer, greener, and more united” during the live debate.

Michael Gove told journalists outside the studio he was “looking forward to a positive exchange”.
 

 

 

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Libya’s Fayez al-Sarraj calls for elections in 2019 to end war

The head of Libya‘s UN-recognised government has proposed holding nationwide elections to end the war in the North African country, as the forces of the rival military commander Khalifa Haftar continue their two-month-long battle to take the capital, Tripoli.

Speaking at a news conference on Sunday, Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj said he was proposing a “Libyan congress” aimed at finding a peaceful solution to the conflict.

The talks would draw up a roadmap for parliamentary and presidential elections to be held before the end of 2019, he said in Tripoli, the seat of his administration. 

“I present today a political initiative for a way out of crisis. First, an all-inclusive Libyan congress to be convened, with the coordination of the international players … whereby we pave the way for building the state on the rule of law and democracy,” he said. 

“Second, during this congress an agreement will be reached on a future roadmap, where the constitutional foundation will be laid [for] presidential and legislative elections before the end of 2019.”

Sarraj’s Government of National Accord (GNA) holds the west, while Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) holds the east and much of the south of the country. 

US politicians ask Pompeo to clarify policy on Libya (1:32)

Haftar has presented himself as a strong hand who can restore stability in Libya, but his opponents view him as an aspiring autocrat and fear a return to one-man rule.

Sarraj did not say whether Haftar or his representatives would be included in his proposed talks.

All Libyans who “call for a peaceful and democratic solution” would take part and  there would be “no place for those who seek tyranny and dictatorship,” he said, while calling on the United Nation to support the forum and to oversee elections.

The two sides last held talks in the United Arab Emirates in February. 

There are fears that Haftar’s offensive on Tripoli could ignite a civil war on the scale of the violence after the 2011 uprising that toppled and killed longtime ruler, Muammar Gaddafi. The LNA launched the campaign in early April, but counter-attacks by forces loyal to the GNA have resulted in a stalemate on the city’s southern outskirts.

The UN mission to Libya in a brief statement welcomed Sarraj’s initiative, describing it as “constructive proposal to advance the political process towards ending Libya’s long state of conflict”.

A spokesman for Haftar’s did not immediately answer phone calls and messages seeking comment.

Emad Badi, non-resident scholar at the Middle East Institute, told Al Jazeera that Sarraj’s initiative was unlikely to have a political or military impact. 

“There needs to be some sort of a domestic buy-in from the eastern side. Haftar is the sole interlocutor in the East. Without another interlocutor, this deal is non-implementable,” he said, adding that the proposal may be a bid by Sarraj to show “good will and that he’s open to negotiations and power-sharing.”

The battle for Tripoli has killed over 650 people, including combatants and civilians, according the World Health Organization. More than 94,000 have been displaced by the fighting.

Sarraj also demanded an international probe into alleged “war crimes and crimes against humanity,” since Haftar launched his offensive. 

The two camps have so far refused to negotiate a ceasefire. 

SOURCE:
Al Jazeera and news agencies

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Le Mans 24 Hours: Fernando Alonso claims back-to-back wins at famous endurance race

Alonso has said he will leave the World Endurance Championship at the end of the season

Fernando Alonso has won the Le Mans 24 Hours for the second consecutive year alongside Toyota team-mates Sebastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima.

The Spanish double Formula 1 world champion’s number eight car crew, who took the lead with an hour to go, were also crowned world endurance champions.

Alonso, 37, shared the car with fellow former F1 drivers Buemi and Nakajima.

It was a one-two for Toyota with their number seven TS050 hybrid, featuring Britain’s Mike Conway, in second place.

The number seven car, also crewed by Kamui Kobayashi and Jose Maria Lopez, led for much of the race before two late punctures.

“I think car seven was quicker than us for 24 hours, they really deserved the victory but today the luck decided that we have to take the trophy,” Alonso told Eurosport.

“Luck sometimes plays an important part in motorsport and today we feel extremely lucky and maybe we don’t deserve it but we take it.”

The number eight car crossed the line 17 seconds clear of the pole-sitting seven car after 385 laps of the 8.467-mile circuit.

Stoffel Vandoorne – Alonso’s former McLaren F1 team-mate – was part of the third-placed team in the number 11 SMP Racing BR Engineering car.

Before last year, Toyota had never won the sportscar race despite years of trying.

Alonso has been chasing motorsport’s ‘triple crown’ of victories at Le Mans, the Monaco Grand Prix and the Indianapolis 500.

Twice a Monaco Grand Prix winner, he failed to qualify for this year’s Indy 500 and the American classic remains the only victory to elude him.

Only Englishman Graham Hill has won all three classic races in the history of motorsport.

Alonso has said he will leave the the World Endurance Championship after the end of the season.

He tested a Dakar Rally-winning Toyota Hilux in March and has been linked with an attempt at the iconic desert-based endurance event in 2020.

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Amber Rudd warns ‘numbers are there’ to topple new Tory government pushing ahead with no-deal Brexit

Cabinet minister Amber Rudd has revealed she believes there a sufficient number of Tory MPs willing to topple a government intent on leaving the EU without a Brexit deal.

The remarks from the work and pensions secretary came as the former Conservative chancellor Ken Clarke vowed to take the extraordinary step as a last resort if “some idiot was sailing onto a no-deal Brexit”.

A second senior Tory, Dominic Grieve, told the House of Commons last week he would vote against the government in a motion of no confidence in the same circumstances.

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Pressed on whether she would take the drastic action – and risk a general election being called – Ms Rudd said it would be a “step too far” for her.

But she continued: “There are a number of colleagues who have gone public saying they would consider doing that and there are a number I know of privately who say that.

“Any candidate needs to factor that in as well into their strategy for the next few months,” she told BBC 5 Live’s Pienaar’s Politics. 

Asked if the numbers are there to bring down a government, Ms Rudd added: “I believe they are, yes.”

Earlier on Sunday, the work and pensions secretary also rubbished suggestions that the new occupant of Downing Street could prorogue parliament in order to force through a no-deal exit – locking MPs out of the process.

Two leadership contenders  – Dominic Raab and Boris Johnson – have refused to rule out the scenario.

Rory Stewart, another candidate in the Tory leadership contest, vowed to “bring down” Mr Johnson as prime minister if tried to plough ahead with a disorderly exit and no consent from parliament.

He compared the use of “prorogation” – which would require a PM to ask the Queen to suspend parliament to a date chosen by the government – to Charles I’s dismissal of parliament in 1629, which paved the way for civil war. 

Responding to claims, the work and pensions secretary said: “That is absolutely outrageous. The idea of leaving the European Union in order to take back more control into parliament and to consider closing parliament in order to deal with that is the most extraordinary idea I’ve ever heard.”

Remaining six candidates in the Conservative leadership contest (Michael Gove, Boris Johnson, Dominic Raab, Rory Stewart, Jeremy Hunt, Sajid Javid) (AFP)

She continued: “I don’t use the same colourful language as Rory, but I certainly feel just as strongly as he does. It is a ridiculous suggestion to consider proroguing parliament. For a start it would involve approaching the Queen and nobody should consider doing that.

“We may have our difficulties around arriving at a decision but the idea of involving the Queen is completely wrong.” 

Ms Rudd, who is backing the foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt in the Conservative leadership contest, also insisted it would be a “mistake” for a new prime minister to say “we are definitely leaving 31 October and to lean into a no deal”.

Asked whether she would accept a job in the cabinet from Mr Johnson if he wins the Conservative leadership contest, Ms Rudd replied: “I think it’s too early to say that, it would be too presumptuous of me to think about anyone else forming a cabinet and not knowing what place you are going to take.” 

Pressed on her famous snipe at Mr Johnson during the 2016 referendum campaign – that he was “not the man you want driving you home at the end of the evening” – Ms Rudd said: “I am still thinking very carefully about any lifts home from Boris.”

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Massive blackout hits Argentina and Uruguay

Argentina and Uruguay were working to restore power after a massive power failure left large swaths of the Latin American countries in the dark.

Argentina’s main energy company Edesur said on Twitter it was “slowly beginning to restore” electricity and that power had returned to 34,000 customers as of Sunday morning.

“The return of electricity generation to the interconnected system of the Federal Capital and Greater Buenos Aires has begun,” it said, noting the process would take several hours.

By mid-morning, streets were largely empty in a rainy Buenos Aires, the Argentinian capital, although some stores were open, operating with generators, while Montevideo, the Uruguayan capital, was almost entirely without power with only some traffic lights working. 

“A massive failure in the electrical interconnection system left all Argentina and Uruguay without power,” Edesur wrote earlier on Twitter.

Infobae, an Argentinian website, reported on Sunday that all trains had been suspended.

“Never has anything like this happened before,” Alejandra Martinez, a spokesperson for Edesur told Infobae.

Uruguay’s system went down at 7:06 am (10:06 GMT), according to the Uruguayan power company UTE, which attributed the outage to “a fault in the Argentine network”.

More than an hour after the blackout, UTE said its system was being brought back “from zero”.

“There are already coastal cities with service and work continues toward general restoration,” it said.

Argentina, with 44 million people, and Uruguay, with 3.4 million, have a common power grid centered on the bi-national Salto Grande dam, 450km north of Buenos Aires. Another Argentinian power company confirmed that the failure knocked out electricity throughout Argentina, without specifying the cause.

Several Argentine provinces were forced to temporarily delay local elections as a result of blackout.

The cause of the outage was still unclear as of late morning local time, but Argentina´s energy agency said in a statement it had begun an investigation.

Argentinian newspaper La Nacion on Sunday reported that Brazil and Chile had also been affected.

Reporting from Buenos Aires, Al Jazeera’s Teresa Bo said some traffic lights and trains were working in the capital but that power had not been fully restored.

“Most of the country has been paralysed, not only by this massive electricity outage but also because of enormous storms that have been hitting Argentina for the past few days. It’s been raining non-stop,” she said.

“That’s why the government is saying that the main problem has happened at the Yacyreta hydroelectric dam, located in northeast Argentina near the border with Paraguay, and that the storms had affected the dam and that was why most of Argentina and Uruguay have been left without electricity.”

Social media reports on the blackout were widespread.

“Huge blackout in Argentina: the City, the Province of Buenos Aires and Santa Fe were left in the dark,” a news agency posted on Twitter.

 “What’s happening with this blackout,” a user on Twitter asked the government.

“Never in my life have I seen such a gigantic power cut,” another user wrote.

SOURCE:
Al Jazeera and news agencies

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Women’s World Cup: Sweden defeat Thailand 5-1 to reach the last 16

Fridolina Rolfo’s scored Sweden’s third goal with a powerful long-range shot after 42 minutes against Thailand

Sweden booked their passage to the Women’s World Cup knockout stages by thrashing a vastly-improved Thailand 5-1.

Having suffered a record 13-0 loss in their opening Group F game against the United States, Thailand were far more competitive and were cheered on by a boisterous section of the 9,354 crowd, the lowest of the tournament so far.

But they could not live with Sweden’s superior technique, fitness and height as a team ranked 25 places above them opened the scoring after six minutes via Linda Sembrant’s close-range header.

Kosovare Asllani tucked in after neat footwork for the 2016 Olympic Games finalists before Fridolina Rolfo’s rocket from the edge of the box made it 3-0 at the break.

After Thailand battled courageously in the second half, there was a further goal for the Swedes when Lina Hurtig headed in.

But Thailand got their deserved reward when captain Kanjana Sung-Ngoen scored their first goal of the tournament after breaking broke clear to fire in and send their small section of fans wild.

There was still time for Sweden to reply after Elin Rubensson smashed home a penalty, which was awarded by the video assistant referee following Natthakarn Chinwong’s handball.

Teams in the last 16 at the Women’s World Cup
England Italy
Germany France
The Netherlands Canada
Sweden

Although there were a few errors for the goals, Thai goalkeeper Waraporn Boonsing, one of four changes after the humiliation against the US, made several smart saves. One from substitute Madelen Janogy’s fiercely-struck shot left Boonsing with a bloody nose.

It was symptomatic of a resilient and energetic display from the Thai side, largely drawn from their homeland and which did not have a domestic league for the whole of 2018.

Appearing at their second World Cup, they could still achieve their aim of reaching the second round should they beat Chile in their final group game on Thursday and potentially claim a spot for one of the best third-placed teams.

Touchline tears as Thailand score first World Cup goal

‘It meant so much’ – what they said

Thailand coach Nuengrutai Srathongvian: “This goal meant a lot to us. It’s a difficult goal and playing a great team like Sweden, it meant so much.

“It meant that all of our preparation paid off. This one goal made us laugh, made us smile and makes us happy.

“Our defeat in the last game was massive. Yes, we were disappointed. But even if we score one today, we made some success. Chile will be difficult next but getting a point at this World Cup is what we want to do.”

Sweden coach Peter Gerhardsson: “I’ve never won a match before playing it and I never will. You prepare for a number of potential scenarios and then you have to play it. Sometimes you have to wait to get a result like Chile, but today was a little easier, we got a set-piece goal.

“The USA match will be different, but it will be an important match for us naturally.”

Earliest and latest goals – the stats

  • Sweden have progressed beyond the group stages in seven of their eight appearances at the Women’s World Cup.
  • No team has conceded more goals in a single Women’s World Cup tournament than Thailand’s tally of 18 so far this year. Argentina conceded the same amount in 2007.
  • This was only the second time Sweden have scored five or more goals in a Women’s World Cup match.
  • Thailand have faced 75 shots, and 32 on target, in their two World Cup games this year. They have had seven in response.
  • Linda Sembrant’s opener for Sweden was the earliest goal scored at this year’s Women’s World Cup so far, at five minutes 24 seconds.
  • Elin Rubensson’s penalty was the latest scored at the tournament so far, at 95 minutes 10 seconds.

What’s next?

In the final round of Group F fixtures, Sweden face the USA – in what could be top-spot decider – while Thailand take on Chile.

Both matches take place at 20:00 BST on Thursday, 20 June.

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Hong Kong leader apologises after massive protests

Hong Kong‘s embattled leader has apologised to the public with “utmost sincerity and humility” after hundreds of thousands of protesters demanded she step down over her handling of a bill that would have allowed extraditions to China.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam “admitted that shortcomings in the government’s work has led to a lot of conflict and disputes in Hong Kong society and has disappointed and distressed many citizens,” a statement from her office said on Sunday.      

“The chief executive apologises to the citizens and promises to accept criticism with the most sincere and humble attitude,” it added.

The apology came after a second massive protest in a week over the proposed law. 

The protesters formed a sea of black along roads, walkways and train stations across Hong Kong’s financial centre, some carrying white carnation flowers and others holding banners saying, “Do not shoot, we are Hongkongers” – an appeal to police who fired rubber bullets and tear gas at protesters on Wednesday, wounding more than 70 people.

Sunday’s rally came a day after Lam announced she was suspending the proposed law indefinitely. Speaking at a news conference, the Beijing-appointed chief executive expressed “deep sorrow and regret”, but insisted the bill was still needed. 

Hong Kong suspends controversial extradition bill after backlash (0:48)

It was a dramatic retreat by Lam, but for many opponents, a suspension of the bill was not enough and Sunday’s marchers called for it to be scrapped and Lam to go.

“Our demands are simple. Carrie Lam must leave office, the extradition law must be withdrawn and the police must apologise for using extreme violence against their own people,” bank worker John Chow said as he marched with a group of his friends. “And we will continue.”

Critics of the bill see it as one of many steps chipping away at Hong Kong’s freedoms and legal autonomy, and worry the law could be used to send criminal suspects to China to potentially face vague political charges and unfair trials.

Lam maintains that the extradition legislation is needed if Hong Kong to uphold justice, meet its international obligations and not become a magnet for fugitives. The proposed bill would expand the scope of criminal suspect transfers to include Taiwan, Macau and mainland China.

Martin Lee, founding member of Hong Kong’s Democratic Party, accused Lam’s administration of “rushing” the bill. 

“We are not only objecting to the way the government has been handling the passage of the bill, but the very bill itself,” he told Al Jazeera from Hong Kong. “Whether Lam resigns or not, the bill must be scrapped. And then if they really want to discuss then lets discuss on that basis that there is no bill.” 

However, Einar Tangen, a political analyst who advises the Chinese government on economic issues, said the idea of an extradition treaty with China after 20 years of talks was “not unreasonable”.

Calling the provisions of the bill “mild”, Tangen said: “If you were accused of a crime by the US government that was more than a year, you could be extradited to the US, but if you were involved with China you could only be extradited for rape, murder and very serious crimes, crimes that would take more than seven years in terms of sentence or possible sentence.” 

  

SOURCE:
Al Jazeera and news agencies

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