John Major: ‘Universal credit is new Poll Tax’

Former prime minister Sir John Major has warned that the new Universal Credit benefits system could be as damaging to the modern Conservative Party as the Poll Tax was in the 1980s and early 1990s. While saying he supported the thinking behind the system, he warned that those who might lose out at first must be protected.

Hurricane Michael calms after hitting Florida

Meteorologists say Hurricane Michael was the most intense storm ever recorded in Florida when it made landfall yesterday with 155mph winds, flooding coastal towns, uprooting trees and causing at least two deaths. The storm calmed from category four to category one as it moved across the state. Storm records in Florida go back to 1851.

Durham student held for spying by UAE

It has emerged that a PhD student from Durham University has been held in solitary confinement in the United Arab Emirates for the past five months, accused of spying. Matthew Hedges, 31, was prevented from flying out of the country in May after a trip researching security policy. The Foreign Office says talks have taken place.

Firms may have to publish ethnicity pay gap

Theresa May is consulting on whether UK firms should be forced to reveal the disparity between the average pay received by white and ethnic minority employees, after it was decided they must share their gender pay gaps. A government report last year showed some minorities were disproportionately likely to be low-earning.

Police escort for Fiona Bruce to read news

BBC newsreader Fiona Bruce received a police escort yesterday across London to broadcast the News at Six from a different studio after technical difficulties forced the national broadcaster to show pre-recorded news on its rolling channels. Bruce flagged down a police car outside Broadcasting House and posed for a photo en route.

Britain’s hottest October day for seven years

Britain yesterday enjoyed the hottest October day since 2011, when temperatures reached 24.6C in Northolt, west London. In Liverpool it was 21C and Edinburgh enjoyed 19C. Meanwhile, in Mallorca a British couple were killed in the worst flash floods in living memory. Anthony and Delia Green died with taxi driver Juan Sillero.

Posthumous award for London Bridge hero

A City worker from Spain who used his skateboard to try to stop terrorists who killed eight people at London Bridge last year is to be given a posthumous bravery award. Ignacio Echeverria, 39, was stabbed to death at the scene of the 3 June attack. His father, Joaquin Echeverria Alonso, will receive the George Medal for him in London.

Hawking’s final work: black holes and soft hair

Stephen Hawking’s final scientific paper has been published, after being written up by colleagues who took over on his death in March. Titled Black Hole Entropy and Soft Hair, the work examines how information can escape a black hole. The ‘soft hair’ of the title refers to a sheen of photons which might escape black hole gravity.

World’s longest flight to resume at 19 hours

The world has a new longest scheduled flight after Singapore Airlines restarted its 19-hour, 9,000-mile Singapore to New York service, five years after it was deemed too expensive.  Last year, Qatar Airlines introduced a non-stop 17.5-hour Auckland to Doha service and in August Qantas began a Perth to London flight at 17 hours.

Briefing: when will the Lower Thames Crossing open?

A planned major new road linking the counties of Kent and Essex will almost double capacity across the River Thames, Highways England has announced.

The three-lane Lower Thames Crossing (LTC) has been billed as the “UK’s most ambitious road scheme since the M25”, and will include the kingdom’s longest road tunnel, says the London Evening Standard.

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