Welcome to Tuesday’s Early Edition from i.
The victory may not yet be entirely won, but many of this morning’s front pages appear gleefully shocked at Rishi Sunak’s “Windsor framework”. From the dutifully cautious ‘Brexit breakthrough,’ (with turmoil still on the horizon) to heralding a more positive chapter: ‘A new way forward’ to the surprised: ‘Has Rishi done the impossible?’ (we’ll leave the paper which got distracted by a mythical elf, as delightfully escapist as that might be). And it’s not just the papers that are excited – EU officials privately praised Mr Sunak for creating a “constructive” atmosphere during talks, and some key Brexiteers were quick to welcome the agreement. But Mr Sunak’s negotiating skills may see him jump more than one hurdle. If the PM can get his deal ratified, the Northern Ireland protocol may become irrelevant, and, possibly so might its instigator, Boris Johnson. We’ll look at what’s been agreed and what it means, after the headlines.
Today’s news, and why it matters
Missing aristocrat Constance Marten and her partner Mark Gordon are in police custody after being found in Brighton. An urgent search operation is underway to find their baby, who remains missing and has not had any medical attention since its birth in early January.
Most schools in England and Wales will shutter at some point during teacher strikes over the next three days, as headteachers warned that the scale of this week’s industrial action is likely to eclipse the previous walkout. The National Education Union told i “the majority” of more than 25,000 schools across England and Wales are expected to close, either fully or partially, during the strikes this week.
A Cotswold town is telling swimmers to stay out of the water at a 129-year-old bathing spot, due to sewage pollution The Mill Field and its swimming area have been at the centre of community life in Charlbury, but sewage now means locals are being warned against taking a dip in the River Evenlode. “We live in a really beautiful area, with protected landscapes, but our river is not in a good state,” Claire Wilding, a Charlbury town councillor told i.
Pharmacists have warned they will struggle to cope with increased demand driven by the launch of a new NHS England campaign encouraging people with minor illnesses to first seek advice from a pharmacy. But one leading pharmacy association told i they only received notification of the campaign on Friday, while others also complained of a lack of funding to support its aims.
Liverpool has become the first British city to commit to the Paris agreement for major live events, it has been reported. The city will issue licences only for concerts and festivals that agree to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50%, including using some renewable energy to power the festival and reducing the number of cars visitors take to events.
Baroness Betty Boothroyd, the only woman to have served as Commons Speaker, has died aged 93. She was a Labour MP for the seat of West Bromwich between 1973 and 2000 and awarded a life peerage in 2001. Sir Lindsay Hoyle described Baroness Boothroyd as “one of a kind” and a “sharp, witty and formidable woman”.
Three questions on Rishi Sunak’s Brexit deal:
What does the deal do? The framework removes barriers on trade across the Irish Sea and creates a “Stormont brake”, essentially a veto to politicians in Northern Ireland when it comes to EU law. Most goods going from Great Britain to Northern Ireland will no longer need customs and regulatory checks as long as they are certified as not intended for the EU market. Some food products will have to carry a label saying “not for EU”. It also still includes a role for the European Court of Justice. From an end to the sausage wars, to red and green lanes, you can read i‘s full explainer on the Windsor framework here.
Is it the end of Boris Johnson’s political comeback? That was the question Channel 4’s Krishnan Guru-Murthy put to Brexiteer MP Steve Baker last night, who replied: “As fond as I am of Boris I think it has to be recognised he’s not got a particular reputation for his meticulous grasp of tedious minutia.” Others noted the former PM’s absence from the House of Commons yesterday as Rishi Sunak thanked his “predecessors for laying the groundwork for today’s agreement” (to much amusement). It is understood that Boris Johnson was, as of last night, continuing “to study and reflect on the Government’s proposals.” It had previously been reported that Mr Johnson would urge Rishi Sunak not to abandon the Northern Ireland protocol, which he agreed in 2019. But that may now be a pointless interjection, as the legislation will now be abandoned after the Government judged it unnecessary in light of Monday’s agreement between Britain and the EU. The Attorney General has argued that the Bill would now be illegal under international law, because it cannot be justified under “the doctrine of necessity”.
Will we stop talking about Brexit now? In short: no. The Windsor Framework is only an “agreement in principle” and will need to be put into legislation and voted on by MPs to be fully ratified. It also requires the backing of the Democratic Unionist Party, and to some degree, arch-Conservative Brexiteers. The DUP so far appears to be split, with its leadership reserving judgement. The party’s leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has not outright opposed the deal, which is seen as potentially positive, but senior MPs thought to be on the more hardline wing of the party have already expressed their displeasure. Mr Paisley Jr said the deal “does not cut the mustard” and “falls some way short” in meeting the DUP’s seven tests for the viability of a deal. Their support will be crucial to the viability of the deal, and if Mr Sunak is unable to win it, dozens of Conservative MPs are poised to also rebel, Arj Singh writes. On those, many prominent Leavers have heaped praise on his framework, including former Brexit Secretary David Davis who hailed it as a “spectacular success”, and Dame Andrea Leadsom who said: “If this deal had been on the table, those of us who are Brexiteers would have jumped on it”. However the full extent of support is yet to be seen, with members of the ERG due to meet today to determine next steps. There could still be many stormy days ahead.
Around the world
Rupert Murdoch acknowledged in a deposition that some Fox News hosts endorsed false claims that the 2020 US presidential election was stolen. Murdoch’s remarks were made public in a legal filing as part of Dominion Voting Systems $1.6bn lawsuit against Fox News.
Palestinian residents of Huwara awoke to scenes of devastation on Monday after hundreds of Israeli settlers stormed the town overnight setting fire to homes and cars and attacking residents and emergency responders in a revenge attack after the fatal shooting of two Israeli brothers.
South Africa could face “consequences” from the international community after undertaking military drills with Russia over the one-year anniversary of the war in Ukraine, opposition leaders in the country believe. Russian warships have spent the past 10 days week in South African waters undergoing navy exercises including live ammunitions on targets in a naval exercise dubbed Mosi II.
There are fears more than 100 people, including children, have died after a boat carrying around 200 people sank off southern Italy. The coastguard said 80 people had been found alive, “including some who managed to reach the shore after the sinking”, meaning many more remained unaccounted for.
Archaeologists are about to begin excavating a block at Pompeii which has been left almost untouched for two millennia. “We are about to come into contact with the past, and it’s a big unknown; we don’t know what awaits us,” Gabriel Zuchtriegel, director of the Pompeii archaeological park, said.
Watch out for…
Rishi Sunak, who is travelling to Northern Ireland later today in the hope of smoothing out his Brexit deal.
Thoughts for the day
Rishi Sunak’s Brexit breakthrough will wean his party off its addiction to Boris Johnson. The PM’s ties to Tory backbenchers now look stronger than they have since he became leader, argues Paul Waugh.
We want sexual freedom for women – yet mock anyone who decides to wait for marriage. Few commentators seem to understand why an intelligent, professional successful young woman in 2023 might see spiritual dangers in premarital sex, says Kate Maltby.
Westminster’s anti-drugs panic is out of step with public sentiment. It’s about time that we had an evidenced-based approach that focused on reducing harm, writes Andrew Fisher.
Sanjeev Bhaskar on the brilliance of Nicola Walker and the return of Unforgotten. The actor talks to Yasmin Alibhai-Brown about the much-anticipated return of Unforgotten, his bond with his former co-star, and working with strong women.
The Big Read
The UK’s 20 dirtiest rivers, at high risk of pollution from sewage, chemicals and plastics. The Wildlife Trusts chief executive, Craig Bennett, calls the state of the UK’s waterways a “national disgrace”.
Casemiro’s hunger makes him Man Utd’s biggest culture changer since Eric Cantona inspired Class of ’92. No one is doubting the £60m arrival now, with Casemiro’s match and trophy-winning displays driven by an unrivalled tenacity, writes Daniel Storey.
Something to brighten your day
The Northern Lights put on a rare display in parts of the south at the start of this week, being visible as far as Cornwall. People around the country have been braving freezing weather to capture the phenomenon, a result from collisions of charged particles in the solar wind colliding with molecules in the Earth’s upper atmosphere.