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LONDON, June 18, 2018 (News Wires) - Three people have died after being struck by a train in south London, British Transport Police said on Monday.

Police said they were trying to determine details about the deaths at the Loughborough Junction station, on a busy commuter line into the city center. Police said the three were pronounced dead at the scene.

Detective Superintendent Gary Richard his team was "now working hard to understand what happened and how these three people came to lose their life on the railway."

He said the deaths are being treated as "unexplained." The bodies were found at about 7:30 a.m. Monday near the start of the morning rush hour.

Police asked anyone who was in the area and observed something that might be related to the deaths to contact them immediately.

Transport police were on the scene working to identify the victims and notify their families.

Train services in the area were being delayed during the investigation.



GENEVA, June 18, 2018 (News Wires) - British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has defended the UN's main human rights body, alluding to signs the US may withdraw from it over its alleged bias against Israel.

Speaking to the Human Rights Council, Johnson nonetheless said that its dedicated agenda item on Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories was "disproportionate and damaging to the cause of peace."

Johnson said: "But I stress that that does not mean that we in the UK are blind to the value of this council."

Johnson said the council's work on the Israel-Palestinian conflict could have value under the right conditions.

Diplomats said that a US withdrawal from the 47-member council could come as early as Tuesday.

Johnson's address Monday focused on the need for education of women and girls worldwide as a way to promote human rights.




LONDON, June 17, 2018 (News Wires) - British Prime Minister Theresa May pledged Sunday to increase funding for the National Health Service (NHS) by £20 billion after Brexit, funded by money no longer spent on membership of the European Union and possible tax rises.

The announcement of more cash for the NHS, a regular issue at elections, comes after a row in parliament over Brexit highlighted the fragility of May’s minority government.

May said spending in England would increase to an extra 20 billion pounds by 2023/24. The pledge drew immediate scepticism, with critics saying the plans lacked detail and questioning whether leaving the EU would actually save money.

“As we leave the European Union and stop paying significant annual subscriptions to Brussels, we will have more money to spend on priorities like the NHS,” May said in a post on her Facebook account.

“But to give the NHS the funding it needs for the future, this Brexit dividend will not be enough. As a country, we need to contribute a bit more in a fair and balanced way.”

May said the spending increase was equivalent to a 3.4 per cent funding increase in real terms. Independent experts say it needs even more than that to improve.

The idea of a “Brexit dividend” is also contested. The independent Institute for Fiscal Studies think tank highlighted government analysis showing public finances would weaken by 15 billion pounds per year after Brexit, and paying Britain’s EU divorce bill would eat up any savings initially.

In media interviews, May said her finance minister would set out plans before a government spending review expected next year. She said the increased contribution from taxpayers would be done in a “fair and balanced” way. She did not answer directly when asked whether borrowing might increase.

The announcement is timed to mark the 70th anniversary of the NHS, which delivers free access to care for everyone living in Britain. It aims to foster unity in the government and the country after two years of bitter divisions over Brexit.

But it is also seen as a political risk. During eight years in power, May’s Conservative Party has made fiscal discipline its core message. Any departure that involves tax increases could upset core voters and open it up to criticism from the opposition Labour Party.

“I’d certainly welcome it, if I could believe it,” Labour’s foreign affairs spokeswoman Emily Thornberry told the BBC. “Let’s see what they deliver. How are they going to pay for it?”

Sunday’s announcement was also tailored to send a positive message to the 48 per cent of Britons who voted in 2016 to remain in the EU - many of whom are still unconvinced about Brexit as the March 29, 2019 exit date approaches.

During the 2016 referendum campaign on EU membership, the pro-Brexit camp claimed that Britain was sending £350 million a week to the EU and should spend that money on the NHS instead.

The claim was controversial because the figure did not take into account Britain’s sizeable rebate or the payments that were flowing back from the EU to Britain, so it was widely seen as overstating Britain’s contribution to the bloc.

Despite leaving, Britain will continue to make payments to the EU over several decades to settle an exit bill of around £39 billion pounds.

In interviews, May - who campaigned against Brexit in 2016 and has been under pressure from hardline Brexiteers ever since to prove her conversion to the cause - drew attention to the fact that her funding announcement exceeded that £350 million-per-week figure.

The £20 billion pounds annually is approximately 384 million pounds per week.

LONDON, June 11, 2018 (News Wires) - Troubled UK budget chain Poundworld on Monday fell into adminstration, putting it closer to collapse with the loss of up to 5,100 jobs unless a last-ditch buyer can be found.

Poundworld, which is battling against discounting in supermarkets, has appointed financial group Deloitte to help it find a buyer and stave off store closures and job losses.

The announcement comes just days after House of Fraser, the Chinese-owned department store chain, said it is closing more than half its shops across Britain and Ireland, risking the loss of 6,000 jobs.

British retailers with large amounts of stores are suffering also from fierce online competition from the likes of Amazon.

The UK is also experiencing weak household spending generally amid Brexit uncertainty.

Speaking of Poundworld’s move, Deloitte administrator Clare Boardman said that “the retail trading environment in the UK remains extremely challenging and Poundworld has been seeking to address this through a restructure of its business.

“Unfortunately, this has not been possible. We still believe a buyer can be found for the business or at least part of it and we are keeping staff appraised of developments as they happen,” she added in a statement.

Operating out of 335 stores, Poundworld sells items including household cleaning items and confectionery mostly priced at £1.

“Like many (UK) high street retailers, Poundworld has suffered from high product cost inflation, decreasing footfall, weaker consumer confidence and an increasingly competitive discount retail market,” Deloitte said.

Last month, British food-to-clothing retailer Marks and Spencer said it would shut more than 100 UK stores as it looks to shift at least one third of overall sales online.

Emphasising the fast-growing shift to online among British consumers, Amazon last week said it plans 2,500 new UK jobs by the end of the year.

LONDON, June 8, 2018 (News Wires) - Britain’s Queen Elizabeth, 92, the world’s oldest monarch, underwent successful surgery to treat an eye cataract last month, Buckingham Palace said on Friday.

“I can confirm that the queen successfully underwent a short, planned procedure to treat a cataract last month,” a palace spokesman said, declining to give further details.

The Press Association news agency said Britain’s longest-reigning monarch, who has been on the throne for more than 66 years, underwent the surgery, the most common operation performed in the United Kingdom, at London’s private King Edward VII hospital.

She did not have to cancel any official engagements after the treatment, a royal source said, although at some recent events, the queen has been pictured wearing sunglasses.

Earlier today, a smiling Elizabeth appeared without glasses to open the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Galleries at London’s Westminster Abbey along with her son and heir Prince Charles.

She is next due to appear in public at tomorrow’s Trooping the Colour ceremony in central London to celebrate her “official” birthday. Her real birthday is on April 21.

Cataracts are when the lens, a small transparent disc inside your eye, develops cloudy patches. Over time these patches usually become bigger causing blurry, misty vision and eventually blindness.

Despite her age, the queen is known for her robust health and still carries out hundreds of engagements every year.

In 2016, she missed the annual Christmas service she usually attends with her family on her estate in Sandringham, eastern England, due to a heavy cold.

In 2013 she was taken to hospital for treatment for gastroenteritis which forced her to cancel a planned trip to Italy.

LONDON, June 8, 2018 (News Wires) - British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has been caught on tape predicting a “meltdown” in Brexit talks and musing admiringly how US President Donald Trump might handle them.

In his latest indiscreet remarks likely to embarrass Prime Minister Theresa May, Johnson said the government was reaching a phase in negotiations “where we are much more combative with Brussels”.

“You’ve got to face the fact there may now be a meltdown. OK?” he told Conservative activists earlier this week, according to a secret recording leaked to BuzzFeed News.

“I don’t want anybody to panic during the meltdown. No panic. Pro bono publico, no bloody panic. It’s going to be all right in the end.”

He added, according to further quotes revealed in The Times: “Take the fight to the enemy - absolutely right. We need to - and we will.”

Johnson, Britain’s chief diplomat, also said he was “increasingly admiring of Donald Trump”. “I have become more and more convinced that there is method in his madness,” he said.

“Imagine Trump doing Brexit. He’d go in bloody hard... There’d be all sorts of breakdowns, all sorts of chaos,” Johnson continued.

“Everyone would think he’d gone mad. But actually you might get somewhere. It’s a very, very good thought.”

The leading Brexiteer talked about divisions within the British government, saying that Brexit “will happen, and I think it will be irreversible, but... the risk is that it will not be the one we want”.

He said the establishment was seeking to ensure that Brexit “does as little change as possible”, with “the risk is that you will end up in an anteroom of the EU, locked in orbit around the EU”.

Johnson also played down concerns about the risk of new checks on the border between Northern Ireland and EU member Ireland, which threaten to hold up talks on the future trading relationship.

“It’s so small and there are so few firms that actually use that border regularly, it’s just beyond belief that we’re allowing the tail to wag the dog in this way,” he said.

“We’re allowing the whole of our agenda to be dictated by this folly.”

China ‘will try to stiff us’

Away from domestic politics, Johnson also suggested May would put forward a new plan at the G7 summit in Canada for a “rapid response unit” to deal with Russian aggression, including cyber-warfare.

On China, he said: “We need to engage with China diplomatically, treat China as our friend and our partner, but also recognise that they are our commercial rivals. And they will try to stiff us.”

Johnson also said US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had asked Britain to use its nuclear expertise in helping North Korea dismantle its arsenal.

“What they want us to do is to use our nuclear expertise to dismantle Kim Jong-un’s nuclear missile. That’s what he asked me to do today,” he said.

A source close to Johnson said: “This was a private dinner under Chatham House rules (meaning it cannot be reported) so it is sad and very disappointing that it has been covertly recorded and distributed to the media.”

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