UK's clean car goal 'not ambitious enough'

Car being chargedImage copyright
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The government’s ambition to clean up motor vehicles by 2040 is not ambitious enough, a leading energy expert says.

Professor Jim Watson, head of the prestigious UK Energy Research Centre, said the target should be at least five years earlier, as in Scotland.

The government is currently considering obliging new cars to run on electricity for at least 50 miles by 2040.

The government said it would not discuss the issue before it had published its policy which is due soon.

But ministers are facing competing pressures on the issue. Some UK car firms are telling ministers their proposed targets are unachievable, while others say the targets can easily be reached.

Push and go faster

Professor Watson, who started working life as a car engineer, says the motor industry has a history of saying targets are impossible, then suddenly finding new models to do the job.

“It’s great that they [the government] are having a target, but it could be much more ambitious,” he told BBC News.

“If you push industry further they could go faster.

“Sometimes the car industry has done itself a great disservice by lobbying against environmental standards and then finding itself in trouble when the oil price goes up and people want cleaner, more efficient cars.”

“They should embrace it [a strong target] and ask government to regulate them harder.”


Professor Watson was referring to the long campaign by US car makers against tighter efficiency standards – a battle that ended when the manufacturers faced bankruptcy because in part their models were inefficient.

In effect, the US car firms were so successful with lobbying that they nearly lobbied themselves into extinction.

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Air pollution over London

One UK car firm spokesman told me: “We don’t have a good record on this – the industry has cried ‘wolf’ too often in the past.”

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders told BBC News it rejected this suggestion.

There is certainly a range of views among UK car firms about the advisability of the 2040 target. Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) has said publicly that it expects to meet the government’s current proposed standards long before the set date.

A spokesman said: “From 2020, every new Jaguar and Land Rover will have the option of electrification.

“This (2040 target) is 22 years away – or seven new cars away for many new car buyers on a typical ownership cycle. We are confident that every new Jaguar or Land Rover will meet the proposed criteria long before 2040.”


Nissan told BBC News it supported clean car targets. A spokesman said: “As the pioneer of electric vehicles, we welcome plans that encourage people to switch to low or zero emission vehicles.”

But other manufacturers discussing the issue on condition of anonymity told BBC News the proposed 2040 standards are ill-considered.

One criticised the idea currently under consideration by the Department for Transport to force hybrid cars, by 2040, to have the capacity to travel 50 miles without burning fossil fuels.

The car maker said this would require a much bigger battery entailing more weight and cost. That extra capacity would be redundant for most of the time for an average driver.

Barrage of criticism

The issue is causing headaches for many other governments needing to cut emissions that cause local air pollution and climate change.

India’s transport minister announced 2030 as a day beyond which only all-electric cars may be sold.

But after a barrage of criticism from car firms, he rescinded the order, and India’s policy is not yet clear. Tata Motors in Delhi did not want to comment on whether it could cope with a 2030 all-electric policy.

What is certain is that in Europe and Asia, car makers are being expected to move inexorably towards low or zero emissions vehicles.

Charging infrastructure

The car makers admit they face uncertainty over the future. After decades of homogenisation of world markets, they may find themselves manufacturing electric cars to access the Chinese economy on the one hand and petrol SUVs for Texas on the other.

Car makers think China will probably become a world leader in car standards – especially in cities.

The UK car firms are in concert on one issue: the need for the government to radically improve the supply of charging infrastructure, and to increase incentives to buy low-emissions cars.

They told BBC News ministers would need to move swiftly to accelerate demand for clean cars, or it would be impossible to step up production levels to the amount needed by 2040.

Electric and hybrid cars currently constitute 1.4% of the current UK fleet. Of new sales, 4.7% are clean fuel – that’s 119,786 out of 2.54 million cars sold last year.

Mike Hawes from the SMMT told BBC News: “Vehicle manufacturers will increasingly offer electrified versions of their vehicles giving consumers ever more choice but industry cannot dictate the pace of change nor levels of consumer demand.”

Environmentalists say this is a red herring – car buyers, they say, will buy whatever vehicles are permitted to be sold in the country at that time.

The environment department Defra is concerned that their colleagues in transport at DfT have had their ambition dulled by car industry lobbying.

One Defra source told me: “They are chancing their arm. The targets for 2040 are not ambitious at all.”

The DfT didn’t want to address that comment.

Follow Roger on Twitter @rharrabin

RuneScape Classic: Game to shut down after 17 years

A screen grab from RuneScape ClassicImage copyright

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A screen grab from RuneScape Classic

After 17 years, RuneScape Classic, the original version of the online game, will shut down.

The creators have shared the news three months in advance so that players have time to say goodbye.

The multi-user game, set in a fantasy world, was released in 2001 and will stop running at 8am on 6 August, 2018.

Although there’ll be no reboots for RuneScape Classic, the current and the 2007 versions, called Old School RuneScape, will remain online.

Newsbeat’s been in touch with some of the earliest RuneScape Classic players, who got involved back in the noughties when most people still had dial up internet.


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Jasmine-Olivia Morton

“I got in to RuneScape when I was younger because there were a bunch of boys playing it in the computer room of this play centre that I used to go to. They told me that I couldn’t play because I was a girl, so I decided that I was going to anyway – and I really enjoyed it,” Jasmine explains.

“I liked the fact that you started off in a tutorial world and you could practice and build up your different skills. I loved magic, I loved being the wizard and I liked making metal.

“I actually met my best friend through the game. He was one of the boys that didn’t want me to play, but we just seemed to click in the game. We’d message in the game, help each other out and then we ended up becoming friends.

“I also had a RuneScape boyfriend temporarily, but we only spoke on RuneScape.”

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“I used to play it a lot with my friend Euan who was my next-door neighbour,” says Oliver.

“It was a sort of virtual meeting place, we used to chat on there and do quests together and I really enjoyed the freedom because you can progress through the game however you want.

“Me and Euan would arrange what time to go online and then we’d meet.”

He says he might have one last nostalgic visit to the game.

“Seeing as it’s closing down in August, if I get the time between now, doing my dissertation and then, I might jump online and see if I can meet Euan.”


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Grant de Groot-Ashton

“I used to play 10-15 years ago now, as long as you had access to a computer and the internet, you were good to go,” says Grant.

“Me and a friend of mine, Craig, we used to meet up and then we’d have two computers there and just start playing.

“A lot of the time I would actually play it in the same room as my friends, so we wouldn’t type to each other but we’d type to people in the game.

“Now that I know it’s closing down, I’m going to have to send out a few messages and see if any of my mates want to give it a last play around send-off.”

Some fans have already started “playing” their last goodbyes.

As well as saying their final farewells.

Jagex, the game developers behind RuneScape Classic, told Newsbeat they’ve taken the “difficult” decision to shut it down as advancements in technology mean their “tools are no longer compatible” with the game.

It’s meant an increasing amount of bugs can’t be fixed and bots have taken to playing it too.

In other words, RuneScape Classic is gradually breaking.

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Drake disses Kanye West and Pusha T on Duppy Freestyle

Drake, Kanye West and Pusha TImage copyright
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Drake has released a new track taking aim at both Kanye West and Pusha T.

The Toronto rapper was responding to lyrics on Pusha T’s new album.

“I could never have a Virgil in my circle and hold him back ’cause he makes me nervous”, Drake says on Duppy Freestyle, referencing Kanye’s long-time creative director Virgil Abloh, who’s now head of menswear for Louis Vuitton.

Drake also claims he’s done things for Kanye “I thought he never would need”.

The lyrical beef between Pusha T and Drake goes back a few years, and appears to stem from a disagreement between King Push and Drake’s one-time mentor Lil Wayne.

Pusha T chose to reignite the row on his new album Daytona, which was produced by and features G.O.O.D. Music label head Kanye West.

On its final track, Pusha accuses Drake of not writing his own lyrics: “The lyric pennin’ equal the Trumps winnin’/The bigger question is how the Russians did it/It was written like Nas but it came from Quentin”.

The Virginia rapper appears to be suggesting that like an allegation against Donald Trump – that he had outsider help winning the presidency – Drake has help writing his lyrics.

It’s a theory that was first alleged by Meek Mill back in 2015, and one Drizzy appears to confirm (in part) on Duppy Freestyle.

It took less than 24 hours for Drake to clap back – and fans were here for the quick turnaround.

His response came with a number of cutting lyrics – but fans appreciated the track before he’d even started rapping.

Drake questions Pusha T’s famed drug dealing credentials, saying: “You might’ve sold some college kids some Nikes and Mercedes/But you act like you sold drugs for Escobar in the 80s”.

Pusha’s current career was also questioned: “Don’t push me when I’m in album mode/You’re not even top five as far as your label talent goes/You send shots, well, I got to challenge those.”

Drake also refers to the person “that’s making your beats” – AKA Kanye West – and says: “I’ve done things for him I thought that he never would need/Father had to stretch his hands out and get it from me.”

While he also referenced Lil Wayne and Birdman, who Pusha T dissed on Infrared, saying: “It’s gonna be a cruel summer for you/I told Weezy and Baby ‘I’ma done him for you’/Tell ‘Ye we got an invoice coming to you/ Considering that we just sold another 20 for you.”

Pusha T picked up on the invoice line…

And Drake duly responded to Pusha’s request – sending G.O.O.D. Music an invoice for “promotional assistance and career reviving”.


Pusha T spoke about Drake before his album was released, after snippets of Infrared were posted on social media.

He told radio show Ebro In The Morning the lyrics were in response to Drake’s Two Birds One Stone, in which Drizzy questioned whether Pusha T was as prolific a drug dealer as he claims.

“The Drake thing, more recently, was about the Two Birds One Stone record,” Pusha said.

“A lot of talk about the record, or whatever the case may be… I guess, just speaking his truth, questioning my validity to the streets and so on and so forth within that verse.

“It’s fine. That’s what it was. But if we’re gonna question things, it’s my turn to question.”

Drake is expected to release his next album, Scorpion, in June.

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  • Sheeran ticket row: 'I'm not stitching fans up'

    Ed Sheeran says he is not trying to stitch fans up by invalidating tickets bought on secondary websites when people arrive at his gigs.

    The British singer is taking resale sites and touts to task by declaring tickets bought through them invalid at the door of his concerts, offering fans the chance to buy the tickets at face value instead.

    It means fans have to apply for a refund after the show from resale sites.

    But fans who arrived at his Manchester show in the Etihad Stadium had to fork out £80, the tickets’ face value, leaving many to state the policy is unfair and leaves fans out of pocket.

    However, Sheeran said: “It’s all being done properly, I’m not stitching people up.”

    He insists it is the resale sites, that allow tickets to be sold at more than the face value, which will lose out.

    ed sheeran
    Sheeran said other musicians are taking a stand too

    He told Radio 1 Newsbeat that the “strong” approach, will be “positive” in the long run for fans.

    Sheeran added: “The only people it is going to harm in the end is the touts.

    “I hate the idea of people paying more than face value for tickets when you can get them at face value.

    “People just need to start taking a stance and within two or three years companies like Viagogo are going to be kaput.

    “I think (Viagogo) are the ones who are pushing out all this stuff that seems really negative, but it will be very positive for fans in the long run.”

    He said there are other artists also adopting the same policy, including Adele and Arctic Monkeys.

    Sheeran said people can get refunds through Viagogo.

    On the Viagogo website, it states tickets are “genuine tickets that have been sold on by the original ticket purchaser in good faith”.

    It adds: “Therefore, as with all tickets on our platform, Viagogo customers should feel confident that they will gain entry to the event, and that is why we back every ticket with the Viagogo guarantee.”

    Tycoon Hands plots £2.5bn takeover of Quintain

    Guy Hands, the private equity tycoon, is exploring a £2.5bn bid for Quintain, the London-based property group, in an effort to establish an £8bn UK-wide real estate empire.

    Sky News has learnt that Mr Hands’ buyout firm, Terra Firma Capital Partners, is examining an offer for Quintain‎ through Annington, the giant residential property group it has controlled since 2012.

    Initial bids are due for Quintain, which is owned by Lone Star Funds, another private equity firm, early next month, and City sources expect a deluge of interest in it.

    The company has planning permission ‎for thousands of rental homes in the area around Wembley Stadium, with the development scheduled to be completed by 2024.

    Buying Quintain would give Mr Hands a natural merger partner for Annington, which was created in 1996 to acquire more than 57,000 residential properties from the Ministry of Defence (MoD), most of which were then leased back to it on 200-year leases.

    Today, the company owns roughly 40,000 homes, the majority of which are still leased to the MoD.

    The original deal with Annington has been criticised by the National Audit Office for costing taxpayers £4.2bn‎ more than expected, with rental charges to the MoD expected to rise sharply from 2021.

    Mr Hands was the arcitect of that investment in 1996 during his earlier career at Nomura, the Japanese bank.

    Mr Hands brought in Justin King, the former J Sainsbury chief executive, and Andrew Geczy from Lloyds Banking Group to attract new investors
    Mr Hands brought in Justin King, the former J Sainsbury chief executive, and Andrew Geczy from Lloyds Banking Group to attract new investors

    Annington is owned by a separate Terra Firma-run vehicle which has a number of external investors‎ including an Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund.

    Last year, Terra Firma secured a £4bn refinancing of Annington, raising £550m of new equity and £3.4bn of debt, in a move that paved the way for a push into the private rented sector.

    Some analysts believe the company is now worth over £5.5bn and that an exit via a stock market listing could be easier for Mr Hands if Annington and Quintain were to merge.

    It is unclear whether Terra Firma is separately exploring options for the future of Annington although people close to it believe that that is inevitable in the coming months even if Quintain does not form part of its future.

    If Mr Hands were to succeed with a bid for Quintain, he would need to raise fresh funds from investors, even as he also attempts to buy a £1.2bn commercial property portfolio from Network Rail.

    The tycoon has not raised a general buyout fund for a decade, having seen his stellar reputation tarnished by the financial implosion and eventual seizure of EMI Group, the music empire, from his grasp in 2011.

    Last year, Terra Firma kicked off talks with pension funds and other investors about assembling a new $3bn fund, but doubts have begun to emerge in the City about whether such an ambition is achievable.

    Mr Hands brought in Justin King, the former J Sainsbury chief executive, and Andrew Geczy from Lloyds Banking Group to attract new investors and oversee an improvement in the operational performance of the companies it owns.

    However, Four Seasons Health Care, the care homes operator, has effectively been removed from Terra Firma’s ownership by the company’s bondholders.

    That investment has cost Terra Firma hundreds of millions of pounds, while this week it put Wyevale, the garden centre group, up for sale following a difficult period.

    Mr Hands does expect to generate a healthy return from the disposals of RTR, an Italian solar energy business.

    Sources said this weekend that Mr Hands’ interest in Quintain was “at an early stage” and that he could yet decide not to lodge a formal offer for the company.

    Lone Star has hired Credit Suisse and Eastdil to handle the sale.

    Spokesmen for Terra Firma and Annington declined to comment this weekend.

    Deadly cyclone batters Oman and Yemen

    A powerful cyclone has killed a 12-year-old girl and left at least nine other people dead as it battered parts of Oman and Yemen.

    More than 30 people are missing on the Yemeni island of Socotra after it bore the brunt of Cyclone Mekunu, with gusts of up to 124mph reported.

    Those missing include Yemeni, Indian and Sudanese nationals.

    The 12-year-old girl is among three people who have been found dead in Oman, while seven people have been killed in Socotra, said officials from both affected countries.

    A person died in Oman after a car drifted into a valley in the southern region of Dhofar in torrential rain, Royal Oman Police tweeted on Saturday.

    A man clutches a young child as he wades through floodwater in Socotra
    A man clutches a young child as he wades through floodwater in Socotra

    More than 10 inches of rain has fallen in Oman’s third largest city Salalah, with the deluge amounting to three years of its typical rainfall in one day.

    Power has been cut out in some areas of the city and branches and leaves now litter the streets.

    Electrical workers have been trying to repair lines in the city while police and soldiers have been patrolling in 4x4s.

    Authorities are reportedly anxious about flash flooding in the area’s valleys and potential mudslides down nearby mountains.

    Underpasses have been flooded as the cyclone drenched the city in water.

    Authorities opened up schools to shelter people at risk from the torrential rains on Friday.

    Roughly 600 people, mostly labourers, took refuge at the West Salalah School, with some sleeping on mattresses on the floors of classrooms.

    Many holidaymakers fled the storm on Thursday night before the airport closed.

    Salalah has had three-years worth of its typical rainfall in one day
    Salalah has had three-years worth of its typical rainfall in one day

    The Port of Salalah, a key gateway for the country, is also closed with its cranes secured against the pounding rain.

    Socotra governor Ramzy Mahrous said one ship sank and two others ran aground as the cyclone hit on Thursday, initially saying authorities believed 17 people were missing and presumed dead.

    Rageh Bakrit, the governor of the al-Mahra province, Yemen, posted on Twitter on Friday that strong winds had blown down houses and taken out communication lines and water services.

    India’s Meteorological Department said the storm packed maximum sustained winds of 105 – 111mph with gusts of up to 124mph.

    It called the cyclone “extremely severe”.

    Authorities relocated over 230 families to sturdier buildings and other areas on Socotra, including those more inland and in the island’s mountains, Yemeni security officials said.

    Flash floods engulfed Socotra streets, cutting electricity and communication lines.

    Some humanitarian aid from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates arrived on the island just hours after the cyclone receded.

    LIVE: Liverpool setback as Salah suffers injury in final


    Former Liverpool managing director Christian Purslow is in Kiev outside the ground with our reporter Vinny O’Connor.

    The club have come a long way since he was at the club and on the brink of administration. He tells Sky Sports: “This feels like the good old days. This is what it used to be like being a Liverpool fan.

    “Champions League finals are where the club is meant to be and so those dark days of 2010 when the club was in trouble seems a long time ago. It’s fantastic to be here seeing us on our natural stage.

    “The appointment of Jurgen Klopp was a turning point, he was one of the most sought-after coaches in the world. This was the key moment in FSG’s ownership and he has taken the club to another level. It makes me proud to be a Liverpool fan.”

    France wine auction: 1774 Vin Jaune fetches record price

    A Vin Jaune wine bottle from 1774 (file photo)Image copyright

    Image caption

    The wine was made using grapes harvested during the reign of King Louis XVI

    A bottle of wine dating back to 1774 has sold at auction in eastern France for a record €103,700 ($120,800).

    The bottle of Vin Jaune (yellow wine) comes from the eastern Jura region and was made using grapes harvested during the reign of King Louis XVI.

    At the same auction, another bottle of the same vintage fetched €76,250, and a third was sold for €73,200.

    The three 87cl bottles of Vin Jaune were made by the winemaker Anatoile Vercel.

    They were in the possession of his descendents in Arbois, the winemaking heart of the Jura region, and are believed to be among the oldest existing wines in the world.

    • Georgia made ‘world’s oldest wine’
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    The buyers were Canadians and someone who used to purchase wine for Americans with links to France, AFP news agency quoted auctioneer Brigitte Fenaux, of the Jura Encheres auction house, as saying.

    “I didn’t think that these bottles would sell for so much. The last record set in 2011 was €57,000,” she said.

    “There were winemakers in the room who applauded, who were happy, it was moving.”

    AFP reports that in 1994, a tasting panel of 24 wine experts rated the wine as a 9.4 out of 10.

    Irish abortion referendum: Ireland overturns abortion ban

    Media playback is unsupported on your device

    Media captionReturning Officer Barry Ryan delivered the results in Irish and English

    The Republic of Ireland has voted overwhelmingly to overturn the abortion ban by 66.4% to 33.6%.

    A referendum held on Friday resulted in a landslide win for the repeal side.

    Currently, abortion is only allowed when a woman’s life is at risk, but not in cases of rape, incest or fatal foetal abnormality.

    The Eighth Amendment, which grants an equal right to life to the mother and unborn, will be replaced.

    The declaration was made at at Dublin Castle at 18:13 local time.

    The only constituency to vote against repealing the Eighth amendment was Donegal, with 51.9% voting against the change.

    Image caption

    Crowds celebrate outside Dublin Castle after the result was announced

    A vote in favour of repeal paves the way for the Dáil (Irish Parliament) to legislate for change which would see the introduction of a much more liberal regime.

    In 2015 the country voted overwhelmingly to legalise same-sex marriage in a historic referendum.

    ‘Burden of shame is gone’

    Reacting to the result, the taoiseach (prime minister) Leo Varadkar, who campaigned in favour of liberalisation, said it was “a historic day for Ireland,” and that a “quiet revolution” had taken place.

    Mr Varadkar told crowds at Dublin Castle the result showed the Irish public “trust and respect women to make their own decision and choices.”

    He added: “It’s also a day when we say no more. No more to doctors telling their patients there’s nothing can be done for them in their own country, no more lonely journeys across the Irish Sea, no more stigma as the veil of secrecy is lifted and no more isolation as the burden of shame is gone.”

    Media playback is unsupported on your device

    Media captionIrish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar: “Today we say no more”

    He said that some had voted yes with “pride,” but many had voted yes with “sorrowful acceptance and heavy hearts”.

    Mr Varadkar said he understood that those who had voted against repeal would be unhappy.

    He said he had a message for them: “I know today is not welcome and you may feel this country has taken the wrong turn, that this country is one you no longer recognise.

    “I want to reassure you that Ireland today is the same as it was last week, but more tolerant, open and respectful.”

    He said by and large it had been a respectful campaign.

    He added: “We voted to look reality in the eye and we did not blink.

    “We choose to provide companionship where there was once a cold shoulder and medical care where we once turned a blind eye”.

    Media playback is unsupported on your device

    Media captionIreland votes in abortion referendum

    Mr Varadkar said he hoped to have a new abortion law enacted by the end of this year.

    At the scene: Kelly-Leigh Cooper, BBC News

    The people behind the Repeal campaign were always hopeful of a positive outcome today – but no can quite believe they have received such a resounding Yes from the Irish public.

    Tears streamed as they watched the poll predictions come true throughout Saturday.

    For those who have campaigned tirelessly and helped women in crisis for years – this moment is long overdue.

    A celebratory atmosphere has swept across much of the Irish capital. It’s impossible to avoid Repeal jumpers and Yes stickers worn proudly on chests everywhere.

    Many supporters gathered at the castle (the same place the same-sex marriage results were welcomed three years ago) to celebrate together as results rolled in.

    Hugs are being given and cheers of “Yes, yes yes,” are filling the air.

    ‘Continue to protest’

    Counting began at 09:00.

    After the polls were published, one of the main anti-abortion campaigns conceded it had lost the vote.

    Image copyright
    Getty Images

    Image caption

    Repeal campaigners celebrate at Dublin Castle. where the result was announced

    The Save The 8th campaign described the result as a “tragedy of historic proportions”.

    “The unborn child no longer has a right to life recognised by the Irish state,” said its spokesman John McGuirk.

    However, he vowed that No campaigners would continue to protest, “if and when abortion clinics are opened in Ireland”.

    The leader of the main Irish opposition party, Micheál Martin of Fianna Fáil, said the vote was the “dawn of a new era”.

    He said he had wrestled with the issue, but added the people had made the right decision and it would mean better care for women in Irish hospitals.

    Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald, whose party campaigned in favour of a Yes vote, said: “We have without doubt done right by Irish women for this generation and many to come.”

    Amnesty International hailed the result as a “momentous win for women’s rights” that “marks the beginning of a new Ireland”.

    Northern Ireland’s abortion laws

    The vote will have repercussions for women north of the border, as Northern Ireland has the strictest abortion laws in the UK.

    Cases of rape, incest and fatal foetal abnormality are not considered grounds for a legal termination.

    The UK’s Women and Equalities Minister Penny Mordaunt said the predicted landslide vote gave “hope” to Northern Ireland.

    Image copyright

    Image caption

    It has been an emotive campaign with harrowing stories on both sides

    Grainne Teggart of Amnesty International UK said the people of Ireland have “given hope to women around the world”. But she added Northern Ireland is still subject to restrictive abortion laws.

    “It’s hypocritical, degrading and insulting to Northern Irish women that we are forced to travel for vital healthcare services but cannot access them at home,” Ms Teggart said.

    “We cannot be left behind in a corner of the UK and on the island of Ireland as second-class citizens.”

    Former Northern Ireland health minister Jim Wells said the expected result was a “grave threat” to the unborn child in Northern Ireland.

    Mr Wells, a Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) politician, claimed it was “inevitable” that abortion clinics would be set up in border towns to “promote their services to Northern Ireland women”.

    “It will be much easier to terminate a child’s life if this can be done at a clinic in Dundalk or Letterkenny rather than flying to London or Manchester,” he added.