Huge blaze engulfs school as more than 80 firefighters battle flames

Huge blaze engulfs high school as more than 80 firefighters battle flames through the night

  • Scottish Fire and Rescue Service were called to the school at 5.05pm on Sunday
  • The blaze at Woodmill High School, Dunfermline, being fought by 15 fire engines 
  • There have been no reported casualties. School is closed to all students today

More than 80 firefighters are battling a ‘very large and complex’ blaze at a high school in Scotland.

The blaze at Woodmill High School was being fought by 15 fire engines and two height appliances since the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service was called at 5.05pm on Sunday.

Deputy assistant chief officer Stuart Stevens said: ‘This is a very large and complex incident and our firefighters continue to work in difficult conditions to extinguish the flames.’

The blaze at Woodmill High School was being fought by 15 fire engines and two height appliances since the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service was called at 5.05pm on Sunday

There are two height appliances being used to battle the blaze in Scotland that raged overnight

The incident commander added that the fire was burning in the school’s main building but firefighters were working around the building’s edge to contain it.

‘This will be a prolonged incident and our advice to nearby residents and members of the public is to avoid the area to allow access for emergency service vehicles, and close doors and windows due to high volumes of smoke,’ Mr Stevens said.

There have been no reported casualties.

The school, which is located about 20 miles north-west of Edinburgh, announced it would be closed to all students on Monday. Monday is not a bank holiday in Scotland.

Students returned to school last Wednesday. It is not clear at this stage how long the school will be closed for.

Speaking on BBC’s Good Morning Scotland, local councillor Fay Sinclair, convener of Fife’s education and children’s services committee, said flames could still be seen coming from the building on Monday morning.

She also said: ‘Plans started to be put in place yesterday; that was when we thought the fire was confined to the (department of additional support).

‘Obviously those are some of our more vulnerable pupils who need a lot of support and we are still getting something in place for them as soon as possible as an absolute priority.

‘Over the night the picture’s changed somewhat. The main building is now damaged and so the council’s emergency teams will be meeting this morning to start looking at what are the options here.

‘We’re talking about 1,400 pupils displaced from the school at least for the short term.

‘Dunfermline’s been a rapidly growing town over recent years, all of the schools are very full so there’s not an immediate place to move all of these pupils to.

‘The pupils have only been back for three days… not being back in this morning is going to be very hard for a lot of them.’ 

Firefighters tackled the blaze throughout the night and it is still burning this morning

SFRS incident commander, deputy assistant chief officer Stuart Stevens, said: ‘We have worked through the night in challenging conditions to contain this fire and prevent further spread within the building.

‘Through effective planning, we have now surrounded the fire and we are working to extinguish the flames.

‘However this remains a large and complex incident and we will remain in attendance for some time.

‘Our advice remains that members of the public should avoid the area to allow access for emergency service vehicles.’

A message on the school’s Twitter account by rector Sandy McIntosh said: ‘We are all utterly devastated by what has happened to our school.

‘I will be meeting with our teachers and school staff this morning, along with staff from the Education Service and wider Fife Council to put in place plans for our young people.

‘My heartfelt thanks go to the Emergency Services for all they have done to save our school.

‘Updates will be provided to our parents through Groupcall as soon as we have more information. School closure information will be updated on Fifedirect.org.uk.’

Deputy First Minister John Swinney also said: ‘Terribly sorry with the news @WoodmillHigh. @scotgov has been in contact with @FifeCouncil and will discuss next steps. Good wishes to all in the school community at this tough time.’

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Sweet potato drought leaves shelves bare after severe weather in US

Sweet potato drought leaves shelves bare after severe weather in the US left crops at five percent of normal levels

  • In London and the South East sweet potato levels are down after severe weather
  • Supermarkets say shortage is worse than feared and shoppers are complaining 
  • Supermarket Aldi said they have been affected by the industry-wide issue

A shortage of sweet potatoes has hit the UK, leaving many supermarkets out of stock.

In London and the South East levels are just one 20th of normal after severe weather in the US.

Supermarkets say the shortage is worse than feared and shoppers are complaining that the vegetable cannot be bought at a reasonable price anywhere.

A shortage of sweet potatoes has hit the UK, leaving many supermarkets out of stock (file picture)

Supermarkets are trying to find alternative sources. North America is the largest supplier followed by Egypt and Spain.

Guatemala, Mexico and Honduras export a small amount and attempts to import them from China have not been a success.

One shopper said: ‘I’ve been into half a dozen large supermarkets and to local grocers and there is simply none to be had. 

‘One grocer said he would have to charge more than £2 each and that the shortage could last until the end of the year.’

Aldi said they have been affected by the industry-wide issue and are working with suppliers to minimise disruption

Aldi said: ‘Like other supermarkets we have been affected by this industry-wide issue. We are working with our suppliers to minimise disruption for our customers.’

Sainsbury’s said its stores were running low as did Waitrose, Asda, Tesco and Morrisons.

The Produce Alliance in the US said: ‘The market continues to be tight after many growers were affected by Hurricane Florence in North Carolina last September. 

‘Increasing demand and heavy rains in Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Alabama also created challenges.’

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Martial artist ‘burst into Brit father’s Thai hotel room via balcony before strangling him’ after noise complaint – The Sun

A NORWEGIAN martial artist accused of choking a British dad to death in a Thai hotel stormed into the alleged victim's room via his balcony, cops said.

Roger Bullman, 53, has been charged with the manslaughter of Amitpal Singh Bajaj after launching a frenzied attack because the father from Southall, west London, confronted him for being too loud.

Police in Bangkok now say Bullman used his armed forces training to strangle Amitpal in his room in the Centara Grand Resort in Phuket where he was staying with his wife and young son.

Karon police major Techin Deethongon said: "They fought, and because of his military background the Norwegian strangled the victim.

"He confessed and said he did not think his act would cause the victim to die."

LATE NIGHT SCRAP

Techin said the fight started when Amitpal complained about noise from Bullman's room disturbing his family's sleep.

Bullman, who now faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted, was granted bail of 400,000 baht (around £10,750).

Bandhna Kaur Bajaj, 34, said Amitpal screamed for her to take their son, Veer, to safety as he was being choked to death.

Bandhna said: "As the man was kicking, punching and just, beating him up, my husband told me to please leave and save our son. He said, ‘Please just go, go, save Veer’."

She said as she took their young child, she saw her husband fall to the ground and then fled the hotel before hiding in a tree.

Bandhna said she begged reception to send someone to help her husband.

“I could still hear him screaming. I didn't want to be attacked,” she said.

“My husband sacrificed his life to save my son's life and mine. He will always be our hero.”

Earlier the family had asked the hotel staff at the five star Centara Grand Hotel in Karon, Phuket, to intervene after the noise continued for two hours in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

'HEARD HIM SCREAMING'

Security guards visited the room of Bullman but the noise is said to have became worse — with the Norwegian singing on the balcony.

Amitpal then allegedly grabbed a steak knife from his room and decided to confront Bullman at 4am on Wednesday, according to The Phuket News.

But troublemaker Bullman, who was drunk, allegedly refused to lower his noise and continued yelling and singing, according to the cops.

They started quarrelling which later turned into a fight.

The suspect told police that Amitpal first stabbed him in his left shoulder before he used his martial-art skills to grip the Briton in a choke hold and continued choking him to death as Ampital's horrified wife looked on.



Bullman was arrested for manslaughter in the morning at Karon police station.

He told the police that he acted out instinctively and was not intentionally trying to kill him.

Police have said Norwegian suspect has admitted that he was arguing with Mr Bajaj and entering his room through the wood door on the balcony.

He has admitted placing Mr Bajaj in a choke hold but has said wanted to stop the victim used too much force, say the cops.

HARM RESULTING IN DEATH

Police Major Ekkachai Siri of the Phuket Tourist Police said that the Norwegian has been charged for ''causing harm resulting in death''.

The police chief said: “Mr Bullman was drunk and causing so much noise that hotel security came to warn Mr Bullman twice.

''Mr Bajaj carried a steak knife into Mr Bullman’s room. They started fighting and Mr Bajaj stabbed Mr Bullman in left shoulder.

''Bullman has been released on bail by the Phuket Provincial Court. He now must remain in Thailand until the charge against has been heard in court.

''Meanwhile, British consular officials are in contact with Mr Bajaj’s family and already inform them about his tragic death.''

DEADLY FIGHT

Later Karon Police chief Col Prawit provided more details about the fatal altercation.

"Both were fighting inside the room, and (at least one) bottle was used in the fight.

“The fight continued outside the room. Mr Bullman was bigger and stronger, and had Mr Bajaj in a hold with his arm across his neck.

“Mr Bullman choked and hit Mr Bajaj until he was unconscious. A security guard arrived at the scene and saw Mr Bullman on top of Mr Bajaj while choking him with his arm.

“The security guard shouted at Mr Bullman to stop, which he did immediately."

A Foreign Office spokesman told The Sun Online: “We are supporting the family of a British man following his death in Phuket, and are in contact with the Thai authorities.”




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Placido Domingo gets standing ovation at first show since sex-harass claims

Opera legend Placido Domingo was greeted with a standing ovation in Austria on Sunday, his first gig since nine women accused him of sexual harassment dating back three decades.

The 78-year-old baritone hadn’t hit a single note when the audience at the Salzburg Fesitval got on its feet and gave him a rousing show of support prior to a performance of Verdi’s “Luisa Miller.”

“Wonderful public, good performance all,” the Spanish-born singer said as he signed autographs after the show. “I mean so much love from the public.”

The rousing response comes two weeks after the multiple Grammy-winner was accused of years of sexual harassment that one victim called “an open secret.”

Three of the women claimed Domingo, who has been married since 1962, forced wet kisses on them in a dressing room, hotel room and at a lunch meeting, and another said he stuck his hand down her skirt.

Soprano Patricia Wulf, the only accuser to identify herself, said the opera singer never touched her but constantly pressed her for sex which “absolutely and most certainly … was sexual harassment.”

One accuser claimed the singer left her $10 after they had sex so she didn’t “feel like a prostitute.”

Two opera houses — the Philadelphia Orchestra and the San Francisco Opera — cancelled performances after the allegations surfaced, while others, including New York’s Metropolitan Opera, took a wait-and-see attitude pending an investigation into the allegations.

As of Sunday, Domingo was still booked to star in “Macbeth” at the Met next month.

But the crowd in Salzburg was firmly behind the star, with one fan calling it “a public rehabilitation.”

“It was an outstanding performance,” said Michael Burggasser, a German literature professor in Vienna who was in the audience. “But it was also a public rehabilitation of Mr. Domingo. Because when the people stood up in the beginning and cheered for him — that expresses their support for him.”

Domingo received an additional 10 minutes of standing ovation after the performance as well.

With Post wires

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Amazon Rainforest Fire: How the EU caused blazes worldwide with ‘broken’ policy

Amazon rainforest fires provoked fury from EU leaders such as Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel, who were spotted ‘plotting’ against Mr Bolsonaro today. The EU has reportedly threatened to tear up a trade deal with South America in response to the Brazilian President’s failure to deal with the issue. However, Brussels appears to have a patchy record when it comes to preventing these sorts of rainforest fires.

Environmental group Rainforest Rescue – an organisation which has rallied to protect the Amazon and other rainforests – lashed out at Brussels last month for their ‘environmental hypocrisy’.

They blamed the EU’s lenient stance on palm oil production for the devastation of rainforests worldwide.

A statement read: “The EU wants to save our climate with supposedly green biofuels and has deemed palm oil ‘sustainable’.”

“Yet on the other side of the globe, rainforests are being clear-cut to produce the 1.9 million tons of palm oil that end up in European fuel tanks every year.

Amid chaos caused by wildfires in Indonesia, the group took aim at Brussels for being complicit in allowing oil companies to burn the forests.

June 2013 saw the EU industry committee vote to increase the biofuel share in motor vehicle fuels.

According to the group, this was the last straw when it came to the EU’s policy.

A statement read: “Various committees are currently reviewing the EU’s agrofuel policy.

“Most recently, the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy met on June 20 and poured oil on the fire.

“The committee voted to increase the share of biofuels from food crops to 6.5 percent, rather than capping it at 5 percent as planned.

“Furthermore, the emission of greenhouse gases from indirect land-use change (ILUC) – the need to cultivate new land for food crops to compensate for land lost to the production of agrofuels – is not going to be taken into account, nor even determined.”

Evidence suggested that palm oil companies were burning hundreds of ‘hotspots’ to make way for their vast monocultures.

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By taking a lenient stance on the industry and their actions, Rainforest Rescue activists suggested the EU was exacerbating the issue when it should be solving it.

The EU is the second-largest importer of palm oil after India.

Yesterday Irish President Leo Varadkar slammed Mr Bolsonaro for failing to deal with the wildfires.

He said: “His statement that Brazil will stay in the Paris accords on climate change ‘for now’ will raise antennas across Europe.

“There is no way we can tell Irish and European farmers to use fewer pesticides, less fertilizer, embrace biodiversity and plant more of their land and expect them to do it, if we do not make trade deals contingent on decent environmental, labour and product standards.”

He warned that Ireland would vote against the pending EU trade deal with South America if nothing changed.

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Iran's Zarif lands in France's Biarritz, talks with U.S. not on agenda

DUBAI (Reuters) – Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who landed in Biarritz on Sunday, has no plans to hold talks with U.S. President Donald Trump or any member of the U.S. delegation who have attended the G7 meeting in the French town.

“Zarif will convey the Iranian leadership’s response to French President Emmanuel Macron’s proposal that is aimed to save Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal,” a senior Iranian official told Reuters.

Iranian state TV also reported that Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi ruled out the possibility of any meeting between Iran’s top diplomat and Trump or his delegation.

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Steamiest ever August bank holiday as temperatures hit 91F TODAY

Hotter than Hawaii! It’s Britain’s steamiest ever August bank holiday as temperatures hit 91F TODAY as the Met Office issues level three amber heatwave alert

  • Met Office predicting 33C (91F) in South-East – beating previous 31.5C record
  • Sales of beer, ice cream and burgers soared as mercury hit 29 Celsius yesterday
  • People told to stay out of the sun in the middle of the day as Met Office extends a level-three Amber heatwave alert to south and east England

Britain is on course to be hotter than Hawaii today with forecasters predicting a record-breaking heatwave this weekend.

Sales of beer, ice cream and burgers soared as the mercury hit 29 Celsius (84F) in London yesterday, with much of the country also basking in the high 20Cs.

And the Met Office said today could reach 33C (91F) in the South-East of England, which is hotter than the previous August bank holiday weekend record of 31.5C at Heathrow in 2001.

The Met Office said today could reach 33C (91F) in the South-East of England, which is hotter than the previous August bank holiday weekend record of 31.5C at Heathrow in 2001

But as Britons basked in the sunshine and fired up barbecues, senior medics warned that hospitals could be ‘full to bursting’ by Monday evening, as the heatwave coincides with a day off for GPs and carers, leading to long waits at accident and emergency departments

This means the UK will be hotter than Honolulu in Hawaii (32C), Miami (29C) and Mumbai (29C) today.

But as Britons basked in the sunshine and fired up barbecues, senior medics warned that hospitals could be ‘full to bursting’ by Monday evening, as the heatwave coincides with a day off for GPs and carers, leading to long waits at accident and emergency departments.

The Met Office told people to stay out of the sun in the middle of the day as it extended a level-three Amber heatwave alert to cover the South East, the East of England and the East Midlands

The Met Office told people to stay out of the sun in the middle of the day as it extended a level-three Amber heatwave alert to cover the South East, the East of England and the East Midlands.

Forecaster Craig Snell said: ‘There’s a good chance we’ll break the record. Certainly it could be, if not the warmest, then one of the warmest late summer bank holidays.’

The heat warning comes as one million people are expected to attend the Notting Hill Carnival today and tomorrow in West London.

Hundreds of thousands of revellers are enjoying acts at Reading and Leeds festivals, while other events this weekend include the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Manchester Pride, and Creamfields near Warrington in Cheshire.

Mr Snell said: ‘The vast majority of the UK will be dry this weekend and there will be some good sunny spells across the country, even though Northern Ireland and the West of Scotland will have a few showers today and Monday.’

Health officials urged those vulnerable to the heat to keep their homes cool, stay hydrated and wear sun protection if they spend time outside.

Dr Nick Scriven, President of the Society for Acute Medicine, warned: ‘As with any period of weather at either extreme it brings extra pressure on emergency and urgent care services.

‘This could see pressure on the system even higher as it coincides with the bank holiday during which a lot of the “normal” supporting services will not be working.’

He added: ‘By Monday evening I could easily see our hospitals full to bursting and long queues in emergency departments.’

After a cool and inclement August, the hot weather will give the economy a boost of £2 billion. More than eight million people will enjoy a staycation in the UK this weekend, according to figures from Visit England – and pubs and bars are expecting a brisk trade.

Brigid Simmonds, Chief Executive of the British Beer and Pub Association, said: ‘We forecast that, over the bank holiday, an extra one million pints of beer will be sold per day, which will be a much needed boost to pubs which are facing tax pressures and haven’t enjoyed much good weather this August.’

Sainsbury’s reported a 40 per cent increase in sales of beer and cider, a 90 per cent rise in burgers sold, and ice cream sales up 150 per cent.

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Prosecutors could ask Prince Andrew to Paris to help with Epstein case

French prosecutors could summon Prince Andrew to Paris to help with probe into Jeffrey Epstein rape claims

  • The American financier and convicted sex offender owned a luxury apartment on the French capital’s most exclusive street
  • It is not yet known if the Duke ever visited Epstein at this apartment
  • Epstein took 11 trips to Paris in the year before he killed himself in his prison cell

The Duke of York could be summoned to Paris to help French prosecutors investigating suspected rape and sexual abuse by Jeffrey Epstein.

The American financier and convicted sex offender owned a luxury apartment – which featured photographs of naked young women on its walls – on the French capital’s most exclusive street.

The Mail on Sunday understands that US authorities have begun sharing information with France’s judicial police, who will examine claims that two 12-year-old girls were abused after being flown from France to the US as a ‘birthday present’ for Epstein.

The Duke of York could be summoned to Paris to help French prosecutors investigating suspected rape and sexual abuse by Jeffrey Epstein. It is not known if the Duke ever visited Epstein at his Paris apartment (pictured)

Remy Heitz, Paris’s chief prosecutor, said the inquiry will focus on ‘potential crimes committed on national territory as well as abroad’.

It is not known if the Duke – who has always denied any wrongdoing – ever visited Epstein in Paris.

A source close to the investigation said: ‘The nature of the inquiry allows anyone who might have useful information to be called to give evidence. They can do this as a witness, without initially facing criminal action. Prince Andrew would certainly be an obvious person to assist with this.’

Epstein bought an apartment on Avenue Foch close to the Arc de Triomphe in 2002 and neighbours said yesterday that they occasionally saw him smuggling ‘teenage’ girls into the building through a side entrance. 

‘He appeared quite furtive,’ said one. ‘A lot of people around here knew he had this thing about young girls.’

A builder who did some work at the apartment described ‘a corridor with several pictures of naked young women’.

Epstein is reported to have been on 11 trips to Paris in the year before he killed himself in his New York prison cell on August 10 while awaiting trial on child sex trafficking charges.

Innocence in Danger, the French advocacy group for abuse victims, claimed last week that about ten women had provided it with testimony linked to Epstein. 

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John Bercow had secret talks to become a Labour Minister

Revealed: John Bercow had secret talks to become a LABOUR Minister for Gordon Brown – amid fresh row over ‘anti-Brexit bias’ 

  • There is growing concern in Downing Street that the Commons Speaker will cause a constitutional crisis
  • Friends of Mr Bercow hit back by describing the talks as ‘ancient history’ 
  • His wife Sally was reportedly ‘keen’ at one point for Mr Bercow to defect 

John Bercow had secret talks to become a Labour Minister as he faces fresh row over ‘anti-Brexit bias’ 

John Bercow was last night at the centre of a fresh row over his ‘anti-Brexit bias’ after Government sources revealed that the former Tory MP had been in talks about becoming a Labour Minister.

The disclosure comes amid growing concern in Downing Street that the Commons Speaker will cause a constitutional crisis – potentially dragging in the Queen – by attempting, with pro-Remain MPs, to block Brexit.

But friends of Mr Bercow hit back last night by describing the talks with Gordon Brown’s aides as ‘ancient history’ and insisting that, while his wife Sally was ‘keen’ for Mr Bercow to defect, the Speaker himself was ‘never that close to doing it’.

The friend revealed that Labour’s talks with Mr Bercow had been led by Ed Balls in June 2007, when Mr Balls was Schools Secretary.

At the time, Mr Brown was about to succeed Tony Blair as Prime Minister and wanted to claim a ‘scalp’ from the Conservative benches.

Two years later, the then Tory MP for Buckingham became Speaker, at which point he became non-party-political.

The Government source said: ‘Bercow is basically a Labour-sympathising Remainer.

‘Bercow was on the brink of defecting from the Tories and only pulled out when they wouldn’t promise him a ministerial job.’

The overwhelming majority of Labour MPs backed Remain in the 2016 referendum.

The friend of Mr Bercow confirmed that he had discussed taking up a job as a Schools Minister under Mr Balls – and being handed a safe Labour seat in the North – as a prize for his defection.

Friends of Mr Bercow have since hit back by describing the talks with Gordon Brown’s aides as ‘ancient history’ and insisting that, while his wife Sally (pictured) was ‘keen’ for Mr Bercow to defect, the Speaker himself was ‘never that close to doing it’

But they insisted that Labour had ‘done all the running’ in the negotiations, with Mr Balls joined by Ed Miliband in mounting the charm offensive. A group of female Labour MPs also held separate discussions with Mrs Bercow about the potential move.

The friend said: ‘It is ridiculous to suggest that talking to Labour 12 years ago makes John some sort of Left Brexit saboteur. At the time he was a mainstream Tory Eurosceptic. 

Also, he had promised his local party association that he would not jump ship and by then he was set on being Speaker, which was much more likely to happen from the Tory benches.’ 

When Mr Bercow decided against defecting, he was instead put in charge of a review of speaking and language issues for Mr Balls.

Later that month, Mr Brown claimed his ‘scalp’ when Quentin Davies, the Tory MP for Grantham, defected to Labour.

The revelation comes as MPs prepare to return to the Commons next month for a series of bruising legislative battles over Boris Johnson’s plan to take the UK out of the European Union without a deal if Brussels refuses to remove the controversial backstop.

Mr Bercow has insisted he will fight with ‘every breath’ to halt any attempts to suspend Parliament in the run-up to Brexit as part of a ploy by Mr Johnson to override Remainer resistance.

Downing Street fears that if Mr Bercow facilitates a ‘coup’ by Remainers to try to make Mr Johnson extend Britain’s membership of the EU beyond October 31 – or force a second referendum – it could cause a titanic constitutional struggle which would end up politicising the Queen to what one adviser calls an ‘intolerable degree’. 

Earlier this month, Mr Bercow, who voted Remain in 2016, told an audience in Scotland that he would fight any attempt by Mr Johnson to suspend Parliament if MPs try to block Brexit ‘with every bone in my body’.

He added: ‘We cannot have a situation in which Parliament is shut down – we are a democratic society.

‘Parliament will be heard and nobody is going to get away, as far as I am concerned, with stopping that happening.’

The Mail on Sunday revealed earlier this year that Mr Bercow had secretly met Tory rebel Dominic Grieve just hours before throwing out centuries of tradition to allow the MP to scupper Theresa May’s Brexit plans.

The pair spoke in Mr Bercow’s grace-and-favour Commons apartment the day before the Speaker tore up the rule book to allow the former Attorney General to table an amendment to wrest control of Brexit from the Prime Minister.

He also met with a ‘cross-party’ group of MPs who are determined not to let the UK crash out of the EU without a deal in place, although he strongly denied ‘plotting’ with them to foil Brexit.

A spokesman for the Speaker declined to comment on his defection discussions. 

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