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6 September 2019

Five things you need to know today: Former Zimbabwean president Mugabe dies aged 95

Plus, Rees-Mogg apologises for comparing doctor to anti-vaccine campaigner, John Major urges Johnson to sack Cummings. 

By New Statesman

Mugabe dies aged 95 in Singapore

Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s first post-independence leader, who became one of the most ruthless tyrants of modern times, has died aged 95. Mugabe, who ruled the British colony for 37 years before being ousted in November 2017 in a military coup, died in Singapore where he made frequent visits to receive medical care. The late president, who was initially praised as a liberator, presided over a disastrous economic collapse and serial human rights abuses. President Emmerson Mnangagwa, Mugabe’’s successor, said he was “an icon of liberation, a pan-Africanist who dedicated his life to the emancipation and empowerment of his people. His contribution to the history of our nation and continent will never be forgotten. May his soul rest in eternal peace.”

Rees-Mogg apologises for comparing doctor to anti-vaccine campaigner 

Jacob Rees-Mogg has been forced to apologise for comparing an NHS consultant who helped draw up the government’s no-deal Brexit plans to the disgraced anti-vaccine campaigner Andrew Wakefield. The Leader of the House of Commons was moved to act after Sally Davies, the government’s chief medical officer, wrote to him branding his comments “frankly unacceptable”. Under the protection of parliamentary privilege, Rees-Mogg told MPs: “I am afraid it seems to me that Dr David Nicholl is as irresponsible as Dr Wakefield … as irresponsible as Dr Wakefield, in threatening that people will die because we leave the European Union.”

John Major urges Johnson to sack Cummings

John Major has denounced Dominic Cummings as a “political anarchist” and has called on Boris Johnson to sack his senior adviser. Speaking at a CBI dinner in Glasgow on Thursday evening, the former prime minister said that Cummings, who is not believed to be a Conservative Party member, “cares not a fig for the future of the party I have served”. Major, who also urged Johnson to reinstate 21 ousted Conservative MPs, added: “I offer the Prime Minister some friendly advice: get rid of these advisers before they poison the political atmosphere beyond repair. And do it quickly.”

US defence secretary urges UK to repatriate Islamic State fighters

The UK must repatriate Britons who joined Islamic State fighters and put them on trial in this country, the US defence secretary has said. During his first official visit to Britain, Mark Esper said the detention of hundreds of former fighters in makeshift Kurdish camps was “an untenable situation”. He added:  “How long can this last? Our view has been they should be repatriated and dealt with appropriately … otherwise that’s a risk to the region.”

Ucas accused of abusing position through debt firm advert

Ucas has been accused of abusing its position after the university admissions service allowed a private debt firm to market commercial loans with high interest rates to school leavers. The consumer finance expert Martin Lewis said that Ucas had been “tainted” by sending out emails with advertising from a private student loan firm charging up to 24 per cent interest. He warned the admissions service: “Ucas has privileged, monopoly access to this young and impressionable audience.” 

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