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Home Oliver Dowden, the Deputy Prime Minister, told parliament that China was behind a cyber attack on the Electoral Commission in August 2021, getting access to 40 million voters’ details. Three MPs, Sir Iain Duncan Smith, Stewart McDonald and Tim Loughton, said they had been hacked and harassed by China. The government sanctioned two individuals and a company. A Chinese battery manufacturer, EVE Energy, had been in talks about building a gigafactory near Coventry airport. Scott Benton MP, from whom the Conservative whip had been withdrawn, successfully applied to be Crown Steward and Bailiff of the Manor of Northstead in place of Chris Pincher, thereby provoking a by-election in Blackpool South.

Jeremy Hunt, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, said that the Conservatives, if elected, would keep the Triple Lock for the state pension. Women born in the 1950s affected by the rise in state pension age should receive compensation from the government of between £1,000 and £3,000, the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman recommended. The Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee voted 8-1 to keep rates at 5.25 per cent. Domestic energy prices could in future depend on the time of day, Ofgem said. The 2.7 million smart meters not working properly in July 2023 rose to 3.98 million by the end of 2023, the Department for Energy said. On his way to Barrow-in- Furness, where Dreadnought nuclear submarines are being made, Rishi Sunak,

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the Prime Minister, said: ‘Safeguarding the future of our nuclear deterrent and nuclear energy industry is a critical national endeavour.’ Train drivers for Avanti West Coast will get £600 (up from the current £125) for working a rest day under an agreement with the Aslef union.

In a video, the Princess of Wales, on a bench beside daffodils at Windsor, explained that, after her abdominal surgery in January, tests found that cancer had been present, and she was now having preventative chemotherapy. The government’s Rwanda Bill will not return to parliament before 15 April. On 20 March, 514 migrants were rescued in the Channel and brought ashore in England. The next day the total was 263; more had arrived than ever before in the same period. The Home Office put advertisements on social media to deter Vietnamese people from illegally migrating to Britain. Anjem Choudary pleaded not guilty by video link to the Old Bailey to two terror offences relating to the banned group Al-Muhajiroun. A 10st bronze stag was stolen from a front garden in Knightsbridge.

Abroad Four gunmen killed at least 137 people at the Crocus City Hall concert venue at Krasnogorsk outside Moscow and then set fire to it. Islamic State said it had carried out the attack and the United States said that IS-K, a Central Asian affiliate of the Islamic State group, was responsible. America had warned on 7 March that extremists had ‘imminent plans to target large gatherings’ in Moscow. President Vladimir Putin gave an address in which he said that Russian authorities had captured the four suspected gunmen as they were trying to escape to Ukraine. Ukraine said it ‘categorically rejects’ accusations that it was involved. The suspects appeared in court, horribly wounded by ill treatment. Even before the attack, Russia fired dozens of missiles at Ukraine, cutting off electricity for a million. Ukraine claimed to have hit a communications centre and two Russian landing ships at Sevastopol.

The UN Security Council passed a resolution calling for an ‘immediate ceasefire’ in Gaza; the United States decided not to veto it, as it had done to previous resolutions. Israel then cancelled a visit by a delegation to the White House. Antony Blinken, the US Secretary of State, had just made his sixth visit to the Middle East.

Millions of Americans’ online accounts have been caught up in a Chinese hacking plot against US officials, the justice department and FBI said; seven Chinese nationals have been charged. A bridge in Baltimore collapsed into the Patapsco river with loss of life after being hit by a container ship. The New York Appeals Court gave Donald Trump ten days to obtain a bond reduced from $464 million to $175 million. Simon Harris, aged 37, became the leader of Fine Gael and will become Taoiseach on 9 April. Only six countries will have fertility rates high enough to sustain their populations by 2100, according to a study in the Lancet. CSH

30 2024 . . .

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