In a major reshuffle by Rishi Sunak, James Cleverly has been appointed as the new Home Secretary (after Suella Braverman’s dismissal), and former prime minister David Cameron as Foreign Secretary. Braverman accepted her dismissal, which came after a series of controversies, as mentioned last week. However, her sacking by Sunak has not been universally welcomed within the Conservative Party. MP Andrea Jenkyns, a right-wing party member, criticised the decision, suggesting that she had been dismissed for 'speaking the truth' and accusing Sunak of yielding to left-wing pressure.
In a significant upheaval within the Labour Party, high-profile MP Jess Phillips and nine other frontbenchers either resigned or were sacked following party leader Keir Starmer's refusal to support a ceasefire in Gaza. This was in response to a parliamentary vote on an SNP amendment to the King’s Speech, which proposed an immediate ceasefire in Gaza but was rejected by a majority of 168 votes. A total of 56 Labour MPs voted in favour of the amendment, marking the largest rebellion against Starmer's leadership so far. Shadow defence secretary John Healey commented on the situation within the Labour Party, expressing regret over the loss of frontbenchers and reaffirming their support for Starmer's prime ministerial bid. He emphasised the importance of collective responsibility and discipline in parliamentary decisions, defending Starmer's stance on the Gaza conflict.
The BBC's decision to replace the traditional terms BC (Before Christ) and AD (Anno Domini) with BCE (Before Common Era) and CE (Common Era) in some of its programmes has sparked controversy. Gavin Ashenden, former chaplain to the Queen and now associate editor of the Catholic Herald, criticised the move as part of a broader attempt to 'airbrush Jesus out of the language.' He called on Christians to actively defend the traditional terms and use these changes as opportunities for evangelism, and dismissed the notion that Christians were being over-sensitive about the issue. The BBC, defending its decision, stated that both date systems are widely accepted, and the choice of terms is left to individual production and editorial teams. The debate highlights a cultural and religious tension over the representation of Christianity in public broadcasting.
The CofE's General Synod has voted to offer blessings to same-sex couples in civil partnerships and marriages, marking a significant shift in its approach to LGBTQI+ issues. After a marathon debate, the Synod overwhelmingly approved the motion, which includes an acknowledgement and repentance for the Church's failure to adequately welcome LGBTQI+ people. This decision, however, does not alter the CofE's stance on gay marriage, as same-sex couples still cannot marry in church. Anglican churches will now be allowed to provide prayers of dedication or thanksgiving and blessings for same-sex couples after their legal marriage ceremonies. The Bishop of London, Sarah Mullally, described the vote as a hopeful moment for the Church, but Archbishop Stephen Cottrell recognised the persistent divisions, emphasising the goal of walking together despite deep disagreements.
In October, UK inflation significantly decreased to 4.6% from 6.7%, marking the lowest rate in two years and a major easing of price pressures. This represents the most substantial monthly drop in the annual Consumer Price Index (CPI) rate since April 1992. The Bank of England (BoE) has kept interest rates unchanged at 5.25% and expects a challenging journey to bring inflation down to its 2% target by late 2025. Rishi Sunak acknowledged this as progress towards his goal of halving inflation within the year, bearing in mind the anticipated election in 2024. Chancellor Jeremy Hunt views this as a step toward long-term economic growth. Despite this positive trend, Britain still maintains the highest consumer price growth among G7 nations and has seen a 21% increase in consumer prices since late 2020. The BoE and economists anticipate further interest rate cuts by December 2024.
A ‘truth and reconciliation’ commission has recommended an official apology and reparations for historic injustices against the Tornedalian minority. The commission found that assimilation policies in the 19th and 20th centuries damaged them, affecting their language, culture, and traditional industries. Tornedalians, originally from the Torne River valley near the Finnish border, are descendants of Finns who settled in the area in the 1800s. They speak Meänkieli, a language closely related to Finnish. In the 1880s, Sweden enforced a policy of 'Swedishisation', including banning their language and traditional clothing in schools and sending thousands of children to boarding schools to enforce Swedish language use. Today’s Tornedalian population is about 50,000; they rely on agriculture, hunting, fishing, and reindeer herding, Although they were recognised as a national minority in 2000, with Meänkieli as an official language, the commission suggests further measures to strengthen their language and culture, including its inclusion in public broadcasting and education. This report coincides with another ongoing investigation into policies against the indigenous Sámi people: see
Experts have warned of a potential volcanic eruption near the town of Grindavik, which could lead to extensive destruction or ash clouds. This concern follows over 800 small earthquakes in the region, indicating possible activity from a volcano on the Reykjanes peninsula in southwest Iceland. Nearly 4,000 residents of the town were evacuated amid fears that molten rock could surface, threatening the town and a nearby geothermal power station. Scientists from the Icelandic Met Office have warned of a prolonged period of volcanic instability on the peninsula, possibly lasting decades, with eruptions expected in various locations. On 15 November, Thorvaldur Thordarson, a volcanology professor, assessed the probability of an eruption at 30%, a decrease from earlier higher estimates. Despite fears of an impending volcanic eruption, flights in and out of Keflavik international airport, only ten miles from the eruption site, are continuing as usual. In 2010 another volcano in Iceland grabbed the world's attention by spewing ash into the atmosphere and bringing European air travel to a halt.
Israel claims it discovered an operational command center, along with guns and ammunition belonging to Hamas, at Gaza's largest hospital, Al-Shifa. This discovery reportedly includes weapons found inside the hospital's MRI building. The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) have long maintained that Hamas uses hospitals as cover for its fighters, with Al-Shifa alleged to house their main command. Both Hamas and Al-Shifa staff refute these allegations. About two and a half weeks after Israeli forces entered northern Gaza, they accessed the hospital. The IDF states they found technological assets and military equipment in the hospital, transferring these items for further examination. During this operation, IDF soldiers reportedly engaged and killed a number of Hamas militants. Footage from Al-Shifa shows soldiers carrying boxes and equipment from the hospital. Mohammed Zaqout, director of hospitals in Gaza, noted that Israeli tanks were inside the medical compound, and soldiers had entered key departments including emergency and surgery, which contain intensive care units. Al-Shifa hospital has become a symbol of Palestinian civilian suffering during the Israel-Hamas conflict, which escalated following a surprise attack into southern Israel on October 7.