Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Friday 15 Mar 2019

1. At least 40 dead in NZ mosque attacks

At least 40 people have been shot dead in terror attacks on Friday prayers at two mosques in New Zealand, with another 20 injured. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said that today was one of the “darkest” in the country’s history. Three men and one woman have been arrested but there are fears that other people connected to the attacks may remain at large.

2. May to ask EU for Brexit deadline extension

Theresa May is now committed to asking the EU to extend the 29 March Brexit deadline, even if she can persuade the Commons to back the exit deal that has already been rejected twice. MPs voted by 413 to 202 last night to extend Article 50 until at least the end of June. However, the EU may demand a second referendum as a condition of postponement, The Times reports.

3. Lib Dems suspend Steel for abuse remarks

The Liberal Democrats have suspended the party’s former leader David Steel after he told a public inquiry that he had believed in 1979 that his colleague Sir Cyril Smith was guilty of child abuse but did nothing. Steel said Smith admitted the offences to him, but Steel felt it was “nothing to do with me”. Smith died in 2010.

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4. NZ attacks: Bangladesh cricket team safe

The national cricket team of Bangladesh narrowly escaped today’s terror attacks in Christchurch, New Zealand. The players were inside one of the two mosques targeted, but escaped unharmed. One of the attackers is said to have live-streamed some of the murders online.

5. Irish PM brings partner to Pence meeting

The Taoiseach of Ireland, Leo Varadkar, brought his male partner to a meeting in Washington yesterday with US Vice President Mike Pence and his wife – and delivered a speech that was pointedly anti-discrimination. Pence is a religious conservative dubbed the “face of anti-LGBTQ hate in America” by human rights campaigners.

6. Outsourcing giant Interserve facing collapse

Outsourcing firm Interserve may have to go into administration if shareholders refuse today to back a rescue deal that would pass 95% of the company to lenders. The firm is one of the country’s biggest public service providers, employing 45,000 people in the UK.

7. Trump threatens veto after Senate vote

Donald Trump has threatened to use his power of veto after the Senate voted 59 to 41 to overturn the state of emergency declaration he made in an attempt to secure funding for his border wall with Mexico. A dozen Republicans joined Democrats to block the president’s planned multibillion barrier. Following the vote, Trump tweeted: “VETO!”

8. Executives quit in Facebook rift

Two senior Facebook executives have quit the social network firm because they are unhappy with its decision to move focus from publicly shared content towards encrypted private conversations. Chris Cox, a confidante of boss Mark Zuckerberg, fears the change will make fighting hate speech harder. Chris Daniels, who was in charge of WhatsApp, is also leaving the firm.

9. Father Ted’s Pat Mustard actor dead at 79

Irish actor Pat Laffan, best known as milkman Pat Mustard in classic Channel 4 sitcom Father Ted, has died at the age of 79. Laffan had an illustrious stage career as a member of Dublin’s Abbey Theatre Company. He was also known to TV audiences for appearances in EastEnders and RTE soap The Clinic.

10. Briefing: the key points of Theresa May’s Brexit deal

Theresa May is gearing up for a third attempt to get her EU withdrawal deal through Parliament, after the plan was rejected by MPs once again this week.

The Withdrawal Agreement, as it is officially known, is the modified version of the prime minister’s so-called Chequers Plan, agreed with the EU in November.

Theresa May’s Brexit deal: what is the withdrawal agreement?

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