George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, made ‘a commitment to fight for full employment in Britain’ and for the country ‘to have the highest employment rate of any of the world’s leading economies’. Wolfgang Schäuble, his counterpart in Germany, agreed that any EU treaty changes should ‘guarantee fairness’ to countries outside the eurozone. The government’s approach to selling off Royal Mail was ‘marked by deep caution, the price of which was borne by the taxpayer’ according to a report by the National Audit Office. The Office for National Statistics said that the next census would be conducted online. Dust from the Sahara fell on to England and Wales.
An unnamed minister told the Guardian that after independence, Scotland would achieve a currency union with the rest of Britain, perhaps in return for retaining the nuclear submarine base at Faslane. When Alistair Darling, the leader of the campaign to keep Scotland in the United Kingdom, said that everyone should have a say on a monetary union, Downing Street said that this would not be the subject of a referendum. Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, had vetoed a Conservative proposal to stop future onshore wind farms, according to Liberal Democrat sources. Five portions of fruit and vegetable a day were not enough, researchers from University College, London, found; seven was more like it, they found. White people were found to be the least healthy ethnic group in Britain. Wales made plans to ban electronic cigarettes in enclosed public places. Thousands of rats the size of cats were reported to be roaming Birmingham.
MI5 and MI6 are investigating the activities of the Muslim Brotherhood in Britain, according to the Times. A coroner recorded an open verdict on the death of Boris Berezovksy at his house in Berkshire last year. In an interview for GQ magazine, asked by Alastair Campbell which current world leader he most admired, Nigel Farage, the leader of the UK Independence Party, said: ‘As an operator, but not as a human being, I would say Putin.’ A woman from Saxmundham, Suffolk, finding a kebab shop closed at 11.15p.m., shouted, ‘I want my chips’ before pushing burning paper through the letterbox; she was jailed for 28 months. Nuts magazine, founded in 2004, is to close. In cricket (the Twenty20 version), England lost to Holland.
The American Secretary of State met the Russian foreign minister in Paris to discuss Ukraine after President Barack Obama of the United States telephoned President Vladimir Putin of Russia. But not much came of it. Mr Putin told Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany that he was withdrawing many of the 35,000 or 40,000 troops massed on the border of Ukraine, but Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the Secretary General of Nato, said: ‘This is not what we are seeing.’ Nato foreign ministers meeting in Brussels suspended civilian and military co-operation with Russia. The Russian company Gazprom put up the price of gas for Ukraine by 44 per cent on the grounds that Ukraine had not paid $1.7 billion of its bill. Turkey, having tried to ban Twitter, decided to ban YouTube.
The Socialist party of President François Hollande of France did badly in municipal elections, losing 150 towns and cities to the Union pour un Mouvement Populaire, so he sacked Jean-Marc Ayrault as prime minister and appointed Manuel Valls. After two months Venezuelan troops cleared the barricades of protesters in the city of San Cristobal. In Brazil 1,000 police and soldiers occupied Mare, one of Rio’s largest shanty-towns, in an attempt to deal with drug gangs before this year’s football World Cup. Abraham Poincheval, an artist of a kind, took up a fortnight’s residence inside a stuffed bear at the Musée de la Chasse in Paris.
The search continued 1,100 miles west of Perth, Australia, for remains of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, which disappeared with 239 people on board on 8 March. The International Court of Justice ruled that Japan’s Antarctic whale hunts were not ‘for purposes of scientific research’. The Philippines submitted evidence to a UN tribunal hearing its case against China’s territorial claims around the Spratly Islands, also claimed by Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan. Kenya ordered all Somali refugees in towns to move into designated camps, in a bid to counter attacks by al-Shabab, the terrorist group affiliated to al-Qa’eda, but a few days later bombs in a Somali area of Nairobi killed six people. Two cases of Ebola were confirmed in Liberia; in neighbouring Guinea, the virus had killed 78 people. Frankie Knuckles, the pioneer of House music, died, aged 59. CSH
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