• Downing Street gets new resident – a dog named Dilyn
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    Downing Street gets new resident – a dog named Dilyn

    Johnson and Symonds adopt Jack Russell cross abandoned by puppy farmer. A momentary distraction from what is likely to be a hugely turbulent week in politics has arrived at Downing Street, in the form of a 15-week-old puppy. The Jack Russell cross, which has been named Dilyn, was chauffeured into the prime minister’s residence in a different kind of red box on Monday morning. The dog has been adopted by Boris Johnson and his partner, Carrie Symonds, from Friends of Animals Wales in Rhondda; it was abandoned by a puppy farmer because of its undershot and misaligned jaw. The TV vet Marc Abraham, who has worked with the charity’s founder, Eileen Jones, said he made the couple aware of the shelter. “It was important to shine a light on the work she’s doing,” he told the BBC. “It’s entirely voluntary with huge vets’ bills so they only rescue and rehabilitate the ones with the most problems.” The arrival of the dog may come as a shock to 12-year-old Larry, the No 10 cat which has served three prime ministers. However, according to Abraham, the puppy has been living in a foster home with a cat, is house-trained and “is doing the basic commands already”. Under “Lucy’s law”, which is aimed at cracking down on puppy farms in England, the sale of kittens and puppies from third parties will be banned from next spring. The Welsh government has also confirmed it will adopt the law at a later date.

  • Government sacks Roger Scruton after remarks about Soros and Islamophobia
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    Government sacks Roger Scruton after remarks about Soros and Islamophobia

    Roger Scruton denied that he was antisemitic or Islamophobic. Photograph: Awakening/Getty Images The government has sacked its housing adviser Roger Scruton after he appeared to repeat antisemitic statements and denied Islamophobia was a problem. A spokesman for the Ministry of Housing said: “Prof Sir Roger Scruton has been dismissed as chairman of the Building Better, Building Beautiful commission with immediate effect, following his unacceptable comments.” In an interview with the New Statesman, the rightwing philosopher was unrepentant about his views on George Soros, the Hungarian-American philanthropist, who is frequently cited in antisemitic conspiracy theories and attacked by Hungary’s rightwing prime minister, Viktor Orbán. “Anybody who doesn’t think that there’s a Soros empire in Hungary has not observed the facts,” Scruton told the magazine. Scruton, who has been a friend of Orbán for more than 30 years, denied that he was antisemitic or Islamophobic. He said Islamophobia had been “invented by the Muslim Brotherhood in order to stop discussion of a major issue”. Scruton also said: “Hungarians were extremely alarmed by the sudden invasion of huge tribes of Muslims”, and accused the Chinese of “creating robots out of their own people”. Scruton’s sacking follows Labour-led calls for his dismissal. His comments came at an especially awkward time for the Conservatives as the party has been coming under increasing scrutiny over its stance on Islamophobia while continuing to attack Labour for antisemitism. Last month the party suspended 14 members for allegedly making Islamophobic comments after a string of abusive posts were uncovered on social media. Theresa May’s spokeswoman said the communities secretary, James Brokenshire, had sacked Scruton in a phone call. She said: “These comments are deeply offensive and completely unacceptable, and it is right that he has been dismissed.” Asked why Scruton had been given the unpaid role in the first place, given earlier similar comments, the spokeswoman said: “He was appointed because of his expertise in the built environment. His comments are clearly distracting from the important work of the commission and so it is no longer right for him to act as a government adviser.” Earlier, the ministry said: “It’s very clear from the interview Prof Sir Roger Scruton is not speaking for the government.” The interview prompted Labour to repeat its call from five months ago for Scruton to be sacked after it emerged that he had described Jews in Budapest as part of a “Soros empire”. Dawn Butler, the shadow equalities secretary, said Scruton’s new comments were “despicable and invoke the language of white supremacists”. She added: “His claim that Islamophobia does not exist, a few weeks after the devastating attack in Christchurch, is extremely dangerous.” When Labour first called for Scruton’s dismissal, Brokenshire defended him as a “champion of freedom of speech”. He said: “He is one of the most qualified people in this particular field, so I am pleased that he has accepted that role. As a public intellectual of renown and author of over 50 books, as well as countless articles and public lectures, Sir Roger is engaged in a variety of topics, often expressing – yes – strong and controversial views.” Andrew Gwynne, the shadow communities secretary, said Brokenshire “should apologise for defending Mr Scruton as a ‘champion’ of free speech and for saying our criticism of him was ‘misinformed’ and ‘ill-judged’”. He added: “Mr Brokenshire also said ‘due diligence’ had been conducted on Mr Scruton’s appointment, so he must explain what this entailed, what processes he followed and how he reached his decision. The government should also strip him of his knighthood.” Tell Mama, the anti-bigotry campaign, welcomed Scruton’s dismissal but raised questions about why he had been appointed in the first place. Its director, Iman Atta, said: “Such dehumanising language falls far below the standards of those who advise government and undermine the struggle against Islamophobia and anti-Muslim hatred, antisemitism and racism. Concerns were raised about Scruton’s opinion on homosexuality and Islamophobia before his appointment and that shouldn’t be overlooked.” Tory MPs including Tom Tugendhat and Johnny Mercer had joined calls for Scruton’s dismissal. A spokesman for the Muslim Council of Britain said: “As the Conservative party faces its latest crisis on Islamophobia, it cannot continue with false promises to take the issue seriously … The reality is that these concerns will continue to recur until trust is rebuilt through – in part – an independent inquiry into Islamophobia in the party.”

  • 'Lemoga': Lake District hotel offers yoga with lemurs as partners
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    'Lemoga': Lake District hotel offers yoga with lemurs as partners

    Strike a pose: visitors to Armathwaite Hall practise yoga with lemurs from Lake District wildlife park. Photograph: Owen Humphreys/PAWe’ve had doga, goat yoga and anti-gravity yoga. Now lemurs have joined in the fun.A luxury hotel in the Lake District has added “lemoga” to its wellness programme, for yogis keen to do the downward dog with a Madagascan primate.Armathwaite Hall, a hotel and spa resort near Keswick, launched the sessions as one of its “meet the wildlife” wellness activities. And while celebrity yogis such as Khloé Kardashian haven’t yet caught on to the latest fitness craze, it is going down a storm in Cumbria.Richard Robinson, manager of the adjoining Lake District wildlife park, said the Madagascan animals – which look like a cat crossed with a squirrel and a dog – made ideal yoga partners.“When you watch lemurs they do some form of the poses naturally – that typical pose warming their bellies in the sunshine,” he said. “It seemed to be a really good combination to encourage people to have a go and spend time with a lemur.Getting the hands-on experience. Photograph: Owen Humphreys/PA“I don’t think you ever see an unhappy zookeeper. We spend all our time with animals. We know how it makes us feel and if we can give a little piece of that to people then great.”The Lake District may be miles from the wilds of Madagascar, where the ring-tailed lemurs originate, but the primates appear very much at home around humans – and naturals at yoga.Carolyn Graves, the owner of Armathwaite Hall, said the classes were designed to help guests beat the stress of city living: “Lemoga offers our guests the chance to feel at one with nature, at the same time joining in with the lemurs’ playtime.”