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Think again, Boris! Johnson handed alternative plan for £200million Royal Yacht blueprint

The Prime Minister has insisted the new national flagship super vessel – regarded as a replacement for Royal Yacht Britannia – will enter service in four years’ time and would provide UK businesses with a new global platform. Its predecessor was decommissioned by the ruling Labour Party Government in 1997 – led by Tony Blair – but has remained a popular attraction for many tourists in Edinburgh. But Mr Johnson’s plans have come under savage attack from Stephen Payne, who has spent the past two years drawing up alternative plans for the new Royal Yacht, warning it would be too small, cost £5million a year to run and be difficult for the Royal Navy to crew.

The designer of the Queen Mary 2 liner has insisted that unlike the Prime Minister’s proposal, his own design for the Britannia would pay for itself by being a touring exhibition centre for UK businesses.

Commenting on the plans from Number 10, the expert said: “The superstructure front, akin to a 1950s Hull trawler, is great for a fair-weather ship but not such a good idea for a global voyager crossing the Atlantic, Pacific, or even rounding the tip of Africa.”

When asked whether the expensive Royal Yacht would be a suitable flagship supper vessels to represent Britain, he savagely replied: “I think it would be a very poor one.

“It would be all right for the Isle of Sark or something. I just think we could do something more ambitious.”

The designer of the Queen Mary 2 liner, which itself close £460million to build, pointed out how the proposed ship could not be regarded as a Royal Yacht.

He insisted this is because it would require an additional mast to fly the Admiralty pennant, Royal Standard and Union Flag as Britannia did.

Mr Payne said: “Britannia’s importance stemmed from her royal status. She had four suites with adjacent staff cabins and luggage storage, as well as two private lounges.

“The latest generation of royals travel with as much luggage as their forebears – the Duchess of Cambridge reportedly takes 20 cases.

READ MORE: Brexit LIVE: European firms tied up over new rules after UK split

“They say they’ll use a Royal Navy crew. Isn’t there a chronic manpower shortage within the service? Will the Navy look at this new vessel not with adoring eyes but with despair as it struggles to keep frontline ships at sea?

“As for financing this ship, there’s £200million to find and I’d be surprised if the running costs weren’t £5million a year.

“I don’t believe there’s the appetite from even the most ardent royal fans to support such costs.”

Mr Payne’s plans for a Royal Yacht would see it stretch to a massive 475ft in length – 62ft longer than the original HMY Britannia.

It would encompass a two-deck, 250-seat auditorium and a self-contained royal deck, as well as an onboard pub, restaurant, TV studio, museum and souvenir shop.

The design expert’s blueprint for Britannia 2 would aim to promote British trade, tourism, youth and culture throughout the world, and would be a floating “Festival of Britain” that would effectively pay for itself as its conference hall and exhibition spaces would be hired out to businesses during port visits.

Mr Payne would like the hybrid-powered royal yacht built at Harland & Wolff shipyard in Belfast and said he sent an outline of his proposals to Downing Street – but they were lost.

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This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: UK Feed

Romain Grosjean's message to Toto Wolff after being handed dream F1 return

Many feared the worst at the time of Grosjean’s crash, which was one of the most dramatic in recent F1 memory.

The driver managed to walk away from the accident, and issued an update to his worried fans in the immediate aftermath on social media, where he said: “Hopefully I will now work on what is coming next, where am I going to go racing, where am I going to go winning races!

“I would like to thank everyone for the messages, the support and the love. It has been incredible to see in such a difficult time.”

Grosjean signed to race for Dale Coyne Racing in the American IndyCar series, and finished 10th in the season opener in Alabama, then 13th at Round 2 in St. Petersburg. 

He sat out the following two rounds in Texas, with team-mate Pietro Fittipaldi taking the wheel on the 230-miles-per-hour oval track. 

But now Grosjean will step back into an F1 car once again in an emotional one-off return to the sport he competed in for more than a decade.

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This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Sport Feed

Arsenal 'could sack Mikel Arteta next season' as Gunners boss handed transfer ultimatum

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta could be relieved of his duties during the early stages of next season if the Spaniard’s planned summer overhaul fails to improve the team’s fortunes, according to reports. The Gunners have endured a torrid Premier League campaign and are limping to a disappointing mid-table finish.
Arteta’s side are still in with a chance of winning the Europa League, but if they fail to qualify for next season’s competition, they will be forced to go through an entire campaign without continental football for the first time in 25 years.

The former Arsenal and Everton midfielder can take credit for a number of positives since his appointment in November 2019, including the successful integration of a number of talented youth players.

However, the collective performances this season have simply not been good enough for a club of Arsenal’s size and stature.

Arteta found himself under significant pressure over the festive period with the Gunners firmly in the bottom half of the table, but a mini-revival kept his job secure.

Since climbing back into the Premier League’s top ten, the club’s on-pitch improvements have been minimal, with a number of critical errors dropping valuable points for the north London outfit.

JUST IN: Martin Keown urges Mikel Arteta to make old Arsenal line-up tweak

A large-scale summer overhaul is expected at the end of the campaign, with reinforcements desperately needed for Arsenal to stand any chance of fighting for a top-four finish next season.

It seems as though Arteta’s immediate future will be reliant on a successful transfer window, as club chiefs are prepared to wield the axe if performances do not improve, according to talkSPORT.

The report claims that the 39-year-old has been given a ten-match ultimatum to show that his side can be competitive, which is set to come into effect at the start of next season.

Arteta declared ahead of Sunday’s victory over Newcastle United that he is not worried about the sack ahead of the most important week of his short managerial career.

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He will lead the Gunners into battle against Villarreal for Thursday evening’s decisive Europa League semi-final second-leg clash, with the aim of overturning a 2-1 first-leg deficit at the Emirates Stadium.

“I don’t want to think that way,” Arteta told reporters. “I want to think that we are going to be in that [Europa League] final and then we are going to have really positive consequences after that.”

Arsenal have been less than impressive in recent outings, taking just two wins from their last six Premier League matches.

When quizzed on the factors behind his team’s dire form, Arteta explained: “It is for many different reasons.

“One, we haven’t had the opportunity to have a very consistent line up. Consistency in results in the Premier League is very different to the Europa League, where we have been very consistent.

“But in the league we haven’t for many different reasons, one of those is the line up, another is the amount of errors that we have produced in key moments, another is the lack of effectiveness in the final third I would say, to kill games off.

“Another is because the opponent has sometimes been better. We try to be as clear as we can all the time in our messages but sometimes the opponents gets it right from the beginning.

“I think it was crucial against Villarreal that they scored early and how we reacted after that.

“There are some games where we have started really well and not finished that well. So I don’t think there has been a pattern over the season.”

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This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Sport Feed

London to be handed post-Brexit boost with Britcoin as digital euro could be problematic

Britain is considering creating a new “Britcoin,” or central bank-backed digital currency, aimed at tackling some of the challenges posed by cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak told the Bank of England (BoE) last week to look into it. A BoE-backed digital version of sterling could allow businesses and consumers to hold accounts directly with the bank and therefore sidestep others when making payments, upending the lenders’ role in the financial system.
Mr Sunak told a financial industry conference: “We’re launching a new taskforce between the Treasury and the Bank of England to coordinate exploratory work on a potential central bank digital currency (CBDC).”

Other central banks are also looking at whether to set up digital versions of their own currencies, essentially widening access to central bank funds which only commercial banks can use at present.

This could speed up domestic and foreign payments and reduce financial stability risks.

Martin Bamford, chartered financial planner at Informed Choice, positively welcomed the Chancellor’s announcement.

Mr Bamford even suggested it could help the City of London, as it attempts to grow outside of the EU after Brexit.

He said: “I think the City of London is obviously looking at its place in the world right now.

“And any innovation, including Britcoin, when it comes to financial services obviously helps.

“The City of London is known for its innovation already.”

The ECB’s Governing Council is exploring the possibility of issuing a new central bank digital currency (CBDC), a digital euro, in an attempt to respond to the accelerating trend toward digitisation in payments.

However, according to Mr Bamford, it could be politically damaging.

He said: “It would be a digital currency, alongside the euro.

“They have a currency system, which seems to work most of the time so I don’t think it would introduce any fresh problems.

“But it might amplify any sort of existing inefficiencies…”

JUST: Brexit deal torn apart by Labour Leaver as Hartlepool vote looms

Most responses came from Germany (47 percent), Italy (15 percent) and France (11 percent).

The report shows that Europe’s citizens are in favour of a digital euro, but under a number of conditions.

The results show that citizens as well as professionals are in favour of such a development, provided that the Digital euro respects privacy (43 percent) and confidentiality of transactions and that it is sufficiently secure (18 percent) to prevent fraud.

They also support requirements to avoid illicit activities with fewer than one in ten responses from members of the public showing support for full anonymity.

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This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Finance Feed

Covid pill that ‘kills’ virus within hours could be handed out on NHS and end lockdowns

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This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Health Feed

An antiviral could be the answer to stopping coronavirus “in its tracks”, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced last week. So far, the only antiviral for the early-stages of infection in UK clinical trials is the flu drug Favipiravir. Results are expected in six months.

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‘Baton getting handed over’: Global investors turn their back on China, start pouring more cash into US

While China’s economy weathered the coronavirus storm much better than the rest of the world, investors are now betting more on US stock funds than Chinese ones, new research from EPFR Global reportedly shows.

China became a key destination for foreign investment in 2020, when the coronavirus pandemic triggered a panic sell-off in the stock markets. The world’s second-largest economy was the first country to suffer from Covid-19 and impose massive lockdowns, but it also overcame the aftermath of the crisis faster than others. That paved the way for economic growth while most major economies suffered a downturn.
Also on rt.com Full decoupling from China could wipe out hundreds of billions from economy – US Chamber of Commerce
However, this year investment sentiment has changed, putting the US ahead of China again, according to CNBC citing EPFR, a data fund tracker which provides fund flows and asset allocation information to financial institutions around the world. The company’s data shows that net cumulative flows to US stock funds turned from negative to positive after the US presidential election in November, and hit $ 170 billion in the week ending April 7.

Read more US-China investments are almost DOUBLE what the official figures show, report reveals

Meanwhile, inflows to Chinese assets slowed and started to fall behind US levels. According to the report, net cumulative flows to Chinese stock funds amounted to $ 29.78 billion during the same week.

The director of research at EPFR, Cameron Brandt, told CNBC that investors’ interest in both US and Chinese funds has significantly jumped since the middle of last year, but interest in the former eventually “came roaring back.”

“The baton seems to be getting handed over,” Brandt said. He explained that investors bet on US in the short term due to massive stimulus measures, while China is expected to adopt more prudent monetary policy.

However, the analyst still expects that funds will not stop buying Chinese assets, as strong demand from retail investors has not waned. Brandt believes that the trend is set to continue as it would take an extreme event to change that, as happened during the Chinese stock market meltdown in 2015.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT’s business section

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This article originally appeared on RT Business News

Chelsea handed transfer advantage by Paul Pogba as Erling Haaland tipped for 'scary' move

Chelsea may be about to take advantage of Juventus’ interest in Paul Pogba this summer by swooping for their own transfer target while Erling Haaland could prove to be a “scary” addition to Thomas Tuchel’s squad. Express brings you the latest Chelsea news with the summer transfer window just a few months away.

Paul Pogba hands Chelsea transfer advantage

Chelsea are reportedly keen on signing Paulo Dybala in the summer transfer window, and Paul Pogba may well help their chances.

The Argentina international has struggled with fitness issues this season but there also remains doubts over his long-term future at Juventus.

And the Serie A side’s interest in re-signing Pogba, according to Italian outlet Quotidiano, could well open the door for Dybala to leave.

Juventus will need to raise funds if they’re to make a move for Pogba and getting Dybala off their wage bill could clear the space they need.

JUST IN: Man United chief John Murtough has been dealt Erling Haaland obstacle

Erling Haaland ‘scary’ transfer move

Micah Richards believes Erling Haaland joining Chelsea next season would make Thomas Tuchel’s side a “scary” proposition for all their rivals.

Haaland is the hot property among Europe’s elite clubs heading into the summer transfer window with Chelsea said to be in serious contention to make a move.

Former Manchester City defender thinks Chelsea are already proving to be a strong outfit, but add Haaland to the mix and they would be a real threat.

“I think they’ve got absolutely everything. They’ve sorted out defensive problems, the only thing to add that little bit of icing on the cake would be a striker,” he told the BBC.

“They’ve got Werner in there, Havertz in there, it seems like they haven’t cracked that offensive aspect yet. If you put Haaland in this team, they’ll be scary next season.”

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Ronnie O’Sullivan handed GOAT snub as rival John Higgins named snooker’s all-time best

Six-time world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan has been overlooked in favour of John Higgins for the title of snooker’s greatest ever player, according to a new study. ‘The Rocket’ is widely regarded as one of the finest competitors to have graced the Crucible, but was beaten to the all-time crown by Higgins, who won the most recent meeting between the pair last month.
The 45-year-old registered an impressive 10-3 victory to seal the Players Championship title and condemn O’Sullivan to his fourth successive loss in a final.

Higgins has now claimed another triumph over his old rival after he was named the greatest player of all time as part of a study by the University of Limerick.

The project, led by Joseph D O’Brien, examined close to 48,000 results between 1968 and 2020 before concluding that Higgins stands head and shoulders above the rest.

A complex algorithm weighted results based on the individual quality of opponents and the head-to-head records of leading players.

Higgins was named at the top of the all-time list ahead of O’Sullivan in second place, with Mark Williams and Stephen Hendry occupying third and fourth respectively.

JUST IN: Stephen Hendry won’t want to be ‘made to look silly’ in comeback

However, although the ‘Wizard of Wishaw’ was happy to gain the recognition, he claimed that O’Sullivan would be his own pick.

“I’m truly flattered,” said Higgins. “But I have to admit I have not won enough of the big titles consistently to be regarded as the greatest of all time.

“If I had to give the accolade to anyone it would have to be my rival for so many years…Ronnie!”

Higgins has claimed four World Championship titles over the course of his professional career, while O’Sullivan boasts six, one short of seven-time winner Hendry.

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The latter made his long-awaited comeback earlier this month, putting his retirement on hold to pursue another attempt at silverware.

He took on long-time friend Matthew Selt at the Gibraltar Open but was defeated in an anticlimactic return to the table.

O’Sullivan issued his own verdict on the ‘GOAT’ debate last year, suggesting that Hendry could also be considered as the best to have ever played the game.

“If I’m not the greatest player that’s ever played the game, then there’s probably only one other player who can claim that mantle, and that would be Stephen Hendry,” he told Yahoo.

“For me, it’s about just having fun with the game, winning and losing, take that out of it and I have nothing to prove. My CV’s great.

“I’ve got nothing to prove as a snooker player and for me it’s about just having fun, enjoying the game and enjoying being at the tournaments.

“And enjoying knowing that if I did put my head down and played a full schedule, I probably would be still one of the best players and as dominant as anyone could be dominant in their sport.”

Jurgen Klopp still has worrying Liverpool issue to solve but is handed boost elsewhere

The upside, though, was the performance of Trent Alexander-Arnold, who was by far and away the best player on the pitch.

Not only did he deliver the assist for Jones’ strike with an athletic, battling cross, but he appeared to the the x-factor the 22-year-old has been missing in recent weeks.

In the first half, Alexander-Arnold enjoyed 72 touches, at least 22 more than any other player on the pitch.

His energy was back, his football brain was working overtime, and there were even comparisons with Steven Gerrard floating about on Twitter.