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Tories feared PM Boris Johnson would die from Covid

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Simon Hart said Mr Johnson in hospital showed "nobody was out of reach" of Covid

SENIOR politicians were afraid Boris Johnson could die when he was admitted to intensive care after getting Covid, the Welsh Secretary Simon Hart has said.

He said there was “a real feeling that we could wake up the next morning and find he was dead” when Mr Johnson was ill in April 2020.

Hart also said he thought “this wasn’t in the script,” when he heard the Prime Minister was unwell. He added it had shown him that “nobody was out of reach” from Covid.

In the days prior to being admitted, the prime minister tried to “soldier on” despite being very clearly ill, Mr Hart told the BBC’s Walescast podcast.

He said that although Mr Johnson was looking “quite cheerful”, he could recall telling a colleague they needed to finish the meeting soon because he was “looking rough”.

The Welsh secretary also defended his boss from accusations that he responded too slowly or missed key government meetings during the early stages of the pandemic.

Instead, he credited the “unbreakable optimism” and “extraordinary stamina” of a leader who was determined “to try to save as many lives as we can.

“It was a very sobering moment [when Mr Johnson was in intensive care] for all concerned – because it just reinforced that this thing knew no boundaries and nobody was outside its reach.”

The drama of last spring seems a long way from the interview at Pendine Sands holiday park, in Mr Hart’s Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire constituency.

He won the seat, where he and his wife Abigail raised their two children, at the 2010 General Election.

However, he had operated in political circles before that, and as chief executive of the Countryside Alliance he lobbied against Labour’s ban on fox hunting.

He said that battle’s “days are gone” and that “nobody wants to re-engage in that”.

As a backbencher during Brexit, he voted to remain, but under Theresa May campaigned and cajoled Remainers and Eurosceptics to try to get a deal through Parliament.

Boris Johnson then appointed him to the cabinet after his predecessor Alun Cairns resigned shortly before the 2019 General Election.

From Pendine’s famous beach, which has been busy with visitors since lockdown restrictions in Wales have eased, Mr Hart said the furlough and vaccination programmes show how the union of the UK has underpinned Wales’s response to the pandemic.

But his views on preserving that union clash with those of first minister Mark Drakeford, who has accused the UK government of putting the union at risk and of undermining the powers of the Senedd.

Mr Hart counters by accusing Mr Drakeford of “talking up devolution endlessly.

“I think talk of constitutional conventions and all sort of academic claptrap frankly to me doesn’t seem to be in tune with the guys trying to run this camp.”

Nevertheless, the Welsh secretary said he thinks he has a “reasonable” relationship with the first minister, who he sometimes spots on the seaside in his constituency.

Entertainment

Broad Haven’s Music Festival set to rock village

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GET ready for an electrifying day of music and fun as the Havens Events Crew proudly presents the highly anticipated Broad Haven Music Festival. Scheduled for Saturday, July 20, from 3 PM to 11:30 PM, this event promises a vibrant mix of live bands, local talent, and a delightful BBQ, making it an unmissable occasion for music lovers and families alike.

The festival, at Broad Haven School Field, will feature an impressive lineup of performers. Attendees can look forward to the acoustic melodies of Cadence Acoustic, the energetic rhythms of Coastal Horizon, and the dynamic performances by Loose Change. These local bands are set to deliver a variety of genres, ensuring there’s something for everyone.

In addition to the musical performances, the festival will offer a range of delicious BBQ options, perfect for enjoying a summer evening outdoors. Whether you’re a long-time resident or a visitor, the Broad Haven Music Festival is an ideal opportunity to experience the local culture, connect with the community, and enjoy high-quality entertainment.

Tickets for the event are available for purchase at the Broad Haven Post Office and Lobster and Môr. Early acquisition is recommended to secure a spot at this popular event.

It promises to be a memorable day filled with music, food, and community spirit. The Broad Haven Music Festival is more than just a concert; it’s a celebration of local talent and a testament to the vibrant culture of our town. Don’t miss out on this fantastic event!

For more information, visit the Havens Events Crew’s official website or follow their social media pages for updates and announcements.


Event Details:

  • Date: Saturday, July 20
  • Time: 3 PM – 11:30 PM
  • Location: Broad Haven School Field
  • Performers: Cadence Acoustic, Coastal Horizon, Loose Change
  • Tickets Available At: Broad Haven Post Office, Lobster and Môr

Be sure to mark your calendars and get your tickets soon – we look forward to seeing you there!

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England’s Euro 2024 semi-final victory captivates millions

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ENGLAND’S Euro 2024 semi-final victory over the Netherlands garnered a peak audience of 20.3 million on ITV, cementing its status as the most-watched television programme of the year. Broadcasters are now hopeful that Sunday night’s final against Spain will attract over 30 million viewers, surpassing the numbers that tuned in for England’s Euro 2020 final defeat.

The overnight viewing figures, provided by ratings agency Digital-i, do not account for the millions who streamed the match on ITVX or watched in public venues. The coverage of Euro 2024 in the UK is split between the BBC and ITV, with the channels alternating first choices for matches in each round. ITV executives celebrated Jordan Pickford’s crucial penalty save against Switzerland, which secured another high-profile England match and delivered a substantial advertising boost to the channel.

Both the BBC and ITV will broadcast the final, with approximately a fifth of viewers typically opting for ITV over the BBC. Euro 2024 has demonstrated the enduring appeal of live sports broadcasting, which continues to draw massive audiences, particularly when the events are free to watch. Even matches not involving home nations have attracted significant viewership, with the Spain v France semi-final on BBC One peaking at 11 million viewers.

The Euros are part of the UK’s “crown jewel” sporting events, which include the football World Cup, Wimbledon, and the Olympics, all mandated by law to be shown on free-to-air channels. In contrast, other sports have opted for the higher revenue available from pay TV channels, resulting in substantially lower audiences for international matches. The England and Wales cricket board successfully lobbied in the 2000s to keep England test matches off the free-to-air list. Consequently, Jimmy Anderson’s farewell match against the West Indies at Lords, broadcast behind a paywall on Sky, attracted a peak audience of only about 700,000 viewers.

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Crime

Welsh Snooker star Michael White jailed for assaulting partner

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A WELSH snooker star has been jailed after assaulting his then-partner. Michael White, 33, of Penshannel, Neath Abbey, assaulted the woman, causing actual bodily harm, on two separate occasions. The first incident occurred on February 12, 2022, and the second on December 10, 2022.

White pleaded guilty to the charges. A further charge of intentional strangulation on December 10 was directed to lie on file. White, whose snooker world ranking peaked at 15 in 2016, was sentenced at Swansea Crown Court on Thursday, July 11, 2024.

He received a total jail term of 36 months – 19 months for the first incident and a consecutive 17 months for the second. The World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association has announced that White has been removed from the world ranking list and the World Snooker Tour with immediate effect.

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