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Boris Johnson has narrowly avoided a rebellion by some of his own Conservative Party MPs over cuts to the foreign aid budget.

Thirty Tories, including former prime minister Theresa May and four other cabinet ministers, had backed a rebellion against the £4bn reduction and had hoped to force a vote on the matter.

But Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle ruled the amendment, proposed by Conservative former minister Andrew Mitchell, was not in scope of the Advanced Research and Innovation Agency Bill.

The proposed amendment intended to make the government commit to reinstating the 0.7% target from next year – from the funding for this agency if it is not met through alternative means.

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Charity boss Ngozi Fulani says she felt abused and ‘trapped’ during Buckingham Palace exchange with Lady Susan Hussey

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Charity boss Ngozi Fulani says she felt abused and 'trapped' during Buckingham Palace exchange with Lady Susan Hussey

A black domestic abuse campaigner who was repeatedly asked where she “really came from” by Prince William’s godmother said she felt abused, verbally attacked and “trapped”.

Ngozi Fulani, founder of the charity Sistah Space, works as an advocate for survivors of domestic abuse and described the exchange as a “violation”.

“I was not giving the answer that she wanted me to give. And so we could not move on,” Ms Fulani told Sky News.

“And it was when she said ‘I knew you’d get there in the end’ – that proved to me, you were determined to prove that I had no right to British citizenship.

“Now, that reminds me of the Windrush conversation, where 50 or 60 years on people who were born here, worked here or you know, have given so much, can just be thrown out.”

Lady Susan Hussey resigned from her role in the royal household and apologised over the incident at an event at Buckingham Palace on Tuesday hosted by the Queen Consort.

Ngozi Fulani and Lady Susan Hussey. Pics: PA/David Fisher/Shutterstock
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Ngozi Fulani and Lady Susan Hussey. Pics: PA/David Fisher/Shutterstock

Describing how Lady Hussey touched her hair to see her name badge, the charity boss said: “Now, abuse doesn’t have to be physical. But if you move my hair without permission, to me, that’s abuse.

“When you verbally attack, because that to me is what it is – you are determined that the answer that I gave you is not one you want to hear, you do not recognise me as British.

“And until I acknowledge that I’m not, you’re not going to stop. What do I do? What do I do at that point? So I become silent. And I hoped she would go away and she eventually did.”

Asked how she felt about the conversation, she said: “I was the victim if you will, of an offence, of racism.

“When this happens, and it’s so direct, and in a space like that, I kind of felt trapped in that space.”

Asked if Buckingham Palace had contacted her, she said: “I haven’t heard anything from anybody. Maybe they’ve attempted to but they haven’t got through to me or to Sistah Space.”

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Hussey ‘interrogated’ Fulani – witness

Read more:
Harry and Meghan’s documentary trailer released
Lady Susan Hussey resigns from palace duties
Who is Lady Susan Hussey?

‘Institutional racism in palace’

Pressed if there was a deeper problem, she replied: “So institutional racism, racism is a problem all over the UK. It’s in the police. It’s been established. It’s in the fire brigade/department, that’s established. It’s even in parts of the NHS. It’s a problem. And it’s in Buckingham Palace, one person isn’t responsible.

“They need to review their whole policy on equality and race. They need to have a conversation with the people who say they are affected.”

She said it had been a “difficult couple of days for various reasons”.

“One is, I’m still processing what happened at Buckingham Palace and the outrage that has followed has been interesting,” she said.

“Racism has no place in a venue that’s supposed to be a safe space for everybody, regardless of their background.”

William distances himself from race row

Buckingham Palace said it took the matter “extremely seriously” and had investigated immediately.

Prince William, who is on a three-day US visit with his wife Kate, is understood to agree it was right for Lady Hussey to step down from her honorary role as Lady of the Household with immediate effect.

Before he had landed in the US, the prince was told about his godmother’s comments.

A Kensington Palace spokesman told reporters in the US before the Prince and Princess of Wales’ Boston trip – which has been overshadowed by the palace controversy – that Lady Hussey’s comments were “unacceptable” and “racism has no place in our society”.

Later, during an NBA game William and Kate attended, the royal couple were booed by some members of the crowd, and at an Earthshot Prize event, they heard a speech on race equality by a black reverend.

Lady Hussey, who served as the Queen’s lady in waiting for more than 60 years, has offered her “profound apologies for the hurt caused”.

However, the monarchy has faced allegations of institutional racism since Ms Fulani revealed what had happened.

William and Kate at a basketball game during their visit to Boston
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William and Kate at a basketball game during their visit to Boston

Lawyer ‘also asked about ethnicity’

Nazir Afzal, the University of Manchester chancellor, who was also at the palace reception, said he too was questioned by Lady Hussey about his origins.

The former chief crown prosecutor for the North West, tweeted: “I was at the Buckingham Palace reception at which Lady Hussey questioned the heritage of a brilliant [domestic violence] expert Ngozi Fulani.

“She only asked me my heritage once and seemed to accept my answer – Manchester currently!

“Racism is never far away though.”

Downing Street declined to comment on the incident.

Pressed on whether the prime minister believed it was right for Lady Hussey to quit, Rishi Sunak’s official spokesman said: “It’s not one I’ve spoken to him about.

“It is a matter for the Palace and you’ll know they have issued a statement on it.”

Last year the Duchess of Sussex claimed that a member of the royal household asked her about what colour skin her son Archie would have before he was born.

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Who is Ngozi Fulani – the domestic abuse charity founder subjected to racism at Buckingham Palace?

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Who is Ngozi Fulani - the domestic abuse charity founder subjected to racism at Buckingham Palace?

The charity boss at the centre of the Buckingham Palace racism row and her six siblings grew up in the 1960s as the “only black family on our road.

Ngozi Fulani, now 61, said her parents, who had moved to Britain from Barbados as part of the Windrush generation, “embraced everybody” and never allowed the “barriers we faced outside” to be brought into the house in Kilburn, northwest London.

In an interview with Future Hackney, Ms Fulani said her father would take them to house parties because “black people were not allowed” in pubs.

She was once “shooed” away by a white teacher at school, while her brothers would “come home with their faces swollen” having been bullied by their peers or attacked by the police, she added.

And when her sister gave birth at the age of 17, her white social worker used a racist term to describe her baby.

“We were very aware from the get-go that even though we were born here, we were not welcome,” she wrote.

The interview concluded with Ms Fulani saying: “Nothing has changed. It’s just different. The racism is just as intense, the hate is still there.”

‘Couldn’t stay silent’ about Meghan racism accusations

When the Duchess of Sussex told Oprah Winfrey in 2021 that a member of the royal household had concerns about the colour of her son Archie’s skin before he was born, Ms Fulani tweeted: “I can’t stay silent about this. I admire Meghan for speaking out.

“According to clear definition, it seems Meghan is a survivor of domestic violence from her in-laws.”

At the time Buckingham Palace said that issues raised by Meghan, “particularly that of race”, were “concerning” and would be “addressed privately”.

On Tuesday, as the chief executive and co-founder of Sistah Space, a charity that supports domestic abuse victims of African and Caribbean heritage, she attended a reception at Buckingham Palace.

File photo dated 29/11/2022 of Ngozi Fulani (2nd left) at a reception at Buckingham Palace, London. The prominent black advocate for survivors of domestic abuse has revealed how she was repeatedly asked by a member of the Buckingham Palace household at the Queen Consort's reception where she "really came from". Issue date: Wednesday November 30, 2022.
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Ms Fulani pictured with Camilla, Queen Consort at Buckingham Palace on Tuesday

The event, part of the United Nations’ 16 days of activism against gender-based violence, was also attended by first lady of Ukraine Olena Zelenska and former Spice Girl Mel B.

There, Ms Fulani was approached by Lady Susan Hussey, one of the late Queen’s longest-serving ladies in waiting.

In a Twitter post afterwards, she revealed how the 83-year-old had repeatedly asked her “where she really came from” and “what part of Africa” she was from.

Lady Hussey, who is Prince William’s godmother, has since resigned from her palace duties.

Learning about Africa from white teachers sometimes felt ‘traumatic’

Although her parents came from the Caribbean, after leaving home and moving to Hackney at 18, Ms Fulani says discovering an African dance group was the “day her life changed”.

The “connection with Africa” it gave her was a “pivotal moment” that, she says, “became her lifelong story”.

Five years after joining the class, she began to teach herself – eventually running the Emashi Dance ensemble, which in December 1997 saw her meet King Charles at an event for the Prince’s Trust.

Ngozi Fulani and her two-year-old daughter with King Charles at a Prince's Trust event in December 1997
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Ngozi Fulani and her two-year-old daughter with King Charles at a Prince’s Trust event in December 1997

At that time she was studying for a Master’s degree in African Studies at London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS).

She says that although she had a small number of black teachers, there were only four other black students in her class.

“We had to learn about our culture from middle class white people,” she wrote. “It did not feel authentic and at times I found it traumatic.

“It was at this point I realised how much trouble we were in and how far we had to go.”

Murder of woman and her baby sparked charity

Years later, in 2014, when Ms Fulani was working as a marriage registrar, a 45-year-old woman called Valerie Forde was murdered alongside her 22-month-old daughter by her ex-partner in Hackney.

Six weeks before he killed the pair with a machete, Ms Forde had reported him for threatening to burn down her house with her and their daughter inside.

An independent investigation later found the victims were badly let down by police, with two detective sergeants found guilty of misconduct and given written warnings.

Valerie Forde’s story drove Ms Fulani to train as an independent domestic violence advocate and in 2015 set up a charity specifically for African and Caribbean domestic abuse survivors in the area.

Sistah Space supports survivors in “whatever way they need”, Ms Fulani says – whether that is helping them to flee abuse or accompanying them to court.

The organisation works to “ensure cultural factors are not only considered but understood” and that “cultural barriers and biases are removed”.

Ngozi Fulani, CEO of Sistah Space
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Pic: Sistah Space

She and her co-founder Rosanna Lewis also offer training on cultural competency and best practice.

This includes abuse injuries not being as visible on darker skin tones and a reluctance to report abusers to police.

“Women want the abuse to stop but we know what happens to black men in police custody,” she told The Guardian in 2020. “These women do not want to risk their abusers being hurt or murdered.”

Read more:
William and Kate booed over race row
Analysis – pressure is on King Charles over racism accusations

In an interview with Sky News, she added: “There are so many things that women like us have to consider before we access mainstream services.

“We are often met by people who see black women as not in need of protection, we often get things like ‘strong woman like you, I can’t believe anybody would do anything to you’.

“So this tendency to brush off domestic abuse and sexual abuse is so inherent that most black women don’t see the point in reporting domestic abuse to a system that doesn’t see them and doesn’t listen.”

Ms Fulani told LBC in an interview on Wednesday that she would be “happy to have a conversation to bring about a positive solution” with the royals, but that she felt “violated” and “interrogated” by her experience at the palace.

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Unions could coordinate strike action across NHS for ‘maximum impact’, GMB boss says

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Unions could coordinate strike action across NHS for 'maximum impact', GMB boss says

Union leaders could coordinate industrial action across the NHS this winter to cause “maximum impact”, the head of the GMB has suggested.

Andy Prendergast, the GMB national secretary, said health workers have had enough of “public school boys who run the government and simply don’t care” about their pay demands.

More than 10,000 ambulance workers from the GMB voted to strike yesterday, following in the footsteps of nurses in opting to walk out.

Union rejects claim granting pay rises will lead to spiralling inflation – politics live

Asked if there will be a “coordinated strike” in the health service, Mr Prendergast told Sky News: “We will be talking to the other unions.

“We know that the nurses have got their first ballot in over 100 years. We know that our colleagues in Unite, in Unison are currently delivering ballots.

“So we’ll be looking to make sure this has the maximum impact.”

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It was put to Mr Prendergast that the safety of patients could not be guaranteed if there is coordinated strike action between unions and the NHS.

He argued their safety is not being guaranteed now due to the staffing crisis, with poor pay driving many out of the profession.

“One third of our members in the ambulance service believe that they have been involved in a delay that has led to a patient dying, so this isn’t a situation where this is a service that runs perfectly well,” he said.

NHS ‘dying on its feet’

“This is a service that’s dying on its feet and our members are actually standing up and the public of Britain should support them. This is a matter of a life or death situation.”

Mr Prendergast said NHS workers “work extremely hard, often for wages that a lot of people wouldn’t get out of bed for”.

He added: “Ultimately they are saying enough is enough. It’s time for them to take action. This is the one thing that they can do to try and improve patient safety, to try and improve the terms conditions, to try and deal with 135,000 vacancies that we have among a service that we rely on.”

Paramedics, emergency care assistants, call handlers and other staff are set to walk out in nine trusts:

  • South West Ambulance Service
  • South East Coast Ambulance Service
  • North West Ambulance Service
  • South Central Ambulance Service
  • North East Ambulance Service
  • East Midlands Ambulance Service
  • West Midlands Ambulance Service
  • Welsh Ambulance Service
  • Yorkshire Ambulance Service

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‘Inflation-busting pay rises are unaffordable’

The industrial action is due to take place before Christmas, with the union planning to meet reps in the coming days to discuss dates.

Thousands of ambulance workers in Unison, the UK’s biggest trade union, also intend to take industrial action before Christmas.

Up to 100,000 nurses from the Royal College of Nursing are also set to stage a mass walkout in December, one of the busiest months for the NHS.

The army has been placed on stand by in case it is needed to fill roles of NHS workers on strike days.

Coordinated strike ‘can speed up negotiations’

Dr Emma Runswick of the British Medical Association told Sky News that coordination between unions will help protect patients as they can discuss between themselves how to cover urgent and emergency care.

She added that an effective coordinated strike “will help to speed up negotiations”.

“We want there to be an impact on the employers and on the government to bring them to the table to negotiate with us. And if we coordinate and if we’re effective, the government and employers will negotiate faster. And that’s better for us and better for patients in the long term.”

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Dr Emma Runswick of the British Medical Association says an effective coordinated strike will help to speed up negotiations.

The UK is facing a wave of strikes this winter as workers from different industries are set to walk out over pay and conditions

Rail workers, civil servants, firefighters and teachers are among the tens of thousands expected to take industrial action as a recession grips the UK and the cost of living rises.

Read More:
Which industries are striking this winter and why?
Eurostar security staff to strike in December, RMT union announces

Wage price spiral ‘nonsense’

Ministers have been criticised for refusing to negotiate with unions, with Business Secretary Grant Shapps saying meeting their pay demands would lead to a wage inflation “spiral”.

Eddie Dempsey, assistant general secretary of the RMT, which covers the transport sector, rubbished that argument.

“This idea that there’s going to be a wage spiral is nonsense because wages have been falling as a share of wealth in this country – what goes to wages and what goes to profits,” he said.

Mr Dempsey said that now, wages only account for around 8% to 12% of unit costs.

He pointed to a study from the Bank of England which found there was no risk of wage-induced inflation across Western economies because people have got less money.

He claimed what the government is actually worried about “is a shift in class power”.

“They’re worried about trade unions and ordinary working people having the ability to bargain for better wages. That’s what they’re worried about.”

Rail union ‘hopeful’ of deal to end strikes

Mr Dempsey said his union has been in negotiations for longer than six months and “every time we feel like we are making headway it has felt like the rug has been pulled out from under our feet”.

However he said there is “definitely a change of tone” with the new Transport Secretary Mark Harper and the RMT is “hopeful” a deal can be reached.

Royal Mail workers are also locked in a bitter dispute over pay and conditions, with the CEO Simon Thompson accusing union leaders of “trying to destroy Christmas” by walking out.

He claimed striking workers had demonstrated “extraordinary behaviours” and that he has heard allegations of racism, sexism and violence.

Royal Mail CEO accused of ‘lying’

Speaking during Sky’s Q&A with union leaders, Dave Ward of the Communication Workers Union (CWU) accused Mr Thompson of “lying”.

He said the union “welcomes an independent look at behaviours” of his members but the CEO’s behaviour should also be investigated.

“He goes on (social media) every single day, including weekends. and he goads our members,” Mr Ward said.

“He’s brought in a team of union and worker busters and they’re deliberately creating a psychological attack on every single worker.

“Go out and ask postal workers how they feel about this particular CEO.”

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