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There was at least one Englishman with something to celebrate on Sunday night.

It will go down in the life story of Sir Richard Branson as the day he was officially handed the title of astronaut after his successful trip to the edge of space and back.

And if the live feed of the England game 5,000 miles away put a dampener on the day for some, Sir Richard’s emotions were sky high at the achievement of him and his crew.

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‘I was once a child with a dream’

The 22nd Virgin Galactic test flight was the first to carry a full payload of passengers, all of them senior employees, and was a key moment in selling the idea of space tourism to the widest possible audience.

It was also meant to reassure the hundreds who have already stumped up a quarter of a million each to secure a seat in the future that it could be done. Many have been waiting a long time for the ride.

The likelihood is now that early in the new year Virgin will begin taking paying passengers up to the edge of space and give them the chance to experience what Sir Richard did.

“Indescribably good” was the only way the billionaire astronaut could relate the views and the sensation of weightlessness 50 miles above the earth’s surface.

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The excitement at a safe and successful mission was certainly infectious and this was undoubtedly a landmark moment in the private space race.

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‘Everybody would love to go to space’

SpaceX boss Elon Musk was there to witness history – Sir Richard said he stumbled upon his rival in his kitchen at 3am – and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos sent his congratulations.

They, and a number of other companies, will take encouragement, Sir Richard told me, from the success of this mission. They all believe there are enough paying passengers to go around.

But, even with the raffle Sir Richard announced for ordinary people to possibly win a seat on a future flight, for most people on the planet the prospect is financially well out of reach.

After landing, Sir Richard talked about future astronauts not being limited by their gender, race or background but truthfully that day seems a long way off.

Perhaps some of the students who were there to witness the event will see it happen in their lifetime but it will take a huge upscaling of capabilities. Sir Richard had teased the children with the story of almost bringing an alien home.

For such a consummate showman, a man who has dressed as a bride for a PR stunt and, by his own estimate, survived 76 near-death experiences in his lifetime, there can have been little in his 70 years as satisfying as Sunday’s silky smooth performance.

If his granddaughter’s proud announcement that “papa went to the moon” was a little off-beam, you can forgive the family’s euphoria.

And at least one member of the family definitely won’t be following him into space. “My wife Joan is about the only person in the world who doesn’t want to go,” he told me.

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Lee Anderson suspended from Conservative Party after ‘Islamophobic’ comments




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Lee Anderson has been suspended from the Conservative party after ‘Islamophobic’ comments.

A spokesperson for Chief Whip Simon Hart said: “Following his refusal to apologise for comments made yesterday, the Chief Whip has suspended the Conservative whip from Lee Anderson MP.”

Speaking on GB News this week, Mr Anderson, MP for Ashfield, said: “I don’t actually believe that the Islamists have got control of our country, but what I do believe is they’ve got control of Khan and they’ve got control of London… He’s actually given our capital city away to his mates.”

Earlier today Sadiq Khan accused the prime minister of being “complicit” in racism for failing to condemn Mr Anderson‘s comments that “pour fuel on the fire of anti-Muslim hatred”.

Mr Khan said the claim by the former deputy chairman of Tory party were Islamophobic and sent the message that Muslims were “fair game” when it came to racism.

The remarks prompted criticism from Labour and some Tories, including former cabinet minister Sajid Javid who branded them “ridiculous”.

This breaking news story is being updated and more details will be published shortly.

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King Charles shown chuckling at get well card featuring dog in a head cone




King Charles shown chuckling at get well card featuring dog in a head cone

The King has been shown having a chuckle at cards sent by well-wishers, including one of a dog with the caption “at least you don’t have to wear a cone!”.

The 75-year-old monarch has been sent around 7,000 messages of support from around the world since his cancer diagnosis.

Newly released images and footage show King Charles looking through some of them at his desk in Buckingham Palace’s Belgian Suite.

King Charles III reads cards and messages, sent by wellwishers following his cancer diagnosis.
The photos show the King in Buckingham Palace’s Belgian Suite. Pic: PA

He seemed particularly tickled by a card featuring an illustration of a terrier-like dog in a head cone, recovering from medical treatment.

Pets often wear plastic collars after an operation, to stop them aggravating a wound or stitches.

Other cards spread out in front of the King include one that reads “Your Majesty Get Well Soon”, while a number appear to be hand-drawn by children.

Many have related their own experience of cancer, with messages such as: “Chin up, chest out, remain positive and don’t let it get you down.”

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“Never give up. Be brave. Don’t push your limits. Get Well Soon,” says one note from a child.

Those who’ve included their address will be sent a message of thanks.

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Messages ‘reduced me to tears’

The King was pictured reading the cards on Wednesday – the same day he met the prime minister for their weekly audience.

He told Rishi Sunak that he’d been “reduced to tears” by the public’s support.

The monarch was speaking to Mr Sunak in their first face-to-face meeting since it was announced he had a “form of cancer”.

“I’ve had so many wonderful messages and cards, it has reduced me to tears most of the time,” King Charles told the prime minister.

He added: “I hear there has been a lot more potential attention on those main, wonderful cancer charities, many of which I have been a patron of for years.”

The King had been mostly staying at the Sandringham estate in Norfolk following his first round of treatment in London.

Buckingham Palace announced on 5 February that cancer had been discovered while undergoing a procedure for an enlarged prostate.

The Palace has not released details about the type of cancer or the treatment.

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Professional golfer Georgia Ball can ‘see the funny side’ after ‘mansplaining’ TikTok video goes viral




Professional golfer Georgia Ball can 'see the funny side' after 'mansplaining' TikTok video goes viral

Professional female golfer Georgia Ball has said she can “see the funny side” after a video of an amateur player “mansplaining” to her about her swing went viral.

Ball, a certified PGA pro and instructor, also told Sky Sports she did not put the man in his place during the “awkward” conversation because she is a “humble person”.

The TikTok video of the incident she shared earlier this week has had more than 10 million views and over 26,000 comments, with many social media users mocking the man for “mansplaining”.

In the clip, Ball, who regularly shares instructional videos on her account, is seen practising her swing at a driving range near Liverpool.

A man off camera then says: “Excuse me, what you’re doing there, you shouldn’t be doing that… swing and follow through.”

He goes on to tell her that she is “too slow on the way up”.

Ball explains she is going through a “swing change” – something golfers regularly do to improve their technique.

However, the man continues: “I know, but what you’re doing there is you’re coming back too slow.

“I’ve been playing golf for 20 years, what you need to do is follow through a lot quicker than what you’re doing there right now.”

She explains again that she is going through a swing change, but the man continues to advise that she needs to move her club quicker.

Ball then cleanly strikes the ball into the distance before the man says: “See how much better that was?”

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The professional golfer explains once again that she is practising a swing change, before the man repeats that he “has been playing for 20 years” and that she should carry on playing the way he has advised her to.

Ball then laughs, before sarcastically adding: “Thanks for your advice.”

Asked by Sky Sports how she felt during the interaction, Ball said: “It was an awkward conversation at the time but I was just concentrating on what I was doing… I am glad I can look back on it now and see the funny side to it.”

When asked if she was ever tempted to put the man in his place, she said: “To be honest, I am a humble person, it is not in me to call him out or say I am a PGA pro, it is just not in me to do that.”

Ball added that she never got the chance to see the man hit a ball, so was unable to pass comment on his swing.

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