Outside the Labour conference hall in Liverpool, the winds were up and the rain pouring down.
Back in the City of London, the markets were still in turmoil as tensions flared between the prime minister and chancellor about how to handle the fallout from their (non) budget.
But if these are turbulent times, inside the conference hall Labour’s Sir Keir Starmer was a man carrying a calm sense of confidence. This was a leader who thinks his moment has arrived.
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It was so different to a year ago, when Sir Keir was heckled in the hall by the Labour left as he delivered his leader’s speech and his supporters were drafted in to try to drown out the criticism with cheers.
Those battles over, the ground won. This was a leader placing Labour firmly in the centre ground and taking aim at Tory territory, pitching to be the party of economic competence, business and aspiration.
And Sir Keir was so different too: I remember back in May 2021 when Labour suffered that not just a humiliating by-election defeat in Hartlepool – the former heartland town electing the first Tory MP for the first time in 62 years – but also a slew of losses in local elections across the red wall.
As Boris Johnson embarked on a tour of his new territory in the West Midlands and Hartlepool, Sir Keir remained holed up in London. There was no victory lap to be had anywhere in the country. It was a real low point, a raw moment for the Labour leader. And it took time to build back.
But on Tuesday, the Labour leader cut a different figure. He was serious, assured and definitely not second-guessing himself. He became increasingly confident throughout the summer as his nemesis Mr Johnson was deposed, and the new Conservative administration’s woes seem to have shifted to the next gear.
Hope has given way to belief. If you take one thing away from this conference, it is that this is now a party that believes – from top to bottom – it can win the next general election.
This is what Angela Rayner, the deputy leader, told me when I asked if she had a message for Liz Truss: “Do not completely trash the country before we take over and make it better.”
Jonathan Reynolds, the shadow business secretary, told me that this was the best party conference he’d ever been to, and he’s been coming since 1999.
This one was for him the best since the days of Tony Blair, because “of what it means for the country to have a party that can replace the Conservatives”.
Sir Keir has always refused to be cast in the clothes of any past Labour leader, but in this speech on Tuesday he positioned himself as the heir of Blair, even quoting the former prime minister’s own words when he described Labour as the “political wing of the British people”.
Labour was a party of the aspiration, of economic responsibility, of the centre ground. These all things Sir Keir would have struggled to say a year ago – now being cheered.
“The party is unified,” said one senior figure of the left of the party. “We have been out of power for 12 years, we can’t do any more time in opposition. You can still be centre ground and be radical.”
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And there were radical ideas in this speech, the most eye-catching of which was the plan for a Labour government to set up a publicly owned energy group – Great British Energy – with the ability to invest directly in renewable energy and nuclear projects within the first year of being in power.
That confidence is also being driven by polling, with a YouGov poll on Monday that put Labour on a 17 point lead against the Tories – its biggest poll lead in two decades – prompting jubilation in Liverpool.
But there is unease too that Sir Keir’s success is down to Tory failures rather than a change in fortunes between the party and the electorate, and a fear that the gains made could be undone if the Conservative government begins to please voters again. A quiet acknowledgement, if you like, that Sir Keir still hasn’t sealed the deal with the electorate.
When I asked Ms Rayner if the public were looking again at Labour but still don’t love Labour, she was – typically – pretty forthright. “Yes, and you know nobody is complacent. And we all know that in 2019 we’ve got a real kicking. The public didn’t see us as the future, but now they’re seeing what the Conservatives have done.”
The sinking feeling of defeat that’s plagued Labour since 2010 is now settling on the Conservative Party – a spectacle unimaginable back in 2019 when Mr Johnson romped home with an 80-seat majority and the chance to run the country for another two terms.
Now Labour has a chance to win those voters back with Sir Keir’s brand of patriotism, integrity and seriousness. As the Labour leader himself put it on Tuesday night as he addressed journalists and party members at the annual Mirror party: “You can get a sense of the political weather, the temperature, what I think about this conference is it has a different feel to it, the Labour Party is confident.”
An election is still two years away, but Labour now with a genuine opportunity to get into government. After 12 years out of power, is the tide finally about to turn?
Russia says it scrambled fighter jet to intercept two US bombers over Baltic Sea
A Russian Su-35 fighter jet was scrambled to intercept two US strategic bombers over the Baltic Sea, Russia’s defence ministry has said.
“Two air targets flying in the direction of the state border of the Russian Federation” were detected by radar on Monday, it said in a statement on the social media platform Telegram.
The aircraft were identified as two US Air Force B-52 strategic bombers “flying in the direction of the Russian Federation’s state border”.
A Su-35 fighter jet took to the air to prevent a border violation, the ministry continued.
“After the foreign military aircraft moved away from the Russian Federation state border, the Russian fighter returned to its base airfield,” it added.
The National Defense Center of the Russian Federation said: “The flight of the Russian fighter was carried out in strict accordance with the international rules for the use of airspace.
“Violations of the state border of the Russian Federation are not allowed.”
The US has not yet responded to the claim.
It comes after the crash of a US military surveillance drone into the Black Sea on 14 March after it was intercepted by Russian jets.
The US Air Force released a video it said showed a Russian jet intercepting the drone and dumping fuel on it over the Black Sea.
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It said two Russian Su-27 jets flew close to the MQ-9 Reaper before one hit its propeller and forced remote operators to crash it into the ocean.
The incident highlighted the increasing risk of direct confrontation between the superpowers as fighting continues in nearby Ukraine.
American officials accused the Russian pilots of flying in a “reckless, environmentally unsound and unprofessional manner”.
Moscow denied the jets behaved dangerously and said they didn’t come into contact with the drone, claiming it crashed due to “sharp manoeuvring”.
Gwyneth Paltrow ski crash court case starts in US after man accused her of seriously injuring him in ‘hit-and-run’
Gwyneth Paltrow has appeared in court in the US over claims she seriously injured a man in a “hit-and-run” skiing crash in 2016.
She is accused of skiing “out of control” and hitting retired optometrist Terry Sanderson at Deer Valley Resort in Utah.
The lawsuit claimed that Paltrow crashed into him, “knocking him down hard, knocking him out, and causing a brain injury, four broken ribs and other serious injuries”.
Paltrow has alleged that Mr Sanderson is actually the culprit in the collision, and has been overstating his injuries.
The Hollywood star, also the founder and CEO of the wellness company goop, sat in the court wearing a high-necked cream jumper and brown trousers as opening statements in the case began.
Lawrence Buhler, representing Mr Sanderson, told jurors that Paltrow’s behaviour on the mountain in 2016 had been “reckless”.
Mr Sanderson first sued Paltrow in 2019, seeking $3.1m (£2.5m) in damages.
He is now seeking $300,000 (£245,000) after that claim was dropped.
The original 2019 claim stated that after hitting him, “Paltrow got up, turned and skied away, leaving Sanderson stunned, lying in the snow, seriously injured”.
It also said a Deer Valley ski instructor who had been training Paltrow saw Mr Sanderson had been injured but made no attempt to help him.
The instructor did not send for help and later accused Mr Sanderson of having caused the crash in a “false report to protect his client”, the claim said.
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The actress countersued for a symbolic $1, saying it was Mr Sanderson who had caused the crash and delivered a full “body blow”.
Paltrow’s claim said she was shaken by the collision and stopped skiing with her family for the day.
It added that Mr Sanderson apologised to her and said he was fine.
The trial is scheduled to last for eight days.
What happens if Donald Trump is arrested?
Donald Trump has claimed he is set to be arrested over an alleged hush money payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels.
If right in his assertion, the former US president could be charged by authorities in New York within days.
But what will happen if he is indicted – and how will both sides present their case?
What Trump has said
In a post on his Truth Social platform on Saturday, Mr Trump said he expected to be arrested on Tuesday and urged his supporters to protest against the authorities if he is detained and indicted.
He published a long statement describing the investigation as a “political witch-hunt trying to take down the leading candidate, by far, in the Republican Party”.
“I did absolutely nothing wrong,” he said, before criticising a “corrupt, depraved and weaponised justice system”.
However, it’s worth noting a spokesperson for Mr Trump said he had not been notified of any pending arrest.
The case – that the Republican made a payment to Ms Daniels towards the end of the 2016 presidential campaign in exchange for her silence over an alleged affair – is one of several related to Mr Trump.
Other ongoing cases include a Georgia election interference probe and two federal investigations into his role in the 6 January insurrection in the US Capitol.
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What Trump will do
Mr Trump has accused Manhattan’s district attorney Alvin Bragg, a Democrat, of targeting him for political gain, and may try to argue for the dismissal of the charges on those grounds.
He could also challenge whether the statute of limitations – five years in this instance – should have run out.
But in New York, the statute of limitations can be extended if the defendant has been out of state – Trump may argue that serving as US president should not apply.
Politically, how any possible indictment may affect Mr Trump’s chances in the 2024 presidential election is unclear.
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He could be the first former US president to face criminal prosecution – right as polls show him leading other potential rivals for the Republican nomination, including controversial Florida governor Ron DeSantis.
This could lead to the unprecedented situation in which Mr Trump would stand trial as he campaigns in 2024.
If elected, he would not have the power to pardon himself of criminal charges.
In any case, Mr Trump’s lawyer Joe Tacopina told CNBC on Friday that he would surrender if charged. If he refused to come voluntarily, prosecutors could seek to have him extradited from Florida, where he currently lives.
In an ironic twist, as governor, Mr DeSantis would typically have to give formal approval for an extradition.
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What prosecutors will do
The Manhattan District Attorney’s office has spent nearly five years investigating Mr Trump.
It has presented evidence to a New York grand jury that relates to a £114,000 ($130,000) payment to Ms Daniels during the final days of the 2016 presidential campaign.
It is alleged the payment was given in exchange for Ms Daniels’ silence about an affair between her and Mr Trump.
Mr Trump has denied the affair and accused Ms Daniels of extortion.
Any indictment by the district attorney’s office would require Mr Trump to travel to its New York office to surrender.
But Mr Trump’s lawyers will likely arrange a date and time with authorities, as it is a white-collar case. And then his mugshot and fingerprints would be taken before appearing for arraignment in court.
Mr Trump could also be charged with falsifying business records – typically classed as a misdemeanour – after he reimbursed his former attorney Michael Cohen for the payments, falsely recorded as legal services.
To elevate it to a felony, prosecutors would have to show Mr Trump falsified records to cover up a second crime.
In any case, legal experts have estimated that any trial of the former US president would be more than a year away.
That’s why if it happened, it could coincide with the final months of a 2024 election in which Mr Trump seeks a controversial return to the White House.
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