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We are rushing down the beach. In the gloom just before dawn, people are waiting by the seashore, a few hundred metres away.

We can see a dinghy out at sea. And then a voice rings out, in Kurdish.

“Whose passengers are you?”

In the half-light, the people smuggler thinks we are customers here to clamber on to the boat, and wants to know who we had paid.

We tell him we’re journalists.

“Keep out of the way,” he warns.

There are several dozen people gathered together, standing on the shoreline, moving anxiously from side to side.

Migrants wait for a dinghy as they prepare to cross the Channel to reach the UK.
Image:
Migrants wait for a dinghy as they prepare to cross the Channel to reach the UK

I can see some women and children, but most of the passengers are men.

Some are clinging to a bag of possessions; others have nothing but the clothes they stand in. A man has his child held up on his shoulders.

Just about everyone is wearing a life jacket.

Just beyond, the boat is coming near the shore, already half full of people.

It seems impossible that all the people on the land can really fit into the space left in the boat, but that’s what happens.

On a signal, the movement starts – the younger men clamber in first, and then help the women, children and older people to get into the boat.

It all happens remarkably quickly. From a distance, migrant boats may look ramshackle and chaotic, but when you get up close, there is method and practice.

Some people jump off; the men who didn’t have life jackets on.

It becomes clear that these are the smugglers – or, more accurately, the smugglers’ assistants who have been sent to sort things out.

On one side, we see a moment of tension as two passengers square up – one accuses the other of not leaving a space for him to get aboard.

A shoe left in the sand after migrants cross the Channel for the UK
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A shoe left in the sand following the attempted crossing

It is a faintly ridiculous squabble, like something between two drunk men in a pub, and it blows over. They end up sitting next to each other, brooding.

And then the engine is started and the boat sets off. At first, it’s a failure – the boat, low in the water with around 70 people on board, gets stuck on a small bar of sand and spins around.

But, with a push here and there, it gets going and slowly chugs away into the mist of the morning.

‘Migrants are desperate’

We turn around. The smugglers are leaving. We shout a question – are all these people Kurds?

“All of them,” he says. “These are the last Kurdish customers I have. There are no more.”

“Why not?”

And his answer is one succinct word: “Rwanda.”

The smugglers, dressed in black, disappear into the gloom.

We can just about see them clambering into the dunes, and then they are gone. It is a good ten minutes before we see the police – four officers marching down the beach.

They ask only two questions – firstly, did we see women and children on the boat (yes) and secondly, had the boat been launched from the beach (no).

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They’d only just started their patrol, one of the officers tells me. He looks at the calm waters and shrugs. It could be busy.

Over the course of that night, we had seen plenty of police officers. We’d been questioned on the beach, checked as we walked near the beach and then pulled over at a road block.

We’d chatted with a team of CRS riot officers on the beach, one of whom bemoaned the fact that so few people grasped the sheer complexity of what they took on.

“It is so, so complicated – the migrants are desperate, and they can get everywhere. We cannot have a team in every place, at every time.”

It turned out that the road block officers were exactly the same team who we’d met on a different beach the previous evening.

“Ah, Sky News you are back,” he said, with a smile and a handshake.

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‘I cannot go to Rwanda’

We meet two young Sudanese men who tell us they are determined to get to Britain. When I ask if they’re worried about the Rwanda plan, they look blank. They’ve never heard of it.

And then we drop into a migrant camp that is growing in size and bump into another group of Kurds.

They are cooking food – this is the cafe for the migrants – and brewing tea that is strong, and scented with cinnamon.

They give me a cup. It’s delicious.

Omar is kneading dough, making crispy flatbread, and serving it with yoghurt. And he talks as he cooks, serving a remarkable story.

A migrant camp in France that is growing in size, with people who want to cross the Channel to the UK.
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At a migrant camp in France that is growing in size, people kneed bread

A migrant camp in France that is growing in size, with people who want to cross the Channel to the UK.

Two years ago, Omar left Kurdistan and paid a smuggler $15,000 (£12,000) to get him to Britain. He was there for 20 months, suffered a stroke, failed to gain asylum and ended up paying a smuggler £500 to get him out of Britain and back to this squalid camp in France.

Yes, you read that correctly. He paid to be smuggled out of Britain, and back to France.

“Here there is no washing or bath,” he says.

“You can’t clean yourself. Life is hard. But in Britain I had to give my fingerprints and signature regularly. Once every two weeks.

Omar left Kurdistan and paid a smuggler $15,000 (£12,000) to get him to Britain. He was there for 20 months, suffered a stroke, failed to gain asylum and ended up paying a smuggler £500 to get him out of Britain and back to this squalid camp in France. Here he is speaking to Sky News's Europe correspondent Adam Parsons.
Image:
Omar, who paid to be smuggled out of the UK after a failed asylum claim, speaks to Adam Parsons

“Then I was told they had turned me down for asylum. I couldn’t cope with Britain anymore.

“They could arrest me and send me to Rwanda or Iraq. Rwanda – I cannot go there.

“So that’s why I came back here, to this place. But I have no money. I am 52 years old. It’s a terrible feeling to be back here, but what can I do?”

Listening to him is Barzan, who arrived in the camp five days ago after eight months on the road since leaving Kurdistan.

Read more from Sky News:
Girl crushed to death on cross-Channel migrant boat
Rival group pushed their way on to cross-Channel boat

By striking contrast, he is not remotely bothered by the Rwanda plan.

“People won’t stop, whatever you tell them.

“Even if you tell them they will be taken to Africa, they would still go without hesitation. Rwanda is better than Kurdistan.

“But in Britain there is work. The currency is strong. I’m young and I want to make a life for myself.”

Another voice is raised – a man named Karwan.

A man named Karwan, who wants to cross the Channel from France to the UK, speaks to Sky News's Europe correspondent Adam Parsons.
Image:
A man named Karwan, who wants to cross the Channel from France to the UK

He hears the word Rwanda, shrugs, smiles and shakes his head: “I think it’s a joke. Two years ago they started going on about Rwanda and nothing came of it.

“Now, it’s just for the sake of the election. Nothing else.”

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Gareth Bale warns greed could harm footballer welfare as matches pile up – and backs calls to scrap VAR

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Gareth Bale warns greed could harm footballer welfare as matches pile up - and backs calls to scrap VAR

Gareth Bale has revealed to Sky News concerns football could become “too greedy”, with players’ mental and physical well-being endangered by growing fixture demands.

The former Wales captain, who won every major honour with Real Madrid, urged football authorities to act so “it doesn’t take something bad to happen for that to change”.

In his first notable interview since retiring in January 2023, Bale reflected on the highs and lows of an illustrious career, assessed the wider state of the game – including what he describes as the need to scrap VAR – and expressed admiration for Jude Bellingham’s immediate impact at Madrid.

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Bale on why he doesn’t like VAR

Bale retired at 33 as a five-time Champions League winner with Madrid – becoming Britain’s most successful male footballing export while still facing difficult times winning over fans in Spain.

The pressures he felt are now only growing as competitions add matches, much to the frustration of global players’ union FIFPRO.

Bale said in an exclusive interview with Sky News: “The intensity and the quickness [are] only getting higher, and it’s very difficult to continue playing at that high level.

“And then when the level comes down, you only get scrutinised.”

He said that while “everybody understands that money … plays a big part” and “more games means more money”, players “want to play the right amount of games where you can cope with it without it being dangerous”.

He added: “It’s a very fine line, but hopefully everybody can come together and come to a right resolution for player welfare.”

Gareth Bale lifting the Champions League trophy for Real Madrid. Pic: PA
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Gareth Bale lifting the Champions League trophy for Real Madrid in 2018. Pic: PA

Some players now could be required for more than 85 matches in a season for club and country with FIFA introducing a new 32-team Club World Cup every four years and UEFA expanding the Champions League.

“The amount of fixtures is becoming more and more and it’ll just become more demanding – and hopefully it doesn’t take something bad to happen for that to change,” Bale said.

“Looking after the players is an important thing. They’re the ones who are growing the game, bringing the fans in to watch them.”

Asked about hopes for football, Bale replied: “It’s just about staying together as one and without certain things getting too greedy.”

‘VAR only made it worse’

One thing he certainly doesn’t miss is video assistant referees delaying celebrations and ruling out goals.

Premier League clubs are set to vote next week on whether to scrap VAR.

VAR, Bale says, was “supposed to take away the controversy in football and it’s only made it worse – I like the human error aspect”.

“Things in slow motion look a lot worse than they do in real time. So, when you slow things down, a handball looks way more of a handball than it does in real action.

“So I don’t like it. I would like to see it gone personally.”

‘Fantastic’ Bellingham

Bale led Tottenham into the Champions League for the first time before an £85m move to Madrid in 2013.

Jude Bellingham has been 'fantastic'. Pic: PA
Image:
Jude Bellingham has been ‘fantastic’. Pic: PA

The 14-time European champions are back in the final on Saturday at Wembley Stadium against Borussia Dortmund – a notable homecoming for Jude Bellingham after a wondrous first season in the Spanish capital.

The 20-year-old English star has already won LaLiga with 19 goals and six assists.

“At such a young age to be doing what he’s doing is fantastic,” Bale said. “It’s great to see, it’s refreshing and it’s important.”

It is especially important to get off to a good start at a club of such history and tradition like Real Madrid, he said.

“The intensity, the pressure that you can feel under…,” said Bale.

“So, he had a great start so far. Obviously, they still have a big game to come and it’ll be great for him to win a Champions League in his first season, that really settles the pressure and, hopefully, he can kick on from there.”

Ups and downs in Madrid

Life in Madrid wasn’t always easy for Bale, with jeers from his own fans despite being so integral on the big occasions with memorable goals like the scissor kick in the 2018 Champions League final win over Liverpool.

Gareth Bale scoring a spectacular overhead kick against Liverpool. Pic PA
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Gareth Bale scoring a spectacular overhead kick against Liverpool. Pic PA

“Of course, there’s always going to be ups and downs,” Bale said. “It’s how you deal with those, how you bounce back, how your character comes out.

“There were obviously some great times, there were obviously some bad. But, I think normally the good outweighs the bad in the end.”

Undoubtedly the biggest moments of pride came with his country – leading Wales to the Euro 2016 semifinals and ending their 62-year World Cup exile in 2022.

“If you’d told me when I was a young kid that I would have the career I did, I probably would never have believed you,” Bale said. “I feel like I overachieved”.

“But I think as you get older, your goals change, your body changes, your talent kind of takes over, the hard work kicks in.”

Read more:
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Bale ‘very proud’ after receiving MBE from Prince William

Now there is more time for golf and family.

“It’s been really nice just to take a step back and have that pressure just relieved a bit,” he said.

“So it’s been good. Obviously I’ve spoken to people when they’ve retired. It’s all about keeping stuff a little bit busy.”

Climate concern

Bale also expressed concern over how football impacts climate change – and stressed the importance of not neglecting the environment while chasing sporting glory.

His message for collective action on sustainability features alongside those of other players, clubs and fans on a Pledge Ball made from recycled boots by Champions League sponsor Mastercard.

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“It’s difficult to make big changes,” Bale said. “It’s always about making those little changes.”

Bale urged the media “to write about the good things, not the bad things”, mentioning Lewis Hamilton as an example of somebody who is “doing a lot of good” and gets “unfair” treatment.

“He made such a massive effort to kind of change his environment and to do right,” Bale said of the F1 driver.

“And then people forget all the hard work he’s done and write maybe about just the small, I guess, negative where he drives an F1 car, which is obviously CO2. So, people need to realise that he’s doing a lot of good and not just that little bit of not bad.

“So, I think for him to make such a big change was massive. But to get the scrutiny I guess he got was very unfair.”

The sense is Bale also prefers life without scrutiny, away from the football spotlight with no desire to become a coach.

“I’m enjoying time, being at home with the family, spending more time with the kids,” he said.

“Enjoying life, to be honest.”

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Bournemouth: CCTV images released of suspect after woman stabbed to death on beach

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Bournemouth: CCTV images released of suspect after woman stabbed to death on beach

Detectives investigating the fatal stabbing of a woman on a beach in Bournemouth have released CCTV images of a suspect.

Dorset Police were called to reports of two women who had been stabbed on Durley Chine Beach at around 11.45pm on Friday.

A 34-year-old woman from nearby Poole was pronounced dead at the scene, while a 38-year-old woman who sustained serious injuries is still in hospital receiving treatment.

A 17-year-old boy from the Lancashire area, who was arrested on suspicion of murder, remains in custody.

Police have issued CCTV images of a suspect who is wearing dark clothing with his hood pulled over his head.

Officers believe there was only one offender involved and the CCTV images are of the suspect at the scene, with inquiries continuing to confirm his identity, the PA news agency reported.

Police officers at the scene on Saturday. Pic: PA
Image:
Police officers at the scene on Saturday. Pic: PA

Detective Superintendent Richard Dixey said: “Since this tragic incident was reported to us, we have been driving the investigation forward, collecting as much information as possible to get answers for the loved ones of the young woman who has tragically lost her life and for the surviving victim. Our thoughts remain with them.

“We are now in a position to issue CCTV images of the suspect. I would urge anyone who was in the area of Durley Chine beach during the night from Friday 24 May to Saturday 25 May 2024 and may have seen the person pictured or anything unusual to please come forward.”

The officer said anyone who was in the area of Durley Roundabout, West Cliff Gardens, Durley Gardens or West Cliff Drive may have “vital clues”.

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Appealing for witnesses, DS Dixey said: “Did you see anyone acting strangely, mainly between 10pm and midnight? Do you have dashcam or CCTV footage that may assist the enquiry?

“Anyone who thinks they recognise the person in the CCTV images should contact police.”

The beach where the stabbing took place is one of Bournemouth’s most popular, according to Visit Dorset, and is located west of the pier.

“We are of course acutely aware of the concerns this incident will have created and indeed continues to create,” said DS Dixey.

“The impact on our communities and the protection of our public remains at the forefront of our minds.

“The enhanced police presence in the area will remain as long as is necessary and if you have any concerns, please do not hesitate to speak to an officer.”

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General Election 2024: Sunak ‘to double down on National Service plan’ as Tories and Labour focus on security

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General Election 2024: Sunak 'to double down on National Service plan' as Tories and Labour focus on security

Rishi Sunak is expected to continue championing his controversial plans to revive National Service by urging employers to prioritise job applicants who have served time in the military.

The prime minister said all 18-year-olds would be made to undertake a form of “mandatory” National Service if the Conservatives are re-elected on 4 July.

Despite growing criticism of the plans – which Tories estimate would cost £2.5bn a year by the end of the decade – the Financial Times reports the prime minister is set to double down.

Mr Sunak said one way to “get the most out of National Service” would be to encourage bosses to “consider those who complete the armed forces placement during job applications”, the paper reports.

Critics from across the political divide have dismissed the plan as unserious, while leading military figures are sceptical over how it would work.

But Mr Sunak will hope his pledge could boost his bid to narrow a yawning gap in the polls between the Tories and Labour as campaigning enters the first full week.

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Is National Service a good idea?

Security will also be the focus of the day for Labour, with Sir Keir Starmer expected to say in a keynote speech “economic security, border security, and national security” will form the “bedrock” of the party manifesto.

“The very foundation of any good government is economic security, border security, and national security,” the Labour leader is expected to say.

“This is the foundation, the bedrock that our manifesto and our first steps will be built upon.”

Read more:
Which countries have National Service and how does it work?
National Service pledge derided as ‘deeply cynical’ by defence insider

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Acknowledging some voters may be unsure of Labour’s credentials around national security, he is expected to say: “Whatever the polls say, I know there are countless people who haven’t decided how they’ll vote in this election.

“They’re fed up with the failure, chaos and division of the ­Tories but they still have questions about us.

“Has Labour changed enough? Do I trust them with my money, our borders and our security?

“My answer is yes you can – because I have changed this party. Permanently. This has been my driving mission since day one.”

Sir Keir Starmer during a visit to Tapa Military Base in Estonia, where British armed forces are deployed as part of NATO commitments. Pic: PA
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Voters can trust Labour on security matters, Starmer says. Pic: PA

According to The Times, Labour would bring together MI5, police and Whitehall departments to carry out a 100-day review of all the threats that Britain faces, including from Russia and Iran, if it wins the election.

Campaigning for the election is expected to ramp up in the coming week.

Sir Ed Davey will be north of the border launching the Scottish Liberal Democrat campaign with Scottish leader Alex Cole-Hamilton.

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