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Switzerland has won Eurovision, topping the leaderboard in a competition fraught with last-minute changes and backstage incidents.

The first non-binary performer to take the trophy, Nemo used their childhood opera experience to pull together an impressive performance mixing rap, rock, drum ‘n bass and classical opera, as well as balancing on a revolving disc spinning at speed as they sang.

The song – which took an early lead in the race – shares a message of self-acceptance and the freedom for each one of us to live our lives openly and without fear of judgment.

When accepting their prize, Nemo said: “I hope this contest can live up to its promise, and continue to stand up for peace.” They then performed their song to wrap up the show.

Eurovision as it happened
A wardrobe malfunction, a watermelon and nul points: Five moments you might have missed

Nemo is the first Swiss act to win the contest since Celine Dion took the prize in 1988.

Croatian act Baby Lasagne (whose real name is Marko Purisic) took second place with the anarchic rock track Rim Tim Tagi Dim.

The UK’s act, Dizzy, sung by Olly Alexander came 18th out of 25, with 46 points. He performed 13th in the running order – a number considered unlucky for some, and received a crushing “nul points” in the public vote.

The Years And Years star gave an energetic performance surrounded by his four dancers dressed in boxing shorts, writhing around a brightly lit cube decked out like a boxing ring.

Analysis: Is Eurovision broken? And can it be fixed?


New pic of Bethany Minelle, Ents reporter for CMS

Bethany Minelle

Arts and entertainment reporter

@BethanyMinelle

Fifty years ago Abba brought Waterloo to Eurovision and emerged triumphant. Today, very different battles were being fought within the competition, as it attempted – with limited success – to remain apolitical in the face of geo-politics too loud to ignore.

Critics of the war in Gaza wanted Israel to be pulled from the show, with thousands of pro-Palestine protesters taking to the streets for organised marches throughout competition week. Fans called on acts to boycott the event, with some screenings of the show cancelled in recognition of the contentious nature of the ongoing debate.

Calls of “art washing” rang out loud and clear, but as far as the show’s bosses – the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) – were concerned, it was a case of “the show must go on”.

A supplementary drama was thrown into the mix just eight hours before the show was due to start, when Dutch act Joost Klein was axed over allegations he made verbal threats to a female member of Eurovision staff. It was an unprecedented move.

Fans of his song – the painfully catchy happy hardcore number Europapa – were not impressed, venting their displeasure through boos directed at EBU boss Martin Osterdahl as he delivered the Netherlands’ scores during the show.

Following their history-making win, Switzerland’s Nemo admitted they’d broken the coveted Eurovision glass trophy within moments of being handed it. They also admitted to breaking EBU rules by bringing a non-binary flag into the venue, before calling out the “double standards” of the organisers who were reported to have forced some fans to throw away their non-binary flags before being allowed in.

Perhaps summing up the take home message of the night, the 26-year-old singer said: “I broke the code and I broke the trophy, maybe the trophy can be fixed – maybe Eurovision needs a little bit of fixing now and then too.”

With organisers clearly struggling to cope with performers who refuse to be gagged, this was certainly a difficult year for the competition. Can it weather the storm? Or will the hurricane instigated by brutal world conflict raze it to the ground?

Either way, the contest’s motto – “united by music” – must surely now be retired, as the Eurovision community steps away from the stage more divided than ever.

Ireland’s act Bambie Thug came sixth, with their self-named “Ouija pop” track Doomsday Blue.

Victoria, Crown Princess of Sweden, opened the show, speaking in a short, pre-recorded video, and wishing all the contestants luck, before Sweden’s identical twins Marcus and Martinus performed the first song.

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UK receives ‘nul points’ at Eurovision

Performers made some tentative moves towards bringing politics to the stage, with Lithuania signing off their song with the command, “Spread love to the world”, while Portugal’s act said, “Peace will prevail”.

At the end of France’s performance by Slimane, he said: “United by music, for love and peace, thank you so much.”

During an earlier performance he had cut his act short, saying: “Every artist here wants to sing about love and sing about peace. We need to be united by music yes but with love for peace. United by music yes but with love for peace”.

Meanwhile, Ireland’s act Bambie Thug rounded off their performance by saying: “Love will always triumph hate.”

Pic: Reuters
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Ireland’s Bambie Thug performing Doomsday Blue. Pic: Reuters

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The country’s participation in the Eurovision song contest in Malmo, Sweden left the event struggling to maintain its apolitical stance.

Boos and toy fruit

During a cutaway of their team, which was played after all the songs had been performed in a round-up of the acts sitting in the ‘green room’ area onstage, there was a large soft-toy watermelon clearly in the background behind Bambie.

The fruit is widely used as a symbol of Palestinian solidarity.

Earlier this week, the 31-year-old, who is non-binary, said the EBU prevented them from displaying a pro-Palestinian message during their performance during the first semi-final.

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Israel receives mixed reaction at Eurovision

There was some audible booing when Israel’s Eden Golan performed, and more audible booing when Israel handed out their scores.

Ms Golan told Sky News after the contest she had ignored all the controversy.

She said: “I’ve been sending good vibes, I’ve been focusing on spreading love and spreading good energy and getting to know everyone.”

Asked if she was happy with the result, she said she was “over the moon” about it.

The loudest booing of the night was reserved for the man in charge of the Eurovision Song Contest, Martin Osterdahl, who was almost drowned out by jeering from the crowd when he first spoke, and then again when he handed out the points for Netherlands.

This year’s Eurovision contest has been embroiled in controversy over the last few months, with demonstrations and calls for Israel to be banned due to their actions in the ongoing Israel-Hamas war.

Protests have bene held in Malmo this week. Pic: TT News Agency via Reuters
Image:
Protests in Malmo this week. Pic: TT News Agency via Reuters

On Thursday, between 10,000 and 12,000 people took part in a pro-Palestinian march through Malmo, the host city.

An unprecedented axing

But on Friday, drama unfolded closer to home when Dutch act Joost – who had been among the favourites to win – was axed over allegations he made verbal threats to a female Eurovision production worker after coming off stage following the second semi-final on Thursday.

It is the first time in Eurovision history that an act has been disqualified after reaching the grand final.

Joost Klein. Pic: AP
Image:
Joost Klein. Pic: AP

Then on Saturday, Irish contender Bambie Thug did not take part in the final rehearsal for the show, due to “a situation” they said needed “urgent attention” from organisers.

Several presenters scheduled to award the points of their country during the programme, withdrew from the show just hours before it was due to begin, including Finnish singer Kaarij (whose song Cha Cha Cha came second in last year’s show) and Norwegian singer Alessandra Mele.

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Eurovision act suffers wardrobe malfunction

Away from the political overtones the EBU was trying so hard to avoid, Swedish supergroup Abba – the most famous band ever to come out of the contest – were shown in hologram form and performed on stage in London.

The four “Abbatars” as they’ve been dubbed sang Waterloo, accompanied from the Malmo stage by fellow former winners Conchita Wurst, Charlotte Perrelli and Carola Haggkvist.

‘Maybe Eurovision needs a little bit of fixing’

Switzerland's Nemo with The Code. Pic: Alma Bengtsson/EBU
Image:
Switzerland’s Nemo with The Code. Pic: Alma Bengtsson/EBU

Speaking to reporters after their win, Nemo admitted they had accidentally broken the glass microphone shortly after being presented with it on stage.

Nemo hit out at the EBU’s “double standards” when asked about fans reportedly not being allowed to bring non-binary flags into the auditorium, admitting: “I had to smuggle my flag in because Eurovision said no and I did it anyway. I hope some other people did that too… This is clearly like a double standard… I broke the code and I broke the trophy, maybe the trophy can be fixed – maybe Eurovision needs a little bit of fixing too”.

They said the experience of performing in Eurovision had been “intense, and not just pleasant all the way,” adding that the fact had not been “all about love and unity made them “really sad”.

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Loud boos for Eurovision boss

When pressed on how they felt about Dutch act Joost not being in the final, Nemo refused to be drawn, saying, “I don’t really know any specifics” so would “refrain from “saying that if I don’t have anything smart to say”.

However, on their fellow Eurovision finalists, Nemo said they had made “friends for life,” adding that they hope to collaborate with some of their fellow acts, and would “love to do a song with Bambie [Thug]”.

Next year’s contest will be held in Switzerland.

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Refusing mandatory National Service won’t lead to prison, home secretary says after Tory policy launch

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Refusing mandatory National Service won't lead to prison, home secretary says after Tory policy launch

Nobody would go to jail for refusing to comply with National Service under a Conservative government, the home secretary has said.

In the Conservatives’ first policy announcement of the general election campaign, Rishi Sunak said on Saturday he would introduce a new form of mandatory National Service for 18-year-olds if his party wins the vote in July.

They would be given the choice of a full-time military placement for 12 months or a scheme to volunteer for one weekend a month for a year.

The announcement came two days after defence minister Dr Andrew Murrison told the Commons the government has “no plans” to reintroduce National Service and doing so would “damage morale, recruitment and retention and would consume professional military and naval resources”.

Follow live – general election latest:
Cleverly questioned on National Service plan

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‘Refusing National Service won’t lead to jail’

The military option would be selective but questions have arisen over whether any teenager who refuses to do either option would be punished.

Talking to Sky News’s Sunday Morning With Trevor Phillips, Home Secretary James Cleverly said: “There’s going to be no criminal sanctions, nobody’s going to jail over this.”

He added that “nobody will be compelled to do the military element” but said those who do will be paid – while those who choose to volunteer will not be paid.

Mr Cleverly said the main point of the policy is to make sure “people mix with people outside their bubble” for “community cohesion”.

He said those who choose the military option “will be motivated to join the military” after spending a year with the Armed Forces.

Mr Sunak released a video on TikTok on Sunday explaining the new policy to young adults.

No plans to reintroduce National Service

The military service announcement came just two days after defence minister Dr Andrew Murrison answered a question from fellow Conservative Mark Pritchard about whether an assessment had been made to reintroduce National Service.

Dr Murrison said: “The government has no current plans to reintroduce National Service.”

He said the “demanding, increasingly technical, nature of defence” means highly trained, professional men and women are needed to best defend the country.

“If potentially unwilling National Service recruits were to be obliged to serve alongside the professional men and women of our Armed Forces, it could damage morale, recruitment and retention and would consume professional military and naval resources,” he said.

Dr Murrison added that if National Service recruits were in separate units it would be “difficult to find a proper and meaningful role for them, potentially harming motivation and discipline”.

‘Surprise’ policy move dreided as ‘deeply cynical’ by defence insider


Deborah Hayes

Deborah Haynes

Security and Defence Editor

@haynesdeborah

The prime minister appears to have had what some insiders regard as a belated epiphany about the critical importance of defence – and now even National Service.

It was just four months ago that Rishi Sunak’s spokesperson slapped down the outgoing head of the army for advocating the need for civilians to be trained to fight given the dangers of living in what the defence secretary has called “a pre-war world”.

General Sir Patrick Sanders had simply been using a speech to state a blunt reality – war and preparing for war is a whole-nation effort as demonstrated daily by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, where Ukrainian citizen soldiers are fighting and dying on the frontline.

Rather than support him, a Downing Street spokesperson at the time said that “hypothetical scenarios” involving possible wars were “not helpful” and ruled out any move towards a conscription model for the military.

Read full analysis here

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Cohesive society

Despite this clear rejection of the idea, the Conservatives have made it their first new major policy announcement.

Mr Cleverly said: “We want to build a society where people mix with people outside their own communities, mix with people from different backgrounds, different religions, different income levels.

“The bulk of this is about helping build a cohesive society where people mix outside their bubble.”

The Conservatives said the National Service programme would cost £2.5bn a year and would be funded by cash previously used for the UK Shared Prosperity Fund and cracking down on tax avoidance and evasion.

Read more on Sky News:
Labour could lose votes on defence – but probably not because of Sunak’s big bet on security

James Cleverly speaking to Trevor Phillips on Sky News
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James Cleverly speaking to Trevor Phillips on Sky News

But Labour’s shadow work and pensions secretary, Liz Kendall, accused the policy of being “yet another unfunded spending commitment”.

She told Sunday Morning With Trevor Phillips: “That UK Prosperity Fund is supposed to be used to tackle economic inactivity and helping people get back into work so that really undermines another one of their arguments.

“This is an unfunded commitment, a headline-grabbing gimmick.”

She added that it does not deal with the big challenges facing young people, and said Labour has a “fully costed, fully funded plan to give young people those real opportunities that they need to build up”.

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‘Deeply cynical’ Sunak’s ‘policy surprise’ doesn’t change the fact next PM will have no time to play politics with defence

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'Deeply cynical' Sunak's 'policy surprise' doesn't change the fact next PM will have no time to play politics with defence

The prime minister appears to have had a belated epiphany about the critical importance of defence – and now even National Service.

It was just four months ago that Rishi Sunak’s spokesperson slapped down the outgoing head of the army for advocating the need for civilians to be trained to fight given the dangers of living in what the defence secretary has called “a pre-war world”.

General Sir Patrick Sanders had simply been using a speech to state a blunt reality – war and preparing for war is a whole-nation effort as demonstrated daily by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, where Ukrainian citizen soldiers are fighting and dying on the frontline.

Read more on Russians winning production war:
Ukrainians forced to pretend in training

Rather than support him, a Downing Street spokesperson at the time said that “hypothetical scenarios” involving possible wars were “not helpful” and ruled out any move towards a conscription model for the military.

Admiral Sir Tony Radakin, the chief of the defence staff, and David Williams, the top civil servant at the Ministry of Defence (MoD), apparently even summoned General Sanders for a dressing down over the remarks.

But the army chief had not been suggesting conscription then – just as the prime minister is not doing so now.

He had simply been talking about the need for civilians to be ready to serve.

Given that context, Mr Sunak’s sudden announcement that he would introduce a new form of National Service for 18-year-olds, including the chance to spend 12 months serving in the armed forces, sent eyebrows within the MoD soaring skyward.

“Deeply cynical,” was the verdict of one insider.

Another told Sky News: “This is a policy surprise to me. I haven’t seen it discussed in the Ministry of Defence.”

The need for greater national resilience is a theme that Sky News has been exploring as part of its series Prepared for War?

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Sky News asks: Is the UK ready for war?

We revealed in April that the government has no national plan for the defence of the UK or the mobilisation of its people and industry in a war.

The rallying cry from Mr Sunak for National Service comes after he chose to make defence a central theme of his election campaign even though as prime minister and chancellor he was accused by insiders of pushing back against demands from the military for more funding.

He only finally committed last month to a timeframe for a pledge to lift defence spending to 2.5% of national income from just over 2% at present – saying this would happen by 2030.

Mr Sunak then turned on Sir Keir Starmer, the leader of the Labour party, for failing to give the same guarantee – even though that had previously been his position, too.

The main problem facing either the Conservative or Labour leader when it comes to defence is that repeated cost-saving cuts to the armed forces under both administrations since the end of the Cold War have left the UK weaker.

Russia’s full-scale war in Ukraine, growing threats from China, an increasingly aggressive North Korea, and the potential for war with Iran in the Middle East means the world is more dangerous now than at any time since the Cold War.

Read more:
Teenagers will not be jailed for evading National Service
Adam Boulton: Labour could lose votes on defence

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Could China invade Taiwan?

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This will force defence to be a priority in terms of actions rather than just words for whoever becomes the next prime minister.

In fact, their first foreign trip will likely be to Washington on 9 July – just four days after taking office – for a major NATO summit against the backdrop of looming US presidential elections and a potential return of Donald Trump to the White House.

Goals for the summit – which will mark 75 years of the alliance – will include a collective bolstering of defences and resilience to deter external threats as well as a need to demonstrate internally to Mr Trump that NATO is value for money.

Given the gravity of the moment, there will be no time for playing politics with defence.

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Nicki Minaj’s show at Co-op Live in Manchester postponed after star’s arrest in Netherlands

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Nicki Minaj's show at Co-op Live in Manchester postponed after star's arrest in Netherlands

Nicki Minaj’s concert at the Co-op Live arena in Manchester, attended by thousands of fans, has been postponed at the last minute after she was arrested hours earlier in the Netherlands.

The American singer and rapper, 41, was held at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport on suspicion of possession of soft drugs.

And fans had been let into the Manchester indoor venue on Saturday evening despite the star’s detention.

A post on the arena’s X account said shortly after 5.15pm: “Please note that general admission and premium doors for tonight’s Nicki Minaj show will now open at 19:00.”

What’s going on at Manchester’s Co-op Live?

Minaj was later released from custody just before 9pm but she will have to pay an undisclosed fine for “illegally exporting soft drugs from the Netherlands to another country”, Dutch police told Sky News.

Despite her release, she was not able to make it to Manchester and the gig will be moved to a later date with a statement from promoters Live Nation saying: “Tickets will remain valid for the rescheduled performance which will be announced ASAP.”

More on Nicki Minaj

It added: “Despite Nicki’s best efforts to explore every possible avenue to make tonight’s show happen, the events of today have made it impossible. We are deeply disappointed by the inconvenience this has caused.”

In a series of social media posts on X and Instagram, Minaj earlier claimed police said they found drugs in her luggage after items were checked by customs.

She wrote on X that “they said they found weed”. She also claimed “they took my luggage without consent” and “they’re trying to keep me from MANCHESTER”.

The messages also included one where she wrote: “This is Amsterdam btw, where weed is legal.”

The Co-op Live in Manchester. Pic: PA
Image:
The Co-op Live arena in Manchester. Pic: PA

The star, whose hit songs include Starships, Super Bass and Anaconda, also filmed what appeared to be an airport official asking her to have her luggage checked.

Minaj later wrote: “It’s a 45 minute to an hour flight. So they’re probably trying to stall for about 4 hours.”

And she added: “Now they said I have to go 5 mins away to make a statement about my security to the police precinct.”

Asked about Minaj, Robert van Kapel, a spokesman for the Royal Netherlands Marechaussee military police, earlier told Sky News’ US partner network NBC News: “We can confirm that we have arrested a 41-year-old American woman at Schiphol Airport because of possession of soft drugs.”

Fans of the singer expressed their dismay at the decision to postpone the concert.

“Die-hard Nicki fan” Charu, who had travelled from Liverpool for the show, said the evening was “so ridiculously disappointing”.

“My sister and I had been looking forward to this for months. I’m in the middle of taking my medical school exams and I had been working around this day and was so looking forward to it,” they said.

“People around us said they’d travelled from Ireland and Scotland, paid for hotels for the night in Manchester, which is not cheap.

“So the fact that tickets will be refunded or still valid for another concert doesn’t really put into perspective the time and money that we have all spent on this night.”

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They added: “Her team surely would have known that the concert tonight was not going to be possible but to wait until 9.30pm to let us know feels disrespectful of our time and efforts.”

Charu said that concert-goers were “sobbing” after the announcement, and they will not be getting their hopes up about attending the rescheduled concert.

“Whenever she may postpone it to, it isn’t guaranteed that people can take time off work, be able to afford trains, flights, hotels to be able to make it to the show. It’s just very disappointing and upsetting.”

As part of her Pink Friday 2 World Tour, Minaj is due to perform in Birmingham on Sunday, followed by a concert at London’s O2 arena next Tuesday.

Then on Wednesday, she is due to play in Glasgow followed by a gig on Thursday, again at the Co-op Live in Manchester.

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The beleaguered £365m arena – the UK’s largest indoor entertainment venue – opened earlier this month after it was plagued by a series of problems.

There had been weeks of setbacks, cancellations and postponements, before live music finally got under way there on 14 May when Manchester rock band Elbow took to the stage.

The problems included part of the building’s ventilation and air conditioning system falling to the ground from the ceiling during a soundcheck in early May.

The 23,500-capacity venue was initially due to fully open with two Peter Kay stand-up shows on 23 and 24 April, but these dates were pushed back when problems emerged at a test event headlined by Ricky Astley.

The arena then planned for US rapper A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie to open the arena on 1 May, but it was called off just over an hour before his performance and after doors had opened to fans – because the ventilation system became detached.

The ventilation issue meant scheduled performances by US pop star Olivia Rodrigo and British band Keane were postponed, while a series of shows by Take That were moved to the AO Arena in Manchester.

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