Friday briefing: 'One of New Zealand's darkest days'

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Top story: Three people in police custody after shooting

Good morning – this is Alison Rourke bringing you the last briefing of the week, with a terrible story from New Zealand leading the news.

New Zealand is reeling after shootings at two mosques during Friday prayers in the centre of the city of Christchurch killed 40 people. Twenty more were seriously injured. Police are still piecing together exactly what happened but we know that a gunman entered Al Noor mosque at local time and began firing. There was also shooting at a second mosque in the city, the Linwood Islamic Centre. A video was circulating online, which purported to show the attack from the perspective of the shooter.

New Zealand’s police commissioner warned people not to go to mosques “under any circumstances” today and the city centre was locked down while the emergency played out. The prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, said: “Clearly, what has happened here is an extraordinary and unprecedented act of violence.” She added that many of those directly affected by the shooting “may be migrants to New Zealand, they may even be refugees here. They have chosen to make New Zealand their home, and it is their home.”

In the past hour the Australian prime minister, Scott Morrison, confirmed that one of the men in police custody was Australian-born. You can follow updates on this unfolding story here.

* * *

Brexit delay – Article 50 is set to be extended by at least three months after parliament overwhelmingly voted for more time. Theresa May, facing a bitterly divided cabinet, ministry and party will bring her deal, which has been comprehensively defeated in parliament twice, back for a third time on Tuesday. If it passes, she will ask for a short, technical extension of article 50 to 30 June at the European summit next Thursday. If she is defeated again, Brexit could face a much longer delay. There are many balls in the air and you can read some of the possible scenarios that could play out here.

The split in May’s cabinet during the article 50 vote was stark. Eight ministers, including the Brexit secretary, Steve Barclay, and leader of the house, Andrea Leadsom, voted against the government’s motion to extend, preferring to keep the threat of no deal in place. In total, more than half of Tory MPs voted against the motion. You can see how your MP voted here.

The shadow Brexit secretary, Keir Starmer, was scathing about the Tory splits: “This evening the Brexit secretary voted against his government’s own motion on Brexit, which earlier in the day he had defended in the House of Commons. That’s the equivalent of the chancellor voting against his own budget. This is a government that has completely lost control.” But his own party’s divisions over Brexit were also clearly on display. Labour whipped its MPs to abstain on an amendment calling for a second referendum – but 24 Labour MPs defied the whips to vote for it; and 17 rebelled to vote against, including several frontbenchers.

In an apparent shift in the EU’s red lines, the European council president, Donald Tusk, suggested even before MPs had voted that a lengthy extension beyond 29 March could be granted simply to give Westminster time to recalibrate.

You can see how the papers reacted to the latest Brexit vote here and you can follow all the day’s developments on our live blog here.

* * *

Climate strikes – Thousands of British school children are expected to leave their classrooms today to join a global movement demanding action on climate change. More than 100 countries will see walkouts which began last year when one teenager – Greta Thunberg – held a solo protest outside the Swedish parliament. You can follow our live blog of events here, and be sure to check in for George Monbiot’s live web chat from .

* * *

David Steel suspension – The former leader of the Liberal Democrats, Lord Steel, has been suspended from the party after admitting he was aware that Cyril Smith was a child abuser but he failed launch an investigation. It follows an outcry over the peer’s testimony to an inquiry that in 1979 the late MP for Rochdale confirmed reports that he had assaulted children. Party officials decided last night that Steel should have the whip withdrawn and face a formal investigation.

Still with the Liberal Democrats, and the party’s leader Sir Vince Cable has announced he will stand down in May but will remain an MP and intends to write books. It follows criticism of his lacklustre performance over Brexit.

* * *

Make Mueller public – The US House of Representatives has voted unanimously to make Robert Mueller’s final report available publicly. However, questions remain as to whether such a vote could pass the Republican-controlled Senate. The non-binding resolution shows bipartisan support in the lower house. Donald Trump has repeatedly called the inquiry, which is expected to wind up soon, a “hoax” and a “witch-hunt”.

* * *

‘Fourth emergency service’ – Schools are supporting offering food parcels, clothing and laundry facilities to vulnerable families in England and Wales, according to a new report by a headteachers’ union. Sarah Bone, headteacher of Headlands school, a comprehensive in Yorkshire’s East Riding, said they had far too many children with “no food in the cupboards, washing themselves with cold water, walking to school with holes in their shoes … and living on one hot meal a day provided at school”. Other heads reported pupils with no winter coats, while others said they regularly had to buy shoes for their pupils.

Today in Focus podcast: A week of Brexit mayhem

Anushka Asthana spends a pivotal week in parliament, during which the government lost a series of votes on the Brexit process. MPs Jacob Rees-Mogg, Emily Thornberry, Jess Phillips and Sam Gyimah discuss their part in the chaotic proceedings. Plus: the Guardian’s Rowena Mason on what it all means.

Lunchtime read: Saved by luck

Antonis Mavropoulos knows he is lucky. He missed boarding the doomed Ethiopian Airlines crash last Sunday because he was late to the gate – by two minutes. “I could see a guy in a green T-shirt and others boarding and I shouted to also be let in,” he says, his voice cracking with emotion. “I’ve found it very difficult to sleep since.”

Mavropoulos, a Greek chemical engineer, says he feels he has a moral obligation to uncover why the plane went down, killing all 157 people onboard. “As the guy who was saved just by luck I want to say something very clear,” he says. “The souls of these people, the people who I saw and all those who died, can never be relieved unless there are concrete answers and the truth is uncovered.”

Sport

Arsenal overhauled a two-goal deficit from the first leg against Rennes to book a place in Europa League quarter-finals, while Chelsea’s Olivier Giroud scored a perfect hat trick in a 5-0 romp at Dynamo Kyiv for an 8-0 aggregate win.

Not since Kauto Star’s Gold Cup a decade ago has trainer Paul Nicholls won two Grade One chases at a single Cheltenham Festival but he has managed it this week and can crown the achievement in today’s Gold Cup with Clan Des Obeaux.

Warren Gatland has told Eddie Jones to mind his own business after the England coach said Wales looked “tired” before their Six Nations decider with Ireland in Cardiff.

Rory McIlroy has said it is “only a matter of time” before Tommy Fleetwood wins a tournament in the United States after the Englishman shot a first-round 65 in the Players Championship.

Mikaela Shiffrin won the World Cup super-G title for her 10th career crystal globe, and Dominik Paris secured the men’s title by winning the season-ending race at the World Cup finals.

Paul Farbrace has begun life as Warwickshire’s new director of sport but England’s recently departed assistant coach is already eyeing a reunion with Trevor Bayliss.

Business

The influential Investment Association, which represents 250 firms with £7.7tn in assets under management, has written to more than 60 publicly listed companies with only a single female director, including Domino’s Pizza and JD Sports, raising concerns over a lack of gender diversity and warning of a backlash if progress is stalled. Targets set by the government-commissioned Hampton-Alexander review aimed for women to make up at least 33% of FTSE350 boards and leadership teams by 2020. “Investors have been consistently clear that they want to see greater diversity in the boardroom so it is totally unacceptable that one in five of the UK’s biggest companies are falling so far short,” said Chris Cummings, the IA’s CEO.

Asian stocks made modest gains on Friday, tracking improved global sentiment after the UK voted to delay Brexit. The pound was buying $1.325 and €1.170.

The papers

The front pages have mixed feelings about the decision to extend article 50. “Failures” is the Express ’s headline, under a letter from “We the people” which demands “YOU, our servants” fulfil the outcome of the Brexit referendum. The Telegraph says this is the PM’s “Last roll of the dice”. The FT says the vote to extend “boosts May’s hand” in pushing through her Brexit deal.

The Times and the Guardian play it straight, with: “May to ask for Brexit delay” and “MPs vote overwhelmingly to delay Brexit” respectively. The i has “Brexit delayed”.

The Mirror, the Mail and the Sun decline to lead on Brexit. “Knife thugs cheat justice” is the Mirror ’s lead story and the Mail has “David Steel suspended over child sex scandal”. The Sun leads on a “second tragedy” for the 1D singer: “Louis sis dead at 18” is its main headline.

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