this is bbc news. i'm lukwesa burak. the headlines at 11pm. three conservative mps quit the party over the government's handling of brexit. today, theyjoined the new independent group on the other side of the commons. you win in politics when you are with a team, and in that team with shared values and principles. and i believe mine are no longer welcome in the conservative party. meanwhile, theresa may holds more talks with european commission presidentjean—clause juncker in brussels in her quest to secure a revised brexit deal. bangladesh says there is "no question" of shameema begum being allowed to enter the country, after the uk government said they intended to revoke her british citizenship. iconic raf tornados make a series of farewell fly— pasts after being retired from the skies.
and what about that?! ten—man manchester city come back from behind in germany, to grab the advantage in the first leg of their champions league tie. and at 11:30pm, we'll be taking an in—depth look at the papers. with our reviewers broadcaster & author, john kampfner, and economics and trade correspondent at the telegraph, anna isaacs. stay with us for that. good evening. three conservative mps have resigned from the party today, and did so with a savage attack on theresa may's handling of brexit. heidi allen, anna soubry,
and sarah wollaston said the party had been taken over by hardline brexiteers. in a dramatic moment of parliamentary theatre, the three mps joined the newly formed independent group of former labour mps on the opposition benches. the prime minister said she was "saddened" by the resignations. here's our deputy political editor, john pienaar, his report contains flash photography. small in number, big in ambition. today, a trio of mps walked away from the tory party and joined the breakaway band who'd already quit labour, taking theirfirst steps into the political centre as an independent group. with the labour quitters, they make 11. joan ryanjoined last night. the newest recruits setting out their grounds for divorce from the tory party for today's emotional break with party workers. friends and family who enabled me to win... brexit a big reason for going. the hardline, anti—eu awkward squad
that have destroyed every leader for the last a0 years, are now running the conservative party, from top to tail. they are the conservative party. i'm not leaving the conservative party, it's left us. the conservatives said another had grown too harsh. i am tired of feeling numb. i can no longer represent a government and a party who can't open their eyes to the suffering endured by the most vulnerable in society. suffering which we have deepened, whilst having the power to fix. all three had lost faith in mrs may's handling of brexit. the party that was once the most trusted on the economy and business is now marching us towards the cliff edge of a no—deal brexit. why do you believe that such a small handful of mps can really transform politics in the way that you say? and if i may, is a new party part of your plans, and if it is, do you accept that the odds
in the political system i heavily against you succeeding? in whatever order, yes, yes, yes and yes. they are against us, but you know what? we've got to try. we have got to try. over the coming weeks and months, we'll be having conversations and, most importantly, reaching out to the country, to see what they would like from a new moderate centre ground party. high drama has become commonplace. brexit at a critical stage. the prime minister cornered and cornered again. now, here's more evidence of the huge strain on traditional party loyalties. is it a turning point? far too early to say, but what we can say is we've reached something of a breaking point. the prime minister's in brussels, still seeking a brexit deal and tonight, she reacted more in sorrow than in anger. i'm saddened by the decision that three former members of my party have taken today. they have given dedicated service to our party over a long time, and i thank them for it.
some former colleagues say the trio should face by—elections. let's have a people's vote, let's have a people's vote in those constituencies and see what people there think about this. here, at the foot of the screen, the moment the three now former tories took their new places. comradeship from new friends, a hostile act to the big parties, and to a prime minister still refusing to rule out a no—deal brexit. we can take no deal off the table by agreeing a deal. the three tories have alreadyjoined the independent group and begun their long, hard climb to political influence. when we look back on these scenes, quitting their parties may look like the easy bit. john pienaar, bbc news, westminster. earlier, i spoke to our political correspondent jonathan blake, and asked how significant today was for british politics. it is quite something for three members of any party, let alone the governing party, to decide that their time is up and they have no option left but to resign, and that's what we saw today with sarah wollaston,
heidi allen, and anna soubry setting out their reasons, both in terms of the policy that the conservative party has pursued in recent years, talking about the welfare programme of cuts, letting down the most vulnerable in society, to what anna soubry he described as the "hard right members of the conservative party having taken it over from top to bottom and running the show," as she put it. also to the government's handling of brexit, all those reasons combined mean those three tory mps have nowjoined the seven labour mps who announced they were resigning at the beginning of the week, and joan ryan added to that number yesterday to take the independent group to ii. so we have this new group in parliament, that's what they are, not a formal political party, they have no leader or policies as of yet, apart from some broad aims set out on their website. and we got a bit of a sense of where they might be going, but certainly so far they seem to be
seeing how many more people may be coming on board from any side of the house of commons before they nail the colours to the mast and say this is what they stand for and it will be pursuing politically. it will be very interesting to see how many more people joined them and just what impact and influence they can have, because asjohn hinted at in his report there, the system really is stacked against them favouring the two main parties here at westminster. obviously theresa may is in brussels at the moment, but her reaction to this news, how was that received? well, she said she was saddened by the decision of these three mps to resign, but she said that it is her commitment and the government's commitment to pursue brexit and deliver on what was her manifesto commitment of leaving the customs union, and the single market along with that. she made the point that leaving
the eu was never going to be an easy thing to do because it has been such a divisive issue. but i think it is interesting to note the tone with which the prime minister responded, which was of course with disappointment, but not really to heavily criticise or condemn these mps for what they've done. and i think that really reflects the mood in the party. mps are not pleased about this, it is clearly something that they wish had not happened, although it had been expected and there might be 1—2 tory mps who think "good riddance". generally speaking, i think some have said the door is left open to them if they want to return in the future, but there is a mood that "if they want out, then let them have their say and do their thing". but i can't see many more conservative mps at this stage following them. i think that if there are more defections in the coming days and weeks, they are more likely to be from the labour party. derek hatton has been suspended by labour less than 48 hours after he was admitted back into the party.
the ex—deputy leader of liverpool council's membership was provisionally approved on monday, more than 30 years after he was expelled from the party. but senior labour figures criticised the move and raised concerns about comments hatton has made about israel. it's believed the latest suspension relates to his twitter history. theresa may says progress has been made in the brexit talks following crunch talks with the european commission presidentjean—claude juncker in brussels. but the prime minister warned that "time is of the essence" with the uk's departure from the eu only 37 days away. earlier, she answered questions about the meeting. prime minister, following your meeting this evening, are you confident that the eu is prepared to offer guarantees that you think can get the attorney general to change his legal opinion on the potential permanency
of the backstop, and indeed convince parliament in turn? well, i have had a constructive meeting with presidentjean—claude juncker this evening. i have underlined the need for us to see legally—binding changes to the backstop that ensure that it cannot be indefinite, that is what is required if a deal is to pass the house of commons. we have agreed that work to find a solution will continue at pace, time is of the essence and it is in both our interests that when the uk leaves the eu it does so in an orderly way. so we have made progress. and the secretary of state for exiting the eu, the brexit secretary, and the attorney general will be in brussels tomorrow for further talks. earlier i asked our europe editor, katya adler, just how much progress had been made at the talks. i think what we are seeing at the moment, and we've seen this very often during the brexit process, are two very different narratives. in orderfor there to be a deal, any deal, you need to have a meeting of minds from both sides.
but whereas theresa may says she sees progress, there's also been some suggestions from her and her colleagues that there could be a breakthrough imminently on the backstop, so that's guaranteed to keep the irish border open after brexit. that is not what we are told by eu officials. jean—claude juncker told me himself this afternoon, he did not expect a breakthrough. in fact, he and the prime minister, we are told in a joint statement, they've gone down the road that they've been down before, to look at what alternatives there could be to the backstop in the future. but the eu says those alternatives don't exist now. what changes could be made to the political declaration which is nonbinding as to how the two sides see their future? and also, what kind of guarantees that you could provide in order to assure mps that the backstop mechanism, if it were ever to be triggered, would not be permanent.
now when it comes to those assurances, the eu says it is ready 24/7 to issue those legally binding clarifications or assurances. but what the prime minister then said that she was continuing to ask for were legally binding changes. and that is where the two sides do not meet at the moment, and the eu says that it is concerned about what it sees as complacency amongst many mps. but it will be all right on the night that the eu will blink in the end, it always does, where is the eu says that backstop is important to us not just because it guarantees the northern ireland peace process, but because it guarantees the integrity of the eu's lucrative single market after brexit, because the land border between the eu and post—brexit uk will run through the island of ireland, in the eu says it will not blink if it is to its own disadvantage. shamima begum, the 19—year—old who left the uk to join
the islamic state group four years ago, has told the bbc she expected more sympathy from britain. the uk has stripped her of her british citizenship, and the authorities in bangladesh said today that, contrary to what british officials believe, she was not a bangladeshi citizen. our home affairs correspondent daniel sandford reports. in this refugee camp in syria, a clearly deflated shamima begum, the 19—year—old who left school tojoin is and hasjust given birth, had appealed for help to return to the uk, but learned today that the government was instead taking away her british nationality, though her baby, who she was carrying under her clothes, will still be british. i thought they would be a bit more sympathetic, because of my situation. i did explain that i didn't know fully what i was getting into, and i made a mistake, and i was hoping that they would have some sympathy and understanding,
but clearly not. secretary sajid javid. in parliament, the home secretary explained why the government has deprived so many people who went to join is of their nationality. where they pose any threat to this country, i will do everything in my power to prevent their return. this includes stripping dangerous individuals of their british citizenship. this power is only used in extreme circumstances, where it is conducive to the public good. it has been suggested that sajid javid made this decision partly for political reasons, which he denies, but look at this counter—terrorism strategy, which he published just last year. it discusses what might happen to a woman who went to join is in 2015 and then turned up, some years later, with a newborn baby. it says that the government would "manage her return to the uk"
and the police would then launch an investigation into the woman's activities in syria. it says nothing about depriving her of her citizenship. shamima begum left britain as a 15—year—old schoolgirl. at the time, police said she had been groomed. now, four years later, she is losing her british citizenship and being told to rely on her possible bangladeshi nationality through her mother. it kind of feels unjust, and i don't think they can do that, because like i said, i don't have that citizenship, i only have one citizenship, and if they take that one thing away from me, i don't have anything. i don't think they're allowed to do that. some immigration lawyers question the fairness of the decision, which would not even have been legal if she had been of completely british heritage. if there is evidence of wrongdoing, she should be prosecuted in a court of law in this country. and if there is insufficient evidence to prosecute her, then how on earth could you inflict the severest penalty upon her, without any recourse through a court of law? shamima begum's appeal is likely to take months to go
through the courts and tonight the bangladeshi foreign minister said she was not a dual citizen, she had never been to the country and there was no question of her now being allowed to enter bangladesh. daniel sandford, bbc news. our middle east correspondent quentin sommerville spoke to shamima today about the uk's decision earlier. he sent this update. this is the second time i've spoken to shamima begum. and today, she was far more downbeat. she says she was shocked and upset by the decision of the home secretary to strip her of her british citizenship. she said she believed that decision to be unjust. she says she wasn't bangladeshi, she'd never been to bangladesh, and that she barely spoke bengali, "it is not my home," she said. this was a life changing decision. and she was surprised that the home secretary and no one from the home office had spoken to her directly, no one from the british government or the british military has visited her and investigated her case, she said. she regrets being a member of is.
she said she had a change of heart when they imprisoned her husband and tortured him. she maintains that her escape from is territory was almost impossible, they did manage to get out in the end, with a group of 50 other people with the help of a people smuggler. she says that she understands why the british public are unsympathetic towards her because of the scale in the horror of the islamic state group's crimes. when i asked her what would you tell a young person considering joining is or another extremist group? she said, "don't do it, they're lying to you". her priority now is her three—day—old son, and she said she'll be looking after him wherever the two and up. the headlines on bbc news. three conservative mps quit the party over the government's today, theyjoined the new ‘independent group‘ — on the other side of the commons.
meanwhile, theresa may holds more talks with european commission presidentjean—clause juncker in brussels in her quest to secure a revised brexit deal. bangladesh says there is "no question" of shameema begum being allowed to enter the country, after the uk government said they intended to revoke her british citizenship. it's eight years after the syrian civil war began. and as us—backed forces try to secure the last village in syria still held by the group calling itself islamic state, focus is turning to the crimes against humanity, allegedly committed by the syrian government, under president bashar al—assad. syrian refugees and lawyers based in germany say the regime systematically locked up and tortured civilians, and they are leading efforts to bring the perpetrators to trial in european courts. our berlin correspondent
jenny hill reports. they dared to oppose the assad regime. the response? brutal force. they punished us with special tools. sometimes with electricity tools. they do it for fun. there were five persons torturing me, for eight hours. they were hanging me from the ceiling, with my hands back, backward. one can hear the screams of people being tortured 24/7. those who survived speak of incarceration without trial and systematic torture at the hands of their own countrymen. they are not humans — they are animals. and when he put the gun in my mouth... translation: one couldn't
identify the colour of the skin because it was red and blue and black. it was horrifying... their words — valuable evidence. corroborated, lawyers here say, by a gruesome catalogue of photographs, too graphic to broadcast. bodies emaciated, mutilated, some missing eyes. most of them are between 14—15 to 40—45. mainly young men? mainly, yeah. taken by a regime whistle—blower, we're told the so—called caesar files document the deaths of thousands of people in syrian prisons. you have the number, the names, who gave the order, who made the signature on the report, everything. from their refuge in europe, syrians are building their case. under german law, international suspects can be tried in german courts. it's taking time, but
there have been arrests. look, what we all want is a nuremberg, but, still, it's more than nothing, and that is also an important message. even if political conditions don't allow a nuremberg—like trial, you can do something. traumatised, fearful, but fighting to bring a regime to justice on european soil. jenny hill, bbc news, berlin. new legislation to extend the no—fly zone for drones around airports will come into force next month. the exclusion zone will increase from about half a mile to three miles. in december, gatwick was closed for more than a day following a series of drone sightings close to the runway. research by the bbc shows that 40% of companies in britain have a higher gender pay gapthan last year. those where the earnings difference between male and female employees has widened, include one of britain's big energy companies, npower.
there is also a continuing large pay disparity in britain's banks, but heathrow airport has reduced its gender pay gap. the food ordering app, just eat, says it will remove all restaurants with a hygiene rating of zero from its platform. a bbc investigation found zero—rated takeaways in manchester, bristol, and london listed on the app. just east says it will remove all zero—rated outlets by first may. any new restaurant that wants to join will now have to be rated at least a three on the food standard agency's five—point scale. shares in sainsbury‘s fell sharply after the uk's competition watchdog cast doubt on its plan to buy asda. the competition and markets authority said that customers could see higher prices and less choice, if the two firms combined. and it warned it could block the deal, or force the sale of a large number of stores.
the head of sainsbury‘s said the findings were "outrageous", as our business correspondent emma simpson reports. they're already two giants of the grocery world, and they want to get even bigger to fend off the likes of aldi and lidl. but the regulator doesn't like this merger one bit. we think it's likely that prices will rise, service levels will deteriorate, or both. and the reason we believe that is because of the reduced competition in grocery shopping in supermarkets, grocery shopping online, and purchases of fuel at the companies' petrol filling stations. popping to the shops here in watford — sainsbury‘s, asda, and tesco, they're all here competing for customers. this merger would mean the big three becoming the big two, controlling nearly 60% of the uk grocery market. i don't think it will be an advantage to the shopper, i think it's more for them than for us. as long as their standards don't drop, i don't mind.
yeah. on this main road, asda and sainsbury‘s are literally side by side. but their plan to merge now looks in serious doubt. the regulator has raised concerns in just about every possible way, from reduced competition in hundreds of local areas to online shopping and higher petrol prices. but sainsbury‘s claims this deal would mean lower prices and that the regulator's approach is flawed. with brexit looming and a completely unpredictable set of competition rules, who would invest in this country? this isjust outrageous. today's findings are provisional, but the concerns raised may prove too big and complex for both companies to overcome. this controversial megamerger now seems destined to never make it to the checkout. emma simpson, bbc news. from the skies over afghanistan, kosovo and most recently iraq,
the tornado has been the rafs front line warplane. now, after a0 years, the iconic aircraft is being retired. to mark the end of an aviation era, three tornados have been making a series of farewell fly—pasts, and our defence correspondent jonathan beale was given exclusive access to one of the flights. once more to the skies. but not for much longer. there we go — and we are off. the bbc on board one of the last flights of the raf‘s tornado. it's been in service for a0 years, and is now being replaced by more modernjets. there we go, this is cottesmore airfield coming up... the tornado was originally designed to fight the cold war and to carry nuclear weapons. but it first went into combat over the desert in 1991.
what is our mission? to attack an iraqi airfield. several were lost in the hail of iraqi anti—aircraft fire. john nichol, among those who lived to tell the tale. the tornado's a5 years of flying, its near 30 years of operation, i think you can absolutely put it up with the spitfire in an iconic status on that level. just a few weeks ago, pilot wing commanderjames heeps was conducting air strikes on is. now, it's a chance to enjoy the tornado's final goodbye back home. it's been an utter privilege, bestjob anyone could have. but for his passenger, it's been more of a challenge. i think i'm a landlover! soon, there will be no more rides in one of the raf‘s most iconicjets. this is the end of an era. jonathan beale, bbc news. earler i spoke to mandy hickson. she became one of the first female
pilots on a front—line raf tornado gra squadron, and was involved in patrolling the "no fly" zone over iraq. i asked her about the tornado's legacy and her experiences of flying it. well, one of the things that i absolutely love doing, and i am really going to sound like a petrolhead on this one, is you have this unique capability, which is called terrain following radar, which enables it to fly very low level, hands—free without the actual pilots touching the controls. you are monitoring it very closely with the coordination with the navigator, the weapons system operator from the back—seat. but that capability i think put it in a unique area for warfare at the time. technology will always help, and when you look at the amount of work that the drones are doing, the unmanned vehicles in areas of warfare,
when you look at the new capability that we getjsf on the front line, but also the job that it's doing, it took a little while for that to get to the front line and actually be able to take over the capability that tornado was offering, but it can certainly do that now. and i think we have upgraded tornado so many times over its a0 years that the aircraft we fly now is not the same aircraft from a0 years ago. and technology has played a massive part in that. but at the same time, all good things come to an end. we lost harry a quite a few years ago now, and that was when we were wondering about losing tornado at the time. so some might see that this is a natural point, what point do you take an aircraft out of service? however sad and emotional it is for those of us at that moment. tonight saw the the biggest night in the british music calendar. tt was of course the brit awards —
and it was a particualrly good night for one uk band in particular. and the winner is the 1975! that's right — the 1975 scooped up the award for best british group at this year's brit awards — as well as british album of the year award. george ezra was named best british male solo artist in the first award of the night, whilejorja smith took home the best female solo artist gong. and ariana grande and the carters were among those to win international awards at what was a star—studded ceremony at london's 02 arena. and we'll be taking an in—depth look at the papers with our reviewers john kampnfer and anna isaacs. that's coming up after
the headlines at 11:30pm. now it's time for the weather with ben rich. hello there. in this ten day forecast we look ahead as far as the beginning of march, which as far as meteorologists are concerned is the start of spring. i must say it feels like spring has jumped the gun and arrived early. 15 degrees in northeast gotland on wednesday. but why is it so warm? it is probably down to winter holding on across north america. cold air plunging southwards, driving a powerfuljet stream high up in the atmosphere. the jet stream and the strong winds and atmosphere blowing in excess of 230 mph and the jet has scooped up some really warm air from closer to the caribbean. that tropical air has been heading in our direction, cooling a little on its journey but still with the potential to produce some really high temperatures, 17, maybe 18 degrees over the next couple of days. it might feel like spring but thursday will not necessarily