RBS (Royal Bank of Scotland) lost £7bn last year, taking the cumulative loss since it was bailed out by the government seven years ago to a staggering £58bn. The chief executive said these losses were what happened 'when things go wrong and you lose focus on the customer, as this bank did before the financial crash'. The Conservatives won the Copeland by-election, ejecting Labour from a seat in Cumbria that it had held for more than 80 years. It was the first by-election gain by a governing party since 1982. The Tory candidate, Trudy Harrison, who had a majority of 2,147, said: 'It has
been very clear talking to people throughout the campaign that Jeremy
Corbyn doesn’t represent them'. Corbyn's fatuous response to the result was an undertaking that the party would ‘go further to reconnect with voters'. Labour did, however, retain Stoke-on-Trent Central, a constituency which had voted heavily for Brexit, with a majority of 2,620 over UKIP's unprepossessing new leader, Paul Nuttall. Only nine months after leading them to the English Premier League title, Claudio Ranieri was sacked by Leicester City, which now hovers just above the relegation zone. The BBC commentator Gary Lineker called the club's decision 'inexplicable and unforgivable'. A woman was killed by flying debris during a storm called Doris, but the Daily Telegraph said it was difficult to take a storm called Doris altogether seriously. Unsurprisingly, many schools in Scotland found
it necessary to close for the day. Children's sugar intake was reported to be equal to five doughnuts a day. John Lewis, the department store, announced that it was cutting jobs as part of a move towards online shopping.
The Malaysian police said that Kim Jong-Nam, the half-brother of North Korea's dictator, was killed by a highly toxic nerve agent, 'VX', which the United Nations classifies as a weapon of mass destruction. The agent works by penetrating the skin. A weapons expert said it would have taken only a tiny amount of the substance to kill; it would have affected the victim's nervous system immediately, causing death within minutes. Trump, in a wide-ranging interview with the Reuters news agency, said that China could get North Korea into line 'very easily'. He said also that he was 'totally in favour' of the European Union and that he preferred a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict but was ready to consider other options.
Trump told Reuters that he intended to expand America's nuclear arsenal, which had 'fallen behind', although according to the non-partisan Arms Control Association, the United States has 6,800 nuclear weapons, only 200 fewer than Russia. In his usual semi-coherent fashion, Trump attempted to explain his reasoning: 'It would be wonderful, a dream would be that no country would have nukes, but if countries are going to have nukes, we're going to be at the top of the pack'.