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Bitesized Blighty: December 9, 2016

Immy Ransom

The historic Brexit legal challenge has, this week, drawn to a close with a reminder from the Supreme Court that it will “not overturn the result of the EU referendum”. The Supreme Court President, Lord Neuberger, said the case focused on the “process by which that result can lawfully be brought into effect” and promised a decision “as soon as possible”. The hearing ended with the government's lawyer arguing ministers have the authority to serve notice of its intention to quit the EU under Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty or whether, as various campaigners have claimed, it must seek Parliament's authorisation. Unlike the US, the UK doesn’t possess a written constitution, so while this case has been something of a side-show to pending Brexit negotiations, it’s been fascinating to watch our top lawyers and justices undertaking a debate that will shape the framework of our constitution for centuries to come.

Boris Johnson, The UK’s Foreign Secretary, is once again the subject of public discussion. During a conference in Rome, he accused Saudi Arabia and Iran of puppeteering in proxy wars throughout the Middle East. Johnson said: “There are politicians who are twisting and abusing religion and different strains of the same religion in order to further their own political objectives. That’s one of the biggest political problems in the whole region. And the tragedy for me – and that’s why you have these proxy wars being fought the whole time in that area – is that there is not strong enough leadership in the countries themselves.” While this may be true, it flouts a longstanding Foreign Office convention not to criticise the UK’s allies, especially those that purchase large supplies of military equipment from the UK, in public. These embarrassing remarks are made all the more worse by coinciding with Theresa May’s visit to the Middle East and Johnson’s upcoming visits to Saudi Arabia.

More than 1,000 Russians - including Olympic medallists - benefited from a state-sponsored doping programme between 2011 and 2015, a report claims. At least 30 sports including football (soccer) covered up samples, the report says. "It was a cover-up that evolved from uncontrolled chaos to an institutionalised and disciplined medal-winning conspiracy," says the report's author, Richard McLaren. The report also implicates medallists at the 2013 World Championships in Moscow and the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.  According to the report, salt and coffee were used to manipulate Russian samples among other tactics...The report added that the system was refined over the course of the 2012 Olympics, 2013 Worlds and the Winter Olympics to protect likely Russian medal winners.

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