Zero hour contracts hit record high as almost a million have no guaranteed work

Zero-hour contracts have hit a record high as almost a million Brits have no guaranteed working hours.

The number of zero-hour workers jumped sharply to 974,000 in the last three months of 2019 – more than five times the number when the Tories took power in 2010.

It means 3% of all workers in the UK – and 9% of those aged under 25 – are now on the deals.

Tim Roache, general secretary of the GMB union which wants zero-hour contracts scrapped, said: "People shouldn’t have to live like this – zero hours means zero security and zero rights.

“Enough is enough, it’s time to follow the successful policies of other countries and ban these contracts once and for all.”

He added: "Companies are using zero hours contracts as a business model to avoid their responsibilities to the people who make them their money.


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“On a zero hours contract you don’t know what wage you’ll have coming in from week to week, you don’t know if you can pay the bills or buy the shopping and you cant say boo to a goose or you won’t get any hours the week after."

The Office for National Statistics figures, released today, show the number of zero-hour contracts exploded from 2012 before levelling off and dropping slightly from 2016.

The number fell to 781,000 in April-June 2018 but then began rising again and is now at a record.

The ONS previously said the spike between 2012 and 2013 was likely due to increased media coverage and workers realising theirs was a "zero-hour" contract for the first time.

Overall UK employment jumped to a record high of 76.5% or 32.93million in the three months to December as 150,000 more women entered the workplace. Unemployment was just 3.8%.

But wages rose by 2.9% to December, less than the 3.2% to the previous month and less than predicted.

Myrto Miltiadou, ONS deputy head of labour market statistics, said: "In real terms, regular earnings have finally risen above the level seen in early 2008.

"But pay including bonuses is still below its pre-downturn peak."

In the quarter to December, the ONS also recorded the largest increase in EU-born workers in the UK since March 2017, rising by 133,000 to 2.44 million.

Minister for employment Mims Davies said: "As we embark on a new chapter as an independent nation outside the EU, we do so with a record-breaking jobs market and business confidence on the rise.

"With wages still outpacing inflation, UK workers can expect their money to go further as we look ahead to a decade of renewal."

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Nationwide launch new ‘start to save’ bank account with £100 cash prizes

Nationwide has launched a new savings account for those who are struggling to put money away for a rainy day.

The building society's new 'Start to Save' scheme will pay 1% interest and offer £100 in cash prizes to those who can stick to the habit.

Current figures show 11million people across the UK have less than £100 in savings – but from February 18, the account will offer a new way to build an emergency pot.

Start to Save is an online, instant access, regular savings account that pays 1% interest on any money deposited.

Available to all savers across England, Scotland and Wales, the account can be opened via Nationwide’s website and by using the Internet Bank or mobile App with a minimum of a penny.

Savers can pay in up to £100 a month – and get the chance to win £100 through regular prize draws on top of this.

To be entered, savers will need to pay in £50 to £100 per month in the three months leading up to the next draw.

There will be four prize draws beginning on July 21, 2020, then on October 21, 2020, January 22, 2021 and April 23, 2021.


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Each draw will offer prizes of £100 – the number of prizes on offer will be dependent on the total amount of money saved in Start to Save accounts for that quarter.

Savers can withdraw funds at any time. However, if any money is taken out during a calendar month, some or all of it may need to be paid back into the account to be entered into the prize draw. 

Tom Riley, Nationwide’s director of savings, said: "Millions of people are struggling financially and as a building society we are looking at how we can help them become financially stable.

"By launching Start to Save, we are offering an account for savers to build their nest egg while rewarding those people who are either discovering or rediscovering a savings habit with a prize draw.

"Our experience tells us that rates are not the primary reason why young people and families aren't saving. That is why Start to Save is aimed at those struggling to build a savings buffer of any sort. And even without a prize draw win, £50 per month saved over the two-year period would certainly be a good financial buffer to fall back on."

Nationwide said the new account will be similar to the Government's Help to Save account which launched in 2018 to give 3.5million of those on the lowest incomes a head-start on their savings pot.

"We believe our Start to Save account complements other initiatives, such as Help to Save and PrizeSaver, the government's savings scheme for credit unions, because, together, they reach out to a wide variety of people, all of whom are not saving for various reasons," Riley added.

The prize winnings will not be taxable – the £100 prize will be paid into the account as part of its total balance.

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Met Office warning EXTENDED: UK facing deluge of rain TONIGHT as Atlantic storm sweeps in

The UK was lashed by Storm Dennis this weekend, but weather forecasts predict rainfall to continue into later this week. The Met Office has extended its current rain warnings on Wednesday and Thursday, and issued new warnings for Friday and Saturday.

Yellow rain warnings already in place accross Wales have now been extended to include parts of northern England.

The warning now includes the following areas in north west England:

  • Blackburn with Darwen
  • Cumbria
  • Lancashire

The yellow rain warning is in place between 6pm on Wednesday until 3pm on Thursday.

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The yellow rain warning for parts of Wales remains in place for this time also, which cover South Wales and parts of north west Wales.

Cities affected include Swansea and Cardiff.

The Met Office warn: “An Atlantic weather system arriving on Wednesday is expected to bring a further spell of rainfall which is likely to become particularly prolonged over areas of high ground.”

A new yellow rain warning has now been issued for Friday from 12pm until 6am on Saturday, affecting Leeds, York and Sheffield.

The Met Office warning reads: “Further rain is expected across northern England on Friday.

“Rain is expected to turn persistent and occasionally heavy over parts of the Pennines before clearing early on Saturday.

“20-30 mm is likely to fall widely over higher ground with the potential for 60-80 mm in a few places.

“Given the recent wet conditions this brings a chance of flooding.”

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The UK has witnessed two storms in quick succession over the last few weeks.

Storm Dennis struck this weekend, and has caused widespread flooding and disruption.

The severity of the storm prompted the Met Office to issue a rare red warning. 

Worst-hit areas include South Wales, Shropshire, Worcestershire and Herefordshire, where major incidents were declared due to landslides and rivers bursting their banks.

The Environment Agency broke its record for most flood warnings in one day after more than 600 were issued on Sunday.

The Environment Agency said more than 400 properties have flooded since the storm hit this weekend, with some 270 properties located in the West Midlands.

Storm Ciara hit the UK the weekend prior, damaging more than 800 properties.

In some regions the country witnessed winds up to 97mph.

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Airlines suspend China flights due to coronavirus outbreak

(Reuters) – Airlines are suspending flights to China in the wake of the new coronavirus outbreak.

Below are details (in alphabetical order):

AIRLINES THAT HAVE CANCELLED ALL CHINA FLIGHTS

-American Airlines – extends suspension of China and Hong Kong flights through April 24 from March 27 earlier

-Air France – Said on Feb.6 it would suspend flights to and from mainland China for much of March

-Air Seoul – The South Korean budget carrier suspended China flights from Jan. 28 until further notice.

-Air Tanzania – Tanzania’s state-owned carrier, which had planned to begin charter flights to China in February, postponed its maiden flights.

-Air Mauritius – Suspended all flights to China and Hong Kong

-Austrian Airlines – until end-February.

-British Airways – Jan. 29-March 31.

-Delta Airlines – Feb. 2-April 30

-Egyptair – Feb. 1 until further notice.

-El Al Israel Airlines – Said on Feb. 12 it would suspend its Hong Kong flights until March 20 and reduce its daily flights to Bangkok. It suspended flights to Beijing from Jan. 30 to March 25 following a health ministry directive.

-Iberia Airlines – The Spanish carrier extended its suspension of flights from Madrid to Shanghai, its only route, from Feb. 29 until the end of April.

-JejuAir Co Ltd – Korean airline to suspend all China routes starting March 1

-Kenya Airways – Jan. 31 until further notice.

-KLM – Will extend its ban up to March 15

-Lion Air – All of February.

-LOT – Extends flight suspension until March 28

-Oman and Saudia, Saudi Arabia’s state airline, both suspended flights on Feb. 2 until further notice.

-Qatar Airways – Feb. 1 until further notice.

-Rwandair – Jan. 31 until further notice.

-Scoot, Singapore Airlines’ low-cost carrier – Feb. 8 until further notice.

-United Airlines – Feb. 5-April 23. Service to Hong Kong suspended Feb. 8-April 23.

-Vietjet and Vietnam Airlines – Suspended flights to the mainland as well as Hong Kong and Macau Feb. 1-April 30, in line with its aviation authority’s directive.

AIRLINES THAT HAVE CANCELLED SOME CHINA FLIGHTS/ROUTES

-Air Canada – Extended the suspension of its flights to Beijing and Shanghai until March 27. It also suspended its Toronto to Hong Kong flights from March 1 to March 27, but its Vancouver to Hong Kong route remains active. [bit.ly/39zgmI0]

-Air China – Said on Feb. 12 it will cancel flights to Athens, Greece, from Feb. 17 to March 18

-Air China – State carrier said on Feb. 9 it will “adjust” flights between China and the United States.

-Air New Zealand – Suspended Auckland-Shanghai service Feb. 9-March 29. Reduced capacity on Shanghai route throughout April and Hong Kong route throughout April and May.

-ANA Holdings – Suspended routes including Shanghai and Hong Kong from Feb. 10 until further notice.

-Cathay Pacific Airways – Plans to cut a third of its capacity over the next two months, including 90% of flights to mainland China. It has encouraged its 27,000 employees to take three weeks of unpaid leave in a bid to preserve cash.

-Emirates and Etihad – The United Arab Emirates, a major international transit hub, suspended flights to and from China, except for Beijing.

-Finnair – Cancelled all flights to mainland China and decreased the number of flights to Hong Kong until March 28.

-Hainan Airlines – Suspended flights between Budapest, Hungary, and Chongqing Feb. 7-March 27.

-Korean Air Lines Co. – The national flag carrier suspended eight routes to China and reduced services on nine Chinese routes between Feb. 7 and 22.

-Philippine Airlines – Cut the number of flights between Manila and China by over half.

-Qantas Airways – Suspended direct flights to China from Feb. 1. The Australian national carrier halted flights from Sydney to Beijing and Sydney to Shanghai between Feb. 9-March 29.

-Royal Air Maroc – The Moroccan airline suspended direct flights to China Jan. 31-Feb. 29. On Jan. 16, it had launched a direct air route with three flights weekly between its Casablanca hub and Beijing.

-Russia – All Russian airlines, with the exception of national airline Aeroflot, stopped flying to China from Jan. 31. Small airline Ikar will also continue flights between Moscow and China. All planes arriving from China will be sent to a separate terminal in the Moscow Sheremetyevo airport. Aeroflot reduced the frequency of flights to Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou until Feb. 29.

-Nordic airline SAS – Extended its suspension of flights to Shanghai and Beijing until March 29.

-Singapore Airlines – Suspended or cut capacity on flights to Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Chengdu, Xiamen and Chongqing, some of which are flown by regional arm SilkAir.

-UPS – Cancelled 22 flights to China because of the virus and normal manufacturing closures due to the Lunar New Year holiday.

-Virgin Atlantic – Extended its suspension of daily operations to Shanghai until March 28.

-Virgin Australia – Said it will withdraw from the Sydney-Hong Kong route from March 2 because it was “no longer a viable commercial route” due to growing concerns over the virus and civil unrest in Hong Kong.

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Money FM Podcast: Singapore and Sri Lanka to celebrate 50 years of diplomatic relationships

TAP/CLICK TO LISTEN: The Breakfast Huddle: Singapore and Sri Lanka to celebrate 50 years of diplomatic relationships

14:09 mins

Synopsis: Since Singapore’s and Sri Lanka’s independence, both nations have been enjoying cordial socio-economic and diplomatic relations over the last 50 years.

The High Commissioner of Sri Lanka to Singapore – Sashikala Premawardhane – chats with us about the possibility of a revival of the free trade agreement between the two nations and how Sri Lanka has been coping since the 2019 Easter bombings. 

Produced by: Elliott Danker of The Breakfast Huddle on MoneyFM 89.3

Feedback to: [email protected]  

Discover more ST & BT podcasts: http://str.sg/stbtpodcasts

Website: http://www.moneyfm893.sg/podcast/

Spotify: https://spoti.fi/2PwZCYU

Apple Podcasts: https://apple.co/2Lu4rPP

Google podcasts: http://str.sg/googlestbt

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South China Sea: Japan risks furious Chinese backlash as fishing row erupts

Officials said they were transferring the 741-ton ship Hakurei Maru to Indonesia as well as providing a £15.3 million funding to boost the impoverished country’s coast guard’s feet of vessels to help it thwart illegal fishing expeditions in its territorial waters in the South China Sea. The 27-year-old Hakurei Maru is 206.5ft long and has berths for 29 people.

Recently, Indonesia has suffered some losses due to illegal fishing

Kazuhiko Shimizu

Kazuhiko Shimizu, economic counselor at the Japanese Embassy in Indonesia, said the measures were being taken to promote its “free and open Indo-Pacific strategy”.

He said: “Recently, Indonesia has suffered some losses due to illegal fishing.”

China insists its fishermen are free to conduct activities in their “traditional fishing ground,” which partly overlaps with Indonesia’s exclusive economic zone around its Natuna island group.

Chinese fishermen have since December operated in the area escorted by boats from the Chinese coast guard.

Tensions in between Beijing and Jakarta soared around Christmas when Indonesia’s military tracked Chinese coastguard vessels and fishing boats in its waters and scrambled warships and fighter jets as it raised its combat alert status.

Officials reacted with anger when the Chinese fishing boats protected by coastguard warships forced their way into Indonesian territorial waters in the Natuna archipelago.

China’s coastguard is military rather than civilian with its vessels fully crewed, operated and co-ordinated by the People’s Liberation Army Navy.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo visited the region to assert his nation’s sovereignty.

Six warships were deployed and fighter jets carried out overhead patrols to drive out the foreign vessels.

Jakarta summoned China’s ambassador after the coastguard and fishing boats entered waters around the northern Natuna islands, where Indonesia has established an exclusive economic zone.

China has not claimed the Natuna islands themselves but insists it has nearby fishing rights within a self-proclaimed Nine-Dash Line that includes most of the energy-rich South China Sea – a claim disputed by some Southeast Asian countries and is not recognised internationally.

In 2017, Indonesia renamed the northern section of its Exclusive Economic Zone as the North Natuna Sea, as part of a push back against China’s maritime territorial ambitions.

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Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang insisted the ships’ activities were “routine”.

He said their mission was to assert Chinese ownership over the nearby Spratly Islands “and has sovereign rights and jurisdiction over relevant waters”.

Mr Geng said: “The China Coast Guard were performing their duty by carrying out routine patrols to maintain maritime order and protect our people’s legitimate rights and interests in the relevant waters.”

He said Beijing and Jakarta were in contact through diplomatic channels to “deal with differences and uphold peace and stability in bilateral relations and the region”.

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Apple hits stocks, euro near three-year low

LONDON (Reuters) – World stocks markets were knocked off record highs on Tuesday as two of the world’s mega companies reported damage from the coronavirus outbreak.

Apple’s stock fell almost 6% in Frankfurt and all Europe’s main markets fell [.EU] after the iPhone maker warned it was unlikely to meet the March quarter sales guidance it had set just three weeks ago.

HSBC announced a massive restructuring that involved shedding $100 billion of assets and slashing 35,000 jobs over three years. It also warned about the impact of the coronavirus on its Asia business. The stock fell more than 2% in Hong Kong trade.

“We have been pointing out that the market reaction in past weeks was excessively constructive and this could be a wake-up call to all investors that ignored so far potential negative impact,” analysts at UniCredit said.

The warning from Apple sobered investors who had hoped stimulus from China and other countries would protect the global economy from the effects of the epidemic.

Europe’s 0.4% to 0.5% declines came after Tokyo’s Nikkei .N225 dropped 1.4% as tech stocks globally reacted to Apple’s warning. China’s CSI300 .CSI300 gave up 0.5% after gaining on Monday, encouraged by a central bank rate cut and government stimulus hopes.[.T][.SS]

S&P 500 e-mini futures ESc1 slipped 0.4% and Nasdaq futures NQcv1 fell 0.6%.

Bonds were in demand, with the 10-year U.S. Treasuries yield falling 4 basis point to just above 1.5% US10YT=RR. Safe-haven gold XAU= rose to its highest in two weeks and oil prices fell nearly 2% after five days of gains. [O/R]

The yen rose 0.15% to 109.69 yen per dollar JPY= while the risk- and China-sensitive Australian dollar lost 0.4% to $0.6686 AUD=D4. The yuan was steadier, trading at 6.9950 per dollar CNY=CFXS.

The euro was near a three-year low versus the dollar at $1.0830 EUR=, before Germany’s ZEW survey, which is expected to fuel growing pessimism about Europe’s largest economy. [/FRX]

Also hurting market sentiment were a reports that U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration was considering changing regulations to allow it to block shipments of chips to China’s Huawei [HWT.UL] from companies such as Taiwan’s Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co, the world’s largest contract chipmaker.

TEMPTED TO SELL

TSMC (2330.TW) lost 2.9%. Samsung Electronics (005930.KS) dropped 2.9% and Sony Corp (6758.T) shed 2.5% after the Apple coronavirus warning.

The number of new coronavirus cases in mainland China fell below 2,000 for the first time since January, but the virus remains far from contained. The death toll in China has climbed to 1,868, the National Health Commission said, and the World Health Organization said “every scenario is still on the table” in terms of the epidemic’s evolution.

As China’s authorities try to prevent the spread of the disease, the economy is paying a heavy price. Some cities remain locked down, streets are deserted, and travel bans and quarantine orders are preventing migrant workers from getting back to their jobs.

Many factories have yet to re-open, disrupting supply chains in China and beyond, as highlighted by Apple.

“Apple is saying its recovery could be delayed, which could mean the impact of the virus may go beyond the current quarter,” said Norihiro Fujito, chief investment strategist at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities.

“If Apple shares were traded cheaply, that might not matter much. But when they are trading at a record high, investors will be surely tempted to sell.”

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Man who supplied cousin, 15, with lethal MDMA pills jailed for just 12 months

A man who supplied his cousin with high-strength MDMA pills that killed her has been jailed for just 12 months.

Oakley Willoughby, 18, from Camborne, Cornwall, handed £90 to Joshua Ward, a dealer, before giving the pills to his cousin Shakira Pellow.

Shakira, 15, took the drugs with her friends before collapsing in a park close to her home.

She was rushed to hospital but sadly passed away after multiple cardiac arrests and organ failure on July 6, 2018.

On Monday, Willoughby was found guilty of supplying the Class A drug to his cousin.

Today, he was sentenced to 12 months in a Young Offenders Institution by Judge Simon Carr at Truro Crown Court.

The court heard schoolgirl Shakira had told friends days before her death that she wanted to "get on it" and arranged to buy the pills from Joshua Ward.

But she was "too nervous" and so got her cousin Oakley to approach Ward with the £90 from Shakira and her friends and buy the pills which killed her.

Willoughby had denied possession with intent to supply a Class A drug but was convicted on Monday after a trial.

Ward, now 19, of St Day, Cornwall, had already admitted the same charge and will be sentenced next month.

Willoughby and Ward were 16 and 17 respectively when Shakira died.

Her family released photos of Shakira hooked up to machines in hospital hours before she died.

Issued as a warning to others about the dangers of illegal drugs, they described her as their "beautiful angel".

In an emotional victim impact statement read to the court, Shakira's mum Rita Hole said they had been a "normal, happy family".

She said: "Shakira had so much to live for. Shakira was vibrant, graceful, gentle and so alive. She had so much unfulfilled promise, so much humanity and so much compassion to share.

"Shakira was an easy child to love, eager to please, extraordinarily kind and always polite and respectful.

"She was fun, popular, compassionate and a loyal friend."

Rita, who has had three heart attacks since her daughter's death, said she often wanted to die since but has been given strength to carry on by her other daughters.

"To see my baby girl in that mortuary, all cold, is an image that will never leave my head," she said.

The court heard Shakira contacted Ward via Facebook and text message to buy 15 MDMA pills for herself and her friends.

Shakira asked Ward what pills she was buying, the jury heard, to which he replied: "Duplos — took one last night and they are banging."

But on the night, she got "nervous" and asked her cousin to get them instead.

Willoughby paid Ward £90 and handed the drugs to Shakira, who took three high-strength pills called Duplos.

Prosecutor Jason Beal said some of her friends also took the drugs before going to Pengegon Park in Camborne where three became ill and collapsed.

Shakira was rushed to hospital but died the next morning from multiple organ failure as a result of the toxic effects of the MDMA.

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UK weather: Met Office issues more warnings as MONTH of rain to lash Britain

The Met Office has issued another flurry of weather warnings as more torrential rain looks set to batter Britain.

Just days after 80mph Storm Dennis left entire towns flooded, more heavy rain will lash the nation later this week.

Weather maps on WXCharts show an Atlantic weather system will sweep across the nation on Wednesday and Thursday.

Another band of rain will then follow behind on Friday into Saturday to potentially spark more flood chaos.

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The Met Office this morning issued several more yellow warnings for heavy rain from 6pm on Wednesday to 3pm on Thursday.

The warnings cover northern England – including Preston and Lancaster – and north and south Wales, with Cardiff and Swansea in the firing line

Another warning in place for 12pm Friday to 6am Saturday covers another area of northern England, including Leeds, Sheffield and York.

The warnings state that more than a month of rain could fall, with 100mm expected in some areas. February’s average rainfall is 60mm.

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Its warning for northern England on Wednesday and Thursday reads: “An Atlantic weather system arriving on Wednesday is expected to bring a further spell of rainfall which is likely to become heavy and prolonged over areas of high ground in parts of Northwest England.

“Rainfall totals of between 70 and 100 mm are possible during the period. Given the saturated nature of the ground this may lead to some flooding.”

For Wales, the warning adds: “Whilst there is more uncertainty over the rainfall totals for south Wales, there is a small chance that 50-60 mm could fall here in 24 hours.

“There is higher confidence in the rainfall for north-west Wales, with between 70 and 100 mm of rain most likely.

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“Given already saturated ground, in south Wales in particular, there is a chance of further flooding during this event.”

The warning for Friday and Saturday in northern England reads: :Further rain is expected across northern England on Friday.

“Rain is expected to turn persistent and occasionally heavy over parts of the Pennines before clearing early on Saturday.

“20-30 mm is likely to fall widely over higher ground with the potential for 60-80 mm in a few places. Given the recent wet conditions this brings a chance of flooding.”

  • Met Office
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Creepy sex tips dished out by Boris Johnson’s adviser who quit in disgrace

Boris Johnson’s “weirdo” adviser who quit in disgrace used to dish out creepy sex tips online, according to reports.

The National reports that Andrew Sabisky – who resigned last night – made a series of creepy posts on a popular sex forum on Reddit.

It is reported in a series of now deleted posts, the Downing Street advisor would talk about sex, dominance and how having a fulfilling sex life as a Christian.

One screenshot published by Scottish newspaper shows the account – thedovelamenting – urging a user to “build a harem”.

Further posts feature the account urging one user his wifes should submit to their husbands “as unto the lord” and telling another to get a “really good hooker”.

Sabisky’s appointment came as part of a recruitment drive for “misfits” and “weirdos” to working in Downing Street by Johnson’s top aide Dominic Cummings.

It immediately caused controversy as his previous comments on topics such as race, women’s sport and the poor emerged last week.

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Further alleged posts about sex by the “superforecaster” include claims it was a woman’s Christian “duty” to have sex with her husband.

In one post he reportedly urged a man to to “rewire” his wife’s brain “to the point where she no longer, consciously or subconsciously sees a conflict between a good Christian woman and serving you up 39 flavours of sl*t on command”.

And in a screenshot linked to the account in a post from seven years ago he allegedly says it is a man’s place to “command” his wife for sex.

“The secret trick to the Biblical model of wifely submission (sexual or otherwise) is that many women actually find submitting extremely erotic and arousing,” he allegedly said.

He also condemned one woman as being “selfish” – saying “if you want a blow job you should get one because she is your wife and lover”.

Reddit posts were reportedly deleted as soon as The National approached Sabisky for comment.

The account page for thedovelamenting is now blank, but still has 4,576 points of “karma” – points you get for posts – and has its sign up date visible as August, 21, 2012.

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Sabisky once suggested enforcing the uptake of contraception to stop unplanned pregnancies "creating a permanent underclass”.

Last night, he announced he was standing down because he did not want to be a distraction to the Government.

He left his post after coming under attack from Tory and Labour MPs over highly contentious comments.

He tweeted: "The media hysteria about my old stuff online is mad but I wanted to help HMG not be a distraction.

"Accordingly I've decided to resign as a contractor.

"I hope no.10 hires more ppl w/ good geopolitical forecasting track records & that media learn to stop selective quoting."

In another tweet, he decried the controversy as a “giant character assassination” and said “if I can’t do the work properly there is not point”.

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Mr Sabisky also reportedly once suggested that the benefits of a purported cognitive enhancer, which can prove fatal, are "probably worth a dead kid once a year".

He also reportedly suggested that black Americans have a lower average IQ than white Americans.

And in a Twitter post, he said: "I am always straight up in saying that women's sport is more comparable to the Paralympics than it is to men's."

Johnson faced pressure to sack Sabisky over the comments, but one government minister said today that he “jumped before he was pushed”.

Business Minister Kwasi Kwarteng described the past remarks as "offensive" and "racist".

He told Sky News: "I don't know how this man appeared on the horizon, I don't know how he was recruited.

"What I do know is that his remarks were offensive and racist and, as soon as they came to light, he left the Government pretty quickly."

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Mr Kwarteng said he suspected Mr Sabisky "jumped before he was pushed", and that he thought the Government would be "looking at vetting processes more closely" in light of the drama.

Conservative Caroline Nokes, chairwoman of the Commons Women and Equalities Committee, said she was "relieved" he had resigned, but criticised the "silence" from Downing Street.

She told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "I'm relieved that Mr Sabisky has resigned.

"I was disappointed that yesterday there was silence from Downing Street regarding his previous comments and it does seem that when the call went out for misfits and weirdos, that was exactly what Downing Street got."

She added: "I think he needed to come out earlier and explain himself, he needed to apologise for those comments and unfortunately we had 48 hours of almost complete silence and no comment from Downing Street, who could have distanced themselves from his youthful comments at any point, but they chose not to do so."

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Leaving his house on Tuesday morning, Mr Cummings suggested people should read about "superforecasters".

He told reporters: "Read Philip Tetlock's Superforecasters instead of political pundits who don't know what they're talking about."

Superforecasting is a book by Philip Tetlock on the science of prediction.

Downing Street had earlier refused to condemn the remarks, a stance Labour said was "disgusting", while Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the Government must "demonstrate some basic but fundamental values".

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Speaking after Mr Sabisky's resignation, Labour Party chairman Ian Lavery said: "It's right that Andrew Sabisky is no longer working in government. He should never have been appointed in the first place.

"After Number 10 publicly stood by him today, Boris Johnson has serious questions to answer about how this appointment was made and whether he agrees with his vile views."

Daily Star Online has contacted Mr Sabisky for comment.

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