Frank Langfitt | KBIA

Frank Langfitt

Frank Langfitt is NPR's London correspondent. He covers the UK and Ireland, as well as stories elsewhere in Europe.

Langfitt arrived in London in June, 2016. A week later, the UK voted for Brexit. He's been busy ever since, covering the political battles over just how the United Kingdom will leave the European Union. Langfitt also frequently appears on the BBC, where he tries to explain American politics, which is not easy.

Previously, Langfitt spent five years as an NPR correspondent covering China. Based in Shanghai, he drove a free taxi around the city for a series on a changing China as seen through the eyes of ordinary people. As part of the series, Langfitt drove passengers back to the countryside for Chinese New Year and served as a wedding chauffeur. He has expanded his reporting into a book, The Shanghai Free Taxi: Journeys with the Hustlers and Rebels of the New China (Public Affairs, Hachette), which is out in June 2019.

While in China, Langfitt also reported on the government's infamous black jails — secret detention centers — as well as his own travails taking China's driver's test, which he failed three times.

Before moving to Shanghai, Langfitt was NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi. He reported from Sudan, covered the civil war in Somalia, and interviewed imprisoned Somali pirates, who insisted they were just misunderstood fishermen. During the Arab Spring, Langfitt covered the uprising and crushing of the reform movement in Bahrain.

Prior to Africa, Langfitt was NPR's labor correspondent based in Washington, DC. He covered the 2008 financial crisis, the bankruptcy of General Motors and Chrysler, and coal mine disasters in West Virginia.

In 2008, Langfitt also covered the Beijing Olympics as a member of NPR's team, which won an Edward R. Murrow Award for sports reporting. Langfitt's print and visual journalism have also been honored by the Overseas Press Association and the White House News Photographers Association.

Before coming to NPR, Langfitt spent five years as a correspondent in Beijing for The Baltimore Sun, covering a swath of Asia from East Timor to the Khyber Pass.

Langfitt spent his early years in journalism stringing for the Philadelphia Inquirer and living in Hazard, Kentucky, where he covered the state's Appalachian coalfields for the Lexington Herald-Leader. Prior to becoming a reporter, Langfitt dug latrines in Mexico and drove a taxi in his hometown of Philadelphia. Langfitt is a graduate of Princeton and was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard.

The owner of Dr. Martens, the famed British footwear brand, is planning an initial public offering on the London Stock Exchange, according to a filing on Monday.

Private equity owner Permira is expected to sell at least 25% of the business. The brand, which evolved into a symbol of rebellious youth culture, has continued to thrive during the coronavirus pandemic. Dr. Martens sells more than 11 million pairs a year in more than 60 countries.

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LEILA FADEL, HOST:

The model train company Hornby has seen a big increase of sales because families are spending more time at home. Prior to the pandemic, it was described as a "company in chaos."

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SARAH MCCAMMON, HOST:

The pandemic has damaged countless businesses, but in the U.K...

The details of the long-awaited Brexit deal between Great Britain and the European Union are coming into focus.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

SACHA PFEIFFER, HOST:

It had all the makings of a terrible divorce that was settled amicably at the last minute.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

Updated at 3:20 p.m. ET

With the clock ticking down, the United Kingdom and the European Union finally agreed to a free trade deal a week before the Brexit transition period ends and 4 1/2 years since Britons voted in a landmark referendum to leave the EU.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson hailed the agreement as a way for the country's businesses to continue to have tariff-free and quota-free access to the massive EU market while delivering on the promise of the 2016 Brexit campaign.

A tighter lockdown in the UK, strictly limiting the movement of millions during the holidays amid worries of a possible new variant of the coronavirus. Infections are climbing dramatically.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

Four and a half years after the landmark Brexit referendum, the United Kingdom is still arguing with the European Union about their future relationship.

Britain officially left the EU in January and has spent the last 11 months in a transitional phase while the two sides try to negotiate a new free trade agreement to avert major disruptions at borders and more economic damage.

The transition ends at midnight Brussels time on Dec. 31.

Here are some of the top issues still to be settled:

What is the latest?

At the Scottish National Party's recent annual conference, Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland's first minister, said she had "never been so certain" that Scotland would become an independent nation.

"Who do we want to be in the driving seat of shaping Scotland's future?" she asked. "The Scottish government has not got everything right, far from it. But I doubt there are many people in Scotland who would have wanted Westminster to be more in charge of our pandemic response."

The United Kingdom gave emergency approval this week to a COVID-19 vaccine and plans to begin rolling it out next week. Though Russia had previously approved a vaccine, the U.K. is the first country where regulators approved a vaccine that is backed by transparent science. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration will consider granting its regulatory approval next week.

Pfizer and BioNTech (a German company), which developed the vaccine, say it is 95% effective based on the latest clinical trial involving 43,000 subjects.

President-elect Joe Biden has chosen a national security team that backs traditional U.S. alliances, which has been met with relief in much of Europe after nearly four years of hostility from President Trump.

Take Antony Blinken, Biden's nominee for secretary of state. He spent part of his childhood in Paris, speaks impeccable French and is an avowed supporter of the trans-Atlantic relationship.

Politicians in the United Kingdom are already studying the results of the U.S. presidential race for clues that could help them in the next parliamentary elections, due to take place in 2024.

Britain's main opposition Labour Party, the nearest equivalent to the Democrats, is encouraged to see a centrist such as Joe Biden beat a populist such as Donald Trump. That's because Labour is led by Keir Starmer, a center-left politician.

With Joe Biden ahead in the polls, many in Europe are wondering what U.S. foreign policy might look like if the former vice president wins the White House.

If President Trump is defeated in Tuesday's election, one loser in the region could be British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Trump's closest ally in Europe. While Trump has often denigrated other European leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron, he's chummy with Johnson, who, like Trump, is seen as a populist showman.

England will enter a second coronavirus lockdown beginning on Thursday that is scheduled to run until early December, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Saturday.

All pubs and restaurants will close along with nonessential retail shops, and different households will be banned from mixing indoors. In addition, outbound international travel will be prohibited, except for work, while schools and universities will remain open.

Wales is heading into a 17-day lockdown on Friday evening, as many parts of Europe reimpose safety measures because of rising coronavirus case counts.

The "firebreak lockdown" went into effect at 6 p.m. local time and requires that people remain home with few exceptions.

After a quiet summer where life largely returned to normal, England now faces new restrictions designed to slow the spread of COVID-19.

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced in the House of Commons on Tuesday morning that pubs, bars and restaurants in England must close at 10 p.m. He also encouraged people who are able to work from home to do so, reversing a previous government position.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom Robert Wood "Woody" Johnson IV told embassy staff in 2018 that his friend, President Trump, asked him to help get the British Open golf tournament held at one of the Trump family's golf resorts in Scotland.

U.S. Embassy staff have separately complained that Johnson made racist and sexist comments on the job.

The British government will spend nearly $2 billion to help rescue the nation's theater, museum and arts sectors. Sunday's announcement came as more than 1,000 theaters remain shuttered across the country because of the coronavirus pandemic.

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AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Updated at 5 p.m. ET

The widespread protests that began in the United States are now reverberating through Europe, leading to the removal of two statues in the United Kingdom and one in Belgium with racist, colonial legacies.

About 1 in 5 adults in England believe the coronavirus is to some extent a hoax, according to research on conspiracy theories by the University of Oxford.

In addition, researchers found nearly 3 out of 5 adults in England believe the government is misleading them to some extent about the cause of the virus, and nearly 1 in 10 strongly agree that China developed the coronavirus to destroy the West — which is utterly false.

In 2015, Queen Elizabeth accompanied Chinese President Xi Jinping in a gilded, horse-drawn carriage to Buckingham Palace, during a visit that was supposed to symbolize "a new golden era" of closer economic ties between this former empire and the ascendant power in the east.

"The relationship between China and the United Kingdom is now truly a global partnership," the queen declared during a state banquet.

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MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Updated at 5:02 p.m. ET

It was supposed to be a day of parades, a vast party that would transcend borders and bring generations together, not unlike the spontaneous euphoria that swept through victorious European allies when Nazi Germany finally surrendered.

But instead of a mega-event, leaders in London, Paris, Moscow and other capitals, observed the 75th anniversary of V-E Day at a diminished level Friday due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

With pubs shuttered across the United Kingdom, a brewery in the northeast of England is giving away free beer on Fridays. In return, it's asking recipients to donate to the country's health care workers.

When the British government announced a lockdown in late March, the country's tens of thousands of pubs were forced to shut down, leaving Northumberland's Alnwick Brewery Company with 80 casks of ale, stout and IPA it had brewed for the Easter holiday.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is a father again. He and his fiancée, Carrie Symonds, announced Wednesday morning that she gave birth to a baby boy. Mother and baby are doing "very well," according to a spokesperson for the couple.

Johnson and Symonds thanked the "fantastic NHS maternity team" for their work delivering the child at a London hospital. This is the second time this month Johnson has personally thanked England's National Health Service. The first was after he was treated in an intensive care unit for COVID-19.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson left the hospital on Sunday, one week after he was admitted with COVID-19, and in a video message, thanked the U.K.'s National Health Service for saving his life.

Johnson, who spent multiple nights in an intensive care unit, credited health staff for keeping him alive when, he said, "It could have gone either way."

Updated at 3:39 p.m. ET

Queen Elizabeth II addressed the United Kingdom on Sunday in a rare speech, urging self-discipline and resolve in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. The queen, 93, acknowledged the grief and financial pain that Britons are enduring while also thanking health workers for their service and ordinary people for staying home.

"Together we are tackling this disease and I want to reassure you that if we remain united and resolute, then we will overcome it," she said.

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MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Authorities around the world have issued their own guidelines and rules designed to contain the spread of the coronavirus. And as they've sought to enforce these rules, some efforts have sparked backlash and concerns about privacy.

The British government is under fire for only testing a tiny percentage of National Health Service staff as deaths from COVID-19 in the United Kingdom rapidly rise to nearly 3,000.

"Shambles!" reads the headline in the Daily Mirror.

"550,000 NHS staff, only 2,000 tested," roars the Daily Mail.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has COVID-19, pledged the government was going all out to support front-line health care workers.

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