Far-right returns to German parliament for first time in 60 years as Angela Merkel wins 4th term

The FDP, which returned to parliament with 10.5 per cent after losing all their seats four years ago, have long been seen as Mrs Merkel’s preferred coalition partner.

The Greens, who won 9 per cent, are also seen as a viable partner after moving to a more pragmatic, centrist course in recent years — but they are not natural bedfellows for the FDP.

The drop in the CDU’s vote share means the two smaller parties will be able to demand a heavy price for their support.

“It was a bad night for Martin Schulz and the Socialists, but also for Mrs Merkel and the Christian Democrats. She still heads the largest party, but she enters these coalition negotiations with a weakened hand,” Christian Odendahl, of the Centre for European Reform think-tank in Berlin said.

“It is the FDP who will be in the strongest position and will now demand the finance ministry, along with the Greens who showed they can win with centrist candidates.”

“Forming a three-party government is going to be very difficult,” said Dan Hough, professor of politics at the University of Sussex, who is in Germany to monitor the elections.

“The Greens and the FDP will feel emboldened by the result and given their traditional animosity it’s in no way certain that the three parties will be able to strike a coalition agreement.

Most expensive Antiques Roadshow find is Faberge flower owned by army regiment valued at £1m

“It is 13.3 cm in height. In the form of pear blossom in a vase, its chased and engraved gold stem is placed in in a rock crystal vase carved so it appears to be half full of water.

“The six flowers of blossom are also gold which have been enamelled white with shades of pale pink. Their stamens are oxidised silver with a diamond at the centre.

“The leaves are carved nephrite. Georgina, Countess of Dudley presented the study to The Queen’s Own Worcestershire Hussars, QOWH, in the early 1900s as a regimental trophy.

“Three pears feature on the county’s Arms, hence the choice of pear blossom.

“Indeed the Countess, whose late husband had been the regiment’s commanding officer, gave a sprig of pear blossom worked in silk to every soldier in the squadron of volunteers from the QOWH which sailed on 7th February 1900 to South Africa to form part of the Imperial Yeomanry.

“The idea was that they should wear it in the hats. The Countess was a great friend of Queen Alexandra, and like the Queen, was also a customer of Fabergé.

“Over the years there have been changes in the structure of the British army with regiments amalgamating. Two soldiers in dress uniform took the study to the Antique Roadshow.

“The name of the regiment that currently owns this treasure will be revealed when the programme is screened.”

The show is due to be screened this autumn.

Kurdish president defiant over referendum in face of war games and flight suspensions

“Iraq has humiliated our people (…) They have galvanised the Iraqi people against Kurdistan.”

He said he had hoped for a better relationship with Baghdad after the fall in 2003 of the late iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, who arrested, tortured and killed tens of thousands of Kurds during his rule.

“We had a hope our relationship with Baghdad would improve, based on pluralism and democracy. But it didn’t take us long to realise that while the faces of the politicians changed, their mentality was the same,” he said.

When asked why the vote could not be delayed, as the international community has repeatedly requested, Mr Barzani said: “We cannot wait another year, they will not change their mind, it will only strengthen their position.”

Some Kurds the Telegraph spoke to said they were planning to vote “yes” at the polls today, but worried about the consequences.

“Our course we want our own country, to stand on our own, but I am scared about how our neighbours will respond,” said student Ahmed Rasol.

Spanish government accused of interfering in judicial proceedings to discredit Catalonian politicians

Asked by The Telegraph for a response to the conclusions of the parliamentary report, a government spokesperson placed the findings within the “ambit of political debate”, pointing out that a judicial investigation into Mr Díaz Fernández and the contents of the tape was shelved. 

The Catalan government is convinced that there is a systematic strategy to discredit its leaders as they plan their drive towards independence.

“First it was Artur Mas, who was supposed to be totally corrupt, now it’s Puigdemont, and then it will be whoever is next. They’ll do whatever it takes to avoid finding a political solution,” a source close to Mr Puigdemont told The Telegraph.

Mr Puigdemont, a former journalist who says he will not seek a second term in Catalonia’s next elections, has said that he will face “all the consequences” when asked if he would be prepared to go to jail for the independence cause.

“If they make that mistake, it will be their last. All Catalonia would take to the streets if the president were put in prison,” the source added.

Mr Mas, who is currently barred from public office after being found guilty of disobedience for holding an unconstitutional ballot on independence in 2014, recently told Spain’s LaSexta TV channel that the “state sewer stinks” when recalling newspaper reports that appeared shortly before the 2012 regional election, citing fraud squad evidence that he had secret bank accounts in Switzerland and Liechtenstein.

Ukraine will break up unless government fights corruption, Saakashvili warns

Mikheil Saakashvili, the former Georgian president who went on to become a leading Ukrainian politician, has warned Ukraine “will continue to break up” unless the government improves the economy and reins in the scourge of corruption that has blighted the country since independence.

Made stateless after Petro Poroshenko, Ukraine’s president, rescinded his Ukrainian citizenship in July the 49-year-old Saakashvili made a dramatic to return to Ukraine earlier this month when a crowd of supporters broke through police lines on the Ukrainian-Polish border and swept him back into the country illegally.

Now back in his adopted home despite his lack of a Ukrainian passport he is travelling around the country, determined to be a thorn in the flesh of a government he feels has done too little to tackle corruption and improve the economy.

Without reform, he says, the government risks failing to hold a country together that has already lost control of territory to Russian-backed separatist in the east.

“If Ukraine doesn’t change it will continue to break up,” he told The Telegraph. “You go to the east and you see whole cities that no longer trade with Russia and are really in a desperate situation. They don’t have any prospects and there is no light at the end of the tunnel for them.

New Spanish migrant route sees three times as many migrants caught at British port

The increasing popularity of a Spanish migrant route has seen three times as many illegal immigrants caught at British port in the last year. 

Figures show that officials have already detained 1,251 people trying to board ferries heading for Portsmouth, Hampshire, this year up until the start of September compared to 436 in the whole of 2016.

Brittany Ferries, which runs the route from Bilbao to Portsmouth, has has called on port security in Spain to be tightened to stop offenders repeatedly trying to board ships.

A Brittany spokesman said most of those involved are young, male Albanian nationals who are “well-organised” and repeatedly target the port’s perimeter in Bilbao.

There are two Brittany sailings each way each week between Portsmouth and Bilbao and the company also runs freight services between Bilbao and Poole.

Epilepsy drug raises risk of birth defects, but women were not told, survey finds

Women on a powerful epilepsy drug have not been warned about the dangers of taking in during pregnancy, a survey has found. 

The drug, sodium valproate, carries a 10 per cent chance of causing physical abnormalities in children born to mothers who take it.

Babies exposed to it also have a 40 per cent risk of developmental problems, including autism, low IQ and learning disabilities.

The medicine is prescribed in the UK under brand names including Epilim, Episenta and Epival, and effectively controls seizures in epilepsy sufferers.

About 20,000 children have been harmed by valproate medications since the 1970s and a toolkit was introduced in February last year after the European Medicines Agency (EMA) told watchdogs to improve patient information.

But a survey of 2,000 female epilepsy sufferers conducted over the past month revealed 68 per cent of the 475 polled currently taking the drug had not received any materials from the toolkit – which includes printed warnings in GP surgeries.

End of the postcard as country’s oldest publisher closes due to rise of selfies

Charles Salmon, 61, and his brother Henry, 56, joint managing directors, have sent a letter to suppliers and newsagents and tourist shops announcing “a proposal to withdraw from publishing”.

Charles said: “Changing spending and holiday patterns and new technology have had a huge effect on the business. People are going for shorter breaks, not for a fortnight, so you’re back home before your postcards have arrived.”

Salmon’s is the country’s oldest postcard and calendar publisher – founded in 1880 as a stationer and general printer the business began publishing postcards in the 1890s followed by calendars. It is now in its fifth generation and continues to print at its site in Sevenoaks in Kent.

New mother in critical condition after being hit by a car as she pushed four-day-old baby in pram

A new mother is in a critical condition after being struck down by a car as she walked her four-day-old baby in a pram.

The 28-year-old woman was the victim of a hit-and-run accident as she crossed the A34 Walsall Road in Great Barr, Birmingham, West Midlands Police said.

She is fighting for her life in hospital following the collision with the Mazda at 6pm on Saturday.

The baby was checked over by medics but was well enough to be discharged.

The driver of the car remains at large, having fled the scene on foot, police said.

Opposition to freedom of movement is driven by racism, senior Labour MP claims

Opposition to freedom of movement is driven by racism, a former Labour frontbencher and ally of Jeremy Corbyn has said.

Clive Lewis, the former shadow defence secretary, said immigration was an issue that the Left of the political spectrum found difficult to deal with.

He made the comments as he clashed with fellow Labour MP Caroline Flint who said people did not want Britain’s migration policy to be dictated by Brussels.

It came after the publication of a letter signed by more than 30 MPs, including Mr Lewis, calling on Labour to keep the UK in the Single Market and fight for continued freedom of movement.

Appearing on the Sunday with Niall Paterson programme on Sky News, Mr Lewis told Ms Flint: “I actually believe in freedom of movement. You are talking about managing migration.