Frank Langfitt | WCAI

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.

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We travel next to England, where millions of students try to return to classrooms this week, months after the pandemic shut schools down. Shifting messages from the British government has left many confused. NPR's Frank Langfitt reports.

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.

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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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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.

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The death of George Floyd and the protests here in the United States continue to reverberate around the world.

(SOUNDBITE OF PROTEST)

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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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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.

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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is ending his sick leave. He's back at work at No. 10 Downing Street in London after three weeks away with COVID-19, including time in intensive care. Johnson is urging his fellow citizens to continue a lockdown.

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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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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Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson has tested positive for the coronavirus. Here he is.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

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Some other news now - Prince Charles, heir to the British throne, tested positive for coronavirus; the prince's royal office says so. NPR's Frank Langfitt is on the line from London. Hi there, Frank.

FRANK LANGFITT, BYLINE: Hi, Steve.

Panic shopping as the coronavirus spreads in the United Kingdom has driven supermarkets to limit sales of certain items and add security to keep customers in line.

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