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.

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.

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.

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.

Updated at 6:54 p.m. ET

More than 3 1/2 years after the landmark Brexit referendum, the United Kingdom finally left the European Union at 11 p.m. GMT on Friday.

That means Britain exited the bloc of 27 remaining countries and will begin to forge its own way in the world, but there's a transition period before the U.K. cuts itself off entirely.

The U.K. has been a member of the EU since 1973. Leaving is one of the biggest, riskiest and most divisive steps the country has taken in decades.

Voters in the United Kingdom head to the polls Thursday for a crucial election that could determine the country's future, and how and when it will break off from the European Union.

This will be the fifth major vote in the country in less than five years — including two previous general elections, European Parliament elections and the Brexit referendum — a sign of how chaotic British politics have become.

The stakes are high, voters are weary and the two main candidates for prime minister are especially polarizing.

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The European Union and the United Kingdom reached a new Brexit agreement on Thursday, and while it appeared to mark a big breakthrough in the years-long process, the saga doesn't end here.

The withdrawal deal still needs approval in both the U.K. and European parliaments. Although EU leaders unanimously endorsed it in Brussels on Thursday, it faces stiff opposition in Britain's Parliament, which has voted down three previous Brexit deals.

The U.K. is scheduled to leave the EU on Oct. 31.

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Now we're going to turn to NPR's London correspondent, Frank Langfitt, who was listening to our conversation with former U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron. Frank, thank you so much for listening and being here.

FRANK LANGFITT, BYLINE: Hi, Michel.

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It has been another extraordinary day in British politics...

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED PEOPLE: (Chanting) Whose Parliament? Our Parliament. Whose Parliament? Our Parliament.

Frank Langfitt (@franklangfitt) is NPR's international correspondent in London and was previously based in Shanghai, China. His new book is The Shanghai Free Taxi.

The United Kingdom is headed for another showdown next month over Brexit, an issue that has paralyzed British politics for several years and ended the careers of the two previous prime ministers.

This year, Parliament thrice defeated a U.K. withdrawal agreement that then-Prime Minister Theresa May's government had negotiated with the European Union. Parliament reconvenes on Sept. 3.

Here are some of the key challenges facing Boris Johnson, the new prime minister, who has vowed to take the U.K. out of the European Union one way or another on Oct. 31.

Britain would face gridlock at ports; shortages of medicine, fuel and food; and a hard border with Ireland if it left the European Union with no deal, according to a leaked government document.

At a time of polarization and political chaos, the United Kingdom and the United States are about to be led by two remarkably similar figures. On Tuesday, Britain's ruling Conservative Party elected Boris Johnson as their leader by an overwhelming margin, sending him to No. 10 Downing Street. He will take office on Wednesday.

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