Jeremy Corbyn Criticised for Anti-Semitic Comments

Jeremy Corbyn, the Leader of the Opposition, has been criticised for anti-semitism after he called for a mural to be kept which was anti-semitic. The mural, entitled ‘Freedom of Humanity’, was removed from East London in 2012.

At the time Corbyn had posted on Facebook referring to its removal:

“Why? You are in good company. Rockerfeller [sic] destroyed Diego Viera’s mural because it includes a picture of Lenin”.

Luciana Berger, the Labour MP for Liverpool Wavertree, had earlier said on Twitter:

“I asked the Leader’s Office for an explanation about this Facebook post first thing this morning. I’m still waiting for a response”.

After being asked about his comments Corbyn said:

“I sincerely regret that I did not look more closely at the image I was commenting on, the contents of which are deeply disturbing and anti-Semitic”.

Berger responded by saying that Corbyn’s response had been “wholly inadequate”.

Ian Austin, the Labour MP for Dudley North, also criticised his leader, saying:

“Jeremy would never have defended racist imagery aimed at any other group”.

Alistair Burt Issues Statement on the Sentencing of Ahed Tamimi

Alistair Burt, the Minister for the Middle East, has issued a statement on the sentencing of Ahed Tamimi who has been imprisoned for eight months. Tamimi is a Palestinian teenager who slapped an Israeli soldier who has accepted the prison sentence as part of a plea deal.

Burt said:

“The conviction and sentencing of Ahed Tamimi is emblematic of how the unresolved conflict is blighting the lives of a new generation, who should be growing up together in peace, but continue to be divided.

The treatment of Palestinian children in Israeli military detention remains a human rights priority for the UK. We will continue to call upon Israel to improve its practices in line with international law and obligations.

We have offered to help the Israeli authorities through expert-to-expert talks with UK officials. The offer still stands and we hope Israel will take us up on it. While we recognise that Israel has made some improvements, it needs to do much more to safeguard vulnerable people in its care”.

Jeremy Corbyn Sacks Owen Smith from Shadow Cabinet

Jeremy Corbyn, the Leader of the Opposition, has sacked Owen Smith from his position as Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland due to Smith’s article in the Guardian on Brexit. Smith had called in the article for the public to be given a vote on the final deal reached in the Brexit negotiations.

Smith said on Twitter:

“Just been sacked by @jeremycorbyn for my long held views on the damage #Brexit will do to the Good Friday Agreement & the economy of the entire U.K. Those views are shared by Labour members & supporters and I will continue to speak up for them, and in the interest of our country”.

Tony Lloyd has replaced Smith as the Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, moving from his current position as the Shadow Housing Minister.

Owen Smith, the former Labour Leadership Candidate, Calls for a Public Vote on the Brexit Deal

Owen Smith, the Labour MP for Pontypridd and former candidate for the Labour leadership, has called for a public vote on the final Brexit deal. Writing in the Guardian newspaper, Smith said “Labour should ask if Brexit is the right decision, not just push for a softer version”.

Smith wrote:

“Labour needs to do more than just back a soft Brexit or guarantee a soft border in Ireland. Given that it is increasingly obvious that the promises the Brexiters made to the voters – especially, but not only, their pledge of an additional £350m a week for the NHS – are never going to be honoured, we have the right to keep asking if Brexit remains the right choice for the country. And to ask, too, that the country has a vote on whether to accept the terms, and true costs of that choice, once they are clear. That is how Labour can properly serve our democracy and the interests of our people”.

Jeremy Corbyn, the Leader of the Opposition, has previously ruled out a second vote, but is yet to comment on Smith’s proposals.

Prime Minister Meets German and French Leaders in Brussels

Theresa May, the Prime Minister, has met with the German and French leaders in Brussels to discuss the Salisbury Attack which has been attributed to the Russians. The Prime Minister gave further details of the attack to Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron, with the three countries agreeing a stance on Russia.

A spokesperson for the Prime Minister said:

“Prime Minister Theresa May today met with President Macron and Chancellor Merkel on the fringes of the European Council in Brussels. The Prime Minister provided the President and Chancellor with a detailed update on the investigation into the reckless use of a military nerve agent, of a type produced by Russia, on the streets of Salisbury.

She said there had been a positive identification of the chemical used as part of the Novichok group of nerve agents by our world leading scientists at Porton Down. The Prime Minister also outlined our knowledge that Russia has previously produced this agent; Russia’s record of conducting state-sponsored assassinations; and our assessment that Russia views some defectors as legitimate targets for assassinations.

The UK, Germany and France reaffirmed that there is no plausible explanation other than that the Russian state was responsible. The leaders agreed on the importance of sending a strong European message in response to Russia’s actions and agreed to remain in close contact in coming days. On Iran, they reaffirmed their commitment to the JCPOA and agreed to hold further discussions in April”.

New British Passports Likely to Made in the EU

The new blue British passports are likely to be made in the EU following the successful tender of the Dutch-French company Gemalto. Sources from the Government are suggesting that the new contract will save the tax-payer around £120 million.

A spokesperson for the Government said:

“The preferred bidder has been selected following a rigorous, fair and open competition and all bidders were notified of the outcome last night. The chosen company demonstrated that they will be best able to meet the needs of our passport service with a high quality and secure product at the best value for money for our customers and the taxpayer.

It’s been the case since 2009 that we do not require passports to be manufactured in the UK. A proportion of passports have been made overseas since then with up to 20 per cent of blank passport books currently produced in Europe with no security or operational concerns”.

De la Rue, the company that currently holds the tender to produce UK passports said in a statement:

“Over the last few months we have heard ministers happy to come on the media and talk about the new blue passport and the fact that it is an icon of British identity. But now this icon of British identity is going to be manufactured in France. I’d like to ask Theresa May or Amber Rudd to come to my factory and explain to our dedicated workforce why this is a sensible decision to offshore the manufacture of a British icon”.

Priti Patel, the former Cabinet Minister who quit after breaches of the Ministerial Code were uncovered, condemned the decision and said that it was “a national humiliation”.

Foreign Secretary Confirms Appointment of New High Commissioner to Mozambique

Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, has confirmed the appointment of NneNne Iwuji-Eme as the new High Commissioner to Mozambique. She will begin her new role in July 2018 and she replaces Joanna Kuenssberg. Iwuji-Eme is currently the Deputy Prosperity Consul /Head of Prosperity in San Paulo, a role she has held since 2015.

She said in a statement:

“It is an honour and a privilege to be appointed High Commissioner to Mozambique. I hope my appointment as the first British black female career diplomat to this position will inspire young talent, regardless of race or background, to pursue their ambitions in the Foreign Office. I look forward to forging even stronger connections between Britain and Mozambique two close members of the Commonwealth family”.

Government Announces National Democracy Week

The Government has announced that a ‘national democracy week’ will take place between 2 to 8 July 2018. The week aims to encourage citizens to take part in the democratic process and there are a series of events to improve engagement in voting and elections.

A spokesperson for the Government said:

“Regardless of who we are or where we are from, we must work together to ensure that every member of society has an equal chance to participate in our democracy and to have their say.

National Democracy Week, 2-8 July, is week-long celebration of democracy in society, including events, talks and fun activities, an opportunity to celebrate progress and champion future democratic participation in this historic Centenary year of Suffrage.

National Democracy Week is being delivered in collaboration by the National Democracy Week Council members, the Cabinet Office and partners across the country. Together we will deliver a range of exciting democratic engagement activities in the lead up to and during the week”.

UK Employment Rate Reaches Record High but Unemployment Rises

Figures released today from the Office for National Statistics have shown that the level of employment in the UK has reached a record high. The figures show that 402,000 people have moved into employment over the last year and the unemployment rate has remained at 4.3%. Unemployment has though risen for a second month running, increasing concerns of a slow-down in the employment market.

Esther McVey, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, said:

“Getting a job means securing an income for a family and the chance to build a better future. That’s why up and down the country we are doing all we can to help people into work. And from next month, we’ll be taking thousands more people out of paying tax and also increasing the National Living Wage, benefiting those on the lowest pay and making sure they keep more of what they earn. In fact by raising the National Living Wage we have ensured that the lowest earners have seen their wages grow by almost 7% above inflation since 2015”.

Margaret Greenwood, the Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, said:

“Many people are struggling with low pay and insecure work and the rise in unemployment is further bad news. With eight million people in working households living in poverty and the cost of basic essentials remaining high, the Spring Statement was a missed opportunity for the Government to take the urgent action needed. The Government has also failed to close the employment gap faced by women, disabled people and BAME groups, who have too often borne the brunt of austerity cuts”.

Foreign Secretary Confirms Appointment of New Ambassador to Mali

Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, has confirmed the appointment of Cat Smith as the new Ambassador to Mali. She will begin her new role in April 2018 and she replaces Alice Walpole. Smith was previously the Deputy Head of Mission in Addis Abada, a role she has held since 2015. In addition to her new role, Smith will also be the non-resident Ambassador to the Republic of Niger.