Boris Johnson Calls the US President “Divisive and Wrong”

Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, has criticised the recent US policy on ban immigrants from certain countries. Donald Trump, the US President, said that the measure was on security grounds.

Johnson said on Twitter:

“We will protect the rights and freedoms of UK nationals home and abroad. Divisive and wrong to stigmatise because of nationality”.

Ruth Davidson, the Scottish Conservative leader, called for a state visit by the US President for later in the year to be cancelled. She said:

“State visits are designed for both the host, and the head of state who is being hosted, to celebrate and entrench the friendships and shared values between their respective countries”.

Jeremy Corbyn, the Leader of the Opposition, also supported a ban on Trump visiting on a state visit, saying that it would be “totally wrong” and he added, referring to the new US policy on banning citizens from certain countries “I’m not happy about him coming here until that ban is lifted”.

Prime Minister Issues Statement After Meeting with President Erdogan

Theresa May, the Prime Minister, has issued a statement following her meeting in Ankara with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The meeting discussed numerous topics, including security issues and trade.

The statement reads:

“Thank you very much Mr President and thank you for the invitation to join you for these discussions that we have had today – and very fruitful discussions between us.

Turkey is one of the UK’s oldest friends. Our relations stretch back over 400 years.

But there is much that we can do in the future to build on that relationship together.

I am proud that the UK stood with you on 15 July last year in defence of your democracy. Now it is important that Turkey sustains that democracy by maintaining the rule of law and upholding its international human rights obligations as the government has undertaken to do.

We have discussed, as the president has said, a number of important issues today from Cyprus, where we are committed to playing our parts for an early settlement, to Syria, where we are working together to fight Daesh and create the conditions for peace.

We are also agreeing to step up our work together on aviation security with a programme of shared training and information exchange.

You mentioned, Mr President, the opportunities for enhancing trade between our two countries and we discussed that. We both want to build on our existing links and I believe that doing so will be to the benefit of both our countries and for the prosperity of both our nations.

And we have agreed we will have a joint working group to prepare the ground for our post-Brexit trading relationship.

So we have covered quite a range of subjects today. What has underpinned our discussions has been the opportunity for Turkey and the UK to build on our existing relations which, as I say, have stretched back many years, to our mutual benefit for the future.

So thank you and I look forward to maintaining these talks with your Prime Minister later today”.

Election Expert Professor Anthony King has Died at the Age of 82

The election expert Professor Anthony King, who appeared on numerous BBC General Election specials from 1983 until 2005, has died at the age of 82. King was born in Canada and later became a fellow of Magdalen College in Oxford between 1961 and 1965. He joined the University of Essex in 1966 and published a large number of works on elections, politics and the constitution.

Professor Anthony Forster, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Essex, said:

“Professor Anthony King was a giant of political science and one of the University of Essex’s longest serving members of staff, joining us in 1966 just two years after the University opened. An inspirational teacher, a great political thinker and a brilliant writer, Professor King analysed politics in books and on television with incredible intelligence, insight and wit. Our thoughts are with his family and his friends, including his many, many former students”.

Anthony Crewe, with who King wrote two books, said in a statement:

“Tony King was the foremost academic interpreter of British government and politics of the last 40 years. He applied a fierce intelligence, immense knowledge, and an elegant, lucid style to every aspect of the British political scene on which he wrote or broadcast. He made us all the wiser about the changing British constitution, how elections are won and lost, why successive governments blunder and much else besides.

Tony and the Department of Government were synonymous. He was critical to putting it on the map as a world-leading centre of political science. His brilliant lectures inspired generations of Essex students and he was unstinting in his encouragement of young academics, including myself. I mourn a wonderful friend, mentor and colleague”.

David Dimbleby, who hosted the BBC’s General Election coverage said:

“It’s very sad news, completely unexpected to me. Tony King was passionate about the way government worked, he was extraordinary. He also played a public role. He was on the committee for standards in public life, on a committee on reform of the House of Lords, so he was sort of embedded, in the way we do our politics. We used to have lunch every so often in between elections to talk about how things were going and he was always absolutely fascinating”.

King also served on the Nolan Committee on Standards in Public Life in 1994 and the Wakeham Commission on the Future of the House of Lords in 1999. Lord Bew, the chair of the Committee on Standards in Public Life said in a statement:

“Anthony King made a great contribution to standards in public life as one of the first members of this Committee under Lord Nolan’s chairmanship. He was a man of great knowledge, with impeccable judgement and wisdom”.

Government Criticises Executions in Bahrain

The British Government has criticised the execution of three men in Bahrain, the first since 2010. The three men were executed by firing squad following their being found guilty of a bomb attack on police.

Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, said in a statement:

“The UK is firmly opposed to the death penalty, and it is our longstanding position to oppose capital sentences in all circumstances. The Bahraini authorities are fully aware of our position and I have raised the issue with the Bahraini Government”.

A spokesperson for Amnesty International said:

“The death penalty is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment and the fact that this execution was carried out after an unfair trial and despite claims from the men that they were tortured in custody makes this news even more shocking. Instead of stepping up executions Bahrain’s authorities should establish an immediate moratorium on executions and work on abolishing the death penalty once and for all”.

Tristram Hunt Stands Down as MP to Head Victoria and Albert Museum

Tristram Hunt, the Labour MP for Stoke-on-Trent Central has stood down and thereby triggered a by-election. Hunt confirmed that he is to become the new Director of the Victoria and Albert Museum, becoming the second Labour MP to quit Parliament in recent weeks, following Jamie Reed.

Hunt had represented the Stoke-on-Trent Central constituency since the 2010 General Election, succeeding Labour’s Mark Fisher who had stood down. At the 2015 General Election Hunt won with a majority of 5,179 over the second-placed UKIP, with only 49.9% of the voters turning out.

Jeremy Corbyn, the Leader of the Labour Party, said:

“I would like to thank Tristram Hunt for his service to the people of Stoke on Trent Central and to the Labour party. I wish him well in his future role at the Victoria and Albert.”

Hunt has been critical of Corbyn’s leadership, but said in his resignation letter:

“I have no desire to rock the boat now and anyone who interprets my decision to leave in that way is just plain wrong”.

Peter Mandelson, the former Labour Cabinet Minister, said in an interview with the BBC:

“The prospects of us winning a national general election will remain distant the longer Jeremy Corbyn and his ramshackle outfit remain in charge of the party’s fortunes”.

Israeli Government Apologises for Shai Masot After Diplomat Tried to Bring Down British Foreign Minister

The Israeli Government has issued a full apology after a secret recording was made of Shai Masot, an Israeli working at the embassy in London. Masot said that it was Israel’s intention to “bring down” Alan Duncan, a Foreign Office Minister.

The Israeli Embassy in London issued a statement saying:

“The Embassy of Israel rejects the remarks concerning Minister Duncan, which are completely unacceptable; the comments were made by a junior embassy employee who is not an Israeli diplomat, and who will be ending his term of employment with the embassy shortly”.

Masot also referred to Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, as “an idiot” , but the comments were rejected by Mark Regev, the Israeli Ambassador in London who had served as the Israeli Prime Minister’s official spokesman from 2007 until 2015.

A spokesman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office confirmed that Regev had made a personal apology and added that “the UK has a strong relationship with Israel and we consider the matter closed”.

Theresa May Sets Out New Vision of the Shared Society

Theresa May, the Prime Minister, has written an article in the Daily Telegraph in which she sets out her vision for the future. She refers to a new “shared society”, where Government intervenes to resolve injustices and unfairness.

Speaking in an interview with Sky News’s Sophie Ridge the Prime Minister said one of her first priorities is increasing the spending on mental health treatment. She said:

“I was talking to somebody earlier today and they were making the point that in the workplace, if you break your arm and you go in with your arm in plaster or in a sling, people will come up and talk to you about it. If you have a mental health problem people are more likely to try to avoid you. We must get over the stigma, we must ensure that we are providing the services for people with mental health”.

The Prime Minister, who will be making a speech this week on her plans, is expected to stress that the Conservative Party can become the party for the working class. Downing Street sources also say that Theresa May wants to deal with social injustices and not to be defined by Brexit.

The Prime Minister’s article reads:

“When the British people voted in the referendum last June, they did not simply vote to withdraw from the European Union; they voted to change the way our country works – and the people for whom it works – forever. It was a quiet revolution by those who feel the system has been stacked against them for too long – and an instruction to this Government to seize the opportunity of building a stronger, fairer Britain that works for everyone, not just a privileged few.

That mission begins by tackling some of the burning injustices that undermine the solidarity of our society. As I said on my first day in Downing Street, it is vital that we tackle, for example, the shorter life expectancy for those born poor, the harsher treatment of black people in the criminal justice system, the lower chances of white working class boys going to university, and as I will be discussing further in my lecture to the Charity Commission tomorrow, the despicable stigma and inadequate help for those with mental health conditions.

But our mission to build a stronger, fairer Britain goes further. For while the obvious injustices often receive a lot of attention – after all, politicians have been talking the language of social justice and social mobility for years – the everyday injustices that ordinary working class families feel are too often overlooked.

If you are in one of these families, life can be much harder than many in Westminster appreciate. You have a job but no job security; you just about manage but worry about the cost of living and getting your children into a good school; you put in long hours – working to live and living to work – but your wages have stagnated and there is little left over at the end of the month.

So when you see others prospering while you are not; when you try to raise your concerns but they fall on deaf ears; when you feel locked out of the political and social discourse and feel no one is on your side, resentments grow, and the divisions that we see around us – between a more prosperous older generation and a struggling younger generation; between the wealth of London and the rest of the country; between the rich, the successful and the powerful, and their fellow citizens – become entrenched.

Overcoming these divisions and bringing our country together is the central challenge of our time.

That means building the shared society. A society that doesn’t just value our individual rights but focuses rather more on the responsibilities we have to one another; a society that respects the bonds of family, community, citizenship and strong institutions that we share as a union of people and nations; a society with a commitment to fairness at its heart.

This must be the cause that animates us – the end towards which we work as we leave the EU and make the most of the opportunities ahead. It is the right response to those who voted for change back in June. And it goes to the heart of my belief that there is more to life than individualism and self-interest. The social and cultural unions represented by families, communities, towns, cities, counties and nations are the things that define us and make us strong.

And it is the job of government to encourage and nurture these relationships and institutions where it can, and to correct the injustice and unfairness that divides us wherever it is found.

So as we move through this period of great change for our nation, this government will seize the opportunity to build the shared society by embracing genuine and wide-ranging social reform. We will move beyond the narrow focus on social justice – where we help the very poorest – and social mobility – where we help the brightest among the poor. Instead, we will engage in a more wide-ranging process of social reform so that those who feel that the system is stacked against them – those just above the threshold that typically attracts the government’s focus today yet who are by no means rich or well off – are also given the support they need.

It means developing policies that give a fair chance to those who are just getting by, as well as those who are most disadvantaged. Because people who are just managing – just getting by – don’t need a government that will get out of the way. They need an active government that will step up and champion the things that matter to them.

From tackling the increasing lack of affordability in housing, fixing broken markets to help with the cost of living, and building a great meritocracy where every child has the opportunity of a good school place, we will act across every layer of society to restore the fairness that is the bedrock of the social solidarity that makes our nation strong.

For it is only by being a government that works for everyone that we can tackle the injustice and unfairness that threatens to drive us apart, nurture a new sense of solidarity and citizenship in Britain, and show all those who voted with such hope last year – many who voted for the first time in years, and others for the first time at all – that mainstream, centre-ground politics can deliver the change they need”.

Sir Ivan Rogers Quits the Civil Service

Sir Ivan Rogers, the former UK Ambassador to the EU who resigned this week from the role, has quit the civil service. His resignation comments were seen as a criticism of the Government’s Brexit negotiations and general direction. Theresa May, the Prime Minister, is expected to make a speech in the next week clarifying the Government’s general negotiating position.

A spokesman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said:

“Sir Ivan Rogers resigned as UK permanent representative to Brussels on 3 January. He did not seek any further civil service appointment and has therefore resigned from the civil service with immediate effect. We are grateful for Sir Ivan’s work in Brussels and across a number of other senior positions in the civil service”.

Prime Minister Speaks to President Erdogan of Turkey over Cyprus Peace Talks

Theresa May, the Prime Minister, has spoken to President Erdogan to discuss the peace talks in Cyprus. The discussions come as efforts are being made to unite the two different states in the country under one unified federal system.

A Downing Street spokesperson said:

“The Prime Minister called Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan earlier today to discuss the Cyprus peace talks.

They agreed on the importance of reaching a successful resolution to the Cyprus peace talks in Geneva, noting that this was a real opportunity to secure a better future for Cyprus and to guarantee stability in the wider region.

The Prime Minister also expressed her sincere condolences on the attacks in Istanbul and Izmir.

They wished each other a happy and peaceful New Year and the Prime Minister said she looked forward to visiting Turkey early this year”.

Economist Magazine Criticise Theresa May over Brexit Confusion

The Economist Magazine has referred to the Prime Minister as “Theresa Maybe” as confusion increases over the Government’s Brexit strategy. The Prime Minister is expected to make a speech in the forthcoming week to clarify the Government’s policy, following criticism from Sir Ivan Rogers, who resigned this week as the UK’s Ambassador to the EU.

In a leader article the magazine wrote:

“The strategy for Brexit, which is due to be triggered in less than three months, remains undefined in any but the vaguest terms, and seems increasingly chaotic. At home, the grand talk about transforming society and taming capitalism has yielded only timid proposals, many of which have already been scaled down or withdrawn. The growing suspicion is that the Sphinx-like prime minister is guarded about her plans chiefly because she is still struggling to draw them up”.

The magazine added about the Prime Minister’s lack of direction, and the series of u-turns which have taken place.

“After six months it is hard to name a single signature policy, and easy to cite U-turns. Some are welcome: a silly promise to put workers on company boards, for instance, was abandoned; a dreadful plan to make firms list their foreign employees lasted less than a week; and hints at curbing the Bank of England’s independence were quietly forgotten. Selective “grammar” schools will be resurrected—but only on a small scale, and perhaps not at all, given how many Tory MPs oppose the idea. Other reversals smack of dithering. The construction of a new nuclear plant at Hinkley Point was put in doubt, then given the go-ahead; a new runway at Heathrow airport was all but agreed on, then deferred until a parliamentary vote next year. “Just-about-managing” households were the prime minister’s lodestar for a week or so, then dropped. So were suggestions that Britain would seek a transitional deal with the EU after Brexit—until they were recirculated a few weeks later when Mrs May apparently changed her mind once again”.

Downing Street has yet to comment on the article.