Calls for Boris Johnson to be Suspended from Conservative Party

Theresa May, the Prime Minister, has today faced growing calls for Boris Johnson, the former Foreign Secretary, to be suspended from the Conservative Party over a newspaper article which has been called islamophobic.

Dominic Grieve, the former Attorney General, said that he would quit the Conservative Party if Johnson became the party’s leader. Brandon Lewis, the Conservative Party chairman, and Theresa May have both called for Johnson to apologise for his newspaper article, which he has refused to do.

Baroness Warsi, a former Conservative Cabinet Minister, who wrote:

“He set out a liberal position, but he did it in a very “alt-right” way. This allowed him to dog-whistle: to say to particular elements of the party that he’s tough on Muslims. Yet again, he’s trying to have his cake and eat it”.

Brandon Lewis is expected to make a decision later on in the week on what, if any, action should be taken on Johnson.

Sir Peter Luff, former Conservative Minister, Reveals that he has Alzheimer’s

Sir Peter Luff, the former Conservative MP for Mid Worcestershire and a former Defence Minister, has revealed that he has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Luff served as the MP for Worcester from 1992 until 1997 and as the MP for Mid Worcestershire from 1997 until he stood down in 2015.

Luff said that “life goes pretty much as normal and I’m prepared for a different future”, but he wanted to draw awareness to the illness. He added that it had taken a long time for a diagnosis to be reached and recommended that others with concerns should visit their GP.

 

Foreign Office Issues Concern about Elections in Cambodia

Mark Field, the Minister of State for Asia and the Pacific, has said that the Foreign Office is concerned about the recent elections which have been held in Cambodia. The elections were held on 29 July 2018 and there was a landslide victory for the governing party, the Cambodian People’s Party.

In a statement, Field said:

“The Cambodian national election was undermined by the authorities well before campaigning started and resulted in an election that was neither fair nor credible.

The potential for a legitimate, free and fair election was stymied when the main opposition party – the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), was dissolved in November 2017. This was particularly disappointing following the more open Commune elections in June 2017.

The Cambodian authorities have demonstrated clear disregard for the key tenets of a functioning multi-party democracy. As well as the dissolution of the CNRP, examples include the imprisonment of CNRP President Kem Sokha, the banning of 118 CNRP members from politics for five years, and a crackdown on independent media.

There was no credible opposition party with the opportunity to challenge the Government. In a democracy, no government has the right to choose its opposition.

The UK will continue to urge the Cambodian Government to demonstrate its commitment to its citizens by lifting restrictions on political debate and media freedom and by creating the conditions for proper functioning democracy”.

Calls for Labour NEC Member Peter Willsman to Resign

There have been calls today for the resignation of Peter Willsman, a member of Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC). Willsman, an ally of the party’s leader Jeremy Corbyn, questioned whether claims of anti-semitism in the party actually existed. The recording was made privately and Willsman made an apology after being confronted with the audio.

Willsman said in a statement:

“Not all of what I said has been accurately reported. But I accept that what I did say, and the way I said it, fell short of the requirement, which I accept, for discussions of contentious issues to be conducted in a fully civil and respectful way. I deeply apologise for any offence caused to those present and those to whom my remarks were reported”.

Tom Watson, the deputy leader of the Labour Party, condemned Willsman and said on Twitter:

“For the avoidance of doubt: Peter Willsman is and always has been a loud mouthed bully. He disgusts me”.

Jennie Formby, the General Secretary of the Labour Party, has also been questioned as to whether she intervened following Willsman’s comments. The President of the Jewish Board of Deputies said on Twitter:

“Was Jennie Formby there to hear what was said? If yes, why did she let Willsman off so lightly?”

Jeremy Corbyn, the Leader of the Labour Party, has yet to comment.

Prime Minister Welcomes British Divers to Downing Street

Theresa May, the Prime Minister, has welcomed British divers to Downing Street who were involved in the rescue of Thai boys who got trapped in caves. May hosted a reception at Downing Street for the divers which was also attended by Pisanu Suvanajata, the Thai Ambassador.

A spokesperson for the Prime Minister said:

“It’s a pleasure to welcome you to Downing Street today. This was an amazing rescue mission. On hearing about the boys who were trapped most people would have just stood by but you chose to go out there and do something about it.

The eyes of the world were on you and I think I can speak for everyone when I say a huge thank you. John [Volanthen] you have said that you’re not heroes…well to most of us you are. Sadly we know that a Thai diver, Saman Kunan, died during this mission. He lost his life saving the lives of others – a danger you also faced.

The Thai PM has written to me to say thank you for the fantastic job you did and I know that everyone in this country would agree. We are all very proud of you”.

UK Government Support US Declaration Condemning the Annexation of the Crimea

The British Government has said that it will back the US Government’s declaration which condemned the Russian annexation of the Crimea.

A spokesperson for the Foreign Office said:

“The UK echoes the United States’ firm statement of opposition to Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea. The UK position is clear: we condemn Russia’s continued breach of international law; Crimea is Ukrainian territory. We remain fully committed to upholding the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognised borders.

The UK also remains deeply concerned by the human rights situation in Crimea, where we have seen the systematic persecution of minority groups and of those who voice their opposition to Russia’s illegal annexation of the territory. We call again for Russia to release all Ukrainian political prisoners held in Crimea and in Russia, and to allow unrestrained access for international human rights monitoring bodies to the peninsula”.

Labour MP Fiona Onasanya Charged with Perverting the Course of Justice

Fiona Onasanya, the Labour MP for Peterborough, has been charged with perverting the course of justice. She and her brother will appear at the Old Bailey in London on 13 August 2018 after being alleged to have lied about who was driving when the police caught the car speeding.

Onasanya, who would be likely to stand down from the House of Commons if found guilty, could also be removed under the 2015 Recall Act 2015 if 10% of the Peterborough electors sign a petition for a by-election.

Onasanya gained the seat at the 2017 General Election with a majority of 607, defeating Stewart Jackson, the sitting Conservative MP. The Labour Party said in a statement that they wouldn’t be commenting whilst the matter was before the courts.

Prime Minister Meets with Amir of Qatar

Theresa May, the Prime Minister, has today met with the Amir of Qatar in Downing Street. They discussed trade, defence and security matters, as well as the current situation in Russia.

A spokesperson for the Prime Minister said:

“The Prime Minister held bilateral talks earlier today with the Amir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani at Downing Street, covering mutual prosperity, defence and security cooperation, regional stability, and wider foreign policy issues.

They agreed that the trade and investment relationship between the UK and Qatar was already strong, welcoming the fact that half of Qatar’s 2017 £5 billion investment commitment had already been allocated to projects in the UK. They agreed a shared desire to see investment flows both ways continuing to grow, noting the significant commercial opportunities on offer for both countries across a wide range of sectors. The Prime Minister welcomed Qatar’s commitment to continue to invest not just in London but across the country.

They agreed the bilateral defence and security relationship was also strong and growing, noting the recent £6 billion Typhoon deal. They discussed how the UK could continue to support Qatar to deliver a safe and successful World Cup 2022, with the Prime Minister highlighting our particular expertise in this area. They agreed to intensify joint counter-terrorism work, recognising the importance of tackling the root causes of terrorism including the ideology that underpins it.

They discussed a range of regional security issues and the Prime Minister reiterated our strong desire to see Gulf Cooperation Council unity restored at the earliest possible opportunity, observing that Gulf security is our security.

They also discussed Russia, agreeing on the importance of continuing to approach Russia from a position of strength and unity. They noted the particular importance of the international community continuing to work together to stand firm against malign activity, and to protect the global rules and norms”.

Prime Minister Meets with German Chancellor

Theresa May, the Prime Minister, has met with Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, in Berlin to discuss matters relating to Brexit, the European Union and NATO.

A spokesperson for the Prime Minister said in a statement:

“During the Prime Minister’s meeting with Chancellor Merkel in Berlin today, the two leaders held productive and positive talks across a range of topics.

Their talks began with a constructive discussion about the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union. The Prime Minister confirmed that the Cabinet would tomorrow consider and decide a substantial way forward, which would enable the pace and intensity of negotiations to increase.

The Prime Minister updated Chancellor Merkel on the latest situation in Amesbury. The two also discussed the upcoming NATO summit, where the Prime Minister said it was vital for all countries to display solidarity and unity.

The Prime Minister also looked forward to welcoming Chancellor Merkel to next week’s Western Balkans summit in London and said the event would send a strong signal of our shared commitment to the region”.

Government Backs Heathrow Expansion

Chris Grayling, the Secretary of State for Transport, has confirmed that the Government will support the building of a third runway at Heathrow Airport. The proposal had been approved by the Labour Government in 2009, with a planned opening date of 2015, but it was cancelled by the then incoming Conservative Government led by David Cameron.

The Department for Transport said in a statement:

“Heathrow will be privately financed and costs will not fall on the taxpayer. To make sure expansion is delivered with consumers’ interests at heart, the government has asked the Civil Aviation Authority to ensure the scheme remains affordable while meeting the needs of passengers.

A new runway at Heathrow would provide benefits of up to £74 billion to passengers and the wider economy and create tens of thousands of local jobs. It will better connect the UK to the rest of world with an extra 16 million long-haul seats available by 2040.

Heathrow is already the UK’s biggest airport for passengers and freight and the north-west runway will almost double the airport’s capacity for goods, allowing businesses across the country to increase their exports and take advantage of new global customers”.

Chris Grayling added:

“Expansion at Heathrow presents a unique opportunity to deliver a multi-billion pound boost to our economy, strengthen our global links and maintain our position as a world leader in aviation.

As we leave the EU, the UK must remain one of the world’s best-connected and outward-looking countries and a third runway at Heathrow is the best option to deliver this.

We have listened to views through our consultations and will ensure a world-class package of measures to help any local communities affected by the expansion”.