Iain Duncan Smith apologises for misleading benefits literature

2015 General Election - Cabinet

Iain Duncan Smith, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, has apologised after marketing material used fictitious people to demonstrate positive changes to the benefits system.

Duncan Smith said that the material was “quite wrong” and that “we are investigating at the moment”. In a speech made today Duncan Smith also confirmed that there would be changes to the benefits system which may mean those with disabilities could be required to work a few hours each week if they are able.

Duncan Smith said that “the most vulnerable people in our society will be protected” although Andy Burnham, a candidate for the Labour leadership, said “it’s clear that Iain Duncan Smith is now preparing a new attack on disabled people”.

Corbyn campaign team confirms assets may be seized from pension funds

John McDonnell, the campaign agent of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership bid for the Labour Party, has confirmed that assets may be seized as part of a programme of renationalisation.

Corbyn has pledged to start with nationalisation of the energy and railway industries and McDonnell confirmed that assets may be seized without compensation. Asset holders include pension funds and charities but Corbyn has yet to comment further on the potential seizure. McDonnell said:

“A future Corbyn-led Labour government will reserve the right to bring them back into public ownership with either no compensation or with any undervaluation deducted from any compensation for renationalisation”.

The comments drew criticism from Labour MPs including  Yvette Cooper, who is also standing for the leadership of the party. She said:

“You can’t confiscate assets and you can’t print money to pay for things because that has a much wider impact on the economy and confidence in the British economy”.

Chris Leslie, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor, also expressed concern at the comments made by the Corbyn campaign team. He said:

“We have a right to know and, so far, I have not received an explanation”.

Philip Hammond present at reopening of British Embassy in Iran


Philip Hammond, the Foreign Secretary, was present at the reopening of the British Embassy in Tehran, Iran. The embassy closed in 2011 after it was attacked by protesters. The Iranian Government has also at the same time opened an embassy in London with Jack Straw, the former Foreign Secretary, in attendance.

Speaking at the reopening Hammond said:

“I am delighted to be here today. I am the first British Foreign Secretary to visit Tehran since Jack Straw in 2003, and only the third British Minister to visit since 1979. It’s a huge pleasure and privilege to be here.

Today’s ceremony marks the end of one long journey, and the start of a new, and, I believe, exciting one.

I want to thank all those who have worked so hard to bring us to this point.

First, to Mr Delfi and his team at the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and to the Iranian Chargé d’affaires in London, Mr Habibollahzadeh. We could not be re-opening today without the constructive support of the MFA whose activice engagement has made this possible.

Secondly, to the Swedish Embassy, represented by their Chargé, Ewa Nilsson, for their generous and unstinting solidarity over the last four years, initially acting as the UK’s protecting power, and continuing to help us with all manner of ways in areas from consular to finance.

Thirdly I’d like to thank our own Embassy staff, for your commitment and loyalty over the years and your determination and hard work demonstrated in getting the Embassy ready for today’s reopening. You have done an incredible job.

This Embassy, and this beautiful compound, is a special place. Britain acquired in it 1869 for 20,000 tomans, then £8,000. A huge sum, in those days, but it has repaid us many times.

It has witnessed great moments in the history of both Iran and Britain. The Bast of 1906 that led to Iran acquiring its first Constitution and National Assembly, for example. And the Tehran Conference of 1943, when Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin dined here and planned a second military front in Europe.

The attack in 2011 which forced our Embassy to close was a low point. But since the election of President Rouhani, we have seen our relationship steadily improve, step by step. In 2014, we appointed non-resident Chargés. Last autumn, Prime Minister David Cameron met President Rouhani in New York, the first meeting at that level since 1979 between the leaders of our countries.

Last month’s historic nuclear agreement was another milestone, and showed the power of diplomacy, conducted in an atmosphere of mutual respect, to solve shared challenges.

Re-opening the Embassy is the logical next step. To build confidence and trust between two great nations.

Iran is, and will remain, an important country in a strategically important but volatile region. Maintaining dialogue around the world, even under difficult conditions, is critical. And Embassies are the primary means of achieving this.

Over the coming months, we will work to ensure that the nuclear agreement is a success, including by making sure that it is fully implemented by all sides, and through this Embassy’s efforts we will support British trade and investment, once sanctions are lifted. That will bring benefits for Britain and the Iranian people.

And we must go on to tackle the common challenges we face together: terrorism, regional stability, the spread of ISIL in Syria and Iraq, trade in illegal narcotics, and migration.

We will not always agree. But as confidence and trust grows there should be no limit to what over time we can achieve together and no limit to our ability to discuss these issues together.

So on behalf of the British Government, I am therefore proud to declare this Embassy once again open. Thank you”.

Francois Hollande, the French President, commends bravery of three Americans on train


Francois Hollande, the President of France, has praised three Americans who it is thought stopped a terrorist attack on board a train in France. His office confirmed that he has already spoken to the three by phone and would also be meeting them in the near future.

The French Government said that they were still investigating the attack but that the terrorist is known to have radical Islamist links. The three Americans, including two marines, heard the terrorist preparing his gun in a toilet and attacked him to prevent the attack.

The Thalys train was en route from Amsterdam to Paris with 554 passengers on board. Jean-Hugues Anglade, a well-known French actor, was on board and suffered minor injuries when breaking the glass to alert the driver of the train.


Former Labour Scottish First Minister calls party leadership contest “a shambles”


Lord McConnell, the third person to become the First Minister of Scotland, has referred to the Labour Party’s leadership contest as “a shambles”.

Harriet Harman, the acting leader of the Labour Party, admitted that there were some Conservatives who had signed up and paid £3 to vote in the election. She said:

“That is dishonest and that is shameful for people who purportedly believe in democracy and support democracy”.

She added that she was confident that the leadership election result would stand and said:

“I am absolutely certain that no court would decide that we had done anything other than apply the rules in a rigorous, fair, robust and even-handed way. So whoever is elected, they will be legally elected”.

George Osborne introduces measures to back the British film industry


George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, is to introduce measures in a bid to boost the British film industry.

The measures include giving a tax credit of 25% to the £1.4 billion film industry which will bring it into line with the TV industry.

Osborne said:

“British made films are watched and celebrated all over the world – last year alone we saw eight British made films nominated for an Oscar.

A key part of our long term economic plan is supporting our creative industries that contribute billions to the economy and provide millions of jobs.

We want to see more films, like Gravity and Avengers: Age of Ultron, made in Britain and that’s why we’ve made our film tax relief even more generous”.

Jeremy Corbyn says Labour should apologise for the Iraq War


Jeremy Corbyn, one of the four candidates to lead the Labour Party, has said that if he was elected he would apologise on behalf of the party for the Iraq War.

Tony Blair, the then Prime Minister, took the UK into war in Iraq in 2003 and neither he or other Labour leaders have apologised for the intervention.

Corbyn said in an article for the Guardian newspaper:

“So it is past time that Labour apologised to the British people for taking them into the Iraq war on the basis of deception and to the Iraqi people for the suffering we have helped cause. Under our Labour, we will make this apology”.

He added that if he were leader “the UK would never again flout the United Nations and international law”.

Yvette Cooper says that a Corbyn victory could split the Labour Party


Yvette Cooper, one of the four candidates to lead the Labour party, has warned. Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s World at One Cooper said:

“The party does seem to be polarising between the different extremes and I don’t think that is the right thing to do. Partly, we want to hold our party together in order to win. Divided parties don’t win, but it’s actually much more than that. I just don’t think the extremes of the party are the right place to be and are true to our values and are true to the things we need to do to change the country for the future”.

Sir Kim Darroch confirmed as the new Ambassador to the United States


The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has confirmed that Sir Kim Darroch KCMG has been appointed Her Majesty’s Ambassador to the United States. He takes over in January 2016 from the current Ambassador, Sir Peter Westmacott KCMG , who is retiring. Since 2010 Darroch has been the National Security Adviser to the Cabinet Office.


Jeremy Corbyn said he “forgot” meeting Dyab Abou Jahjah


Jeremy Corbyn has said that he “forgot” that he met the controversial activist Dyab Abou Jahjah after saying on BBC Radio 4’s World at One:

“I’m sorry, I don’t know who this person is”.

After presented with evidence that Corbyn had shared a platform with Dyab Abou Jahjah his team admitted that the Labour leadership candidate had met him. Jahjah is one of the most controversial Arab activists and said:

“Every dead American, British and Dutch soldier is a victory”.

Jahjah has also made statements which questioned the Holocaust which adds to other individuals linked to Jeremy Corbyn who have expressed similar views.