Karen Bradley Says Progress Being Made in Northern Ireland

Karen Bradley, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, has said that progress is being made in political talks to restore the executive. She also paid tribute to Lyra McKee, the journalist who was murdered in Northern Ireland.

In a statement Bradley said:

“The sickening attack that led to the death of Lyra McKee has deeply shocked everyone across the world.

Lyra was a brilliant, talented journalist. She was a role model to many who always fought to make Northern Ireland a better place.

Since Lyra’s death communities across Northern Ireland and the political spectrum have come together – united in condemnation at this murderous act – and they have delivered a clear message:

The people responsible for this act of terrorism have absolutely nothing to offer Northern Ireland and have no place in society.

Due to the hard work, resilience and commitment of the people of Northern Ireland, along with those we entrust to uphold the rule of law, the security situation is transformed.

But there remain small numbers of dissident republicans who remain intent on killing.

Our challenge is to ensure that we continue to work for peace for the whole community. Northern Ireland today is a dynamic, modern, outward looking place and it is open to everyone regardless of their community background, political aspirations, race, gender or sexuality.

Lyra symbolised the new Northern Ireland and her tragic death cannot be in vain.

All of us must take inspiration from what Lyra achieved in her life and work even harder to make Northern Ireland a brighter, more peaceful and prosperous place for everyone.

As Secretary of State, my absolute determination is to see the restoration of all the political institutions established by the 1998 Agreement.

That Agreement has formed the bedrock of peace and progress here since it was reached just over 21 years ago. It must be upheld and it must be defended from those who would seek to undermine it.

Northern Ireland needs its political leaders to stand together and work with each other in the spirit of unity and togetherness – now more than ever.

That is why, the PM and Taoiseach, in their statement earlier today, called formal political talks to restore the Executive, commencing on the 7 May.

The talks will take place in full accordance with the well-established three stranded approach to which we remain committed. There will also be a meeting of the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference (BIIGC) on the 8 May.

Both our teams will be working with the parties on an intensive period of preparation to get ready for those talks.

The Tanaiste and I will do everything in our power to make those talks a success, but we need Northern Ireland’s political leaders to do everything they can to ensure we emerge with an agreement, restore the Executive, and build a better future for the people of Northern Ireland.

Over 21 years ago Northern Ireland’s political leaders reached the Belfast Agreement, and showed how coming together for the benefit of the whole community can achieve truly ground-breaking and remarkable things.

These talks offer us a chance to move forward, restore the political institutions and deliver for the people of Northern Ireland.

I am determined to ensure we use this opportunity to succeed in doing just that. We have a narrow window in which genuine progress can be made and we must act now.”

Government Advise Against Non-Essential Travel to Sri Lanka

Jeremy Hunt

Jeremy Hunt, the Foreign Secretary, has warned against all non-essential travel to Sri Lanka following a series of terrorist attacks in the country earlier in the week. The number of dead has been reduced down from previous estimates to around 253 people, but fears remain about further attacks.

Hunt said:

“Following the horrific attacks on Easter Sunday, and the ongoing Sri Lankan security operation, I have received updated advice from the Foreign Office and decided to update the travel advice to British nationals to Sri Lanka to advise against all but essential travel.

We will keep this decision under close and constant review. My first priority will always be the security of British citizens living and travelling abroad.

We all hope the situation will return to normal very soon, and that the Sri Lankan tourism industry is able to get back on its feet following the terrorist attacks. We will do all we can to help the Sri Lankan authorities.”

Prime Minister Refuses to Confirm What Action Being Taken Following Leak of National Security Council Meeting

Theresa May, the Prime Minister, has refused to explain what action she is taking following an unprecedented leak of information from the National Security Council. Information discussed at the council’s meeting on Tuesday was leaked to the Daily Telegraph with rumours that the Prime Minister may have now ordered a criminal investigation into the breach.

The spokesperson for the Prime Minister also refused to confirm a report made in the Guardian Newspaper that Sir Mark Sedwill, the Cabinet Secretary, had written to those present at the meeting. The leak from the National Security Council means that the Government may have lost some control over security secrets despite all those at the meeting having signed the Official Secrets Act.

Sir Michael Fallon, the former Conservative Defence Secretary, said that the breach was so serious that it required police action to investigate the breach of trust. All of the Cabinet Ministers at the meeting have issued denials that they were responsible for the leak and Jeremy Wright, the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, has confirmed that a criminal investigation hasn’t been ruled out.

Foreign Secretary Issues Statement Following Attacks in Terrorist Attacks in Sri Lanka

Jeremy Hunt, the Foreign Secretary, has issued a statement following a series of terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka. There are currently 207 people confirmed as dead with over 450 more injured, although the total is expected to rise over the coming days.

Hunt said:

“I’m deeply shocked and saddened by the horrifying attacks on churches and hotels in Sri Lanka today, and the tragic news of more than 200 people killed, including several British nationals.

To target those gathered for the simple act of worship on Easter Sunday is unspeakably wicked. Everyone has a right to practice their faith in peace, safety and security but tragedies like this, and the one in Christchurch, remind us that there are some who hate these rights and freedoms.

These despicable acts were carried out at a time when millions of Christians celebrate Easter while living under the shadow of persecution. Many gather in churches at risk of attack; countless more will have suffered threats or discrimination.

The UK stands in solidarity with persecuted Christians around the world and with the government and people of Sri Lanka. My prayers are with all the victims and their families.”

Emily Thornberry, the Shadow Foreign Secretary, posted on Twitter:

“Terrible to wake up to the news of the explosions in Sri Lanka this morning. My thoughts and deepest sympathies to those who are injured, those have lost loved ones and those involved in rescue efforts.”

Broadland Conservatives Field Candidate Who Says PM is “Worst Ever”

Broadland Conservatives have confirmed that they are fielding a candidate, Tony Adams, who said this week that Theresa May is the “worst ever Conservative Prime Minister”.

Standing for local elections, Adams added about the Prime Minister and Brexit:

“I think they’ve made a right hash of it, she said she was going to take us out on March 29 and she has not done it. It’s amazing how her popularity has plummeted, I’m not surprised. She’s absolutely lost it”.

Daily Telegraph Admits Boris Johnson Column Contained a Lie

The Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) has found against Boris Johnson and the Daily Telegraph after the former Foreign Secretary claimed that no deal was the public’s preferred Brexit option. The Daily Telegraph has now apologised for the inaccurate claim and published an apology.

The Daily Telegraph had defended Johnson and said:

“The article was clearly an opinion piece, and readers would understand that the statement was not invoking specific polling – no specific dates or polls were referenced.”

The IPSO conclusion said:

“Columnists are free under the Code to campaign, be partisan, and express strong opinions using hyperbole, melodrama and humour. However, there remains an obligation under the Code to take care over the accuracy of any claims of fact. In this case, the article made a factual claim; in considering whether this claim had a basis in fact, the Committee first turned to the content of the five polls. The publication had not provided any data which supported the author’s claim either that a no-deal Brexit was the option preferred “by some margin” over the three options listed, or that these represented “…all of the options suggested by pollsters”. Instead it had construed the polls as signalling support for a no deal, when in fact, this was the result of the publication either amalgamating several findings together, or interpreting an option beyond what was set out by the poll as being a finding in support of a no deal Brexit. This represented a failure to take care over the accuracy of the article in breach of Clause 1 (i). The reference to the polling was not material to the author’s polemical argument. However, it was a significant inaccuracy, because it misrepresented polling information. The publication had not offered to publish any correction and this meant there was also a breach of 1(ii).”

Prime Minister Meets with German Chancellor

Theresa May, the Prime Minister, has today met with Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, in Berlin to discuss a possible delay to Article 50. A one-year extension to Article 50 is currently being looked as the most likely outcome, although it is thought that numerous countries have opposed such a delay. The extension will also mean that elections to the European Parliament may need to be fought in the UK.

A spokesperson for the Prime Minister said:

“The Prime Minister met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin this afternoon for a working lunch.

Ahead of EU Council tomorrow, the leaders discussed the UK’s request for an extension of Article 50 to June 30th with the option to bring this forward if a deal is ratified earlier.

The Prime Minister outlined the steps the government is taking to bring the Brexit process to a successful conclusion, and updated Chancellor Merkel on the ongoing discussions with the Opposition.

The leaders agreed on the importance of ensuring Britain’s orderly withdrawal from the European Union.

The leaders also discussed the ongoing situations in Yemen and Libya.”

Boris Johnson Found in Breach of Expenses Rules Again

Boris Johnson, the former Foreign Secretary, has been criticised by the Commons Standards watchdog after another breach of the House’s rules. Johnson was also previously warned by the committee for failing to disclose earnings he had made outside of the Commons.

The report said about Johnson’s breach:

“We conclude with concern that these two investigations by the Commissioner in rapid succession demonstrate a pattern of behaviour by Mr Johnson. While there is no suggestion that he has at any time tried deliberately to conceal the extent of his interests, this latest breach reinforces the view which we expressed in our previous Report, that he has displayed “an over-casual attitude towards obeying the rules of the House”, in conjunction with “a lack of effective organisation within [his] office”. We find it particularly regrettable that Mr Johnson gave an assurance to the Commissioner that his registration of financial interests was up to date, and within a very short period it proved not to be.”

Jewish Labour Movement Pass Vote of No Confidence in Labour Leader

The Jewish Labour Movement organisation have passed a vote of no confidence in Jeremy Corbyn, the Leader of the Labour Party. There were speeches made by Labour MPs Margaret Hodge, Ruth Smeeth and Louise Ellman before the members of the movement almost unanimously agreed with the motion of no confidence.

Tom Watson, the Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, said:

“I hear the message the Jewish Labour Movement and the Jewish community are sending our party. We have utterly failed to deal with antisemitism in our ranks. It’s unacceptable and shameful. I reiterate my personal commitment as deputy leader to use all my powers to rid our party of this scourge.”