Boris Johnson Talks to German Chancellor

Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, has spoken today on the phone to Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor. In the call they discussed matters including Brexit, international trade, security and Iran.

A spokesperson for the Prime Minister said in a statement:

“On Iran, they discussed the tragic loss of life on the Ukraine International Airlines passenger jet. They condemned Iran’s arrest of the UK Ambassador to Tehran as a violation of international law.

The leaders also discussed our shared interests in ensuring Iran never acquires a nuclear weapon, and reaffirmed their continued commitment to preserving the JCPoA. The leaders also discussed Libya and the importance of continued dialogue with international and regional partners to reduce tensions and encourage support for the UN-led process.”

Iran Admits Shooting Down Ukrainian Passenger Airline

Iran has admitted that it did shoot down Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752, despite initially claiming it wasn’t responsible. After evidence was presented by way of video footage, the Iranian authorities said that the shooting was “unintentional”.

Hassan Rouhani, said in a statement:

“The Islamic Republic of Iran deeply regrets this disastrous mistake. My thoughts and prayers go to all the mourning families. I offer my sincerest condolences.”

The airline had previously said in a statement:

“We express profound sympathy to the families and friends of the victims. We share your pain, we mourn together with you, and we remember everyone whose life was taken away in the sky of Iran. We’ll make every effort to find out the cause of the tragedy and the families of the passengers and crew get all the help and support they need.”

Following the admission of responsibility from the Iranian Government, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, the President of Ukraine, said that his country must be allowed to jointly investigate the incident.

Home Office Makes Extradition Request for Anne Sacoolas

The Home Office has confirmed that it has requested the extradition of Anne Sacoolas following the decision of the CPS to charge her with causing the death of Harry Dunn in a car accident.

A spokesperson for the Home Office said in a statement:

“Following the Crown Prosecution Service’s charging decision, the Home Office has sent an extradition request to the United States for Anne Sacoolas on charges of causing death by dangerous driving. This is now a decision for the US authorities.”

Sacoolas, whose husband worked in the security services, has refused requests to return to the UK and has claimed diplomatic immunity. The United States has yet to announce its intentions on whether to enact the extradition request.

Barry Gardiner May Enter Labour Leadership Contest

Barry Gardiner, the Shadow International Trade Secretary, may be a surprise entrant to the Labour leadership contest. He said in a statement that he would decide within the next 24 hours whether or not he would become the seventh candidate in the contest.

The current six candidates in the contest are Clive Lewis, Rebecca Long-Bailey, Lisa Nandy, Jess Phillips, Sir Keir Starmer and Emily Thornberry..

Prime Minister Meets with EU Commission President

Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, has today met with Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the European Commission. They discussed matters including the current situation in Iran and Iraq, as well as the ongoing Brexit situation.

A spokesperson for the Prime Minister said:

“They discussed the situation in Iraq, agreeing on the importance of Coalition forces being able to continue their vital work countering the shared threat from Daesh.

On Brexit, the PM stressed that his immediate priority was to implement the Withdrawal Agreement by January 31. They discussed the progress of ratification in the UK and in the European Parliament. He said the UK wanted a positive new UK and EU partnership, based on friendly cooperation, our shared history, interests and values. The PM reiterated that we wanted a broad free trade agreement covering goods and services, and cooperation in other areas.

The PM was clear that the UK would not extend the Implementation Period beyond 31 December 2020; and that any future partnership must not involve any kind of alignment or ECJ jurisdiction. He said the UK would also maintain control of UK fishing waters and our immigration system.

The PM made clear that we would continue to ensure high standards in the UK in areas like workers’ rights, animal welfare, agriculture and the environment. The PM said the UK was ready to start negotiations on the future partnership and Canada-style FTA as soon as possible after January 31.”

New Labour Leader to be Announced on 4 April 2020

Labour’s NEC has confirmed that the new party leader will be announced on 4 April 2020 at a special conference. Anyone who is a member of the party, or an affiliated organisation, on 20 January 2020 will be entitled to vote in the election.

There are currently six candidates standing in the election, Clive Lewis, Rebecca Long-Bailey, Lisa Nandy, Jess Phillips, Sir Keir Starmer and Emily Thornberry.

Rebecca Long-Bailey Confirms Labour Leadership Bid

Rebecca Long-Bailey has confirmed that she intends to stand as a candidate in the Labour leadership contest. Long-Bailey, the current Shadow Business Secretary, is the sixth person who has now entered the race to succeed Jeremy Corbyn.

Writing in Tribune Magazine, Long-Bailey wrote:

“The election result was devastating. But with the climate crisis spiralling and the far-right on the march, we must regroup for the struggles ahead. Our task is to build a winning vision of a socialist future, and this task has never been more urgent.”

She added:

“Under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn we’ve drawn upon the collective knowledge and experience of that movement to develop a radical, ambitious socialist vision for the future. This is our greatest strength, and we need a leader who comes from and will stay true to that movement.”

Prime Minister Calls for De-Escalation in Iran

Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, has issued a joint statement with the leaders of France and Germany on the current situation in Iran. His announcement comes after the threat of violence and military action by Iran and the United States increased.

Johnson and the other leaders said:

“We have condemned the recent attacks on coalitions forces in Iraq and are gravely concerned by the negative role Iran has played in the region, including through the IRGC and the Al-Qods force under the command of General Soleimani.

There is now an urgent need for de-escalation. We call on all parties to exercise utmost restraint and responsibility. The current cycle of violence in Iraq must be stopped.”

Grant Shapps in Pledge to Improve North-East Rail Network

Grant Shapps has visited the north-east of England to examine progress being made at the new Horden Peterlee railway station. He also pledged more money for the region’s rail network and pledged to examine reopening lines closed following the Beeching report.

Shapps said in a statement:

“2020 will be a year of action on the railways with the north sitting at the heart of the improvements.

Investing in new stations like Horden Peterlee will deliver more modern, reliable services for passengers. We are also ambitious to restore connections to communities who have lost out, and the Northumberland line has huge potential to deliver that.

Our focus is levelling up infrastructure across the country, ensuring passengers see the benefit of new trains, new stations and fairer fares.”

Keir Starmer Confirms He Will Take Part in Labour Leadership Contest

Sir Keir Starmer has confirmed that he intends to stand in the leadership election to replace Jeremy Corbyn. Starmer, the current Shadow Secretary of State for Brexit, wrote in the Sunday Mirror about his intentions to stand and unite Labour.

Starmer wrote in the article:

“I am proud of Labour as a movement of more than half a million members. We must use that strength and be visible in every community. We have a duty to relentlessly hold the Tories to account for their election promises.”

He added:

“I believe another future is possible, where everyone can live in a more equal and tolerant world. Some people say it’s going to take a decade before Labour can win a General Election. I profoundly disagree. As this new decade dawns, I believe we can unite the party, retain our values and win.”