PRO-BRUSSELS campaigners faced ridicule last night after launching a new cross-party push dedicated to triggering a fresh referendum on Theresa May’s Brexit plans. Former Tory minister Anna Soubry and senior Labour MP Chuka Umunna were among politicians uniting yesterday for the People’s Vote campaign. And they faced jibes from Brexit supporters after recruiting Star Trek actor Sir Patrick Stewart to be a leading spokesman for the group. Tory MP Peter Bone, a leading Leave supporter, said: “This call for a second referendum is so off the planet that I suppose it is appropriate to have someone from Star Trek involved. “These people just want to keep re-running the referendum until they get the answer they want.
MPs, celebrities and business leaders have launched a campaign calling for a public vote on the final Brexit deal between the UK and the European Union. The People’s Vote – which held a rally in Camden, north London, on Sunday – aims to unite anti-Brexit groups. Organisers said some 1,200 people were at the event, including MPs from all leading parties. Pro-Brexit campaigners also gathered outside. Both the Conservatives and Labour have ruled out a second referendum. Actor Sir Patrick Stewart, who played Charles Xavier in the X-Men films based on the comic books, said the famous character would have voted Remain. He told the rally: “Unity, common cause, wellbeing of society and debate were paramount to the belief of this fictional character.
Cross-party Remainers have launched a campaign thinly disguised as a democratic movement which seeks a second referendum on the Brexit deal. Supported by many of the key players in the Tony Blair-backed Remain continuity campaign Open Britain, the People’s Vote is pushing for a “public vote” on the final Brexit deal. The movement was launched Sunday by Labour’s Chuka Umunna and Tory MP Anna Soubry as well as members of the entertainment industry, youth movements, and pro-EU academics. Speaking to the Mail on Sunday, Umunna and Soubry said they wanted to stop a “hard Brexit” – otherwise known as a full, proper Brexit which would free the UK from the restrictive Customs Union and Single Market that prevent the country from making her own trade deals and controlling immigration.
Arch-Remoaners Anna Soubry and Chuka Umunna have launched a push to have a public vote on whether or not to accept the final terms of the Brexit deal. It’s called ‘People’s Vote’ – basically it’s a second referendum in disguise. Soubry and Umunna insist this isn’t about blocking Brexit, which is pretty hard to justify! Soubry said: “If Theresa May gets a good deal, what better validation for it than if the people vote for it?” Umunna added: “It’s like putting an offer in on a house and the survey says the foundations are terrible. Anyone with any sense would withdraw from the transaction.” This is bonkers, what would a vote actually achieve? It seems to be based on the premise that if people aren’t happy with the deal, they’d tell the government to go back to Brussels and renegotiate – well that’s just not going to happen, is it? It’s a not so subtle way of hoping to stifle Brexit and ultimately overturn it altogether – a shameless disregard for democracy.
House of Commons
Theresa May will argue today that she struck against the Assad regime “in the national interest” as she awaits the verdict of the Commons on her handling of the military action in Syria. After coming under intensifying pressure during the weekend for refusing to give parliament a vote before launching the strikes, the prime minister will ask for an emergency debate to give MPs the ability to discuss the military action at length. Labour will demand that the Commons is also given a vote at the end of the debate. The decision on whether to offer a vote will be taken by the Speaker, John Bercow.
The Prime Minister will today insist that the UK had to strike Syria ‘in our national interest’ to deter chemical weapon attacks on British streets. Facing the threat of a knife-edge Commons vote, Theresa May will invoke the Salisbury poisonings in her defence of the military action. In a statement to MPs, she will point to the need to ensure the use of chemical weapons does not become normalised – ‘either within Syria, on the streets of the UK or elsewhere’. She will ask Speaker John Bercow for an emergency six-hour debate on the action, giving MPs from both sides of the House the chance to have a say. But Labour will try to force a vote after the debate – raising the prospect of a humiliating, retrospective defeat.
THERESA May today gives MPs an ultimatum: Back military action in Syria or face more attacks on innocent victims. The PM will call for an emergency debate in Parliament — and has ordered all Tory MPs to be ready to support her. Writing exclusively in The Sun today, she tells of her horror at tyrant Bashar al-Assad’s chemical weapons attack that killed at least 75 people. In an emotional plea to her critics, Mrs May writes in detail about the “despicable” way in which Assad targeted his own people with chlorine bombs. She will today hit back at Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s opposition to action by declaring the 105-missile blitz on Syria’s chemical weapons sites over the weekend was in Britain’s “national interest”.
The Prime Minister will tell MPs she acted “in Britain’s national interest” by ordering airstrikes on Syria as the Government calls for an emergency debate on the issue. Theresa May will pre-empt planned opposition motions by applying to the Speaker for a debate herself “to give the House an extended opportunity to discuss the military action”. In a statement to the Commons, she will also set out her justification for the decision – arguing that it was done to alleviate further humanitarian suffering in Syria caused by chemical weapons attacks. The PM will say: “UNSC-mandated inspectors have investigated previous attacks and on four occasions decided that the regime was indeed responsible.
Theresa May is braced for a Commons showdown after bowing to pressure and allowing a debate in parliament on the UK’s role in air strikes against the Syrian regime. She will make a statement on the British, French and US operation that saw more than 100 missiles fired at Syria, before being grilled by MPs who were denied a vote ahead of the action. Ministers hope the six-hour emergency debate will pacify concerns that parliament is being sidelined, but are desperate to avoid allowing any substantive vote that risks stripping the operation of legitimacy. It sets the stage for an opposition-party drive to force a more meaningful retrospective vote on Saturday’s action in the coming days, with Conservative MPs given strict orders to be available for voting on both Monday and Tuesday.
Theresa May will hit back at critics of military action in Syria by insisting the decision to launch airstrikes was aimed at preventing human suffering, and was in Britain’s national interest, as she is questioned by MPs about the attacks for the first time. With the government braced for highly charged exchanges in the Commons as MPs return from their Easter recess, the prime minister will emphasise the international support for the bombing raids. May will tell MPs: “Let me be absolutely clear: we have acted because it is in our national interest to do so. It is in our national interest to prevent the further use of chemical weapons in Syria and to uphold and defend the global consensus that these weapons should not be used.” She is expected to add: “We have done it because we believed it was the right thing to do. And we are not alone.
LABOUR demanded the introduction of a “War Powers Act” today to force a parliamentary vote before military actions are launched, as the row over Theresa May’s illegal bombing of Syria continued to escalate. The call by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn comes as thousands mobilised for nationwide protests against the attack, including an emergency demonstration in London, where MPs are returning to Parliament after their Easter break. A poll showed only 30 per cent of people in Britain supported the attack, which was directly authorised by Prime Minister Theresa May without consulting MPs. Mr Corbyn said: “Theresa May should have sought parliamentary approval, not trailed after Donald Trump.”
Russia has launched a “dirty tricks” campaign against Britain and the US in the wake of the Syria airstrikes as Boris Johnson warned of the need to be prepared for retaliatory attacks. Whitehall sources on Sunday night confirmed a Pentagon analysis that showed a 20-fold increase in Russian-sourced “disinformation” being spread online since the cruise missile attacks on Syria in the early hours of Saturday. There are fears that it could be a precursor to a campaign of cyber attacks by the Kremlin, and the Foreign Secretary said Britain must take “every possible precaution” to guard against it.
Britain’s intelligence agencies are on the alert for possible revenge attacks by the Kremlin in response to the Syria airstrikes, after reports that a disinformation operation linked to Russia was increasing its output. Boris Johnson warned yesterday that Russia could retaliate through cyberattacks on the NHS or power networks. “You have to take every possible precaution, and when you look at what Russia has done, not just in this country, in Salisbury, attacks on TV stations, on the democratic processes, on critical national infrastructure, of course we have to be very, very cautious indeed,” the foreign secretary told The Andrew Marr Show on BBC One. US officials say that they have seen a 20-fold increase in Russia-linked disinformation pushed out online after Saturday’s strikes.
Britain was braced for a Russian cyber attack last night as officials warned of swift retaliation for the military strikes on Syria. Intelligence officers at GCHQ and the Ministry of Defence are on standby to hit back if the Kremlin wages cyber warfare. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson acknowledged the threat yesterday, saying the UK had to take ‘every possible precaution’. It is feared vital transport systems, water supplies, gas networks, banks, hospitals and even air traffic control could be hacked by Russia in response to the assault on Bashar al-Assad’s chemical weapons facilities. Intelligence sources also fear the retaliation could involve the online release of so-called ‘kompromat’ – compromising information on MPs or other public figures. Last night, the Pentagon said there was a 2,000 per cent increase in the number of Russian trolls spreading Kremlin propaganda in the hours after the air strikes.
Boris Johnson has warned that the UK must take “every possible precaution” to protect itself from Russian retaliation following the coalition air strikes on Syria. The Foreign Secretary said Moscow had a track record of launching cyberattacks on infrastructure and interfering in the democratic processes of other countries. His comments come amid concern that Russia may start a clandestine campaign of retribution, following the strikes by the US, UK and France on targets of the Moscow-backed Syrian regime. Mr Johnson also revealed that contact between himself and Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov had gone cold amid the military operation, in which the Western coalition partners fired more than 100 missiles at facilities around Damascus. The Cabinet minister said the operation would not make a material difference to the Syrian civil war and he could not say it would definitely stop the Assad regime from using chemical weapons again, but he argued that the strikes had sent a strong message that their use would not be tolerated.
The UK spy agency is working with phone networks to patch flaws that have left communication lines open to intrusion from hostile nation states. The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), an arm of the Government Communication Headquarters (GCHQ), said it would work closely with companies such as BT and Vodafone to ensure that a flaw in the software used to service 4G networks will be patched in the coming months. Paul Chichester, NCSC operations chief, said: “We assume that every piece of equipment in the telecoms networks has vulnerabilities.” Currently, mobile networks allow someone to connect using another person’s identity, intercept and even send messages on behalf of that user.
Two Russian warships laden with military vehicles have been spotted en route to Syria after Friday’s US-led airstrikes obliterated three suspected chemical weapons sites. An Alligator-landing ship was pictured cruising down The Bosphorus on Sunday as the world awaits Vladimir Putin’s response to this week’s co-ordinated military action against Syria. The vessel was spotted on its way to the Russian naval base at Tartus on the north Syrian coast. On its fourth deployment of Russian military equipment to the war-torn country the ship was seen laden with tanks, trucks, ambulances and an IED radar. A yellow RoRo Alexandr Tkachenko was also pictured heading for Tartus carrying high-speed patrol boats, a temporary bridge structure and several trucks.
Hundreds of thousands of people will receive personal allowances of NHS cash to organise their own care as ministers seek to “put power back into the hands of patients”. Far more people with mental health problems, dementia and physical and learning disabilities will have the right to select and pay for treatments they want. The money will be paid directly to them and can be spent on whatever that they think best helps to manage their condition, as long as a doctor agrees. Veterans leaving the army and wheelchair users have also been promised the “personal health budgets” after complaints that care provided to these groups by the NHS is not good enough. Some such budgets run to tens of thousands of pounds.
Patients are to receive personal allowances of NHS money to organise the care option they feel best suits them. The health service will hand money to hundreds of thousands of patients with mental health problems, dementia and physical learning difficulties and allow them to choose the treatment they want. The move is part of an effort by ministers to ‘put power back into the hands of patients’. The money will be paid directly to patients and they will be allowed to spend it on whatever treatment they feel is the best for their condition, although they will need a doctor’s approval. The ‘personal health budgets’ could be handed to the likes of veterans leaving the Army and wheelchair users after complaints about the service received by some groups. It is thought some of the budgets could be in the tens of thousands of pounds.
HUNDREDS of thousands of Brits will be handed wads of NHS cash to spend on their own care – even though past patients have blown it on horse-riding lessons and holidays. Dementia sufferers, army veterans and wheelchair users have all been earmarked to receive ‘personal care budgets’. The money is paid directly to them and can be spent on whatever they think will help their condition – as long as their doctor agrees. The reforms are expected to let recipients employ relatives as carers, buy specific pieces of equipment, and enrol in exercise classes. Such budgets have previously been spent on horse-riding, holidays, and aromatherapy. An estimated 23,000 people are currently part of the scheme – but ministers want to expand it to 350,000. The reforms are expected to help merge the health and social care budgets.
The NHS is unable to keep confidential patient data safe from immigration enforcers thanks to an information-sharing agreement with the government, MPs have ruled. Members of the health select committee have called for a second time for an end to a Memorandum of Understanding between the Home Office and NHS Digital, which allows officials to request information from medical records as part of their investigations. Experts have warned it is putting many migrants off seeking urgent treatment for fear of deportation and has even cost lives. NHS Digital chiefs appeared before the select committee last month and said the organisation’s practices had been put through a “rigorous public interest test”.
Parents are now faking marriage breakdowns to get their children into a top school amid a rise in admission fraud, an expert has warned. As competition to secure places at the most sought after schools has intensified, parents are increasingly resorting to fraudulent means to boost their chances, according to The Good Schools Guide’s state school specialist Elizabeth Coatman. The warning comes as over half a million families in England learn which primary school their child will attend in September, on what is known as “national offer day”. Local councils have become more vigilant in recent years, Ms Coatman said.
NINE in ten children got their first choice of primary school last year, new figures have revealed. As parents find out today where their children will start primary school in September, data from last year showed that 97.2 per cent of pupils were awarded one of their top three preferences last year. This figure was up on the 96.3 per cent offered one of their top three preferences in 2016. And the number getting their top choice also increased – from 88.4 per cent in 2016 to 90 per cent last year. But experts warned that the ratio will vary massively across the country. Ministers said the increase in the ratio of pupils being awarded their top choice was a result of government reforms brought in since 2010.
The competition between rival gangs to sell cocaine to wealthy clients will result in the drug’s purity rising to dangerous levels, experts have warned. Dealers are also likely to begin dropping their prices to attract more customers as the market becomes saturated with the Class A drug. Other gangs are using alternative methods including loyalty cards more commonly seen in high street chain stores, reports the Telegraph. Deaths from cocaine in England and Wales have more than doubled in the past four years according to the Office for National Statistics – with 371 cocaine related deaths in 2016, compared to just 139 in 2012. In 2016-17, 12,000 people were admitted to hospital with cocaine related disorders, but in 2007-08 this number was just 5,148.