Terror attacks

Times
Fears were growing last night that Islamic State had embarked on a fresh wave of attacks after a gunman killed at least 39 partygoers in a nightclub in Istanbul packed with foreigners. Turkey began a manhunt for the killer, who also injured nearly 70 people at the Reina club 80 minutes into the new year when he opened fire with an assault rifle. The Site Institute, which monitors terrorist groups, said yesterday that Isis and its supporters had “mounted a massive campaign against Turkey” in recent days. The Istanbul killings are thought to be revenge by Isis for Turkey’s alliance with Russia to destroy the jihadist network in Syria.

Independent
The Isis terrorist group wants to carry out a “mass casualty” chemical weapons attack in Britain, the national security minister has warned – describing it as “everybody’s worst fear”. Ben Wallace said Isis had already used chemical weapons in Syria and Iraq, where it controls large areas. Furthermore, the Moroccan authorities apprehended a cell in February that was harbouring substances that could be used to either make a bomb or a “deadly toxin”. Mr Wallace said: “The ambition of IS [Isis is also known as Islamic State] or Daesh is definitely mass casualty attacks. They want to harm as many people as possible and terrorise as many people as possible. “They have no moral objection to using chemical weapons against populations and if they could, they would in this country. The casualty figures which could be involved would be everybody’s worst fear.

Express
ISIS could use chemical weapons to carry out a mass attack on UK soil, a government minister warned. The terrorists’ ambition is to slaughter as many people as possible using “whatever means possible” and they would have no “moral objection” using the weaponry, the security expert explained. Security minister Ben Wallace said there was an “aspiration” among the terror nuts to carry out these types of atrocities in Europe – including Britain. He told The Sunday Times: “They have no moral objection to using chemical weapons against populations and if they could, they would in this country. “The casualty figures which could be involved would be everybody’s worst fear.” Britain must brace itself for any potential inside enemies, he added. Mr Wallace warned the threat is “real” as there are people trying to carry out terrorist attacks.

BBC News
The so-called Islamic State (IS) group would be prepared to carry out a chemical weapons attack on the UK, security minister Ben Wallace has said. While no specific plot has been identified, IS has “aspirations” for mass casualty attacks, he said. In a Sunday Times interview Mr Wallace said there have been reports of IS using poisonous gas in Iraq and Syria. “They have no moral objection to using chemical weapons… and if they could, they would in this country,” he said. He also pointed to a recent Europol report, which said there was evidence that IS has shown an interest in the use of chemical or biological weapons, and the potential realisation of “everybody’s worst fear” in Europe.

Mail
The Minister of State for Security has issued a stark warning that ISIS is plotting a chemical attack on Britain. Ben Wallace said exercises are being carried out to prepare for such an atrocity. ISIS has the capabilities to produce their own mustard gas, having already used the tactics in the Middle East. Troops fighting against the terror group have been left with appalling injuries – including agonising blisters on their skin and badly damaged lungs – in a frightening echo of warfare in the trenches on the Western Front. Ingredients to make these bombs are fairly common and easy to obtain, as most of them have other, legal uses. Mr Wallace told the Sunday Times: ‘They have no moral objection to using chemical weapons against populations and, if they could, they would in this country.’

Mail
A remote ‘kill switch’ to immobilise HGVs is being secretly developed by Government scientists who fear a Nice-style massacre in the UK. They are investigating methods of interfering with the electronics of lorries to stop them in their tracks if hijacked or used in an attack. They fear Islamic State militants could try to emulate the horrific strike in France which left 86 people dead in July. A 19-tonne rented truck left a trail of carnage as it rammed through the coastal city’s packed promenade during Bastille Day celebrations. Experts in the Home Office’s scientific wing want to develop and install technology which would enable them to stop high risk vehicles remotely. These include HGVs and other large vehicles, particularly those carrying hazardous loads such as fuel and chemicals. Known as Project Restore, which stands for the REmote STOpping of Road Engines, they are also setting minimum standards for the innovation.

House of Lords

Mail
Cabinet ministers have urged Theresa May to threaten the House of Lords with a bloodbath if peers seek to frustrate Brexit. Senior Tories say the Prime Minister should stand ready to threaten the Upper Chamber with abolition or a huge cut in numbers and powers. Inside Whitehall, plans are being drawn up for responding to an expected Supreme Court ruling that a vote is needed in both Houses to trigger Article 50, launching the Brexit process. The Lords has a pro-Remain majority, with Lib Dem and Labour members spoiling for a fight. Two Cabinet ministers have told the Daily Mail that the Government must be prepared to respond with a major show of force to ensure the ‘will of the British people is respected’. Mrs May is said to be sympathetic to the idea and ready to clip the wings of the Lords. One Cabinet minister said: ‘The Lords needs to understand that, if they block this, they will be bringing an existential crisis upon themselves.

Brexit

Express
A POWERFUL coalition of business leaders vowed to play their part in making Britain a success as Theresa May prepares to launch formal Brexit talks. Five leading groups came together in an unprecedented alliance, pledging to “seize the opportunities and overcome the challenges that lie ahead”. But they also called on the Government to engage fully in “open and honest dialogue” and listen to the views of businesses of all sizes, across Britain, as it enters talks with the rest of the European Union to set the terms of Britain’s exit. The quintet advertise themselves as representing more than 400,000 businesses, employing more than half of private sector workers, some 13 million people. Signatories to their New Year letter include CBI director-general Carolyn Fairbairn, who campaigned strongly in the referendum for Britain to stay in the EU.

NHS

Mail
Accident and emergency units were ‘completely overwhelmed’ yesterday as fears were realised that a New Year’s weekend of drink-fuelled carnage would place the already under-pressure NHS under almost intolerable strain. One busy A&E unit put out a public message urging people to stay away unless they had a ‘life-threatening’ condition after seeing more than four times as many patients as on a normal evening. It came after NHS chief executive Simon Stevens warned in the run-up to New Year’s Eve that ambulance trusts and hospitals were being put under intolerable strain by ‘selfish’ revellers getting ‘blotto’ and treating it as the ‘National Hangover Service’. Among the hospitals urging those who weren’t seriously ill was Stepping Hill in Stockport, which serves 350,000 people across the southern side of Greater Manchester and North Derbyshire. 

ITV News
The NHS faces “potentially the worst January” ever as it struggles to cope with the backlog of patients taking up beds over Christmas, with a leading doctor warning it is like a “credit card bill from hell”. Dr Mark Holland, president of the Society for Acute Medicine (SAM), said hospitals had already seen “record numbers” of elderly patients over the Christmas period, and that the health service is on the brink of a major crisis. Dr Holland said hospitals were working under a “false sense of security” as elective procedures fell over the festive period, with those beds becoming available for emergency patients. Once regular routine operations begin again, he warned, hospitals must make beds available again, and a bout of flu, norovirus or even a cold snap could prove a tipping point for the NHS. Dr Holland said: “There’s this problem over Christmas and New Year where actually, because you get this glut of beds that become available, you’re just building trouble up for ourselves in January.

Social care

Telegraph
Builders, barmaids and bankrupt businessmen are flying into Britain from Spanish holiday spots to earn lucrative sums as care workers for the elderly, amid a spiralling crisis in social care. A Telegraph investigation reveals that thousands of expats are funding lifestyles in the sun by jetting in for fortnightly placements to take sole charge of the vulnerable, with, in many cases, just a few days’ training. British agencies are trawling popular resorts such as Benidorm and Malaga to lure new recruits with the promise of generous earnings, free accommodation and subsidised travel. Experts said the revelations reflected a “massive crisis” in care of the elderly, with high turnover in the sector, and too many pensioners receiving the most intimate care from virtual strangers. The agents boasted of a “huge increase” in the number of expats coming from Spain to earn up to almost £1,700 a fortnight, admitting many of those on their books did not want to look after the vulnerable, but were driven by the cash.

Northern Ireland

Independent
Martin McGuinness has called for Northern Ireland’s First Minister Arlene Foster to step down, warning the region is “facing a serious growing political crisis”. The Sinn Fein politician, who serves as Northern Ireland’s Deputy First Minister, made the comments amid an ongoing scandal over allegations Ms Foster was responsible for a flawed Stormont scheme that saw £140m of public money misspent. The Renewable Heat Incentive scheme, known as RHI, was launched in 2012 with a view to encouraging Northern Irish businesses to use renewable forms of energy. However, a serious flaw in the implementation meant that businesses were given a financial incentive to burn resources pointlessly instead. The scheme, known locally as “cash for ash”, meant one farmer was allegedly able to secure £1m of public funding to needlessly heat a shed for 20 years.

Garden villages

ITV News
The first wave of new garden villages, designed to create tens of thousands of new homes in England, has been given the green light. Ministers have backed 14 bids around the country that will develop new communities of between 1,500 and 10,000 properties. Larger scale garden towns in Taunton in Somerset, Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire, and Harlow and Gilston, on the Essex-Herts border, have also been signed off. The plans will create a series of new communities with green spaces, good transport links and high quality, affordable homes, to tackle the housing crisis. Around £6 million will go towards developing the new villages, which could see some 48,000 new homes, while £1.4 million has been earmarked for the larger towns. Combined with seven garden towns and cities that have already been announced, the government has said the initiative could potentially deliver 200,000 properties. Housing minister Gavin Barwell said: “Locally led garden towns and villages have enormous potential to deliver the homes that communities need.

Merkel

Express
ANGELA Merkel was branded “mad” and “off her rocker” today after giving a bizarre New Year’s Eve speech telling Germans to fight the bombs and guns of Islamic State with love and compassion. The embattled Chancellor, who is surrounded by armed guards around the clock and travels everywhere in a bullet-proof car, said terrified citizens should meet the ISIS terror threat with “openness”. Her remarks come less than two weeks after a failed asylum seeker drove an articulated truck into families at a Christmas market in Berlin, killing 12 and seriously injuring dozens more. The shocking tragedy, which followed a spate of jihadi terror attacks earlier this year, has heaped yet more pressure on Mrs Merkel’s hated open door migration policy. But in her annual New Year’s Eve address the under-fire leader was unrepentant, insisting that ordinary Germans should continue to attend public events despite the risk to their own lives.

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