Church officials have been advised to tighten their security measures following the beheading of a Catholic priest by Islamist militants in France yesterday. The advice comes amid warnings that an attack on British soil is “highly likely”. Although there is no specific intelligence relating to possible attacks on the Christian community, the heinous murder of Father Jacques Hamel, targeted as he celebrated Mass in a provincial church just south of Rouen, has highlighted the potential danger to Christian clergy from Islamic terrorism. Consequently, the National Police Chiefs’ Council is urging the Christian community to be alert to potential threats but not alarmed, to report any concerns, and to review their security measures.
A WAVE of terror in Europe has sparked fears that Britain could become the next victim of terrorism. ISIS has claimed responsibility for a brutal terror attack in which a priest had his throat cut at a church in Normandy today. It comes after a week of violent attacks in Germany and the Bastille Day massacre, which killed 84 people, in Nice earlier this month. This rise in terrorism has heightened fears of further acts of terrorism in other parts of Europe such as the UK. Prime Minister Theresa May said “we all face a terror threat” after ISIS militants killed a priest at a church in Normandy today. “If you look at the national threat level here in the United Kingdom, it is at severe. That means that a terrorist attack is highly likely,” she said.
Only one terror suspect in Britain is currently subject to an order known as a Tpim or Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measure, it has been reported. Tpims replaced the more restrictive control orders in 2012 and can involve the suspect being electronically tagged or subjected to a curfew. They are designed to curb the person’s movements and activities and expire after two years. The solitary Tpim contrasts with estimates by a former senior counter terrorism police officer that there are around 2,000 people known to anti-terror authorities. Chris Phillips, who used to head the national counter terrorism and security office, said that two years ago there were 2,000 individuals on the radar. “How on earth you could ever monitor 2,000 people, let alone the fact that the number that we have got now has probably increased,” he said.
The British government is to set up a £2.4 million fund to pay for far-reaching “protective security” measures at religious institutions and buildings. In a worrying sign of rising tensions within Britain’s increasingly “diverse” population, churches, mosques, and temples have been invited to bid for grants to fund CCTV, perimeter fencing, bollards, intruder alarms, and security doors. The scheme was announced on Tuesday – the day a pair of Islamic State-affiliated jihadists raided a church in Northern France, stabbing two and beheading the priest at the altar.
Theresa May has demanded a Brexit deal tailor-made for Britain, warning that she would not accept an agreement already “on the shelf”. The prime minister appeared to play down the chances of Britain adopting the so-called Norway model that would keep it in the single market, but also force it to pay in to the EU budget and accept its free movement rules. Standing alongside Matteo Renzi, the Italian prime minister, in Rome, she said: “I think we should be developing the model that suits the United Kingdom and the European Union.”
Theresa May has said she retains an “open mind” about the UK’s trading relationships after Brexit amid reports some cabinet colleagues want the UK to pull out of the EU’s customs union. During talks with Italian counterpart Matteo Renzi, the UK PM suggested she favoured bespoke arrangements rather than replicating those used by others. “I think we should develop the model that suits the UK and EU,” she said. Mr Renzi said the EU vote was sad but he hoped “some good would come of it”.
THE BREXIT victory has sparked calls for Germany to follow Britain out of the EU. But could it happen? Eurosceptic politicians in Germany have seized on the Brexit victory to push for a German exit from the EU. The prospect of Germany leaving the EU has been dubbed a Gexit, which stands for German exit, and Dexit, which stands for Deutschland exit. Far-right figures in Alternative for Germany (AfD) have promised to call their own vote if they get into power in Germany’s general election in autumn next year. After the Brexit victory in June, AfD chairman Bjorn Hocke said: “I know the German people want to be free of EU slavery.”
ITALIAN prime minister Matteo Renzi today vowed to “build together a new relationship of friendship” with Britain after Brexit. Speaking at a press conference in Rome following talks with Prime Minister Theresa May, Mr Renzi admitted he was “saddened” by last month’s EU referendum result. But he said Italy would “respect” the decision by the British public and retain the “close links” between the two nations. Mrs May said despite Brexit the UK would still be “very much part of Europe” but refused to totally commit to assuring EU nationals currently living in Britain they will be allowed to stay post-Brexit.
The treaty clause that triggers exit from the European Union was not actually designed to be used, its author has said. Giuliano Amato, a former prime minister of Italy, who later worked with the European Commission, helped draft the European Constitution, which became the Lisbon Treaty. He said he had written the now infamous Article 50 but that it was largely for show. “I wrote Article 50, so I know it well,” Mr Amato told a conference in Rome, according to Reuters. He told the meeting he had specifically inserted the article to prevent the British government complaining there was no way for them to leave the bloc.
EUROPEAN UNION boss Jean-Claude Juncker today appointed a former French foreign minister to lead Brussels’ negotiations over Brexit. Michel Barnier said he was “honoured” to be appointed the EU’s chief negotiator, a role in which he will report directly to European Commission president Mr Juncker. One British MEP described him as an “old-style Euro integrationist” determined to set up an EU superstate. The 65-year-old is a former vice-president of the European Commission – the body of unelected officials who propose new EU laws – and a member of the European People’s Party, the largest grouping in the European Parliament.
When Michel Barnier visited Britain during his spell as a European Commissioner, he would say with a smile that he was an Anglophile and most definitely not “the most dangerous man in Europe” as our Eurosceptic tabloids labelled him. The former French foreign minister’s brief as Internal Market Commissioner covered the City of London, which led to a series of clashes with George Osborne, who tried to defend Britain’s financial services industry from a blizzard of EU regulation introduced by Mr Barnier. So the Treasury and the City will be worried to discover that they have not seen the back of the 65-year-old Mr Barnier, whose term in Brussels ended in 2014.
The European Commission has shown it is prepared to play “hardball” by appointing a former French minister who reportedly blames Britain for losing his job as head of its Brexit negotiations. We have taken a look at Brussels’ new chief negotiator. Michel Barnier, 65, first got involved in politics as a young Gaullist aged 15. He first came to national prominence in 1986 when he won Albertville’s bid to host the 1992 Winter Olympics in Savoy. To many in the French elite, Mr Barnier is “le cretin des alpes”, a jibe at his origin in the mountains of Savoy and a reference to the 18th-century Alpine valley dwellers who suffered brain damage caused by iodine deficiency.
The British government could only ensure the protection of European citizens living in the UK if British citizens were afforded the same rights in other EU states, Theresa May has said in the presence of the Italian prime minister. The British prime minister’s remarks came during a press conference with Matteo Renzi, who said that the UK’s vote to leave the European Union represented a blow to 600,000 Italians living there. Asked by a journalist whether the rights of Italians living in the UK could be protected, May said: “I want to be able to guarantee their rights in the UK. I expect to be able to do that and I intend to be able to do that, to guarantee their rights. The only circumstances in which that would not be possible would be if the rights of British citizens living in other EU member states were not guaranteed.”
North Rhine-Westphalia Interior Minister Ralf Jäger has slammed countries in North Africa saying that they are uncooperative when it comes to accepting deported migrants. North Rhine-Westphalia Interior Minister Ralf Jäger has criticised the governments of North African countries saying that they are refusing to accept migrants who have been deported from Germany, Donau Kurier reports. “We must ensure that the migrants who do not need protection can be as quickly returned to their home countries,” Mr. Jäger told German media, but claimed that the problem wasn’t just deporting the migrants from Germany, but getting their countries of origin in North Africa to let them back in. “Above all, Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia are uncooperative,” he said.
European students in Britain should be treated like criminals and held at the border if they do not repay their taxpayer-backed loans, a think-tank has said. Those from elsewhere in the EU owe a record £1.3billion in English student loans – up 36 percent from £958million this time last year. The Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) is lobbying for tough criminal sanctions on those who refuse to pay to be written into law this year. It suggests students who move abroad and fail to pay back their loans should be treated like tax evaders or benefit fraudsters and arrested if they re-enter the UK. Around 8,600 – or 11 per cent – of former EU students are currently in arrears after graduation because there is no way of forcing those who move abroad to pay. HEPI director Nick Hillman said: ‘Tax evasion and benefit fraud rip taxpayers off. ‘Defaulting on your student loan could be regarded as just as bad. Yet it is fairly common among both Brits and EU citizens who study in the UK before working abroad.
THE SNP must “protect Scottish jobs and the Scottish economy” after last month’s vote to leave the EU, Labour said yesterday. Scottish Labour published a Brexit action plan outlining steps the Scottish government should take following the vote to leave the European Union such as creating a fund for threatened sectors, investing in infrastructure and guarantees on workers’ rights and job security. Scottish Labour economy spokeswoman Jackie Baillie warned that the SNP had “a duty to protect Scottish jobs and the Scottish economy from the fallout of Brexit in the short, medium and long term.” Ms Baillie said “bringing forward infrastructure spending will give our economy a boost — and Labour would argue the primary focus should be house building so we can tackle Scotland’s housing crisis.”