Conservative leadership

The billionaire businessman Sir Richard Branson held secretive talks with the front-runner to become Britain’s next leader to push his campaign to crush the Brexit vote and secure a second referendum. Britain’s Home Secretary Theresa May, who campaigned to stay in the European Union (EU), yesterday won an impressive 165 votes from her colleagues in Parliament emerging as the frontrunner in the race to become the next Prime Minister. She met Mr. Branson, the owner of the Virgin group, last week, shortly after he announced his plot to force Parliament to “reject” what he called the “non-binding” Brexit vote and demanded a second referendum. A source close to Mr. Branson told Sky News that the meeting should not be interpreted as him offering support for Mrs. May’s leadership bid. Mrs. May has said that “Brexit means Brexit”, but the source would not reveal if she discussed the referendum with the billionaire.

Andrea Leadsom does not have claimed experience as an investment banker despite suggestions that she managed billions of pounds, it has been alleged. An investigation by The Times newspaper says that during her time at Invesco Perpetual, Ms Leadsom was only approved by the financial services regulator for three months. This approval is required for any roles dealing with funds or clients. One of her supporters, Tory MP Bernard Jenkin, has said she was responsible at one point for “for managing hundreds of people and billions of pounds”.



Britain’s decision to go to war with Iraq in 2003 had a “far from satisfactory” legal basis and ex-Prime Minister Tony Blair’s case for military action was over-hyped, a long-awaited inquiry into the conflict concluded on Wednesday. The intelligence about Iraq’s alleged weapons of mass destruction which Blair used to justify joining the U.S.-led invasion, which led to the removal of Saddam Hussein and the deaths of 179 British soldiers, was flawed but went unchallenged, inquiry chairman John Chilcot said. There was no imminent threat from Saddam in March 2003 and the chaos in Iraq and the region which followed should also have been foreseen, he added.

The Sun
THE devastated father of a British soldier killed in the Iraq War says his son was one of 179 “lions” let down by politician “donkeys”. Shattered relatives of those who fell lined up to vent their rage after the Chilcot report blamed military and political leaders for sending Our Boys into war without proper equipment or protection. The Chilcot Inquiry report blasted the “wholly inadequate” post-conflict planning, as Tony Blair tried to rush troops out while a brutal insurgency gained deadly momentum. After waiting seven years for a verdict on Britain’s role in the 2003 conflict, bereaved families were damning in their assessment of the war.

The Guardian
A defiant Tony Blair defended his decision to go to war in Iraq in 2003 following the publication of a devastating report by Sir John Chilcot, which mauled the ex-prime minister’s reputation and said that at the time of the 2003 invasion Saddam Hussein “posed no imminent threat”. Looking tired, his voice sometimes croaking with emotion, Blair described his decision to join the US attack as “the hardest, most momentous, most agonising decision I took in 10 years as British prime minister”. He said he felt “deeply and sincerely … the grief and suffering of those who lost ones they loved in Iraq”. “There will not be a day when I do not relive and rethink what happened,” he added.

Jeremy Corbyn has apologised on behalf of Labour for Tony Blair’s decision to go to war in Iraq, saying it was a “stain” on the party and country, after the former Prime Minister insisted he stood by his actions. The current Labour leader’s comments came after a meeting with the families of some of the victims of the 2003 conflict and the occupation that followed, after the unveiling of the 2.6 million-word Chilcot report into the UK’s most controversial military engagement since the end of the Second World War.

The Independent
A haggard-looking Tony Blair spent two hours struggling to rescue his reputation from the ruins of Iraq. In his protracted press conference, the former Prime Minister expressed sorrow for the British soldiers killed or maimed after the invasion of March 2003 and offered an apology – but insisted that the world was a better place for the removal of the Iraqi dictator, Saddam Hussein, and the Chilcot report proved he had acted in good faith. This was not the confident Tony Blair of old, with the cherubic grin and casual self-confidence. The former Prime Minister seemed to be emotionally on edge. His voice sometimes appeared to be almost cracking. He was defending something that is very hard to defend, and presenting a version of the story that did not always fit well with reality, or with the findings of yesterday’s report.



The Mail
The German europhile who heads the European Parliament is facing a plot to oust him – in a boost for the country’s Brexit negotiations. Just hours after the referendum vote, European Parliament president Martin Schulz threatened there would be ‘consequences’ for Britain to discourage others ‘following the same dangerous path’ out of the EU. But he now faces being kicked out of his job, which will include oversight of the Brexit deal, after losing the support of Angela Merkel‘s Christian Democratic Union party. Mr Schulz, a socialist, had been expected to be allowed to stay in the role when his two-and-a-half year term ends at the end of this year.

Nigel Farage

NIGEL Farage has vowed to use his time help other European Union members “get their independence back” following his resignation as Ukip party leader. 
The former Ukip boss said Brexit has offered a “beacon of hope” for those EU member states who wanted to be released from the shackles of Brussels bureaucracy. In a press conference in Strasbourg, France, one of two places where the European Parliament sit, Farage highlighted the opinion polls in Denmark, Netherlands, Czech Republic and Italy which suggest a growing appetite for sovereign nations to have referendums on their own position in the EU.

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