Fears are growing that Russia, in retaliation for the missile strike on Syria over the weekend, is gearing up to conduct a major cyber assault on Britain. Just days after the attack, the threat of a crippling attack from Russia is now at its “highest possible level” the National Cyber Security Centre has warned. There is already evidence that the Kremlin ramped up its bot-fuelled fake news campaign on the UK within hours of the military action in response to a chemical weapons strike by the regime of Bashar Al-Assad, according to Whitehall sources.
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.
RUSSIA is hacking millions of computers, including home systems in Britain, to potentially pave the way for a crippling cyber attack, top spooks warned today. Kremlin web hackers have targeted tens of thousands of computers in UK homes and also taken aim at British internet service providers. Once they have gained access, Moscow-backed agents could lurk silently until they want to wage a huge assault, senior security experts revealed. Moments of heightened tension could provide the trigger for Russia to strike, it was claimed. In an unprecedented alert issued alongside the US, National Cyber Security Centre boss Ciaran Martin said: “These are millions of machines being globally targeted. “They are around trying to seize control over connectivity.
A Russian investigative journalist, who drew national fame for his stories on Russian mercenaries being killed in Syria, mysteriously fell from his balcony and died a day after camouflaged “security forces” reportedly surrounded his building. Maxim Borodin, a 32-year-old reporter for Novy Den, was pronounced dead Thursday after plunging from the building in Yekaterinburg, nearly 900 miles east of Moscow. Police are not looking into the death and are ruling it a suicide or accident. But in a country where vicious attacks against prominent journalists frequently go unsolved, some critics are calling for a full investigation. “Death of journalist Maxim Borodin in #Russia is of serious concern,” tweeted Harlem Désir, the representative on Freedom of the Media for the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe. “I call on the authorities for a swift and thorough investigation.”
Ireland has warned there will be no Brexit withdrawal treaty and no transition agreement unless Britain comes up with acceptable wording as a “backstop” solution to the Irish border question in the event of no deal. The Irish foreign minister, Simon Coveney, told reporters in Luxembourg that difficulties would arise as early as June if the wording was not agreed. Asked whether the transition agreement would be at risk if there was no deal in place by June, he said: “It puts everything at risk. Michel Barnier [the EU chief negotiator] has been very clear there will be no withdrawal agreement if there is not a backstop relating to the Irish border consistent with paragraph 49 of the political agreement in December. “The British government have committed to doing [backstop] that. If that is not in the withdrawal agreement, then there will be no withdrawal agreement and there will be no transitional deal either.”
THERESA May is staring down the barrel of a series of damaging defeats on the flagship Brexit bill in the House of Lords this week. The upper chamber is debating the legislation – which lays the legal ground for our withdrawal from the bloc – with peers set to back an amendment keeping the UK in the EU customs union. It would mean tariffs on goods traded with the continent would stay the same post-Brexit, but would hinder the Government from signing new deals with other countries. The Prime Minister has repeatedly said she wants to take Britain out of both the customs union and the single market. Her stance has been spelled out in the EU Withdrawal Bill, which has cleared its first hurdle in the House of Commons after being passed by MPs. But Ministers have reportedly resigned themselves to the fact the House of Lords will almost certainly pass amendments to try and force the PM to change her position. A government insider told The Independent: “Are we expecting a defeat? Yes, that’s about where we are.
Ministers are braced for a series of defeats on the central Brexit legislation in the House of Lords this week. The withdrawal bill begins six days of votes there tomorrow. Peers are expected to open the parliamentary wrangling by defying the government on the customs union, one of the main prongs of Theresa May’s strategy. A cross-party amendment to the bill, which transfers European law to the British statute book, requires the government to negotiate a continuing customs union with the EU after Brexit. Its backers, who include Lord Patten of Barnes, the former Conservative Party chairman, and Lord Kerr of Kinlochard, the UK’s former chief diplomat, are bullish about the prospect of defeating the government by a large margin.
REMOANER plots to overturn the vote to leave the European Union have been thwarted as it has emerged that UK businesses do not back a second Brexit referendum because of the “uncertainty” surrounding it. Despite business leaders being some of the most outspoken critics of Brexit, business leaders are worried about recent efforts to reverse the process. Chief executive officer of TheCityUK, Miles Celic, said: “Business likes certainty and I can’t see how discussion of a second referendum helps create that certainty when the negotiations are not even concluded.” A campaign called “People’s Vote” for the public to get a final say on the divorce Bill is gaining momentum. Also, two recent polls have suggested there may be popular support for a vote on the Brexit deal. But it is not clear if there would be a majority in Parliament to pass through such a measure. Speaking to Bloomberg, Allie Renison from Europe and trade policy at the Institute of Directors, said: “Calls for a second referendum, and indeed rehashing the debates we had in the run-up to the Brexit vote, now almost two years ago, will do little to move us forward.
The BBC has scrapped a planned documentary about the campaign to block Brexit amid concerns that it could be seen to breach impartiality guidelines. The programme was to have focused on Remain leaders, including Lord Adonis, the Labour peer, and Anna Soubry, the Conservative MP, who are trying to prevent a hard Brexit. The BBC’s current affairs department funded project. Filming had begun but last week contributors were told that Patrick Holland, the BBC Two controller, had decided not to commission it. It is understood that senior BBC executives were sensitive to questions about balance as both sides of the Brexit debate scrutinise its output closely.
Today on Uncensored, Michael and Patrick led with some Brexit good news – there are wage rises for workers. Wehey! The guys also discussed the figures released by the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government, which revealed that mass migration has pushed house prices up by 21% since the 90’s. Also, they discussed the deplorable treatment of Windrush migrants who are now being deported despite contributing to Britain for years. You can catch all of that and more below. Uncensored returns on Wednesday at 13:00 on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
The majority of British migrants living in Europe are of working age, even in Spain, the most popular EU country for UK citizens to settle in, new figures show. The Office for National Statistics data contradicts the widely held belief that most Britons in Europe are pensioners sunning themselves in southern France or Spain. ONS figures show two-thirds of the 784,900 British citizens recorded as long-term residents in the EU, excluding the UK and Ireland, are aged between 15 and 64 and more of them live in Spain than any other country. Estimates using data from the Labour Force Survey and the 2011 European censuses put the number of British people resident long-term in Spain at 293,500.
JEREMY Corbyn has been openly criticised by his own MPs amid accusations he has sided with Presidents Assad and Vladimir Putin over military strikes in Syria. Following a series of airstrikes over the weekend by a joint force from the United States, UK and France, the Labour leader called for a “War Powers Act” which would require Commons approval for any future military intervention. Theresa May has insisted the airstrikes, which targeted President Assad’s chemical weapons facilities, were legal and “in Britain’s national interest”. But Jeremy Corbyn used an appearance on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show to question their legality and urge dialogue instead of military action. He has also refused to blame Russia for the suspected nerve agent attack in Salisbury, insisting he wants to see “inconvertible evidence” before Moscow can be blamed. However Labour MPs have now broken ranks with their leader over his stance and taken to social media to voice their frustration.
Britons now narrowly support airstrikes in Syria, having been divided on the issue before the weekend’s military action, a Sky Data poll reveals. The RAF were involved in strikes alongside forces from France and the USA against alleged chemical weapons facilities in Syria over the weekend, in response to an alleged chemical attack by the Syrian government on its own people. Half of Britons (49%) think Theresa May was right to take part in airstrikes in Syria, while 37% think it was the wrong thing to do – 6% say neither, 9% don’t know. Last week, before the airstrikes, public opinion was evenly split on British military action in response to the alleged chemical attack in Syria – 36% supported such as move, 37% opposed it. Opposition rose to 48%, with support down to 28%, if action in Syria meant conflict with Russia, which supports Syrian President Bashar al Assad.
Vauxhall is terminating the contracts of all its 326 dealerships in Britain as the company battles to deal with plunging sales and a changing market. The marque is ending all dealer contracts in the UK – a move also happening with sister brand Opel across Europe – as the entire sales network is reorganised. Some 1600 dealers across the pan-European network will be given two years’ notice from April 30 that the manufacturer is ending its relationship with them, and proposing a new contract with about two thirds of them. About 12,000 staff are employed in franchisees’ UK dealerships but Stephen Norman, Vauxhall’s UK boss, insisted that staff would not lose their jobs as a “direct result” of Vauxhall’s decision to refranchise the network. “Based on 42 years experience in the industry, and having been through four of these network refranchisings, I do not expect jobs to be threatened,” he said.
Vauxhall is set to axe one in three of its dealerships putting at risk 3,700 jobs – as it becomes the latest firm to be hit by a slowdown in car sales. The firm, which is owned by French giant PSA, will cancel contracts with all of its 326 dealers in the UK before striking new deals with only better performing branches. It is thought around 100 may close. The drastic cuts come just three days after Jaguar Land Rover announced it was axing more than 1,000 jobs after seeing a fall in sales which it blamed on the crackdown on diesel engines. Vauxhall’s European sister company Opel is also shutting dealerships across the continent as the company tries to adapt to changing consumer habits which are seeing customers visit car dealers less and less.
Amber Rudd has apologised to members of the Windrush generation who have been subjected to what she described as “appalling” treatment by the Government. The Home Secretary announced the creation of a new task force in the Home Office to speed up the regularisation of the immigration status of people who arrived in the UK as long ago as the 1940s. Her announcement came after the immigration minister Caroline Nokes admitted “terrible mistakes” had been made over the Government’s treatment of the Windrush generation who came to the UK from the Commonwealth 70 years ago.
Amber Rudd admitted today that she is not aware of any migrants from the “Windrush generation” who have been deported from the UK. The home secretary was speaking just hours after the immigration minister said some had been removed from the country in error. Theresa May said she would hold talks with Caribbean leaders tomorrow over the treatment of the migrants. Downing Street said she had only become aware of their request for a meeting today. Earlier, Guy Hewitt, the high commissioner for Barbados, had been refused a meeting on the grounds that there was no time on Mrs May’s schedule.
The home secretary has apologised for the treatment of the Windrush generation, saying it was “wrong” and “appalling” that some face deportation. Many immigrants who arrived from the Commonwealth decades ago as children have been told they are here illegally. Amber Rudd said they would be helped to attain required documents for free and added she was concerned her department “sometimes loses sight” of individuals. Labour’s David Lammy said it was a “day of national shame”. The Tottenham MP said it was “inhumane and cruel” that it had taken the government so long to act.
The horrific shambles surrounding the migration status of the ‘Windrush generation’ of Brits who came to the UK decades ago has taken another soar turn, with Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes admitting that some Brits may have been deported in error. Channel 4 News asked Nokes: “How many people, I’m sure you do have these records, who came here pre-1973 from the Commonwealth, have been deported, say to the Caribbean?” To which she replied: “What I know is that individual cases are heartbreaking and it’s really important to me that going forward we get this right.” When pressed specifically: “But people have been deported to the Caribbean, in error potentially?”
The plight of members of the Windrush generation wrongly threatened with deportation was branded a “day of national shame”, after the home secretary apologised for their treatment. Amber Rudd admitted to “appalling” cases of people denied health treatment, stripped of their jobs and faced with being sent to countries they left as children, decades ago, and have never returned to. Amid growing cross-party condemnation, she astonished MPs by saying the Home Office did not know if any Windrush immigrants had been wrongly deported under the crackdown. A limited U-turn will now see people offered help to prove their immigration status within two weeks – with their fees waived. Ms Rudd also made extraordinary criticism of Theresa May’s running of the Home Office, warning it became “too concerned with policy and strategy and sometimes loses sight of the individual”.
An enzyme that breaks down a common plastic that pollutes the oceans has been engineered by scientists. The discovery could reduce from centuries to days the time that it takes for plastic to decompose, making the material truly recyclable. One of the most common plastics is polyethylene terephthalate (PET), which can be recycled into items such as clothes and carpets that can then themselves be recycled. At each stage the material is degraded until it is useless and ends up as waste. Scientists from Britain and the United States believe that their work could result in an enzyme that would degrade PET and turn it into its original chemical chains, ready to be used again.
A £61.4m war chest to fight the rising tide of plastic pollution in the world’s oceans has been announced by the Government. The fund was announced by Theresa May ahead of the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in London next week. The Prime Minister is due to ask all the 52 leaders at the meeting to sign up to the Commonwealth Clean Oceans Alliance set up to help developing Commonwealth countries research and improve waste management. So far four Commonwealth countries, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Vanuatu and Ghana, have joined the UK in the alliance.
Recycling could be changed forever by an engineered enzyme which eats plastic, scientists hope. The findings have come about by accident after British researchers created the plastic-digesting protein inadvertently while investigating its natural counterpart. The lab-made mutant has a supercharged ability to break down polyethylene terephthalate (PET), one of the most popular forms of plastic used in food and drinks packaging, tests have found. Around 70% of soft drinks, fruit juices and mineral water are packaged in bottles made from PET, according to the British Plastics Federation. Despite claims it is highly recyclable, it is often discarded and can take hundreds of years to degrade. The discovery of a bacteria in a Japanese recycling centre that evolved the ability to feed on plastic initiate the research.