Downed Russian plane

Two stories dominate today’s papers.  The first is a range of angles on the story of the passenger jet that was downed after leaving Sharm El-Sheikh.

ITV News reports that noise was heard in the last second of recording from the crashed Russian jet.

A noise was heard in the last second of a recording taken from one of the black boxes on board the Russian jet which crashed in Egypt, the country’s civil aviation minister has said.

He said further analysis of the recordings was required “to identify the nature of the sound” and that “all possible scenarios” were still being considered.

The British Government has said it is “more likely than not” that the jet was brought down by a bomb, killing all 224 people on the flight.

The UK hopes to return all Britons from Sharm el-Sheikh within 10 days, a British official at the airport has said.

The Daily Star claims that British jihadis built the bomb suspected of being aboard the downed plane.

BRITISH jihadis are feared to have constructed the bomb that downed a Russian airliner, killing 224 people.

Spies at GCHQ – the Government’s secret listening centre – intercepted “chatter” in which jihadis in Egypt with Birmingham and London accents could be heard celebrating the disaster.

A senior intelligence source said the communications suggest there was a “definite and strong link” between the British Islamists and the bombing.

It is suspected that Brits known to be fighting with Isis in Egypt helped mastermind the atrocity.

The source said: “Jihadis in the Sinai area of Egypt could be heard celebrating.”

A closer analysis of that material has identified London and Birmingham accents among those numerous voices.

“There has also been some internet traffic suggesting there was British involvement in the attack. We know there are British jihadis in Egypt fighting with members of Islamic State.

“They were trained in Syria and are now hardened terrorists. Some of them have an electronics background and have been developing sophisticated bombs.”

And the Express claims that British extremists with London and Birmingham accents have been heard cheering the disaster

BRITISH extremists were behind the bombing of a Russian jet over Egypt, intelligence experts believe.

They were overheard celebrating moments after the explosion that blew the plane apart, killing all 224 on board.

The jihadis were heard talking in Birmingham and London accents by spies at GCHQ in Cheltenham.

Trained in Syria and with an electronics background, it is believed they may have had a hand in building the bomb.

The success of the attack could inspire them to target British airports next, a former Special Branch officer warned last night.

GCHQ, the Government’s secret listening centre, picked up “chatter” from extremist groups in Egypt immediately after the Russian plane came down.

The regional accents suggest “a definite and strong link” between British extremists and the attack, according to intelligence sources.

“Jihadis in the Sinai area of Egypt could be heard celebrating,” one source said yesterday.

The Mail also has this story.

Extremists with British accents were heard celebrating moments after the Russian jet was downed over Sinai, it has been claimed.

The jihadists were reportedly heard speaking in Birmingham and London accents after the Metrojet plane crashed, killing all 224 on board.

It is the strongest suggestion yet that British extremists are linked to the disaster.

The claims emerged hours after the Islamic State terrorists released a sick video celebrating the Sharm-el-Sheik atrocity.

Last night, security experts also voiced fears that Britons fighting with terror groups might use the bomb-making skills they learn in Syria to try and down an aircraft in the UK.

According to the Sunday Express, the British accents were detected by GCHQ spooks monitoring ‘chatter’ between jihadists in the immediate aftermath of the crash.

One unnamed source told the newspaper there had also been ‘some internet traffic suggesting that there was British involvement in the attack.’

A former Special Branch detective said there was a ‘growing concern’ that British extremists would ‘use their newly learnt skills’ to ‘attempt something similar elsewhere’, adding it could be in the UK.

Yesterday, Islamic State terrorists released a sick video celebrating the Sharm-el-Sheik atrocity, as it emerged that US intelligence agents intercepted jihadi messages about a ‘big event’ in the area just days before the attack.

In the seven-minute video, called ‘Satisfaction of souls by killing of Russians’, IS claims that its Egyptian wing, Wilayat Sinai, was behind the plane crash, and that it carried out the attack in revenge for Russian air strikes in Syria.

The Mail also claims that Britons are furious after Russians get priority on flying home from Egypt.

Angry British tourists stranded in Egypt last night claimed Russians are receiving priority treatment – and accused them of ‘queue-jumping’ to board rescue flights home.

Their frustration followed concern that Vladimir Putin secured a deal for Russian holidaymakers during a phone call with his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

Humiliatingly, Britain appeared to be left out of the arrangement – and many travellers now face a nine-day wait to get home.

As the situation risked developing into a diplomatic rift, only 1,500 Britons returned from Sharm-el-Sheikh yesterday. Russia, meanwhile, managed to repatriate more than 6,000 of its citizens.

Asked about the Russian relief effort, Britain’s ambassador to Cairo, John Casson, said: ‘At the moment this is something we are watching very closely. It is one of the competing logistical processes going on within the airport.’

Thousands of UK holidaymakers had expected to be home by now – a full week after the downing of a Russian passenger jet in the Sinai peninsula killing all 224 on board – having received assurances from a Government Minister.

But compounding an already chaotic situation, Egypt put ‘restrictions’ on the number of UK rescue flights arriving at the Red Sea resort airport – though they did not appear to apply to Russia.

EU referendum

The other main story is the forthcoming referendum on British membership of the EU.

The Independent outlines the Prime Minister’s demands.

The PM will launch formal negotiations on Tuesday with a letter to Donald Tusk, the EU president. This will set out headings for “an intensive round of one-to-one discussions”. But Mr Cameron and George Osborne have already set out the details. Here we identify their main demands – and how likely it is that they will be met.

  1. An end to the assumption of “ever closer union”. “We would be much more comfortable if the Treaty … [freed] those who want to go further, faster, to do so, without being held back by the others.”

Should be an easy win. The Council of Ministers agreed a statement in June 2014 “respecting the wish” of those who don’t want more integration. A draft protocol could be attached to a future treaty.

  1. Protection of non-eurozone members. “What we seek are principles …binding on EU institutions that safeguard the operation of the Union for all 28 member states …. That includes the recognition that the EU has more than one currency and we should not discriminate against any business on the basis of the currency of the country in which they reside. The principles must ensure that as the eurozone chooses to integrate, it does so in a way that does not damage the interests of non-euro members.”

Tricky to draft, but the Germans want to be helpful. Do-able.

  1. EU jobseekers should “have a job offer before they come” to the UK. And “if an EU jobseeker has not found work within six months, they will be required to leave”.

Hard to draft, hard to enforce, hard to secure support from central European countries.

  1. “Those who want to claim tax credits and child benefit must live here and contribute … for a minimum of four years.” Plus: “We’ll introduce a new residency requirement for social housing, meaning that you can’t even be considered for a council house, unless you’ve been here again for at least four years.”

Many EU countries regard this as an unacceptable infringement of the free movement of workers. It might be possible to bring in rules like these under existing EU law if Britain moved to a system of benefits based on contributions. Otherwise, Mr Cameron is likely to have to settle for less than he wants.

  1. “Stronger powers to deport criminals and to stop them coming back …. Tougher and longer re-entry bans for all of those who abuse free movement, including beggars, rough sleepers, fraudsters and people who collude in sham marriages.”

Vague but fairly uncontroversial.

  1. “If their child is living abroad, then there should be no child benefit or no tax credit at all, no matter how long they’ve worked in the UK and no matter how much tax they’ve paid.”

No one has seriously opposed this, so should be easy to secure.

  1. Strengthen oversight by national parliaments. “It is national parliaments, which are, and will remain, the true source of real democratic legitimacy and accountability in the EU … We need to recognise that in the way the EU does business.”

Fairly uncontroversial, except with members of the European Parliament, who tend to think that they are democratically legitimate. Should be possible to agree a form of words that sounds as if the House of Commons is gaining scrutiny powers. EU opponents will criticise the PM for failing to secure a “red card” power for the Commons to block any EU law, but he hasn’t promised that.

Sky News claims the Prime Minister has given his strongest hint yet that he will campaign for Britain to leave the European Union if his demands for reform are not met.

The Prime Minister will set out a shopping list of demands on Tuesday in a letter to Donald Tusk, the President of the European Council.

In a speech on the same day, Mr Cameron will say that if the EU agrees to reform he will campaign for Britain to stay in “with all my heart and all my soul, because that will be unambiguously in our national interest”.

But he will add: “If we can’t reach such an agreement, and if Britain’s concerns were to be met with a deaf ear, which I do not believe will happen, then we will have to think again about whether this European Union is right for us. As I have said before – I rule nothing out.”

This week marks the beginning of formal negotiations about Britain’s relationship with the European Union ahead of an in/out referendum on its membership.

The Independent claims Mr Cameron will warn against accepting the status quo as he issues his wish list of demands

David Cameron will issue his strongest warning yet that campaigners who back British membership of the European Union cannot rely on defending the status quo.

In a speech on Tuesday, the Prime Minister will argue that EU regulations could “hold back our ability to trade” and that membership has led to an “unsustainable rate of migration” into the UK. However, he will also vow to campaign “with all my heart” in favour of an in vote, in the referendum that is due by 2017, should he succeed in getting agreement for his proposed reforms.

This wish list of changes to the terms of Britain’s membership will be handed to the EU when he makes his speech. This will include broad demands of greater sovereignty for national parliaments, increasing economic competitiveness, keeping Britain away from the notion of “ever closer union”, and reducing migrants’ rights to benefits.

And the Guardian claims the PM will not rule out leaving the bloc.

David Cameron will issue a dramatic warning to fellow EU leaders this week that he may have to recommend a UK exit from the European Union if they reject his demands for reform.

Turning up the pressure on the other 27 EU heads of state, the prime minister will formally table his list of demands – including a four-year ban on EU migrants claiming in-work benefits after entering the UK – in a letter to European Council president Donald Tusk on Tuesday. It will mark the start of months of detailed negotiations involving senior representatives of all EU governments, ahead of the promised in/out referendum on UK membership before the end of 2017.

In a speech on Tuesday, Cameron will use his strongest language to date to say that the status quo is not an acceptable option and that withdrawal may follow if the EU does not give substantial ground. Making clear that his, and his government’s, approach in the referendum campaign has not been predetermined, he will say: “If we can’t reach such an agreement, and if Britain’s concerns were to be met with a deaf ear, which I do not believe will happen, then we will have to think again about whether this European Union is right for us. As I have said before – I rule nothing out.”

ITV also reports the possibility that the PM may recommend leaving.

David Cameron is prepared to reconsider Britain’s EU membership if other members of the bloc turn a “deaf ear” to his calls for reform.

The prime minister is to set out his formal demands for reform in a letter to European Council president Donald Tusk.

The letter will be published on Tuesday. It will accompany a speech by Mr Cameron, in which he will warn he is prepared to walk away from the EU if he cannot get the changes he wants.

The publication of the letter will mark the start of Britain’s renegotiation of its EU membership ahead of an in/out referendum to be held before the end of 2017.

In his speech, Mr Cameron is expected to say he has “every confidence” of reaching an agreement which works for Britain and other EU members.

But he will warn: “If we can’t reach such an agreement, and if Britain’s concerns were to be met with a deaf ear, which I do not believe will happen, then we will have to think again about whether this European Union is right for us. As I have said before – I rule nothing out.”

“If and when we do so, as I said three years ago, I will campaign to keep Britain inside a reformed European Union – campaign for it with all my heart and all my soul, because that will be unambiguously in our national interest.”

He will say there are “real problems” with accepting the status quo and staying in the EU at all costs.

However Mr Cameron will also say Eurosceptics who want Britain to leave the EU immediately should think hard about the implications.

“What would being outside the European Union mean for our economic security? And what does it mean for our national security?,” the Prime Minister will say.

As does the BBC.

David Cameron is to warn European leaders he will “think again” about the UK staying in the EU if his demands for reform are “met with a deaf ear”.

The PM will deliver his warning on Tuesday to coincide with a letter to the European Council president setting out the changes he wants for the UK.

The letter to Donald Tusk will mark the start of the UK’s formal re-negotiation of its EU membership.

Eurosceptic Labour MP Austin Mitchell accused Mr Cameron of bluffing.

The Conservatives have promised an in-out referendum on the EU by 2017.

In a speech on Tuesday, Mr Cameron will say: “If we can’t reach such an agreement [on reforms], and if Britain’s concerns were to be met with a deaf ear, which I do not believe will happen, then we will have to think again about whether this European Union is right for us.

“As I have said before – I rule nothing out.”

Mr Cameron will say he is ready to campaign to stay in the EU “with all my heart and all my soul”, but only if the terms are right.

He has already said he wants an end to the commitment to ever-closer union, more power for national governments and restrictions on benefits for EU migrants.

The speech will be Mr Cameron’s strongest warning yet that he is prepared to consider life outside the EU if he doesn’t get what he wants, BBC political correspondent Carole Walker said.

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