From Metro: Theresa May has said she is looking forward to building on the ‘strong and enduring ties’ between the UK and US during Donald Trump’s visit to Britain.
From Evolve Politics: A list has emerged detailing a staggering number of MPs who have accepted lavish all expenses paid trips to the head-chopping state of Saudi Arabia.
Since 2015, the government of Saudi Arabia has spent at least £222,000 jetting UK MPs out to the oil rich middle eastern country.
Details of these trips are listed on the website of the Register of Members’ Financial Interests. The purpose of the register is to provide information of any financial interests or benefits an MP receives which could be seen as influential on their work as a Member of Parliament.
33 MPs have taken all expenses paid trips to Saudi Arabia since March 2015 – 29 of them Conservative.
Tory MP Leo Docherty seems to be a frequent flyer. He visited in 2015, 2017 and 2018. He is now a member of the Committees on Arms Export Controls.
For Docherty to even be appointed to that Committee is worrying in itself considering the high number of arms the UK licences for export to Saudi Arabia.
From the Morning Star: Former foreign secretary Boris Johnson accepted £14,000 worth of hospitality from the Saudi regime, only days before Jamal Khashoggi’s death, it was revealed this week.
Andrew Smith, media co-ordinator of Campaign Against Arms Trade, said: “Politicians should not be taking money from authoritarian regimes or dictatorships like the one in Saudi Arabia, which has an appalling human rights record and has inflicted a humanitarian crisis on Yemen.
“The Saudi regime is not spending money on hospitality for Boris Johnson because it cares about his views on education. It is doing it because it knows that he’s got ambitions for Downing Street and it wants to buy influence.”
Labour’s shadow cabinet office minister Jon Trickett said it was another reminder of how far the Tories’ “cosy relationship” with the “murderous” Saudi regime extends.
Conservatives condemned by British Jewish leaders after MEPs vote to defend Hungary’s far-right Orban government
From The Independent: The Board of Deputies of British Jews said it was “very concerning” that the Conservatives had chosen to defend Hungary’s “appalling track record” which they pointed out included both “vivid antisemitism” and islamophobia.
Letter in The Guardian: The far-right Sweden Democrats, with their roots in fringe Nazi groups, have come third in the Swedish general election, up to nearly 18% from 12.9% in the previous election.
Their main platform is to end immigration and assist repatriation. Despite a rebranding to whitewash their origins, their representatives blame immigrants for social and economic problems and several of their members have got into hot water for sharing antisemitic comments, for example by mocking Holocaust victims or implying that Jews cannot be fully Swedish.
The centre left and centre right blocs say they cannot and will not work with them. But Britain’s Tory party, under David Cameron then Theresa May, have been allied with them for years in the European parliament’s Conservatives and Reformists group.
Is it not time to focus on the real and verifiable links between the Tories and anti-immigrant, antisemitic and Islamophobic populist far-right groups in Europe?
From Morning Star: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman may project himself to simpering allies in Washington, London and Tel Aviv as the face of change, but domestic repression and war crimes in Yemen persist.
The Saudi military coalition, engaged in erasing all resistance in its southern neighbour, obliterated a bus in Saada province today, killing up to 39 people – the majority infants – and wounding another 43.
This massacre is merely the latest in a long list by the Saudi coalition, seeking to impose its will by terror bombing since its ground troops have failed so far to achieve its aim.
To improve its chances, Saudi Arabia and its coalition of corrupt Gulf kingdoms spend freely on weapons of mass destruction from Western powers, especially the US and Britain.
Britain’s Campaign Against the Arms Trade estimates that our Tory government has licensed £4.7 billion of arms to Saudi forces since the bombing campaign began in 2015, during which period 10,000 people have been killed.
From The Independent: Donald Trump and Theresa May have held hands once again, during the president’s visit to the UK.
From Evolve Politics: Despite famously telling a nurse who hadn’t had a pay rise in 8 years that there was no ‘magic money tree’, and in spite of 10 years of devastating cuts to vital public services such as the NHS and schools, the Conservative government have today promised a whopping £5m of taxpayer’s money specifically to enable Donald Trump to play golf during his planned visit to the UK later this month.
In a letter posted to Twitter, the Tory Treasury Secretary Liz Truss told the Scottish Government’s new Justice Secretary, Humza Yousaf, that the UK Conservative government would set aside the £5m needed to police Donald Trump, should the US President fancy playing a spot of golf at any of his resorts in Scotland.
Trump is reportedly planning to visit his luxury golf resort at Turnberry following his scheduled meeting with Theresa May later in July.
“Imagine Trump doing Brexit,” Johnson said. “He’d go in bloody hard… There’d be all sorts of breakdowns, all sorts of chaos. Everyone would think he’d gone mad. But actually you might get somewhere. It’s a very, very good thought.”
From The Guardian: Despite repeatedly embarrassing the British prime minister at a politically bruising G7 summit in Quebec, Donald Trump’s controversial visit to the UK next month would still appear to be on.
Theresa May insisted that she had exchanged warm greetings with the US president and he had said how much he was “looking forward” to his visit.
“We have a very good relationship with President Trump,” she said, after she had been challenged on his reported remarks that she was schoolmistressy and politically correct.
Boris Johnson slated for congratulating racist, authoritarian Hungarian leader for disputed election win
From The Guardian: Boris Johnson has been criticised for congratulating Hungary’s Viktor Orbán on his election victory, despite harsh criticism from international observers who noted the campaign’s intimidating and xenophobic rhetoric.
The foreign secretary tweeted congratulations to Orbán, who will now serve a third consecutive term as prime minister, having campaigned with his Fidesz party almost exclusively on an anti-migration platform.
“Congratulations to Fidesz and Viktor Orbán on winning the elections in Hungary,” Johnson tweeted. “We look forward to working with our Hungarian friends to further develop our close partnership.”
Within hours of Boris Johnson’s tweet, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) criticised the conduct seen during the Hungarian election campaign, saying there was “intimidating and xenophobic rhetoric, media bias and opaque campaign financing”.
From The Guardian: China’s state-run media has commended a pragmatic” Theresa May for resisting calls to publicly challenge Beijing over Hong Kong and human rights during her three-day visit.
In an editorial on Friday, the third and final day of May’s tour, the Global Times newspaper said the prime minister had wisely “sidestepped” such issues as she sought “pragmatic collaboration” between Britain and the world’s number two economy.
“Some western media outlets keep pestering May to criticise Beijing in an attempt to showcase that the UK has withstood pressure from China and the west has consolidated its commanding position over the country in politics,” the Communist party-run tabloid claimed in its English-language edition.
“Certain democracy activists in Hong Kong also intervened,” the nationalist newspaper added, pointing to an article in the Guardian on Wednesday in which Joshua Wong urged May to challenge Beijing’s “relentless crackdown” on the former British colony.
However, the Global Times congratulated May for turning a deaf ear to such calls, which it attributed to “radical public opinion”.
“May will definitely not make any comment contrary to the goals of her China trip … For the prime minister, the losses outweigh the gains if she appeases the British media at the cost of the visit’s friendly atmosphere.”
From The New Arab: Theresa May has been urged to withdraw her invitation for Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince to visit Britain over the kingdom’s human rights violations.
The visit, announced in December, is due in the coming weeks.
However, due to Saudi Arabia’s repressive policies against its citizens, and its bombing campaign in Yemen which created “the world’s worst humanitarian disaster for 50 years” according to a senior UN official, several NGOs focusing on human rights in the Middle East signed a declaration on Tuesday asking the prime minister to cancel the visit.
“This visit will be regarded as an uncritical endorsement of the crown prince and the atrocities that his regime has inflicted on Yemen,” Andrew Smith, media spokesperson for the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT), told The New Arab.