From The Independent: British Conservative MEPs were branded “disgraceful” after they abstained in a European Parliament vote on whether to impose an EU-wide arms embargo on Saudi Arabia. The UK has licensed almost £5 billion worth of arms to Saudi since the Yemen war began.
From Morning Star: The gains of decades of anti-poverty campaigning to put people before profit are under threat if the Tory government’s “wrong-headed privatisation” of the aid budget is allowed to proceed, campaign group Global Justice Now has warned.
International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt has set the stage for full-scale privatisation of Britain’s aid spending, announcing a drastic reduction of public money from the aid budget and saying she would continue to press for changes to the rules on international aid to “incentivise” private investment abroad.
Working with the City of London to develop new “investment vehicles” for developing countries would provide opportunities for British savers struggling to find a return on their investments, she claimed.
“When British investors are struggling to find good returns, these markets offer good opportunities. Doing good while making money,” she said.
Global Justice Now’s aid policy manager Ed Lewis said: “Not content with using public money to fund private schools in the developing world, the government now plans to outsource its obligations to tackle poverty to the private sector.
“This is a betrayal of our country’s responsibility for ending global poverty and inequality and instead turns other people’s poverty into a money-making opportunity.”
From Daily Mirror: Tory cuts have been blamed for a huge fall in the amount of time Royal Navy destroyers spend at sea.
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 Morning Star: An all-party parliamentary group on drones has said the Tory government lacks a “clear policy and sound legal basis” for the use of unmanned weapons.
Britain’s involvement in the US-led bombing campaign directed at Isis in Syria and Iraq since 2014 had “raised some serious questions about the legality, efficacy and strategic coherence” of its drone programme, the MPs said.
The inquiry called on the government to immediately publish its “targeted killing” policy and establish an independent scrutiny mechanism that is answerable to Parliament whenever someone is killed by a drone — as such assassinations currently take place without any transparency or accountability.
Parliamentary concerns about the issue were raised in August 2015 when two British citizens accused of fighting for Isis, Junaid Hussain and Reyaad Khan, were killed by British drone strikes in Syria.
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.
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 has done a runner from the UK House of Commons to avoid Emily Thornberry's Urgent Question on Gaza. This is now the second time a Cabinet minister has dodged a question in a week.MORE: https://on.rt.com/952i
Posted by Independent Media on Tuesday, May 15, 2018
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.
From The Guardian: David Davis’s claim that the UK’s concessions in an agreement to move on the Brexit negotiations were merely a statement of intent has damaged trust and will see a hardening of positions in Brussels, the European parliament’s coordinator, Guy Verhofstadt, has said.
The former Belgian prime minister claimed the Brexit secretary’s comments over the weekend were “unacceptable”, and undermined confidence in the British government’s trustworthiness.
The member states will now agree a tougher wording in their guidelines about the next stage of the talks, due to be signed off at a summit of leaders on Friday, Verhofstadt said.
From The Independent: Theresa May’s ties with Donald Trump are under intense pressure after the President promoted a British far-right extremist organisation to his 44 million social media followers.
From The Guardian: Tory defence secretary Michael Fallon urged MPs to stop criticising Saudi Arabia in the interests of securing a fighter jet deal, provoking sharp criticism from human rights and arms trade campaigners.
Michael Fallon told the defence committee: “I have to repeat, sadly, to this committee that obviously other criticism of Saudi Arabia in this parliament is not helpful and … I’ll leave it there,” he said. “But we need to do everything possible to encourage Saudi Arabia towards batch two. I believe they will commit to batch two.” Read more
From LBC News: Progressive British MPs have accused Donald Trump of “fearmongering” and of making “inflammatory and ignorant statements” after he claimed a rise in UK crime was caused by “radical Islamic terror”.
From The Independent: Britain will “spread its wings across the world” with increased arms and equipment exports after Brexit, the Defence Secretary has said. Britain’s “clients” include totalitarian regimes and nations accused of perpetrating war crimes.
From iNews: The Tory Government has been accused of inviting a “who’s who of human rights abusers” to the world’s largest defence and security fair opening in London next week.