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 Financial Times: A supermarket chief has said the Tory government’s position on food stockpiling was “ridiculous” and demonstrated “complete naivety” about the way the sector worked.
[Read article on FT website…]
From The Independent: The new Brexit secretary Dominic Raab has finally confirmed the Tory government is making extraordinary plans to stockpile food, for if the UK crashes out of the EU without a deal.
[Read article on Independent website…]
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.
[Read full article on Morning Star website…]
From The Independent: Donald Trump and Theresa May have held hands once again, during the president’s visit to the UK.
[Read article on Independent website…]
From The Independent: Dominic Raab, Theresa May’s new Brexit secretary, previously called for Britain to use negotiations with the EU to scrap workers’ rights.
[Read article on Independent website…]
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.
[Read full article on Evolve Politics…]
From The Guardian: A middle-ranking Tory minister stopped on his way to a meeting in the House of Commons and offered the following observations about the government in which he serves. “There is no discipline at all. Everyone thinks they can say just what they want. It is not good for anyone or good for the country.” Crucial decisions on Brexit had to be made within days, and time was running out, he said. But within the cabinet, disagreements were widening as the moment of truth approached. Ministers were briefing against one another in public, giving an impression that the ship of state was heading for the rocks just when the national interest required those steering it to pull together.
“She has to lead,” the minister added. “The can has been kicked into the corner on Brexit. It can’t be kicked any farther.” He then headed off, turning back for a second, to sum it all up as “midsummer madness”.
Normally ministers and senior MPs will show some caution when having private conversations with journalists at Westminster. They will at least make efforts not to be overheard. But these days they brief without fear on every corner, in every cloister. Soon after the minister departed, a former cabinet minister who has worked for the Conservative party for several decades strolled by and was happy to talk. The atmosphere was dreadful, he said, and Theresa May’s position was becoming more perilous by the day.
From Daily Telegraph: Boris Johnson was embroiled in a diplomatic row with Brussels on Friday night after he was accused of using a four-letter F-word to dismiss an ambassador’s question about the post-Brexit needs of British business.
[Read full article on Telegraph website…]
From Buzzfeed: “I am increasingly admiring of Donald Trump,” Boris Johnson said. “I have become more and more convinced that there is method in his madness.”
“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.”
[Read full article on Buzzfeed…]
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.
[Read full article on Guardian website…]
From The Guardian: The United Nations has warned the government that Britain’s reputation is at risk over plans that would significantly weaken protections for the environment after Brexit.
In a stern intervention, Erik Solheim, executive director of the UN’s environment programme, called on the environment secretary Michael Gove to honour his promise to deliver a “green Brexit”, ensuring the environment would not suffer from Britain’s EU departure.
The warning comes after proposals to protect the climate after Brexit were dismissed as “toothless” by green campaigners. Under the plans, the new post-Brexit watchdog would not have the power to take the government to court over breaches of environmental standards. At the moment, the government is answerable at the European Court of Justice (ECJ), which often forces ministers to act.
Campaigners have warned that the current plans would leave Britain with a weaker system for enforcing environmental safeguards than those maintained in the United States by Donald Trump.
[Read full article on Guardian website…]
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 Business Insider UK: Theresa May has been accused of secretly plotting to sell off the NHS after declining a request to rule out making the NHS part of any future post-Brexit trade deal with the US. The prime minister was asked by Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable in the House of Commons to give an “absolute guarantee” that the NHS “will not be for sale” when the UK government begins negotiations with the Donald Trump administration.
However, May declined the opportunity, saying the UK did not yet know what “requirements” the US would make as part of any deal. “We are starting the discussions with the American administration,” May replied. “He doesn’t know what they are going to say in their requirements for that free trade agreements. We will go into those negotiations to get the best possible deal for the United Kingdom.”
[Read full article on Business Insider UK website…]
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 Unearthed: Liam Fox’s department for international trade has signed agreements with the US which will make it much more difficult to find out what is being discussed in early-stage US-UK trade talks.
Liam Fox’s department last week quietly released an exchange of letters between the UK and the office of the US trade representative agreeing to mark exchanged information, papers and discussions as either “sensitive” or “confidential”, with both sides also agreeing to keep the information “held in confidence” for four years after the conclusion of the talks.
This has led to concerns from politicians and campaign groups that the talks could pave the way for the UK to accept lower US standards on issues including animal welfare, chemical and pesticide usage, and other practices.
[Read full article on Unearthed…]
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 Guardian: Theresa May’s political weakness was brutally exposed to Brussels on Monday, as an agreement struck between Britain and the EU to solve the problem of the Irish border and move to the next phase of Brexit talks was torpedoed by a last-minute telephone call with the leader of the DUP.
Confidence early on Monday that an agreement was within reach came to nothing when, during a working lunch with the European commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, May was forced to pause discussions to take a call from Arlene Foster.
The unionist leader, whose party currently provides the Tories with a working majority in the Commons, told the British prime minister that she could not support Downing Street’s planned commitment to keep Northern Ireland aligned with EU laws.
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.
[Read full story on Independent website…]