Victorious Johnson Urges Britain To Move Past Brexit Divide

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson delivers a speech outside 10 Downing Street in central London on December 13, 2019, following his Conservative party’s general election victory. Adrian DENNIS / AFP

 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson called on Britons on Friday to put years of bitter divisions over the country’s EU membership behind them as he vowed to use his resounding election victory to finally deliver Brexit next month.

Johnson’s ruling Conservatives won their best result for three decades on Thursday night after promising to get Britain out of the European Union on January 31, a new deadline set by Brussels.

The snap general election turned into a re-run of the original 2016 EU membership referendum, whose outcome paralysed Britain’s leaders and created divisions across society.

But in a victory speech in Downing Street, the former London mayor struck a magnanimous tone, vowing to listen to those who opposed Brexit and lead an inclusive government.

“I urge everyone to find closure and to let the healing begin,” he said hours after visiting Queen Elizabeth II to be reappointed prime minister.

Johnson staked his political career on the election, which created the possibility of the pro-EU opposition rising to power and calling a new Brexit referendum that could undo the first’s results.

But the gambit payed off spectacularly, with his Tories securing 365 seats in the 650-seat House of Commons — the biggest majority since the 1980s heyday of Margaret Thatcher.

It also devastated the main opposition Labour party, which suffered its worst result since 1935.

Labour’s socialist leader Jeremy Corbyn said he would step down after a period of “reflection” within the century-old party about its future course.

The anti-Brexit Liberal Democrats also had a dismal night, falling to just 11 seats and losing their leader, Jo Swinson.

Honour the Mandate

London stocks and the British pound jumped on hopes of an end to years of uncertainty, which has hurt investment and economic growth.

Johnson said his party had an “overwhelming mandate from this election to get Brexit done”.

He promised to then focus on other public priorities, notably by increasing investment in healthcare, schools and infrastructure.

“The work is now stepped up to make 2020 a year of prosperity and growth and hope,” he concluded, to cheers from aides and activists outside Number 10.

Anti-Brexit campaign groups expressed dismay at the result, which spells the end of attempts to keep Britain in the European Union, although many voters welcomed a decisive result.

“At least it’s clear,” said lawyer Gordon Hockey in London. “It’s not necessarily what I wanted but at least we know where we stand and Brexit will happen in some form or other.”

Trump cheers ‘great WIN’

Parliament will reconvene on Tuesday and Johnson is expected to publish legislation before Christmas needed to ratify the Brexit deal he agreed with Brussels in October.

This should be passed by January but Britain and the EU still need to thrash out a new trade and security agreement — a process that officials have warned could take years.

At an EU summit in Brussels on Friday, the bloc’s leaders expressed relief at the clear result and said they would work for a swift trade deal.

But they warned that any new arrangement must uphold European values and norms.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Britain would be an economic “competitor at our door” after Brexit.

The result of Britain’s third election in almost five years signals a personal victory for Johnson, who remains a polarising figure.

US President Donald Trump tweeted his congratulations on a “great WIN!” and said London and Washington would be able to strike a “massive new trade deal”.

Johnson has promised new free trade deals with the EU and the United States, and after Thursday’s victory, now has the political capital at home to press ahead.

The US State Department said Friday it was “committed” to reaching a comprehensive trade deal with its historic all “once it formally withdraws from the European Union”.

Labour collapse

Labour’s support collapsed on Thursday, with the Tories taking many former strongholds in northern England and Wales that voted to leave.

The party lost 59 seats to end up with 203, after what Corbyn admitted had been a “very disappointing night”.

Corbyn had promised a second referendum on Brexit in a bid to appeal to half of British voters who still want to stay in the EU.

But he had focused Labour’s campaign on a radical programme of economic change, including re-nationalising some key industries, which failed to woo traditional voters.

Speaking early Friday, Corbyn defended his “manifesto of hope” and maintained his policies were “extremely popular” during the campaign.

But Corbyn has been dogged by accusations of sympathising with proscribed terror groups and failing to tackle anti-Semitism within the Labour party.

After Labour’s fourth successive electoral defeat — and the second under Corbyn — the party’s ruling executive body will meet in January to consider the next steps.

Scotland Eyes Exit

After winning 48 of 59 seats in Scotland, SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon stepped up the pressure for a new referendum on independence.

“The stunning election win from last night for the SNP renews, reinforces and strengthens the mandate we have from previous elections to offer the people of Scotland a choice over their future,” she said.

The first Scotland independence referendum failed in 2014, when 55 per cent voted in favour of preserving its membership in the United Kingdom.

But Scotland opposed Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union in the 2016

Sturgeon said Thursday’s outcome gave Johnson a mandate to take England out of the European Union, but not Scotland.

Buhari Congratulates Johnson On UK Election Victory

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has congratulated British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson over winning the United Kingdom general election.

He described the victory as resounding, stating that he looks forward to a stronger Nigeria-UK relationship.

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According to a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, Britain has been a reliable ally of Nigeria.

“President Muhammadu Buhari congratulates Prime Minister Boris Johnson on his resounding election victory in the United Kingdom general election.

“The President notes that Britain has been a reliable and historically unique ally of Nigeria, and has particularly supported this administration’s efforts at improving security and recovering stolen assets held in the UK.

“President Buhari looks forward to continuing working with the Prime Minister to forge a stronger Nigeria-UK relationship, especially in the area of trade and economic partnerships which greatly benefits the citizens of both countries.

Johnson’s Conservatives won their best result for three decades on Thursday night after promising to get Britain out of the European Union on January 31.

Merkel Pledges ‘Close Partnership’ With Boris Johnson

Angela Merkel 
Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel gives a press conference during a European Union Summit at the Europa building in Brussels on December 13, 2019.  PHOTO: ARIS OIKONOMOU / AFP

 

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday offered Britain’s Boris Johnson close cooperation and friendship, after the Tory leader scooped a decisive general election victory.

“Congratulations, Boris Johnson, for this clear election win. I look forward to our further cooperation towards the friendship and close partnership of our countries,” said Merkel in a statement posted by her spokesman on Twitter.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas noted that the UK poll result showed that the British prime minister now “has a clear mandate to bring about Brexit.”

“It is now very possible that an orderly exit will happen at the end of January,” Maas told the Funke newspaper group.

Maas underlined however that Britain could still return to the EU if it wishes to one day.

“The doors of the EU remain obviously open to Britain,” he said.

AFP

EU To ‘Rebuild’ Ties With UK After Johnson Win

PHOTO USED TO DEPICT THE STORY Flags of the European Union and United Kingdom outside the Houses of Parliament in central London/ AFP

 

The EU will have to rebuild its ties with London after Boris Johnson’s election victory which is likely to lead to Brexit in January, the EU’s Internal Market Commissioner said on Friday.

“We now have to rebuild relations with Great Britain which is an important partner,” Thierry Breton told French RTL radio, saying the bloc wanted “balanced” trade relations with the UK.

With almost all results declared for the 650-seat British parliament, Johnson’s Conservative party has secured a sweeping victory and he is now expected to deliver on his promise to “Get Brexit Done”.

His majority should allow him to get the divorce deal he struck with Brussels through parliament in time to meet the next Brexit deadline of January 31.

Both sides then still need to thrash out a new trade and security agreement.

Breton said he expected the European Council meeting Friday in Brussels to give the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier a new mandate for talks with London.

He said Britain was a very important trade partner for the EU, “but we are by far the biggest trading partner for Britain”.

Any future trade deal had to ensure that the EU’s social and environmental norms were also applied to trade with Britain.

AFP

Johnson Vows To Get Brexit Done After Election Victory

Britain’s Prime Minister and leader of the Conservative Party, Boris Johnson speaks during a campaign event to celebrate the result of the General Election, in central London on December 13, 2019. Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Friday hailed a political “earthquake” after securing a sweeping election win, which clears the way for Britain to finally leave the European Union next month after years of political deadlock. PHOTO: DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP

 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Friday hailed a political “earthquake” in Britain after a thumping election victory which clears the way for the country to finally leave the EU next month after years of paralysing deadlock.

With all but one result declared for the 650-seat parliament, Johnson’s Conservative party has secured 364 seats — its biggest majority since the heyday of Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s.

Condemning more than three years of political wrangling over Brexit,Johnson vowed in his victory speech on Friday to “put an end to all that nonsense” and “get Brexit done on time by January 31, no ifs, no buts”.

By contrast the main opposition Labour party suffered its worst electoral performance since before World War II, forcing leader Jeremy Corbyn to announce plans for his departure.

Sterling jumped overnight to its highest level since mid-2018 on hopes that Johnson will deliver his promise to “Get Brexit Done” after years of uncertainty and deep divisions over Britain’s future.

Early Friday it had pulled back a little to trade at $1.3403.

With such a large majority of MPs, Johnson will be able to get the divorce deal he struck with Brussels through parliament in time to meet the January 31 deadline.

Ratifying the deal would formalise the end of almost five decades of EU-UK integration, although both sides still need to thrash out a new trade and security agreement.

EU Council President Charles Michel said the bloc was set for talks but would do its utmost to protect European priorities.

“My point is very clear: we are ready. We have decided what are our priorities,” Michel said as he arrived at an EU summit where leaders would discuss the aftermath of the UK vote.

The result of Thursday’s election — the third in almost five years — signals a personal victory for Johnson, a former London mayor and foreign minister who helped lead the Brexit campaign to victory in the 2016 EU referendum.

US President Donald Trump tweeted his congratulations on a “great WIN!” and said London and Washington would be able to strike a “massive new trade deal” after Brexit.

“This deal has the potential to be far bigger and more lucrative than any deal that could be made with the E.U. Celebrate Boris!” he said.

Taking the north

The Conservatives had been ahead in opinion polls for weeks but the scale of their victory, after a wet and windy pre-Christmas election, was unexpected.

The party took a string of traditionally Labour seats that had not voted Tory for decades, but many of which had backed “Leave” in 2016.

“We must understand now what an earthquake we have created,” Johnson later told party staff, according to the Press Association news agency.

He earlier declared when he was re-elected as an MP that voters had given him “a powerful new mandate to get Brexit done”.

Johnson now has up to five years to govern until he is obliged to call another election.

Labour collapse

Labour was heading to its worst result since 1935, losing 59 seats to 203, after what Corbyn admitted had been a “very disappointing night”.

He said he would be stepping down after a period of “reflection”, and would not be leading the party into the next election, which is due by 2024.

Corbyn had promised a second referendum on Brexit in a bid to appeal to half of British voters who still want to stay in the EU.

But he had focused Labour’s campaign on a radical programme of economic change, including re-nationalising some key industries, which failed to woo traditional voters.

Speaking in the early hours of Friday, Corbyn defended his “manifesto of hope” and maintained his policies were “extremely popular” during the campaign.

But he said: “Brexit has so polarised and divided debate in this country, it has overridden so much of a normal political debate.”

Corbyn is personally unpopular and dogged by accusations of sympathising with proscribed terror groups and failing to tackle anti-Semitism within the Labour party.

This is Labour’s fourth successive electoral defeat — and the second under Corbyn.

Softer Brexit?

The anti-Brexit Liberal Democrats also did poorly and announced they would replace Jo Swinson as leader after she lost her seat in western Scotland to the Scottish National Party (SNP).

The Lib Dems were predicted to win 11 seats, down one on the last election in 2017.

Analysts said Swinson’s campaign to reverse Brexit without even a new referendum was unpopular, while efforts to create a “Remain” alliance to stop Brexit failed.

By contrast the Scottish National Party (SNP), which wants to stop Brexit and deliver an independent Scotland, gained 13 seats to reach 48.

Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party failed to win any seats, but he claimed to have helped Johnson standing down his own candidates in Tory-held seats.

Johnson has promised to put his Brexit plan to parliament before the Christmas break, although it will not likely be ratified until January.

He has then just 11 months to agree a new partnership with the EU before a post-Brexit transition period ends in December 2020.

But with a comfortable majority in parliament, analysts note he could choose to extend that time and negotiate a closer trade deal than previously envisaged.

“Ironically, this is a freer hand for Johnson to negotiate a softer version of Brexit,” said Simon Hix of the London School of Economics.

AFP

Polls Tighten On Eve Of Britain’s Brexit Election

Britain’s Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson speaks at a general election campaign event at Esher Rugby Club in Esher, south west London on December 11, 2019. Britain will go to the polls tomorrow to vote in a pre-Christmas general election. Adrian DENNIS / AFP

 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson vowed on Wednesday to “fight for every vote” after polls predicted a close finish to Britain’s general election aimed at settling the Brexit crisis.

Britons head to the polls for the third time in four years on Thursday, against a backdrop of political deadlock since a 2016 referendum which saw a majority opt to leave the EU.

Parliament repeatedly refused to accept divorce terms that former prime minister Theresa May agreed with Brussels, forcing her out and bringing Johnson into the fray with a vow to deliver.

The former London mayor and foreign minister has been hammering home his “Get Brexit Done” message, to win a majority which would enable him to get the deal approved.

He has vowed to take Britain out of the bloc by January 31.

But a closely watched poll released late Tuesday showed his Conservative party’s lead over the main opposition Labour party led by Jeremy Corbyn had narrowed.

The YouGov study said the Tories were on course for a 28-seat majority in the 650-seat House of Commons under Britain’s first-past-the-post system.

On November 27, it forecast a 68-seat majority.

“The margin of error here could put the final number of Conservative seats from 311 to 367,” YouGov said.

The lower end of that range would leave Britain with another hung parliament, where the biggest party does not have a majority, and the very real possibility of Brexit being delayed for years or even cancelled in a second referendum.

It could also end the political career of Johnson — a sharply polarising figure whose appeal to core Tory voters made him the logical choice to replace the increasingly hapless May.

“This could not be more critical. It could not be tighter,” Johnson said while helping to load milk bottles onto delivery vehicles on the campaign trail in northern England.

“We’re fighting for every vote.”

 ‘Money in your pocket’ 

Corbyn, 70, is a passionate campaigner who confounded pollsters by coming within a whisker of winning the last election in 2017.

He has vowed to implement a radically left-wing programme to overhaul public services that have been hit by a decade of austerity caused by the global financial meltdown of 2008-09.

But his vague stance on Brexit and repeated accusations of anti-Semitism in Labour under his watch have weakened his appeal to voters, according to opinion polls.

Corbyn, who like Johnson is criss-crossing the country in a frantic bid for last-minute votes, told the undecided that they could vote for “hope” on Thursday.

“We will put money in your pocket because you deserve it. The richest and big business will pay for it,” he said.

Corbyn’s proposal for Brexit is for Labour to strike a more EU-friendly agreement with Brussels, then put it up to a fresh referendum that includes the option of staying in the bloc.

He has spent much of the campaign attacking the Conservatives over its plans for the taxpayer-funded National Healthcare System (NHS).

Labour accused Johnson of abandoning the principle of free treatment for all by opening up the NHS to “Big Pharma” in a post-Brexit trade deal with US President Donald Trump.

Both Johnson and Trump deny the claims.

 Coalition building 

Polling suggests Corbyn stands almost no chance of winning the election outright and would need smaller opposition support to become first Labour prime minister since Gordon Brown in 2010.

These include the pro-EU Scottish National Party (SNP) and the Liberal Democrats, which has promised to cancel Brexit altogether.

But SNP support for a Labour coalition government could come at the cost of a promise to back a second referendum on Scottish independence.

The YouGov poll said the SNP was gaining momentum and on course to win 41 seats. But it projected just 15 seats for the Liberal Democrats.

Analysts believe the party made a mistake by initially promising to simply cancel Brexit, with polls indicating that many pro-European Britons view such a step as undemocratic.

The Lib Dems now promise to back a second referendum. But this stance makes them almost indistinguishable from Corbyn’s Labour.

Leading pollster John Curtice, from the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, said Labour has been able to “squeeze” the Lib Dem vote in the past two weeks.

“The crucial question now is whether or not Labour can raise its boat just that little bit further such that we might get in a hung parliament territory,” Curtice told BBC radio.

AFP

UK Election Rivals Face Off For Final Time Ahead Of Poll

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson (R) and Britain’s main opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn (L) participate in the BBC Prime Ministerial leaders debate presented by BBC’s Nick Robinson, at the studio in Maidstone, Kent.  JEFF OVERS / BBC / AFP

 

The two men vying to be British prime minister in next week’s election exchanged trademark blows Friday over the familiar faultlines of Brexit and healthcare in the final head-to-head TV debate of the month-old campaign.

In a lacklustre hour-long battle largely devoid of standout moments, Prime Minister Boris Johnson repeatedly criticised Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s failure to say if he supports Britain leaving the EU while talking up his agenda.

“We have a fantastic plan to get Brexit done,” Johnson said, referring to a divorce deal he finalised with EU leaders in October.

“How can you get… a new deal from Brussels for Brexit, if you don’t actually believe in it?” he added, referring to Corbyn’s vow to remain neutral in a second EU referendum he wants to hold within six months.

The Labour leader is proposing to negotiate a softer form of Brexit to put up against remaining in the bloc in the vote.

He said Johnson’s vow to strike trade deals with both the European Union and the United States next year were unrealistic, and that Britain’s cherished national health service (NHS) was under threat.

“What he will do is walk out of a relationship with the EU into a relationship with nobody,” Corbyn said.

Corbyn has spent the campaign lagging in the polls and was in need of a breakthrough moment, but often found himself on the defensive on Brexit and other issues.

A snap poll by YouGov found the debate, the second head-to-head between the pair, was a draw, but that those questioned found Corbyn more trustworthy.

“Given the Conservatives went into this debate in the lead, they will hope the lack of a knockout blow means they can maintain this until voting day,” said Chris Curtis, YouGov’s Political Research Manager.

Unprecedented interventions 

Johnson called the snap election — the third in Britain in nearly five years — last month to try to get a parliamentary majority which would enable him to secure backing for his divorce deal.

Voting takes place next Thursday. The Britain Elects poll aggregator puts the Conservatives on 42 percent, Labour on 33 percent and the Liberal Democrats on 13 percent.

The Greens and the arch-eurosceptic Brexit Party were both on three percent.

Ahead of Friday evening’s debate former prime ministers Tony Blair and John Major launched unprecedented interventions, calling for people to vote tactically to help ensure a second referendum on Brexit.

Major, a Conservative who was in power from 1990 to 1997, and Labour’s Blair, who ousted him and was in Downing Street until 2007, addressed a rally for another poll in London

Both want Britain to remain in the EU.

Major gave his backing to several candidates thrown out of the Conservative ranks for rebelling over Brexit.

“Let me make one thing crystal clear, none of them left the Conservative Party, the Conservative Party left them,” he said via video-link.

“Were I resident in their constituency I would vote for them.”

Asked about the comments, Johnson insisted his party retained “a very broad spectrum of views” and noted that all Tory candidates had taken a vow to back his deal.

But in a blow to Johnson, a senior British diplomat in the US quit on Friday, criticising the government over Brexit.

‘Bermuda Triangle stuff’ 

Alexandra Hall Hall said she could no longer “peddle half-truths” on behalf of political leaders she did not “trust”, according to CNN, which obtained a copy of her resignation letter.

Earlier Friday, Johnson came under fire for avoiding a set-piece television interview that all other major party leaders have already subjected themselves to.

The prime minister has so far declined to undergo an uncomfortable grilling from Andrew Neil, who is one of the BBC’s top political interviewers, with less than a week to go until the election.

Former Sunday Times editor Andrew Neil said Johnson faced questions of trust, and it was his job to “scrutinise and hold to account those who would govern us”.

Corbyn meanwhile used Friday to unveil leaked documents he said proved Johnson was “deliberately misleading the people” about his Brexit deal.

He said the finance ministry papers suggested there would be customs declarations and security checks between mainland Britain and Northern Ireland, contrary to what he had said.

Corbyn returned to the subject during the debate, while reiterating his claims US President Donald Trump was eyeing the NHS for America’s pharmaceutical firms.

But Johnson strongly denied the claims.

“This is pure Bermuda Triangle stuff,” he said.

“We’ll be hearing about ‘little green men’ next.

“Under no circumstances will we sell it off to anybody in any kind of trade deal.”

AFP

UK PM Avoids Trump Row In Pre-Election Visit

Nato heads of government watch a marching band perform as they pose for the family photo at the NATO summit at the Grove hotel in Watford, northeast of London on December 4, 2019.
Adrian DENNIS / AFP

 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson was braced for trouble from Donald Trump’s visit just days before Britain’s election, but the US president headed home Wednesday having largely kept his promise to stay out of the campaign.

Johnson was forced to deny he was dodging Trump during his visit for a NATO summit, after failing to publicly greet him at Downing Street and holding their face-to-face meeting away from the cameras.

He also sidestepped a question about whether Trump was good for Britain, instead emphasising the strength of transatlantic ties — while avoiding using Trump’s name.

In the end, the unpredictable US leader — who is deeply unpopular in Britain — reserved his outspoken remarks for NATO allies France and Canada.

NHS row 

Johnson’s governing Conservatives are leading opinion polls for the December 12 election, but were wary of an intervention by Trump that might upset the campaign.

During two previous visits to Britain, Trump was forthright in his views about the country’s tortuous exit from the European Union, humiliating the then-premier Theresa May.

The main opposition Labour party sought to whip up public opinion against Trump this time around, focused on Johnson’s plans for a US trade deal after Brexit.

Johnson is campaigning for re-election on a promise to leave the EU next month, more than three years after the 2016 Brexit referendum.

He has touted a US trade deal as a prize of Brexit but Labour claims this will open up Britain’s much-loved National Health Service (NHS) to US firms.

Johnson has repeatedly denied this and Trump — who said on a previous visit that “everything is on the table” — insisted on Tuesday that he had no interest in the NHS.

“We have absolutely nothing to do with it and we wouldn’t want to if you handed it to us on a silver platter,” he told reporters in an impromptu news  conference on Tuesday.

 Shoulder to shoulder 

Trump praised Johnson as “very capable” but declined to repeat his previous criticism of Labour’s left-wing leader Jeremy Corbyn, who he once said would be bad for Britain.

Instead, he attacked French President Emmanuel Macron as “nasty” for criticising NATO as brain dead.

And after footage emerged of Canada’s Justin Trudeau apparently laughing at Trump with other NATO leaders at Buckingham Palace, he called the prime minister “two-faced”.

Johnson, who was filmed as part of the group listening to Trudeau at a Buckingham Palace reception on Tuesday, described suggestions he was mocking Trump as “nonsense”.

Asked if the president was “good for Britain”, the premier praised Washington’s support for NATO.

He also hailed US solidarity after a nerve agent attack in Salisbury, southwest England, last year, which was blamed on Russia.

“They were shoulder to shoulder with us and could not have been more supportive,” Johnson, who was foreign minister at the time of the attack, told a NATO summit press conference.

Earlier, he insisted he was not dodging Trump, and posed with the president for an official welcome alongside NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg.

US-UK ties are strained over many issues, from climate change to Iran, and Johnson repeated his support for a tax on multinational firms that has enraged Trump.

But he also gave the biggest hint yet that London would bow to US pressure to ban Chinese telecoms giant Huawei from developing Britain’s new 5G network.

AFP

Trump To Meet Boris Johnson During NATO Talks

US President Donald Trump and US First Lady Melania Trump (L) prepare to disembark from Air Force One after landing at Stansted Airport, northeast of London on December 2, 2019, ahead of the upcoming NATO alliance summit.  Adrian DENNIS / AFP

 

US President Donald Trump said Tuesday he would try to stay out of the British election campaign but nonetheless meet Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Trump is in London for the summit of the NATO alliance but was not expected to hold a one-to-one with Johnson, ten days before the vote.

But, asked by reporters, the US president said: “I will be meeting with him yes.”

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UEFA Chief Accuses Boris Johnson Of Fuelling Racism

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks to the media in the City of London, on November 30, 2019.  AFP

 

UEFA chief Aleksander Ceferin has accused British Prime Minister Boris Johnson of fuelling racism and insists European football’s governing body is working hard to tackle the problem plaguing the game.

A number of high-profile incidents in recent weeks, including racist abuse hurled at England players in Bulgaria and chants aimed at Romelu Lukaku and Mario Balotelli in Italy, have underlined the scale of the issue.

Johnson condemned the “vile” racist chanting during England’s Euro 2020 qualifier in Sofia in October and called for UEFA to take tough action.

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But the prime minister, currently fighting an election campaign, has in the past courted controversy with various comments, including suggesting Muslim women wearing burkhas look like “letterboxes”.

In an interview with Britain’s Mirror newspaper, UEFA president Ceferin said: “When a politician that calls women with burqas post boxes or mailboxes then says publicly that he condemns you UEFA — do you reply to that? Do you believe it’s honest? Come on.

“The situation in Europe is more and more tense,” he added.

“When you see high politicians, prime ministers — when you see presidents of republics who are racists, who were sexist, you see that something is wrong.”

UEFA has come under fire for a perceived lack of appropriate action to root out racism but Ceferin said the organisation was fully engaged in the fight.

“I don’t blame the players for what they say,” he said. “I understand that the players are desperate because of the punishments and the incidents that are happening again and again.

“Of course you want to say (to UEFA): ‘Go to hell!’ I know.

“But I am not so naive to think that we’ve done all we can and now everything is finished. We haven’t.

“We are trying and we care. We are not just some guys in Nyon (UEFA headquarters) sitting eating fancy food and driving Ferraris.”

UEFA appears set to overhaul its disciplinary panels, making them more diverse.

Ceferin said: “You have to have different perspectives, then you have a more, let’s say, clear view on what is right and what is wrong.

“We want to be specific. So we are working on that. We will change our statutes about it in March, the next committee.”

AFP

Boris Johnson Vows Action As Convicted Terrorist Named In London Attack

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks to the media at the scene of a stabbing on London Bridge in the City of London, on November 30, 2019. 
SIMON DAWSON / POOL / AFP

 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson vowed Saturday to review Britain’s sentencing system after a convicted terrorist released early from prison was suspected of stabbing two people to death in an attack around London Bridge.

Police shot and killed Usman Khan after his suspected assault that seriously injured three other people was broken up by bystanders — one armed with a five-foot (1.5-metre) narwhal tusk and another a fire extinguisher.

Video footage of the confrontation showed Khan, 28, being challenged by a man, reportedly a Polish chef, wielding the tusk — believed to have been taken from a nearby historic hall — and sprayed with the extinguisher.

He had been conditionally released from jail last December after serving less than half of a 16-year prison sentence for terrorism and was wearing a suspected fake explosive device.

READ ALSO: Dutch Police Begin Manhunt For Suspect After Three Stabbed In The Hague

Moments later armed police officers arrived on the scene and shot him dead.

Investigators have said they are not actively seeking others in relation to the incident, which recalled a three-man terrorist assault two years ago on London Bridge that killed eight.

The latest attack came less than two weeks before Britain’s general election, and politicians temporarily suspended campaigning.

“It does not make sense for us as a society to be putting people who have been convicted of terrorist offences… out on early release,” Johnson said as he visited the scene.

“We argue that people should serve the tariff, serve the term, of which they are sentenced,” the prime minister added, noting the Conservatives’ manifesto calls for a tougher sentencing regime.

‘Bundle Him To The Ground’

Khan, a British national from Stoke in central England, was handed an indeterminate sentence for public protection in 2012, with at least eight years in prison.

He was part of an eight-man network inspired by Al-Qaeda who had plotted to bomb targets including the London Stock Exchange and planned to take part in “terrorist training” in Pakistan.

But his sentence was quashed by the Court of Appeal in April 2013 and he received a new 21-year term, comprising a custodial sentence of 16 years and five years on conditional release.

Police on Saturday were reportedly searching a property in Stafford, in central England, thought to be connected to Khan.

Police believe he began the attack at Fishmonger’s Hall, a historic building said to contain many ancient artefacts on the north side of the bridge.

Khan was attending an event organised by the University of Cambridge’s criminology institute on prisoner rehabilitation and reportedly arrived with two knives and the fake suicide vest.

The Metropolitan Police appealed for witnesses to come forward.

As the attack moved to London Bridge, a throng of people could be seen in videos grappling with Khan on a pedestrian walkway.

They reportedly included a convicted killer on day-release from prison and other ex-offenders also attending the criminology event.

Tour guide Stevie Hurst told BBC radio that “everyone was just on top of him trying to bundle him to the ground.

“I saw that the knife was still in his hand so I just put a foot in to try and kick him in the head,” he said.

One man in a suit and tie — identified by media as a police officer — was later seen carrying a large knife away.

“As we saw the worst of humankind, we saw the very best of human spirit and London,” Met Commissioner Cressida Dick said Saturday as she visited London Bridge.

‘Mistake’

On November 4, Britain downgraded its terrorism threat level from “severe”, the second-highest of five levels, to “substantial” — the lowest rating in more than five years.

Attention has swiftly turned to how Khan could have been released from prison after serving less than seven years of his sentence.

Inmates are usually released half-way through the type of determinate sentence he was given, and time spent in custody before trial may have been taken into account.

The Parole Board said it had no involvement in his release and that it appeared to have happened automatically as required by law.

During the attack, Khan wore an electronic tag used to monitor criminal offenders, The Times newspaper reported.

Johnson, who took over as prime minister in July, said the cases of other convicted terrorists released early were under urgent review.

“A great deal of work is being done right now to make sure that the public is protected,” he added.

Queen Elizabeth II said she and husband Prince Philip had been saddened to hear of the attack and expressed her “enduring thanks” to the “brave individuals who put their own lives at risk to selflessly help and protect others”.

The 2017 London Bridge attack involved Islamist extremists wearing fake suicide devices ploughing a van into pedestrians, before attacking people with knives in nearby Borough Market and being shot dead by police.

AFP

Boris Johnson Accused Of Profiling Nigerians As Greedy And Materialistic

A handout picture released by the UK Parliament shows Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaking during the weekly Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) in the House of Commons in London on October 30, 2019.  JESSICA TAYLOR / AFP / UK PARLIAMENT

 

UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson has been accused of profiling Nigerians as greedy and materialistic.

Mr. Johnson is leading the British Conservative party into a general election, which is set to hold on December 12.

According to the Guardian UK, Mr. Johnson made the comments in a diary piece he wrote for a British paper in October 1999.

“All the young people I know – ie those under 30 – are just as avaricious as we flinty Thatcherite yuppies of the 1980s in fact, they have an almost Nigerian interest in money and gadgets of all kinds,” Mr. Johnson was quoted to have written.

According to the Guardian UK, ‘The prime minister has been under pressure in recent months over a series of comments he made during his career as a columnist, writer and editor, including referring to black people as “piccaninnies” with “watermelon smiles” and arguing Islam has caused the Muslim world to be “literally centuries behind” the west.’

The co-convenor of Stand Up to Racism, Weyman Bennett, described Johnson’s words as “deeply racist and offensive.” 

He told the Guardian UK: “This can be added to the ‘piccaninnies’ and ‘watermelon smiles’, the abject refusal to properly apologise and change his behaviour around racism.

“Boris Johnson is unfit to be a prime minister that represents the entire United Kingdom. He had demonstrated this by lying and falsely representing black, Asian and different communities inside this country.

“This is deeply offensive and unforgivable and should not be ignored and he should be held to account.”