BBC Boss Tony Hall To Step Down In Six Months

(FILES) In this file photo taken on November 15, 2018 Director-General of the BBC Tony Hall is seen waiting to greet Britain’s Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, and Britain’s Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, as the royal couple visit BBC Broadcasting House in London on November 15, 2018.BEN STANSALL /POOL/ AFP

 

 

Embattled BBC boss Tony Hall will step down in six months’ time, he told staff on Monday, as the British broadcaster grapples with a damaging equal-pay ruling and scrutiny over funding.

“I will give my all to this organisation for the next six months… but in the summer I’ll step down as your Director-General,” he told staff in a group email.

“If I followed my heart I would genuinely never want to leave. However, I believe that an important part of leadership is putting the interests of the organisation first.”

Hall took up his post in 2013, tasked with restoring the reputation of the world’s biggest broadcaster after presenter Jimmy Savile was exposed as one of Britain’s most prolific child-sex offenders following his death.

But the corporation now faces the fallout of an equal-pay ruling in which an employment tribunal ruled it discriminated against female presenter Samira Ahmed, paying her one sixth of the amount given to Jeremy Vine for hosting a similar show.

The ruling opens the door to many other claims and could end up costing the corporation many millions of pounds.

The BBC is also facing pressure from Britain’s new government headed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, which accuses it of bias in reporting in the recent general election.

Hall rebuffed the claims in his parting email, saying: “In an era of fake news, we remain the gold standard of impartiality and truth.”

The government has previously committed to maintain the licence fee model until 2027. A standard licence costs each British household just over £154 ($202, 182 euros) a year.

In the last financial year to April 30, the BBC received £3.7 billion in funding from the licence fee — an enviable revenue stream in tough economic times for media companies.

The prime minister has said that “you have to ask yourself whether that kind of approach to funding a TV media organisation still makes sense”.

“How long can you justify a system whereby everybody who has a TV has to pay to fund a particular set of TV and radio channels,” he asked, highlighting the challenge for the incoming boss.

Chairman of the BBC David Clementi called Hall “an inspirational creative leader, within the UK and around the globe”.

“Tony has led the BBC with integrity and a passion for our values that is obvious to everyone who meets him,” he said.

Hall, 68, is a former head of BBC news but spent more than a decade as chief executive of the Royal Opera House before returning to the broadcaster as director general.

The BBC said it would begin searching for a successor “within the next few weeks.”

Boris Johnson To Raise Visa Quota For Africa

 

 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson told African leaders Monday that Britain would be more open to migrants from their continent after Brexit as he hosted a summit intended to boost trading ties.

He also promised an end to direct UK state investment in thermal coal mining or coal power plants overseas, saying London would focus on supporting a switch to low-carbon energy sources.

Johnson was speaking at the start of the first UK-Africa Investment Summit in London, a clear pitch for business less than two weeks before Britain leaves the European Union.

He told leaders including presidents Abdel Fattah al-Sisi of Egypt and Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya that he wanted to make Britain their “investment partner of choice”.

After highlighting all that Britain has to offer, he said Brexit would mean an end to preferential treatment for EU migrants.

“Our (immigration) system is becoming fairer and more equal between all our global friends and partners, treating people the same, wherever they come from,” he said.

“By putting people before passports we will be able to attract the best talent from around the world, wherever they may be.”

Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari, who also attended the summit, said Brexit offered an opportunity for increased free trade across the Commonwealth — and said visas were a key issue.

“While many in the African diaspora enjoy considerable benefits from life in the West, they do not always feel at the heart of the community,” he wrote in an article for The Times on Monday.

“A renewed sense that there are ties that bind us through the Commonwealth, and a concerted effort to grow those links through trade, could act as a spur to encourage togetherness and the certainty of belonging.”

Breathe the same air

Johnson, whose country hosts the next UN climate change summit in Glasgow later this year, also announced a shift in investment strategy to help combat global warming.

Sub-Saharan African faces a number of environmental challenges, particularly the effects of climate change, water and air pollution, desertification, deforestation and over-fishing.

On fossil fuels, Johnson said: “There’s no point in the UK reducing the amount of coal we burn, if we then trundle over to Africa and line our pockets by encouraging African states to use more of it, is there?”

“We all breathe the same air, we live beneath the same sky. We all suffer when carbon emissions rise and the planet warns.”

He added: “Not another penny of UK taxpayers money will be directly invested in digging up coal or burning it for electricity.

“Instead, we’re going to focus on supporting the transition to lower and zero carbon alternatives.”

The British government’s export agency reports providing £2 billion ($2.6 billion) in financing for UK company exports to Africa in the past two years.

The agency says it now wants to “increase its risk appetite” in Egypt and the emerging economies in Nigeria and Rwanda.

The UK government said the London summit will see British and African firms announce commercial deals worth £6.5 billion.

It did not spell out whether these were all firm commitments or included memorandums of understanding that do not always result in actual deals.

Britain will leave the EU on January 31, although ties will remain the same for 11 months while the two sides thrash out a new trading relationship.

The UK has said it will be leaving the bloc’s single market and customs union.

Johnson wants the freedom to strike trade deals with other countries, even at the expense of some of its producers facing trade tariffs and quotas as a result.

Britain’s Prince Harry And Meghan To Give Up Royal Titles

Britain’s Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, (R) and Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, (L) leave Windsor Castle in Windsor on May 19, 2018 after their wedding to attend an evening reception at Frogmore House. PHOTO: Steve Parsons / POOL / AFP

 

 

Britain’s Prince Harry and his wife Meghan have agreed to give up their royal titles and stop receiving public funds as part of a settlement with the Queen that lets them spend more private time in Canada.

The announcement from Buckingham Palace on Saturday follows more than a week of intense private talks aimed at managing the fallout of the couple’s shock decision to give up front-line royal duties.

The decision means the couple will stop usings the titles “royal highness” as they assume more ordinary lives that will see them spend more time away from both Britain and the royal family.

“Following many months of conversations and more recent discussions, I am pleased that together we have found a constructive and supportive way forward for my grandson and his family,” Queen Elizabeth II said in a statement.

“I recognise the challenges they have experienced as a result of intense scrutiny over the last two years and support their wish for a more independent life.”

Her comments referred to battles with the media that prompted Harry and Meghan — known until now as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex — to sue several newspapers over intrusions into their private lives.

A separate statement attributed to Buckingham Palace said, “the Sussexes will not use their HRH titles as they are no longer working members of the Royal Family”.

HRH stands for Her Royal Highness.

“As agreed in this new arrangement, they understand that they are required to step back from royal duties, including official military appointments. They will no longer receive public funds for royal duties,” the statement said.

The settlement added that the two will also repay £2.4 million ($3.1 million) of taxpayer’s money spent on renovating their Frogmore Cottage home near Windsor Castle.

– ‘Progressive new role’ –

The Palace would not comment on who ends up paying for their security detail in Canada — an issue of intense public debate.

It also failed to mention whether the couple would be allowed to benefit financially from future royalties and franchise fees.

Harry and Meghan are seeking to register the “Sussex Royal” brand as a global trademark for their future enterprises.

The couple are dedicated to environmental causes and are looking to develop their charitable foundation as part of a “progressive new role”.

The queen’s announcement is her second on the royal crisis — dubbed Megxit in honour of Britain’s painful battle over Brexit — since Harry and Meghan’s effective resignation on March 8.

“We have chosen to make a transition this year in starting to carve out a progressive new role within this institution,” the couple said at the time.

“We now plan to balance our time between the United Kingdom and North America.”

Meghan then jetted back to Canada and is now there with their son Archie.

Their announcement caught the royal family by surprise and created a media sensation in both Britain and the wider world.

Their treatment by London’s hard-hitting tabloid press and their personal future — as well as questions about longstanding royal traditions — have turned into daily front-page news.

Media reports said Harry would probably join Meghan and Archie on the west coast of Canada this coming week.

– ‘Abdication’ –

The Queen’s final ruling on her grandson’s future drew immediate comparisons to King Edward VIII’s abdication in 1936.

Edward married the American socialite Wallis Simpson the following year and never returned to Britain.

“Harry is not King (he is sixth in line) but tonight this feels like his and Meghan’s own abdication,” ITV television’s royal editor Chris Ship said on Twitter.

“This isn’t 1936. But it’s still pretty big.”

The BBC’s royal correspondent Nicholas Witchell said Meghan must also decide whether she intends to return and spend time in Britain in order to gain her UK citizenship.

The couple’s future tax status also remains unclear.

“I think they are feeling their way into this as much as anyone else is,” Witchell said.

The couple will now officially be known formally as “Harry, The Duke of Sussex” and “Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex”.

The Palace statement said the new arrangement “will take effect in the Spring of 2020”.

AFP

Prince William, Harry Slam ‘False’ Story About Their Relationship

Britain’s Prince William, Duke of Cambridge (R) and Britain’s Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, host a reception to officially open the 2018 Illegal Wildlife Trade Conference at St James’ Palace in London.  Tolga AKMEN / AFP / POOL

 

Princes William and Harry on Monday put on a rare united front to dismiss a “false story” speculating about their relationship, as senior royals meet for talks about the younger brother’s future.

Harry and his wife Meghan caught the institution off guard last week when they announced their intention to step back from frontline royal duties.

The 35-year-old former army officer has previously all but confirmed a rift with his older brother, prompting speculation as to the cause and that it may have influenced his decision to quit.

William and Harry, also known by their formal titles the Duke of Cambridge and Duke of Sussex, issued a rare joint statement to condemn one report, without specifying the publication.

“Despite clear denials, a false story ran in a UK newspaper today speculating about the relationship between The Duke of Sussex and The Duke of Cambridge,” it said.

“For brothers who care so deeply about the issues surrounding mental health, the use of inflammatory language in this way is offensive and potentially harmful.”

The Times cited an unnamed “insider” as saying Harry and Meghan felt they had been “pushed away by what they saw as a bullying attitude from the Duke of Cambridge”.

But it also cautioned: “These claims have been strongly contested by sources close to the Cambridges, as well as some close to Prince Harry.”

AFP

US Calls On Iran To Apologize For Arresting UK Ambassador

 

 

The United States called Saturday on Iran to apologize for detaining the British ambassador to Tehran, reportedly during protests against the regime.

“This violates the Vienna Convention, which the regime has a notorious history of violating. We call on the regime to formally apologize to the UK for violating his rights and to respect the rights of all diplomats,” State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus tweeted.

Queen, Prince Harry, Senior Royals Set For Crisis Meeting

 

 

 

Queen Elizabeth II will host a showdown meeting with Prince Harry on Monday in an attempt to solve the crisis triggered by his bombshell announcement that he and wife Meghan were stepping back from the royal frontline.

Other senior royals including Harry’s father Prince Charles and brother Prince William, with whom he has strained relations, will join the monarch at her private Sandringham estate in eastern England, according to British media.

Meghan will join the meeting via conference call from Canada as they attempt to work out the “next steps” towards a compromise and nip the growing crisis in the bud.

Issues up for debate include how much money the couple will still receive from Charles’s estate, their HRH titles and what commercial deals they can strike, according to the Sunday Times.

Harry, Meghan, and son Archie spent Christmas in Canada, with the American former actress returning there this week.

The Queen on Thursday demanded that staff work with the couple to urgently find a “workable solution” that would take into account their demands for more freedom.

Several Canadian media reported Meghan had returned to Vancouver island off the country’s Pacific coast, where the family spent the year-end holidays and where baby Archie had remained with his nanny.

Senior royals were caught off guard by Wednesday’s announcement that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex wanted to seek a “progressive new role” and divide their time between Britain and North America.

The Queen’s office issued a terse statement the same evening, saying there were “complicated issues that will take time to work through”.

Harry and Meghan said they intended to continue to “fully support” the queen and “collaborate” with senior royals.

They also want to keep their home on the queen’s Windsor Castle estate as their British base, while aiming to become financially independent.

But their desire to live as both members of the monarchy and private individuals making a living was described as a “toxic mix” by David McClure, an investigator into royal finances.

“The history of senior royals making money — the two is a toxic mix. It hasn’t worked well in the past,” he told the Press Association.

“How can you be half-in, half-out — half the week perform public duties and the other half earn your own income with TV, lectures, books? It is fraught with dangers.”

The younger prince, who has struggled with his role, last year revealed he has been growing apart from his brother, who as second in line to the throne is increasingly pursuing a different path.

Harry has been open about his mental health issues and he and Meghan last year admitted to struggling with the spotlight following their wedding at Windsor Castle in May 2018 and Archie’s birth a year later.

The couple has also lashed out at negative news coverage, some of which Harry says was racist — in light of Meghan’s biracial heritage.

UK PM Says Information Suggests Ukraine Jet Hit By Iran Missile

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks to the media on November 30, 2019.  SIMON DAWSON / POOL / AFP

 

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Thursday that there was now “a body of information” that the Ukrainian Boeing 747 that crashed in Iran, killing all 176 people aboard, was brought down by an Iranian missile.

His comments follow a similar message by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

“There is now a body of information that the flight was shot down by an Iranian Surface to Air Missile. This may well have been unintentional,” Johnson said in a statement on the air disaster in which four British passengers died.

Johnson reiterated the call for “all sides urgently to de-escalate to reduce tensions in the region.”

The Ukraine International Airlines (UIA) Boeing 737NG went down on Wednesday, shortly after Tehran launched missiles at US forces in Iraq in response to the killing of a top Iranian general in a US drone strike in Baghdad.

“We are working closely with Canada and our international partners and there now needs to be a full, transparent investigation,” into the plane crash, Johnson added.

The British PM also called for “an immediate and respectful repatriation of those who’ve lost their lives to allow their families to grieve properly”.

Harry, Meghan Quit Royal Front Line In Shock Move

 

 

Prince Harry and his wife Meghan stunned the British monarchy on Wednesday by quitting as front-line members — reportedly without first consulting Queen Elizabeth II.

In a shock announcement, the couple said they would spend time in North America and rip up long-established relations with the press.

Media reports said the Duke and Duchess of Sussex made their bombshell statement without notifying either Harry’s grandmother the monarch, or his father Prince Charles.

The surprise news follows a turbulent year for the couple, who have openly said they have struggled in the spotlight and grown apart from Harry’s brother Prince William. They have also reacted badly to negative news coverage.

“We intend to step back as ‘senior’ members of the royal family and work to become financially independent, while continuing to fully support Her Majesty The Queen,” they said in a statement released by Buckingham Palace.

“We have chosen to make a transition this year in starting to carve out a progressive new role within this institution,” they added.

“We now plan to balance our time between the United Kingdom and North America.”

The announcement appeared to catch the royal family by surprise.

Buckingham Palace put out a second statement an hour and 40 minutes later, saying discussions with Harry and Meghan were “at an early stage”.

“We understand their desire to take a different approach, but these are complicated issues that will take time to work through,” it added.

It was understood that the mood in Buckingham Palace was one of disappointment and even, according the the BBC, “hurt”.

Struggling in the spotlight

Harry, 35, and Meghan, 38, are among the most senior, core members of the royal family, and, along with William and his wife Kate, seen as the monarchy’s future.

The pair spent six weeks over Christmas in Canada after speaking of the pressure of being in the spotlight following their fairytale wedding at Windsor Castle in May 2018 and son Archie’s birth 12 months later.

They skipped the royal family’s traditional Christmas at Sandringham, the sovereign’s private estate in eastern England, spending the festive season instead with Meghan’s mother Doria Ragland.

Rumours that all was not well with the Sussexes surfaced in October when Harry, sixth in line to the throne, admitted that he and William were “on different paths” and had good and bad days in their relationship.

“We don’t see each other as much as we used to,” he told ITV television’s Tom Bradby, whom Harry and William have grown to trust with interviews over the years.

Asked by Bradby if she was “not really OK” and life had “really been a struggle” becoming a mother while living under intense media scrutiny, Meghan appeared emotional and replied simply: “Yes.”

Bradby said Wednesday that he sensed he was witnessing “a long, sad farewell to this royal life”.

“This is a new war of the Windsors — and it’s not over yet.”

Media battle

In October, Harry issued a stinging statement about general tabloid coverage and launched the first of a handful of lawsuits against newspaper publishers.

Asked if Meghan was facing the same media pressures as his mother Diana, who died in a car crash in Paris in 1997 while pursued by paparazzi, Harry told Bradby: “I will not be bullied into playing a game that killed my mum.”

On a new website, the couple said they would no longer take part in the royal rota.

The rota system is an established arrangement between the palace and the press whereby news organisations take it in turns to cover events and then share the pictures, text and video with everyone in the pool, avoiding the mass media scrambles of the past.

Instead the couple will attempt to invite only “specialist”, “grassroots”, “credible” and “young, up-and-coming” media to events.

Queen Elizabeth’s former press secretary Dickie Arbiter told Sky News television that the couple’s approach was “a succession of doing things their own way — which is the wrong way”.

“Sometimes there’s good press; sometimes there’s bad press. You take the rough with the smooth.”

Always ends in tears

Currently, Harry and Meghan’s costs are largely funded from Charles’ private income from the heir to the throne’s estates, while the police foots their security bill.

Former BBC royal correspondent Peter Hunt told Channel 4 television that royals thinking they can earn money in a side career “has always ended in tears”.

Newspaper headlines on Thursday included The Sun’s “Megxit”, saying the couple had sparked civil war at the palace.

“They didn’t even tell the Queen,” said the Daily Mirror, while the Star said: “The Royal formerly known as Prince”.

Harry And Meghan: Royal Fairytale Turns Grim

In this file photo taken on January 07, 2020, Britain’s Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex react as they leave after her visit to Canada House in thanks for the warm Canadian hospitality and support they received during their recent stay in Canada, in London. DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / POOL / AFP

 

Britain’s Prince Harry and his wife Meghan announced Wednesday that they were stepping back from major royal duties and would be partially relocating to North America.

Here are five major moments in their relationship, which has seen them go from being the royal family’s hottest property to their shock announcement in less than two years.

Love at first sight

Prince Harry was 31 with a few failed relationships and his 10-year army career behind him when they first met, while US actress Meghan Markle was 34 and a divorcee of three years.

They were set up by a mutual friend when Meghan was passing through London in July 2016, with the couple later revealing they knew little about each other. The speed of their relationship surprised them both.

Both quickly sensed their blind date could blossom into something bigger.

Their romance was undercover for the first five or six months, and largely conducted through nights in behind closed doors — and a camping trip to Botswana.

Eventually, Harry proposed in November 2017 during a night in roasting a chicken.

Fairytale wedding

The relationship was welcomed by the British press, which saw Meghan as a breath of fresh air for the royal family — a woman who had proved herself with a career of her own, who would project a more modern image.

There was also public relief that Harry, who had walked behind his mother Diana’s coffin as a 12-year-old boy, had found settled happiness in his life.

The couple tied the knot at Windsor Castle on May 19, 2018, in a ceremony filled with personal touches, mixing British pomp and African-American culture in front of a celebrity-studded congregation and cheering crowds.

Meghan began her walk down the aisle alone after falling out with her wayward father, while firebrand US pastor Michael Curry delivered a full-throttle address invoking slaves and the power of love.

Baby joy

The couple moved out of their two-bedroom home on the Kensington Palace estate in London and into the much bigger Frogmore Cottage on the Windsor Castle estate in April 2019 ahead of the birth of their son.

Born on May 6, they named him Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor, eschewing royal titles.

“I have the two best guys in the world so I’m really happy,” Meghan declared, showing off the baby at Windsor Castle.

Fall from grace

The goodwill that surrounded their marriage gradually began to ebb away as the couple’s shine came off.

Critics did not take kindly to what they saw as the couple’s right-on causes, complaints at their treatment while living an expensive lifestyle, war on the media, and seeming hypocrisy, preaching on the environment while jetting around on private flights.

Rumours swirled that Meghan was difficult to work with, amid reports of staff members quitting one after another.

Announcing that Meghan had gone into labour after the baby was actually born infuriated the British press.

Their decision not to let the public know who Archie’s godparents were was also seen as petty.

They were slated for the £2.4 million cost of refurbishing Frogmore Cottage.

A well-received tour of southern Africa saw their stock rise, but as it concluded in early October last year, the couple overshadowed their own good work by launching a written tirade on the press and legal action against certain newspaper groups.

In an ITV television documentary that followed, Harry said he and William were “on different paths” and have “good days” and “bad days” in their relationship — confirming rumours that the couple were diverging from the fold.

Stepping back

In Wednesday’s shock announcement, the couple said they intended to step back from frontline royalty and would attempt to become financially independent.

Currently their work and running costs are funded by Harry’s father Prince Charles.

They said they will continue to support Queen Elizabeth and honour their duties to her, the Commonwealth and their patronages, indicating they are not fully quitting.

The couple also said they were going to launch a new charitable entity, and spend much of their time in North America.

Harry and Meghan were among the most senior members of the royal family and were expected to take a much bigger role as Queen Elizabeth scales back her duties and Charles eventually becomes king.

Their future is now up in the air.

UK Condemns Iran Missile Attacks, Voices Concerns Over Reports Of ‘Casualties’

Britain’s Foreign Secretary and First Secretary of State Dominic Raab carries a cup as he walks to the door of 10 Downing Street in central London on January 6, 2020. Tolga AKMEN / AFP

 

Britain on Wednesday condemned Iran’s missile attacks on Iraqi bases housing coalition military and voiced concern over “reports of casualties” from the strikes.

“We condemn this attack on Iraqi military bases hosting Coalition – including British – forces,” said Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab.

“We are concerned by reports of casualties and use of ballistic missiles.”

Iran fired missiles overnight at Iraqi bases housing the US and British military, officials in Washington and Tehran said.

READ ALSO: Iran Claims 80 Americans Killed By Missiles

It was the first act of the Islamic republic’s promised revenge for the US killing of top Iranian general Qasem Soleimani last week.

Launched from Iranian territory and by Iranian forces not a proxy, the attack marked a new turn in the intensifying confrontation between the United States and Iran.

The Pentagon said it was still “working on initial battle damage assessments” after more than a dozen ballistic missiles were launched, with no immediate reports on casualties.

The Iraqi military said it sustained no casualties in 22 missile strikes on bases housing US troops.

Raab urged Iran to show restraint going forward.

“We urge Iran not to repeat these reckless and dangerous attacks, and instead to pursue urgent de-escalation,” he added.

“A war in the Middle East would only benefit Daesh and other terrorist groups,” Raab said, referring to the Islamic State group.

Merkel, Macron, Johnson Agree To Work Towards ‘Reducing Tensions’ In Mideast

 

The leaders of Germany, France and Britain on Sunday agreed to work towards bringing about de-escalation in the Middle East amid heightened tensions following the US drone strike that killed Iranian general Qasem Soleimani, a German government spokesman said.

“The chancellor, the French president, and the British prime minister agreed to work together to reduce tensions in the region,” said the spokesman, after Germany’s Angela Merkel spoke with France’s Emmanuel Macron and Britain’s Boris Johnson on the phone.

Britain Will Not lament Death Of Soleimani, Says Boris Johnson

 

Britain will not lament the death of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Sunday, though he warned that reprisals would lead to greater violence.

The United States killed top military leader Soleimani outside Baghdad airport in a drone strike on Friday.

In his first intervention on the escalation of tensions in the Middle East, Johnson said he had spoken Sunday with US President Donald Trump, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

He said he would speak to other leaders in the coming days.

“General Qasem Soleimani posed a threat to all our interests and was responsible for a pattern of disruptive, destabilising behaviour in the region,” Johnson said in a statement.

“Given the leading role he has played in actions that have led to the deaths of thousands of innocent civilians and Western personnel, we will not lament his death.

“It is clear however that all calls for retaliation or reprisals will simply lead to more violence in the region and they are in no one’s interest.”

Johnson said that following ministerial meetings and further international calls, MPs would be updated on the situation on Tuesday.

Meanwhile London has urged Baghdad to allow international coalition soldiers to stay in Iraq, where the parliament on Sunday pressed the government to oust foreign troops.

The cabinet would have to approve any such decision.

British troops are part of an international coalition of forces stationed in Iraq — invited by the government in Baghdad in 2014 — to help fight against the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group.

A British government spokesman said: “The coalition is in Iraq to help protect Iraqis and others from the threat from Daesh (IS), at the request of the Iraqi government.

“We urge the Iraqi government to ensure the coalition is able to continue our vital work countering this shared threat.”

Some 5,200 US soldiers are stationed across Iraqi bases to support local troops preventing an IS resurgence.