British Govt Advises Nationals To Avoid Travelling To Iraq, Iran

A handout picture released by Iraq’s Hashed al-Shaabi paramilitary force shows a scene from the funeral procession for slain Iranian military commander Qasem Soleimani and Iraqi paramilitary chief Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis (portrait) just outside Baghdad’s high-security Green Zone on January 4, 2020. Thousands of Iraqis chanting “Death to America” joined the funeral procession of the two men both killed in a US airstrike the previous day.
Hashed al-Shaabi Media / AFP

 

The British government on Saturday advised UK nationals to avoid travelling to Iraq and Iran in face of heightened tensions in the Middle East following the US killing of a top Iranian commander in Baghdad.

“Following the death of Qasem Soleimani and heightened tensions in the region… We now advise British nationals against all travel to Iraq (and) we now advise against all but essential travel to Iran,” Britain’s Foreign Office said in a statement.

“The first job of any government is to keep British people safe,” the statement said.

“Given heightened tensions in the region, (we) now advise people not to travel to Iraq, with the exception of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, and to consider carefully whether it’s essential to travel to Iran. We will keep this under review.”

On Friday, the US military killed Soleimani in an air strike outside Baghdad international airport that shocked the Islamic republic and sparked fears of a new war in the Middle East.

The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps confirmed the death of the commander of its Quds Force foreign operations arm, and Tehran’s clerical leadership promised “severe vengeance… in the right place and time”.

In its statement, the British Foreign Office urged UK nationals in the region to “remain vigilant and monitor the media carefully.”

On Friday, foreign minister Dominic Raab had said that while London had “always recognised the aggressive threat” posed by Soleimani and his Quds Force, “following his death, we urge all parties to de-escalate. Further conflict is in none of our interests.”

‘Shameful’ For UK Not To Publish Russia Meddling Probe – Clinton

PHOTO USED TO DEPICT THE STORY: Hillary Rodham Clinton (L) discusses The Book of Gutsy Women with British historian Mary Beard (R) at Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall in London on November 10, 2019. PHOTO: Isabel Infantes / AFP

 

Hillary Clinton said on Tuesday that it was “shameful” that the British government had not published a delayed parliamentary report into possible Russian interference in British politics ahead of December elections.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government has previously rejected claims it was suppressing the report to avoid a scandal ahead of next month’s snap poll.

“Every person who votes in this country deserves to see that report before your election happens,” the defeated US presidential candidate told BBC Radio 4 during a book tour.

Clinton said there was “no doubt” that Russia is “determined to try to shape the politics of western democracies”.

“Not to our benefit, but to theirs,” said the Democrat, who lost the 2016 US election to President Donald Trump in a race that US intelligence chiefs have said was marred by Russian interference.

“I find it inexplicable that your government will not release a government report about Russian influence. Inexplicable and shameful,” she told BBC Radio 5 Live.

Britain’s parliament was previously told a report by the Intelligence and Security Committee was sent to the prime minister for approval on October 17.

The probe into suspected Russian covert actions in Britain’s democratic process reportedly includes examining whether Moscow tried to interfere with the 2016 Brexit vote and the 2017 general election.

Moscow has been accused of spearheading sophisticated disinformation campaigns around the world to further its interests.

The Intelligence and Security Committee, which oversees the work of the country’s intelligence agencies, submits its reports to the government before publication to avoid the inadvertent release of sensitive information.

A former head of domestic spy agency MI5 and the committee’s chairman have suggested Johnson is stalling on the release of the 50-page report with the December 12 general election looming.

Jonathan Evans, head of MI5 from 2007 to 2013, called on the government to explain the delay.

Foreign Office minister Chris Pincher has previously said that the report is going through “an intensive security review”.

Pincher has also played down concerns, saying there is “no evidence” to suggest there has been any successful Russian involvement in the British electoral system.

AFP

British Government Postpones Brexit Vote

Government whip Mark Spencer as he stands at the dispatch box and speaks to announce the business of the House of Commons for the following week, in the House of Commons in London on May 23, 2019, / AFP

 

The British government on Thursday postponed a crucial Brexit vote scheduled for the first week of June, following an outcry from hardline Brexiteers over concessions made by Prime Minister Theresa May.

The beleaguered premier is in the last throes of a tumultuous period in power focused all-but exclusively on guiding her fractured country out of the European Union.

“We will update the house on the publication and introduction of the Withdrawal Agreement Bill on our return from the Whitsun recess” on June 4, government official Mark Spencer told MPs.

Spencer said the government had planned to hold the vote on a landmark piece of legislation to implement Brexit on June 7 but had not been able to fix this date.

May is under intense pressure to resign after holding out the prospect of a parliamentary vote on a second referendum to try and persuade MPs to support the divorce deal she has struck with EU leaders.

The deal has already been rejected three times in parliament, forcing a delay to the planned date of Brexit on March 29, and still faces strong cross-party opposition.

— ‘Brexit fiasco’ –
Meanwhile there are already several leading Conservatives, including members of her own cabinet, who are campaigning to take over from May when she quits.

The prime minister’s woes were made worse on Wednesday when Andrea Leadsom — one of cabinet’s strongest Brexit backers — resigned from her post as the government’s representative in parliament over her handling of the slowly-unfolding crisis.

“I no longer believe that our approach will deliver on the (2016) referendum results,” Leadsom said in her resignation letter.

In her response May thanked Leadsom for her “passion, drive and sincerity”, but took issue with her assessment of the government’s Brexit strategy.

“I do not agree with you that the deal which we have negotiated with the European Union means that the United Kingdom will not become a sovereign country,” May said.

Many of Thursday’s newspaper front pages pictured May leaving Downing Street late on Wednesday apparently with tears in her eyes. “May set to go after Brexit fiasco,” said The Sun tabloid.

Thursday’s European elections are being interpreted in Britain as a referendum on Brexit and on May’s ability to get the job done. They make grim reading for the government team, with Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party well ahead in the polls.

The current deadline for Brexit set by EU leaders is October 31.

The Brexit Party and leading Conservatives are calling for Britain to leave the EU on that date without an overall deal but businesses fear this could cause severe disruption.

UK Publishes Brexit Plan That Sparked Rebellion

A video grab from footage broadcast by the UK Parliament’s Parliamentary Recording Unit (PRU) shows the moment that copies of the white paper are brought into the chamber to be distributed to MPs while Britain’s Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union (Brexit Minister) Dominic Raab was speaking in the House of Commons in London on July 12, 2018. HO / PRU / AFP

 

The British government published its long-awaited Brexit blueprint Thursday that it hopes will restart talks with the EU, but its launch was mired in farce after a protest by MPs briefly suspended a sitting of the House of Commons.

The policy paper, which sets out plans for close economic ties with the bloc after Britain leaves the EU in March, had already sparked two ministerial resignations and revived talk of a revolt against May.

When Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab stood up to present the plan in the Commons, MPs loudly complained they had not seen a copy beforehand — prompting the speaker to suspend proceedings for five minutes to allow them to obtain one.

Raab, who was appointed on Monday after his predecessor David Davis quit, then continued his statement, describing the proposal on offer as “innovative”.

It suggests a free trade area and “common rule book” with the EU in goods after pressure from businesses to allow cross-border trade to continue as normal.

Britain would still leave the EU single market and customs union and set its own path on the far bigger services sector, hoping to be able to curb EU immigration and strike its own trade deals with third countries.

 ‘Real blow’ for City

For the City of London the plan would accept that firms lose their “passporting” rights to operate in the EU, but seeks a hybrid arrangement.

Catherine McGuinness, head of policy for the City of London Corporation, said the proposals represented a “real blow” for finance firms.

The plan has also caused outrage among eurosceptic members of May’s Conservative party, and foreign minister Boris Johnson joined Davis in dramatically quitting this week in protest.

Their departures, followed by a clutch of junior aides, destabilised May’s government and revived talk of a leadership challenge.

“What we are doing is delivering on the vote of the British people… that’s what our proposal does,” she told reporters at a NATO summit in Brussels.

The prime minister is also likely to face some opposition in Brussels, where officials have repeatedly warned Britain to lower its expectations about how close ties can be.

“Of course the EU-27 is open to compromise but not one that can undermine the main pillars of the single market,” an EU official said on condition of anonymity.

May has briefed leaders including EU President Donald Tusk and German Chancellor Angela Merkel on her plan and reported a positive response, although they are awaiting the details.

Britain does not have long to argue its case — both sides are aiming for a deal by October, to allow time for its ratification by the British and European parliaments.

Failure to agree would see Britain leave the EU without a deal, with the risk of huge economic disruption on both sides of the Channel.

The Financial Times has reported that one contingency plan being examined in case of a no-deal Brexit is using barges to help keep the lights on in Northern Ireland in case there is disruption to electricity imports from the Republic of Ireland.

‘Status of colony’

Britain voted for Brexit in June 2016, but May has so far been unable to present a common position to Brussels on what she wants because of deep divisions in her government.

Amid warnings from businesses that continued uncertainty is risking investment and jobs, and fears time is running out, her cabinet finally agreed on a plan last week.

The aim is to keep EU rules on goods to protect complex manufacturing supply chains, using technology to levy its own duties on UK-bound products from outside the bloc, while diverging on services.

“We need to rise to the challenge and grasp the opportunities” of Brexit, said Raab, adding that the policy represented a “balance”.

But Johnson, a leading Brexit campaigner, said following EU rules without being able to alter them risked consigning Britain to the “status of colony”, and said it looked like a “semi-Brexit”.

Other eurosceptics who want a clean break with the bloc are also livid, prompting speculation they may launch a confidence vote against May.

Brexit-backing MPs, including leading eurosceptic Conservative Jacob Rees-Mogg, will also seek to force her hand by submitting amendments to a trade bill being debated in the House of Commons next week.

Rees-Mogg told AFP his aim was only “to help the government stick to some of its earlier promises”.

AFP

Brexit: Paul Arkwright Dismisses Possibility Of Second Referendum

Paul Arkwright on British Exit from European Union - BrexitThe British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Paul Arkwright, has dismissed the chances of holding another referendum that may reconsider Britain’s decision to exit from the European Union, insisting that the nation has to look forward.

Mr Arkwright told Channels Television on Wednesday that the outcome of the referendum was clear.

Over 33 million people in the United Kingdom had voted in the June 24 referendum on whether to exit from the European Union or not.

“Massive Exercise In Democracy”

While 51.9 per cent voted to leave 48.1 per cent voted to remain. After the decision, a group of persons have been pushing a campaign for a second referendum, but the British High Commissioner insisted that Britons had made a choice.

“I don’t think there will be a second referendum. This is a once in a generation opportunity for the United Kingdom to vote on this huge issue.

“Those that think it was a mistake must be part of the 48 per cent that voted to remain in the EU.

“I think we need to look forward.

“It was a massive exercise in democracy.

“That is a very significant number and the outcome is pretty clear,” he explained.

On why the decision was made, he said different people have different reasons for voting to leave.

“A lot of the people felt two much sovereignty has been conceded to the European Union.

“There were concerns around control of the borders. Immigration was one of the big issues that came up.

“That is a very clear instruction that the British government will carry out and like any good civil servant, that is part of my job as well,” he explained.


On the next step that would be taken, Mr Arkwright said the British government would need to work out the complicated negotiations which would involve a ‘divorce settlement’ between the United Kingdom and the European Union.

“We need a new Prime Minister because Mr Cameron has resigned. Once the new Prime Minister is in place, then the process will start and the button will be pressed and the article 50 will get into place.”

The British High Commissioner to Nigeria further stressed that the fundamentals of the UK were still there. “The economy is still strong. We are still very much an international player. A permanent member of the Security Council and lots of other international organisation.

“I don’t think that the standing of the UK has been diminished by this thought. But I think it shows that we an an independent nation and that is the choice of the people,” he stressed.

Article 50 will trigger a process that could last up to two years, a period he said the status quo would be maintained.

“We will remain a member of the European Union. All the rights and obligations as a member of the EU will remain and all those that have the right to study in the UK will remain. But what happens after that will depend on the type of relationship the kind of negotiations that will take place in the next two years,” he stated.

Mr Arkwright also pointed out that businesses would continue as they had in the UK and that the fundamentals of the British economy were still there.

“Britain remains open for business and there are plenty opportunities of doing business in the UK and the British government will maintain the excellent business environment which has enabled businesses to do well so far in the UK,” he reiterated.

Annkio Briggs Supports Dialogue To End Niger Delta Crisis

Annkio Briggs, Niger DeltaHuman rights activist, Annkio Briggs, has called on the Federal Government not to back out of talks with the Niger Delta militants, although the group had refused to come to the table.

The English-born Nigerian activist made the appeal on Wednesday while suggesting solutions to the attacks on oil facilities in the Niger Delta region.

“The British government is recommending dialogue with the Niger Delta Avengers, the American government is recommending the same, and it is a welcome recommendation.

“People like me support that recommendation and also call on the people blowing up the pipeline that they should also hold their peace, let us see how we can now sit down and discuss the issues,” she said on Sunrise Daily.

Injustice In Nigeria
Briggs asked the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration to look at past documents and policies, to find a lasting solution to the problem.

She observed that there were lots of injustice in Nigeria and called for a genuine review of the issues which, according to her, include the physical federalism, national conference report, oil well licences among others.

Britain To Partner Nigeria In Development

Paul Arkwright, Britain, NigeriaBritain has assured Nigeria of its partnership in developing critical aspects of the nation such as economy, job creation and human capital development.

The British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Paul Arkwright, stated this during his visit to the Ogun State Governor, Ibikunle Amosun, on Thursday in Abeokuta, the state’s capital.

He said that the British government was working on how to further advance its business interests in Nigeria and boost trade relationship by supporting both the federal and state governments.

Addressing his guest and his team, Governor Amosun assured Mr Arkwright of the state government’s readiness to collaborate with the British government in all areas of human interest.

Regional Security Summit Commences In Abuja

Security SummitNigeria is hosting the second regional security meeting in Abuja to consolidate efforts for regional peace and development. The summit has commenced.

The Multi-National Joint Task Force Commander has drawn the attention of member states to the need for improved allowances for the troops and purchase of equipment for detecting and destroying IEDs.

Meanwhile, the Executive Secretary of the Lake Chad Basin Commission is asking member states to begin to fix attention on developmental programmes which will address the root causes of insecurity in the region.

Saturday is for the presentation of the recommendations from the series of meetings they will be holding to the leaders of member states.

Discussions at the Summit will focus on intelligence on the location and rescue of the over 200 abducted Chibok girls and an implementable action plan for the joint fight against insurgency in the African region.

Presidents of four member countries of the Lake Chad Basin will be attending the Summit as well as representatives of other neighbouring African countries, the European Union, the United States and the British government.

The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Lolo Bulus, said that the Summit is sequel to the Security Summit in Paris.

Security Summit To Set Plan For Northeast Development

Northeast-Nigeria-developmentA comprehensive plan for post-conflict development of the northeast is expected to arise from the two-day Security Summit coming up in Abuja on Thursday.

Discussions at the Summit will focus on intelligence on the location, rescue of the over 200 abducted Chibok girls and an implementable action plan for the joint fight against insurgency in the African region.

Presidents of four member countries of the Lake Chad Basin will be attending the Summit as well as representatives of other neighbouring African countries, the European Union, the United States and the British government.

The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Lolo Bulus, said the Summit was sequel to the Security Summit in Paris.

Ambassador Bulus said the Summit would also draw out a 10-year action plan for Lake Chad Basin development which is to be funded and executed through international collaboration.

Bayelsa Leaders Pay Tributes To Diepreye Alamieyeseigha

AlamieyeseighaElders and leaders of the Ijaw extraction On Friday payed glowing tributes to the first civilian Governor of the state, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha.

The late former Governor, who died on October 10, 2015, is slated to be committed to mother earth on Saturday, April 9 in his hometown, Amassoma.

Immediate past President, Goodluck Jonathan and his wife, Dame Patience, who were direct beneficiaries of the late alamieyeseigha’s benevolence were at the event.

They called for unity amongst Niger Deltans and indeed all Nigerians and support for the nation’s leadership.

Governor Seriake Dickson lauded the leadership virtues of late Alamieyeseigha, describing him as a true leader in deeds and words.

One of the other persons who spoke, Comrade Udengs Eradiri, also recounted the late former Governor’s contributions to the struggle for fiscal federalism in Nigeria and development of the Niger delta.

Other persons at the event were late Alamieyeseigha’s wife, Margaret, wife of the State Governor, Dr. Rachel Dickson, National and State Assembly members including Senator Ben Murray-Bruce, former Minister of Information, Mr. Labaran Maku.

Alamieyeseigha reportedly died of cardiac arrest at the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital, after slipping into coma two days before his death and was placed on life support.

The Bayelsa State Commissioner for Information, Esueme Dan-Kikili, who confirmed the death to Channels Television, said that the death of the former governor was a great loss to the Ijaw ethnic group.

There were reports before his death that the British Government was determined to resurrect an outstanding case of money laundering against the former governor and had requested for his extradition to London.

UK Donates £6.7m To Support Boko Haram Victims

Boko HaramThe British government has donated the sum of 6.7 million Pounds in support of humanitarian assistance for the 2.2 million victims that were displaced by the Boko Haram insurgents in northeast Nigeria.

The donation is coming on the heels of the visit of the British Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Baroness Anelay, who arrived Nigeria on Tuesday.

The Press and Public Affairs Officer of the British High Commission in Nigeria, Mr Joseph Abuku, said in a statement that the Minister would hold high level discussions with government officials on how to ensure the protection of civilians in the fight against the Boko Haram terrorists.

He added that Anelay, who is also the UK Prime Minister’s Special Representative for Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict (PSVI), would meet with various civil society activists and NGOs to discuss the importance of preventing sexual violence in such conflicts.

According to Abuku, “The Minister will discuss additional humanitarian support that the UK is providing in helping those affected by the fight against Boko Haram.

“This includes £6.7 million to enable the government of Nigeria, as well as Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), UN agencies and the Red Cross to deliver food assistance, education, sanitation and safe water, shelter material (as well as) other basic necessities.”

The Commission’s spokesman added that “The Minister will meet with the Bring Back Our Girls campaign and reiterate the importance of preventing gender based violence in conflict.

“She will also visit UK sponsored projects that work to reduce intra-community conflict and violence against women and girls, promote community-government security dialogue and improve access to schooling.”

He said that an estimated 2.2 million people have been displaced and over 14.8 million others were affected by the Boko Haram insurgency.

Mr Abuku disclosed that the UK government is providing £6.7 million of humanitarian support to help those affected by Boko Haram, while 60% of DfID’s £222 million development budget for Nigeria would be spent in the northern region.

Unconfirmed Number Of Deported Nigerians Arrive Lagos From UK

Lagos Airport-deported nigerians

Unconfirmed number of Nigerians deported by the British authorities have arrived at the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos.

The affected Nigerians, who reportedly arrived aboard a chartered aircraft from London on Wednesday, were said to be the first batch of about 29,000 Nigerians awaiting deportation from the United Kingdom (UK).

Some of the deported Nigerians were said to have been staying in the UK without valid papers and were picked up by the British Police, without given the chance to take their belongings.

The deportation has generated controversy in the past weeks, with civil rights activists questioning the British Government’s decision, which they described as illegal.