Today’s National News

Here’s a look at the news from across the UK with Ross Hempseed. 

For more information on Emiliano Sala look to our sports section for updated information.

Comment: The Tories are supporting the DUP’s agenda not Northern Ireland’s Peace Process

The DUP have received a £410 million allocation for Northern Ireland Assembly budget from the Conservative Party, despite Stormont not sat since snap local elections in March 2017.

Stormont’s debates chambers have been silent for over 12 months, the DUP are a party not in power at home but solely making decisions for Northern Ireland. It adds to a growing list of decisions and Brexit stance shifts by Theresa May’s Government, pointing to a willingness to do whatever necessary to keep the DUP content and themselves in power.

Peace Bridge: Derry. Credit: Aoibhinn O’Doherty

A hard border will be disastrous for Northern Ireland, The European Union is doing everything it can to stop a disintegration of the peace progress in Brexit negotiations whilst Britain does everything in its’ power to keep the DUP’s support. Allowing Northern Ireland to remain in the single market and customs union, having the hard border along the Irish sea is a huge conceit by the EU. It shows a desire to show leniency on Britain’s hard stance for the better of peace in Ireland. Theresa May and the rightwing press in Britain are outraged by Europe’s “demands,” misunderstanding who is really unrealistically demanding.

The disadvantages of a border are clear; trade, immigration and economic support will be brought to a standstill in Northern Ireland. Derry sits along the border, NI’s second city, every day hundreds commute to and from the city across the border. An economic blackspot, for decades it has benefited from European money and incentives for cross-community projects, local business, start-ups and trade. A ‘Peace Bridge’ links the still-segregated sides of Derry’s Foyle river, paid for and devised by the EU.

The Foyle Constituency voted overwhelmingly to stay in Europe, the advantages of having an elected member in the EU was clear to Foyle’s constituents, due to the work of the cities’ John Hume in spreading Europe’s peaceful philosophy.

It was on the morning of June’s General Election’s result and formation of a coalition government with the DUP, Hume came to mind. It was Hume’s fight for civil rights and ultimate vision of peace throughout the darkest days of the Troubles that saw an end to the bloodshed. The Good Friday Agreement and the design of Northern Ireland’s power-sharing Assembly was the result of secret negotiations between Sinn Fein, The DUP, Westminster and the Dáil. Forging relationships between Nationalism and Loyalism, Britain and Ireland, Hume’s lifelong commitment to equality and peace seen him receive the Noble Peace Prize in 1998.

It was not without outside support that peace was achieved. Hume was an MEP and sat in the EU’s Strasbourg Parliament. He addressed the Parliament following his Noble award, it was the speech I came across on the morning of June 26.

“The European Union is the best example in the history of the world of conflict resolution. The philosophy of the European Union and the peace of Europe is the philosophy of our [Good Friday] agreement.” Hume bellowed.

In no uncertain terms, Hume owes peace to Europe, every meticulous detail of NI’s new government was based on what followed the ashes and rubble of the Second World War. Hume understood The European Union and the philosophy it represented, respect for difference and sitting down together to work toward a common goal. 

With the threat of a no deal Brexit and a hard border, Theresa May is holding Northern Ireland’s peace process to ransom. The Good Friday Agreement brought an end to hundreds of years of intolerance to religion and culture. Britain, along with the Irish Republic, Europe and the two diametrically opposed parties of Republicanism and Unionism agreed to an equal footing. Britain accepted a responsibility to acknowledge and work with Nationalism in Ireland, for the first time Unionism had an opposition.

With the formation of a coalition with the DUP in June, Theresa May compromised Britain’s promise to Northern Ireland and have put peace in jeopardy. As we edge closer and closer to leaving Europe, with negotiations in existence but not progressing, it is becoming clear that May and her negotiator Michel Barnier are far more interested in supporting the DUP and its’ opposition to the North of Ireland remaining in the customs union and single market. It seems obvious to me, as it does Europe’s negotiators, the Conservatives are only intent on keeping their minority government in power through the DUP and not honouring their commitment to peace in Ireland.   

Cabinet Reshuffle promotes women and ethnic minorities

Theresa May has created her own generation of Tory ‘rising stars’ as her cabinet shuffle reached its conclusion yesterday.

The Prime Minister has brought in fresh talent across her cabinet, including an increase in the number of female and ethnic minority cabinet ministers.

She stated that her new government now looks ‘more like the country it serves’, after axing a number of white male MP’s over 50, and bringing in younger, female members from minority backgrounds. She insisted that this move will help her focus more on important issues such as health, housing and social care in the UK.

After these decisions yesterday, female representation in Parliament has risen from 25% to 30% and the number of female MP’s has now risen from 30 to 37, and minority MP’s from 4 to 9.

DUP leader blasts Irish PM over Brexit

The Irish prime minister is being “reckless” as Brexit talks enter a “critical phase”, says Arlene Foster.

Speaking after meeting Theresa May at Downing Street today, the Democratic Unionist Party leader said Leo Varadkar “should know better” than to “play around” with Northern Ireland as talks continue.

Arlene Foster has been the DUP leader since 2015. Photograph: Google

Dublin has said any deal which involves a hard border with Northern Ireland should not be taken into consideration.

Meanwhile the European Union has said Northern Ireland would have to stay in the customs union where there to be no hard border.

The prime minister has said that the outcome could not be accepted by the UK government as it would effectively create a border between Northern Ireland and the rest of Britain.

Mrs Foster said she recognised Brexit was a “big shock” for the Republic of Ireland – “and they are trying to process all of that”.

“But they certainly shouldn’t be using Northern Ireland to get the maximum deal for their citizens.”

Negotiations between Britain and the EU have yet to reach an agreement as to how the Irish border will remain open for goods to be transferred freely if the UK leaves the customs union.

The Conservatives – who are supported in government by the DUP – are today pushing for the negotiations to move onto the trade agreement, which they claim is linked with the Irish issue.

Last night Mrs May’s cabinet agreed to offer to pay more as the UK leaves Europe. But No. 10 said no formal offer will be made until the talks move on to trade.

In support of the government, Mrs Foster said it was crucial to move on to the second phase now because the trade arrangement is linked to the border situation.

After the election in June, the DUP pledged to support the prime minister’s minority government on the Brexit issue.

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Nicola Sturgeon to meet Theresa May in Downing Street

Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon is to meet with Prime Minister Theresa May in Number 10 on Tuesday. This is the first face to face meeting the two leaders have had since March of this year.


The Prime Minister indicated earlier in the year that she wanted to hold discussions with Sturgeon over their government’s political deadlock regarding Brexit.

Theresa May and Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon meet in a hotel in Glasgow, Scotland, March 27, 2017.
Source: Reuters


It is likely that following cross-party talks about sexual harassment in both Westminister and Holyrood in previous weeks, the two leaders will discuss the current state of sexual harassment in politics.


The meeting comes on the same day that amendments to the European Withdrawl Bill are being considered by MPs, fueling further friction between Conservative backbenchers and Cabinet members.


The Scottish Government is refusing to table the bill for consent in Holyrood unless changes are made to halt a return of devolved powers to Westminster.


Sturgeon said in recent weeks, this is a ‘power grab’ by the Conservative Party. May responded by stating devolved regions would ‘gain significant powers’ in the bill.


Previous talks between top ministers in both Parliaments have failed in their bid to break this political deadlock. May and Sturgeon’s relationship has been fraught at times. Nicola Sturgeon revealed in a New Statesman interview her personal view of May’s current government;


“When you’ve got an insight into how rough and tough and, at times, downright unpleasant the trade of politics can be, it’s hard not to feel some personal sympathy. Her position must be pretty intolerable. It’s tempered, though, by the fact that nobody made her call an election and she did it for purely party-political interest.”


Whilst the Brexit Withdrawal will be top of both leaders agenda, neither party leader could avoid tackling the sexual harassment which is involving all parties in both parliaments. Tory Defense Secretary Micheal Fallon and SNP early years minister Mark McDonald both left their posts last week over allegations of inappropriate sexual behaviour.


May accuses Putin of election interference

Theresa May has launched her strongest criticism of Russia to date, accusing the Kremlin of meddling in elections.


The Prime Minister said Moscow had “mounted a sustained campaign of cyber espionage and disruption” in a speech to business leaders at a banquet in London last night.


May went on to say Russia was guilty of “planting fake stories” to “sow discord in the West”.


In unprecedented comments, the PM said:

“I have a very simple message for Russia. We know what you are doing. And you will not succeed. Because you underestimate the resilience of our democracies, the enduring attraction of free and open societies, and the commitment of western nations to the alliances that bind us. The UK will do what is necessary to protect ourselves, and work with our allies to do likewise.”


Theresa May last met with President Putin in 2016. Source: Wikipedia


In contrast to May’s attack, Donald Trump resisted criticising President Putin after the two met at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) last week. In an off-script chat on board Air Force One, Trump recounted his conversation with the Russian leader: “He said he didn’t meddle. I asked him again. You can only ask so many times. But I just asked him again, and he said he absolutely did not meddle in our election. He did not do what they’re saying he did.”


Following Mrs May’s comments last night, Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs tweeted the following response.


May said as the UK left the EU and charted a new course in the world, it would remain absolutely committed to NATO and securing a Brexit deal which “strengthens our liberal values”, adding that a strong economic partnership between the UK and EU would be a bulwark against Russian agitation in Europe.


Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson will travel to Russia next month on a diplomatic visit.


Wednesday’s political round-up

Theresa May's visit to Germany in July 2016.

Theresa May’s visit to Germany in July 2016.

UKIP leader Diane James to stand down; Farage back in

UKIP leader Diane James has announced her resignation as leader of the UKIP party after only 18 days in charge. She was elected as leader of the party after Nigel Farage stepped down in the wake of the vote for the UK to leave the EU.

Ex-leader Nigel Farage has announced that he will step back into the UKIP party as leader for his third stint to replace Diane James.

Mrs James is the latest politician in a long line of pro-Brexit politicians to step down after the British public voted to leave the EU back in June. There has been mixed reports from the party, with some citing her husband’s ill health as the reason for her standing down and others saying she was reluctant to be leader from the start.

In an official comment, she stated: “It has become clear I do not have sufficient authority, nor the full support of all my MEP colleagues and party officers to implement changes I believe necessary and upon which I based my campaign.”

Her resignation has sparked speculation that the prominent anti-EU campaigner and former UKIP leader Nigel Farage could be about to get back into politics.

Final day of the Tories party conference

Prime Minister Theresa May will close the Conservative Party conference later today and will call for a “new approach” to politics. The PM will give a speech to the conference in which she will promise to help “ordinary working class people”.

It is clear that May will attempt to gain support from disenfranchised Labour voters by bringing the party to a middle ground.

“I want to set our party and our country on the path towards the new centre ground of British politics, built on the values of fairness and opportunity,” is what she is expected to say according to released excerpts.

She will speak straight after Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson, who will claim that the SNP “does not speak for Scotland” and that Scotland does not want another independence referendum. Davidson will also encourage young women in the UK to see the PM as an example that “gender is no barrier to advancement” in Britain.

The Vice-Presidential debate continues

The Vice-Presidential candidates in the US engaged in a heated debate last night at Longwood University, Virginia. Democratic Senator Tim Kaine and Republican Governor Mike Pence argued on a series of topics including foreign affairs and health services.

The harshest blows, however, were kept for the presidential candidates themselves. Donald Trump was compared to a “fool or a maniac” while Hillary Clinton was described as “weak and feckless”. Kaine criticised Trump’s praise for Putin in one of the more heated moments stating, “If you don’t know the difference between dictatorship and leadership, then you’ve got to go back to a fifth-grade civics class”.

This exchange was the preview for a second presidential debate on Sunday in Missouri as Trump looks to bounce back from a ropey performance in the first debate.

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