London Bridge Attack Prompts Government Review
The ministry of justice is urgently reviewing the cases of “probably about 74” people who were released early after being jailed for terror offences. Boris Johnson announced the move after convicted terrorist Usman Khan, who was released after serving half his sentence, killed two people in a knife attack at London Bridge on Friday before police shot him dead. The victims have been identified as 25-year-old Jack Merritt and 23-year-old Saskia Jones. Both had been attending an event marking five years of the Learning Together programme, which enables inmates and students to study together in order to reduce reoffending.
Appearing on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show on Sunday, the prime minister said: “The reason this killer was out on the streets was because of automatic early release which was brought in by a leftie government.” Although he was a minister in previous Conservative administrations, Johnson was keen to distance his own nascent regime from those that preceded it, saying: “I’m a new prime minister. We take a different approach.” Sir Ed Davey, deputy leader of the Lib Dems, called on Johnson to apologise for “misleading people” over early release laws. Davey said he “shouldn’t be trying to make political capital out of a tragedy”. The father of Jack Merritt said his son “would not wish his death to be used as the pretext for more draconian sentences or for detaining people unnecessarily”.
Johnson asks Trump not to endorse him
Donald Trump is in London today and tomorrow for a Nato summit, but Boris Johnson has asked the American president not to endorse him while he is in the UK. Trump has previously described the prime minister as “Britain Trump” and a “good man”, and suggested Johnson form a pact with Nigel Farage’s Brexit party. However, the Tory leader has told LBC radio: “When you have close friends and allies like the US and UK, the best thing is for neither side to get involved in each other’s election campaigns.”
Although he has stopped short of making any formal agreement with the Brexit party, Johnson has reached out to Leave voters. At a press conference with prominent Leave campaigners Michael Gove and ex-Labour MP Gisela Stuart, he promised to “unleash the benefits of Brexit”. However, the prime minister was forced to accept that his party would remain in a “state of readiness” for a no-deal Brexit if it won the election. He had previously claimed no-deal was off the table, despite widely held concerns that the UK could still crash out of the EU on 31st December if he fails to secure a deal with the EU before then.
Alice Bird of the Save Teignmouth and Holcombe Beach campaign, describing a Network Rail-supported plan to upgrade the London-Cornwall line and make it less vulnerable to storms and floods. Giant waves destroyed a sea wall at Dawlish five years ago at the same time as torrential rain caused a landslide at Holcombe; together, the events closed the line for six weeks.
Locals accept the need for added “climate resilience” on the line, but believe Network Rail favours a cheap option that will destroy their town’s greatest attraction. If the preliminary plan is approved, Teignmouth’s beaches – which make it the “gem” of south Devon – would be covered up except for a strip exposed during low tides. The Peninsula Rail Task Force said: “The resilience of the railway is our number one priority. It is essential that we have a railway capable of operating all year round. It’s key to the southwest economy.”
In Other News...
Angela Merkel faces new threat
A pair of left-wing politicians have won the vote to lead Germany’s Social Democrats. Norbert Walter-Borjans and Saskia Esken won 53% of votes from party members, defeating a centrist team that took 45%. The Social Democrats are currently part of Angela Merkel’s governing coalition, which could become strained by the result. While the defeated centrists had argued in favour of maintaining the coalition, the victorious pair have been more critical, with Esken even suggesting it was time for the party to leave it. At the very least, Esken wants to renegotiate the terms of the 2018 coalition treaty in regard to government spending and climate change policy, but chancellor Merkel has made it clear her Christian Democratic party would not agree to that.
French protests against AmazoN
Across France, activists staged Black Friday demonstrations against Amazon. Protesting against consumerism and its environmental impact, groups gathered outside the internet giant’s HQ near Paris and also tried to blockade a shopping centre in the capital and a logistics hub near Lyon. Video footage from Lyon shows riot police dragging activists away. Amazon said it respected their right to protest but disagreed with “the actions of these individuals”. Environmentalists say Amazon is accelerating climate change with its rapid delivery services. French MPs are soon to debate a ban on Black Friday because of its detrimental impact on the planet. There was also anti-Amazon action in Germany, where workers walked out from six distribution centres over pay and conditions.
Daily Mail owner buys i newspaper
The i newspaper and website has been bought by the owner of the Daily Mail for £49.6m. The title joins the Daily Mail and General Trust stable of publications that already includes the Mail, Mail on Sunday and Metro. Jeremy Corbyn tweeted his dismay at the deal, which means the national newspaper sector is dominated further by “two billionaire press barons”. DGMT is chaired and controlled by Lord Rothermere, while Rupert Murdoch’s News UK owns the Sun, Sun on Sunday, Times and Sunday Times. The Competitions and Markets Authority will review the deal. Lord Rothermere said he would not seek to influence the “politically independent editorial style” of the i.
Malta PM resigns
Malta’s prime minister has stepped down as a result of the fallout from the murder of investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. A police investigation of the 2017 killing of the journalist, who had exposed corruption at the country’s highest levels of government and business, has led to a series of arrests that have fractured and undermined Muscat’s administration. The latest arrest is that of businessman Yorgen Fenech, who has pleaded not guilty to five charges including complicity to murder. Muscat’s chief of staff quit last week, as did his tourism minister, while his economy minister chose to suspend himself.
Face scans for Chinese mobile users
In China, a new regulation requires anyone registering for a new mobile phone service to have their face scanned. The government says the law, which came into effect on Sunday, is designed to “protect the legitimate rights and interest of citizens in cyberspace”. Citizens already have to show their national ID card when signing up for a new mobile or mobile data contract, but must now have their faces scanned to verify they are a genuine match for the ID. China is a keen proponent of face-scanning technologies and Jeffrey Ding, an Oxford University researcher on Chinese artificial intelligence, said the law was also likely to have been motivated by its desire to track its population.
The Apostrophe Protection Society is no more. Retired journalist John Richards started the society in 2001 but, at the age of 96, he has admitted defeat. “Fewer organisations and individuals are now caring about the correct use of the apostrophe in the English language. We, and our many supporters worldwide, have done our best but the ignorance and laziness present in modern times have won!”