Posts Tagged ‘Gavin Williamson’

UK Ministers’ demands for more money will mean higher taxes and leave Tories ‘crushed’ at election, warns Liz Truss

June 26, 2018
A SENIOR Conservative minister has slammed Theresa May’s Cabinet for their “unsustainable” budget increase demands, and warned tax increases could threaten to “crush” the Conservatives at the next General Election.

Liz TrussGETTY

Liz Truss has stated that increased spending would lead to ‘higher and higher taxes’ for the public

Liz Truss, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, called on her fellow ministers to acknowledge that “un-Conservative” spending increases would threaten to impose “higher and higher taxes” on the general public.

She also warned tax increases would be a “complete contradiction of the Brexit vote” and would betray the wishes of Conservative voters.

Commenting on the £29,000 which is currently spent on public services per household, she said: “My instinct is we can get better value for money for that spending, rather than just upping the budget of every department.

“Government has a responsibility to its people to balance the books and keep taxes as low as we possibly can.

“We have a responsibility to make sure every pound pulls its weight.”

Sajid JavidGETTY

Sajid Javid has called for a higher budget for the Home Office in a bid to increase policing

Gavin WilliamsonGETTY

Gavin Williamson is conducting a defence review which is expected to outline a funding shortfall

We have a responsibility to make sure every pound pulls its weight

Liz Truss

During a speech at the London School of Economics on Tuesday, Ms Truss will argue that her Cabinet colleagues have “not been clear with the public about the tax implications of their proposed higher spending”.

She will note they are demanding “unsustainable, unaffordable and un-Conservative public spending increases”, and will state that “it’s not macho to demand more money. It’s much tougher – and fairer to people – to demand better value for money”.

The minister will also turn directly to Brexit, and argue that an increase in taxes to fund higher departmental spending will be a betrayal of Brexit promises.

She will say: “We know that people voted for Brexit because they wanted to take back control of their lives.

“And the public will find it unforgivable and a betrayal of Brexit if, just as we embark on a bright future outside of the European Union, we impose higher and higher taxes on them taking away the control they have over their money.

“This is a complete contradiction of the Brexit vote.

“The more Government spends, the higher taxes have to be.

“And that means businesses and people have less freedom to spend on their own priorities.

“And that in turn will hamper the success of post-Brexit Britain.”

Her criticism is aimed at Cabinet ministers including Gavin Williamson and Sajid Javid, who have asked for large budget increases.

Mr Williamson, the Defence Secretary, reportedly stated he could “break” Mrs May if she refused to offer him a larger budget.

He is reportedly concerned about the Prime Minister’s refusal to declare the UK will remain a “tier one” military power, and is conducting a defence review which is expected to outline his department requires more funds to fill a £20billion funding shortfall over the next decade.

Mr Javid, the Home Secretary, has also spoken in the last few weeks about his aim to obtain more money for increased policing.

The Prime Minister has nevertheless faced resistance from the Chancellor Philip Hammond in recent weeks over her announcement of the huge £20billion a year increase in NHS funding.

Mr Hammond is reported to have stated other departments will have to restrict their spending in order to afford the increased NHS budget.


Theresa May Seeking Budget Cuts From Defence Secretary, MoD, British Military?

June 21, 2018

‘Shockwaves’ at MoD as PM challenges defence secretary to justify spending plans

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© Getty

George Parker and David Bond in London 

Theresa May has asked Gavin Williamson, the defence secretary, to justify Britain’s role as a “tier one” military power, throwing Ministry of Defence plans to modernise the armed forces into disarray just weeks before a crucial Nato summit.

At a tense meeting this week, the prime minister said Mr Williamson needed to rethink the capabilities needed to be a modern military force and focus more on Britain’s cyber warfare capability to meet new threats, including Russia.

Senior officials said Mrs May’s intervention created “shockwaves” at the MoD, with some claiming she appeared to be questioning Britain’s role as a global military player. “People have their head in their hands,” said one official.

Downing Street acknowledged that Mr Williamson’s plans had been challenged by Mrs May in Tuesday’s meeting but dismissed suggestions that she was arguing for a reduction in Britain’s military status.

“It is categorically untrue to suggest that the UK’s current position as a leading defence nation is somehow in question,” a spokesman said. “The prime minister is strongly committed to the United Kingdom’s armed forces and to maintaining their strength and their ability to deter and where necessary defeat the threats we face.”

MoD officials are urgently working on a paper that will set out what it means to be a top-tier power alongside the US, Russia, China and France.

Although there is no formal definition of what constitutes a tier one power, the MoD has interpreted it as having a full spectrum of military capabilities, including an independent nuclear deterrent and a navy, army and air force capable of being deployed anywhere in the world.

Mr Williamson has fought a high-profile campaign in Whitehall for more cash for the armed forces as the MoD faces a funding shortfall of up to £20bn over the next decade. But in the “trilateral” meeting, he faced resistance from Mrs May and Philip Hammond, the chancellor.

According to one official briefed on the talks, Mrs May’s doubts were raised near the end of the meeting, after General Sir Nick Carter, the new chief of the defence staff, set out the threats the UK is facing, with a particular focus on Russia.

Gen Carter detailed the capabilities required to meet those threats and touched on some of the cost implications, prompting the prime minister to raise the question of tier one status and request a fuller review.

“The PM was simply asking, ‘Are you sure this is the right way to proceed’?” said a second government official with knowledge of the meeting.

On exercise with the British Army as it battles for funds

Mrs May said this week that the NHS is the government’s “priority” and Mr Hammond has told colleagues that the plan for £20.5bn in extra health spending by 2023 will mean tighter settlements for other departments in a spending review next year.

The chancellor will on Thursday say in his annual Mansion House speech that he is committed to reining in borrowing and sticking to his fiscal rules, including raising taxes “a bit” to pay for higher NHS spending.

Mr Williamson is pressing for more cash and wants to make an interim statement on his “modernising defence programme” before next month’s Nato summit, at which President Donald Trump is again expected to demand US allies boost military spending.

But the pushback by Mrs May and Mr Hammond has put the statement on hold. “More work needs to be done,” said one senior official. The modernisation review is scheduled to conclude in the autumn.

Britain is one of only five Nato countries which meet the alliance’s spending goal of committing 2 per cent of gross domestic product to defence. The current UK defence budget stands at £37bn a year.

Britain is also committed to spending a further £178bn on new defence equipment over the next 10 years — but the MoD’s budget remains under strain and Mr Williamson and military chiefs are seeking more.

The shift in tone from the prime minister comes after hopes were raised that defence would be granted extra money beyond the current commitment to increase the MoD’s budget by 0.5 per cent above inflation each year.

Earlier this week a report by the defence select committee called for ministers to raise defence spending to nearer 3 per cent of GDP.

On Wednesday, General Mark Carleton-Smith, the new head of the army, said sacrificing conventional war fighting capabilities to pay for new capabilities like cyber was “flawed”.

In a speech to the Rusi land power conference in London, Mr Carleton-Smith said it was wrong to believe that “the answer lies somehow in disruptive technology and the quicker we can field those technologies the less useful the traditional measures of combat power become as indicators of national power”.


Uk Response to Russian Nerve Agent Attack: Too Many Ministers “Shooting their Mouths Off”

March 19, 2018

Salisbury Attack: Top Cold War diplomat criticises Gavin Williamson over ‘go away and shut up’ remarks

Exclusive: Ex-ambassador to Russia says senior ministers have been ‘shooting their mouths off’, but backs Theresa May

By Ashley Cowburn

The Independent

The UK’s former ambassador to Russia has criticised senior ministers for “shooting their mouths off”, singling out Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson for displaying a lack of seriousness amid the deepest crisis in relations with Moscow since the end of the Cold War.

Speaking exclusively to The Independent, Sir Rodric Braithwaite, took aim at the Cabinet minister following comments in which he told Russia to “go away and shut up“, sparking retaliatory insults from the Russian Foreign Minister and others in Moscow.

Image result for Sir Rodric Braithwaite, photos

Sir Rodric Braithwaite

Sir Rodric, who was the UK’s man in Moscow during critical years of the Cold War, also attacked other senior ministers whom he said “have come out much too early, saying things that are much too wild”, as the UK seeks to build pressure on Vladimir Putin over Salisbury nerve agent attack.

It follows a Commons appearance from Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson early on in the crisis in which he sparked news stories that England may pull out of the football World Cup in response to the attack, something which later had to be clarified.

The former high-ranking diplomat’s comments echo those of Home Secretary Amber Rudd, who last week insisted on keeping “cool heads” following Mr Johnson’s intervention, meanwhile he goes on to praise Theresa May’s performance as “judicious”.

Sir Rodric, who served between 1988 and 1992, spoke as events quickly developed in the ongoing saga following the attack in Salisbury that involved a Russian-made “military grade” nerve-agent.

With former Russian spy Sergei Skripal, his daughter Yulia and a British police officer still in hospital, Ms May used a speech at a party forum to say the UK would not tolerate any threat to life on British soil.

Theresa May warns Russia UK will ‘never tolerate threat on life of British citizens’

On Saturday Mr Putin also announced the expulsion of 23 UK diplomats in retaliation to expulsions announced by Ms May earlier in the week.

Praising the Prime Minister approach so far, Sir Rodric said: “She’s been rather judicious; she hasn’t rushed the process.

“I think in a very difficult set of circumstances, in the highly charged atmosphere, a lot of people are shooting their mouths off, I think she’s performed rather well.”

It follows the Prime Minister’s decision to blame the attack on the Russian state, expel its diplomats and execute asset freezes after Moscow failed to respond to the Government’s 24-hour deadline for an explanation of how the Novichok nerve agent came to be used on British soil.

Asked about the Defence Secretary’s comments on Thursday, Sir Rodric continued: “I think I hinted at what people like him and some of his wilder colleagues have been saying. It lacks seriousness.

“Whether you like Russia or not, it is a big country, which now has rather a lot of influence in the world – whether you like it or not. To tell it to go away and shut up is not very serious, in my view.”

Russian Foreign Minister responds to Gavin Williamson: Russia has ‘stopped paying attention’

He added: “I wouldn’t be ruder than that, but it seems to me that he and some of his senior colleagues have come out much too early, saying things that are much too wild, in contrast to Theresa May.”.

Asked whether the Prime Minister should confront Mr Williamson over his incendiary remarks, Sir Rodric, also a foreign policy adviser to former Prime Minister John Major, said: “Well, she has a difficult domestic political situation to mange, to put it mildly.

“She has to make her own judgements about who she tells to shut up.”

On Jeremy Corbyn’s refusal to blame Russia on Wednesday in the House of Commons, Sir Rodric said: “This is not a situation in which absolute certainty and absolute proof, particularly of who gave the order, is ever going to be available. So one has to make a judgement.”

Sir Rodric Braithwaite was the highest ranking diplomat in Russia between 1988 and 1992 (Youtube)

He continued: “There is a limit beyond which it doesn’t make sense to say we’ve got to wait until we get more proof.

“I think it was a misjudgement on Corbyn’s part to combine his remarks about the events in Salisbury, with other remarks about the Tories receiving donations from Russian oligarchs and about money laundering in the City.

“Both of those are perfectly legitimate comments – personally I think they are both things that should be investigated further. But that wasn’t the moment to say it. I think that was a political misjudgement, which is being exploited by his political enemies.”

He later added: “If there is a secret information about who gave the order, available to British agencies, they are almost certainly not going to reveal it because they won’t want to compromise their sources. I think it’s quite difficult to imagine how they would get such information, but maybe they have done. And we won’t know.”

Russian Foreign Minister responds to Gavin Williamson: Russia has ‘stopped paying attention’

While Sir Rodric described the current diplomatic crisis between the UK and Russia as a “highly emotional confrontation”, he urged caution about referring to the current situation as a “new Cold War”.

“It was a binary confrontation between two super powers and their respective allies. It was a nuclear confrontation, which if there had been a nuclear exchange would have killed hundreds and hundreds of millions of people, and it was a hair-trigger confrontation.

“The order to launch could have been given within 15 minutes of the warning.”

He added: “It’s a paradox – it was a much simpler situation, it was a much stabler situation because each side was terrified of the other and neither of them ever wanted to trigger a nuclear war, or get anywhere near it.

“But of course these great machines of rockets and submarines and things are all subject to technical error ,and of course human being are also subject to blowing a gasket. So it was a pretty frightening situation – and that is not where we are now.”

At a speech in London, the Prime Minister said Moscow was in “flagrant breach” of international law over the Salisbury incident, a position since backed by the US, France, Germany and others.

She said: “Many Russians have made this country their home. And those who abide by our laws and make a contribution to our society will always be welcome.

“But we will never tolerate a threat to the life of British citizens and others on British soil from the Russian Government.”

A Russian response to the British measures had been expected for several days and when it came, it went further than expected.

Apart from the expected tit-for-tat expulsions, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced it is stopping all British Council activities “due to legal irregularities” and revoking its agreement for Britain to operate a consulate-general in St Petersburg.

The ministry also warned that Russia could take further measures if Britain takes any more “unfriendly actions” against the country.

Ex-MI6 chief says Jeremy Corbyn has questions to answer over spying claims

February 24, 2018

Sir Richard Dearlove said the Labour leader can’t just ‘laugh off’ the accusations.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn (Aaron Chown/PA)

Jeremy Corbyn has “questions to answer” over his Cold War links, a former spy chief has said.

Sir Richard Dearlove said the Labour leader should have “taken care to avoid” meeting a Czechoslovakian agent and cannot just “laugh off” the claims.

The ex-MI6 boss said holding only a couple of meetings with Jan Sarkocy would amount to “stupidity” but if the spy’s claims that many more took place were true then “this affair takes on a completely different aspect”.

Former head of MI6 Sir Richard Dearlove says Jeremy Corbyn has questions to answer over spy claims
Former head of MI6 Sir Richard Dearlove says Jeremy Corbyn has questions to answer over spy claims (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Mr Sarkocy,  a former agent of the Czech StB intelligence agency, has been described as a fantasist by Mr Corbyn’s allies.

But Sir Richard, who was “C” at the Secret Intelligence Service, said the agent could not be easily dismissed.

The “discussion I have had with friends close to the current Czech intelligence community” suggests otherwise, he told The Daily Telegraph.

Sir Richard, who was posted to Communist Czechoslovakia, said “everything I learned about the way the StB operated tells me that these accusations should be taken seriously”.

Mr Corbyn’s spokesman has previously challenged records of supposed meetings between the then Labour backbencher and Mr Sarkocy.

Mr Corbyn recalled speaking to a diplomat from the then communist country in 1986, as one of many meetings with ambassadors, politicians, activists and dissidents from “the majority of countries in the world”, said the spokesman.

But another meeting with the same man was recorded in StB files as taking place the following year in the House of Commons, on a Saturday when the Labour MP’s own diaries record he was attending a conference in Chesterfield.

A spokesman for Mr Corbyn said: “Richard Dearlove, who as head of MI6 was involved in the infamous dodgy dossier that helped take us into the disastrous Iraq War, should not be trying to give credence to these entirely false and ridiculous smears.”


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Stasi kept ‘top secret’ files on Labour group which Jeremy Corbyn helped to run

February 21, 2018

Jeremy Corbyn

Questions: Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn faces intense pressure over his links to former Czechoslovakian agent Jan Sarkocy CREDIT: GEERT VANDEN WIJNGAERT/AP

East Germany’s secret police kept “top secret” files on a Labour group which Jeremy Corbyn helped to run, it has emerged.

The Stasi reportedly took a keen interest in the Labour Action for Peace (LAP) group in the 1980s.

Mr Corbyn was reportedly an officer of the LAP in the eighties and went on to serve as vice chairman before becoming president.

The Stasi believed the activity of the LAP to be of “special importance” and that the group could play a role in influencing the formulation of official Labour Party policy.

The emergence of the files, published by the Guido Fawkes website, comes as Mr Corbyn faces intense pressure over his links to former Czechoslovakian agent Jan Sarkocy.

Mr Corbyn,…

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Corbyn spy claims: Labour steps up war of words with media

Jeremy Corbyn’s office blames rightwing press ‘owned by tax exiles’ for ‘absurd stories’

Jeremy Corbyn
 Jeremy Corbyn’s lawyers have demanded an apology from Ben Bradley MP. Photograph: A Davidson/SHM/Rex/Shutterstock

Labour has stepped up its war of words with rightwing newspapers over claims that Jeremy Corbyn met a Czechoslovakian spy in the 1980s, calling the allegations “completely surreal” and “utterly ridiculous”.

As lawyers for Corbyn threatened the Conservative MP Ben Bradley with legal action over a tweet repeating the claims, Corbyn’s spokesman blamed “significant parts of the national press which are owned by billionaire tax exiles” for “a succession of false and absurd stories”.

He suggested the owners of the papers publishing the story – which include the Sun and the Mail – were scared at the prospect of a Labour government, which would seek to “open up” media ownership and crack down on tax avoidance.

Corbyn’s head-on confrontation with newspapers whose support was once courted by his predecessors underlines Labour’s belief that it can use social media to bypass the mainstream press – and that a populist attack on the establishment media will win voters over.

The spokesman conceded that the Labour leader had a record of a meeting with a Czechoslovakian diplomat in 1986, but denied reports of a second meeting on 24 October 1987.

“On that day Jeremy was in fact in Derbyshire at the Chesterfield socialist conference; it was the day after his mother died. There is absolutely no possibility that he was at a meeting with a Czech diplomat in the House of Commons at the time.”

The spokesman went on to insist that Corbyn had met with activists and diplomats from many countries, and the hour-long chat, which lasted “just enough time for a cup of tea,” was “not in any way unusual”.

Some ministers have also repeated the allegations. After Labour MP Louise Haigh said on the BBC’s Daily Politics that “Jeremy has been interested in Foreign Policy issues his entire political career”, security minister Ben Wallace tweeted, “yup so was Kim Philby” – apparently comparing the Labour leader to the Soviet spy.

Defence secretary Gavin Williamson claimed Corbyn’s meetings with the alleged Czechoslovakian spy were, “a betrayal of this country”. DexEU minister Steve Baker was pressed on whether he shared that view on Wednesday by the BBC’s Andrew Neil in a tough interview, in which Baker said: “Jeremy Corbyn, I think, is a grave danger to this country because of the ideas in which he believes and what that would mean.” But he refused to stand by the language used by his ministerial colleagues.

The latest attack on the rightwing media came as Corbyn’s lawyers threatened to take legal action against Bradley, the MP for Mansfield, who deleted the Twitter post that followed claims in a series of newspaper articles.

“The natural and ordinary meaning of your words is our client made financial gain for such criminal acts and espionage,” the lawyers’ letter said.

It called for Bradley, whose seat was a rare Tory gain in the general election last year, to make a contribution to a charity of Corbyn’s choice, tweet a public apology and undertake not to repeat the claims.

Bradley’s tweet said: “Corbyn sold British secrets to communist spies…get some perspective mate!! Your priorities are a bit awry! # AreYouSerious.”

The legal letter said “we note that you have removed the tweet, but nevertheless, serious harm has been caused by your libellous statement”, pointing out that his allegation had been cited in several publications.

Corbyn and his colleagues have taken a combative approach to reports that he met a Czechoslovakian spy in London.

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 ‘Change is coming’: Corbyn’s message to ‘billionaire tax exile’ press owners – video

Earlier, Barry Gardiner, the shadow international trade secretary, accused the media of trying to smear the Labour leader with “fantasist” spying claims because it fears the party’s plans for press regulation.

He denied that Labour was threatening sections of the press over its focus on Corbyn’s contact with Ján Sarkocy, a former Czechoslovakian intelligence officer.

He pointed out that the party’s previous two manifestos had pledged to implement press regulation set out in the Leveson report and press ahead with part two of the inquiry into allegations of criminality in the media.

“That’s exactly why the newspapers are trying to get their revenge in first. They are trying to discredit Jeremy,” Gardiner told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Wednesday.

His comments came after Corbyn appeared in a Labour video to dismiss as “ridiculous smears” suggestions that he gave information to a communist spy during the cold war.

Labour would “stand up to the powerful and corrupt”, he said in the video, without detailing what action would be taken.

Sarkocy has claimed he recruited Corbyn as an intelligence asset and he and other Labour MPs were paid £10,000 by the Czechoslovakian secret service (StB) for their work.

Gardiner said: “This is an incredibly stupid story … from a fantasist who is recorded as telling his handlers in Prague that he was also responsible for the Live Aid concert, for the Nelson Mandela birthday concert.

Czech Communist spy reveals how he recruited Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn — Czech agent claims 15 Labour MPs met spies as Ken Livingstone and John McDonnell deny claims

February 18, 2018

Daily Mail

Jeremy Corbyn was a paid informant of the Czech secret police at the height of the Cold War, a former Communist secret agent claims

Jeremy Corbyn was a paid informant of the Czech secret police at the height of the Cold War, a former Communist secret agent claims.

Former spy Jan Sarkocy said he recruited the MP, codenamed Cob, in the 1980s.

Mr Corbyn was an ‘asset’ who knew he was working with the Soviet puppet state, Mr Sarkocy claimed.

Earlier this week it emerged Mr Corbyn had hosted Mr Sarkocy – who was posted to Britain as a diplomat under a fake identity – in the House of Commons.

The Labour leader insisted he had no idea Mr Sarkocy, who was actually working for the Czech secret police and was later expelled from Britain by Margaret Thatcher, was a spy.

Last night Mr Corbyn’s aides described the latest claims as a ‘ridiculous smear and entirely false’.

But speaking for the first time about the allegations yesterday, Mr Sarkocy directly challenged Mr Corbyn’s account, insisting the MP had known about his role within Statni Bezpecnost (StB) – the Communist era secret police force in the country.

‘It was a consensual collaboration,’ Mr Sarkocy said. At his home in rural Slovakia, the 64-year-old added: ‘He was our asset, he had been recruited. He was getting money from us.’

Former spy Jan Sarkocy said he recruited the MP, codenamed Cob, in the 1980s. Mr Corbyn was an ‘asset’ who knew he was working with the Soviet puppet state, Mr Sarkocy claimed

Former spy Jan Sarkocy

Former spy Jan Sarkocy said he recruited the MP, codenamed Cob, in the 1980s. Mr Corbyn was an ‘asset’ who knew he was working with the Soviet puppet state, Mr Sarkocy claimed

The former agent said the operation to cultivate Mr Corbyn, who allegedly told him that he ‘admired’ the Soviet Union, was overseen by officials in Russia.

‘Recruitment [of Corbyn] was overlooked and secured by Russians,’ he said. ‘All the information that we got from him and one other supporting source had been verified and then valued not only here, but in Russia as well … It was like this, when we got a tip on someone we worked together with the Russians.’

Mr Corbyn’s aides strongly denied the claims. But Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson called on the Labour leader to explain exactly what happened.

He said: ‘These astonishing claims will ring alarm bells all over Britain. Jeremy Corbyn is a man who wants to lead this country as our Prime Minister yet has repeatedly sided with our enemies. The British public has an absolute right to know what went on.’

Jeremy Corbyn is facing allegations he was a spy for the Czech secret police

Jeremy Corbyn is facing allegations he was a spy for the Czech secret police

This week secret documents suggested the spy targeted Mr Corbyn in the hope of finding information on MI5 and MI6, as well on America’s nuclear regime.

Yesterday, Mr Sarkocy said he would not talk about the information Mr Corbyn discussed because the matter was ‘confidential’. But he revealed that the Labour leader had helped him build contacts.

Mr Corbyn has claimed the pair simply had a ‘cup of tea’ in the Commons.

However, Mr Sarkocy – who at the time used the alias Lieutenant Jan Dymic – said they met more often than the three times listed in archived records. He said Mr Corbyn was a regular at events within the Czech embassy in Kensington, London, at the time. The ex-spy claimed the then backbench MP was also in touch with other StB agents working from within the agency.

Asked if he met Mr Corbyn on more occasions than documented, he said: ‘Yes, of course. It’s not important what you can find in official documents. Don’t forget, a lot of them were destroyed.’

As well as their two Westminster meetings in 1986 and 1987, and a meeting at Mr Corbyn’s constituency office, he claimed that they met in ‘intellectual circles’.

‘You can’t do it openly,’ the Slovak national said. ‘What was important for us was to be able to move on, get more contact to create a network. He [Corbyn] put us in touch with other people … He knew I was there as a diplomat.

‘At that time there was no question about whether you were working for the StB or as a diplomat. It was the same. There was no reason to stress that I was working for the StB because I was working in diplomacy.’

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Czech agent claims 15 Labour MPs met spies as Ken Livingstone and John McDonnell deny claims

Jan Sarkocy 

Jan Sarkocy described Labour MPs as ‘great sources’ CREDIT:  MARTIN CERVENANSKY


Ken Livingstone, John McDonnell and Jeremy Corbyn were part of a group of at least 15 senior Labour figures who shared information with Eastern bloc agents, it is claimed.

Jan Sarkocy, a former Czechoslovak spy, described the MPs as “great sources” to himself or his colleagues in the KGB.

The new claims come after he said on Friday that the Labour leader had shared information with the Communist Czechoslovak regime.

Speaking to The Sunday Telegraph, Mr Sarkocy claimed that:

  • Mr Livingstone also discussed information with the Czechoslovak regime;
  • The future London mayor made frequent visits to the Czechoslovak embassy, where he drank whisky;
  • Mr McDonnell met a KGB agent on several occasions;…

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Chinese paper says UK trying to grab attention with South China Sea mission — Hints That UK Is No Longer Relevant — “Faded former world power”

February 14, 2018


In this Oct. 23, 2017, file photo, ship’s officers are presented to Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II on deck during her visit to HMS Sutherland, a Type 23 frigate, in the West India Dock, in London. (AP)

BEIJING: Britain’s Defense Ministry is trying to justify its existence and grab attention with a planned mission by a British warship to the disputed South China Sea next month, a Chinese newspaper said on Wednesday.

A British warship will sail through the South China Sea to assert freedom-of-navigation rights, British Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson said in remarks published on Tuesday during a visit to Australia..
British officials first flagged the voyage six months ago and the journey is likely to stoke tensions with China, who claim control of most of the area and have built military facilities on land features in the sea.
Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims to the energy-rich sea through which billions of dollars in trade pass each year.
The widely read state-run tabloid the Global Times said Williamson needed to state clearly the purpose of the mission..
“If not provocation, the Royal Navy should behave modestly when passing through the South China Sea,” it said in editorials published in its English and Chinese-language editions.
“By acting tough against China, Britain’s Ministry of Defense is trying to validate its existence and grab attention,” it said.
The paper wondered whether the Royal Navy could actually complete the trip, considering budget cuts and problems with a new aircraft carrier that has a leak.
“As the Royal Navy has been hit by news such as a leaky aircraft carrier and the UK government has a tight budget, it appears a difficult mission for the Royal Navy to come all this way to provoke China,” it wrote.
China has repeatedly accused countries outside the region — generally a reference to the United States and Japan — of trying to provoke trouble in the South China Sea while China and its neighbors are trying to resolve the matter through diplomacy.
Speaking of Britain’s plan, China’s Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday it hoped “relevant sides don’t try to create trouble out of nothing.”
Britain, which will be leaving the European Union next year, has looked to China as one of the countries it wants to sign a free trade deal with once it leaves the bloc. British Prime Minister Theresa May ended a largely successful trip to China earlier this month.

UK risks Beijing anger with South China Sea navy mission

February 13, 2018

British anti-submarine frigate to sail through contested Asian waters

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The HMS Sutherland is set to conduct a freedom of navigation operation in the contested waters of the South China Sea © Ministry of Defence
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Jamie Smyth in Sydney and Tom Hancock in Shanghai
Finacial Times (FT)
February 13, 2018

Britain has outlined plans to sail a warship through contested Asian waters next month in a mission aimed at asserting maritime freedom of navigation rights at a time of tension between China and the US.

The naval operation in the South China Sea will be conducted by HMS Sutherland, an anti-submarine frigate that is en route to Australia, Gavin Williamson, UK defence secretary, said on Tuesday during a visit to Sydney.

“She’ll be sailing through the South China Sea [on the way home] and making it clear our navy has a right to do that,” said Mr Williamson.

China’s foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In an interview published in The Australian newspaper, Mr Williamson said it was important for Britain, the US, Australia and other countries to “assert our values” in the South China Sea — a vital trade route and lucrative fishing area that Beijing claims much of as its own territorial waters.

He did not clarify whether HMS Sutherland would sail within 12 nautical miles of disputed territory or artificial islands built by China — an activity practised by US warships that has angered Beijing. But Mr Williamson said Britain “absolutely supported” the US approach on freedom of navigation and its actions in the South China Sea.

“World dynamics are shifting so greatly. The US can only concentrate on so many things at once,’’ said Mr Williamson. “The US is looking for other countries to do more. This is a great opportunity for the UK and Australia to do more, to exercise leadership.”

The UK operation in the South China Sea follows a US freedom of navigation mission last month within 12 nautical miles of Scarborough Shoal, a rocky outcrop that has been the subject of a dispute between China and the Philippines.

Beijing reacted angrily to the US mission, warning the US military not to threaten peace and stability by conducting such operations.

Euan Graham, analyst at Sydney’s Lowy Institute think-tank, said the planned UK operation in the South China Sea followed through with a UK commitment made last year to assert freedom of navigation rights in the region.

“This is not a show of force by the UK and I doubt they will sail within 12 nautical miles of Chinese defence installations on disputed islands in the region,” he said. “Rather it is an opportunity to show the flag, a marker of British sovereignty, which says it isn’t just the US undertaking these operations and upholding the rule of law.”

Mr Williamson told Australia’s state broadcaster that there was a need for vigilance over “any form of malign intent” from China, as the country seeks to become a superpower.

“Australia [and] Britain see China as a country of great opportunities, but we shouldn’t be blind to the ambition that China has and we’ve got to defend our national security interests,” he said.

Shen Dingli, professor of international relations at Fudan University in Shanghai, noted that while the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea allowed for naval ships of one country to pass peacefully through territorial waters of another country, “what Britain thinks of as peaceful, maybe China will not think of as peaceful”.

Shi Yinhong, an international relations professor at Renmin University in Beijing, said the US, Britain and Australia shared a common position on the South China Sea, which contrasted with China’s.

“We can’t take this statement as a formal commitment but if it really happened then it would have a very bad influence on China-Britain relations,” he said. “China might take some retaliatory steps with regards to trade.”

Mr Shi said that so far only the US has performed freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea, although there has been debate about whether the Australian navy would also get involved.

Best keyword:  

Theresa May told: Don’t let Philip Hammond ruin Brexit — “Treasury is ­trying to undermine both her and ­government policy.”

February 4, 2018

The Telegraph

Philip Hammond and Theresa May

Chancellor Philip Hammond has been accused of undermining Theresa May in Brexit negotiations

By Edward Malnick

Theresa May must invoke the ­example of Margaret Thatcher to defy Philip Hammond in order to seek a “clean Brexit” and end the current “uncertainty”, a senior Tory has warned.

Writing for The Telegraph ahead of two crunch meetings of Mrs May’s Brexit war cabinet this week, Bernard Jenkin cites Mrs Thatcher’s dispute with Sir Geoffrey Howe over Europe and declares that the former prime minister only “won the battle of the rebate” by overruling civil servants and ministers.

He accuses ministers of being “vague” and “divided”, saying that while Mrs May “sticks to one policy”, Mr Hammond “keeps advocating ­another”.

Amid claims of a “middle way” being drawn up for discussion among senior ministers this week, ­Jacob Rees-Mogg, who leads the 60-strong European Research Group of backbenchers, insisted to The ­Telegraph: “I think the Treasury is ­trying to undermine both her and ­government policy.”…

Read the rest (Paywall):


The Sun

THERESA May must summon up the iron will of the Iron Lady if she wants to achieve a “clean Brexit” and overcome the Chancellor Philip Hammond, a Tory MP has claimed.

Bernard Jenkin, the MP for Harwich and North Essex, has summoned up the spirit of Margaret Thatcher during her dispute with Sir Geoffrey Howe over Europe, saying the former prime minister only “won the battle of the rebate” by overruling civil servants and ministers.

. Prime Minster Theresa May has been told to summon up the spirit of Margaret Thatcher

Prime Minster Theresa May has been told to summon up the spirit of Margaret Thatcher

Mr Jenkin also accused ministers of being “vague” and “divided”, saying that while the Prime Minister “sticks to only policy”, the Chancellor Philip  Hammond “keeps advocating  another,” in an article for The Sunday Telegraph.

His words echo that of popular Tory Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg’s claims last week that “either the Chancellor or his officials are deliberately trying to frustrate Brexit.”

Mr Rees-Mogg insisted to the paper: “I think the Treasury is trying to undermine both her and government policy.”


 Former prime minister Margaret Thatcher

Former prime minister Margaret Thatcher

 Tory MP Bernard Jenkin has issued advice to Theresa May over Brexit

Tory MP Bernard Jenkin has issued advice to Theresa May over Brexit

 Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg is a staunch Brexit supporter

Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg is a staunch Brexit supporter

The warning came as another senior Brexiteer claimed there were “far more of us” than Tory Remainers in the  Commons.

“We’re the ones who could pull the temple down,” the Brexiteer added.

The warnings will pile pressure on Mrs May ahead of two meetings of the Cabinet’s Brexit sub-committee on Wednesday and Thursday at which Mrs May hopes to sow the seeds of an agreement about the trade deal Britain will seek from the European Union (EU).

Mrs May faces a potential deadlock in the committee if she and her de facto deputy choose to side with Mr Hammond over senior ministers, including Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary and Michael Gove, the Environment Secretary, seeking a clean break from Brussels after the transition period.

Adding to the pressure, Gavin  Williamson, the Defence Secretary – who supported Remain in the EU  referendum – has let it be known  privately that he opposes any form of customs union with the EU.

“His view is the Government has to deliver a proper Brexit and not a  pretend Brexit, meaning that we have to have the ability to diverge and set our own rules,” said one MP who discussed the issue with Mr Williamson.

One compromise under consideration is for the UK to “mirror” the EU’s rules on imports from the rest of the world where an EU country is the final destination for those goods.

A  Whitehall source said: “The idea is to use these meetings to hammer out something that people can sign up to.”

UK to launch new radar against ‘severe’ Russian threat

January 28, 2018


The new RAF radar facility at Saxa Vord under construction, on the Island of Unst, in the Shetland Islands off the northern coast of Scotland on Janu. 26, 2018. (AFP)
EDINBURGH: Britain’s Defense Minister Gavin Williamson said a new radar off Scotland’s Shetland Islands would help tackle the “severe and real” threat from Moscow.
In a return to the Cold War days when Shetland had hosted an early warning radar, the new Royal Air Force facility is being built to track unidentified military or civilian aircraft.
“We will always protect our skies from Russian aggression,” Williamson said Friday, describing the radar as vital to British defenses.
“Russia’s actions are not limited to Europe’s eastern borders — the threat to British livelihoods is severe and real,” he added.
The £10 million ($14.1 million) radar on Unst, Britain’s most northerly inhabited island, is due to be fully operational soon, the Ministry of Defense said.
Once launched it will feed into the country’s quick reaction alert system, which in the past has been used to scramble RAF jets to intercept Russian aircraft.
On Jan. 15 two fighter jets were launched to monitor two Russian military aircraft, which the Ministry of Defense said did not respond to air traffic control authorities.
Image result for Russian military aircraft, uk, january 2018
UK Fighter Jets Intercept Russian Bombers Approaching UK Airspace. Published: January 15th, 2018
A total of 69 such operations have been carried out in the past five years, the ministry said without detailing how many involved Russian aircraft.
Williamson’s praise for the radar comes as he and defense chiefs up their rhetoric against Russia.
On Thursday the defense minister accused Moscow of spying on Britain’s crucial infrastructure, as part of possible plans to create “total chaos” in the country, in comments published in the Daily Telegraph newspaper.
His intervention came after the head of the British army warned Russia poses the “most complex and capable” security challenge since the Cold War.
Chief of the General Staff Nick Carter warned Monday that Britain struggled to match Russia’s military capabilities, saying the ability to respond to threats would be eroded “if we don’t match up to them now.”
The comments come as Williamson, in the post since November, is reportedly pressuring Finance Minister Philip Hammond for more money.