Posts Tagged ‘Schengen zone’

EU Migration Chief Favors Ending Internal Border Checks — Refugee emergency is abating — Systematic ID checks are banned

September 14, 2017

BRUSSELS — The European Union’s top migration official said Thursday that extraordinary border controls inside Europe’s passport-free travel area should not be extended because the refugee emergency is abating.

The EU has allowed Austria, Denmark, Germany, Sweden and non-EU country Norway to prolong ID checks at their borders. These countries say the checks are needed for security reasons, and the controls have become an issue in the German election campaign.

EU Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos said that while the checks were justified, the reasons for them to be introduced “are not there anymore.”

He said: “I believe it is the moment to go back to the normal function of Schengen,” as Europe’s passport-free travel area is known.

Systematic ID checks are banned in the 26-nation Schengen zone. The countries introduced the measures in 2016 after around a million migrants entered Europe the previous year.

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel is keen to have the police checks continue, and the issue has become a focus of campaigning ahead of Germany’s Sept. 24 elections.

In an interview earlier this month, Merkel said she’s confident the EU’s executive Commission has “an open ear for our arguments” to extend the controls beyond their Nov. 11 expiry date.

The controls began in Germany amid an influx of asylum-seekers that critics partly blame on the chancellor’s welcoming approach to refugees.

The European Commission, which polices EU laws, has allowed Germany and its four near neighbors in northern Europe to continue the measures twice since May 2016. But under EU rules, the measures cannot be extended anymore.

Avramopoulos said the EU’s migrant deal with Turkey is working well, with migrant flows from the country to the Greek islands down by 81 percent last month, compared with August 2016.

“During the last two years we have been working in crisis mode, now it’s the moment to step out of the crisis,” he told reporters.


Ex-Georgian Leader Saakashvili’s Train Halted Near Ukraine Border

September 10, 2017

PRZEMYSL, Poland — A train carrying former Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili and his supporters was prevented from leaving a railway station in Poland for Ukraine on Sunday, deepening a standoff between Saakashvili and the Ukrainian authorities.

Saakashvili intended to return to Ukraine despite being stripped of Ukrainian citizenship by his one-time ally, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, and being threatened with arrest and extradition if he sets foot on Ukrainian soil.

Poroshenko invited Saakashvili to become a regional governor in Ukraine to help drive reforms after pro-democracy protests in 2014 ousted a pro-Russian president in Kiev.

But Saakashvili quit as governor of Odessa last November, accusing Poroshenko of abetting corruption.

Thousands of Saakashvili’s supporters gathered on the Ukraine-Poland border on Sunday while prominent lawmakers, including former Ukrainian prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, traveled with him from Poland.

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 Former Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili speaks on a mobile phone in Rzeszow, Poland September 10, 2017. REUTERS – Gleb Garanich

But the train was stranded at a railway station in the Polish town of Przemysl. The woman in charge of the Ukrainian train, Inna Smirnova, said she had been ordered by the authorities – she declined to specify whether Polish or Ukrainian – to stop the train leaving until Saakashvili got off.

“Poroshenko took all passengers of this train as hostages and is telling everyone that no-one will go anywhere,” Saakashvili told reporters. “There are children here, there are ordinary Ukrainian citizens who want to get home.”

A spokesman for Poroshenko was not immediately available for comment. A statement by the Ukrainian national police denied it was behind the stopping of the train. The spokeswoman for the Polish border guard of the Bieszczady region, Elzbieta Pikor, said it was a Ukrainian train, not a Polish one.

“We will perform border checks once the train departs,” she said.

Asked about Saakashvili, she said: “The foreigner will be subject to regulations that apply in the Schengen zone with respect to border checks,” referring to the European Union’s passport-free zone that includes Poland. She declined to elaborate further.

Saakashvili took power in Georgia after a peaceful pro-Western uprising, known as the Rose Revolution, in 2003. The 49-year-old is now wanted on criminal charges in Georgia, which he says were trumped up for political reasons.

Loathed by the Kremlin, Saakashvili was once a natural ally for Poroshenko after Moscow annexed Ukraine’s Crimea region in 2014. But he has become one of the Ukrainian president’s most vocal critics, casting doubt on the Western-backed authorities’ commitment to tackle entrenched corruption.

(Additional reporting by Margaryta Chornokondratenko in Krakovets, Ukraine, Pavel Polityuk in Kiev, Marcin Goettig in Warsaw; writing by Matthias Williams; Editing by Gareth Jones)


Migrant boats in Black Sea spark fears of new route

August 21, 2017


© AFP/File | A boat carrying Iraqis and Syrians, including 23 children, was intercepted late Sunday in the Black Sea in Romania’s southeastern Constanta region, officials said
BUCHAREST (AFP) – Romanian authorities said Monday that they had caught a fishing boat with 68 asylum seekers off Romania’s coast, the second such incident in a week, raising fears that a new migrant route to Europe is opening up.

The boat carrying Iraqis and Syrians, including 23 children, was intercepted late Sunday in the Black Sea in Romania’s southeastern Constanta region, officials said.

“They were accompanied by two Turkish traffickers,” Ionela Pasat, a spokeswoman for the Constanta coastguard, told AFP.

The group was brought to the port of Mangalia for medical examinations on Monday before being handed over to the immigration authorities, she said.

On August 13, coastguards discovered a boat with 69 Iraqi migrants in Romanian waters. One Bulgarian and one Cypriot were taken into custody on suspicion of human trafficking.

EU member Romania, which is not part of the bloc’s passport-free Schengen zone, has largely been spared the continent’s worst migration crisis since World War II.

But Bucharest worries that the Black Sea could become an alternative route to the dangerous Mediterranean crossing.

More than 111,000 migrants have reached Europe by sea so far this year, most of them arriving in Italy from Libya, according to the most recent figures.

Over 2,300 have died attempting the crossing.

This month, NGO rescue ships were banned from patrolling waters off Libya where hundreds of thousands of people have been rescued in recent years and brought to Italy.

Is Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan the most inconsistent, mysterious, and unpredictable politician on the world stage?

April 23, 2017


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The Australian
April 22, 2017

I nominate Recep Tayyip Erdogan, President of Turkey, as the most inconsistent, mysterious, and therefore most unpredictable politician on the world stage. His victory in a referendum last Sunday formally bestows him with near-dictatorial powers that leave Turkey, the Middle East and beyond in a greater state of uncertainty than ever.

Here are some of the puzzles:

Mystery No 1: Holding the referendum. The Turkish electorate voted on April 16 in a remarkable national plebiscite that dealt not with the usual topic — floating a bond or recalling a politician — but with fundamental constitutional changes affecting the nature of their government: should the country continue with the flawed democracy of the past 65 years or centralise political power in the presidency?

Under the new dispensation, the prime minister vaporises and the president holds vast power over parliament, the judiciary, the budget and the military.

Turks generally saw the 18 proposed changes to the constitution as a momentous decision.

Famed novelist Elif Safak spoke for most when she wrote that Turkey’s referendum “could alter the country’s destiny for generations to come”. After the referendum passed, some of those opposed to it cried in the streets. “Turkey as we know it is over; it is history,” wrote journalist Yavuz Baydar. Defense & Foreign Affairs assessed the referendum as perhaps “the most significant and transformative change in Eurasia, the Middle East, and parts of Africa since the collapse of the USSR in 1990-91”.

But there’s a catch: for years Erdogan has held the powers the referendum gives him. He is the boss in Turkey who can bend the country to his wishes. Anyone — cartoonist, cafeteria manager or Canadian — accused of “insulting the President” can be fined or jailed. A former prime minister or president who dares disagree with Erdogan vanishes from public life. He alone makes war or peace. What Erdogan wants, he gets, regardless of constitutional niceties.

Erdogan’s fixation on officially imbuing the office of the presidency with the vast powers he already has in practice prompted him to steal an election, fire a prime minister, start a near-civil war with the Kurds and provoke a crisis with Europe.

Why did he bother with all this for a mere superfluity?

Mystery No 2: The referendum results. Erdogan brought enormous pressure to bear for a momentous victory in the referen­dum. He made full use of his control of most media. Mosques were mobilised. In the words of one international organisation, in several cases No supporters “have faced police interventions while campaigning; a number were also arrested on charges of insulting the president or organising unlawful public events”.

Opponents also lost their jobs, encountered media boycotts, faced electricity outages and got beaten up. A week before the referendum, Erdogan even announced that No voters risked their afterlife. Then, according to a Swedish NGO, “widespread and systematic election fraud, violent incidents and scandalous steps taken by” the election board “overshadowed the voting”.

Despite this, the referendum passed by a perplexingly meagre 51.4 per cent to 48.6 per cent. Were it fairly conducted, why would Erdogan take the chance of losing, thereby diminishing his stature and reducing his sway? Were the referendum fixed — entirely possible, given his party’s record — why was the affirmative vote so low and not a more imposing 60, 80 or — why not — 99 per cent?

The unimpressive 51.4 per cent majority virtually invited opposition parties, supported by the EU and others, to challenge the legitimacy of the referendum, raising awkward questions that Erdogan surely would prefer not to be discussed.

Mystery No 3: Gulen. Erdogan wantonly ended a key alliance with fellow Islamist Fethullah Gulen, transforming a stalwart ally into a determined domestic opponent who challenged Erdogan’s primacy and revealed his corruption. In his political war with Gulen, an elderly Muslim cleric living in the Pocono Mountains of rural Pennsylvania, Erdogan implausibly claimed that Gulen’s movement had planned and led an alleged coup attempt last July, then he cracked down on Gulen’s followers and anyone else who met with his displeasure, leading to 47,000 arrests, 113,000 detainments, 135,000 firings or suspensions from jobs, and many, many more entering the shadows of “social death”. Erdogan went further, demanding that Washington extradite Gulen to Turkey and threatening a rupture if he did not get his way: “Sooner or later the US will make a choice. Either Turkey or (Gulen).”

Why did Erdogan pick a fight with Gulen, creating turmoil in Turkish Islamist ranks and jeopardising relations with the US?

Mystery No 4: Semantic pur­ism. The EU reluctantly agreed to visa-free travel for 75 million Turks to its huge Schengen Zone, a benefit that potentially would allow Erdogan to push out unwanted Kurds and Syrian refugees, not to speak of increasing his influence in countries such as Germany and The Netherlands.

But the EU made this access contingent on narrowing Turkey’s vaguely worded anti-terrorism laws; it demanded “revising the legislation and practices on terrorism in line with European standards”.

Erdogan could have made this meaningless concession and arrested anyone he wanted on other charges, but he refused to do so (“It’s impossible to revise the legislation and practices on terrorism,” intoned one of his ministers) and forwent an extraordinary opportunity.

Mystery No 5: Canny or megalomaniacal? Erdogan became prime minister in 2003 and for eight years governed cautiously, overseeing remarkable economic growth, mollifying the military leadership that held the country’s ultimate power and successfully pursuing a policy of “zero problems with neighbours”.

In contrast to the hapless Mohammed Morsi, who lasted just a year as president of Egypt, Erdogan timed his moves with such deftness that, for example, hardly anyone noticed in July 2011 when he subdued the military.

That was then. Since 2011, however, Erdogan repeatedly has fomented his own problems.

He gratuitously turned Syria’s Bashar al-Assad from his favourite foreign leader (the two of them and their wives once even vacationed together) into a mortal enemy. He shot down a Russian fighter plane, then abjectly had to apologise. He lost out on a pipeline transporting eastern Mediterranean gas to Europe. He illegally built himself on protected land an absurdly large palace, the largest in the world since Nicolae Ceausescu’s disastrous People’s Palace in Bucharest.

In a particularly ignoble farce, Erdogan showed up at the funeral of American boxer Muhammad Ali to give a speech, deliver presents and have his picture taken with family members, only to be rejected in all these requests and slink back home.

He makes enemies everywhere he goes. In Ecuador, Erdogan’s bodyguards handcuffed three pro-Kurdish Ecuadorean women and roughed up a parliamentarian who tried to protect them.

When asked about this incident, the deputy speaker of Ecuador’s legislature replied, “Until Erdogan’s bodyguards assaulted a deputy, our public was not aware of Turkey. Nobody knew who was a Turk or a Kurd. Now everybody knows and naturally we are on the side of the Kurds.

“We don’t want to see Erdogan in our country again.”

What happened to the cunning leader of a decade back?

Erdogan’s Islamist supporters sometimes suggest that he is on his way to declaring himself caliph. As the 100th anniversary of the Istanbul-based caliphate’s abolition approaches, he may find this tempting; depending on whether he uses the Islamic or Christian calendar, that could happen, respectively, on March 10, 2021 or March 4, 2024. You read it here first.

Sadly, Western responses to Erdogan have been confused and weak-kneed. German Chancellor Angela Merkel agreed to hauling comedian Jan Bohmermann into court for ridiculing Erdogan. Donald Trump actually congratulated the Turkish President on his victory and rewarded him with a meeting next month. And Australians defer to him on account of the Gallipoli commemorations.

It’s time to see Erdogan for the dictatorial, Islamist, anti-Western egomaniac he is and protect his neighbours and ourselves from the damage he is already causing and the greater problems to come.

Removing US nuclear weapons from the Incirlik Air Base would be one step in the right direction; even better would be to put Ankara on notice that its ­active NATO membership is in jeopardy pending a dramatic turnaround in behaviour.

Daniel Pipes (, @DanielPipes) is president of the Middle East Forum.

France, Germany get backing from Brussels on security proposals — But don’t France and Germany run the EU? — The End of “Open Borders” (Schengen)?

February 22, 2017

Wed Feb 22, 2017 | 10:56am EST


France and Germany won backing from the European Union’s executive on Wednesday for proposals to tighten security across Europe, which include giving more powers to governments to monitor frontiers with other EU states.

Both governments face elections in the coming months against nationalists who say Europe’s open internal borders are at least partly to blame for Islamist bloodshed in Berlin, Brussels and Paris. Their interior ministers wrote jointly to the European Commission this week listing ways to improve public safety.

On Wednesday, EU Home Affairs Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos said he welcomed the proposals, describing them as “in line with” the Commission’s thinking.

Among suggestions for closer cooperation and better data-sharing in Europe, Germany’s Thomas de Maiziere and France’s Bruno Le Roux argued for a change to EU rules to allow states to more easily impose national frontier checks inside the 26-nation Schengen zone, and for longer than is now permitted.
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“Security and freedom are two sides of the same coin. Instead of relying on catchy populist slogans, we should continue, and deepen, the ongoing work on internal security to better protect European citizens,” the two ministers said.

The mass influx of migrants via Greece in 2015, as well as deadly attacks in three European capital cities, saw the German, French and other governments slap new controls on borders that had been barely policed for decades, raising questions about the survival of one of the EU’s most prized achievements at a time of mounting popular disillusion with the bloc in general.

Schengen rules are due for review and meanwhile governments and the Commission have found ways to maintain the controls if necessary on security grounds. But the two ministers suggested both extending possible exemption limits and allowing more frontier checks even in normal circumstances.

They did not give details. Other elements of the letter stressed demands for more cooperation in tracking the movements of terrorism suspects. Some of the militants who struck in Europe in the past 18 months crossed many European borders.

The ministers urged rapid implementation of agreements, such as EU states exchanging airline passenger data and instituting systematic checks on the identities of not just foreigners but also EU citizens crossing Schengen’s external borders.

(Reporting by Gabriela Baczynska and Tom Koerkemeier in Brussels and Thorsten Severin in Berlin; Editing by Alastair Macdonald and Louise Ireland)

How did the Berlin Christmas market terror attacker slip in and out of three countries with no documentation before being caught by chance in Italy?

December 24, 2016

The Daily Mail

  • Anis Amri apparently able to travel unhindered for around 1,000 miles in Europe
  • Carrying no travel documents, he slipped from Germany to France and Italy
  • All three countries are in the European Union’s ‘borderless’ Schengen zone
  • The ISIS fanatic killed 12 people when he drove a lorry into a Christmas market 

The Berlin truck terrorist made a mockery of Europe’s open borders before he was shot dead by police after four days on the run.

Anis Amri was apparently able to travel unhindered for around 1,000 miles through at least three countries.

Carrying no travel documents, the man who ploughed a lorry into a Christmas market killing 12 people, was able to slip from Germany into France and then into Italy.

A Milan police chief said the killer ‘was a ghost’. When he was approached by two officers, they had no idea he was the most wanted man in Europe.

The three countries are in the EU’s ‘borderless’ Schengen zone.

It was only when Amri was confronted by a rookie Italian policeman during a routine ID check in a northern suburb of Milan that he was finally caught.

He was gunned down as he tried to flee.

Shortly before his death was announced yesterday morning, blundering German police stated they thought the 24-year-old Islamic State fanatic was still in their country.

Items left on the road included a pistol and a backpack. Amri's body was covered up as forensics scoured the scene

Items left on the road included a pistol and a backpack. Amri’s body was covered up as forensics scoured the scene

He is understood to have pulled a gun on a patrol after being stopped for a routine ID check and shot an officer in the shoulder leaving him seriously injured

The Italian school Amri torched for which he was jailed for three years

The Italian school Amri torched for which he was jailed for three years

In other terror-related developments yesterday:

– A chilling Islamic State propaganda video emerged online which featured Amri pledging allegiance to the terror organisation and vowing to slaughter ‘infidels like pigs’;

– The Italian officers who tackled Amri – one of whom was shot and wounded in the exchange – were hailed as heroes;

– It was claimed that Amri might have tried to make his way to Britain earlier this year.

– More details of the security blunders surrounding the case emerged, with CCTV footage apparently showing Amri visiting a mosque in Berlin within hours of the attack.

Pictures emerged this morning of the terrorist lying dead in the street having been shot by Italian police

Pictures emerged this morning of the terrorist lying dead in the street having been shot by Italian police

Amri (pictured) shouted 'Allahu Akbar' and 'police b******s' as he shot at police officers in Milan

Amri (pictured) shouted 'Allahu Akbar' and 'police b******s' as he shot at police officers in Milan

Chief suspect: Amri (pictured) shouted ‘Allahu Akbar’ and ‘police b******s’ as he shot at police officers in  suburb north of Milan

The dramatic climax to Europe’s most urgent manhunt unfolded at 3am yesterday, shortly after Amri got off a train in Milan’s Sesto San Giovanni district and was seen acting suspiciously.

As he was challenged, the fugitive pulled a gun from his backpack, screamed ‘Allahu Akbar’ and opened fire on the two officers – hitting one, Christian Movio, 35, in the shoulder.

At the time the officers stopped Amri, they had no idea he was the most wanted man in Europe.

His colleague, Luca Scatà, 29, a trainee police officer who had been in the job only a few months, gave chase before shooting Amri dead in the street.

The truck killer is reported to have told them: ‘I don’t have documents, I am Calabrian.’

But after being challenged, he pulled out a gun and shot at the two officers.

Milan police chief Antonio de Iesu said: ‘They had no perception that it could be him, otherwise they’d have been more careful.’


Police are investigating whether Amri was part of a terror network

Police are investigating whether Amri was part of a terror network

Hundreds of investigators in Germany are hunting for possible accomplices of the Berlin truck killer.

Federal prosecutor Peter Frank said it is possible that Amri was part of a network.

He said: ‘It is very important for us to determine whether there was a network of accomplices… in the preparation or the execution of the attack, or the flight of the suspect.’

German authorities face tough questions over how Amri was able to carry out the attack, despite being known to anti-terrorism agencies in Germany and Italy.

He is believed to have been radicalised in Italy – where he arrived from his native Tunisia in 2011 – when he spent four years in jail for starting a fire at a refugee centre.

It is thought that Amri may have been in Milan to meet a contact.

Truck driver Giuseppe Russo told The Times that there was no other reason why the killer would have been in the Milan suburb of Sesto San Giovanni at 3am, when he was approached by police.

Russo said: ‘He was waiting to meet a local contact, someone from around here who was going to hide him.’

And he added: ‘It’s the end of Milan tube line. Where else was he going?’

While the bravery of the Italian officers was praised across the world, critics of the Schengen zone said the bungled hunt for Amri had exposed lax security across the continent.

Former Metropolitan Police counter-terrorism chief Richard Walton told the Daily Telegraph: ‘Schengen poses a huge risk of terrorism. Porous borders across mainland Europe are continuing to be exploided by Isil.

‘They have a clear strategy and have set out to carry out attacks across mainland Europe. Europe’s weakness is our weakness.’


Luca Scatà has reportedly gone into hiding

Luca Scatà has reportedly gone into hiding

 The hero policeman who shot dead Europe’s most wanted man is in danger of being targeted by fanatical jihadis – as it emerged he did not initially know who he was stopping.

Reports in Italy state that Luca Scatà, 29, has gone into hiding for his own safety.

Last night his Facebook account and that of his wounded partner, Christian Movio, 36, were removed from the internet on the orders of Milan’s police commissioner, Antonio De Jesu.

The commissioner said that police authorities had ‘a duty to protect our agents’.

Officers across Italy have been warned of the possibility of retaliatory attacks.

Scatà shot Anis Amri dead in the early hours of yesterday morning in Milan after stopping the terrorist in a routine approach.

Milan police chief Antonio de Iesu said: ‘He (Amri) was a man from northern Africa, like there are many in the Milan area, and ours was a routine check that was carried out by two young and good police officers.’

And he warned that ‘sooner or later’ terrorists planning atrocities would get across the Channel.

Former Ukip leader Nigel Farage tweeted, before confirmation Amri had been killed by police: ‘If the man shot in Milan is the Berlin killer, then the Schengen Area is proven to be a risk to public safety. It must go.’

Tory MEP David Campbell-Bannerman said: ‘Schengen is a terrorist’s dream as we saw with the Paris, Brussels and now Berlin attacks.

‘All terrorists need is an ID card and they can silently move around Europe.

‘The alleged Berlin attacker moved across borders from Germany to France and then Italy without once being challenged.

‘The EU shares a big responsibility for this folly.’


Nour El Houda Hassani said a 'great secret' died with her son

Nour El Houda Hassani said a ‘great secret’ died with her son

The mother of Berlin truck terrorist Anis Amri, who was yesterday shot to death by police in Milan, fears the world will never know why he carried out the atrocity.

Nour El Houda Hassani, speaking at Amri’s hometown of Oueslatia in Tunisia said that a ‘great secret’ had died with him.

Family members have questioned the need to kill the 24-year-old.

His mother said: ‘Within him is a great secret. They killed him, and buried the secret with him.’

And she called on authorities to unearth who had put her son up to the attack, stating: ‘I want the truth about my son. Who was behind him?’

Amri’s brother Abdel Kader wept as he questioned the need to kill him.

He said: ‘My brother is dead. Bring us his remains, even one of his fingers, and I will put it in my pocket. They killed him when he was still only a suspect. Why?’

A shoot out took place at about 3am local time and Amri was reportedly heard shouting 'Allahu Akbar' as he tried to flee and police opened fire

A shoot out took place at about 3am local time and Amri was reportedly heard shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ as he tried to flee and police opened fire

Forensics officers scour the scene after Milan shooting

Italian police released this picture showing how a gunshot fired by Amri had hit the bullet-proof vest worn by officer Christian Movio

Italian police released this picture showing how a gunshot fired by Amri had hit the bullet-proof vest worn by officer Christian Movio

Amri was captured on CCTV outside the place of worship in the city's Moabit neighbourhood

The sighting was just eight hours after the Christmas market massacre

Amri was captured on CCTV outside the place of worship in the city’s Moabit neighbourhood just eight hours after the Christmas market massacre

French far-Right leader Marine Le Pen said the hunt for Amri was ‘symptomatic of the total security disaster represented by the Schengen area’.

By the time the European arrest warrant for him was issued on Wednesday, Amri, who had used at least six different aliases with three nationalities, had vanished.

Despite being Europe’s most wanted man, he was able to cross the German border into France and make his way to Chambéry, before crossing another national border by travelling on a high speed train to Turin in northern Italy.

From there, he apparently caught a regional train to Milan, arriving at 1am yesterday, before then taking another service to Sesto San Giovanni station in the suburbs.

Amri had strong links to Italy because it was the first European country he claimed asylum in in 2011 after fleeing his native Tunisia.

He spent three years in jail there before being released. Police believe he may have been trying to reach southern Italy, with a view to reaching northern Africa.

Under the Schengen rules he had no need to show travel documents at national frontiers, which have been had checkpoints removed.

Milan police said Amri was carrying a few personal belongings and several hundred euros – but no mobile phone and no travel documents.

‘He was a ghost, he didn’t leave a trace,’ said Milan police chief Antonio De Lesu.

The mastermind of the Paris terror massacres had bragged of travelling across Europe at will.

Hero policeman Christian Moveo (pictured in bed) was recovering in hospital this afternoon having been shot by the most wanted man on the planet

Hero policeman Christian Moveo (pictured in bed) was recovering in hospital this afternoon having been shot by the most wanted man on the planet

He is understood to have pulled a gun on a patrol after being stopped for a routine ID check and shot an officer in the shoulder leaving him seriously injured


Investigators are trying to determine why terrorist Anis Amri was in Milan when he was shot dead yesterday morning.

The killer, who did not have any documents on him and was not carrying a phone, was approached by officers in the Sesto San Giovanni suburb at 3am.

He was gunned down after opening fire on two police, who had no idea that he was Europe’s most wanted man.

The suburb is a hub for transport, and is the last stop on the city’s metro line.

Killer: Anis Amri was gunned down in a Milan suburb early yesterday morning, after being approached by two police officers

Killer: Anis Amri was gunned down in a Milan suburb early yesterday morning, after being approached by two police officers

It has a busy bus terminal where buses leave for Spain, Morocco, Albania and southern Italy, but police patrols are particularly thorough.

A young Moroccan worker called Aziz said: ‘I get checked by police every day getting off the bus.

‘At night this place is deserted, which would explain why somebody alone here would be immediately spotted by a police patrol.’

Italian daily La Stampa reports police believe Amri arrived in Italy by train from Chambery, southeastern France.

Investigators at the scene of yesterday's shooting, where the terrorist opened fire on two police officers

Investigators at the scene of yesterday’s shooting, where the terrorist opened fire on two police officers

They think he stopped for three hours in Turin, where police are now checking video surveillance footage for clues as to any contact with accomplices.

But none of the images they have seen so far show him using a phone, and according to Milan police chief Antonio De Iesu, he did not have one with him when he was shot dead.

He is believed to have arrived in Milan at 1am yesterday, before going to Sesto San Giovanni.

It is not known whether he was there to meet members of a network, or trying to get out of Europe.

He could have been planning some kind of revenge against Italy, where he was jailed for four years in 2011 for arson.

Police chief De Iesu told journalists that Amri had ‘no links with the Sesto mosque’, but locals wonder if he had contacts nearby.

‘Some people are worried,’ said Tommaso Trivolo, who lives in a high-rise building opposite the train station from where he saw the ambulances arriving with screaming sirens just after the shooting.

The Berlin attack suspect Anis Amri (pictured) has been shot dead after a gunfight with police in Milan, Italian police have said

The Berlin attack suspect has been shot dead after a gunfight with police in Milan, Italian police have said

The Berlin attack suspect Anis Amri (pictured) has been shot dead after a gunfight with police in Milan, Italian police have said


Shoot-out: Italian authorities said this morning that they had 'without a shadow of a doubt' killed the chief suspect in the Berlin massacre

Shoot-out: Italian authorities said this morning that they had ‘without a shadow of a doubt’ killed the chief suspect in the Berlin massacre

Crime scene: Berlin truck terrorist Anis Amri has been shot dead after a gunfight with police in Milan in the early hours of this morning

Crime scene: Berlin truck terrorist Anis Amri has been shot dead after a gunfight with police in Milan in the early hours of this morning

Despite being on wanted lists, Abdelhamid Abaaoud shuttled between Syria and Europe, taking full advantage of the migrant crisis on EU borders.

A British man, who helped give out aid in the Jungle Camp near Calais, claimed he saw Amri there last January.

Mick Watson, 48, said that during a trip to the camp – where thousands of migrants were massed hoping to make their way across the Channel – he had an altercation with a Middle Eastern looking man, who he believes was Amri.

The Italian press has printed an image apparently showing a 19-year-old Amri arriving in Italy on a boat in 2011.

Video shows Berlin attacker Anis Amri pledging allegiance to ISIS


Lorry driver Lukasz Urban was found dead in the passenger seat after the massacre

Lorry driver Lukasz Urban was found dead in the passenger seat after the massacre


Between 3pm and 4pm: Polish lorry driver Lukasz Urban, 37, has his lorry hijacked. He was on his way back to his truck from a kebab shop when he was ambushed.

8pm – The truck is driven into a large crowd of people at outside the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church in the centre of Berlin. Urban’s body was found in the passenger seat after the attackers fled. He had been shot and stabbed, but authorities believe he was alive when the truck ploughed into the crowd. Twelve people were killed and 50 more were injured.

9pm – A Pakistani man is arrested a mile-and-a-half from the scene, after witnesses claimed to have seen him leaving the truck. It was revealed that he had entered Germany under a false name in February.

The suspect was arrested a mile-and-a-half from the scene of the atrocity, after witnesses claimed to have seen him getting out of the truck

The suspect was arrested a mile-and-a-half from the scene of the atrocity, after witnesses claimed to have seen him getting out of the truck

10.16pm – Controversial far-right activist Lutz Bachmann, who heads the anti-immigrant PEGIDA group, tweeted on Monday night that he had ‘internal police information’ that the perpetrator was a Tunisian.


4am – Police raid a refugee camp at Tempelhof, believed to be where the Pakistani suspect resided.

8am – The suspect is named as Naved B, a 23-year-old man from Pakistan, but police later reveal that the man has denied any involvement in the attack and urged people to be vigilant.

Angela Merkel confirmed it was being treated as a terrorist attack

Angela Merkel confirmed it was being treated as a terrorist attack

10am – German chancellor Angela Merkel confirms the attack is being treated as an act of terrorism.

12pm – Germany’s interior minister, Thomas de Maizière, confirms that 18 of the 50 people hurt in the attack were ‘very seriously injured’.

1.20pm – Police admit that they have arrested the wrong man. A senior officer says: ‘The true perpetrator is still armed, at large and can cause fresh damage.’

6.50pm – Authorities confirm that the wrongly-arrested man has been released.

ISIS claims responsibility for the attack, releasing a statement which describes the lorry driver as a ‘soldier’ and praised him for ‘targeting nationals of the coalition countries’.


It is revealed that police are looking for a Tunisian man, named as Anis Amri, after his ID was found under the driver’s seat. It emerged that the failed asylum seeker, who had a 100,000 euro reward on his head, had been under the surveillance of German intelligence for several months, and had been arrested three times this year, but deportation papers were never served. Reports in Germany suggest intelligence services had lost track of him weeks ago.

A cousin of Naveed Baluch, the wrongly accused suspect, was ‘mentally unfit’ and had not been heard from since he was released. His cousin Waheed told MailOnline he was ‘very worried’ about the missing man.


Dalia Elyakim, from Herzliya, Israel, was named as the first victim of the massacre. Her husband Rami, pictured with her, is fighting for his life

Dalia Elyakim, from Herzliya, Israel, was named as the first victim of the massacre. Her husband Rami, pictured with her, is fighting for his life

An Israeli woman became the first named victim of the Berlin lorry massacre. Dalia Elyakim, from Herzliya, Israel, was with her husband Rami when the atrocity happened. Rami was in hospital fighting for his life.

The market where the massacre happened reopened, with heightened security. Stalls on Breitscheidplatz square opened again three days after the 25-tonne lorry was used as a weapon to kill and maim shoppers.

The market, in the centre of Berlin, reopened on Thursday morning with heightened security, three days after the massacre

The market, in the centre of Berlin, reopened on Thursday morning with heightened security, three days after the massacre

Two of Amri’s brothers, Walid and Abdelkader, said they believed he had been radicalised in prison in Italy, and Abdelkader told reporers: ‘I ask him to turn himself in to the police. If it is proved that he is involved, we dissociate ourselves from it.’

Two men were arrested after a police raid at a mosque in Berlin’s Moabit neighbourhood, where Amri was allegedly captured on CCTV just eight hours after the mass killing.


3am – Amri was shot dead in Milan. He immediately produced a gun when approached by police. In a press conference at 9.45am, the Italian Interior minister, Marco Minniti, said Amri immediately produced a gun when approached by police and shot an officer during a routine patrol. The Tunisian was then killed, and there is ‘absolutely no doubt’ that the man was Amri, Minniti said.

It has emerged that German police are linking Amri to the murder of a 16-year-old German boy in Hamburg two months ago. ISIS claimed responsibility for the October 16 knife attack which killed the teenager, identified by authorities as Victor E. He has also previously been jailed in his native Tunisia for hijacking a truck.

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Berlin attack: Europe’s open borders are putting Britain’s security at risk, former police chief warns

December 24, 2016


Europe’s open borders are putting Britain’s security at risk, former police chiefs have warned after it emerged that the terrorist behind the Berlin Christmas market attack travelled unhindered through three countries before being killed in Italy.

Anis Amri, the most wanted man in Europe, travelled from Berlin to the French Alps and then onto Italy without being stopped at any point on his 1,000 mile journey.

It was only after a chance encounter outside a suburban station at 3am that he was shot dead by a rookie Italian police officer who recognised him.

Counter-terrorism experts and Tory MPs on Friday warned that the Schengen Area, which enables passport-free travel across the European Union, is being “routinely exploited by Isil”.

Richard Walton, a former head of counter-terrorism at the Metropolitan Police, told The Telegraph: “Schengen poses a huge risk of terrorism, porous borders across mainland Europe are continuing to be exploited by Isil.

“They have a clear strategy and have set out to carry out attacks across mainland Europe. Europe’s weakness is our weakness, it is a concern for us because if you’re neighbours are insecure by definition.

“We need European countries to get their act together. Sooner or later they are going to get across the Channel.”

Watch | Angela Merkel: the general threat of terrorism continues


In other developments:

  •  A two-minute video of Amri which he pledged allegiance to Isil and vowed to “slaughter infidels like pigs” emerged. He suggested that he attack was vengeance for airstrikes against Muslims.
  • There were mounting concerns that Amri was returning to his jihadi handlers in Italy, where he is believed to have been radicalised. He entered the country illegally in 2011.
  • Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, announced an urgent review into the police and intelligence services handling of the case and said her Government will not rest Amri’s accomplices are found.
  • Police in Australia revealed that they foiled a major terrorist attack planned for Melbourne on Christmas Day. Three men have been detained.

Amri was able to escape because a European arrest warrant was not issued until 30 hours after the Berlin terror attack, in which 12 people were killed after a truck was driven through a Berlin market.

Police believe that in the wake of the terror attack Amri travelled from Germany to Chambery in the French Alps before taking a high-speed train to Milan.

It is not known how he reached Chambery but the quickest route would be from Berlin to Frankfurt and then on to Lyon. One report said he may have gone to Paris before heading towards the Alps and Italy.

After arriving at Milan’s central station at 1am, Amri travelled to the suburban Sesto San Giovanni station where he arrived at 3am local time.

Luca Scata, a trainee officer, was on patrol with his colleague Christian Movio when they asked Amri for his ID because he looked like the terror suspect.

Amri, 24, pulled a gun from his bag, opened fire and screamed “Allahu Akbar”. Mr Movio was hit in the shoulder by Amri who then attempted to flee the scene but was shot dead by Mr Scata.

Italian police cordon off an area around the body of Anis Amri after a shootout between police and a man in Milan's Sesto San Giovanni neighborhood
Italian police cordon off an area around the body of Anis Amri after a shootout between police and a man in Milan’s Sesto San Giovanni neighborhood CREDIT: DANIELE BENNATI/AP PHOTO

Iain Duncan Smith, a Tory MP and former Work and Pensions secretary, said that the case highlighted the need for Britain to leave the European Union “as soon as possible”.

He said: “The sooner we get out the stronger our ability to look after ourselves and our borders will be.

“Where the European Union has been heading is towards this creation of a super state, within which there would be no borders, no controls, no checks. We are now beginning to see what a mistake that has been.”

Last year it emerged that Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the mastermind behind the Paris terror atacks in November 2015, had travelled repeatedly between France and his family home in Belgium. He had previously fought for Isil in Syria.

Marie Le Pen, the leader of the French far-right National Front and presidential hopeful, said: “This escapade in at least two or three countries is symptomatic of the total security catastrophe that is the Schengen agreement.”

Nigel Farage, Ukip’s former leader wrote on Twitter: “If the man shot in Milan is the Berlin killer, then the Schengen Area is proven to be a risk to public safety. It must go.”

Amri, 24, claimed asylum in Italy in 2011 after fleeing Tunisia following a violent robbery. He pretended to be a child migrant, even though he was 19, but then rioted inside his detention centre. He was jailed for four years but released after serving just two.

Italy was unable to deport him because Tunisia did not want to take him back and Amri fled Italy via the Alps for Germany. It has since emerged that Amri was under surveillance by German police and two months ago was overheard offering to carry out a “suicide attack”.

No order was given to arrest him and he was written off as an “errand boy”. Support for Germany’s anti-migration AfD party soared to a year high of more than 15 percent in the wake of the Berlin truck attack, a poll to be released Saturday indicated.

With a general election expected next September, the right-wing populist Alternative for Germany recorded a 2.5-point boost to 15.5 percent compared to last week, according to the survey for the Bild newspaper by the Insa institute.

Merkel orders massive security review after Berlin Christmas market terror attacker killed in Italy

December 23, 2016

Image may contain: 1 person

The German chancellor has called for a swift and far-reaching probe into the country’s security apparatus after a terrorist was able to evade authorities. Anis Amri was killed in Italy in a shootout with police.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel ordered a comprehensive review of the country’s security infrastructure on Friday. Her government and the Berlin police have faced hefty criticism after a terrorist killed 12 people and injured 49 at a Christmas market in the capital and managed to escape on foot.

Twenty-four-year-old Anis Amri, a Tunisian national, was killed four days after the Monday attack in a shootout with Italian police in Milan. The German authorities have come under increasingly intense ire from the public after it emerged that Amri was well-known to security services for his involvement with radical jihadis and was even under surveillance for six months.

“The Amri case raises questions – questions that are not only tied to this crime but also to the time before, since he came to Germany in July 2015,” said Merkel, referring to his prior conviction for arson in Italy, for which he served a four-year prison sentence.


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Amri was highly active on Islamist extremist websites. “Islamic State” terrorists claimed responsibility for the Berlin attack

“We will now intensively examine to what extent official procedures need to be changed,” the chancellor added, saying she had already been on the phone with Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi to discuss expediting the process of deporting rejected asylum seekers. Amri’s application for asylum had been turned down in June, but because it took so long to confirm his Tunisian citizenship, he was able to remain in Germany.

Amri killed by Italian police

After a massive manhunt and a number of raids across Germany, Amri was killed in the Sesto San Giovanni suburb of Milan in the early hours of Friday after drawing a gun on police officers who asked for his identification.

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Italian forensic workers at the scene of the shootout. Merkel thanked Italy for its close cooperation

More came to light about Amri’s victims later on Friday when the Germany’s Federal Prosecutor’s Office released details about their nationalities. Of the 12 dead, six were German, while the Czech Republic, Italy and Israel have also confirmed that at least one of their citizens had been killed. The Polish truck driver of the vehicle Amri hijacked and rammed into the Breitscheidplatz Christmas market was also found dead at the scene after apparently trying to fight off the terrorist.

Police initially apprehended the wrong suspect, a 23-year-old Pakistani.

Amri was last seen in video footage from the front of mosque in Berlin’s Moabit district on Tuesday, according to German broadcaster rbb. He arrived in Italy by train via France, but his exact movements in this time are not yet clear.


(AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)


From Berlin to Milan via France — How Berlin Christmas Market Attacker Evaded the Net Through Europe’s No-Border Schengen Zone

December 23, 2016

By Latika Bourke
Sydney Morning Herald
December 24, 2016

When hero cop Luca Scata shot Europe’s most wanted man, Anis Amri, it brought to an end the Berlin attacker’s four-day flight which saw him travel three different cities in three different countries.

Alberto Nobili, coordinator of the Anti-Terrorism department at the District Attorney’s Office in Milan says Amri ended up in the Italian city after travelling from Berlin to the French city of Chambery and via a stop in Turin.

The drive between Chambéry and Berlin takes about 11 hours. The train ride between Chambéry to Turin takes just under three hours. Whatever method the 24-year old took, he would not have needed to show a passport because he was travelling within the Shengen area which allows passport-free travel.

The Islamic State claimed  responsibility for the Berlin truck attack.

The German government arrested and then released a suspect, admitting their uncertainty about his involvement

The German government arrested and then released a suspect, admitting their uncertainty about his involvement

The Italians were unaware that the Tunisian was amongst them.

He had recorded a video message for Islamic State, it emerged on Friday.

Islamic State adherents are encouraged to send out such video pledges before launching attacks, The New York Times reported. Similar claims have been made by men who carried out assaults in Paris and Orlando, Florida. The videos have been recorded on laptops and cellphones and distributed through mediums like Facebook Live

“We had no intelligence that he could be in Milan,” Milan’s police chief Antonio De Iesu said.

It was only that Amri was loitering near the train station near the Piazza Primo Maggio, in Sesto san Giovanni, Milan at 3am that police patrolling the area asked for his identification, suspecting he might be a burglar.

Image may contain: 2 people, eyeglasses and closeup

Anis Amri. Photographs by AFP and Getty Images

When Amri pulled out a gun, it was clear he was a far more dangerous sort of criminal, although they had no idea he was Europe’s most wanted fugutive who had managed to traverse undetected three countries across the continent.

He shot at one of the policemen, lightly wounding him in the shoulder.

Amri then hid behind a nearby car but the other police officer, a trainee, managed to shoot him once or twice, killing him on the spot, police said. Amri was identified by his fingerprints. He did not have a phone on him and was carrying a small pocket knife and a few hundred euros.

Bullet hole in the uniform of the policeman wounded in the shoot-out with Anis Amri. Now having surgery but not in critical condition

On the night of the attack German police had arrested a 23-year old Pakistani migrant who denied involvement. He was later released due to a lack of evidence.

Chancellor Angela Merkel has flagged strengthening Germany’s counter-terrorism laws and has told Tunisia’s President that the repatriation of failed asylum seekers, like Amri, must be made easier. Amri should have been deported to his home country but could not be sent home because he did not have identity documents. He would use six different aliases.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, delivers a statement on Thursday to media.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Photo: Michael Kappeler

The German Prosecutor, Peter Frank, said it was yet to be established how the culprit managed to escape their net.

“We want to investigate how he managed to get to Milan and whether he had any assistance or accomplices. We will look at what contacts he made in the preparation of the attack – people who may have supported him with money and aided him in the escape,” he said.

“We need to establish whether there was a network of accomplices. That is the focal point of our investigation.”

Eurosceptic politicians were quick to blame the Schengen zone.

Beppe Grillo, the founder of Italy’s populist 5-star movement, said Schengen needed to be rethought.

“There are reports that he would have come by train from France,” the leader of the far-right Front National and Presidential hopeful Marine Le Pen said.

“This getaway in two or three countries at a minimum is symptomatic of the total security disaster represented by the Schengen area.”

“France, like most of its neighbours, is reduced to learning after the fact that an armed and dangerous jihadist was probably wandering on its soil.”

The former leader of Britain’s UKIP Nigel Farage posted similar sentiments online.

“If the man shot in Milan is the Berlin killer, then the Schengen Area is proven to be a risk to public safety. It must go.”

“The free movement of good people also means the free movement of bad people. Expect Schengen to dominate the EU debate next year,” he said.

His prediction is likely to come true. France and Germany both go to the polls next year and migration will feature prominently in both campaigns.

Both countries have been hit by truck attacks and France has been hit with a string of attacks over the past three years.

Amri originally came to Europe in 2011, reaching the Italian island of Lampedusa by boat. He told authorities he was a minor, though documents now indicate he was not, and he was transferred to Catania, Sicily, where he was enrolled in school.

Just months later he was arrested by police after he attempted to set fire to the school, a senior police source said. He was later convicted of vandalism, threats, and theft.

He spent almost four years in Italian prisons before being ordered out of the country after Tunisia refused to accept him back in 2015 because he had no identification papers linking him to the north African country.

He moved to Germany and applied for asylum there, but this was rejected after he was identified by security agencies as a potential threat.

with Reuters


EU summit clinches deal to keep Britain in bloc with ‘special status’

February 19, 2016

World | Fri Feb 19, 2016 5:08pm EST

British Prime Minister David Cameron (R) attends a bilateral meeting with European Council President Donald Tusk (L) and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker (2nd L) during a European Union leaders summit addressing the talks about the so-called Brexit and

European Union leaders agreed unanimously on a package of measures aimed at keeping Britain in the 28-nation bloc at an extended summit on Friday night, European Council President Donald Tusk said.

British Prime Minister David Cameron said he had negotiated a deal to give Britain “special status in the EU” and he would recommend it to his cabinet on Saturday.

That will fire the starting gun for a fierce campaign for a referendum on Britain’s future membership of the bloc expected to be held on June 23, with the outcome deeply uncertain.

Both men made their announcements on Twitter as leaders at a summit dinner reviewed an amended text that resolved outstanding disputes over welfare benefits for migrant workers from other EU countries and safeguards for Britain’s financial services sector from euro zone regulation.

“Deal. Unanimous support for new settlement for #UKinEU,” Tusk’s message said.

The agreement delivered victory to Cameron on several of the key demands on which he chose to fight for what he called “a new settlement” with Europe.

He won a commitment to change the bloc’s governing treaties in future to recognize that Britain was not bound to any political union and would have safeguards against financial regulation being imposed on the City of London by the euro zone.

Cameron earlier postponed a planned cabinet meeting to stay on in Brussels and work for a deal he can sell to skeptical voters, who are almost evenly split over whether to stay in the EU according to opinion polls.

After all-night negotiations followed by a long day of private meetings to try to whittle down remaining differences, Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker put an amended clean text on the dinner table and the leaders quickly indicated their acceptance.

Earlier, a plenary session to review progress was postponed several times – from a late “English breakfast” to an “English lunch” and again till dinner at 8 p.m. (1900 GMT) – and leaders were asked to book hotel rooms for an extra night in Brussels.

Facing an uphill political battle at home, Cameron was concerned to show Britons that he had won concessions that he believes can reduce an influx of EU migrant workers and keep Britain out of any future political integration.

In hours of wrangling with central and east European countries that provide many of Britain’s low-paid immigrant workers, he secured the right to curb in-work benefits for up to four years and scale back child benefit for workers whose children remain abroad.


European Parliament President Martin Schulz, whose assembly will have to pass legislation to implement concessions to Britain on benefit curbs, criticized some countries for trying to link demands on Europe’s refugee crisis to the British deal.

He appeared to be referring to Greece, which had said it could block the entire deal unless it got its way on a dispute with Slovenia over border controls to curb the flow of migrants.

East European countries sought to restrict Cameron’s welfare cuts to new arrivals rather than the more than 1 million European migrant workers already in the UK. In the end, both sides emerged with something to show for their negotiations.

A compromise that appeared largely favorable to Britain was found for French concerns about differential treatment for London banks outside the euro zone as well as Belgian grumbles about Britain setting a precedent for states to snub EU integration.

The stakes are high for both Britain and the EU, with opinion polls showing voters almost evenly split.

The risks of Cameron’s strategy were highlighted on Friday when an opinion poll showed the campaign to leave the bloc had a two-percent lead with 36 percent support. The TNS poll showed 34 percent of British voters wanted to stay in the bloc, 7 percent would not vote and 23 percent were undecided.

Cameron was keen to show British voters he was fighting hard to secure a deal which he has called “the best of both worlds”.


Britain is already the EU’s most semi-detached member, having opted out of joining the euro single currency, the Schengen zone of passport-free travel and many areas of police and judicial cooperation.

Many leaders said they felt they were at a historic turning point for European integration.

No country has ever voted to leave the Union. Britain is the EU’s second-largest economy and one of its two permanent members on the UN Security Council. Its exit would end the vision of the EU as the natural home for European democracies and reverse the continent’s post-World War Two march toward “ever closer union”.

Belgium, the most federalist of EU members, was pressing for a clause to ensure the deal with Britain would automatically cease to exist in case of a vote to leave – to make sure there was no possibility of a second renegotiation.

The issue has divided Cameron’s Conservative Party for decades, crippling his 1990s predecessor John Major and bringing down his hero Margaret Thatcher.

Some Conservatives have criticized the reforms he is negotiating in Brussels as trivial, although most senior party figures are likely to join him in campaigning to stay in if he wins the concessions he is seeking.

Before even the final deal with Brussels was done, the BBC said his friend and justice minister Michael Gove would declare his intention to campaign to leave the European Union.

Britain’s largely eurosceptic press depicted Cameron as begging or pleading, the Daily Mail describing him as “rattled”.

“Shambles as embattled PM’s deal is watered down,” a front-page headline read over a picture of an anxious-looking Cameron.

(Additional reporting by Gabriela Baczynska, Elizabeth Piper, Alissa de Carbonnel, Francesco Guarascio, Paul Carrel, Andreas Rinke, Robert-Jan Bartunek, Philip Blenkinsop, Tom Koerkemeier, Jan Strupczewski, Alastair Macdonald and Robin Emmott in Brussels, Jason Hovet in Prague, Costas Pitas in London and Renee Maltezou in Athens; Editing by Andrew Roche and Alastair Macdonald)


David Cameron preparing for Michael Gove to support Brexit
Justice secretary and close Cameron ally said to be torn between loyalty to prime minister and own Euroscepticism.
A move by Gove to support a Brexit will bolster the out campaign and add growing pressure on Boris Johnson to do the same. Photograph: Ray Tang/Rex Shutterstock

David Cameron is now braced for an announcement by Michael Gove, one of his closest cabinet allies, that he will abandon the prime minister and join the campaign to take Britain out of the EU.

As negotiations at a summit in Brussels on his EU reform plans draggedinto a second night, there were growing fears that the prime minister faces a larger-than-expected cabinet backlash against the deal.

A move by Gove, the justice secretary, to support a Brexit will electrify the out campaign in the EU referendum and put pressure on Boris Johnson to follow his lead. The London mayor has caused some irritation in Downing Street by making a series of demands – firstly for two referendums, and then a declaration of the sovereignty of parliament – while claiming he cannot make up his mind.

Senior figures in Vote Leave, whose campaign director Dominic Cummings helped Gove deliver his controversial free schools programme as his senior special adviser, had been confident that they would win over a heavy hitting cabinet minister.

They hope that a mainstream figure such as Gove will help them reach out in the referendum to middle ground undecided voters even if the justice secretary eases the blow for Cameron by not taking a high profile campaigning role.

A victory for the Leave side in the referendum, which is expected to be held on 23 June if a deal is reached at this EU summit, would probably terminate Cameron’s premiership and kill of George Osborne’s hopes of leading the Conservatives.

The prime minister would be told by the 1922 committee of Tory backbenchers that he could not lead the two years of negotiations on Britain’s EU exit after failing so spectacularly in his goal of keeping the UK in a reformed EU.

Gove has made clear in semi-private that he has been torn between the profound belief that Britain should break free from the shackles of EU membership and loyalty to the prime minister and the chancellor. The justice secretary knows that joining the out campaign could terminate the political careers of his two great friends and boost the leadership chances of Theresa May and Johnson.

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