Posts Tagged ‘United Kingdom’

Big Brother Australia cracks open encrypted messaging

December 7, 2018

A new law will require tech firms to give security agencies access to their encrypted data, a provision experts expect other Western nations to soon replicate

 SYDNEY, DECEMBER 7, 2018 1:25 PM (UTC+8)
New Australian legislation will require tech companies to open back doors to their encryption technologies. Photo: iStock

New Australian legislation will require tech companies to open back doors to their encryption technologies. Photo: iStock

Boris Johnson demands UK PM Theresa May scrap her Brexit proposals

September 28, 2018

Brexit campaigner Boris Johnson called on Prime Minister Theresa May to rip up her proposal for Britain’s exit from the European Union, ratcheting up the pressure on May as she prepares to face her divided party at its annual conference next week.

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FILE PHOTO: Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May sits next to Britain’s Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson as she holds the first Cabinet meeting following the general election at 10 Downing Street, in London June 12, 2017. REUTERS/Leon Neal/Pool/File Photo

Just six months before the United Kingdom is due to leave the European Union on March 29, 2019, little is clear: PM May has yet to clinch a Brexit divorce deal with the EU and rebels in her party have threatened to vote down any deal she makes.

“This is the moment to change the course of the negotiations and do justice to the ambitions and potential of Brexit,” Johnson, who resigned in July as foreign secretary over May’s Brexit proposals, wrote in Friday’s Daily Telegraph.

Johnson, the bookmakers’ favorite to succeed May, said May’s plans would leave the United Kingdom half in and half out of the club it joined in 1973 and in effective “enforced vassalage”.

Under the headline, “My plan for a better Brexit”, Johnson, called for a “SuperCanada-type free trade agreement” and cast the EU’s backstop proposals for Northern Ireland amounted to the economic annexation of part of the United Kingdom.

The plan outlined by Johnson gained support from other rebels such as Conservative lawmaker Jacob Rees-Mogg who are pushing for a deeper break with the EU.

“This is an opportunity for the UK to become more dynamic and more successful, and we should not be shy of saying that – and we should recognize that it is exactly this potential our EU partners seek to constrain,” Johnson wrote.

More than two years since the 2016 Brexit referendum, the United Kingdom, its politicians and its business leaders remain deeply divided over Brexit, considered to be one the most important decisions in post-World War Two British history.

In the June 23, 2016 referendum, 17.4 million voters, or 51.9 percent, backed leaving the EU, while 16.1 million voters, or 48.1 percent, backed staying.


A poll of polls published on Friday showed voters would now vote 52 to 48 percent in favor of remaining in the EU were there to be another Brexit referendum.

But researchers cautioned that a narrow victory for those hoping to reverse Brexit would be heavily contingent on getting those who did not vote last time to turn out.

“True, Remain enjoys a lead in the polls. But that lead remains a narrow one, and there is little sign of it growing,” said Senior Research Fellow at The National Centre for Social Research (NatCen) John Curtice.

May, who voted to stay in the EU, is trying to clinch a divorce deal with the EU while grappling with an open rebellion in her Conservative Party, which convenes in the English city of Birmingham on Sunday for its annual party conference.

“There has been a collective failure of government, and a collapse of will by the British establishment, to deliver on the mandate of the people,” Johnson wrote.

May has repeatedly said her Brexit proposals are the only viable ones.

A 30-year schism inside her party over Europe helped sink the premierships of the past three Conservative prime ministers – Margaret Thatcher, John Major and David Cameron.


India, Pakistan couple at Asia Cup in Dubai: ‘England our home; India-Pakistan our heritage’

September 25, 2018

It’s perhaps time for Track Two diplomacy as cricket bonhomie holds sway over petty politics

Image Credit: Sanjib Kumar Das/Gulf News
Qadir and his partner Ayesha, of Indian and Pakistani origin, respectively, have come all the way from the United Kingdom to watch the India-Pakistan Asia Cup matches in Dubai.
Published: 19:07 September 24, 2018Gulf News

Dubai: As the lady in the ubiquitous Pakistan green shirt settled down for lunch at the Mall of the Emirates here on Sunday afternoon, I told myself: ‘Ok, there’s at least one other person at the food court right now who is also headed to the cricket stadium.’ Minutes later, a young man in the Indian team’s unmistakable colours joined the lady in green. And I told myself: ‘India-Pakistan fans getting cosy even before the first ball is bowled! Not bad at all.’

He, born of Indian parents, and she, of Pakistani descent, both born and brought up in the United Kingdom, now united by love and – you guessed it right: Cricket. Young professionals Qadir and Ayesha have flown in all the way from London to Dubai to catch India and Pakistan slug it out in the Asia Cup. While Qadir is quite a globetrotter — having watched 19 India-Pakistan matches across the world in the past — for Ayesha, the September 19 match at Dubai Cricket Stadium was her first brush with live action at the ground between the arch-rivals.

Indian players celebrate the dismissal of Pakistan's Fakhar ZamanIndian players celebrate the dismissal of Pakistan’s Fakhar Zaman during the Super Four match of Asia Cup in Dubai, on Sunday. AP

“I didn’t even have a Pakistan shirt. So I had to get one for myself after we reached Dubai and my first experience watching these two teams live was simply amazing,” Ayesha said.

“England is our home, but India-Pakistan our heritage,” Qadir said, followed by a quick bite of the burger.

Qadir’s parents are originally from Maharashtra in India, who later moved to the UK before Qadir was born. On the other hand, Ayesha’s mother is from Lahore, while her father is from Amritsar, who moved to the other side of the border post-1947.

Pakistan's Mohammad Amir, right, reacts after India's Shikhar Dhawan, left, hit a boundary on his dePakistan’s Mohammad Amir, right, reacts after India’s Shikhar Dhawan, left, hit a boundary on his delivery during the Super Four match of Asia Cup in Dubai, on Sunday. AP

The Qadir-Ayesha love story and cricket camaraderie involving the two South Asian nations separated at birth are as old and familiar as the tale of Partition itself. There are so many like this couple across the globe who have embraced the ties that bind – in terms of culture, cuisine, cricket-cacophony and more – well and truly beyond all the bloodshed and hatred that politics between the two nuclear-powered neighbours has come to be identified with over the last seven decades.

About an hour later on Sunday, as I was busy soaking up every ounce of a high-octane rivalry at Dubai Sports City’s cricket stadium, I was myself amazed at the way two nations could gel so well and with such elan. Chants of “Bharat Mata Ki …” melding seamlessly into a “Pakistan Zindabad”; a foot-stomping rendition of A.R. Rehman’s “Vande Mataram” effortlessly synching with an Atif Aslam chartbuster. There was so much of light-hearted banter all around: Rival fans taking a dig at one another – all in good humour; sometimes seated next to one another, sharing a bottle of water or that occasional praise or concern for the other team like a true-blue lover of the sport, keeping allegiance to shirt colours aside for a few seconds. But never a word in bad taste, never one irresponsible comment here or a gesture there that could have soured the mood.

Indian players celebrate the dismissal of Pakistan batsman Shoaib Mali.Indian players celebrate the dismissal of Pakistan batsman Shoaib Malik during the Super Four match of Asia Cup in Dubai, on Sunday. Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

It reminded me of what Qadir had said earlier in the afternoon. “What I really like about the fans in Dubai is the kind of warmth and the spirit of friendship they share. I have been to a lot of India-Pakistan matches in many other parts of the world and I am at times shocked to see that there is so much of animosity between the fans. But in Dubai, India-Pakistan fans share so much of bonhomie. It’s amazing.”

To that, Ayesha’s take was simple: “I think it has a lot to do with one’s upbringing. Sometimes we are fed with ideas by elders that can and do tend to condition our judgement and shape prejudices.”

“That’s very true. At the stadium in Dubai, I actually met two guys who, despite being from two different countries, have practically grown up together in UAE and at the match, they were seated next to each other. There just couldn’t have been any bad blood between them,” Qadir explained.

Pakistani cricket enthusiasts cheer their team during the at Dubai Cricket Stadium.Pakistani cricket enthusiasts cheer their team during the Super Four match of Asia Cup in Dubai, on Sunday. Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Track Two

In diplomatic parlance, we have often heard about a ‘Track Two’. Listening to Qadir and Ayesha and while at the stadium on Sunday, I wondered: What better way to try and foster a ‘Track Two’ than promoting such off-the-cuff, people-to-people contacts like the ones at vogue all across the Dubai Cricket Stadium.

For seven decades, security personnel on both sides have paid with their blood for the intransigence of a political game of one-upmanship; for seven decades, innocent civilians have been held hostage and have had their blood spilled by merchants of terror and peddlers of extremist ideology; for seven decades, countless attempts at initiating bilateral dialogues of peace on both sides have come a cropper in the face of dastardly acts. And for seven decades, the narrative of Indo-Pak relations on the political plane has continued to be an all-too-familiar tale of a ship stuck in the doldrums, with little or nothing to show for tangible results.

Indian and Pakistani fans cheer for their teams during the match at Dubai Cricket Stadium.Indian and Pakistani fans cheer for their teams during the Super Four match of Asia Cup in Dubai, on Sunday. Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Adherence to diplomatic protocol, nuanced foreign policy arbitrage and appeasement of pseudo-nationalist sentiments on either side of the border have all failed to alter the script, though they have all promised to be harbingers of change.

And that is so very unfortunate.

All the more as roars of Chak de India …” and “Jitega Bhai Jitega, Pakistan …” seem to caress each other and make room for one another with such an element of familiarity that only filial ties can guarantee. A cricket match between the arch-rivals seems to have just the right ingredients to serve up a feast that appeals to palettes on either side of the political divide. This is also very much possible over a plate of biryani; this is possible over a rich repertoire of cross-border ghazals, this is certainly possible with Bollywood films and sitcoms from both sides of the fence. The list is long.

But politics has failed both the nations miserably, because it has always put too much weightage on the term ‘border’, failing to realise perhaps, that borders are just lines on maps. Ask Qadir and Ayesha!

United Kingdom’s future relationship with the European Union remains unclear as eurosceptics “Plan B” fails

September 11, 2018

A plan by eurosceptics in Prime Minister Theresa May’s party to publish an alternative plan for the United Kingdom’s future relationship with the European Union has fallen apart, the Financial Times reported on Tuesday.

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A combined United Kingdom and European Union flag flies outside the Palace of Westminster in London, Britain, June 28, 2018. REUTERS/Toby Melville

The United Kingdom is due to leave the European Union on March 29, yet little is clear: There is, so far, no full exit deal, rivals to Prime Minister Theresa May are circling and some lawmakers are pushing for a rerun of the 2016 referendum.

Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, said on Monday that a Brexit deal was possible “within six or eight weeks” if negotiators were realistic in their demands.

Brexit supporters in May’s Conservative Party who want a more distant relationship with the EU last week circulated a 140-page draft alternative Brexit plan.

But Conservative lawmaker Jacob Rees-Mogg, head of the pro-Brexit European Research Group, which led the work on the alternative plan, said the full document would not be published. “The truth is that we reconsidered,” he added.

An influential Brexiteer in May’s party, Steve Baker, said on Monday that 80 or more of her lawmakers are prepared to vote against her Brexit plan.

Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; editing by Michael Holden


Trump visit to UK begins on awkward note

July 12, 2018

US president questions whether people voted for Theresa May’s Brexit deal

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By Henry Mance in London and Demetri Sevastopulo in Brussels

Donald Trump’s first official visit to the UK has started awkwardly, after he appeared to criticise prime minister Theresa May’s Brexit strategy.

Just hours before arriving in London, the US president questioned progress in Brexit talks and Britain’s new plan to remain close to the EU on regulatory standards for goods.

“Maybe they’re taking a little bit of a different route [on Brexit], so I don’t know if that’s what they voted for,” he told a press conference after the Nato summit in Brussels. “I just want the people to be happy.”

He added: “I’ve been reading a lot about Brexit over the last couple of days, and it seems to be turning a little bit differently, where they’re getting at least partially involved back with the European Union,” Mr Trump said. “I’d like to see them be able to work it out so it could go quickly, whatever they work out.”

Mr Trump said earlier this week that the UK was in “turmoil”, following the resignation of cabinet ministers David Davis and Boris Johnson. He also suggested that he might speak to his “friend” Mr Johnson, who had been due to attend a dinner with the president and business executives on Thursday evening.

Such comments are likely to be seen as unwelcome by Mrs May, who has already faced significant political criticism for hosting Mr Trump. The UK hopes to make progress on a post-Brexit trade relationship, although the scope for a bilateral trade deal would be limited if the UK remains aligned with EU regulations on goods.

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© Tolga Akmen/AFP/Getty

Mr Trump and his wife Melania arrived at Stansted airport, where he was met by the UK’s international trade secretary Liam Fox. He came directly from the Nato summit, where he had questioned the US’s commitment to the security alliance.

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© Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty

A YouGov poll this week found that the president’s favourability rating in the UK is minus 60, significantly worse than both George W Bush and Barack Obama. Vince Cable, the leader of the pro-EU Liberal Democrats, said, “Most of us don’t think he is particularly good judge on Brexit or anything else.”

During his news conference on Thursday, the US president also appeared to refer to Ireland as part of the United Kingdom. “I believe that the people in the UK, Scotland, Ireland, as you know I have property in Ireland, I have property all over, I think that those people they like me a lot and they agree with me on immigration,” he said.

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© Luca Bruno/AP

A large “Human Rights Nightmare” banner has been unfurled by Amnesty International activists across the river Thames on Vauxhall Bridge to protest against the visit. Many thousands of Britons are expected to protest against Mr Trump in London and other cities. The president said on Tuesday, “I think they like me a lot in the UK.”

Donald Trump’s visit puts Brexit Britain’s dependence on show

July 5, 2018

When Donald Trump visits Britain next week, Prime Minister Theresa May will have to face a harsh reality: Brexit makes Britain more dependent than ever on an alliance with the most unpredictable U.S. president in living memory.

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U.S. President Donald Trump meets with British Prime Minister Theresa May during the U.N. General Assembly in New York, U.S., September 20, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Sandwiched between a NATO meeting and a summit with Russia’s Vladimir Putin, Trump’s first visit to Britain as president comes at one of the most important junctures for Europe and the West since the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union.

From challenging Western assumptions about the EU and free trade to courting the Kremlin and North Korea’s leader, Trump has delivered on his promise of an “unpredictable” U.S. foreign policy.

That leaves May, who held hands with Trump at the White House during her visit after his inauguration, in a difficult position as she seeks closer trade ties with the United States to offset the disruption of leaving the EU on March 29, 2019.

“The irony is that by leaving the EU, the United Kingdom will be less useful to Washington as an ally but it will also need the United States much more,” said Jeffrey A. Stacey, a former State Department official in Obama’s administration.

“So May has been thrown into the arms of the most unpredictable U.S. president in living memory,” Stacey said.

Over 50,000 people have signed up for a protest on Trafalgar Square in central London against the Trump visit, which will include a meeting with Queen Elizabeth and possibly even a round of golf at his Turnberry course in Scotland.

Even taking account of Trump’s penchant for deal making, the visit is likely to be heavy on rhetoric about an increasingly lopsided “special relationship” and short on specifics such as the details of a post-Brexit trade deal.

For supporters, Trump and Brexit offer the prospect of breaking free from what they see as obsolete institutions and rules that have weakened the United States and its allies relative to competitors such as China.

But for many British diplomats, Brexit marks the collapse of a 70-year British strategy of trying to balance European integration with a U.S. alliance based on blood, trade and intelligence sharing.

“May’s rushed diplomacy with Trump has been foolish: what has she actually got out of the relationship so far?” said one senior European diplomat in London, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

“You Brits are leaving Europe but do you really want to jump into the arms of Donald Trump’s America? And more importantly, do you have a choice?” the diplomat asked.


Trump’s victory in the 2016 presidential election shocked British diplomats in Washington and relations between May, a vicar’s daughter, and Trump have been strained at times.

The enduring image of May’s visit to the White House in January 2017, when she became the first foreign leader to meet the president after he took office, was Trump taking May’s hand to help her down the steps of a White House colonnade.

But any good vibrations from that moment soon dissipated when Trump, the same day, announced plans to ban migrants from seven Muslim-majority countries – a decision that drew fierce international criticism and appeared to blindside May.

Days later, thousands marched on parliament to protest the decision to offer a Trump full state visit to Britain, and 1.8 million people signed a petition saying the invitation should be cancelled because he might embarrass the Queen.

Trump has repeatedly thwarted British and other European diplomatic overtures, withdrawing from multilateral agreements on climate change, human rights, and a treasured deal to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions in exchange for lifting sanctions.

Officials around May insist that Britain still has the capability to influence Trump, outlining a handling strategy that involves appealing to his self interest, “planting the seed” of an idea and allowing him time to consider its merits.

But, much will rest on the personal dynamic between May, a staid, career politician who prides herself on careful decision-making, and Trump, the brash, often-bellicose, former reality TV star who declared last month he would know within a minute whether a deal could be struck with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un

“We talk about Trump and Macron because it seems interesting with some upsides. We talk about Trump and Angela Merkel because it’s ‘difficult’” said Leslie Vinjamuri, head of the U.S. and Americas program at the Chatham House think tank.

“Theresa May gets a bit lost in all of that. She has neither been strong nor weak, there doesn’t seem to be any special affection.”

Asked at last month’s G7 meeting in Canada whether Trump was a “good friend” to Britain, May said: “The United States and the United Kingdom are good friends. President Trump and I work together.”

But just hours after the meeting concluded he tore up a joint communique on trade, equality and the environment that May and other G7 leaders had labored late into the night to agree.

Therein lies the difficulty for May.

“When he’s here, he’ll give, but I think when he walks away he will very quickly forget what the visit was about,” Vinjamuri said.

Editing by Angus MacSwan


Tim Cook says Facebook should have regulated itself, but it’s too late for that now

March 28, 2018

“I think we’re beyond that here.”

Tim Cook at the March 27 Apple event in Chicago
 Scott Olson / Getty

Apple CEO Tim Cook has doubled down on his call for regulation that would limit Facebook and others companies’ ability to use customer data.

Speaking to Recode’s Kara Swisher and MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, Cook said he’d prefer that Facebook and others would have curbed their use of personal data to build “these detailed profiles of people … patched together from several sources.”

“I think the best regulation is no regulation, is self-regulation,” he said. “However, I think we’re beyond that here.”

Cook has made a point of criticizing Facebook for both the Cambridge Analytica affair and its overall approach to consumer privacy in recent days. But it’s not a new stance for him or the company: He made similar comments about Facebook and Google in 2015, and his predecessor Steve Jobs went out of his way to contrast Apple’s privacy stance with rivals like Google in 2010.

Facebook and Google, of course, use consumer data as a core part of their lucrative advertising business. But while Apple has nibbled at the ad business a few times, it makes almost all of its money selling hardware to consumers.

Cook made that point again today: “The truth is, we could make a ton of money if we monetized our customer — if our customer was our product. We’ve elected not to do that.”

Swisher posed a question for Cook: What would he do if he were Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg? His answer: “I wouldn’t be in this situation.”

Cook’s interview with Swisher and Hayes is part of Revolution, a collaboration between Recode and MSNBC. The full interview is scheduled to air on MSNBC on Friday, April 6 at 8 pm ET / 5 pm PT.


Tim Cook on Facebook’s data-leak scandal: ‘I wouldn’t be in this situation’ — “Privacy is a human right and a core American value.”

March 28, 2018
  • Apple’s Tim Cook criticized Facebook for its data privacy practices.
  • Cook spoke in an interview with Recode’s Kara Swisher and MSNBC’s Chris Hayes.
Apple CEO Tim Cook.

Apple CEO Tim Cook says he wouldn’t be in Zuckerberg’s position

Apple CEO Tim Cook criticized Facebook in an interview on Wednesday in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica data scandal, saying privacy is a human right and a core American value.

When asked what he would do if he were currently faced with the problems confronting Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Cook said: “I wouldn’t be in this situation.”

Cook made the comments in an interview with Recode’s Kara Swisher and MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, a day after Apple revealed a new affordable iPad model that supports Apple Pencil and revamped education software.

Cook said that Apple has never believed that detailed online profiles of people should exist. “We can make a ton of money if customers were our product. We have elected not to do that,” Cook said.

Zuckerberg has come under fire for Facebook’s privacy practices in the wake of revelations that Cambridge Analytica improperly gained access to data from more than 50 million user profiles.

Cook said it’s important to think about how profiles can be abused, saying the best kind of regulation is self-regulation.

Facebook is now the subject of investigations on both sides of the Atlantic. The Federal Trade Commission announced on Monday that it’s looking into Facebook’s data practices. An investigation is also underway in the United Kingdom.

Facebook has said it learned of Cambridge Analytica’s misuse of user data in 2015 but failed to notify the public until reports by The Observer newspaper in the United Kingdom and The New York Times were published earlier this month.

Zuckerberg subsequently issued a mea culpa. “We have a responsibility to protect your data, and if we can’t then we don’t deserve to serve you,” he said.

Apple has taken a stricter approach to privacy that has frustrated U.S. authorities. In the wake of the 2015 mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, the company resisted FBI requests to unlock an iPhone from one of the perpetrators, resulting in a high-profile legal battle.

Apple claimed that unlocking the phone would require writing software that could undermine the product’s security features for all users. The Department of Justice subsequently found a way to unlock the device without Apple’s help.

On Wednesday, Cook said that Apple would fight again if it were ordered to unlock an iPhone.

— Writing by Spencer Kimball, reporting by Paayal Zaveri.

Theresa May to meet Donald Trump in Davos

January 20, 2018

BBC News

  • 19 January 2018
Donald Trump and Theresa MayImage copyrightEPA

Prime Minister Theresa May and President Donald Trump will meet at the World Economic Forum in Davos next week, Downing Street has confirmed.

It comes after Mr Trump cancelled plans to open the new $1bn (£720m) US Embassy in London next month.

The White House said Mr Trump “looks forward” to strengthening the countries’ “special relationship”.

Mr Trump is the first sitting US president to attend the forum in the Swiss city since Bill Clinton in 2000.

A Downing Street spokesman said the “bilateral meeting” would take place “in the margins” of the forum.

Mrs May was the first foreign leader to visit Mr Trump at the White House, after his inauguration in January 2017.

The two leaders also met at the G7 summit in Sicily in May and at the G20 summit in Hamburg in July.

However, in November, the prime minister criticised Mr Trump for retweeting three inflammatory videos posted online by the far-right group, Britain First.

After Mrs May’s spokesman said it was “wrong for the president to have done this”, he hit back on Twitter and told the British leader to not “focus on me, focus on the destructive radical Islamic terrorism that is taking place within the United Kingdom”.

Mrs May more recently discussed Brexit and events in the Middle East in a pre-Christmas phone call with Mr Trump.

Earlier this month Mr Trump said on Twitter the reason why he was not going to cut the ribbon on the the new US embassy in Vauxhall, south London, was because he did not agree with the move from its old home in Mayfair.

However, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan – who has clashed with the president in the past – said Mr Trump had “got the message” that many Londoners were staunchly opposed to his policies and actions.

Media caption Inside the new US embassy

The reason given for moving the US embassy to Vauxhall was that the current building in Mayfair was too small and modern security was needed.

Did Brexit Just Get HARDER? Scotland, Wales and London want special Brexit deal if Northern Ireland gets one

December 4, 2017

By Elisabeth O’LearyDavid Milliken