About 50 Tory MPs met to discuss how & when they could oust PM May – media

Around 50 Tory hardline Brexit supporters have met to discuss how and when they could force Theresa May to stand down as British PM, media reported citing sources.

Representatives from the European Research Group (ERG) discussed “how best you game the leadership election rules,” a source said as cited by the BBC. 

One of those who reportedly attended the meeting said that “everyone I know says she [May] has to go," “she’s a disaster,” and "this can’t go on."

 
FILE PHOTO Pro-Brexit protesters block the gates of Downing Street during a demonstration in London © Peter Nicholls 

 

The report about Brexiteers discussing the UK leadership challenge was also issued by the Press Association news agency.

Earlier in September Steve Baker, a former junior Brexit minister, warned May that pressing ahead with her Chequers plan could see up to 80 Tory MPs voting against it, risking a “catastrophic split” in the party. “If we come out of conference with her hoping to get Chequers through on the back of Labour votes, I think the EU negotiators would probably understand that if that were done, the Tory party would suffer the catastrophic split which thus far we have managed to avoid,” he said

The PM managed to secure the controversial Brexit plan, which is also known as the Chequers deal, at a marathon session of talks with her Cabinet in July. The strategy, which defines the relationship between the UK and the EU after Brexit, divided both politicians and the public.

READ MORE:‘Detonator handed to Brussels’: Boris Johnson calls May’s Brexit plan ‘suicide vest’

Opinion polls from July show that British voters overwhelmingly disapprove of May’s handling of Brexit. Instead, they would rather pin their hopes on a man who was only recently seen as a “liability” – Boris Johnson, who recently lashed out at May, saying that the Brexit plan is “a suicide vest” wrapped around the British constitution, and the detonator has been handed to Brussels.

The Brexit talks left the Tory government in dire straits. The government saw a string of ministerial resignations which involved not only Johnson but also the now former Brexit secretary, David Davis. After that, Conservative MP Philip Davies submitted a letter of no-confidence in Theresa May to the chairman of the Conservative 1922 Committee of backbench MPs, Graham Brady. For a no-confidence vote to be triggered, 48 letters from Conservative MPs need to be submitted.

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More Than 370 Arrested During Carnival in London (+Photos)

London, Aug 28 (Prensa Latina) At least 370 people were arrested for assault and possession of knives during the Notting Hill carnival in the centre of this capital, the Metropolitan Police said today.

'Law enforcement officers seized 36 knives during the celebration, which became a smokescreen for crime in the city,' Commander Dave Musker said Tuesday.

According to Musker, about 30 security personnel were injured while conducting the operations, although the number of detainees may increase.

In 2016, during the 50th anniversary of these carnivals, more than 450 arrests were made, 45 policemen were injured and 16 stabbings were committed, which is considered one of the deadliest.

Analysts insist that two years ago, former Deputy Victoria Borwick led a popular request to move the festival to a less populous place where people could be controlled, but the proposal did not materialize.

According to reports, the homicide rate in the UK has increased by approximately 40 per cent in the last three years, not including deaths caused by terrorist attacks.

At the end of 2017 statistics revealed a 13 per cent increase in crime compared to the previous year, mainly in this capital.

The Independent recently revealed that fatal stabbings occur every three days in London from gang fights.

The Notting Hill carnival is one of the most famous in the world, along with those of Rio de Janeiro and Santa Cruz de Tenerife, but unlike the latter, it has become a battleground for criminals and gang members.

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UK Poisonings Leave Soviet Defector's Family In Fear

London: The family of a Soviet defector who died in Salisbury in 2001 is living in fear following the recent poisoning of a Russian ex-spy in the same English city, according to his son.

Nikita Pasechnik, whose scientist father Vladimir Pasechnik defected to Britain in 1989 and suffered a stroke 12 years later, said his relatives are now "scared to death".

"Every normal person would fear," Nikita Pasechnik told AFP in a recent interview in the southwest English county of Dorset where he lives, blaming the death on Russian security services.

Russian former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned in Salisbury in March with the Soviet-made Novichok nerve agent. They spent weeks recovering in hospital.

Britain has blamed the attempted assassination on Moscow, which has denied involvement.

Dawn Sturgess, a 44-year-old English woman who also came into contact with the toxin along with her surviving partner Charlie Rowley in nearby Amesbury, died on July 8 and was cremated this week.

"Even here in the UK I don't feel safe -- that was one of their goals with Skripal," Pasechnik said.

"These two cases are different but the similarity between them is that I believe they killed my father.

"They poisoned him and they poisoned Skripal," he alleged.

Pasechnik, an IT specialist, wants his father's death 17 years ago probed.

But other relatives worry it could make them targets.

"My family don't want to be exposed. They're scared to death," the 53-year-old father said.

'Very unusual'

Vladimir Pasechnik was a senior biologist who fled the Soviet Union as the Cold War was ending and exposed its vast clandestine programme adapting germs and viruses for military use.

He defected in Paris and settled near Salisbury, working at a public health microbiological research centre at Porton Down, where the British military also has research facilities.

His family joined him in stages through the 1990s.

In November 2001, aged 64, he was hospitalised after suffering a stroke and died within weeks.

Local authorities ruled his death was from natural causes, and no inquest or criminal investigation was launched.

But Pasechnik said the doctors who treated him said they could not pinpoint its cause and the stroke was more widespread than normal.

"There were many clots simultaneously," he said. "Basically two-thirds of the brain was affected and the doctor said 'It's very unusual.... It is strange.'"

Vladimir Pasechnik had voiced concerns he would be targeted, according to his son.

He remembers his father referring to Bulgarian dissident Georgi Markov, who was poisoned in London in 1978 using an umbrella.

The son's suspicions grew following the 2006 poisoning death of former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko, also in the British capital.

The British government in March vowed to re-examine 14 Russia-related deaths on UK soil following claims of possible Kremlin or mafia involvement.

Vladimir Pasechnik's case is not among them.

- Game changer -
After defecting, Vladimir Pasechnik revealed a vast network of Soviet biological weapons laboratories.

It led the West to confront Moscow with the evidence and forced unprecedented inspections of its facilities.

"His defection was one the most important in modern history... it completely changed the game," a Western source familiar with the case told AFP.

"I was quite surprised," he said of learning of his death. "He wasn't that old, but on the other hand strokes are relatively common."

The source added: "I am sure that the Russians were extremely upset that he was the whistleblower on their illegal BW (bio-weapons) programme of course."

Both the Russian embassy in London and the foreign ministry in Moscow recently referred to Vladimir Pasechnik amid ongoing recriminations against British authorities over the Skripal case, saying he had died "mysteriously".

"The fact that his son is not satisfied with official conclusions regarding his death is an ample illustration thereof," a spokesperson for the embassy told AFP.

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Insults, demands & advice: Trump’s whirlwind European tour causes stir online

On his EU visit, US President Donald Trump lectured Germany on doing business with Russia, demanded tribute from NATO and offered advice on British politics. Many Europeans were having none of it, venting their spleen on Twitter.

Trump flew into Belgium for the NATO summit on Wednesday, then jetted to the UK for a state visit on Thursday. He is scheduled to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland, on Monday.

Trump vs Germany

The US leader started off the NATO summit by accusing Germany of being a “captive to Russia,” arguing that Berlin’s position within the military alliance was compromised because of its reliance on energy from Moscow. This led some journalists to accuse Trump of projecting his insecurities onto a rival, while others pointed out this dispelled claims he was soft on Russia.

@mitchellreports @Yamiche in Brussels: President Trump blasted his way into NATO, and for someone who is being blasted at home for being controlled by Russia, he really projected that on Germany.

@mtracey The funny part is Trump has taken far more consequential actions that are averse to Russia's interests (expelling diplomats, sending arms to Ukraine, approving sanctions, repeatedly bombing their client state) than Germany's, but listen to US media you'd assume the exact opposite

While Trump’s comments provoked fierce reaction online, Chancellor Angela Merkel was more restrained in her response. Online commentators were in no mood for civility, with some calling for Merkel to mete out some rough justice.

READ MORE: Merkel slams Trump’s ‘Russian captive’ comment, defends Berlin’s ‘independent policies’

@TheSarcasmShow I'm pretty sure Angela Merkel could take Donald Trump in a fight

@MrFilmkritik I can’t be the only one who just wants to see Merkel lose it and deck Trump.

One German TV network reportedly responded by digitally replacing the US president with an image of a Trump-shaped blimp made by some British protesters.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/Dh_Ua5QXkAc4DNt.jpg

He said, no one else said

If making culturally insensitive statements is a Trump trademark, so is declaring victory in disputes before being contradicted by the supposedly vanquished. The NATO summit produced a few such moments.

The former reality TV star has long berated NATO over military spending or lack thereof. Trump came to the summit looking to pick a fight with 24 alliance members failing to meet an agreed target of making their military budgets two percent of their GDP.

Trump later told the press he’d successfully pushed for a spending increase. French President Emmanuel Macron disagreed. Twitter weighed in to mediate. 

READ MORE: Trump warns NATO allies US can ‘do our own thing’ if 2% spending goal not met – reports

In another seemingly off-the-cuff remark, Trump said he wanted NATO members to double their spending, to four percent of GDP. Some felt they could see the malign hand of shady defense contractors at play.

Trump does Britain

UK Prime Minister Theresa May must have choked on her tea when she read Trump’s interview with The Sun on Friday morning. In a bizarre exclusive, Trump was scathing about her Brexit plan and even backed rival Boris Johnson to succeed her at 10 Downing Street. Later in the day, he insisted that the story was “fake news.” Online commentators knew who they were going to believe.

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Several injured after ‘minor explosion’ at London tube station

A “minor explosion,” likely caused by a battery short circuit, triggered an evacuation at London’s Southgate tube station on Tuesday evening, police said, adding that a number of people received minor injuries.

Police said a small number of people were treated at the scene. Emergency services arrived at the station just after 7pm following reports of a small explosion. Local reports suggest that one person was taken out of the station on a stretcher.

@999London

BREAKING: Southgate Underground Station has been evacuated by the @BTP and @metpoliceuk due to a suspicious package. The whole of Southgate High Street has been closed to the public. BTP explosive/bomb detector sniffer dogs are also on scene.

People in the area were warned to stay indoors and the road outside the station has been cordoned off. Pictures on social media showed police sniffer dogs outside the station. One local told the Evening Standard newspaper that he witnessed “around 50 or 60 police, an ambulance, fire arms and dog units” at the scene.

@metpoliceuk station has been examined by specialist officers. It appears at this stage that the cause of the explosion was a battery short circuit. http://news.met.police.uk/news/cause-of-explosion-at-southgate-station-thought-to-be-battery-short-circuit-311364  pic.twitter.com/o4IA1MDQxY

A Metropolitan Police statement said its officers inspected the scene along with colleagues from the Transport Police and other services. The apparent cause of the explosion was a battery short circuit, it said, adding that the investigation is ongoing.

 

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‘Not a matter of censorship’: Ecuador FM defends restrictions on Assange

Ecuador’s foreign minister is denying her government is trying to censor WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange by restricting his internet access and denying him visitors at the embassy in London.

Maria Fernanda Espinosa defended the move to cut Assange’s internet access in March, saying that he disregarded a vow to cease all “political activity” when he spoke out about the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury. He also made repeated statements about Spain’s bid to stifle the independence movement in Catalonia.

“On several occasions he [Assange] has agreed on not intervening in internal politics of third-party countries and unfortunately he has not complied with his commitment, so for the time being he is not allowed to have access to the internet,” Espinosa told the Associated Press, adding that the restrictions are “not a matter of censorship.”

"I think all parties are interested in finding an outlet, a solution, to this complex situation," she said. Espinosa was speaking from the UN headquarters in New York ahead of an election for the presidency of the next General Assembly.

Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno, who was elected last year, recently told DW Spanish that Assange “continues to be a problem,” but added that his country “will respect his right to asylum if Assange respects the margins.”

The WikiLeaks founder was granted asylum by former President Rafael Correa in 2012, and he has been at the embassy in London ever since. Assange was facing charges in the US over WikiLeaks’ publication of secret US documents in 2010. His legal troubles in the UK, however, stem from allegations of sexual assault in Sweden, which were dropped last year. Assange feared Sweden would extradite him to the US, which is why he sought refuge in Ecuador. That, however, violated the conditions of his bail, according to the British High Court.

@RT_com Roger Waters displays pro-Assange message at Berlin gig https://on.rt.com/96pk https://twitter.com/wikileaks/status/1003244645030268928 

Ecuador is continuing its effort to get Assange out of embassy without him being arrested. The plans have been met with resistance by the British government.

READ MORE: Ecuador will respect Assange’s asylum right if he obeys ‘no politics’ condition

In addition to the secret US documents about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, WikiLeaks published emails from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and private emails from Hillary Clinton’s campaign chair, John Podesta, in the month before the 2016 US presidential election. US intelligence officials have accused WikiLeaks of being a “hostile foreign intelligence service.”

Assange fears that if he leaves the embassy, he will be arrested by the British authorities and extradited to the US, where he would be charged under the Espionage Act.

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British choreographer Lea Anderson will work with Contemporary Dance of Cuba

The company Danza Contemporánea de Cuba -DCC-, is working on a new project together with the British artistic director Lea Anderson.

Through social networks, the Cuban dance group expressed their enthusiasm for receiving the renowned choreographer with

According to the announcement, the artist will begin her work as part of the Cuban-British creative islands project, devised by DCC with the British Council Caribbean to promote and promote the passion for dance and artistic work of both nations

Founder of the renowned companies The Featherstonehaughs and The Cholmondeleys, Anderson is one of the most renowned and transgressive creators of the European country, which has n his list of more than 100 choreographies.

In his work he maintains an aesthetic line and a choreographic language that distinguish him in his presentations, always accompanied by live music and novel costume, stage and lighting designs.

His career has taken her to several international stages, from the most alternative places to renowned festivals such as Glastonbury.

She has also made presentations for television and film, and her work is study material in different levels of dance education in the United Kingdom.

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Back to ‘normal’? Ecuador withdraws Assange’s extra security at London embassy

he president of Ecuador has ordered the withdrawal of enhanced security from the country’s London embassy, which was assigned to protect Julian Assange, who remains holed up there to avoid possible deportation to the US.

The Ecuadorian government “will maintain normal security similar to the level of security at all other Ecuadorean embassies in the rest of the world,” Lenin Moreno, national secretary of communication, said in a statement. He added that “additional security at the Ecuadorian embassy” in London will be withdrawn immediately.

Assange has been residing at the Ecuadorian embassy in the UK since August 2012, after British judges denied his appeal against extradition to Sweden, where he was wanted for questioning in connection with sexual assault accusations.

The Australian native, whose WikiLeaks whistleblowing website published secret documents pertaining to US national security, feared that Sweden would extradite him to the US. There, he could face a similar fate as Chelsea Manning, who was court-martialed and sentenced to 35 years behind bars for violations of the Espionage Act and other offenses. Manning was subsequently pardoned by former president Barack Obama after seven years in prison.

Eventually, Assange became an Ecuadorian citizen but remains trapped inside the walls of the embassy, despite the fact that Sweden has abandoned its extradition request. The UK authorities still have an active arrest warrant against the 46-year old for skipping bail back in 2012.

READ MORE: Ecuador’s new rules ban Assange from taking visitors and phone calls – WikiLeaks

Earlier this week, The Guardian reported that Ecuador has spent $5 million accommodating Julian Assange in its UK embassy. Moreno’s predecessor, Rafael Correa, blasted the report as a “sensationalized story,” and said that there is “nothing unusual” about providing extra security. He argued that his government “spent what amounts to a small amount of money” for that purpose.

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