MPs Demand Crackdown On Social Media Giants To End Spread Of ‘Malicious’ Disinformation Online

Social media platforms should comply with a compulsory code of ethics overseen by an independent regulator to tackle harmful or illegal content on their sites, a Commons committee has demanded.

In a major report, MPs warned that democracy is at risk from the “malicious and relentless” targeting of citizens with disinformation and adverts from unidentifiable sources, as they called for reform to electoral communication laws.

The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee said ethics guidelines are needed to set out what is and what is not acceptable on social media, including harmful and illegal content that has been referred to the platforms by users or identified by the companies.

If tech companies fail to meet their obligations under the code, then an independent regulator should be able to launch legal proceedings against them and have the power to issue large fines, the MPs said.

They wrote: “Social media companies cannot hide behind the claim of being merely a ‘platform’ and maintain that they have no responsibility themselves in regulating the content of their sites.”

The report also rounded on Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg, who was accused of showing “contempt” towards the committee by choosing not to appear before it last year.

They said the social networking site did not seem willing to be regulated or scrutinised, and claimed its “opaque” structure seemed to be designed to “conceal knowledge of and responsibility for specific decisions”. 

Members of the British Parliament left an empty chair for Mark Zuckerberg

In the last year Facebook has come under intense pressure over some of its business practices, following the Cambridge Analytica scandal, a series of data breaches and concerns over fake news and other content on the site.

The committee’s final report into disinformation and fake news also said electoral law was “not fit for purpose” and should be updated to reflect the move to “microtargeted” online political campaigning.

They called for a comprehensive review of the current rules and regulations surrounding political work during elections and referenda, and separately urged the government to put pressure on social media companies to publicise instances of disinformation.

Ministers were also asked to reveal how many investigations are being carried out into Russian interference in UK politics.

The government is expected to publish a white paper later this year on proposals to reform laws to make the internet and social media safer.

Tory MP and committee chairman Damian Collins said: “Democracy is at risk from the malicious and relentless targeting of citizens with disinformation and personalised ‘dark adverts’ from unidentifiable sources, delivered through the major social media platforms we use every day. Much of this is directed from agencies working in foreign countries, including Russia.

“The big tech companies are failing in the duty of care they owe to their users to act against harmful content, and to respect their data privacy rights.

“Companies like Facebook exercise massive market power which enables them to make money by bullying the smaller technology companies and developers who rely on this platform to reach their customers.

“These are issues that the major tech companies are well aware of, yet continually fail to address. The guiding principle of the ‘move fast and break things’ culture often seems to be that it is better to apologise than ask permission.

“We need a radical shift in the balance of power between the platforms and the people. The age of inadequate self-regulation must come to an end. The rights of the citizen need to be established in statute, by requiring the tech companies to adhere to a code of conduct written into law by Parliament, and overseen by an independent regulator.”

Damian Collins:

Shadow culture secretary Tom Watson said: “Labour agrees with the committee’s ultimate conclusion: the era of self-regulation for tech companies must end immediately. We need new independent regulation with a tough powers and sanctions regime to curb the worst excesses of surveillance capitalism and the forces trying to use technology to subvert our democracy.

“Few individuals have shown contempt for our parliamentary democracy in the way Mark Zuckerberg has. If one thing is uniting politicians of all colours during this difficult time for our country, it is our determination to bring him and his company into line.”

A Government spokesman said: “The Government’s forthcoming White Paper on Online Harms will set out a new framework for ensuring disinformation is tackled effectively, while respecting freedom of expression and promoting innovation.

“This week the Culture Secretary will travel to the United States to meet with tech giants including Google, Facebook, Twitter and Apple to discuss many of these issues.

“We welcome this report’s contribution towards our work to tackle the increasing threat of disinformation and to make the UK the safest place to be online. We will respond in due course.”

An Electoral Commission spokesman added: “We agree that reform of electoral law is urgently needed. The UK’s governments must ensure that the tools used to regulate political campaigning online continue to be fit for purpose in a digital age.

“Requiring digital adverts that seek to target voters to state clearly who is responsible for them would be an important first step. We also welcome their call for us to have additional and extended powers in order to more police electoral law, including a substantial increase to our current maximum fine limit.”

Elizabeth Denham, the Information Commissioner said: “The DCMS inquiry has been vital to understanding the increasingly complex era of digital political campaigning, big data and disinformation online and we have welcomed the opportunity to contribute to it.

“We’re pleased with the committee’s support of our recommendation for a statutory code that will clarify how personal data should be used during political campaigning. The ICO’s investigations into these areas continue and we’ll be reviewing the full report with interest.”

Paul Flynn Dead: Long-Standing Labour MP Dies Aged 84

Labour MP Paul Flynn has died aged 84, his local party has confirmed. 

The veteran politician had reportedly been ill for some time and announced in October he would be standing down after 31 years in parliament.

Newport West Labour tweeted: “It’s with great sadness that we let you know that our MP, Paul Flynn, has died today.

“Paul is a hero to many of us in the Newport Labour family and we mourn for his family’s loss.

“We would ask that the privacy of Paul’s family is respected at this difficult time.”

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said Flynn would be “greatly missed”.

He tweeted: “I’m very sad at the passing of my good friend Paul Flynn. He had such love for Newport, knowledge of radical South Wales history and a dry wit.

“He was an independent thinker who was a credit to the Labour Party. He will be greatly missed.” 

Sending my deepest condolences to Paul’s family and friends. Paul was a lovely man and Socialist through and through, it’s an extremely sad day for everybody who knew or worked with Paul, R.I.P. comrade 😭 https://t.co/vdy0mfJYB1

— Angela Rayner (@AngelaRayner) February 17, 2019

So so sad. Paul was a real character, no one could say “you’re all the same” about him. Glad I got to serve alongside him. Love to his family, friends and his local party. https://t.co/8Twfs2m7Ot

— Jess Phillips (@jessphillips) February 17, 2019

First Minister of Wales and Welsh Labour leader Mark Drakeford said Flynn was a “giant of the Welsh Labour movement”.

He added: “Today’s news will be a source of great sadness to all those who knew him.

“He was one of the most effective communicators of his generation – inside the House of Commons and outside. But it was Paul’s willingness to speak up for causes beyond the political mainstream which marked him out as a politician of real courage and integrity.

“I first met him more than 35 years ago, and it has been a privilege to have worked with him, in the run-up to the devolution era and beyond.”

This is a breaking news story and will be updated. Follow HuffPost UK on Twitter here, and on Facebook here.

UK Weather: February Set To Remain Warmer Than Average After Mild Start

February’s weather is expected to remain warmer than average across Britain after a mild beginning to the month, according to the Met Office.

A reading of 17.5C in Rhyl, north east Wales, on Friday was the highest so far this month and the fourth warmest February temperature since 2008.

Meteorologist Helen Roberts, from the Met Office, said on Sunday the warmer-than-average weather is expected to continue into next week.

“It does look like we will continue to see temperatures above average for the time of year,” she said.

“We did have a particularly warm spell in the last part of the week but overall so far this month temperatures have on average been above normal – about 1.6 degrees above average across the UK.”

Crocus flowers in the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh.

The February average is 8.2C, compared to 9.8C so far this year.

The highest temperature recorded for the month was 19.7C in Greenwich, east London, in 1998.

Ms Roberts added: “It will vary day to day but generally speaking the south east corner of the country will tend to see the best of the sunshine.

“There’s some rain and showers in the forecast. We have got showers for various parts of the country tomorrow, the North West particularly, but also some showers in the South East.”

Monday morning will be mostly cloudy with a chance of some sunny spells in the North East in the afternoon.

Tuesday could be much brighter for eastern parts of the country, the Met Office predicts.

The unseasonably mild weather saw the warmest Valentine’s Day in more than 20 years on Thursday with a maximum of 16.1C recorded in the Welsh town of Bala, Gwynedd.

Baptiste Episode 1: The 8 Questions We Have After The Missing Spin-Off Debuts

The BBC may have waved goodbye to their hit series The Missing, but it’s not the end for its lead character Julien Baptiste, despite the fact he faced an uncertain future at the end of the most recent episode.

After overcoming his brain tumour, the veteran detective was back in action in his own spin-off series, imaginatively called Baptiste, on Sunday night. 

While we’ve been told the new show is not The Missing series three, the new case wasn’t too dissimilar from previous ones, as he began looking into the disappearance of a young sex worker in Amsterdam. 

However, as the events of the first episode revealed, there is a lot more to this case than just a hunt for a missing person. Here’s all the questions we’ve been left with…

Who was the old man killed at the start of the episode?

In a grisly on-screen murder that wouldn’t have been out of place on Luther, a poor old fella was brutally suffocated when a “gas safety engineer” called at his house in Kent.

The meter reader was later revealed to be one of the Romanian criminals, Constantin, who is tied up in the case Baptiste is investigating. But who was the old chap and why did they want him dead?

Is Kim to be trusted?

After much chat of Dragomir Zelinku going completely off-grid in recent years, Baptiste worked out the fearful Romanian gang leader had transitioned and was living as a woman called Kim Vogel – the owner of trans brothel Dream Room.

Baptiste assumed she is protecting Natalie from the gang in exchange for Natalie not revealing that she used to be known as Dragomir. Baptiste also added she wants to make amends for all her past dealings, restoring power to the sex workers of Amsterdam. 

While she eventually gave Baptiste details of Natalie’s whereabouts, she never actually commented on his version of her intentions, leading us to believe she could still be up to something else.

How is Natalie tied up with the Romanian gang?

Were Kim’s claims that Natalie only fell in with them after running out of people to fund her drugs habit true? Or is there another explanation? 

What has the tulip farmer’s dog discovered?

After the tulip farmer discovered a necklace with the letter “N” on it, we originally believed it had something to do with Natalie, but she was later seen alive and well. 

However, the farmer’s dog was later seen digging up something highly suspicious, but we are still to find out what it was…

Where are the girls in the sex trafficking ring being taken?

The trafficking ring is obviously what the many sex workers of Amsterdam are terrified of, but quite what happens to them after they are taken remains to be seen. We’re assuming once we discover this info, it will unlock other clues to the wider mystery.  

Is Baptiste’s son-in-law to be suspected?

After one of the gang was seen listening in to Baptiste’s daughter’s apartment, you had to wonder quite how he managed to bug the place. But one awkward camera shot made us look at Baptiste’s son-in-law in a whole new light.

Who really is Edward Stratton?

When Baptiste tracked Natalie down at the address Kim supplied him with, he was shocked to learn Natalie was not English. She then told him Edward was not her uncle, while we also learned Natalie has a sister who is being trafficked.

With Edward having made no mention of a second niece to Baptiste, we were forced to question his whole story.

Our theory here is that Edward is actually connected to the Romanian gang and was employed to track Natalie down, using the alias of being her uncle to give him legitimacy.  

What is Edward doing with the old man’s head in his basement?

That is going to cause him an untold amount of flies. 

Baptiste continues on Sunday at 9pm on BBC One. 

Labour MPs Divided Over ‘Loyalty Pledge’

Labour MPs appear divided over signing a ‘loyalty pledge’ amid rumours of a breakaway party, unease with Brexit and dissatisfaction with the party’s attempts to tackle anti-Semitism.

One member of parliament said the pledge urging them to commit to “work for the achievement of a Labour led government under whatever leadership members elect” was a “little bit ridiculous”.

Rumours of a new standalone party have swirled around Westminster in recent weeks, with some MPs unhappy with Jeremy Corbyn’s stance on Brexit, and in particular a lack of enthusiasm for a second referendum.

Splits have also emerged over the party dealing with hatred towards Jewish people as it was this week disclosed it had received 673 allegations of anti-Semitism by its members over the past 10 months, leading to 12 individuals being expelled.

Former Labour vice chairman and ex-MP Michael Dugher this weekend said he is intending to leave the party, saying he now regards it as “institutionally anti-Semitic”.

A number of Labour MPs, including shadow chancellor John McDonnell and shadow business secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey and shadow education secretary Angela Rayner, have tweeted the pledge.

It states: “I pledge to work for the achievement of a Labour led Government under whatever leadership members elect. And I accept a Labour led government is infinitely better than any other election outcome.”

I fully agree. ✊️🌹 pic.twitter.com/fYECaPtUIp

— Paul Sweeney MP (@PaulJSweeney) February 16, 2019

I fully agree ✊️🌹 pic.twitter.com/BOjsCTAmdA

— Ian Lavery MP (@IanLaveryMP) February 16, 2019

Midlothian MP Danielle Rowley retweeted the pledge with the comment: “Well, of course! A Labour Government, changing lives for the better is what we are here for.” Meanwhile, Glasgow North MP Paul Sweeney said: “I fully agree.” 

But other MPs have signalled their years of membership to the party already represent a commitment.

Ian Murray, MP for Edinburgh South and former shadow Scottish secretary, said instead of trying to get politicians to back the commitment, the party’s leadership should be focused on trying to resolve the current Brexit stalemate.

Have filed my ‘loyalty pledge’ 🚮. Here’s the one I signed up to twenty years ago and work every day believing in and fighting for: 🌹 pic.twitter.com/CNcZ60AxiN

— Anna Turley MP (@annaturley) February 17, 2019

My pledge is my membership card which I still hold with pride almost 30 years after I joined (I’ve never left). Even through tough times, I’ve been out there rain or shine campaigning for a Labour Government & labour councils. (It’s been a bit like being a City fan 😉)

— Lucy Powell MP (@LucyMPowell) February 16, 2019

Murray, who quit Labour’s front bench team after Jeremy Corbyn’s election as leader, described the pledge as being a “little bit ridiculous”.

The MP told the BBC’s Sunday Politics Scotland programme his loyalty to the party “should never be in question”.

He stated: “My pledge is every single weekend when I am out knocking on doors, delivering leaflets, staffing street stalls and doing my advice sessions with my constituents, that is my pledge to the Labour Party.

“I think these kind of pledge things are a little bit ridiculous, in my view.

“I won’t be signing it for a number of reasons, firstly because I think it is unnecessary and secondly it asks for a Labour led government – I think we need a Labour majority government.”

Murray, the only Scottish Labour MP to hold on to his constituency when the SNP won all but three seats north of the border in the 2015 Westminster election, added: “I just don’t think we should be signing these pledges, we should be getting on with the task of trying to resolve this Brexit issue, which is number one on the agenda at the moment.”

Surrey Tragedy: Man Dies After Tree Falls On Car In Egham

A man has died after a tree fell on a car he was travelling in, Surrey Police said.The force said the silver Lexus that the victim was inside was involved in a “collision” at around 4.05pm on the A308 Windsor Road at the junction with the R…

‘No Blacks’ Graffiti On 10-Year-Old’s Salford Home Investigated By Police As Hate Crime

Police are investigating a suspected hate crime after racist graffiti was painted on the door of a 10-year-old’s home.

Lawyer Jackson Yamba revealed on social media that the words ‘no blacks’ were painted on the door of the Salford, Greater Manchester flat he lives with his son, David.

They discovered the “abhorrent” graffiti on February 8, and immediately reported the vandalism to Greater Manchester Police.

After Jackson’s post of the vandalised door was shared widely on social media, the force revealed it had visited the victim and was investigating.

Chief Inspector David Gilbride admitted the family has received a service “below what we would expect to provide”.

Barrister Jackson, who came to the UK from The Democratic Republic of Congo in 2006, released the images of the shocking language that was written on his front door and the flat’s communal door in Irlams O’ th’ Height. The pair moved into the flat last month.

He tweeted: “My front door in Salford was painted over a week ago with this abhorrent racist graffiti – after reporting it to @gmpolice they still haven’t been here to investigate.

“How do I assure my traumatised 10 year old that he is safe in his home?”

The youngster told the Manchester Evening News: “My daddy was taking me to school when we first saw it. I was scared as this has never happened to me before.

“I was so surprised. I wanted to stay in the house in case they were waiting and I didn’t want to go to school, but Dad said it will be okay.”

My front door in Salford was painted over a week ago with this abhorrent racist graffiti – after reporting it to @gmpolice they still haven’t been here to investigate. How do I assure my traumatised 10 year old that he is safe in his home? @BBCBreaking@RLong_Bailey@guardianpic.twitter.com/WjGEz9rT7e

— Jackson Yamba (@JacksonYamba) February 16, 2019

Chief Inspector Gilbride said he had visited the family on Sunday.

He continued: “This is an abhorrent crime and there is no room for hatred and prejudice in our society.

“We always strive to provide the best possible service to the public that we can, and provide an appropriate and expedient response.

“Where we fall short of this, we will review our approach and look to learn from it.

“We are sorry to hear that Mr Yamba has received a service below what we would seek to provide.

“I have visited him in person today in order to ensure that this incident is fully investigated as a hate crime and we do our best to ensure that whoever is responsible for this disgusting act is brought to justice.

“I would appeal to the public that if you have information which could assist the police investigation please contact us as soon as you can.”

Anyone with information is asked to call police on 101 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, 0800 555 111.

‘No Blacks’ Graffiti On 10-Year-Old’s Salford Home Investigated By Police As Hate Crime

Police are investigating a suspected hate crime after racist graffiti was painted on the door of a 10-year-old’s home.

Lawyer Jackson Yamba revealed on social media that the words ‘no blacks’ were painted on the door of the Salford, Greater Manchester flat he lives with his son, David.

They discovered the “abhorrent” graffiti on February 8, and immediately reported the vandalism to Greater Manchester Police.

After Jackson’s post of the vandalised door was shared widely on social media, the force revealed it had visited the victim and was investigating.

Chief Inspector David Gilbride admitted the family has received a service “below what we would expect to provide”.

Barrister Jackson, who came to the UK from The Democratic Republic of Congo in 2006, released the images of the shocking language that was written on his front door and the flat’s communal door in Irlams O’ th’ Height. The pair moved into the flat last month.

He tweeted: “My front door in Salford was painted over a week ago with this abhorrent racist graffiti – after reporting it to @gmpolice they still haven’t been here to investigate.

“How do I assure my traumatised 10 year old that he is safe in his home?”

The youngster told the Manchester Evening News: “My daddy was taking me to school when we first saw it. I was scared as this has never happened to me before.

“I was so surprised. I wanted to stay in the house in case they were waiting and I didn’t want to go to school, but Dad said it will be okay.”

My front door in Salford was painted over a week ago with this abhorrent racist graffiti – after reporting it to @gmpolice they still haven’t been here to investigate. How do I assure my traumatised 10 year old that he is safe in his home? @BBCBreaking@RLong_Bailey@guardianpic.twitter.com/WjGEz9rT7e

— Jackson Yamba (@JacksonYamba) February 16, 2019

Chief Inspector Gilbride said he had visited the family on Sunday.

He continued: “This is an abhorrent crime and there is no room for hatred and prejudice in our society.

“We always strive to provide the best possible service to the public that we can, and provide an appropriate and expedient response.

“Where we fall short of this, we will review our approach and look to learn from it.

“We are sorry to hear that Mr Yamba has received a service below what we would seek to provide.

“I have visited him in person today in order to ensure that this incident is fully investigated as a hate crime and we do our best to ensure that whoever is responsible for this disgusting act is brought to justice.

“I would appeal to the public that if you have information which could assist the police investigation please contact us as soon as you can.”

Anyone with information is asked to call police on 101 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, 0800 555 111.

Sunday Shows Round-Up: Brexit Talks, High Noon Votes, Labour Splits, Returning Jihadis and UK-China Relations

MPs’ attention is turning to what concessions Theresa May can extract from the EU on her Brexit deal as she prepares to travel to Brussels for talks with Jean Claude Juncker this week.

All eyes are on the prime minister to see if she can shift the dial ahead of the potential “high noon” Brexit votes on February 27 which could see parliament take control of the process.

And it is that crucial moment that is threatening to pull apart both the Conservative and Labour parties, which fear potentially momentous splits.

Meanwhile, politicians were asked to give their views on returning Islamic State fighters as runaway London teenager Shamima Begum gave birth in Syria.

And there was fresh criticism of Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson for comments which appear to have damaged UK-China relations.

As ever, plenty to discuss. Here’s what happened..

 

Brexit – the backstop

Cabinet minister Jeremy Wright on #Brexit: “There are a number of different ways” to get legal changes to the Northern Irish backstop#Marrhttps://t.co/99TkHy8W5ipic.twitter.com/smocS1K5y9

— BBC Politics (@BBCPolitics) February 17, 2019

Just days after Tory Brexiteers helped defeat the government in a Commons vote on Brexit, Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright risked infuriating them further as he suggested the prime minister might not seek changes to her withdrawal agreement. 

The former attorney general said the “mechanism” for securing changes to the disputed Irish border backstop is less important than the substance, suggesting the government may seek a codicil or addendum to the Brexit deal.

But the Tory European Research Group (ERG) has been clear that it wants changes to the legally-binding withdrawal agreement text rather than any additional documents.

The ERG is likely to see Wright’s comments as evidence that the government is giving up on their key demand.

The culture secretary told BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show: “I think what’s obvious is that Parliament, and I think probably people well beyond Parliament, are concerned about the potential indefinite nature of the backstop – that’s what we’ve got to do something about.

“If this is the only way of doing it then that’s the way we will pursue. If there are other ways of doing it that are just as effective that perhaps we haven’t yet explored then we will do that too.” 

He continued: “I don’t think it’s the mechanism that matters, it’s the objective: if you can get to a place where the potential longevity of the backstop, the potential that the backstop lasts forever can be adequately dealt with, that’s what we’re all seeking to do.”

It came after leading Tory Brexiteer Steve Baker warned in WhatsApp messages leaked to the Sunday Times that anything other than removing the backstop from the withdrawal agreement would see the Tories “just grind towards a party split”.

Baker also described the ongoing negotiations with the EU as a “complete waste of time”.

But his comments were rejected by Brexit Minister Chris Heaton-Harris, who told Ridge on Sunday there was a “huge amount of activity” between the UK and Brussels.

He added: “The government is not trying to run the clock down. The government is trying to get a negotiated deal with our European partners.”

 

Brexit – high noon votes

“The option of going back to the people has got to be there”

Labour’s Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell on another #Brexit referendum#Marrhttps://t.co/99TkHy8W5ipic.twitter.com/pBQtTx0WGj

— BBC Politics (@BBCPolitics) February 17, 2019

Labour MP Yvette Cooper denied that her amendment designed to stop a no-deal Brexit by extending Article 50 was a “Trojan horse” to reverse Britain’s exit from the EU itself.

Responding to party colleague Caroline Flint’s accusation on HuffPost’s Commons People podcast, Cooper told BBC Radio Five Live’s Pienaar’s Politics: “No I don’t think that’s the approach at all, and I just disagree with Caroline on this.

“This is about making sure we don’t end up losing our security cooperation overnight on March 29.

“It’s about making sure you don’t suddenly have WTO tariffs slapped on to food, potentially shortages of particular foods or supplies for manufacturers.”

Finally, shadow chancellor John McDonnell’s continued the Labour frontbench’s efforts to show that it had not yet ruled out a second referendum.

He said the party would “look at” an amendment put forward by backbenchers Peter Kyle and Phil Wilson to ensure the public gets the final say in a vote on any deal passed by parliament.

McDonnell told Marr: “We really are at the end of the line now and we’re saying to the government you’ve got to come back with a realistic deal, if it doesn’t fly within Parliament, yes the option of going back to the people has got to be there.”

 

Labour splits

Labour’s Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell on anti-Semitism: “We’re not fast enough… We’ve got to be ruthless”#Marrhttps://t.co/B79UtjJbrzpic.twitter.com/2y8sZOzZRO

— BBC Politics (@BBCPolitics) February 17, 2019

The shadow chancellor’s comments however highlighted the potential for the Labour Party to split over Jeremy Corbyn’s failure to back a second Brexit referendum, as well as the long running issues of anti-semitism and his style of leadership.

McDonnell admitted to Marr Labour had not been “fast enough” in dealing with anti-Semitism.

“We’ve got to be ruthless about this,” he added.

Labour mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham meanwhile insisted on Ridge on Sunday on Sky News that a split was not “inevitable”, despite fevered speculation that a group of MPs is preparing to break away.

He admitted a “realignment” is needed, but insisted does not have to be within parties, calling instead for a move away from London-centric politics to address the north-south divide.

Meanwhile, Unite boss Len McCluskey took a more combative approach, saying ex-Labour vice chairman Michael Dugher “would not be missed” after announcing his decision to leave the party because it is “institutionally anti-semitic”.

Commenting on potential splitters like Labour MP Chris Leslie, McCluskey told Pienaar: “I’m not sure some of these individuals have any credibility anymore.”

Returning Islamic State fighters

“I don’t think it should be automatic that people should come back.”@AndyBurnhamGM says those who have joined groups plotting to harm the UK should not be guaranteed a return. #Ridge

Read the latest on Shamima Begum here: https://t.co/lmjPeZwePHpic.twitter.com/3oYwcsfao4

— Ridge on Sunday (@RidgeOnSunday) February 17, 2019

Wright, who previously served as attorney general, said Britain was “obliged” to take back British citizens who had gone to join Islamic State’s so-called “caliphate”.

It came after US President Donald Trump urged European countries to repatriate and put on trial more than 800 fighters currently being held in Syria, with the terror group on the verge of losing its last sliver of territory and fears growing and could disperse into Europe to commit atrocities. 

Wright told Marr: “I think it’s clear that if you’re dealing with a British citizen who wants to return to this country – and they’re not a dual citizen, so their only citizenship is British citizenship – then we are obliged at some stage at least to take them back.

“That doesn’t mean that we can’t put in place the necessary security measures to monitor their activities and make sure that they are not misbehaving.

“It doesn’t mean either that we can’t seek to hold them to account for their behaviour thus far.”

Burnham however told Ridge: “I don’t think it should be automatic that people come back.

“I read all details of that (Begum) story last week and if somebody leaves this country and joins a group that is actively plotting to harm and kill people in this country, it surely can’t be right that people come and walk straight back in when it’s convenient.

“I know some of those caught up in the Manchester attack feel very strongly about this situation.”

 

UK-China relations

“He wants to use defence as a platform to develop his own career.”

General Lord Dannatt tells #Ridge that “enthusiastic” @GavinWilliamson may have oversold Britain’s defence capabilities.

More on politics here: https://t.co/hBpW3ARc71pic.twitter.com/4N7Hx8sPdk

— Ridge on Sunday (@RidgeOnSunday) February 17, 2019

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson meanwhile faced criticism from the former head of the army, General Sir Richard Dannatt, for apparently scuppering UK-China trade talks by threatening to deploy a warship to the Pacific.

Chancellor Philip Hammond was reportedly due to visit China this weekend but Beijing is said to have pulled out of trade talks after the defence secretary’s comments.

Lord Dannatt told Ridge: “I think he may have just oversold that one over the last few days and if it has had the disappointing effect that the chancellor’s trip to China, largely going to be talking about trade and that kind of thing, if that’s been cancelled as a result then that’s a bad diplomatic move and Gavin has got that one wrong.”

Climate Change Protesters Descend On London Fashion Week

Climate demonstrators blocked roads outside London Fashion Week on Sunday to protest against the “unsustainable” industry.

More than 100 campaigners joined the Extinction Rebellion group’s disruption march as they urged fashion brands to tackle a global “ecological emergency”.

Demonstrations began when a small crowd rallied outside Victoria Beckham’s morning event at the Tate Britain and blocked Fashion Week cars travelling to the show.

A larger group then moved to the event’s main venue at The Strand, in central London, where they blocked several roads carrying a banner with the message “rebel for life”.

One of our swarms blocking the road outside London Fashion Week! #ExtinctionRebellion#LFWpic.twitter.com/PDVkWue98t

— Extinction Rebellion (@ExtinctionR) February 17, 2019

Nuala Gathercole Lam, from Extinction Rebellion, said: “We ask the fashion industry, who do you want to listen to, the youth and the future, or the words of our current Prime Minister, whose Government is criminally neglecting the UK’s agreed responsibilities under the Paris agreement in the face of the ecological emergency?

“Now it is time for the fashion industry to hear the call of the youth.”

Protester Lucas Spencer, 17, who travelled to London from Leeds, said: “I feel like it’s everyone’s problem.

“The world is being killed, we know it is, it’s not just dying, there are people killing it and if nobody speaks about it nothing is going to change.

“The fashion industry creates a lot of pollution and the chemicals they use create a lot of waste.”

Leaflets handed out by the group said the protest was a campaign against “the catastrophic consequences of inaction”.

Fashion fans at the show also said they supported an end to “fast fashion” and throwaway culture.

Speaking outside the main venue, Tatiana Phillips, 34, a personal stylist visiting the show, said: “I’m sure there should be something done, there’s a reason, but I don’t think they should go crazy about it.

“Just yesterday at the festival and today they have been talking about sustainable fashion and how it’s important to move that way.”

Student Holly Cudby, 21, who was also visiting, added: “I think it does need to be more sustainable, fast fashion, even though I buy into it.”

The demonstration comes after thousands of schoolchildren across 60 towns and cities skipped lessons on Friday to take part in the mass Youth Strike 4 Climate movement.