(ZH) Amidst the British Army’s worst troop shortage since 2010, foreign nationals will now be allowed to enter military ranks according to a policy change by the Ministry of Defence announced Monday. What essentially amounts to a mercenary recruitment drive is meant to stem the tide of a worsening recruitment crisis in the armed forces as local youths increasingly refuse to sign up.
“Foreign and Commonwealth troops have historically been important and valued sources of recruitment for the British army and I welcome the recruitment limit increase,” Mark Francois, a member of the defence select committee, told the Daily Telegraph.
The army is hoping its openness to foreign nationals — which also includes the Royal Navy and RAF —will bolster total troop numbers by an extra 1,350 joining each year.
The policy will apply to Commonwealth countries only, which includes Australia, India, Canada, Kenya and Fiji. Previously citizens of these countries had to demonstrate British residency for the prior five years, a restriction that’s now been lifted.
It’s also an expansion of a current policy which under special rules allows citizens of Ireland and Gurkhas from Nepal to join. The Royal Navy and RAF will open up their admissions effectively immediately, while the army will begin early next year.
Defence select committee member Mark Francois said further after spending a year studying the recruitment crisis: “The army is disappearing before our eyes and will continue to do so until Capita are sacked.” He was taking aim at the business service provider that the UK government contracts with to run the army’s recruitment campaign.
A recent National Audit Office report (an independent government watchdog group) from this year found the armed forces are short of 8,200 soldiers, sailors and air personnel, out of a total combined forces number approaching 150,000. The NAO said that it found the army was undergoing the worst shortage since 2010.
The shortage comes as both Russia and the West are increasingly ramping up military exercises and mutual “shows of force” in the northern European region, though we can only imagine what the pundits would say if it were Russia engaging in a public campaign to recruit foreign nationals from outside its borders.
(SputnikNews) Portugal’s foreign minister also accused the European Union of leaving them in a state of “limbo” and exposed to the economic shocks of a no-deal Brexit.
Portuguese Foreign Minister Augusto Santos Silva has hit out at the EU for not allowing member states to secure their own bespoke, bilateral trade deals with Britain while Brexit negotiations have been faltering.
Warning that they are currently in a state of “suspension” and “limbo”, Silva said the stalled negotiations between Brussels and the UK is raising the likelihood of a hard Brexit, which he described as the worst possible outcome.
“At the same time, it limits member states like Portugal [in their ability to] deal with their bilateral relationship [with the UK].”
Moreover, the Portuguese official suggested they will negotiate their own deal with the UK after March 2019, as they can’t do so until then due to EU rules, warning that their economy will be severely hurt by a hard Brexit, as Britain is a key market for Portuguese exports.
Portugal is also a popular tourist destination for many Brits, who have propped up the southern European country’s economy in recent years.
Although European countries will also be financially hit by a no-deal Brexit, the UK is most vulnerable, with countless economists and trade bodies warning that Britain is likely to experience high levels of inflation, low or negative economic growth, and even shortages, in such a scenario.
However, with negotiators still unable to find a solution to the issue of the Irish border, a hard Brexit is looking increasingly likely, and all sides have already started planning for such an eventuality.
An ex-cabinet minister has used parliamentary privilege to name Sir Philip Greenas the businessman who obtained a privacy injunction over bullying and sexual harassment allegations.
Labour peer Lord Hain said it was his “duty” to out the high street tycoon as the mystery figure who tried to gag the media over reporting of accusations from former employees.
Following the statement in the House of Lords, some MPs including Liberal Democrat leader called for Topshop boss Sir Philip to be stripped of the knighthood he was given in 2006.
Labour equalities Dawn Butler has called for fresh scrutiny of the use of non-disclosure agreements (NDAs), suggesting the law as it stands may not “protect the voices of survivors”
The MP said:
While much of the focus in the coming days will be on this man and his alleged actions, let us also pay tribute to survivors of sexual abuse and harassment, who are too often silenced and cannot command an army of lawyers to fight their corner.
NDAs should never be used to suppress allegations of criminal behaviour. If the current law doesn’t protect the voices of survivors, the next Labour government will legislate to do so.
Topshop owner Sir Philip Green has said he “categorically and wholly” denies allegations of “unlawful sexual or racist behaviour”.
In a statement after he was named in Parliament as the businessman behind an injunction against the Daily Telegraph, the retail tycoon said:
I am not commenting on anything that has happened in court or was said in Parliament today.
To the extent that it is suggested that I have been guilty of unlawful sexual or racist behaviour, I categorically and wholly deny these allegations.
Arcadia and I take accusations and grievances from employees very seriously and in the event that one is raised, it is thoroughly investigated.
Arcadia employs more than 20,000 people and in common with many large businesses sometimes receives formal complaints from employees.
In some cases these are settled with the agreement of all parties and their legal advisers. These settlements are confidential so I cannot comment further on them.
Labour’s Neil Coyle is the latest MP to call for Philip Green to lose his knighthood in the wake of the allegations against him.
He said: “It is not that long ago Green was courted by coalition to help Cameron and Clegg’s government. [He] deserves no say under any government and no knighthood.”
Lib Dem leader Sir Vince Cable said: “He [Philip Green] narrowly and luckily escaped losing his knighthood over the pensions scandal.
“If these allegations are correct, he should certainly be stripped of his knighthood.”
Who is Philip Green?
Sir Philip Green is the king of retail whose reputation was left in tatters by the collapse of former high-street staple BHS.
Brought up in south London, he was sent to a private school in Berkshire and went straight into wholesaling shoes and selling jeans.
A bold, brash wheeler-dealer, he made his name when buying and carving up the Sears empire in the late 1990s.
In 2002, he bought Arcadia, the parent company that controls Topshop, Topman, Burton, Dorothy Perkins and Miss Selfridge.
Other notable events include a failed £9bn bid to buy iconic high street chain Marks and Spencer in 2004.
Sir Philip was awarded the knighthood in 2006 for services to the retail industry.
But he is perhaps best-known for his role in the demise of BHS. The collapse of the retailer in April 2016 left 11,000 people out of work and a £571m black hole in its pensions fund.
The tycoon came under fire for taking £400m in dividends from BHS before selling the massively indebted firm for £1 in 2015 to businessman Dominic Chappell, who had no previous retail experience and had been declared bankrupt twice.
In 2017, Sir Philip stumped up £363m to pour into the BHS pension fund. That payout impacted the large fortune Sir Philip has amassed with his wife, Lady Tina, which currently stands at £2bn, according to the Sunday Times Rich List.
Theresa May’s spokesman declined to comment on Lord Hain’s statement.
Asked if the PM thought it was acceptable for parliamentarians to use the protection of privilege to put information into the public domain in this way, the spokesman said: “The rules of parliamentary privilege are a matter for parliament and how they exercise these rules is obviously a matter for individual members.”
Maria Miller, who chairs the women and equalities committee, calls for an overhaul of the use of non-disclosure agreements to gag former employees.
The Tory former minister has been campaigning to change the law around NDAs, which were widely used by disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein to conceal allegations of sexual assault and harassment.
The Telegraph has alleged that a number of former employees of Sir Philip were made to sign NDAs.
Labour MP Clive Lewis raises the prospect of Sir Philip Green losing his knighthood in the wake of the allegations against him. The Topshop boss was knighted in 2006.
MPs are already starting to react to the shock naming of Sir Philip Green in the Lords.
Breaking story here: Sir Philip Green has been named as the “leading businessman” who obtained a privacy injunction to prevent the media publishing allegations by former employees.
He was named by Lord Peter Hain, in the House of Lords, using parliamentary privilege.
Brexit secretary Dominic Raab has come under fire after it emerged that he has not visited the Irish border since his appointment in July 2018.
Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran accused the government of trading “the lives of the communities on the Irish border for their ideological Brexit” after her parliamentary questions revealed only one current Brexit Minister has visited Northern Ireland in the last 12 months.
She said: “It shameful that the whole withdrawal agreement hinges on the Irish border yet the Secretary of State responsible hasn’t even bothered to visit Northern Ireland at all.
“The Tories seem happy to trade the lives of the communities on the Irish border for their ideological Brexit. Liberal Democrats demand better.
“The Tories are clearly incapable of finding a solution to the Irish border. The people must have a final say on the deal, with an option to remain in the EU.”
Brexit minister Chris Heaton-Harris said: The former Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union [David Davis] undertook visits to Northern Ireland on 23 April 2018 and 20 May 2018.
“The Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Robin Walker, visited Northern Ireland on 23 October 2018. The visits were part of a wider programme of engagement carried out by other government ministers and officials.”
Theresa May and Philip Hammond will meet with more than 100 UK business leaders for a post-Budget summit next week, Downing Street said.
Downing Street said the meeting, believed to be the first of its kind to be undertaken, was a joint initiative of the Prime Minister and Chancellor.
The prime minister’s official spokesman said: “The Budget is always a significant event for business and the country at large so it is an opportunity to update some of the core messages from the Budget.
“But equally we are approaching March 29 next year and the prime minister wants to make sure that business are fully engaged in what the government are doing and to provide them with information and updates.”
He was unable to say at this stage where the event would take place or who would be attending.
Veteran Labour MP Paul Flynn has announced he intends to stand down due to health reasons.
Mr Flynn, who has been in parliament for 31 years, briefly served as shadow leader of the Commons and shadow Welsh secretary in 2016.
The Newport West MP said: “I’ll wait for a convenient time to go. By-elections are expensive and can be troublesome for the party.
“I don’t think this government can last for more than a few months, anyway.”
Asked about his time in parliament, Mr Flynn, 83, said: “I’ve loved every minute of it. It’s been a great, wonderful, rich experience.”
The BBC must end its culture of “invidious, opaque decision-making” in relation to wages, a committee of MPs have demanded in a damning report probing equal pay discrimination at the organisation.
The spectre of nuclear war looms over the UK, with UK and Europe “probably the first to be hit”, a Labour frontbencher has said.
Shadow defence minister Fabian Hamilton spoke days after Donald Trump threatened to pull out of a treaty eliminating some nuclear missiles, due to ‘Russian non-compliance’.
The move makes nuclear war “more tangible and real” than at any time since the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty was signed in 1987, Mr Hamilton told MPs.
Mr Hamilton said Mr Trump’s “dangerous” threat would “unilaterally withdraw” the USA from a global system of trust the country had been at the forefront of “painstakingly” building, leaving European allies exposed.
Foreign Office Minister Mark Field said: “It is a great worry there does seem to be an erosion of the international rules-based order, something we have relied upon since the Second World War.
“It’s something that I think all of us recognise needs to adapt and evolve to the world in which we’re living in, but we need to engage with as many partners as possible to ensure that comes to pass.
“We have longstanding concerns about Russia’s development of a range of new capabilities that actually stand ready to undermine our strategic stability.”
But Mr Field said the USA was a “responsible nuclear power” with a policy of reducing the number of nuclear weapons and highlighted the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (Start) signed by Russia and the US in 2011.
The Home Office has admitted that people have been wrongly refused UK status after refusing to provide DNA evidence in breach of its own policy.
Home Secretary Sajid Javid told the Commons the government had illegally demanded DNA evidence in family visa cases, with at least seven people denied right to stay in Britain because they refused to provide DNA samples to prove who their parents were.
Heir to the throne Charles faced immense pressure to settle down, with several members of the Royal Family urging the prince to leave his bachelor life behind and marry a decent woman.
A Netflix series titled The Royal House of Windsor, revealed how Charles eventually married Diana amid family pressure.
After Lord Mountbatten was murdered in 1979, Charles was devastated and felt obliged to fulfil his late uncle’s wish by marrying a woman fit enough to become Queen.
Christopher Wilson, royal biographer and journalist said: “Charles was a desperate man, there was huge downward pressure on him from Prince Philip, from the Queen and the whole court to sort out his life, to stop running around and try and find someone.”
At the time, Charles did not have anyone in mind and was allegedly desperate to find his bride.
Shortly after, the prince bumped into Diana at a party at Petworth House, and their friendship soon blossomed.
Prince Philip, Charles’ father, sent him a letter instructing his son to marry Diana, or else leave her.
Prince Philip urged Charles to marry Diana, in a handwritten letter (Image: GETTY)
Charles felt pressure from his father, the Royal Family, and the state to fulfil his royal obligation.
Royal historian Sarah Gristwood said: “Prince Philip effectively urged his son to get on with it – to either propose to Diana or back off.”
Charles was still devastated by the unexpected death of his great uncle Lord Mountbatten, whom he was very close to.
Dr Piers Brendon, royal historian said: “He needed paternal advice, council, sympathy, but all he got was a jogging letter from his father – get on with it, decide, make up your mind.”
Princess Diana and Charles married in 1981 at St Paul’s cathedral (Image: GETTY)
Charles met Diana during a difficult time of his life, and felt she had provided that extra “comfort” and “support” that he failed to receive from those around him.
Ms Gristwood added: “They talked about Lord Mountbatten and Diana told Charles how sorry she was, how sad he seemed. How he seemed to have no one to turn to.
“And she must then, Diana the nursery nurse, have seemed like a figure of comfort and support.”
Penny Junor, royal biographer said: “She had huge empathy, she was very very clever at knowing what to say to people at the right time particularly people who were vulnerable or who were hurting.
Diana and Charles married after just 12 dates (Image: GETTY)
“She just really touched him, in a way that I don’t think anyone else perhaps could have done.”
Diana and Charles married at St Paul’s Cathedral on 29 July 1981, in what seemed like a fairytale ceremony.
The pair divorced in 1996. A year later, Diana died in a Paris car crash.
(EUobserver) UK prime minister Theresa May will tell parliament on Monday that 95 percent of the Brexit deal has been agreed with the EU, but that the EU’s proposal for the land border with Northern Ireland is still not acceptable. May is also to confirm deals have been struck on the future of Gibraltar and the UK’s military base in Cyprus, according to excerpts of her speech seen by British media.
(Reuters) European Union negotiator Michel Barnier said on Friday a Brexit deal with the United Kingdom was 90 percent done, although there was still a chance no accord would be reached due to ongoing stumbling blocks over the Irish border.
European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier attends the EU Commission’s weekly College meeting in Brussels, Belgium, October 17, 2018. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir
“Ninety percent of the accord on the table has been agreed with Britain,” Barnier told France Inter radio.
“I’m convinced a deal is necessary, I’m still not sure we’ll get one,” he said.
On Thursday, British Prime Minister Theresa May and other EU leaders voiced renewed confidence that they could secure a Brexit deal, yet the two sides remain at odds over how to deal with their only land border, between the British province of Northern Ireland and Ireland.
May had also signaled she would consider extending a so-called transition period “for a matter of months” after Britain leaves the EU in March.
Indications that a tentative deal at negotiator level was close, began to emerge mid-afternoon Sunday, when the U.K.’s Department for Exiting the EU released a statement that Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab would make an unscheduled trip to Brussels.
“With several big issues still to resolve, including the Northern Ireland backstop, it was jointly agreed that face-to-face talks were necessary ahead of this week’s October European Council,” a spokesperson said in a statement.
Subsequently, EU diplomats said a meeting of EU ambassadors had been scheduled for 6.30 p.m. Sunday evening. Three EU diplomats confirmed the meeting was to allow ambassadors early sight of the divorce deal.
One EU diplomat stressed “that the deal is at negotiator level [only],” so much could still change. Last week, diplomats were told a deal had been done by negotiators only for it to unravel amid continuing talks.
A European Commission official declined to comment, saying only, “Talks are ongoing.”
If the putative deal does not hit any road blacks with ambassadors it will move to EU27 ministers at the General Affairs Council meeting on Tuesday. Diplomats also cautioned that it could still be blocked by ministers in London or potentially by the Democratic Unionist Party who vote with Theresa May’s ruling Conservative party in the House of Commons.
The agreement is due to be discussed by EU leaders Wednesday night at a European Council summit dinner. Only at that point does it have sign off on the EU side.
The diplomats who said a deal had been struck were cautious, and one expressed particular concerns about how the package would be received in the U.K. May has struggled from the outset to navigate her Brexit strategy through the warring camps and interest groups: hard and soft Brexiteers, Remainers, and hard-core unionists, citizens rights’ advocates and business and industry concerns.
But even if some details were not nailed down, the flurry of activity over the weekend underscored the intensity with which negotiators were pushing to show major gains in the negotiations before the Wednesday European Council summit.
EU leaders have said that only if there were signs of such progress would they schedule another special summit in November focused on Brexit. After this week’s meeting, EU leaders are not officially scheduled to gather again until December.
Even if the agreement on divorce terms — including the fraught issue of the Northern Ireland border — passes muster with EU leaders and the U.K. Cabinet, negotiators must still agree the “political declaration” which will lay out the U.K.’s future relationship with the EU.
Theresa May is also facing considerable opposition to the nascent deal in the House of Commons from Brexiteers in her own party and the Democratic Unionist Party.
In an op-ed for the Sunday Times, former Brexit Secretary David Davis called on Cabinet ministers to “exert their collective authority” to kill off the deal because it would not allow the U.K. sufficient trade freedoms.
(Economist) BRITAIN likes to see itself as a leader in the fight against illicit finance and corruption. The government has recently been talking even tougher, as worsening relations with Russia have focused attention on the number of oligarchs who have interests in London. Anyone looking to stash dirty money “should be in no doubt that we will come for them,” warns Ben Wallace, the economic-crime minister.
In fact the record suggests that wrongdoers can sleep easy (see article). The National Crime Agency (NCA) reckons that “many hundreds of billions of pounds” of international money is rinsed through British banks each year, much of it from kleptocrats and their cronies. Almost every big cross-border corruption case in recent years has had a connection to Britain or its palm-fringed overseas territories. British limited-liability partnerships were the vehicle of choice for suspicious clients of Danske Bank, which is embroiled in the laundering of as much as €200bn ($230bn).
Some people in the governing Conservative Party and the City argue that a big clean-up would be harmful just when British finance risks losing its lustre because of Brexit. The more important point is that, in a country which has undergone bail-outs and austerity following the financial crisis of 2008, doing nothing to tackle dirty capital flows could further undermine the legitimacy of capitalism.
Thames and misdemeanours
London is hardly unique. Other financial centres, including New York, Dubai and Singapore, also wash dodgy cash. The more clean money sloshes around, the easier it is to hide the dirty sort. But London has exceptionally enticing attributes. It handles vast cross-border capital flows. It boasts the English language, good schools and, ironically, a respected legal system (which shields tycoons against the arbitrary plunder they suffer at home). Relaxed rules on ownership are geared towards rich foreigners. Armies of lawyers and public-relations firms specialise in rinsing reputations. Tough libel laws help keep prying journalists and NGOs at bay. On top of all this, Britain has its own network of secretive offshore territories, dubbed its “second empire” by anti-corruption campaigners. London is, in short, ideal for money-laundering.
People give all sorts of reasons not to strangle this golden goose. The ancillary industries that depend on all that wealth would suffer. A clampdown risks scaring away legitimate investment, especially if it is seen as targeting entire nationalities: many Russians own London pads through offshore companies for reasons of privacy or legal tax planning. Some fear it would clobber the property market and the pound, just when a Brexit-bound Britain needs all the investment it can get.
But the case for action is stronger. Predictions of severe economic damage from a crackdown are overdone. Russians and Ukrainians hold only 0.2% of total British assets owned by foreigners. Targeting iffy Russian money would reinforce Britain’s efforts to embarrass Vladimir Putin’s intelligence agencies (see article). Providing financial refuge for bent elites fuels corruption in other countries.
The challenge is less to write new laws than to enforce what is on the books—a common malaise in Britain. This month the first “Unexplained Wealth Order”, which requires targets to show the sources of their wealth, survived a legal challenge from the wife of a jailed Azerbaijani banker. The government rightly trumpets reforms launched after David Cameron, a former prime minister, declared that corruption-fighting should be a priority. In 2016 Britain became the first G20 country to launch a public register of companies’ beneficial owners, designed to shed light on the shell companies behind which wrongdoers often hide. But the system relies on self-reporting. Companies House, a government agency, has neither the powers nor the resources to check what is submitted. The supervision of firms that set up other companies is so weak, and the fines for breaches so paltry—typically £1,000-2,000 ($1,310-2,620)—that it makes the British Virgin Islands look robust. Inevitably, therefore, the honest comply and criminals lie.
Worse, law enforcers lack the resources to pursue enough big cases. The NCA’s budget, already stretched, is falling. It has perhaps a few dozen investigators with the skills for complex cases; America and Italy have hundreds. This is not an area where justice comes cheap. On average, a big corruption case takes seven years. Prosecuting agencies need to be able to absorb hefty costs, especially if they lose—and, as oligarchs can afford the best lawyers, that is always a risk. Britain has not taken the lead on a large, cross-border case for years.
Devoting greater resources to corruption cases would go a long way towards fixing things. Some of the extra cash should be used to raise investigators’ salaries, which are far below those of their American peers. Strengthening oversight of shell companies and the firms that set them up would also help, as would money for the verification of ownership information. Some of the funding for this could come from an increase in incorporation fees, which are as little as £12. One piece of new legislation would help: a “failure to prevent” law that makes it easier to prosecute senior managers or companies if they fail to take adequate measures against money-laundering. A similar provision on bribery works well.
The fair mile
The City matters to Britain. It is a big employer (two-thirds of the jobs are outside London). It generates a trade surplus of 3% of GDP and pays roughly a tenth of the country’s taxes. It is a hub for fintech, and Britain’s smaller firms appear to secure financing more easily than their typical European counterparts do (see Schumpeter). The opposition Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn sees things differently. It makes no secret of its deep hostility to finance. If the City does not demonstrate that its markets are clean and honest, it will be giving the next Labour government a freer hand to act—savagely.
Britain’s response to the threat posed by illicit financial flows has so far been more thundering rhetoric than meaningful action. It is time to put that right.
Asked how he felt about being the first Commission president to see a member leave the bloc, he said: “If the Commission had intervened, perhaps the right questions would have entered the debate.
“Now you discover new problems almost daily, on both sides. At that time, it was already clear to us what trials and tribulations this pitiful vote of the British would lead to.
“I am always amazed about what I am always blamed for.”
Mr Juncker made clear he believed Brussels could have delivered a Remain vote if then prime minister Mr Cameron had not told the EU to stay out of the campaign.
He also expressed concern at “confusion” in Theresa May’s Cabinet over the UK’s withdrawal stance.
Asked whether a Brexit U-turn was still possible, he replied: “That is in the discretion of the British Parliament and the government. I do not interfere in inner cabinet debates in the UK. There is enough confusion.”
The remarks drew derision from Brexiteer MPs.
Former minister Frank Field said: “There is no delusion that does not have an attraction for that man.
“I’m sure it would have been a more decisive Leave vote if he had intervened.”
Tory MP Sir Bill Cash said: “He’s completely off the wall. It would have contravened electoral law.
“Quite frankly, he’s talking through his hat.”
Greek former finance minister Yanis Varoufakis tweeted: “The one clever thing Cameron did was to ban Juncker from campaigning for Remain. (Had he campaigned, Brexit would have won 80% of the vote.)”
Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad. Photo: Reuters / Lai Seng Sin.
The Prime Minister of Malaysia, Mahathir bin Mohamad, is being feted during a two part visit to Britain despite a long history of antisemitic statements and a virulent anti-Israel speech delivered at the General Assembly of the United Nations last week.
According to the UK’s Daily Mail, on his initial arrival in Britain last week, Mohamad first visited Imperial College, where he was warmly welcomed by the vice-president and provost. He followed this with a visit to Oxford University, where he gave a speech at the Centre for Islamic Studies. He will shortly deliver a speech at Chatham House, a major British think tank.
The Chairman of the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, Gideon Falter, told the Mail, “It is utterly appalling that at a time when antisemitism is so raw, a man who is proud to be an antisemite is being courted. It is equally unforgivable that he was invited to tour our most prominent educational institutions and share his opinions with students.”
“Those who have extended the red carpet treatment to this abhorrent racist and self-confessed antisemite must apologize,” he added. “We are looking into whether universities may have breached their own codes on racist speakers.”
The Palestinian Authority has registered a complaint with the International Court of Justice in the Hague that charges the US…
Mohamad is perhaps one of the world’s most powerful antisemites. He has said that he is “glad to be labelled anti-Semitic” and equated the Jews with the Nazis.
“The Europeans killed six million Jews out of 12 million,” he said in 2013. “But today the Jews rule this world by proxy. They get others to fight and die for them.”
In 2010, he stated, “Jews had always been a problem in European countries. They had been confined in ghettos and periodically massacred. But they still remained and still thrived and held whole governments to ransom. Even after their massacre by the Nazis in Germany, they survived to be a source of even greater problems to the world.”
Mohamad has also asserted that Jews “are not merely hook-nosed, but understand money instinctively.”
In his UN speech on Friday, Mohamad blamed Israel for world terrorism and endorsed the Palestinian “right of return,” which would entail the destruction of the Jewish state by weight of demography.
Saying “this present war against the terrorist will not end until the root causes are found,” Mohamad asked, “What are the root causes? In 1948, Palestinian land was seized to form the state of Israel. The Palestinians were massacred and forced to leave their land. Their houses and farms were seized.”
Apparently referring to the 1967 Six Day War, he added, “They tried to fight a conventional war with help from sympathetic neighbors. The friends of Israel ensured this attempt failed. More Palestinian land was seized. And Israeli settlements were built on more and more Palestinian land and the Palestinians are denied access to these settlements built on their land.”
The Six Day War was the result of the massing of Arab armies on Israel’s borders with the declared intention of annihilating Israel.
Regarding Palestinian violence, Mohamad declared, “The Palestinians fired ineffective rockets which hurt no one. Massive retaliations were mounted by Israel, rocketing and bombing hospitals, schools and other buildings, killing innocent civilians including school children and hospital patients.”
He condemned the US’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, saying it was “deliberately provoking Palestine.”
Referring to the Palestinian use of terrorism, Mohamad said, “It is the anger and frustration of the Palestinians and their sympathizers that cause them to resort to what we call terrorism.”
“Let the Palestinians return to reclaim their land,” said Mohamad, endorsing the right of return. “Let there be a state of Palestine. Let there be justice and the rule of law. Warring against them will not stop terrorism. Nor will out-terrorising them succeed.”
(EUobserver) UK prime minister Theresa May has ruled out calls for holding a general election before Brexit day. Speaking to reporters on her way to New York for the UN General Assembly she said elections “would not be in the national interest”. She also maintained that Britain would reach a Brexit deal despite the current stalemate in talks with Brussels, and ruled out a second Brexit referendum.
(JN) A Farfetch tornou-se esta sexta-feira a primeira empresa tecnológica portuguesa no mercado de valores mundial e içou, literalmente, a bandeira de Portugal no edifício da maior bolsa de valores do mundo, em Nova Iorque.
“Colocar a bandeira portuguesa no New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) era um dos pequenos sonhos que tínhamos e que foi realizado hoje”, disse José Neves, fundador da empresa, numa entrevista à Lusa.
O empreendedor português fez questão que a bandeira portuguesa estivesse içada neste dia em que a Farfetch se estreou no mercado de valores mundial a 27 dólares por acção e pouco depois já passava dos 30 dólares.
“Hoje foi um dia fantástico de celebração. Este dia é para equipa”, afirmou José Neves. “Eu sei que todos os nossos escritórios internacionais, incluindo os escritórios de Portugal, celebraram com muita alegria. O trabalho é deles, os resultados são deles”, adiantou, agradecendo à “equipa fantástica de três mil pessoas”, das quais metade tem nacionalidade portuguesa.
Sem adiantar números nem mercados a conquistar nas próximas etapas, José Neves afirmou que, depois desta oferta inicial pública, “começa o segundo capítulo”. “Não damos números concretos, mas vamos continuar a empregar mais pessoas e a gerar mais emprego”, garantiu.
O empresário referiu que desde a fundação da empresa, em 2007, estes 11 anos serviram para criar relacionamentos “fantásticos” com as marcas e “estabelecer a presença internacional” da Farfetch, que se encontra agora nos principais mercados de luxo.
A Farfetch é uma plataforma global no sector da moda de uma indústria que factura mais de 300 mil milhões de dólares anuais, a indústria de luxo.
Segundo o gestor, actualmente apenas 9% das vendas de luxo acontecem na Internet, mas o número vai mudar para 25% nos próximos dez anos, que representam 100 mil milhões de dólares (85 mil milhões de euros), um crescimento “exponencial”. “Penso que a oportunidade para o sector de luxo ‘online’ é enorme”, considerou o empresário.
A Farfetch orgulha-se de ser o único ‘marketplace’ do mercado de luxo e não ter concorrentes nesse modelo de negócio, mas admite ter de disputar a atenção do cliente, que pode comprar em diversos ‘sites’, mas que não oferecem o mesmo serviço.
Além de ser a única que não vende nada seu, o crescimento da Farfetch na primeira metade do ano de 2018 foi de 60%, o que deu a esta empresa luso-britânica mais quota de mercado.
O que se segue são “mais dez anos de crescimento, de inovação e continuar a construir uma empresa que é gerida com base num sentido de cultura e de valores muito fortes”, sustentou José Neves.
Um dos valores que a Farfetch agora assume é ser uma inspiração para outras empresas. “Espero que este lançamento em bolsa seja uma inspiração para outros empreendedores em Portugal. As ‘startup’ portuguesas estão a ter muito sucesso”, declarou José Neves, numa alusão ao programa de aceleração de ‘startup’ da Farfetch, o Dream Assembly, que dá aos empreendedores participantes conhecimentos e contactos na indústria de luxo.
Theresa May has urged EU leaders to focus their minds on getting a Brexit deal in the next two months, saying negotiations will not be extended.
At a dinner in Salzburg, she told her 27 counterparts her priorities were maintaining economic ties and ensuring promises to Northern Ireland were kept.
There are suggestions the UK will put forward new ideas for regulatory checks to address the current Irish deadlock.
On Thursday the other EU leaders will discuss Brexit without Mrs May present.
Arriving for the second day of the gathering Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, the host, said that “away from the hard media statements, I think both sides are aware that they will only reach a solution if they move towards each other”.
Negotiations over the terms of the UK’s exit and future relations are at a critical stage, with about six months to go before the UK is scheduled to leave on 29 March 2019.
In her speech, Mrs May stressed her “serious” proposals for future co-operation between the UK and EU would ensure a “shared close relationship”.
The informal gathering of EU leaders in the Austrian city was the first opportunity the prime minister has had to make the case for her Chequers blueprint to other leaders collectively.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, two EU leaders said they hoped the UK would hold another referendum on Brexit, in the hope of reversing the 2016 result.
Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said most of his counterparts would like the “almost impossible” to happen.
Andrej Babis, the Czech Republic’s prime minister, added he hoped the British people might change their minds.
Campaign group People’s Vote is also calling for another referendum, arguing there should be a choice for voters between leaving with, or without, a deal or staying on current terms.
Mrs May’s proposal for the UK to sign up to a common rule book for trade in goods and a combined customs territory is unpopular with many in her own party, who believe it will erode British sovereignty and is not what people voted for when they backed Brexit in the 2016 poll.
In a further sign of how difficult it might be for her to persuade the UK parliament to back the plans, former minister Sir Mike Penning, who worked under Mrs May at the Home Office and backed her for Conservative leader, told the Daily Telegraph they were “as dead as a dodo” and that he could not back them.
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said Mrs May must delay Brexit beyond next March if there is not a detailed agreement on future trading arrangements.
Ms Sturgeon told the BBC that it would be completely reckless to leave the EU without establishing a future relationship.
She said that taking the UK off the “Brexit cliff edge” without an agreement “would be the most irresponsible thing any PM has done in a very, very long time”.
What did May tell EU leaders?
According to a senior government spokesman, the prime minister told her counterparts that Brexit was a “uniquely complicated” challenge, but one that could be completed on time.
She said there was no question of the UK seeking to extend the negotiations beyond 29 March 2019, as Ms Sturgeon is calling for, thus delaying the moment of departure.
She told them she has “put forward serious proposals and the onus on all of us is to get this done”.
Her three priorities, she said, were protecting Northern Ireland’s place within the UK, safeguarding trading links with the EU and maintaining a close security relationship with the EU to deal with common threats.
Was there anything new on Ireland?
On Northern Ireland, there are suggestions the UK will present new proposals in the coming weeks aimed at helping break the impasse with the EU.
Brussels has insisted Northern Ireland must stay aligned with its rules unless another solution can be found preventing physical checks on goods crossing to and from the Irish Republic.
The UK has said the EU’s so-called backstop is unacceptable and its position must “evolve”.
The BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg said the UK might accept a border for rules and regulations in time, amid suggestions new proposals on regulatory checks might be published in the coming weeks.
But she said there was no chance, as things stand, they will go anywhere near touching a different customs system for Northern Ireland, which would create more friction on the border.
And she said officials privately admit there is little chance that the solution is going to be found in any of the technical solutions, relying instead on a big political move by one or both sides.
How was the UK PM received?
This might not become clear until Thursday when the EU’s negotiator, Michel Barnier, will brief European leaders on progress in the negotiations.
But Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite and Slovak Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini told Reuters there had been “no progress” on Brexit and the Irish border.
Mrs May will meet with Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar and European Council president Donald Tusk on Thursday.
The BBC’s Europe editor Katya Adler said EU leaders believed they “held all the cards”, given that time was running out to seal a deal.
Mrs May’s trump card, she added, was the risk of a no deal – which the EU is increasingly concerned about – if her own proposals are rejected.
(Reuters) Portugal launched a bid on Monday to attract asset managers away from Britain ahead of its exit from the European Union next year, with regulators announcing they are simplifying the process for the firms to register in the country.
In a presentation, the central bank and CMVM stock market regulator said they “are determined to make Portugal an appealing option” for investment managers, promising to streamline authorisations for firms that want to move to Lisbon.
Among the changes, the regulators said applications would be approved more quickly, firms would deal with a single point of contact, and support will be offered in English to asset managers that want to move.
Approvals will be given in up to six months.
“The objective is to create the necessary conditions for firms that want to move to Portugal, within the context of the United Kingdom’s departure from the EU, so that they have clear and easy information to do so,” said Helder Rosalino, an administrator at the central bank.
Britain is the world’s second largest asset management hub, with fund assets reaching 9.1 trillion pounds ($11.96 trillion) last year, managed chiefly from London and Edinburgh.
Portugal is already trying to attract wealthy Britons who want to move after Brexit and has established a special office to make it easier to make real estate and other corporate investments.
It also offers so-called ‘golden visas’ to foreigners who want to gain residency through house purchases of 500,000 euros.
But it has been slow compared to places like Frankfurt and Paris in grabbing a slice of London’s financial services industry.
(Reuters) Deutsche Bank (DBKGn.DE) is considering shifting large volumes of assets from London to Frankfurt after the UK’s planned exit from the European Union next year to meet demands from European regulators, a person close to the matter said on Sunday.
Deutsche will also transform its UK arm into a ringfenced subsidiary after Brexit and reduce the size and complexity of its British operations, the source said.
The Financial Times reported earlier on Sunday, citing people familiar with the thinking of the bank’s executives, that Deutsche could eventually move about three-quarters of its estimated 600 billion euros in capital back from London to its headquarters.
No final decision has been made on the size of the asset move, it added.
According to the Financial Times, one option being considered is to shrink the size of the London balance sheet so it ends up smaller than its U.S. holding company, which has roughly $145 billion of assets.
Any large-scale transfer of assets would not happen overnight, but would take between three and five years or even longer, the paper reported, adding that setting up a ringfenced UK subsidiary would potentially cost Deutsche hundreds of millions of euros.
(NYT) LONDON — In March, when British detectives began their investigation into the poisoning of Sergei V. Skripal, the former Russian spy, they had little to work with but mounds of CCTV footage. Heads bent over their desktop computers, they began the unglamorous work of poring through it, looking for an assassin.
Britain is one of the most heavily surveilled nations on earth, with an estimated one surveillance camera per 11 citizens. It has cutting-edge technology for visually identifying criminals, and software so sensitive it can scan an airport for a tattoo or a pinkie ring. And then there is that team of genetically gifted humans known as “super-recognizers.”
On Wednesday, the authorities announced that the effort had paid off: Two Russian intelligence officers had been charged with attempted murder, the first criminal charges in a case that has driven a deep wedge between Russia and the West.
Investigators released a cache of evidence, including security camera images that captured the progress of the two men from an Aeroflot flight to the scene of the crime, and from there back to Moscow. They also released photographs of the delicate perfume bottle that was used to carry a weapons-grade nerve agent, known as Novichok, to the quiet English city of Salisbury where the attack took place.
In the days leading up to the March 4 poisoning, the same two Russian men kept popping up on cameras.
“It’s almost impossible in this country to hide, almost impossible,” said John Bayliss, who retired from the Government Communications Headquarters, Britain’s electronic intelligence agency, in 2010. “And with the new software they have, you can tell the person by the way they walk, or a ring they wear, or a watch they wear. It becomes even harder.”
The investigation into the Skripal poisoning, known as Operation Wedana, will stand as a high-profile test of an investigative technique Britain has pioneered: accumulating mounds of visual data and sifting through it.
Neil Basu, Britain’s top counterterrorism police official, broke months of silence in a hastily convened Scotland Yard news conference on Wednesday, taking the unusual step of stripping journalists of their electronic devices to keep the news under wraps until arrest warrants for the two men, Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, had been issued. Two hours later, Prime Minister Theresa May announced that British intelligence services had identified the men as officers in the G.R.U., Russia’s military intelligence service.
Russian officials responded witheringly, declaring in a Foreign Ministry statement that “we decisively reject these insinuations.”
“It is impossible to ignore the fact that both British and American colleagues act according to the same scheme: Without bothering themselves to produce any evidence, they announce a list of some ‘Russian agents’ in order to justify London and Washington’s witch hunt,” said Maria Zakharova, a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman.
Mr. Bayliss said that all along, investigators have been acutely aware that the suspects would be protected in Russia and never tried, though Interpol red notices and domestic and European arrest warrants were issued.
“There are a lot of people who would sort of give up on it, because what’s the point?” he said. “They’re in Russia, we’re not going to get them back. But the thing is, once you’ve got it to that point, that means those people can’t leave Russia.”
Beyond that, Mr. Bayliss said, “there is a satisfaction of getting to the truth, to be able to prove to the Western world that the Russians did this.”
The day of the attack, Mr. Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, were found barely conscious on a bench beside the Avon River. (They both recovered, but months later, two Britons, Dawn Sturgess and Charlie Rowley, fell ill after being exposed to the poison. Ms. Sturgess died.)
In the days that followed the Skripal attack, investigators began by collecting 11,000 hours of video from ports, train stations, shop windows, car dashboards and the roadways around Mr. Skripal’s house.
Before searching for a needle, investigators said wryly, they first had to build their own haystack.
“They don’t concentrate on the obvious: the graying hair or the mustache or the glasses,” the unit’s founder, Mick Neville, told Sky News last week. “They look at the eyes, the mouth, the ears — the things that don’t change. They can recognize a face from the tiniest glimpse of part of it.”
In cases such as the Skripal investigation, which begin with an enormous pool of potential suspects, super-recognizers can help by singling out people who seem to move suspiciously, experts say. Local police officers are often brought in to help them eliminate bystanders, like small-time drug dealers, who may also appear suspicious.
Those results were then overlaid with passport data for Russians who left the country shortly after the poisoning, bringing the pool of suspects down to a manageable number. The police were able to cross-reference suspects in other ways, mapping mobile phone and bank card use, for example.
“It’s a bit like a funnel, the top of the funnel has a vast amount going in, and by the time the liquid comes out at the bottom, it narrows down to a tiny stream,” Mr. Bayliss said.
Investigators had one bit of luck: Heavy snow fell through the weekend of the attack, reducing the number of people on the streets.
A big breakthrough took place nearly two months after the Skripals were poisoned, when the police arrived at the City Stay Hotel in East London, where the two suspects had spent the two nights before the attack. Officers took samples from the room where the two men had stayed, and sent them for laboratory testing. Two of them showed trace contamination for the nerve agent used in the attack.
On Wednesday, as news of the charges spread, neighbors peered curiously at the building, which had smeared windows and dingy artificial grass.
“I just got a shiver, a cold shiver,” said Debbie Weekes, 47, who lives nearby. “It’s just shocking, I’m at a loss for words. You never know who’s around.”
Some wondered why they had not received a warning in May, when the police found the nerve agent traces in the hotel.
“Obviously we don’t feel safe,” said Shehan Ravindranath, 43, the manager of a supermarket across the street. “We can only take protection if we know about it.”
In Salisbury, though, the announcement about the charges was greeted with relief. Matthew Dean, the head of Salisbury’s City Council and owner of a local pub, the Duke of York, said he hoped it would put to rest conspiracy theories circulating about the crime.
“This is a piece of closure,” he said.
Ceri Hurford-Jones, the managing director of Salisbury’s local radio station, saluted investigators for their “sheer skill in getting a grip on this, and finding out who these people were.”
It may not have been the stuff of action films, but Mr. Hurford-Jones did see something impressive about the whole thing.
“It’s methodical, plodding,” he said. “But, you know, that’s the only way you can do these things. There is a bit of Englishness in it.”
Because of an editing error, an earlier version of a headline and a summary with this article misstated the status of the two Russian suspects in the nerve agent attack on British soil. While Interpol red notices and warrants have been issued, the men have not been arrested.
British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn. Photo: Reuters / Pierre Albouy.
Nearly 40 percent of British Jews would “seriously consider emigrating” if Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn became prime minister, according to a poll published by The Jewish Chronicleon Wednesday.
Labour has been roiled by a series of antisemitism scandals since the far-left Corbyn took control of the party in 2015.
Jonathan Goldstein — the chair of the Jewish Leadership Council — was quoted as saying of the poll:
“As someone who has always been a proud British Jew, it saddens me that almost 40% of our community would consider emigrating if Jeremy Corbyn became prime minister. This is deeply worrying.
“Our community is open, confident and proud of our traditions, while at the same time also being proud how we are integrated across society and public life. The current difficulties with the Labour leadership serve as a sharp reminder that our values and our people have often needed defending.
“The Jewish Leadership Council and its members will always work to ensure that our community is protected and secure both physically and otherwise.
“Ultimately, we must also remind everyone that antisemitism is the world’s most reliable early warning sign of a major threat to freedom. If members of our community would even consider leaving Britain because they feel threatened by the prospect of our potential next prime minister, this should worry everyone.”
British Prime Minister Theresa May — the head of the Conservative Party — said during Prime Minister’s Questions at the House of Commons on Wednesday, “Jewish people living in this country should feel safe and secure — and not have to worry about their futures in their own country.”
Also on Wednesday, Dave Rich — the head of the Community Security Trust (CST) ––told a parliamentary committee that a recent surge of antisemitic incidents in the UK was linked to the Labour situation.
“Over the last two years we have seen a much closer correlation between events in the Labour Party and our antisemitic incidents statistics than any other single factor,” he said, according to a Daily Mail report.
(Times) Archive papers released to The Times show that Churchill’s bastion of propaganda and censorship allowed prejudice towards Jews to grow relentlessly. Dominic Kennedy reports
That enduring motto of British stoicism, “Keep calm and carry on”, was coined by Winston Churchill’s Ministry of Information.
The morale-boosting message has been revived on mugs, posters and teatowels as a cheerfully ironic invocation of the wartime spirit that defeated the Nazis.
Yet archive papers released to The Times show that Churchill’s bastion of propaganda and censorship harboured one of the most disturbing secrets of the Second World War: throughout the struggle against Hitler, British prejudice towards Jews grew relentlessly.
The discovery will revive nagging doubts about whether, had the Nazis invaded, Britons would have betrayed or rescued their Jewish neighbours.
A long withheld file, called Antisemitism in Great Britain and disclosed by the National Archives, shows that officials confronted by reports of rising prejudice decided that Jews themselves were to blame.
On May 26, 1943, Cyril Radcliffe, the ministry’s director-general, gathered his regional information officers to brief him. Mr Radcliffe wrote to his minister that the only regions untroubled by antisemitism were northeastern England and Northern Ireland.
“All the others showed general agreement on the fact that from the beginning of the war there had been a considerable increase in antisemitic feeling,” Mr Radcliffe wrote. “They seemed to regard it as quite beyond argument that the increase of antisemitic feeling was caused by serious errors of conduct on the part of Jews . . .
“This view held true both of officers dealing with industrial centres and those dealing with rural areas; it held true of officers coming from old-established Jewish centres, such as Manchester and Leeds, and officers coming from areas which had known the Jews mainly as war-time evacuees from the cities.
“The main heads of complaint against them were undoubtedly an inordinate attention to the possibilities of the ‘black market’ and a lack of pleasant standards of conduct as evacuees.
“I reminded them that it was part of the tragedy of the Jewish position that their peculiar qualities that one could well admire in easier times of peace, such as their commercial initiative and drive and their determination to preserve themselves as an independent community in the midst of the nations they lived in, were just the things that told against them in wartime when a nation dislikes the struggle for individual advantages and feels the need for homogeneity above everything else.
“I thought that our main contribution from headquarters would be to try to keep before people’s minds the recollection that antisemitism was peculiarly the badge of the Nazi.”
The tensions around evacuation have long been forgotten but they were noted by Tony Kushner, professor of Jewish/non-Jewish relations at the University of Southampton, in his 1989 study The Persistence of Prejudice. His book estimated that about half those fleeing the East End of London were Jews. Among prejudiced comments from provincials were that Jewish evacuees had “extraordinary bad manners — noisy, aggressive, loud and tactless”.
The worst civilian disaster of the war unleashed a wave of antisemitism. In March 1943, 173 people were killed in a stampede at the Bethnal Green bomb shelter in east London. The public blamed panicking Jews, although when the bodies were identified only five Jewish people were among the victims. An inquiry found the slur to be baseless.
Mr Radcliffe wrote: “If specific stories hostile to the Jews could be traced and pinned down as untruths, such as the recent canard of the Jews being responsible for the London shelter disaster, this should be done by countering it with the individuals who were putting it about, not by giving it general publicity.”
After the war, Mr Radcliffe drew the “bloody line” that partitioned India from Pakistan. He was knighted and became a law lord.
As Mr Radcliffe’s minute was being typed, in Amsterdam the Nazis began to round up Jews for the death camps. Anne Frank, still 13 and hiding in the secret annexe of a warehouse, was recording in her diary how, despite the hot weather, the family needed to light a fire each day to burn vegetable peelings. Any rubbish thrown into bins might arouse suspicions. “One small act of carelessness and we’re done for!” she wrote. She died in Bergen-Belsen before the camp was liberated by the British.
The depths of the horrors uncovered by the liberators transformed the public’s view of the enemy. The historian Antoine Capet has written of “the peculiar atmosphere of the summer and autumn of 1945, when ‘the Nazi camps’ provided a ready-made ex post facto justification for the war in Britain”.
Antisemitism became taboo. In the post-war movie Oliver Twist, Alec Guinness as Fagin was made up faithfully to replicate the caricature by the illustrator George Cruikshank in the original 1838 Charles Dickens novel, complete with long hooked nose and beard. Outrage ensued. The film was banned in Berlin following demonstrations. Hollywood was so offended that the release was delayed for three years in the United States; eventually only a heavily censored version was shown.
Prejudice against Jews on the home front was quietly forgotten and tidied away. The file released by the National Archives was due to be kept under lock and key until 2021 but was opened early in response to a request from The Times under the Freedom of Information Act.
The caste of leaders confronted with the rise in British prejudice belonged to the decadent interwar generation satirised in works such as Evelyn Waugh’s Vile Bodies “walking into the jaws of destruction again”.
Churchill’s first information minister was Duff Cooper, married to the exquisite society beauty and actress Lady Diana Cooper. The politician’s gossipy diaries were edited posthumously by their son, the much loved author John Julius Norwich. Cooper’s great-great nephew is David Cameron.
Cooper’s set ranged from the Jewish banking family the Rothschilds to the minor aristocrats the Mosleys, among them the MP Sir Oswald Mosley, known as “Tom” to family and friends. “I can’t bear the Mosleys,” Cooper once confided to his diary, which was protected from prying eyes by a lock. “The sight and sound of them talking their tedious twaddle makes me feel sick.”
When Cole Porter telegrammed him an invitation for dinner at the Ritz, Cooper sat alone in the Piccadilly hotel until it dawned on him that his musical friend had meant the one in Paris. Fred Astaire, Rita Hayworth and Cary Grant added vim to Cooper’s social whirl.
The Coopers attended the Mosleys’ fancy dress barge party in Venice on September 7 1922. According to the diaries, Diana made a friend “up as a Venetian Jew and he looked very well . . . Tom Mosley made a declaration of love to Diana this evening. She told him not to be silly. He said he had adored her all this summer — that he had never felt anything like it in his life before.”
Then there was Brendan Bracken, an Irish Catholic fantasist who entered British high society by pretending to be the orphaned son of Australians who died in a bush fire.
Bracken inspired the character of Rex Mottram, the vacuous colonial adventurer satirised in Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited who, after complaining that he could not taste brandy served in what he derided as a “thimble”, was brought “a balloon the size of his head”.
Among those fooled by the Irish chancer was Cooper, whose diary entry for January 15 1924 recalls a dinner with Winston Churchill, his wife Clemmie “and a young Australian journalist called Bracken. It was a very enjoyable evening.” Cooper dined at Claridge’s with Anthony de Rothschild, known to him as “Tony Rothschild”.
Sir Oswald ultimately had as little success in seducing the electorate as he did with Cooper’s wife. Losing his seat in the Commons, he founded the British Union of Fascists in 1932. Cooper recalled on February 26 1933: “I attended a debate between Tom Mosley and [James] Maxton [radical Clydesider and leader of the Independent Labour Party] on Fascism v Socialism, in which I thought that Mosley got the best of it.”
When Hitler took power, Jews in Britain were quick to rally. Anthony de Rothschild became founding chairman of the Central British Fund for German Jewry, whose creators read “like a Who’s Who in Anglo-Jewry”, according to Men of Vision, the fund’s history by its late archivist Amy Zahl Gottlieb.
Britain had earned a reputation as a haven from persecution. During the 19th century, 140,000 Jews fled here from pogroms. The Jewish-born Benjamin Disraeli became prime minister for the first time as early as 1868. At the outbreak of the Great War in 1914 the Jewish Chronicle proclaimed: “England has been all she could be to Jews, Jews will be all they can be to England.”
The leading Jewish families all “benefited from Britain’s liberalism of the late 19th century, which had granted political emancipation to its Jews”, Gottlieb wrote. “Members of the cousinhood were soon elected to parliament. Some were elevated to the peerage.”
Now Simon Marks of Marks & Spencer, the chief rabbi and the banking brothers Anthony and Lionel de Rothschild set about helping Jews in peril from the Nazis.
Communal tensions peaked with the Battle of Cable Street in 1936, when Jews and locals erected barricades and fought running battles to prevent Mosley’s fascist Blackshirt marchers entering Jewish neighbourhoods in the East End.
In the Kristallnacht emergency, Anglo-Jewry’s fund arranged for 10,000 unaccompanied Jewish children to escape from Hitler to Britain in a humanitarian rescue known as the Kindertransport.
Cooper stuck out in the 1930s as an opponent of appeasement and was the only cabinet minister to resign in protest against Neville Chamberlain’s popular but doomed Munich agreement with Hitler. Cooper’s friend Noël Coward sent a handwritten note congratulating him on his strength and courage while lamenting how odd and unpleasant it had been “to see thousands and thousands of English people wildly cheering their own defeat”.
Cooper was alert to antisemitism. In the final years of peace, he warned Chamberlain’s secretary of state for war, the Jewish politician Leslie Hore-Belisha (who introduced the eponymous beacons as transport minister) of impending bigotry. The episode is recalled in Kushner’s The Persistence of Prejudice.
Hore-Belisha, who became lifelong friends with Cooper and Lady Diana, wrote in his diary that Cooper predicted that “the military element might be very unyielding and they might try to make it hard for me as a Jew”.
Once war broke out Chamberlain indeed sacked Hore-Belisha because “there was a prejudice against him”.
Hore-Belisha was then vetoed as a potential minister of information by the Foreign Office, whose attitude was summed up by the undersecretary Sir Alexander Cadogan: “Jew control of our propaganda would be a major disaster.”
Churchill, appointed prime minister in 1940, sent Cooper to run the Ministry of Information. The airwaves were buzzing with Nazi propaganda. As many as six million listeners a night were tuning in to William Joyce, the Hitler enthusiast known as “Lord Haw-Haw”.
The virulent antisemite, known for his catchphrase “Germany Calling”, sought to undermine British morale with broadcasts threatening bombing raids against civilian targets.
“Frequently ‘Lord Haw-Haw’ warned the Eastenders what was coming to them,” recalled R G Burnett in These My Brethren, his history of a mission that tended to London’s poor. “He tried to make their flesh creep — and succeeded.” After the war, Joyce would become the last man hanged for treason against Britain.
An early warning was sounded of wartime British prejudice. Anthony de Rothschild wrote to “Dear Duff” on March 26 1941 that: “There is an impression that there has been of recent weeks a growth of antisemitism in the country and there is some reason for supposing that it may not be unconnected with enemy propaganda, although this is hard, of course, to establish.
“Representatives of the Jewish community in London have considered the matter and are naturally perturbed from their own point of view, but it also seems to them that developments on this line help the enemy and damage the war effort.” He suggested a radio broadcast condemning antisemitism as potentially destructive to Britain.
Cooper wrote back to “My dear Tony”, stating: “I shall be very pleased to have a talk with you about the important matter.”
Cooper’s position as minister of information was weak. John Julius Norwich recalled: “The appointment was not a success. The press, terrified of censorship, mounted a virulent campaign against him.” Newspapers derided the ministry’s social surveyors, sent out to question the public about morale, as “Cooper’s snoopers”. An Achilles’ heel was that Cooper had allowed the ten-year-old John Julius to be evacuated to safety in America.
Four months after replying to Anthony de Rothschild, Cooper was replaced as minister of information by none other than Churchill’s friend, the imposter Bracken.
There was no doubt where Cooper’s heart lay. He went on to complete a wartime biography of the biblical King David, dedicating it “to the Jewish people to whom the world owes the Old and the New Testaments and much else in the realms of beauty and knowledge: a debt that has been ill repaid”.
The importance attached by Cooper, at the Ministry of Information, to challenging antisemitism never bore fruit. Bracken would be the minister who received Radcliffe’s memorandum recording that prejudice had risen throughout the war.
In northwest England, police in Salford discovered a clandestine basement printing press that was flooding the market with forged clothing coupons. In a confidential memo of April 17 1942, a regional information officer wrote: “Since the Salford coupon case we have observed anxiety among the Jews culminating in the visit of two representative Jews to the regional office.”
Jews believed that they were being discriminated against for jobs: “In spite of the shortage of nurses and the wishes of the Ministry of Health, local authorities are unwilling to employ Jewish girls.”
The official blamed Jews for the prejudice against them: “It appears that the Jewish leaders are so anxious to avoid admitting that ‘The People’ have been especially blameworthy in black markets that they are unwilling to take strong spiritual and communal action. Blindness to facts and alternate periods of arrogance and whines are unlikely to endear the Jewish cause to Britain.” A London civil servant applauded the “reasoned arguments put forward in this memorandum”.
The Ministry of Information was secretly housed away from Whitehall in the University of London’s Senate House amid the elegant garden squares of Bloomsbury.
The early skyscraper, when it was opened in 1937, was the second tallest building in the capital, almost as high as St Paul’s Cathedral.
There was hostility to an institution dedicated to such an un-British endeavour as propaganda. The ministry employed some of the finest writing talents of the age, including appointing Laurie Lee as publications editor.
The future poet laureate John Betjeman, working on government films, immortalised in verse his muse “Miss Joan Hunter Dunn”, whom he found there doing the catering. Yet the ministry remained unloved.
Graham Greene, a recruit, recalled “the high heartless building with complicated lifts and long passages like those of a liner and lavatories where the water never ran hot and the nail-brushes were chained like Bibles. Central heating gave it a stuffy smell of mid-Atlantic except in the passages where the windows were always open for fear of blast and the cold winds whistled in.”
George Orwell’s wife worked in its censorship division, while the author himself broadcast ministry-approved propaganda at the BBC.
In Orwell’s novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, a thinly disguised Senate House served as the Ministry of Truth where Winston Smith worked.
“The Ministry of Truth — Minitrue, in Newspeak — was startlingly different from any other object in sight. It was an enormous pyramidal structure of glittering white concrete, soaring up, terrace after terrace, 300 metres into the air. From where Winston stood it was just possible to read, picked out on its white face in elegant lettering, the three slogans of the Party:
WAR IS PEACE
FREEDOM IS SLAVERY
IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH.”
There has been speculation that Big Brother was deliberately given the same initials as Brendan Bracken.
The Ministry’s ham-fisted meddling extended to refusing permission for Coward’s classic wartime morale-boosting movie In Which We Serve, with officials complaining that “the film was exceedingly bad propaganda for the Navy, as it showed one of HM’s ships being sunk by enemy action”.
The story was inspired by the loss of HMS Kelly, captained by Lord Mountbatten, who saved the movie by submitting a script to George VI. Filming went ahead after the King wrote that “the spirit which animates the Royal Navy is clearly brought out in the men”. It won an Oscar.
The ministry was quickly closed down in peacetime and replaced by the more modest Central Office of Information.
Through much of continental Europe, Jewish people in countries falling to the Nazis were rounded up and sent for slaughter.
Jews in Britain expected the same fate if the Germans invaded. “Some East End Jews, knowing what had been done to their compatriots by the Nazis in Germany, made ready for the coming of Hitler by carrying pellets of poison,” wrote R G Burnett in These My Brethren. “There was a moment when some began to trek out of London, pushing their belongings on handcarts, like the continental refugees in countries overrun by the Germans.”
An Eastender born in 1902 told the Jewish Museum London’s oral histories that he believed that British antisemites would not have bothered to gas Jews, as Hitler had done: “I’ve always maintained it, if they had their way here . . . while you’re alive, they would absolutely chop lumps off you. They wouldn’t wait to put you in a gas chamber, they’d be so eager to get at you.”
The British government’s only wartime acknowledgement of the Holocaust came in 1942 when Anthony Eden, the foreign secretary, told the House of Commons that “the German authorities are now carrying into effect Hitler’s oft-repeated intention to exterminate the Jewish people in Europe”.
Scepticism remained. Victor Cavendish-Bentinck, chairman of the joint intelligence committee, regarded the reported use of gas chambers as an exaggeration by Jews “to stoke us up”, according to Tony Kushner in The Persistence of Prejudice. “Doubts of the atrocity stories, based on distrust of Jewish sources, continued in government circles until the end of the war,” Professor Kushner wrote.
On June 2 1943, the Lvov ghetto in Poland was liquidated by the Nazis and the last of the city’s 110,000 Jews were sent to a concentration camp.
The same day, it fell to Margaret Corbett Ashby to struggle to sound the alarm about rising antisemitism in Britain.
Mrs Corbett Ashby had begun her political activism campaigning for women to have the vote, creating a group called the Younger Suffragists when she was 18 at the turn of the century.
Now 61, she was the grande dame of English liberalism and was invited to a meeting of the committee advising Bracken. She confided her concerns that Jews in Britain were facing increasing hostility and prejudice. Doubtless she was heard in respectful silence. Behind her back, though, officials treated her warning with disdain.
One civil servant responded by leafing through issues of the Home Office Special Branch’s fortnightly summary. In a paper marked “Secret” he wrote to a colleague that the following were the only examples of anti-Jewish action that he could find.
•November 15 1942: Large numbers of an antisemitic [sticker] portraying two Jews and bearing the words “Britannia rules the waves — yeth, but we rule Britannia” found affixed to doors and windows of business premises in Shoreditch, east London.
•January 1-15 1943: A Fascist typewritten broadsheet called The Flame featured antisemitism.
•March 16-31 1943: A pamphlet by R D Lees, who formed a branch of the wartime far-right movement the British National Party in Blackpool, argued that antisemitism was provoked by Jews. He opposed any measures for succouring Jews now under Nazi domination.
•March 1943: Antisemitic slogans chalked and painted on walls and pavements in London districts and in Old Trafford, Manchester. Reference was made to the Jewish connections of Churchill, the foreign secretary Anthony Eden and other public figures. At Hove, typewritten slips bearing the words “Down with the filthy Jews” were found fixed to shop windows of a tobacconist and confectioners, the proprietor of which was Jewish, and to the windows of a Jewish hotel.
•April 1-15 1943: Edward Godfrey of the British National Party bought 1,000 copies of the antisemitic booklet The Truth About The Jews published by Alexander Ratcliffe of the British Protestant League, Glasgow.
•April 16-30: Antisemitic notices such as “burn the Jews” were chalked on five occasions in the Paddington area of west London. Slogans were chalked on a wall in Old Trafford.
The civil servant wrote: “You will agree that there is nothing in all this to suggest anything in the nature of organised activity, at any rate on an important scale.”
A scrawled response to the typed memorandum states: “I did not think that Mrs Corbett Ashby’s account showed signs of careful consideration.”
Nearly all the Jews from Lvov would be killed by November.
Once the war ended, there was a price to pay for the British authorities’ tolerance of antisemitism.
A shop in London run by Victor Burgess, who had been temporarily interned as a suspected enemy sympathiser under the same defence regulations as Sir Oswald and his wife Lady Diana Mosley, was issuing “anti-Jewish propaganda”, officials were told in January 1945. The Home Office was alerted but did nothing. Burgess persisted to become a notorious post-war fascist orator.
Returning from the war, appalled Jewish ex-servicemen formed the 43 Group, which physically smashed up Mosley’s gatherings and attacked fascists and antisemites. “Any six of us was more than a match for 20 of them. We never failed, we always won. We always closed their meetings down, never failed to close a meeting down,” Len Sherman, a martial arts expert from the Welsh Guards, told the Jewish Museum London’s oral history collection.
In 1947 anti-Jewish riots spread through many parts of Britain, triggered by the hanging of two British sergeants in Palestine by the Irgun, an insurrectionary Jewish paramilitary group. A crowd of 700 broke windows at Jewish-owned shops in Eccles, Manchester. Anti-semitic slogans and the fascist sign were daubed on a synagogue in Plymouth. There were days of rioting in Liverpool. Slaughtermen at Birkenhead refused to handle kosher meat.
Officials had turned a blind eye to latent antisemitism throughout the war. When the Ministry of Information staged a touring show, The Evil We Fight, highlighting Nazi atrocities to rouse the public against Hitler in 1944, copies of a subversive pamphlet were found stuffed into exhibition screens.
The typewritten, two-page tract warned that parliament was controlled by “The City of London International Jew Finance” and rejoiced that “Hitler is ridding the world of Jews and Judaism”. Condemning the British authorities, it said: “They lock up Fascists who at least want Britain for the British and clear the country of these slimy, oily, greasy, immoral Jewish dagoes . . . ANTI-SEMITISM MUST BE ENCOURAGED! Britain for the British and to Hell with Jews and all other alien swine.”
One official wrote: “It is my opinion that the open letter to Fellow-Britons is not antisemitism — it is pure German propaganda. Antisemitism is merely a part of the whole.”
Another commented in a handwritten note that it was childish nonsense which left him quite unconcerned. At the Ministry of Information, they kept calm and carried on.
(Reuters)Britain is expected to keep the door open for European Union banks and investors after Brexit to try to preserve London’s global financial clout, irrespective of whether it gets a good trade deal from the bloc, bankers and industry officials say.
Nerves in the City of London financial district were rattled last month when the UK government proposed future financial services trade with the EU based on “reciprocal” arrangements.
Bankers worried this meant that if the EU did not give Britain broad market access, London would impose tit-for-tat restrictions on EU banks or even tighten up treatment of all foreign lenders.
“But the Treasury later told us it does not mean that. Reciprocity would make the City very nervous,” a senior international banker in London said, speaking on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter.
The Treasury had no immediate comment on Tuesday.
At stake is one of the most liberal and lucrative financial services trade regimes in the world.
“The City has grown up by being everyone’s playground and that needs to continue. The White Paper was not to be read as limiting market access coming into the UK,” said a senior financial sector official, referring to the government’s Brexit plan published last month.
Britain allows non-EU “third country” banks to operate as a wholesale – but not retail – branch in London, meaning it doesn’t require costly capital cushions that subsidiaries have.
It also allows overseas entities to offer a wholesale service without a permanent UK base, subject to some conditions.
“The UK’s approach to third country firms may be regarded as one of the main factors which have made it one of the world’s leading financial centers,” said a European Parliament study on Brexit.
Bankers are waiting to see how EU bank branches in Britain and UK branches in the EU will be treated in future under any trade agreement or no deal scenario.
UK policymakers say Britain should get good terms because the bloc needs City expertise to manage 1.2 trillion pounds ($1.5 trillion) of assets for EU investors, issue bonds and float new companies.
The bloc is also slow to create its own capital markets union to substitute the City, and many EU companies don’t want hikes in costs from fragmented markets, policymakers say.
But 43 percent of UK international and wholesale financial services revenue comes from the EU, the sector’s biggest export market and worth 26 billion pounds ($33 billion). Deutsche Bank estimates that Britain’s current account deficit would be 40 percent higher without this.
In a sign of UK caution, consultants advised regulators to put their open approach to foreign banks into question as a negotiating tactic, but the government did not want to do that, a senior financial official said.
Britain’s finance ministry said in a June paper that if there was no transition deal to smooth the Brexit process after the official departure day in March 2019, then as a general principle Britain would default to treating EU states largely as it does other third countries.
But there are instances where “we would need to diverge from this approach,” it said, without elaborating. It is due to publish a new paper on no-deal contingency plans shortly.
The EU has also said it will treat Britain like other third countries.
“The EU has not given any indication that it won’t allow UK banks to establish branches in the bloc,” said Vishal Vedi, Deloitte’s financial services Brexit leader.
In another sign of pragmatism, Britain has proposed a “temporary permissions regime” to allow EU banks and insurers with branches in London to continue operating after March for three years, if there is no transition period.
The EU has not reciprocated for UK bank branches in the bloc, but is urging lenders in the City to gets licenses for their European hubs.
Andrew Bailey, head of Britain’s Financial Conduct Authority, says a key question is whether EU customers will be allowed to continue doing business in London after Brexit. France has taken a tough stance on City access to the bloc.
“The FCA’s optimal position is open access, but if we can’t get that, what does the UK do?” said Jonathan Herbst, a financial services lawyer at Norton Rose Fulbright.
Britain will also be under pressure to respond if Brussels rejects its calls to ease up the EU’s “equivalence” rules for market access used by Japan and the United States. The rules give some market access to third-country firms if their home regulators have equivalent policies to those used in the EU.
The equivalence rules have also been put into UK law and in theory Britain could apply them against the bloc in retaliation.
But no matter how difficult the EU may be in respect of UK firms trying to do business there, Britain has no choice but to stick with open borders, said Simon Gleeson, a financial services lawyer at Clifford Chance.
“There is no way the UK can go for tit-for-tat. What the UK can’t do is maintain openness for Americans and impose restrictions on Europeans. The only leverage we have is that if you cut off access to us, you are hurting yourself, “ he said.
(Economist) The great economist would strive to understand the other side and focus only on the future
WOULD John Maynard Keynes be a Brexiteer or a Remoaner? The great 20th-century economist started out as a free-trader. But he argued against “economic entanglement among nations” in an essay titled “National Self-Sufficiency” in 1933. Goods should be “homespun” wherever possible, he wrote, and “above all, let finance be primarily national.” By 1945 Keynes was an internationalist again.
If nothing else, Lord Keynes was a pragmatist (“When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do?,” he apocryphally said.) What is certain is that he would be at the negotiating table.
How Keynes would handle Brussels today is clear from a speech to the House of Lords in December 1945 on Britain’s post-war financial dealings with America. In it, he sets out what it means to get the best deal possible, even in unfavourable circumstances.
Keynes was a seasoned negotiator. He represented Britain at the Versailles peace conference in 1919. And he led the delegation that set up the Bretton Woods system on exchange rates, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund in the mid-1940s.
The 1945 speech, four months before he died at age 62, was in effect his “last words” to British policymakers. Keynes would have three tips for Britain’s negotiators today.
First, Keynes would encourage negotiators to understand the position of their counterparts in Brussels. He implored British politicians to understand the mood in Washington. “No one would easily accept the result of these negotiations with sympathy and understanding unless he could, to some extent at least, bring himself to appreciate the motives and purposes of the other side,” he stated. Hence, today’s negotiators should look beyond the facts to understand the Eurocrats’ motives and purposes, as well as their difficulties.
Keynes would encourage negotiators to understand the position of their counterparts in Brussels
Understanding their psychology—their “pride”, “temper” and “habit”—will strengthen Britain’s negotiating position, he argued. Britain should bear in mind that the major objective of negotiators in Brussels is the preservation of the European project. The European Union cannot afford to be too lenient on Britain, for fear that other countries will follow suit.
This idea—that the symbolism of a deal is as important as the deal itself—is something that Keynes would counsel Westminster today. In 1945 it was a recognition that the terms extended to Britain would form the expectations of other allies. “We naturally have only our own requirements in view,” he told his fellow peers, “but the United States Treasury cannot overlook the possible reaction of what they do for us on the expectations of others.” A good understanding of the other side will “minimise the causes of friction and ill will between nations” and maximise the chances of a just deal.
Second, negotiators should avoid using Britain’s past contributions to the EU as a negotiating tool, while at the same time being mindful not to expose Britain’s present weaknesses. Instead, Britain should focus on the future. Persuade Brussels of its future value to the EU, as a political ally as well as a trading partner.
As Keynes explained in 1945, reiterating Britain’s contribution to the war was not an effective negotiation tactic: “It was not our past performance or our present weakness but our future prospects…and our intention to face the world boldly that we had to demonstrate.”
Persuade Brussels of Britain’s future value to the EU, as a political ally as well as a trading partner.
Third, negotiators should demonstrate their commitment to the development of the international trading system, showing the EU that Britain remains a desirable trading partner. As Keynes declared: “Above all, this determination to make trade truly international and to avoid the establishment of economic blocs which limit and restrict commercial intercourse outside them, is plainly an essential condition of the world’s best hope, an Anglo-American understanding, which brings us and others together in international institutions which may be in the long run the first step towards something more comprehensive.”
If Keynes were alive today, he would probably relish navigating the intellectual and political minefield that is Brexit. However, it is unlikely he would have supported it in the first place. Keynes often warned of the dangers of sacrificing present well-being for an uncertain future. “Our power of prediction is so slight, it is seldom wise to sacrifice a present evil for a doubtful advantage in the future”, wrote Keynes at age 21 in “The Political Doctrines of Edmund Burke” in 1904.
Keynes would certainly appreciate the difficulties of extracting Britain from the EU, and the risks of damaging the economy, society and the political climate. As to whether leaving the EU might provide long-term economic benefits—as Brexiteers claim—that’s a timescale in which Lord Keynes would gleefully note we’ll all be dead.