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British PM under pressure over Brexit dinner row
Written by Administrator   
Tuesday, 02 May 2017 15:11

 

British Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit strategy came under fresh scrutiny Tuesday following reports of a disastrous meeting with European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker.

May has dismissed as "Brussels gossip" accounts of tension at last week's Downing Street dinner, but faces accusations of botching the first face-to-face talks with EU leaders since triggering Brexit.

The report came just days after German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned Britain that it should have no "illusions" that it could continue enjoying the benefits of EU membership while outside the bloc.

May responded by accusing the other 27 EU countries of lining up against Britain, in a sign of hardening positions on both sides.

Formal negotiations will not begin until after Britain's election on June 8, in which May is expecting to return to office with an increased parliamentary majority.

 

 
Britain steps up fight against dirty London property
Written by Administrator   
Monday, 01 May 2017 18:22

 

Britain took a significant step towards exposing dirty money in the London property market this week, passing a law allowing the seizure of homes from foreigners who cannot explain how they paid for them.

Anti-corruption campaigners hailed the "unexplained wealth orders" as a potentially game-changing tool to stop wealthy individuals from laundering their money through mansions in the affluent London boroughs of Knightsbridge and Hampstead.

The measure in the Criminal Finances Act, which became law on Thursday, will enable enforcement agencies to seize and if necessary then sell the properties, returning the funds to the country involved.

"If some corrupt official, who we know earns £30,000 ($39,000) or £40,000 a year, buys a house in the UK for £2 million there is unexplained wealth," said Margaret Hodge, an opposition Labour MP who campaigns on this issue.

In research published last month, campaign group Transparency International identified London properties worth £4.2 billion that it says were bought by individuals with suspicious wealth.

 

 
First direct London-China train completes 12,000 km run
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 30 April 2017 19:22

 

Laden with whisky and baby milk, the first freight train linking China directly to the UK arrived in the eastern Chinese city of Yiwu Saturday after a 12,000-kilometre (7,500-mile) trip, becoming the world's second-longest rail route.

The journey is the latest effort in China's drive to strengthen trade links with western Europe along a modern-day "Silk Road" route.

"The train arrived at around 9:30am (0130 GMT) to Yiwu on Saturday," the Yiwu Tianmeng Industry Company told AFP.

The world's top trading nation launched the "One Belt, One Road" strategy in 2013, and has since poured millions into constructing vast infrastructure links.

The train -- which was also carrying pharmaceuticals and machinery -- departed London on April 10 and passed through France, Belgium, Germany, Poland, Belarus, Russia and Kazakhstan during its 20-day trip before arriving in Yiwu in eastern Zhejiang province, a major wholesale centre for small consumer goods.

 

 
Britain set for snap election in Brexit shadow
Written by Administrator   
Thursday, 20 April 2017 11:14

 

British lawmakers on Wednesday overwhelmingly backed Prime Minister Theresa May's call for a snap election, paving the way for a June vote she hopes will give her a "mandate to complete Brexit".

The House of Commons voted by 522 to 13 to hold a general election on June 8 -- plunging Britain back into political uncertainty just weeks before the start of negotiations on leaving the European Union.

Addressing MPs beforehand, May said an early vote would strengthen her hand in dealing both with Brussels and domestic critics seeking to "frustrate the process" of Brexit.

"I will be asking the British people for a mandate to complete Brexit and to make a success of it," the Conservative leader said, to cheers from her lawmakers sitting behind her.

May stunned the country on Tuesday when she announced her plan for an early vote, despite having repeatedly said she would wait until the next election scheduled in 2020.

 

 
Polluted London sets its sights on cars
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 09 April 2017 12:26

 

Gone are the days of London's "pea souper" smogs, but like many European cities, the British capital is once again being choked by pollution - and has road traffic firmly in its sights.

In 1952, the Great Smog suffocated London for five days, bringing the city to a standstill as soot-filled clouds descended onto the streets and into people's lungs, leaving more than 12,000 dead.

The crisis prompted a clampdown on the use of coal in the city - but decades on, pollution is still causing more than 9,000 premature deaths per year.

 

This time, the key culprit is nitrogen dioxide (NO2), produced by cars and trucks - and particularly diesel engines, which emit three times more NO2 than petrol vehicles.

 

 
London to impose new charges to cut 'lethal' pollution
Written by Administrator   
Thursday, 06 April 2017 17:32

 

Drivers of the most polluting cars will be charged to travel into the centre of London from 2019, Mayor Sadiq Khan said Tuesday, describing his city's air as "lethal".

Khan hopes the move will halve harmful nitrogen oxide emissions in central London, where air pollution is thought to cost 9,000 premature deaths per year.

Under the scheme, vehicles will be charged £12.50 ($15.50, 14.60 euros) to enter a planned "ultra-low emissions zone" (ULEZ) around the city centre.

Diesel cars more than four years old in April 2019 and petrol cars more than 13 years old will face the charge 24 hours a day.

Private buses, coaches and trucks failing to meet emissions standards will have to pay £100.

 

 
London police arrest terror suspect trying to leave Britain on train
Written by Administrator   
Wednesday, 05 April 2017 17:40

 

 

A man suspected of preparing acts of terrorism was arrested on Tuesday (April 4) as he was trying to leave Britain from a central London train station served by Eurostar, police said.

The 18-year-old was apprehended by the counter-terrorism command at St Pancras International station, from where Eurostar trains depart to continental destinations including Paris and Brussels, London's Metropolitan Police said.

"He was arrested on suspicion of preparation of acts of terrorism, dissemination of terrorist publications and inviting support for a proscribed organisation," the police said in a statement.

 

 

 

 
European security ties 'too precious' for Brexit talks
Written by Administrator   
Wednesday, 29 March 2017 10:32

 

Britain's intelligence expertise may be "too precious" to use as a bargaining tool in the upcoming Brexit talks, experts said, after a terror attack in London highlighted the need for continued European security cooperation.

The suggestion that Britain could use security to negotiate with Brussels came following US President Donald Trump's election and his calls for a more isolationist foreign policy.

"If the US does adopt a more isolationist stance, then ongoing security cooperation with the UK becomes more valuable," the Institute for Government said in November.

"This could strengthen the UK?s negotiating hand in Brexit talks, as it could use the promise of ongoing cooperation on security measures to extract a more favourable deal from the EU," the think tank said in a report.

 

 
Britain's new 12-sided pound coin enters circulation
Written by Administrator   
Tuesday, 28 March 2017 16:16

Britain's new £1 coin with the symbols of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland goes into circulation from Tuesday on the eve of the launch of a Brexit process that has put national unity in doubt.

The 12-sided coin is the first change to the shape of the £1 coin since its introduction in 1983. Britain's finance ministry said the new coin would be "the most secure of its kind in the world" to prevent a rise in counterfeits.

About three percent of the current round-shaped coins are fakes.

The new pound coins will be thinner, lighter and slightly bigger than the old ones and will have a hologram-like image that changes from a "£" symbol to the number "1" when viewed from different angles.

 

 
'No evidence' of London attacker link to jihadist groups: police
Written by Administrator   
Tuesday, 28 March 2017 09:46

 

 

British police said Monday they had found no link between the man behind last week's terror attack outside the British parliament and the Islamic State group, which had claimed him as one of its "soldiers".

The statement came as 52-year-old Muslim convert Khalid Masood's mother spoke out for the first time, saying she was "deeply shocked, saddened and numbed, and relatives of the US victim voiced their grief.

"Whilst I have found no evidence of an association with IS or AQ (Al-Qaeda), there is clearly an interest in Jihad," Neil Basu, deputy assistant police commissioner, said in a statement.

Masood was shot dead after ploughing through a crowd of pedestrians and fatally stabbing a policeman just inside the gates of the British parliament in a frenzied attack lasting just 82 seconds on Wednesday.

Four people were killed and dozens more injured.

Basu said Masood's low-tech methods appeared to be "copied from other attacks and echo the rhetoric of IS leaders in terms of methodology and attacking police and civilians but at this stage I have no evidence he discussed this with others".

He also said there was "no evidence that Masood, who was born as Adrian Elms, was radicalised in prison in 2003" as suggested in some media reports.

Basu said he changed his name to Masood in 2005.

Masood served two stints in prison for a knife attack in 2000 and again for knife possession in 2003.

"His last criminal offence was in 2003 and he was not a current subject of interest or part of the current domestic or international threat picture," Basu said.

The police commander said Masood's communications on the day of the attack were "a main line of inquiry" and he asked for anyone who had heard from him to come forward so as to establish "his state of mind".

The government has confirmed that Masood used the WhatsApp messaging service shortly before the attack, saying it was crucial that the security services be allowed to access the heavily encrypted app.

Twelve people have been arrested since the attack and two men remain in custody after nine were released without charge and one woman was let out on bail.

- 'Do not condone' -

Masood's mother Janet Ajao also on Monday released a statement saying: "Since discovering that it was my son that was responsible I have shed many tears for the people caught up in this horrendous incident".

 

 

 
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