EU and Tory Ministers
The Telegraph reports that Hammond reckons that Britain will vote no if EU does not back down
The British people will vote to leave the European Union unless Brussels gives “substantial and irreversible” reforms to the UK, Philip Hammond has warned. In a significant hardening of the Government’s language on the prospect of a British exit from the EU, Mr Hammond made clear that the UK Government is not bluffing when it tells leaders on the continent that a Britain could opt to leave.
In an interview with The Telegraph ahead of the Conservative Party conference in Manchester, Mr Hammond warned that the Government will “get a raspberry” from voters if the EU is not willing to change. He refused to say whether or not Cabinet ministers should be able to campaign to leave the EU in the build-up to the vote.
Meanwhile, the Guardian talks to Iain Duncan-Smith “EU has been hit by ‘out of control bulldozer’, says Iain Duncan Smith”
The crises of mass migration and Greek debt have hit the European Union like an “an out-of-control bulldozer”, forcing its leaders to rethink David Cameron’s call for fundamental reform, the cabinet’s leading Eurosceptic has said. Iain Duncan Smith, speaking to the Guardian before a Conservative party conference that will see disputes over Cameron’s EU referendum tactics, said the twin crises had changed the debate.
The work and pensions secretary said: “We are getting a better hearing because people are waking up to these things. It is suddenly becoming clear that actually you cannot paper over the cracks and say ‘it’s alright, it’s only the British.’ We still have the crisis over the euro and Greece, and then the rows over Schengen border controls are like nothing I have ever seen. It is massive.”
The two crises had sent “shock waves everywhere”, he said. “Nothing is the same after this thing. The European Union has just been hit by an out-of-control bulldozer that has just gone straight through the middle of them.”
After the broadsheets ignore the incident, The Express reports: “Chaos as HUNDREDS of migrants storm Channel Tunnel in ‘massive planned invasion’”
Eurotunnel services between Folkestone and Calais are affected in both directions – with passengers facing delays of up to six hours. Officials believe the “large and co-ordinated” group planned the intrusion before attempting to reach Britain at around 12.30am on Saturday. A Eurotunnel spokesman said: “It’s a massive invasion and intrusion by a very large and co-ordinated group of migrants. They are being gathered up by the police authorities.”
He added: “It’s clearly an organised attack when it comes in such a large number, there are over 100 in this one group. They arrived together an in a well-organised manner, broke through the fences and all clearly knew where they were going.”
The Mirror also reports on this: “Calais migrant crisis sees Eurotunnel services suspended after “massive invasion” at French terminal”
Eurotunnel services have been suspended after a “massive invasion” of more than 100 migrants in Calais. A “large and co-ordinated” group broke through fences and stormed the Channel Tunnel at around 12.30am, Eurotunnel said.
Services have been suspended but there are no trains stopped in the tunnel and passengers have been directed to use the ferry to carry on with their journey.
Eurotunnel has implemented extra security to try to prevent migrants getting onto the tracks. “Quite probably because the security at the tunnel is strengthening every day, with the new fences being put up, new security installations and additional staff, it’s becoming much harder for migrants to get through in small numbers,” the spokesman said.
Merkel and Nobel Peace Prize
The Telegraph reports that “Angela Merkel ‘firm favourite’ for Nobel prize over refugee crisis – but losing favour in Germany”
Speculation is mounting that Angela Merkel will win this year’s Nobel Peace Prize for her handling of the European refugee crisis and the war in Ukraine, just as public opinion in Germany is hardening on the migrant issue.
The German Chancellor has emerged as the firm favourite for the 2015 peace prize, the winner of which will be announced by the Norwegian Nobel Committee next Friday.
But even as she is lauded on the international stage, Mrs Merkel is facing growing opposition to her refugee policy at home, where her personal approval rating with voters has plummeted nine percentage points in a single month, according to the findings of a new opinion poll.
Syria and Russia
The Telegraph claims that “Russia ‘fuelling extremism’ as Putin steps up Syria air strikes”
Western nations on Friday accused Russia of escalating the Syrian conflict and fuelling extremism, as Moscow’s warplanes conducted air strikes for a third day amid mounting fears over civilian casualties. A bellicose Russia waded into the four year-long conflict on Wednesday, launching surprise bombing runs against rebel groups fighting the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad while vowing to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil).
Britain, the United States and five other nations called on Russia to “immediately” end attacks on the Syrian opposition and civilians and to focus only on fighting Isil. In a statement, they expressed “deep concern” over the Russian military build-up in Syria and, in particular, strikes on Hama, Homs and Idlib, saying these had caused civilian casualties and did not target the jihadist group. “These military actions constitute a further escalation and will only fuel more extremism and radicalisation,” said the statement, also signed by Germany, France, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey.
The Guardian gives the ObamaView: “Obama says Russian strategy in Syria is ‘recipe for disaster”
Russia’s failure to distinguish between Islamic State fighters and moderate opposition forces battling against Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, is a “recipe for disaster,” Barack Obama has said, as more evidence emerged that Moscow is targeting anti-regime rebels and not just Isis. The US president said his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, “doesn’t distinguish between Isil [Isis] and a moderate Sunni opposition that wants to see Mr Assad go. From their perspective, they’re all terrorists. And that’s a recipe for disaster.”
A statement released earlier on Friday by the US-led coalition fighting Isis expressed deep concern about attacks by the Russian air force on Hama, Homs and Idlib. The attacks did not hit the jihadi group but caused civilian casualties.
“These military actions constitute a further escalation and will only fuel more extremism and radicalisation,” said the statement by France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the US and Britain. “We call on the Russian federation to immediately cease its attacks on the Syrian opposition and civilians and to focus its efforts on fighting Isil.”
The Independent’s take on it is: “Russian air strikes in Syria: US-led coalition urges Vladimir Putin’s forces to ‘immediately cease attacks on opposition and civilians’”
The US, Britain and members of the international coalition bombing Isis have urged Russia to stop attacking the Syrian opposition and expressed “deep concern” over its intervention. A joint statement listed attacks by Vladimir Putin’s air force in Hama, Homs and Idlib provinces that “led to civilian casualties” and did not target Isis.
The call from the governments of France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the UK and US follows persistent claims that many of Russia’s air strikes have hit Syrian rebels and civilians since the start of its campaign on Wednesday.
Mr Putin dismissed reports of civilian casualties yesterday and accused critics of engaging in “information warfare”, while restating his commitment to fighting terrorism. But his official spokesperson did seem to shift the Kremlin’s position on Thursday, telling journalists that Russian forces were targeting a list of “well-known organisations” chosen in co-ordination with the Syrian regime.
The Express reports that “UKIP fury as politician BANNED from speaking at EU venue – but they let Gerry Adams in”
MEP Steven Woolfe said his planned speech at the Skainos Centre in Northern Ireland was cancelled at the last minute. Officials claimed the controversial decision was made because political parties are not allowed to use the facilities, Wolfe said. But the venue, built with money from the European Regional Development Fund, hosted a conference for Northern Ireland’s Green Party last March.
Sinn Fein’s Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness have also spoken at the venue, which was booked by Ukip’s Northern Ireland branch. Woolfe’s speech, on the European Union and migration, was moved to a different venue. A spokesman for Ukip blasted the cancellation, saying: “This is a blatant attempt to stifle democratic expression of a legitimate national political party representing four million people across this country.”
Breitbart also reports this.
Islam in Britain
An Asian family who converted to Christianity claim they are being driven out of their home for the second time by Muslim persecutors. Nissar Hussain, his wife Kubra and their six children said they have suffered an appalling ordeal at the hands of neighbours who regard them as blasphemers. They claim they are effectively prisoners in their own home after being attacked in the street, having their car windscreens repeatedly smashed and eggs thrown at their windows.
Mr Hussain, 49, has even given up his career as a nurse due to the effect on his health. Police have been called numerous times to deal with the trouble but are said to be reluctant to treat the problem as a religious hate crime.
Only one successful prosecution has been made, and Mr Hussain said he feels so let down by police he has lodged a complaint with the Independent Police Complaints Commission. He also criticised the Anglican Church for failing to provide any meaningful support. Now the family are likely to move from their home city of Bradford to a ‘white English’ area to escape the hate campaign.
You thought the West was out of Afghanistan? Wrong. The Guardian reports that “Three Médecins Sans Frontières staff killed in suspected US airstrike on Afghan hospital”
A US airstrike appears to have hit a hospital run by Médecins Sans Frontières in the Afghan city of Kunduz early on Saturday morning. MSF said its hospital in the war-torn northern city was bombed and badly damaged in an aerial attack that killed at least three staff members.
At the time of the bombing, 105 patients and their caretakers and more than 80 MSF international and national staff were in the hospital, the charity said. Thirty staff were still unaccounted for. “We are deeply shocked by the attack, the killing of our staff and patients and the heavy toll it has inflicted on healthcare in Kunduz,” says Bart Janssens, MSF director of operations.
The Independent reports that “Train delays to trigger automatic refunds – but Virgin Trains attach strings to the pledge”
Train delays will now trigger automatic refunds – but only a tiny proportion of rail passengers will benefit. In an industry first, Virgin Trains is telling some travellers whose West Coast services are delayed by half-an-hour or more that they need not apply for compensation. The stipulated “Delay Repay” refund will be credited to the original payment card within three days, so long as the passenger meets some stringent conditions.
To benefit, they must be travelling on an Advance ticket. It must be bought online direct from Virgin Trains, rather than from any other source. And the journey must not involve another train operator, such as a connection at Crewe for a service to North Wales.
Almost half of Virgin Trains arrive late, but only one in 20 runs at least half-an-hour behind schedule or is cancelled – the conditions that would trigger the payments promised under the Delay Repay policy.
The Independent carries an appeal Jeremy Hunt to junior doctors: “NHS is facing a ‘triple whammy’ of pressures the like of which it has never seen before”
The NHS is facing a “triple whammy” of pressures, the like of which it has never seen before, Jeremy Hunt will say, as he appeals to junior doctors not to stage their first nationwide strike in more than three decades. Holding an olive branch to the medical profession, the Health Secretary said that he would work to ensure no junior doctors lost money as a result of new contracts designed to open up the NHS to seven-day working.
The concession is designed to head off a walkout by England’s 53,000 house officers and registrars that could cripple NHS services. In an interview with The Independent Mr Hunt also said that:
He is lobbying to relax draconian restrictions on visas for healthcare staff that could force thousands of foreign nurses to leave the country.
He will not bow to demands from health charities and the celebrity chef Jamie Oliver to introduce a sugar tax to combat obesity.
He is not ruling out standing for the leadership of the Conservative Party when David Cameron steps down.
The Mail has a different take on doctors: “Rise of the GPs who retire in their 50s: Thousands hit £1.25million pension cap, then leave”
Soaring numbers of GPs are retiring in their fifties because pension changes have made it unprofitable for them to carry on working, experts warn. A total of 5,117 have left since 2012-13 and their average retirement age is now just 59, and falling.
Accountants say there has been an ‘acceleration’ in the numbers retiring in their mid-fifties in the past 12 months and the issue is a ‘ticking time bomb’ for GP provision. They put it down to the Government imposing a £1.25million cap on the amount all employees can put into their pensions over their careers.
Although this seems high, many family doctors on six- figure salaries hit the limit by the time they reach their early to mid-fifties. This means there is little incentive to carry on practising, especially if they are already demoralised by targets and rising patient demand.
Figures from the NHS Business Services Authority, which oversees pensions, show that in 2014-15, 1,697 GPs retired. This represents 5.2 per cent of the entire workforce of 32,628 full-time GPs in England. The average retirement age was 59.16 but has decreased year on year from 59.46 in 2012-13 and 59.29 in 2013-14.
The Independent reports that “Redcar steelworks company goes into liquidation with the loss of 1,700 jobs”
The company that owns the Redcar steelworks has gone into liquidation days after announcing it was mothballing production at the plant with the loss of 1,700 jobs. The Thai-based SSI UK had an application to end its business granted by a judge at the High Court on 2 October. The news broke after the Government announced a package worth up to £80m to support the workforce with training and help for local firms to create jobs.
The Government said the firm made an “unrealistic” last-minute request for the taxpayer to make an “open-ended” funding commitment to maintain the coke ovens at the site. Ministers had “no confidence” that this was a realistic proposal for the public purse to support and it would have been in breach of strict state aid rules, which prohibit a rescue.
But Redcar’s Labour MP, Anna Turley, accused the Government of “throwing in the towel” and “turning its back” on steelmaking in Teesside. She said: “We will continue to fight to ensure there is a future for steelmaking at the site, but realise now that we will get no help from Government.