The debate on Britain’s place in the European Union has moved onto security this morning, with 13 former Armed Forces chiefs writing to the Telegraph to say that they “believe strongly that it is in our national interest to remain an EU member”. These signatories, who include eminent figures like Field Marshal Lord Erwin Bramall and General Sir Mike Jackson, claim that EU membership will help Britain tackle “grave security challenges” like Isil and a “resurgent” Russia, in a claim that will help David Cameron, who was only yesterday talking about how Britain “gains by sitting around the table” with its EU partners.
Brexit supporters have been busy mounting their own attack, with Michael Gove leading the charge. The Justice Secretary has targeted David Cameron’s claims that his EU reforms are “already legally binding and irreversible”, telling the BBC that the European Court of Justice could overturn them as it is “not bound” by the deal until treaties are changed. “Ultimately it will decide on the basis of the treaties and this deal is not yet in the treaties,” Gove said, adding that leaving the EU would be a “tremendous opportunity for Britain to recover its mojo”. This attack is especially cutting coming from Gove, given his closeness to the Prime Minister, with his wife Sarah Vine shedding light this morning on what has been going through his mind in defying his old friend. In a riveting column, she confirms in the Daily Mail that he had been unhappy about being demoted as Education Secretary, and reveals how his doubts about the EU grew in his role as Justice Secretary, and how he discussed his concerns with Boris over dinner. “Mr Cameron was expecting opposition from all sorts of people, but not from Michael,” she wrote, musing that his agony over Europe was “not for quite the same reasons” as the London Mayor. All this points to a very deliberate and considered move to thwart Cameron. James Kirkup casts him as Tyrion Lannister from Game of Thrones in today’s paper, the “unloved genius” who could be “finally recognised and rewarded”. You can follow what happens today in the referendum campaign on our liveblog.
Europe’s migration crisis continues in the meantime, with Belgium bringing back border controls with France in a bid to prevent a potential influx of UK-bound migrants if part of the “Jungle” camp in the French ferry port of Calais is demolished. The move comes as the influx of migrants shows little sign of easing, with more than 100,000 already arriving in Europe this year – more in the first six weeks of 2016 than the first six months of last year. In light of the continued crisis, and public concern about immigration, Philip Johnston wonders in today’s paper if Boris Johnson will rein in his “pro-immigration” views in his advocacy of voting to leave the EU. “When the Out campaigners say we must reassert control over our borders, what will that entail?,” he asks.
The migration crisis will hang over the referendum campaign, inevitably overshadowing other issues (as broached by Priti Patel today) like whether leaving the EU could cut the cost of car insurance. Establishment figures are weighing in, with Mark Carney expected to spell out the implications of Brexit at a key committee hearing on March 8, while Sir Jeremy Heywood has stepped in to ban Outist ministers from getting accessing official documents and getting briefings ahead of the referendum. Meanwhile, the Remain campaign stands to gain from signing up Jim Messina, the former Obama adviser who helped David Cameron win last year’s general election. Will this be enough to ensure victory? New research by John Curtice – the only pollster to end last year with his reputation improved – suggests both sides will have to work hard. It’s worth poring over his analysis of public opinion, from which he concludes: “Ultimately it will be what voters make of their respective economic arguments that is likely to determine which side’s efforts reap the greatest rewards.”
“Within the EU, we are stronger. Inside it, we can continue to collaborate closely with our European allies” – generals.
Trump Triumphs In Nevada
Donald Trump has won the Nevada Republican caucus. This is now his third victory in a row – after losing Iowa – and he has shredded all the conventional thinking. His record of wins in Iowa, South Carolina and now Nevada puts him right up there with candidates like Mitt Romney who won the nomination and Ronald Reagan, who went all the way to the White House. You can follow how news of his victory broke on our liveblog.
Bernie Baffles Blair
Tony Blair is struggling to understand the appeal of Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, figures he says are hampered by the “question of electability”. Speaking to the Guardian and FT, the former Labour premier said: “I’m not sure I fully understand politics right now, which is an odd thing to say, having spent my life in it – is when you put the question of electability as a factor in your decision to nominate a leader, it’s how small the numbers are that this is the decisive factor. That sounds curious to me.”
Junior Doctors Strike Back
The British Medical Association has announced plans for three 48-hour strikes, as it ramps up opposition to a new contract for junior doctors. The union said it will also launch a judicial review in protest to the Government plans. Industrial action is now planned for a total of six days, staring on March 9th. The second action will start on 6 April, with a third strike beginning on 26 April. Each strike will last 48 hours, with junior doctors withdrawing all bar emergency care.
Sir Bernard Won’t Apologise
Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, has said he will not be “bullied” into making an apology to Lord Bramall. Sir Bernard, appearing before the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee, said he had no intention of saying sorry to the 92-year-year former head of the armed forces for investigating a complaint of child abuse against him that turned out to be groundless.
The BBC’s Scottish Six
The BBC intends to replace its flagship UK six o’clock news bulletin with a separate Scottish programme from next year despite viewers expressing opposition. Senior Corporation insiders confirmed that a so-called ‘Scottish Six’ news programme is on course to start in 2017 despite a “rear-guard action” by some senior figures in London who are opposed to the controversial plan. “It’s an insulting lot of claptrap and what’s more it will be an expensive nonsense, too,” says Alan Cochrane.
Ukip Takes On Baddiel
A cringeworthy parody video calling for Britain to leave the EU has been produced by a Ukip supporter. The Britain’s Coming Home video, produced by Ukip’s Mandy Boylett, a former candidate for the party, parodies David Baddiel and Frank Skinner’s iconic Three Lions anthem.
Janet Weight Reed: Featured Artist
While scrolling through my twitter feed, I kept running into these delightful splashes of color. These images would flit between my tweets in the same way hummingbirds hover for an instant then zip off for some unknown adventure.
I explored further and found that these watercolors were the creation of Janet Weight Reed who was gracious enough to allow an interview for my “Featured Artist” column.
What were your first memories of wanting to be an artist?
My first memory of knowing that I wanted to be an artist was when I was about three years old. At that time my grandmother showed me a sketchbook belonging to my Aunt….which I can visualize to this day. Born in London at the end of WW2, my first impressions of London were of a war battered…
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The uproar surrounding a recent meeting held by three Israeli Arab Members of Knesset (parliament) with families of Palestinians who carried out attacks against Israelis is not only about the betrayal of their country, Israel. It is also about the betrayal of their own constituents: the 1.5 million Arab citizens of Israel.
Knesset members Haneen Zoabi, Basel Ghattas and Jamal Zahalka managed to accomplish several things at once with this controversial meeting. They certainly seem to have provoked the ire of many Jewish Israelis. Perhaps they violated the oath they made when they were sworn into parliament: “I pledge to bear allegiance to the State of Israel and faithfully to discharge my mandate in the Knesset.”
One thing, however, they have accomplished without question is acting against the interests of Israeli Arabs.
Zoabi, Ghattas and Zahalka met with Palestinian families who are not Israeli citizens and do not vote for the Knesset. As such, none of these families voted for the three Knesset members or the Arab List party to which they belong. Of course, as part of a democratic government, any member of the Knesset is free to meet with any Palestinian from the West Bank, Gaza Strip or Jerusalem.
It is worth noting that not all Arab Knesset members are involved in fiery rhetoric and provocative actions against Israel. However, there is good reason to believe that some Arab Knesset members deliberately engage in actions and rhetoric with the sole purpose of enraging not only the Israeli establishment, but also the Jewish public.
We have all seen the heart-wrenching videos placed with their idea of bravado, aplomb, pride, expecting admiration and approval with their destruction of museums, antiquities and the complete eradication of the ancient city of Palmyra. Below are some stills of its former glory and magnificence and its last moment before going to its afterlife where it will hopefully meet its peoples in one of those numerous unfathomable dimensions the physicists keep claiming are all around us doing things they cannot find or understand but their math claims they exist. As a math major, I now understand the need for Riemannian’s analytic geometry; drive physicists out of their minds. They are only playing in ten to twenty-six dimensions when in math you must make proofs for n-dimensions which makes theories a bit gnarly as well as lengthy. The Islamic State barbarians have destroyed entire museums where some of the oldest and…
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Elton John is showing me the living room of his London home. It’s not a huge living room, or at least not by the standards of rock stars who have sold something in the region of 300m records (the London house is more of a pied-à-terre – his main UK residence is his estate in Windsor), and there is surprisingly no piano in it, or indeed anywhere else in the building: “I play 107 shows a year, why am I going to go home and play the fucking piano?” he says.
“I’ve got one at Woodside and one at my house in Atlanta, and I never touch them. Rufus Wainwright plays every morning when he gets up – ‘I have to play an hour every day’ – so everyone’s different, but, God, I couldn’t think of anything worse. I have leisure, and I have work. And I do enough work. When I get home, the last thing I want to do is play the piano.”
Six years ago, Turkey’s official narrative over its leaders’ Kodak-moment exchanges of pleasantries with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Damascus promised the creation of a Muslim bloc resembling the European Union. Border controls would disappear, trade would flourish, armies would carry out joint exercises, and Turks and Syrians on both sides of the border would live happily ever after. Instead, six years later, blood is flowing on both sides of the 900 kilometer border.
Inside Turkey, clashes between security forces and members of the youth wing of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) have been taking place for weeks. Many towns and neighborhoods have turned into ghost-towns, as strict curfews are now in place. As a result, tens of thousands of Kurds have been forced to flee their homes, seeking refuge in safer parts of the country. While the Turkish army struggles to diffuse the latest Kurdish urban rebellion, hundreds of Kurdish militants and members of Turkey’s security forces have lost their lives.
Worse, the conflict has the potential to trigger further violence in Turkey’s non-eastern regions, where there is a vast Kurdish population spread across large cities.
Already in Istanbul, violence erupted on February 2, 2016, when unidentified gunmen opened fire on the campus of an Islamic association; they killed one man and wounded three others. In a second incident in a suburb of Istanbul, two people were killed and seven wounded after armed assailants fired on a tea-house.
Across the border in northern Syria, Turkey’s “Kurdish problem” is equally pressing. The PKK’s Syrian faction, the Democratic Union Party (PYD), has been successfully fighting on the front-lines alongside the Western alliance that is waging war on the Islamic State (IS), and making itself highly regarded by the alliance, thereby further angering Ankara.