Monday 28th of May 2018

the tooth fairy

tooth fairy

It will be “very difficult” for the UK government to refuse military assistance to the US in Syria if they expressly ask for it, British FM Boris Johnson has said, responding to an MP’s question on if he intends to heed parliament’s vote against the incursion.

British Foreign Secretary Johnson was on Tuesday briefing MPs on the situation in Syria and North Korea, when he was posed with a question by former Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Conservative MP, Alistair Burt. Burt asked what the UK government’s reaction would have been if, instead of just hitting Syria’s Shayrat airfield on April 7, Washington decided to first enlist military help from Britain.


When asked if he and the British government consider themselves to be “bound” by the past decision not to intervene in Syria and plan to reinvigorate the parliamentary debate or “if not, what might the United Kingdom be able to do to demonstrate its force and resolve,” Johnson hinted that the UK is ready to back Washington not only politically but also militarily.

“We were not asked for specific support, but it is my belief—I stress that no such decision has yet been taken—that were such a request to be made in future and were it to be a reasonable request in pursuit of similar objectives, it would be very difficult for the United Kingdom to say no,” the top British diplomat said, without elaborating.

Johnson’s Tuesday comments seem to indicate a departure from a previous UK policy on Syria that has been in place since a dramatic House of Commons vote on the issue in 2013, which ended in a crushing defeat for interventionist bid championed by former Prime Minister David Cameron.

.@BorisJohnson has also said ‘not even Hitler used chemical weapons.’

— RT UK (@RTUKnews) April 12, 2017

Alistair reminded Johnson of the Parliament’s decision to vote down the motion that would have authorized military involvement into Syria back in August 2013 under fairly similar circumstances. At the time, the rebels accused the Syrian government of perpetrating a sarin gas attack in a Damascus suburb. The allegations were strongly denied by the Syrian authorities, which, in turn, blamed the militants, claiming it was a false-flag operation. Later, former US Secretary of State John Kerry confessed that British MPs’ lack of support for the mulled US airstrikes in Syria at the time led to delay in decision-making in Washington and thus derailed the operation.

READ MORE: Britain derailed Obama’s plan to bomb Syria – US Secretary of State

While the defeat in Parliament dealt a heavy blow to Cameron’s foreign policy ambitions, he conceded, saying that although he “strongly believes” in the need for military intervention in Syria, “it is clear” that “the British Parliament, reflecting the views of the British people, does not want to see British military action.”

Johnson reiterated that in attacking Syria “the United States has acted with the full support of the British Government,” adding that the “only one conclusion” that could be reached based on the known evidence of the alleged chemical attack in rebel-held Idlib province is that “the Assad regime almost certainly gassed its own people.”


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an empty chair...

UK Prime Minister Theresa May has announced plans to call a snap general election on 8 June.

She said Britain needed certainty, stability and strong leadership following the EU referendum.

Explaining the decision, Mrs May said: "The country is coming together but Westminster is not."

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said his party wanted the election, calling it a chance to get a government that puts "the majority first".

The prime minister will refuse to take part in televised leader debates ahead of the vote, Number 10 sources said.

Mr Corbyn said Mrs May should not be "dodging" a head-to-head encounter, and the Lib Dems urged broadcasters to "empty-chair" the prime minister - hold a debate without her.

Live TV debates took place for the first time in a UK general election in 2010, and the experiment was repeated in 2015 using a range of different formats.

A BBC spokesman said that it was too early to say whether the broadcaster would put in a bid to stage a debate.

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the crystal ball of another election...


LONDON — This, as we keep discovering, is an era of unexpected electoral results. Tuesday’s decision by Britain’s prime minister, Theresa May, to call a general election for June 8 was certainly unexpected. In an age in which few secrets remain secret, no journalist or politician seemed to have had an inkling about the announcement until it was made. But even in the era of the unexpected, it is difficult to see any result other than a solid Conservative Party victory, returning Mrs. May to Downing Street confirmed as prime minister.

The real question the June election will raise is not which party will form the next British government, but which party takes on the mantle of opposition?

There is certainly widespread disaffection with the Conservative government’s policies, from its cack-handed approach to Brexit negotiations to resentment over continuing cuts in public spending. Yet, disaffection with the opposition and, in particular, with the Labour Party, is far starker.

Labour is in disarray. It recently lost a parliamentiary by-election in a traditionally rock-solid seat, has plummeted in opinion polls and is convulsed with infighting. A poll taken after Mrs. May’s election announcement showed a 21 percentage-point lead for the Conservatives over Labour. To put that in perspective, when Margaret Thatcher trounced Michael Foot in the 1983 election, seen as a nadir for Labour, she enjoyed a not quite 15-point lead.

Many see the Labour’s problems as deriving primarily from its leader, left-winger Jeremy Corbyn. Mr. Corbyn has been markedly ineffectual as leader, unable to enthuse even his core supporters. A recent poll suggested that fewer than 40 percent of Labour voters think he would make a better prime minister than Mrs. May.


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rats jumping into the murky waters...


Number 10’s official spokeswoman, Lizzie Louden, has abandoned Theresa May to her fate, reportedly telling friends she was “moving on to other things.”

Her unexpected departure comes after Katie Perrior, Downing Street’s communications director, resigned earlier in the week.

“I always thought and intended that my departure from Government last year – to work on the Leave campaign – would be final and I would move on to other things,” Louden said, commenting on her exit.

“None of us expected a leadership campaign, but I was honored to work on Theresa’s campaign, and to come into government,” she added.

The atmosphere inside May’s inner circle is now said to be bleaker than when she called the general elections on Tuesday morning. The mood changed “from day to night,” a source told the Financial Times.

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See toon at top...



The response of politicians to the latest outbreak of terrorist attacks shows that in the face of these outrages language and leadership have run out of puff.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan called the attack “cowardly” . So did Donald Trump, adding “We are with you. God Bless”. Murdoch’s Daily Telegraph also slapped “cowards” on its front page screamer. It was the best they could do.

It’s a strange, old-fashioned word that conjures white feathers and the trenches of the first world war, and it is highly probable that terrorists intent on their mission of slaughter aren’t the slightest bit put off by being called “cowards”.

Theresa May, the prime minister, declared “enough is enough” as though Canute-like she has willed terrorism to stop because there’s too much of it. Our own PM said “we will continue to lead our lives [in the face of terrorism] the way we always have”, while in another breath he reminded us that Australians face “a growing threat from Islamist terrorism”.

There is an expectation that political leaders will conjure the right bundle of words that simultaneously are calming, embracing and assertive – “we will hunt ‘em down and bring them to justice”. The right language at these moments is terribly important.

Politicians in various strange ways seek to galvanise their people. After the 9/11 attack in the US, President George W Bush urged people to go shopping and visit Disney World. Apparently, the message was to show terrorists that the nation is not spooked and to encourage people not to hide in their lounge rooms to such an extent that the economy suffers.

Stand firm ... carry on ... our way of life will not be defeated ... we are resolved ... our heart goes out to you. It hardly seems enough in the face of such demonic upheaval.

Where’s William Blake when you need him with his bows of burning gold and his arrows of desire, or possibly a touch of Churchill: “...we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender...”

Instead, we get Tony Abbott with his alternative facts: “Islamophobia hasn’t killed anyone – [but] Islamist terrorism has now killed tens of thousands of people. That’s why it’s absolutely critical that there be the strongest possible response at every level.”

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