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Catalonia ‘National Day’ rally draws million

Catalonia ‘National Day’ rally draws million

Media playback is unsupported on your device Media captionProtesters march in Barcelona to mark the national day of Catalonia

About a million people have taken to the streets of Barcelona to mark Catalonia’s “National Day” and show continued support for independence. The annual celebration is the first since Catalonia’s failed attempt to break away from Spain last October. A sea of protesters wearing red shirts and bearing red-and-yellow Catalan flags banged drums, blew whistles and chanted slogans of support. The turnout was roughly the same as last year. Catalan regional president Quim Torra and his predecessor Carles Puigdemont, who fled into exile in Belgium after the failed independence bid, had urged people to demonstrate. Mr Torra said at the end of the rally: “We are starting an endless march.” Tuesday’s Diada holiday marks the day Barcelona fell to the soldiers of King Philip V in 1714 and for the past eight years has been used as a rallying point for independence. It is the first such celebration since Catalonia held a referendum on independence on 1 October last year and then unilaterally declared independence on 27 October. But the bid failed after Spain’s constitutional court deemed the move illegal and Madrid imposed direct rule. Image copyright Reuters Image caption Red-shirted protesters blew whistles and banged drums in Barcelona Protesters formed human towers and demanded the release of separatist leaders who are in detention awaiting trial following the independence campaign. One elderly protester at the rally, Dolors Llauralo, told Reuters she would continue the battle. “I will demonstrate every year, as long as I can… I fight for [my children and grandchildren] so they will have a better life than the one we have had,” she said. Read more stories on the Catalonia crisis: More protests are planned on the key anniversary dates of the referendum and declaration of independence.

However, opponents complained the Diada was being usurped as independence was not supported by all Catalans. Catalonia’s situation “not very serious”, says Josep BorrellSpanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrel, who is Catalan, said: “We Catalans should celebrate our national day and not just a call for independence that is shared by less than half of the population.” An opinion poll in July suggested 46.7% of Catalans favoured independence and 44.9% opposed it.

 

Brexit: 80 Tory MPs will reject Chequers plan says former minister

The Conservatives face a “catastrophic split” if Theresa May relies on Labour votes to push her Chequers plan through parliament, one of the prime minister’s most persistent critics has warned, as the conflict within the party over Brexit intensified. After a weekend dominated by coverage of Boris Johnson’s views on the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, and his tangled personal life, the former junior Brexit minister Steve Baker used an interview to mark 200 days before departure to argue May must take a different approach. Baker, who quit in July over Chequers, said at least 80 Conservative MPs would be willing to vote against the plan, which Eurosceptics argue ties the UK too closely to the EU on regulation and alignment, hampering future bilateral trade deals. The issue is expected to dominate the Conservatives’ annual conference at the end of the month, with MPs from the hard-Brexit-backing European Research Group (ERG), which Baker formerly chaired, hoping to sink the Chequers proposal. “If we come out of conference with her hoping to get Chequers through on the back of Labour votes, I think the EU negotiators would probably understand that if that were done, the Tory party would suffer the catastrophic split which thus far we have managed to avoid,” Baker told the Press Association.

“We are reaching the point now where it is extremely difficult to see how we can rescue the Conservative party from a catastrophic split if the Chequers proposals are carried forward. “It is absolutely no pleasure whatsoever to me to acknowledge that, but I look at the mood of colleagues and the mood of the Conservative party in the country and I am gravely concerned for the future of our party.” While it is widely acknowledged that Johnson, who also wants May to abandon the Chequers plans, is seeking to position himself as the next prime minister, Baker said he was not advocating a change in leadership. “Time is running awfully short for anyone who thinks a leadership contest and a general election is a good idea,” the Wycombe MP said. The justice secretary, David Gauke, disputed Baker’s assessment. Asked by Sky News if Baker’s view was accurate, he said: “No, I don’t think it is.” Gauke castigated Baker and fellow Eurosceptics for not having a coherent plan of their own: “This is a process that is going to require compromises from all sides. And I think it is really important that we go forward with the Chequers proposal. Frankly, there isn’t an alternative that has been put on the table by the critics of Chequers. We haven’t had an alternative set out.”

Gauke was similarly critical of Johnson after a furore over an article by the former foreign secretary on Sunday, in which he argued May’s Brexit plans amounted to “a suicide vest around the British constitution”. “I don’t think his comments yesterday were well judged,” Gauke said. “And, returning to the substance, I don’t think he’s set out an alternative approach to Brexit, in contrast to the Chequers plan. This is a time where we have to seriously address the issues in front of us, have a serious plan to deal with the situation. The prime minister is a serious politician who has set out serious plans.” Asked later by BBC Radio 4’s Today programme as to whether he could serve under Johnson, Gauke said there was no vacancy, adding: “I’m probably not a natural Boris supporter.” The former education secretary Nicky Morgan likened the “suicide vest” comment to a previous Johnson article in which he likened Muslim women wearing the niqab to “letterboxes”. Both were “deliberately incendiary language which just masks the ability to debate the issues”, she said. Morgan added: “Boris has to make a decision – I think he’s sort of made it. He’s either a journalist or a he’s a politician. He knew exactly what he was doing when he was using that language.” Baker and his ERG allies are seeking a so-called Canada-plus deal, which would be based around free trade, but with notably more limited alignment to EU rules. The ERG has been drawing up its alternative Brexit plan based on this.

A draft leaked over the weekend showed it also called for significant tax cuts, something strongly argued for by Johnson in his weekly column for the Daily Telegraph on Monday. Baker said the ERG had decided to hold back on the publication of its detailed plan in order to focus on a plan to avoid a hard Irish border after Brexit, which he said was the “key to the gate” to a satisfactory agreement. Another ERG member, the Tory MP Simon Clarke, told Today he believed this was possible, adding: “The Northern Irish border issue is one that has been greatly exaggerated and abused. I think, for Irish domestic political reasons and by the EU itself. I think there are good reasons to believe that if you want to solve the problem then you can.”

 

Boris Johnson launches fresh attack on May’s Brexit plans

Boris Johnson launches fresh attack on May’s Brexit plans

Boris Johnson has used his first newspaper column of the new parliamentary term to attack Theresa May’s Chequers plan, saying it means the UK enters Brexit negotiations with a “white flag fluttering”. The declaration amounts to a significant escalation the former foreign secretary’s guerrilla campaign against the prime minister and her Chequers plan a day before the Commons returns and at a time when party disquiet over the direction of the divorce talks is mounting. Johnson wrote that “the reality is that in this negotiation the EU has so far taken every important trick.

The UK has agreed to hand over £40 billion of taxpayers’ money for two thirds of diddly squat”. Johnson added that by adopting the Chequers plan, which will see the UK adopt a common rule book for food and goods, “we have gone into battle with the white flag fluttering over our leading tank”. It will be “impossible for the UK to be more competitive, to innovate, to deviate, to initiate, and we are ruling out major free trade deals,” he added. The intervention comes after a summer in which the former minister, who resigned over the Chequers deal, had avoided touching on Brexit in his Daily Telegraph column – although he did unleash a storm of complaint by describing fully veiled Muslim women as looking like letter boxes and bank robbers. It will be seen as preparing the ground for a leadership challenge to May just as the Brexit negotiations reach their critical phase in the autumn, which is to culminate in any final deal agreed by the UK government being put to parliament for a vote. The Commons returns for just over a week on Tuesday, the first chance for Conservative MPs to compare notes about the state of grassroots feeling over Brexit. Many ordinary members, who have the right to chose between the final two candidates chosen by MPs, are unhappy with Chequers, fearing the plan amounts to a loss of sovereignty. Johnson called on May to return to the argument of her Lancaster House speech of January 2017. He said that on the current plan: “We will remain in the EU taxi; but this time locked in the boot, with absolutely no say on the destination. We won’t have taken back control – we will have lost control.” Another group of Tory MPs is also set on halting the Chequers plan.

The 20 backbench rebels, including former ministers Priti Patel and Iain Duncan Smith, have joined the StandUp4Brexit group, a grassroots campaign that has vowed to tear up the EU negotiations to date. Right wing Tories are expected to offer their own alternatives to the Chequers plan in the coming weeks, arguing that the UK should instead strike a free trade deal with the EU, in which the country would leave the single market and customs union. But it is not clear how far the EU will be willing to go along with anything that enhances the UK’s competitive position. On Sunday, David Davis, another former cabinet minister, criticised May for admitting she would have to make compromises to the EU beyond the Chequers agreement in order to achieve a Brexit deal.

The former Brexit secretary told the BBC’s The Andrew Marr Show that he could not vote for what has been proposed because it was worse than staying in. Davis, who also resigned because he said he could not endorse the Chequers deal, was speaking after the prime minister had said in a column for a Sunday newspaper that she would “not be pushed into accepting compromises” on the Chequers plan that are “not in our national interest”. He said May’s words amounted to “an incredible open sesame”, arguing the problem with the UK position was that it was “not the last step” for the EU, and Brussels would not accept it. On the same programme, the international trade secretary, Liam Fox, indicated the government may have to make further concessions. He said the EU had to understand “this is a negotiation”, and added: “We have already set out what we think is a reasonable position for the UK to have in our future trading relationship with Europe. We are waiting for the EU to come back to us with their view.”

 

Anti-Semitism row: Corbyn has been misinterpreted, says close ally

Anti-Semitism row: Corbyn has been misinterpreted, says close ally

Corbyn a ‘danger’ to British Jews, says ex chief rabbi. Labour can resolve its anti-Semitism crisis quickly, John McDonnell has said, insisting Jeremy Corbyn’s views on Israel have been “misinterpreted”.

The shadow chancellor told the BBC that the party should accept in full the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance guidelines on anti-Semitism, as long as free speech was protected. But ex-Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks said Mr Corbyn must also “repent and recant”. And ex-PM Gordon Brown said Labour must act now or undermine its values. Speaking at a meeting of Jewish Labour MPs in London, Mr Brown said the party needed to be “cleansed of anti-Semitism and racism”. The party has been beset by arguments over the issue throughout the summer, prompting two MPs – John Woodcock and Frank Field – to resign the whip and others to threaten to do the same. Eighteen months of rancour within the party over claims of growing anti-Semitism came to a head last month when footage from 2013 emerged of Mr Corbyn saying a group of British Zionists had “no sense of English irony” despite a lifetime in the country. Labour MP Luciana Berger said it made her “feel unwelcome” in the party while Lord Sacks branded his comments as “the most offensive statement” by a politician since the late Conservative MP Enoch Powell’s 1968 Rivers of Blood speech.

Ex-chief rabbi ‘wrong’ over Corbyn anti-Semitism attackSpeaking publicly for the first time since he made those remarks, the former chief rabbi told the Andrew Marr show he stood by his criticism of Mr Corbyn and suggested British Jews were considering leaving the country because of the prospect of him becoming prime minister. “Jeremy Corbyn must repent and recant as quickly as possible,” he said. “When people hear the kind of language that’s been coming out of Labour, that’s been brought to the surface among Jeremy Corbyn’s earlier speeches, they cannot but feel an existential threat.

Former MP Ivor Caplin, who is chair of the Jewish Labour Movement, said it and other groups were only prepared to have a dialogue with Mr Corbyn if he made it “very clear” that he would take firm action against anti-Semites in the party and others engaging in “bad behaviour” at a local level. Amid growing warnings that Labour was facing a 1980s-style split, Mr McDonnell said the party must remain a “broad church” and he hoped Mr Field would “come back into the fold”. The Birkenhead MP, a former welfare minister, quit the Labour group at Westminster on Thursday over what he called the party’s “tolerance” of anti-Semitism and a “culture of nastiness”. While Labour MPs who resigned the whip should normally trigger a by-election, Mr McDonnell said in this case he did not want to “go anywhere near that” given Mr Field’s long service to the party.

 

Boris who? Kenyan leader makes a joke at Johnson’s expense

Boris who? Kenyan leader makes a joke at Johnson’s expense

Last month he was foreign secretary, today he became “bicycle guy” when Kenya’s president delivered a humiliating putdown to Boris Johnson to avenge the multiple insults the British politician has thrown at Africa over the years. As President Kenyatta, standing next to Theresa May during her first visit to his country, sought to recall the earlier visit by the former foreign secretary, his memory abruptly failed him. “Last year, if you recall, the foreign secretary then, Boris,”

Mr Kenyatta began as his eyes darted towards Mrs May as he faltered. “Erm, Boris, Boris Johnson . . . yeah bicycle guy — that one! Boris Johnson was here.” Mrs May allowed herself a wry smile as the president eventually “remembered” the name of her former cabinet…

Theresa May, danced, literally –

Germany hit by worst far‑right riots in 30 years

Far-right protestors face off in Chemnitz Germany has been shaken by the worst far-right rioting in almost 30 years after police failed to stop thousands of neo-Nazis and far-right sympathizers chasing immigrants through the city of Chemnitz, hurling bottles and fireworks, giving Hitler salutes and chanting “foreigners out”. The violence was triggered by the fatal stabbing of 35-year-old Daniel Hillig, who has a German mother and a Cuban father, after an altercation with a group of men on Saturday night.

Police have arrested one man from Syria and one from Iraq on suspicion of manslaughter. Police denied a rumour that swept social media that Mr Hillig was attacked after he had intervened to stop migrants from sexually harassing women in the city, in the southeast of Germany. Angela Merkel, the chancellor,… Want to read more? Register with a few details to continue reading this article

 

France ‘prepared’ to help forge EU deal with UK after Brexit

France ‘prepared’ to help forge EU deal with UK after Brexit

The French president will push EU leaders to make a post-Brexit deal with the UK at an upcoming meeting. Emmanuel Macron aims to use an EU summit next month to put pressure on the bloc’s leaders to push for a partnership with Britain. At the meeting in Salzburg, Austria, Mr Macron will outline a new structure for European alliances, based on “concentric circles” with the EU and Euro at its core and the UK in a second ring, according to The Times. The newspaper quoted a diplomatic source saying: “He sees a no-deal scenario as something that would break links and poison relations at a time when Europe needs to be united beyond the EU.” Mr Macron has said that any Brexit deal must not damage the EU’s integrity.

It comes as the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier offered words of optimism, saying: “We are prepared to offer Britain a partnership such as there never has been with any other third country.” Image: Michel Barnier said the EU respected the UK’s ‘red lines’ His words helped trigger a sharp rise for sterling, seeing the pound rise to its highest level for weeks. “We respect Britain’s red lines scrupulously,” Mr Barnier said during a news conference in Berlin. “In return, they must respect what we are. Single market means single market. There is no single market a la carte.”

Following his comments, the pound rose to more than $1.30 for the first time in over three weeks. Sterling jumped by a cent against the dollar, and was also up by a cent against the euro at just over €1.11. Mr Barnier’s comments came as Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab admitted the UK and EU might miss October’s deadline for agreeing a divorce deal. With negotiations still deadlocked on issues such as the Irish border, Mr Raab called for “renewed energy” to push an agreement over the line. Giving evidence to the House of Lords’ EU select committee, Mr Raab said: “It is important as we enter the final phase of the negotiations in the lead up to the October council and the possibility that it may creep beyond that, we want to see some renewed energy.

Pound rises as EU’s Barnier hints at ‘ambitious’ Brexit deal “We’re bringing the ambition and the substance of our white paper on the future relationship and also, I think, some pragmatism to try and go the extra mile to get the deal that I think is in both sides interests. “We need that to be matched obviously – it’s a negotiation.” His comments appear to confirm reports that EU and UK officials are now aiming to finalise divorce terms by the middle of November at the latest, which could prompt an emergency Brussels summit. Mr Raab also said a no-deal Brexit could alter the payments of the UK’s £39bn divorce bill to Brussels. Mr Raab’s fellow Brexiteers have argued no money is payable to the EU if there is no final agreement. Earlier on Wednesday, de facto deputy prime minister David Lidington delivered a warning to both Brussels and Tory Brexiteers. He urged them to swallow their opposition to Theresa May’s Chequers plan for the future UK-EU relationship or risk no deal.

Mr Lidington told a French business conference: “With exactly seven months until the end of Article 50 process and less than two months ahead of the October European Council, we face the choice between the pragmatic proposals we are discussing now with the European Commission, or no deal. “The alternative models do not meet the level of ambition or the outcome we all want to see delivered. “So, we need the EU to engage with us on our positive vision of the future relationship.”

 

May is shown the Robben Island cell where Mandela was held captive

May is shown the Robben Island cell where Mandela was held captive

Theresa May is shown the Robben Island cell where Nelson Mandela was held captive for nearly two decades Theresa May has visited the Robben Island cell where Nelson Mandela was held The PM was granted the privilege of going inside the cell to view the conditions Visit came as Mrs May was in Cape Town as part of a three-day tour of Africa  By James Tapsfield, Political Editor For Mailonline In Cape Town, South Africa Published: 19:08, 28 August 2018 | Updated: 09:27, 29 August 2018 Theresa May today visited the prison where Nelson Mandela was held captive for nearly two decades. The Prime Minister received a guided tour and was handed a key to open the cell of the man who went on to become South African president. After viewing the conditions first hand, Mrs May signed the guestbook, writing: ‘It has been a privilege to visit in this year – the 100th anniversary of the birth of Nelson Mandela.

The Prime Minister today received a guided tour and was handed a key to open the cell of the man who went on to become South African president Nelson Mandela (pictured) was held prisoner on Robben island for nearly two decades ‘His legacy lives on in the hopes and dreams of young people here in South Africa and around the world.’  But earlier Mrs May had faced awkward questions on her record campaigning for Nelson Mandela’s release in the Seventies and Eighties. The Prime Minister was repeatedly asked what she did to campaign for Mr Mandela’s freedom during the apartheid era. Mrs May was asked by Channel 4 News whether she felt ‘guilty’ for not doing more at the time, as she prepared to visit Robben Island. Mrs May, who is in South Africa as part of a three-day trade mission to the continent, responded: ‘What I will be feeling when I go to Robben Island is to recognise the immense statesmanship of a man who spent so many years incarcerated and when he came out of that incarceration had that breadth of vision and that calm approach that has enabled South Africa to be built into the country that it is today.’

Read More:
Mandela death: How he survived 27 years in prison
Robben Island: A view into Mandela′s prison life

Before the visit, Mrs May had faced awkward questions on her record campaigning for Nelson Mandela’s release in the Seventies and Eighties Asked if she went on any protests at the time, she said: ‘I think you know full well that I didn’t go on protests. ‘But what is important is the work that the United Kingdom government did to ensure that it was able to give support where that support was needed. She added: ‘What is important was the support that the UK government was giving at the time. Often support behind the scenes, but in other ways too, to ensure that we saw the result that we did in relation to the ending of Apartheid.’

 

Donald Trump shamed into returning White House flag to honour John McCain

Donald Trump shamed into returning White House flag to honour John McCain

Donald Trump was shamed into returning the White House flag to half staff after offering a lukewarm tribute to John McCain. The petulant president broke with protocol and raised the flag again less than 48 hours after the Arizona senator’s death. But following mounting political pressure from veterans and members of Congress, Trump relented and lowered the flag back to half mast on Monday. In a statement, Trump said: “Despite our differences on policy and politics, I respect Senator John McCain’s service to our country and, in his honour, have signed a proclamation to fly the flag of the United States at half-staff until the day of his interment.”

Donald Trump was shamed into u-turning on his decision. McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential nominee, lost his battle with brain cancer on Saturday at the age of 81. His death prompted many Americans to lower flags to half-staff, a traditional gesture of honour at the passing of a national leader. But Trump, who had clashed with fellow Republican McCain over various issues and said during his campaign that the senator was “not a war hero,” wavered in his approach to what presidents normally treat as a gesture of courtesy and respect. Senator John McCain lost his battle with brain cancer on Saturday aged 81. Trump’s White House lowered its flag on Saturday, then raised it back following the minimum period under law.

Trump also delayed issuing the customary proclamation for flags to remain at half-staff for longer than the two-day minimum. He also blocked a White House ­statement ­praising the heroics of McCain, a prisoner of war in Vietnam. Trump ordered the White House flag be raised on Monday. He then relented and ordered it be lowered again to half mast. Press secretary Sarah ­Huckabee Sanders, Chief of Staff John Kelly and others had edited a draft, created before the Senator died. It paid tribute to his service in Asia, where he was shot down and captured. According to US reports, Trump did not want to send out a message calling him a “hero”. Instead, he offered only ­“sympathies” to the family of McCain. President Donald Trump put a stop to a statement praising the widely respected Senator John McCain.

Trump’s former legal team spokesman Mark Corallo branded his churlish decision to veto the tribute ­“atrocious”. He said: “At a time like this, you would expect more of an American ­president when you’re talking about the passing of a true American hero.” Other White House staff, including Sanders, posted eulogies over the weekend to McCain. John McCain RIP But as America mourned the death, Trump played golf in ­Sterling, Virginia. He later took to Twitter, to brag about himself, posting: “Over 90% approval rating for your all-time favourite (I hope) president within the Republican Party.” Throughout the final years of McCain’s life Trump took constant snipes at the Arizona Senator. Video Loading Video Unavailable Click to play Tap to play The video will start in 8Cancel Play now He had a pop at the veteran’s military record, despite avoiding draft himself. Trump said: “He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.”

 

Theresa May faces ‘up to 100’ Tory MPs rebelling over Brexit

Jacob Rees-Mogg is among MPs who want May to scrap her Chequers Brexit strategy.

Theresa May is facing a rebellion from ‘up to 100’ Tory MPs over Brexit, it has been claimed today. As Britain and the EU enter into another round of negotiations backbench Tory MPs in the European Research Group (ERG) are determined to scupper the PM’s strategy. ERG chairman Jacob Rees-Mogg wants the PM to scrap her Chequers Brexit plan which sparked the resignations of Boris Johnson and David Davis.

Rees-Mogg told the Sunday Times today: ‘The prime minister needs to look at what she herself has said, the promises she has made, the commitments of the last election, and see if they square with Chequers and in my view they do not. ‘If she sticks with Chequers, she will find she has a block of votes against her in the House of Commons.’ The ERG is compiling a report which will set out the ‘Canada plus plus’ model and a ‘no deal’ Brexit option. Tory MP Andrew Bridgen, a member of the European Research Group, said: ‘In about two weeks we in the ERG are going to come out with our Canada plus plus and no deal proposals.

On the other hand, Theresa May faces UKIP leader Nigel Farage who delivered a blistering on-air interview, following his announcement of his return to frontline politics, as he claimed Mrs May does not believe Britain is “good enough to run its own affairs”.