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Falkland Islands sovereignty not up for debate, UK warns after Argentina’s new president vows to ‘get them back’ | Politics News

There is “no doubt” the Falkland Islands are British, Rishi Sunak’s spokesperson has said, after Argentina’s new president vowed to “get them back”.

Javier Milei, who was elected in Argentina’s presidential election on Sunday, has said Buenos Aires had “non-negotiable” sovereignty over the Falklands, known as Islas Malvinas by Argentines.

He said his government would “make every effort” to take the islands back “through diplomatic channels”.

But the prime minister’s official spokesperson said: “The UK has no doubt about the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands.”

The Falkland Islands were the subject of a bloody conflict in 1982 after Argentine forces invaded and briefly occupied the territory.

The war claimed the lives of 255 British servicemen, three islanders and 649 Argentine personnel.

Mr Sunak’s spokesperson said: “The UK government will continue to proactively defend the Falkland islanders’ right to self-determination.”

British ministers regularly cite the results of a 2013 referendum that saw close to 100% of voters on the islands, which has a population of about 3,500 people, opt to remain a UK Overseas Territory.

The No 10 official said Falklands rule was an “issue that was settled decisively some time ago”.

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Javier Milei used to carry a chainsaw at his early rallies as a symbol of his planned cuts. Pic: AP
Javier Milei. Pic: AP

New president pledges to recover islands ‘through diplomatic channels’

Mr Milei had reportedly said during a TV election debate: “What do I propose? Argentina’s sovereignty over the Malvinas Islands is non-negotiable. The Malvinas are Argentine.

“Now we have to see how we are going to get them back. It is clear that the war option is not a solution.

“We had a war – that we lost – and now we have to make every effort to recover the islands through diplomatic channels.”

In an interview with daily newspaper La Nacion, Mr Milei proposed the UK hand over the Falklands to his South American country in a similar way to how Hong Kong was given over to Chinese rule in 1997.

The populist politician, a self-described anarcho-capitalist who has been compared to former US president Donald Trump, conceded that the views of those living on the islands “cannot be ignored”.

‘Undeniable’ Falkland Islands are British

Defence Secretary Grant Shapps said it is “non-negotiable and undeniable” the Falkland Islands are British.

He tweeted: “99.8% of islanders voted to remain British and we will always defend their right to self-determination and the UK’s sovereignty.”

Rejecting any negotiation on the future of the Falklands, Mr Shapps highlighted how Royal Navy ship HMS Forth had been sent back to “protect the islands” in the southern hemisphere. It follows a nine-month stint by HMS Medway to patrol the remote location.

It comes after Mr Sunak criticised the EU for its “regrettable choice of words” in July after it appeared to have endorsed the name Argentina prefers.

Boris Johnson vows to create ‘Newtopia’ for amphibians threatening his swimming pool plans | Politics News

Boris Johnson has vowed to do “whatever it takes” to protect newts that have threatened his plans to build an outdoor swimming pool at his Oxfordshire country manor.

The former prime minister promised to build a “Newtopia”, consisting of “newt motels”, for the amphibians who have taken residence at the Grade II-listed Brightwell Manor he shares with his wife Carrie and their three young children.

Mr Johnson – who ironically once blamed “newt counting” for holding up “the productivity and the prosperity of this country” – applied to install the 11-metre by four-metre outdoor feature at his manor in June.

But the process may be delayed after the local countryside officer warned of the risk to great crested newts – which thrive in the village and are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

In his latest Daily Mail column, Mr Johnson wrote: “If it turns out that our garden is so honoured and so fortunate as to be the home of some newts – great crested, ­palmate, whatever – I want you to know that I will do whatever it takes to protect them.

“If we have to build little newt motels to house them in their trips past the swimming pool, then we will. If we have to create whole newt-friendly bunds to stop them falling in, we will.

“We will excavate new ponds in which they can breed. We will make a Newtopia!”

Former  Prime Minister Boris Johnson runs near his home in Brightwell-cum-Sotwell, Oxfordshire

Johnson’s proposed pool in ‘highest risk’ area

The South and Vale countryside officer last month filed a holding objection to Mr Johnson’s planned pool, arguing that the newts could be “impacted by the proposed development”.

In his report, which stated that planning permission should not “currently” be granted, local government ecologist Edward Church wrote: “There are known populations of great crested newts… in the east of the village.

“Mapping shows that there is a pond onsite and a moat immediately adjacent to the southern boundary, both well within 250 metres of the position of the proposed pool.

“The proposed development falls within the red zone of highest risk to GCN [great crested newts].”

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Mr Johnson said that according to one of the ­ecology reports he has received – which he described as “amazingly expensive but worth every penny” – “there are ­certainly bodies of water nearby that could be hospitable to newts”.

“There is a chance that these creatures could be interrupted in their peregrinations, when they leave their watery lairs, by an unexpected new hole in the lawn,” he said.

“I am told that something that could be the spoor of the newt has been found, but we await DNA testing from the lab – and so, inevitably, I am warned that there may be delays, and there may be costs.”

The Wildlife Trust says the great crested newt, which is protected under UK and European wildlife law, is the biggest of the UK’s newt species, measuring up to 17cm.

The so-called “warty newt” is almost black with spotted flanks and an orange belly, with the charity comparing it to a mini-dinosaur.

Newt numbers are in decline, with habitat loss cited as their biggest threat.

Rishi Sunak vows to clear immigration backlog – but dodges questions on leaving European Convention on Human Rights | Politics News

Rishi Sunak has repeatedly refused to say whether the UK would have to leave the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) to deliver his government’s plan for removing asylum seekers who arrive illegally.

Making his debut appearance at the Commons Liaison Committee, the prime minister was asked by the SNP’s Joanna Cheery whether the UK would have to derogate from the ECHR to fulfil his proposals to curb immigration.

“You will see the legislation next year and no doubt we will have the opportunity to debate it then but I wouldn’t want to speculate on that now,” he said.

Mr Sunak said he welcomes the High Court’s ruling on Monday that the government’s policy of removing asylum seekers to Rwanda is lawful.

He told MPs he believes the plans will help tackle the problem of small boats crossing the Channel.

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But the PM refused to be drawn on whether the government’s Rwanda policy would require changes to the Human Rights Act or the UK’s commitment to the ECHR.

Both Home Secretary Suella Braverman and Justice Secretary Dominic Raab have said the government may have to consider withdrawing from the ECHR to press ahead successfully with the government’s plans.

“We expect further legal challenge. We will continue to pursue that as necessary,” he said.

“I believe the Rwanda scheme represents an important part of our plan to tackle illegal migration and stop small boats. It is not the only part of it but it is an important part of it. That is why I welcome the court decision yesterday.

“We will introduce legislation in the new year that will achieve the aim I set out. I am confident that we can deliver on that plan and it will make a difference and reduce the number of boats arriving.”

On Monday, Lord Justice Lewis said in his ruling that the controversial policy, introduced under Boris Johnson, was “consistent with the refugee convention”.

However, he said the home secretary should look at people’s “particular circumstances” before deporting them to the central African country.

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Braverman defends Rwanda plan

Making a statement in the Commons after the judgment, the home secretary said the Rwanda policy is a “humane” and “practical alternative” for those who come to the UK through “dangerous, illegal and unnecessary routes”.

“Being relocated to Rwanda is not a punishment, but an innovative way of addressing a major problem to redress the imbalance between illegal and legal migration routes,” she told MPs.

The government announced its Rwanda policy back in April, which would see some asylum seekers who had reached the UK via small boat Channel crossings deported to the country to have their cases processed.

Ms Patel said it would help deter people from making the dangerous journey, but human rights campaigners, charities and opposition parties condemned the plan as inhumane.

PM evasive as he faces questions on immigration

The PM avoided directly answering questions about immigration.

Diana Johnson asked how many small boat crossings he expects next year, whether anyone will be waiting more than 6 months for an asylum claims and how many will be sent to Rwanda, but the PM wouldn’t set specific targets, saying the issues “can’t be solved overnight”.

While the court decision yesterday that the Rwanda plan is legal was a win for the government, the plan being workable relies on swift action.

The home office being potentially dragged to court over every Rwanda deportation case makes it very hard for the policy hard to work as a deterrent.

Rishi Sunak knows it’s an issue that chimes with many voters and Tory MPs, something he said is a personal priority.

He pledged last week to “abolish” the immigration backlog, to achieve something his predecessors tried and failed to.

The PM may not be setting himself any targets today, but images of small boats arriving on the Kent coast will speak for themselves.

The first flight was set to take off in June with four people on board, but was halted after a number of legal challenges and the European Court of Human Rights ruling the plan carried “a real risk of irreversible harm”.

However, both Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss insisted they would push ahead with the policy when they took the keys to Number 10.

Meanwhile, the PM also told the Commons Liaison Committee that he was committed to abolishing the backlog of 92,000 asylum claims – as it stood at the end of June 2022 – by the end of the year.

However, the current backlog stands at 117,00.

“I think it would represent one of the most significant reductions in the backlog we have seen. If we can go further I would absolutely love to,” he said.

Immigration minister vows ‘Hotel Britain’ will end for migrants to deter ‘asylum shopping’ | UK News

The immigration minister has declared that “Hotel Britain” must end, calling for migrants to be housed in “simple, functional” spaces rather than “luxury” rooms.

Robert Jenrick said that a “chronic shortage of acceptable accommodation” for “record numbers” of migrants has led to the government using expensive hotels, adding to the cost for taxpayers.

But, writing in The Sunday Telegraph, he suggested that more basic accommodation should be considered, such as disused student accommodation, defunct holiday parks, or even budget cruise ships.

Mr Jenrick said: “Human decency has to be accompanied by hard-headed common sense: illegal immigrants are not entitled to luxury hotels.

“Conditions in the UK are almost always better than in neighbouring countries, which helps explain why the UK is a destination of choice for economic migrants on the continent ‘asylum shopping’.

“‘Hotel Britain’ must end, and be replaced with simple, functional accommodation that does not create an additional pull factor.”

It comes as UK ministers are under fire over conditions at the Manston holding centre in Kent – at one point as many as 4,000 people were being detained at the site, despite it being designed to hold just 1,600.

It has also emerged that people at the facility will be vaccinated against diphtheria after 39 cases of the contagious disease were recorded among asylum seekers in England in the year to 10 November.

Manston migrant processing centre in Thanet, Kent, is seen from the air
Manston migrant processing centre

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The number of migrants who have crossed the Channel into the UK is thought to have surpassed 40,000 this year, after dozens more arrived on Saturday.

And the mayor of Calais was quoted in French media as saying that “around 500 people” were rescued after 14 attempts to cross the Channel in the previous 24 hours.

Mr Jenrick said that the UK needed to work closely with French officials to deter those “attempting to cheat the process”.

It has been reported in recent days that a new agreement with France – thought to be worth about £80m – is in its final stages.

He said: “With greater co-ordination between our respective security and law enforcement agencies, we can dismantle the evil criminal gangs masterminding these crossings and bring greater order both to our shores and to northern France.”

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Mr Jenrick also said that he would look at expanding the controversial Rwanda deportation scheme introduced by former home secretary Priti Patel.

The scheme, which sees migrants deported to the east African nation, whether their asylum applications are successful or not, has not yet been used.

But Mr Jenrick said similar agreements will be explored with other countries, adding that those travelling from “safe” nations must not view small boats as “a path to a life here”.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman vows to stop Channel migrant crossings – and will ‘make Rwanda scheme work’ | Politics News

The new home secretary has vowed to stop small boats crossing the Channel and to find a way to “make the Rwanda scheme work”.

Suella Braverman, in her first speech in the job, received a standing ovation at the Conservative Party conference after promising to stop the illegal migrant crossings.

“We have got to stop the boats crossing the Channel. This has gone on for too long. But I have to be straight with you, there are no quick fixes,” she said.

“The problem is chronic. Organised criminal gangs are selling a lie to thousands of people. Many are drowning in the Channel.

“Many are leaving a safe country like France and abusing our asylum system.”

Ms Braverman told the Birmingham conference said she will work closely with France “to get more out of our partnership” both on the French coastline and “further upstream” against the criminal gangs smuggling people over.

This announcement was met with a standing ovation from the audience and prompted her to say she had not finished yet.

The home secretary added that in order to prevent illegal migration “we need to find a way to make the Rwanda scheme work”.

She hit out at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) overriding the UK Supreme Court so the government’s first deportation flight to Rwanda was unable to take off.

Her predecessor, Priti Patel, launched the scheme to send migrants, who came into the UK via small boats in the Channel, to Rwanda in a partnership with the African country.

But no flights have yet left the UK due to the ECHR’s decisions, with Ms Braverman saying: “We need to take back control.”

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Is Liz Truss trusted?

Modern slavery

She also said the largest group of migrants in small boats are currently coming from Albania, which she said is “a safe country”.

Ms Braverman said many of them claim to have been trafficked as modern slaves “despite them having paid thousands of pounds to come here, or having willingly taken a dangerous journey across the Channel”.

She said many are not modern slaves and their claims of being trafficked “are lies”.

Dover’s Tory MP Natalie Elphicke told Sky News she welcomed the measures and added that the British people will “absolutely help people in need of asylum” but the situation is abused daily in the town.

Ms Braverman also said there are “egregious examples of convicted paedophiles and rapists” making last-minute claims of modern slavery to block their deportation.

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Demonstrators outside the Royal Courts of Justice, central London, protesting against the Government's plan to send some asylum seekers to Rwanda, while a High Court hearing over the policy is ongoing. Picture date: Monday September 5, 2022.
The Rwanda flights have yet to take off due to legal challenges

Not racist to want to control borders

In her wide-ranging speech, the home secretary said legal migration needs to be controlled so those who emigrate to the UK assimilate.

“It’s not racist for anyone, ethnic minority or otherwise, to want to control our borders,” said Ms Braverman, whose parents came from Kenya and Mauritius in the 1960s.

“It’s not bigoted to say that we have too many asylum seekers who are abusing the system.

“It’s not xenophobic to say that mass and rapid migration places pressure on housing, public services and community relations.

“I reject the Left’s argument that it is hypocritical for someone from an ethnic minority to tell these truths.”

Police officers detain one of the Extinction Rebellion activists who protested at the Houses of Parliament in London, Britain September 2, 2022. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls
Ms Braverman took aim at Extinction Rebellion protesters

Police should not take the knee

She also promised to back the police and to ensure they investigate every neighbourhood crime.

Members applauded when she said officers must have powers to “stop protesters who use guerrilla tactics” and warned activists from environmental groups Just Stop Oil, Insulate Britain and Extinction Rebellion that they will be jailed for breaking the law during protests.

She also said it was wrong for police to take the knee, join in political demonstrations and for male officers to strip search female suspects.

“More PCs, less PC,” she said to a roar of applause.

The home secretary also pledged to ensure the Prevent terrorism referral scheme is “fit for purpose”.

Archie Battersbee vigil attracts hundreds of people as his mother vows ‘things have got to change’ | UK News

Hundreds of people gathered to pay their respects to Archie Battersbee, the 12-year-old whose life support was withdrawn after a lengthy court battle.

A crowd gathered with affectionate signs at the bandstand in Priory Park in Southend, Essex, Archie’s home town, on Sunday.

Cards and purple balloons – many later released into the sky – had messages written on them and were hung upon a pine tree.

The messages included “a mother’s love”, featuring a photograph of Archie and his mother Hollie Dance.

Children were in attendance and played with bubbles, and one attendee lit a purple flare as a mark of respect.

Ms Dance addressed the crowd to thank them.

“Thank you so, so much for supporting us while we were in that awful place,” she said.

“I hope you all stand by me in trying to change this law, Archie’s army, so that no more of our children and their parents go through this.”

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Archie’s mother spoke to journalists earlier in the evening, describing the last few months as “really hard”.

“It was a fight for my little boy’s life. If I had to go back and do it again, I would fight equally hard,” she said.

“I will continue this fight. I have got no intention of giving up, Archie wouldn’t want me to give up, he would definitely want me to continue.

“Things have got to change.”

Archie Battersbee. Pic: Hollie Dance
Archie Battersbee died earlier this month. Pic: Hollie Dance

Archie died on 6 August at the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, east London, after a prolonged legal fight.

The boy had been in a coma since 7 April, when his mother found him unconscious at their home.

Doctors treating him said he was “brain-stem dead” and was only being kept alive by medical interventions, including ventilation and drug treatments.

His family had fought to continue his life support treatment in the hope that Archie would recover.

Sunak vows to crack down on university degrees that do not improve ‘earning potential’ | Politics News

Rishi Sunak has vowed to phase out university degrees that do not improve students’ “earning potential”, under plans to reform education if he became the UK’s next prime minister.

In proposals announced tonight, the Tory leadership contender pledged to create a Russell Group of technical colleges.

The changes would mark “a significant stride towards parity of esteem between vocational and academic education,” his campaign said.

Were he to beat Liz Truss in the leadership contest, Mr Sunak committed to strengthening networks of technical institutions and their links with industry, as well as giving them powers to award degrees.

“A good education is the closest thing we have to a silver bullet when it comes to making people’s lives better,” the former chancellor said.

He promised his reforms would “take a tougher approach to university degrees that saddle students with debt, without improving their earning potential”.

Mr Sunak attended fee-paying private school Winchester College, before studying Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) at Oxford University.

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Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak were questioned about the economy, their records, previous views, and their trust in politics.

The former chancellor promised to assess university degrees through their drop-out rates, numbers in graduate jobs and salary thresholds – making exceptions for nursing and other courses with high social value.

In an apparent bid to appeal to the right, Mr Sunak’s campaign said he would also expedite the Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill, which the government argues is necessary to tackle growing intolerance in universities.

Opponents suggest it is aimed at addressing a problem that does not exist and could protect hate speech.

Mr Sunak also pledged to improve professional development for teachers, progress plans announced by the Government in June to open 75 new free schools, and give school trusts an “accountability holiday” for two years after taking on underperforming schools.

As part of her plans for education, rival Liz Truss has committed to replacing failing academies with new free schools, and promised that pupils with top marks at A level would get an automatic invitation to apply for Oxbridge and other prestigious universities.