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Matthew Hedges: Durham University academic jailed for life in UAE

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Matthew Hedges

A British PhD student Matthew Hedges, 31, of Durham University, who was accused of spying in the United Arab Emirates for the UK government has been sentenced to life in prison.

Hedges says he is innocent and went to Dubai only to research for his thesis. On Wednesday, Hedges was sentenced at an Abu Dhabi court in the absence of any lawyer.

Daniela Tejada, 27, wife of Matthew Hedges, was present in the courtroom and said she is in “complete shock” with the verdict.

“I am in complete shock and I don’t know what to do,” she said. “Matthew is innocent. The Foreign Office know this and have made it clear to the UAE authorities that Matthew is not a spy for them. The British government must take a stand now for Matthew, one of their citizens. They say that the UAE is an ally, but the overwhelmingly arbitrary handling of Matt’s case indicates a scarily different reality, for which Matt and I are being made to pay a devastatingly high price,” she continued.

Tejada also said the case is not being handled seriously, “This whole case has been handled appallingly from the very beginning with no-one taking Matthew’s case seriously.”

Matthew Hedges was detained at the Dubai airport on May 5, after an Emirati man reported him to the authorities for “asking sensitive questions about some sensitive departments” and “seeking to gather classified information on the UAE”.

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt was “seeking a call with Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed,” said Theresa May.

Hunt too was “deeply shocked and disappointed” by the verdict.

Hunt has raised the case with the “highest levels of the UAE government”. He also said the verdict was “not what we expect from a friend and trusted partner of the United Kingdom, and runs contrary to earlier assurances”.

Tory MP Crispin Blunt has asked May to make it clear to the UAE, if Matthew Hedges “is not released, I don’t see why we should be committed to their defence”.

A life sentence in the UAE means maximum of 25 years in prison.

However, Matthew Hedges has 30 days to appeal, while he will still be kept in the jail.

Attorney General Dr Hamad Saif Al Shamsi said, ”The defendant confessed in detail to his crimes during investigations whereby he was accorded his full rights and assurances as per the UAE constitution and state laws to fair and transparent trial.”

Hunt has been urging the UAE to reconsider the case.

“Our consular officials have been in close contact with Matthew Hedges and his family. We will continue to do everything possible to support him,” Hunt Said.


As Brexit Deadline Looms, MPs Set to Cast Vote on Johnson’s Deal

Mirror News Desk



As Brexit Deadline Looms, MPs Set to Cast Vote on Johnson's Deal

Brexit deadline, as it once again reaches climax, faces a crunch test today. With MPs set to cast their crucial vote for the first time in 37 years to poll on British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal, the air of anxiety is rising in the nation.

Similar to the time of the former prime minister Theresa May, the scenario today is poised for an unexpected outcome, especially given that Labour MPs have continuously bashed the idea of leaving the European Union.

The PM Johnson has been trying to convince MPs to support, and with the Brexit deadline waiting to haunt this Halloween, a failure to pass the divorce agreement today can lead to severe consequences.

As reported, Johnson’s former DUP allies and parties in opposition are planning to vote down the new agreement. Nevertheless, at least nine Labour MPs are on course to defy that idea, while Johnson also foresees support from the MPs he sacked last month.

On Thursday, after reaching the deal with Brussels at the eleventh hour by agreeing to a customs border in the Irish Sea, Johnson’s Brexit deal now faces a new “deal or no deal” scenario. The new plan abandons the previously promised Irish Backstop plan, and will instead give way to implement a new customs border along the Irish sea.

Yet despite the changes, the Conservative and Labour MPs will table an amendment allowing the parliament to bar the deal’s approval until the legislation to Brexit has passed. The idea, which as per Oliver Letwin and Hilary Benn would not block the deal, would mean that even if the withdrawal agreement is passed in Commons, the Brexit deadline would still not be October 31; courtesy Benn Act. The act that would legally oblige the prime minister to ask for an extension of Article 50 from the 27 European Union member states.

Writing in the Sun, Johnson said: “There have been any number of false dawns. Deadlines for our departure have come and gone. I ask everyone to cast their mind forward to the end of today – and imagine what it could be like if the new Brexit deal has been approved.” “A difficult, divisive and – yes – painful chapter in our history would be at an end,” he added as a plea to the MPs.

However, the idea was completely opposed by the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn who tweeted: “united in opposing” Mr. Johnson’s “sell-out Brexit deal”. Further stating that his party would “come together and reject it”.

Also, earlier in his letter to the party MPs, Corbyn argued that the new accord was a “worse deal” than the one put forward by Theresa May. He also conveyed these proposals “risk triggering a race to the bottom on rights and protections”.

The risk of crashing out or leaving with a deal, doesn’t look safe for Britain. However, with a deal in hand, Britain will lest have a transition period up its sleeve to settle the conundrum.

Three years in, MPs vote on a really crucial decision about the future of UK once again. So, will the UK dawn to a new high on Saturday with the approval of the deal, or will it return to square one?

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Labour MP Accuses Leader Jeremy Corbyn of Promoting anti-Semitism

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Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour Party, is once again accused of promoting anti-Semitism and has been claimed dangerous to the secular and tolerant society of the country.

Dame Louise Ellman, associated with the Labour party for more than 50 years, has resigned from the party claiming that Corbyn is “a danger to the country” and a “danger to the Jewish community” since his election as the Labour leader.

This is not the first time Corbyn or Labour party has been accused of such racial controversies. Earlier, in February and July this year, the party took action against 350 members of the party with the action ranging from expelled to giving formal warnings or asking them to resign from the party.

The anti-Semitism accusations come at a very serious time when the Labour Party is looking to gain the support of common people, in case of general elections.

Moreover, the accusations have forced the common secular, tolerant Britons to consider the fact that if a party like Labour can have an ideology against one of the major communities of the UK, then how safe other communities are if Labour emerges as the winner in general elections.

The Jewish community majorly hails from the Middle East that migrated in an attempt to safeguard themselves from various factors like physical abuse, anti-Semitism, political instability, poverty, and forced expulsion.

Ellman, while announcing her resignation from the party, said, “There is certainly a possibility, if not a likelihood, that Jeremy Corbyn could become prime minister, and this means I’ve had to face taking a decision.”

“In that situation I do not wish to stand as a Labour MP, asking people to vote for Jeremy Corbyn as prime minister. So I have come to the conclusion that I have to resign,” she added.

Last year, even former Prime Minister Theresa May claimed the same, saying if labour gains the majority in the parliament, it would be “national calamity”. Additionally, it won’t be wrong to consider the fact that it was the exact anti-Semitism thinking of the Labour party and its leaders that led to a decline in numbers of the community across the country, recently.

For a long time, the Britons have been successful in maintaining the air of harmony, secularism, and growth by working together and supporting every part of the community.

However, any such comments might lay waste to all those efforts and hard work of the citizens, adversely affecting the growth of the country, its economy, defence, trade and various other sectors on which the society and its entire section is completely dependent on.

The Home Affairs Select Committee should investigate the reason and truth behind such claims, ensuring that the Britons and the leaders do not commit the grave error, which Gulf region did a long time back.

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Johnson’s Government Struggles for Brexit Deal Prior to Withdrawal Date

Mirror News Desk



Brexit deal

In the wake of the Brexit deal that has been a heated topic for debates since its launch in 2016, the country is willing to reach a deal before the summit ahead, making concessions to its plans over Northern Ireland border that is considered to be a specific part of the UK.

Though the border is a key sticking point in the UK-EU deal talks, at a time when the government is ready for post-Brexit arrangements, yet its deal does not seem to be enough for the EU. The EU officials have been demanding more movement from Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who himself thinks that a “significant work” is still missing.

Prime Minister’s Early Attempts

With respect to the Northern Ireland border, Johnson earlier wrote a letter to the EU Council asking them to remove the Irish Backstop from the withdrawal agreement. He claimed that though Britain’s priority was to leave the EU with a favourable deal, it could only happen if the backstop was removed from the withdrawal deal as it was “anti-democratic and inconsistent with the sovereignty of the UK as a state”.

However, in present Johnson is ready for negotiations. The decision comes days before the two-day summit in Brussels, where the Prime Minister would meet 27 EU leaders for Brexit deal negotiations.

Government’s New Agenda through Queen’s Speech

The Queen’s Speech during the opening of new session of Parliament on Monday would set out the government’s legislative agenda, focusing on “people’s priorities”. Some of the proposals in the Queen’s Speech would include:

  • Measures to bring in a points-based immigration system from 2021
  • Scrapping the rail franchise system – the contracting out of services introduced when the rail system was privatised in the 1990s
  • Setting up an independent NHS investigations body with legal powers to improve patient safety
  • Updating the Mental Health Act to reduce the number of detentions made under it
  • Creating legally binding targets to reduce plastics, cut air pollution, restore biodiversity and improve water quality

UK-EU Talks Before Summit

While the UK and the EU’s negotiating teams continue to reach a deal before the scheduled summit on Thursday and Friday, the EU officials believe that there is a big gap over customs arrangements. During the weekend talks over the Brexit deal, the EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier said the UK plans on the tracking of goods were unacceptable.

Barnier, in his briefing to the EU diplomats, added that the UK had dropped its proposals to include an up-front veto for Northern Ireland politicians in the Stormont Assembly before any arrangements for the country came into force. The UK is still seeking power for Northern Ireland to leave the arrangements at some point in the future.

The discussions between the UK-EU officials in Brussels would continue today with the prospects of an agreement in time for Britain to leave with a deal on October 31 in the balance. If the government succeeds in reaching an agreement at the summit it will again introduce a withdrawal agreement bill to be voted on next Saturday in a special Parliamentary session.


Though the government plans to use the Queen’s speech to describe its aims by bringing ideas of improved building standards, and increasing investment in infrastructure and science, the question at large is whether it would succeed in making the Brexit deal happen?  

The EU negotiators on the other hand seem to have “softened” their position, indicating they are prepared to keep talking until Wednesday – the eve of the summit. With the withdrawal date approaching, everyone awaits the bigger surprise of whether the UK would celebrate the Brexit deal success or would once again be drenched in the EU laws.  

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Boris Johnson’s No-deal Brexit is How English Win Over the Rest of UK

Mirror News Desk



UK Brexit | Boris Johnson's No-deal Brexit is How English Win Over the Rest of UK

Boasting of plans that would see United Kingdom across the line come October 31, Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the annual Conservative Party conference last week, avowed of “constructive and reasonable proposals” that he had up his kitty.

The statement was cheered at first, but later looked at from a very different perspective because it once again only completely looked to eradicate the previously promised Irish Backstop plan.

The dispelling concerns about leaving the European Union without a deal have already scared the wit out of Britain. The same old debate, which has seen the extension of Article 50, demonstrations to remain, rise of populist movement to a new high and MPs along with even the Prime Minister resign, still hasn’t settled the scores with the European Union. However, the idea works best for Boris Johnson, who on public front has called for control of trade policy, which he says is fundamental to Britain’s future vision. However, the reality seems otherwise.

Offering a Second Look

UK voted to leave the European Union, but as the date looms, the internal prospects for British dissolution cannot be looked upon. What the Brexit to-and-fro has shown since 2016 is a loud version of English blindness, as if only England were to leave and not the entire UK.

Commencing with his first speech as the Prime Minister and justifying with selection of his cabinet members, Boris Johnson’s abhorrence with the EU is overtly visible. Yet he remains clear because the nexus of the argument here is to leave and without a deal in place.

Looking at Boris Johnson’s record it becomes evident that he has followed a path that is more English than British. Working both as a Brexit campaigner and scribe for the Daily Telegraph until 1994, the UK Prime Minister condemned European Commission, while establishing himself as the Eurosceptic journalist.

The UK is under besiegement from whichever way it is looked at. Beginning with the prime minister’s attempt at suspending the parliament, which was a measure designed to prevent MPs from functioning normally, to beating around the same bush that UK voted to leave and threatening to agree on the divorce agreement or leave without a deal, there is only one way of out of this situation, there isn’t any.

So, with the prominent English ideology that marks as if the Conservative Party are running the UK, here is what they have totally forgotten. At helm is the fact that Scotland is the most likely candidate to exit this unsettled union. While 51.9 per cent Britons voted to leave, 62 per cent Scots voted to remain. Also, while 52 per cent Welsh supported leave, the idea has become conflicting with calls to scrap Brexit at a general election, if the UK government sought a mandate for leaving the EU without a deal.

Hywel Williams, MP for Arfon, said: “If the UK Government seeks a crash out, no deal mandate, Plaid Cymru must and will campaign to revoke Article 50 because at that point, that will be the only lever left to protect Wales and our communities from the disastrous effects of no deal.”

Money that Matters

According to the reports, with no-deal Brexit, Johnson won’t only win over the EU and rest of the UK, but will also allegedly make financial gains.

John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor has, therefore, written to the cabinet secretary Sir Mark Sedwill, asking if there may be a conflict of interest in Johnson’s acceptance of support from hedge funds, which could gain from an economic shock of no deal scenario.

Philip Hammond, the former chancellor, speaking on the same lines said, the prime minister was pursuing the interest of his financial backers. “Johnson is backed by speculators who have bet billions on a hard Brexit – and there is only one option that works for them: a crash-out no-deal that sends the currency tumbling and inflation soaring,” Hammond wrote in the Times.

As evident as it looks now, Johnson isn’t working as the prime minister, but as the minister of his interests. Consequently, from every angle whether it is controlling the trade policy, scrapping of Irish Backstop or delivering what people asked for; Britain is falling down at a rapid pace. The pace that is more than matched by Johnson’s shrewdness, who on the public front wants nothing, but a better policy than the previous one.

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Sprinter Gold Winner Dina Asher-Smith Prepares for 2020 Summer Olympics

Mirror News Desk



Dina Asher-Smith

After winning gold in a 200m global sprint competition at the 2019 IAAF World Athletics Championship, which is being held in Doha, Qatar, British sprinter Dina Asher-Smith is now preparing for a step forward and aiming to participate in Tokyo’s Olympic glory next year. This is her second medal after silver that she won for 100m sprint race.

Known for breaking records, Asher-Smith has become the fastest woman ever in the history of sports, finishing the 100 and 200 meters in 10.83 secs and 21.88 secs respectively in the 2019 World Championship.

Other than being a 2019 World Champion at 200 metres, the 23-year-old is also the 2016 and 2018 European champion. At such a young age, Dina Asher-Smith has won huge fame with her hard work and constant success. She is a gold medallist of 2018 Commonwealth Games and European Championship. She even won bronze in 2016 Olympics and silver in 2017 World Championship.

During the 2015 World Championship, Asher-Smith broke the former elite sprinter Kathy Cook’s 200 metres record. The runner has been preparing herself against the next challenge i.e. 2020 Summer Olympics, which is an upcoming international multi-sport event that would take place next summer in Tokyo, Japan.

Wishing for more success in future, Dina Asher-Smith said, “The Olympics is less than a year away so we’ve already been thinking about it. But my coach John Blackie and I still have some things to work on. In the 100m I didn’t run the race I planned. I am still getting stronger and more experience physically and mentally. So hopefully there is more to come and it should be an exciting journey.”

The famed sprinter said that she would never let her success of being an athlete get in her way of hard work, saying, “I train six days a week and I am still going to push myself to the limit. It’s very unglamorous when you’ve got lactic [acid], and you’re on the floor. Ultimately you’re only ever as good as your last performance.” 

Asher-Smith added, “Athletics is a very unpredictable and at times unforgiving sport.

“I could run the same time next year and finish fifth in the Olympics – that’s just how it goes. So I have to really keep my feet firmly on the ground and keep working hard.”

Dina Asher-Smith started her career in sports at the tender age of eight. Getting stronger and faster is one of her main objectives in life, which she had been following while she was a little girl. Breaking the previous records be it her own national record is one of the major challenges that she lives for. Meanwhile, commemorating her achievement, she dedicated her gold medal to her parents and her trainer Blackie, who guided her when her passion for sports was at the initial stage.

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