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Gone but not forgotten

April 9, 2017

The line of gravestones tell only half the story at the CWGC Faubourg d’Amiens cemetery in France.

These heroes never made it home from the opening skirmishes as British and Commonwealth forces burst out against the Germans in the Battle of Arras.

Today sees the memorial services to the first day of the battle – exactly 100 years ago.

Between April 9 and when the battle ended in stalemate five weeks later on May 16, the British registered 160,000 casualties.

My grandfather, Charlie Barton (1891-1972), will count himself among the lucky ones.

Sitting inside the ‘sardine can’ of his Mk II ‘Male’ British tank, my grandfather had already witnessed nearly three years of the frontline horrors of World War I.

His tank was hit at Arras and he was hospitalised for many months after suffering shocking leg injuries which left him walking on a cushion support under both feet arches for the rest of his life.

It didn’t stop him staying in the Army until the end of World War II.

For the fallen and those that lived to fight another day (all heroes) – let us remember.


Artist formerly known as ‘Gorgeous’ hops aboard Brexit gravy train. But is Jezza sitting out tortuous journey en route to Number 10?

August 21, 2016

SUNDAY SOAPBOX .. . August 21, 2016

JEREMY CORBYN: Not enough trains

JEREMY CORBYN: Not enough trains

ONE was an austerity peddler while the other is often seen with a bike in tow and now sitting on the floor of a crowded rail carriage.

How the world has changed post-Brexit for former Chancellor George Osborne but less so for Labour’s under-fire but unruffled leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Mr Osborne – the Government overseer of ‘tightening our belts’ for six years as well as the architect of ‘Project Fear’ in the run-up to the EU referendum – seemed to have lost everything when he nailed his colours to the wrong jockey in the In/Out Race of the Century on June 23.

The darling of Tory conference and rabbit-out-the-hat Budgets, ‘gorgeous’ George had once looked set fair to take on the PM cape when David Cameron exited sometime before the 2020 general election.

The Brexit vote stopped him in his tracks and the subsequent fallout saw high-profile runners and riders unseated before claiming more casulaties in the Number 10 Steeplechase – most notably Boris Johnson and Michael Gove.

But Mr Osborne, I hear, is back in the saddle again – determined to make it ‘first past the post’ in the After-dinner Speaker Stakes.

He has been cleared to join the public speaker agency used by the likes of Tony Blair and George W. Bush to rake in hundreds of thousands of pounds.

The Advisory Committee on Business Appointments formally signed off on Osborne joining the Washington Speakers Bureau this week.

Past speakers have included Iraq invasion-era PM Tony Blair, his successor Gordon Brown and high-profile Americans such as former President George W. Bush and ex-Secretary of State Colin Powell. Former Australian PM Tony Abbott is also on the agency’s books.

Fees are not officially disclosed but are rumoured to be as high as £230,000 for former heads of state or prime ministers.

Mr Osborne, relegated to the back benches by newly-installed PM Theresa May, is expected to work for the agency for two days a week and lecture on “the current political environment.”

The official nod was given on the grounds he would not take up the role for three months after leaving cabinet and “personally approve any engagement to ensure that there is no conflict of interest.”

While political leaders David Cameron and Nigel Farage stepped down in the wake of the Brexit vote, Jezza found himself forced to contest the leadership of the Labour Party just 12 months after securing a landslide victory.

He’s suffered a seismic vote of no confidence from the Parliamentary Labour Party; lost one High Court battle over membership; got a stab in the front from London Mayor Sadiq Khan who accused him of ” “failing to win the trust and respect of the British people”; and ends a rough-and-tumble week – on his backside.

The Labour veteran was filmed joining seatless commuters on the floor during a three-hour train ride to debate leadership challenger Owen Smith.

By contrast, Mr Corbyn’s rival has been previously exposed enjoying first class travel at taxpayer expense.

From his spot on the floor, where he chose to sit instead of upgrading to first class, Corbyn says: “This is a problem that many passengers face every day, commuters and long distance travellers. Today this train is completely ram-packed. The staff are absolutely brilliant, working really hard to help everybody.

“The reality is there are not enough trains, we need more of them – and they’re also incredibly expensive.”

According to The Guardian, he later said: “Is it fair that I should upgrade my ticket whilst others who might not be able to afford such a luxury should have to sit on the floor? It’s their money I would be spending after all.”

This isn’t the first time Corbyn has won public attention while enduring the reality of Britain’s transport network.

During the 2015 leadership campaign he was spotted looking tired on a London night bus after a day of campaigning, proving his ‘man of the people’ credentials.
Labour leadership challenger Smith has also been in the public eye for his public transport use, but not in a positive light.

In 2012, an investigation revealed 185 MPs – including Smith and a third of shadow cabinet ministers – were enjoying first class train travel at the taxpayer expense.

The Daily Telegraph investigation showed MPs, who are normally required to travel by standard class, were exploiting a loophole which allowed them to buy first class tickets in some circumstances.

It’s August 2016 – and a lot can happen with us four years away to the official date of the next general election.

The polls are even saying that new PM Mrs May is more popular with Labour voters than Mr Corbyn.

But the pollsters have got it badly wrongly recently and don’t discount Jezza, with his ‘man of the people’ credentials and a messianic following from the young of this country, picking himself up off the floor to walk, bike or use public transport to ride to electoral victory.

At least gravy trains don’t appear to be his mode of transport . . .

Who’d have Thorpe it? Leaving Europe turns UK into nation of tourist Remainers

August 21, 2016


FIRST AMONG PIERS: Cleethorpes Pic: Dawn Braithwaite

FIRST AMONG PIERS: Cleethorpes Pic: Dawn Braithwaite

BRITAIN is leaving Europe and now it appears the whole world wants to come to the ‘sunshine isles’ . . .

And getting out of the EU is turning Brits into the ‘bucket-and-spade brigade’ of bygone days – in holiday terms.

The staggering extent of the post-Brexit boost to tourism in the UK is revealed in official figures showing billions more pounds flowing into the industry.

While the surge in UK holidays after the June 23 vote had been predicted, the findings by the industry’s leading bodies – revealed to The Mail on Sunday – are confirmation of a huge rise both in visitors from abroad and in Britons opting for a ‘staycation’.

The extra takings in 2016 for staycations alone are set to be £2.4 billion, according to the Tourism Alliance, whose members include the British Hospitality Association, ABTA and regional tourist boards.

While £1 billion of that was spent before June 23, the total additional staycation income for 2016 is expected to be £1.4 billion.

An extra £725 million has been spent so far across Britain’s popular tourist destinations. And hundreds of millions more are set to flow in – thanks to the growth in foreign visitors.

The falling pound since the Brexit vote has made holidays more expensive for Britons going abroad and cheaper for foreign tourists coming here – giving Britain’s tourism a double boost.

And the extraordinary growth in holidays in Britain means that the industry is set for a record-breaking year, topping the high set in 2015 of £127 billion.

Other factors adding to the boom are recent fine weather, low interest rates and fears of terrorism overseas.

The Tourism Alliance estimated that spending by Britons on UK holidays has been up by 17 per cent on 2015 so far this year.

So whether it’s surfing Newquay, quaint Broadstairs, Birmingham’s retreat Weston-super-Mare or East Midlands’ Mecca of Cleethorpes Pier . . . Remain’s the name of the UK’s 2016 Passport to Happiness Holiday game

IDS: Enough of this ‘neverendum’ story . . . let us out

August 21, 2016

IDS; Time is 'now' for Brexit

IDS; Time is ‘now’ for Brexit

WELFARE reformer Iain Duncan Smith has blasted Remainers for continuing to believe that the Leave result is “illegitimate”.

The former Work and Pensions Secretary believes the time is “now” to trigger Article 50 – the exit process.

IDS fears that there is an undercurrent of “hope” among some people who voted to stay in the EU that Britain will “drift on, never actually leaving”.

He told The Sun: “To that end they sigh that it is so complicated that it will take many, many years to negotiate. In a return to Project Fear, the same people now try to frighten us by inventing a new bottom line, saying that whatever happens, we must remain in the single market, with all its rules and regulations.”

And he added: “It is clear that the referendum was NOT a suggestion. Tired of handing over billions of their hard-earned money to wasteful EU bureaucrats, it was an order from the British people to Britain’s ruling elite — an order to ‘take back control’.

“We need to get on with triggering Article 50, as the Government has said, in early 2017.

“We shouldn’t wait to see the outcome of the two elections in Germany and France — that suggestion is yet another attempt to turn this referendum result into a ‘neverendum’.

“As the number of migrants from the EU in the UK tops a million for the first time we need to act swiftly.

“As a senior Swiss trade negotiator said to a small group of us a few weeks ago: ‘The problem is that you do not realise how powerful you really are in the UK. If little Switzerland can do so many trade deals that benefit our economy, just imagine how the world will be banging on the UK’s door.

‘You should rediscover the British belief that the EU needs to do a deal with you more than you need to do with them’.”
IDS, one of the masterminds behind the Out campaign before the referendum vote, concluded: “Let us leave as soon as possible, so that we can get on and make the most of our new-found independence.”

‘Second’s out’ warns unyielding Merkel

August 21, 2016


ANGELA MERKEL; Tough time ahead for UK

ANGELA MERKEL; Tough time ahead for UK

GERMAN Chancellor Angela Merkel has dashed the hopes of millions by appearing to rule out a second vote on the decision to leave the EU.

Ms Merkel said that the Brexit vote – which saw both Scotland (62 per cent) and Northern Ireland (56 per cent) return a ‘Remain’ majority at the June 23 referendum –was “irrevocable”.

More than four million people signed a petition asking for another vote after the shock result.

A number of high-profile politicians have also suggested that the British public should get to pass judgement on the ‘Brexit’ deal the UK Government secures from Brussels.

Ms Merkel also signalled that UK Prime Minister Theresa May will face tough negotiations ahead.

The Tory leader has yet to formally trigger the process of detailing the UK’s exit from the 28-nation bloc.

Mrs Merkel said: “The whole process of the exit still lies ahead of us, but the decision is irrevocable.”

She added that the decision was a test for the EU, adding: “Now we must negotiate on the basis of our interests. And ‘negotiate’ means, above all, strengthening common projects.”

In what appeared to be a warning to other countries thinking of leaving, she also said that the EU offered members a stronger voice internationally than they would have on their own.

Is Brexit Donald’s trump card?

August 21, 2016

DONALD TRUMP: 'Great victory'

DONALD TRUMP: ‘Great victory’

DONALD Trump has declared himself ‘Mr Brexit’ as he battles to come from behind in the polls to win his nation’s votes.

The billionaire tweeted as he trails Democrat candidate Hillary Clinton in the race for the US presidency in November.

He has called Britain’s decision to leave the EU a great victory and even claimed he predicted the result.

Immigration “has been a horrible thing” for Britain, he told Fox News. “A lot of that was pushed by the EU,” he said.

He has vowed to build a wall between America and Mexico if he becomes president and has talked of a ban on all Muslims from entering the States.

His new interest in Brexit may have a lot to do with news that leaving the union may not have been as catastrophic to the UK economy as first feared.

Fed-up with Brexit? US institution mentions it 20 times

August 21, 2016

fed reserveTHE US Federal Reserve stopped short of raising interest rates last month – due in large part to possible long-term “risks” related to Britain’s Leave vote.

Minutes from the July meeting, released this week, mentioned Brexit no fewer than 20 times.

The economic uncertainty triggered by the referendum vote is one of a number of factors that have split the Fed’s board.

The minutes show several Fed members believe the continuing strength of the US job market means a rate increase could soon be warranted, while others argued for caution and to keep rates at their historic lows.

Analysis by the US central banks showed that the US reaction to the EU referendum was temporary.

“Following the outcome of the 23 June referendum in the United Kingdom in which a majority indicated a preference to leave the European Union (EU), yields on US Treasury securities fell sharply, US equity prices declined, and the foreign exchange value of the dollar increased,” the Fed pointed out. “However, these changes generally reversed in subsequent weeks.”

The Fed also noted that following the vote, the early indicators pointed to a slowdown in economic growth in UK and that while the “negative sentiment surrounding the Brexit” had been alleviated, “several long-term global risks related to Brexit remained”.