UK outlaws Isis, the militant group behind Iraqi attacks

 
An image appearing to show militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis) with truckloads of captured Iraqi soldiers (sourced Associated Press but not verified) An image appearing to show militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis) with truckloads of captured Iraqi soldiers (sourced by Associated Press but not verified)

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The Islamist militant group that has seized control of parts of Iraq has been outlawed in the UK.

The Home Office said it would be a criminal offence to associate with or give financial backing to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis).

The UK has ruled out a role in any possible military action but may give other support to the Iraqi government.

Nick Clegg has warned that the turmoil in Iraq and Syria is a "very direct threat" to the safety of UK citizens.

The deputy prime minister said the UK would not provide "active frontline military resources" to support any action taken against Isis forces but added that the UK would not stand in the way of "well judged, well targeted action to assert some semblance of order in Iraq".

Foreign Secretary William Hague has made a statement to Parliament on events in Iraq after recent territorial advances by the Sunni-dominated Isis group.

'Useful weapon'

He has also spoken to his counterpart in Iran about the crisis, amid reports that Tehran is considering military support to the Shia-led administration in Iraq.

William Hague: "We have made it clear that there are no plans for military intervention by the UK"

Meanwhile, the Home Office has proscribed Isis and four other groups, which it said had been involved in acts of terrorism in Syria.

"Proscription is a useful weapon in the armoury at the disposal of the government, police and security service to disrupt terrorist activity and protect the UK," said Home Office Minister James Brokenshire.

"Today we have laid an order which will proscribe five groups with links to Syria.

"Four other groups operating in Syria are already proscribed. This means being a member of or supporting these organisations will be a criminal offence."

The other groups being outlawed are:

  • Turkiye Halk Kurtulus Partisi-Cephesi (THKP-C)
  • Kateeba al-Kawthar (KaK)
  • Abdallah Azzam Brigades, including the Ziyad al-Jarrah Battalions (AAB/ZJB)
  • Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC)

Speaking at his monthly news conference, Mr Clegg said the conflicts in Syria and Iraq were clearly linked.

"The horrific crucible of violence in this bloody civil war in Syria undoubtedly is acting as a generator of violence and extremism which not only spills over to other countries in the region but also unfortunately poses a very direct threat to the safety of British citizens on the streets of Britain too," he said.

The risk of Islamist Jihadists trained in Syria returning to the UK intent on violence was the "number one security issue" facing the government, he added.

'No appetite'

Mr Hague told MPs that up to 400 British citizens were fighting in Syria and Iraq.

Although events in Iraq were a "serious threat" to international peace and security and the US was considering a range of options, he said the UK would not take part in any military action.

Members of the Kurdish security forces take position during clashes with Sunni militant group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Members of the Kurdish security forces have clashed with militant group Isis

The UK's focus, he said, was on supporting a "democratic and sovereign Iraq" to resist the threats it faced and "to stop the spread of terrorism in Iraq and the region".

The UK would provide assistance "where appropriate and possible", including "counter-terrorism expertise", as well providing humanitarian aid and encouraging "political unity" among Shia, Sunni and Kurdish groups.

The BBC News Channel's chief political correspondent Norman Smith said Mr Hague had "closed the door" to any UK involvement in military action in Iraq, mindful of the government's failure to get the backing of MPs for potential air strikes in Syria last year.

However, Norman Smith said he understood a handful of UK military advisers may be sent to Iraq to provide technical support.

'Folly'

For Labour, shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander said he welcomed the assurance that military action was not being contemplated, adding that it would be "folly" to repeat past mistakes.

"For most British people including many of us who supported the action at the time, the fears of those opposed to the [2003] intervention have been vindicated by subsequent events," he said.

"It is futile to deny that subsequent history as surely as it would be folly to repeat it."

Former Lib Dem leader Sir Menzies Campbell said there was "absolutely no appetite" in Parliament for direct military intervention.

While the 2003 Iraq invasion was not the "sole cause" of the current violence in the country, he said it had made a "significant contribution" to the turmoil being witnessed.

Rory Stewart, the new Conservative chair of the Commons defence committee, said the situation in Iraq was extremely complicated and the international community should be "incredibly cautious" about doing anything that might risk inflaming sectarian tensions.

 

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  • rate this
    -24

    Comment number 780.

    Innocent men, women and children are being killed daily in brutal attacks carried out by extremist, yet we as a nation are willing to look the other way simply because it's not happening on our shores.

    Sadly mankind will never live in solidarity, but are we not the evil ones by having the ability to intervene but choosing to do nothing?

    Blair needs to speak up.

  • rate this
    +36

    Comment number 655.

    The West should keep out of it. This is a civil war which should only be resolved by the Iraqi people. Any intervention will prolong the bloodshed and continue to destabilise the region.

    Sadly, our misguided politicians don't understand the dynamics of Islamic culture. They think their enlightened western views can be imposed on societies which have only known dictators and harsh Muslim law.

  • rate this
    +10

    Comment number 650.

    There is no reason why other countries cannot give diplomatic and humanitarian assistance. But military assistance will just fan the flames of an already incendiary situation.

  • rate this
    +35

    Comment number 288.

    It is a shame that we live in a wicked, wicked World where members of the Human Race will commit unspeakable acts of violence and persecution against eachother in the name of religion or other persuasions. It never ceases to amaze me and I long for something to happen to give us a much needed and overdue wake-up call.

  • rate this
    +48

    Comment number 176.

    I know we live in a democracy and we vote for our MPs who then vote on our behalf on issues in the Commons. However, I don't recall voting for regime change anywhere in the Middle East. In future, unless our shores are being attacked or threatened with attack, we should keep our nose out.

 

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  56.  
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  57.  
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  64.  
    @iainmartin1 Iain Martin, political journalist

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  65.  
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  66.  
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  67.  
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  69.  
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  70.  
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  72.  
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  73.  
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  74.  
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  75.  
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  76.  
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    The NHS gets its first PMQs mention in question two, from Labour MP Lilian Greenwood who suggests the health service is not a priority for David Cameron. The PM says the government has invested in the NHS and attacks Labour's record in Wales.

     
  77.  
    @MartynExpress Martyn Brown, Daily Express political correspondent

    Tweets: Women on front bench - Tories 8 v Labour 8 #pmqs

     
  78.  
    12:05: Picture: Cameron takes first question
    David Cameron
     
  79.  
    12:04: Picture: Frank Field House of Commons Parliament
    Frank Field Labour MP Frank Field asks when the Chilcot inquiry report will be published
     
  80.  
    12:04: PMQs under way

    Labour MP Frank Field gets Prime Minister's Questions up and running, asking about delays to the Iraq War inquiry. David Cameron says he too is frustrated at the timing.

     
  81.  
    12:04: UKIP defector James Landale Deputy Political Editor, BBC News

    James Landale says most voters won't be too bothered by the negative stories emerging about Amjad Bashir, the former UKIP MEP who has defected to the Tories. He says: "As ever with defections, they are never as clean as political parties would like. The problem for UKIP is that most voters are less aware of the detail that goes on underneath."

     
  82.  
    @nedsimons 12:03: Ned Simons, Huffington Post UK assistant political editor

    Tweets: Can't wait for Miliband and Cameron to shout NHS statistics at each other for ten minutes. #PMQs

     
  83.  
    12:01: Miliband's only PMQs option: The NHS James Landale Deputy Political Editor, BBC News

    James Landale on the Daily Politics says he thinks the Labour leader will focus all six of his questions on the NHS. "I would be amazed if Ed Miliband doesn't go on health - that's his subject of the week, he has to go on it. "

     
  84.  
    12:00: Immigration target Daily Politics Live on BBC Two

    Earlier on Daily Politics David Willetts was pressed by Andrew Neil to accept that the Conservatives have failed on immigration. Ministers had sought to cut net migration below 100,000. Mr Willetts suggested a Tory-only government might have made more progress, saying: "We had a commitment in our manifesto which was not part of the coalition agreement and therefore not the basis on which the government was to act."

     
  85.  
    12:00: NHS England BBC News Channel

    Dr Barbara Hakin, national director of commissioning operations for NHS England, says: "Local hospitals continue to have responsibility for deciding whether to declare major incidents, but before doing so best practice dictates that they take account of the wider impacts on other parts of the NHS so that patient safety in the round is protected. That's why NHS England's local area team in the West Midlands decided to issue these guidelines. This was not a decision of the Department of Health."

     
  86.  
    12:00: Major NHS incidents BBC Radio 5 live

    John Pienaar tells 5Live that Guidance to NHS Trusts on declaring a major incident will surely feature during PMQs

     
  87.  
    11:57: EU-US trade deal

    Trade minister Lord Livingston is facing questioning about the EU-US trade deal which many fear could reduce Britain's control over the NHS. Around 150,000 people responded to a recent EU consultation on the issue voicing their concerns, most of them negative. But Lord Livingston, a strong supporter of the deal, is not concerned. "Ninety-seven per cent of the responses were standard," he says. "I'm not entirely sure that represents the totality of everyone's views. However, it's important we recognise everyone's concerns."

     
  88.  
    11:55: 'No-go areas' Daily Politics Live on BBC Two

    Quentin Letts, the Daily Mail sketchwriter, is on BBC Two's Daily Politics talking about the issues the political parties would rather steer clear of. Neither the Conservatives nor Labour want to discuss Trident, he claims, while the Liberal Democrats are keen to avoid talking about anything connected with tuition fees. "There are issues that are of great interest to the voters, and yet the politicians are shying away from it," Letts says. "It's totally unsustainable, particularly with such a long election campaign."

     
  89.  
    11:52: 'Responsibility of the government' House of Commons Parliament

    Shadow Northern Ireland secretary Ivan Lewis cautions MPs on the government side about "believing everything that you read in the Sun" concerning alleged contacts between Labour and Sinn Fein.

    Conservative Andrew Robathan had suggested that Labour should speak to Sinn Fein about security in Northern Ireland.

    Mr Lewis says that Conservatives are asking that "the Labour party take responsibility for things that are clearly the responsibility of the government".

     
  90.  
    11:46: Daily Politics line-up

    Joining Andrew Neil and Jo Coburn on Daily Politics are ex-Conservative minister David Willetts and Labour's shadow minister Caroline Flint. They are discussing the suggestion that up to 100 Conservative MPs might oppose the plan to bring in standardised (plain) cigarette packaging.

    Daily Politics
     
  91.  
    11:42: Labour and Sinn Fein House of Commons Parliament

    Conservative MP Andrew Robathan asks about a story, reported in the Sun, that "the Labour party have been talking to Sinn Fein about a possible link-up after the election".

    A cry of "absolute rubbish!" is heard from the Labour benches.

     
  92.  
    11:38: Northern Ireland questions House of Commons Parliament

    Northern Ireland questions have begun in the Commons. The first question is from Labour MP Tom Greatrex, about the the security situation in Northern Ireland. NI Secretary Theresa Villiers tells him the threat level remains "severe" but there have been "a number of significant arrests, charges and convictions".

     
  93.  
    @EmmaReynoldsMP 11:32: Emma Reynolds, shadow housing minister

    tweets: Since 2010 we have been building 356 fewer homes than we need - Gov't is presiding over the lowest level of house building since 1920s.

     
  94.  
    11:24: 'Trojan horse' plot

    Chief Inspector of Schools Sir Michael Wilshaw has called on the Department for Education to do more to help schools involved in the alleged "Trojan horse" plot in Birmingham to recruit more good staff. "There are big problems about leadership and staffing, in recruiting people," Sir Michael says.

    Sir Michael Wilshaw
     
  95.  
    11:23: Commons questions House of Commons Parliament

    MPs will meet in the House of Commons in a few minutes' time.

    Prime Minister's Questions is at noon and Labour's urgent question on the NHS will follow.

    First, Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers will take questions from MPs. That's from 11:30 GMT.

     
  96.  
    11:14: Ambulance times 'worst on record'

    Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt's tweets refer to the story emerging from Wales today that its ambulance response times are the worst ever. Just 42.6% of call-outs met the eight-minute target time in December, well below the 65% target. Tracy Myhill, interim chief executive at the Welsh Ambulance Service, has conceded the figures are "unacceptable" - but also points out the 40,000 calls received that month are a record high.

    Ambulances at a hospital The Welsh Ambulance Service has said it was working to address underlying issues
     
  97.  
    11:11: Urgent question

    We'll be hearing plenty more about hospitals' "major incidents" in the House of Commons today. Labour's Andy Burnham has just been granted an urgent question on today's developments, which will follow PMQs. Will Ed Miliband choose the same subject for his clash with David Cameron?

     
  98.  
    11:10: Strike news

    The PCS union says workers at the National Gallery in London are to stage a five-day strike in a row over the privatisation of services.

    National Gallery staff protest
     
  99.  
    11:04: Hunt hits back

    More from Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who has responded to Labour criticism over revised guidance on when some hospitals can call a "major incident". In a series of tweets, he says a local decision taken in the West Midlands has been "cynically exploited" by Labour's Andy Burnham and criticises the NHS in Wales, for which Labour is responsible.

    Jeremy Hunt tweets
     
  100.  
    Sebastian Payne, The Spectator

    tweets: I'm going to be covering #GE2015 for @spectator in a Mini. Track my progress at http://specc.ie/1CcLE4b #MiniElection

    Sebastian Payne
     

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