Defence Secretary to review SAS Afghanistan emails

  • 3 August 2020
  • From the section UK
A silhouette of soldiers Image copyright Reuters

The revelation of secret emails about SAS operations in Afghanistan is causing recriminations within the Ministry of Defence, with a process starting this week to re-examine how ministers were kept in ignorance of their content.

Some are blaming the department's legal department, others says the directorate of special forces blindsided them and believe there should be a 'dramatic' change in the culture of these elite forces.

BBC Newsnight now understands that Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, who is due back from leave shortly, has asked for the whole question of how ministers only learned about the emails' contents on Friday to be re-examined "going back to the start", in the search for answers.

Emails published at the weekend emerged during the judicial review of a case brought in London by an Afghan man who argues his father was unlawfully killed by British troops during operations in Helmand Province early in 2011.

The case has been jointly investigated by the BBC's Panorama programme and the Sunday Times.

Read full article Defence Secretary to review SAS Afghanistan emails

Coronavirus: Northern Ireland charts its own way out of lockdown

  • 22 May 2020
  • From the section UK
First Minister Arlene Foster and Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption First Minister Arlene Foster and Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill

In Northern Ireland a fall in the rate of new coronavirus cases to fewer than 50 a day has allowed contract tracing to be resumed.

Robin Swann, Health Minister in the devolved government told BBC Newsnight that the, "very low number of positives", had meant the resumption of tracing re-started this week.

Read full article Coronavirus: Northern Ireland charts its own way out of lockdown

German museums and shops open as lockdown eased

  • 5 May 2020
  • From the section Europe
museum visitors wearing face masks Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Museums across Germany are beginning to reopen as authorities continue easing lockdown measures

In Germany coronavirus restrictions are being softened - and at a dizzying rate.

As yet this has caused no resurgence of the virus.

Read full article German museums and shops open as lockdown eased

Time is short as UK and EU try to define new relationship

EU and UK flag in front of Big Ben Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The European Parliament has overwhelmingly backed the terms of the UK's departure from the EU

With the UK almost out of the EU a new phase of negotiations is set to begin with predictions that it will produce a new 'cliff edge' later this year.

"There's always a bit of brinkmanship with the European Union", former Brexit Secretary David Davis told Newsnight, "and we must be prepared for that".

Read full article Time is short as UK and EU try to define new relationship

Claims No 10 'sitting on' Russian interference report

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during annual news conference in Moscow, Russia Image copyright Reuters
Image caption President Vladimir Putin has denied claims of Russian interference

There is disquiet in Parliament that a sensitive report on Russian covert actions against the UK, including allegations of electoral interference, is being sat on by No 10.

The report includes evidence from UK intelligence services concerning Russian attempts to influence the outcome of the 2016 EU referendum and 2017 general election.

Read full article Claims No 10 'sitting on' Russian interference report

Gulf crisis uniquely difficult strategic moment for UK

  • 22 July 2019
  • From the section UK
Grace 1 oil tanker Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Could the release of the tanker Grace I from custody in Gibraltar change the current dynamic?

The Gulf crisis catches the UK at a uniquely difficult strategic moment.

Its military means are quite limited, Iran's are greater than many might think, and the option of defaulting into its usual partnership with the US is not straightforward because of disagreements over the wisdom of breaching the nuclear deal.

Read full article Gulf crisis uniquely difficult strategic moment for UK

UK's special forces set for new Russia mission

  • 13 June 2019
  • From the section UK
A US Special Forces soldier shoots with an assault rifle on a firing range Image copyright Getty Images

The SAS and other UK Special Forces (UKSF) are poised to receive a new mission countering Russian and other forces around the world.

The plan is called 'Special Operations Concept' and has been drawn up by the senior officer in charge of the special forces, the Director Special Forces (DSF).

Read full article UK's special forces set for new Russia mission

Blair: Social democracy needs 'narrative about the future'

Tony Blair
Image caption Social democracy must have "a narrative about the future" says former Prime Minister Tony Blair

"The central problem of social democracy is simple", former prime minister Tony Blair said. "They've got to have a narrative about the future."

By his formulation then, the crisis of Europe's centre-left may have been long and painful, but it need not be terminal.

Read full article Blair: Social democracy needs 'narrative about the future'

Salisbury attack 'evidence' of Russian weapon stockpile

  • 4 March 2019
  • From the section UK
People dressed in British Army fatigues walk away from the Skripals' house in Salisbury Image copyright PA

The Salisbury attack demonstrated that Russia continues to research, manufacture and stockpile chemical weapons, US state department officials have told BBC Newsnight.

If true, Russia would be in violation of one of the major post-Cold War arms control treaties.

Read full article Salisbury attack 'evidence' of Russian weapon stockpile

Brexit: Is Brussels ready to give UK more time?

French President Macron and German Chancellor Merkel speak at an EU summit Image copyright AFP

Publicly, the EU27 have told Theresa May the clock is ticking and that preparations for a no-deal Brexit are intensifying. Privately, the talk is all about extending the Article 50 period and defusing that time bomb due to go off on 29 March.

Brexiteers have long told us that the EU27 have much to fear from no deal, and in this they are right.

Read full article Brexit: Is Brussels ready to give UK more time?