The world is watching Theresa May and her Government stagger from one Brexit related disaster to another and yesterday was no exception. Former Thatcher and Major cabinet minister and Tory party leader Michael Howard was interviewed by Sky News and stated that Theresa May would lead Britain into war to protect the sovereignty of Gibraltar against claims by Spain. The intervention came days after draft EU negotiating plans spelled out the bloc’s position that Spain could be given a veto over post-Brexit deals applying to Gibraltar.
Rather than flatly condemning Howard’s comments, Number 10 said:
“All that Lord Howard was trying to establish, was the resolve that we have to protect the rights of Gibraltar and its sovereignty as I have set out.
“We’ve been very clear that we will support fully Gibraltar’s right to its sovereignty.”
We are only days into the triggering of Article 50 and we have growing tensions over Gibraltar’s future and an unelected Tory peer raised a hue and cry and put Spain on notice, all the while being defended by the Prime Minister.
Watch the Michael Howard and Sky News interview below
10,897 of you voted in the poll and 63% of you said that Theresa May should not block a new Scottish referendum on Independence and should instead transfer powers to the Scottish Parliament as soon as possible. This poll ran from 24/03/2017 to 28/03/2017 and was hosted here.
Scottish Conservative and Unionist party leader Ruth Davidson blasted the First Minister and told her to ‘Sit Down’ during an intemperate outburst as Holyrood debated calls for a second independence referendum. The outburst came as the First Minister appeared to get to her feet to challenge claims by Ruth Davidson over a meeting with the Prime Minister yesterday.
Only a matter of days from Wednesday’s terrorist attack, Amber Rudd MP the UK’s Home Secretary gave an interview on the The Andrew Marr Show during which she said Whatsapp end-to-end encryption is ‘completely unacceptable’ and that the Government need to make sure that organisations like Whatsapp don’t create ‘a secret place for terrorists to communicate with each other’.
The Home Secretary goes on to say that the intelligence services should be able to ‘get into’ encrypted whatsapp messages.
This is an evolution and application of the mantra, ‘nothing to hide, nothing to fear’ which has been used to justify ever increasing surveillance by perpetuating the myth that Governments are not watching you and I but the malignant wrongdoers in society. The picture being constantly painted is that Islamist terrorism could be all but eradicated if it wasn’t for Whatsapp and other encrypted messaging providers enabling faceless, unknown terrorists-in-the-making to secretly synchronise, plan and communicate with their extended networks. This argument is nonsense.
As demonstrated when Kahlid Masood was named as the person behind Wednesday’s terror attack, attacks are rarely committed by those with no history of involvement with the authorities. Masood had a number of previous convictions for violence and was investigated previously by MI5. According to research conducted by the Henry Jackson Society, three-quarters of Islamist-related offences are committed by those previously known to the authorities with 48% of offenders already known to the security services.
The government should be looking at the role UK prisons play in radicalisation and exploring ways to reach young males vulnerable to the messages sent out by the terrorist group Daesh, rather than embarking on a dangerous project of weakening encryption. If tech companies are forced to engineer backdoors and permit the security services to exploit them, we could never be confident in the security of our data regarding the most sensitive and private parts of our lives.
What do you think? Should tech companies be forced to allow security services access to messages? Have your say below.
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