UK PM May fires Defence Minister Williamson over Huawei leak

Robie de Guzman   •   May 2, 2019   •   1465

(L-R) British Prime Minister Theresa May and Defence Secretary, Gavin Williamson | Courtesy : Reuters

British Prime Minister Theresa May fired her Defence Secretary, Gavin Williamson, on Wednesday (May 1), saying an investigation suggested he was to blame for leaking discussions about Chinese telecoms company Huawei from her National Security Council (NSC).

Last week, it emerged that Britain would allow Huawei a restricted role in building parts of its 5G network, seeking a middle way in a bitter dispute between the United States and China over the next generation of communications technology.

The NSC is a forum in which senior Cabinet ministers discuss top secret national security information, and the leak sparked anger in parliament.

May wrote to Williamson that an investigation into the leaks had provided “compelling evidence suggesting your responsibility for the unauthorised disclosure.”

Williamson had repeatedly denied that he was responsible for the leak.

May appointed International Development Minister Penny Mordaunt to succeed Williamson as Defence Secretary, and named Prisons Minister Rory Stewart to Mordaunt’s former role. (REUTERS)

PH immigration denies entry to Mongolian, Briton at NAIA

Robie de Guzman   •   January 23, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Filipino Immigration officials at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) have recently barred a Mongolian woman and a Briton from entering the Philippines.

Bureau of Immigration port operations division chief Grifton Medina said they barred the entry of a Mongolian woman who is wanted for beating her husband, and is a suspected terrorist from the United Kingdom.

The Mongolian woman, identified as 33-year old Unurjargal Altantsetseg, was intercepted last Friday upon her arrival at the Mactan, Cebu International Airport from Incheon, South Korea.

Medina said the woman is a subject of a red notice issued by the Interpol in April 2019 due to a case of assault and maltreatment that was lodged against her before a court in Ulan Bator, Mongolia.  

He added the battery case stemmed from an incident that happened on March 9, 2019, wherein Altantsetseg allegedly beat her husband during an argument, which resulted in the victim becoming blind and sustaining serious physical injuries.

Meanwhile, Medina said that a 51-year-old Briton was denied entry last week at the NAIA Terminal 3 after they received information regarding the unidentified Briton’s alleged terrorist links.

“Intelligence information received from foreign counterparts described him as being associated with a known terrorist group or being involved in terrorist activity, thus he was included in our alert list,” Medina said.

Both passengers were issued exclusion orders and booked on the first available flight to their port of origin.

After getting a ‘facelift’: Big Ben to ring again on New Year’s Eve

Marje Pelayo   •   December 30, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – Londoners will be able to hear the sound of the famous ‘Big Ben’ again on New Year’s Eve.

The United Kingdom’s iconic landmark was kept silent for two years since the restoration of its clockface to its original colors began in 2017.

The work on the clock face is only the first phase of the extensive restoration planned for the Palace of Westminster.

There are remaining works left for the 160-year-old clock tower to include the addition of a lift and several other plans like the re-glaze and repaint of the clock dials.

Since the restoration began, the bells are kept silent except for New Year’s Eve and Remembrance Day until the work is completed in 2021.

Polls open for history-defining general election in the UK

UNTV News   •   December 12, 2019

London, United Kingdom – Polling stations across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland opened at 7 am local time on Thursday for the United Kingdom’s third general election in under five years that will be crucial toward determining the country’s future in light of its scheduled exit from the European Union.

The voting will see 650 members elected to the House of Commons with a first-past-the-post – or winner-take-all – system in which the most-voted candidate in each constituency snags the seat.

The contest comes on the heels of the last two elections in 2015 and 2017. Although the usual interim between general polls is four or five years, the political instability resulting from Brexit – which led Prime Ministers David Cameron and Theresa May to resign – has prompted these snap (i.e. early) elections.

Incumbent Prime Minister Boris Johnson of the Conservative Party and his main challenger, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, are set to vote in their constituencies, Uxbridge-South Ruislip and Islington North, respectively.

Johnson was forced to call for the election – which would usually have taken place in mid-2022 – after repeatedly failing to muster enough support within the upper echelons of his own Tory party for his government’s Brexit plan.

His proposed Brexit deal floundered in Parliament: his attempts to trigger a snap election were blocked three times by the House until it finally relented in a fractious vote on Oct. 29.

The PM has vowed to finalize Brexit by the deadline agreed to with Brussels, Jan. 31 of next year. Corbyn, meanwhile, wants to re-negotiate a new deal that would later need to be put to a people’s vote, with one of the options being remaining within the European bloc.

By Thursday, Johnson was still the favorite to be re-elected to 10 Downing Street in most polls, though the gap between the two main parties has significantly tightened over the past few weeks of campaign.

A YouGov survey of over 100,000 prospective voters last week showed the Tories ahead with 43 percent support, translating to 339 seats, and Labour trailing behind with 34 percent, or 231 seats, (a 9-point deficit compared to the 13-odd points most polls had shown earlier).

According to that same poll, the Liberal Democrats would garner 12 percent of ballots, followed by the Brexit Party, the Green Party and the Scottish National Party, with around 3 percent each.

The SNP, which only campaigns in Scotland and therefore targets the seats in the Commons set aside for the UK’s northerly country, could, however, maintain its standing as the third biggest party in the Commons with 41 seats.

In any case, the electoral system does not take the national popular vote into account, meaning that the same percentage could give the Conservatives anywhere between 311 and 367 seats. Therefore, securing the House of Commons majority needed to effectively govern – 326 MPs out of 650 – is by no means a foregone conclusion.

Most polling stations have been set up at schools and community centers.

After they close at 10 pm, an exit poll will be broadcast, while the first official results will likely start trickling in around an hour later (although in the last election in June 2017, Newcastle Central declared its winner just half an hour after voting had ended).

Any registered British citizen aged 18 or older is eligible to vote. A few Commonwealth (including the UK’s crown dependencies and overseas territories) and Irish citizens may vote too if they meet certain qualifying criteria. EFE-EPA

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