“UK responds to Merkel: ‘We will be a strong partner to Europe’”
Britain reacted Monday to Angela Merkel’s assertion that Germany could no longer «completely depend» on its traditional allies by saying it would continue to seek a «deep and special partnership» with Germany and the rest of Europe after Brexit.
Speaking less than 24 hours after the German Chancellor appeared to call Europe’s relationship with the UK and the United States into question, Home Secretary Amber Rudd said Britain hopes to remain a close ally of the European Union once the UK withdraws from the bloc in two years’ time. Britain will begin Brexit negotiations with the EU on June 20, just 12 days after the UK general election. «As we begin the negotiations about leaving the EU, we will be able to reassure Germany and other European countries that we are going to be a strong partner to them in defense and security, and, we hope, in trade,» Rudd told the BBC.
Brexit has irked many European leaders, including Merkel. But it was US President Donald Trump’s refusal to confirm US support for the Paris climate change agreement or NATO’s Article 5 during summits in Europe last week that likely caused the Chancellor the most consternation. Trump’s firm refusal to commit to the Paris climate deal at the G7 summit in Italy on Saturday — along with his description of Germany as «very bad on trade» — may also have contributed to Merkel switching the rhetoric up a notch.
“MI5 opens inquiries into missed warnings over Manchester terror threat”
MI5 has launched two urgent inquiries into how it missed the danger posed by the Manchester bomber, Salman Abedi, amid claims his interest in being a potential terrorist killer was repeatedly reported to the authorities.
Britain’s domestic security service started one review last week, which will aim to quickly identify any glaring errors, while the other will be more in depth, the Guardian has learned. On Sunday, the home secretary, Amber Rudd, refused to comment on whether opportunities were missed to spot the murderous intent of the 22-year-old before his deadly attack, as national security became the major issue in the general election campaign. The reviews come with security officials warning that the threat from Islamist terrorism keeps rising and is at an “unprecedented scale”, with other attack plots feared. Investigators believe Abedi, whose parents come from Libya, may have received terrorist training in the country, where some areas are believed to be a safe haven for jihadis. He returned to the UK from Libya just days before exploding a homemade bomb packed with metal bolts and screws, carried in a rucksack, murdering 22 people after the Ariana Grande concert at Manchester Arena on Monday 22 May.
In Brussels on Thursday, Theresa May confronted Donald Trump at a NATO meeting over the leak of detailed intelligence about the attack, which was shared across the Atlantic and published by the New York Times.
“France’s Macron holding ‘tough’ talks with Putin near Paris”
They met at the ornate Grand Trianon Palace at Versailles. Mr. Macron said he expected some tough words. It could be an awkward meeting, the BBC’s Lucy Williamson in Paris reports. Recently Mr. Macron’s election team accused Russian agents of launching cyber-attacks against them.
At the G7 summit in Sicily at the weekend Mr. Macron said: «It is essential to talk to Russia because there are a number of international issues that will not be resolved without a tough dialogue with them.» France is in the coalition backing Sunni Arab and Kurdish rebels opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who has strong military help from Russia and Iran. France has taken a firm line against Moscow over Russia’s intervention in Ukraine. Western sanctions, imposed after Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, have been ratcheted up since pro-Russian rebels carved out a breakaway region in eastern Ukraine.
It is President Macron’s latest diplomatic test after the G7 talks in Sicily and the NATO summit in Brussels where he turned the tables on US President Donald Trump by holding him in a clenched handshake until their knuckles went white. Afterwards, Mr. Macron told French media the exchange was «not innocent» and he had wanted to «show he would not make small concessions, not even symbolic ones, but also not overdo things».
“A computer failure at British Airways causes chaos”
British Airways usually relish the spring bank-holiday weekend, as families take advantage of the extended break to jet off somewhere pleasant. This years won’t end soon enough for the airline. A catastrophic computer failure on May 27th grounded over a thousand flights and caused chaos for flyers. The incident, which was reportedly related to a power failure rather than a cyber-attack, will raise questions about the company’s IT system. But for those caught up in the turmoil, it will simply confirm how the service standards of this national airline have deteriorated. Indeed, in some respects it showed a chilling disregard for customers.
The people at the BA information desk knew nothing; nor did the staff at Heathrow. Their only response was to hand out food vouchers and a leaflet on our rights. Crucially this did not mention the compensation due when a flight is delayed more than three hours. The airline might be saddled with a £100m ($129m) compensation bill once the dust settles. The whole experience was alarming. The BA staff clearly were as poorly informed as the passengers; no one in management had taken control. No one was prioritizing those passengers who had waited longest. No one was checking that planes were on their way before changing flight times. BA has a dominant position, in terms of takeoff slots, at Heathrow, Europe’s busiest hub. Based on this weekend’s performance, it does not deserve it.