There’s no shortage of cash for escalating the war in Ukraine. And it includes weapons that the Tories hope will allow an offensive war against Russia. Defence secretary Ben Wallace said last week that Britain will supply scores of additional artillery guns, hundreds of drones and hundreds more anti-tank weapons to Ukraine.
More than 20 M109 155mm self-propelled guns and 36 L119 105mm artillery guns will soon arrive in Ukraine. Britain will also send 1,600 more anti-tank weapons in the coming weeks, along with drones.
So far 6,900 NLAW, Javelin, Brimstone and other anti-tank weapons, as well as 16,000 artillery rounds, six Stormer vehicles fitted with Starstreak anti-air missile launchers and hundreds of missiles have been sent to Ukraine. Britain has also supplied maritime Brimstone missiles, multiple launch rocket systems and 120 armoured fighting vehicles. Military funding to Ukraine has now reached £2.3 billion.
Britain has also launched a major training operation for Ukrainian forces, with the potential to train up to 10,000 soldiers. It is taking place at sites across the north west, south west and south east of England.
The US is planning to send NATO-made fighter jets to Ukraine. John Kirby, the National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications, confirmed last week that the Pentagon is discussing “providing fighter aircraft to the Ukrainians.” The Joe Biden administration had previously refused to send fighter aircraft to Ukraine because, in Biden’s words, such a move would lead to “World War III.”
The Wall Street Journal said, “A former Pentagon official said F-15 and F-16 fighter jets have been discussed as options for Ukraine. The White House announced a further £225 million in weapons deliveries to Ukraine, in the 16th weapons package since the start of the war.
One of online giant Amazon’s biggest British businesses paid no corporation tax last year—despite revenues rocketing to £193 a second. Amazon UK Services, which includes the firm’s network of warehouses, used former chancellor and now Tory leadership hopeful Rishi Sunak’s “super deduction” to wipe out its entire tax bill. Sunak announced the “super deduction” tax perk in his Spring Budget last year. It offers firms 130 percent tax relief on qualifying plant and machinery. Profits rocketed 59 percent to £204 million
Research for a new film about the fire at Paris’s Notre-Dame cathedral in 2019 has revealed ecclesiastical scandals. As the fire took hold, cathedral authorities scrambled to rescue one of the most sacred relics in all of Christendom. This was the Crown of Thorns, supposedly the one from Christ’s crucifixion. King Louis IX bought the relic in 1238 from Venetian merchants at such a high price that it put France in terrible debt for 35 years. The purchase price was the equivalent of £2 trillion today. But as flames licked closer to its display case, firefighters battling to save it didn’t know it was only a replica. Film director Jean-Jacques Annaud said, “I couldn’t believe the fact that for 30 years, people came from the other end of the world to kneel and pray in front of that fake which, when we recreated it, cost us two euros to make, with some wire and one of those gold sprays that you buy for Christmas. It was mind-blowing.”
The real alleged crown was in a safe, which needed general manager Laurent Prades, who was racing to get back from a party in Versailles, to turn the key according to a code. That was if he could get through police lines—he was turned back—and remember the code—he couldn’t. He had to break through and run, then phone another code holder beside the safe itself. Annaud also discovered documents which showed that cathedral timbers had been sprayed a year earlier with an anti-fungal gel that made them more flammable.
Sales of London’s most luxurious homes hit their highest ever level in the first half of this year as super-wealthy buyers decided they were a good investment. There were 294 sales of homes worth £5 million or more in the six months to the end of June, representing a total spend of almost £3 billion, according to estate agent Savills. The record outlay included 89 homes that sold for £10 million or more with the bulk of the cash coming from domestic buyers, it added. Sales in the first half have almost matched the 308 £5 million-plus deals struck in the whole of 2019—the last period to be unaffected by the pandemic, said Savills.
A government written answer to Labour’s Lord Prem Sikka last week said, “The ONS population projection for the number of UK adults (aged 16 and over) in 2022 is around 55 million. The total number of individual Income Tax payers is estimated by HMRC to be 34 million in 2022-23.” That means there are 21 million adults in Britain surviving on less than £12,570 a year.
In a piece of naked corporate blackmail, the owner of Britain’s largest steelworks has threatened to shut down operations if the government does not provide £1.5 billion of subsidies. Tata Steel UK runs the Port Talbot plant in south Wales and employs nearly 8,000 people across all its operations.
Executives have been in talks with the government about decarbonisation plans, but discussions have stalled. “A transition to a greener steel plant is the intention that we have but this is only possible with financial help from the government,” Natarajan Chandrasekaran, chair of Tata Group, told the Financial Times. The firm says if it doesn’t receive the cash within a year it will close the plant. Around 80 percent of British steel is made in blast furnaces at two sites—Tata’s Port Talbot plant and a British Steel site at Scunthorpe.
The Tories have overridden the advice of its own planning inspector and approved a large new nuclear power station. Energy secretary Kwasi Kwarteng last week gave planning permission for a 3.2 gigawatt, twin-reactor plant at Sizewell in Suffolk. This is already the site of one operational nuclear power station, despite fierce opposition.
In doing so, he overruled the independent Planning Inspectorate, which had rejected the scheme because of concerns about long term water supply and its impact on protected species and habitats. The project, known as Sizewell C, is costed at about £20 billion in 2015 prices. It would be paid for with a surcharge on customer energy bills as well as £1.7 billion of taxpayers’ money. “Not only will we be looking closely at appealing this decision, we’ll continue to challenge every aspect of Sizewell C because it remains a bad project and a very bad risk,” said Alison Downes of the Stop Sizewell C campaign.
‘We may be witnessing the collapse of the NHS, as hundreds of thousands of patients, unable to access timely care, see their condition worsen to the point of being unable to work’
The bosses’ Financial Times newspaper on the NHS crisis
‘Undermining public confidence’
The speaker of the House of Lords Lord McFall of Alcluith is worried that Boris Johnson plans on making a large number of his mates poorer
‘You should be mindful that donors are not your paid staff where you can be condescending and give them orders’
Lord Rami Ranger, who has given £1.3 million to the Tories accused treasurer Malik Karim of being rude at dinner at the Dorchester last week and treating him like an ’employee’
Trussell Trust on the 420,000 food parcels it gave out in April and May
Crushing legal fees add to the repressive armoury
Troublemaker looks at the week's news
Troublemaker looks at highlights of the week's news
Troublemaker looks at the week's news