Monday 19 August 2019

Corbyn faces losing support of half his MPs over military action in Syria

HALF of Labour MPs are set to defy Jeremy Corbyn this week over military action in Syria, as senior figures in the party openly questioned his leadership.

Party sources have said that as many as 115 Labour MPs are preparing to back a government motion allowing British fighter jets to bomb targets in Syria.

The Labour leader was in open conflict with Tom Watson, his deputy, and Hilary Benn, the shadow foreign secretary, who are both calling for air strikes. Francois Hollande, the French president, appealed to Labour MPs to back Cameron's plans in the wake of the Paris terror attacks. Mr Corbyn could face calls to resign from within his shadow cabinet next week, following the "debacle" over the Syria vote.

The Labour leader infuriated MPs by sending them all a letter last Thursday making clear his opposition to air strikes, despite telling ministers the party would reach a "collective decision".

Turkey 'sorry' for downing Russian jet

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan yesterday voiced regret over Turkey's downing of a Russian warplane, saying his country was "truly saddened" by the incident and wished it hadn't occurred.

It was the first expression of regret by the strongman leader since last Tuesday's incident, in which Turkish F-16 jets shot down the Russian jet - the first time in half a century a Nato member shot down a Russian plane.

"We are truly saddened by this incident," Erdogan said. "We wish it hadn't happened as such, but unfortunately such a thing has happened. I hope that something like this doesn't occur again."

Rowling feared 'Harry' rejection

JK Rowling revealed the "triumph" of getting her first Harry Potter novel published in America was soured by the fear that her next work could never match its success.

The author said she was always confident readers would like her books, provided she could persuade a publisher to take them up in the first place. Rowling (50), also told of how she sought advice from media mogul Oprah Winfrey on how to cope with being rich and the joy of being rejected while writing under a pseudonym.

Four police shot at Cairo tourist site

A drive-by shooting by masked gunmen killed four Egyptian police near a famed historic site on the outskirts of Cairo yesterday, and a military helicopter crashed due to a "sudden technical failure" northeast of the capital, officials said. The tourist site is home to the 4,600-year-old Step Pyramid. No one immediately claimed the attack.

Egypt has been battling a growing insurgency in the northern Sinai Peninsula, led by a local Islamic State affiliate, which has mainly targeted soldiers and police there, but has also claimed attacks elsewhere in Egypt.

Botswana's future without diamonds

Despite yielding the occasional world-beater and making up 80pc of national export earnings, Botswana's mines are now expected to run out of gems in as little as 15 years and the country is looking for economic alternatives.

Last week, senior politicians and the leadership of De Beers - the London firm founded by British mining tycoon Cecil Rhodes - convened a conference in the capital Gaborone to try to map a way forward. Bruce Cleaver, De Beers's chief strategy officer, said the company would help as much as was "practical". He added: "We can't pretend to have all of the answers and nor do we think it's our role to solve all these problems, but we do think it's a useful debate to start having about what happens to Botswana post-diamonds."

Three killed at UN base in Mali

A mortar attack on a United Nations base in northern Mali has left at least three people dead, including two peace-keepers and a contractor.

The attack on the base in Kidal also injured 20 people, of which four are in a serious condition. It is not known who was behind the attack but Islamic extremists are suspected.

Mongi Hamdi, the head of the UN mission and the special representative for the secretary-general in Mali, said: "I want to reiterate that these attacks will not impede the determination of the United Nations to support the Malian people and the peace process."

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