Tag Archives: French

Is this the Tory plan to stuff up Suffolk with nuclear waste?

Hinkley C tower collapse: this happened on a site EDF is constructing, as recently as June this year. Despite this demonstrable failure of safety precautions, Boris Johnson’s corner-cutting Conservative government wants to pay the same outfit to build another one, next to a National Trust site and an RSPB bird sanctuary.

Those geniuses in the Conservative government are out to pollute our countryside with nuclear waste again.

Presumably they think Fukishima was long enough ago that everybody has forgotten about it.

Come to that, they probably think we’ve all forgotten about the collapse of part of the new Hinkley Point C nuclear generator, under construction in Somerset, in June.

Maybe that’s why they have announced that they are in talks with France’s government-owned EDF Energy firm about building a new £20 billion nuclear reactor at Sizewell in Suffolk.

According to the BBC,

The Sizewell C site could generate 3.2 gigawatts of electricity, enough to provide 7% of the UK’s energy needs.

The announcement is part of the long-awaited Energy White Paper, which ministers say will support up to 220,000 jobs over the next decade.

The policies should remove 230 million metric tonnes of emissions – equivalent to taking 7.5 million petrol cars off the road, the government says.

The paper… will also provide at least £6.7bn in support to the fuel poor and most vulnerable over the next six years.

Yes, but…

Hinkley Point C… has been hit with delays and rising costs, and is set to cost up to £2.9bn more than originally thought and be up to 15 months late.

The latest estimate for the project is between £21.5bn and £22.5bn, with EDF blaming “challenging ground conditions”.

Were those “challenging ground conditions” responsible for the collapse of a tower there last June? I wrote,

The 35-metre tower, weighing around 5,000 tonnes, suffered “structural damage” at around 7.30am, when onlookers claimed to have heard what sounded like an explosion.

Energy supplier EDF has denied that a blast occurred.

Commenting on the event, I stated:

I reckon the cause is obvious: bad design, substandard construction materials, corner-cutting in order to maximise profits.

So not only is this project a hugely expensive white elephant, it is a nuclear disaster waiting to happen.

Are we looking at the West Country’s future Fukushima?

And now the people of Suffolk are looking forward to all of this.

Already the announcement has been greeted with… shall we say trepidation?

It’s a good point. The price of renewables is plummetting, and could bring far more benefits for employment and the economy.

And also, who are we giving the money to, again?

Yes indeed; so much for Brexit. After more than five years of jingoism and sabre-rattling, it turns out that all that talk was just for show and the UK is going to continue selling every single nationally-owned asset it has to Johnny Foreigner.

It means that in the future, more than 10 per cent of the money we pay on our energy bills will go to the French government, where it will be invested in that country’s own energy policies.

Judging by what has happened with the privatised water firms, we already know that not a single penny will be spent on the UK.

I am also interested in this, which seems to be an expert view:

Finally, there’s this:

So this nuclear threat will be right next to a National Trust site and a bird sanctuary.

Is this part of the plan – to breed mutant birds?

Source: Sizewell C: Government in talks to fund £20bn nuclear plant – BBC News

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Wading in ‘crottes’: Do Conservative supporters approve of Boris Johnson’s opinion of the French?

Boris Johnson: Open mouth, insert… crottes.

Here’s another challenge for Tories who support Boris Johnson – it has been revealed that he called the French “turds”, in comments that the BBC censored for reasons known only to its Tory-supporting news editors.

I would certainly like to know what the Conservative candidate in the Brecon and Radnorshire by-election – expenses forger Chris Davies – thinks of such behaviour by his potential new leader.

To all other voters in the B&R constituency, I’d like to ask: Wouldn’t you?

It certainly seems the election of Mr Johnson as Tory leader – and prime minister – would make an advantageous Brexit deal less likely, rather than more so… and certainly unlikely to happen by October 31 as Mr Johnson insists.

But the BBC’s decision to cut the fact that Mr Johnson said it is also highly suspicious.

It indicates that Auntie is subject to political interference. At a time when the Corporation’s impartiality is under investigation by Ofcom, that could be extremely harmful to both the BBC and the Conservative Party.

I shall certainly expect to see this mentioned in any report that Ofcom produces.

Boris Johnson branded the French “turds” in remarks that the United Kingdom government successfully persuaded the BBC to remove from a documentary about his work at the Foreign Office.

The former Foreign Secretary was filmed making the comments in relation to the French government’s Brexit position, according to a leaked government memo seen by the Daily Mail.

However, the Foreign Office successfully argued that Johnson’s comments, if aired, would do “significant damage” to Anglo-French relations and harm Brexit negotiations.

In a memo seen by the Mail, officials note that “we negotiated the removal of one potentially awkward moment where the former foreign secretary calls the French ‘turds’ so as not to distract from the rest of the programme.”

Source: Boris Johnson called French ‘turds’ in comments censored by the BBC – Business Insider

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If Brexit is about taking back control from the EU, why is Gatwick Airport now owned by the French?

Gatwick Airport: Britain had a chance to “take back control” of it this week, but a French firm has bought the controlling interest in it instead.

It’s bad enough that Gatwick wasn’t owned by the British when it was sold, but selling it to the French – at a time when all government propaganda is about retaking control from Europe – makes a worse mockery of Brexit than it already is.

Foreigners control our water supplies and railway services; they control our energy suppliers and are heavily involved in our technology industries (as concerns about Chinese firm Huawei have demonstrated).

And yet Theresa May keeps trying to tell us she is taking back control of our destiny for us.

Let’s remember it was Conservatives like Mrs May who originally sold off our state-owned assets. At the time, they tried to make it seem that we were taking back control, too.

(Remember? It was all about, “Now, you have a chance to own [BT/British Gas/British Water/British Rail/whatever else they were flogging that week]!” And who ended up owning those things? Firms from Europe. And to make matters worse, they’re mostly nationalised firms from Europe!)

Brexit is not about the British taking back control of anything. It is about the Tories tightening their grip around our throats after they sold off everything that was worth controlling – to Europe.

And don’t complain about the Opposition parties failing to call a second referendum. Simple Parliamentary arithmetic shows they can’t.

Anybody who whines about Jeremy Corbyn failing to stop Brexit needs to take a crash course in personal responsibility. The buck stopped with the people, back in June 2016.

And it’s the people who will suffer, if Brexit happens in any of the forms Mrs May is threatening.

France’s Vinci Airports is taking a controlling stake in Gatwick for £2.9bn, a week after the UK’s second-biggest airport was brought to a standstill by a series of drone sightings.

A consortium led by the US investment fund Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP) is selling a majority stake of 50.01% in the airport to Vinci Airports, one of the world’s top airport operators and part of the infrastructure group Vinci. Vinci and GIP will manage Gatwick together.

The deal, which was agreed on Thursday, was delayed by the chaos caused by three days of drone sightings in the run-up to Christmas. Gatwick, the eighth-busiest airport in Europe by passenger numbers, was forced to close its runway, disrupting flights for 140,000 passengers.

Source: Gatwick airport: majority stake sold to French group | Business | The Guardian

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Boris’s bizarre bridge plan stirs up troubled waters

[Image by ‘Hopeless Surfer’ on Twitter.]

Can’t he just pipe down?

It seems Boris Johnson has decided that he doesn’t like the Channel Tunnel, and we should have a bridge between the UK and France – across the world’s busiest shipping waters.

It encourages one to wonder why he suggested it – allegedly at the Anglo-French summit between Theresa May and Emmanuel Macron. The following seems persuasive:

Let’s face it, there’s no rational thinking behind it.

And the slapdowns have been hard, according to the Daily Mirror:

The UK Chamber of Shipping tweeted bluntly: “Building a huge concrete structure in the middle of the world’s busiest shipping lane might come with some challenges.”

And in a brutal slapdown, France’s finance minister Bruno Le Maire said: “All ideas merit consideration, even the most far-fetched ones.”

Asked if the Government was planning on building a bridge to France, Theresa May’s spokesman added: “I’ve not seen any plans on that.”

The Road Haulage Association wasn’t enthusiastic, either:

Meanwhile, the Road Haulage Association said a cross-Channel bridge “makes no sense” since the costs and practical implications would be huge.

Chief executive Richard Burnett said: “The Strait of Dover is the world’s busiest shipping lane carrying more than 500 ships daily, so construction would cause huge disruption to sea traffic.”

How about this one, from Twitter?

Here’s UK Shipping’s tweet:

How about this response?

Interestingly, it has been suggested that Mr Johnson was trying to distract attention from the substance of the summit:

That’s as may be, but he certainly succeeded in grabbing all the attention. And it’s a shame.

We’re letting him get away with distracting us all – with a clown routine that was worn out before he was shifted out of office as Mayor of London.


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Vox Political vindicated yet again – this time over ‘Sturgeon’s secret support for Cameron’ memo

This is how the Labour Party responded to 'memogate'. SNP supporters were incensed but it has not been proved wrong.

This is how the Labour Party responded to ‘memogate’. SNP supporters were incensed but it has not been proved wrong.

It was an official memo, it was leaked by the Scotland office – at the bidding of the Secretary of State, no less, and there’s no reason to believe that it is inaccurate.

That is the finding of the Cabinet Office’s report into the leaking of a confidential memo to the Daily Telegraph, which stated that Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon of the SNP, had told the French Ambassador, Sylvie Bermann, in February that she would “rather see” David Cameron win the general election because Ed Miliband is not “prime minister material”.

The Torygraph story sparked outrage among supporters of the SNP, many of whom attacked this blog for reporting the story. It seems certain people owe This Writer a serious apology.

According to the Cabinet Office report, “The investigation team interviewed the civil servant in the Scotland Office who produced the memo. He confirmed under questioning that he believed that the memo was an accurate record of the conversation that took place between him and the French Consul General, and highlighted that the memo had stated that part of the conversation between the French Ambassador and the First Minister might well have been ‘lost in translation’.

“Senior officials who have worked with him say that he is reliable and has no history of inaccurate reporting, impropriety or security lapses. The Cabinet Secretary has concluded that there is no reason to doubt that he recorded accurately what he thought he had heard. There is no evidence of any political motivation or ‘dirty tricks’.”

This means there is no reason to believe claims that the memo is inaccurate. The “lost in translation” comment cannot refer to the conversation between the civil servant and the French Consul General, and must refer to his understanding, or recollection, of the account he heard of the conversation between Ms Sturgeon and the Ambassador.

The Consul General has, of course, denied that he said any such thing as is described in the memo. He would, wouldn’t he?

The memo was leaked to the Torygraph by Euan Roddin, special advisor to then-Secretary of State for Scotland, Alistair Carmichael. The Cabinet Office report states: “Mr Roddin… told the investigation team that he acted in what he saw as the public interest and that in his view the public needed to be aware of the position attributed to the First Minister.”

Alistair Carmichael, who is a Liberal Democrat, has admitted authorising the leak. Vox Political commenter Joan Edington suggested at the time that it could have come from the Secretary of State, so kudos to her.

He has since apologised and given assurances that, if he had remained Secretary of State, he would have considered this a matter requiring his resignation. Neither he nor Mr Roddin will be receiving their severance pay.

He has also apologised to Nicola Sturgeon, saying “details of the account are not correct”. This is curious, as he has no reason to suggest it.

Nicola Sturgeon has been quick to claim that the report clears her of any dodgy behaviour. This is not true.

The memo, from an impartial source, states that she said she would prefer to have David Cameron as Prime Minister and we have only the comments of people with an interest in denying that claim to back her up.

On balance, it seems very unlikely that she didn’t say she supported Cameron.

It would clarify what seemed to be a contradiction in the SNP’s election campaign, in that the party was attacking Labour hard in Scotland, while apparently claiming it wanted to do a deal with Labour in order to keep the Conservatives out of office. If the SNP’s leader was in fact supporting Cameron, then the “deal” rhetoric was a lie and the campaign against Labour north of the border makes sense.

This would, of course, mean that she was lying, bare-faced, to the public all the way through the general election campaign period.

It will be up all of us to decide what we think is the truth, based on what Ms Sturgeon – and her party – does next.

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New scandal hits Westminster: Memogate!

Does she prefer him to Miliband? It would help her cause to have a government to fight against, but there are too many unknowns about the Telegraph's story for anybody to be certain - yet.

Does she prefer him to Miliband? It would help her cause to have a government to fight against, but there are too many unknowns about the Telegraph’s story for anybody to be certain – yet.

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon has been quietly telling other people that while she outwardly says Ed Miliband should be the next Prime Minister, she secretly supports David Cameron – or has she?

The details are in a memo allegedly “seen” by reporters for the Daily Torygraph. The story broke the day after Ms Sturgeon struck a chord with the British public in the televised leader debate with support for many of Mr Miliband’s policies, and on the same day that it was claimed the Conservative Party was putting together a deal with the UK Independence Party (UKIP).

150404toryUKIP

SNP cultists (the rabid members of that party’s following who refuse to see any wrong in what its leaders do) instantly leapt on the story, demanding that it was not true, that its writers should resign and its publishers apologise, and all the usual things they say.

The basic details of the story are that Ms Sturgeon told the French Ambassador, Sylvie Bermann, in February that she would “rather see” David Cameron win the general election because Ed Miliband is not “prime minister material. The comment forms part of a leaked memorandum written by “a senior British civil servant” and dated March 6.

The story states: “It is a common diplomatic courtesy if an ambassador to the UK visits one of the three devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland for the British Government to be given an official readout of the conversation although the SNP leader, who has only been in position since the autumn, may have been unaware of this formality… The disclosure of her private comments may undermine Miss Sturgeon’s new-found popularity.”

Spokespeople for Ms Sturgeon and the French Embassy have stated forcibly that the story is not true. The Foreign Office has denied the existence of such a memo and the Scotland Office… well, the Scotland Office says it doesn’t give out information about them. Hmm.

In response to repeated calls to show proof that the memo exists, the Torygraph published what it described as the “full text of Nicola Sturgeon memo” – but failed to show photographic evidence that would indicate that it was an official government document (not that the SNP cultists would have accepted this – they have already said they would not).

As a reporter, the situation disturbs This Writer. The libel laws of this country are extremely robust and it would be the height of foolishness for any newspaper to risk prosecution under those laws, just to drive the ‘Crosby wedge’ between two political parties (Conservative strategist Lynton Crosby campaigns on a ‘divide and conquer’ basis, meaning that he will seek to end alliances by any means).

Journalists are warned to make sure every detail of a potentially contentious story is supported by hard evidence – and also to get ‘balancing’ comments from the people named in the story if possible. If not, they should have the right of reply. The Torygraph story did not contain any such remarks from Ms Sturgeon when it came out, but does carry the claim that it is untrue at the time of writing.

Scottish Labour leapt on the story as evidence that Ms Sturgeon is not to be trusted; the argument is that, obviously, if you want independence, it is easier for your cause to have a government you can actively fight – witness this tweet from ScotLab: “Devastating: reporting Nicola Sturgeon secretly backs Cameron

And this one, from Frances Hinde: “Sturgeon has calculated that a Tory gov. is best for her aim of breaking up UK- course she wants a Tory government.”

Scottish Labour followed up the tweet with this image:

150404sturgeonpublicprivate

Mark Ferguson of LabourList took a more balanced view: “For many of the SNP’s online hardcore base, this Sturgeon story will be viewed as conspiracy. Pause for thought for undecided voters though.”

The Guardian’s Scotland correspondent Severin Carrell tweeted: “French consul general tells no such views given by ‘absolutely no preference was expressed’ on outcome.” But then, the French consul general would say that, in order to prevent ill-feeling against France itself.

Simon Johnson, the story’s co-author, responded: “The man said what he said in private to the UK Government. It’s in black and white,” and then stopped tweeting for the evening – which some may also have viewed with suspicion.

Richard Murphy, of Tax Research UK fame, tweeted: “Try as I might I just can’t imagine Nicola Sturgeon discussing possible election outcomes the way that is being suggested.” He continued: “The Sturgeon / French story is a non-eye witness London civil servant version of events that all participants say did not occur. Odd that.”

Perhaps we would be best-served by asking what this achieves. Mhairi Grealis tweeted: “The question here is who stands 2 benefit from trashing Sturgeon. No SNP voter will buy this so..?”

Is this true? Certainly no SNP cultist would, but they are only a certain percentage of the Scottish population. Many are planning to vote SNP because they have been persuaded to; this could persuade them back…

… but only back to Labour. What does the Conservative Party have to gain from this?

You see, the bottom-line assumption has to be that the aim of the story is to benefit the Conservatives. The paper responsible for all this isn’t called the Torygraph for nothing!

The SNP’s Angus McNeil tweeted the following image:

150404labourgun

The trouble with this cartoon is that it claims an innate racism in the Labour Party that isn’t there. “That’s the Scots telt!!” says the Labour apparatchik, as though Labour thinks all the Scottish people need somehow to be put in their place. It’s a gross assumption from the SNP cultists, and one that does them no services at all.

“The Telegraph provided Labour with a gun – they duly obliged,” he tweeted. But this claim that Labour shot itself in the foot by seizing on the story only works if the majority of people who were persuaded to vote SNP aren’t persuaded against the SNP again by this story. And that is by no means certain.

Certainly, as a maxim, it is true that Labour would be ill-advised to put too much credence in a Tory-supporting newspaper’s story, without a lot more evidence; there remain too many uncertainties about this story to predict the likely outcome.

Perhaps Eoin Clarke is right: “Labour & SNP have both ruled out a Coalition. UKIP & the Tory Party have not. Torygraph smear is to divert attention.

Maybe. But at the time of writing the story is still the Torygraph‘s lead, and we have a possible source for it in the Scotland Office.

The rabid SNP supporters will do their cause no favours by denying it outright and pointing the finger at Labour; Scottish Labour will do its cause no good by blindly supporting it and pointing the finger at the SNP.

Perhaps we should all look to the Torygraph and its reporter Simon Johnson – and pile on the pressure for hard facts.

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