MI6 chief warns of China ‘data traps and debt traps’
The foreign secretary was speaking during a Nato summit in Latvia, where she was also pictured riding a tank in the style of Margaret Thatcher. Meanwhile, the head of SIS has said he believes Russia poses an “acute threat”.
MI6’s Richard Moore also warned on Tuesday of China’s “large-scale espionage” against the UK and its allies, and signalled his organisation would have to work more openly with technology companies to stay ahead of the game.
Mr Moore added that as criminals and hostile governments built up AI and quantum computing capabilites, making the job of secret agents more difficult, Britain would need to “tap into” the expertise of tech firms and “become more open to stay secret”.
The pace of technological advance outstrips the speed at which spies ordinarily assess the people they do business with, he said in an interview with the BBC.
Full story: Liz Truss warns Vladimir Putin against ‘strategic mistake’ of Ukraine invasion
The UK’s foreign secretary Liz Truss has warned that Russian leader Vladimir Putin against making a “strategic mistake” by launching an invasion of Ukraine, writes Adam Forrest.
The minister accused Moscow of “malign activity” in the Balkans, as Nato allies gathered in Latvia to consider how to respond to Russia’s military build-up near the Ukrainian border.
Suggesting the Kremlin was stirring up tensions, Ms Truss said: “We will support Ukraine and stability in the western Balkans … we will stand with our fellow democracies against Russia’s malign activity.”
Jon Sharman30 November 2021 14:08
France accuses UK of ‘quasi-modern slavery’ as new Channel crisis proposals put forward
A senior French minister has accused the UK of an economic model of “quasi-modern slavery” amid the ongoing row over small boat crossings in the English Channel, writes Adam Forrest.
France’s Europe minister Clément Beaune called on Boris Johnson’s government to “change legislation” and crack down on migrants being able to work in Britain without legal paperwork.
“There is, let’s say it, an economic model of … quasi-modern slavery, or at least of illegal work that is very strong,” he told BFMTV.
Jon Sharman30 November 2021 13:49
Bailout for vital UK science and medical projects in danger from post-Brexit clash
Tens of millions of pounds will be spent on rescuing UK science and medical research projects at risk from a damaging post-Brexit dispute with the EU, writes Rob Merrick.
The threat to grants from the flagship £80bn Horizon Europe programme – which pools talent and ideas to achieve breakthroughs – appeared have been lifted when the UK agreed to remain part of it.
Jon Sharman30 November 2021 13:30
UK needs ‘another great surge’ of effort to hold omicron at bay, says PM
Boris Johnson has said the UK needs “another great surge” of effort in order to protect against Covid-19.
Speaking on a visit to a GP surgery in north London, the PM said a “huge amount of progress” had been made against the delta variant of coronavirus, but he said “we now have this question about the omicron variant”.
Speaking to broadcasters, he said: “Is it going to be hard work? Yes, it is. But I know that people can do it. What we need to do is delay the seeding of omicron in this country.”
But he said there was not any change in guidance “about how people should be living their lives”.
Earlier Dr Jenny Harries updated cabinet on the latest coronavirus developments, along with England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty and chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance.
No 10 said Dr Harries told ministers there were 14 confirmed omicron cases but “more were likely to be found in the coming days”.
“While further time is needed to study the characteristics of this variant and with work ongoing at Porton Down to assess it, both [Prof Whitty and Sir Patrick] emphasised that getting a booster vaccine was the best way to gain protection against new and existing variants,” the PM’s spokesperson said.
Jon Sharman30 November 2021 13:11
Boris Johnson’s popularity takes a hit among Tory faithful, survey shows
Boris Johnson’s popularity among members of the Tory faithful has taken a hit after weeks of division in the party over a myriad of issues, writes Ashley Cowburn.
It follows the toxic row over sleaze in politics after the botched attempt to prevent Owen Paterson’s suspension from the Commons, scaled-back plans for social care reform, rows over funds for rail infrastructure and concerns over the cost of living.
Jon Sharman30 November 2021 12:52
What time is Boris Johnson’s speech today?
Boris Johnson is set to hold a Downing Street Covid briefing on Tuesday amid concerns over the spread of the omicron variant.
The address, due to take place at 4pm, comes after the government introduced new measures to tackle the spread of omicron, which was first detected in the country over the weekend.
Jon Sharman30 November 2021 12:42
Downing Street pushes back against Jennie Harries’ Covid-19 advice
Downing Street has set itself against Jenny Harries’ advice to avoid unnecessary socialising over the Christmas period.
The head of the UK Health Security Agency had suggested people keeping to themselves this winter could help slow the spread of the new omicron variant of coronavirus.
Asked if Dr Harries’ view was shared by Boris Johnson, the PM’s spokesperson told reporters: “No. Our advice to the public is as set out at the weekend.
“We have put advice out on face coverings and on inward travellers and those who are identified as having the omicron variant of coronavirus. Beyond that we haven’t set out any further guidance to the public.”
Asked if people should follow what he was saying or what Dr Harries was saying, the spokesperson said: “The public should follow the guidance as set out by the government and indeed the prime minister at the weekend.”
Jon Sharman30 November 2021 12:34
Full story: Lisa Nandy denies Keir Starmer humiliated Angela Rayner with timing of frontbench reshuffle
Lisa Nandy has dismissed claims that Keir Starmer snubbed Angela Rayner with the timing of his frontbench reshuffle, insisting it does not matter “who knew” about it, writes Rob Merrick.
Allies of Labour’s deputy leader were furious that the shake-up began as she was making a key speech on a sleaze crackdown – and that she first read about it in a newspaper.
Jon Sharman30 November 2021 12:30
Opinion: Keir Starmer finally has a shadow cabinet that looks like a plausible alternative government
The puzzle was always why Keir Starmer left Yvette Cooper on the back benches in the first place, writes John Rentoul.
I suspect it was partly because he took too much advice from Ed Miliband, whose partnership with Ed Balls, Cooper’s husband, was a difficult one.
But Miliband’s influence is on the wane, as suggested by his loss of the shadow business secretary half of his previous role, leaving him shadowing Alok Sharma on climate change.
Jon Sharman30 November 2021 12:11
Truss warns Putin over Ukraine
Liz Truss has warned Vladimir Putin it would be a “strategic mistake” for Russia to launch an incursion into Ukraine.
As Nato foreign ministers gathered in Latvia, the foreign secretary said: “We want a world where freedom and democracy don’t just survive, they thrive.
“To this end, we will stand with our fellow democracies against Russia’s malign activity.
“We will support Ukraine and stability in the western Balkans, to safeguard their security and build their economic resilience.
“We have seen this playbook from the Kremlin before when Russia falsely claimed its illegal annexation of Crimea was a response to Nato aggression. Nato is an alliance forged on the principle of defence, not provocation. Any suggestion that Nato is provoking the Russians is clearly false.
“Any action by Russia to undermine the freedom and democracy that our partners enjoy would be a strategic mistake.”
Earlier, Richard Moore, the SIS chief, had said Russia’s moves on Ukraine were proving to be a “chronic problem”.
He told the BBC: “From time to time we get sort of crises around Ukraine as we worry about build-up of troops and what President Putin’s intentions might be, and therefore it bears very careful watching and it bears very careful signalling to the Russians about, you know, the price that they would have to pay if they intervened, as they did in 2014.
“And, at the same time, frankly, being very clear that again there’s not an adversarial sort of agenda here. We’re not trying to encircle Russia, we’re not trying to prevent it from pursuing its legitimate interest.”
Jon Sharman30 November 2021 11:52