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News brief for week 

Monday, may 6th 2013


Cameron under renewed pressure over Europe


BRITISH Prime Minister David Cameron is under pressure to hold a “mandate” referendum on the terms of Britain’s membership of the European Union before the next general election.

This follows the success of the anti-Europe UK Independence Party in local council elections in Britain.

The Conservatives say they cannot act without the support of their coalition partners the Liberal Democrats as they do not have a majority in the House of Commons, but some of their number said they should put it to a Commons vote and challenge the Labour Party and Liberal Democrats to vote against it.

Former Conservative leadership contender David Davis said on a BBC television programme: “It would be very interesting for the Liberals and indeed the Labour Party to vote against giving the public a say in this matter.”

Mr Davis suggested staging a referendum to coincide with the elections to the European Parliament next May. Mr Cameron could then go ahead with his plan to hold an in/out referendum on Britain’s EU membership once the re-negotiation was complete after the general election in 2015.

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond was in favour of a draft bill before the election, without a vote in the Commons, to underline commitment to an in/out referendum in the next parliament.


Overseas residents to lose pensions


PEOPLE living overseas – some of whom have never been to Britain – will no longer be entitled to a British state pension based on the work history of their spouse.

Around 220,000 overseas residents receive the payment at a cost of £410-million a year. The measure is included in the Queen’s Speech this week and will prevent new claims from 2016. Existing pensioners will not be affected.

Pensions Minister Stave Webb told the Daily Telegraph newspaper: “You pay National Insurance, you get a pension, but folk who have never been here but happen to be married to someone who has are getting pensions. Most people would think that is not what National Insurance is for.”


Sale of Royal Mail will go ahead


THE efficiency of the Royal Mail in Britain is often taken for granted and it has served as a model for many postal services throughout the world.

But the Government has now decided to privatise the institution and the move has come under attack from the opposition Labour Party, which has accused the coalition of holding a fire sale to raise badly-needed finances.

Ministers are pressing ahead with the sell-off despite opposition from postal workers who say a sale this year will not deliver best value for the taxpayer.

A Government spokesman said the Royal Mail was an important part of Britain’s social and economic fabric and would only be sold if it gets maximum value for the taxpayer.


Freak speedboat accident kills two


A MOTHER and three children were being treated for serious injuries following a freak speedboat accident in which her husband and daughter died while the family were on holiday at Padstow in Cornwall.

All six were thrown from the boat in the River Camel estuary and the boat was then seen to circle out of control before it was brought under control by rescuers. It is believed the boat hit some of the people in the water.

A 51-year old man and his eight-year-old daughter were declared dead at the scene.


Minister saved by hospital doctors


BRITAIN’S Equalities Minister Jo Swinson almost died of an allergic reaction after eating a biscuit that contained nuts.

The MP for East Dunbartonshire was driving home from a charity cake sale when she began eating the biscuit. The 33-year-old was saved by doctors at Glasgow’s Southern General Hospital.


Deputy speaker denies accusations


POPULAR Deputy House of Commons Speaker Nigel Evans, 55, has denied accusations of raping and assaulting two young men. He was arrested on Saturday at his home in the village of Pendleton, Lancashire, questioned by the police and released on bail.

Mr Evans has been the MP for the Ribble Valley since 1992. The Conservative Association there said he was widely liked and respected. He was expected to continue with his duties in the constituency as normal while the police carried out their investigations.


Fugitive is arrested


POLICE have arrested a fugitive who was sprung from a prison van when being taken to court. He was named by Greater Manchester Police as 31-year-old Stevie McMullen.

Three masked men, two of them armed, stopped the prison van. A second man who also escaped from the vehicle is still on the run.


Hull are promoted


CHELSEA beat Barclays Premier League champions Manchester United 1-0 with a late goal from Mata. The London side were involved in the mad scramble for Champions League places and manager Rafa Benitez was delighted with the victory.

Liverpool tied 0-0 with Everton to share the bragging rights on Merseyside and in the Championship Hull drew 2-2 with champions Cardiff to secure promotion to the Premiership.

Manager Steve Bruce said some of his Hull squad were hiding in the toilets waiting for confirmation of Leeds’ 2-1 win over Watford, which finally secured their promotion place.

The Hull match with Cardiff had a sending off, two penalties and a small pitch invasion in the closing minutes. “I don’t think I have ever seen anything like that,” said Bruce.