UK opposition parties agree to work together to stop no-deal Brexit

UK's opposition Labour Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, poses for a photograph as he prepares to meet with leaders of Britain's other political parties to discuss options for Brexit, in Portcullis House, central London on August 27, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 27 August 2019

UK opposition parties agree to work together to stop no-deal Brexit

  • Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn spoke with the SNP, the Liberal Democrats and the Green Party
  • Investors are growing increasingly concerned that Britain is headed towards a no-deal Brexit on Oct. 3

LONDON: UK’s opposition parties said on Tuesday they had agreed to work together to try and prevent a no-deal Brexit, including through passing legislation or holding a vote of no-confidence in the government.

Parliament returns from its summer break next week and is preparing for a battle with new Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has vowed to take Britain out of the European Union at the end of October, with or without an exit agreement.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn hosted talks with the Scottish National Party, the Liberal Democrats, the Green Party and the Independent Group for Change on Tuesday to discuss tactics to prevent a no-deal exit.

“The attendees agreed on the urgency to act together to find practical ways to prevent No Deal, including the possibility of passing legislation and a vote of no-confidence,” the parties said in a joint statement after the meeting.

The news of the meeting saw the British pound rise on Tuesday with some traders encouraged enough to buy sterling even though most still fear the country is headed for a disorderly exit from the European Union.

The pound was already rising but extended its gains after the news. Sterling rose as much as 0.6% on the day to $1.2288 and 0.5% against the euro to 90.435 pence.

Investors are growing increasingly concerned that Britain is headed towards a no-deal Brexit on Oct. 31 that could disrupt trade flows and weaken the economy, though some also believe the currency has moved too far downwards.

"We are slightly positive on sterling in our portfolios as we think that a hard Brexit is already priced into the markets," said Ugo Lancioni, managing director of global fixed income and currency management at Neuberger Berman.


Two accomplices in Kenya’s Westgate attack jailed for 33 and 18 years

Updated 30 October 2020

Two accomplices in Kenya’s Westgate attack jailed for 33 and 18 years

  • Mohamed Ahmed Abdi and Hassan Hussein Mustafa, both 31, were found guilty on October 7 of conspiring with and supporting the four assailants
  • The convicted men were in regular contact with the attackers who at midday on September 21, 2013, stormed the upscale Westgate mall in the Kenyan capital

NAIROBI: A Kenyan court Friday handed prison terms of 33 and 18 years respectively to two men accused of conspiring with the Al-Shabab extremists who attacked Nairobi’s Westgate shopping mall in 2013, killing 67 people.

Mohamed Ahmed Abdi and Hassan Hussein Mustafa, both 31, were found guilty on October 7 of conspiring with and supporting the four assailants from the Somalia-based extremist group who died in what was then Kenya’s worst terrorist attack in 15 years.

The accused asked the judge for leniency, saying they had already served seven years behind bars and had family to care for.

“Despite mitigation by their defense lawyers on their innocence, the offense committed was serious, devastating, destructive, that called for a punishment by the court,” Chief Magistrate Francis Andayi told a Nairobi courtroom.

He sentenced the men to 18 years for conspiracy and 18 for supporting extremists, but ordered they serve both terms together. Abdi was also given an additional 15 years for two counts of possessing extremist propaganda material on his laptop.

He will serve 26 years and Mustafa 11, taking into account their pre-trial detention.

The convicted men were in regular contact with the attackers who at midday on September 21, 2013, stormed the upscale Westgate mall in the Kenyan capital and began throwing grenades and firing indiscriminately on shoppers and business owners.

A four-day siege ensued — much of it broadcast live on television — during which Kenyan security forces tried to flush out the gunmen and take back the high-end retail complex.

Although there was no specific evidence Abdi and Mustafa had provided material help, the court was satisfied their communication with the attackers amounted to supporting the armed rampage, and justified the guilty verdict for conspiracy.

The marathon trial began in January 2014. A third accused was acquitted of all charges.
The Westgate attack was claimed by Al-Shabab in retaliation for Kenya intervening military over the border in Somalia, where the extremist group was waging a bloody insurgency against the fragile central government.

Kenya is a major contributor of troops to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), which in 2011 drove Al-Shabab out of Mogadishu and other urban strongholds after a months-long offensive.

In a car the attackers drove to Westgate, police found evidence of newly-activated SIM cards used by the gunmen. Their communications were traced, including calls to Mohamed Ahmed Abdi and Hassan Hussein Mustafa.

A fourth defendant, Adan Mohammed Abdikadir, was acquitted in early 2019 for lack of evidence.

The Westgate attack was the deadliest incident of violent extremism on Kenyan soil since the 1998 bombing of the US embassy in Nairobi, which killed 213 people.

But since the assault on the shopping complex, Al-Shabab has perpetrated further atrocities in Kenya against civilian targets.

In April 2015, gunmen entered Garissa University and killed 148 people, almost all of them students. Many were shot point blank after being identified as Christians.

In January 2019, the militants struck Nairobi again, hitting the Dusit Hotel and surrounding offices and killing 21 people.

Al-Shabab warned in a January statement that Kenya “will never be safe” as long as its troops were stationed in Somalia, and threatened further attacks on tourists and US interests.

That same month, Al-Shabab attacked a US military base in northeast Kenya in a cross-border raid, killing three Americans and destroying a number of aircraft.