Prime Minister David Cameron said he’ll hold a long-pledged referendum on the U.K.’s membership of the European Union on June 23, signaling the start of a four-month campaign that immediately exposed rifts in his Conservative Party.
“Leaving Europe would threaten our economic and our national security,” Cameron said outside his official Downing Street residence in London Saturday. “The choice is in your hands, but my recommendation is clear. I believe that Britain will be safer, stronger, and better off in a reformed European Union.”
Cameron’s announcement, made after what the BBC described as the first cabinet meeting held on a Saturday since the Falklands War in 1982, follows intense negotiations in Brussels over the past two days to finalize a deal with EU leaders resetting Britain’s relationship with the 28-nation bloc. Now, attention turns to the stance of ministers who have been given a free hand by Cameron to campaign against the government’s position. They were asked not to announce their intentions until after the cabinet meeting.
Divisions among the Tories were immediately in evidence when several ministers were pictured at a rally by Vote Leave, one of several groups campaigning for an exit from the EU. They included Justice Secretary Michael Gove, Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, Chris Grayling, the leader of the House of Commons, Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers, Culture Secretary John Whittingdale and Employment Minister Priti Patel. Late Friday, several rank-and-file Tory lawmakers addressed a rally by Grassroots Out, another group campaigning for an exit.
The vote, on the same day as an EU summit, will revisit the question of the U.K.’s membership of the EU that was last put to voters in 1975, two years after Britain joined the bloc, then known as the European Economic Community. The bookmaker Ladbrokes on Saturday put the odds of Britons voting to remain at 69 percent.
“There will be many passionate arguments over the months ahead and individual cabinet ministers will have the freedom to campaign in a personal capacity as they wish,” Cameron said. In January, he told lawmakers he was dispensing with traditional cabinet guidelines of “collective responsibility,” saying ministers would not be disciplined for opposing the official line on the referendum.
The prime minister was given a fillip on Saturday when Business Secretary Sajid Javid and Home Secretary Theresa May, both seen as wavering over which way to vote, threw their support behind the campaign to remain.
Javid’s stance was reported earlier by The Spectator magazine and confirmed by his office after the cabinet meeting, while May, who’s expressed Euro-skeptic views in the past, said in a statement she’ll support the government position.
“For reasons of security, protection against crime and terrorism, trade with Europe, and access to markets around the world, it is in the national interest to remain a member of the European Union,” she said.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt and International Development Secretary Justine Greening also issued early statements supporting the campaign to stay in the bloc.
Earlier, Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, who’s helped spearhead the U.K.-EU discussions, told the BBC the U.K. will be “safer” staying in the European Union.
“The alternative is a huge leap in the dark, with the risks that that entails for our country, for its economy and for our security,” he said.
The views of London Mayor Boris Johnson will be the most closely watched, after an Ipsos Mori poll on Feb. 17 found he’s second to only Cameron when it comes to influencing whether voters choose to stay or go.
Unlike the “bitterly divided” Tories, the opposition Labour Party is largely united on the issue of Europe, its foreign affairs spokesman, Hilary Benn, said Saturday in a BBC radio interview. “The vast majority of Labour MPs, the Labour movement, the Labour Party conference, the trade union movement supports our continued membership.”
Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, who’s held ambiguous views on the issue in the past, also threw his weight behind the campaign to stay.
“We will be campaigning to keep Britain in Europe in the coming referendum, regardless of David Cameron’s tinkering, because it brings investment, jobs and protection for British workers and consumers,” Corbyn said Saturday in an e-mailed statement.
The U.K. won a seven-year “emergency-brake” period in which it can impose welfare curbs on other EU citizens arriving to work in Britain, as well as provisions for its financial services industry and agreement that the EU goal of “ever closer union” doesn’t apply to Britain.
Cameron “only ever asked for minor changes,” Vote Leave Chief Executive Officer Matthew Elliott said in a statement.“He will now declare victory but it is an entirely hollow one.”
Grassroots Out’s rally late Friday included speeches by Conservative lawmakers David Davis, Tom Pursglove and Peter Bone, Labour’s Kate Hoey, and U.K. Independence Party leader Nigel Farage, whose pressure before last year’s general election fed into Cameron’s decision to call a referendum.
“The great thing about the campaign is it’s absolutely cross-party, cross-union,” Bone said in an interview. There are people “from across all the political spectrum — and most of them, I don’t agree with on anything. But on this one issue we’re all coming together.”
It wasn’t all unity at the rally, which gathered more than 1,000 people a stone’s throw from the Houses of Parliament. More than 100 people walked out when guest speaker and Respect Party leader George Galloway was brought on at the end, some of them calling him an anti-Semite, because of his views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“There is an exit door, and I suggest we take it,” Farage said in a reference to the EU, rather than Galloway.
Makinde Directs Schools to Reopen After #EndSARS Protest
Schools to Reopen After #EndSARS Protest, Says Governor Makinde
The Executive Governor of Oyo State, Seyi Makinde, has directed schools across the Ibadan metropolis to resume normal activities immediately after the #EndSARS protest.
Mr Olasunkanmi Olaleye, the commissioner for education, Oyo State, disclosed this in a statement issued on Sunday in Ibadan.
According to Olaleye, the directive was after a careful review of the situation in the Ibadan metropolis as promised by Governor Makinde in a state broadcast on October 20.
This was after the governor ordered the closure of all schools, private and public, in the Ibadan metropolis for three days and promised to review the situation on October 23.
Olaleye said the governor thanks the youths who have been cooperating with security operatives in the state to ensure peace and order.
NIMC to Register, Issue 2.5 million National Identification Monthly
The National Identity Management Commission has said it would improve registration and issuance of the National Identification Numbers to both Nigerians and legal residents to the current 500,000 to 2.5 million per month.
Aliya Aziz, Director-General, NIMC, said this was the commission’s renewed commitment towards the provision of identity services to the nation.
He gave the assurance while playing host to the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, who was on an official visit to the commission’s head office in Abuja.
Aziz said in a statement issued in Abuja by the Head, Corporate Communication, NIMC, Kayode Adegoke, that the commission would meet and surpass the monthly target.
This, he said, would be part of the policy statements in the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy.
The NIMC boss told his guest that the commission had competent human resources and was looking forward to government support and intervention in injecting the much needed material resources to realise the set objectives.
Pantami charged the commission to increase and improve its performance with regards to NIN registration and issuance, as he also reiterated the target of 2.5 million monthly enrolments.
The minister told his host that the importance of digital identity in actualising the digital economy goals could not be overemphasised and commended the strides recorded by the NIMC despite limited resources.
He assured the commission of government’s support and guidance towards ensuring the fulfilment of its mandate, adding that he had initiated moves to improve staff welfare at the NIMC.
Pantami also assured the NIMC management and staff of his resolve to improve the state of the current infrastructure and equipment to enable the commission to sustain its performance.
#EndSARS: Here is the Complete Speech of President Buhari
The Complete Speech of President Muhammadu Buhari
Following the Lekki Massacre, president Muhammadu Buhari delivered the much-awaited speech. However, the speech failed to touch on the massacre or the people affected, infuriating millions of Nigerian youths that have committed so much to the struggle and lost so much.
Below is the complete speech.
It has become necessary for me to address you having heard from many concerned Nigerians and having concluded a meeting with all the Security Chiefs.
As a democratic government, we listened to, and carefully evaluated the five-point demands of the protesters. And, having accepted them, we immediately scrapped SARS, and put measures in place to address the other demands of our youth.
On approving the termination of SARS I already made it clear that it was in line with our commitment to the implementation of extensive Police reforms.
Sadly, the promptness with which we have acted seemed to have been misconstrued as a sign of weakness and twisted by some for their selfish unpatriotic interests.
The result of this is clear to all observers: human lives have been lost; acts of sexual violence have been reported; two major correctional facilities were attacked and convicts freed; public and private properties completely destroyed or vandalised; the sanctity of the Palace of a peace-maker, the Oba of Lagos has been violated. So-called protesters have invaded an International Airport and in the process disrupted the travel plans of fellow Nigerians and our visitors.
All these executed in the name of the ENDSARS protests. I am indeed deeply pained that innocent lives have been lost. These tragedies are uncalled for and unnecessary.
Certainly, there is no way whatsoever to connect these bad acts to legitimate expression of grievance of the youth of our country.
The spreading of deliberate falsehood and misinformation through the social media in particular, that this government is oblivious to the pains and plight of its citizens, is a ploy to mislead the unwary within and outside Nigeria into unfair judgement and disruptive behaviour.
On the contrary, both our deeds and words have shown how committed this administration has been to the well being and welfare of citizens, even with the steadily dwindling revenues, and the added responsibilities and restrictions due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
Government has put in place measures and initiatives principally targeted at youths, women and the most vulnerable groups in our society. These included our broad plan to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in the next 10 years; the creation of N75 billion National Youth Investment Fund to provide opportunities for the youths, and the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) Survival Fund, through which government is:
a. paying 3-months salaries of the staff of 100,000 micro, small- and medium- enterprises
b. paying for the registration of 250,000 businesses at the Corporate Affairs Commission
c. giving a grant of N30,000 to 100,000 artisans
d. guaranteeing market for the products of traders
These are in addition to many other initiatives such as:
e. N-Tech and
No Nigerian Government in the past has methodically and seriously approached poverty-alleviation like we have done.
With regard to the welfare of police personnel, the National Salaries, Income and Wages Commission has been directed to expedite action on the finalization of the new salary structure of members of the Nigeria Police Force.
The emoluments of other paramilitary services are also being reviewed upwards.
In order to underscore the importance of education in preparing youths for the future, this administration has come up with a new salary structure and other incentives for our teachers.
Let me at this point reaffirm the Federal Government’s commitment to preserving the unity of this country.
We will continue to improve good governance and our democratic process, including through sustained engagement.
We shall continue to ensure that liberty and freedom, as well as the fundamental rights of all citizens, are protected.
But remember that government also has the obligation to protect lives and properties, as well as the right of citizens to go about their daily businesses freely and protected from acts of violence.
To our neighbours in particular, and members of the international community, many of whom have expressed concern about the ongoing development in Nigeria, we thank you and urge you all to seek to know all the facts available before taking a position or rushing to judgement and making hasty pronouncements.
In the circumstances, I would like to appeal to protesters to note and take advantage of the various well-thought-out initiatives of this administration designed to make their lives better and more meaningful, and resist the temptation of being used by some subversive elements to cause chaos with the aim of truncating our nascent democracy.
For you to do otherwise will amount to undermining national security and the law and order situation. Under no circumstances will this be tolerated.
I therefore call on our youths to discontinue the street protests and constructively engage government in finding solutions.
Your voice has been heard loud and clear and we are responding.
And I call on all Nigerians to go about their normal businesses, and enjoin security agencies to protect lives and properties of all law-abiding citizens without doing harm to those they are meant to protect.
Let me pay tribute to officers of the Nigeria Police Force who have tragically lost their lives in the line of duty.
I would like to thank those State Governors, traditional and religious leaders who have appealed for calm and restraint.
I also thank youth leaders who have restrained their followers from taking the law into their hands.
This government respects and will continue to respect all the democratic rights and civil liberties of the people, but it will not allow anybody or groups to disrupt the peace of our nation.
Thank you all. God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
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