The Telegraph 2024-04-16 01:00:37


Wallace: West must resist Iran but Ukraine needs Israel

Iran is acting like a “bully” and must be “hit back twice as hard”, Ben Wallace has said, as Israel prepares to retaliate after missile attacks from Tehran.

It comes as Rishi Sunak is set to tell Benjamin Netanyahu to “show restraint” in his first phone call with the Israeli leader since the attacks.

No 10 and the White House are concerned that an Israeli response could trigger a wider conflict. But on Monday evening, Mr Sunak and Joe Biden were under mounting pressure to stand up to Iran.

Mr Wallace warns that the Government has done “almost nothing in response” to Iran’s malign activity in the Middle East and he calls for the West to come “together to defeat their drones and missiles”.

Writing in The Telegraph, the former defence secretary adds: “I have learnt, working against Britain’s adversaries, that the only way to deal with a bully is to retaliate.”

“The only option when Iran and Russia hit, I have concluded, is to hit back twice as hard and not stop until they get the message.”

He compared the threat of Iran to Russia’s war in Ukraine, arguing that both countries “view Britain as an enemy”, and called for Israel to support Ukraine in its war against Russia, after Western countries came to its aid on Saturday.

Volodymyr Zelensky, the Ukrainian president, said on Monday that Kyiv “could have received the same level of protection [as Israel] long ago if Ukraine had received similar full support from its partners in intercepting drones and missiles”.

Mr Sunak will speak to Mr Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, on Tuesday for the first time since Iran launched more than 350 drones, missiles and rockets in an attempt to overwhelm Israel’s air defences on Saturday.

He said he would urge “restraint” from both sides, after Israel said it had drawn up plans to retaliate with a strike on Iran.

“Our aim is to support stability and security because it is right for the region and because although the Middle East is thousands of miles away, it has a direct effect on our security and prosperity at home,” he told MPs.

“We’re working urgently with our allies to de-escalate the situation and prevent further bloodshed. We want to see calmer heads prevail and we’re directing all our diplomatic efforts to that end.”

Both Downing Street and the White House have called for de-escalation, with Mr Biden telling Mr Netanyahu that the US would not join or support a retaliation.

Antony Blinken, the US secretary of state, said on Monday that US officials “don’t seek escalation” but would “continue to support the defence of Israel and to protect our personnel in the region”.

However, both the US and UK are under pressure to confront Iran, which has supported attacks on Israel from proxies in Lebanon and Gaza and which armed a group that killed three American troops in Jordan in January.

Conservative MPs including Suella Braverman and Sir Iain Duncan Smith, and the Labour Party have called for Mr Sunak to proscribe Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), while Republicans have demanded that Mr Biden enforce financial sanctions on Tehran’s international energy trade.

Mr Biden is facing pressure to withdraw a $10 billion sanction waiver to cut funding streams to Tehran.

Mr Wallace calls on Western leaders to stop treating Iran “like a child having a tantrum in a restaurant” and to address the regime directly.

“Terror must be defeated completely and everywhere, not more in some places and less in others,” he said.

Israel is thought to have drawn up plans for a “painful” retaliatory attack on Iran, but will not launch a strike that would jeopardise the support of the US.

On Monday night, NBC News reported that Israel’s response was likely to be “imminent” after Mr Netanyahu’s war cabinet signed off plans on Sunday.

The Israeli prime minister reportedly told ministers his country “will respond to Iran, but we need to do it wisely and not from the gut”.

“They need to be under stress like they made us under stress,” he said, according to Kann, the Israeli public broadcaster.

Mr Netanyahu has not commented publicly on the plans, but options are thought to include a precision strike on a facility in Tehran, or a cyber attack.

G7 members, the European Union and the United Nations have called for Israel to restrain itself from a major attack on Iran that would plunge the region into a full-scale war.

Mr Biden advised Mr Netanyahu on Saturday that he should “take the win” after successfully intercepting almost all of Iran’s warheads.

Israel, the United States and their allies shot down more than 100 drones and dozens of cruise and ballistic missiles in an unprecedented show of force.

“Together with our partners, we defeated that attack,” Mr Biden said on Monday, adding that the US was “committed” to Israel’s defence.

US officials believe that at least nine ballistic missiles hit Israeli air bases, evading air defence, although the damage appeared to be minimal.

The missiles hit the Nevatim air base in the Negev desert in the south of Israel, damaging a C-130 cargo plane, an out-of-use runway and empty storage facilities, an unnamed US official told ABC News.

Four other missiles appear to have hit another airbase in the Negev, causing significant damage.

Meanwhile, Iran has said that a retaliation by Israel would be met with a counter-strike, and claims its drone and missile attack was “legitimate self-defence” after its consulate compound in Damascus was bombed on April 1.

The regime has also charged several journalists and newspapers after they criticised the strikes.

They include Abbas Abdi, a reporter for the pro-reform newspaper Etemad, who wrote that the consulate bombing was “fundamentally a reaction and did not necessitate a response from Iran”.

The IRGC has said that critics of Iran’s strikes will “face swift and resolute consequences.”


Ben Wallace
The West must stand up to Iranian bullies


Read more

License this content

Israel plans ‘painful’ strike on Iran without casualties

How Iran’s attack on Israel unfolded – minute by minute

Israel is planning a “painful” strike on Iran that does not cause casualties, according to leaks from the prime minister’s war cabinet.

Benjamin Netanyahu has reportedly asked the Israel Defense Forces to draw up a list of targets that Israel could choose to hit that the US would not object to.

A carefully calibrated response to Iran’s unprecedented missile and drone attack on Sunday could come in the form of a precision strike on a facility in Tehran, or a cyber attack, the Washington Post reported, citing an Israeli official familiar with the sensitive discussions.

“Everybody agrees that Israel must respond,” the official said. “How to respond, when to respond, is the question.”

Israel’s Channel 12 news claimed the war cabinet had agreed to strike back at Iran “clearly and forcefully,” and that several options had been discussed that would be “painful” but unlikely to trigger a regional war.

The war cabinet is also aiming to find a way to retaliate against Iran that won’t be blocked by the United States, the broadcaster reported, after Joe Biden told Mr Netanyahu that Washington would not support an Israeli counter-attack.

Yoav Gallant, the Israeli defence minister, on Monday told his US counterpart that Israel has no choice but to respond to Iran’s attack, which was thwarted with help from the United States and Britain.

Mr Netanyahu has still not publicly commented on the plan for retaliation, and the war cabinet is due to reconvene on Tuesday morning.

Hardliners in the cabinet late on Sunday night said Israel must go “berserk” on Iran, and should not waste time with its retaliation for Iran’s first ever direct attack on Israel.

“Ideas of containment and moderation are the perceptions that ended on Oct 7,” Itamar Ben-Gvir, the national security minister and leader of the most popular Right-wing party, said in a statement late on Sunday.

“To create a deterrent in the Middle East, Israel has got to show that it is prepared to go berserk.”

License this content

Watch: Hannah Waddingham scolds photographer over legs remark

Hannah Waddingham confronted a photographer who told her “show me leg” on the red carpet.

Waddingham was attending the annual Olivier Awards for excellence in theatre in London on Sunday when the comments were made.

Footage posted on social media shows her on a set of stairs, wearing a lilac sequin sleeveless maxi dress with a semi-sheer skirt, gesturing towards the photographer who is thought to have made the remarks.

The request cannot be heard in the video posted on Twitter, but Waddingham was captured mid-rebuke.

She said: “Oh my God, you would never say that to a man. Don’t be a d–k otherwise I will be off. Don’t say ‘show me your legs’.”

The crowd is heard cheering after the actress’s reprimand.

The 49-year-old star of Ted Lasso and Sex Education then walked towards Royal Albert Hall where the awards were held.

At Sunday night’s ceremony, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Sunset Boulevard won seven Olivier Awards, a joint-record number of awards for a musical.

The West End show, featuring music by Lord Lloyd-Webber, 76, is now on par with former winners Hamilton, Matilda and Cabaret.

Nicole Scherzinger, the singer and former X Factor judge, who plays the leading role, was named best actress in a musical.

Sarah Snook, who starred in Succession, took home best actress for her performance in The Picture of Dorian Gray. She said it was a “dream come true”.

She played 26 characters in the stage adaptation, in the performance which was followed by a camera crew and beamed onto overhead screens.

Dear England, a production by British playwright James Graham about the England football manager Gareth Southgate, starring Joseph Fiennes, won the Londoner award for the best new play.

The awards were first held in 1976, when it was known as the Society of West End Theatre Awards. It is run by the Society of London Theatre, a not-for-profit membership organisation for London theatre producers, managers, owners and operators.

License this content

Prince Harry apologises for breaking confidentiality rules in High Court case

Prince Harry was forced to apologise after breaking confidentiality rules in his own High Court case by sharing private information with Johnny Mercer.

Court documents reveal that the Duke of Sussex emailed the veterans minister confidential information concerning his security claim against the Home Office.

The Duke has long shared a close bond with Mr Mercer, with both having served in Afghanistan.

Mr Mercer is a vocal supporter of the Invictus Games and is spearheading the Government’s attempt to host the 2027 event in Birmingham. The pair were photographed drinking pints of beer together at last year’s event in Dusseldorf, Germany.

Mr Justice Lane revealed the Duke’s indiscretion in a costs ruling handed down on Monday concerning his failed application for a judicial review.

He said: “In November 2023, the claimant breached the terms of the confidentiality ring order by emailing certain information to a partner of Schillings, who was not within the confidentiality ring, and to the Rt Hon Johnny Mercer MP.”

The breach was almost immediately detected by the Duke’s own barrister, Shaheed Fatima KC, who promptly informed his solicitor, Jenny Afia, who works for Schillings.

“She in turn informed the defendant (via the Government Legal Department) as well as taking action to minimise the effects of the breach,” the judge said.

The Home Office argued that such breaches, for which the judge said the Duke had apologised, caused it to incur unnecessary costs.

The judge said he did not wish to minimise the “seriousness” of the breach but concluded that it did not have any bearing on the overall determination of costs.

License this content

Trump ‘falls asleep in court’

Donald Trump appeared to fall asleep in court on the first day of his hush money case as he became the first US president to stand criminal trial.

Mr Trump seemingly dozed off on Monday morning in the New York courtroom as his lawyers clashed with prosecutors over what evidence would be admissible.

The former president has been charged with falsifying business records ahead of the 2016 election to cover up a $130,000 (£104,000) payment made to Stormy Daniels, an adult film star.

Mr Trump allegedly authorised the payment to hide an affair with her and influence the election result. He has pleaded not guilty and denied having a relationship with Ms Daniels.

The New York Times reported that Mr Trump appeared to fall asleep just hours into the trial, with his head dropping down before he jolted awake. He seemed more alert after lunch, and spoke animatedly with his lawyers.

The 77-year-old – who frequently calls Joe Biden “Sleepy Joe” – will be required to attend court four days a week for the rest of the trial.

The proceedings are expected to last six weeks, and will see a parade of Mr Trump’s former aides, allies and alleged mistresses take to the witness stand against the former president.

On Monday, prosecutors argued that Mr Trump had repeatedly flouted a gag order intended to protect witnesses and jurors in the days before the trial began.

The court heard that Mr Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee ahead of November’s election, attempted to intimidate key witnesses by labelling them “sleazebags”.

Cohen credibility

Joshua Steinglass, acting for the prosecution, claimed that the former president had mounted a “thinly veiled attempt to intimidate” Ms Daniels and Michael Cohen, his former lawyer, to “keep [them] off this stand”.

At one point, the prosecution suggested he may have violated the gag order from inside the courthouse, referring to a post on Mr Trump’s Truth Social account that branded Mr Cohen a “serial perjurer”.

In recent days, Mr Trump also called his former lawyer a “disgraced attorney and felon”. Mr Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison in 2018 for tax evasion and campaign finance violations.

The credibility of Mr Cohen may be a key factor in the case as he testifies for the government against his former boss.

Just days before the 2016 election, Mr Cohen made a $130,000 payment to Ms Daniels, who claims she had a sexual encounter with Mr Trump in 2006. 

Mr Trump allegedly reimbursed Mr Cohen in 2017 and reported the reimbursement as legal fees.

Hope Hicks, a long-time Trump aide, is expected to testify against her former boss. 

Karen McDougal, a former Playboy model with whom Mr Trump allegedly had an affair before buying her silence, is another likely witness.

‘Assault on America’

Media helicopters followed Mr Trump’s motor convoy as he left Trump Tower and headed for the court in Lower Manhattan.

Although his mandatory court appearances mean he cannot take to the campaign trail, he used the court as a backdrop to a stump speech, claiming he was being persecuted by Mr Biden.

The presumptive Republican nominee told reporters he was “proud to be” at the Manhattan Criminal Courthouse, before claiming Mr Biden was using the trial as “an attack on a political opponent”. He added: “It’s an assault on America.”

He then headed in to take his seat. Photographs and sketches of Mr Trump in court showed him flanked by his lawyers, with his brow furrowed and hands clasped on the table in front of him.

The early weeks of the trial will be devoted to selecting jurors, with Mr Trump – despite having been synonymous with New York for decades as a real estate developer – claiming it would be impossible to receive a fair trial in the city.

Thousands of prospective jurors will answer dozens of questions before they can be whittled down to the 12 men and women who will decide whether to convict the former president.

They will be quizzed on their level of education, what social media they use, and whether they have listened to Mr Cohen’s podcast or read Mr Trump’s books, among other considerations.

If Mr Trump is found guilty, it could mean he serves time in prison. There is no constitutional rule barring candidates from running a campaign from behind bars.

Monday’s court proceedings mean that Mr Trump is the only US president to have stood trial on criminal counts.

Richard Nixon was protected from criminal prosecution following the Watergate scandal when his successor, Gerald Ford, controversially pardoned him.

A grand jury that investigated Nixon had planned to charge him with bribery, conspiracy, obstruction of justice and obstruction of a criminal investigation. Several members of his administration stood trial and were convicted.

License this content

Little London: the village at risk of being over-run by people fleeing the capital

Residents in a Hampshire village named Little London are angry that people leaving the capital are pricing them out of the area.

Locals in the historic Hampshire settlement, which got its name almost 400 years ago from Londoners fleeing bubonic plague, said wealthy newcomers looking for a “country pad” were snapping up expensive houses in the area that they cannot afford.

But potential housebuyers trying to escape the city 50 miles away have been warned there is “nothing here” as there is insufficient infrastructure to cope with the number of residents.

The village, north of Basingstoke, has just one pub, no shop nor street lights, and has a population of only a few hundred.

Carol Donner, 65, has lived in Little London for 13 years and said the area was being transformed.

Mrs Donner said: “We have this sign that says Welcome to Little London. We were going to put a sign underneath it and say Twinned with Greater London.”

Mrs Donner said she and other residents were now working together to stop the overdevelopment of the village.

The retired teacher said: “There’s quite a few of us that are getting together and we have met up and come up with ideas and things we need to do.

“It’s an ancient village, there’s not many houses and it’s got no infrastructure at all – we don’t even have street lights.

“We have got nothing in the village at all and it’s just being concreted over by people who are being greedy.

“They are coming from London because they want a country pad and they are just going to concrete over here.”

Among the applications are plans for multiple houses, battery storage facilities, and conversions of barns into business units and event venues.

‘Greed over need’

Mrs Donner added: “It’s just ridiculous.

“It’s not a village where you can buy affordable houses because there’s no infrastructure, even if you thought you could build affordable houses, it’s not the right place for them.

“It’s greed over need and it’s the wrong houses in the wrong place.”

She continued: “I looked at all the houses for sale within a two and a half mile radius and I stopped counting… 25 houses all over £700,000. I mean who is going to buy those houses?

“It’s a very stoic village because there’s nothing here and it’s not a place people move to. There’s just nothing here for them, this is the whole point.

“We can’t stress this enough, this is just a village with some houses and a pub.”

A plan to build three detached houses in the village is one of the many applications that prompted a protest from residents.

According to Mrs Donner, the proposed plan would transform stables into homes and she fears this will encourage other neighbours to do the same.

The application led to 40 objections from frustrated locals, she said.

‘Heart and soul’

She added: “None of them are what we call nimby, they are people that have their heart and soul in the countryside and want to protect that.

“Why can’t people go and build affordable houses on brownfield sites that people can afford to buy.

“We don’t know who will be able to afford to buy them and none of the houses around here are cheap.”

Ms Donner added: “The situation is appalling here… no sooner is the ink dry on one application than another one pops up.”

Kevin Chatburn, 69, who lives in neighbouring Tadley and is chairman of the Tadley and Pamber Rural Protection group, said: “All of the houses that are being proposed in Pamber are typically £750,000 to £1.25 million so they’re being purchased by people from outside the area.

“They are not providing dwellings for those who are already living in the area – particularly young people.

“I’ve got relatives in their 30s and they have all moved out of the area completely because they can’t buy anything here.”

‘Inappropriate’

Little London backs on to Pamber forest, which is described by the Hampshire and Isle of Wight trust as being “one of the foremost important woodland sites outside of the New Forest”.

But the planning proposals threaten to destroy parts of this woodland.

Mr Chatburn said his organisation worked with villagers to oppose “inappropriate developments”. He added: “The landscape and visual amenity of the village is impacted by quite a lot of these developments.”

Objecting to the stable conversion proposal on the Basingstoke and Deane borough council planning portal, Gary Hills said: “The proposed development is another attempt to extend the village into the surrounding farmland, expanding the footprint of the village.”

On behalf of Pamber parish council, Chris Gunnell wrote: “There is no local need.

“At present there are at least 17 properties for sale in the area, there are 13 properties under construction in the parish and 30 yet to be constructed that have planning permission granted.”

There are 12 villages called Little London in the UK, although there used to be over 100. The name derives from the outbreak of the bubonic plague in 1665.

License this content

Second M25 weekend closure threatens diversions ‘carmageddon’

The M25 will partially close for a second weekend, prompting warnings that drivers could face longer diversions this time around.

The London orbital motorway will shut for five miles between junctions nine and 10 from 9pm on Friday May 10 until 6am on Monday May 13 following a similar closure in March.

Last month, drivers were sent on an 11.5-mile diversion through the north-west of Surrey to avoid the closed stretch, with predictions of a traffic “carmageddon” – but National Highways said detours in May would be twice as long.

Diversions will be in place from junction eight, sending drivers on a 20-mile route via Epsom, Surbiton and Cobham. A different route will be in place for taller vehicles such as lorries.

Drivers could face reduced capacity – and potentially increased congestion – between junctions five and seven on the same weekend.

The closure between March 15 and 18 saw relatively quiet roads as motorists heeded official pleas to stay away and avoid unnecessary journeys

Between 4,000 and 6,000 vehicles normally use the M25 between junctions nine and 11 in each direction every hour from 10am until 9pm at weekends.

A new bridge across the motorway will be built during the closure, with the structure consisting of 68 beams, each weighing 16 tonnes, and another four weighing 40 tonnes.

National Highways is also carrying out planned works to install extra emergency laybys for the smart motorway section of the M25 near Gatwick.

Jonathan Wade, a senior project manager for National Highways, said next month’s closure would be “far from a repeat of the previous closure” because the diversion routes “are longer and will be different for over-height vehicles and all other traffic”.

“Drivers listened to our advice last time, which reduced motorway traffic levels by over two-thirds and meant delays were limited,” he said. 

“Our advice again is please only travel if absolutely necessary and make sure you give yourself extra time if you do choose to use the M25.”

The March closure was the first time in the M25’s 38-year history that a stretch of the motorway had been closed to traffic between a Friday and a Sunday, as well as the first time there had been a scheduled daytime shutdown since it opened in 1986.

License this content