UK Column News - 28th February 2024

Mike Robinson, Charles Malet and Vanessa Beeley with today's UK Column News.


Criminalisation of protest: MPs’ lives used as foil to shut us up

Home Secretary James Cleverly:

The government will take every possible step to safeguard the people, processes and institutions upon which our democracy relies. I take the safety and security of all members of the House with the utmost seriousness.

Policing Minister Chris Philp gives interview to Sky News on MP safety

Middle East Eye: Protesters at NYC vigil hope Aaron Bushnell's death inspires moral reckoning on Gaza

Clip from forthcoming UK Column interview with José Vega


DEFRA Confirms English Farmers Could Be Paid To Farm No Food At All

No Farmers, No Food (on X): 

Thousands of farmers & their families are making plans to stage a mass peaceful protest against Welsh government policies which threaten their livelihoods. Organisers say between 10,000 and 15,000 people could descend on the Welsh Assembly in Cardiff on 28 February.

Farmers Weekly: Welsh farmers gear up for mass protest in Cardiff

Welsh Government: Sustainable Farming Scheme

Speaker of the Senedd (Welsh Parliament) Lesley Griffiths MS: 

The urgency of the climate and nature emergency cannot be overstated.

Welsh Government's Sustainable Farming Scheme—outline proposals from 2025: Habitat Baseline Review

DEFRA e-mail reply to Charles Malet on utilised agricultural area (UAA) and croppable area, 26 January 2024:

There is no upper limit on funding available for each application […]

DEFRA “is not going to be drawn into commenting on the hypotheticals” […]

DEFRA cannot confirm that any plan or contingency is in place in case of a significant reduction of the total croppable area […]

Sainsbury’s: Future of Food Report (2019)

By 2025 we will be eating our way to a healthy planet and population […]


Updates And Announcements

Support Independent Journalism from the UK Column

Please Join Us: Access the UKC News Extra—UK Column Community

UK Column Shop:—the MHRA T-shirts are being discontinued because Dame June Raine has announced her departure

Forthcoming UK Column paid series: Climate Science Masterclass with David Siegel—starts in March:

UK Column interview: Getting Together with Alan Miller

Forthcoming UK Column interview: Justin Walker: The Bradbury Pound and Fraudulent Banking—1 pm, Thursday 29 February

Alternative View: Book your tickets for AV 14, Riding The Wave

Stand In The Light: Four days of music and good vibes (Workington, Cumbria)

Sounds Beautiful: Festival 2024—promo code: UKCOLUMN


Egypt in bed with UAE and Saudi Arabia at expense of Palestine 

AI Monitor (August 2022): Saudi Arabia’s NEOM project to bring huge investments to Egypt

The Egypt Independent (November 2023): Cabinet: State puts Sinai on map of comprehensive, sustainable development

The Medialine (January 2023): Gulf’s Investments in Egypt Keep Its Economy Afloat and Provide Benefits in Return

Stand With Us: The Abraham Accords 

The Abraham Accords are a series of treaties normalizing diplomatic relations between Israel, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco, facilitated by the U.S. Administration between August and December, 2020. 

Common Dreams (December 2023): ‘Cashing in on genocide’: Israeli firm pitches beachfront real estate in leveled Gaza

Haaretz (2021): Egypt’s monopoly in rebuilding Gaza serves both Israel and Hamas

The Cradle: Will Egypt accept Palestinian displacement in exchange for debt relief?

Riyadh's sudden eagerness to bolster economic ties with Cairo is palpable. With unprecedented directives from both governments, mutual investments are set to soar, with Saudi Arabia aiming to ramp up trade to $100 billion.

European Council on Foreign Relations (December 2023): Tipping point: The risks of Palestinian displacement for Egypt

Egypt’s president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has firmly rejected any scenario leading to the forced relocation of Gazans into its Sinai Peninsula. So too has the US. In private though, the Egyptian government was reported to be mulling a US offer to write off $160 billion in Egyptian debt in return for hosting 100,000 Gazan refugees. In October, the White House asked Congress for additional funding “to address potential needs of Gazans fleeing to neighbouring countries”.

DiEM25 (January 2024): Is natural gas the real reason for the genocide in Gaza?

Don’t look at the broken aircraft carriers—we’ve got some shiny new helicopters on the way 

Admiral Sir Tony Radakin, Chief of the Defence Staff, at Chatham House:

First, to reassure those who may have been alarmed by some of the recent commentary—Britain is secure.  And to remind people of the extraordinary security we have through both our being in NATO and our being a nuclear power. 

Secondly, some reflections and observations about Russia.  How it has struggled in Ukraine.  How we have been surprised at its military weakness.  The predicament that it now has and how that has worsened by a strengthened NATO.

Let me scotch some of the more sensationalist headlines of late. We are not on the cusp of war with Russia. We are not about to be invaded. No one in the Ministry of Defence is talking about conscription in any traditional sense of the term.

[NATO] is an Alliance that is becoming stronger all the time. Growing from 30 to 32 nations. With a collective GDP twenty times greater than Russia.  And a total defence budget three-and-a-half times more than Russia and China combined.

When we were unable to sail one aircraft carrier, our people worked around the clock to deploy the second in a matter of days.  That’s the real story. And it was a phenomenal achievement.

James Carlidge, Minister for Defence Procurement, speaks at the International Military Helicopter conference:

Procurement must be smart, agile, and responsive, ready to pivot and adapt to the changing nature of threats and to accommodate war-winning innovations. That’s why our next generation medium lift helicopter will deliver a Swiss Army Knife platform, future proofed and procured in a way to give the UK Armed Forces and our defence sector maximum clout and flexibility, a 21st century platform delivering on our modernisation agenda that can meet multiple needs now, and be easily adapted in the future, procured through a process that incentivises investment in the UK, which will deliver high value jobs, high value exports and help make us more secure.


Red Sea Chokepoint: Undignified New Scramble For Horn Of Africa By The Quad: US, UN, EU, UK

UK in Somalia (on X): 

Minister for Armed Forces @JSHeappey visited Mogadishu to advance UK-Somalia security cooperation. Read more about his visit and our work with the FGS for a safer and more secure Somalia.

GOV.UK: UK Minister for Armed Forces visits Somalia

James Heappey, UK Minister for Armed Forces, said:
Somalia is a key partner for the UK and is vital to security and stability across the region. My visit enabled me to see first hand the impact of UK-Somalia security cooperation, as well as encourage greater collaboration and deconfliction with key international partners, including the UN, US and EU. The challenges facing Somalia are complex, but we remain steadfast supporters of the efforts of the Federal Government to take the fight to al-Shabaab, take greater control of domestic security and deliver a secure and stable future for the Somali people.

Villa Somalia (on X):

Today at the State House, His Excellency President @HassanSMohamud welcomed the UK's State Minister for Armed Forces, James Heappey, emphasizing the shared commitment to enhancing security and combating international terrorism in Somalia. This collaborative effort symbolizes a crucial step towards Somalia's security development plan and its goal of ensuring peace and stability. President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud expressed his appreciation to the UK government for its role in training Somali forces as Somalia prepares to take over full responsibility for the country's security.

British diplomat Mike Nithavrianakis (on X):

Partner co-operation by the Quad is vital to ensuring a secure sustainable future for Somalia. Pleasure to host colleagues to discuss improved security co-ordination with visiting UK Minister for the Armed Forces @JSHeappey.

Somali President @HassanSMohamud (on X):

I signed the ratified Defense and Economic Cooperation Agreement between the Federal Republic of Somalia and the Republic of Türkiye. This historic agreement, passed by the House of the People of our Federal Parliament, marks a new chapter in our nation's journey towards a secure and prosperous future. The agreement embodies a shared commitment to combating all forms of illegal activities and will enable us to build a capable naval force essential for our maritime security. The pact will also bolster our blue economy, develop crucial economic sectors, and create opportunities for our people and the region. We are deeply grateful to the brotherly Republic of Türkiye for their unwavering and timely support and commitment to peace, stability, and prosperity in the region.

European Commission: EU-Somalia: The EU delivers comprehensive support to Somali National Army under the European Peace Facility

The European Commission’s Service for Foreign Policy Instruments acts as Administrator for Assistance Measures under the EPF. It also supports Somalia with crisis response, conflict prevention and peace building actions, for an amount of EUR 41.5 million for the period 2023-2024, covering notably rapid stabilisation in newly recovered areas.

DP World: Port of Yarımca

Request to UK Column viewers: Who made the video documenting the destruction of Gaza that is shown at 50:00 in today’s UK Column News?


Reaching The Last Africans—With Stuff That’s Good For Them?

Reaching the Last Mile Forum 2023 (associated with COP28)

Last Mile Health: About Us

Last Mile Health: Africa Frontline First

Last Mile Health: Key Supporters

Virgin: Celebrating Last Mile Health’s 2023 milestones

Last Mile Health: Community health worker training drives improvements in childhood immunization rates in Ethiopia

World Health Organization: Last Mile Health training tool

[...] a training tool for frontline health workers — helping them to do away with bulky and expensive text books and other traditional training materials

Coca-Cola: Project Last Mile

USAID (2019): Project Last Mile [PDF]

In 2009, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, USAID and the Global Fund approached Coca‑Cola with an important question: “If you can find a Coca‑Cola product almost anywhere in Africa, why not life-saving medicines?” The answer was Project Last Mile [...]


And Finally

Placard slogan:

Every man with a pair of testicles is voting for Donald Trump in 2024. Every woman with a pair of testicles is voting for Joe Biden in 2024. Does that sound about right?