Thursday News Review

Kick in the teeth for our best and bravest

Almost 500 RAF personnel will be told on Thursday that they are to be forced out of their jobs when the Ministry of Defence sets out the first details of its controversial redundancy programme aimed at reshaping Britain’s armed forces. The Gurkhas have also been hit hard, with infantrymen from the historic Nepalese brigade making up most of those in the army who will be told that they have been selected for compulsory redundancy. The announcement is likely to reopen bitter arguments about cuts to the defence budget that are being pushed through even though the UK is committed to fighting the insurgency in Afghanistan and has been asked to play a lead role in Libya. It will also spur on those who have demanded the government reconsiders the main conclusions of last year’s strategic defence and security review (SDSR) – calls that the defence secretary, Liam Fox, has dismissed outright. – the Guardian

Gurkhas will be among the first members of the British army to be made redundant as part of cuts to the defence budget. There will be 260 complusory redundancies in the army and among them will be 140 members of the 3,500 strong Brigade of Gurkhas. About 920 soldiers and 930 RAF personnel will be told they are being made redundant, 750 of them against their will. The cuts are being implemented to the Gurkha regiment after a change to their terms of service which put them on the same footing as the rest of the army. The Ministry of Defence, however, says he expects some of the Gurkhas facing redundancy to transfer to other regiments who are below strength. Those serving with the RAF on the front line in Libya and Afghanistan will be exempt from the cuts, however ground support and operational staff are at risk. – Sky News

Ed calls for quivker G20 action

The G20 group of leading world economies are due to meet in France in early November but Mr Miliband says it is clear the economic recovery has “stalled” and more prompt action is needed. Writing in the FT, Mr Miliband said the prime minister should press French President Nicolas Sarkozy for an earlier meeting when they hold talks at a Anglo-Frech summit on Libya on Thursday. As it currently holds the G20 presidency, France determines when meetings take place. In recent weeks, there have been a succession of warnings from key figures that the world economy is fragile and much more co-ordinated action is required to prevent a repeat of the 2009 global slowdown triggered by the banking crisis. But although IMF head Christine Lagarde said immediate action was required to boost economic growth, US central bank head Ben Bernanke signalled no immediate steps to stimulate demand. – BBC News

David Cameron is “standing on the sidelines” instead of tackling the latest wave of global economic turmoil, Ed Miliband has said. The Labour leader called on the Prime Minister to press for an early meeting of the G20 group of wealthy nations to address the crisis. He challenged the assertion made by Chancellor George Osborne that the UK was a “safe haven”, claiming it was “naive” to believe the UK was immune from the problems.” Mr Miliband said he was concerned by reports that splits within the Government and pressure from the banks could delay reform of the financial sector. “Neither should be used as an excuse for failing to deliver the change we need,” he said. In a bleak assessment of the global economy, Mr Miliband said the recovery which appeared to be taking hold a year ago “has now stalled”. – Press Association

Common sense at last

The Prime Minister and Andrew Lansley, the Health Secretary, will vote against the proposals put forward by pro-life groups and campaigning MPs, The Daily Telegraph can disclose. Their opposition follows claims that ministers were preparing to change long-established rules on advice given to pregnant women. The matter will still be debated in the Commons, but No?10 made it clear for the first time that Mr Cameron would vote against the amendments to the Health Bill tabled by Nadine Dorries, a backbench Tory MP. Downing Street sources said that the proposed amendments would “exclude proper choice”. It is understood that senior Liberal Democrats including Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, were angry at suggestions that the Department of Health was prepared to back the changes which would introduce a mandatory obligation on abortion clinics to offer women access to independent counselling, to be run on separate premises by a group which does not itself carry out abortions. – Daily Telegraph

Cameron’s ‘real’ U-turn

David Cameron was forced to make yet another hasty retreat yesterday – fortunately for the country, he was only reversing a Mini. The Prime Minister was behind the wheel of the 2,000,000th new-look Mini off the production line at a plant in Cowley, Oxford. He was meant to steer the silver motor on to the assembly area floor. But true to form, the MP for nearby Witney overshot his mark and was forced to back-track and try again. Mr Cameron told workers: “Minis have been a fantastic success story, not just for Oxford but for the UK. For me personally, it’s a bit of a thrill because I don’t get to drive any more, even though it was only 20 yards.” – Daily Mirror

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