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Monday, May 20, 2013

Conservative Infighting Now Threatens Gay Marriage

Plans to legalise gay marriage in England and Wales are being threatened by more infighting in the Conservative party, with one conservative MP tabling an amendment that could see the bill delayed for another two years. The Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Bill is up for two days of debate and voting which would see it complete its course in the House of Commons, but Tim Loughton, a Conservative MP and a former minister, is tabling what opponents call the “wrecking amendment” because it would force fresh consultations on the measure, extending civil partnerships to heterosexual couples for the first time. Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, tweeted that the Prime Minister David Cameron’s “inability to control his party must not be allowed to wreck the Equal Marriage Bill. Labour’s commitment unwavering”. Cameron’s spokesman also said that the prime minister would personally vote against Loughton’s amendment, as it would create “significant challenges”. He added that Cameron “is a big believer in marriage, that’s why he thinks gay people should be able to get married”.

British Business Leaders Say EU Exit Could Cost £92 Billion a Year

Prominent UK business leaders have accused Tory eurosceptics of “putting politics before economics” for saying the country should leave the European Union (EU). In a letter published in the Independent, the current and next presidents of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) as well as the chairmen of BT, Centrica, Deloitte, Lloyds, and the Virgin group have issued a stern warning to politicians who insist that the country would be better off outside the EU. “The economic case to stay in the EU is overwhelming. To Britain, membership is estimated to be worth between £31bn and £92bn per year in income gains, or between £1,200 to £3,500 for every household. What we should now be doing is fighting hard to deliver a more competitive Europe, to combat the criticism of those that champion our departure”, they write. Their letter is a reflection of the concern among the country’s business leaders that not enough is being done by mainstream political leaders to combat the rampant euroscepticism in a section of the Conservative party and the growth of the right-wing UK Independence Party (UKIP). “The benefits of membership overwhelmingly outweigh the costs, and to suggest otherwise is putting politics before economics”, concluded their letter.

Deputy Speaker Has Offices Searched by Police in Connection with Rape Allegation

The House of Commons offices of the Deputy Speaker, Nigel Evans MP, have been searched by police in connection with an investigation into rape and sexual assault allegations. The search was revealed by Speaker John Bercow to MPs, who said he had read the warrant personally and sought advice from the attorney general before he allowed police to enter Parliament. He said there were “no lawful grounds on which it would be proper to refuse its execution” and reminded MPs that the “precincts of Parliament are not a haven from the law”. Evans was arrested earlier this month after allegations that he raped one man and sexually assaulted another man. Both men were in their 20s at the time of the attacks, which allegedly took place between July 2009 and March 2013 in Lancashire. The deputy speaker has already said at the time of his arrest that “the allegations are completely false and I can’t understand why they have been made, especially as I have continued to socialise with one as recently as last week”.

Car Bombs Kill At Least 54 in Iraq

A series of car bomb attacks have killed at least 54 people and injured nearly 200 others in central and southern Iraq, with Baghdad being the worst hit. The Iraqi capital counted nine explosions at bus stations and markets in the city’s Shia districts. Bombs had gone off earlier on Monday in Samarra, a Shia pilgrimage centre, and Basra, a predominantly Shia city in the south of the country. “We were sitting here waiting for work and as usual we gathered near a street food cart and the place was very crowded. I crossed the street to the other side when all of a sudden it turned dark, dust filled the area. I was showered with metal wreckage and wounded in my legs”, said Basra resident Mohammed Ali. No group has claimed responsibility for the attacks, but tensions between the country’s Shia majority, which leads the government, and the Sunni minority have grown since last year. Some Sunnis have said the Iraqi government discriminates against them.

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