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Cameron: 'We cannot afford not to act in Syria'

Prime Minister David Cameron has submitted a document to MPs arguing that Britain "cannot afford" not to extend its military campaign against Islamic State into Syria.

He told the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee: "The threats to our interests and to our people are such that we cannot afford to stand aside and not to act."

There will be those who say that the UK might become more of a target by taking a greater role in the international effort to counter ISIL. The reality is that the threat posed by ISIL to the UK is already very high. ISIL already views the UK, along with other Western countries, as a legitimate target for its attacks. As part of the international Coalition, we are already carrying out airstrikes against ISIL in Iraq, and providing refuelling, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance support to Coalition strikes in Syria.

These are complex foreign policy and security challenges. It is tempting to seethe complexity of the Syria conflict as an excuse to avoid tackling ISIL there,and it is equally tempting to see the threat posed by ISIL as an excuse to avoidfacing the realities of the Syria conflict. Neither approach is correct. I believe 10that we must tackle both the threat from ISIL and the Syria conflict in parallel,recognising the links but understanding the differences. On both, one thing is clear: the threats to our interests and to our people are such that we cannot afford to stand aside and not to act.

So with a political solution to the Syria conflict finally a realistic prospect; with greater international consensus than ever before on the global threat posed by ISIL; with the terrible cost of ISIL’s brutality increasingly being seen on the streets of Paris, Beirut and elsewhere; and with the very real threat ISIL poses to UK citizens, I believe that we should extend our military campaign against ISIL into Syria.

– David Cameron, writing to the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee

UK net migration jumps to record high of 336,000

Estimated net migration to the UK has jumped to a new record level of 336,000 in the year to June, data published by the Office for National Statistics shows.

Estimated net migration - the difference between the number of people arriving and leaving - stood at 336,000 in the year to June, the ONS data shows.

This is a jump of 82,000 compared to the year to June 2014 and the highest estimate on record and will prompt more scrutiny of the Conservatives' aim of reducing net migration to five figures.

According to the statisticians, the latest rise is down to a "statistically significant" increase in the numbers of people arriving in the UK, with immigration at 636,000 - up 62,000 on the same period last year.


Barclays fined £72m for 'poor handling of crime risks'

Barclays bank has been fined £72 million for "poor handling of financial crime risks" by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

Barclays has been fined £72m Credit: PA

The fine relates to a £1.88 billion deal arranged by the company in 2011 and 2012, involving a number of "ultra-high-net-worth" and "politically exposed" clients.

The transaction - the largest of its kind executed for individuals in Barclays' history - involved investments in notes backed by underlying warrants and third-party bonds.

The FCA found that Barclays did not apply its usual standards of care and diligence in making the appropriate checks and requesting the necessary information.

Barclays went to unacceptable lengths to accommodate the clients. Specifically, Barclays did not obtain information that it was required to obtain from the clients to comply with financial crime requirements.

Barclays did not do so because it did not wish to inconvenience the clients.

– FCA statement


George Osborne: Tax credits U-turn not a sign of weakness

George Osborne has said that his tax credit U-turn in the Autumn Statement wasn't a sign of weakness, and he had been able to "help families" because the economy was in a much better place than anticipated.

"I don't think it's a weakness, if you are doing this job, to listen to people and listen to the concerns that are made," he told ITV's Good Morning Britain.

Shadow Chancellor defends Chairman Mao stunt

The Shadow Chancellor has defended quoting Chinese communist dictator Chairman Mao during his response to the Government's Autumn Statement yesterday by saying "It's time to bring a bit of flamboyance and humour" to politics.

Speaking on ITV's Good Morning Britain programme, John McDonnell said:

"It was a self-deprecating joke if anything. And I was trying to draw attention to the fact - with a bit of irony - that what George Osborne is actually doing is selling off British assets to the Chinese People's Republic.

....In the House of Commons people get a bit pompous and it's time to bring a bit of flamboyance and humour and into our politics."

Spending Review: Osborne's '£27bn windfall may never arrive'

The Chancellor's anticipated £27 billion windfall that allowed him to balance his Autumn Statement and Spending Review may never arrive, a group of experts have warned.

George Osborne used the proceeds of a surprise improvement in forecast tax receipts and low debt-interest rates to protect police budgets and bankroll a U-turn over tax credit cuts.

But independent economic think tank the Institute of Fiscal Studies, ahead of detailed analysis to be released today, warned that there was only a "50-50" chance of the revenue forecasts remaining as positive for Mr Osborne. Speaking to the BBC, director Paul Johnson said:

The risk for him, and this must be at least a 50-50 risk, is that the next time round, or the time after, or the time after, these tax revenue forecasts will look less rosy.

– Paul Johnson, Institute of Fiscal Studies
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