15 Nov 2015

Paris fall-out for the UK

The Italian Prime Minister has been telling G20 leaders gathered in Turkey about the links between  terrorism and poverty and the need to help troubled countries at home.

The G20 leaders don’t properly focus on terrorism issues until their dinner tonight. The communique, due out later tonight or tomorrow morning, is not expected to break extraordinary new ground.

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (2nd R) and Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron (R) arrive to participate in a working session on the global economy with fellow world leaders at the start of the G20 summit at the Regnum Carya Resort in Antalya, Turkey, November 15, 2015. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst - RTS76QE

Tomorrow morning David Cameron has a bi-lateral with President Putin. There are faint hopes that Russia might just move in its commitment to propping up President Assad at some point but they appear to rest on thin foundations at the moment.

There’s been talk of France invoking Article 5 of the NATO Treaty, which states that an attack on one ally is an attack on all allies. Article 5 has only been invoked once, immediately following 9/11.

British government sources say there’s nothing on their radar about this at the moment.

The Prime Minister can be expected to make a statement to Parliament probably on Tuesday. His Lord Mayor’s Banquet Speech on Foreign Policy on Monday evening hasn’t required a lot of changes, as it was already intended to look at security issues ahead of the National Security Strategy and the Spending Review coming up days afterwards.

Theresa May’s team is making it clear that the government won’t be altering the pace at which it is trying to bring in the Investigatory Powers Bill. And one government official said there had been no thought given to whether the Prime Minister’s desire to join in the US-led attacks on Isis in Syria would be brought to the Commons for a vote.

No. 10 has had its head in the immediate security response, and has simply not considered whether the Commons mathematics has changed. But many suspect it has not.

It’s barely a week since the cross-party Foreign Affairs Select Committee said there was no strategic under-pinning to justify British military attacks on Syria.

Government sources are not denying that special forces have been positioned on the outskirts of London to swoop in on any Paris-style attacks that happen in the capital. More immediately, there is discreet extra policing around London this weekend but it’s not clear how much longer that will continue.

The British EU renegotiation now risks looking even more of an irritation to Britain’s EU partners.

It was given top billing in the draft agenda for the European Council meeting to be held in December. It’s hard to imagine it keeps that position. On top of migration, the EU leaders know their voters will want them to be discussing security. The Schengen Agreement risks falling apart, a second shock to the architecture of the EU after the drawn-out Eurozone crisis.

Some in Whitehall say the heightened concern around Europe about migration could play into their hands in the renegotiation, but it is hard to be sure it will, and David Cameron’s signal in his Chatham House speech on Tuesday that he’s ready to re-think his own demand on migrants’ benefits suggests he’s not that convinced himself.

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