British Prime Minister Tony Blair has accepted he will have to compromise over a controversial plan to hold terrorist suspects for up to 90 days without charge.
Following a report in the Observer newspaper, a government spokeswoman said that Blair will accept next week that he cannot push the tough new anti-terror powers through parliament.
The spokeswoman said, "The prime minister acknowledges there will have to be negotiations and/or compromise but as far as he is concerned 90 days continues to be right."
Last week, interior minister Charles Clarke was forced to promise fresh talks after it became clear opposition lawmakers -- and some backbenchers from Blair's Labour party -- would vote down the measure.
Clarke is due to meet his counterparts from the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats today.
Blair also plans to address rebel MPs himself on the importance of the issue while British police forces were being urged to put pressure on lawmakers to back the greater detention period, several weekend newspapers reported.
But the Independent yesterday quoted Mark Oaten, the Liberal Democrats' home affairs spokesman, as saying: "They [the government] are not going to get this bill through unless the Home Secretary [Clarke] moves significantly on 90 days. I can guarantee this Bill will be defeated without that. There has to be give and take on all sides," he said.
Despite the apparent climbdown, Blair reiterated his belief in the 90-day proposal, which was recommended by police after the deadly July 7 attacks in London that killed 56 people, including four apparent suicide bombers.
Currently, terror suspects can be held for up to 14 days when they must be either released or charged.
"I still think there is a woeful complacency about a lot of the public debate about this," Blair said in an interview in the Sunday Telegraph.
"The police told me, and the security services back them up, that they may have stopped two further attempts since July 7. I find it really odd that we're having to make the case that this is an issue, when virtually every week, somewhere in the world, terrorists loosely linked with the same movement are killing scores of people," he said.
He was backed by Andy Hayman, head of anti-terrorism operations at London's Metropolitan Police.
"All of the new elements mean that in the most complicated cases, there must be the opportunity to extend detention before we make the decision to charge or release a suspect," he told the News of the World.
Blair acknowledged it would be a setback for the government if lawmakers voted against the measure when the Terrorism Bill returns to the lower house of parliament for debate next week.
"I will feel a sense of a defeat not so much for me, as it were -- although obviously that's true -- but for the security of the country," he told the Sunday Telegraph.
Opponents have sought to cast doubt on Blair's authority following the resignation on Wednesday of one of his key allies, the work and pensions secretary David Blunkett, over his business dealings.
Blair told the Sunday Telegraph he was frustrated that claims about the erosion of his authority were diverting attention away from the issue of national security.
Meanwhile, Blair is ruling the country's sleaziest ever government, his predecessor John Major said in a TV interview yesterday.
Former Conservative Party leader Major, who lost the 1997 general election to Blair's Labour Party, made his comments after work and pensions secretary David Blunkett resigned last week amid a row over his private business dealings. It was the second time in less than a year that the 58-year-old had quit Blair's cabinet, after being forced to resign last December as Home Secretary after he facilitated a visa for the nanny of his mistress.
Blunkett's latest departure came amid a furore over his links to a technology firm in a position to bid for government contracts overseen by his department.
‘TRAVEL FREELY’: Visitors from 10 countries deemed low-risk would be allowed into Thailand, while others must still undergo a week of quarantine at a hotel Thailand plans to fully reopen to vaccinated tourists from countries deemed low risk from Nov. 1, the country’s leader said on Monday, citing the urgent need to save the kingdom’s ailing economy. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Thailand attracted nearly 40 million visitors a year drawn to its picturesque beaches and robust nightlife, with tourism making up almost 20 percent of its national income. However, pandemic-related travel restrictions have left the economy battered, contributing to its worst performance in more than 20 years. Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha announced that the country would be reopening its borders to vaccinated tourists travelling by air from
Vaccination is highly effective at preventing severe cases of COVID-19, even against the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2, a vast study in France has shown. The research published yesterday — focusing on prevention of severe COVID-19 and death, not infection — looked at 22 million people over 50 and found those who had received jabs were 90 percent less likely to be hospitalized or die. The results confirm observations from the US, the UK and Israel, but researchers say it is the largest study of its kind so far. Looking at data collected starting in December last year, when France launched its vaccination campaign,
Australia’s highest court yesterday dismissed an intellectual freedom claim by a university physicist who was fired in part over his public statements that scientists exaggerated damage to the Great Barrier Reef. Five High Court judges unanimously dismissed physicist Peter Ridd’s claim that he had been unlawfully dismissed in 2018 by James Cook University in Townsville, Queensland. The court ruled that a clause in his employment contract that protected his intellectual freedom was not a “general freedom of speech” clause and did not protect him from being fired for serious misconduct under the university’s code of conduct. Australian Minister for Education Alan Tudge said
HUMAN RIGHTS FIRST: The US and the EU have said they are ready to back humanitarian initiatives in Afghanistan, but are wary of providing direct support to the Taliban Afghanistan’s new Taliban government has warned US and European envoys that continued attempts to pressure it through sanctions would undermine security and could trigger a wave of economic refugees. Acting Afghan Minister of Foreign Affairs Amir Khan Muttaqi told Western diplomats at talks in Doha that “weakening the Afghan government is not in the interest of anyone because its negative effects will directly affect the world in [the] security sector and economic migration from the country,” a statement published late on Tuesday showed. The Taliban overthrew Afghanistan’s former US-backed government in August after a two-decade-long conflict, and have declared an Islamic emirate