The brazeness of the murder of Saudi journalist  Jamal Khashoggi is without precedent must prompt an international investigation, Conservative Foreign Affairs Spokesman Charles Tannock MEP said today.

Speaking as Conservative MEPs backed a European Parliament resolution condemning Mr Khashoggi's murder at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul and the subsequent cover up, Mr Tannock called for the primacy of fundamental human rights to be reasserted.

He said: "We in the West had welcomed some of the recent reforms led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in a state more often known for its internal social repression. However, we have also witnessed a young leader consolidating his power at home and intervening aggressively abroad.

"Clearly there are more details to emerge about this crime and an international investigation into the case, as called for by the UK, France and Germany, is needed. We are still awaiting answers and must send a strong collective message to Riyadh.

"I am pleased that the Parliament has taken a strong stance today to protect human rights and express its unflinching support for freedom of expression and a free press."

The Parliament's resolution condemns "in the strongest possible terms" the torture and killing of Mr Khashoggi and calls for "an independent and impartial investigation" into the circumstances of his death.

 

 

 

 

 

The EU was accused of undermining national sovereignty today after MEPs backed a plan that will increase road charges for haulage companies and motorists.

The proposals will force the UK and 8 other countries to switch to a distance-based tolling system for heavy goods vehicles. The International Road Transport Union, which represents haulage companies, warns that such a move will increase the cost and complexity of the UK's tolling system. Currently, the UK uses a time-based system which charges truck drivers for the amount of days they spend on the roads.

MEPs also supported extending the EU rules to include cars, vans, buses and coaches which the International Automobile Federation warned would "lead to higher costs for motorists without any tangible environmental or mobility benefits".

The European Commission believes these EU-wide rules will solve the controversial German tolling system which breaks the bloc's rules by discriminating against foreign drivers.

Conservative Transport Spokesman Jacqueline Foster MEP said: "This EU power grab is an unnecessary response to a German-made problem. Instead of undermining national sovereignty by telling Member States how to operate their tolling systems, the EU should take Germany to the European Court of Justice for breaking the bloc's rules.

"It's simply wrong for the EU to go beyond its brief and meddle with road charges when it will increase costs for motorists and haulage companies. It's up to national governments and local authorities to set the rules governing tolling systems and congestion charges."

The proposals also infringe on States'  tax sovereignty by dictating how revenues from these charges should be spent.

Mrs Foster added: "Not only is the EU planning to trample over national sovereignty by meddling with road charges, it has the nerve to tell us how to spend our money."

 

The European Parliament approved new measures today to significantly reduce single-use plastics in a new plan which compliments the UK's own efforts to tackle plastic waste.

The measures aim to turn the tide on the 10 most found single-used plastics washed up on beaches or still in the sea, as well as lost and abandoned fishing gear. Together these measures account for 70% of all marine litter.

Under the rules, some single-use plastic products will be banned where cost-effective alternatives are available. This follows the UK government's announcement that it has launched a consultation on proposals to ban the distribution and sale of plastic straws, drink stirrers and cotton buds. For products without readily available alternatives, the focus is on boosting plastic recycling rates, and ensuring better waste management and disposal.

Conservative Environment Spokesman John Procter MEP said: "Today's vote is a step forward in the global fight against plastic pollution which harms marine life and damages our seas.

"The UK has been leading the way in the fight against plastic waste, by introducing a successful 5p charge on plastic bags, the world's first ban on products containing microbeads, and is now currently consulting on proposals to ban the sale of plastic straws, drink stirrers and cotton buds.

"I welcome the EU's decision to significantly reduce single-use plastics in a plan which compliments the UK's efforts to protect our rivers and seas. This is a global problem, and I am pleased the UK and EU are setting the example to save our oceans.

'In supporting this legislation we have to be aware of key concerns from industry. I believe in working with business to bring about change. We must be careful not to legislate UK manufacturers out of business." 

The plan also includes measures that were championed by Conservative MEP John Flack to protect our seas from ghost fishing.

Mr Flack said: "I am thankful that MEPs have adopted proposals that I championed to tackle the hidden problem of ghost fishing. Abandoned fishing nets are polluting our seas, wasting fishing stocks and indiscriminately killing whales, sea lions and even dolphins. These new measures will help prevent this needless destruction."

 

Conservative MEPs are urging the EU to be more ambitious in its efforts to cut the number of cyclists and pedestrians dying in accidents involving lorries.

The party's Internal Market spokesman, Daniel Dalton MEP, today called for new design measures aimed at eliminating lorry blind spots to become mandatory on new models by 2024 and existing models by 2026. This would be a significant advance on the European Commission's proposed deadlines of 2026 and 2029.

 

Speaking today as a wide package of new vehicle safety measures were considered by the European Parliament's internal market committee, Mr Dalton pointed out that 78 per cent of cyclist fatalities in London involved lorries.

 

"When you consider that trucks represent only a small proportion of the vehicles on London's roads, that is a real and serious problem," he said.  "There are clear safety issues with truck design which cause very significant blind spots.

"The proposals contained in this report, such as glass doors, bigger windows and a lower driver position, are practical and sensible. Indeed, some existing vehicles already use them.

 

"In the coming months I will be pushing for more ambitious legislation so that we can begin saving lives sooner.

 

"It is clear cut. The earlier these design changes become mandatory, the fewer people will die needlessly on our roads."

 

Other proposals contained in the report include lane keeping assistance, emergency braking, tyre pressure monitoring and reversing detection.

 

The report will be amended by the committee before being put to a vote of the full European Parliament.

 

 

 

 

Conservative MEPs today backed overwhelming calls in the European Parliament for the immediate release of journalists arrested in Myanmar while investigating the Rohingya crisis.

 The resolution backed by MEPs condemns the arbitrary conviction of Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo after they were jailed for possessing police documents while reporting on the murder of 10 Rohingya men last year. 

Conservative Foreign Affairs Spokesman, Dr Charles Tannock MEP, said: “This is another clear attempt by Myanmar to cover up their military's crimes against the Rohingya people. The country has not only denied access to journalists but the UN, aid organisations and human rights lawyers as well. 

“Myanmar must immediate release Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, drop all charges against them and against any other reporters, human rights defenders or political prisoners who are fighting to expose human rights abuses and wrong doing in the country."

"I am incredibly disappointed by Aung San Suu Kyi's defence of the conviction of the Reuter’s journalists  but not surprised. Despite being awarded the EU’s human rights award and a Noble Peace Prize she remained silent while Myanmar's armed forces carry out atrocities."

Conservative MEP, Sajjad Karim, told the European Parliament: "The EU must seriously consider ending its trade preferences with Myanmar as the country continues to ignore the world's calls for its violent campaign against the Rohingya people to stop.

"The recent UN report on the Rohingya crisis unveiled the true level of Myanmar's crimes against humanity. Their military is burning whole villages, raping women and murdering children. This is not a country the EU should do business with."