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No Gaza family scheme, no ban on arms sales

SADLY (and that doesn’t really cut it), this remains the stance of the UK Government despite innocent civilians continuing to be killed in Palestine.

The National has thrown its weight behind the Gaza Families Reunited campaign this week which is urging the UK Government to create a scheme - building on the Ukraine Family Scheme and others – that would allow Palestinians affected by the crisis to seek refuge and reunite with their families in the UK.

We’ve previously reported on the difficulties for Gazans to obtain a UK visa given there is no functioning visa centre amid the devastation, with more than 33,000 Palestinians killed by Israel since October 7.

The National:

More than 92,000 people have now signed a petition calling for a parliamentary debate on a scheme, but the response from Westminster has so far been pitiful.

READ MORE: John Curtice: Labour's chances in key seat won't be harmed by race row

In response to the petition, the UK Government has said it is “working around the clock” to get British nationals out of Gaza, but has no plans to establish a separate route for Palestinians to come to the UK.

Meanwhile, Foreign Secretary David Cameron has insisted the UK Government will not stop arms sales to Israel despite having “grave concerns” about humanitarian access in Gaza.

Speaking at a press conference in Washington DC, he said the latest advice he received left the Government’s position on arms exports “unchanged”. He added that continuing to allow arms exports put the UK in line with other “like-minded countries” and reiterated that the UK had a “robust legal process” for assessing those licences.

Aberdeen anger

ONE would think that in the climate of polls predicting the Tories are going to hit lows not seen for decades in the next General Election that they’d be keen to hang onto any scrap of support in the north-east of Scotland.

But this week they were accused of “watering down” a commitment to base hundreds of civil servants in Aberdeen as it emerged just 35 additional roles will be moved to the city by 2027.

The number – revealed by Energy Voice (EV) – falls well short of the "hundreds" of Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ) roles that initial media reports suggested could be moved to the Granite City.

The prospect of hundreds of civil servants moving to Aberdeen had been praised by Scottish Tory minister Andrew Bowie (below), who claimed a "second headquarters in Aberdeen will put the UK Government on the doorstep of key players in the energy sector, in a region vital for our energy security and transition to net zero".

The National: Andrew Bowie

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack also said the move demonstrated the UK Government’s commitment to the north east of Scotland.

But First Minister Humza Yousaf said the latest move represents another "Westminster betrayal of the north east". 

Government backs Ineos

IN other betrayals, the UK Government is facing questions over its decision to act as a guarantor for petrochemical giant Ineos, which is threatening job losses in Grangemouth while building a major project in Belgium.

Ineos's Project One will import fracked gas from the US to provide the ethane for a cracker plant in Antwerp that will produce ethylene, the building block of plastic.

It is being backed by UK Export Finance, which acts as a guarantor for the project.

But the Government’s backing for the project is the subject of major controversy given Ineos also partly owns the Grangemouth oil refinery which has been threatened with closure that could lead to the loss of 400 jobs.