Look Left – Cameron calls on EU to show “political will” to deal with Gaddafi

European leaders met in Brussels today to discuss the situation in Libya, with David Cameron saying they must show "political will" and unity in calling for Colonel Muammar Gaddafi to go, reports Shamik Das.

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European leaders met in Brussels today to discuss the situation in Libya, with David Cameron saying they must show “political will” and unity in calling for Colonel Muammar Gaddafi to go.

The prime minister said:

“I think it’s important that the countries of Europe show political will, show ambition, show unity in being clear that Colonel Gaddafi must go and that his regime is illegitimate that what it is doing to his people is completely unacceptable.

“We are going to step up today, in the European Council, measures to isolate that regime and measures to put pressure on that regime and we should plan for every eventuality as I’ve been arguing now for around two weeks, this is absolutely vital work… This is a potentially good moment for our world and we should grab it, seize it and shape it.”

Meanwhile Nick Clegg described Gaddafi as a “complete tyrant”, saying:

“If Col Gaddafi were to continue to brutalise and go to war with his own people and create a monstrous humanitarian crisis – I think it would be very, very difficult and I would argue wrong, for the international community to simply turn its back.”

Left Foot Forward will have further detailed analysis on the developing Libya situation, and the military options available, next week.

• The breaking international news this lunchtime is the tsunami that has struck Japan, following an 8.9-magnitude earthquake – the biggest ever to have struck Japan.

A tsunami warning has been issued for the Philippines, Hawaii, the Pacific coast of Russia, Indonesia, Taiwan, Australia, New Zealand and also Central and South America.

The BBC correspondent in Tokyo described the scene:

“When the earthquake hit, buildings in Tokyo swayed. Walking was like crossing the deck of a ship at sea.

“People poured down from their offices and stood in the street staring up. A large fire seemed to have broken out in one part of the city and, in another place, injured people were being brought out of a station. The authorities immediately issued a tsunami warning. In Tokyo, public transport has been suspended, elevators are switched off in many buildings and thousands of people have gathered in squares and around train stations.”

So far, at least 90 people are reported to have been killed. The FCO helpline number is 020 7008 0000.

• Domestically, transport and the environment were among the major issues this week.

On Left Foot Forward, Eleanor Besley wrote this morning about the government’s Carbon Plan, which she said showed a “disappointing shortfall in policy breadth” on transport, while Richard George wrote a detailed analysis of the government’s plans for High Speed Rail, concluding

 “High-speed rail is not without its problems. The government would be well advised to engage with opposition groups and those affected by the plans.

“It should also look to other countries with high-speed lines, such as France, Germany and Spain, for guidance on integrating faster trains with more prosaic public transport. It also needs to reverse retrograde plans to drive people off the railways through a 3 per cent above inflation fares hike.”

And shadow environment secretary Mary Creagh, writing on Left Foot Forward yesterday, looked at the government’s apporach to sustainable development, arguing that “their strategy rings with ideological hollowness and demonstrates the lack of vision for sustainability in government; they have a plan for cuts but no plan for the environment”.

Progressive of the week:

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who has taken the lead in calling for action against Gaddafi, urging “targeted air strikes” on the tyrant’s key military command headquarters. Earlier this week, a poll in the UK showed a narrow majority in favour of “using military force to prevent foreign leaders launching attacks against their own people”, by 49% to 45%.

Regressive of the week:

The Tory MEPs, including Daniel Hannan and Roger Helmer, who voted for Czech climate denier Jan Zahradil to lead the ECR – and against British Tory moderate Timothy Kirkhope.

Though on the upside, as Ben Fox reported on Left Foot Forward on Wednesday:

“It may well be that by voting against their own man the Tory eurosceptics have sunk the final nail into the ECR’s coffin.”

Evidence of the week:

Research which Peter Mandelson will present to ippr this afternoon, highlighting the UK’s £27 billion export gap with Brazil, Russia, India and China.

As Will Straw explained on Left Foot Forward this morning:

“Put simply, Britain contributes to 3.7% of global trade but makes up just 1% of China’s imports, and between 2% and 3% of imports to Brazil, Russia, and India. The result is that Britain has an export gap of: £1.8bn with Brazil; £1.8bn with Russia; £3.2bn with India; and £19.8bn with China.”

Peter Mandelson’s speech and the presentation on Britain’s place in the world will appear on the ippr website later today.

Ed Jacobs’s Week outside Westminster:

Northern Ireland: The week in Northern Ireland was dominated by the rancour over the executive’s budget. On Monday, the talk was over whether the executive could hold together as the UUP failed to rule out its ministers resigning in protest over the plans. As MLAs voted to support Sammy Wilson’s proposals, in the face of bitter UUP and SDLP opposition, the divisions were clear for all to see.

Meanwhile, as political leaders in Northern Ireland voiced concerns that David Cameron had given them the cold shoulder, on his first visit as Labour leader, Ed Miliband told them:

“We are determined to continue to work with you now as the official opposition in Westminster. I have said to you that we have an open door policy which we can discuss issues of mutual concern and interests.”

Wales: In Wales, the week was dominated by the fallout from the referendum on full law making powers. Plaid Cymru’s Presiding Officer in the Welsh Assembly, Lord Elis-Thomas, called for the abolition of the Wales Office in London, which Welsh secretary Cheryl Gillan dismissed as “singing to a separatist tune”, while shadow welsh secretary Peter Hain said he was “pursuing a separatist agenda, acting above his pay-grade and out of touch with the people of Wales”.

And first minister Carwyn Jones confirmed the Assembly will gain its new found powers on Thursday, May 5th.

Scotland: Speaking to the Daily Record ahead of a visit to Scotland, shadow chancellor Ed Balls accused Alex Salmond of breaking his promises.

He said:

“Alex Salmond owns the copyright on broken promises. If you look at what the SNP promised on class sizes, on council tax, on policing – it’s a fairly chequered record. I haven’t heard a squeak from Alex Salmond using his position as first minister to put pressure on this government to make the right calls – in fact he’s made some wrong calls himself.”

Salmond, meanwhile, speaking of the fallout from the latest Old Firm madness and looking ahead to the next game, said:

“We want to have a game a week on Sunday, which is a showcase for Scotland, a showcase for Scottish football. I want to see our two leading clubs have a passionate encounter but one which is regarded as a showcase and a demonstration of what’s best in football. I don’t want it to be an embarrassment for Scotland.”

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