THE Western world finds itself in debt to the Italian police officers who shot dead the armed fugitive Anis Amri – the prime suspect over the Berlin lorry massacre – before the Tunisian-born jihadist could kill again.
This relief was palpable in Germany, which has been on a knife-edge since that devastating moment on Monday when a lorry was driven at speed into one of the country’s famed Christmas markets where the seasonal festivities were in full swing.
The biggest Islamist attack on German soil, it also exposed – chillingly – the flaws with Angela Merkel’s open borders strategy, and the EU dismantling security checks between countries, as the elder stateswoman of European, even world, politics prepares for the fight of her life if she’s to be re-elected next year.
Even though Amri’s asylum application was rejected because of his long history of violence, the German authorities found themselves powerless to deport him. And, despite the 24-year-old being on a European terror watch list and having been recorded by the intelligence services threatening to kill himself in the name of jihad, he was not apprehended.
To compound Mrs Merkel’s embarrassment, he managed to flee the carnage in Berlin undetected before being spotted in Milan early yesterday.
Of course, it should be borne in mid that law enforcement in Germany is entirely separate to the work of the intelligence agencies, an understandable legacy of the country’s Nazi past. But it also needs to be remembered that today’s threats to world peace from Islamist extremists is so serious that the security services cannot afford to make a single error and co-operation between countries, Britain included, remains paramount.
Europe’s security is such that it is only as strong as the weakest link in the chain.
Label loopholes: Start cooking up Brexit - now
EVEN though Farming Minister George Eustice’s wish for mandatory labelling of UK dairy products will be welcomed by the agricultural industry, Defra’s apparent lack of readiness for Brexit is perplexing.
After all, Mr Eustice was a prominent advocate of Britain’s exit from the European Union while his boss is Andrea Leadsom, who came to public prominence when making a convincing case for Leave in the televised debates.
However, farmers and consumers have a right to expect more than the Minister’s laissez-faire ‘let’s wait and see’ attitude. For a decade, The Yorkshire Post has been highlighting fundamental flaws in labelling laws that enable foreign produce to be sold as ‘British’ if it has been processed or packaged here.
Yet, while the Prime Minister wants to keep all negotiating options open, this does appear to be one policy where the Government could, and should, be showing more ambition.
If it cares about the UK food industry’s unrivalled quality, not least all those Yorkshire farmers who continue to conform to the highest standards of welfare and integrity in the world, it would be drawing up country of origin labelling rules now which could then come into effect on the very first day of Brexit.
Not doing so gives further credence to the view that Brexit supporters like Mr Eustice did not have a clear plan in the event of Britain voting to repatriate decision-making powers from Brussels.
Revealed at last: Tax councillors finally named
HAROLD Wilson was right – a week is a long time in politics. Seven days ago, Leeds City Council had no intention of disclosing the names of four councillors issued with a court summons over non-payment of council tax.
Yet, having tried to defy The Yorkshire Post, and then the Information Commissioner who backed the legitimacy of this newspaper’s Freedom of Information request, the authority has seen sense and released the names in question.
Chief executive Tom Riordan’s apology was both welcome and sincere. The longer the cover-up persisted, the greater the diversion from the positive work being undertaken by his staff who are rightly proud of the civic accolades that they have won this year.
However, this episode also shows the importance of transparency, and the media holding officialdom to account.
If it wasn’t for this newspaper’s persistence, in the face of a council prepared to spend taxpayers’ money to thwart the electorate’s right to know, voters would have been none the wiser about the cases concerned. Now they can make up their own minds.