Theresa May unveils new anti-terrorism measures. Photo: Getty
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What are Theresa May's new plans to combat terrorism?

The Home Secretary is to announce new measures to respond to the terror threat.

The Home Secretary Theresa May, who was busy over the weekend admitting the government's net migration level target was "unlikely" to be met, and stating her preference for Abba's Dancing Queen, will outline this week new government plans to combat terrorism. Her proposals will be part of the government's Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill.

They include:

 - Banning UK-based insurance companies from covering the cost of terrorist ransoms, in the hope that firms will be deterred from paying ransoms to terrorists who take hostages. The UK government refuses to pay ransoms and is hoping to curb families' opportunities to do so.

 - Permitting cancelling passports (for up to 30 days) of terror suspects at the border, in order to put people off going abroad to fight.

 - Controlling under what terms British citizens who are terror suspects return from overseas, by imposing temporary exclusion orders.

 - Mandating public bodies such as colleges, schools and prisons to work to prevent terrorism.

 - Firming up aviation security, for example, asking airlines to provide data on passengers rapidly and efficiently.

 - Adjusting Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures (TPIMs) so that the authorities can force terror suspects to move to different parts of the country, and also raising the burden of proof for imposing TPIMs from "reasonable belief" to "balance of probabilities".

 - Forcing companies to hand over details about who was using computers and mobile phones, and when, to the police.
 

These proposals arrive alongside a week-long public initiative that began this week to inform the public of how it can work to counter terrorism threats. According to the BBC, this action involves counter-terror authorities briefing more than 6,000 people at schools, universities, airports and publoc places like shopping centres and cinemas about what they can do to reduce the risk of a terror attack.

Counter-terror officers are also handing out information at railway stations. Students will learn about the "Prevent" strategy from police officers and even theatre groups, which is a strategy that helps guide young people against being drawn into terrorism.

Anoosh Chakelian is deputy web editor at the New Statesman.

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Cabinet audit: what does the appointment of Andrea Leadsom as Environment Secretary mean for policy?

The political and policy-based implications of the new Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

A little over a week into Andrea Leadsom’s new role as Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), and senior industry figures are already questioning her credentials. A growing list of campaigners have called for her resignation, and even the Cabinet Office implied that her department's responsibilities will be downgraded.

So far, so bad.

The appointment would appear to be something of a consolation prize, coming just days after Leadsom pulled out of the Conservative leadership race and allowed Theresa May to enter No 10 unopposed.

Yet while Leadsom may have been able to twist the truth on her CV in the City, no amount of tampering will improve the agriculture-related side to her record: one barely exists. In fact, recent statements made on the subject have only added to her reputation for vacuous opinion: “It would make so much more sense if those with the big fields do the sheep, and those with the hill farms do the butterflies,” she told an audience assembled for a referendum debate. No matter the livelihoods of thousands of the UK’s hilltop sheep farmers, then? No need for butterflies outside of national parks?

Normally such a lack of experience is unsurprising. The department has gained a reputation as something of a ministerial backwater; a useful place to send problematic colleagues for some sobering time-out.

But these are not normal times.

As Brexit negotiations unfold, Defra will be central to establishing new, domestic policies for UK food and farming; sectors worth around £108bn to the economy and responsible for employing one in eight of the population.

In this context, Leadsom’s appointment seems, at best, a misguided attempt to make the architects of Brexit either live up to their promises or be seen to fail in the attempt.

At worst, May might actually think she is a good fit for the job. Leadsom’s one, water-tight credential – her commitment to opposing restraints on industry – certainly has its upsides for a Prime Minister in need of an alternative to the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP); a policy responsible for around 40 per cent the entire EU budget.

Why not leave such a daunting task in the hands of someone with an instinct for “abolishing” subsidies  thus freeing up money to spend elsewhere?

As with most things to do with the EU, CAP has some major cons and some equally compelling pros. Take the fact that 80 per cent of CAP aid is paid out to the richest 25 per cent of farmers (most of whom are either landed gentry or vast, industrialised, mega-farmers). But then offset this against the provision of vital lifelines for some of the UK’s most conscientious, local and insecure of food producers.

The NFU told the New Statesman that there are many issues in need of urgent attention; from an improved Basic Payment Scheme, to guarantees for agri-environment funding, and a commitment to the 25-year TB eradication strategy. But that they also hope, above all, “that Mrs Leadsom will champion British food and farming. Our industry has a great story to tell”.

The construction of a new domestic agricultural policy is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for Britain to truly decide where its priorities for food and environment lie, as well as to which kind of farmers (as well as which countries) it wants to delegate their delivery.

In the context of so much uncertainty and such great opportunity, Leadsom has a tough job ahead of her. And no amount of “speaking as a mother” will change that.

India Bourke is the New Statesman's editorial assistant.