May could lose majority in parliament – YouGov study in The Times

COMMENT: That the Tory lead appears to have been cut so dramatically surely has much to do with the sanctimonious posturing of Home Secretary Amber Rudd following the Manchester suicide attack as much as it does the apparent climb down over the dementia tax. One suspects that, whilst Rudd talks a good game, there really is nothing there at all.

The personal attacks that have been directed against Jeremy Corbyn vis-a-vis his connections to the Irish Republican movement are quite astonishing, coming from a Conservative Party who were themselves in direct contact with the IRA, even as the terrorists reigned mortar fire upon Downing Street.

The British people rather champion the underdog and dredging up the past affiliations of political figures often has precisely the opposite effect to that intended – as today’s Tory Party is finding out.

That said, I find it almost inconceivable that the Tories could actually lose the election. Even in London and even among Labour voters, I find a sense of inevitability about a Tory victory.

However, the idea that the grasping hand of the state should have the power to seize the property of elderly folk who thought that they might be able to leave an inheritance to their children and grandchildren has gone down like a lead weight.

We now have the bizarre situation of Corbyn’s  Labour Party positioning itself as the champion of elderly home-owners!

How could the Tories get it so wrong?

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COMMENT: Tarique Ghaffur is quite right. We cannot simply wait until individuals commit acts of terrorism. Over the years, there have been many thousands of individuals on intelligence watch lists. One of whom was Abu Qatada al-Filistini.

It took the authorities some 16 years to deport this man from the UK, where he lived at tax-payer expense. Whilst in the UK, Qatada is believed to have radicalised and inspired extremists across the land, including individuals associated with the Manchester Arena suicide bomber, Salman Abedi.

It is often said that we should not “give up our fundmental freedoms” in the face of terror and that to do so is to concede defeat. As far as I am concerned, when young children cannot attend an Ariana Grande concert without being killed or horribly maimed, we have already lost. We have to confront the terrorist menace in this country. Had we done so effectively in the past, we might have prevented the atrocity in Manchester last week.

The Police should be given every possible tool in order to fight terrorism. The “liberties” of the likes of Abu Qatada and Salman Abedi must not trump the rights of their potential or actual victims to live in freedom. We must recognise that there is no equivalence between Islamists and their potential victims.

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Georgina Callander & Ariana Grande: Their Right To Life Should Trump Civil Rights Of Terrorists

7/7 Met police chief calls for extremists to be locked up in INTERNMENT camps as he says MI5 and police cannot keep track of 3,000 terror suspects

  • The controversial call came from Tarique Ghaffur, a Muslim former police chief
  • He warns there are too many extremists in UK for police, MI5 officers to monitor
  • Mr Ghaffur proposes special centres be set up to detain up to 3,000 extremists
  • He was Assistant Commissioner at Scotland Yard when 7/7 bombings took place 

Writing exclusively for The Mail on Sunday, Tarique Ghaffur warns there are too many extremists on the streets for police and MI5 officers to monitor.

Mr Ghaffur, an Assistant Commissioner at Scotland Yard when the 7/7 bombings took place, proposes that special centres be set up to detain as many as 3,000 extremists, where they can be kept from launching attacks.

They would also be made to go through a de-radicalisation programme.

Thousands of radical extremists must be locked up in new internment camps to protect Britain, a Muslim former police chief declares today (file photo of the Maze Prison in Northern Ireland, built on the site of the Long Kesh internment camp)

Thousands of radical extremists must be locked up in new internment camps to protect Britain, a Muslim former police chief declares today (file photo of the Maze Prison in Northern Ireland, built on the site of the Long Kesh internment camp)

Tarique Ghaffur warns there are too many extremists on the streets for police and MI5 officers to monitor (file photo of a prisoner at in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba)

Mr Ghaffur (pictured) believes the idea would work for extremists if the camps were approved by imams, whom he believes should also issue a 'fatwa' condemning atrocities

He admits that the internment of IRA members in Northern Ireland during the 1970s led to a violent backlash and hunger strikes.

But Mr Ghaffur believes the idea would work for extremists if the camps were approved by imams, whom he believes should also issue a ‘fatwa’ condemning atrocities such as the suicide bombing in Manchester that left 22 dead.

He says: ‘Let us have a proper national debate about this, and not be afraid to speak openly for fear of offending any communities, or for the sake of political correctness.’

Internment was introduced in Northern Ireland in 1971 in an attempt to quell the rising violence, and over four years almost 2,000 alleged paramilitaries were held without trial in makeshift camps.

But it led to an upsurge in bloodshed as well as political protests, and was later abandoned.

However, Mr Ghaffur, once Britain’s most senior Asian officer, says that it is needed now to deal with the growing number of dangerous extremists in the country, more than 400 of whom have fought for Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.

Mr Ghaffur, an Assistant Commissioner at Scotland Yard when the 7/7 bombings took place, proposes that special centres be set up to detain as many as 3,000 extremists (file photo of the Maze Prison in Northern Ireland, built on the site of the Long Kesh internment camp)

Mr Ghaffur, an Assistant Commissioner at Scotland Yard when the 7/7 bombings took place, proposes that special centres be set up to detain as many as 3,000 extremists (file photo of the Maze Prison in Northern Ireland, built on the site of the Long Kesh internment camp)

Yesterday it emerged that MI5 has identified 23,000 jihadis in the UK in recent years, of whom 3,000 are still considered a threat.

Locking up terror suspects with no trial

Locking up terror suspects without trial has been discussed by Government, it has emerged.

The plan would be to lock them up in internment camps if the situation worsens in the UK.

Currently, the police can hold you for up to 24 hours before they have to charge you with a crime or release you.

They can apply to hold you for up to 36 or 96 hours if you’re suspected of a serious crime like murder.

You can be held without charge for up to 14 days If you’re arrested under the Terrorism Act.

He writes: ‘We face an unprecedented terrorist threat – about 3,000 extremists are subjects of interest to MI5 and police, and about 500 plots are being monitored. The numbers are way too many for the security services and police to monitor.’

Mr Ghaffur says that the solution is to set up special centres where the 3,000 or so extremists can be detained.

Locking up terror suspects without trial has been discussed by Government, it has emerged.

The plan would be to lock them up in internment camps if the situation worsens in the UK.

‘These would be community-based centres where the extremists would be risk-assessed. Then the extremists would be made to go through a deradicalisation programme, using the expertise of imams, charity workers and counter- terrorism officers.’

Mr Ghaffur adds: ‘These centres would have oversight from vetted Muslim and other community leaders, who would ensure they stayed within the law.’

Internment for jihadis was also proposed last week by Colonel Richard Kemp, the former British Army commander in Afghanistan. However, former Scotland Yard Commissioner Lord Blair said it would be ‘counter-productive’ as it would anger the Muslim community, whose co-operation is needed to root out terrorists.

Yesterday it emerged that MI5 has identified 23,000 jihadis in the UK in recent years, of whom 3,000 are still considered a threat (file photo of the Maze Prison in Northern Ireland, built on the site of the Long Kesh internment camp)

Mr Ghaffur says that the solution is to set up special centres where the 3,000 or so extremists can be detained (file photo of the Maze Prison in Northern Ireland, built on the site of the Long Kesh internment camp)

And former Security Minister Lord West warned: ‘Internment would be bad for our standing in the world, and also our position would not be good in fighting terrorists. Like as in war, we have to be whiter than white, and so we would not look good against the terrorists we are fighting.

Secondly, I don’t think it will work at a practical level, as I don’t want these extremely dangerous, drug-taking jihadis put in the same place as more vulnerable ones.’ Lord Carlile, former terror law watchdog, added: ‘Internment camps would not be lawful, and would not work.

‘They did not work in Northern Ireland, and even during World War Two, when there was internment, Churchill said he found it extremely distasteful, and that’s when we faced a real threat of invasion.’

Imams must issue a fatwa against Muslim radicals, says ex-Met Police chief who was in charge during 7/7

By Tarique Ghaffur, Former Met Police Chief, For The Mail On Sunday

Ex-Met chief Tarique Ghaffur has called for internment camps for the 3,000 extremists wandering Britain's streets

Like millions of others, I was left horrified by the barbaric Manchester attack. My heart goes out to the families who have lost loved ones and to those who were injured.

As an Asian Mancunian, I felt appalled beyond words. My own children could have been among those killed in the UK’s worst atrocity since 7/7.

I was heartbroken but I was not surprised.

As one of the Met’s most senior officers, having seen classified intelligence, I knew more than most about the jihadi threat facing Britain. As security co-ordinator of the 2012 Olympics, I knew public events were soft targets.

I always felt it was a matter of when, not if. Last Monday, my worst fears were realised.

We face an unprecedented terrorist threat in Britain – about 3,000 extremists are subjects of interest to MI5 and police, and about 500 plots are being monitored.

Add more than 400 jihadis who have returned from Syria and you realise the numbers are way too many for the security services and police to monitor. The atrocities of Manchester and Westminster have shown that ordinary surveillance, monitoring and tagging are not working.

The time has come to set up special centres to detain these 3,000 extremists.

These would be community-based centres where they would be risk-assessed and theologically examined.

Mr Ghaffur says the 'internment camps' would be community-based centres where extremists would be risk-assessed and theologically examined. Pictured: The aftermath of the Manchester Arena suicide bomb

Then the extremists would be made to go through a deradicalisation programme, using the expertise of imams, charity workers and counter-terrorism officers. Those who can be deradicalised should be carefully allowed back into the community. But those deemed too dangerous should be locked up.

These centres would have oversight from vetted Muslim and other community leaders, who would ensure they stayed within the law.

There is some precedent for these centres. At the height of the Troubles, internment camps were set up for 2,000 deemed extremists. I know those camps led to hunger strikes, but the centres I’m proposing would be different as they would have backing from Muslim leaders.

I would like imams to issue a collective fatwa, condemning terrorist atrocities and giving religious backing to the new centres for the good of society. With their support, the centres would not be seen as a ‘tool of the state’.

This would also show that Muslim leaders are doing something to make the UK safe and not just delivering words.

I know many will oppose these centres as oppressive. But the threat we face from terrorism is unprecedented and if we do not take bold steps now we will not be able to prevent future attacks.

As a further solution, the Government should overhaul the entire asylum system.

In the 1980s and 1990s, hundreds of asylum seekers came in, claiming they were fleeing persecution. We had no way of seeing if they were genuine, or hate clerics lying to get in. Many extremists who came in never integrated.

Extremist asylum seekers need to be re-vetted, and if they are deemed a threat they should be kicked out. The Home Office should set up a ‘cold cases’ review team to re-examine all asylum seekers.

We have never faced a terrorism threat like this. So let us have a proper national debate and not be afraid to speak openly for fear of offending any communities, or for the sake of political correctness.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4548870/Ex-Met-chief-calls-internment-camps-3-000-extremists.html#ixzz4iRvGa5FE
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OPEC set to prolong oil output cuts by nine months  

Reuters. By Alex Lawler, Rania El Gamal and Ahmad Ghaddar | VIENNA

OPEC is likely to extend production cuts for another nine months, ministers and delegates said on Tuesday as the oil producer group meets this week to debate how to tackle a global glut of crude.

OPEC’s top producer, Saudi Arabia, favors extending the output curbs by nine months rather than the initially planned six months, as it seeks to speed up market rebalancing and prevent oil prices from sliding back below $50 per barrel.

On Monday, Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih won support from OPEC’s second-biggest and fastest-growing producer, Iraq, for a nine-month extension and said he expected no objections from anyone else.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries meets in Vienna on Thursday to consider whether to prolong the deal reached in December in which OPEC and 11 non-members, including Russia, agreed to cut output by about 1.8 million barrels per day in the first half of 2017.

The decision pushed prices back above $50 per barrel, giving a fiscal boost to major oil producers. But it also spurred growth in the U.S. shale industry, which is not participating in the output deal, thus slowing the market’s rebalancing.

Saudi Arabia’s Gulf ally Kuwait said on Tuesday not every OPEC member was on board yet for an extension to March 2018, but most ministers and delegates in Vienna said they expected a fairly painless meeting.

Ecuador Oil Minister Carlos Perez said OPEC and other oil-producing countries would discuss a six- or nine-month extension to output cuts and probably choose the latter.

“Six and nine months are both proposals on the table … we will support the majority, probably the nine months,” Perez, whose country is in OPEC, told reporters after arriving in Vienna on Tuesday.

Asked whether deeper cuts would be discussed, he said: “Not at this point, I don’t think so.”

Noureddine Boutarfa, energy minister of OPEC member Algeria, said OPEC was discussing a possible nine-month extension, with curbs kept at the same level as under the group’s existing deal.

“Right now we are talking about nine months,” Boutarfa told reporters in the Austrian capital. Falih also arrived in Vienna on Tuesday but made no comment to reporters.

“The Saudi oil minister’s view seems accurate and no serious objection is expected if at all,” said one OPEC delegate, who asked not to be identified as he is not allowed to speak to the media. “No surprises,” said a second delegate.

UPSIDE SURPRISE

Many OPEC meetings in recent years witnessed bitter fights between Saudi Arabia and its rival Iran, OPEC’s third-largest oil producer.

Tehran has kept relatively quiet in the past few weeks, saying it saw a need to extend cuts. Iran is emerging from a presidential election won by the incumbent, Hassan Rouhani.

“It has been some time since we had such a strong consensus going into an OPEC meeting,” BNP Paribas’s commodities strategist Harry Tchilinguirian said.

“Despite a supply cut extension being factored in by the market, oil prices have made only modest progress. It may take more than an extension to rekindle bullish spirits,” he added.

Oil prices initially fell 1 percent on Tuesday after U.S. President Donald Trump proposed to sell half of the United States’ Strategic Petroleum Reserve in the next 10 years as well as to speed up Alaskan exploration.

Brent crude was up 13 cents at $54.00 a barrel as most analysts said the sale would not affect immediate OPEC efforts.

Two OPEC sources said a one-year extension was also an option, though others said most discussions were centering on nine months due to weak seasonal demand in the first quarter.

Saudi’s Falih said on Monday he expected the new deal to be similar to the old one, “with minor changes”.

“He (Falih) has talked to several countries including Norway, including Turkmenistan, including Egypt, and they have made signs of their willingness to join the collaboration,” Kuwait’s oil minister Essam al-Marzouq said on Tuesday.

Norway’s oil ministry said later on Tuesday it had no plan to join cuts but had a good dialogue with OPEC.

Deutsche Bank said the market had priced in a nine-month extension.

“The inclusion of smaller producing non-OPEC countries such as Turkmenistan, Egypt and the Ivory Coast would be a negligible boost, in our view,” Deutsche said. “A deepening of cuts, though, has more potential to provide an upside surprise.”

(Additional reporting by Ernest Scheyder; Writing by Dmitry Zhdannikov; Editing by Dale Hudson)

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Following the suicide attack in Manchester and as the terrorist threat level is raised to severe, Theresa May has deployed the army onto the streets of the UK to defend against imminent attack. Doubtless she will be portrayed as acting in a resolute and couragous manner in facing up to the threat we face.

However, the test of courage surely comes BEFORE a terrorist attack and not immediately after? The real test comes when decisions need to be taken in advance – decisions which might entail the curtailment of civil liberties and which might prove politically unpopular. May is unlikely to face much criticism in the immediate aftermath of the Manchester atrocity, but what if she had deployed the army BEFORE the Manchester Arena was attacked?

What if she had attempted to implement meaningful and robust anti-terrorism measures ahead of a major strike? What if she had sought to preempt, through foreign intervention, a major atrocity, possibly involving chemical or biological weapons? Would she be seen as “strong and stable”? Or would Teresa May, like Tony Blair before her, be reviled and regarded as political pariah?

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Tony Blair: Real Courage

For all his faults – and we surely all have them – Tony Blair showed real courage in the decisions he took during his premiership as he attempted to prevent Britons falling victim to possible chemical and biological attack, in addition to seeking to implement robust legislation aimed at combating the terrorist menace.

It is easy to be wise after the event: the real test comes ahead of bloodshed.

In the wake of the Manchester suicide bombing, I again recall Parliamentary attempts to implement robust anti-terrorist legislation and the arguments of those opposed to such measures – measures which might have been used to prevent the Manchester atrocity. David Davis MP used the tabling of robust anti-terrorism legislation to mount a high-profile campaign against what he regarded as the “strangulation of fundamental freedoms”.

As I said yesterday, the time to act against the likes of Salman Abedi is BEFORE they strike, not after. 90 day detention would have afforded the authorities an opportunity to so act. In 2008, Davis put the future liberties of those such as Abedi ahead of the victims of terrorism as he systematically undermined government action aimed at combating the threat – a threat clearly in evidence in Manchester this week.

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Gina Callander: Victim of Terrorism

At the time, I opposed Davis’s actions, both within the Tory Party and without. I subsequently left the party altogether in late 2008 having previously held elected office on their behalf. I have not campaigned or even voted for them since and, recalling these matters anew and how I felt at the time, I am unlikely to do so again.

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Salman Ramadan Abedi – His Liberties Were More Important Than His Victims

From Wikipedia: “The Counter-Terrorism Act 2008 (c 28) is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom which increased police powers for the stated purpose of countering terrorism. The first reading of the bill was held in January 2008, and it received royal assent on 26 November 2008 following an episode of Parliamentary ping-pong on some of its most controversial issues.[2]

Late on the night of 11 June 2008, a parliamentary vote was held on whether to extend the limit on the period of detention of terror suspects without charge in England and Wales, from 28 to 42 days. The issue had been a contentious issue in the media in the preceding weeks, with the prime-minister urging for the extension, following past dropped proposals of 90 days, as being a vital tool in the protection of the British public, in the War on Terrorism.

The vote was narrowly passed in the House of Commons by 9 votes, after the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, together with 36 rebel Labour MPs, voted against the government.[1] The vote was passed with the support of the government by the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), who had nine elected MPs.

The day after the vote, the Conservative front bench Home Affairs spokesman, David Davis suddenly resigned from Parliament in protest and won re-election to his seat in by-election in which none of the other main parties stood a candidate.

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Davis: calls to introduce a 90-day detention limit could alienate local communities

On 13 October 2008 this measure was dropped from the Bill by a vote in the House of Lords.[27][28]

Rather than reverse this defeat with another difficult vote in the House of Commons, the Government drafted a Counter-Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Bill that would stand “ready to be introduced if and when the need arises.”

Speaking after his resignation, Davis stated that he intended to induce a wider public debate, and stop “the insidious and relentless erosion of civil liberties in Britain”, in which the detention vote was a “watershed” in the debate, which also encompassed recent legislation about the increased use of CCTV, the Identity Cards Act 2006 and the expansion of the DNA database, which represented “the slow strangulation of fundamental freedoms by this government”

Trump seeks to sell off half of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve

Washington Post

By Steven Mufson and Chris Mooney May 22

As part of its 2018 budget, the Trump administration is proposing to reduce by half the size of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, a cushion against global price shocks and supply disruptions. The administration said it expects the drawdown to reduce the federal deficit by $16.6 billion, part of a package of deficit reduction measures over the next 10 years.

The proposal probably will run into sharp differences in Congress and among oil experts, most of whom say that the reserve should remain a buffer in an emergency. As of May 12, the reserve had 688.1 million barrels, equal to about 141 days of net imports of crude oil and refined petroleum products.

The administration included the words “Reduce Strategic Petroleum Reserve by half” among a long list of budget proposals distributed under embargo to journalists.

The sales would start at half a billion dollars in the next fiscal year and climb to $3.9 billion, for a total of $16 billion over the next decade. A policy brief floated by the conservative Heritage Foundation, a group that has exerted a major influence on the Trump budget, suggests selling off the entirety of the SPR over a two-to-three-year period (a more radical proposal than the Trump idea).

“The SPR has not served its purpose, as Presidents have used the SPR as a political tool or failed to release reserves in a timely and impactful manner,” Heritage fellow Nicolas Loris wrote in 2015. “It is time for Congress to recognize it is not the government’s role to respond to high prices. Congress should therefore pull the plug and drain the SPR once and for all.”

The Strategic Petroleum Reserve is the world’s largest stockpile of emergency crude oil, and lies near the largest U.S. refiners and pipeline networks in four large salt caverns in Louisiana and Texas.

It was established in December 1975 in the wake of the oil embargo imposed on the United States by Arab members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

That cutoff of oil sales to the United States delivered a shock to the U.S. economy. More recently, strategists have defended the reserve as a bulwark against a possible disruption in supplies from Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter, or a closure of the narrow Strait of Hormuz at the mouth of the Persian Gulf.

Some analysts have argued that the United States no longer needs a big stockpile because of the surge in domestic production resulting from shale oil output over the past decade and the reduction in U.S. imports of crude oil. Economist Philip Verleger has been among the leading advocates of shrinking the reserve. “The reserve was created at a time when the nation was very dependent on imported oil,” he wrote in a blog article for S&P Global Platts in 2014.  “The dependency is in the past.  The Reserve no longer serves the purpose for which it was developed.”

Other experts say that the reserve is as needed as ever.

“The risk of complete collapse in Venezuela is just one of many reminders that the world remains vulnerable to oil price shocks, and those will be felt by U.S. consumers at the pump just as much today even though we import less oil than we used to because oil is a global commodity,” said Jason Bordoff, director of the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University.

“The SPR is a 40-year-old national security asset that helps to protect the U.S., in partnership with other countries, from potential oil supply disruptions and price spikes. It would be foolish to sell it off just because our imports have fallen or to fill short-term budget holes, especially when oil prices are so low.” (Bordoff was President Barack Obama’s National Security Council adviser on energy and climate.)

This isn’t the first time the Strategic Petroleum Reserve has been tapped for revenue. A budget deal in October 2015 included sales of 58 million barrels — 8 percent of the reserve — from 2018 through 2025 to raise $5.1 billion, which would equal 0.125 percent of that year’s budget. In addition, Congress turned to sales of the reserve to meet financing needs of the Highway Trust Fund, which would drain the reserve of another 101 million barrels.

The administration’s plan to shrink the petroleum reserve would come after these earlier drawdowns, leaving the emergency buffer with about 270 million barrels, or less than 40 percent of the current level.

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As Donald Trump condemns the suspected suicide attack at the Ariana Grande concert at the Manchester Arena last night, I recall the various efforts, which have been made over many years, to implement measures aimed at preventing such an attack. I also recall the efforts of those opposed to such methods, some of whom are currently seeking the endorsement of the British people.

Children have now been explicitly targeted on the streets of this country. The time for robust action is BEFORE an attack, not after. Recalled below is the first parliamentary defeat of Tony Blair in November 2005. Blair had attempted to bring in robust measures aimed at countering the terrorist threat following the 7/7 atrocity in London. Now, in 2017, the people of Manchester have suffered an attack directly aimed at children.  In my view, the time for action was indeed in 2005, LONG BEFORE the evil of last night.

Blair defeated on terror bill

· 291 vote for 90-day amendment; 322 against
· 49 Labour MPs rebel
· Commons backs 28-day detention by 323-290
· Blair: I won’t resign
Tony Blair at PMQs, Nov 9 2005
Decision time: Tony Blair at prime minister’s at question time today. Photograph: PA

Tony Blair’s government tonight suffered its first ever defeat since coming to power, as MPs voted down proposals to allow police to hold terrorist suspects for 90 days without charge.Despite last-minute appeals from the prime minister, and the return from overseas visits of both Gordon Brown and Jack Straw in order to vote, the government was defeated on the issue by 322 votes to 291, a larger than expected margin of 31.

A few minutes later, MPs voted for a rebel Labour amendment increasing the detention period to 28 days. That was passed by 323 votes to 290.

But the defeat on 90 days is a personal blow for Mr Blair, who strongly backed the police’s demand for a three-month period.

According to parliament’s division list, 49 Labour MPs rebelled against the government.

Mr Blair left the chamber shaking his head. He later told Sky News he would not be quitting and rejected accusations he was now “a lame duck”.

He added: “People will believe parliament was deeply irresponsible.”

The Conservative leader, Michael Howard, said the result left Mr Blair “seriously weakened” and called on him to “consider his position”.

He added: “The prime minister has shown he no longer carries his party with him – and that is not good for the country.”

Bookmakers William Hill shortened the odds on Mr Blair leaving office before the end of the year from 3-1 to 7-4 immediately after the vote.

MPs continued to vote on the remainder of the bill, which is less controversial. The bill may still face a stormy ride in the House of Lords, where there is no government majority.

Around the central lobby of Westminster, MPs were visibly digesting the shock of the government’s first defeat.

Soon after the vote, the prime minister’s official spokesman told reporters Mr Blair was “disappointed”, but respected the will of parliament.

Asked whether the defeat reflected on Mr Blair’s personal authority, the spokesman said: “This has been a one-off issue. It is an issue on which there has traditionally been a tension in parliament between those who, on the one hand, believe you have to do everything to protect the country’s security, and, on the other hand, those who wish to protect civil liberties as they see it.”

The shadow home secretary, David Davis, said: “I am delighted that we have shown Tony Blair that there are limits to what he can do.”

“This is a victory for parliament and for Britain’s freedoms.”

The director of the civil liberties lobby group, Liberty, Shami Chakrabati, said she was “heartened” by the vote, but she warned it still doubled the existing permitted period for detention without charge. She also criticised the “overt political campaigning of senior police officers” for their part in lobbying MPs.

Earlier today, at prime minister’s questions, Mr Blair told MPs to have a “sense of responsibility” and back the police’s demand for a 90-day limit.

In heated exchanges between the prime minister and opposition leaders at question time, Mr Blair said it was his duty and “the duty of every member of this house” to support the police’s request. In a 30-minute session dominated by the issue, one Tory backbencher shouted “police state” at Mr Blair.

Mr Howard said angrily: “We all want to fight terrorism effectively.”

He argued that the government had failed to justify the need for 90-day detention and warned of riots, like those in France, if minority ethnic communities were alienated by the legislation.

Mr Blair reminded undecided Conservative MPs sitting behind Mr Howard that the “the police and those charged with fighting terrorism said the 90-day power was needed to make the country safe”.

“You and your colleagues are going to have to make your decision today,” he told Mr Howard.

“We have made ours. We believe this is right for our country. We believe it is necessary to protect our country from terrorism and I’m only sorry you don’t agree.”

With the government unsure of securing victory for the 90-day proposal later this afternoon, the cabinet ministers Mr Brown and Mr Straw were both ordered back from foreign visits by the chief whip to bolster the government’s vote in the lobbies.

Labour loyalist Janet Anderson tabled a “fallback” amendment of 60 days, but Labour dissenter David Winnick also retabled his original proposal of 28 days – a period the Tories were prepared to accept.

Facing the possibility of the first defeat of his premiership, Mr Blair said he preferred to be right and lose than back down given the “compelling” case that the police had made to extend their powers of investigation.

“Sometimes it is better to lose and do the right thing than to win and do the wrong thing,” he said.

Labour backbenchers made clear their concerns about the legislation a week ago, when the government’s 66-seat majority was slashed to just one after 31 Labour MPs rebelled over another aspect of the bill. A rebel amendment to make an offence of “glorification” of terrorism carry “intent” was defeated.