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Here’s what we know about the Bourke Street attacker

The man who crashed a car full of gas cylinders in the Melbourne CBD before stabbing three people in..

The man who crashed a car full of gas cylinders in the Melbourne CBD before stabbing three people in a terror attack has been identified as Hassan Khalif Shire Ali.

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The 30-year-old was shot in the chest by a police officer and later died in hospital.

Here's what we know about the Bourke Street attacker.

Who was Shire Ali?

Hassan Khalif Shire Ali was born in 1988. He and his family moved from Somalia to Australia in the 1990s.

Police say his family is well known and respected within the Somali community in Melbourne.

They attended the Virgin Mary Mosque in Hoppers Crossing, west of Melbourne.

Shire Ali most commonly attended prayer in Melbourne's northern suburbs.

He was married. His wife is speaking to police.

Shire Ali had lived with family in Werribee but the ABC has been told he recently moved from the home because of problems with substance abuse.

Police and bystanders confront the knife-wielding Hassan Khalif Shire Ali.

What did police know about him?

Shire Ali was known to intelligence agencies and police.

His passport was cancelled in 2015 when the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) believed he planned to travel to Syria.

Police say he held radical views and had links to the Islamic State (IS) group.

However, Shire Ali was never targeted by a Joint Counter Terrorism Teams (JCTT) investigation because an assessment was made that he did not pose a threat to national security.

He was not actively monitored.

JCTT will now investigate how and when he moved from having those radical views to carrying out the attack.

AFP says Bourke St terror suspect was known to them

What was his motive?

Police say Shire Ali was radicalised and inspired by IS.

However, it is not yet known if there was direct contact between him and the group.

His attack has been declared an act of terrorism intended to cause maximum casualties.

Police are investigating why the attack was carried out on Bourke Street — an iconic precinct in the Melbourne CBD.

It is a popular area and was full of people when the attack happened on Friday evening just before peak hour.

Burnt-out vehicle on the footpath surrounded by police tape

Did he have help planning the attack?

Police believe the threat of the attack was limited to Shire Ali.

His family members and associates are a key focus of the investigation.

Raids have been carried out on properties in the Melbourne suburbs of Meadow Heights and Werribee.

The set up of gas cylinders in Shire Ali's car, deliberately opened to cause an explosion, was described by police as "not remotely sophisticated".

A police officer wearing body armour, helmet and face mask stands behind police tape outside a house

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Why are Tory rebels pushing for a confidence vote they might not win?

What will happen if Conservative MPs manage to trigger a vote of no confidence in Theresa May? As th..

What will happen if Conservative MPs manage to trigger a vote of no confidence in Theresa May? As the letters to 1922 Committee chairman Graham Brady stack up, that is the question members of the European Research Group are considering this evening.

Until the contents of the prime ministers draft Brexit deal were revealed yesterday, the received wisdom and public preference of senior members of the ERG was that they had the numbers to force a change in policy, not personnel, and should work to that end. By the time Cabinet met yesterday, that logic had given way to resignation that it was no longer possible to prevail upon May to change course and that a confidence vote was the only way to go.

Government sources are struck by their change in tune – and by the very public way in which Jacob Rees-Mogg and Steve Baker announced it earlier. It was only a month ago that Baker, who is essentially the ERGs chief whip, said the numbers to force a change in leader simply did not exist. The reasonable suspicion on the part of those still loyal to the prime minister is that he would not have licensed the attack were he not sure that the rebels could not at least hit the 48 needed to trigger a confidence vote.

Will they? The first thing to note is that the ERG is not as coherent a group as it is often portrayed as, and not all of its members believe that a vote of no confidence is necessarily the right gambit. Members of its WhatsApp group note that some of its veterans are urging caution – Bernard Jenkin, for instance, has told colleagues to be “lucid and calm”, while Edward Leigh has refused to submit a letter and says Mays deal should be defeated in parliament.

One cool-headed member, however, says proponents of that strand of opinion are very much in the minority. They reckon conciliatory voices are outnumbered “ten to one” by those congratulating those who have quit government posts and calling for the submission of letters to Brady. It remains to be seen whether that means the rebels will actually end up hitting the threshold. But what today has made clear is that we are much closer to it happening than at any point in recent months. If it doesnt, then Mays position will look much stronger, even if her majority remains non-existent and the chances of no deal remain non-trivial and rising.

Separate to all of that is the more pressing question of whether May would win a confidence vote. A simple majority is all that would be needed for her to do so, and most Tory MPs still think she could clear that bar, even if, as some loyalists predict, a not insignificant number of the payroll votes against the prime minister along with the rebels. Asked whether the numbers exist to win the confidence vote, a source close to Baker says: “I cannot be sure.”

For the ERG leadership, though, the real victory would be demonstrating conclusively that Mays Withdrawal Agreement did not have a chance of passing parliament. Arguably, hitting 48 would do that, as there is no way that 58 Labour MPs will vote for Mays deal and cancel out those votes and the 10 of the DUP.

The prime minister has insisted that she will fight on should she win the ensuing ballot. But one ally of David Davis says its result, even if it fell short of 50 per cent, would serve to illustrate the number of MPs willing to go “on strike” should she do so. Many are convinced that her position would be just as untenable, especially if the number of votes against her hit treble figures (the gamble, of course, is that May would decline the opportunity to take advantage of her years immunity by returning to Brussels after a first defeat and seeking a deal that Labour could vote for). They could well be right. But first, they will need to trigger a vote.

Patrick Maguire is the New Statesman's political correspondent.

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In one letter, Esther McVey misleads us seven times over the DWPs impact on minorities

Esther McVey, the Work and Pensions Secretary who resigned over the Brexit deal this morning, depart..

Esther McVey, the Work and Pensions Secretary who resigned over the Brexit deal this morning, departed in true DWP style: disingenuously.

After her argument against Theresa Mays draft withdrawal agreement, the departing cabinet minister listed her “achievements” at the Department towards the end of her letter:

Earlier this morning I informed the Prime Minister I was resigning from her Cabinet pic.twitter.com/ZeBkL5n2xH

— Esther McVey (@EstherMcVey1) November 15, 2018

​“It has been a huge honour to serve as Secretary of State for Work & Pensions, and I am immensely proud of the part I have played in the record levels of employment we have seen in all parts of the UK.

“Youth unemployment has halved since 2010, and we now have record number of women and BAME in work and since 2013, 973,000 more disabled people in work.

“With employment over 3.3million more than in 2010 we have helped 1,000 more people into work each and every day since we took office.”

Lets take a closer look at these boasts, shall we?

1. “Record levels of employment”

Well, employment did reach a record high this year. The unemployment rate is at its lowest since the Seventies. Sound good?

These figures disguise the increasingly precarious nature of work for British people. Last November, the number of people who did not have enough work, who were on temporary or zero-hours contracts, or who were classed as “self-employed” but actually only working for one employer still remained higher than before the 2008 crash. (more…)

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Theresa May prolongs her Brexit crisis as she insists nothing has changed

Nothing has changed. That, in short, is Theresa Mays holding line. Despite a string of ministerial r..

Nothing has changed. That, in short, is Theresa Mays holding line. Despite a string of ministerial resignations and an imminent confidence vote in her leadership, the Prime Minister has signalled her intention to fight on.

Addressing reporters at Downing Street, May – who appears to be occupying a different plane of reality to the rest of Westminster – insisted that her deal was in the national interest and still represented “a Brexit that delivers on the priorities of the British people”.

She might think so, but as far as its chances of passing parliament are concerned, that is irrelevant: what matters is that the DUP, several dozen of her Tory colleagues and the vast majority of the Labour Party disagree with her.

Mays wilful refusal to engage with that fundamental truth stood out. She repeatedly insisted that she was in the business of taking the right decisions, rather than the easy ones, and again attempted to frame her deal as the only one that could possibly meet her own red lines, and protect jobs and the Union. This Brexit, or no Brexit. Her survival is its survival.

Despite an overwhelming body of evidence to the contrary, she has staked everything on convincing people who have hitherto shown absolutely no side of wanting – or, as far as their political self-interest goes, needing – to be convinced. The fundamental irony of this approach is that it is likely to only strengthen the resolve of her internal critics, hasten a leadership challenge, and see the time and energy of parliament wasted on voting on a deal that will inevitably be rejected. And all that will do is prolong a crisis that, far from protecting the national interest, looks increasingly likely to end in Britain crashing out without a deal.

Patrick Maguire is the New Statesman's political correspondent.

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