Category: Brexit

Prospectus For A Failed State

Article 48

Vote Leave’s Leader has claimed that Labour would “rig” a second EU referendum to ensure that Remain won. Based on their experience of Referendum Fraud, the Leader of Vote Leave, Boris Johnson, alleged that “millions” of additional voters who could be expected to vote against Brexit would be added to the electoral roll for any rerun vote. Perhaps it is one time he speaks the truth: he does have form for Electoral Offences.

Speaking during a visit to a factory in Matlock, Derbyshire, Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson denounced as “bizarre” putting Brexit to a public vote. Branding David Cameron and Theresa May with the accolade of being bizarre tories seems more appropriate to the Left rather than the Hard Right of Johnson and his Special Advisor, Cummings.

“We would have six months or a year for another referendum campaign on this weird deal he wants to do, and I think people will be outraged by the whole thing,” said Johnson. Which seems odd. We are approaching half a decade of chaos due to Mister Johnson’s Referendum. Untangling the mess cannot be bizarre unless the whole thing is a smoke screen for some ulterior scam.

Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson wants the Electorate, “To think it’s going to be rigged in some way by getting millions more voters who would be very likely to vote one way rather than the other”, with as much evidence as he had for 76 Million Turkish Citizens coming to the UK if Brexit did not happen within six months. Claims which helped to lead to the Leave EU campaign being fined for Electoral Offences.

As the leader of the Vote Leave Campaign, Boris Johnson faces prosecution for illegal overspending. Having failed to inform the Authorities in 2016, Johnson is now revealing the depth of his experience in Electoral Offences. By being honest now, he might well be seeking to plea bargain at a later date.

Running a legally binding Referendum instead of an advisory Referendum would, according to Boris Johnson, “cause a great deal of public disquiet” despite the legally binding nature of the proposed Referendum, Johnson claims, “I don’t think it’s the right way forward.” Johnson’s response to simple matters of Democracy are concerning.

The connection of Johnson to the controversial “Voter Services” firm Idox is not well known. The Idox experts advised on the Individual Voter Registration Scheme. Although it is unclear without a public enquiry, initial estimates suggest up to one in three Voters fell off the Electoral Register with the introduction of the Scheme. Director of Idox, former Conservative Minister Peter Lilley was not available for comment. The connection to Johnson is, like the connection to convicted Electoral Fraudster, Dame Shirley Porter, unexplained.

Mr Johnson’s shocking confession is similar to that of his senior aide Dominic Cummings. Cummings suggested that Jeremy Corbyn would join Nicola Sturgeon in a hung parliament to “cheat” a third referendum. The decade long Hung Parliament of Cameron-May-Johnson is a testament to the control that Parliamentary deadlock gives to the Government. The Liberal-Democrat-Conservative (Condem) and the Conservative-DUP (Condem-up) Coalitions have allowed a decade of control over controversial policies that have resulted in the death of 130,000 people denied benefits. By promoting Hung Parliaments, Johnson would benefit by remaining in Government.

In a blogpost, the former Vote Leave Supremo wrote: “If this Corbyn-Sturgeon alliance takes control, their official policy is to give millions of EU citizens the vote in the second referendum.” It is unclear if the Vote Leave Supremo sees the extension of the Franchise as a way to end the paralysis of extremist Coalitions or if the Supremo is publically catastrophising about the collapse of Party Membership. It is even unclear if the Supremo is Dominic Cummings or Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson.

The Supremo remarked, “They don’t plan to lose again and they’ve literally written into their manifesto that they will cheat the second referendum.” Which is, perhaps a Freudian slip about the notorious Article 48 on Page 48 of the Conservative Party. A policy that would allow Boris Johnson to overrule any court for any reason. It is this kind of hidden and obscured policy that has contributed to the resignation of Senior Diplomat Alexandra Hall Hall.

The resignation of Hall Hall comes as leaked internal documents show customs checks and controls between Great Britain and Northern Ireland are necessary for the “Get Brexit Done” policy. In her resignation Hall Hall described how the Government’s approach had made British Diplomats’ positions abroad untenable. Comments such as, “It makes our job to promote democracy and the rule of law that much harder, if we are not seen to be upholding these core values at home,” and, “behaviour towards our institutions, which, were it happening in another country, we would almost certainly as diplomats have received instructions to register our concern”. The “Get Brexit Done” policy is a prospectus for a failed state and an increasingly vocal international diplomatic community is voicing concern. Diplomats simply do not wish to represent failed states abroad.

Senior Member of Parliament Ian Lucas revealed that he has seen correspondence obtained during the parliamentary inquiry into disinformation and democracy which showed Dominic Cummings, told the Electoral Commission that Boris Johnson and Michael Gove, knew of the overspend by the Vote Leave. A key event in the collapse of democratic accountability.

It has been confirmed that prosecutors have received a file of evidence from the Metropolitan Police that could lead to criminal charges against members of the Johnson and Cummings Campaign. After nearly 16 months of investigating Vote Leave, the Metropolitan Police handed a file to the Crown Prosecution Service and sought “early investigative advice” on how to develop the Case. It could all vanish into a black hole. Especially if Article 48 on Page 48 becomes law.

Veteran MP Lucas, sat on the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Committee inquiry into fake news and has revealed that correspondence raised serious questions over Johnson’s judgement: “Johnson and Gove both knew about the illegal payments to BeLeave.” The Parliamentary Enquiry revealed that “We finally forced the Electoral Commission to hand over its correspondence with Dominic Cummings.” What they discovered was shocking, “it’s there in black and white. It’s Cummings himself saying this.”

 

Picture: Caricature of Chancellor Heinrich Brüning who, on July 18, 1930, used Article §48 to adopt his tax program and dissolve the Reichstag. (Cover of Ulk (July 11, 1930))

 


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The media’s fanfare of a Corbyn-backed second referendum is untrue

fake news

The mainstream media have just widely announced that Jeremy Corbyn is to back a second EU referendum. However, this is very dishonest, as no referendum motion has actually been tabled.

Furthermore, the media also need to learn the significant difference between a ‘people’s vote’, which is about asking the public about the terms of Brexit, and a completely new referendum. The Conservative office posted a highly dishonest tweet claiming that the Labour party are somehow “trying to stop Brexit”, so I am deeply suspicious of the fanfare of completely incorrect announcements in the media this evening.

Here is the Labour party’s  actual press release:

“From: Labour Party Press Office press@labour.org.uk
Sent: 25 February 2019 17:27
To: Labour Party Press Office press@labour.org.uk
Subject: NEWS FROM LABOUR: Labour to table amendment to make its credible alternative plan the UK’s Brexit negotiating position

Labour to table amendment to make its credible alternative plan the UK’s Brexit negotiating position.

Jeremy Corbyn MP, Leader of the Labour Party, will tomorrow (Tuesday 26 February) seek to enshrine Labour’s five Brexit demands in law by tabling an amendment to the government’s Brexit motion.

Labour’s amendment would force the government to make its credible alternative plan the Government’s negotiating objectives. Labour’s five demands for the Brexit deal are:

· A permanent and comprehensive customs union with the EU;
· close alignment with the Single Market underpinned by shared institutions and obligations;
· dynamic alignment on rights and protections;
· commitments on participation in EU agencies and funding programmes, including in areas such as the environment, education, and industrial regulation; and
· unambiguous agreements on the detail of future security arrangements, including access to the European Arrest Warrant and vital shared databases.

Jeremy Corbyn will tell a meeting of Labour’s Parliamentary Labour Party this evening that the party will back the Cooper-Letwin amendment to take ‘No Deal’ off the table and announce that Labour will also put forward or support an amendment in favour of a public vote to prevent a damaging Tory Brexit.

Speaking at tonight’s meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn MP, Leader of the Labour Party, will say:

“The Prime Minister is recklessly running down the clock, in an attempt to force MPs to choose between her botched deal and a disastrous No Deal. We cannot and will not accept.

“Last week, after our visit to talk to EU officials and leaders in Brussels and Madrid, no one can be in any doubt Labour’s alternative Brexit plan is serious and credible. We are convinced our alternative, which puts jobs and living standards first, could command support in the House of Commons, bring people who voted Leave and Remain together, and be negotiated with the EU.

“That’s why we will be putting down an amendment in parliament this week setting out Labour’s plan: for a comprehensive customs union with a UK say; close alignment with the single market; guarantees on rights and standards; protection for Britain’s role in EU agencies; and a security agreement which guarantees access to the European arrest warrant and vital shared databases. And we will be calling for legislation to underpin this mandate.

“We will also be backing the Cooper-Letwin amendment to rule out a No Deal outcome. One way or another, we will do everything in our power to prevent No Deal and oppose a damaging Tory Brexit based on Theresa May’s overwhelmingly rejected deal.

“That’s why, in line with our conference policy, we are committed to also putting forward or supporting an amendment in favour of a public vote to prevent a damaging Tory Brexit being forced on the country.”

Ends

Notes to editors

  • The full text of Labour’s amendment, to be tabled tomorrow, reads:

That this House instructs Ministers

(a) to negotiate with the EU for changes to the Political Declaration to secure:

(i)                a permanent and comprehensive customs union with the EU;

(ii)              close alignment with the single market underpinned by shared institutions and obligations;

(iii)             dynamic alignment on rights and protections;

(iv)             commitments on participation in EU agencies and funding programmes, including in areas such as the environment, education, and industrial regulation; and

(v)               unambiguous agreement on the detail of future security arrangements, including access to the European Arrest Warrant and vital shared databases;

(b) to introduce primary legislation to give statutory effect to this negotiating mandate;

There is no mention of another referendum in the amendment.

The press release does mention Labour’s intention, which is in line with their Conference policy – to put forward an amendment if all other options to prevent a Conservative no-deal Brexit are exhausted.

Labour’s position has not changed.

The amendment tabled on 29 January was defeated because the so-called moderates in the party refused to support it. The official Opposition’s amendment was defeated by division, 327 to 296. This amendment would have required Parliament to consider and vote on options which prevent the UK leaving the EU without a deal

So, in conclusion, no motion for a new referendum has been tabled.

So we need to ask why the media are claiming otherwise?

 


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Theresa May considering scrapping Human Rights Act following Brexit

humanrights

The prime minister is to consider repealing the Human Rights Act after Brexit, despite promising she is “committed” to its protections, a minister has revealed. This is, after all, a government that has always tended to regard the human rights of some social groups as nothing more than a bureaucratic inconvenience. Many of us have been very concerned about the implications of Brexit for human rights in the UK.

The House of Lords EU Justice Sub-Committee has exchanged correspondence with the Government about clarifying the wording of the Political Declaration regarding the European Convention on Human Rights. 

There is no justification for editing or repealing the Human Rights Act itself, that would make Britain the first European country to regress in the level and degree of our human rights protection. It is through times of recession and times of affluence alike that our rights ought to be the foundation of our society, upon which the Magna Carta, the Equality Act and the Human Rights Act were built – protecting the most vulnerable citizens from the powerful and ensuring those who govern are accountable to the rule of law.

Observation of human rights distinguishes democratic leaders from dictators and despots. Human Rights are the bedrock of our democracy, they are universal, and are a reflection of a society’s and a governments’ recognition of the equal worth of every citizens’ life.

Nonetheless, the government will decide on the future of the landmark legislation once “the process of leaving the EU concludes”, according to a letter submitted to a parliamentary inquiry.

This disclosure comes despite the Brexit white paper stating last year that the UK would remain in the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), after  following a warning from the European Union (EU) that pulling out would jeopardise a future security deal. However, the prime minister has previously pledged to leave the ECHR, expressing frustration because there was no Commons majority for doing so. 

It is in this context of previous statements of intent that the wording of the letter was described as “troubling” by the Lords EU Justice Sub-Committee, which has warned that the letter casts doubt on more recent, repeated pledges from the government to protect the ECHR.

“Is the government sincere in its commitment to the ECHR?”, Baroness Kennedy of The Shaws, the committee’s chair, asked.

“If so, why has it failed to give assurances that it will not repeal or reform the Human Rights Act, which in essence incorporates the rights set out in the ECHR into domestic British law?”

The committee wrote to the Ministry of Justice after the alarm was raised by the wording of the political declaration, which was agreed with the EU in December alongside the legally binding divorce deal.

The declaration said the UK would merely agree “to respect the framework of the European Convention on Human Rights” – dropping the previous pledge of being “committed” to it. Previous plans to replace the Human Rights Act with a ‘British Bill of Rights’ appeared in the 2010 Programme for Government, and in the Conservative manifesto in 2015. included an emphasis on interpreting rights more subjectively, rather than regarding them as ‘absolute’. 

In response, Edward Argar, a junior justice minister, wrote: “The difference in wording does not represent a change in the UK’s position on the ECHR

A central tenet of our future relationship with the EU is our mutual belief in the importance of human rights and fundamental freedoms.”

But he went on to suggest that the Human Rights Act may be scrapped when Brexit is concluded.

He wrote: “Our manifesto committed to not repealing or replacing the Human Rights Act while the process of EU exit is underway.” 

“It is right that we wait until the process of leaving the EU concludes before considering the matter further in the full knowledge of the new constitutional landscape.

Many Conservatives are critical of Labour’s Human Rights Act, claiming it gives “too many rights to criminals” and some have even claimed it undermines “personal responsibility.”

However, in 2015 Amnesty UK commissioned a poll that indicated the British public are not particularly willing to see any change to existing Human Rights legislation, with only one in 10 people in the UK (11%) believing that scrapping the Human Rights Act should be a government aim.

It’s extremely worrying that a government thinks it should pick and choose which rights we are entitled to and select who they deem worthy of them. The whole point of rights and protections is that they are universal: they must apply to everyone equally in order to work at all.

It took people in the UK a very long time to claim the rights we have and we mustn’t let the Conservatives take them away with the stroke of a pen.

The peers said it would imperil human rights if the government “intend to break the formal link” between the UK courts and the EHCR.

Baroness Kennedy said: “Again and again we are told that the government is committed to the European Convention on Human Rights, but without a concrete commitment, and with messaging that is changing and becoming diluted.”

The government have played a long game, however, and have almost certainly always intended to repeal the Human Rights Act. One issue that prevented that happening over the last few years is the Good Friday Agreement, as the Labour government also committed to incorporate the European Convention of Human ECHR into the law of Northern Ireland and to the establishment of a Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission. 

The politics of regression

In 2015, wrote about how the government has quietly edited the ministerial code, which was updated on October 15  without any announcement at all. The code sets out the standard of conduct expected of ministers. The latest version of the code is missing a key element regarding complicity with international law.

The previous code, issued in 2010, said there was an “overarching duty on ministers to comply with the law including international law and treaty obligations and to uphold the administration of justice and to protect the integrity of public life”.

The new version of the code has been edited to say only that there is an“overarching duty on ministers to comply with the law and to protect the integrity of public life”.

Conservative party policy document had revealed that the ministerial code will be rewritten in the context of the UK withdrawing from the European convention on human rights. In order to help achieve these aims the document says: “We will amend the ministerial code to remove any ambiguity in the current rules about the duty of ministers to follow the will of Parliament in the UK.”

In the original Conservative proposals to scrap our existing human rights framework, and replace it with their own, one sentence from the misleadingly titled document –Protecting Human Rights in the UK, (found on page 6 ) – is particularly chilling: “There will be a threshold below which Convention rights will not be engaged.”

Basically this means that human rights will no longer be absolute or universally applied – they will be subject to state stipulations and caveats. And discrimination. The government will establish a threshold below which Convention rights will not be engaged, allowing UK courts to strike out what are deemed trivial cases.

The Conservatives’ motivation for changing our human rights legislation is to allow reinterpretations to work around the new legislation when they deem it necessary. The internationally agreed rights that the Conservatives have always seen as being open to interpretation will become considerably prone to ideological bias, prejudice and open to subjective challenge.

Breaking the formal link between the European Court of Human Rights and British law would mean any judgement from Europe would be treated as “advisory” only, rather than legally binding, and would need to be “approved” by parliament. Such a Bill would profoundly disempower citizens because it will shift the balance of democracy completely, placing power almost entirely in the hands of the state.

Whatever constitutional or political configurations emerge following Brexit, the present threat to rights and equality is a major threat to citizens’ liberties and freedoms. It demands coherent and collective action in the public interest.  

 

Related

Concerns about the impact of Brexit on the human rights of disabled people in update report to UNCRPD

A strong case for the Human Rights Act

 


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A motion of no confidence in the government is just the start of a wider process

The Press Association has provided this helpful guide to the motion of no-confidence, tabled by Jeremy Corbyn in an attempt to bring about a general election. The vote is scheduled to be held tomorrow afternoon.

It is the first time the procedure has been used under the provisions of the Fixed Term Parliaments Act, passed by the coalition government under David Cameron.

This is how it will work:

Mr Corbyn will move the motion tabled in his name as Leader of the Opposition and will speak first in the debate scheduled for Wednesday afternoon.

The Prime Minister will then speak for the government and at the end of proceedings at 7pm, MPs will vote.

If the government wins there will not be a general election and ministers will carry on in office.

If the government loses, the Act states there must be an “early” election unless the government can regain the confidence of the House by winning a confidence vote within 14 days.

During that two-week period there is no statutory limit on how many times a confidence motion can be brought forward and voted on.

In the course of that period the opposition may seek to form alliances within the Commons to demonstrate that they are the party most likely to command the confidence of the House and therefore should be given the opportunity to form a government.


The shadow international trade secretary Barry Gardiner has already suggested that the PM could face a series of confidence votes in the coming weeks.

Scotland’s first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, has said the SNP supports Jeremy Corbyn’s confidence motion. Describing the vote as “a defeat of historic proportions for the prime minister and her government”, Sturgeon said:

It has been crystal clear for months that the prime minister’s approach was heading for a crushing defeat. Instead of facing up to that fact, she wasted valuable time with her postponement of the meaningful vote in December. There is no more time to waste.

It’s almost certain that all of the other opposition parties will support the motion. But the DUP have already stated that they will support the government tomorrow, which was expected.

Here are the figures for how the parties voted on Theresa May’s deal:

 

You can sign the petition (here) to register your own no confidence in Theresa May’s government, and demand a general election.


 

My work is unfunded and I don’t make any money from it. This is a pay as you like site. If you wish you can support me by making a one-off donation or a monthly contribution. This will help me continue to research and write independent, insightful and informative articles, and to continue to provide support others who are affected by the welfare ‘reforms’. 

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Jeremy Corbyn tables motion of no confidence in the government

Image result for jeremy Corbyn

I have just received the following email:

Sue, this country needs a proper government

Jeremy Corbyn

Dear Sue,

Theresa May’s Brexit deal has just been defeated.

The government is in chaos. The country is in crisis. This can’t go on.

The country needs an election. That’s why tonight I tabled a vote of no confidence in Theresa May and her hopeless government.

But the Tories are getting ready too. Right now their millionaire donors will be reaching for their cheque books.

We’re relying on people like you to help fight and win.

Your donation will give the country the government it desperately needs. Will you help? 

An election is coming, and your support will help to win it. Please, donate now.

Thank you.

Jeremy Corbyn
Leader of the Labour Party


I’ve chipped in my last £3, for now. 

Update

So, Theresa May is facing a no-confidence vote that could bring down her government after MPs rejected her Brexit blueprint by a record 230 votes – an historic defeat.

Jeremy Corbyn said he had put forward a confidence motion in the aftermath of  May’s crushing Commons defeat, with the dramatic debate scheduled for Wednesday. 

Parliament finally delivered its verdict on the prime minister’s withdrawal agreement after months of debate as hundreds of Leave and Remain protesters gathered outside parliament to express their anger.

The EU president says UK remaining is only option ‘if a deal is impossible, and no one wants no deal’.

Interesting times…


 

My work is unfunded and I don’t make any money from it. This is a pay as you like site. If you wish you can support me by making a one-off donation or a monthly contribution. This will help me continue to research and write independent, insightful and informative articles, and to continue to provide support others who are affected by the welfare ‘reforms’. 

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Prime minister phones union leaders in desperate attempt to peddle her Brexit deal

theresa may on phone

Theresa May has taken the completely unprecedented move for a Conservative PM of telephoning union leaders, including Unite’s Len McCluskey, a close ally of Jeremy Corbyn, to lobby support for her Brexit plans ahead of next week’s Commons showdown. 

I think he gave her pleading a swerve.

She also called Tim Roache, the general secretary of the GMB union. It was the first time she had spoken to either man since she became Prime Minister in 2016, indicating her desperation. Downing Street has also confirmed that she plans to call other union leaders, thought to include Unison’s Dave Prentis, in the run-up to Tuesday’s “meaningful vote” on her Brexit blueprint.

I’m sure the draconian policies designed to stifle trade union freedoms, which took our country down a dark path, will have been forgotten by now. We’ve all really valued the big move away from freedom and towards greater control for the state over our lives over the last eight years. Who could possibly object to state micromanagement and such authoritarian attacks on unions and collective bargaining, diminishing citizen freedoms that are not theirs to give away.

The EU Social Charter of Rights was intentionally excluded by May’s government from the Withdrawal Bill. Many Conservatives see Brexit as an opportunity for more deregulation and ‘cutting red tape.’ Priti Patel, for example, said: “If we could just halve the EU social and employment legislation we could deliver a £4.3bn boost to the economy.”

A boost for whom?

When Conservatives talk of a boost to the economy, they are usually referring a boost in private profits that comes at the expense of ordinary citizens.

Back in 1984, Margaret Thatcher reached the absurd conclusion it wasn’t possible for someone to be in a union and be loyal to their country. Consequently, GCHQ employees in Cheltenham were denied their basic rights and could no longer have the protection of a union at work. Fourteen workers who refused to give up their union membership cards were unceremoniously sacked.

In 2013, the coalition government introduced fees for taking cases to employment tribunals, claiming it would cut “weak and unnecessary cases”. This not only limited access to justice for some of the most vulnerable citizens in our society, it also gave some of the most unscrupulous bosses free reign exploit people, to abuse health and safety and employment law, knowing there was little chance of being called to account.  In July 2017, the Supreme Court ruled that the Tribunal fees were unlawful and the government was forced to reimburse all those who had paid them. This is a prime example of a vindictive government policy which hurt employees.

In 2015, when the Conservatives were elected with an overall majority, they attacked the trade unions and their right to organise and strike. The right to strike is a fundamental freedom in our democracy.

Now the Conservatives have the brass neck to treat worker’s rights as a mere bargaining chip to get their own way. A means to an end, nothing more. I’m pleased to say that Roache gave her a scornful rebuff to her bargaining bid. He said: “I represent 620,000 working people and it’s about time their voices were heard. After nearly three years I’m glad the Prime Minister finally picked up the phone.

“As you would expect, I was very clear about GMB’s position – the deal on the table isn’t good enough and non-binding assurances on workers’ rights won’t cut it.”

“If the deal genuinely did the the job for GMB members, our union would support it, but it doesn’t,” he added.

Both unions came out against her deal, saying her efforts to woo them were nowhere near enough to get their support. 

May’s approach is all the more surprising because of her previous lack of engagement with the TUC’s Frances O’Grady, revealing last year that she had only met the PM once since she came to power.

The PM has also launched an attempt to sell the merits of her withdrawal agreement to Labour backbenchers in an apparent recognition that she needs to reach out to opposition MPs to avert a very heavy defeat. The government is also preparing to back an amendment tabled by Labour MPs John Mann, Caroline Flint, Lisa Nandy and Gareth Snell to give stronger guarantees that EU workers’ rights and environmental safeguards are enshrined in British law.

Mann met the PM last night along with others, including Flint and Snell, to discuss working together.

It’s rather late in the day for the PM to suddenly declare her concern for worker’s rights. The Conservatives have spent the last eight years destroying people’s job security, and any opportunity for worker’s to exercise collective bargaining. People claiming social security, for example, are coerced into accepting any employment, regardless of pay or conditions, otherwise they face sanction – the withdrawal of their lifeline support, which is barely enough, as it is, to meet basic living costs. 

May has gone out of her way to meet small groups of Labour MPs from strongly Leave-supporting constituencies. Nandy, the MP for Wigan, told the BBC that the PM would only win backing for her agreement if she negotiated with the majority of MPs opposed to no deal or a hard Brexit.

“That’s the importance of what happened this week. Finally there seems to be a recognition from the Conservative leadership that they are going to have to do that,” she said.

Downing Street described May’s contact with union leaders as “constructive” and denied that the move was a sign of desperation.

A spokeswoman said: “It’s part of her ongoing engagement with leaders from across the United Kingdom.”

She added: “The PM speaks to leaders across a range of industries, business groups, and has done that consistently throughout this process and today she spoke to a couple of union leaders and there will be further engagement in the days ahead.”

The news comes as a fresh analysis from the BBC indicates that the PM could face a whopping 228 vote loss. 

 

Related

The link between Trade Unionism and equality 

 


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£435k Brexit donation to DUP wasn’t reported says Electoral Commission

A DUP advertisement that appeared in The Metro A DUP advert that appeared in the Metro

A £435,000 donation to the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) from a pro-Brexit group was not reported to the Electoral Commission, it has been confirmed. The BBC has reported that Scottish unionist funding organisation Constitutional Research Council (CRC) has been fined £6,000 for failing to report the donation.

Following an investigation, the Electoral Commission ruled that there was “no reasonable excuse” for failing to report it, along with other political contributions.

It was a record fine by the Electoral Commission.

However, the Commission accepted that the donation and its donors were “permissible”.

The DUP received the donation during the Brexit referendum campaign and spent £282,000 of the money on an advert (pictured above) in the Metro newspaper.

A BBC Northern Ireland (NI) Spotlight programme asked questions about whether the DUP incurred joint spending with other EU referendum campaigners but did not declare it under a common plan.

Under Electoral Commission rules, groups are not allowed to work together in order to get around funding limits, but the DUP has denied wrongdoing and insisted it acted within electoral law. It said yesterday that it had nothing to add to previous comments on the matter.

Following the airing of the documentary in June, the Electoral Commission requested further evidence from BBC Spotlight NI but were told there was no other significant information other than what was in the programme. The BBC broadcasted their own investigation.

In August, the Electoral Commission surprisingly announced that there were “no grounds” for an investigation into the issue. However, the UK Electoral Commission – the body tasked with protecting the integrity of our elections – has behaved with all of the intergrity and accountability of the Pro Conservative mainstream media during its ‘investigation’ of this controversial, secret Brexit donation.

Details of the fine were contained in new correspondence from the Electoral Commission released by the Good Law Project, the BBC reported.

The group had been seeking a judicial review over the commission’s refusal not to probe the allegations made on Spotlight.

In October, Court of Appeal judges sitting in the High Court handed down a short further judgment in respect of the Good Law Project’s judicial review of the Electoral Commission. You can read the judgment here.

The High Court rejected the application for permission to appeal advanced by the Electoral Commission and Vote Leave. The donations made by Vote Leave to Darren Grimes to meet his expenses with AggregateIQ were Vote Leave’s referendum expenses, said the High Court, and there was no real prospect of persuading the Court of Appeal otherwise. This has four main consequences.

Firstly, both the High Court and the Electoral Commission have now held that Vote Leave broke the law during the referendum. 

Secondly, it is false – it is no exaggeration to call it a lie – to pretend that the Electoral Commission gave Vote Leave permission to work together with Darren Grimes. Vote Leave relies (you can read its witness statement here) for that assertion on a waiver given by the Electoral Commission. The waiver reads as follows:

However, it only applies if there was no “co-ordinated plan or agreement” between Vote Leave and Darren Grimes. And there was.

Thirdly, the High Court has held that the Electoral Commission misapplied the law during the referendum. The waiver – above – was wrong in principle.

Fourthly, importantly, the Commission was wrong when it gave a waiver to Leave campaigners without giving that waiver to Remain campaigners. And, had it given that waiver to Remain campaigners they, too, would have carried on spending.

Responding to these latest developments, Caroline Lucas MP has called on the Electoral Commission to “urgently reopen its investigation and use its powers to demand concrete evidence of where these significant donations came from.”

“This is about protecting the integrity of our democracy”, she added: “The Electoral Commission itself has already admitted Leave campaigners broke the law ahead of the 2016 referendum. So for them to simply take the DUP and Constitutional Research Council at their word is deeply irresponsible.”

The Good Law Project says: “It is open to the Electoral Commission to ignore the indication from the High Court and ask the Court of Appeal for permission to appeal. However, we can only hope that it will not waste further public money attempting to defend its mishandling of the Referendum.”

The Electoral Commission is apparently reluctant or powerless to enforce the laws of what ought to be democratic events such as referendums and elections.

Yet without a normative, wider, institutionalised accountability and transparency, we have no democracy.


 

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3,500 military troops on standby to ‘help’ police in event of a no-deal crisis, MPs told

Chief of Defence staff, Sir Nick Carter

As many as 10,000 troops could be deployed on the streets of Britain in case of  chaos arising through a no deal Brexit chaos, a report says. Members of the military are ordered to help keep public order and bring medical supplies to hospitals, and also assist with traffic problems close to ports such as Dover.

There is every indication that a no deal Brexit is anticipated to be potentially devastating for the UK public. The UK defence secretary Gavin Williamson told MPs about the plans on Tuesday. The Cabinet says that contingency plans must now be implemented across government.

The cabinet has said it would publish some 160 technical notices, with 80,000 emails going out to businesses this week, plus a 100-page ‘Partnership Pack.’ The move comes as Theresa May’s deal with the EU comes up for a parliamentary vote in January.

A spokesman said it was the government’s “continued duty to prepare for every eventuality, including a no deal situation”. Ministers acknowledged the steps that had already been taken, No 10 said, including 320 “no-deal workstreams” across all departments and 106 no deal technical notices.

Plans have been put into motion for soldiers to help the police and NHS if the UK ends up leaving the EU without a deal in March. As well as the thousands of military troops already set to be deployed under the proposals, an additional 1,200 troops will be on 24-hour standby, it is said.

Defence Minister Tobias Ellwood added: “The Armed Forces stand ready to support Britain on a practical basis… We have to plan for every single scenario.”

Gavin Williamson, said his department “will have 3,500 service personnel held at readiness, including regulars and reserves, in order to support any government department on any contingencies they may need”.

Worryingly, Williamson said “Citizens will be informed how to prepare through a “range of channels” that could include TV adverts and social media.” It’s sobering to consider that those are also the bunker mentality kind of measures the government would take in the event of a nuclear threat and imminent attack. 

Ministers agreed to allocate money from a £2bn contingency fund to departments such as the Home Office and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

HMRC will prepare a 100-page pack for all UK businesses on preparing for no-deal, and will send out about 80,000 emails to businesses.

During the meeting, the work and pensions secretary, Amber Rudd, told her colleagues preparing for a no deal Brexit was a sensible precaution but “just because you put a seatbelt on doesn’t mean you should crash the car”.

The justice secretary, David Gauke, who said publicly at the weekend he would resign rather than be part of a government that deliberately pursued no deal, told the meeting that a “managed no deal is not a viable option”.

“It’s not on offer from the EU and the responsibility of cabinet ministers is not to propagate unicorns but to slay them,” he said, according to a cabinet source.

A “managed no-deal” is the approach favoured by Brexit-backing ministers including Penny Mordaunt and Andrea Leadsom, who believe the government could pay part of the £39bn the government has agreed it owes the EU to “purchase” a status quo transition period.

Downing Street said delivering the prime minister’s deal “remains the top priority”, but when presented with three options on whether to increase, maintain or wind down preparations, there was unanimity in cabinet to implement all no-deal contingency planning across departments.

All agreed that they would implement contingencies across Whitehall. Previously, departments had been given some freedom to decide when and what they spent on no-deal planning.

“Cabinet agreed that with just over three months from our exit from the EU, we have now reached the point where we need to ramp up these preparations. This means we will now set in motion the remaining elements of our no-deal plans. Cabinet also agreed to recommend businesses ensure they are similarly prepared enacting their own no-deal plans.”

Downing Street suggested preparations could include reserving space on ferries in order to ensure a supply of food and medicines.

The proposals have been drawn up by the military under the rubric of Operation Temperer.In the most extreme scenario, infantry battalions will guard petrol stations should there be unrest in the event of “temporary rationing.”

The contingency planning is being developed by a six-strong team based at Army headquarters in Andover, Hampshire, should it be officially requested by the Government.

The public mood

Theresa May’s Brexit plan has failed to win the backing of the British public, with the recent YouGov opinion poll, conducted on Thursday after the Prime Minister’s deal with Brussels was unveiled, found twice as many people oppose it as support it, 42% to 19%. The survey of  a sample of 3,154 people found that Leave and Remain supporters had similar views on the deal, with 42% of Brexit supporters against it, along with 47% of pro-EU voters, with just  22% and 20% respectively in favour of it.

The current Brexit plan has also failed to find favour among Tory voters, the survey suggests, with 41% of 2017 Conservative voters opposing it, against just 28% backing the Prime Minister.

A separate poll suggested almost half of voters now back a second Brexit referendum. Support for a fresh vote on EU withdrawal was backed by 48% in a YouGov survey carried out after May’s withdrawal agreement text was published on Wednesday night.

It also found voters were split 54% to 46% in favour of remaining in the EU. Little more than one in 10 (12%) believed that the UK was going to get a good deal with the EU.

The poll of 1,153 people, commissioned by the People’s Vote and published in the London Evening Standard, found that only 34% were against a new vote.

With “don’t knows” removed, the ratio was 59% to 42% in favour of a new referendum.

The Sunday Times reports that themilitary standby operation will be overseen by around 20 Operation Temperer officers – who are typically reserved for army response to terror attacks.

The team were ordered last week to step up no-deal Brexit planning. Army general, Sir Nick Carter told the reporters that troops are on standby to take part in a “No Deal scenario.”

He said: “What we always do is make sensible contingency plans for all sorts of eventualities.

“At this stage, I think people are confident there will be a deal, if there’s not one then we stand ready to help in any way we can.”

MPs are currently holding the emergency debate on the EU summit and Theresa May’s Brexit deal proposed by the SNP.

It was opened by Ian Blackford, the SNP’s leader at Westminster. He said he had seen secret government reports on the impact of a no-deal Brexit, in his capacity as a member of the privy council, and that the details were “sobering”. He told MPs:

“The information shared with me should now be made public. It is sobering.

The first job of any government is to protect the interests of its people.

This government is wilfully exposing its citizens to risk, whether it is on job security, procurement of medicines, food supply or indeed on aircraft being able to take off.

We have to wake up to the impact of Brexit and the options that are in front of us.”

Could a no deal Brexit result in martial law being imposed?

Martial law is defined as the imposition of direct military control of normal civilian functions of government, especially in response to a temporary emergency such as invasion or major disaster. That is, basically the army is in charge.

In the UK, what the government would most likely use instead of martial law is a declaration of a State of Emergency under the 2004 Civil Contingencies Act. Responders are responsible for warning and informing the public in relation to emergencies.

Local authorities are required to provide business continuity advice to local businesses. It also places legal obligations for increased co-operation and information sharing between different emergency services and also to non-emergency services that might have a role in an emergency such as electric and water companies.

The introduction of the Act comes with increased funding for emergency planning in the United Kingdom to help organisations comply with the Act and brings emergency planning funding more on par with European levels.

The only primary legislation which may not be amended by emergency regulations is the Human Rights Act 1998 and Part 2 of the Civil Contingencies Act itself. The second part of the Act provides that temporary emergency regulations are normally made by the Queen through Order in Council or by a Minister of the Crown if arranging for an Order in Council would not be possible without serious delay. Such regulations are limited in duration to 30 days, unless Parliament votes to extend this period before it expires.

However, we do not know what kind of situations will arise in the event of a no deal Brexit.

The government’s own analysis indicates:

“In the second scenario, not even the worst, the port of Dover will collapse on day one.” 

“The supermarkets in Cornwall and Scotland will run out of food within a couple of days, and hospitals will run out of medicines within two weeks.”

They added: “You would have to medevac medicine into Britain, and at the end of week two we would be running out of petrol as well.”

Whitehall preparing for food and medicine shortages in event of ‘doomsday’ no deal Brexit

Personally, I think it is wise to prepare for a worst case scenario. 

Related

None of these articles are from government sources. They are from doctors, economists and people who run shops and supermarkets, which makes it less likely that Brexiteers can call the concerns expressed the consequence of “unfounded scaremongering”:

What to expect from a no-deal Brexit: The terrifying consequences if nothing is sorted

Brexit will be very bad for the NHS, survey of UK doctors reveals

NHS fears over no-deal Brexit highlight risk to patients

A No-Deal Brexit Risks U.K. Food Crisis, Sainsbury CEO Warns

NHS faces £2.3bn bill in no-deal Brexit in medicine and supplies cost surge

Brexit stockpiling can’t protect us from fresh food shortages

 


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Authoritarian Brexit secretary refuses to give evidence to Parliament

Image result for Dominic Raab refuses to

The Lords European Union Committee has written to Dominic Raab MP, Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, urging him to engage with Committees in order to facilitate scrutiny of the Withdrawal Agreement and political statement on the future UK-EU relationship.

See:

Lord Boswell, Chair of the Committee, reacted with anger to Raab’s refusal to engage and to behave in a democratically accountable manner. In a letter, he told the Brexit secretary his behaviour was ‘unacceptable.’ 

The former Conservative MP said: “Select committees have a job to do. Lack of engagement from the government, keeping us in the dark, means we can’t do that job.

He also said “Brexit was supposed to be about enhancing the role of parliament, not diminishing it – but that message doesn’t seem to have got through to ministers.”

Background

The Committee wrote the Secretary of State for Exiting the EU on 5 September 2018 inviting him to appear before the Committee as soon as possible after the October European Council, after the Secretary of State gave a Commitment in a letter of the 17 July “to give evidence on a regular basis”.

The Committee was told on Tuesday 23 October that the Secretary of State for Exiting the EU will be unable to attend or give evidence to the Committee until after a deal with the EU has been finalised. The Committee describes this as “unacceptable… [it] inhibits the Committee in fulfilling its obligations in scrutinising the progress of Brexit negotiations”.

The Committee’s letter also called on the Government to ensure that enough time is allowed between an agreement being reached and any ‘Meaningful Vote,’ so that committees can make recommendations to the two Houses. Recent reports suggest that the time allowed for committees to report on the agreement and the ‘political declaration’ on future UK-EU relations could be a little as ten days.

The letter goes on to say “…  it is imperative that both Houses—and the wider public—are able to have an informed debate. This means, among other things, that the Committees of both Houses with responsibility for scrutinising the Brexit negotiations must have an opportunity to report on the text of any agreement ahead of the ‘Meaningful Vote’—in the same way as the AFCO Committee of the European Parliament will have an opportunity to report ahead of any vote in that Parliament.

“We therefore seek your assurance that the Government will allow time for effective
Committee scrutiny of any agreement, ahead of the ‘Meaningful Vote’; and we ask you to setout your plans for engaging with Committees in order to facilitate this scrutiny.”

The Committee requested that Raab make an appearance before the end of November, saying his refusal “flies in the face of the commitment in your letter of 17 July, ‘to give evidence on a regular basis’.”

The Brexit department have been contacted for a comment. 

A little about Dominic Raab

Raab lies on the swivel eyed end of the right wing continuum. In 2017, he was branded “offensive” by then Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron after saying “the typical user of a food bank is not someone that’s languishing in poverty, it’s someone who has a cash flow problem”. The Office For National Statistics also took issue with Raab’s claims that immigration has caused house prices to rise, demanding that he present data to back up such assertions. A document published by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government shows that the finding was based on an out-of-date model that had never been intended for this kind of analysis. 

Theresa May herself has previously spoken out against Rabb’s controversial remarks, scorning his categorization of feminists as ‘obnoxious bigots’. In an article in January 2011 on the Politics Homewebsite, Raab argued in favour of transferable paternity leave and against “the equality bandwagon” “pitting men and women against each other”. He argued in favour of a ‘consistent approach’ to sexism against men and women commenting that some feminists were “now amongst the most obnoxious bigots” and it was sexist to blame men for the recession.

He believes that the welfare state should be further reduced and his opposition to human rights and equalities is unremittingly and dangerously authoritarian. 

Raab’s opinions reflect contempt for international human rights frameworks in particular. The EU Charter of rights has not been included in the Withdrawal Bill.

Writing in the Daily Mail on prisoners votes back in 2013, Raab said: “The problem today is that the Strasbourg Court is packed with academics and politically motivated lawyers desperate to foist their ‘progressive’ agenda on the rest of Europe. The Strasbourg judges have long since given up merely interpreting the European Convention – their proper job – and are jealously usurping the power of elected lawmakers in sovereign states to create new law, inventing novel rights along the way.”

And “The Human Rights Act [UK] is bad enough. But, at least it states plainly that our courts only have to ‘take into account’ Strasbourg case-law, rather than slavishly bow to it. Yesterday, the Supreme Court shifted the goal posts, ruling that British courts must comply with Strasbourg rulings unless it involves ‘some truly fundamental principle’, or an ‘egregious oversight or misunderstanding’ of UK law.”

He also said “The wretched Human Rights Act should be replaced with a British Bill of Rights, to insulate us from the judicial onslaught from Strasbourg. And when we renegotiate the UK’s relationship with the European Union, we must shield our democracy from their ambition to impose yet another layer of European human rights law on the long-suffering British public.”

He seems to have completely missed the point of human rights. And scarily, he fails to make the connection between civil rights and democracy. 

 

Related

An introduction to Dominic Raab, the new Brexit sectarian

Government refuse to publish Brexit impact assessment. We need to ask why

The Centre for Social Justice say Brexit is ‘an opportunity’ to introduce private insurance schemes to replace contribution-based social security

European fundamental rights charter to be excluded in the EU withdrawal Bill, including protection from eugenic policy

Brexit is a zero sum neoliberal strategy


 

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Brexit is a zero sum neoliberal strategy

Image result for pictures of Trump and May

The capricious Donald Trump apparently told the Sun that he doesn’t like Theresa May’s Brexit plan and so it’s likely that the deal for trade between the US and UK is going to be very difficult indeed. I didn’t particularly relish the thought of unregulated US food, such as genetically modified grains, vegetables and fruit, the famous Kentucky chlorinated chicken and hormone-pumped beef filling our supermarket shelves and refrigerated sections, personally, for what it’s worth.

Apparently Trump said May ignored his advice by opting for a ‘soft Brexit strategy’.

Image result for pictures of Trump and May

British Prime Minister Theresa May and her husband, Philip May, greeting President Donald Trump and the first lady, Melania Trump, at Blenheim Palace on Thursday in Woodstock.

He warned her that any attempts to maintain close ties with the EU would make a lucrative US trade deal ‘very unlikely.’

May’s proposals were finalised last Friday and quickly sparked a slew of high-profile political resignations from her Cabinet, including Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Brexit Secretary David Davis, over concerns that the plans would leave the UK ‘too closely’ linked to the EU. May is already dangerously close to a vote of no confidence by her party.

“If they do a deal like that, we would be dealing with the European Union instead of dealing with the UK, so it will probably kill the deal,” Trump said, according to the Sun.

View image on Twitter

Trump telling May that he doesn’t like the Brexit plan is completely outrageous. I’m wondering how Leave notions of ‘sovereignty” and “taking back our country” can be reconciled with Trump telling the UK government what they should and should not do.

And earlier today, the fickle US president accused the media of “fake news” following the interview in which he criticised the prime minister’s Brexit plans. 

I didn’t criticise the PM,” Trump said at a press conference at the prime minister’s official retreat in Chequers.

“Unfortunately a story was done which was generally fine but didn’t put in what I said about the PM. I said tremendous things.” (Evasion tactics)

He added: “We record when we deal with reporters… It’s called fake news.”

The Sun interview was published as Trump dined with the prime minister at formal dinner at Blenheim Palace. As images of the front page story were released on Twitter, fury spread among UK diplomats.

Backtracking on his previous comments, Trump said: “If they go in a slightly different route, I hope you’re going to be able to trade with the US.” 

“I read reports that won’t be possible but after speaking to May’s people it will absolutely be possible. The trade is a little bit tricky.”

It all sounds rather like frantic flip-flop to me.

It does bother me that the UK may be set to be totally isolated thanks to the Tories. Or even worse, Theresa May could decide to do Trump’s bidding, because she’s placed us in a desperate situation, which will leave us in an even more desperate situation.

There are rumours in the media that the government is planning on stockpiling processed food and medicines in the event of a no deal. If that’s part of our Brexit plan, then it’s a clear indication that we are truly and royally set up to be stuffed. Ministers have denied this is true. But then, don’t they always?

The food plan is one of 300 contingency measures that will be revealed in the next few weeks as part of a Brexit plan to show Brussels that “plan B” is a serious option, the Sun reported.

Downing Street told the paper that “no deal preparation work is to be stepped up”. Dominic Raab, who replaced David Davis as Brexit Secretary after his resignation, will take charge of the plans. It was revealed last week that a unit had been set up in the Cabinet Office to deal with the complex issues that could arise. It is reportedly focused on plans for the border in the case of a swift change. 

The prime minister’s Brexit blueprint – finally revealed and supposedly agreed upon at Chequers – veers towards a softer Brexit than many Eurosceptics would like and this wing of her party have been quick to express their outrage.

However, the fears of a no deal Brexit, coupled with the rumours of the government stockpiling food, have inspired a surreal sense of impending doom that would wouldn’t be out of place in the event of a threat of nuclear war. As a contingency plan, it certainly doesn’t inspire confidence in a post-Brexit UK future. 

Concerns about the impact of Brexit on the NHS

Other departments have also been handed budgets to put plans in place quickly. NHS England boss Simon Stevens revealed earlier this month that “extensive” plans are in place to make sure the health service keeps running in a no deal scenario, while Justice Minister Lucy Frazer said in Parliament that preparations were ‘underway.’

“Like all competent government departments, we are also working to ensure that if there is no deal we are ready for it,” she said.

“We have £17.3m extra from the Treasury to look into and ensure that we have the right Brexit scenario.”

The NHS has always remained vulnerable to the vicissitudes of governments, and has been subject to constant re-organisation: currently, as the dust is just settling on the controversial Health and Social Care Bill, enacted in 2012 by the Coalition, the present government and NHS England are pressing forward with even further restructuring.

Since 2010, we have witnessed the NHS undergoing fiscal deprivation – the cuts are radical compared to any in its history. The promised ‘dividend’ to the NHS depends entirely upon the overall health of the economy following Brexit. The EU and the UK are currently negotiating and much remains very uncertain.

There are practical issues concerning access to supplies for hospitals. This isnot just a question of trade, hence, with the prospect of some impact on healthcare provision, the head of NHS England has indicated this week that the NHS was making contingency plans for a hard Brexit with consequent risks to medicines supply.

A further arising variable which exacerbates the potential vulnerability of the NHS is that of staff shortages. The lack of trained doctors in the UK has meant the NHS has needed the support of clinicians drawn from abroad – including those jurisdictions of other EU member states. The recent controversy over the lack of access to visas for highly skilled non-EU staff to work in the NHS, if replicated for EU citizens, would further impact adversely on staffing levels.

Earlier this year, the prime minister stoked fears that the NHS will be “for sale” in a trade deal with the US after Brexit, after refusing to say it will be excluded from the talks.

May was warned that a “key objective” for Washington would be gaining access to the health service, which is being opened up to more private firms.

Vince Cable, Liberal Democrat leader, asked “Can she give an absolute guarantee that, in those negotiations, the NHS will be excluded from their scope?

“Can she confirm that, in her conversations with President Trump, she has made it absolutely clear to him the NHS is not for sale?”

But, in her reply, during Prime Minister’s Questions in the Commons, May said it was too early to judge what “requirements” the US would have in those post-Brexit trade talks.

Her answer failed to mention the NHS at all, instead saying negotiations were already “starting” to try to boost trans-Atlantic trade, even before Britain leaves the EU. Her refusal to rule out opening up the NHS to US health giants is extremely worrying 

The vote for Brexit has created significant uncertainty in the UK food and agriculture sector

Many of us are hoping that there will be a free trade deal made between the UK and the EU before the March 2019 deadline, otherwise the UK will be forced to trade under the ruling of the World Trade Organisation, and as a result, food prices are likely to increase further.

The British Retail Consortium has stated that the absence of a trade deal between the UK and the European Union will see the price of imported food rise by 22%. Also worrying is the fact that there has currently been no promise that current EU food quality regulations will be maintained once we have withdrawn from the European Union.

Trade talks with America have faced a backlash of criticism and concern, as its widely known that US farming practices entails cattle fed with growth hormones, chickens washed with chlorine, beef washed with lactic acid, genetically modified crops and the practice of feeding waste meat back to animals. We all know the potential catastrophe to bovine and human health that the latter can create, as we learned when Thatcher deregulated farming practices. The current import of these food items are banned under the current EU law.

There has also been rumours that British farmers, producers and suppliers would be forced to lower their standards in order to compete with the American imports. The government in the UK, however, value deregulation. But history has shown us that health and welfare problems in the food industry start when governments deregulate and encourage companies to police themselves. Salmonella in eggs, BSE in cattle, foot and mouth and swine flu all followed cuts in animal welfare standards or inspection services.

They became national scandals under successive Tory governments in the 1980s and 1990s, and a generation of children were put off eating meat, disgusted at at the treatment of animals and the potential health dangers because of a deregulated industry, that watered down hygiene practices, food and farming standards.

This is what happens when private business is permitted by neoliberal governments to seek unrestricted profit. It comes at a cost because the profit incentive sidesteps even the most basic of human needs. 

British distaste for animal cruelty, and the serious public health scares led the Labour government to progressively raise welfare standards that are higher in the UK than in much of the rest of the EU.  But the few giant poultry groups, for example, that dominate an industry that provides nearly 50% of all the meat we eat, have always complained that the high standards puts them at a ‘competitive disadvantage’. 

Currently, it’s variously estimated that around 70% of Britain’s food supply comes from the EU, and Brexit has highlighted the fact that the age of variety and plenty that we live in is fragile and could collapse if we fail to strike up adequate trade deals. 40 % of our fresh produce – fruit and vegatables – are also imported from the EU. The potential impact of a Brexit for the food and beverage sector is huge, be it on trade, inward investment, labour and employment or policy and regulation.  

The farming sector has also benefited from direct EU payments of £2.4bn in 2015 via the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP). This is all likely to change and the direction of travel is currently unknown.

Some sources say the vast majority of processed food and drinks in Britain are imported, with as much as 97 per cent arriving from the European Union.

A free flow of goods means minimal delays in transit, which is crucial for anything fresh. As the head of the British Retail Consortium warned Theresa May and Michel Barnier last week, a no-deal Brexit could mean “food rotting at ports”.

Of course, if the flipside of a no-deal Brexit is a UK-US trade deal like Nafta, as I’ve pointed out, things aren’t looking any cheerier. 

Failing to secure a free trade deal after Brexit will be “disastrous” for Britain’s £28bn processed food and drinks industry and must be avoided at all costs, a committee of MPs has warned earlier this year.

In a report, they outlined that without access to European Union markets after the end of the transition period, in December 2020, exports of processed foods such as chocolate, cheese, beef, pork and soft drinks would suffer while UK consumers would face higher prices and less choice on the supermarket shelves.

The stark warning came from the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee, with MPs also saying that reversion to World Trade Organisation rules after withdrawal from the bloc would have a “seismic impact” on the country’s largest manufacturing sector.

Brexit will see food prices rise and potentially lower standards, but as food sectors rely heavily on foreign labour forces, we won’t have the work force to support an intense home-grown model of food supply. We don’t have the space. And for some foods, (like avocados, pineapples, banannas, grapes, olives and olive oil, capers, rice, lentils, pasta, many spices and so on), we don’t have the climate. 

The phase of platitudes about ‘sovereignty’ and ‘the will of the people’ and other gnomic banalities is over. There has been an erosion of public confidence that May’s government knows what it is doing, since she took office. Nonetheless we will now face the consequences of our collective political decision making, regardless of how dire those consequences may well be.

Brexit has divided our nation. We have stood witness to toxic social divisions and growing racism – people who look or sound different have been told by triumphant leavers to ‘pack your bags and go back where you came from. Such events don’t bode well, and they become more ominous still when serious incidents such as the horrific murder of an MP as a perceived ‘traitor’ to the nation are also considered. 

I’m sure that the successive Conservative governments since 2010 could not have damaged and alienated the UK any more than they already have. It’s not just the country that they have trashed, this die hard bunch of charmless relics of imperialism have extended their arrogance, intractability incompetence, lack of diplomatic skill and destructively regressive mindset on a global scale, making enemies of countries that were once our allies.

Brexit means more neoliberalism: deregulation, low taxes for the wealthy, and more cuts to public services. State provision, paid for by citizens, to serve the needs of citizens, is a thing of the past. Alone, or in trade cahoots with Trump, Brexit will simply heighten the austerity, competitive individualism, building a bigger shrine to the market place, where human needs are sacrificed, dog eat dog rules, simply amplifying the worst elements of a failing neoliberal regime. 

Furthermore the Conservative government since 2010 have displayed an aggressive authoritarian turn. Without membership of an international community, founded on cooperation, with a negotiated system of safeguarding regulation, which encourages transparency and accountability by virtue of the level of sociopolitical normative sharing, scrutiny and evolving protective legal frameworks, the future of the UK may be a good deal less democratic than our present.

Related

How might Brexit Affect Food Prices – The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS)

 


 

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