The Conservative – DUP alliance has managed to scrap a crucial EU law, putting untold numbers of animals at risk

After a debate in parliament, MPs decided that ‘animal sentience’ will not be included in the EU Withdrawal Bill. Every single Conservative and DUP MP present voted to reject inclusion of the term, which recognises that animals are capable of feeling pain and emotion. All MPs from the Labour, Green and SNP parties voted to include it.

This vote could jeopardise efforts to protect animals. One of the arguments the government used to justify voting in this way was that sentience is already covered in the Animal Welfare Act. But many say this just isn’t true.

A step in the wrong direction

Environment Secretary Michael Gove pledged that Brexit could enhance animal welfare standards. But this vote on animal sentience undermines Gove’s promise, according to the RSPCA.

The government is picking and choosing which EU laws are made into UK law following Brexit. Green MP Caroline Lucas proposed an amendment that would ensure animal sentience is carried over. But 313 MPs voted against recognising animals as sentient beings.


If the law doesn’t recognise animals as sentient, as capable of feeling pain and emotion, then this could weaken our obligation to consider their welfare. For example, after the EU included animal sentience in the Lisbon Treaty, it banned animal testing for cosmetic purposes

David Bowles, Head of Public Affairs at RSPCA, said this is a “truly backward step” for the protection of animals.


The RSPCA says the term ‘sentience’ does not appear once in the Animal Welfare Act. But MPs argued the act covered it. Bowles added:

only domestic animals are really covered by the provsions of the Act anyway and animals in the wild and laboratories are expressly exempt. It is simply wrong for the Government to claim that the Act protects animal sentience.
Both the RSPCA and Lucas said the decision was “disappointing”. Lucas also highlighted during the debate:

By way of background, in 1997—20 years ago—the UK Government, during their presidency of the EU, convinced the then 14 other member states that EU law should explicitly recognise that animals were sentient beings, and not simply agricultural goods like bags of potatoes that could be maltreated with impunity.

It was important enough for the British Government to use all their influence in the EU to have it included in the Lisbon treaty, and we should continue to have it in UK law.
This puts animals in danger.

As previously reported at The Canary, Brexit has offered hope for raising animal welfare standards, as well as fears about lowering them. But by keeping animal sentience out of British law, the government could be putting untold numbers of animals at risk of exploitation and abuse. Animals are still suffering on factory farms, in the wild, in labs, in circuses, in sport and in zoos. If we want to ensure that animals are afforded the protections they deserve, then the law has to recognise their sentience.

With many thanks to: The Canary for the origional story.

Universal Credit: Households to miss out on benefits over Christmas and New Year

Thousands of people on universal credit will not be paid over the festive season or will get a reduced payment, the BBC Moneybox show has highlighted.

Those hit will be some of the 67,000 people who claim the benefit while working and who are paid weekly.

This is because there are five paydays in December, so their monthly income will be too high to get any or some of the benefit. Some will have to reapply.

The government said only a “minority” of claimants would be affected.

What is universal credit – and what’s the problem?
Universal credit callers face five minutes on hold
Universal credit rollout ‘should be paused’
Universal credit merges six benefits for working-age people into one new payment, which is reduced gradually as you earn more.

The Department for Work and Pensions warns on its website that people who are paid five times in a month may have an income that is too high to qualify for the benefit in that period.

It says people will be notified if this happens and told to reapply for the benefit the following month.

Other people who are paid fives times in a month but do not earn enough for universal credit to end will have their benefit reduced.

Kayley Hignell, from Citizens Advice, said the way universal credit was calculated brought some benefits but also “significant budget challenges”.

She said: “The key thing here is about communication.

“People need to know that if they’re getting extra income in one month… it may stop their universal credit payment, and that they then subsequently need to put in a new claim to make sure that they continue to get those payments.

“If you’ve got extra money in the month, don’t necessarily bank on the fact that your universal credit is going to stay the same, because it could change it either in this month or the next.”

Rolled out

The government said the payments balance out, as claimants will receive more in the following month.

It said those who reapplied for the benefits would not have to submit new forms and would have their current claims restarted.

Universal credit is being rolled out across the UK in stages, but its implementation, particularly the six-week wait to receive the benefit, has caused controversy.

This week Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn told Prime Minister’s Questions that hundreds of families have been issued with eviction notices by a landlord concerned about the impact of universal credit.

With many thanks to: BBC England for the origional story



Britain’s Prime Ministers husband linked to Paradise Papers


Theresa May and her husband Philip © Eddie Keogh .                                           Theresa May’s husband Philip has been linked to the Paradise Papers after his company was accused of arranging investments in tax havens. Thousands of documents have exposed how Britian’s mega rich invest their money abroad to legally avoid paying hefty tax bills.

Although not illegal, they are depriving the Treasury of juicy tax revenues at a time when many Britons are having their welfare payments slashed, and the National Health Service (NHS) faces a yawning budget black hole.

Philip May, the PM’s husband, is a relationships manager for investment-management firm Capital Group. His is the latest big name to be associated with the papers.
According to the documents, Capital Group allegedly used offshore-registered funds to make investments in a Bermuda-registered company. Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party wants ‘flush Phil’ to answer some questions.

“There are some serious questions for Philip May to answer about his firm’s use of tax havens, whether he had any knowledge of it and if he thinks this is an acceptable way to do business,” Jon Trickett, Labour’s shadow minister for the Cabinet Office, told Business Insider.

“Labour has previously asked Theresa May what her government plans to do to clamp down on the tax havens where money is squirrelled away to avoid paying taxes for public services in this country.

“When it comes to paying tax, there is one rule for the super-rich and another for the rest of us and, in refusing to act, the Prime Minister appears to condone this,” said Trickett.

Other notable Brits implicated in the papers include Prince Charles and Her Majesty the Queen. Revelations of the great British tax stitch-up come as the Universal Credit roll-out sees the most vulnerable Brits have their benefits axed.

Earlier this month, a mother was found dead in her flat after her benefits were cut. Elaine Morrall died in her house in Runcorn, Cheshire, amid claims her financial woes meant she switched the heating off until her children got home from school.

A Downing Street spokesman denied Mr May had any involvement in Capital Group’s playful accounting.

“Mr May is involved in the development of Capital Group’s retirement solutions,” he said.

“He is not an investor but consults with other Capital associates on retirement products and solutions for clients.”

With many thanks to: for the origional story.

Irish Prime Minister vows to block trade talks if Theresa May fails to explain border plans by next month

‘They want us to take a leap in the dark and we are not prepared to do that,’ source tells Independent’. Leo Varadkar has Brussels’ backing in worrying about a hard land border after Brexit
The Irish Prime Minister has set Theresa May a one-month deadline to explain how she will avoid a damaging hard border with Northern Ireland, or the EU will block Brexit trade talks.

Leo Varadkar dismissed Ms May’s claim that negotiations on the future land border are “almost there” as “wishful thinking”, at a breakfast meeting.

Instead, he told the UK prime minister that she must set out detailed proposals that can form part of the conclusions of the crunch December EU summit.

Without that reassurance, the EU would block any attempt to move the negotiations onto future trade and a transitional period to cushion Brexit – the Holy Grail for the UK.

“They want us to take a leap in the dark and we are not prepared to do that,” one Irish source told The Independent.

“The British want to give the impression that we are all on the same page, that it is just a question of finding a form of words, but that is certainly not the case.

“We need an explicit commitment, confidence about the impact on the island of Ireland, before the talks can progress to phase two.”

It is understand that Ireland would not exercise its veto, but has no doubt that all 27 EU countries would unite in drawing a red line to frustrate the UK.

The stance, following talks between the two leaders at a summit in Sweden, is a stark reminder that the so-called “divorce bill” is not the only remaining obstacle to breaking the deadlock in the negotiations.

However, No 10 insisted there had been “constructive discussions on Brexit” and that both leaders anticipated “further progress” before the EU council.

“On Northern Ireland, the PM was clear that the Belfast agreement must be at the heart of our approach and that Northern Ireland’s unique circumstances demand specific solutions,” a spokesman said.

“The PM said it was important to protect progress made in Northern Ireland over recent years. Both leaders agreed to work together to find solutions which ensure there is no return to the borders of the past.”

British negotiators had, until recently, hoped that the vexed issue of the Irish border could be “parked” until trade talks begin, because they are so closely linked.

However, a leaked European Commission earlier this month showed that Dublin has Brussels staunch support in ensuring the controversy remains a priority.


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EU Withdrawal Bill set to be delayed until after Christmas
It made clear that, in order to preserve the Good Friday Agreement, the Brexit divorce deal must respect “the integrity of the internal market and the customs union”, with Ireland remaining a member of both.

That meant the UK, to avoid a hard border with Northern Ireland, must also remain part of the customs union – something London has categorically ruled out, at least long term.

Previously, Brussels has dismissed the UK’s proposals to use untested new technology to police a light-touch Irish border as “magical thinking”.

Dublin is said to be demanding that the UK preserve about 100 EU regulations, many covering customs and agriculture, to ensure an open trade border with Northern Ireland.

Richard Radcliffe leaves the Foreign Office with his local MP Tulip Siddiq, following a meeting with Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson Marc
But that would mean London either accepting the rules for the whole of Britain or granting special status to Northern Ireland, weakening the integrity of the UK – which ministers have rejected.

Meanwhile, in Dublin, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson told his Irish counterpart, that only a progression to trade talks could solve the border issue.

But Simon Coveney said Britain would have to bend if it was to stand by its promise of no return of “physical infrastructure”.

“We simply don’t see how we can avoid border infrastructure, whether it’s on the border or somewhere else on the island, if we have regulatory divergence in Northern Ireland versus the rest of the island,” he said.

“When you have a different rule book applied to trade and business, well then, you are starting to go down the road of having to have checks and inspections.”

With many thanks to : The Independent’s Rob Merrick Deputy Political Editor for the origional story.

Landlord defends sending eviction letters ahead of Universal Credit rollout

Lincolnshire property firm sends formal notice of possession to all tenants in case universal credit leads to rent arrears
Estate agents’ for sale boards

A Lincolnshire property company has defended threatening all of its tenants with eviction if they fail to pay their rent because of delays in receiving universal credit payments, after sending all tenants pre-emptive notices ahead of the rollout of the welfare reform.

The letter from GAP Property in Grimsby was highlighted by Jeremy Corbyn during prime minister’s questions in the Commons on Wednesday. Corbyn said tenants of the property management company faced the prospect of being made homeless before Christmas. Theresa May said she would look into the “particular case” raised by the Labour leader.

GAP Property said the introduction of universal credit would affect the vast majority of its tenants and it needed to take action to avoid a slew of rent arrears, which could put it out of business.

The company’s owner, Guy Piggott, told the Guardian the letter was not intended to be threatening and he was pleased it had been highlighted by Corbyn.

“We are not planning to throw people out, but the prime minister should read this and recognise the problems, and see how people are not going to be able to feed themselves,” he said.

Quick Guide
What is universal credit and what are the problems?

Universal credit is due to be rolled out across north-east Lincolnshire from 13 December and new applicants will have a minimum six-week wait for their first payments, though many have reported longer delays.

Piggott said serving the notice now meant tenants had been given the mandatory two months’ notice and so could be evicted as soon as their rent payments fell behind.

He said the rollout had forced him to take radical action, saying his company would be “bust in three months” if tenants were unable to pay their rents because of the six-week wait for universal credit payments, especially as he expected many of them would take on temporary work over Christmas and then be faced with a long wait when they reapplied for benefits.

The letter from the agency says it is “not intended to cause alarm, rather to inform you of the problems that could very well occur during the rollout of universal credit”.

It calls the flagship welfare reform “an extraordinary event that requires both you and us to take extraordinary measures”.

It tells tenants: “GAP Property cannot sustain arrears at the potential levels universal credit could create (this affects the vast majority of our tenants), therefore we find it necessary to issue your Notice Seeking Possession … that has been enclosed to be exercised only in the event that you fail to pay your rent in accordance with the terms of your tenancy (in full and on the due date).”

The letter says tenants will face eviction if there is a delay in payment to the landlord. “IF YOU DO NOT PAY YOUR RENT WE WILL HAVE NO OPTION BUT TO ASK YOU TO LEAVE AND RECOVER LOSSES FROM YOUR GUARANTOR,” it writes, in capital letters.

The letter includes a formal notice of possession as well as a guide to universal credit for tenants.

The agency was established more than 30 years ago by Piggott, who is also chair of the local Humber Landlords Association, and says it has a “wide range of properties from rooms in shared houses, flats, to five-bedroom detached houses”.

Piggott said the majority of his tenants were on an average household income of about £17,000 a year. “People are already living hand to mouth. We have spoken to a number of tenants and they do not know this is coming. They might not even know what universal credit is,” he said.

“At best, if they need to wait six weeks to be paid, it will be the end of February before it comes, and by then they might have spent the money they had on feeding their families or heating their homes,” he said.

Piggott said many landlords would soon refuse to take people who were on universal credit. “A lot of landlords are now saying enough is enough,” he said.

Quoting from the letter during PMQs, Corbyn said: “Will the prime minister pause universal credit so it can be fixed? Or does she think it is right to put thousands of families through Christmas in the trauma of knowing they are about to be evicted because they are in rent arrears because of universal credit?”

In response, May said she wanted to “look at the issue of this particular case” but said the government wanted people to be able to manage their own budgets.

The Grimsby MP Melanie Onn, a shadow housing minister, said: “The letter shows what people have been trying to tell the government about the impact of the six-week wait for universal credit.

“Every time, they answer that this won’t be allowed to happen. Now we see the very real outcome of the policy on people’s lives. Putting this strain on people over Christmas is a particularly terrible time and will be an added stress.”

She added: “There have been concerns raised over the issue of people being able to manage their budgets to pay rent. What we see after four months is that those on universal credit in rent arrears has fallen by one-third.”

May’s spokesman later said she had not yet been sent a copy of the letter from Corbyn’s office. “The PM said that she would hope to get the letter from the leader of the opposition, and we will look into it and see what we can find out,” he said.

With many thanks to: Guardian for the origional story.

UK government tensions rise after leak of Johnson-Gove letter to May As Theresa May faces possible defeats on vital Brexit votes, ministers are ‘aghast’ at demands for hard Brexit from Michael Gove and Boris Johnson The prime minister faces the possibility of parliamentary defeats on the Brexit bill.

The tensions in Theresa May’s government have intensified ahead of this week’s vital votes on the Brexit bill, as ministers accused Boris Johnson and Michael Gove of sending an “Orwellian” set of secret demands to No 10.

As an increasingly weakened prime minister faces the possibility of parliamentary defeats on the bill, government colleagues have said they are aghast at the language used by the foreign secretary and the environment secretary in a joint private letter.

The leaked letter – a remarkable show of unity from two ministers who infamously fell out during last year’s leadership campaign – appeared to be designed to push May decisively towards a hard Brexit and limit the influence of former remainers.

It complained of “insufficient energy” on Brexit in some parts of the government and insisted any transition period must end in June 2021 – a veiled attack on the chancellor, Philip Hammond.
They urged the prime minister to ensure members of her top team fall behind their Brexit plans by “clarifying their minds” and called for them to “internalise the logic”.
The leak drew a bitter response from supporters of a soft Brexit, who suggested that May would be forced to either discipline the pair or further weaken her position, which has already been tested by the recent resignations of Priti Patel and Michael Fallon and continuing pressure on Johnson and Damian Green.
One cabinet minister told the Guardian: “It is not surprising that they [Gove and Johnson] would express their view. But what is surprising is that they would write this down and use this kind of language in a letter to the prime minister.
“Some have described it as Orwellian, and it is. It is not helpful when people try and press their views in untransparent way.”

Michael Gove, left, and Boris Johnson hold a press conference the day after the EU referendum.

Another minister said: “I doubt they thought this would ever come out. It stinks to high heaven. May will have to dress them down or look weak.”
Another former cabinet minister said: “I can’t believe this has come out. This is exactly the kind of arm-twisting by Brexiters one expects to go on behind the scenes, but the fact that it is in the public and is being inflicted upon the prime minister is remarkable.”
Reports have also claimed that 40 Conservative MPs – eight short of the number required to force a leadership challenge – have joined a list of Tory rebels who want May to resign.
The letter, disclosed in the Mail on Sunday, was marked “For your and Gavin’s eyes only”, a reference to the PM’s chief of staff, Gavin Barwell. It appears to show that Gove and Johnson, who led the Brexit campaign but split when Gove withdrew his support for Johnson’s Tory leadership campaign to run himself, are again working as one.
The letter states: “We are profoundly worried that in some parts of government the current preparations are not proceeding with anything like sufficient energy.
“We have heard it argued by some that we cannot start preparations on the basis of ‘No Deal’ because that would undermine our obligation of ‘sincere cooperation’ with the EU. If taken seriously, that would leave us over a barrel in 2021.”
Downing Street did not respond to questions asking whether ministers had expressed any concerns about the letter. A No 10 spokesperson said: “ It is common – and indeed expected – practice under governments of all colours for cabinet ministers to offer advice and views to the PM.”

Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, further heightened concerns over the prospect of a hard Brexit by saying that the bloc was drawing up contingency plans for the possible collapse of Britain’s departure talks.
May is already struggling with the EU withdrawal bill, which returns to the House of Commons on Tuesday. Labour is expected to join Tory rebels to inflict a series of damaging defeats on the government. They will seek to give parliament a binding vote on the final divorce deal between Britain and the EU.
Sensing the government’s weakness, Keir Starmer, the shadow Brexit secretary, has written to May warning she does not have the authority to deliver a transitional deal and prevent a “no deal” Brexit because of extreme Brexiters in her cabinet and on her backbenches.
“Over recent weeks, it has become increasingly clear that you alone do not have the authority to deliver a transitional deal with Europe.

“I believe there is a sensible majority in the House of Commons for transitional arrangements that serve the national interest. That is why I am urging the government to adopt an agreed position on transition and to support our amendments in the Commons on Tuesday,” he wrote.
One Labour amendment calls for the European court of justice (ECJ) to keep some role in a transitional period post-Brexit. Speaking on Monday, Starmer said this was vital, given any such interim deal would require some ECJ role.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “The problem with the withdrawal bill is that as it is drafted it extinguishes the role of the European court of justice. So at the very point that pretty much everybody is agreeing we need transitional arrangements, the bill disables that from happening.”
Starmer said “very many” Conservtive MPs backed this view: “At the moment, on the one hand you’ve got the government saying we know there’s going to have to be a bridge, and yet tomorrow, unless they vote with us, they’re going to vote down the means of actually building that bridge.
He also said that a no-deal scenario, where agreements had not even been reached on areas such as EU citizens or the Northern Ireland border, was so dire that any government which reached that point should consider resigning.
“I think that sort of deal is unthinkable,” he said. “I don’t think a responsible government would allow us to come to that place.”
The EU is concerned that turmoil within the Conservatives could prevent the British side from making a clear financial commitment at a key Brussels summit in December, which could delay progress until March.

Barnier, who last week gave the UK a two-week deadline to provide greater clarity on the financial settlement it was prepared to offer as part of the divorce deal, told France’s Journal du Dimanche newspaper the failure of the talks was not his preferred option.
“But it’s a possibility,” he said. “Everyone needs to plan for it, member states and businesses alike. We too are making technical preparations for it. On 29 March 2019, the United Kingdom will become a third country.”
Member states will decide at a summit on 14 and 15 December whether or not “sufficient progress” has been made on the core separation issues – the divorce bill, the Irish border and citizens’ rights – for negotiations to advance to the next stage.
“We want to reach an agreement [with the UK] within the next 14 working days,” Barnier said, so the summit’s draft conclusions can be circulated and approved in time. “Today, we are not there. The rendezvous will be postponed if progress is not sufficient.”
Conservative plotters against May claim they have 40 MPs backing a motion of “no confidence” against her. Rebel leaders told the Sunday Times that May has made the situation more dangerous because some MPs were now sending letters directly to Graham Brady, chairman of the backbench 1922

With many thanks to: guardian.


If May thought Priti Patel was her only worry today, a Tory MP had some bad news for her | The Canary