Former Labour MP Emma Dent Coad tells the Star that the PM has driven the ‘final nail in the coffin’ of justice
Mr Johnson picked Benita Mehra last month to assist Sir Martin Moore-Bick, who is leading the inquiry into the June 2017 disaster that killed 72 people.
Ms Mehra previously ran the Women’s Engineering Society, which received a £71,000 grant from the charitable arm of Arconic, the US-based maker of the aluminium composite cladding that fuelled the Grenfell fire.
She will be one of two experts helping Mr Moore-Bick with at least 18 months of hearings into the events leading up to the fire.
Ms Dent Coad, who lost her seat last month, said people affected by the fire have now abandoned all hope that the second phase of the inquiry will bring any justice.
“They ripped the firefighters to shreds in the first phase and now what I hear from people in the community is that this is proof that it is — as we feared — an Establishment stitch-up,” she said.
“People are in shock but will be regrouping and planning over the next few days. We were told over and over again that we should trust the process — but we can’t.
“The appointment is the last thing we want to hear. The whole idea of the second phase has been so invested in and for this to come about is horrific.”
Grenfell United vice-chair Karim Mussilhy, who lost his uncle in the fire, is calling for Ms Mehra to stand down before hearings restart on January 27. He described the appointment as a “disgrace.”
A spokesperson for the inquiry said it was confident that Ms Mehra’s former role would “not affect her impartiality.”
With many thanks to the: Morning Star for the original story
Follow this link to find out more: https://morningstaronline.co.uk/article/b/grenfell-johnson-appoints-engineer-with-links-to-the-firm-that-made-the-tower-cladding-to-the-inquiry?fbclid=IwAR3fRuWV3R6ABZX284kWpQFnQi2mpDgNN_pn5SWxYk7sVjORCXBuML9hfh4
With many thanks to: Bloomberg for the original story
“Because of the nature of the British constitutional legal system an Act of the Westminster Parliament would prevail in domestic law, policy and practice” prof Colin Harvey
NEW proposals to change British (UK) referendum rules requiring almost two-thirds support for any constitutional change would override the ‘simple majority’ terms of the Good Friday Agreement and the Scottish parliaments right to vote on Scotland’s Independence.
The Referendum Criteria Bill, which is awaiting its second reading in the House of Lords, proposes that “constitutional or parliamentary arrangements” can only be changed on a turnout of more than 55 per cent of the electorate. If enacted it would require a majority of 60 per cent to be successful. According to the British (UK’s) leading research body on constitutional change ‘The Constitution Unit’, the 1998 Northern Ireland Act and GFA “are cast in terms of a simple majority vote in a North of Ireland poll, and with no minimum turnout threshold: 50 per cent +1 suffices”, with a “binary” choice “between remaining in the UK and a United Ireland”.
There would be a simultaneous poll in the Republic. The Private Members Bill by Lord Cormack, does not have the official backing from the government and without it is unlikely to become legislation. It is not thought to have been floated specifically as a means of thwarting the recent upsurge in a call for a border poll, with the Conservative peer on the record with his dismay over the way Brexit was handled. Lord Carmack (pictured in the featured image ) has a fractious relationship with the Johnson administration, having criticised the now Prime Minister and then Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt for “an appalling spectacular” of appealing to just “500 paid-up members… in Northern Ireland” during the Tory election campaign during “the gravest crisis in Hong Kong since the handover”.
However, the government benches will take note of what support it attracts as the makes its way through the formal processes in two houses. Private Members’ bills introduced in the Lords can only continue to the Commons if an MP supports the bill and even then are unlikely to have much, if any, time devoted to them. But if they do garner support in the Commons they are more likely to pass the Lords on their return and so become law. QUB Professor of Human Rights Law Colin Harvey (pictured above) stressed that as a Private Members’ Bill rather than a government bill it “is unlikely to go anywhere”.
“However, the thinking that it reflects is worrying. Applying these criteria to a referendum on the constitutional future of this region would, in my view, breach the terms of the Good Friday Agreement,” he said. “Because of the nature of the British constitutional legal system [with its continuing emphasis on parliamentary supremacy] an Act of the Westminster Parliament would prevail in domestic law, policy and practice.
“That constitutional legal fact remains a major challenge for all those who wish to see the effective implantation of the Good Friday Agreement and subsequent agreements. And also why there must be an agreed British-Irish framework for taking forward the envisaged referendums on this Island.”
RHI DRAFT LAW TO BE TABLED
A DRAFT law tackling many of the flaws in government in the North of Ireland uncovered during the RHI inquiry is to be tabled.
It would create a specific criminal offence for a minister or special adviser to communicate confidential government information to a third party, proposer Jim Allister said. The bill would reduce the number of special advisers within the Executive Office from eight to four and impose a cap on their pay. It would also make plain that the appointing minister is “accountable and responsible” for their actions.
The TUV leader said: “I am throwing the gauntlet down to them.
“Are you for transparency and proper record keeping, bringing things under control or is it so much talk?”
His proposals would ensure the activities and meetings of ministers and special advisers were adequately recorded within the civil service.
It would make it a criminal offence for any minister, civil servant or adviser to use personal accounts for emails involving government business.
With many thanks to: The Irish News and Bimpe Archer for the original story
Follow these links to find out more: https://www.thejournal.ie/united-ireland-border-poll-3136932-Dec2016/
EU says existing checks on some agricultural imports would have to intensify
Existing checks on agricultural goods travelling between Great Britain and the North of Ireland would have to increase ten-fold after Brexit, the EU’s chief negotiator has said – an ultimatum that is likely to enrage Northern Irish unionists and eurosceptics.
Speaking to business leaders in Brussels, Michel Barnier laid out new details about the EU’s updated plan to find a solution to the Irish border issue – which is threatening to sink talks and cause a no-deal.
The intensification of the checks is highly unlikely to be accepted by the DUP, who have said they will use their crucial Commons votes against any deal that treats Northern Ireland differently from the rest of the UK.
Mr Barnier said customs and VAT details could be filled out online by traders and that the only physical checks needed for them would be the scanning of a barcode on a ferry across the Irish sea or at a port. He said such checks “already exist in many EU member states – such as between mainland Spain and the Canary islands”.
The negotiator also said the EU believed regulatory compliance checks for industrial goods could be carried out at the premises of businesses.
But Mr Barnier warned that so-called phytosanitary checks on live animals and other agricultural products had to be carried out at the border, and would have to apply to 100 per cent of all imports. Some of these checks already exist, but they are only conducted as spot-checks and applied to just 10 per cent of imports.
“EU rules are very clear: such checks must happen at the border because of food safety and animal health reasons,” he told business leaders.
EU rules are very clear: such checks must happen at the border because of food safety and animal health reasons
Michel Barnier, EU chief Brexit negotiator
“Obviously in the future the island of Ireland will remain and must remain a simple epidemiologic area, obviously.
“Such checks already exist in the port of Larne and Belfast. However they would have to cover 100 per cent rather than 10 per cent of live animals and animal-derived products, which would involve a significant change in terms of scale.”
He added that there would have to be “administrative procedures that do not exist today” but that “the EU proposes to carry out these checks in the least intrusive way possible”.
“The UK wants to leave and will leave the single market and customs union. This means that there must be checks on goods travelling between the EU and the UK and checks that do not exist today,” he warned.
Mr Barnier said such checks could be reduced in scope in the future if the UK and EU signed a veterinary agreement down the line as part of a trade deal.
Brussels is currently in an information lockdown for the final stages of talks, with officials tighter-lipped than usual about progress coming towards a solution.
But the DUP has made clear that it does not see things the same way, meaning a deal could be agreed between the government and EU and then voted down by Ms May’s allies in the Commons.
British officials are currently in Brussels for talks.
DUP leader Arlene Foster has done a tour of EU figures today and yesterday to make her party’s views on the Ireland issue known.
Theresa May will come to Brussels next week for a summit, which the EU has described as the “moment of truth”. Brussels says the outlines of a deal must be ready in time for that meeting, and that – if they are – a special emergency summit could be called in November to finalise it. Briefing senior Commission officials on Wednesday Mr Barnier said “decisive progress” would be required for a November summit.
With many thanks to: The Independent and Jon Stone, Brussels, for the original story@joncstone
Follow these links to find out more: https://www.cso.ie/en/releasesandpublications/ep/p-ituk/irishtradersandtheuk2016/
There will be border checks on trade inside the UK under the Brexit deal negotiated by Boris Johnson, the EU’s chief negotiator has said.
Michel Barnier confirmed there would be “checks and controls” between Britain and Northern Ireland under the agreement that will govern the UK’s exit from the EU.
Boris Johnson falsely claimed several times during the general election campaign that there would be no checks on the Irish sea, and was accused by the opposition of lying.
Whether the prime minister had misunderstood the agreement he had signed or was indeed lying to the public, the text of the deal signed in November is clear that there will indeed be checks.
“The implementation of this foresees checks and controls entering the island of Ireland,” Mr Barnier said during a sitting of the European Parliament.
“I look forward to constructive cooperation with British authorities to ensure that all provisions are respected and made operational.”
Mr Barnier had kept quiet during the UK general election campaign, telling anyone who asked him – even in private – that he did not want to say anything that could have political impact and undermine his Brexit deal.
Mr Johnson repeated his claim just on Monday, telling a press conference: “Be in no doubt. We are the government of the United Kingdom. I cannot see any circumstances whatever in which they will be any need for checks on goods going from the North of Ireland to GB.
“The only circumstances in which you could imagine the need for checks coming from GB to NI, as I’ve explained before, is if those goods were going on into Ireland and we had not secured, which I hope and I’m confident we will, a zero-tariff, zero-quota agreement with our friends and partners in the EU.”
During the election campaign he was even more emphatic, saying: “We will make sure that businesses face no extra costs and no checks for stuff being exported from NI to GB.”
But his analysis does not accurately reflect what is in the Brexit deal he signed.
The government’s own internal analysis, leaked during the general election campaign, said there would be checks on goods in both directions between the two parts of the UK.
It also said there would be a devastating impact on the North of Ireland economy and claimed 98 per cent of Northern Ireland export businesses would be “likely to struggle to bear this cost” of customs declarations and documentary and physical checks on goods within the UK.
With many thanks to: The Independent and Jon Stone Brussels, for the original story@joncstone
Follow this link to find out more: https://seachranaidhe1.blog/2020/01/15/european-union-eu-confirms-there-will-be-border-checks-inside-the-uk-under-brexit-deal-contradicting-boris-johnsons-false-claims/?fbclid=IwAR2nZYwHeMInyOluDBSi6O8gwkOaUsZp7ow1nXYSfboCqUEkIgGPdOtSHSs