Brexit: Chequers plan not dead, insists Liam Fox

Theresa May’s Brexit plan is “not dead”, a senior minister has insisted despite concessions made to Tory MPs to avoid a Commons defeat on trade.

The government scraped home by three votes on two occasions after agreeing to Brexiteers’ demands to change the wording of the Customs Bill.

Liam Fox said it did not change policy as the amendments had been “cut and pasted” from the PM’s Chequers plan.

He also warned pro-European Tories against “refighting the referendum”.

The international trade secretary told the BBC that feelings were running high but calls from some Tories to stay in a customs union, which will be voted on later, would send completely the wrong message to the EU.

MP Guto Bebb quits as minister after Brexit vote
MPs to vote on early summer recess
Brexit: All you need to know
The UK is due to leave the EU on 29 March 2019 but has yet to agree how its final relationship with the bloc will work.

The government, which does not have a Commons majority, has been under pressure from MPs on both sides of the Brexit debate.

The government twice survived by just three votes on Monday after a backlash from pro-EU Tories who accused the prime minister of “caving in” to the party’s Eurosceptic MPs.

Fresh test ahead in Commons
Ministers accepted a series of demands from Brexiteers who are unhappy at the PM’s Chequers blueprint for future relations with the EU, believing it keeps the UK too closely tied to the bloc.

But this angered MPs from the party’s pro-EU wing who refused to back the new amendments, saying they would undermine the UK’s recently-announced negotiating position.

By 305 votes to 302 – with 14 Tories rebelling – MPs backed an amendment that prevents the UK from collecting taxes on behalf of the EU, unless the rest of the EU does the same for the UK.

Applying EU tariffs to products destined for the EU is part of Mrs May’s plan to avoid friction at UK borders after Brexit.

Another amendment, to ensure the UK is out of the EU’s VAT regime, was backed by 303 to 300, with a Tory rebellion of 11. Three Labour MPs voted with the government. Current and past Lib Dem leaders Sir Vince Cable and Tim Farron – who want to stop Brexit – did not vote.

MPs will carry on debating Brexit on Tuesday when the Trade Bill comes to the Commons.

It gives the government the power to build new trade relationships around the world after the UK leaves the EU, and MPs who support staying in the EU’s customs union are seeking to change its wording.

‘Strong feelings’ on both sides

Media captionAnna Soubry criticised colleagues who have a “gold-plated pension” and support Brexit
Tory MP and Remainer Heidi Allen said she wished the prime minister had “faced down the amendments.”

She told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “What was agreed at Chequers wasn’t perfect to us, wasn’t perfect to Leavers either, but I think the prime minister had worked exceptionally hard to find a decent first pitch to put to the EU and move forward from that.

“We were all set [on the Remain side] to drop all our amendments and back it, then suddenly we had these rather extreme last minute manoeuvres, which seem to us to deviate the prime minister from her plan and we weren’t prepared to do that.”

But Mr Fox said the amendments “did not differ very much” from the government’s agreed position. Asked if the Chequers plan was dead, he told BBC Radio 4’s Today “I don’t think so”.

“The wording in the white paper was that the UK and the EU should together agree a mechanism for the remittance of relevant tariff revenue,” he said.

“As far as I could see the amendment looked like a bit of a cut and paste from the white paper.”

He said the government could “not please everybody” and there had to be compromises but Brexit had been backed by 17.4 million people in a referendum and legislation implementing that decision approved by MPs.

“I do not understand why people thinks this lacks democratic legitimacy. It is very clear where it comes from.”

Little room for manoeuvre
Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES
BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg

It looks a mess because it is a mess. It’s getting harder and harder for the prime minister to get things through Parliament – and while calls for a second referendum are widely rejected, that sentiment could change if this kind of gridlock continues.

The PM has spent the last two years trying to compromise. She has a divided party and no majority. There are no easy choices.

But the divisions in the Tory party are daily reducing her room for manoeuvre. In a debate about principle, the problem for some is that compromise is a dirty word.

Read Laura’s blog

Who rebelled?
The Conservative rebels on Monday were the long-time pro-EU MP Ken Clarke, Heidi Allen, Guto Bebb, Richard Benyon, Jonathan Djanogly, Dominic Grieve, Stephen Hammond, Philip Lee, Nicky Morgan, Robert Neill, Mark Pawsey, Antoinette Sandbach, Anna Soubry and Sarah Wollaston.

The three Labour MPs who rebelled against their party whip by voting with the government were Frank Field, Kate Hoey and Graham Stringer – all of whom are pro-Brexit.

Former Labour MP Kelvin Hopkins who now sits as an independent also supported the government on one of the amendments.

How has the EU reacted?
BBC Europe editor, Katya Adler said the one priority the EU has is making sure it gets a deal, rather than a “cliff edge” Brexit.

She told Today: “They are following all the ins and outs, and all the turbulence, in UK politics extremely carefully.

“[But] they are wondering if the prime minister – or anyone who could or might take over from her – would even have the political strength to get a deal agreed here in Brussels, then passed by parliament back home.

“All my EU sources say they want to engage constructively with the whitepaper and avoid giving the impression that it is dead on arrival. But importantly, as everyone knows, time for negotiation is running short. They want to complete the withdrawal agreement.”

With many thanks to: BBC England for the original story.

 

 

 

Independence is the means to a greater end

In the face of Brexit we must trust ourselves to meet success and failure on our own merit.

murray foote

Three days after the death of Donald Dewar in October 2000 I was cutting through Glasgow’s George Square among the dozen statues of famous names immortalised in bronze. The most recently deceased and the only female — mounted on a horse and inexplicably wearing a crown rather than the traditional traffic cone — was Queen Victoria. Since she shuffled off in 1901 not a single notable has had the honour bestowed in their memory of induction into the hall of famous George Square stiffs.

It struck me that Dewar, a son of Glasgow and Scotland’s inaugural first minister, merited a place among the revered deceased. At that point I was deputy editor of the Daily Record so I made the suggestion to my editor, who agreed it was a worthy campaign. Two years later Tony Blair unveiled a bronze Father of the Nation — slightly dishevelled, appropriately — on Buchanan Street.

I recount the details by way of demonstrating my admiration for Dewar and his greatest political achievement in reconvening the Scottish parliament after a recess lasting three centuries. His speech at the parliament’s opening a year before his death was emotional: “There shall be a Scottish parliament. Through long years, those words were first a hope, then a belief, then a promise. Now they are a reality. This is a moment anchored in our history.”

Devolution brought the biggest political change of my lifetime. Sure, establishing the apparatus of devolved government was not without its difficulties and, in the early days, critics. But the philosophy that Holyrood exists merely to mitigate the excesses of Westminster is not a belief system to which I subscribe. We owe it to ourselves and to future generations to be far more progressive, dynamic, ambitious.

It is largely why in 2014, by then editor, I commissioned The Vow, the promise made on the front page of the Record by the UK’s main party leaders two days before the independence referendum of extensive new powers to Scotland. I believed a more powerful Scottish parliament was what the majority of readers wanted. And now we learn it sent Ruth Davidson apoplectic. LOL.

As we continue to labour under a vindictive Westminster administration, the nascent Scottish benefits agency will be another waypoint on the journey to more compassionate devolved government. Now we are on the brink of Brexit. But where devolution arrived bearing promise and hope, Brexit is draped in a shroud of despair. We have not yet completed our shameful retreat from the EU and I cling to the diminishing hope we never do.

I cannot tolerate a Tory government prepared to treat devolution with the blatant contempt displayed in Tuesday’s cynical one-man debate on the EU Withdrawal Bill. It was a democratic abomination. I can no longer stand by while a cabal of the privileged deprive our children the right to live in 27 European countries because they don’t like Johnnie Foreigner encroaching their elite club.

I can’t remain silent as May, Davis, Rees-Mogg, Johnson and Gove undermine the stability of a continent that has largely been at peace for 70 years. For them this is a game of ambition, for the majority of us it is unconscionable folly. I can’t wait for enough of England to wean itself off voting for the party of privilege that will never govern for anyone other than their own class.

I can’t watch a Labour Party pursue its own destructive Brexit agenda full in the knowledge that the people it professes to represent will shoulder the greatest burden. I can’t wait for that same party to recognise that Jeremy Corbyn seemed like a good idea at the time but now they must find a leader who can reunite a splintered movement capable of deposing the Tories. Nor can I await the arrival of a unicorn, that mythical federal Britain.

So independence it must be.

As Dewar said in his speech: “A Scottish parliament. Not an end, a means to greater end.” Independence is now the only option that provides any prospect of that greater end. What matters is timing and circumstance. Over the past few years heavy negative forces — like Brexit, that parade of Tory chancers and a dysfunctional opposition at Westminster — have tugged the independence stars ever nearer alignment. Last month’s growth commission report gave them another nudge.

I fully recognise an independent Scotland would face financial challenges and Andrew Wilson’s report is an attempt to address many of these realities with intrinsic honesty. I’ve considered the constitutional arguments against and, yes, the difficult decisions our independent nation would face and the sacrifices we may need to make do trouble me. But what troubles me more is the prospect of bequeathing to my daughters an isolated Britain governed indefinitely by the progeny of Rees-Mogg and their ilk.

For me, independence is about autonomy, allowing Scotland to meet success and failure on its own merit and not point an embittered finger of blame at anyone else. I have reconciled that independence would herald good and bad. I trust in us to solve the problems that will come our way. If so many other countries can, it is inconceivable that Scotland can’t. The Yes-Yes campaign which brought our parliament back from the dead 20 years ago asked Scotland to take a leap of faith and to trust in ourselves. When we are next asked the independence question, I’ll strap on my work boots and take that leap.

With many thanks to: The Times and The Sunday Times for the origional story.

Politics
Brexit
Labour Party
Conservative Party
UK politics

The DUP and ‘What really happened at Number10’ ?

The DUP said tonight on English News: “All the cliam’s about my party were untrue and unfounded” but my response is “I am very sorry to say she lied”.

Jeffery Donaldson M.P. There are many faces of the DUP but here are just a few.

Ms Foster said she would not ‘negotiate over the airwaves’
The Democratic Unionist Party leader has said she hopes to seal a deal on supporting Theresa May’s minority government “sooner rather than later”.
After meeting the prime minister in Downing Street, Arlene Foster said discussions were “going well” and she hoped for a “successful conclusion”.Apparently a final meeting to approve the deal is set for Wednesday.

An Irish News, cartoon, previously printed. I think it says it all. Really.

But ex-Conservative PM Sir John Major said he was “dubious” about the idea and its impact on the peace process.
The Conservatives are having to rely on the support of 10 DUP MPs after they fell eight seats short of winning an overall majority at the general election.

The Headlines in the News Letter. One of the best selling Protestant newspapers in the North of Ireland (Northern Ireland).

But Sir John told BBC World at One that if the party “locked” itself into a deal with one of the main parties in Northern Ireland, there was a danger the government would no longer be seen as an “impartial honest broker” in restoring the power-sharing arrangements and upholding NI institutions.

Peace in Northern Ireland should “not be regarded as a given”, said Sir John – whose government laid the foundations for the peace process in the 1990s – and nothing should be done to “exaggerate the differences” between the unionist and nationalist communities.

Nigel Dodds M.P. A True Blue, pictured here showing his true colours. This bigot and anti-gay supporter could possibly be the next speaker in the House of Lord’s.

I am “concerned” about a deal with the DUP, says former prime minister Sir John Major
He urged Theresa May to consider governing on her own, saying this would not “carry the baggage” for the Conservatives that an arrangement with the DUP would.

Nigel Dodds M.P. The pictures he wouldn’t want you to see. When he came very close to losing his Westminister seat, but not to worry Nigel there’s always next time.

Sir John suggested the DUP would be asking for money and that would be seen as the “government paying cash for votes in Parliament”, and would be received badly in other parts of the UK.

I think this picture tells it all. The writing is on the wall’s ! Speaks for itself really.

The agreement with the DUP is expected to be very different to the coalition deal agreed between the Conservatives and Lib Dems in 2010, with DUP politicians not getting cabinet jobs and their support for the majority of new legislation to be determined on a vote-by-vote basis.
‘Giving stability’

The lie’s sorry “untruths” being peddled by the BBC. If you really believe their ‘false news’ then you need to open your eyes to the real truth.

The Secretary of State for the North of Ireland, James bronkenshire will not be accepted as impartial to the negiotions on restoring the North of IRELAND institutions. He has to go !!

Asked about Sir John’s comments during a trip to Paris, Mrs May said she was “absolutely steadfast” in her support for the 1998 Good Friday Agreement – which created the Northern of Ireland Assembly – and efforts to revive the power-sharing executive.

The Irish have stood shoulder to shoulder even in London to oppose the Conservitive/DUP alliance.

QMrs May, who has been holding talks with French President Emmanuel Macron on counter-terrorism and Brexit, said the “productive” talks with the DUP were about “giving stability to the UK government that is necessary at this critical time” ahead of the start of the Brexit process.

Theresa May & the DUP will push through so-called extra terrorist legislation and pull out of the European Convention of Human Rights.The Conservite/DUP alliance ‘Do not deserve to be in power’.

Bercow: I’m a Speaker ‘for testing times’
May to meet Macron for anti-terror talks
The clock’s ticking, EU warns UK
Reality Check: Has election changed EU views of Brexit?
Conservative sources said “constructive” progress had been made in the talks and both sides were “working carefully through the paperwork” to complete the deal.

Mrs Foster told the BBC areas being discussed including Brexit, counter-terrorism and “doing what’s right for Northern Ireland in respect of economic matters”.
The BBC’s assistant political editor Norman Smith said the DUP was likely to demand money for investment in Northern Ireland and an end to austerity.

The Conservite/DUP collation will vote through emergency legislation giving the British Securirty Services/MI5 and the British Army ” get out if jail free cards” for past murders. Including those of innocent women and children. No-one should be immune from prosecution including the IRA and it’s leadership.

“At least someone got a landslide” – the PM’s comment was met with laughter
Sinn Fein, whose seven MPs will not take their seats in Westminster, said any deal must be approved by the Northern Ireland executive when it is back up and running.
“Any agreement reached with the DUP – financial or otherwise – cannot be to the detriment of anyone else in our society,” said Belfast West MP Paul Maskey.

The RUC/PSNI, are not accepted in the North of Ireland as impartial. They are the very same police force as before. Anti-Catholic & just as bitter.

Earlier in the Commons, as MPs gathered for the first time since the election, Jeremy Corbyn congratulated Mrs May on “returning as PM” and said he “looked forward to this Parliament, however short it may be”.
The Labour leader joked that he welcomed the prospect of a Queen’s Speech once this “coalition of chaos has been negotiated”, but said if this did not happen, he was “ready to offer strong and stable leadership in the national interest”.

With many thanks to: BBC, for the original story.

Sinn Fein hits out at decision to allow Castlederg parade

‘It seems some are more equal than others in Castlederg in the eyes of the Parades Commission – Ruairi McHugh.

SINN Fein has hit out at the Parades Commission after it ruled an Apprentice Boys parade could march through a nationalist area of Castlederg this weekend. 

For Cod and Ulster

The Apprentice Boys will march through the Co Tyrone town on Saturday morning and evening. The commission placed restrictions on the evening parade, preventing it from marching through Priest’s Lane, Ferguson Crescent, Killeter Road and Alexander Park. But the commission has allowed the morning parade to move through the predominantly nationalist Ferguson Crescent area. The feeder parades are part of the annual Lundy’s Day parade in Derry on Saturday. Around 2,500 Apprentice Boys are expected to take part in the Derry parade. There have been heightened community tensions in Castlederg following several loyalist parades and a controversial republican commemoration over the summer. Sinn Fein Castlederg councillor Ruairi Mc Hugh said it is the first time a loyalist march has been allowed to pass through Ferguson Crescent,without restrictions, since 2006. He accused the commission of “double standards”. “There has been upwards of 20 unionist parades of one type or another in Castlederg this year alone, which is totally disproportionate given the demographics of the town,” he said. Mr McHugh said as far as he was aware, the parade’s organisers had not attempted to consult with people in Ferguson Cerscent about the march. This determination stands in stark contrast to the sole Republician commemoration this year in August which the commission blocked from even entering our own town centre, which made a mockery of the town centre being a shared space for all the communities in Castlederg,” he said. “It seems some are more equal in Castlederg in the eyes of the Parades Commission.”

With many thanks to: Claire SimpsonThe Irish News.

This is motion 22 at the Ard Fheis which was passed at This Ard Fheis notes continued absence of any political or societal consesus, North or South, on dealing with the legacy of the past !

295161_409874449090081_1003601203_nLoretta Franklin

We believe the past cannot be addressed or resolved in a partisan or one-sided way. Our future will remain contested for as long as we continue to contest the past.

Sinn Féin recognises that victims and survivors on all sides seek different outcomes.

We reaffirm our party policy on the establishment of an independent, international truth recovery process.

We accept that the development of strategies to assist in the management of the legacy of our past conflict poses complex political and human challenges. Discussion is clearly required to address the implications arising from any agreed strategies and processes.

This Ard Fheis renews it call for fully inclusive dialogue between all sides on how best to address the legacy of our past as an essential contribution to the peace process and development of reconciliation across the island.

This is Motion 23 This Ard Fheis commends Sinn Fein’s ongoing efforts to encourage cross-community and party support for the development of an inclusive reconciliation process.

We note that the public discussion which has occurred in the last 12 months has focussed mainly upon format, substance and participants. This is to be welcomed.

We further note that this public discussion has reflected the extent of disagreement within our society as to the causes and effects of the political conflict.

However, we believe that any acknowledgement that reconciliation is necessary, welcome and deserves to be built upon. We applaud those who have already offered strategic and far-seeing contributions to this discussion.

Sinn Féin recognises that there are many victims and much hurt on all sides. We acknowledge the pain and suffering of all non-combatants, combatants, and their families on every side.

We believe the development of an authentic reconciliation process is essential to consolidate and enhance our peace process and political stability. The unity of the people of this island is crucial to that enterprise.

Sinn Féin is committed to reconciliation in the here and now and the replacement of current divisions with new human and political relationships.

This Ard Fheis urges mature and strategic debate North and South on opening a new phase of our peace process based on reconciliation, the development of new relationships, and creation of trust among all our people.

THEN WE GET THIS Kelly slams Red Hand Defenders threat against schools

September 7th, 2013 – North BelfastGerry Kelly

Sinn Féin MLA for north Belfast Gerry Kelly has called on those responsible for issuing a threat of military action against school children, their parents and teachers at three schools in Belfast to immediately withdraw it and has further called on leaders within unionism and loyalism to condemn these threats in the strongest possible terms.

Speaking today Mr Kelly said:

“This is a disgraceful and sinister statement to come from any organisation or individual against school children, their parents and teachers. Those responsible have threatened violent action against children.

“People will remember the shameful scenes of school children at Holy Cross where primary pupils and their parents were left traumatised. We can never see a repeat of those scenes.

“Even the threat of this cannot be tolerated by society. One thing we can all say without fear of contradiction is that school children, their parents and teachers should never be targeted and threatened like this.

“The Red Hand Defenders is a flag of convenience that has been used in the past by mainstream loyalist organisations.

“We must now see unionist and loyalist leaders coming out and condemning these threats in the strongest possible terms, call on the Red Hand Defenders to withdraw this threat and actively support the rights of any child to attend any school of their choice where ever it may be situated and receive their education with without fear or intimidation.”

In other words they are saying lets forget the past be best buddies, while the other side threaten the lives of our children?

Gerry you have made a speech about the threat, but what are you going to do about it?

IT WAS A BAD DAY FOR DEMOCRACY !!!

DUP AND RED SKY

MANY observers were yesterday highlighting the irony of a party which includes the word ‘democratic’ in its name effectively blocking the overwhelming will of the assembly.

FUCK STORMONT

But we knew this was always going to be the outcome once the DUP announced its intention to lodge a petition of concern to veto an inquiry into the allegations of political interferance against Nelson McCausland. A measure designed to stop majoritiaranism – or blatant sectarianism – at Stormont, petitions of concern weren’t something that much occupied the thoughts of Joe and Joe Public until the assembly was recalled to address the Red Sky controversy. They may now be more familiar with its workings and how it can be deployed, but it’s unlikely the whole episode will enamour them to politics on the hill. A clear majority of assembly members – 54 to 32 – supported the motion calling for a probe into the actions of Mr McCausland and his special adviser Stephen Brimstone.

MLAs had returned from recess, albeit after a few short days, and the chamber wwitnessed some passionate and at times bruising debate. But it was all for the optics because no matter how heated and pointed the exchanges became, the predetermined outcome meant they carried no greater weight than a Sunday school debating contest. In political terms we were back where we started. Unfortunately that is the nature of the Storming beast. Power sharing may the concept of devolved institutions are built on but it seems power ultimately resides with the party that can consistently muster 30 signatures and lodge a petition of concern whenever it is unhappy with a particular assembly motion.

The upshot is therefore not democracy but an inverted form of majoritarianism. It’s a system that leaves the majority party in a position where it can overrule the rest of the assembly even when outnumbered two-to-one. As proved on Monday, the DUP as it presently stands in the assembly is unimpeachable and is only likely to see one of its ministers or MLAs censured when they have breached boundaries set by the party itself. Stormount’s recent dearth of legislation has been well documented and it’s believed this lack of determination and decisiveness has turned off many amount the electorate. The collective failure to demonstrate the effectiveness of the political system by making Nelson McCausland answerable to serious allegations can only lead to further disillusionment.

With many thanks to : John ManleyThe Irish News.

TALKS IN WALES EVIDENCE OF ‘POLITICAL POLICING’ : LOYALISTS

‘Their political policing strategy has had disastrous consequences over the past four months – John Wilson.

A GROUP set up by loyalist flag protesters has branded plans byconsequences the PSNI/RUC to hold talks in Wales with politicians and community represdestroyed s ahead of the marching sseason as evidence of “political policing”. The Ulster People’s Forum (UPF) last night said it had not received a request to take part in talks and would have turned down an invite if asked.

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“The UPF view is that the PSNI have been clear their job is policing and we feel they shouldl stick to this remit as their political policing strategy has had disastrous consequences over the past four months with relationships in some loyalist areas almost detroyed to the point of no return,” forum chairman John Wilson said. It emerged this week that the PSNI/RUC in conjunction with Univeristy of Ulster academic Duncan Morrow, has invited representatives of pilitical parties to Cardiff next weekend to discuss policing issues ahead of the summer marching season. Tensions continue in parts of Belfast around loyal parades including Ardoyne and outside St Patrick’s church in Donegall Street.

Policing reached crisis point  during the winter as loyalists blocked roads and attacked police and Alliance politicians in the wake of the decision by Belfast City Council to stop flying the Union Flag every day. The UPF was formed weeks after the flag protests started in December with leading protesters Jamie Bryson and Willie Frazer emerging as spokesmen. This week PSNI/RUC chief constable Matt Baggott said the meeting was an attempt to build relationships “with a veiw to this summer’s parading”. It emerged last night that neither the Orange Order or represtatives of nationalist residents’ groups in flashpoint districts had been invited to attend the Cardiff event. Mr Wilson of the UPF conceded that the number of flag-related protests was well down compared to previously but blamed police tactics which he described as “political policing”. “There  are a lot of people out there with wives, familes and jobs and they can’t afford to be arrested or questioned.” Orange Order grand chaplain the Rev Mervyn Gibson confirmed last night he had been invited to attend the talks through a church group with which he is involved but he declined because of a prior engagement. He confirmed that the Orange Order itself had not been invited to attend the talks.

With thanks to : Connia Young, Irish News.