Theresa May invites David Cameron to backseat drive on Brexit

Mrs May’s predecessor David Cameron is advising her how to get some kind route out of the EU through Parliament. Credit: PA

If you want a symbol of the catastrophe Theresa May faces over Brexit here it is: her predecessor David Cameron is advising her how to get some kind route out of the EU – that isn’t the fast one over the cliff – through parliament.

This is like the pope asking the chief rabbi on the true meaning of the Eucharist: when Theresa May became prime minister she defined herself by defenestrating all things and people of a Cameroonish hue (including, most notoriously – and some would argue most self-destructively – packing Osborne off to the backbenches).

But now the former prime minister has become her personal Brexit-crisis adviser, as she desperately tries to prevent the UK crashing out of the EU with a chaotic no deal.

Mrs May’s predecessor David Cameron is advising her how to get some kind route out of the EU. Credit: PA

Second referendum would cause ‘irreparable damage’, PM to warn

Mr Cameron’s advice is conspicuously being taken, at this juncture by her ministers if not publicly by her.

Because what he told her – I understand – is that she should “get on with getting parliament to work through the options”.

You will have heard the Business Secretary Greg Clark just this morning become the latest member of the Cabinet to say on the Today Programme that the time is almost nigh to press MPs (possibly through an innovative process of holding advisory votes on different options) to express their collective views on what kind of Brexit (or potentially no Brexit, via a referendum) they would choose.

What lies ahead for the PM and Brexit this week?
When Theresa May became prime minister she defined herself by defenestrating all things and people of a Cameroonish hue.

When Theresa May became prime minister she defined herself by defenestrating all things and people of a Cameroonish hue. Credit: PA

Mr Cameron has made it clear – according to my source – that “she has to help parliament find an answer, recognising that she doesn’t have a majority”.

This of course is reinforcing the pressure on her from her senior backbenchers like Nicky Morgan to put party allegiances to one side in the search for a way through the impasse.

And what kind of Brexit would Mr Cameron himself favour?

Well she is listening to him partly because he has privately endorsed her “partnership” approach to the UK’s long-term relationship with the EU.

This would be either her Brexit plan, which a majority of MPs detest, or an amended version (which the EU comprehensively squished on Thursday) or some version of the arrangement Norway has with the EU.

So Mr Cameron is – as you would expect – a proponent of what Michael Gove would see as the best Brexit available and Jacob Rees-Mogg would view as BRINO (Brexit in name only) serfdom.

And if MPs won’t back any Brexit plan? Would Mr Cameron suggest she put the BIG question back to the people with a so-called People’s Vote?

My source conspicuously dodges when pressed.

That said, Mr Cameron probably knows better than to opine on plebiscitary matters, since if he hadn’t decided on the original poll, she wouldn’t be in her quandary today and he’d still be in a job.

With many thanks to: ITV News and Robert Preston/Preston Politics for the original story.

Brexiters have changed their minds, why can’t the people?

Brexiters are changing their minds over Brexit all the time. Perhaps a new fact has come to light which they don’t like, or a shift in position may suit their personal aims.

If Brexiters can chop and change with every new revelation, why shouldn’t the people have the final say on whether they want this Brexit mess or not?

Last night’s confidence vote in Theresa May showed that 117 Tory MPs had changed their minds about their leader. They voted for her in 2016, full of hope that she could unite the party around a coherent Brexit policy. It’s all gone badly wrong, and the Conservatives are more fracticious than ever. Tory MPs got a democratic opportunity to overturn two years of Brexit mismanagement — why shouldn’t the people?

Boris Johnson changed his mind about the Irish border backstop. He was part of the Cabinet that agreed to the measure back in December 2017. Now he wants to “junk the backstop” and has called it a “monstrosity” that wipes out the UK’s sovereignty.

Demand a vote on the Brexit deal

Click here to find out more
Johnson claims he was misled by Number 10 over the backstop and “absolutely reassured that this was just a form of words that was necessary to float the negotiations off the rocks”. So, he made a decision without full possession of the facts and now wants to think again? Sounds like a good basis for a People’s Vote.

Liam Fox is the latest Brexiter to change his mind on May’s deal. He told the BBC yesterday he would struggle to support it if there were no changes to the backstop. Fox is still in the Cabinet, and has given his support to the government’s Brexit strategy at each crunch decision so far.

Unlike Dominic Raab, who helped negotiate the deal as Brexit secretary before changing his mind and condemning it in a politically timed Cabinet resignation. He now says the government’s deal is worse than staying in the EU.

May herself is not against a change of mind. That general election she was never going to call in 2017? The “meaningful vote” on the government’s deal that was definitely going to take place this Tuesday? May’s premiership has been littered with u-turns and flip flops.

It seems like it’s one rule for May and her Brexiter detractors, and another for the British people. But a lot has changed since 2016.

It is now much clearer what Brexit actually entails, and that the promises made by the Leave campaign cannot be fulfilled. It is only right to ask whether the public has changed its mind about leaving the EU after all.

With many thanks to: Infacts for the original posting.

 

United Nations (UN) visit will leave Tories nowhere to hide on poverty failings

The UN are sending Special Rapporteur Prof. Philip Alston to the UK in November to report back on the state of extreme poverty and human rights in this country.

He is asking for public submissions. If you or anyone you know have a story to tell about your experience with issues due to austerity, welfare reforms, etc. check out the article below to see how your voice can be heard.

The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) are sending a world renowned Human rights and law Professor to the UK in November.

What won’t please the government, is that he has asked for public submissions to aid him in his investigation. This will make it hard for the Tories to spin as teething issues.

Picture of Theresa May with a worried face next to a plaque of the United Nations Human Rights Council – Office of the High Commissioner

The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) is an inter-governmental body within the United Nations (UN) system and consists of 47 Member States.

This committee is responsible for cooperation for the promotion and protection of Human Rights.

The UN states its goals include providing “greater prominence to the plight of those living in extreme poverty and to highlight the human rights consequences of the systematic neglect to which they are all too often subjected.”
It is also makes recommendations to the General Assembly for further development of international law in the field of human rights.

The Special Rapporteur

Professor Philip Alston Professor Alston UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty & Human Rights – Credit @ Alston__UNSR Twitter.

The UN are sending renowned Professor Philip Alston to the UK in November. He has been tasked in to looking into “extreme poverty and human rights” issues that may have arisen due to austerity and welfare reform. He will also investigate how Brexit may further affect poverty levels within the UK.

Philip Alston is an international law scholar and human rights expert. He is a Professor of Law at New York University School of Law, and co-Chair of the law school’s Center for Human Rights and Global Justice.

Alston does not directly work for the UN and any argument that he may be biased can immediately be dispelled.

In October 2016, Alston released a scathing report to the UN General Assembly calling the UN’s refusal to accept responsibility for the devastating 2010 Haiti cholera outbreak a “disgrace.”

He went on to say; “The UN’s explicit and unqualified denial of anything other than a moral responsibility is a disgrace. If the United Nations bluntly refuses to hold itself accountable for human rights violations, it makes a mockery of its efforts to hold governments and others to account.”
In my opinion, this shows that Professor Alston really cares about Human Rights and holding those who breach them to account.

The UK November Visit

I am especially (but not exclusively) interested in the following issues for my visit to the UK: austerity; welfare reform, including Universal Credit; the use of new technologies by the govt in the social security system; child poverty; and Brexit. https://t.co/o0Q9ewI2L8 https://t.co/Sazwx31byu

— Philip Alston (@Alston_UNSR) July 26, 2018

Professor Alston will visiting Great Britain and Northern Ireland between the 5th and 16th of November 2018.

His primary focus is to look into the effects that Tory policies have had on poverty levels and human rights in the UK. Argueable the two biggest issues he will look into are austerity and welfare reform.

The government are always giving themselves a pat on the back for their policy decisions. In relation to welfare reform they are currently pushing the misleading statistic that employment is at an all time high.

 

What they fail to mention is that anyone doing at least one hour or those on zero hour contracts are included in these figures. Therefore we should really take them with the pinch of salt they deserve.

Austerity

Institute for Fiscal Studies data showing cuts to government departments in% – 2010 – 2017

In 2010, then Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne announced heavy austerity measures including tax rises and massive spending cuts. He vowed to eliminate the deficit in five years. This did not materialise.

Worse still the UK’s national debt has actually risen. In 2010 the UK’s national debt stood at £1 trillion. By 2017, despite all the cuts to public services and the welfare budget, it had risen to £1.76 trillion. The Institute for Fiscal Studies forecasts it will reach £2 trillion by 2022.

It is clear that austerity has not worked. A nearly 40% cut to the welfare budget will clearly have had an affect on poverty levels. If they have less money to spend the government will cut corners to save money. As we know, Universal Credit is not performing well.

Welfare Reforms

Universal-Credit-report
The Tory’s flagship welfare reforms such as Universal Credit and Personal Independence Payment have caused unprecedented chaos and hardship. There so much evidence I wasn’t sure were to start.

The National Audit Office (NAO) stated that despite claims by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) that Universal Credit would save the taxpayer money, this may never be achieved.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JrF) published a highly critical report in May showing that over 1.5 million people in the UK were destitute in 2017.

The Trussell Trust and Oxford University did a “deepdive study” in areas where Universal Credit was in operation for over twelve-months. They found that foodbank use in these areas rose by 52% compared to the national average of 13%. The DWP as usual claimed that there was no correlation and blamed a “small sample size” for the findings.

When it comes to Personal Independence Payment Professor Alston will already be aware that the High Court found the DWP discriminated against those with disabilities and illness. The Department for Work and Pension (DWP) also lost an earlier case which showed they had discriminated against those with mental health condition. He will see the hardship and utter devastation that the Tories have wreaked on some of the UK’s most vulnerable people.

Brexit

Dominic Rabb Commons Boris Johnson Burkha Former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has already caused outrage over his islamophobic comments
Alston also wants to investigate how Brexit may affect poverty and human rights within the UK after we leave the European Union.

In relation to Human Rights many are certain that these will come under threat from the Tories. Dominic Raab, the new Brexit Secretary has long advocated for the abolition of the Human Rights Act (HRA) and when he was justice minister he attempted to draw up a “Bill of Rights” to replace it.

Boris Johnson who is currently favourite to succeed Theresa May as Prime Minister has already caused outrage with his offensive comments about the Niqab and when you consider he’s meeting with far-right people like Steve Bannon, what else will he come up with?

What’s more the government already breaches human rights WITH EU oversight, so what will it be like if and when we leave the EU?

Conclusion

What is certain is one thing. The Tories have lost their one go to excuse; “but Labour.” There is so much evidence from world renowned institutions and individuals that they have no place to hide.

With the general public submitting their own evidence to the UN, this will enable those inspecting the UK to see raw, unfiltered accounts and experiences of those living in poverty and destitution.

I will await Professor Alstons report in anticipation as there is no way that the government will be able to argue away anything this time.

Submissions wanted

Mr Alston is looking for submissions from individuals and organisations. You don’t need to be known as everyone’s story is just as important as others.

srextremepoverty@ohchr.org is the email should you wish to submit your own pieces to the UN.

They want no more than 2500 words not including annexes such as reports etc.

He is specifically looking for how austerity measures, welfare reforms a d government automation has affected poverty and human rights in the UK.

He also welcomes pieces on how Brexiteer may affect the above.

The closing date is 14th September

With many thanks to: The Daily Politik and Life of a Universal Credit Sufferer for the original posting.

Brexit: Theresa May claims trade deal success in Africa – but critics say it’s a ‘rollover’ of existing EU agreement

‘They’re reduced to celebrating an agreement to roll over a fraction of the existing trade deals that we already benefit from as EU members’

Theresa May meets South African president Cyril Ramaphosa at De Tuynhuys presidential palace in Cape Town

Theresa May has come under fire for claiming to have secured the UK’s first post-Brexit trade deal as it is merely a “rollover” of an existing EU agreement.

Critics said the announcement – to replicate a deal with six southern African nations – fell far short of boasts, before the referendum, of a new free trade area much larger than the EU.

They also pointed out that it came amid doubts about whether the UK will be able to retain deals the EU has struck recently with Canada and Japan – which are far bigger economies.

Last year, Britain exported £2.4bn worth of goods to the six African countries included in Ms May’s deal – just 0.7 per cent of the value of its exports to the EU and the rest of the world combined, which were worth £339bn.

The government has acknowledged the risk of a “loss of trade” after Brexit with such countries, admitting they could demand more favourable terms to agree a rollover with the UK.

Speaking in Cape Town, the prime minister announced an additional £4bn of UK investment in African economies, with the hope of further match investment from the private sector to come.

And she said: “That’s why I’m delighted that we will today confirm plans to carry over the European Union’s Economic Partnership Agreement with the Southern African Customs Union (Sacu) and Mozambique once the EU’s deal no longer applies to the UK.

“As a prime minister who believes both in free markets and in nations and businesses acting in line with well-established rules and principles of conduct, I want to demonstrate to young Africans that their brightest future lies in a free and thriving private sector.”

Countries in the Sacu agreement include Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland, with Mozambique also included in the pact with the EU that the UK will take on.

Of those countries, South Africa was Britain’s largest trade partner in 2017, buying £2.4bn worth of exports, followed by Namibia (£39m), Botswana (£24m) and Mozambique (£11m). Lesotho and Swaziland purchased less than a million pounds worth of exported goods from Britain each.

With many thanks to the: Guardian for the original story.

Belfast firm in PM’s trade missiion to Africa

Pigs in field

Devenish focuses particularly on the pig and poultry sectors

Representatives from a Northern Ireland agriculture firm are set to travel to Africa with the prime minister on Tuesday.

Devenish, which is based in Belfast, is one of 29 businesses from across the UK involved in the trip.

The company makes animal feeds and nutritional products with a particular focus on the pig and poultry sectors.
Number 10 said the delegation will visit South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya.

It will be Theresa May’s first visit to the continent since becoming prime minister in 2016.

Agriculture firm gets £26m European loan
During the trip UK business leaders will build “new investment, trading and export ties” with emerging markets, according to Number 10.
‘Significant opportunity’

In a statement, Mrs May said she was “very pleased” Devenish are taking part in the trip.
“Devenish is an excellent example of the kind of forward-thinking company which is driving economic growth and prosperity both here in the UK and overseas,” she added.
Richard Kennedy, Group CEO of Devenish said Africa “represented significant opportunity” for his firm.

“We already have a presence in Africa which we are focused on growing, organically and through acquisition,” he said.

“It is important for us as both exporters and potential investors to build strong relations on the ground and this trade mission is a valuable opportunity to do so.”

With many thanks to: BBCNI for the original posting.

Proposed Brexit Law if passed would ban paramilitary images being published.

CONTROVERSIAL legislation proposed by the British government will make it ‘illegal’ to publish images linked to the republican movement and loyalism and would be punishable with six months in prison.

The Terrorists were the British not the Irish and I will gladly spend six months in prison at HM expense but England has no control or power’s in Ireland. Ireland belongs to the Irish.

The proposied clampdown is contained in new the counter-terrorism and border security bill which is making its way through Westminster.

The Irish News revealed on Friday how planned legislation will result in the establishment of a mile-wide ‘stop-and-search border zone’. Now it has emerged that the bill also proposes to outlaw clothing and images associated with paramilitary activity. While other legislation, including the Terrorism Act, covers some of this ground, the proposed legislation will go further. There are 14 republican and loyalists organisations proscribed by the British government. Several of the groups, including the main republican and loyalist organisations, are on long-term ceasefire.

The planned legislation says that: “A PERSON commits an offence if the person publishes an image of – (a) an item of clothing, or (b) any other article, in such a way or in such circumstances as to arouse reasonable suspicion that the person is a member or supporter of a proscribed organisation”. The proposed legislation says “an image is a reference to a still or moving image [produced by any means]”.

This means that anyone who published an image relating deemed to be in support of a paramilitary organisation would be breaking the law. How far this will be enforced is unclear but it is thought it could be applied to flags and other images associated with both republican and loyalists groups.

Human rights groups have voiced concern about the proposed legislation. Deputy director of the Committee on the Administration of Justice (CAJ), Daniel Holder said: “The reality is, as it stands, if these laws were in fact applied to the North of Ireland, there would be huge community alienation, street violence would probably erupt and the cause of peace would be put back immeasurably. “So if these counter-terrorism measures are not only useless but counter-productive for the North of Ireland, how are they appropriate for the rest of the UK?”

The CAJ and nationalist politicians have also voiced concern about the prospect of a ‘stop-and-search border zone’. If the bill becomes law any member of the public could be stopped within a mile of the border to establish if they are engaged in “hostile activity”. SDLP MLA Carmel Hanna last night said the proposals would be a “grotesque assault on border life and on the [Good Friday] agreement of which the UK government is a co-guarantor”. “The UK government appear to neither care nor understand the anxiety they are causing here,” she said.

SDLP MLA Carmel (Claire) Hanna

“At this point in the Brexit negotiations there is very little we could put past this government who seem prepared to sign up to almost anything in the name of Brexit and oblivious to the tension these proposals create.”

Sinn Féin deputy president Michelle O’Neill

Sinn Féin deputy president Michelle O’Neill accused the British government of “duplicity”. “The use of stop and search powers is already a cause of massive concern in nationalist areas and if powers as wide-ranging as these were introduced, it would be disastrous,” she said. “It runs counter to human rights provisions. It runs counter Good Friday Agreement and the principles of the European Common Travel Area. “I will be taking this up directly with both governments because it is clear that, through this legislation, London is preparing for the imposition of a hard border in Ireland.”

With many thanks to: Connla Young and The Irish News for the original story.

Irish News Editorial

Legislation must be scrutinised 

WHILE considerable attention has been focused on the Brexit withdrawal bill, another piece of legislation which could have far-reaching repercussions for the border has been making its way through Westminster largely unnoticed. The counter-terrorism and border security bill contains proposals that, if passed, could have alarming implications for people in the border area of the North of Ireland. Under the terms of the planned legislation, any member of the public could be stopped within a mile of the border to establish if they are entering or leaving the nort. An ‘examining officer’ may question the person to determine if they are engaged in ‘hostile activity’.

It is not clear if this means police or border force officers will be protrolling the border area, able to stop and question any person they wish without due cause. Obviously this would be viewed with deep concern, particularly at a time when efforts are under way to ensure there is no hard border on this Island following the UK’s departure from the EU in March next year. It is also worrying that this legislation, which contains other broadly-constructed measures that will raise serious concern, has already passed the Committee stage and could come into law before Christmas. These proposals must be subject to careful scrutiny and assessment with political representatives making sure we do not end up with a hard border as a result of Brexit or any other form of legislation.

With many thanks to: The Irish News.

British Prime Minister Theresa May pondering to the DUP and ignoring the wishes of a majority of the ‘Six Countie’ electorite over Brexit and who voted to remain in the EU

Theresa May was speaking during a visit to the North of Ireland on Friday

The European Union must “evolve” its position on Brexit and not fall back on unworkable proposals regarding the Irish border, Theresa May has said.

The prime minister made the remarks in Belfast on Friday, during a two-day visit to Northern Ireland.

The issue of the Irish border has been the key sticking point in Brexit talks so far.

The UK and EU have agreed that there should be no hard border in Ireland, but are at odds over how to achieve it.

IMF: Ireland faces hit from ‘no deal’ Brexit
Leadsom: Chequers plan is ‘final offer’
Barnier questions May’s Brexit plan

Q&A: The Irish border Brexit backstop
The backstop solution is effectively an insurance policy – to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland if appropriate customs arrangements cannot be agreed by the EU and UK in time for the end of the transition period in December 2020.

The EU has proposed a backstop that would mean Northern Ireland staying in the EU customs union, large parts of the single market and the EU VAT system.

However, the UK said that would effectively create a border down the Irish Sea.

On Friday, Mrs May again repeated her opposition to that, saying: “The economic and constitutional dislocation of a formal ‘third country’ customs border within our own country is something I will never accept and believe no British prime minister could ever accept”.

She also said both sides in the negotiation “share a determination never to see a hard border in Northern Ireland”.

“And no technology solution to address these issues has been designed yet, or implemented anywhere in the world, let alone in such a unique and highly sensitive context as the Northern Ireland border”.

However, EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier has questioned Mrs May’s plan for a future trade relationship with the EU, saying it could weaken the single market and create burdens for businesses.

Michel Barnier has asked the UK for clarification on its Brexit White Paper He said the UK’s Brexit White Paper, published on (Orange day) 12 July, opened, “the way to constructive discussion” but must be “workable”.

Mr Barnier questioned whether plans for a common rulebook for goods and agri-foods were practical.

Earlier this week, the government backed an amendment to its Customs Bill that would make it illegal for the North of Ireland to be outside the UK’s customs territory.

Mrs May said the EU’s backstop proposal would be a breach of the Belfast Agreement – and that her plan, agreed by the Cabinet at Chequers earlier this month, was the best way forward.

Skip Twitter post by @simoncoveney

If UK Govt don’t support current EU wording on Backstop in draft Withdrawal Agreement, then obligation is on them to propose a viable and legally operable alternative wording that delivers same result: no border infrastructure. Clear UK commitments were made on this in Dec+March.

Report
End of Twitter post by @simoncoveney

“What I’ve said to the EU is that the legal text they’ve produced is not acceptable, that’s why we proposed an alternative to that,” she said.

She said there now needed to be a renewed focus on EU-UK negotiations with “increased pace and intensity”.

The prime minister also met several of the political parties in Northern Ireland.

Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald said the visit was “anything but reassuring”.

Arlene Foster called on the EU to show more flexibility in the negotiations around the Irish border

“In fact it’s now clear the British prime minister has come here to pick a fight with Ireland and to pick a fight with the EU,” Mrs McDonald said.

However, the DUP leader, Arlene Foster, defended the prime minister.

 

“What she has done is set out her agenda, that’s very important. She talked about working together to find solutions, and the need to work collaboratively,” she said.

Theresa May wants a backstop that would see the whole of the UK staying in the customs union for a limited period of time after the transition period – something the EU has said is unacceptable.

 

‘Do not accept that legal text’
Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley told BBC’s Good Morning Ulster programme the government was committed to getting a legal text for a backstop.

Earlier, the Irish Tánaiste (deputy prime minister) Simon Coveney tweeted that if the UK did not accept the EU wording on a backstop in the draft withdrawal agreement, they would have to propose an alternative that would deliver the same result.

End of Twitter post by @KellyBonner

Reacting to his comments, Mrs Bradley said while the EU had put forward a legal text, “we do not accept it”.

“We’ve put forward a counter proposal and we’re now working on how we get a backstop that we are committed to delivering but it has to be a backstop that respects the integrity of the whole UK and does not put a border in the Irish sea.”

The PSNI and Gardaí (Irish police) stand exactly on the border in Belleek, County Fermanagh, ahead of Theresa May’s visit
The Shadow Secretary of State, Tony Lloyd, told the BBC Labour had always been “very clear” that the UK should be part of the customs union.

EU and UK negotiators have been meeting in Brussels this week to discuss the border issue.

Irish PM steps up Brexit preparations
Brexit: All you need to know
What do the EU’s ‘no deal’ preparations say?

Friday’s speech in Northern Ireland marks the prime minister’s first major attempt to sell the Chequers agreement since it was reached by her cabinet earlier this month.

She is due to tour other parts of the UK over the summer in an attempt to persuade businesses and citizens of its benefits.

Both the UK and EU are stepping up preparations for a “no deal” Brexit.

The two sides insist it is not what they want – and that reaching a deal by the autumn is still very much on the cards.

But they have yet to agree how their final relationship will work, with key issues around cross-border trade unresolved, and the UK’s official departure date of 29 March 2019 fast approaching.

The Republic of Ireland will remain within the EU and Taoiseach (Irish prime minister) Leo Varadkar has said his government is making contingency plans for “the unlikely event of a no-deal hard Brexit”.

Mrs May also addressed the impasse at Stormont.

Northern Ireland has been without a government for 18 months, after power-sharing between the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and Sinn Féin collapsed.

She added that until devolution is restored, the government would fulfil its responsibilities but warned interventions from Westminster were “no substitute” in the long-term.

With many thanks to: BBCNI for the original story.

BelfastTheresa MayBrexit