The British public will not get final say on Brexit deal, MPs decide

The British public won’t get a final say on any Brexit deal after MPs shot down all four alternatives put before the House of Commons.

A motion to support a confirmatory public vote was defeated with 292 votes to 280, a smaller majority than before.

The option was previously tabled by Labour former minister Dame Margaret Beckett and was defeated by 295 votes to 268.

MPs shot down all four of the Brexit motions (Picture: EPA)


This time around the motion was drawn up by Labour MPs Peter Kyle and Phil Wilson, who argued that the Brexit debate needs to go back to the people.

Mr Kyle said that MPs could still be debating Brexit for ‘weeks or months to come’ and that a confirmatory vote could start a process of reconciliation in the country.

Norway-style Brexit off the table as MPs shoot motion down He previously wrote in the Brighton & Hove Independent: ‘This is very different to the 2016 referendum. That referendum was advisory, this one will be binding.

‘Even better, the second the deal is confirmed by the public it will go onto statute without ever needing to return to parliament. ‘Conversely, if the country refuses to confirm the deal then the status quo is maintained and government is instructed to revoke Article 50, again without having to return to parliament.

Peter Kyle put forward the motion (Picture: PA)


‘It means our compromise plan is not a ‘neverendum’ or ‘best of three’. Our plan offers a definitive end to this nightmare, one way or the other.’

MPs voted against three other motions also put before the Commons this evening.

A motion to remain in the customs union was defeated with 276 votes to 273, indicating a majority of just three. While a motion for a Norway-style Brexit was voted against with 282 MPs to 261.

The Parliamentary Supremacy motion was completely shot down 292 votes to 191 votes – a loss of 101.

With many thanks to the: for the original story

Brexit: Full-page add in Theresa May’s local paper calls on Tory leader to ‘protect the peace’

The Full-page advertisement in the Maidenhead Advertiser calling on Theresa May to protect the peace process

THERESA May’s local paper has published a letter from more than 70,000 people in Ireland and Britain calling on the prime minister to “protect peace in Northern Ireland”.

The letter is included in a full-page advertisement in the Maidenhead Advertiser and was paid for by members of Uplift, which styles itself a “people-powered a community of over 206,000 people in Ireland”.

The campaign group co-ordinates petition signings and helps people contact their TDs with the aim of building a “more equal, sustainable and just Ireland”.

The letter is signed by 72,833 people, who urge Mrs May to ensure Brexit does not put the peace process in jeopardy.

Uplift director Siobhan O’Donoghue said: “The Troubles cost thousands of lives and tore families apart. Now, the fragile peace we all built could be under threat by Theresa May’s shocking Brexit dealings.”

Ms O’Donoghue claimed ordinary people’s voices had not been heard “when it comes to the risk of losing our precious peace process”.

“Everyone knows that achieving peace in Northern Ireland was no easy task, it took people who were at war coming together to work on a shared goal of peace and reconciliation.” she said.

“Massive sacrifices were made so that a fragile but hopeful peace could be achieved – we want to make sure Theresa May is reminded of this today.”

The initiative was also supported by 38 Degrees, a not-for-profit political-activism organisation based in Britain.

With many thanks to: The Irish News for the original story

Tory MP Chris Davies charged over false expence claims

Chris Davis MP unseated Liberal Democrat Roger Williams at the 2015 general election

A Welsh Conservative MP has been charged in connection with allegations over false expenses claims.

Chris Davies, MP for Brecon and Radnorshire, is accused of two offences of making a false instrument and one of providing false or misleading information for allowance claims.

The CPS said he was due to appear before Westminster Magistrates’ Court in March.

It said the charges followed a review of evidence submitted by police.

Mr Davies was elected in 2015, winning the seat from the Liberal Democrats, and retained the seat in the 2017 election.

A CPS spokesperson said: “In November 2018, the Crown Prosecution Service received a file of evidence from the Metropolitan Police relating to an allegation that Christopher Davies, MP for Brecon and Radnorshire, falsified two invoices in support of Parliamentary expenses claims.

“Following a review of the evidence, the CPS has today charged Mr Davies with two offences of making a false instrument and one offence of providing false or misleading information for allowance claims.

“He will appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on 22 March.”

The charges are:

Forgery between 25 January 2016 and 11 March 2016
Forgery between 28 March 2016 and 12 April 2016
Providing false or misleading information for allowances claims between 6 and 11 March 2016.
Mr Davies said: “I am very disappointed at today’s announcement by the CPS.

“I have explained previously the circumstances that led to the investigation, relating to events dating back to when I was a newly elected MP over three years ago.

“I will now speak to my lawyers and my colleagues in Parliament. I have nothing further to say about the matter at this time.”

With many thanks to: BBC Wales for the original story

Irish showing a strange fascination with British royalty

IF THE Queen’s Christmas Day speech is just a public relations exercise for the medieval superstition that monarchs are superior to the rest of us, her new year’s honours are a more hands-on attempt to keep us in the Dark Ages.

Oh dear, you say, that is hardly in keeping with the spirit of Christmas. You have a point, but the concept of monarchy and a secret system of social patronage hardly fit in with the meaning of Christmas either. Yet both have come to symbolise the traditional British Christmas, with a growing Irish interest in all things royal.

If Christmas is meant to be a time of caring for society’s disadvantaged, how have its most advantaged come to shape it in their own interests? Last Tuesday, for example, the queen sat in one of her 775 rooms in Buckingham Palace and told us (under the Good Friday Agreement we are her subjects) about her wonderful family.(Like the 21 other residences, the palace is not subject to the bedroom tax, which cuts housing benefit for those with a spare bedroom.

Sinn Féin pledged it would never come to the north, but it will fully apply here from March 2020.)

While an estimated one million British people use food banks, the head of an extended family of millionaires, all of them unelected and supported by the public purse, was given a prime television slot to explain that she is busy with royal weddings. Britain has progressed little from the time of James I (died 1625) who believed the kings were selected by God. (In overseeing the Ulster Plantation, James was presumably doing God’s will, a view which appears to survive in some parts of the DUP and the Tory party.)

On Monday the queen will reveal those secretly selected for a class-based hierarchy of awards. (These comments offer a critique of the honours system, not a view on individuals who have received or are about to receive an award.) It all began when kings rewarded soldiers with titles for killing loads of people. Titles included the Order of the Garter (don’t ask) and the Order of the Bath, which apparently symbolised the purification of newly created knights, but which was probably an attempt to divert attention from the garter episode. In 1611, James I (yes, him again) introduced, baronetcies to found his

There is nothing inherently wrong with the concept of honours. An Order of Britain award would be fine, if it were based on an open and a transparent system of merit, with one category for all

Plantation troops here -the first example of cash for honours. (You do not know what a baronetcy is? Have you no shame? A baronet is a hereditary title, which allows the holder to be addressed as ‘Sir’. No, Sir Jeffrey Donaldson is not a baronet, he is a Knight Bachelor. Even if I knew what it meant, it would take too long to explain.)

George V reinvented the honours system in 1917, by introducing the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, just as the empire was about to collapse. Today we have titles based on that now defunct British Empire (BE), including commander (CBE), officer (OBE) and member (MBE) in a declining scale of social status, all based on a heady combination of self delusion and historical amnesia. The awards are generally for services to (whatever that means) agriculture, industry, education and the like.

At the bottom of the pile is the British Empire Medal (BEM), known as the “working class gong”, which is awarded for services to subservience or something. The honours system serves three purposes. It reinforces the mystique of the royalty by magically enhancing someone’s social status. It therefore reinforces Britain’s class system with a rich person more likely to get a CBE or higher honour. Finally, by awarding honours to personalities from sport, entertainment and television, the queen becomes popular by association. There is nothing inherently wrong with the concept of honours. An Order of Britain award would be fine, if it were based on an open and a transparent system of merit, with one category for all.

The Irish are not far behind the British in their fascination with royalty. Led by Sinn Féin, there has been a royal revival in Ireland in recent years (a sort of reverse 19th Century Gaelic revival). No, you say, Ireland is not obsessed, just curious about royalty. You would have a point but for the fact that in the preparation for the visit of Prince Charles, to (rebel?) Cork earlier this year, the city Council spent £4,500 on polishing door handles. I am not sure about you, but that sounds like an obsession to me. However, if anyone receives an award for services to handle polishing on Monday, we will know why.

With many thanks to: The Irish News and Patrick Murphy for the original story.

Ress-Mogg wife’s ancestral home benifits from £7.6m state rescue

Interserve: Major government contractor G4S ‘seeks second rescue deal’ for £500 million

Only problem is they don’t use their trading name G4S


One of the UK’s largest providers of public services is seeking a rescue deal as it struggles with £500m of debt, according to the Financial Times.

Interserve, which works in prisons, schools, hospitals and on the roads, said it might look for new investment or sell off part of the business.

Workers at the Foreign Office and the NHS are among Interserve’s tens of thousands of UK employees.

The government said it supported the company’s long-term recovery plan.

The Financial Times reported that the company was looking for a deal to refinance its debt which would mean lenders taking a significant loss while public shareholders would be “virtually wiped out”.

Its share price dropped to a 30-year low last month.

Despite lucrative contracts in the Middle East and its wide range of work in the UK, the company has continued to lose money since March, when it agreed an earlier rescue deal.

Its troubles have been blamed on cancellations and delays in its construction contracts as well as struggling waste-to-energy projects in Derby and Glasgow.

What does Interserve do?
From its origins in dredging and construction, the company has diversified into wide range of services, such as health care and catering, for clients in government and industry.

At King George Hospital in east London, for instance, Interserve has a £35 million contract for for cleaning, security, meals, waste management and maintenance.

Its infrastructure projects include improving the M5 Junction 6 near Bristol, refurbishing the Rotherham Interchange bus station in Yorkshire, and upgrading sewers and water pipes for Northumbrian Water.

But Interserve is also the largest provider of probation services in England and Wales, supervising about 40,000 “medium-low risk offenders” for the Ministry of Justice.

In a statement, Interserve said: “The fundamentals of the business are strong and the board is focused on ensuring Interserve has the right financial structure to support its future success.”

The company said its options included bringing “new capital into the business and progressing the disposal of non-core businesses “.

Interserve’s difficulties follow the collapse of Carillion in January 2018, which put thousands of jobs at risk and cost taxpayers £148m.

Interserve shares dive on fears for future
Government reassures over Interserve
Following that, the government launched a pilot of “living wills” for contractors, so that critical services can be taken over in the event of a crisis. Interserve is one of five suppliers taking part.

A Cabinet Office spokesperson said: “We monitor the financial health of all of our strategic suppliers, including Interserve, and have regular discussions with the company’s management. The company successfully raised new debt facilities earlier this year, and we fully support them in their long term recovery plan.”

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


Misinformation the weapon of choice in blame game politics


HOW appropriate that on-line service has announced it’s Word of the Year – ‘misinformation’.

It’s the era of ‘fake news’ and media blaming, and it is a dangerous time. Misinformation is at the heart of the political process and in particular the rancorous Brexit debate which has been a trail of lies from day one. As we edge closer to the crucial Commons vote on Theresa May’s deal the debate has shifted; now it is little more than a poisonous blame game, characterised by the hard-line Brexiteers scurrying around blaming everybody but themselves. We’ve had the DUP sneering at the ‘puppet’ business community for sucking up to the Prime Minister and failing to read the draft document before backing the deal. That moved on this week with Arlene Foster redirected her fire. The rift between her party and the business community was caused by a media plot. It’s classic, she needed someone to blame. There could never be any question of the DUP taking responsibility.


She then belatedly rode to the rescue of the farmers – another traditional source of support – to warn the deal would result in a cap in agricultural payments. Brexit by definition will bring to an end payments from Europe, wiping out 87 per cent of farmers’ income. In the absence of any commitment from the government to replace those payments May’s Withdrawal Agreement at least allows continued European support for one of our most important industries. And therein lies the danger of the ‘all-or-nothing’ approach. The DUP demands, and expects, and when Brussels said no we’ve been left peering over the trench lip into no man’s land.

This is where the politics of no-compromise has brought us. And the world of no-compromise is a barren place. Like or loathe her Theresa May, forced to play with the worst of all hands, has rolled up her sleeves and gone to work. The deal may not be to everyone’s taste, but it’s a deal. Hardline Brexeteers, including the DUP and the traditionally rollicking Jim Allister, have contributed nothing but megaphone politics and personal vitriol. Does anyone out there have any idea what the DUP’s alternative deal is? Has anyone out there seen Boris Johnson’s thought-out proposals? Picking apart what’s on the table is one thing, but show us what you’ve got. They won’t because they can’t. So when we crash out of the EU with no deal and we turn to the DUP and others who brought us here expect them to say “don’t look at me, wasn’t our fault. It was the media”.

With many thanks to: Richard Sullivan and the Sunday World for the original posting.