Parliament Vote Against PM’s Brexit Deal by Considerable Margin

Parliament voted against Theresa May’s Brexit deal, with the Prime Minister losing by 230 votes.

This means the Prime Minister will likely try to regain support from her MPs. May’s Conservative party remains incredibly divided. The PM will return to the EU and plea for a revision to the deal, with the Northern Ireland backstop being a major talking point.

No Deal remains a very real possibility. Should the UK leave without a deal, GDP and the GBP will likely go into freefall. This will result in increased shop shelf prices, increased unemployment and more homelessness.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn will likely call a no-confidence vote in the government tomorrow. However, it is unsure what effect this will have. For Labour, the ideal is that the House of Commons votes to call a General Election. This would give Labour a very good opportunity to rid the Tories of power. Nevertheless, the result remains very unclear.

The Prime Minister will likely return to her deal and present it to parliament once more, in a desperate attempt to regain the support of her Conservative MP’s. This means she will likely face defeat once more.

It is unsure as to what will happen next, but we can all agree on one thing. This Government is unfit to deliver any kind of Brexit.

Speaker Bercow puts final nail in the coffin for May’s deal

After two years (and a month’s delay) Theresa May’s EU withdrawal agreement will today finally be voted on in the House of Commons.

After huge vocal opposition from her own backbenchers, numerous ministerial resignations and a divide with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) (who support the government in a confidence and supply agreement) the prospects of May’s deal passing parliament are incredibly slim.

The government’s aim appears to have switched from passing the deal to managing the scale of its defeat. Damage limitation hopes rested this morning on a series of amendments to the deal, some of which the government had signalled support for.

The speaker has selected four amendments for debate before the vote, unfortunately for the government, none of these are those it supports.

 

The Murrison amendment was the main hope for May, as it would have applied a binding time limit on the backstop (the part of the deal causing the most opposition – particularly from the DUP), potentially persuading some sceptical MPs to back the deal as a short-term solution to deliver Brexit. While this amendment is incompatible with the actual agreement, the government hoped to use it as leverage in renegotiations with the EU in the likely event the deal is voted down.

The speaker also rejected the Hugo Swire amendment – also focusing on amending the backstop with a requirement that it be replaced within 12 months of the end of the transition.

From the Labour benches, John Mann’s amendment has also been rejected, which proposed the government commit to maintaining employment, environmental protection and health and safety standards after Brexit. John Mann is one of the few Labour MPs breaking with the whip to support May’s deal, and the government would’ve hoped this amendment may have persuaded more wavering Labour MPs to back the deal.

 

The four amendments that the speaker has chosen for debates are all highly unlikely to pass or achieve government backing:

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has tabled an amendment that puts pressure on the government to pursue all alternatives to no deal.

From the SNP, Ian Blackford’s amendment rejects the deal and calls for an extension of Article 50.

Sir Edward Leigh and John Barron have both proposed amendments that focus on the UK’s ability to exit the backstop – but the government have already rejected Leigh’s proposal.

 

With no favourable amendments to the deal selected for debate and no change in the agreement after attempts at renegotiation with the EU, May’s deal seems doomed to fail. Bar a political miracle, the real question now is what the scale of the defeat will be this evening.

Value of outsourcing contracts increases 53%, year after Carillion collapse

Trade Unions have raised arms in accusing the government of ‘failing to learn their lesson’ after the collapse of Carillion last year.

Lifetime value of outsourcing contracts awarded in 2017-18 ‘Rocketed’. According to the GMB Union, contracts raised by 53% from £62bn to 95bn. This resulted in nearly £2bn in contracts awarded to Capita and Interserve, with both having issued profit warnings.

We know this government is hell-bent on privatisation after their increased efforts to privatise the NHS. Despite the cautions brought about by the collapse of Carillion, who managed public sector contracts to provide prison maintenance and school dinners among other services.

Rehana Azam, national secretary for GMB said: “What other explanation can there be for this huge increase on outsourced contracts in the year Carillion went bust? Especially when other outsourcing giants look like they’re on life support?”

This criticism from the GMB comes on the first anniversary of Carillion’s demise. The destruction of the service giant resulted in an estimated £150m cost to the taxpayer. Furthermore, major delays have been caused in two multi-million pound hospital construction projects. These projects, due to take place in Liverpool and Birmingham, are vital to local healthcare.

Britains largest trade union; Unite, condemn the lack of action taken on the Carillion directors. Unite assistant general secretary, Gail Cartmail, said: “It’s staggering that a year after the biggest corporate failure in modern UK history, the government continues on as though nothing had happened.”

It is clear the government need to take action, should they survive May’s Brexit vote tonight.

May: Tuesday’s Vote could lead to “Catastrophic Harm” to UK Politics

Theresa May has made a final speech as MPs prepare to vote tomorrow in the House of Commons on May’s Brexit Deal, following a letter send by the European Commission saying it was ‘committed’ to pushing for alternative arrangements and relations with the UK.

Speaking from Stoke, Theresa May has warned of “catastrophic harm” to politics in the UK if the country doesn’t leave the EU, and that a formal cancellation of Brexit is more likely than a no-deal scenario if May’s deal is voted down on Tuesday.

Theresa May also warned that down-voting her deal would lead to a “paralysis in Parliament” and could trigger a second EU referendum.

In the speech, the Prime Minister also welcomed assurances by Juncker and EU delegates over the impacts faced by Northern Ireland, saying that the UK had “legal force” to ensure a smooth transition under May’s Brexit Deal.

However, senior DUP members, including the deputy leader Nigel Dodds, have said the letter issued by the European Union on the Northern Ireland issue does far from reassuring politicians on the safety of the province. Speaking in response to May’s speech, Nigel Dodds stated that the letter only “bolstered our concerns”, and that the Prime Minister should now “deliver changes to the withdrawal agreement” instead of focusing on letters.

The letter sent by the EU today stated that it was committed to look at alternatives to the current customs arrangements and future relations with the UK regarding Northern Ireland and other issues around Brexit, to avoid a hard-border situation between Ireland and Northern Ireland, which would fundamentally change and potentially damage Northern Irish commerce and trade. Other members of the DUP have dismissed the Prime Minister’s speech as “foolish talk.”

It was almost completely assured that the Labour Party will vote against the deal tomorrow, along with public announcements of disapproval from around 100 conservative MPs, and all of the DUPs 10 sitting MPs.

Parts of the speech released to the media previously were met with criticism by opposition politicians after they suggested May would mention the 1997 Welsh referendum, where the vote was passed with a margin of 0.3%. The eventual result was claimed in the speech to have been “accepted by both sides” when even May herself voted against the eventual result in 1997 and the 2005 Conservative Manifesto even pledged to offer a second referendum on the result of the vote. This part of the speech has since been amended to mention the results as “accepted by Parliament”.

In the wake of May’s speech, a senior Conservative whip has also sent in his letter of resignation to Downing Street due to his opposition to May’s Brexit deal.

Gareth Johnson, the Conservative whip and MP for Dartford, has sent a formal letter of resignation to the Prime Minister. Johnson stated in the letter that he can no longer support May’s deal “when it is clear this deal would be detrimental to our nation’s interests.”

This brings the total number of Conservative MPs who have resigned because of May’s Brexit deal to 13.

Johnson has served as MP for Dartford since 2010 and gained a large majority in both all 3 general elections he has ran in, and previously served as a Councillor. He has also served as the Conservative party’s whip since 2015.

It now appears highly unlikely that the Prime Minister will be able to attain the majority she needs to put her Brexit deal into action, with many MPs from her own party voicing their opposition to her actions in lieu of the vote planned for Tuesday. Should the vote be unsuccessful, the next few days will involve May returning the Brussels and attempting to direct the EU to make further concessions on the deal and have it accepted once against by all members of the European Commission. Next Monday, a vote will then be held on “Plan B”, the next course of action planned by Theresa May, the details of which are still largely unknown to MPs and the wider public, which is hypothesised to be a series of indicative votes used to test Parliament’s opinions to give the EU a clearer picture of directions for negotiation.

Three top Banks are now on a Government Financial Crime Board: Have Banks got too big to be held accountable?

The Government has announced a new task force to tackle money laundering and financially-based organized crime which will involve executives from Santander, Lloyds, and Barclays banks, despite a history of money laundering and tax evasion from all 3 banks.

The task force, known as the Economic Crime Strategic Board, which will consider where resources and finances allocated to tackling money laundering and other economically based crimes are needed.

The task force will be chaired jointly by the Secretary of State, Sajid Javid, and the Chancellor of the exchequer, Philip Hammond.

Sajid Javid announced the new task force with the aim to “take action on all fronts” to stop “the corrupt fraudsters” who are “living luxury lifestyles at the expense of law-abiding citizens”.

However, the decision to include senior bankers from 3 large, multi-national banks on a board that directs the funding of criminal investigations potentially involving assets of the organisations themselves appears on the surface to be an odd decision.

The ex-Chief Executive of Barclays, John Varley, is currently standing trial at the Old Bailey in London and is facing an 11-year prison sentence for his role in the 2008 financial crisis, and is being charged of bribing authorities in Qatar to induce investments from companies in the Middle-Eastern state to avoid being part of the British Government’s bailout in the 2008 crash, which would have decreased stocks in the organisation.

This followed a case that authorities weighed against Barclays bank itself as an entity for the illegal fundraising which was thrown out last year before charges against the bosses themselves were instated.

Various holding of Santander in Europe have also been investigated in the past few years for it’s involvement in supplying its clients with the means to evade taxes through off-shore companies based in tax-havens in Latin America, known as the Paradise Papers.

A leak by IT worker Herve Falciani in 2008, which disclosed the names of 130,000 swiss bank account holders who were suspected of evading taxes, found that the Chief executive of Santander at the time Emilio Botin, and several members of his family, were of the 659 names believed to have been disclosed in the leak and given to Spanish authorities. The case was eventually dropped by the Spanish tax agency following a 200-million-euro settlement.

The Financial Times in 2017 also found that Lloyds Bank may have been aware of money laundering at the Reading Branch of the organisation, after it was found that the Branch had committed fraud totalling around £1 billion.

The fraud saw the Reading Branch working with a corrupt ‘turnaround consultant’ that would take funds from small businesses and launder it over the course of 8 years, and the branch would then follow customers to collect on debts the businesses were unable to pay, leading to evictions from homes and the loss of entire life-savings.

It was found that despite publicly denouncing that any criminality was taking place as the branch before 6 former workers were found guilty of fraud in February 2017, a report prepared in 2007 that investigated claims of criminal misconduct in the Reading Branch personally exonerated a now convicted Lloyds bank worker out of a “lack of evidence”. However, the report itself doesn’t support this conclusion, and Lloyds investigators did find that an administration fee totalling over £150,000 was diverted to an account with the Bank of Scotland and then to an offshore account, and not directly to an account belonging to Lloyds Bank, indicating that money laundering was a clear possibility.

While most Banks already cooperate with financial authorities in money-laundering issues, and the taskforce is primarily set up to focus on low-level and extranational money-laundering schemes from countries such as Russia and Nigeria, the ability for senior executives of banks to have direct input into the financing, and by extension, the investigation of financial crimes by the government could mark a dangerous precedent whereby Banks are increasingly being placed ‘above the law’ when it comes to money laundering, creating an attitude that Banks are getting ‘too big’ to be effectively controlled by the UK state, one of the major contributing factors to the 2008 financial crash.

Corbyn Plans to Call Vote of No Confidence in Government

The Labour Party has begun rallying MP’s ahead of the ‘Meaningful Vote’ on Tuesday. Messages have been sent to all parliamentary members to remind them to be present for the ‘Meaningful Vote’.

Members have also been told to remain present on Wednesday – as it is believed that the Labour Leader will be tabling a Vote of No Confidence.

One Senior Shadow Cabinet Minister said: ‘There is now recognition that we cannot wait any longer. If May goes down to defeat and she does not resign and call an election, this is the moment we have to act.’

If the Labour Leader fails to obtain the support of the Commons, then he will be under increased pressure to support calls for a ‘People’s Vote’.

It is believed that if the Labour Leader refuses to call a vote of no confidence, then others will. Angela Smith, MP for Penistone and Stocksbridge, said: ‘The time for prevarication is over. If May’s deal fails we have to test the will of the house and if we fail, we must consider all options including campaigning for a second referendum as this is party policy.’

Even senior members within the Conservative Party have expressed their belief that the ‘Meaningful Vote’ will go against May’s Deal. One claimed that Theresa May could not win ‘in any circumstances’ and that a victory would be being defeated by less than 100 members of the Commons.

Mrs. May, writing in the Sunday Express, called for the cross-party support of her deal. She noted: ‘My message to Parliament this weekend is simple: It is time to forget the games and do what is right for our country.’

Defeat would only give her party two weeks to attempt to form a new government. If it cannot form a government, then there will be a General Election.

Comment from Thomas Howard, Editor at TPN:

Theresa May has suffered several defeats in recent weeks and is set to suffer her biggest to date on Tuesday.

Even if a vote of no confidence fails, she will not necessarily be victorious. It is essential that she maintains the unilateral support of the DUP and Conservative Party.

Timing is crucial and it is clear to see that the Labour Leader has been playing a clever game and has the Prime Minister in a vulnerable position. Even if her deal passes, she will face defeat – as it is clear that she would not retain the support of the DUP

Universal Credit: U-turn on two-child benefit cap is not good enough

Amber Rudd

 

The Government has pulled a U-turn on the Universal Credit two-child limit. Amber Rudd, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions has announced that the extension of the two-child limit on Universal Credit will be scrapped.

In general, families with children claiming Universal Credit receive additional financial support if the child was born before April 2017. However, if a family were to have more than two children born either on or after April 2017, the family will not receive additional financial support. The Government had planned to start applying the two-child limit to families with children born before April 2017. This has now been scrapped due to its unfairness.

 

Final Comment from Editor- Heidi Boahen

It is unfair to make an announcement of a potential change to a system which many low-income families rely on. Many families in the UK are in poverty and are struggling to cope financially on a monthly basis.

Although many families will be relieved to hear the announcement, families who have more than two children born after April 2017 will not be too happy. Universal Credit is supposed to be a system which supports low-income families and not put them into further deprivation and poverty. I suggest the cap should be scrapped across the board to make it completely fair. I believe Universal Credit is failing many families going through hardship in the UK.

Margaret Greenwood MP, Labour’s Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary has announced:

Labour will scrap the social security freeze and get rid of the two child cap, which everyone, including the Work and Pensions Secretary, knows is deeply unfair

 

Government backs amendment on Brexit, that would see U.K. align with EU’s Environment and Employment law.

In what seems to be a final hour U-Turn from the Government, Greg Clark has announced that they will back an ammendment from 3 MP’s, John Mann (Lab), Caroline Flint (Lab), Lisa Nandy (Lab), that will see the U.K. permanently align with the EU’s environment and employment laws.

This will be seen as a major blow to the far-right ideologues that exist in the Conservative party, that are seeing their vision of a no-deal Brexit that would pave the way for the eradication of human rights and environmental rollbacks, that the neoliberals dream of.

All eyes are now on the numbers, this will be seen as a major concession, that is unlikely to win the support from any of the extremist’s in the Tory party, nor will the DUP be anymore pleased, but it may just force the hand of some Labour MP’s. Fears that the U.K. would align with the U.S. in many legislative practises has been a major source of worry for opposition MP’s. A victory next week in the commons on her EU deal, would likely save the PM’s premiership, but it will most certainly not see the end of the debate on our relationship with Europe.

It comes on a day, where EuroTunnel have announced that the Chris Grayling’s No-Deal preperations are illegal, and are in breach of competition laws. They have said that they want a similar contract as was awarded to shipping companies in the case of a No-Deal Brexit, or they will launch legal action against the transport department.

 

Analysis by Deputy-Editor – Seb Chromiak

It may be easier said than done, but reaching across the house for consensus on an issue is seeminly a thing of the past, until now. There are major political splits in this divided nation, but what many MP’s have been calling for, is agreement across the house on our future relationship with the EU. Theresa’s desperate appeals on the honours list, that some have labelled bribery is nothing short of embarassing, this could have been avoided.

As for Chris Grayling, he is likely one of the most incompetent politicians to have braced public office, in any other age, he would have been long gone, imbécile, comes to mind.

Former MI6 and Defence Chiefs Write Letter to Warn PM’s Deal “Places National Security into Foreign Hands”

Former Head of MI6; Sir Richard Dearlove and former Chief of the Defence Staff; Lord Guthrie have written a joint letter to Conservative Association Offices urging MP’s to vote down May’s deal over Security Concerns.

Dearlove and Guthrie, who served as Chief of the Secret Intelligence Service and Cheif of Defense Staff Respectively, warns May’s deal will alter relationships with the EU drastically. Buried deep in the agreement lies an offer of a ‘New, deep and personal relationship’ with the EU in defence, security and intelligence which cuts across fundamental national security policies including membership of NATO,  our Bilateral Defence and Intelligence Relationship with the USA and the Five Eyes intelligence service.

Downing Street sent an immediate response to the letter, signifying the importance and cruciality of the warning. The Go

vernment rebutted the letter, which Dearlove and Guthrie claim indicated a “worryingly poor understanding of the issues” resulting in our national security being placed into foreign hands.

Dearlove, who currently serves as Chair of Board of Trustees of the University of London, lead MI6 from 1999 to 2004 and is a very well known and trusted figurehead. Guthrie is widely respected throughout the country and is known for his intense, strategic thinking. The decision by the former MI6 employees is widely reflected to be a public backing of ‘No-Deal’, with both being well aware that May and her government have repeatedly stated that the only way to prevent ‘No-Deal’ is by voting for the Prime Minister’s deal. It is unlikely for them to U-Turn and advocate for a second referendum, which continues to gain popularity, considering the duo’s strong Euroscepticism.

This serves as yet another blow to Theresa May’s botched deal, with the Prime Minister already delaying parliaments vote on the deal until January 2019. This was because the PM believed her deal wouldn’t get enough votes to pass through parliament. Delaying the deal was a last-ditch attempt at buying some time to convince MP’s to back her deal, resulting in her own MP’s calling a vote of no confidence in the Prime Minister, which she won by a mediocre margin. With May facing her second defeat in Parliament within the last 24 hours and Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn confirming Labour will table a motion of no confidence in the Government if her deal is voted down, things are looking bleaker and bleaker for the PM.