Publishing Legal Advice ‘Not’ in ‘Public Interest’, Claims Attorney General

Six opposition parties have signed a letter requesting the Speaker of the House of Commons to launch ‘contempt of parliament’ proceedings against the Government after attorney general, Geoffrey Cox, refused to publish secret legal advice on Brexit plans to the House of Commons.

Cox, the most senior legal aid in Government, sparked widespread anger after publishing only a summarised version of the government’s legal position on Brexit instead of the full legal advice demanded by MPs in November 2018.

Geoffrey Cox, attorney general, has said that publishing the full legal advice of the deal would ‘not be in the public interest’. Cox gave his statement in the House of Commons on Monday. He claimed that the deal on offer is a ‘sensible compromise’. Jacob Rees-Mogg, Conservative MP, challenged him for not obeying the will of the House.

In response to criticism from across the House, Cox said: ‘I sincerely believe it would not be in all of our interests.’

Six opposition parties have signed a letter requesting the Speaker of the House of Commons to launch ‘contempt of parliament’ proceedings against the Government.

If the motion is followed through, Cox could face suspension or even expulsion from the Commons, a fate only a few MPs have faced over the years. This would be a disaster for Theresa May who sent Cox out today to sell her Brexit plan.

Speaking in the House on Monday, Cox urged MPs to be patient and said detaching from 45 years of European membership will take time to work out.

He told MPs the UK would be “indefinitely committed” to EU customs rules if Brexit trade talks broke down, and there was no unilateral right for the UK to pull out of the Irish backstop, which would come into force if no permanent trade deal with the EU is reached. He said: “There is no point in my trying or the government trying to disguise that fact.”

Comment from Thomas Howard-Editor

The attorney general appears to be defying the will of the House of Commons. He is refusing to publish the full legal advice issued to the Government.

It appears that the government is intent on withholding this information – despite a vote to release the legal advice in November 2018.

46,000 sick and disabled people have been hit by ESA cuts in last year

Analysis of the Department of Work and Pensions has revealed 46,000 sick and disabled people have had their Employment and support allowance (ESA) benefit cut by £30 a week in the last year alone. The group are in the Work-Related Activity Group (WRAG) of ESA whose claim is under a year old. 29,000, 63% of those affected, suffer from mental and behavioural disorders.

Nearly half a million will be affected when the cut takes full effect.

ESA is a benefit given to disabled and sick citizens both in and out of work.

Labour are calling for the Government to immediately reverse key social security payments to people with disabilities.

Labour’s Shadow Minister for Disabled People, Marsha de Cordova MP, said:

“The Tories’ relentless attacks on disabled people are appalling. This cruel cut is yet another example of the hostile environment the Government has created for disabled people. On the UN International Day of Disabled People, the Tories should do the right thing and reverse this pernicious cut.”

Parliament voted for the cut back in 2016 despite warnings that the cut would make it more difficult for disabled people to find work and that many struggled to afford food on the benefit at its current level. The cut was introduced in April 2017 but has yet to affect all recipients of ESA as is being phased in.

A survey found 28% of recipients were unable to afford food on the current allowance before the cut.

The government believe the cut will incentivize disabled citizens to find work but research by a coalition of 60 national charities suggested last year that the cuts to ESA would actually make it harder for disabled people to find a job.

Elliot Dunster, group head of policy, research and public affairs at disability charity Scope, said

“MPs have again failed to recognise the harmful impact that reducing Employment and Support Allowance will have on disabled people,”

The House of Lords originally blocked the plan to cut ESA stating that the government should conduct an impact assessment on the effects of the change. However, this was overruled by Tory MPs.

The Minister of State for Disabled People, Health and Work, Sarah Newton MP (Tory) made no mention of the analysis’ finding in her piece for Politics Home today despite railing against disabled people’s exclusion from some activities in society.

The analysis is yet more evidence of the government’s lack of care for the most vulnerable people in our society and its lack of understanding of how austerity and cuts affect everyday lives. The DWP has come under heavy criticism for its assessments for disability benefits, with 71% of people having their assessment for Personal Independence Payment, or PIP, overturned via tribunal between January and March of this year.

Calls for a ‘State of Emergency’ in France

2nd December 2018

President Emmanuel Macron has been forced to chair an emergency security meeting, following a day of riots by hundreds of anti-government protesters in Paris. One government spokesman has said that a ‘state of emergency’ could be imposed to tackle the social unrest – following over two weeks of civil unrest in France.

 

More than 400 people were arrested on Saturday, with over 300 remaining in police custody on Sunday. President Macron recognised the legitimate concerns of peaceful protesters and said that he would hear their ‘anger’, but he denounced the infiltration of rioters across France. In Buenos Aires, at a news conference, President Macron said he ‘will never accept violence’.

 

Shouts could be heard from the estimated 5,000 gilet jaunes demonstrators at the Champs Élysées: ‘Macron, resign!’ But, by the afternoon the streets witnessed battles between rioters and police. Police have fired tear gas, stun grenades, and deployed a water canon against the disorderly protesters in Paris. Christophe Castaner, Interior Minister, claimed that thousands of troublemakers had come to ‘pillage, smash, steal, wound and even kill’. He claimed those rioters were ‘professionals at causing disorder’.

 

Who are the protesters in France?

 

It is estimated that 300,000 individuals participated in the first country-wide demonstration on 17 November. Grievances include ‘rising taxes’ and ‘falling standards of living’. One of the protesters stated: ‘We’ve got no choice. We have to use our cars in the countryside.’ In response to be questioned about their economic struggles, she said: ‘Every day we feel the impact.’

 

Protesters are from various locations and have a range of political affiliations – the most common attribute is their anger toward the fuel increases in France.

 

The price of diesel has risen by around 23% to 1.51 per litre in the past twelve months – its highest since the early 2000s. Oil prices began to fall, but the increase was exacerbated by the hydrocarbon tax which was raised by 7.6% per litre of diesel in 2018. His decision to impose a further increase of 7.6% on diesel in January 2019 has been seen as the cause of the demonstrations in France.

 

Concerns initially centred on the price of fuel, which led to yellow vests (gilet jaunes) being used as a symbol to unite drivers across France. However, demonstrators have now been raising concerns surrounding the cost of living for individuals and families in France.

Kate Osamor Resigns As Shadow International Development Secretary

Kate Osamor MP has announced she is resigning from her position as Shadow International Development Secretary.

The British Labour Co-operative politician has been the Member of Parliament for Edmonton since May 2015 and was appointed Shadow Secretary of State for International Development. She has stated that she is concentrating on supporting her family through the difficult time they have experienced.

In a statement Ms Osamor said:

I am resigning my position as Shadow International Development Secretary to concentrate on supporting my family through the difficult time we have been experiencing. I remain fully committed to our programme for creating a society that works for the many, not the privileged few and will continue to campaign for this from the backbenches.

Osamor’s son Ishmael Osamor who was a Labour councillor was caught with drugs at a festival and later on resigned as a councillor. He later pleaded guilty to four charges. Osamor came under criticism for continuing to employ him as a communications officer.

Labour previously claimed Ms Osamor did not know about the case until her son was sentenced to 200 hours community service but the Times revealed she had written to the judge asking for leniency.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn thanked Ms Osamor for her service in the role that gave Labour a new dimension “by committing Labour to tackle global inequality as well as poverty”.

The MP has also come under criticism for allegedly verbally abusing a journalist who was seeking information about her son’s actions. This drew strong condemnation from the NUJ.

Michelle Stanistreet the Union’s General Secretary said:

“Journalists, like any other workers, need to be able to go about their work without fear of threats or assault. It’s completely unacceptable to respond to legitimate press queries, however unwelcome they may be, with physical or verbal abuse.”

 

More follows

Labour could back 2nd referendum but No Deal shouldn’t be on ballot says McDonnell

John McDonnell has said that a 2nd referendum on Brexit “might be an option we seize upon” but only after attempting to force a General Election. The Shadow Chancellor, who previously said any referendum on Brexit should not include remain, stated that Labour could back a 2nd referendum and Remain should be on the ballot but No Deal should not.

McDonnell said:

“We can’t have no deal on the ballot paper, there’s an overwhelming majority in parliament against that happening, because of the damage.”

The Shadow Chancellor also said he would vote Remain in the event of a 2nd referendum.

McDonnell had previously worried Labour members by stating a 2nd referendum should be “a vote on the deal itself” and Remain should not be an option but today reversed this position.

At their annual conference, Labour members voted overwhelmingly to approve a motion that stated: “If we cannot get a general election Labour must support all options remaining on the table, including campaigning for a public vote.”

McDonnell echoed that policy in his comments saying: “If we can’t get a general election, people’s vote is on the table and that might be an option we seize upon,”

McDonnell said he recently met prominent figures in for the People’s Vote campaign.

The Shadow Chancellor said he expected May to lose the first vote and present a deal with little divergence to her original that he predicted would fail as well.

Regarding a Vote of no confidence, the Shadow Chancellor said

“All through that, we will be calling for a general election whether and when we put a vote of no confidence down will be a tactical decision. We’ll want a maximum effect.”

He said Labour would also offer their own versions of the deal. Nicola Sturgeon is hoping to rally support around a Norway+ deal, which is being promoted by the Conservative backbencher Nick Boles and supported by many other backbenchers, but the Labour frontbench see this as unacceptable as it would not fulfil the referendum result as would mean no change to EU’s lawmaking ability in the UK without British representation in the European Parliament.

Analysis from Editor in Chief- Iwan Doherty

McDonnel is spot on about No Deal and a People’s vote. It cannot be on the ballot. The No Deal option is an ideological goal of those who support the Hardest of Hard Brexit, its side effect for the rest of us is an economic recession.

This is not an option that can be put on a nationwide poll, the average Brit does not understand macroeconomics and will not be able to comprehend the effect of increased tariffs and trade restrictions with our main trading partners, factor in the lies and disinformation that would be spread by proponents of No Deal and you have a disaster waiting to happen. Support for a No Deal is greater than May’s deal, which frankly is terrifying but not surprising for a  public sick of experts.

Want to know another name for a public sick of experts? An uninformed electorate.

The Leave campaign showed last time that lying in a confident and loud voice is an effective tool for changing the minds of the British public, there is a reason the nation’s macroeconomic policy is left to elected representatives, and these representatives should narrow the options to reasonable deals.

It’s May’s Deal or Remain, those are the rational options.

Michael Fallon brands Brexit deal as ‘worst of all worlds’

The former defence secretary said Theresa May should send her negotiators back to Brussels for two or three months in order to secure a better deal. 

Michael Fallon, the Conservative MP for Sevenoaks and former May loyalist told the BBC’s Radio 4 Today Programme that he will vote against what he described as a “doomed” deal.

He said: “[It has] no guarantee of smooth trade in the future and no ability to reduce the tariffs that we need to conclude trade deals with the rest of the world. So, unless the House of Commons can be persuaded somehow that those are possible then I think, yes, the deal is doomed.”

He also argued that postponing the leaving date for “two or three months” would be “in the best interest of the country”.

Fallon was forced to step down in late 2017 after sexual harassment allegations. He said his “previous conduct” towards women had “fallen below” what was acceptable.

Yesterday, Donald Trump told reporters that “if you look at the deal, they [the UK] may not be able to trade with us”. Fallon echoed this: “He’s the President of the United States, and if he says it’s going to be difficult, then it certainly looks like it’s going to be difficult”.

Despite the criticisms, Fallon does not believe that a leadership contest would help the situation. “I don’t think changing the leader actually is going to affect this. It’s the Government as a whole that needs to see that this deal at the moment doesn’t work for Britain”.

The current current estimates do not look good for the Prime Minister. Her coalition partners in the DUP, as well as many Tory MPs have promised to vote against her Brexit deal. The Labour Party are also likely to do so.

The vote is penciled in for 11th December.

BREAKING: EU Backs Theresa May’s Deal

The ‘Final Deal’ proposed by Theresa May has received the backing of all member states of the European Union.

The burden of ensuring that the country leaves the European Union by March 2019 has now been placed on the House of Commons.

MP’s will be expected to vote on the final deal, but recent comments suggest that the deal in its current form will not pass through the House of Commons.

The Prime Minister has been criticised by rebellious members of the Conservative Party alongside members of the DUP – without a majority the deal will fail to pass through the House of Commons.

Labour have announced they will vote against the deal when it comes before Parliament.

This is a developing story, further reactions will follow.

Anonymous think tank funding threatens our democracy

In the run-up to the 2016 Brexit referendum, the electorate was told to ‘Take Back Control!’ from the unelected officials of the EU, the faceless bureaucrats in Brussels that influence all of the UK’s laws and weren’t allowing British people to decide British laws. You’d think the right-wing groups who support the UK’s exit from the European Union would act in full transparency to show us how democracy should work. Of course, they don’t.

Right-wing think tanks such as the TaxPayers’ Alliance (TPA) and the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) are the leading voices in support of free-market capitalism, they both benefit as members of the US-based Atlas Network, receiving large amounts of money and training to promote free-market capitalism in 90 different countries. The TPA alone has received at least £223,000 from US donors in the past 5 years, money which has directly influenced Conservative Government policy. The IEA (Institute of Economic Affairs) is a group that former Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab has praised for influencing Government in providing tax-cuts for big business. Faceless foreign money being used to influence laws and implement a specific political ideology in nearly 100 countries, this doesn’t conform to Vote Leave’s message of bringing sovereignty back to the British people now, does it?

Labour MP’s have been vocal in their condemnation of these think tanks, Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell requesting an inquiry to discover who are the big donators to these groups and Ben Bradshaw voicing his concern about the influence these ‘shady and non-transparent groups’ may have over our democracy.

The individual cases of these groups and their donators are worrying, the links that occur between them and the coordination of their actions is near dystopian.

Vote Leave whistle-blower Shahmir Shanni confirmed that groups such as the TPA, IEA, Vote Leave campaign, as well as other pro-Brexit groups, hold regular meetings to discuss current issues and what coordinated action they should take to influence politics in their favour. The known individuals involved in these different groups have direct links, as they are often the same people. Matthew Elliot was in charge of the Vote Leave campaign, he also founded the TaxPayers’ Alliance. Vote Leave treasurer, Jon Moynihan, was appointed to the IEA’s board earlier this year.

The TPA has admitted they ran a smear campaign against Shanni as he brought to light issues around Vote Leave’s overspending and the connection between these right-wing think tanks. The fear these think tanks have of the public discovering how they function speaks volumes.

Think tanks can be a necessary, even positive contributor to democratic systems. They allow a controlled space in which experts conduct research to discover what issues are important to different individuals and groups of people. In turn, the type of policies that need to be implemented to resolve these issues can be found. Think tanks have had positive impacts, playing a significant role in the democratisation of countries such as Chile and contributing to valuable research to discover what is needed to alleviate poverty in many African nations. If think tanks remain neutral and diverse they can suggest policies that really do help the many. Unfortunately, some of the most influential think tanks today represent a singular ideology and only contain ‘experts’ whose objective it is to implement this ideology. This happens on the left and the right side of politics.

Nonetheless, it is primarily right-wing think tanks which are undermining our democracy. The secretive, anonymous donations they receive mean it is impossible to assess who is seeking to benefit from them influencing Government policies and actions. Brexit is a clear example of this, as big donators to the Vote Leave campaign remain secretive we cannot cross-examine what they would have to gain from the UK leaving the EU. This cross-examination is a key principle of democracy that is being quickly diminished by these think tanks.

Robinson appointed as adviser to UKIP on rape gangs and prison reform

Gerard Batten the leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party has appointed the right-wing activist Steven Yaxley-Lennon as an adviser to the party on rape gangs and prison reform.

Yaxley-Lennon, known by his alias of Tommy Robinson (That he commonly used instead of his less birth name as leader of the English Defence League), made headlines last year by being charged of contempt of court twice in Canterbury and Leeds for attempting to film the private trial of girl grooming gangs, potentially derailing court proceedings and compromising the safety of the victims and defendants.

Nigel Farage, a former leader of UKIP, has called for the party to “get rid” of Gerard Batten for his decision to hire the far-right influencer and has accused Batten of “dragging us in a shameful direction” towards new right-wing Islamophobic party discourse.

Previously in the year, the Trump Administration came under fire for offering Yaxley-Lennon a chance to visit President Trump after lobbying from the American Right-wing newspaper, Breitbart, despite Yaxley-Lennon previous having been deported from the country as an illegal immigrant for trying to enter the country with a fake passport in 2013.

Yaxley-Lennon has previously been the leader of a far-right anti-Islamic group known as the English Defence League. The party first reached national news in 2009 following a large protest against what they believed was an Islamic radicalisation conspiracy within Birmingham, the group clashed with Anti-fascist protesters and the rally turned violent leading to numerous injuries.

Since 2009, the English Defence League has become the premier Anti-Muslim extremist group in the United Kingdom and has become a major lobbying group among far-right nationalist politicians.

The group’s upper leadership was implicated in a number of crimes, but prior to and during the group’s founding, including Yaxley-Lennon himself, who pleaded guilty to two charges of fraud in 2014 to the value of around £160,000, and a senior member of the group Leigh McMillan, who was jailed for sexually abusing a 10-year-old girl in the 1990s earlier this year.

The appointment of Tommy Robinson suggests a sudden capitulation within UKIP towards its more anti-immigrant, anti-Islam elements. For many years, the ‘libertarain’ side of the party has been in conflict with its more radical right-wing members and this appointment will certainly be seen as a decisive victory for those wishing to see UKIP entertain its more radical supporters. While this will also certainly push the party further into the backseat of Westminster politics, it could cement UKIP’s role as the Successor to the British Nationalist Party’s role as Westminster’s radical right-wing alternative party.

The Brexit Draft Agreement – As it unfolds…

Theresa May has made a statement to the House of Commons about the draft Brexit agreement. TPN outlines the key features of the deal-

  • The government is still unsure as to how our future trading relationship will look. The agreement, leaves open the opportunity to potentially have full regulatory alignment in return for full access to the Single Market. It also allows a future government to not align with the EU but this will cause the erection of trade barriers.
  • The BBC reported that France was pushing for a ‘level playing field’ deal, where in return for access, the UK had to strictly follow EU rules and regulations, on topics such as goods, workers rights, and environmental protections.
  • We will be leaving the common agricultural and fisheries, Theresa May has said that the UK government has rejected a trade-off between a closer trading relationship and non-control of such policies.
  • The deal does NOT propose friction-less trade.
  • The Irish backstop which will involve Northern Ireland staying in a customs-union is to be the basis or ‘springboard’ for any future trading relationship, something that has caused outrage amongst Brexiteers.

The economic partnership should ensure no tariffs, fees, charges or quantitative restrictions across all sectors, with ambitious customs arrangements that, in line with the Parties’ objectives and principles above, build and improve on the single customs territory provided for in the withdrawal agreement which obviates the need for checks on rules of origin.

 

  • EU Citizens will have guaranteed rights to remain in the U.K. as will British citizens in the European Union.

 

Reaction-

Jeremy Corbyn-

These 26 pages are a testament to the the Government’s bungled negotiations. This deal is the worst of two world’s, no certainty over the future, and no say over the rules that we will have to abide by. There is no concessions over the backstop which would create a new regulatory border, down the Irish sea.

Chuckles round the Common’s as Corbyn points out that the Government has written less than one page a month, since the referendum.

Corbyn says that migration policy has taken priority over jobs. Theresa May’s comments on EU Nationals have come under deep criticism, where she labelled them as having jumped the queue. Labour, have pointed out the contributions EU citizens have made to the economy, and also the hypocrisy in such statements, where she presided over a deeply hostile immigration policy to non-EU nationals.

More to follow.

Analysis from Editor – Seb Chromiak

Here we have the deal, finally. In reality, it doesn’t really tell us an awful lot. In fact it’s an open-book situation. It has neither gained the support of Labour, or her right-wing extremists that have come to dominate the Tory agenda.

Interestingly though, for her successor it allows them to navigate a deal as they see fit, whether that be an ERG inspired Brexit or a soft Brexit.

As Corbyn has highlighted the government has yet to secure a new Customs Union agreement and this puts the manufacturing industries at serious risk, particularly those car manufacturers that have called for certainty, to secure their Just-in-Time methods of production.

Where Parliament must be careful is the deal being voted down and it cascading into a situation where there is no-deal, this plays into the hands of ERG many of whom want a no deal Brexit.