UK can ‘legally’ cancel Brexit, says EU Official

BREAKING NEWS:

The EU advocate general stated that the UK can legally cancel Brexit. He claimed that the decision can be taken by the UK and does not require the approval of the other 27 member states of the EU.

The decision has come after the highest court in Scotland, Court of Session, referred the issue to the European Court of Justice. However, the decision is non-binding as it is only the opinion of the advocate general, Manuel Campos Sanchez-Bordona.

Proponents of the legal case believe that the UK would be able to hold a ‘People’s Vote’ – with the option of ‘Remain’.

Lawyers from the Council of the European Union originally suggested that reversal was possible, but would require unanimous support of all member states in the EU.

The original request was made by members of Scottish Labour, Green Party, and SNP. The request for referral was initially rejected by the Court of Sessions – but was overturned following a successful appeal.

The Advocate General for Scotland, representing the UK Government, said the case is a ‘hypothetical validity challenge’ and the proponents desire ‘political ammunition to be used in and to pressure the UK Parliament’.

The EU advocate general concluded by stating: ‘That possibility [of reversing Brexit] continues to exist until such time as the withdrawal agreement is formally concluded.’

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.

Labour will call for a Vote of No Confidence if May loses Brexit vote

Sunday 2nd December

Sir Keir Stammer has called for a Vote of No Confidence if May loses her vote in the House of Commons on the EU withdrawal agreement. In an interview with Sky News this morning, the Shadow Brexit Secretary outlined the technicalities of the Fixed Term Parliament Act. Under the Act, a general election is called precisely every 5 years, however if a Government loses a vote of no confidence it has 14 days to pass a second motion, otherwise Parliament is dissolved and an election is called.

Although, it looks unlikely that Mrs May will get her Brexit deal through parliament, she is still well supported amongst Tory MP’s, as they fear Jeremy Corbyn being elected into Government. This is evidenced in the coup that was organised by the ERG, which failed to materialise.

The Legal Advice Row

Mrs May, may quite have bigger things to worry about, however. Around a month ago, parliament passed a motion which would have seen the government have to reveal the legal advice that the Attorney General had provided Mrs May and Co. on Brexit.

It has since been confirmed though, that Geofrrey Cox will only reveal redacted and amended statements.

This has drawn severe criticism from various political parties and actors, including the DUP, who have accused Mrs May of having something to hide. Keir Stammer added that not publishing the legal advice in full, would mean that Labour would have no option but to start proceedings for contempt of parliament.

Analysis by Editor – Seb Chromiak

Labour tacticians must be very careful when calling a Vote of No Confidence, it was one thing undermining a crippled Government, but it is another if she survives the vote.

What Labour risk is strengthening Mrs May at the helm, as there is no majority for a VONC. No doubt, a crisis of some sorts is on the horizon for this Tory government if they lose the Brexit vote. Mrs May has been under intense scrutiny for weeks now, calling a VONC would give an opportunity to the Main Stream Media to shift the attention onto Jeremy Corbyn. This would undermine the cunning work his party has done.

Call me cautious, but on Brexit, Labour have played the game fantastically well, and in this very paper, we have on many occasions called for Jeremy to finally put the Tory’s to the sword.

Now, may not be the time.

The People’s Vote: Why A Second Referendum Won’t Solve our Problems

Has the Remain campaign and argument really moved on at all? The Stronger In campaign was led from Downing Street and called Britain Stronger in Europe. Its Press Chief was James McGrory, who after the referendum went onto lead Open Britain, the group which now runs the People’s Vote campaign as well as many ‘youth movements’, such as Our Future Our Choice. This is what is known as Astroturfing, which is when an organisation presents a campaign as being organised by members of the public when it is in fact funded and operated by more established interests. Astroturf is not real grass at all, and Pro-EU activism in 2018 is certainly no real grassroots movement either.

Open Britain is not just the spiritual successor to Stronger In, it is merely a rebranding. It has not moved on from staging the debate as between two factions of the right, the ‘crazy’ Brexiteers with pie-in-the-sky hopes for future free trade agreements against the sensible, supposedly economically stable (2008 had been forgotten quickly), neoliberal establishment. Despite outspending Leave , it still lost to the ‘crazy’ Brexiteers.

Two years on, gone are the establishment stylings, in are the astroturf campaigns. This self-described “populist insurgency” seems to be everywhere. “For Our Future’s Sake” for example often seen all over the media. All it seems to offer a hatred of the elderly, and the argument that the debate can be won now that some of the other sides are dead.

Another tiny issue is whenever you look at the people backing these campaigns it is the same old establishment faces. The likes of Tony Blair, Michael Heseltine, Nick Clegg, and Deborah Meaden are not ordinary people themselves, nor the champions of ordinary people, or even liked by ordinary people at all. Not to mention the frequent wheeling-out of Alastair Campbell to tell the public that they have been misled and now the country is on course for a national disaster. The jokes write themselves.

For this reason alone, I’d think Remain would lose a second referendum anyway. They have learned nothing. They still talk in general terms about the economy as though it benefits everyone in the exact same way. This couldn’t be further from the truth and it’s actually a key reason people voted for Brexit. As Grace Blakeley recently tweeted:

“Especially when experts are giving warnings about GDP growth without realising that growth has been decoupled from living standards in many places for years.”

“Reminded of the response to such an economist at an event in Newcastle: ‘that’s your bloody GDP, not mine’”. 

They have shockingly little to say about what vision they have for the UK inside Europe, how would Leavers feel in control, or how could the EU be reformed.

Furthermore, if the left is seen to be complicit or even pushing to overturn a huge democratic mandate, it will open the door to a resurgent hard right. The Leave vote was based on a feeling of a lack of power and voice, so to tell normal people, who are now finally feeling as though their voice is being heard, that they are wrong and must vote again and ‘get it right this time’ is incredibly dangerous. This is the sad and very likely outcome of a second referendum: a second Leave vote, and a Labour Party utterly unpalatable to Leave voters, just as so many of the Social Democratic parties on the continent have become to their traditional bases.

 

And here is the kicker: this is all based on the false pretence that the EU is a socialist organisation that socialists should want to be part of.

I often hear friends and comrades from different left-wing traditions argue along the lines that only remaining in the EU is compatible with our internationalist values. But this is to mistake the EU’s intergovernmental politics with genuine internationalism. The EU consistently undermines genuine international solidarity within its own borders, creating a northern core and a southern periphery with disastrous consequences for the periphery. Its approach to the migration of Africans and Asians across its borders is about as far from internationalism as you could get. I am sad to report that this is not an accident. Rather, this is by design.

I have written previously about how the EU will stop us implementing our programme, I shall not go into too much detail here other than to point out that on top of Greece and Portugal, we have seen how the EU has treated Italy when a sovereign democratically elected state tried to implement a programme outside of the neoliberal mainstream. In slapping Italy down, the commission demonstrated and made an example of how it would treat a Labour government. We must proceed with extreme vigilance in this regard.

Once we begin to look at the EU critically, we quickly find that the main obstacle to genuine internationalism is not the British nation state, but the counterfeit of internationalism that is liberal supranationalism, and it’s chief institution: the EU. Far from for the many, this is an undemocratic economic union rigged in favour of the few.

However, even if this is all true, how is a British nation state a gain to an internationalist socialist? Well, as any Remainer will tell you, leaving the EU will diminish Britain’s global influence. Frankly, this is why true internationalists will embrace Brexit! Surely the curtailment of a British state which has committed such moral atrocities around the world should be welcomed. The disruptive effect of British capital on the developing countries of Europe and further afield will be stymied. Empire is long gone and no Tory fantasy will bring it back.

I’ll finish with this: the dying call of each and every remain argument goes as such: “As socialists, we should push for change and reform within the EU where it can make a real difference at a global level.” This is a fantasy akin to that of the Tory neo-colonialists. Social Democratic parties are being decimated across Europe in favour of far-right authoritarianism. Our fight to convince the people of the United Kingdom is a huge challenge in itself, so why are we pretending we can reform Europe as a whole? After all, so much of the European bureaucratic apparatus is controlled by Heads of State and their appointees. There is not yet a single real socialist amongst them.

Furthermore, we must only look again to Greece. In 2015, when it became obvious that the Greek government wasn’t willing to leave either the Union or the Eurozone, the EU imposed a third bailout plan, a brutal prescription of austerity that has cost countless lives whilst compounding the country’s economic catastrophe. It was an act that can only be described as one of economic imperialism. Even if you believe the EU is capable of reform, which I do not because its founding principles are fundamentally neoliberal, Greece teaches us that for a socialist state to stand up to the EU, it must be willing to walk away. A People’s Vote, whether with a Leave or Remain outcome, would only hinder our ability to reform the EU.

In summary, Remain would lose a People’s Vote, rally the far right, split the left, and hinder rather than help our chances of reforming the EU. It must not come to pass. It must be rejected by all good socialists.

Deutsche Bank Raided In Connection To Money Laundering

 

Offices of Germany’s Largest bank, Deutsche Bank, have been raided by German Police and financial investigators earlier this week as part of an investigation by German authorities around information supplied from the Panama Papers, released in late 2017.

170 police officers and investigators searched 6 of the bank’s buildings in the city of Frankfurt on Thursday, in connection to information which suggests that the bank has been involved in money laundering as far back as 2013 to present day.

A spokesperson for Deutsche Bank stated that they are fully cooperating with the authorities and that the information being investigated is related to information gathered from the Panama Papers.

German Police have said they are specifically investigating two employees of the bank who are believed to be connected with helping clients set up offshore companies to commit tax evasion, where it has been found that in the year of 2016 alone, 900 customers were served by a subsidiary of the bank registered in the British Virgin Islands, a known tax-haven, generating an estimated 311 million euros. Additionally, the German Police accuse the bank itself of neglecting to report laundering suspicions about their clients in tax evasion schemes.

 

 

The Panama Papers were a leaked cache of financial information from the law firm Appleby, that was involved in hundreds of tax evasion and tax avoidance schemes for hundreds of clients across the world.

The cache contained around 11.5 million financial documents relating to offshore tax havens, and was sent anonymously to the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung in 2016, before being analysed over the course of the next two years by a consortium of over 100 independent journalist organisations, followed shortly after by a leak of a further 13.4 million documents in the Paradise Papers leak in 2017.

The papers made international headlines in 2016, and many high-profile figures were implicated, including 12 current and former world leaders, and an illicit money laundering trade associated with the Russian President Vladimir Putin that allegedly involved over $2 billion travelling through international banks and companies.

Other people involved in the papers were the King of Saudi Arabia, and the now former Prime Minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif, who was ousted from his position on corruption charges and has since been sentenced to 10 years in prison over information resulting from the Panama Papers.

The papers also led to the United States government blacklisting 33 individuals and companies from trading within the country due to evidence from the papers that they have been involved in money laundering with and financing of terrorist organisations, the drugs trade, and countries such as North Korea and Iran.

This is not the first time Deutsche Bank has been involved with the Panama Papers, where it was found that Deutsche Bank helped to process the majority of over 200 billion euros in suspicious payments from 2007 to 2017 through Danske Bank’s Estonian branch.

In 2016, Deutsche Bank was also fined a collective $630 million for failing to prevent $10 billion of Laundered Russian money from entering the United Kingdom and the United States.

The United Kingdom’s Financial Conduct Authority imposed the largest fine it had ever imposed on Deutsche Bank, to a total of £163 million, and the New York Department of Financial Services, an independent auditor organisation, fined the Bank $425 million.

The New York Department of Financial Services even found that one senior compliance officer in the Bank remarked to investigators that he had to “beg, borrow and steal” in order to get the finances and resources to deal with money laundering investigations within Deutsche Bank.

Deutsche Bank’s history with money laundering stretches even further back into 2016, when they were forced to pay a $7.2 billion settlement to the United States Department of Justice after intentionally complex and misleading packaging of home loans were ruled unlawful, which was common practice among banks in the United States before the 2008 financial crash.

In 2017, a German investment watchdog, BaFin, called for Deutsche Bank to do more to prevent the possibility of terrorist financing and money-laundering by clients within the Bank.

The regulator also called for more European regulators to step up their scrutiny of banks and their clients, and appointed an independent auditor, KPMG, to assess Deutsche Bank’s progress in improving their investigation of money laundering.

BaFin clarified that these developments were not in response to any recent events but was instead the advice of an investigation into the Bank by the regulator

While the long-term implications of the Panama Papers in the United Kingdom have been relatively minor, in other countries- especially those who have very strict laws on tax evasion such as Germany- the implications have seen drastic changes in politics and commerce. In Germany, negligent tax evasion, the act of evading the payment of taxes by individuals or organisations, is highly illegal.

While the outsourcing of finances to offshore companies and banks in tax havens isn’t inherently illegal, hiding the transfers is illegal and seen as tax evasion under German tax laws. In the past, there has been a stereotype developed around the “Swiss bank account” that can make tax evaders completely anonymous to auditing organisations. Switzerland has had privacy laws around financial accounts that nearly entirely prevented auditors from identifying recipients of Swiss accounts, but in recent years Switzerland has agreed to cooperate with foreign governments in identifying account holders, leading to a rise in other tax havens, that fill in the role of the anonymous tax haven such as Panama and countries within the Caribbean.

The Panama Papers was a distinct revelation across the world on the methods many international organisations and individuals employ to evade paying their taxes, and in a more sinister way, the methods employed to transfer illegitimate money to and from terrorist groups, and the international black market.

It is not currently known whether the raid is due to alleged illegality before or after the independent regulator KPMG began advising the Bank on regulating its own clients. If it is found that the money laundering had occurred after KPMG became involved with Deutsche Bank, it could suggest a decisive failing in effectively equipping the Banks investigation process.

For Deutsche Bank itself, this represents another damaging development from a history of money laundering issues.

 

 

It’s the immigrants, stupid: Rebuked. Why Hilary Clinton is wrong.

It’s the immigrants, stupid. The unofficial campaign slogan that can be attributed to recent election results in the UK, US, Hungary, France… the list (unfortunately) goes on. With Theresa May’s recent comments hinting towards how the UK’s immigration policy will look post-Brexit, we must take a serious look at how immigrants are being presented throughout the West and how none of it is based on any fact or statistic.

Theresa May has come under serious criticism in the past week for likening European migrant workers to ‘queue jumpers’. The comment comes as the Government will soon announce how the UK’s immigration system will look after Britain leaves the EU.

A British Prime Minister legitimising the cliché complaint that immigrants steal our jobs is significant in displaying how Western leaders are no longer worried about vocalising xenophobic views. Yet this is not surprising from a woman like May who has been found responsible for the Windrush scandal and general dehumanisation of migrants during her goal of creating a hostile environment for illegal immigrants in the UK.

Theresa May’s comments solidified many fears that EU nationals living and working in the UK have had since 2016. SNP MP Philippa Whitford spoke of how her German husband, a GP in the NHS for 30 years, was deeply insulted by the comments. She reminded the PM that he and 150,000 other EU citizens have been working in the NHS and contributing majorly to the health of British citizens for decades.

Since the Brexit referendum an unwelcoming atmosphere in the UK has caused EU citizens to leave in larger numbers than before, comments such as Theresa May’s are undoubtedly contributing to this atmosphere. A report from the Office for National Statistics has shown that EU migration to the UK is at a six year low. Migration from countries such as Romania has nearly halved, with Romanians contributing hugely to the UK’s construction industry there is concern over the future of this part of Britain’s economy. Immigration from countries such as Germany and Spain is also approaching half of what it was before the referendum. These migrants are very present in UK universities, contributing to the education of British people and as mentioned, hold many positions within the NHS.

Fear over what this drop in migration will mean for the future of the UK is even present within the Conservative party, with MP Phillip Lee saying that a fall in EU migrants is deeply worrying for our NHS and not what people voted for in 2016.

What is equally as troubling as Theresa May’s rhetoric and a fall in EU migration is recent comments from supposed representative of the left wing, Hillary Clinton. The Democrat candidate in the 2016 US Presidential election has told Europe to curb immigration and tell people we can “no longer offer refuge and support”. She claims immigration has “lit the flame” in the rise of right-wing populism in Europe.

The Guardian’s Nesrine Malik, rightly combatted Clinton’s comments by highlighting her failure to realise “the problem is not immigrants, it is the fear of immigrants.” Malik also says this is typical centrist pandering to xenophobic views. What it also shows however is the major failure of the left to represent immigration as a positive contributor to a nation’s economy.

Left wing candidates have a responsibility to take the issue of immigration head on. Instead of ignoring it or pandering to right wing fears of immigrants as Hillary Clinton’s comments have done, the goal should be to remind people how positive of an impact immigrants have on European countries. The presence of migrants in some of the UK’s most important sectors such as education and health care cannot be disputed. This puts real facts against the xenophobic fiction spouted some Western leaders and by anti-immigration movements such as a considerable proportion of the Leave campaign.

Weekly Round Up: 49% think PM should resign, the TV debate, International News and more.

It has been another turbulent week for Theresa May as she aims to persuade the population and the House of Commons to back her deal. The ever more pragmatic shadow-chancellor shows why Labour truly are a government in waiting and TPN brings you the latest polling news.

BBC vs ITV

TPN brings you news on an original topic this week, Brexit… I joke of course. This is the news that ITV and the BBC have both bid to televise the leaders debate on Mrs May’s deal. Unsurprisingly, Theresa May has chosen the BBC as her preferred broadcaster with Jeremy Corbyn favouring the opposite.

The BBC has been involved in a series of allegations over bias, including over high-paid stars such as Andrew Neil, where he recently called a fellow journalist a ‘Crazy cat woman’ over a story which proved to be true. The host of Radio 4’s Today programme John Humphrey has come under increased scrutiny. His seemingly deliberate naivety and lack of drive to question statements that are seemingly false about Brexit, has led to the Today programme shredding listeners, (800,000 year on year.) Finally, Question Time has come under severe criticism for the over representation of UKIP MEPs on their panel.

Earlier this year, I discussed in greater depth the decline of the BBC, and the crisis that was unfolding at the public broadcaster.

The leader of the Labour party joked that the BBC debate clashed with the final of I’m a Celebrity, he has some valid concerns at the BBC hosting. Ultimately though, the host of the debate and their willingness to challenge the soundbites from Mrs May and probe beyond simple rhetoric would provide the British public with the best opportunity to formulate a decision on the matter of Brexit.

John McDonnell and Labour

For years we have waited for Labour to redesign itself as a professional political party, or in other words a Government in waiting. His composure and style in his recent interviews with the BBC, Financial Times and the Guardian over the past two weeks, have revealed a new side to the Shadow Chancellor, an individual showing pragmatism on a variety of issues.

Long known as the brains behind the duo, gone are policies such as nationalising the banking system, McDonnell though may not be as extreme in his proposals, but they are radical none the less.

He briefed the Guardian, that Labour have started to consult civil servants on how to implement policies, and all departments are now re-writing their manifesto commitments in full. Nationalisation of water and the railways are high on the agenda, he revealed however, that the electricity network has been put on hold, as Labour consult European nations about projects that have spawned local companies to take ownership. Further still, reforming the structures of companies to give power back to the people, executive pay and an end to austerity will formulate key issues in their next manifesto.

Finally, McDonnell has revealed that Labour will not rule out a people’s vote, as the chances of a general election decline. The waiting game is over, as the Tory’s implode over Brexit, Labour must cease their opportunity. Paul Mason channelled his inner Napoleon in early September, when he said that, ‘When the enemy is in disarray you should send in the cavalry pronto.’ Labour are on the cusp of executing their strategy over EU membership, it is time to deliver.

The Percentage News (TPN)

In the polls this week:

Survation:

Labour have taken a 5% lead ahead of the Conservatives, given that Survation correctly predicted the 2017 General Election correctly, this may have some weight.

49% of the public now say Theresa May should resign, in contrast to 38% who think she should soldier on.

London School of Economics:

A study from London School of Economics of over 20,000 participants has revealed that those worst hit by austerity-induced welfare reforms were most likely to switch to vote Leave in 2017.

Ipsos Mori:

Concern about crime has risen to its highest levels since the riots of 2011.

73% of Britons believe that investing in infrastructure is key to our future prosperity, while 58% feel that not enough is being done to alleviate concerns about infrastructure needs.

International News

TPN will be covering the latest revelations on Deutsche Bank on Friday afternoon. The troubled bank has been implicated in the Panama Papers and on Thursday 29th of November, 170 officers and prosecutors searched 6 Deutsche Bank offices in and around Frankfurt.

Trump has cancelled his meeting with Putin at the G20 in Argentina, a token gesture given that the Russian’s still have sailors and ships captive. The breakdown of the international order is certainly concerning to some and the lack of action from large nations, will not have gone unnoticed in Russia.

As many commentators have pointed out, Putin has long provoked countries in order to gauge the reaction of fellow leaders. The fact that several days have now passed without military intervention, given the breakdown in diplomacy is worrying at best. If, Russia are planning a land invasion, the strength of the alliance between the US and Europe will be severely tested, given the conflict of interest on the other side of the Atlantic.

Railways:

Ticket price’s will rise by an average of 3.1%. The Director of the Rail Delivery Group when interrogated about the price increases this morning, given the decrease in punctuality and abysmal rolling stock, told to us to look on the bright side, as 8 out of 10 trains arrive to their destination on time…

Good News:

It was revealed this week that for the first time ever, developing countries added more clean energy capacity than fossils fuels.

Universal Credits and the Nationalisation of debt: Let’s not let Harry’s past be our future

Following the death of the late, great historian, RAF veteran, author and champion of socialism Harry Leslie Smith. Now more than ever, is a time to call for more empathy in British politics. Harry Leslie Smith powerfully wrote for the Independent on Christmas Eve last year, divulging into What Christmas was like for his generation during the Great Depression.

Harry explains – “When Christmas morning came that year, I awoke like too many children across Britain, with hunger in my belly and the realisation that there was no Father Christmas for the poor. I remember crying in anger and desperation. My dad tried to calm my agitation as best he could by hugging me and saying: “Go into my trouser pocket. It’s not from Father Christmas and it’s not much, but it is from thy dad.”

Mr Smith has time and time again has pleaded with citizens: ‘Don’t let my past be your future’. However, the Guardian on Sunday identified that more than 100,000 children in the UK this year likely are likely to face Christmas hardship. The primary reason being the poorly designed Universal Credits system and it’s feature of payment in monthly arrears – intended to mirror the world of work. This system is cruel and illogical.

Although statistically true that most people in work are paid in monthly arrears, this statistic is disproportionate to the demographic whom are most likely to claim Universal Credits. Therefore rather than fulfilling the governments underlying objectives of changing the benefits system to transform the culture of claimants, the 5-6 week assessment period following application simply means that many tenants are left helpless, without the income required to pay their rent in the first 6 weeks of transition, leading to the accumulation of debt in the form of rent arrears.

Such flaws have been identified within the Housing Plus Academy Think Tank on ‘Universal Credit and its impact on communities – how can we help? The summary of the Think Tank’s findings state that:

“The wait for a first payment had severe and immediate consequences: 70% of respondents found themselves in debt, 57% experienced issues with their mental or physical health, and 57% experienced housing issues.”

The effects of the waiting time are particularly relevant this Christmas, given that claimants who signed up after 20 November will not receive any benefit until after the festive period because of the built-in wait of at least 35 days for a first monthly payment, the Peabody Trust said. Therefore, families and parents are left to struggle and borrow, only increasing their accumulation of debt further, to avoid their children facing a Christmas day such as that faced by Harry Leslie Smith.

According to the Guardian, a Department for Work and Pensions spokesperson said: “There’s no reason for people to be without money over Christmas because advance payments are widely available. Anyone applying for Universal Credit can get an advance of up to 100% upfront, payable on the same day if someone is in urgent need.” Whilst, in the last week, Justin Tomlinson, the junior work and pensions minister, described how poor families could simply just take in a lodger to beat the benefit cap. Such comments by people occupying prominent roles in government and civil service demonstrate a complete lack of empathy and understanding within British Politics. How is it, that the worst off within our society are being blamed for the failings of a system?

These comments are also ignorant. Anya Martin, quoted in the Guardian, describes how despite advances being made available to claimants, it simply means that ‘people are then having to use their benefits to repay the government’s advances’. The government made welcome changes in the budget, reducing the maximum percentage of income that could be used to repay advances to 30% from its original 40% yet that remains too high. The government through the Universal Credits system are creating a debt culture; they have created the debt within the policy and then administer advances in response, thus nationalising the whole process. The nationalisation of debt.

In addition, such failings are also relatively easy to solve. An adoption of the system the Scottish Government are currently trialling that provides the option of two monthly payments, therefore two week arrears rather than monthly. This would help to alleviate at least some of the financial burden on claimants by reducing and in some cases possibly preventing the accumulation of debt and the intense stress that comes with it, particularly at Christmas time.

The Universal Credits system requires further investment now more than ever in order to help families avoid such hardship this Christmas.

And so, now is the time to remind you that austerity is a political choice and not an economic necessity. I believe that this system can in fact be saved with increased funding from the Chancellor of the Exchequer and has the potential to improve the lives of many citizens if the necessary improvements are made alongside more efficient implementation. Without such improvements, many will continue to suffer.