Daily Archives: October 20, 2019

Are ‘numbers in place’ to pass Brexit deal AND a vote of ‘no confidence’ in Boris Johnson?

Thumb up: but does Boris Johnson have the numbers to pass his horrific Brexit deal, or is he just bluffing?

This is very curious indeed.

According to the BBC, “The government says it will push ahead with efforts to pass its Brexit deal, despite a major setback to its plans… Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said he was confident enough MPs would back the deal next week, and Brexit would still happen by the deadline.”

Alternatively: “Parliamentary arithmetic has the potential to stack up in a successful no-confidence vote – which would require only a simple majority of one vote.”

Could anything better demonstrate how finely-balanced opinions in Parliament are? At the moment, both statements could be true.

But the Brexit deal depends on the Democratic Unionist Party supporting Boris Johnson’s government, and after Saturday’s vote – in which the DUP voted against the government – that seems unlikely.

And the “no confidence” vote depends on both the DUP and the Liberal Democrats supporting it. The Lib Dems are coming close to crunch time now, with choices narrowing down to support for a Jeremy Corbyn-led interim government dedicated to stopping a “no deal” Brexit and securing a general election or support for the Brexit that the party has spent the last few years claiming to oppose.

Rest assured that there will be much verbiage about this in the papers and on TV.

All those words will be meaningless.

All that matters will be what these politicians do.

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Will Gove’s scaremongering put Boris Johnson in prison?

Behind bars: Considering all of the evidence, including his own behaviour in the weeks leading up to the vote on October 19, and Michael Gove’s decision to trigger Operation Yellowhammer, will a Scottish judge put Boris Johnson in prison?

Michael Gove has triggered Operation Yellowhammer – the Tory government’s contingency plan for a “no deal” Brexit, saying we cannot be sure the European Council will grant the Brexit delay that Boris Johnson has requested.

Why would he scaremonger like that? There’s no reason for the European Council to turn down the request.

Or is Mr Gove suggesting that the EU should pay more attention to Mr Johnson’s second letter, which states that he would prefer that a delay should be refused?

Won’t that put Mr Johnson in contempt of court?

He promised the Court of Session in Scotland that he would adhere to the provisions of the so-called Benn Act, meaning he would send a letter requesting a delay if Parliament did not pass his deal on October 19.

He has indeed sent such a letter – although unsigned. He also sent another missive asking the European Council to ignore the first – signed.

Today (October 21), Scotland’s most senior judge, Lord Carloway, will rule on whether these actions constitute contempt of court.

Potential punishments could include a fine or even imprisonment.

It is possible that sanctions may be suspended to allow the prime minister to comply with the court’s ruling. But this might be a little difficult as the time for compliance was October 19.

And the fact that Mr Gove has triggered “no deal” preparations in the belief that the EU will not grant an extension, and his boss won’t get Parliament to pass his deal, suggests a belief in an intention to sabotage the Benn Act conditions at the very least.

Source: Michael Gove triggers no-deal Brexit contingency plans | Politics | The Guardian

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The DWP’s ‘review’ of ESA claims is about TAKING money, not paying more

Did the government really overestimate the number of people who deserved a benefit refund – or did it just say that to victimise sick people?

The Mirror is reporting that the DWP “has slashed 90,000 people and £310m from a forecast of people who’ll be paid back the benefit ESA.

“A blunder dating back to 2011 meant thousands of claimants were awarded too little ESA – worth up to £111.65 a week – when they moved over from old-style incapacity benefit.

“Since 2017, the DWP has been working through 600,000 cases to check who was short-changed – and given back payments worth an average of £6,000.

“But this week it emerged an earlier estimate that 210,000 people would get refunds worth £920m was, in fact, wildly incorrect.

“Now the DWP estimates 120,000 people – almost half the previous number – will get back payments worth a lower total of £610m.”

I reckon I know a little about this.

Back in May, Mrs Mike was contacted by the DWP with a message stating: “You may be able to get more ESA.

“You were paid contribution-based ESA from 14/08/2012 to 29/05/2015,” it stated – falsely, “which replaced the Incapacity Benefit you were getting.

“You might also be eligible for income-related ESA for the above period. If you are, you may be eligible to extra payments. These are called premiums.”

Then it gave information on how to determine eligibility. It seemed to depend on whether a claimant, their partner or both had savings of more than £16,000, or whether the claimant’s partner worked 24 hours or more per week.

I was suspicious so we contacted Citizens’ Advice to check what was going on.

We were told this was a genuine exercise that involved a huge number of claimants, and the understanding was that there was a sincere desire to correct possible underpayments.

I was still concerned, because the fact is that Mrs Mike was not paid contribution-based ESA from August 14, 2012 to May 29, 2015 – she only had it until August 13, 2013.

This was because of one of the monumental cock-ups for which the DWP is justifiably infamous.

Mrs Mike had been wrongly put in the “work-related activity group” (WRAG). She was told this by an advisor during her first work-related activity interview, and was advised to appeal.

The DWP did not acknowledge the appeal or do anything about it apart from to attach a note to Mrs Mike’s file that she was not to be contacted under any circumstances.

We waited, and waited, and then her year in the WRAG ran out. I contacted the DWP by telephone to find out what this meant for her claim and was told that it had been cancelled. This is also when I found out about the “do not contact” note. No explanation for that has ever been given.

A period of negotiation then followed, after which it was decided that Mrs Mike would have to undergo another work capability assessment (WCA) and would be put on income-related ESA until it happened.

The new WCA never took place, though – the DWP decided it could handle the case on the papers and she was put on income-related ESA from that point on.

Still, we responded to the questions – no, and no – and sent the form in.

Earlier this month, Mrs Mike went through the roof when she received a letter from the DWP: “Our decision about your ESA review.”

It said: “You are not entitled to income-related ESA from 14 August 2012 as your partner was working 24 hours or more per week.”

This is transparently untrue.

We wrote back on October 11 to point this out and demand an explanation and have received nothing so far. In fairness, it is only nine days later. In 2013, the negotiations lasted three months.

Taking all this into account, I can form only one conclusion:

It seems to me that the DWP’s review was intended to reduce the number of people being paid, to claw cash back if possible and to put as many people in financial difficulty as it could.

The fact that one in 12 people who may have been underpaid have died should be indicative of what the DWP is really about.

And to the unknown number of claimants – or relatives – who have failed to respond to the DWP’s attempts at contact, or have refused to respond, my advice is: Don’t.

The people involved in this matter do not have your welfare at heart. They want your money – nothing more.

Source: DWP accused of ‘chaos’ after overestimating how many will get ESA benefit refund – Mirror Online

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Shame on Victoria Coren Mitchell for joining the anti-Corbyn, anti-Semitism witch-hunt

Lost respect: She might have been smiling but not only did Victoria Coren Mitchell lose the respect of knowledgeable TV viewers, her actions were deeply upsetting to those who had previously thought better of her.

This Writer’s television had a lucky escape last night. I was out watching a gig in Shrewsbury and did not see Victoria Coren Mitchell making a fool of herself – and no doubt many millions of viewers – on Have I Got News For You.

I understand from reports following the travesty that she made a comment to camera after a segment suggesting that the Labour Party had gone from being several million pounds in profit to hundreds of thousands in debt.

Apparently addressing Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, the gist of the joke – if you can call it that – was that if he wanted someone good with money, he should try the Jewish bankers he believes are conspiring against him.

Firstly: Jeremy Corbyn has never – ever – given voice to the anti-Semitic trope about a conspiracy of Jewish bankers.

So Ms Coren Mitchell was broadcasting a lie. Claiming it was a joke doesn’t make it acceptable. Nor does claiming it was part of a script; she knows about the anti-Corbyn smears and the witch-hunt in general and could have refused.

Secondly: As she was the one who invoked the ‘Jewish banking conspiracy’ trope, it is Ms Coren Mitchell who committed an act of anti-Semitism.

Worse still, she doubled down on the transgression when she was challenged about it on Twitter, although she got what she deserved in response.

If I had seen it – well, as I stated at the top, my TV set had a lucky escape.

In the name of balance, we should mention – as Beastrabban has – that Mr Corbyn is on the record as having criticised the BBC for failing to broadcast enough programmes catering for the Jewish community in the UK. That should be indicative of his attitude to Jewish people.

The BBC, of course, has ‘form’ when it comes to anti-Corbyn smears. One has only to consider the outrage caused by its grotesquely biased Panorama documentary Is Labour Antisemitic? that was broadcast in July.

But I must echo Beastrabban’s disappointment in Ms Coren Mitchell – and that of the many others who voiced similar feelings. We all thought she was better than that. How shaming for her that we were mistaken.

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal would trash workers’ rights. Here’s why that is important

If you are a working-age citizen of the United Kingdom, your rights are at risk from Boris Johnson’s Brexit.

What, you didn’t know? Where have you been?

Okay, I’m pulling your leg a little. The fact is that very few people are likely to be aware of the threat to your rights – because mainstream media outlets like the BBC aren’t reporting it.

It seems it’s sexier to make it about personalities like Boris Johnson.

So here’s a little video to give you a small idea of why your rights are important and what you may lose without even realising it:

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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