Monthly Archives: April 2021

Foster quits as DUP boss over Brexit. Can we get similar leverage against Boris Johnson?

Gurning, gurning, gone: Arlene Foster, whose support of Theresa May in 2017 deprived the UK of a Labour government led by Jeremy Corbyn, has been forced out of politics after a vote of “no confidence” by her party, the DUP. Why couldn’t it have happened sooner?

The leader of Ulster’s Democratic Unionist Party who propped up Theresa May’s minority Tory government to help push through a disastrous, unpopular exit from the EU is being forced to quit politics.

Arlene Foster, announced that she was resigning as DUP leader on Wednesday, after losing a vote of “no confidence” among party members.

About 80 per cent of the DUP’s Stormont and Westminster ranks signed a letter of no confidence in her leadership.

Brexit has been hugely divisive in Northern Ireland, with the imposition of an artificial trade border in the middle of the Irish Sea considered by many to be a breach of the Good Friday Agreement that ended the so-called ‘Troubles’, 23 years ago.

As a result, violence has flared up in many parts of the province.

Ms Foster supported the UK Conservative governments of Theresa May and Boris Johnson that have brought this division down upon Northern Ireland and it seems she is being made to take responsibility for the result.

She has now announced her intention to quit the DUP altogether, saying it is no longer the party she joined. Sour grapes?

Her future seems assured. Loyalty to the Tories tends to reap rewards for individuals, and it has been suggested that Foster will find her way into the House of Lords, with its £300-per-day salary, just for turning up.

Her fate raises an important question: when will Boris Johnson suffer a similar humiliation?

Johnson was the poster boy for Brexit. He campaigned hard for it in 2015-16, and was noted for his ridiculous red bus with a grotesque lie painted on the side, that money paid to the EU could be spent on the NHS if the UK left.

Trade deals he promised have failed to materialise. The UK’s banking power has been decimated. Exports have fallen dramatically. And the nation’s international influence is waning.

Johnson himself stands accused of serial dishonesty, and of wishing death on thousands of his fellow UK citizens in the midst of the Covid-19 crisis he has mishandled so atrociously.

And yet he remains perversely popular. For how much longer?

Arlene Foster believes the DUP is no longer the party she joined, say sources close to her.

Source: Arlene Foster to quit DUP after leaving leadership roles – BBC News

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Are you reducing the risk of ingesting toxic microplastics at home?

This is a political issue – politicians could have prevented the spread of microplastics over many decades but they couldn’t be bothered. Out of sight, out of mind – right?

Well, now these almost-invisible substances are very much on people’s minds, and a study in Sydney, Australia, showed that we could be ingesting carcinogenic and mutagenic chemicals (causing cancer or harming our DNA) without knowing it.

The study found 39 per cent of deposited dust particles in participating homes were microplastics; 42 per cent were natural fibres such as cotton, hair and wool; and 18 per cent were transformed natural-based fibres such as viscose and cellophane.

The remaining one per cent were film and fragments consisting of various materials.

Between 22 and 6,169 microfibres were deposited as dust per square metre, each day.

We spend 90 per cent of our time at home – habitually. During the Covid-19 lockdowns, it is likely that we have spent even more of our time there. So it makes sense to do what we can to reduce any harm that might be lurking there – in our carpets, for example.

Most at risk of ingesting these substances are children aged under six, because they are smaller, have a lower relative body size, and breathe more quickly than adults. Kids aged five were likely to ingest microplastics equivalent to the size of a garden pea each year.

It may not seem much, but there is no established safe level of exposure.

But here’s the good news:

Having hard floors, using more natural fibres in clothing, furnishings and homewares, along with vacuuming at least weekly can reduce your exposure.

So the advice is: Get cleaning!

Source: We’re all ingesting microplastics at home, and these might be toxic for our health. Here are some tips to reduce your risk

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Tory hypocrisy: they can’t sort out fire safety in your flat after Grenfell, but support huge payments to redecorate Johnson’s

Grenfell: this is what happens when inflammable cladding on tower blocks catches fire. Tenants in many more blocks have had this stuff inflicted on them, and the Tories want to force them to pay to get rid of it.

Isn’t it typical of the Tories that they’re happy to nod through possibly corrupt funding of Boris Johnson’s flat redecoration, but won’t protect people in blocks of flats from fires like that at Grenfell Tower?

They have just been knocked back – yet again – by the House of Lords, who have voted to shield residents of tower blocks from fire safety costs.

MPs had rejected the Lords amendment but, after their fourth defeat on this subject, it will now be reinserted into the bill.

The bill modifies a previous law to clarify that building owners must manage and reduce the risk of fire in their properties.

However, last week the House of Lords added an amendment which sought to ensure building owners do not pass on the costs to leaseholders and tenants until a support scheme is in place.

Housing minister Chris Pincher described the amendment as “ineffective and defective”, claiming that it would prevent any remediation costs from being passed to the leaseholder, even in instances where the cost was very minor – such as replacing a smoke alarm.

As a tenant in a rented property myself, I can inform Mr Pincher that my landlord pays for the cost of replacing the smoke alarm here as a matter of course.

It should not be used as an excuse to continue denying tower block tenants improvements that could save their lives.

And it could – because there are only hours left before the end of the current Parliamentary session, when the Bill will be dropped – unless the Tories decide to carry it over to the next session (which seems unlikely to This Writer).

All of this takes place in the shadow of the row over prime minister Boris Johnson’s own flat. Who pays to replace the smoke alarm there?

Tory MPs would have been happy to let £200,000 be paid, just to redecorate the rooms above 11 Downing Street, with no questions asked.

But members of the public have pointed out that this means they are happier for huge amounts to be paid on a single person’s flat – if that person happens to be one of them – than for cash to be spent on potentially life-saving work for many people.

That’s not a good attitude to have with an election next week.

Source: Grenfell: Government defeated on fire safety costs bill – BBC News

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Let the ridicule pile high: social media destroy Boris Johnson over Downing Street flat redecoration

Loadsamoney: the controversy over Boris Johnson’s flat has concentrated attention on the fact that Tories always find cash for their own benefit, while depriving members of the general public of the funding that a proper government should provide to them.

The Electoral Commission has announced that it is investigating the funding of redecoration work on Boris Johnson’s Downing Street flat, saying it has “reasonable grounds to suspect that an offence or offences may have occurred”.

And our friends on the social media have gone into satire overdrive.

Today they have targeted the prime ministerial consort, Carrie Symonds, under the hashtag #CarrieAntoinette – on the grounds that she was the driving force behind the astonishingly-expensive changes.

So we see this:

And, indeed, this:

The claim that Symonds demanded the use of wallpaper costing £840 per roll has been particularly inflammatory:

Many have pointed out the hypocrisy of being funded with huge amounts of cash to pay for the redecoration of a Tory prime minister’s flat, while the Tory government still refuses to fund safety improvements to blocks of flats afflicted with inflammable cladding that makes them as likely to go up in flames as Grenfell Tower (due to decisions by Tories, most likely):

But possibly the best snipe of the lot came from department store chain John Lewis:

The image is of a John Lewis van outside the gates of Downing Street.

The way events are moving, in a few days we’ll be seeing a removal van there.

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Incredible sulk: and Johnson will have a lot to sulk about if MPs tighten rules on lying

Temper, temper: Boris Johnson lost his rag in PMQs over repeated accusations of dishonesty and sleaze. Trouble is, his outburst contained at least one more false claim.

It had to happen at a Prime Minister’s Questions that This Writer didn’t see.

For once, Labour leader Keir Starmer had a good week – but then, with the kind of ammunition he has been provided over the last few days, he could hardly go wrong.

He spent most of his time on the financing of renovations to Boris Johnson’s Downing Street flat. Questions over the origin of £60,000 of funding were asked months ago and not answered.

Now, Starmer asked directly whether the money – now pegged at £58,000 – was put up by Lord Brownlow – and Johnson failed to answer directly.

Rather than saying whether Brownlow had any involvement, he simply asserted – repeatedly – that he himself had “covered the cost”.

It would be entirely possible for Johnson to have “covered the cost” after receiving the money from a third party – and the fact that he did not flatly deny any involvement by Brownlow means his claim is meaningless.

But it may be Starmer’s first question that turns out to have been the bigger bear-trap. He asked whether it was true that Johnson had said he would rather have “bodies piled high” than implement another lockdown.

Johnson answered with a categorical “no”, coupled with a demand for Starmer to bring forward any evidence he had.

That may seem fairly straightforward.

But then Starmer said he would follow up on his question in the future.

And then the SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford waded into the fray. Acknowledging that MPs aren’t allowed to directly accuse each other of dishonesty, he simply asked Johnson to say whether he is a liar or not.

And Johnson wouldn’t:

As you can see from the clip, first he tried to worm out of answering by querying whether the question was in order – it was.

Then he (again) questioned the evidence of him having done as Blackford (and Starmer) had suggested.

And then he responded that he had not said those words (leading us all to conclude that they may be a close paraphrase of whatever he really said).

Under this kind of pressure, perhaps it should come as no surprise that, while responding to Starmer’s claim that he was “Major Sleaze”*, Johnson underwent what might be described as a “sulk-out” – a two-minute rant that failed to address what he had been asked…

… including another false claim – that Starmer had voted against the Tory government’s Brexit deal.

And this is important, because…

As a result of all these accusations of dishonesty, Commons Speaker Lindsay Hoyle has supported a plan to enforce the rules on misleading Parliament.

Amid a fresh row over the prime minister’s “lies” to MPs, Lindsay Hoyle supported a proposal for the cross-party Commons Procedure Committee to look into “how perceived inaccuracies could be corrected” as quickly as possible.

This could create serious difficulties for Johnson, whose serial lies were mentioned on This Site very recently.

You see, Starmer is right – any minister who knowingly misleads Parliament – including the Prime Minister – is expected to offer their resignation.

If the Procedure Committee puts this expectation on a more formal basis – and Starmer produced the evidence that Johnson did make a comment to the effect that he would rather see multiple deaths than impose a lockdown – then that would signal the end of his premiership.

And it wouldn’t be a day too soon.

*That should be Major Corruption, as reported a few days ago by This Site (and others) – but perhaps Starmer was restricted from saying as much by Parliamentary rules (again).

Source: Boris Johnson Facing Tough New Rules To Force Him To Correct ‘Lies’ To Parliament | HuffPost UK

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Another ‘reserved judgment’ after Riley libel appeal hearing

I suppose we should not have been surprised.

After a hearing of slightly longer than two hours, judges at the Court of Appeal have reserved judgment on my bid to reinstate my defence against Rachel Riley’s libel claim.

This is the defence that I published my article on a matter of public interest.

It has been suggested to me that this is because they need to consider the effect, if any, that their decision will have on the effectiveness of that defence in the future. Will they make it pointless to use it, just in order to shut down a single defendant’s case?

Alternatively, will their decision make it a “get out of trouble free” card for defendants?

I’ll keep you informed of future developments but I can tell you that I already know what I’m going to do if this appeal is dismissed.

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Johnson denies saying ‘let the bodies pile high’ – but he would, wouldn’t he?

We have no reason to doubt that Boris Johnson said he’d rather see bodies piled high in their thousands than have another lockdown – even after he denied it.

That’s because we all know that Johnson is a well-known habitual liar. His dishonesty is legendary.

Recently we’ve heard him claim, in Prime Minister’s Questions, that Keir Starmer had voted against a promise of a 2.1 per cent pay rise for nurses – that his own government is breaking.

He said there would be no funding cut for the body tasked with improving transport in the north (he’s taking away 40 per cent of its funding).

He claimed all Covid-19 contracts had been published and were “on the record” – only to be contradicted by the High Court.

Remember his Brexit campaign, when he lied that the NHS would be given £350 million a week?

His lie that the NHS would get 20 hospital upgrades, starting in his first week as prime minister – that he then edited out of a video?

And what about his other offences?

Remember when he tried to make a joke of the massive loss of lives in the Libyan city of Sirte during that nation’s civil war? Or when he had to be stopped from inappropriately quoting a colonial poem by Kipling in Myanmar?

Remember when Eddie Mair, on BBC Radio 4, read out a litany of Johnson’s racist behaviour, to the dismay of Amber Rudd?

When Johnson refused to condemn widespread police violence against civilians in Catalonia?

When he spoke nonsense about Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe in Parliament, and the Iranian government used it to threaten her with an extra five years in prison, beyond the five she was already serving on a trumped-up charge? Only this week, she has been re-imprisoned for another year – admittedly on the basis of separate evidence.

When he was reprimanded by then-Commons Speaker John Bercow for referring to Emily Thornberry in “frankly sexist” terms?

When he praised Viktor Orban on his election win in Hungary after an anti-Semitic campaign?

His sexist and Islamophobic comments about women who wear the burqa?

The £53 million he spaffed on a ‘Garden Bridge’ that was never built?

His cowardice during the Tory leadership campaign when he was the absentee candidate?

The racist poem he published, saying that Scottish people were a “verminous” race that should be placed in ghettos and exterminated?

His racist assessment of the French as “turds“?

The allegation that Downing Street sought to restrict Johnson’s access to sensitive intelligence when he became Foreign Secretary?

The evidence that he met a Russian ex-KGB agent without being accompanied by his personal security detail, which strongly suggested that he was harming the UK’s security in relation to Russia? What happened about the so-called ‘Russia report’, discussing such security issues, that Johnson has been suppressing since before the general election last year?

His reference to gay men as “tank top-wearing bumboys“?

His question about Irish PM Leo Varadkar: “Why isn’t he called Murphy like the rest of them?”

His clueless claim that hard work can cure mental illness?

His relaxed attitude to his MPs abusing women?

His illegal attempt to prorogue Parliament?

His obscene description of then-Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn?

The corruption scandal in which he allegedly gave public money to his friend Jennifer Arcuri? What happened about that, by the way?

The allegation that Boris had taken money for his Tory leadership campaign from a group of hedge fund bosses who planned to make a fortune by getting him to force a “no deal” Brexit? What happened about that, by the way?

His decision to run away when the UK was flooded and needed strong leadership?

His failure to follow his own social distancing rules and subsequent illness with coronavirus? If he had died, it would have been of stupidity.

Put those all together and it seems entirely likely that Johnson would say what it’s alleged he said – and lie about it afterwards.

Wouldn’t you agree?

Source: Covid: Boris Johnson’s ‘bodies pile high’ comments prompt criticism – BBC News

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Nazanin sentenced to ANOTHER year in Iranian prison – this is what happens when you ask a Tory for help

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe: this wrongly-jailed woman has become a pawn in an international power struggle.

This poor woman might have been freed years ago if Boris Johnson hadn’t become involved and said the wrong thing at every opportunity.

For clarity:

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been sentenced to a further year in prison and a one-year travel ban after being found guilty of propaganda against the regime in Iran.

Her lawyer said she was accused of taking part in a protest in London 12 years ago and speaking to the BBC Persian service.

Johnson was asked to help arrange the release of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe when he was Foreign Secretary, way back in 2017 after she was first imprisoned in Iran on a false charge of sedition.

Idiot that he is, our current prime minister botched it to such an extent that she was told she may face new charges.

Now she has been convicted – again.

Nazanin’s husband Richard now believes that she is a pawn in negotiations over £400 million owed by the UK to Iran after a former ruler of that country, the Shah, paid for tanks that were never delivered because of the 1979 revolution in that country.

The current issue seems to be about interest payable on the debt. Johnson doesn’t want to pay the figure demanded by Iran, one expects.

I wrote last month that I don’t think Johnson cares what happens to Nazanin – he’d rather keep the cash.

That opinion can only be strengthened by the recent claim that he said he would rather see “bodies piled high in their thousands” than order another economic lockdown that harmed business profits.

Source: Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe sentenced to a year in Iran prison – BBC News

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Riley appeal hearing: at last, the details!

The Royal Courts of Justice in London: you don’t have to go there to watch my appeal – it’s happening on YouTube.

The April 27 appeal hearing has been listed at “not before 10.30”, so it would be sensible to have the YouTube link open by 10.30am.

This is the link:

The Court of Appeal (Civil Division) – Live streaming of court hearings

We also know the identity of the judges! They are:

1. Dame Victoria Sharp: the President of the Queen’s Bench Division. I understand that Sharp is quite experienced in these sorts of cases. Hopefully, she will be slow to allow a public interest defence to be struck out when that defence expressly depends on a reasonable belief which has yet to be articulated in my own words, let alone tested at court.

2. Lord Justice Launcelot Henderson. Henderson is an incredibly intelligent and academic commercial judge. Hopefully, this works in my favour because the technical analysis of a public interest defence should require the court to hear and test my evidence.

3. Lord Justice Mark Warby. He is a highly specialised defamation lawyer.

In theory, I have good reason to feel optimistic. However: it is impossible to guess the outcome based on the identity of the judges.

The appeal will stand or fall on the basis of the legal arguments.

I am heartened that my solicitor thinks we have put forward a compelling argument – and that the High Court’s judgment is a dangerous precedent for other public interest defences.

How will it all resolve itself?

Tune in and find out.

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.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


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Johnson accused: did he say ‘Let the bodies pile high in their thousands’?

Did he say it or didn’t he? We’ll find out whether Johnson really wanted the Covid-19-riddent bodies of ourselves, our relatives and our friends “piled high” soon enough, but in the meantime his current reputation tends to mitigate against him.

This is the kind of claim that can topple a government.

The fact that it was published by the Tory-backing Daily Mail makes it even more damaging to Boris Johnson and his regime.

Here’s what the Mail has said:

Boris Johnson said he would rather see ‘bodies pile high in their thousands’ than order a third lockdown, it was claimed last night.

The explosive remark is said to have come after he reluctantly imposed the second lockdown, sources told the Mail.

Downing Street last night strongly denied the Prime Minister made the comment, insisting it was ‘just another lie’. But those who say they heard it stand by their claim.

“Those who say they heard it” suggests very strongly that this comes from multiple sources who will support each other’s stories. That alone could destroy Downing Street’s claim.

The allegation is that Johnson made his outburst last October, in response to a warning by Michael Gove that, if Johnson did not order a third lockdown, soldiers would be needed to guard hospitals overrun with victims of Covid-19.

This was before there was even one vaccine, remember, but after Covid-related infections and deaths had begun to multiply exponentially.

It was not until January 4 this year that Johnson gave in and ordered a third lockdown after all.

The claim is so incendiary because the first duty of any government is to protect the population of the nation it has been elected to represent.

If Johnson really said he would happily see the dead bodies of fellow UK citizens “piled high”, rather than ask his friends in business to suffer further disruption (that they would suffer in any case, once the virus took hold) then his words represent a betrayal of his most fundamental duty.

Don’t just take my word for it:

How will this affect public support for Johnson, as the story develops over the coming days and weeks?

Well, we’ll have local elections in a little over a week.

Let’s see what happens to the opinion polls – and to the vote itself.

Source: Covid UK: Boris Johnson said he’d rather ‘bodies pile high’ than have third lockdown, sources claim | Daily Mail Online

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.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


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The Livingstone Presumption is now available
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HWG PrintHWG eBook

Health Warning: Government! is now available
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HWG PrintHWG eBook

The first collection, Strong Words and Hard Times,
is still available in either print or eBook format here:

SWAHTprint SWAHTeBook