Category Archives: UK

Look at the diseases in the US food your Tory government wants you to eat

Yummy yummy diseases for your tummy: a chlorinated, antibiotic-fed chicken. It may well be full of salmonella, e.coli and excrement but your Tory government will be demanding that you eat it if it signs a trade deal with the United States.

Channel 4’s Dispatches has highlighted the danger into which Boris Johnson’s Tory government will force us, if it is allowed to make a trade deal that will kill UK farming and force us to eat chlorinated chicken and other diseased foods from the United States.

This Site told you on Tuesday (October 13) that the government has rejected calls to enshrine high food standards in law, saying it is enough that Tory ministers have said they will demand such standards in any trade negotiations with foreign nations.

These are the same Tory ministers who supported Johnson’s EU Withdrawal Agreement to the hilt in January, and now say that it is no good and they support breaking international law – turning the UK into a criminal state – instead, so their word is worth less than nothing; it is a promise of betrayal.

Dispatches has shown us what it will mean if we allow food into the UK from the United States:

Yes, you heard it correctly: the Americans would sell us meat that has animal excrement in it.

And yes: the diseases carried in this US meat would cause serious problems to people with long-term ill-health, meaning the Tories would be creating another opportunity to quietly kill off many thousands more people with long-term illnesses and disabilities and wipe them from the benefits bill.

Apparently somebody spoke up on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, demanding that the Tory government legislate for higher food standards.

But I fear this Twitter user has drawn the right conclusion:

That is my feeling, too: Boris Johnson’s loyalty lies with the US rather than with us.

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Brexit: Your Tory MPs have betrayed UK agriculture after promising not to

Chicken: if this one was of the US chlorine-washed variety, do you think Boris Johnson would be soiling his hands with it?

We knew that Tory promises were no good, didn’t we? So we did 14 million people vote for them last December?

I’ve never found an answer for that one.

The usual old chestnut that “the other side were worse” is plainly wrong. Labour’s offer – and leader – was a vast improvement on Johnson and his rabble, as anybody can see.

They can certainly see it now, anyway.

Today’s scandal is that Brexit will now cause a flood of cheap food imports into the UK that will destroy our farming industry and poison our people.

Tories: you voted for this. Brexiters: you voted for this. Indeed, many farmers voted for this.

Here’s what they promised:

But (as Si Anderson puts it in earthy terms above), yesterday evening’s (October 12) vote in Parliament ensures that the Tories will be able to compromise those protections, just to get a deal with the United States:

Farmers and food campaigners were defeated on Monday night in their attempts to enshrine high food safety and animal welfare practices in British law.

Several prominent backbench Tory MPs rebelled against the government to vote for amendments to the agriculture bill that would have given legal status to the standards, but the rebels were too few to overcome the government’s 80-seat majority and the key amendment fell by 332 votes to 279 after an often impassioned debate.

The government argued that giving current standards legal status was unnecessary as ministers had already committed to ensuring that UK food standards would be kept in any post-Brexit trade agreements.

However, critics fear that the lack of a legally binding commitment in the agriculture bill will allow future imports of sub-standard food that will undercut British produce and expose consumers to risk.

Be honest; given Johnson’s record of u-turning on his promises, this means chlorinated chicken for dinner. It will be cheap at the shop, but it will cost us our entire agriculture industry.

And that is what Boris Johnson intended from the start – before the 2016 referendum, even – it seems.

Here’s what we’ll be getting:

Boris Johnson and his cronies won’t be getting chlorine-washed chicken, of course – they’ll be able to afford the higher-quality meats. But you will be in danger.

Opponents of Brexit have taken the opportunity to remind us all of Boris Johnson’s words in 2016 – so we can remind him at the appropriate time…

… not that it will make a difference. He does what he likes. You voted for that, Tories. You voted for it, Brexiters.

Here’s how it’s panning out:

Just to rub salt into the wound, it seems support for remaining in the EU is rocketing, with 57 per cent of the nation now in favour of it.

What a shame. After three years of fighting over it (up to the election in 2019), that debate is over. The Brexiters got what they wanted and you have been shafted. Nobody currently in power will do anything to reverse the decision.

Still, there remain a few optimists who think there will be recourse to law if harm can be shown as a result of this decision:

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Tory ministers are above the law.

The police and CPS actively avoid investigating any allegations of crime or wrongdoing by our elected government.

And Dominic Cummings could go on a murder spree in Barnard Castle and he would still walk free at the end of it.

But you can bet that a lot more people will suffer because of last night’s decision by Parliament to poison our farming industry, and our people.

Source: MPs reject calls by campaigners to enshrine food safety in UK law | Politics | The Guardian

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Weekend Covid-19 infections leap to biggest ever figure after Dido Harding’s cowboys miss 16,000

The number of – recorded – Covid-19 infections in the UK leapt up massively over the weekend after it was admitted that Dido Harding and her mob at Serco Test And Trace failed to report nearly 16,000 between September 25 and October 2.

The 15,841 cases were then added to Saturday’s (October 3) and Sunday’s (October 4) figures to give (fabricated) totals for those days of 12,872 cases and 22,961 respectively.

And we were upset when the totals leapt to 6,000!

Cynically, the government left it to Public Health England – the nationalised NHS organisation – to report the failings, presumably in the hope that it would take all the blame before it fades out of existence to be replaced by a privatised “National Institute of Health Protection” run by… Dido Harding.

The writing is on the wall, and it says, “Abandon hope, all ye who trust in these.”

Labour’s Jonathan Ashworth tried to pin the fiasco on Death Secretary Matt Hancock, who does indeed have overall responsibility: “This is shambolic and people across the country will be understandably alarmed.

“Matt Hancock should come to the House of Commons on Monday to explain what on earth has happened, what impact it has had on our ability to contain this virus and what he plans to do to fix test and trace.”

But members of the public on Twitter weren’t going to let the person most directly responsible off the hook.

Here’s how this latest Tory disaster was reported there:

Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey was wheeled onto BBC Breakfast to defend the government and made a complete hash of it:

And Sky News revealed that bosses at Public Health England are not willing to accept the blame for Baroness Harding’s blunders:

They needn’t worry; we all know the score:

Yes, Tory incompetence costs lives.

But people weren’t willing to let Labour off the hook either.

After some Labour MPs finally dragged themselves into the real world by referring to the track and trace system as being run by Serco (after weeks of going along with the Tory lie that it was an NHS project), the public had this to say:

They’re not wrong.

We need better than this – from both sides of the House of Commons – or the Covid-19 disaster will be an apocalypse for the UK.

And I think that is a forlorn hope: they’re already doing the pathetic best they can.

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New pub closure rules can only increase Johnson’s lockdown muddle

Closed: but under what circumstances? Restrictions are now different across the UK and people are likely to catch Covid-19 due to confusion.

Boris Johnson’s ‘local lockdown’ plan is degenerating into incoherence as each tiny part of the UK adds new – and conflicting – Covid-19-related restrictions.

The latest addition to this babble is a restriction on pubs, bars, restaurants and other hospitality venues in England, forcing them to close at 10pm, starting on Thursday (September 24).

Why’s that? Does Covid-19 only come out for a drink after 10 o’clock?

It doesn’t make any sense at all – and in fact will only add to the confusion.

Look at Wales, where six local authority areas have local lockdown rules.

From 6pm on Tuesday (September 22), Blaenau Gwent, Bridgend, Merthyr Tydfil, and Newport join Caerphilly in having these restrictions: business closures are in line with national restrictions in Wales (meaning they’re different from those in England); you cannot meet indoors with anyone outside your household; you can no longer form a social bubble with another household; you cannot leave the local area without a reasonable excuse; and everyone over the age of 11 must wear a face covering in indoor public spaces unless exempt. I wonder if everybody there knows which indoor public spaces are exempt.

But in Rhondda Cynon Taff, the first four of those restrictions are the same – but the face mask rule doesn’t count. Instead, all licensed premises have to close at 11pm.

In seven local authority areas in northeast England, hospitality venues can only provide table service and take away orders, you cannot meet people outside your household/social bubble in a home/garden; travel is advised only for essential reasons, and a curfew applies to certain businesses between 10pm and 5am.

In seven local authority areas in Scotland, you cannot meet people outside your household/social bubble in a home/garden.

All of the places listed above are next to areas where these restrictions don’t apply – but others (that apply to all areas in their country of the UK) do.

There’s an area of northwest England that is really confusing: restrictions in Bradford are different from Pendle, which in turn differs from Burnley. Nearby Bolton is different again.

Is your head spinning yet?

Schools will remain open in all these places, despite the fact that they are now well-established as the principle route of transmission.

Further restrictions will also be announced in Scotland on Tuesday, while restrictions on households mixing indoors will be will be extended to all of Northern Ireland.

Ye gods!

It’s a lot of effort to be seen to be doing something when in fact – let’s be honest – Boris Johnson and his government are doing nothing to stem the tide of Covid’s second wave.

On Monday,  4,368 daily cases were reported – up from 3,899 on Sunday – along with 11 deaths.

This Site has already reported that a televised briefing by chief medical officer Chris Whitty and chief scientific officer Patrick Vallance warned that, if unchecked, the number of infections could be as high as 50,000 per day by mid-October.

Well, I’ve got bad news for them. Confusing as the restrictions are, none of them are going to stop that disaster from happening.

What we need is a working test, track and trace system that isolates people who have been in contact with those who have been infected – and prevents them from infecting other people.

Sadly, Johnson and his government have put the responsibility for such a system in the hands of profit-grubbing corporates who simply aren’t responsible enough to do it properly.

Johnson has offered to lift his “rule of six” restriction on social gatherings for 24 hours on Christmas Day, if we manage to turn back the new Covid tide – but this seems an empty promise; he knows it won’t happen.

My advice: go back into behaving as if the national lockdown in March never ended – if you can. If you can’t, do everything possible to avoid contact with other people.

You cannot rely on government intervention to save you from the virus.

So it’s up to you to do what you can yourself.

Source: Covid: Pubs and restaurants in England to have 10pm closing times – BBC News

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Former PM rips into Internal Market Bill: ‘So much for global Britain’

What a face: Theresa May’s expression shows exactly how she feels about Boris Johnson’s idiotic, selfish and destructive Internal Markets Bill.

Former Prime Minister Theresa May has made a devastating intervention on her successor’s Internal Market Bill, attacking the reasons it has been drafted and its effect on the integrity of the United Kingdom, and questioning whether any other country will trust the UK again.

In a debate on the Bill on Monday afternoon (September 21), she raised several important questions, starting with this:

Clauses 41-45 of the Bill refer to customs arrangements in Northern Ireland. Boris Johnson signed the EU Withdrawal Agreement in January, accepting that NI would remain under EU tariffs and effectively placing a customs border in the middle of the Irish Sea. Now he wants to renege on that.

Mrs May was critical:

And she makes an excellent point.

Her final point was better still – that the circumstances in which the UK chooses to break international law won’t matter to people in other countries; they’ll only see that the UK has broken international law and won’t want anything to do with a rogue state of that kind:

Her conclusion was a devastating blow – not only to the Internal Markets Bill but to her successor, Boris Johnson: “This is a country that upholds the rule of law. That is one of the things that makes us great; it is one of our characteristics… yet we are being asked to tear up that principle and throw away that value. Why? I can only see, on the face of it, that it is because the Government did not really understand what they were signing up to when they signed the withdrawal agreement.

“Frankly, I find it difficult to understand how any Minister can go through the Lobby to support these clauses.

“I consider that… the Government are acting recklessly and irresponsibly, with no thought to the long-term impact on the United Kingdom’s standing in the world. It will lead to untold damage to the United Kingdom’s reputation and puts its future at risk.”

Wow.

It won’t make any difference, of course.

If Boris Johnson was able to gull more than 300 Tory MPs into voting for his Withdrawal Agreement in January, and then to vote against it in September, then the word of a former prime minister won’t stop them doing whatever he wants.

They would probably shoot themselves through the lung if he told them to.

Effectively, that is exactly what they are doing – and the rest of us, too.

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Tories took donations from oligarch linked to Putin. Is this why they never investigated Russian interference in UK politics?

Vladimir Putin: has Boris Johnson been his puppet since before he became the UK’s prime minister?

Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party has definitely taken donations from people linked to Russia’s President Putin – and provided private meetings with the last three UK prime ministers in return.

The money totalling £1.7 million came from Vladimir Chernukhin via his wife Lubov, according to the so-called FinCEN files – leaked “suspicious activity reports” by banks.

According to BBC News,

Leaked files show her husband received $8m (£6.1m). The money initially came from a politician facing US sanctions due to his closeness to the Kremlin.

A leak of banks’ “suspicious activity reports” … shows Vladimir Chernukhin was sent the money in 2016 from a British Virgin Islands company linked to Suleyman Kerimov.

Billionaire Mr Kerimov is the owner of Russia’s biggest gold mine and member of the upper chamber of the Russian parliament.

In 2018 he was sanctioned by the US authorities, who were targeting those they said “play a key role in advancing Russia’s malign activities”.

Mr Chernukhin, 52, is a former deputy minister of finance under Vladimir Putin, who left Russia for London in 2004 after being sacked by the president.

The Chernukhins – one of the UK’s most prominent Russian-born couples – are now both British citizens and live in London.

Mrs Chernukhin’s donations to the Conservative Party began in 2012.

The majority – more than £1.5m – came after the $8m payment linked to Mr Kerimov was made to her husband on 29 April 2016, although it is not clear if any of that cash went to the Tories.

Mrs Chernukhin’s lawyers say the Kremlin had no influence because of the donations – but they would, wouldn’t they?

UK prime minister Boris Johnson has suffered a huge amount of bad publicity over his reluctance to do anything about suspicious donations from Russians linked to Putin’s government.

A report on Russian interference in UK politics – including the use of donations to influence policy – was due to be published before last year’s general election but Boris Johnson shelved it for no good reason.

It remained unpublished until pressure finally forced Johnson to re-convene the UK’s security committee, responsible for it, in July this year – nine months after the public should have seen it.

And it showed that successive Conservative governments have welcomed Russian oligarchs “with open arms”, giving them access to political figures “at the highest levels” – and made absolutely no attempt to investigate Russian interference in referendums and elections; in fact, the Tories “actively avoided” doing so.

The Tories had been delighted to welcome Russian money and the oligarchs who owned it, “providing them with a means of recycling illicit finance through the London ‘laundromat’.”

In response to the report, the government said it saw no evidence of interference – but it seems clear that there is a good reason for that: nobody was looking. The report made it clear that the defence of UK democratic processes was a “hot potato” over which no government organisation wanted to take the lead in conducting an assessment of Russian interference.

So we already had evidence that Conservative government had given Russian oligarchs who donated money to the party unprecedented access to – and, we may conclude, influence over – top-ranked political figures including the last three prime ministers.

Now we have evidence that this money is likely to have come from the Kremlin, attached to demands from the Putin government.

If Boris Johnson and his government continue to deny any wrongdoing – while refusing to allow an independent investigation – the public will have no choice but to brand them as corrupt lackeys of the Russians.

I mean…

How does it look to you?

Source: FinCEN Files: Tory donor Lubov Chernukhin linked to $8m Putin ally funding – BBC News

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US Congress threatens to pull out of #freetrade deal if UK undermines #GoodFridayAgreement

Partners? Dominic Raab is in the United States, where he has been meeting Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. But the threat to the Good Friday Agreement posed by the Tory government’s Internal Market Bill means they may not see eye-to-eye.

This is awkward for Boris Johnson.

The US Congress – or at least members of it – is threatening to withdraw from any free trade deal with the UK if Boris Johnson’s Internal Market Bill undermines the Good Friday Agreement that brought peace to Northern Ireland.

This is a body blow to Johnson, who has claimed that the Bill is vitally important even though it very clearly breaks international law by shattering treaty agreements with the EU and in NI.

According to the BBC:

US Speaker Nancy Pelosi last week said there would be no UK-US trade deal if the Good Friday Agreement was undermined.

Ms Pelosi said if the UK broke international law and Brexit undermined the Good Friday Agreement – the Northern Ireland peace deal – there would be “absolutely no chance of a US-UK trade agreement passing the Congress”.

On Tuesday, four senior congressmen also issued a similar warning, saying a UK-US trade deal would be blocked if the UK failed to preserve the gains of the Good Friday Agreement.

In a letter to Mr Johnson, the four congressmen said the plans to give ministers powers to override part of the UK’s exit agreement – designed to avoid a hard Irish border – could have “disastrous consequences for the Good Friday Agreement and broader process to maintain peace on the island of Ireland”.

“We therefore urge you to abandon any and all legally questionable and unfair efforts to flout the Northern Ireland protocol of the withdrawal agreement and look to ensure that Brexit negotiations do not undermine the decades of progress to bring peace to Northern Ireland,” the letter added.

The letter was signed by Democratic congressmen Eliot Engel, Richard Neal, and Bill Keating, who all chair committees in the US House of Representatives, as well as Republican Congressman Peter King.

Downing Street has said the GFA will be upheld “in all circumstances” but the problem is that Johnson has a record of saying one thing and doing the opposite.

The row over the Internal Market Bill is because it contradicts the EU Withdrawal Agreement that Johnson himself signed in January after expelling 21 Tory MPs for failing to support him.

He simply cannot be trusted; he will say anything he likes to get whatever he wants at a particular time.

The warning from Congress underlines fears that no other nation will want to do a deal with a country that breaks international law.

The Americans would be better-advised to pull out of any deal now.

They might as well be negotiating with a spoilt child.

Source: Brexit: Dominic Raab seeks to reassure US politicians over Brexit bill – BBC News

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Covid-19 latest: it’s rising uncontrollably across the UK


Here’s the bad news:

Incidentally, that was at 1.46pm. Here’s the situation at 5.59pm:

That’s right – in four hourse, 23 more schools were revealed to have Covid-19 outbreaks.

The BBC reported 3,497 new cases today (September 12).

Boris Johnson and his government have nothing to say.

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‘No deal’ Brexit looking more likely as UK negotiator rattles his sabre at the EU

If the UK government is not “scared” of leaving the EU without a trade deal, then it is because the interests of UK government ministers will not be harmed.

Reading between the lines of the BBC’s story, perhaps they expect the taxpayer to fund any businesses in which they have an interest?

The downside is that UK negotiator David Frost is saying your Tory government couldn’t care less if your business crashes to dust as a result of high tariffs that will be imposed by the EU nations in January.

Both sides want a deal agreed next month in order to have it signed off by politicians on both sides of the Channel by the end of the transition period on 31 December.

Differences remain on issues such as fishing and the level of taxpayer support the UK will be able to provide for businesses, also referred to as state aid rules.

The EU has said it wants full access for its boats to fish in UK waters in return for giving the UK fishing industry full access to EU markets.

On state aid, the EU has expressed concern that it could give business in the UK an unfair advantage over their European competitors and Mr Barnier has previously said the EU will require “robust” guarantees in this area if it is to agree a deal.

This Writer would be inclined to suggest that the EU should keep its nose out of the UK’s businesses if we could be sure that taxpayer funding for our firms could be administered in a reasonable way – but that’s not what we’re seeing.

Look at the Covid-19 crisis: the Tories have deliberately manipulated government procurement mechanisms to give whomping great wodges of public money to private companies run by their friends. That’s not reasonable!

On balance, the EU’s insistence on interfering in the way UK businesses are run is not acceptable, though. Does Michel Barnier really think a little state aid is going to make much difference for a single country dealing with the world’s largest trading bloc?

If This Writer was running a large concern, though, I would be worried.

Whatever happens, it seems UK businesses will end up paying large tariffs to sell into the EU, while receiving no support from their own government. Am I right?

Source: Brexit: Negotiator David Frost says UK not scared of walking away – BBC News

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Legal action over Russian intervention in UK politics? Let’s hope it happens before Johnson gags the courts!

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Boris Johnson and Evgeny Lebedev: 10 days after saying he saw no evidence that Russians were influencing UK politics, Johnson elevated a Russian to the House of Lords. He says there’s no evidence for an investigation into Russian influence in UK politics, despite a Parliamentary committee producing a lengthy report containing a large amount of it.

A group of MPs has threatened court action to compel the Johnson government to investigate allegations in a report on Russian intervention in UK politics.

Well, let’s hope they follow it through soon because Johnson is acting to stop the courts from having any power over his government.

Yes, that is dictatorship. You voted for it, folks! (Or if you don’t, being good, decent Vox Political readers, your neighbours did.)

It was in the Tory manifesto for the December 2019 election, for everybody to see, on page 48: a plan to forbid the courts from making orders that restrict the government from acting in any way it pleases.

I’m sure Hitler did something similar in Germany during the 1930s.

A group of politicians are threatening legal action unless Boris Johnson orders an independent investigation into Russian interference in elections.

The letter signed by Green MP Caroline Lucas and Labour’s Chris Bryant follows a report which said the UK “badly underestimated” the Russian threat.

The parliamentarians argue the prime minister’s “lack of action” breaches the right to free elections.

The government said the UK had “robust systems” to protect elections.

Johnson has very close personal relationship with very notable Russians based in the UK. But we’re sure that has nothing to do with his reluctance on this matter… aren’t we?

Source: Boris Johnson threatened with legal action over Russia threat – BBC News

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