Tag Archives: amendment

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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Lords defeat Johnson over food standards because they don’t want chlorinated chicken

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

Boris Johnson’s hopes of a trade deal with the United States are looking increasingly like a house of straw… built on sand.

Already leading figures in Congress have said they will block a trade deal if Johnson pushes his Internal Markets Bill into UK law, as it would break international law and – particularly – threaten the peace in Northern Ireland.

(Did Johnson really dream up this Bill because his Russian donors demanded it?)

Now the House of Lords has amended his Agriculture Bill, so that food products imported under any future trade deals must meet or exceed current standards in the UK – to prevent farmers in this country from being undermined.

For the opposition, Lord Grantchester warned: “Low-quality food cannot be allowed to jeopardise rural communities by undercutting UK farmers with products using methods that would be illegal here.”

Consumers did not want chlorinated chicken or hormone-treated beef to be imported from the US, he said.

It was only by supporting the Labour-led move that peers could be sure the Government was “bound to its commitment not to import food of lower standards than our own domestic products”, Lord Krebs said.

Baroness Boycott, a crossbench peer, said chlorinated chicken was the “tip of the iceberg” of “bad food” which could come into the country.

The amendment is a rejection of the Tory government’s claims, as summarised by Baroness Noakes:

“The government’s policy is clear. They are committed to higher food and welfare standards.

“We do not need to write into law what the Government is committed to.”

Clearly the majority of the Lords disagree – and who can blame them?

The whole point of not writing such a commitment into legislation is to ensure that a government can U-turn on it, once it has been enacted, and we all know it. That’s why the amendment has been brought in.

Unfortunately, it is well within Boris Johnson’s power to throw out the Lords’ amendment, so that the eventual law will undermine UK farmers, and will allow diseased meat onto our plates.

It is possible that MPs will stop and think for a moment before blithely voting it away, though; debate in the House of Lords is of a higher standard than that in the Commons and their reasons for changing a Bill deserve careful consideration.

Many Tories represent rural constituencies full of farmers.

How will those people take it if one of the earliest actions of these MPs in the new Parliament is to stab their voters in the back?

Source: Government defeated in Lords over post-Brexit food standards | The Independent

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Johnson must seek Brexit extension as MPs vote for Letwin amendment

It does not matter whether Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal – which is worse than Theresa May’s, don’t forget – is passed by Parliament. He will still have to write to the EU to seek a delay after MPs supported the so-called ‘Letwin amendment’.

The vote took place on what has been described as ‘Super Saturday’ – an extraordinary sitting of Parliament today (Saturday, October 19).

The vote was won by 322 votes in favour, with 306 against.

Under the amendment, the House of Commons would withhold support for Mr Johnson’s deal until relevant legislation takes place. It is considered insurance against the possibility that MPs could vote for the deal today, then go against the Withdrawal Act that would follow, paving the way for a “no deal” Brexit.

Government sources have suggested that if this amendment wins majority support, the whips will tell Tory MPs to go home – boycotting the amended motion.

But will they break the law that they must now seek to delay Brexit?

ADDITIONAL: This amendment does not block a further threat of “no deal” Brexit – that the UK could still leave without a deal if trade talks collapse after a vote in favour of Mr Johnson’s deal:

Do you want your MP to support that?

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Brexit Plan B wins support – but the pound crashes as May goes back to the EU with a contradiction

Theresa May must ask the EU to reopen negotiations on her Brexit agreement with a contradictory mandate from Parliament. Continue reading

No-deal Brexit seems more likely as Plan B teeters – but will there be time, even for that?

The EU is warning that the UK may tumble out of the bloc with no deal, after Theresa May proposed dropping the Northern Ireland ‘backstop’ plan and both the Irish government and her own MPs rejected it.

But there may not be time even to leave the EU with no deal, as this also requires a large amount of legislation which the Conservatives haven’t been interested in setting in motion. It seems they’ve had other things on their minds.

The UK is drifting rudderless towards a huge economic storm and it seems the only people who can do anything about it haven’t got a clue.

Theresa May presented her ‘Plan B’ to Conservative MPs on Monday afternoon (January 28). It is exactly the same as ‘Plan A’, which was defeated by a majority of 230 votes on January 15 – with one exception: the ‘backstop’ plan to keep the Northern Irish border with the Republic open will be stripped away and replaced with “alternative arrangements”.

By the time she announced it, ‘Plan B’ had already been rejected by Jacob Rees-Mogg and his European Research Group (ERG) of Tory Brextremists – altbough he seemed to be in two minds as he promptly told other Tories to back it at Mrs May’s meeting.

It turns out the ERG’s members will support the motion, which is simply that MPs have “considered” Theresa May’s next steps – because it has no meaning in law. They’re saying they won’t support any of the 14 amendments, including the one that would strip out the backstop.

Whatever they decide to do when the vote on her new plan happens at 7pm today (January 29), there are plenty of other Conservatives who are against it – Anna Soubry, Sarah Wollaston and possibly even Boris Johnson, and no doubt many others.

The next meaningful vote on Mrs May’s deal won’t happen until February 13, according to government sources.

But if the ‘backstop’ is dropped, the EU won’t accept Mrs May’s plan – according to the Irish government.

Deputy PM Simon Coveney said the backstop had been designed to accommodate Mrs May’s “red lines” – issues over which she refused to make compromises. The EU had been forced to make compromises instead, to suit her – and would not make any more.

This view seemed to be echoed by the EU’s deputy chief negotiator, Sabine Weyand, who said other options had been extensively discussed in previous negotiations.

This meant that, even if the “alternative arrangements” idea won the approval of the UK’s Parliament, it would never win the support it needs in Brussels.

And that means we could end up with no deal at all between the UK and the EU.

Now get ready for the sting in this tale:

There are currently fewer than 30 sitting days available for Parliament to push through the legislation needed for Brexit to happen on March 29 – no less than nine Parliamentary Bills and 600 pieces of associated legislation.

Given the inertia that has gripped Parliament on this issue since negotiations began, we can draw only one conclusion:

It can’t be done.

The only alternatives are to cancel half-term and Fridays… and to delay Brexit beyond March 29.

Even then, given the fact that it seems nobody can come to any terms at all makes any such exercise seem pointless.

And this should surprise nobody. I read a piece on the social media earlier, which proposed a way of explaining the difficulties of Brexit to children. It’s like 28 youngsters pooling all their Lego and then using them to build all kinds of multi-coloured things – and then one child deciding to leave, taking their Lego with them: the blue pieces.

Mrs May has delayed so long that it will be impossible to carry out the detailed work that would secure our blue pieces for us in the time that remains.

She has wasted everybody’s time, jeopardised the economy and the livelihoods of millions of people, ruined the UK’s reputation internationally and done who-knows-how-much more damage, for no reason at all.

We’re just counting down the time until everybody realises that.

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It seems the Grieve Amendment is what the government was planning. Why attack it, then?

Dominic Grieve: Why the upset about his Amendment?

How odd.

After astonishing scenes in the House of Commons, in which Speaker John Bercow was subjected to a torrent of abuse for allowing a vote on the so-called Grieve Amendment, it seems Theresa May wants us to think she was planning to do as it demands in any case.

The Amendment to the EU (Withdrawal) Act proposed a change to what must happen if MPs vote down Mrs May’s Brexit deal, as seems likely next Tuesday (January 15).

Originally, MPs settled on a complicated condition requiring the government to make a statement on what will happen next within 21 calendar days of the deal failing to win support, with a vote in the Commons within seven sitting days (days in which Parliament is conducting its business) after that.

Now, after MPs supported Mr Grieve’s Amendment by 308 votes to 297 – a majority of 11- Parliament will expect Mrs May to hold a ‘plan B’ vote on what happens next within three days of losing the “meaningful vote” on her Brexit deal.

Downing Street released a statement just after 2pm yesterday – after the Grieve Amendment won MPs’ approval in spite of appalling displays from Conservative backbenchers (see my article on this) saying that if the vote is lost, the prime minister would come back to the House of Commons and set out her plans well before the 21-day time-limit set out in the withdrawal act.

“We would seek to provide certainty, quickly,” a government spokesman said.

So why did so many Conservatives object so strongly to Speaker John Bercow’s decision to allow this amendment and the vote on it?

It seems that, while Mrs May was probably planning not to wait 21 days before making a statement to the Commons, there is no evidence that she was planning a swift vote. It is more likely that she would have delayed that vote – some say in order to gain more concessions from Brussels, although that seems to be a pipe dream now.

We are still in uncharted territory. We don’t know what kind of statement Mrs May will make after she loses the vote next week (as everybody expects). And it seems doubtful that she will offer any choice that the public will find acceptable.

… Unless she bows to calls for a general election. We could all get behind that.

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Tory rebellion inflicts historic defeat on government over ‘guerilla’ bid to stop no-deal Brexit

At last! They took their time about it but 20 Conservative MPs have finally shown that they have spines and rebelled against Theresa May’s threat to inflict a no-deal Brexit on the UK.

They supported Yvette Cooper’s amendment to the Finance Bill (that’s the Budget, isn’t it?) that means the government will have to seek approval from Parliament for tax changes in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

You can find their names here – and they include some high-ranking grandees, although Oliver Letwin and Kenneth Clarke are likely to have supported the Labour amendment for sharply contrasting reasons.

It might not seem like much, but it effectively means Theresa May would be unable to use any money to mitigate effects of such a departure from the EU that would harm her own interests, because Parliament would not allow it.

It is also hugely historic as the first time a government has lost a Finance Bill vote in 41 years. These are treated as “motions of confidence”, meaning that Parliament does not have confidence in the government’s ability to run the UK’s affairs properly, based on the conditions described in the legislation.

The amendment means that if the government wanted to use specific powers in the finance bill to implement “no deal”, it would have to give Parliament a vote first or apply to extend article 50. The amendment doesn’t affect the normal operations of the Treasury and government, but it does make it harder for the government to drift into no deal without parliament being able to direct it.

That’s why Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn turned around and applauded Ms Cooper when the result of the vote was read out.

It also shows that Mrs May’s government has its back against the wall. With 20 Conservatives so committed to foiling a no-deal Brexit that they would back a Labour amendment, she must ensure that her deal is passed by the Commons when it comes to the “meaningful vote” on Tuesday (January 15).

As matters stand at the moment, it won’t.

We have seen from the vote on Ms Cooper’s amendment that the government’s Parliamentary majority is tiny, and depends on all Conservative MPs voting for its legislation, along with the 10 members of the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).

The rebellion over the amendment shows there is not enough support for a “no deal” Brexit. But the DUP will not support her deal without legally binding assurances over the so-called Northern Irish border “backstop” – and the EU has already made it perfectly clear that those assurances aren’t coming.

Mrs May has no options left, it seems.

Of course she could let the clock run down without finding any solution to these issues. But that would be extremely irresponsible and would cement her place in history as the worst failure as prime minister the UK has ever had. She needs to find answers, or accept the fact that she will go down into posterity as a figure of ridicule.

And Opposition MPs are also said to be planning similar amendments to other crucial government legislation, such as the Trade Bill, and legislation on Fisheries and on Healthcare, to ensure that the only way for the government to take the UK out of the EU without a deal would be with the expressed consent of a majority of MPs. This is considered that start of a “guerrilla” campaign against “no deal” Brexit.

Theresa May is now at tipping-point. All her decisions, her cowardice and ineptitude, have led her to this.

She can’t do any more deals because nobody in Europe is interested and she has double-crossed all her possible allies in the UK, simply to get this far.

She can’t offer any more bribes because she has already given away peerages and other honours like sweets, to no avail.

So, what will she do?

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It’s a Tory total collapse as they are forced to accept every Labour amendment to the Budget

Labour could have moved that the Treasury be re-named “Philip Hammond is a dunce” and the government would probably have agreed to it.

Too harsh? Well, let’s be satisfied with the amendments to the Finance Bill on tax evasion, gaming duty and Fixed Odds Betting Terminals – and with the promise that there is worse to follow for Theresa May and her cronies.

She had to capitulate because, if a vote had been taken and she lost, it would have been considered proof that her government does not have the confidence of the Commons. By convention, any government in such a position should resign and allow the main Opposition party a chance to form an administration.

Instead, Mrs May is now the head of a minority government, critically vulnerable to collapse if the Opposition parties demand a vote of “no confidence”, because the Democratic Unionist Party has withdrawn its support over her disastrous Brexit agreement with the EU.

As Mrs May is determined to have her deal or no deal, and the DUP’s MPs believe neither will support what they consider to be good for Northern Ireland, it seems unlikely that they will restore their support for her government.

I predict that if the current Brexit deal goes to a vote, Mrs May will lose badly. Labour may then demand a vote of “no confidence” in the Conservative Party’s ability to govern – and such a vote seems certain to topple the government.

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell was quick to capitalise on the situation. He said: “It’s absolutely staggering that the Government has accepted all Labour amendments to the Finance Bill because it couldn’t rely upon the DUP’s support. The Tories are in office but not in power. We’re watching a government falling apart in front of us.”

Mrs May is currently in Brussels, where she is probably begging the Eurocrats for latitude to resolve the impossible situation into which she has put herself – because we should all remember that this is a crisis entirely of the Conservative government’s own making.

Meanwhile Boris Johnson and Philip Hammond are both set to appear at the DUP’s conference over the weekend. If they think they can bully the Irish into backing them again, they’ll be in for a shock.

It has been great fun watching the drama play out on Twitter:

So the current situation can be summed up as follows:

https://twitter.com/MsParaDoxy/status/1064673997974065152

Of course we now know that Mrs May’s strings are being pulled by the Opposition parties – and any opportunity available (to mention the backdrop sign at the Tory conference) will be theirs.

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Brexit trade debate turns into farce because May doesn’t understand her own plan

Backroom bunko: Theresa May.

Let’s get this straight:

Theresa May proved she did not understand her own ‘Chequers plan’ for a future relationship between the UK and the European Union on Sunday (July 15). Andrew Marr demonstrated to her that it would prevent the UK from making trade deals with other nations because it would tie us into a ‘common rulebook’ with the European Union.

She compounded this misunderstanding in the House of Commons yesterday (July 16) when she caved in to four Trade Bill amendments by Jacob Rees-Mogg’s far-right-wing European Research Group (ERG). The change in the most controversial of these would effectively rip up the so-called ‘common rulebook’ and demand that, if the UK collects duties and VAT on goods for the EU – and at EU rates, then the EU should reciprocate, collecting UK duties and VAT at UK rates.

The ERG amendment was intended to wreck Mrs May’s plan for a customs compromise with the EU27, in the belief that Brussels would reject the measure – but Mrs May then argued that the EU had only ruled out collecting UK duties and tariffs at its border, and it would be necessary to have other reciprocal financial systems with the EU to refund businesses in the event that there were differing customs arrangements. She said the amendments were “consistent” with the Brexit White Paper – even though they weren’t.

If it looks like fudge and tastes like fudge, it probably is fudge. That is what the 14-strong group of Conservative Remain-supporting MPs decided after learning of Downing Street’s decision to support the four ERG amendments – whipping Tory MPs to vote against the government’s own proposals.

This group had already been betrayed by Mrs May over the EU Withdrawal Bill, so it is unsurprising that its members voted against the ERG amendments as supported by the prime minister yesterday.

But – and this is where it gets really bizarre – the amendments passed anyway, with the support of three current Labour MPs and former Labour MP Kelvin Hopkins, and due to the absence of Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable and that party’s former leader Tim Farron.

Labour MPs who turn down a chance to defeat the Conservatives are, of course, traitors to their party and their voters – and the Liberal Democrats have once again shown their Tory-supporting colours by betraying their own anti-Brexit position.

Mr Farron was giving a speech in Sherborne about how he reconciles his evangelical Christian beliefs with being a Liberal Democrat politician, and Mr Cable was at a meeting off the Parliamentary estate. The Liberal Democrats said both were absent because nobody had expected the vote to be so close – except it had been all over the news for days.

Labour MPs Frank Field, Kate Hoey and Graham Stringer have no excuse at all. I await a decision on their punishment from the Labour whips’ office.

The whole farrago means that the government won its votes with nothing more than luck.

And Theresa May knows it – that is why she has proposed bringing forward the Parliamentary summer recess to Thursday (July 19) – five days early. There currently seems little hope that any Brexit deal currently on the table could command the support of a majority of MPs, and this makes a ‘no confidence’ vote in Mrs May’s leadership more likely.

Going to recess on Thursday would cut the time available to call a confidence vote, and then Mrs May would have the long summer recess in which to try to talk her MPs into giving her yet another chance.

This is not principled politics – it is backroom bunko.

If Mrs May does any deal with her rebellious MPs, it will be to give them something they want in order to push a bad deal on the people of the UK that will make us all much worse-off.

But remember: There will be no referendum on whether Brexit should go ahead. Mrs May has been adamant about that. Clearly she sees an advantage in it for herself.

And in Theresa May’s world, she is all that matters. The rest of the UK can rot. And that’s no way to run a country.

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Brextremist Dorries gets perhaps the hardest put-down yet

Nadine Dorries and Anna Soubry have been at loggerheads since the amendment vote on the EU (Withdrawal) Bill.

Bearing in mind that Nadine Dorries might as well have set the dogs on Tories who backed the amendment to the EU (Withdrawal) Bill demanding a vote on the final deal, the following seems the least she deserves.

First, she tweeted:

And this is what she received in return:

And that opened a different can of worms…:

Some people should think before making comments in public.

None more so than Mad Nad.


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