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Tory MPs are breaking Covid rules so quickly, Johnson is taking to TV to announce more

Tory ministers like Matt Hancock are breaking even the current complicated Covid-19 restrictions so fast that Boris Johnson is to announce a new, more complicated system in the hope of stopping them.

That’s how it seems to This Writer, anyway.

But then, I’ve lost interest in the restrictions. Instead of being a way of keeping safe, Johnson has turned them into an attempt to distract us from his failure to address the proliferation of the pandemic with threats of huge fines if we don’t do as we’re told!

That’s why he hasn’t been able to provide any evidence to support his edict that pubs must close at 10pm. There isn’t any. It’s just a way to divert attention.

If Matt Hancock knew that, it would certainly explain why he was (allegedly) in a Parliamentary bar until long after the curfew was imposed one night last week.

Alternatively, I think it’s possible that Johnson is trying to address the shortage of new TV material with an idea for a new game show format.

I’ll explain below but first, let’s consider what he’s expected to announce in his own TV appearance later today (Monday, October 12):

England’s three-tier system… will be called Local Covid Alert Levels with England placed into “medium”, “high” and “very high” alert levels.

There is no detail yet on which area of England will be placed in which tier.

Millions of people could be banned from travelling outside their areas or mixing indoors with other households.

According to The Guardian,

Areas with relatively low infection levels will be placed in what is being described as tier 1. Only national restrictions such as the rule of six, the 10pm curfew on restaurants and pubs and existing rules on masks and social distancing will apply.

The next tier is likely to include bans on home visits and indoor socialising with other households in bars or restaurants.

In areas under the toughest tier 3 restrictions – including Merseyside, Manchester and Newcastle – bars and pubs are expected to be forced to close.

None of the above will make a scrap of difference to infection and death rates, of course, because they do not propose lockdowns in education or in the workplace – the main drivers of the current wave of the disease.

But what about that new TV format I mentioned?

It’s simple: after Johnson announces the new “Local Covid Alert Levels”, I expect an enterprising producer to devise a new game show in which members of the public are contacted at random and asked to provide accurate details of the Covid-related restrictions currently in place where they live.

If they get it right, they get a prize; get it wrong and they get a stern talking-to!

Do you think it’ll catch on?

Source: Boris Johnson to give live TV address to unveil new coronavirus lockdown system – Mirror Online

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Tory Hoare branded a ‘coward’ for plan to abstain on Bill that threatens peace in Northern Ireland

Should it say or should it go? “Northern Ireland voted to stay in the European Union, and the Good Friday Agreement demands that its border with the Republic of Ireland be kept open. Brexit would make that impossible without the conditions in the EU Withdrawal Agreement that provide the province with a special status. But the Internal Market Bill illegally overwrites those conditions.” Isn’t Boris Johnson pushing NI towards re-integration with the Republic?

The Conservative chairman of the Commons Northern Ireland select committee is currently taking a drubbing on Twitter after he announced he will abstain on the Third Reading of the Internal Market Bill that threatens the peace there, rather than opposing it outright.

Simon Hoare tweeted that information from the US Congress that its members would not permit any free trade agreements with the United Kingdom. He seemed to believe that this was justification for him to abstain, rather than oppose the Bill that breaks international law by overruling the EU Withdrawal Agreement on trade borders around NI.

Northern Ireland voted to stay in the European Union, and the Good Friday Agreement demands that its border with the Republic of Ireland be kept open. Brexit would make that impossible without the conditions in the EU Withdrawal Agreement that provide the province with a special status. But the Internal Market Bill illegally overwrites those conditions.

In abstaining on the Bill, Hoare is effectively saying that he does not want to express an opinion on it – even though he knows it will be harmful to peace in Northern Ireland, and to the Union. It is the position of a coward who is afraid to take a stand when his bosses do the wrong thing.

Even if he really didn’t know that, he is being told it in no uncertain terms:

If he does abstain, Spineless Simon should be ashamed to call himself a human being.

I wonder how many Conservatives will follow his example – doing just enough to salve their miniscule consciences without actually stopping the Bill?

Abstention means allowing Boris Johnson to break international law.

And it means an end to peace in Northern Ireland.

When violence breaks out again, after Johnson does whatever he’s planning to do to the Northern Ireland border, Simon Hoare and all other Tory abstainers will be responsible.

But then we know from past experience that Tories are perfectly comfortable to sit in Parliament with blood dripping from their hands.

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How long until Gove’s ‘safety net’ that breaks international law becomes ‘the right thing to do’?

Michael Gove: This Site has better pictures but the Spitting Image dummy reflects his shifty personality so well that it is hard to find an excuse not to use it.

Michael Gove is living evidence that you can get further by talking nonsense constantly than by rational behaviour.

He has just said that talks on implementing the EU withdrawal agreement are at a “healthy stage”.

That’s odd, when the EU side is that the UK’s negotiating position is still “far apart from what the EU can accept”.

The issue is the Internal Markets Bill – or at least those parts of it that override the EU withdrawal agreement where it concerns customs borders in Northern Ireland.

The European Commission’s Maros Sefcovic… said there was a “window of opportunity” to come to an agreement on the Northern Ireland protocol, but added that was “rapidly closing”.

And that’s what Gove calls a “healthy stage”!

Mr Sefcovic says the EU wants the UK to remove the “contentious parts” of the bill by the end of September – that’s Wednesday.

He said the EU would “not be shy” in using “legal remedies” written into the withdrawal agreement to address any “violations”.

What do you reckon the chances are that the EU will have to use those remedies – and that when it happens, Gove and the other Tories will say the EU is to blame for the failure of the Withdrawal Agreement?

Source: Michael Gove: Brexit provisions to stay in Internal Market Bill – BBC News

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Braverman’s disgrace is Johnson’s shame: attorney-general defends law-breaking with nationalistic nonsense

Suella Braverman: her latest appearance in the Commons made her look like a child showing off in front of her elders.

Suella Braverman has once again provided ample evidence to support her removal from the post of Attorney-General.

See if you can watch her ridiculous response to Labour’s shadow solicitor general Ellie Reeves without feeling the bile rise:

All Ms Reeves did was to ask what Braverman had done to defend the rule of law, considering that the Johnson government intends to break it – at an international level – with its Internal Markets Bill.

So why did Braverman start her answer by accusing Reeves of being “emotional”? Was she just throwing a dead cat on the table at the start, because she knew she didn’t have anything to say for herself?

Braverman went on to say that the Bill “protects our country and it safeguards the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland”, which is saying the same thing twice without explaining why.

Then she appealed to patriotism – the refuge of the jingoistic airhead. There is nothing patriotic about breaking the law. Quite the opposite, in fact.

“How can she call herself an MP,” demanded Braverman, “and at the same time vote against a Bill that defends the unity of our country…”

It doesn’t.

“… maintains peace in Northern Ireland…”

It won’t.

“… and enables the United Kingdom… to thrive.”

It can’t.

The breach of international law means other countries will not trust the UK and will not want to do business here. Already the US Congress has indicated that it will not support a free trade agreement with the UK if the Internal Markets Bill is approved.

And the body language defies belief. Methinks the lady doth protest too much, as Shakespeare once wrote.

Reeves’s response was restrained, under the circumstances.

Others have been less so:

The SNP’s justice spokesperson went further than Ellie Reeves – he called for Braverman’s resignation over the plan to breach international law.

In response, she actually said it was lawful to break the law. See for yourself:

It isn’t.

It might be possible to do it – to pass a law that makes a breach of international law inevitable – but that doesn’t mean that it is permissible to do so.

Stuart C McDonald is therefore entirely correct: Braverman should resign.

She won’t – but she should. The fact that she is in that post at all is a shows Boris Johnson’s contempt for the law.

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Local lockdown to hit northeast England – but why was it first announced on TV?

Speaking too soon: Robert Jenrick announces restrictions on northeast England, on the Peston TV show.

BBC news has announced – around midday today, September 17 – that the northeast of England will be subjected to stronger Covid-19-related restrictions because of increased infections there. It’s not quite a local lockdown but close.

I knew this last night because Robert Jenrick announced it on television, on Robert Peston’s ITV political chat show.

The only reason I didn’t publish a story straight away was fatigue (I had been awake for around 19 hours on the trot by then) – and also I wanted to know what Commons Spaker Lindsay Hoyle would have to say about this breach of regulations:

Some are saying this is another example of Dominic Cummings-style “government by media”, although I can’t see any advantage for the Tories in doing this.

Who benefits from Jenrick’s announcement, which came just 13 hours (and a bit) before the statement in Parliament?

The people of the northeast? No – the difference in timing still isn’t enough for them to properly prepare, if they need to.

The government? No – this is an admission that a government policy has failed.

Robert Jenrick? No – he was announcing something that nobody wanted and is more likely to be resented for it. In any case, he’s widely considered to be as bent as a nine-bob note (see his record of corruption on planning matters).

Robert Peston benefits, because the announcement was on his show.

But what’s the tactical advantage for the Tories? Are they trying to set up some kind of divide-and-rule rivalry between Peston and Piers Morgan, whose breakfast show can’t get government spokespeople because they’re afraid he’ll rip them to shreds?

That seems pointless because the Tories lose more than they gain, if they get another reprimand from Speaker Hoyle.

Perhaps Jenrick was speaking on his own initiative – a loose cannon, as it were.

If so, let’s hope he shot himself in the foot.

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If this is how Tory MPs regard #socialdistancing they can’t expect us to do as they say

#ToryLawBreakers yet again: this time Tory MPs ignored social distancing to push to the front of the queue to vote – on a Bill that would break international law if passed.

Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised: as MPs voted to break international law, they also broke their own rules on social distancing.

How can they expect us to obey those laws – including the new “rule of six”, when they set such a bad example?

Here’s what happened, via the Enfield Independent:

Pass readers in the division lobbies used by MPs to record their votes stopped working.

They instead had to queue up, walk through the chamber and pause at the despatch box to announce their name and vote.

The problems emerged during a vote on the United Kingdom Internal Market Bill, with MPs asked to approve clause 46 – which is at the centre of a devolution row.

SNP health spokeswoman Dr Philippa Whitford [stated that] there was a “total failure” of social distancing in Parliament for the vote.

In a tweet, she said: “Now pass-readers aren’t working in either voting lobby so we see the Rees-Mogg conga in all its glory – with obvious crowding in members lobby & total failure of social distancing! Interesting that wearing of #Facecoverings limited to Welsh, NI & Scots MPs.”

Labour former minister Ben Bradshaw added: “More chaos in the Commons voting lobbies tonight as the card reading machines that replaced the previous perfectly good electronic voting system break down again & arrogant Tory MPs push to the front of the long queue completely ignoring social distancing rules.”

Were there no police on the Parliament estate, to arrest these lawbreakers?

If not, why not? There’s supposed to be a police presence there, just to protect our democratically-elected representatives from lunatics and terrorists.

There is a clear precedent here, though:

As Conservative MPs clearly do not accept the need for social distancing – or masks – in circumstances decided by their own whim, we don’t have to either.

Clearly everybody in the real world that isn’t Westminster Never-Neverland needs to use their judgement, but if we get challenged on apparent law-breaking we can simply invoke the Clause 46 precedent.

You never know – it might become as popular as the Cummings excuse that came before it.

Source: Total failure of social distancing during House of Commons vote, claims MP | Enfield Independent

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Priti Patel: ‘it’s okay for Tory MPs to break the law but I’ll call the cops if you have a garden party’

The UK has become a police state under the Tories, with them breaking the law left, right and centre while the public are punished.

That is what Home Secretary Priti Patel told us today (September 15), when she said she would inform the police if she found people breaking the so-called “Rule of 6” that bans public gatherings of more than six people.

She, of course, has just voted for her Tory government to break international law by overriding the EU withdrawal agreement.

And let’s not forget that she was ousted from Theresa May’s cabinet when she started carrying out her own foreign policy in Israel, independent of her own government.

She’s a serial villain, and she has the hypocrisy to claim the moral high ground:

The Home Secretary told BBC Breakfast “I don’t spend my time looking into people’s gardens” but added: “I think anybody would want to take responsibility and make sure we’re not spreading this awful disease.

“If I saw gatherings of more than six people, clearly I would report that.”

That’s except for her fellow Tories, of course. They can do what they like.

Did she object when Dominic Cummings broke lockdown to go and visit his family in Durham? No.

Did she call the police when Robert Jenrick did the same? No.

But she’ll happily dob you in because you’re not in her exclusive club.

Given this behaviour by the Home Secretary, This Writer is not inclined to accept her demand.

Other people have brains and can use their own judgement to decide what they do.

I certainly won’t be bothering the police with it. If Covid-19 rises, I will blame the Tories for failing to provide an example to follow.

Source: Priti Patel says she’d snitch on her neighbours to police under ‘rule of six’ – Mirror Online

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#ToryLawBreakers: the 340 MPs who voted like sheep to turn the UK into a rogue state

It’s all about Brexit: Johnson’s Internal Market Bill will break international law by contradicting the Withdrawal Agreement he signed with the EU.

It is as This Writer predicted – despite the many contradictory justifications Boris Johnson provided for his international law-breaking Internal Market Bill, no fewer than 339 of the 363 other Conservative MPs voted with him to ruin the UK’s reputation for many years to come.

You can read some of the arguments against Johnson’s nonsense Bill here.

And Labour’s Ed Miliband made a spectacular speech trashing Johnson here.

But it was not enough to stop hundreds of Tory MPs following Johnson mindlessly through the “Aye” lobby. Clearly they had been told to do it and have no ability to think for themselves.

Voters should remember this when they finally return to the polls in four years’ time (if we’re lucky). To help you all out, there follows a list of the offenders, courtesy of Hansard.

If your MP is among these offenders, make sure everybody in your constituency knows about it, and what it means. They should be barred from government – of any kind – at the earliest opportunity.

Here’s the list of shame:

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Johnson threatens to remove Tory whip from MPs voting against his Brexit Bill. Deja vu?

Dominic Grieve: here’s a former Attorney General from whom Boris Johnson removed the Conservative whip. Now Geoffrey Cox is facing the same – along with any other Tory MPs who may defy Johnson’s plan to u-turn against his previous policy, breaking international law in the process.

It is indeed reminiscent of last year – but back then, Boris Johnson was trying to coerce his colleagues into voting to uphold his EU Withdrawal Agreement. Now he’s trying to coerce them into voting against it.

What a vacillating political vacuum he is.

He’s gambling on enough of the 2019 Parliamentary intake being so stupid that they think loyalty to their leader is more valuable than loyalty to the law. It isn’t.

The fact is that anybody voting to break international law will have a stain on their reputation for the rest of their life. It will seriously harm their career but Johnson won’t tell them that because he’s too busy forcing them to give him what he wants.

So when Downing Street does this…

… the correct response (and I’m amazed that I’m using this person to present the argument) is this:

I wonder how many of Johnson’s 363 MPs (he is the 364th) actually realise this?

The situation has created contradiction after contradiction:

Plus, of course, if he starts expelling his own MPs, Johnson will make his own position weaker; he won’t have as large a majority in the House of Commons and he will have betrayed the trust of his ministers and backbenchers, who may reasonably expect him to take account of their concerns rather than threatening them.

But in all honesty, it may be too much to ask for enough Tories to defy Johnson’s tyrannical whip.

It would need a minimum of 47 Tories to rebel, and I think they’re too easily-herded.

So this seems likely:

That’s only a stop-gap solution, of course. The Lords cannot stop a Bill becoming law – especially in the face of government with a large Commons majority.

But if they delay it, other developments may render it moot. Trade negotiations are ongoing, and so is the debate within the Conservative Party.

The result of the first vote – today, September 14 – may determine the pattern of future events.

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Is Starmer self-isolating because one of his children has Covid symptoms? Oh, the irony!

Keir Starmer: he’s self-isolating – to avoid taking part in a Brexit debate that will reveal his attitude as utter hypocrisy?

Labour leader Keir Starmer has announced that he is self-isolating because a member of his household has developed symptoms in line with those of Covid-19.

He’s being very coy about the identity of the person with the symptoms – because it is potentially highly embarrassing for him.

Is he referring to one of his children? They are, I’m told, 10 and eight years old and will have returned to school at the beginning of the month – as Starmer himself demanded.

He pushed for the Johnson government to reopen schools, no matter what the risk to pupils and parents. It would be hugely ironic if he is now a victim of his own policy.

The person displaying symptoms has had a test and Sir Keir is now awaiting the results “in line with NHS guidelines”, they added.

Of course, it is possible that the symptoms are merely those of the normal viruses that run rampant in schools at this time of year:

In that case, many thousands of children and parents will have their lives disrupted for no very good reason, protecting themselves against a threat that may not even be attacking them!

His self-isolation means Starmer will not be speaking in the Commons debate on Johnson’s plan to betray international law in the Internal Market Bill.

He had previously stated that he is less concerned about Brexit than Covid-19.

This is, of course, a complete about-turn from the policy he forced Labour to put forward at last year’s general election, when he demanded that the party offer a second referendum that (it turned out) wasn’t wanted.

He has switched from Brexit scepticism to “Get Brexit done”. Hypocrisy:

So it is probably just as well that he’ll have to self-isolate for two weeks.

Better still: why doesn’t he just go away and never come back?

Source: Coronavirus: Sir Keir Starmer self-isolating after household ‘symptoms’ – BBC News

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