Tag Archives: European

Musicians: brace yourselves for the hidden costs of EU touring the Brexiteers never mentioned

Festival: if you’re a musician who regularly performs at EU events, you can kiss those big crowds goodbye – unless you’re getting paid big bucks for your performance.

As a musician myself – even though I’ve never toured in Europe – this is infuriating.

I know musicians who do gig on the Continent, and the new costs triggered by Brexit are likely to make it impractical for them to continue.

Wasn’t Brexit supposed to make it easier for us all to ply our trades? Do you know anybody who actually and materially benefits from January 1 onwards?

Here’s Howard Goodall to explain the bad news:

Last summer, the arts/culture charity I currently chair – Radnor Fringe Festival – ran an online version of its annual event because Covid-19 made a physical festival with thousands of people standing around shoulder-to-shoulder impossible. It was a huge success.

We’re currently working on making the online festival an ongoing thing, with new content by musicians, artists, actors and so on, to be funded initially by donations.

Personally, I see this as one way for UK musicians to get their sounds out to the Continent while the Brexit insanity holds sway.

It won’t be the same as being there at a gig, but it might be the only cost-effective way of being heard.

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EU to begin court action after Johnson misses deadline to explain international law breach

Self-satisfied: Boris Johnson sat speechless but smirking when Ed Miliband ripped apart his justifications for breaking his own treaty. Johnson doesn’t care about the law. He doesn’t care about what breaking it will cost because he won’t pay. You will.

The fact that he couldn’t even be bothered to respond to a ‘letter before action’ from the European Union demonstrates Boris Johnson’s contempt for the law – and the reason he should not be a member of Parliament.

Johnson’s Internal Market Bill (which is still not yet a law) breaches his own EU Withdrawal Agreement, that he signed in January.

If made law, the Bill would overrule the withdrawal agreement Johnson signed, by banning border checks on goods moving from Northern Ireland to Great Britain which are set to commence under the agreement from 31 December.

Johnson had signed up to the union’s customs code to get a deal, but now says Britain should be exempt from parts of it.

The European Commission confirmed on Tuesday that the deadline to respond to the letter has now come and gone without a UK response, meaning the court action against the UK will move to the next phase.

Tory government ministers have already admitted in parliament that the bill will break international law, but say the policy is justified because the law would only be broken in a “limited and specific” way.

We’ll see how that argument plays out in court. Badly, This Writer would expect. After all, a burglar breaks the law only in a “limited and specific” way, by breaking into people’s houses and stealing their belongings. If he’s prosecuted for it, he’ll still end up in prison.

To UK readers: how does it feel to be living in a rogue, outlaw state?

Source: Brexit: Boris Johnson misses EU deadline to explain breach of international law | The Independent

Why did Johnson say trade talks with the EU had ended – only to restart them within days?

Duper’s delight: This is the smile Boris Johnson wears when he is lying. Was he wearing it when he announced that talks on a trade deal with the EU had been called off?

This looks like a set-up, to me.

Last week, Boris Johnson and his Tory government said that a “no deal” Brexit was now inevitable because talks with the EU had broken down irretrievably.

“Really?” I thought at the time. “Are they going to come back in a few days time and say there’s been a breakthrough, it’s all back on and they’re making a history (it’s always historic) deal?”

And lo! it is coming to pass:

The UK is “ready to welcome the EU team” to continue negotiations over a post-Brexit trade deal, says No 10.

The two sides’ chief negotiators, Lord David Frost and Michel Barnier, spoke on the phone earlier after talks stalled last week.

Following the conversation, Downing Street said the pair had “jointly agreed a set of principles for handling this intensified phase of talks”.

The intention is to create some more public goodwill for the Tories, who have realised that any good feeling among the general population of the UK has dwindled away to nothing.

Of course, being Tories, they can’t generate it by actually doing something good; it had to be with a stupid trick.

Anybody can fabricate an emergency of their own making and then solve it.

If a deal comes from the new negotiations, it is because the UK and the EU were always going to make one – not because the talks have been saved.

Anything else is just more smoke and mirrors from the Tory liars.

That’s my interpretation of it.

Source: Brexit: UK ‘ready to welcome EU’ to continue trade talks – BBC News

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Johnson’s overcooked ‘oven-ready deal’ has blown up in his face. Why is he happy about it?

From Twitter: the caption was “Get in, losers. We’re driving it off a No Deal cliff.”

It seems Boris Johnson is getting exactly the kind of Brexit his backers wanted: ‘no deal’, meaning disaster for the UK economy.

He is putting on his sad face at the moment but that’s not fooling me, and it shouldn’t fool you.

His claim that Brussels has “abandoned” the ambition of a free trade deal is as empty as his soul:

Sky News has this to say:

The UK’s chief Brexit negotiator has told his European counterpart not to come to London on Monday to resolve stalled talks, after the prime minister warned it was time to “get ready” to leave without a deal.

Isn’t this the same prime minister who said there was an ‘oven ready’ trade deal, only last year?

And didn’t he – also – say that failure to secure a deal would be a failure of statecraft?

So isn’t he admitting that he is a failed prime minister? And shouldn’t we be demanding his resignation and replacement at the earliest possible opportunity?

Johnson is, of course, doing his best to blameshift responsibility for his failure onto the EU:

Mr Johnson said in a dramatic intervention that “there doesn’t seem to be any progress coming from Brussels”.

He told businesses and hauliers to “get ready” for there to be no free trade deal.

But this is clearly nonsense, in the light of what he – and other Brexiters – have been saying since before the EU referendum in 2016.

They have spent years trying to convince us that the EU nations would be desperate to forge a deal with the UK that would put us at an advantage.

Instead, it seems we’re going to have to pay high tariffs to sell into a market that was free before Johnson and his cronies convinced 17 million of us to vote the entire nation out.

And remember, Johnson won last year’s general election on this – claiming that he would “Get Brexit Done” and it would create a golden future for the UK.

Well. At best he was mistaken. At worst he was lying.

This Writer remembers the claims that he was in cahoots with a cartel of wealthy hedge fund bosses who had bet heavily on the UK leaving without a trade deal, and on this causing the end of a large number of major UK businesses.

Doesn’t this seem more likely now – especially as Johnson has intervened personally to stop any further negotiations, a month and a half before the transition period ends?

It all seems highly suspicious to me.

And I’m not the only one, it seems:

(Incredible that Boris Johnson’s selfishness has actually put me on the same side as Dan Hodges…)

It seems likely the decision to end negotiations and prepare for ‘no deal’ could also mean the end of the United Kingdom as we know it:

Johnson tried to regain some of the credibility he has lost by suggesting that the UK was headed for an “Australia-style deal”…

He said the UK’s relationship with the EU could be more like the one Brussels has with Australia, which will mean tariffs being introduced on goods between the UK and the 27 other EU countries.

… but it seems he’s either badly mistaken (yet again) or trying to pull over our eyes (yet again):

Perhaps this is the most accurate comment of the day:

Source: Brexit: Michel Barnier told to stay home after Boris Johnson says EU ‘abandoned free trade deal’ | Politics News | Sky News

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Cambridge Analytica did not misuse data in EU referendum; it just lied about what it could do, says watchdog

This can’t be the first time an organisation harmed its own reputation with wild claims.

But Cambridge Analytica seems to have engineered its own destruction with its claim to be able to influence people using data it had accrued about them.

These referred to Americans but it seems they raised questions about the organisation’s role in the UK’s referendum on membership of the European Union in 2016.

As a result, the (UK’s) Information Commissioner launched an investigation into the company in 2017 – and it collapsed in 2018.

Were the two events related? If so, it could be argued that Cambridge Analytica’s own boasts destroyed it.

Cambridge Analytica had repeatedly claimed in its marketing material to have “5,000+ data points per individual on 230 million adult Americans”, suggesting it had incredible power to micro-target individuals with suggestive political messaging using a giant psychographic database.

However, the investigation concluded that “based on what we found it appears that this may have been an exaggeration” and much of the company’s activities followed “well recognised processes using commonly available technology”.

So did it attract the unwanted attention of the information regulator needlessly?

Well, it seems the firm wasn’t involved in the EU referendum campaign at all:

[Elizabeth Denham, the Information Commissioner] said she found no evidence that Cambridge Analytica were actively involved in the EU referendum campaign, beyond an early proposal to work with UKIP which was not put into action.

It turns out the Information Commissioner found no evidence of collusion with Russia to influence the referendum either:

[Denham] said her team also found no evidence Cambridge Analytica aided Russian intervention in the UK political process.

Particularly interesting to This Writer, though, was the revelation that

the company’s data protection practices were lax “with little thought for effective security measures”.

Couple this with the following –

Cambridge Analytica founder Alexander Nix was disqualified from acting as a company director for seven years for “offering potentially unethical services to prospective clients” including bribery or honey trap stings, voter disengagement campaigns, obtaining information to discredit political opponents, and spreading information anonymously in political campaigns.

– and we see that the firm (or at least its founder) was quite happy to break the Data Protection Act left, right and centre by obtaining information and then distributing it to the public in breach of the law.

This links with my recent court case against the Labour Party, in which I gave evidence that employees had put together false information about me and passed it to newspapers who then published it to thousands of people.

Labour’s representative tried to claim that, even though the party (as represented by its general secretary) was the data manager responsible for the way the information was used, it was not responsible for the acts of any employees because (as I understand it) there is no evidence that it ordered them to commit those acts.

But then, they wouldn’t have had access to this – false, in my case – information if Labour had not ordered them to compile it.

Put the two cases together and it seems the Data Protection Act is a dead letter – unless a person whose information has been misused can prove exactly who misused it and why they did it. That’s going to be impossible in most cases, isn’t it?

I was therefore hoping to read that the Information Commissioner was bringing recommendations to the government that would strengthen the law.

And I was keen to see what they would be.

I was disappointed. It seems all the information that we are obliged to provide to organisations, just to get on in modern life, is vulnerable to abuse every way you can imagine. Not a happy thought!

Source: Cambridge Analytica did not misuse data in EU referendum, says watchdog | UK news | The Guardian

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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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#ToryLawBreakers launch membership drive based on their lie about a fake threat from the EU. Isn’t this fraud?

Boris Johnson is swiping whole chapters from the Goebbels playbook with his new Conservative Party membership drive.

Just take a gander at the following nonsense, from a genuine recruitment campaign started in Johnson’s name on Tuesday (September 15):

“Last night I voted to protect the United Kingdom, as any prime minister would do.” Any PM ought to vote to protect the UK; this is true. Boris Johnson did not. He voted to support his Internal Market Bill which endangers the union by undermining the Good Friday Agreement that brought peace to Northern Ireland, and shatters the UK’s standing among other countries by breaking international law. It also threatens NI, Scotland’s and Wales’s continued memberships of the union by stealing devolved powers away from their governments.

Parts of the Bill, if passed into law, would overrule a binding treaty that Johnson himself signed. He was authorised to do so by the votes of his MPs – the same MPs who have now, sheep-like, authorised him to contradict himself.

“Unfortunately, I was not joined by a single Labour or SNP MP.” Of course not. The Labour Party, and the Scottish National Party, abide by the law.

“Instead Labour and the SNP chose to side with the EU and their outrageous threats to carve up our union.” The EU has made no such threat. This is a lie.

“Making it clear we’re the only party willing to stand up for the United Kingdom.” This is deceitful in several ways. Firstly, as already discussed, breaking international law, jeopardising peace in Northern Ireland and taking powers from NI, Scotland and Wales is not standing up for the UK but an attempt to shatter the union. Secondly, lying about a made-up threat is not standing up for the UK. Thirdly, it is wrong to say the Tories are the only party willing to stand up for the UK just because the other parties stood up for the rule of law. Would you like me to continue?

“Last year in good faith I signed the Withdrawal Agreement, believing the EU would stand by their word to be reasonable.” We have only Boris Johnson’s word that this is his reason for signing the Withdrawal Agreement – and he is a habitual liar.

“But regretfully, as Labour know, in recent months the EU have suggested they would go to extreme and unreasonable lengths.” This is a lie. If Johnson is using that as his justification for reneging on an international treaty, then his recruitment drive is an act of fraud.

“Threatening to put up blockades across our own country, divide our own land and change the very economic geography of our own union.” This is a lie. The person who threatened to put up barriers, divide the UK and change its economic geography is Boris Johnson. The possibility of tariffs being imposed for “at risk” goods was in his withdrawal agreement, that he pushed through Parliament. He is simply denying responsibility for his own action and pushing it onto somebody else.

But there is another issue here – that of the EU stopping food products from entering Northern Ireland from Great Britain. Johnson has made it explicitly clear that he includes this in his claim about blockades, division and economic geography. But it is not mentioned in the Internal Market Bill, so he should not be using it in a party recruitment campaign based on Monday’s vote.

(The EU would have to grant “third-country approval” to the UK’s regulatory regime to allow food into NI because Northern Ireland will remain in the single market and continue to use EU standards for its goods after December 31, 2020. It has been unable to grant this approval because officials reckon the UK has not provided sufficient details of the so-called sanitary and phytosanitary regime for animal and plant products post-Brexit – possibly because of the free trade agreement Johnson wants to do with the United States, that would bring diseased, chlorinated chicken into the UK for us to eat? Johnson’s government says it has provided ample information for the EU to grant approval but Johnson lies.)

Put it all together and this is a Nazi strategy.

Hitler’s propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels was very keen on what he called “The Big Lie” – an idea he claimed to have taken from the British. The idea is that if you repeat a blatant lie often enough, eventually the majority of people will believe it is the truth.

Johnson’s recruitment drive is riddled with lies, and lies supporting those lies. It is not information. It is propaganda. And that puts him on a level with the Nazis.

You’d have to be a fool to believe him, too. These people weren’t:

What sort indeed. If you have a Tory-supporting friend, why not show it to them, explain why it is full of lies, and see how they react?

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David Cameron regularly broke international law when he was prime minister. Why the change of heart now?

 

Legacy: this spoof heritage plaque gives a very good summation of David Cameron’s role in the UK’s ongoing Brexit disaster. Why should we take any interest in his views now?

He’s saying the right thing – but for the wrong reasons, and it is still a grotesque act of hypocrisy.

I refer, of course, to former prime minister David Cameron, who regularly, during his time as prime minister of the UK, broke international law but is expressing concern at Boris Johnson doing the same now.

You don’t remember? Allow me to remind you that the United Nations ruled that Cameron’s government broke the law to deliberately harm people with disabilities.

And he broke international law to attack Libya too.

The UN launched its probe into “grave and systematic violations” of the human rights of people with disabilities in 2014, when Cameron was prime minister.

It reported in 2016 – after he had quit (and we’ll get into those details momentarily). The findings showed that austerity policies introduced by Cameron’s government had systematically violated the rights of people with disabilities.

That is an offence in national and international law. The Cameron government had already signalled an intent to repeal the Human Rights Act and withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights that the UK created, possibly in order to dodge this finding.

Boris Johnson’s renewed plan to cut human rights legislation out of the statute book signals that he intends to continue this illegal persecution of people with disabilities. Oh, did you think it was about nailing refugees who have been abusing the law to stay in the UK? Now you know better.

The attacks on Libya took place before Vox Political‘s time but I offer this as an example of commentary explaining why the Cameron government was breaking international law – and, indeed, human rights law – by participating.

So it seems out of character for Cameron to come back from the wilderness after four years and attack Boris Johnson for planning the same:

“Passing an Act of Parliament and then going on to break an international treaty obligation is the very, very last thing you should contemplate. It should be an absolute final resort, so I do have misgivings about what is being proposed,” he said.

It shouldn’t even be a last resort, as others have pointed out:

It is an entirely fabricated threat – indeed, it is one that Boris Johnson created himself. He came up with the EU Withdrawal Agreement that put a customs border in the middle of the Irish Sea. He campaigned for it in a general election and all his current Tory MPs did the same. And he signed it in January.

So it is nonsense for him to turn on us all now and say it is vital to change the terms of the agreement – and all his MPs should be opposing him, not just the few who have so far put their noses above the parapet.

And let’s not forget that Cameron is the man who is most directly responsible for the entire Brexit mess.

He launched the EU membership referendum – it was part of his election manifesto in 2015 – in an attempt to keep the Conservative Party from splitting.

He thought the vote would result in the UK remaining in the EU, silencing Eurosceptics in his party. He was wrong. The public narrowly voted to leave (admittedly on the basis of a stream of lies from Brexiteer campaigners including Boris Johnson). That has led us to where we are now.

And he didn’t even save his party from splitting. Some Tories quit voluntarily to join the ill-fated “Change UK – the Independent Group” or whatever it ended up calling itself. Others were forcibly thrown out by Boris Johnson when they refused to support his withdrawal agreement.

That’s the very agreement he is now saying is not acceptable, by the way.

So don’t let David Cameron’s words influence you.

He put the UK into this mess.

Source: Brexit: David Cameron joins all living former PMs in condemning Boris Johnson’s plan to break law | The Independent

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Johnson’s first Attorney General condemns his plan to betray EU withdrawal agreement

Geoffrey Cox: the former Attorney General is pointing the finger of accusation at Boris Johnson.

That’s scuppered the claims that the row over Boris Johnson’s plan to break international law is a last gasp of the so-called ‘Remainers’, then.

Geoffrey Cox – a devout Brexiter – was Attorney General when Boris Johnson signed his EU withdrawal agreement in January.

His announcement that he will not support Johnson’s Internal Markets Bill is proof that the controversy extends much further than the established battle lines.

The story broke in The Times, which is behind a paywall. However, the East Fife Times has this:

Boris Johnson’s former attorney general, Geoffrey Cox, has said it would be “unconscionable” to override the Brexit divorce deal.

The Tory MP said there is “no doubt” the “unpalatable” implications of the Withdrawal Agreement were known when the Prime Minister signed it, a time when Mr Cox was the chief law officer.

So he should know!

He stated:

And he threatened worse:

The Brexiteer warned he would not back the UK Internal Market Bill unless ministers dispel the impression they plan to “permanently and unilaterally” rewrite an international agreement.

[He] said tariffs and customs procedures on certain goods entering Northern Ireland from Britain were part of the deal.

“There can be no doubt that these were the known, unpalatable but inescapable, implications of the agreement,” he wrote in The Times.

He said if the powers in the Bill were used to “nullify those perfectly plain and foreseeable consequences” then it would amount to the “unilateral abrogation of the treaty obligations”

Cox said ministers could use “clear and lawful” options under the withdrawal agreement to remedy their concerns that food imports may be blocked from Britain to Northern Ireland – or, “in extremis”, take “temporary and proportionate measures” via independent arbitration.

“What ministers should not do, however provoked or frustrated they may feel about an impasse in negotiations, is to take or use powers permanently and unilaterally to rewrite portions of an international agreement into which this country freely entered just a few months ago,” he said.

It seems he also said this:

But the article also points out:

The QC… was attorney general during the unlawful suspension of Parliament.

That’s right; Boris Johnson prorogued Parliament illegally – and lied to the Queen in order to do it.

It seems Cox has had enough of such illegalities – and his words carry weight on the Conservative benches in the House of Commons.

They are also carrying weight on the social media:

Johnson and his people are desperately trying to play down the implications of their plan, but nobody is being fooled.

There may be more than verbal fireworks in the political news this week.

Source: Ex-attorney general strikes out at ‘unconscionable’ plan to override Brexit deal | Central Fife Times

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The Bar Council has laid into Suella Braverman so let’s all join in

Suella Braverman: She has made some knowledgeable enemies who may soon wipe that idiotic grin off her face.

The UK’s professional organisation representing barristers has accused Brextremist Attorney General Suella Braverman of sacrificing the UK’s reputation, sidelining legal advisers and bypassing the ministerial code.

At its annual general meeting, members of the Bar Council asked Braverman how she thought the UK’s Tory government could retain “a shred of credibility” in imploring other countries to follow international law after revealing its own willingness to breach agreements.

Here’s The Guardian with details of the festivities:

Five QCs confronted the attorney general during Saturday’s meeting, telling her that a crime which broke the law in a “specific and limited way” – the phrase used by the Northern Ireland secretary, Brandon Lewis, when he announced the move – was still a crime.

Asked if she believed ministers were breaking the ministerial code with the legislation, Braverman on Saturday dodged the question by stating that the code was not legally enforceable. Pressed, she suggested the cabinet secretary had ruled that the code would not be breached.

She was also confronted over why she had sought advice on the measures from three pro-Brexit legal figures, including one junior barrister who had worked with the Vote Leave campaign, rather than relying on senior government lawyers. She refused to disclose the advice she had received, but said that seeking external opinions was not unusual.

Braverman was asked what had changed since former justice minister Lord Faulks stated in 2015 that ministers would not breach international law. She said his statement reflected “government policy at the time”.

The proposals were needed to resolve tensions between domestic and international law created by the EU withdrawal agreement, she said, but the government remained “committed to the rule of law”.

Of course this is not true. A government cannot expect to be believed when it claims to be “committed to the rule of law”, after also committing itself to breaking the law.

We could never expect better from Braverman; she is used to breaking the rules.

Back in 2017, when the European Research Group (ERG) “party within the Tory party” was set up, she was its chair. It was funded illegally, with money from members’ expenses claims (expenses rules state that MPs cannot claim for research or work “done for, or on behalf of, a political party”, but by September 2017 the European Research Group had received more than £250,000 from MPs who claimed the public cash through their official expenses).

After she became a minister in the Department for Exiting the European Union, she remained a member of the ERG, even though the ministerial code prohibits ministers from becoming “associated with non-public organisations whose objectives may in any degree conflict with government policy” – as the ERG’s did at the time.

Neither she nor any of the other then-ministers who were also in the ERG were penalised, which may go a long way towards explaining why she believes she can tell the Bar Council she is above Parliamentary rules.

In March 2019 she was accused of using anti-Semitic language by stating that “As Conservatives, we are engaged in a battle against cultural Marxism”. This refers to a far-right-wing anti-Semitic conspiracy theory which identifies Western Marxism as the basis of an ongoing academic and intellectual movement to undermine and destroy Western culture and values. Challenged over this, she dismissed the idea, stating “We have culture evolving from the far left which has allowed the snuffing out of freedom of speech, freedom of thought…I’m very aware of that ongoing creep of cultural Marxism, which has come from Jeremy Corbyn.” So either she didn’t understand what she was talking about or she is a genuine anti-Semite who used opposition to Jeremy Corbyn to co-opt support from the Board of Deputies of British Jews, which withdrew its accusations against her.

And now we have her vain attempt to justify breaking international law, as described by This Site here.

The reason she thinks she – and the Johnson government – will get away with breaking international law is easy to understand in the context of her career.

She is an extremist Brexiteer who chaired a pressure group that was funded illegally – but still went on to occupy a role shaping government policy on Brexit; she voiced anti-Semitic sentiments – whether knowingly or not – but got away with it by claiming that she and her challengers had a mutual enemy in Jeremy Corbyn.

Based on this past behaviour, she thinks anyone opposing her on this can say what they want but it will not stop her from having her way.

Well, that has yet to be proved.

She may think she is sure of her ground but the Guardian article quotes a groundswell of opposition within the Parliamentary Conservative Party that could pull it out from under her feet.

And the Bar Council won’t be as easily swayed as the partisan Board of Deputies. Already there are murmurings about court action to forbid her from breaking international law in any way, not just the way she has described.

I look forward to seeing her get her comeuppance. It will be well-deserved.

Source: Top lawyers slam Suella Braverman for wrecking UK’s reputation | Politics | The Guardian

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