Tag Archives: foreign

Did Boris Johnson axe international development department so he could misuse its cash?

Boris Johnson can’t be trusted with cash: he seems to give it to his friends whenever he can – and the fear is that he’ll do it with the budget of the soon-to-be-scrapped Department for International Development.

Boris Johnson is being urged to forget his plan to scrap the Department for International Development on the grounds that money would go to the wrong nations.

The DfID is being merged with the Foreign Office but whereas the DfID has spent a majority of its budget in the poorest countries and has a reputation for transparency, the same cannot be said for the FO – especially under Boris Johnson.

When he was Foreign Secretary (between 2016-2018), it was in the middle of spending £84 million on China – which can hardly be said to require aid.

Indeed, 39 per cent of FO cash has gone to higher- and middle-income nations, with just 22 per cent going to the poorest countries.

The facts of the matter have only just been revealed, so it seems the FO can get away with hiding its spending – handy if you want to hand public cash to your mates.

So the question is:

Is Johnson scrapping the DfID so he can appropriate its money and give it to his dodgy contacts in foreign countries, in the same way he has handed billions of pounds of Covid-related cash to firms run by his cronies, who have provided nothing in response?

And, if that is even the suspicion:

Shouldn’t the plan to scrap the DfID be itself scrapped – to avoid trust in the government collapsing even more than it already has?

Source: Boris Johnson ‘can’t be trusted’ on foreign aid as millions sent to China revealed – Mirror Online

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Antique clocks stolen from Foreign Office? Why were they there in the first place?

Mystery: what were antique clocks doing hidden in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London – and who stole them?

Why are people making a fuss about antique clocks being stolen from the Foreign Office?

What were antique clocks doing at the Foreign Office in the first place?

Who stole them?

And why did the Foreign Office waste nearly a year before informing the public?

If they’re important historical artefacts, shouldn’t they be in a museum?

If not, then maybe our cash-strapped (that’s what they always say) government should try to make a couple of quid out of them – if they’re supposedly worth so much.

Perhaps that’s what somebody decided to do.

It gives This Writer cause to wonder what else HM Govt. is hiding in ministry back rooms and basements.

Perhaps it’s time for an audit of these assets, before any more of them go missing – or to find out how many already have.

More than £50,000 worth of clocks have gone missing from the Foreign Office, the Mirror can reveal.

According to newly released documents, nine antique timepieces, valued at £53,000, were “unlawfully removed” from storage in the department’s King Charles Street building in July last year.

Police were called in, but have been unable to investigate further because of “lack of leads,” the documents show.

The items are still missing, and are on the Police’s ‘stolen antiques’ list.

Source: More than £50,000 worth of antique clocks have gone missing from the Foreign Office – Mirror Online

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The Tories axed their defence against coronavirus years before it arrived. Deaths were inevitable


Not only has Boris Johnson’s response to coronavirus sparked ridicule around the world, but he is also being pilloried for failing to do anything to prepare for it.

It seems to validate criticisms that he was hoping the pandemic would simply kill off all the so-called “useless eaters” – people on benefits with illnesses or disabilities that make them vulnerable to Covid-19 – meaning that his government wouldn’t have to support them any more.

According to the Huffington Post, the Cabinet Office has been producing a National Risk Register of Civil Emergencies – a list of possible disasters that may face the UK – along with plans to deal with them.

Every such document – every single one – has listed pandemic flu as the most probable and devastating threat to the UK.

The government knew it was coming – but the strategy to deal with it was written in 2011 and is therefore many years out-of-date.

Also out of date is the government’s UK Pandemic Influenza Communications Strategy, the crucial document for getting the right messages across to the public. It was written in 2012 and is wildly inaccurate in its assumptions about how and where people now get their information.

It gets worse.  The guide to dealing with the fatalities of the pandemic, complete with supposed key named contacts, was last published in 2008.

And the dedicated government Pandemic Influenza Preparedness Team based in the Department of Health, and tasked with tackling this type of crisis, vanished around 2011.

That’s right – the Tories got rid of the organisation that would have had the expertise to deal with coronavirus, way back in the first round of austerity-driven cuts.

How short-sighted can these daft toffs be?

The Tories deliberately divested themselves of the latest evidence, policy or science.

HuffPost says this means “the government has had to either make policy up as it has gone along or is having to beg, borrow and steal from other countries who have been better prepared”.

It means that lives have almost certainly been lost unnecessarily.

And the rest of the world is well aware that Boris Johnson has been a bigger danger to the British public than the disease itself, as The Guardian has reported.

Greek newspaper Ethnos described him as “more dangerous than coronavirus”. It said: “Boris Johnson had gone out publicly and essentially asked Britons … to accept death.”

“Boris Johnson is gambling with the health of his citizens,” said the Irish Times.

The HuffPost‘s claim that Johnson had been trying to catch up because his party had rid itself of all its own useful guidance is borne out by The Guardian‘s sources:

Politicians, scientists and commentators greeted the prime minister’s U-turn on Monday night, when he ordered a UK-wide lockdown, as a belated but welcome decision to join the rest of Europe, and much of the world, in a necessary strategy.

The mystery is why it took so long.

After the prime minister’s sudden reversal, one official in Dublin expressed relief. “The Brits were doing their own thing and it looked like we were going to have to live with it. They got there in the end.”

It was a variation of an observation attributed to Winston Churchill about America doing the right thing after exhausting all other options.

Last week the prime minister made an initial concession to physical distancing – a key tactic to slow contagion – by asking people to avoid pubs. But he did not close them and many people, including his own father, Stanley, cheerily said they still planned to go out for a drink. Nevertheless, Johnson expressed confidence such limited measures were working and could “turn the tide” within 12 weeks.

Many outsiders were aghast. The pandemic was out of control in Italy and Spain, killing thousands, and surging across the globe, prompting a scramble to emulate Chinese-style lockdowns.

The French president, Emmanuel Macron, reportedly threatened to close France’s border with Britain last Friday if it did not intensify measures.

Others worried about the fate of friends and relatives in Britain. Giorgio Gori, the mayor of Bergamo, the city hardest hit by Italy’s coronavirus outbreak, flew his two daughters out of the UK, deeming them safer at home.

Let that sink in.

Italy is the country hardest-hit by coronavirus, and the mayor of the Italian city that was hardest-hit flew his own children back there, because he thought they would be safer there than in the UK.

Looking at all the evidence, doesn’t he have a point?

Source: The Government Knew A Pandemic Was Coming But They Didn’t Do Anything To Prepare | HuffPost UK

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Rail fares rise by 2.7 per cent – and most of the money will go abroad

This is a Pacer train – a bus frame mounted on train wheels as a “stopgap” measure more than 30 years ago, until Northern Rail could afford to replace them. That has never happened and they remain in use today because Tory privatisation means huge amounts of our money have subsidised foreign nationalised railways rather than being invested in our own.

Are you aware that, Brexit or no, huge amounts of your money are funnelled into European Union countries – because of Tory privatisation of our national assets?

That may seem a strange way to open an article about this year’s 2.7 per cent increase in rail fares – but the point is that the extra money being extorted out of commuters will go abroad, to fund foreign rail services.

And the fact is that trains in the UK are now almost entirely state-owned – by foreign countries.

Yes, by stupidly selling off our railways into private hands, the Tories allowed them to slip into the ownership of foreign national railways.

It is to those firms that the extra money from yearly rail price increases goes.

Alternatively, perhaps you’d prefer to think of it in these terms: the same foreign rail services – owned by EU states – have creamed off seven-eighths of the subsidy that the UK government provides to privatised rail services and are using that money for themselves.

When I reported on this three years ago, that subsidy totalled £3.999 billion from the year services were privatised (1994) until 2017 – meaning foreign-owned rail systems had made £3.5 billion in profit from the UK.

Now, with far more of the network owned and run by foreign countries – and three years later – the amount of profit is likely to be far greater.

And the Conservatives running the UK absolutely love giving that money away.

They love the fact that almost all the money the Treasury has been providing to improve the service has been leeched off in profit for foreign rail services instead.

They love the fact that rail fares have shot up by nearly half since 2010, squeezing commuters’ pay packets – which are already worth less than they were in 2008 due to Tory austerity.

They have to love it – otherwise they have to admit that privatisation is a crushing failure that harms UK citizens rather than empowering them.

By contrast, rail fares in Germany have just been cut by 10 per cent.

German state-owned railway Deutsche Bahn runs around a quarter of all UK rail operating companies through its firm Arriva UK Trains.

So, if you have travelled by rail over the last few years, your money has helped make it cheaper for Germans to use their trains.

That is the result of UK rail privatisation.

The Tories are responsible for this. Still, at least the Germans know what to do with it, if only in their own country.

Source: Rail fares rise by 2.7%, hitting millions of commuters – BBC News

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Tory visa scheme will cripple social care – and the NHS will suffer knock-on harm

Charming. The Conservatives are openly announcing plans to harm services for people in need.

Tories are demanding a £30,000 salary threshold and tougher visa requirements for overseas workers once the UK has left the EU and free movement has come to an end. They also want migrants to be earning £35,800 after five years.

As care workers receive much less than £30k a year – due to Tory pay restrictions? – this means that the care sector will lose personnel.

Not only will the needs of vulnerable people go undetected, not only will people be forced to go without care, but the NHS will face knock-on effects as elderly patients are taken to A&E as a last resort, or end up stuck on wards unable to go home.

See for yourself:

Boris Johnson’s plans for fast-track “NHS visas” will do nothing to head off an impending post-Brexit staffing crisis which threatens to cripple social care in the UK, with catastrophic consequences for hospitals and other services, health chiefs have warned.

The Independent has obtained a document written by NHS Employers [that] sets out strong opposition to the Home Office’s planned points-based immigration system and new salary thresholds, pointing out many social care staff earn as little as half the proposed minimum of £30,000 per annum needed to obtain entry to the UK.

Under the scheme, the cost of a visa application for health professionals would be halved from £928 to £464 and a decision would be guaranteed within two weeks. Applicants coming to work in the NHS would receive preferential treatment with extra points under the points-based system, and no cap would be placed on numbers entering through the NHS route.

However, it makes no provision for people working in social care.

Source: NHS chiefs warn Johnson’s visa scheme will do nothing to stop post-Brexit staffing crisis | The Independent

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UK railway services are now almost entirely state-owned – by foreign countries

Could there be a better argument to support Labour’s call for train services to be re-nationalised?

British rail commuters pay the highest prices in Europe to use trains that are almost exclusively run by European state operators.

We are subsidising services in their countries.

If our railways were re-nationalised, the money we pay would flow into UK state coffers. From there it could be used to, possibly, improve the service and reduce prices.

Don’t you think that would be a better way?

With rail fares set to rise again by as much as 2.8 per cent, the debate over whether the UK should renationalise the railways – which Labour made a 2017 manifesto pledge – has already reared its head.

This week the Trades Union Congress renewed its call for renationalisation, saying doing so would lead to lower ticket prices.

“We’re already paying the highest ticket prices in Europe to travel on overcrowded and understaffed trains,” the organisation’s general secretary Frances O’Grady said.

[But] extensive state-ownership exists among UK rail operators, it just doesn’t involve the British state.

Here’s the full list:

c2c: Italian state

Chiltern: German state

Caledonian sleeper: PRIVATE

CrossCountry: German state

East Midlands: Dutch state

Eurostar: French state

Gatwick Express: French state

Grand Central: German state

Great Northern: French state

GWR: PRIVATE

Greater Anglia: Dutch state

Heathrow Express: PRIVATE

Hull Trains: PRIVATE

LNER: British state

London Northwestern Railway: Dutch state

London Overground: German state

London Underground: British state

Merseyrail: Dutch state

Northern: German state

Northern Ireland Railways: British state

Scotrail: Dutch state

South Western Railway: Hong Kong state

Southeastern: French state

Southern: French state

Stansted Express: Dutch state

TfL rail: Hong Kong state

Thameslink: French state

TransPennine Express: PRIVATE

Transport for Wales: French state

West Coast: Italian state

West Midlands Railway: Dutch state

Source: Trains on UK railways now almost entirely state-owned – by foreign countries | The Independent

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Brexit Party – that wants to force the UK out of the EU – could be funded by foreigners

Nigel Farage with Donald Trump: But who knows who makes donations to his Brexit Party?

What a contradiction.

The party that hates foreigners is apparently being propped up with foreign money.

It seems “dirty money” – possibly part of foreign interference in UK democracy, intended to de-stabilise the EU – could be propping up Nigel Farage’s new front.

At least, that’s what Gordon Brown thinks:

Gordon Brown has written to the Electoral Commission calling on it to urgently examine whether the party has sufficient safeguards on its website to prevent the contribution of “dirty money”.

The former Labour prime minister will use a speech in Glasgow on Monday to say an investigation into the Brexit party’s finances is urgent and essential.

“Nigel Farage says this election is about democracy. Democracy is fatally undermined if unexplained, unreported and thus undeclared and perhaps under the counter and underhand campaign finance – from whom and from where we do not know – is being used to influence the very elections that are at the heart of our democratic system,” he will say, according to pre-released extracts.

“Now Mr Farage heads a new Brexit party, which is making questionable claims about the true source of its funding at a time when the Electoral Commission has warned of the dangers of multiple, small, anonymous donations being a cover for dirty money.”

(Source: Brexit party’s funding must be investigated, says Gordon Brown | Politics | The Guardian.)

Brexit Party co-founder and chairman Richard Tice has said all donations to the party are in Sterling – but this seems to refer to its PayPal account. I have one of those and everything that comes in appears in Sterling. Not convincing.

The party’s website has no safeguards to ensure that donors are eligible to support UK political parties.

A Mirror investigation found that it was possible to sign up as a Brexit Party supporter under the name of Vladimir Putin, giving the address of the Kremlin.

Nigel Farage has also stumbled on the funding issue, being unwilling to discuss contributions from Arron Banks as anything other than a “purely private matter”.

Of course, being tight-lipped is probably a good idea for Mr Farage – just consider the Independent‘s list of his racist and sexist comments in the run-up to the EU referendum in 2016.

Among many abhorrent words, he made racial slurs against Romanians and Chinese people, and said the gender pay gap exists because women are “worth less”.

And the polls say the Brexit Party is favourite to win the most seats in the European Parliament.

Really?

Take a look at yourself, Britain. Are you really a racist, sexist, xenophobic and bigoted country? That’s how your next-door-neighbour – physically and internationally – will see you if you vote for the Brexit Party and Farage.

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Government introduces plan to prevent interference in elections – while claiming there’s no evidence it is needed

The Conservative government has introduced new plans to “crack down on intimidation, influence and disinformation” and safeguard UK elections – while strenuously denying evidence of any such behaviour.

New laws will bar people from running for office for five years, if they are found guilty of intimidating or abusive behaviour.

In future, online election material must clearly show who has produced it – one hopes the Brexit Party will take note of this.

And there will be a consultation on ways to strengthen laws on foreign donations.

The last two measures are intended to prevent interference in UK elections and referendums by foreign organisations, and to ensure that domestic political organisations can’t breach electoral spending restrictions.

They address concerns that targeted advertisements, on social media platforms like Facebook, seen only by the intended recipient, do not contain statements showing who has funded them and on whose behalf they have been made.

Bizarrely, the government’s spokesman denied that there is any need for these planned new laws.

Kevin Foster (who?), Minister for the Constitution (oh, that’s who), said: “There is no evidence that British elections or referendums have been compromised.

“One of Britain’s most valuable safeguards is the use of pencil and paper to vote.

“But we need to review and refresh our analogue laws for a digital age, and ensure there are robust safeguards against hostile states, foreign lobbyists and shadowy third parties.”

But Jo Stevens, a Labour member of the Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee, tweeted her scepticism:

Cognitive dissonance?

Source: Government safeguards UK elections – GOV.UK

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Second reshuffle in a day for May as she makes Hunt the Unhealthy her new foreign secretary

“Now, see here, Jeremy – you’re the new Foreign Secretary and you’d better get used to it!””Yes ma’am! I live to serve, ma’am!”

If this motley crew is the best Theresa May can dredge up to form the latest version of her government, she should throw in the towel now.

Jeremy Hunt – a pathetic, chinless yes-man who, through a mixture of malice and incompetence, has managed to ruin the National Health Service – becomes Foreign Secretary. It is a gift that has been tarnished by the fact that Theresa May reportedly offered it to David Davis in a vain attempt to persuade him not to resign from her government last night – and then tried to lie about it, saying she offered him Andrea Leadsom’s job as Leader of the House of Commons instead.

Matt Hancock – another toadie whose most recent scandal involved the launch of an app in his name which collected contact details, photos and videos, check-ins, and other digital content, even when users had denied permission for it to do so – is the new Health Secretary. How many scandals have there been about Tory health secretaries trying to collect and sell off patients’ information to private companies for unknown purposes?

Jeremy Wright becomes Culture Secretary after making such a huge impression as Attorney General that people think the role is still held by Dominic Grieve.

I had to look up Geoffrey Cox, the new Attorney General, on Wikipedia. It seems he is a barrister, so that’s something. Beyond that, he is notable only for having been involved in an alleged tax avoidance scheme. And now he’s our top lawyer? Hmm!

What a shambles. In fact, that’s what the new government should be dubbed: “Theresa May’s Brexit Shambles.”

Jeremy Hunt was named as foreign secretary to replace Boris Johnson on Monday night, one of three men who supported remain during the referendum campaign who were promoted in an evening reshuffle.

The health secretary was called to Downing Street to be offered the job by Theresa May after a tumultuous day of resignations in response to her soft Brexit plans.

Matt Hancock, the culture secretary, was appointed as Hunt’s successor at health, while Jeremy Wright, the attorney general, is to become culture secretary.

The Tory MP Geoffrey Cox was later named as the new attorney general.

Source: Jeremy Hunt appointed to replace Boris Johnson as foreign secretary | Politics | The Guardian

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Out but not down: Johnson has resigned because he’s plotting mischief

A silly man for serious times: That could be Boris Johnson’s leadership campaign slogan.

What’s your instinctive reaction at the news that Boris Johnson has resigned? That he chose country over party (ha ha)? That he knew the latest Brexit ‘plan’ is unworkable (stop it! you’re killing me)? That he took the honourable way out (that’s too funny! Is there a doctor in the house)?

Mine was that he’s up to something nasty.

BoJob was always one to seek advantage from the perceived weakness of others and I think that’s what he’s doing now.

He remains a hugely influential figure in the Conservative Party and the withdrawal of his support from the May administration is likely to turn backbenchers against her – along with quite a lot of public feeling.

I don’t think he’ll go for an overt leadership challenge – he’s too wily for that. It’s far more likely that he will await the result of a ‘no confidence’ vote and then put himself up as an alternative candidate if Mrs May loses.

The prime minister herself is currently claiming she’ll be happy to face down any challengers – but this could be just a lot of bravado from a windbag who knows she has been punctured and doesn’t have a repair kit.#

Her government is on the brink. It will take only one more major ministerial resignation to push it over the edge, I reckon – if Mr Johnson’s isn’t already doing the job in a delayed-reaction way.

Will there be another resignation? Hard to tell. Tories are cowards who rarely have the courage of their convictions – remember the so-called “rebels” who chickened out of undermining the EU Withdrawal Act at the last minute, on the basis of a blatant lie by Mrs May.

And if the current chaos in the Tory government triggers a general election, they know they’ll be out of office – not just for a few years, but for at least a generation.

The summer is reaching boiling point! I just hope this drama doesn’t boil over on Wednesday when I’ll be trying to watch England win the World Cup semi-final.

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