Tag Archives: Friday

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

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

This is awkward for Boris Johnson.

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

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

According to the BBC:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They might as well be negotiating with a spoilt child.

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

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Are you endangered by the threat of revenge eviction? Then help change the law

141020evictions

A few months ago, Mrs Mike – who is the named tenant of VP Towers – received a communication from our landlord (a housing association).

It was notification that the HA had applied to the Welsh Assembly to set a ‘fair rent’ at about £9 per week more than the then-current level.

Depending on your own circumstances, £9 per week may not seem altogether high but for Mrs Mike, who considers herself to have suffered undue neglect from her landlord (remember the flood last year?), it was the last straw. The notification letter stated that she could appeal against the increase, so she did.

You may be surprised, dear reader, to find that I was reluctant to support her. I feared the possibility of a revenge attack by our landlords, resulting in us ending up on the street.

I was wrong – but the issue took a few months to resolve. At first, the Assembly agreed with the housing association that our rent should be increased and, following representations by Mrs Mike, by more than the HA had originally requested. The landlord promised that it would stick to the original figure but Mrs Mike wasn’t having any of it and took the case to a tribunal, pointing out that our landlord wasn’t comparing our rent with similar houses in the local area (as is necessary) and that calls for repairs were habitually ignored or dismissed by servicers who are based almost 100 miles away.

Now our rent is cheaper – yes, cheaper – than it was before, and it seems our landlord is going to abide by the decision.

But this is a rare case, according to homelessness charity Shelter – and it seems we are safe only because we rent from a social landlord.

Current laws mean it is entirely legal for any private landlord to evict tenants, Shelter says, simply for speaking up about bad conditions going unacknowledged and unrepaired, as Mrs Mike has.

The situation affects no less than nine million UK citizens – and last year, 200,000 of them were thrown out of their homes in what the charity has described as ‘revenge’ evictions.

It seems some landlords don’t like to be embarrassed when their neglect comes out into the public domain.

This means that, according to Shelter, one in 12 private renters have avoided asking for repairs in case they are evicted.

But on November 28 MPs have the chance to end revenge eviction, the charity says.

“They’ll be debating a small change to the law: to stop landlords issuing an eviction notice when the tenant has made a legitimate complaint about conditions.

“For the Bill to pass, enough MPs need to attend the debate and the majority need to vote in favour. You can see more about how the Bill will become law here.

“You can tell your MP to save the date – to attend Parliament on 28 November and vote to end revenge evictions.

“Normally, MPs go back home on a Thursday to do constituency work on a Friday. This time, we need them to stay in Westminster until Friday morning, so they can vote to change the lives of the thousands of renters they represent.”

Shelter has provided a handy system to help you email your MP and ask them to improve the lives of nine million UK citizens. Here it is:

Email your MP and ask them to stay in parliament on Friday 28 November.

In the run-up to a general election, voters will be watching their MPs very carefully. Do they really represent you? November 28 will be a test of their good intentions. If they don’t stay and vote, you’ll know what to do with them next May. But they need to know what you want them to do.

It’s up to you.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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Protest against Assisted Dying Bill, in Westminster, on Friday

assisted dying

The next debate on the controversial Assisted Dying Bill is to take place in the House of Lords on Friday – and all those opposed to the Bill are invited to attend a planned public protest outside the House while the debate is taking place.

An online petition has also been raised on the Change.org website. This states:

Lord Falconer’s bill aims to make it legal for doctors to end the lives of those they judge to be terminally ill, if the dying individual requests this intervention. This issue affects everyone, but our experience as disabled people informs our belief that the law should not be changed.

Not Dead Yet UK opposes this because:

  • It would be unacceptably dangerous to make it legal for one individual to end the life of another, because statutory safeguards cannot be made effective;
  • Clear evidence from other countries, where assisted dying has been introduced, shows that people are being assisted to die when they are not terminally ill. This is not the intention of the legislation, but there is evidence to show that it happens and when it does it is often to disabled people. In the light of this, Not Dead Yet UK takes the view that ‘Assisted Dying’ would be more accurately described as ‘Assisted Suicide’;
  • People can be led to perceive themselves as a burden, especially when support services are cut, and this may contribute to their decision making;
  • We believe that a positive approach to the lives of disabled people, old and young, should be a priority for society;
  • This means appropriate support for living and an accessible environment;
  • Disabled people are being hit harder than many by the recession, which gives us the clear message that our rights and opportunities are low priority when times get hard. ‘Assisted Dying’ is often linked with the cost of disability, particularly Social Care and Continuing Health Care, which are becoming increasingly unavailable. We find this a legitimate and relevant cause for concern;
  • In a recent poll by the Royal College of GPs, 77 per cent voted against legalising assisted suicide and many doctors acknowledge that it is very difficult to accurately predict when someone will die and they often get this wrong.

If you oppose the Bill and can make it to Westminster, please join the protest.

(Thanks to Mo Stewart for this information.)

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