Tag Archives: international

Johnson told to drop parts of plan to break international law – after Lords defeat

It seems Boris Johnson is living up to his new nickname as a #ShapeShiftingCreep once again.

He has just suffered a major defeat in his plan to break international law – contradicting his own EU Withdrawal Agreement, signed in January – after the House of Lords carved huge chunks out of his Internal Markets Bill before sending it back to him:

According to the Huffington Post:

Peers voted by 433 to 165 to strip out clauses in the Internal Market Bill which would allow the UK to renege on its obligations in the withdrawal agreement signed with the EU.

The defeat, one of the largest of any government in the Lords since hereditary peers were slimmed down in the 1990s, means that Johnson will have to weigh up whether to reinsert the clause in the House of Commons next month.

In another overwhelming show of strength, the Lords also voted by 407 to 148 to remove any breach of the northern Ireland protocol in the EU withdrawal treaty.

Senior Tories went on to tell Johnson his best course of action is to “quietly drop” those parts of the Bill that the Lords have excised.

The Evening Standard said Tories including Theresa May’s ex-chief of staff Gavin Barwell, former chancellor Ken Clarke and former Conservative Party leaders William Hague and Michael Howard all voted against Johnson’s government:

Lord Barwell told the Standard: “I don’t see any positives that come from those clauses.

He said the clauses were affecting the UK’s ability to get a trade deal with the EU and “rule out” any possible trade deal with the US while “damaging relations” with the new Joe Biden administration [in the United States].

After the vote, Johnson’s government insisted it would not back down and would re-table the clauses when the bill returns to the Commons in December.

Ah… but then there was the issue of Joe Biden. The new US president, who claims Irish ancestry, has said he will take an extremely dim view of any UK legislation that harms the Good Friday Agreement that brought peace to Northern Ireland.

And it seems certain that he would have made that clear when Johnson telephoned to congratulate him on his win in the presidential election:

Johnson now faces a hard choice: reinstate the controversial – illegal – clauses and face the wrath of Biden, or quietly let them drop and face ridicule here in the UK.

He is a weak prime minister – who allows public perception to sway his decisions. I think we all know how this will end.

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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

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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#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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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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