Tag Archives: NI

NI protocol: Frost’s new plan gets cold reception from EU. Rightly?

Lord Frost: he has turned his back on ‘Building Back Better’ and he isn’t ‘Getting On’ with anything – particularly the EU and Northern Ireland.

Both the UK and EU are putting forward ideas to change the Northern Ireland Protocol that aims to prevent a hard border being set up between the province and the Republic of Ireland. The problem is obvious: they don’t agree.

Worse still is the admission by Brexit Secretary Lord Frost that the UK only signed up to the protocol, back in 2019, because Boris Johnson was in a hurry to “Get Brexit Done”.

The implication is clear:

Johnson has only ever seen Brexit as an electoral tool – to fool voters into electing a Conservative government. He never really supported its agreements.

Let’s remind ourselves of what Johnson said about the deal in 2019, and what he has said about it since:

So it was a “great new deal”, but only up to the point at which it was implemented, after which it was a barrier to trade. A barrier that Johnson and Frost created!

Frost has now turned on the deal that he himself, personally, negotiated, saying that it is no good. It seems the whole world has responded with incredulity at the sheer cheek of this man, many agreeing with Neale Richmond’s analysis of him, below:

Frost reckons the NI Protocol is unworkable and blames the EU for imposing rules that restrict the flow of UK goods across the artificial border that Johnson put in the middle of the Irish Sea after lying that he’d do no such thing.

He has devised an entirely new protocol that strips the European Court of Justice of its governance role and proposes international arbitration of the way provisions in the protocol are implemented.

But the EU has said it would be very hard to see the Protocol surviving without ECJ oversight and was set, today, to propose its own changes:

The proposals are understood to include a unique deal around agri-food – which includes agriculture, horticulture, and food and drink processing – aimed at sharply reducing the checks on products moving from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.

There will also be an arrangement to allow the continued sale of chilled meats from Great Britain in Northern Ireland; these products were facing a ban.

The EU has also said it is going to change its laws in an attempt to solve regulatory issues which are posing a threat to the supply of medicines to Northern Ireland.

Clearly there are huge differences between the two sides and these are likely to lead to weeks of negotiation, with the future of peace in Northern Ireland – as provided under the Good Friday Agreement that many signatories have already abandoned – in the balance.

For Johnson and his government, the damage has already been done. Their contradictory behaviour has been universally condemned by opponents and former allies alike, both within and outside the Conservative Party:

Particularly infuriating is the Johnson government’s refusal to discuss any of its policies without lying about them – including this one:

Clearly there was no good faith and the plan was always to cause trouble in Northern Ireland and to rip up the agreement later.

And what about Bernard Jenkin’s appearance on the BBC’s Newsnight?

Notice the faux pas at the end when he said, “We tried to make it worse – work.”

But Jenkin wasn’t convincing. Too many of us have had our eyes opened to the harm these lying clowns have caused, and we’re not going to believe any more.

Some of us have been proved to have been right all along:

We are realising what Johnson has been able to do, simply by lying repeatedly to us – not only about Brexit but about everything else he was planning to do:

And we see the consequences:

The trouble now is those tribal members of the public who simply won’t accept the evidence that is now in front of them.

It is.

And some will carry on supporting it, even when their own standard of living plummets.

All we can hope – those of us who seriously want a better future for our bitterly divided and misled island nation – is that enough people have realised the depth of Johnson’s – and Frost’s – betrayal to make a difference before it is too late for us all.

But the clock is ticking…

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Environment Secretary ‘Useless’ says it’s BIDEN who doesn’t understand Brexit NI protocol

A long record of defending the indefensible: Environment Secretary George Eustice has previously stated beliefs that children should starve during the holidays, asylum seekers should drown and people should die of Covid-19 rather than let the economy be harmed.

What stunning arrogance from a man who has been dubbed “George Useless”.

Environment Secretary George Eustice took to our airwaves to try to minimise the damage done by US President Joe Biden’s words on the Northern Ireland border and trade with the UK after Brexit – and made matters much, much worse.

Biden has expressed concern that peace in Northern Ireland could be jeopardised by the “Northern Ireland protocol” between the UK and the European Union, that regulates imports to and exports from the province.

It keeps Northern Ireland aligned with the EU’s single market for goods to ensure free trade across the Irish border, but has led to additional checks on goods being traded across the Irish Sea between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, which has drawn criticism and protests from unionist politicians in Northern Ireland who have called for it to be scrapped.

Boris Johnson swore to everybody who asked – before Brexit happened – that there would be no border checks between GB and NI… and it now seems clear that he was either lying or did not understand his own deal.

The UK has requested a fundamental renegotiation but the EU has refused – and with good reason. Boris Johnson was desperate to rush his Brexit into being, back in 2019, ensuring that many of his MPs did not understand what they were supporting. Any problem now is his responsibility and he will have to live with it – including any problems it creates with the USA.

Eustice turned up on TV and on the radio to suggest that Biden was “wrong” and had, himself, not properly read the details of the agreement that was negotiated, in a series of interviews that will make Boris Johnson’s current meetings with the US president much more difficult:

Eustice’s attitude was that this matter did not concern the US President…

… but that makes no sense at all when the UK is also trying to negotiate a two-way trade deal with the United States (over which Biden is, again, doubtful).

Eustice admitted, “It’s just not a priority for the US administration.”

And Boris Johnson has also said, “The Americans do negotiate very hard.”

It seems nothing has changed since former president Barack Obama said the UK would be at the back of the queue for a bilateral deal.

So of course the Johnson government has a Plan B, which is to join a trade bloc – like the one the UK has just spent five years leaving:

So the situation is this:

If the UK doesn’t get a trade deal with the US because its deal to leave the EU has created problems in Northern Ireland, then Boris Johnson will try to talk the UK into a trading bloc like the EU.

So what was the point of the last five years of fuss and palaver?

In other news, Julia Hartley-Doodah tackled Eustice on the really important issues:

Wow. If only some of our political interviewers could be bothered to dissect the Tories as thoroughly on issues like Universal Credit, rising bills and – yes – Brexit!

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Pension triple lock scrapped for a year. But will the Tories stop there?

This Site predicted the suspension of the pensions triple lock, so it’s no surprise here.

The problem with the commitment to increase pensions every year by the highest of pensions, earnings or 2.5 per cent is that it did not anticipate a huge fall in earnings like that caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, followed by a similarly whopping rise when everybody went back to work and pay packets re-balanced.

It meant the highest of the three benchmarks – this year – is a massive eight per cent increase. And the Tories don’t want to pay it.

Back in July, I suggested the Tories were making a big fuss about nothing because they could impose a stop-gap increase that reflects the increase in the cost of living (which is what the triple lock is supposed to do).

It turns out that the Tories are doing something similar. Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey said that – for this year only – pensions would rise by inflation or 2.5 per cent, whichever is higher. The earnings increase will be restored to the calculation next year.

The decision has caused bitter resentment in some quarters, because people are upset that the Tories have broken a manifesto promise.

But this misses the point completely.

The point is that the UK state pension is one of the worst pension deals in the whole world.

On retirement, our pensioners will receive, on average, 29 per cent of their former earnings. This compares with an increase of 0.6 per cent in the Netherlands, more than 90 per cent of former earnings in Portugal, Italy and Austria, and an OECD (Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development) nations’ average of nearly 63 per cent.

In fact, the UK’s pensions deal comes in at slightly worse than that provided in… Mexico.

This was a chance to level up the UK pension with some of our closest neighbours – but the Tories didn’t want to. That’s why people should be angry.

Of course, with the national insurance increase that the Tories say will pay for social care (eventually), pensioners will be worse off than ever – because pensioners who are still earning an income will pay towards it.

And there’s another aspect to this.

It is the rivalry between the old and the young over state benefits, the perception that pensioners get more than their fair share, and that they should lose some in order to correct a perceived imbalance.

This is utter piffle.

As Craig Berry states in The Guardian,

We can and should spend more on social security for young and old people alike.

To believe that a Conservative government would invest what it saves by removing the triple lock on today’s young people requires some magical thinking.

In practice, by reducing the state pension accrual rate (the entitlements we build up in return for paying national insurance), scrapping the triple lock would effectively amount to a significant tax hike on young people.

That’s because the tax they pay now would entitle them to a lower income in retirement than previously anticipated.

So it is ridiculous to suggest that we need to cut pension increases in order to help the young. It simply won’t happen.

Let’s face it – it simply hasn’t happened.

The (alleged) social care-related increase to National Insurance will affect young people and pensioners alike.

Because that’s what Tories are like.

They don’t take away from one group that needs help, in order to give to another.

They take from both, in order to give to themselves – as you can see with Boris Johnson’s National Insurance hike.

My only question is, do we believe them when they say they’re going to bring the triple lock back?

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Comeuppance for Kate: Hoey’s Brexit balderdash get the brush-off – finally

Kate Hoey: either she did not understand what Brexit would mean to Northern Ireland or she didn’tt care. But the people her influence has harmed will not forget.

This has been a long time coming – and not just to Kate Hoey.

The Brexiteer and former Labour MP has been trying to defend her support for the UK leaving the European Union in the flame-light of the burning vehicles in Northern Ireland.

Her reception has been – well, see for yourself. Here’s her tweeted assertion:

“The Protocol” would be the Northern Ireland protocol of the Withdrawal Agreement between the UK and the EU.

Many have pointed out what this means about Hoey’s comment:

Yes indeed – Hoey stated in a Telegraph article that Northern Ireland had much to gain from Brexit, despite the province having voted against leaving the EU (because people there knew it would jeopardise the Good Friday Agreement and the peace process):

Her article is still available to read:

Now people have simply connected her words then with her words now, and found that they are not persuasive:

But Hoey should not feel that she is the only one feeling the force of Northern Ireland’s (and indeed the rest of the UK’s)… ire:

What’s the best phrase to describe this lot?

Ah, yes: They’re all in it together.

And we should remember that…

… when we seek compensation for what has happened.

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As Stormont politicians meet, Northern Ireland violence escalates

Northern Ireland has now endured more than a week of violence related to Boris Johnson’s duff Brexit deal.

Johnson himself has said the violence in West Belfast “deeply concerned” him. He was right – it did, and it should; he is directly responsible for it.

He was told his decision to put a customs border in the middle of the Irish Sea would tear up the Good Friday Agreement, triggering an end to the NI peace process and a return to violence – and he did it anyway.

Northern Ireland doesn’t have a single Conservative member of Parliament; nobody in the province voted to be governed by Johnson (or at least, nobody worth mentioning).

The province’s pro-Brexit Democratic Unionist Party propped up former prime minister Theresa May, and could therefore be said to have paved the way for him. It holds power in the Stormont assembly so This Writer wonders what its representatives have to say for themselves.

Last night alone, police officers were attacked, petrol bombs were thrown and a bus was burnt.

Here’s how it looked:

Police believe paramilitary groups were involved in incidents such as one in which several hundred people on each side were throwing petrol bombs in both directions in the loyalist Shankill Road and the nationalist Springfield Road.

The Shankill Road and Springfield Road in west Belfast are now added to the list that includes Newtownabbey, Carrickfergus, Ballymena and the Waterside area of Londonderry.

The BBC’s report editorialised:

The longer it goes on, the harder it will be to stop.

While it is a comment that should not have been made by a news reporter, This Writer tends to agree with whoever wrote it.

Sadly, with Boris Johnson running the country, he will undoubtedly dither, delay, take a holiday, and probably even hide in a fridge before taking any decisions – and by the time he does, it will probably be too late.

And, as This Site stated yesterday, this is what he wanted. He had been warned repeatedly that it would happen but he did nothing. We have to draw the obvious conclusion from that.

Source: Belfast: Emergency Stormont meeting after night of violence – BBC News

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#Lockdown2 highlights the Tory way: lie in haste – deny at leisure

Robert Jenrick: every time he turns up he’s telling a different story.

The Johnson government’s promises about its November lockdown in England – and the effect it will have on the other UK countries – are falling apart. Quelle surprise.

It should be clear to even the most casual spectator that it is now the Tory way to make wild promises alongside a major announcement of this kind, in order to put people off their guard.

They then renege on those promises in the days following the announcement – if they aren’t called out on the falsehoods first.

So here we see Boris Johnson telling the House of Commons that there will be funding to keep employees in furlough – across the UK, even in countries where lockdown does not coincide exactly with that in England…

… and Robert Jenrick, not 24 hours later, confirming that it won’t.

Kay Burley’s response to Jenrick is well worth preserving here:

“Don’t worry about repeating yourself, it’s very important to the people of Scotland. It might make the difference between being able to feed their families and not.”

That also applies to Wales; it applies to Northern Ireland.

Water off a duck’s back to Jenrick, though. He genuinely couldn’t care less if your kids starve.

The lie was told by Boris Johnson to the leader of the Scottish Tories, Douglas Ross – but people all over Scotland will be harmed because of it:

Perhaps less critically-important is the ability to play tennis and golf.

Michael Gove said on Sunday that tennis courts and golf courses would be open during the lockdown. Jenrick then merrily told BBC Breakfast News that they wouldn’t:

Worst of it all is that we can’t trust a word that Jenrick said – and I’m not referring to the fact that, in terms of corruption, he’s as bent as a nine-pound note.

Consider the knot into which he tied himself when talking about the new plan to test everybody in Liverpool for Covid-19:

Oh, really?

So how many tests are available to Liverpool, then?

He didn’t know.

It’s another test, track and trace disaster-in-the-making – and another Tory lie.

I don’t think any UK country will get furlough cash after December 2; Johnson just said that to keep us all quiet.

I don’t particularly care about tennis courts and golf courses but I’m sure those who do will be upset that they must close. In fact, all sporting facilities, including local gyms (for example) perform a vital function for not just physical but also mental health, and there is a strong argument for keeping them open that the Johnson government won’t hear, because it isn’t actually interested in our health at all.

And I certainly don’t think a Labour city like Liverpool is going to get the benefit of a decent Covid-19 testing system when the Tories haven’t managed it anywhere else in the UK!

The tactic is clear: say what people want to hear – because the line can always be changed tomorrow.

Next week the Tories and their Twitter trolls will be denying that they ever misled us – and that will be another lie to add to the list.

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Brexiteers’ justification for breaking international law on Brexit is illiterate. Why hasn’t Braverman resigned?

Suella Braverman: She used to chair a secret group of Brexit-supporting MPs and is now Attorney General. Yes, she is as daft as she looks.

In trying to humiliate a leading Remainer – and justify its own contempt for international law – Boris Johnson and his government have made the UK a laughing-stock once again.

And our Attorney General, Suella Braverman, should be offering up her resignation. Rather than uphold the rule of law, she has sided with a government that intends to break it, turning the UK into nothing better than a rogue state.

Almost as bad, she offered as justification for this lawbreaking a Supreme Court ruling that Parliament is sovereign in domestic matters – a ruling won by Remain campaigner Gina Miller in a challenge to previous Brexit legislation.

But the same Supreme Court ruling made it clear that this does not excuse the UK government from honouring its obligations under international law.

Here’s Braverman’s statement, as exulted by Brexiteers. I’ve found a more level-headed response to it:

What is the appropriate response? This:

Perhaps. This:

Mmm… How about two in-depth Twitter threads? First this:

(After that lesson in the law, I think the Secret Barrister may be allowed to advertise a book about it.)

And then there’s this:

It is not for members of the public to challenge this.

I have a feeling that the Tory government will face serious and well-funded legal challenges both from within the UK and outside.

I am concerned that this will lead to an equally serious financial penalty – a bill that, once again, the taxpayer will have to pay.

We always end up bailing out these incompetent Tories when we should be sending them to jail instead.

Last word goes to Mark Elliott (again):

It is par for the course in a government that is as bent as a nine-bob note.

But Suella Braverman’s resignation is definitely required.

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Coronavirus: the Tories are trying to blackmail other UK countries into lifting lockdown early

Rishi Sunak: he seems to be denying the facts of the coronavirus crisis, in order to force an early end to the lockdown.

Never underestimate a Tory minister who apparently has mass murder in mind:

It seems Rishi Sunak is upset that the Scottish Parliament is more concerned with saving people’s lives than getting the economy back up and running for the benefit of a cadre of lazy billionaires, and has threatened to withdraw funding for the “furlough” scheme that pays for workers to stay at home if Holyrood extends the lockdown longer than Westminster.

The UK-wide furlough scheme has been extended until October, but when Scottish ministers called for clarity about the future, they received a discouraging response:

Scottish economy ministers Kate Forbes and Fiona Hyslop … appealed to the Treausry for assurances that workers will continue to access support even if Scottish firms are not reopened at the same time as English ones.

In a letter to the Chancellor, they wrote: “We understand that the support will need to be scaled back over time, but it is imperative that is done in a carefully considered way, and reflects the economic priorities of each of the four nations and the different sectors of our economies.

“The ability to stagger the closure of the scheme may be beneficial in considering how we safely exit the restrictions currently in place.”

But [a] Downing Street source said that furlough payments are now likely to be distributed by the Treasury on a “sector-by-sector” rather than geographical basis.

The Conservative government has made it clear that it intends to lift the lockdown as soon as it considers this to be possible – but has given no reassurances at all that it will carry out any tests to prove that it is safe to do so.

Indeed, the plan to force schools to reopen at the beginning of June has become a raging controversy, with fears that teachers, parents and friends could fall victim to Covid-19, and children themselves (who seem likely to suffer only light symptoms of that disease) may succumb to a follow-on infection that bears similarities to Kawasaki disease.

Conservatives have shown no concern about these issues at all.

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Coronavirus: Tories threaten tax increase on self-employed after non-offer of help

Rishi Sunak: his promises are worthless – but you can bet he’ll follow through on his threats.

Typical Tories: they make a long list of promises that get broken within a week and then try to charge us a fortune for them.

So, with the self-employed, they’ve offered to pay 80 per cent of normal profits (not wages, as with employees).

But they won’t even start providing this until some time in June.

And self-employed people will be taxed for receiving that money.

And in the meantime, they want any of us whose income stream dries up to claim Universal Credit, joining an online/telephone queue of tens of thousands, as the Department for Work and Pensions is completely unable to cope.

This is the (bad) deal that Chancellor Rishi Sunak has offered – to 85 per cent of self-employed people.

And now, days later, he’s telling us he’ll increase National Insurance paid by all self-employed people because he says this excuse for a bailout makes it impossible to justify them paying less than others.

It’s a con.

Chances are that self-employed people won’t get anything – or will receive next-to-nothing; certainly not enough to cover their outgoings.

And they will be made to pay many times more than they receive in the years to come.

That is what’s “harder to justify”.

We don’t have a government – we have a gang of thieves. And they are using an epidemic to justify their daylight robbery.

Source: Coronavirus: Chancellor warns self-employed they face tax hike after crisis – Mirror Online

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Johnson is pressing ahead with money-wasting Scotland-Ireland bridge plan

Remember the Garden Bridge: Boris Johnson spaffed nearly £60 million on this while he was Mayor of London – and not a single minute’s work was spent trying to build it. The NI-Scotland bridge is just his latest pie-in-the-sky project.This is arrogant lunacy and it will cost a fortune.

I’m not even talking about the price of building a bridge from Northern Ireland to Scotland; the consultants will bleed the public purse brutally before it can ever get that far.

In fact, we already know it can’t be done – at least, not for any acceptable price.

But then, Mr Johnson’s plans aren’t about cost-effectiveness. They’re about keeping public funds away from those members of the public who need them.

And, judging from Twitter, we all know it:

No; I don’t think there will.

But a lot of money will be spent before then – cash that could go on much better things but won’t.