Tag Archives: NI

Is optimism for UK and EU to come together about NI Protocol… misplaced?

The bank holiday weekend may be over, but this article is being produced in the period before everybody goes back to work – so I’m still putting up material that has interested me – and I hope it interests you. Make of it what you will:

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Liz Truss is forcing the EU to confrontation over the NI protocol. Or will it wait for a better UK government?

Another ‘grace period’ in which the Northern Ireland Protocol of the UK-EU Brexit agreement is not fully implemented has come to an end and the UK’s Tory government has again failed to respect the deadline.

This means the full effect of the protocol is still not being felt. In the video clip below, Phil Moorhouse argues that the EU has chosen not to formally object because its leaders are hoping the Tories are now in their twilight days and will be removed from power in the UK after the next general election, following which they can have an adult conversation with whoever succeeds them:

It seems that events have already overtaken the clip, in fact. Here‘s the BBC:

The UK has told the EU it will continue delaying customs checks on goods moving from Great Britain to Northern Ireland, despite legal action from Brussels over the Northern Ireland Protocol.

The EU is considering its next steps.

The EU has launched a series of lawsuits over what it sees as the UK’s failure to comply with checks on the movement of farm produce from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.

It has also started legal action over legislation that would allow the UK to alter the protocol, introduced by Liz Truss when she was foreign secretary.

Phil’s opinion that the UK will never agree to end the ‘grace periods’ seems correct. He’s mistaken in believing the EU won’t launch legal action.

So now what?

It’s hard to tell because the EU’s response will be quiet during the period of mourning for Queen Elizabeth II.

Considering the aims of the European Research Group (ERG) that appears to be controlling UK Prime Minister Liz Truss, it seems clear that a confrontation is coming that the UK will lose badly. Perhaps it’s better to wait for a more reasonable UK government.

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As NI rise bites your wages, have you realised yet the Tory plan was always to impoverish you?

Money: Boris Johnson and the super-rich have it because they took it from you. It was their plan from the start – even before the financial crash of 2008. And they tricked you with lies into voting to impoverish yourself.

Somebody’s bound to call it a perfect storm; it is perfect as far as the Conservatives are concerned.

Let’s see if we can get our ducks in the right line…

First we had the financial crisis, caused by bankers who have since become Conservative MPs. The Conservative-led Coalition government that slithered into office by blaming this mess on Labour (despite the fact that Tory bankers caused it) then claimed austerity was the solution.

And what did austerity do? It squeezed money out of the poor and gave it to the rich.

A knock-on effect of the financial crash was that banks were told to cut interest rates, almost to nothing. This meant there was no point in saving money because the only people who could benefit from the interest on their savings were the super-rich.

Then the Tories foisted Brexit on us. People like Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg said leaving the EU would bring billions of pounds back into the UK, to be used on things the population really want, like investing in the National Health Service.

In fact, Brexit has cost the UK £800 million per week – and rising. It has tied the UK’s businesses up in red tape, despite that Tories having claimed that they were getting rid of burdensome bureaucracy.

And Brexit is a major contributor to the cost of living crisis. It has created huge pressures on the food supply chain (for example) due to high bureaucracy and a shortage of lorry drivers to bring goods into the country (this being worsened by the Tories’ hatred of foreign-born workers).

Food prices have, unsurprisingly, rocketed. Energy prices are also rocketing because of a shortage of supply. Both have been worsened by the war between Russia and Ukraine and decisions by western nations to boycott Russian gas and goods.

The Tories’ response to these pressures on ordinary families has been to cut wages wherever they can and to raise tax by increasing National Insurance. They have offered nothing to people on benefits or to pensioners, meaning the UK is facing the biggest cut in living standards since records began,

Their justification for the NI rise is that it will subsidise investment in the NHS and Social Care – a slap in the face for everybody who thought money saved by leaving the EU would do that. And the claim is a myth anyway:

And more of us are paying more tax already – because the Tories have frozen the thresholds at which people pay different rates of tax. Even though pay is rising below inflation, increases will push incomes above the levels at which they pay different tax rates, meaning the government will take more of your money in tax, just when you need to keep more in your pocket:

They say they’re going to introduce measures to ease the burden of the tax rises in July. Why not immediately?

And they say they’re going to cut Income Tax by one penny (to 19p in the pound) in time for the next general election. But is that really going to help people? How much money will it put backin the pockets of the poorly-paid when they’re already losing so much to inflated prices and higher taxes?

Put it all together and you can see that this was the plan all along: to multiply the incomes of the already-wealthy while restricting those of the working majority, then to increase prices and taxes to levels that won’t affect the rich but will plunge the vast majority into poverty.

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If you thought the UK National Insurance rise was going to the NHS: that was a Tory lie

Rishi Sunak: His – and Boris Johnson’s – claim that a massive hike in National Insurance, announced last year, would go entirely to fund the National Health Service and social care… was not true. Were you fooled?

Boris Johnson’s claim that his – and Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s – National Insurance rise would sent £12bn to the NHS and social care was a lie, economic analysts have confirmed.

They pointed out that measures in the Chancellor’s Spring Statement have chopped that amount in half – but added that it was never intended to go to the NHS in the first place.

Here are BBC Business Editor Simon Jack and Paul Johnson of the Institute for Fiscal Studies to explain:

Were you fooled by the Tory liars?

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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?

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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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.

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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