Tag Archives: Northern Ireland

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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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.

No new money earmarked for NI in UK’s first post-Brexit budget

Stormont: The Tories allocated an extra £400 million to NI last September – but will they honour their promise to stump up the £290 million from Theresa May’s ‘confidence and supply’ agreement with the DUP?

Is this a good enough reason to quit the UK?

It will, at the very least, be something to talk about after the devolved government of Northern Ireland returns to duty this weekend.

Sajid Javid – and Boris Johnson – may have reason to regret promising the Earth in September and leaving themselves with nothing to offer after the December election.

Or will they say the Northern Irish should be glad they haven’t reneged on their September promises?

And £290 million remains unspent out of the ‘bribe’ that Theresa May promised Northern Ireland in her ‘confidence and supply’ agreement that launched us into two and a half years of dither and delay on Brexit.

Will Javid and Johnson honour that agreement, or will they claw that cash back?

Britain’s chancellor of the exchequer, Sajid Javid, has not yet earmarked any “new” money for Northern Ireland at the beginning of the UK’s budget process to prepare for its first post-Brexit budget on March 11th.

The chancellor has claimed that his budget will “start a new chapter” for the UK economy and enable it to seize “the opportunities that come from getting Brexit done”.

“Since 2015 we have cut taxes for 760,000 people in Northern Ireland. Next year we will increase the Executive’s budget by £400 million [€471 million] and by 2020 we will save the average car driver £1,000 by freezing fuel duty,” Mr Javid stated.

However, the £400 million increase that the chancellor has promised is on the way to Northern Ireland next year is money that he had already previously allocated to the North back in September 2019.

A spokesman for the UK Treasury confirmed that the £400 million Mr Javid has referenced was “not new money”.

Source: No new money earmarked for North in UK’s first post-Brexit budget

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New power-sharing deal restores NI devolution – in order to quit Johnson’s UK?

Devolution: The Tories will be quick to celebrate the restoration of devolved government in Northern Ireland. Has it not occurred to any of them that the Northern Irish hate Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal and now want to quit the UK altogether?

At long last – three years since the ‘Cash for Ash’ scandal that ended the last Northern Ireland power-sharing deal, it seems MLAs are returning to Stormont.

The new power-sharing deal means devolved government in Northern Ireland will resume.

According to Boris Johnson:

Do you think he hasn’t realised that they’re all getting back together in order to take NI out of the UK?

What would be really damning is if they decided they won’t even reunify with the Republic.

Source: Stormont talks: Main NI parties agree power-sharing deal – BBC News

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Bid to halt NI abortion law change fails. How will Boris Johnson get the DUP on-side for his Brexit now?

How interesting – last week we were told Boris Johnson’s government was working hard to get the devolved government in Northern Ireland working again, to bribe the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) into supporting his Brexit deal.

The idea was that, as the DUP is firmly opposed to the legalisation of abortion in Northern Ireland – which will happen by law after the Westminster government supported it and could only be stopped if the Stormont assembly voted to do so, then the Stormont assembly must be restored.

It seems clear that attempts were made to facilitate this, but it was impossible for MLAs to agree on the election of a speaker so the attempt failed.

Now it seems Mr Johnson has no way of getting the DUP to support his deal, other than by making concessions.

Or will Arlene Foster’s party have a miraculous conversion to his way of thinking?

A last ditch attempt at the Stormont assembly to stop abortion law changes in Northern Ireland has failed, with the law set to change at midnight.

Unionist parties, who oppose the upcoming liberalisation, triggered the assembly’s recall with a petition.

But politicians were told the assembly could not do any business until a speaker was elected with cross-community backing.

That became impossible when the nationalist SDLP left the chamber.

As a result no nationalist representatives remained, meaning no new speaker could be elected and the sitting was suspended after less than an hour.

In July, MPs at Westminster passed legislation which requires the government to change abortion laws and extend same-sex marriage to Northern Ireland if devolution is not restored by 21 October.

Source: Abortion: NI politicians’ bid to halt law changes fails – BBC News

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Johnson’s Brexit proposal is a win – for the EU

Oops: It looks like Boris Johnson has spoken without thinking again.

It seems Boris Johnson has caved in to the EU again over Northern Ireland’s border controls.

According to leaked information, the deal he has accepted with Leo Varadkar would take the whole of the UK out of the EU’s customs union – in name alone.

In fact, Northern Ireland would remain subject to the EU’s tariffs regime, in order to ensure that border checks do not become necessary.

Businesses in NI would then be able to negate the difference between UK and EU tariffs by offering a rebate on goods sold – if the UK tariff is lower than that in the EU. This is unlikely in a post-Brexit world.

Under the new plan, Northern Ireland would be in the same regulatory and agricultural zone, and subject to the same tariffs as the rest of the EU.

There would be a regulatory and agrifoods border in the Irish Sea and potentially some customs checks too, although Northern Ireland businesses would not lose out financially from the arrangement.

If the DUP supports this, it will be betraying the position it has held all along – that Northern Ireland must be treated in exactly the same way as the rest pf the UK.

So Mr Johnson has betrayed his Parliamentary partners.

It has yet to be seen whether he has kept the more extreme Brexiteers in his party – the ERG, for example – on-side.

And Labour will be set against the proposal, which paves the way for a bonfire of regulations and citizens’ rights, in line with the Tory plan to turn the UK into a tax haven on the edge of Europe, where the population is exploited for the gain of a tiny few.

Do you want to live in a tax haven for the rich that brutally exploits the poor?

If you want to be harmed by your government – more deeply than it has already – then carry on voting Tory.

If you don’t, then Labour’s the party for you. Do as you will.

Source: Johnson’s Brexit proposal creates illusion of victory for both sides | UK News | Sky News

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Johnson humiliated as EU’s point-by-point rejection of NI proposals is leaked

Clown: Boris Johnson – as the EU’s officials no doubt consider him.

How sad for Boris Johnson – and how amusing for the rest of us (and let’s face it, with Brexit, we have to get our giggles where we can).

A copy of the European Union’s rejection of Boris Johnson’s proposals for the Irish border after Brexit has been leaked to The Guardian.

It is humiliating for BoJob as it confirms that he is in the top flight in only one respect: that he is a nincompoop.

Would you like to read them?

Of course you would:

The European Union’s full devastating point-by-point rejection of Boris Johnson’s Brexit proposals for the Irish border has been revealed in documents obtained by the Guardian.

The confidential report chronicling the latest negotiations reveals:

  • The British have been warned that the proposed Stormont veto provides the DUP with an opportunity to block the all-Ireland regulatory zone from ever materialising.
  • The proposals for a customs border were said to risk a major disruption of the all-Ireland economy. EU negotiators have pointed out that it has been rejected by groups representing Northern Irish business.
  • The UK is seeking a fallback of no controls, checks and border infrastructure, even if the DUP vetoes Northern Ireland’s alignment with the single market. The bloc’s internal market would be left wide open for abuse, the European commission has said in its rejection of the proposal.
  • The UK’s proposal leaves it up to a joint EU-UK committee to work out how to avoid customs checks and infrastructure near the Irish border once there are two customs territories and sets of rules on the island of Ireland, without offering a plan B if no such solution is agreed.
  • The UK has called for an overhaul of the common transit convention so as to avoid the need for new infrastructure in the shape of transit offices on either side of the border for the scanning of goods that have passed through multiple territories. Brussels has refused as it would lead other non-EU countries to seek similar exemptions, endangering the internal market.
  • The text affords what is seen as an unacceptable wholesale exemption for small and medium-sized businesses from customs duties and processes, but it fails to provide details on how to then combat smuggling.
  • On VAT, the British negotiators were told that the proposals fail to offer any solutions as to how to avoid payments and checks at the border.
  • Under the UK’s proposals all the state aid and level-playing-field conditions Theresa May agreed to in order to reassure the EU that Northern Ireland businesses would not enjoy a competitive advantage have been deleted. But Northern Irish firms would still be able to compete in the single market for electricity.
  • The UK would have access to an unlisted number of EU databases to allow it to police the customs border on the island of Ireland and the regulatory border between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Whitehall would maintain such access even if the DUP vetoed alignment with the single market.

Source: Revealed: the EU’s point-by-point rejection of Johnson’s Brexit plan | Politics | The Guardian

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Court rules that current NI abortion law breaches human rights in blow to anti-abortionists targeting Stella Creasy

Stella Creasy: the pregnant MP was targeted by anti-abortion campaigners after she sponsored an amendment decriminalising it.

This is important: the High Court in Northern Ireland has ruled that current laws that criminalise abortion are in breach of the UK’s human rights commitments.

It comes after an amendment sponsored by Labour MP Stella Creasy was passed by MPs, decriminalising abortion if there is no deal to re-establish the devolved government in Northern Ireland by October 21.

Ms Creasy, who is pregnant herself, has since been targeted by an anti-abortion organisation calling itself the Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform (CBR) with a series of posters in her Walthamstow constituency.

She raised the fact with a point of order in the Commons yesterday, prompted Speaker John Bercow to describe the campaign as “vile, unconscionable and despicable”.

The case was taken in Belfast by Sarah Ewart, who challenged the law after she was denied a termination.

The judge said she ruled in Mrs Ewart’s favour as it was not right to ask another woman to relive the trauma that she had already experienced.

A formal declaration of incompatibility would not be made at this stage, the judge said.

Mrs Justice Keegan made that decision in light of impending legislation, already passed at Westminster.

Source: Abortion: NI law ‘breaches human rights’ – BBC News

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WATCH: ‘Vile, unconscionable and despicable’ – MPs respond to targeting of Stella Creasy by anti-abortionists

Abuse:’ This poster was put up in Stella Creasy’s Walthamstow constituency in what is seen as an attempt to intimidate her.

An anti-abortion group that targeted pregnant Walthamstow MP Stella Creasy has been labelled “vile, unconscionable and despicable” by Commons speaker John Bercow as MPs vowed to help her take action.

Ms Creasy raised the issue after an organisation called the Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform (CBR) put a poster of her alongside a picture of what it claimed was “a 24-week-old aborted baby girl”, with the claim “Your MP is working hard … to make this a human right” and the address of a website established against the MP.

The abuse targeted at Ms Creasy follows the approval from MPs of her amendment to extend abortion rights to Northern Ireland – the only part of the UK where it is illegal. The vote passed by 332 to 99.

She has reported the matter to the Metropolitan Police – only to be rebuffed by officers who say this is a “free speech” issue.

A clearly-emotional Ms Creasy raised the issue with a point of order in the House of Commons, after Prime Minister’s Questions today (October 2).

I managed to capture most of the exchange with Speaker John Bercow on video (I happened to have a camera handy and grabbed it up as soon as I realised what was happening). Apologies for the shaky picture and possible poor sound quality – the camera was hand-held. You may hear voices over the top – they belong to This Writer and Mrs Mike:

The point of order prompted the appropriate Tory government minister to promise action.

Abortion is a sensitive and complicated issue, and I don’t propose to go over all the arguments here.

But I do believe that there are many possible reasons for a woman (or a couple) to consider abortion and if that option is available to them, it is not for anybody else to tell them what to do. It is a matter for their conscience and it should be a human right.

The action of the so-called charity (as you will have heard, it has been refused charity status in the UK) – against a woman who is herself pregnant – is as Mr Bercow described it: vile, unconscionable and despicable. I’m sure many readers could add a few choice words themselves.

It is the sort of behaviour that could affect the health of an unborn baby, contrary to that organisation’s stated aims. Do these people even care about that double-standard?

It has no place in UK society.

Our charities exist to campaign for measures that improve the quality of life – not to victimise people who have done nothing wrong (the fake charity Campaign Against Antisemitism should also take note of this).

The advertising company that hosted the offending posters has agreed to take them down.

Let us hope that the organisation behind it faces legal action (this behaviour is a criminal offence under the Public Order Act) and is chased out of the UK for good.

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Did the EU just reject TWO Boris Johnson requests – only one of which involved Ireland?

The European Union has refused to entertain a call by Boris Johnson for a Brexit deal without the so-called Northern Irish border “backstop”.

In so doing, one may conclude that the EU has also rejected Mr Johnson’s call for Brexit negotiations to be carried out in secret.

And quite right too.

The man This Site calls BoJob has been trying to hoodwink the British people left, right and centre since he was hired as Tory leader (and PM by default) back in July.

His latest gambit was for negotiations on a new Brexit deal to be held in secret. We may expect that he was hoping to foist the details on us at the last minute, so our Parliamentary representatives would have little choice but to accept their terms, in order to meet the October 31 deadline to which he is determined to hold us.

I’m not sure how that idea is supposed to work, as a rejection by Parliament means it’s back to the drawing-board; “no deal” is now forbidden.

At least we may take it that all cards are on the table, for the time being. Or am I mistaken?

The European Union has rejected a request from the British government for a Brexit deal without an Irish backstop.

A leaked diplomatic note drawn up by EU officials and given to member state diplomats and MEPs [stated:]

“In addition to not providing legally operational solutions, such concepts [presented by the UK] fall short of satisfying all the objectives of the backstop: avoiding a hard border on the island of Ireland, protecting the all-island economy and North-South cooperation, and preserving the integrity of the single market and Ireland’s place in it,” the note says.

“It is the United Kingdom’s responsibility to come forward with legally operational solutions that are compatible with the withdrawal agreement. The union remains available to examine and discuss any such proposals.”

Source: EU rejects Boris Johnson request for Brexit deal without Irish backstop | The Independent

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