Tag Archives: power

Is Johnson taking us back to war with France, over FISH?

Some of us have spent years saying the Tories are living in the past; now Boris Johnson’s Brexit is proving the truth of it.

He is putting us on the brink of war with France for the first time in 206 years.

Over fish.

He has made us the villains by trying to impose rules on fishing near the Channel Islands that were not part of the UK-EU trade deal. The French are – rightly – refusing to countenance them and are threatening to cut off Jersey’s power supply.

So he has reacted in a manner that is not only arrogant, it is also typically – for a Tory – archaic: he is sending a gunboat. Two, in fact,

Spike Milligan was writing jokes about this, back in the 1950s; rulers of a country whose empire is falling into ruins, desperately trying to hold on to a greatness they no longer have with brinkmanship. The comedy is that they would be fools to launch the military expeditions they threaten.

But there is nothing funny about this. It merely proves that those who claimed that the EU – a pan-European alliance of nations – was created to prevent another war on that continent were right; the UK’s hardly been out for five minutes and we’re setting ourselves up for a rumble.

It is ridiculous. It is insane.

Johnson will lead the UK into a humiliating defeat – both legally and militarily, if he takes it that far.

And he’s going to make the rest of us – right-thinking UK citizens – look ridiculous too.

If nobody reintroduces him to sanity, I wonder where it will end.

Source: UK sends Royal Navy to patrol Jersey port amid fishing row – BBC News

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Is it time for checks and balances on police who abuse their powers?

Police at one of the Easter Saturday ‘Kill the Bill’ demonstrations: who do you think is being violent here?

It seems police across the UK have been abusing their powers to control protests for many years – so why do our governments only ever seem to give them more powers to abuse?

This article by Christine Berry expands on one This Site publicised a few days ago, discussing instances going back 13 or 14 years in which police behaviour fell far below the expected standard.

And the similarities tell us that they should have been stopped long ago.

Consider the opening paragraphs:

After someone suffers an untimely death at the hands of a Metropolitan Police officer, a vigil is held in London. Footage goes viral of a woman being physically attacked by Met officers at the vigil, but senior figures insist it was just good public order policing. Around the same time, it’s revealed that police lied about officers being injured at a separate protest. Public trust in policing is battered, but somehow, politicians still think it’s a good idea to give them more powers.

No, this isn’t 2021. It’s 2008-’09. The dead man is Ian Tomlinson, a bystander at the G20 protests who was hit with a baton and pushed to the ground. The woman is Nicola Fisher. And those ‘injuries’? ‘Six insect bites and a toothache,’ as the Guardian put it – sustained at the Kingsnorth Camp for Climate Action.

We see that, even then, the police were using the media to alter public perception of protests, with claims that their violence was “good public order policing” and with false claims of injuries suffered by officers.

The summer before, I’d joined the Heathrow Climate Camp – which saw a step change in police repression of protest, including kettling, mass searching, surveillance, and physical attacks.

So this was when these tactics were introduced. Under the New Labour government of Gordon Brown, notice.

I was advised that volunteering as a legal observer might give me a degree of protection: ‘They seem to respect the hi-vis jacket.’ Instead, the opposite happened, with legal observers expressly targeted for intimidation.

Footage of recent protests has shown police singling out observers and members of the press. It seems they don’t like it when their violence is witnessed. Neither do criminals; I make the observation in passing.

Going back to 2008:

When we raised questions about police abuse of power, the Minister for Policing responded that 70 officers had been injured at the protest. The implication was that the climate campers were a violent mob, and attacking them with batons was a proportionate response.

We heard the same last month…

Not a single officer had been injured by a protester. Instead, bizarre entries like ‘stung on finger by possible wasp’ ensured that the story went viral, and the Minister was forced to apologise for misleading Parliament.

… again, the injuries mentioned last month also proved unconnected – or simply false.

The conclusion is clear:

Smearing protesters as violent is a consistent and deliberate strategy employed by the police to justify their own aggressive tactics and suppress criticism.

Perhaps it is time to impose a rule – that police should only be allowed to make such claims if they are able to support them, immediately, with independently-verified proof.

Here’s another tactic:

In the run-up to the G20 [protests], Met Commander Bob Broadhurst had talked up the prospect of violence, so the media and the public were primed to believe his version of events.

He did the same before the student protests of 2010, imploring parents to ‘talk to their children and make sure they’re aware of the potential dangers’, since there was ‘only so much police officers can do’ to protect them from violent yobs hijacking demonstrations: yobs, presumably, like the officer who hit Alfie Meadows over the head with a baton, and left him bleeding into his brain.

So perhaps police representatives should be restrained from such “priming” – or at the very least, the press should challenge them to demonstrate their reasons for making such claims.

The following year, over 100 UK Uncut protesters were lured out of Fortnum and Mason on false pretences and arrested for aggravated trespass.

Yvette Cooper gave the police her full-throated support in bringing ‘the full force of the law’ down on the ‘few hundred mindless idiots and thugs’ who had supposedly attacked people and property. In fact, less than a dozen people had been charged with violent offences. And all the Fortnum and Mason prosecutions were subsequently dropped.

But nobody at the police faced any criticism over the tactics they used or the lies they told.

This cyclical pattern creates a climate of impunity where the police are in a no-lose situation. If protests pass off peacefully, they are praised for handling them well. If they don’t, the violence is blamed on the people they are beating up. The very fact of protestors’ repression is treated as proof they were engaged in violence: the police ‘must have had a reason’.

This is victim-blaming.

Here is a direct example of it:

In the days around the G20 protests… the Home Affairs Select Committee conducted an inquiry, but they gave Nicola Fisher a much harder time than Bob Broadhurst – insinuating that she’d ‘asked for it’ by instinctively pushing back when a police officer first shoved her, and asking how much she’d got for selling her story.

Press challenges to the police narrative, it seems, are met with the threat of a costly court battle:

Climate Camp occupied Bishopsgate … announcing at the outset that the occupation would last 24 hours…. I started getting panicked phone calls from friends who were kettled there, pleading for our help. The police were advancing on them with dogs, batons and riot shields. People were being punched, dragged, and thrown for no reason.

Feeling helpless, I rang my boss, who eventually managed to speak to Bob Broadhurst’s deputy, Ian Thomas. He asked Thomas what the hell he thought he was doing, making clear that he thought the action was unlawful. The response was effectively: see you in court.

We know (don’t we? This Writer certainly understands how it works) that civil court action in the UK is a lengthy and costly process. The police have the infinite resources of the state to support them; the press do not. It seems, then, that if faced with the consequences of their actions, they are happy to buy justice.

And now we have a new Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill that hands new powers to the police without imposing any of the checks and balances that are needed to stop them behaving like criminals.

Patel’s response to policing that oversteps legal powers is simply to ratchet up the powers. They no longer need to worry about how much ‘disruption’ justifies violently dispersing a protest: now, the threshold will effectively be zero.

They no longer need to worry about proving aggravated trespass: now, all trespass will be criminal anyway. She is giving them the impunity they have always wanted.

This should worry us all. As this history shows, a right to protest that stops when the Met says so is no right at all.

So it seems the police have been acting as politicians’ paid thugs for many years (decades, in fact – look at the disgraceful way police were used as political weapons during the Miners’ Strike of 1984-5).

Faced with evidence of criminal behaviour by men in police uniforms, our government has chosen not to impose curbs, but to change the law so their thuggery becomes legal – putting the police in a class above the rest of us.

It means that you will have no rights at all in any dealings you have with the police. They will be able to do anything they want with you, or to you, with impunity.

Remember that in some cases this includes committing crimes such as murder and rape, thanks to a law the Tories brought in a few months ago.

If you voted Tory in 2019, it’s what you wanted. Own it.

But even if you did, that doesn’t mean you should accept it. If you now understand that you made a mistake, you’d better do something about it.

Because this repression will only get worse.

Source: How Protestors Get the Blame for Police Violence

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#PoliceBill attack on travellers is another step on Johnson’s journey to Hitlerian Nazism

Travellers: this is a council-run traveller site, so it looks orderly enough. But a proposed law means that even here the police could confiscate travellers’ homes, if officers don’t like the look of them.

Roma (or Romani); travellers; gypsies; diddycai; tinkers if you like. There are plenty of words for these almost universally maligned people.

They have a bad reputation because some of them are trespassers who will camp on any land, whether it is privately-owned or common, some of them are dirty and will leave their campsites filthy with litter, and some of them are prone to criminal behaviour.

In 1930s Germany, Hitler ramped up already-existing anti-gypsy laws to establish the pre-supposition that they were a “nuisance”, that they were criminal by their nature (so it follows that the authorities were allowed to assume they were criminals without them actually having to commit a crime), and that they should be moved on from encampments that were considered to cause a disturbance to the rest of the German population (in Hitler’s Germany, they were moved on into concentration camps where they were murdered in a holocaust that was every bit as brutal as the attempted genocide of the Jews).

Boris Johnson has been stealing policies from Hitler, it seems. Just take a look at his plans for travellers, as written into the new Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill that has just won its first major vote in the House of Commons. Here’s Ian Dunt to explain it to you:

There. Police only need to assume that, because a traveller is there, they are likely to engage in criminal activity, and they can then treat that traveller as if they had been seen to commit such an act (even though they haven’t).

It’s like “pre-crime”, as described in the movie Minority Report, which turns the law on its head, allowing people to be arrested on the basis of predictions that they will commit crime. In the film, these predictions were not necessarily accurate. In this law, there isn’t even a requirement to be.

To recap: on sight of a traveller, the police may confiscate everything they own. And what will happen to them then? An arrest for vagrancy?

It sets innocent people up to be criminalised because of who they are, which is a well-recognised form of prejudice. Suppose Johnson targeted Jews. It would be an attack on these people because of who they are, not what they do. That is what we have here.

It isn’t quite racism, and it can’t be anti-Semitism, but the lesson of Hitler tells us it is just as bad.

Oh, and by the way, illegal traveller encampments could have been made a thing of the past if only local authorities had obeyed a 1968 law (the commenter below was adrift by a few years) that ordered them to provide standing sites for travellers to camp:

The Caravan Sites Act of 1968 led to the creation of 400 sites, but was ignored by many local authorities. I recall Powys County Council dragging its heels over demands for such sites within the last 10 years.

By breaking the law, council leaders (many of whom, I have no doubt, are Conservatives) made it possible for the current Conservative government to create the current legislation that demands that they be treated as criminals for no reason at all.

The Bill is sponsored by Priti Patel, who is already running concentration camps for refugees from foreign countries.

Where do you think she’ll open her first concentration camp for travellers? And what will they do next?

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Is this the Tory plan to stuff up Suffolk with nuclear waste?

Hinkley C tower collapse: this happened on a site EDF is constructing, as recently as June this year. Despite this demonstrable failure of safety precautions, Boris Johnson’s corner-cutting Conservative government wants to pay the same outfit to build another one, next to a National Trust site and an RSPB bird sanctuary.

Those geniuses in the Conservative government are out to pollute our countryside with nuclear waste again.

Presumably they think Fukishima was long enough ago that everybody has forgotten about it.

Come to that, they probably think we’ve all forgotten about the collapse of part of the new Hinkley Point C nuclear generator, under construction in Somerset, in June.

Maybe that’s why they have announced that they are in talks with France’s government-owned EDF Energy firm about building a new £20 billion nuclear reactor at Sizewell in Suffolk.

According to the BBC,

The Sizewell C site could generate 3.2 gigawatts of electricity, enough to provide 7% of the UK’s energy needs.

The announcement is part of the long-awaited Energy White Paper, which ministers say will support up to 220,000 jobs over the next decade.

The policies should remove 230 million metric tonnes of emissions – equivalent to taking 7.5 million petrol cars off the road, the government says.

The paper… will also provide at least £6.7bn in support to the fuel poor and most vulnerable over the next six years.

Yes, but…

Hinkley Point C… has been hit with delays and rising costs, and is set to cost up to £2.9bn more than originally thought and be up to 15 months late.

The latest estimate for the project is between £21.5bn and £22.5bn, with EDF blaming “challenging ground conditions”.

Were those “challenging ground conditions” responsible for the collapse of a tower there last June? I wrote,

The 35-metre tower, weighing around 5,000 tonnes, suffered “structural damage” at around 7.30am, when onlookers claimed to have heard what sounded like an explosion.

Energy supplier EDF has denied that a blast occurred.

Commenting on the event, I stated:

I reckon the cause is obvious: bad design, substandard construction materials, corner-cutting in order to maximise profits.

So not only is this project a hugely expensive white elephant, it is a nuclear disaster waiting to happen.

Are we looking at the West Country’s future Fukushima?

And now the people of Suffolk are looking forward to all of this.

Already the announcement has been greeted with… shall we say trepidation?

It’s a good point. The price of renewables is plummetting, and could bring far more benefits for employment and the economy.

And also, who are we giving the money to, again?

Yes indeed; so much for Brexit. After more than five years of jingoism and sabre-rattling, it turns out that all that talk was just for show and the UK is going to continue selling every single nationally-owned asset it has to Johnny Foreigner.

It means that in the future, more than 10 per cent of the money we pay on our energy bills will go to the French government, where it will be invested in that country’s own energy policies.

Judging by what has happened with the privatised water firms, we already know that not a single penny will be spent on the UK.

I am also interested in this, which seems to be an expert view:

Finally, there’s this:

So this nuclear threat will be right next to a National Trust site and a bird sanctuary.

Is this part of the plan – to breed mutant birds?

Source: Sizewell C: Government in talks to fund £20bn nuclear plant – BBC News

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Leaked report warns of Covid-Brexit “horror show” – remember THIS IS WHAT BORIS JOHNSON WANTS

Two-fingered salute: the UK might fall into lawlessness and chaos because of Boris Johnson but he doesn’t care, as long as he gets what he wants.

A Cabinet Office “reasonable worst-case” report on the effects of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit combining with another wave of Covid-19 has laid out exactly what Boris Johnson wanted for the UK when he became PM.

Johnson, you’ll remember, did not want any trade deals with the European Union after the UK leaves that bloc.

It was widely believed that this is because the hedge fund managers who supported his bid to be Tory leader have bet heavily on the UK going into recession, with many big-name firms going out of business. The claim was that they could make £8 billion out of it.

Of course, none of these multi-billionaires care a fig about the rest of us. If the country falls into chaos they’ll be off to their holiday homes in the sun, with their cash safely stowed in a tax haven.

Meanwhile, back in Blighty, you will be left to deal with food, fuel and power shortages, illness and deaths caused by flood, flu and Covid-19, and incursions into the country from outside such as EU boats coming into our fishing waters.

And, as may reasonably be expected from his government’s failures so far on Covid-19 – the school reopening furore, school meals, exam results, care home deaths, PPE procurement, face mask procurement, test and trace, contract nepotism… the list goes on and on – on flooding (remember that?) and on any other subject you care to mention, the Johnson government has not planned any response to this at all.

The article goes on to state:

  • One in 20 Town Halls could go bust in a second Covid wave, sparking social care chaos.
  • The economic impact of the virus and Brexit could cause public disorder, shortages and price hikes.
  • Troops may have to be drafted on to the streets to help the police in the worst-case scenario — 1,500 are already on stand by.
  • Social distancing measures and masks will have to continue until 2021 regardless.
  • Supplies of food and fuel are all under threat this Christmas if Dover becomes blocked.

The planners warned that “pandemic influenza, severe flooding, a Covid second wave and an unruly exit from the EU transition period could cause a systemic economic crisis with major impact on ­disposable incomes, unemployment, business activity, international trade and market stability.”

It could be combined with likely “coordinated industrial action” as well as shortages risking public disorder and a mental health crisis that will hit the poorest hardest.

Nobody in a Tory government is going to worry about a mental health crisis that harms poor people, of course.

And the attitude by leading Tories to this frankly terrifying report seems to be that if they ignore it, it will go away.

Michael Gove is quoted as babbling: “We got Brexit done with a great deal in January.

“A brighter future awaits as we forge our own path.”

A government spokesperson did add that this was a “reasonable worst case” scenario.

But on the Johnson ministry’s record so far, it is stretching the facts to breaking point to suggest that the government is “ensuring we are ready for all eventualities”.

That simply is not going to happen. On the evidence of the last 12 months, it would be irresponsible to believe anything Johnson, his ministers or his spokespeople say about it.

But there’s one more matter to remember:

If this disaster happens, then there is absolutely nothing you can do about it, other than to prepare as well as you can (because the Tories simply won’t).

I anticipate another stockpiling splurge, worse than the rush for toilet roll in March, at the very least.

Obviously the worst-case will be social unrest and violence – and I’m not ruling that out, either.

Whatever happens, if we end up with no deal and any of the feared outcomes are triggered, you must remember (because he’ll lie about it):

It is what Boris Johnson wanted all along.

Source: Leaked document reveals Cabinet’s emergency plans for perfect storm of No Deal Brexit and coronavirus second wave

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Hinkley tower collapse: what did you expect from this duff, expensive, USELESS project?

Hinkley C: does this look like safe construction to you?

The dust has probably settled by now – physically, if not metaphorically.

The decision to build a third nuclear reactor at Hinkley Point in Somerset was hugely controversial and had been fought for 40 years before the Tories finally had their way in 2016.

They signed complex financial agreement with Électricité de France (EDF), the energy giant that is 83% owned by the French government, and China General Nuclear Power Group (CGN), a state-run Chinese energy company for the provision of the reactor, in a new design that has never been made to work, anywhere in the world.

For this, the UK is paying £20.3 billion and when it is working – if it ever does – the UK will pay £92.50 per megawatt-hour, which is roughly twice the current market rate for this kind of energy.

In a comment that typifies the scandal that has been Tory privatisation of UK utilities like energy, former EDF director Gérard Magnin has described Hinkley C as “a way to make the British fund the renaissance of nuclear in France”.

And now part of it has collapsed, sending a huge dust cloud into the skies above Somerset:

The 35-metre tower, weighing around 5,000 tonnes, suffered “structural damage” at around 7.30am, when onlookers claimed to have heard what sounded like an explosion.

Witnesses reported hearing a loud bang at around 7.30am, but energy supplier EDF has denied that a blast occurred, Somerset Live reports.

In a statement the company said no one had been hurt.

The energy supplier stated: “At around 7.30am a silo in the concrete batching plant at Hinkley Point C suffered structural damage, releasing a dust cloud around the area.

“Nobody has been injured and the emergency services were not required.

“An investigation is underway to understand the cause of the event.”

I reckon the cause is obvious: bad design, substandard construction materials, corner-cutting in order to maximise profits.

So not only is this project a hugely expensive white elephant, it is a nuclear disaster waiting to happen.

Are we looking at the West Country’s future Fukushima?

Source: Huge dust cloud released at UK nuclear power site after tower ‘collapses’ – Mirror Online

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Prorogation: Has Johnson even bothered to ask the Queen if she’ll allow it?

It’s “duper’s delight” yet again: It seems Boris Johnson thinks he can fool the Queen into giving him a free Party Election Broadcast. Wouldn’t she rather get her reserve powers out and sack him, instead?

Boris Johnson is planning to prorogue Parliament again next week, according to the political correspondents on the mainstream news. But they’ve been very quiet about whether the Queen will let him.

I made the point a couple of days ago that he brought exactly no new policies to the Conservative conference, yet now he is saying he wants to shut down Parliament for a further three debating days – on top of the 10 or more that were lost in the illegal prorogation – and re-open it with a Queen’s Speech detailing a new legislative programme. Is he delusional?

Private Eye certainly seems to believe Her Majesty is likely to cast a jaundiced eye over any future proposals from the man we call BoJob.

According to Beastrabban, “The magazine’s ‘Court Circular’ … covers the fall-out from Lady Hale’s judgement, including the Queen’s immense displeasure at hearing that the judges concluded that sovereignty lay with parliament and the orders written in her own hand were absolutely valueless. But she is also angry with Dictator J. Peasemold Johnson for not defending her in this fiasco. The mag’s correspondent, ‘Flunkey’, writes

“Johnson’s phone call with Brenda later on Judgment Day was similarly perplexing. He had part-blustered, part-charmed Brenda into believing his vision of a prorogational paradise and presented her with legal opinions to back up his case. But lawyers can be found to argue that black is white if someone is paying them to. Brenda bowed to Johnson’s demands because she had no choice. But it is the job of prime ministers to protect a monarch who has no voice, and that is what Johnson failed to do. Worse, he didn’t even try very hard. The palace had assumed that Johnson’s phone call, with officials listening in on both sides, would consist of an apology and a request that she return to London to accept his resignation. But no. Despite briefings to the contrary from Downing Street, Johnson merely told her he “deeply and sincerely” regretted the supreme court’s decision… and that was it.

“Things look set to change now that the Supremes have sung. The palace will not indulge Johnson so readily in future. A normal state opening of parliament this month has been almost impossible: what if Lady Hale and her colleagues were to conclude that the Queen’s Speech, too, was written in invisible ink? Private audiences between Brenda and Johnson may become not so private, with suggestions they should be recorded in some form and stored in the archives just in case. And it is possible that a very reluctant Brenda might be talked into using her untested reserve powers to act in a crisis by dissolving parliament or sacking the prime minister.”

And then there’s this, from The Independent: If a Queen’s Speech is made within weeks of an expected general election, will it not assume the characteristics of a Party Political Broadcast for the Johnson government?

After the prorogation fiasco, Her Majesty is unlikely to take kindly to that!

The article states: “Boris Johnson will be using the Queen ‘to make a Conservative Party political broadcast’ if he launches a new session of parliament just weeks before a general election, a constitutional expert is warning.

“The prime minister is being urged not to ‘further abuse her position’ – after the embarrassment of the Queen’s signature being used to shut down parliament before being declared unlawful by the Supreme Court.

“Mr Johnson’s new plan is to prorogue parliament for just a few days, to allow a Queen’s Speech on 14 October when the monarch will set out his flagship domestic legislation amid huge pomp and ceremony.”

It quotes Professor Robert Hazell of the constitution unit at University College London as follows: “The Queen’s Speech will be not so much the government announcing the legislative programme for the next session, but more of an election manifesto.

“The Queen will have been used to make a Conservative Party political broadcast.

“It would bring more embarrassment to the Queen, dragging her again into political controversy.

“Boris Johnson has already caused the greatest constitutional controversy of her reign; he should not further abuse her position.”

He added something that the rest of us have suspected for some time: “This would be the first Queen’s Speech when the government had no real intention of introducing the bills it had just announced, because it hoped that, within weeks, parliament would be dissolved for an early election.”

So those funding promises on the NHS and all the other services BoJob and his cronies promised to boost really were examples of “duper’s delight” and they had no intention of fulfilling them.

Put it all together and, if I were in the Monarch’s position, I would be very nervous about agreeing to anything this man wants. He has proved himself to be uninterested in preserving the reputation of any of the UK’s constitutional pillars – and there is also a suggestion that his real purpose may be to make money for a shady group of backers at the expense of the entire nation.

Will the Queen really allow herself to be brought down by the antics of this liar?

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Police service rejects new powers lowering bar for stop and search

West Midlands Police was among the services included in a pilot scheme to lower the level of authorisation needed for stop-searches – but didn’t take up the extension of powers at all.

Police and crime commissioner David Jamieson said Home Secretary Priti Patel’s decision to expand the pilot scheme nationwide suggested she had not bothered to examine its findings.

He said West Midlands police did not use the extra powers because they didn’t need to – and condemned the extension announcement as an attempt to get headlines ahead of an election.

Amazingly, considering his comments, the Home Office has asserted that all forces involved in the pilot had said they are “using some or both”* of the relaxed restrictions on powers.

West Midlands police have refused to take up an offer of new powers to make it easier for officers to conduct stop and searches.

The force was included in a pilot scheme to lower the level of authorisation needed for such searches, but data shows officers still sought approval from assistant chief constables.

Section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act allows officers to search anyone in a designated area without suspicion for a defined period if police anticipate serious violence.

On Sunday the home secretary, Priti Patel, announced a nationwide extension of the pilot scheme lowering the authorisation needed for a section 60 from a senior officer to an inspector.

Source: Police force declines new powers lowering bar for stop and search | Law | The Guardian

*Whatever that means!

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McKee murder prompts politicians to re-start NI power sharing talks

How welcome to see that Theresa May has finally got off her thumbs and made a start towards restoring the devolved government in Northern Ireland, after pressure from This Site and the general public.

I wrote after Lyra McKee’s murder last weekend: “It is now 21 years since the Good Friday Agreement heralded the end of the ‘Troubles’ in Northern Ireland. Such an anniversary is a time to reaffirm the commitment to friendship – not to open up opportunities for a return to hate.

“Northern Ireland needs the restoration of its government in Stormont – now, not after Theresa May has spent another few months or years stalling so she can extend her own tenure in Number 10.

“The best way to shut down the possibility of violence is to deny people any excuse for it.”

Well…

An agreement has been reached to establish a new round of talks involving all the main political parties in Northern Ireland the UK and Irish prime ministers, Theresa May and Leo Varadkar, have said in a joint statement.

The public clamour for political progress following the killing of the journalist Lyra McKee encouraged both governments to launch a fresh attempt to restore power sharing in Northern Ireland, they said in a statement released on Friday afternoon.

It seems this is one message that has managed to get through to the UK’s recalcitrant prime minister.

Source: Deal reached for Northern Ireland power-sharing talks | Politics | The Guardian


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It’s a Tory total collapse as they are forced to accept every Labour amendment to the Budget

Labour could have moved that the Treasury be re-named “Philip Hammond is a dunce” and the government would probably have agreed to it.

Too harsh? Well, let’s be satisfied with the amendments to the Finance Bill on tax evasion, gaming duty and Fixed Odds Betting Terminals – and with the promise that there is worse to follow for Theresa May and her cronies.

She had to capitulate because, if a vote had been taken and she lost, it would have been considered proof that her government does not have the confidence of the Commons. By convention, any government in such a position should resign and allow the main Opposition party a chance to form an administration.

Instead, Mrs May is now the head of a minority government, critically vulnerable to collapse if the Opposition parties demand a vote of “no confidence”, because the Democratic Unionist Party has withdrawn its support over her disastrous Brexit agreement with the EU.

As Mrs May is determined to have her deal or no deal, and the DUP’s MPs believe neither will support what they consider to be good for Northern Ireland, it seems unlikely that they will restore their support for her government.

I predict that if the current Brexit deal goes to a vote, Mrs May will lose badly. Labour may then demand a vote of “no confidence” in the Conservative Party’s ability to govern – and such a vote seems certain to topple the government.

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell was quick to capitalise on the situation. He said: “It’s absolutely staggering that the Government has accepted all Labour amendments to the Finance Bill because it couldn’t rely upon the DUP’s support. The Tories are in office but not in power. We’re watching a government falling apart in front of us.”

Mrs May is currently in Brussels, where she is probably begging the Eurocrats for latitude to resolve the impossible situation into which she has put herself – because we should all remember that this is a crisis entirely of the Conservative government’s own making.

Meanwhile Boris Johnson and Philip Hammond are both set to appear at the DUP’s conference over the weekend. If they think they can bully the Irish into backing them again, they’ll be in for a shock.

It has been great fun watching the drama play out on Twitter:

So the current situation can be summed up as follows:

https://twitter.com/MsParaDoxy/status/1064673997974065152

Of course we now know that Mrs May’s strings are being pulled by the Opposition parties – and any opportunity available (to mention the backdrop sign at the Tory conference) will be theirs.

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