Self-satisfied: Boris Johnson sat speechless but smirking when Ed Miliband ripped apart his justifications for breaking his own treaty. Johnson doesn’t care about the law. He doesn’t care about what breaking it will cost because he won’t pay. You will.
The fact that he couldn’t even be bothered to respond to a ‘letter before action’ from the European Union demonstrates Boris Johnson’s contempt for the law – and the reason he should not be a member of Parliament.
Johnson’s Internal Market Bill (which is still not yet a law) breaches his own EU Withdrawal Agreement, that he signed in January.
If made law, the Bill would overrule the withdrawal agreement Johnson signed, by banning border checks on goods moving from Northern Ireland to Great Britain which are set to commence under the agreement from 31 December.
Johnson had signed up to the union’s customs code to get a deal, but now says Britain should be exempt from parts of it.
The European Commission confirmed on Tuesday that the deadline to respond to the letter has now come and gone without a UK response, meaning the court action against the UK will move to the next phase.
Tory government ministers have already admitted in parliament that the bill will break international law, but say the policy is justified because the law would only be broken in a “limited and specific” way.
We’ll see how that argument plays out in court. Badly, This Writer would expect. After all, a burglar breaks the law only in a “limited and specific” way, by breaking into people’s houses and stealing their belongings. If he’s prosecuted for it, he’ll still end up in prison.
To UK readers: how does it feel to be living in a rogue, outlaw state?
When every single prosecution under new legislation is found to have been carried out unlawfully, that is poor law-making and should be repealed.
The Tory government is wasting the time of the police, the public and the courts with this silliness.
But it won’t repeal or change the Act of Parliament responsible for it.
Why not? Are these petty politicians taking delight in causing mischief for no good reason?
Who voted these clowns into a position where they could do this?
And do those voters now regret their hasty choice?
The government is refusing to repeal a “draconian” coronavirus law – despite it being used to wrongly prosecute scores of people.
The Coronavirus Act has not been used lawfully in a single criminal case since it came into force on 25 March, according to a review by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).
Human rights lawyers and campaigners have condemned the creation of “unnecessary” new offences, which have been used against children and vulnerable people.
They include a woman who was fined £660 for a crime she had not committed, five days after the Coronavirus Act became law. Charges have so far been withdrawn or overturned for 53 people and more cases are being reviewed.
Asked by The Independent whether it would abolish the Coronavirus Act in light of the changes and unlawful prosecutions, the Department of Health said it would not.
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.
Not strictly true: Many of the deceased had already completed appeals at the time of their death. We don’t know how many, though, because we don’t know how many of them lost. Even after giving up and releasing some figures, the DWP has been extremely vague with them.
Did you know that the Department for Work and Pensions spent two years delaying the publication of death figures for incapacity benefit claimants when they could have been completed in a week?
The Office for National Statistics provides information on how to calculate Age-Standardised Mortality Rates, including information on the size of the general population and the death rates for particular age ranges within it. You can download the templates yourself from this site.
This means that the Department for Work and Pensions could have used its own figures to complete this work within a single day – and could have had it verified within a week at the most.
Yet ministers chose to dawdle for more than a year – more than two years if you don’t believe the excuse that their 2013 claim to be publishing the figures in the future was a mistake.
Does it come down to the fact that 2,890 people died in December 2012, while claiming Employment and Support Allowance – a tripling of the average death rate for the previous 11 months?
Did ministers want to hide the fact that the policies of Iain Duncan Smith were causing more and more people to die while claiming the payments that should have helped them to live? And was this not happening when they should have been using the figures to prevent such deaths?
Does the law not state – explicitly – that anyone, in a corporate body such as the DWP, whose negligence causes the deaths of others, should face prosecution for corporate manslaughter?
It is easy to forget how angry we should be at the bankers.
They made an almighty mess of the economy, then they accepted so much money from the government to keep them afloat that they crippled us for years to come, and then they carried on exactly as if nothing had happened.
Their banks are still losing money but the bankers are still taking home huge bonuses, on top of their huge salaries. Some of these bonuses are measured as multiples of their basic pay.
Can you imagine the outcry if all the rest of us demanded to be treated that way?
David Cameron, our comedy Prime Minister, is fighting a European Union scheme to cap those bonuses, saying that without the incentive of huge gobs of cash, these bankers – who caused the crash, remember – will leave the UK. He thinks we need them. According to the BBC’s Any Questions today, he might have a point.
It depends whether all those bankers, with their bonuses, will be paying the full 50 per cent rate of income tax. If they are all doing so, then, fair enough, we need them, because that money goes back into the national bank account and helps us out. If not – and this seems far more likely – then why keep them? There are plenty of others, in jobs lower down the scale, waiting their turn. Considering the mess that was created in 2008, they’ll probably do a better job.
If Mr Cameron really wants all those bad bankers to stay in the UK, he would be more popular if he quoted a different reason: Justice. How many British bankers have been prosecuted for causing the crash? Is it even possible to prosecute them for it? If not, how can they be punished, other than by docking their salaries or pay? Making the banking institutions themselves pay up is not useful in this instance, because it assigns no personal responsibility.
There is the issue of whether the bankers are actually managing to re-stabilise our financial institutions. If so, then that might be considered a good reason to continue providing their bonuses. If a bank’s losses go down from billions to merely hundreds of millions, is that a justification for paying out hundreds of millions more in bonuses?
It all seems very complicated.
But that doesn’t mean we should stop being angry about it, and it doesn’t mean we should stop seeking compensation for it.
The bottom line is that the banks have absorbed hundreds of billions of pounds that belong to British taxpayers, and now the vast majority of British taxpayers are having to go without, due to a shortage of cash, while the bankers – with their bonuses – are allowed to continue their profligate lifestyle.
What better demonstration could there be, of the fact that we are definitely not “all in it together”?
The honourable thing to do, for the bankers, would have been to make a solemn commitment to provide restitution for all the damage they caused, and to agree not to demand bonuses or to move elsewhere until that restitution has been provided in full.
But these are not honourable people.
Maybe it would be better to point out that we do have banks that are owned by the state. Perhaps we should take the view that, if those other banks that received so much money are now so rich that they can continue paying out enormous bonuses, then they are clearly in a position to pay back their debt to the nation and return the money that was provided to them. If they are unable to do so, then they should be broken up, with citizens’ accounts absorbed into the nationalised banks (to safeguard our savings), and the rest of the organisation sold off piecemeal to pay off the debt.
Hang that threat over them, and let’s see what happens!
But we won’t see that, will we?
It isn’t going to happen, and it’s just the naive speculation of a lay spectator, viewing it all from the outside.
Still, it’s a starting-point.
Does anybody with more expertise have a practical plan to get our money back?
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