Tag Archives: Spain

Gibraltar edges closer to Spain with post-Brexit tax treaty

Gibraltar: Theresa May let the Spanish use the Rock to roll right over her. Now it is drifting towards Spain (politically, not physically).

Is it good or bad?

The UK government has signed a new treaty with Spain over Gibraltar. No, it doesn’t transfer ownership of the Rock back to the Spanish, but it does align their tax systems.

Some might think this is inconsequential – but it puts Gibraltar in a closer position to Spain (and the EU), and will prevent it from being used as a tax haven.

Gibraltar voted to remain in the European Union in the 2016 referendum and the result – forcing the UK to leave – created considerable issues for the small community there.

Many commentators see this treaty – the first explicitly over Gibraltar between the UK and Spain in around 308 years – as a first step towards handing the Rock back.

Even if it isn’t, it seems likely the UK government will face criticism – if anybody gets to hear about it; the British mainstream media have ignored the treaty (in accordance with the apparent drift towards fascism in this country – the only news the public gets is what the country’s masters decide may be permitted).

Spain demanded a free hand to negotiate the future of Gibraltar with the UK back in 2018, raising concerns that its government believed it would be better-able to have the Rock returned to it without the other EU nations holding it back.

I said at the time that a threat to the UK’s ownership of even one territory could create a cascade effect in which attempts are made to take many of them away at once – and the UK’s military capacity may no longer be great enough to prevent them all.

But the loss of even one will harm the country’s international reputation and accelerate its decline into backwater, “has-been” status – from which the world’s rising players may not allow it to rise for many lifetimes.

Theresa May, prime minister at the time, followed this by allowing Spain a veto over Gibraltar benefiting from any future trade deal between the UK and the EU. This prompted Spanish politicians to claim that the UK would have to open talks over “joint sovereignty”.

That hasn’t happened yet and, personally, This Writer couldn’t care less if a few tax avoiders have their noses put out of joint, but I wonder how it will affect business there.

An economic downturn could be all the prompting needed to turn residents away from a UK that they may rightly feel has betrayed them.

Source: Spain-Gibraltar: Gibraltar Treaty

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Priti Patel has ashamed us all with her mistreatment of asylum-seekers

Remember this?

The Guardian has reported on what happened to these people – and it reflects very poorly on Priti Patel and her Home Office.

The 11 men were left destitute after being dumped in Madrid, Spain, by the Home Office chartered flight:

Barbara Pomfret, an adviser to corporate companies about social responsibility, who is based in Granada, said she wanted to offer support to the asylum seekers, especially when she learned they had been left in the street. The 40-year-old paid for food and a few days of accommodation for the group and set up a crowdfund page with her husband, Thomas Pomfret, to help support them.

“As a UK citizen I am ashamed that our government would leave asylum seekers on the streets with absolutely no support. As I see it the only difference between me and this group of people is luck. And if I was ever so unlucky as to find myself in a similar situation I hope that someone with more luck would be willing to help me.”

Several of the asylum seekers told The Guardian they had close family members in the UK. All had fled persecution and some had experienced torture.

All but one of them say they were removed from the UK without having their identity documents returned to them. Home Office sources said they were looking into this.

The Home Office has said it is under no obligation to monitor the treatment of asylum seekers it has returned to another country.

In other words, Patel and her cronies would have been happy if these people had starved, as long as it was on the streets of some other country.

I am reminded again of the words of Tony Benn: “The way a government treats refugees shows how they would treat the rest of us if they thought they could get away with it.”

I am also reminded of the way the Tories have treated sick and disabled people they have unfairly cut off from receiving benefits; they never bothered to check up on the well-being of those people so we have no idea what happened to them.

So Ms Pomfret is right: we should all be ashamed of living in a country whose government turns its back on people who need help.

Source: Woman who helped deported Syrians ‘ashamed of UK government’ | UK news | The Guardian

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Spain approves Universal Basic Income – and it’s more than UK sick and disabled get

Universal Basic Income: the Spaniards are getting it (in Euros, obviously) – why can’t people in the UK have it?

Only a few weeks ago, Tories were delighting in claiming that no other nation had adopted a Universal Basic Income scheme in response to calls for the UK to adopt it during the Covid-19 crisis.

Now they can’t say that any more.

And the amount being provided to Spanish citizens will be more than people on the normal rate of Universal Credit, on Employment and Support Allowance, or on the lowest rate of Personal Independence Payment (if I recall correctly) – around £95 per week.

If anyone is wondering how we reached a point where Spain supports its people better than the UK, just remember we’ve had more than 40 years of right-wing governments and they have laid us low.

Spain’s cabinet has approved the creation of a national minimum income, according to a government spokesperson.

Deputy Prime Minister Pablo Iglesias told a news conference on Friday the creation of a minimum income worth €462 (£416.92) a month will target some 850,000 households or 2.5 million people.

The government would pay the monthly stipend and top up existing revenue for people earning less so that they receive at least that minimum amount every month, he said.

Source: Spain approves national minimum income scheme | The Independent

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Coronavirus: if Spain can introduce a Universal Basic Income, why can’t the UK?

Money: The UK economy has plenty but it goes to the wrong places and people fall through gaps in the system. Can Boris Johnson be persuaded to bring in a Universal Basic Income that is simple and cheap?

This is an important question: the UK has a larger economy than Spain, so why can’t the UK have a Universal Basic Income like Spain?

Instead – at the moment – we have a series of scheme for people in different circumstances, that are both complicated and costly.

UBI would be easier and cheaper.

But the Tory government won’t have it.

Why? Well, the logical answer is because Tories don’t want to supply a steady income to poor people, in a system that they won’t be able to remove again without public outcry, after the coronavirus crisis is over.

They have already said they think it discourages people from seeking work, but this is nonsense; it means people don’t have to take jobs for employers who undervalue the work they do.

Underlying this, we have evidence that Tories simply like to persecute people, and a conditional benefit system makes this possible.

But the SNP’s Ian Blackford is right – the current patchwork of schemes is full of gaps – and people are being left behind.

Spain has said the system it is introducing is an emergency measure – but if successful it would become a permanent instrument to tackle poverty.

Now, why would the Tories want to oppose that?

Source: Government urged to introduce ‘universal basic income’ after Spain move – Welfare Weekly

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May gives away sovereignty over Gibraltar – Brexit bargaining or bargain-basement Black Friday barminess?

Gibraltar: Theresa May has let the Spanish use the Rock to roll right over her.

Once upon a time we were told we have all the bargaining chips. Now the chips are down and our representatives are giving away everything – including their credibility:

The devil’s in the detail so here’s what has happened, according to The Observer:

“The British ambassador to the EU, Sir Tim Barrow, wrote to concede that Gibraltar would not necessarily be covered by a future trade deal with the EU.

“The development gives Spain a veto over Gibraltar benefiting from a future trade and security agreement between Brussels and the British government.

“The Spanish leader, Pedro Sánchez, reacted immediately, claiming the UK would now have to open talks on “joint sovereignty” of Gibraltar, over which Spain has had a claim since the military dictatorship of Francisco Franco.”

Joint sovereignty over Gibraltar with Spain? Who voted for that because we know Gibraltar never did!

Of course, Theresa May will swear vehemently that she has not offered anything of the kind. But we’ve heard that before – notably when she has assured us that she will not give way on a particular point of the Brexit negotiations, only to give way almost immediately afterwards.

She has given away our rights and privileges.

She has given away our economic advantages.

And now she is giving away our territories and citizens.

Like the rest of her Brexit plan, this is nothing but a betrayal of the British people – in this case, the British people living on Gibraltar.

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Gibraltar quarrel shows Brexit could herald the final demise of the British Empire

Gibraltar: The latest obstacle to Theresa May’s Brexit plan.

It’s the same with all empires at the end – the subject territories sense that their erstwhile masters have become weak and flabby, and start splitting away, or their former owners swoop in to take back what they consider theirs.

We have already seen the Democratic Unionist Party reneging on its confidence and supply deal to prop up Theresa May’s minority Conservative government in fear that the former will happen if the parts of her Brexit agreement concerning Northern Ireland come into force.

Now it seems the latter is happening, with Spain threatening to reject the deal unless it is given a free hand to negotiate the future of Gibraltar with the UK, separately from the rest of the EU.

The intention is clear: Spain wants Gibraltar back, and believes that it will have a better chance of achieving this without the other EU countries holding it back.

Nobody can blame Spanish prime minister Pedro Sanchez and his foreign minister Josep Borrell because their logic makes perfect sense; the UK has shown nothing but weakness throughout the Brexit negotiations and it seems likely they believe Mrs May – or her successor, if she loses office as a result of domestic blunders – will have no choice but to concede the territory, in order to avoid harm to our international trading agreements.

Of course, we’ve all been told the British Empire ended more than half a century ago. But dependents like Gibraltar have helped the UK maintain itself as a strong military power with a stake in international affairs.

A threat to the UK’s ownership of even one such territory could create a cascade effect in which attempts are made to take many of them away at once – and the UK’s military capacity may no longer be great enough to prevent them all.

But the loss of even one will harm the country’s international reputation and accelerate its decline into backwater, “has-been” status – from which the world’s rising players may not allow it to rise for many lifetimes.

That’s just another potential consequence of David Cameron’s selfishness – and that of the Conservative Party that supported his halfwitted idea to have a referendum on our membership of the European Union when it really wasn’t a big issue to most people in the country.

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This is what Boris Johnson wouldn’t condemn – and another reason he has to go

It’s no good people saying Theresa May is a weak prime minister because she won’t sack Boris Johnson; his own weakness as foreign secretary means he compliments her perfectly.

Look at the Catalan independence referendum:

The Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson refused to condemn widespread police violence against civilians as they sought to cast their votes in Catalonia’s unsanctioned independence referendum yesterday.

Responding to the crisis, Mr Johnson said: “Obviously we are very anxious about any violence. We hope that things will sort themselves out, though clearly you have to be sensitive to the constitutional proprieties.

“As I understand it the referendum is not legal, so there are difficulties.”

Now look at what he refused to condemn:


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Catalan referendum brutality is a warning to the UK of what happens when a government turns against the people

Spanish police push people with a shield outside a polling station in Barcelona [Image: AFP/Getty Images].

The violence by Spanish police against the people of Catalonia is a harsh lesson to us all.

It shows that a government that does not accept the will of the people – we’re told 90 per cent of those who managed to vote wanted independence – is happy to harm the people who try to exercise that will.

It shows that such a government will use its police force as a political weapon to gain its own ends.

Basically, it has shown us the behaviour of a Conservative government, in the UK, in the near future.

Tories will cling onto power, no matter what. And they are becoming desperate. That is why This Writer is concerned that we will see similar scenes to those shown in the video clips that follow – not in a foreign land but here on our home soil.

Spain’s prime minister doesn’t care about democracy. We have seen recently, with their moves to rig Parliamentary committee membership and deny the result of the general election, that the Tories don’t care about democracy either.

So take careful note of what happened in Catalonia. It could happen on your doorstep soon.

This woman is saying Spanish police deliberately broke her fingers, one by one:

https://twitter.com/DaniMateoAgain/status/914467943966236673

The above is a very good question – but then, the BBC initially chose not to show the violence being carried out on the orders of the Spanish prime minister, and came under fire for it:

https://twitter.com/Butterfly_Reb/status/914417768329564160

Catalan emergency officials say 761 people have been injured as police used force to try to block voting in Catalonia’s independence referendum.

The Spanish government had pledged to stop a poll that was declared illegal by the country’s constitutional court.

Police officers prevented some people from voting, and seized ballot papers and boxes at polling stations.

In the regional capital Barcelona, police used batons and fired rubber bullets during pro-referendum protests.

Read more: Catalan referendum: ‘Hundreds hurt’ as police try to stop voters


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The Tories have run out of momentum, ideas and even arguments

Old Labour: Oversaw the longest periods of economic growth in British history and DIDN'T cause the biggest crash (that was neoliberalism, beloved of Conservatives). There is nothing wrong with it.

Old Labour: Oversaw the longest periods of economic growth in British history and DIDN’T cause the biggest crash (that was neoliberalism, beloved of Conservatives). There is nothing wrong with it.

Dear old Fraser Nelson has been trying to generate some momentum against Ed Miliband’s plans for a Labour government.

But, bless ‘im, not only did he hit the nail on the head when he wrote (in The Spectator), “Tories seem to have lost interest in ideas”, he might just as well have been talking about the Tory press because – other than the parts in which he praises Miliband for his political acumen and perception, Fraser has nothing new to say at all.

“Why, if he is such a joke, has Labour led in the opinion polls for three years solidly? And why has he been the bookmakers’ favourite to win the next general election for even longer?” These are the questions Fraser asks, and then goes on to answer in the most glowing terms possible.

“His agenda is clear, radical, populist and … popular. His speeches are intellectually coherent, and clearly address the new problems of inequality,” writes Fraser.

“His analysis is potent because he correctly identifies the problem. There is [a] major problem with the recovery, he says, in that the spoils are going to the richest, and it’s time to act… George Osborne does not talk about this. He prefers to avoid the wider issue of inequality. This leaves one of the most interesting debates of our times entirely open to Miliband.”

All of the above is a gift to the Labour leadership. Fraser has scored a huge own-goal by admitting the Labour leader – far from being “a joke”, has correctly identified the problem and can say what he likes because the Tories won’t even discuss it!

Worse still (for Fraser), he seems to think that telling us Ed Miliband is mining Labour’s past policies to get future success will put us off.

Hasn’t anybody told Fraser – yet – that it is current neoliberal policies, as practised by both Labour and the Tories, that caused the crash of 2007 onwards? With that as our context, why not go back and resurrect policies that offer a plausible alternative?

As a Conservative, Fraser should appreciate the irony that it is Labour who are now looking at the past to create the future.

“The philosophical underpinning is rehabilitated: that the free enterprise system does not work, and should be put under greater government control,” writes Fraser. “That companies, bankers and markets have buggered up Britain — and it’s time for people, through Big Government, to fight back.” Who could argue with that?

Then Fraser goes into some of those policies, like the plan to revive the 50 per cent tax rate. “But Miliband isn’t taxing for revenue. He’s taxing for the applause of the electorate and he calculates that the more he beats up on bankers and the rich, the louder the masses will cheer.” The answer to that is yes! What’s wrong with that? The Coalition came into office on a ticket that said bankers would pay for the damage they caused, and yet bankers have been among the principal beneficiaries of the ongoing raid on the public finances that the Coalition calls its “long-term economic plan”. In the face of dishonesty on that scale, Fraser should be more surprised that the North hasn’t invaded the Square Mile and strung anybody in a suit up on a lamppost – yet.

Next up, Fraser tries to attack Miliband’s proposed revival of a Kinnock plan for a state-run ‘British Investment Bank’ and two new high street bank chains. To this writer, the prospect of two new, state-run and regulated, banks is a brilliant idea! No more rip-off charges for services that should be free! Investment in growth, rather than short-term profit! And all run the way banks should be run – prudently and with the interests of the customer – rather than the shareholder – at heart. How can Fraser (bless ‘im) argue with that?

Argue he does. He writes: “As Simon Walker, head of the Institute of Directors, put it: ‘The last time the government told a bank what to do, Lloyds was ordered to sell branches to the Co-op’s Reverend Flowers. And we all know how that ended.’ Wrong. European regulators ordered the government (then principle shareholder in Lloyds) to sell the branches, and it happened on the Coalition government’s watch. In fact, George Osborne welcomed the deal. That’s an argument against Conservative mismanagement.

Fraser goes on to claim that Miliband doesn’t care how his bank project will work out – he just wants it done. He’s on an ideological crusade. Again, this provokes comparisons with the Tories that are (for the Tories) extremely uncomfortable. The Tories (and their little yellow Tory Democrat friends) have spent the last four years on an ideological crusade that has robbed the poorest people in the UK of almost everything they have, and are now starting to attack people who are better off (but still not posh enough) – they can hardly criticise Labour for having an ideology of its own.

The line about green policies which cost nine jobs for every four created – in Spain – is risible. Fraser has chosen a country where green policies have not worked well. How are they managing in Scandinavia?

Fraser says Labour’s energy price freeze “magically” makes good a 1983 pledge for everyone to afford adequate heat and light at home – without commenting on the fact that energy companies have been ripping us all off for many years and failing to invest in the future of power generation; they are an example of the worst kind of industrial privatisation.

Fraser says Labour has revived a 1983 demand for “a supply of appropriately qualified teachers” as though that is a bad idea (it isn’t. Bringing in unqualified people to act as teachers in Michael Gove’s silly ‘free schools’ sandpit was the bad idea). Note he says Labour wants “union-approved” qualified teachers – depending on mention of the unions to get a knee-jerk reaction from his readers, no doubt.

Fraser says Miliband attacks “predator” companies – moneylenders who offer short-term loans; people who make fixed-odds betting machines; landowners who stand accused of hoarding and thwarting housebuilding. “When Miliband talks about the future, he says very little about what he’d do with government. He talks about what he’d do to British business. All this amounts to a blitz of regulation, edicts and interference,” he writes.

This is to suggest that “regulation” is a dirty word – a synonym for “interference”. Let’s help Fraser out by suggesting a word he can use instead of “regulation” or “interference”.

That word is “help” – and it exemplifies what regulation is, in fact, about – helping companies to provide the best service possible, with the least possible corruption or profiteering, to ensure that customers get what they want and are happy to come back – boosting prosperity for everybody.

Substitute that word for the others and Fraser’s remaining rhetoric looks very different:

“All this amounts to a blitz of help” evokes the response, about time too!

“[Tristram] Hunt does not pretend that help at this level is being attempted in any free country” begs the question, why not?

While Fraser may have set out to write an assassination piece on Ed Miliband’s Labour, there can be no doubt that he ended up doing the exact opposite. It wasn’t his intention – look at his final few lines: “Miliband is bold enough to think that, in a country midway through the worst recovery in history, there may be a market for all this now. And most terrifyingly of all, he might be right.”

This botched attempt at scaremongering only exposes right-wing ideology for what it is: Out-argued, outclassed and badly out-of-step with the thoughts of the British people.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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