Boris Johnson: he said he had seen no evidence of Russian interference in UK politics – but it was subsequently revealed that nobody in his government had even bothered to look for it. Here, he is pictured with Russian president Vladimir Putin.
The UK’s Tory government is being taken to the European Court of Human Rights over its failure to seek evidence of Russian influence in the referendum on whether the UK should leave the European Union in 2016.
The only response to have come from the Tories so far is that they think the UK should leave the European Convention on Human Rights (that this country actually founded, after World War II).
The issue is whether agents of a foreign power (Russia) have been allowed to influence the result of a poll in the UK – and whether it is possible for them to influence the result of what we have hitherto believed to be democratic elections here.
The details are in the following clip by Peter Stefanovic – and you need to brace yourself because they are damning:
Hang on to your seats as UK Government has until 26 April to respond in detail to landmark ruling in Strasbourg over its failure to investigate Russian interference in Brexit pic.twitter.com/8qWLEN7EBL
Misery face: Theresa May wants to wash her hands of Brexit by passing the problems created by her deal onto somebody else. But MPs have an opportunity to make her try again. And again. And again…
Let’s cut through the hot air and fantasy and admit something: the “legally binding” changes to the EU deal that Theresa May just agreed at Strasbourg do not change anything.
She desperately needs to break the impasse that means she cannot get a majority in Parliament for her duff Brexit deal – otherwise the UK crashes out without any deal at all, which may be disastrous for foreign trade.
In practise, this meant finding a way around the Northern Irish border “backstop” deal, set up to ensure that goods crossing the border between that part of the UK and the Republic of Ireland continue to do so in as frictionless a way as possible.
The Democratic Unionist Party, which is propping up Mrs May’s government, has said it will not support any deal that puts Northern Ireland in a different position from the rest of the UK.
So, to try to win back that party’s support, she has secured a “joint statement” in which both the UK and EU commit to replacing the backstop with alternative arrangements by December 2020.
This is supported by a “joint legally-binding instrument” that the UK could use to prevent the EU from keeping this country tied into the backstop indefinitely.
It isn’t what Parliament told her to get.
She was told to ensure that the backstop would be replaced with “alternative arrangements” immediately, and has failed to achieve this.
Instead, the backstop will remain a part of the deal, but operating until December 2020, rather than for an unspecified period of time.
After that, it seems the UK’s government will be expected to magic up some “alternative arrangements” that haven’t been considered by now.
Mrs May is trying to kick the Brexit can down the road – possibly far enough that she won’t have to pick it up again. It seems she wants to pass the poisoned chalice to someone else.
But she won’t get the chance if Parliament sees through her ploy.
She has deliberately failed.
She deserves absolutely no support when MPs vote on her meagre offer. They should vote to extend the Article 50 “notice of intention to leave” period and order her to stop fudging and get a proper deal.
Of course, the wits of Twitter think she already achieved this:
Breaking news from the prime minister’s trip to Strasbourg.
Slavery in the UK: This image was part of a campaign against it – but the Conservative Party wants to extend it to include you.
One has to marvel at the twisted logic of modern Conservatives; right before their last party conference in the run-up to the general election, they can normally be expected to be trying to bribe us all with tax cuts and benefits (maybe they will come later).
Instead they are promising to remove the safety net that keeps us free of exploitation by – what a surprise! – the Conservatives and their friends.
It’s not a new plan – Vox Politicalreported on the policy back in March last year, when Theresa May announced that they would scrap the Human Rights Act and withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights if they win the 2015 general election. They aren’t saying anything different now.
Back then, she claimed it would be “in the national interest”, and now Injustice Secretary Chris Grayling is saying more or less the same thing, dressing it up as an attempt to return power to the UK.
He told the Daily Telegraph: “Decisions like ‘do prisoners get the vote?’ or ‘can you send brutal murderers to prison for their whole lives?’ seem to be outside our control. I want our supreme court to be supreme. Decisions that affect this country should be taken in this country.”
He did not mention all the other rights you are likely to lose if the Conservatives are allowed to get away with this.
The European Convention on Human Rights was co-drafted by the UK – in fact by the Conservatives’ greatest Prime Minister, Winston Churchill – just after World War II. It states that nation states’ primary duty is to “refrain from unlawful killing”, to “investigate suspicious deaths” and to “prevent foreseeable loss of life”.
VP commented in March 2013 that “the Coalition government has been reneging on this obligation – wholesale – since it came into power”. Look at the Department for Work and Pensions’ work capability assessment for Employment and Support Allowance, and the thousands – possibly tens of thousands – of deaths related to it.
Article 4 of the Convention prohibits slavery, servitude and forced labour, so removing it would give the Tories free hand to impose their Mandatory Work Activity or Workfare schemes on us – despite the fact that these schemes are worse than useless at getting people into employment. The real reason for them is that they are a money-making scam to ensure the businesses involved support the Conservative Party.
Article 6 provides a detailed right to a fair trial, which is something Mr Grayling has been working hard to take away from you for a considerable period of time. It’s where you get the right to a public hearing before an independent and impartial tribunal within a reasonable time (the Coalition’s secret courts have removed this right already), and where the presumption of innocence until proven guilty is enshrined.
Article 8 provides a right to respect for another person’s “private and family life… home and… correspondence”. This has been violated, of course, by the Tory-led Coalition’s recent Surveillance Act.
Article 10 provides a right to freedom of expression, so removing it would allow the Tories to censor the Internet and remove blogs such as Vox Political, leaving only their own propaganda.
Article 11 protects the right to freedom of assembly and association, including the right to form trade unions. Obviously the Tories would love to ban the unions, but removing this would allow them the ability to ban anti-government demonstrations and it is probably why Boris Johnson bought his water cannons.
The Human Rights Act 1998 (brought in by the Labour Party) is the UK legislation that makes the European Convention binding on this country, meaning that breaches of it may be remedied in British courts, rather than the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. It is only appeals against the decisions of the British courts that go to Europe.
Grayling doesn’t like the idea of impartial foreigners ruling on whether his government’s politically-motivated human rights violations are legal.
That’s why he said; “I want our supreme court to be supreme. Decisions that affect this country should be taken in this country.” He wants absolute power over you.
Dominic Grieve, the former Attorney-General who got the sack during the summer, described the Tory attack on human rights as “incoherent”. It is widely believed to be one of the reasons he got the push.
The Tories are also determined to tie this policy in with anti-European Union rhetoric, even though the ECHR is nothing to do with the EU.
The Guardian‘s story on Grayling’s announcement includes a coda in which Savid Javid, our Sontaran* culture secretary, tried to reassure people that Britain could still prosper if it leaves the EU, despite the possible loss of hundreds of billions of pounds worth of trade deals (as reported in this blog previously).
But that’s another fact they’d rather you did not know. Misdirection is the only way forward for modern Conservatives.
Remember “There will be no top-down reorganisation of the NHS”?
*It’s a Doctor Who reference. Look up pictures of Javid and a Sontaran and you’ll spot the resemblance.
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