Theresa May’s new brexit Ministers have hard line Brexit records

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Theresa May’s week began in the worst possible way following resignations from her Brexit ministers and Boris Johnson.

The cabinet was hastily shuffled, but the replacements have raised eyebrows among commentators today. They remind us that the new Brexit Secretary, Dominic Raab, has previously called for Britain to use negotiations with the EU to scrap workers’ rights.

It has also emerged that he was responsible for drafting a white paper which called for opt-outs from EU employment regulations, including those that guarantee employees time off and limit the number of hours staff can be made to work.

The Independent also report that he is opposed to giving agency workers the same rights enjoyed by full time workers.

And the replacement junior minister, Chris Heaton- Harris, is the politician who just a few months ago, appallingly wrote to universities across the country demanding to know the names of all lecturers teaching European studies.

He was accused of “McCarthyite” behaviour, following the letter sent to all universities asking them to declare “what they are teaching their students about Brexit and to provide a list of teachers’ names.”

He went on to ask for each universities syllabus and any online lectures on Brexit. This was disgraceful behaviour, but less than a year on from the incident Theresa May has made him her junior minister.

It is a measure of a Prime Minister who offers promotion to someone who displays such shockingly bad political acumen.

Heaton- Harris is a former MEP despite being a Brexiter will have some knowledge of Brussels. Meanwhile Raab who has worked as a lawyer in the Foreign Office has had less direct association with the EU. He is a staunch Brexiter too. Worryingly he is known to be relaxed in the scenario of a ‘no deal’ Brexit.

Raab was criticised by Theresa May in 2011 following an article in which he described some feminists as “obnoxious bigots”, claimed “men were getting a raw deal” and attacked the “equality bandwagon”. Rebuking him at the time Theresa May who was the then Home Secretary and equalities minister accused him of fuelling “gender warfare”.


David Davis’ resignation is a total catastrophe for Theresa May

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David Davis’ resignation is an absolute disaster for Theresa May’s Brexit plans. The Brexit secretary accusing the PM of subverting the peoples will certainly makes May’s position going forward untenable. Her plans have been two years in the making but have been scuppered in just 48 hours.

I cannot imagine ever being in a position where I would ever agree with the arch Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg but his statement on the Brexit Shambles this morning resonates nonetheless. He said that “Davis’ resignation raises serious questions about the PM’s ideas. Id the Brexit Secretary cannot support them then they cannot be good proposals.”

With such ardent Brexiteers within the party how can Theresa May maintain her authority going forward? Clearly there is no way to keep the Tory Party together on the issue and previous leaders have suffered consequently. How the Government can move on from this is anybody’s guess. Her premiership, and obviously Brexit is in jeopardy.

Two years ago, David Davis was buoyant and full of confidence about being able to deliver a Brexit policy that would be a win win for the UK. “There is no reason whatsoever to expect that most countries in the world would not actively want a free trade agreement with eh UK”. Two years later he has come the realisation that such an agreement is essentially impossible.

The Government’s Brexit plans are in absolute chaos, voters have been misled on all areas of Brexit and specifically on the ease with which it can be achieved (see Davis’ tweet’s above). It was unfair to present it as an easy plan to negotiate.

As the new Brexit minister is announced, Dominic Raab, it is worth noting that he has been described before as a hard Brexiter.

So now, the only fair and sensible solution is to have a people’s vote. Today with May’s Brexit plan in tatters there is no other feasible way forward.

UK’s biggest union open to possibility of second Brexit referendum

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Trade Union, Unite has voted overwhelmingly to “keep the door open” on a public vote. Although the words were chosen carefully, and it did not specifically back a second referendum it nevertheless endorsed the possibility of a further vote.

At the union’s policy conference in Brighton it was also agreed that most of its members believe it is highly unlikely the final Brexit deal would satisfy the Union’s criteria.

Unite is one of the Labour Party’s closest allies and the party’s biggest funder and the adoption of the executive motion may go some way to persuading the Labour leadership that a further referendum is in fact in the interests of voters who have been misled over Brexit.

Furthermore, it is now official that the three biggest unions, Unite, the GMB and Unison are clearly opposed to a hard Brexit. With this in mind The People’s Vote, the organisation calling for a second referendum, must mobilise members of these unions and garner their support.

Time is short and the consequences of such a shambolic and catastrophic ‘deal’ will have a devastating effect on the very people the unions seek to support.


Brexit deadlock causing uncertainty in financial services industry

Labour Party

Yet again the business industry is reporting an uncertain future post Brexit.

A report published by the CBI and PwC has found that growth in the UK financial services has stagnated and, they say, this is directly related to the uncertainty over Brexit.

Furthermore, growth in other areas such as investment management and general insurance grew at what the report termed a “tepid” rate.

The other attributable factor is the slow rise in wages, which it is stated is holding back the economy.

However, the head of financial services for PwC stated that Brexit is driving uncertainty within the financial services industry.

The survey also revealed the level of concern within the sector surrounding Brexit and the specific concern within the banking sector. There is a level of apprehension in the banks’ ability to implement plans in time for Brexit; in fact a third of banks said they were “not so confident” of implementing Brexit plans by March.

Further concerns revealed that many companies are worried about the status of cross border contracts.

While the Bank of England (BoE) has put in place billions of pounds in cross border derivatives contracts to avoid market disruption, the BoE is still awaiting confirmation from the EU that it will reciprocate this plan.

Calls from within the financial services industry are clear – the Government must develop a specific strategy for the financial services industry in the scenario whereby Brexit does go ahead. The industry expects the Government to find an agreement with the EU which will continue to attract investment, jobs and develops the sector generally following Brexit.

However, Brexit is far from straight forward and the Government has still not significantly progressed talks on other matters which have been before it for many months. With just a matter of weeks until an agreement is expected it doesn’t seem hopeful that the Government will have the capacity to even get close to carrying out such talks.


Time is running out and Theresa May must listen to business leaders concerns over Brexit

Labour Party

Theresa May says she will listen to business leaders following a fall out from parts of the business community and her foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, after several companies warned of their fears following Brexit.

Johnson reportedly swore and was dismissive following reports from Airbus and BMW after they raised concern over the effect Brexit will have on their businesses. The two companies are among several multinationals who have warned that the disruption to customs after Brexit may well have an impact on their ability to invest and manufacture in the UK.

A day ago, the motor industry lobby group also warned that investment in the UK car industry has fallen dramatically – with their estimates suggesting it has been cut by half which is a direct result of the UK’S uncertain future relationship with the EU.

Furthermore, Japanese car manufacturers which account for around half of all cars made in the UK have been explicit in their concerns about how Brexit will affect future business relations with the UK. Koji Tsuruoka, Japan’s Ambassador to the UK, said Honda, Toyota and Nissan, who account for around half of the cars made in Britain each year, need access to the EU.

“Already 80-90 per cent of their production is going to EU market, if there are tariffs, if there are procedures, that certainly will be in jeopardy,” he said. While none of the companies are actively looking to leave Britain, they may have no choice if their ability to access the EU market is impeded.

There have been further warnings from the City. The Bank of America announced it has moved its senior London trading trio to Paris. Merrill Lynch will move three of its most senior sales and trading executives in the City to the French capital, Paris.

This comes as other investment banks begin the process of enacting their Brexit plans, not least because uncertainty remains following the insignificant progress towards any Brexit deal. Merrill Lynch is also set to move hundreds of posts to Ireland and other posts across Europe.

Another international company- Heathrow operator Ferrovial- will move its international HQ to Amsterdam.

I could continue – it’s almost an endless list of relocations for both UK and international businesses which are currently based in the UK but feel forced to move to other parts of the EU so that their business activity is not interrupted.

If Theresa May is ready to listen to the fears business leaders are bringing to her door then I should hope she will give the same level of attention to the (more than) a hundred thousand citizens who marched through the streets of London at the weekend to demand she gives UK voters a final say on Brexit.

Just looking at the concerns of business leaders alone shows what a grave situation we are in. Voters have a right to a final say on any deal she may finally reach with the EU.



The People’s Vote March through the Streets of London

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On Saturday we took to the streets, over 100,000 of us marching in central London to demand a final vote on any UK Brexit deal. It was also the second anniversary of the Brexit referendum.

Speakers called on Theresa May to do the right thing – “demand a people’s vote”.

Young and old travelled the length and breadth of the country to protest- Wiltshire, Liverpool, Kent, Nottingham, Suffolk are just a few of the places I heard people say they had travelled from that morning.

It was fantastic to see such a mix and varied group of people united in a common cause.
The march is so important – I hope it will help to shape how the next stage develops.

There is no agreement on what Brexit could look like so it’s only right that we have a second vote to canvass opinion.

Further marches are planned for the autumn. I hope you will join us. More information on the People’s Vote and how you can join in the campaign is available here.

Mary Brexit March

Leaving the European Arrest Warrant is a huge mistake and will have significant operation consequences for law enforcement

Labour Party

The UK will be kicked out of the European Arrest Warrant if the government’s Brexit strategy goes ahead, the EU chief negotiator has warned.

Incredibly the Government wants to remain part of the system but has not yet grasped that to remain part of it, it cannot leave the European Court of Justice or the free movement scheme.

It’s astonishing that while on the one hand the Government recognises the importance of staying within it meanwhile it is doing everything it possibly can to sabotage our ability to remain part of it.

The European Arrest Warrant (EAW) is a hugely important mechanism whereby EU member states can request the detention of criminals and is able to do so without having to apply for extradition which s a lengthy and bureaucratic process.

Instead of the UK being part of the EAW Barnier has suggested that the UK and the EU may be able to establish a streamlined extradition process. But this is reliant on several factors including agreement from all 27 EU member states, and it won’t be nearly as effective as remaining part of the EAW which is an efficient and effective system.

This is an incredibly serious situation which inevitably will have operational consequences for UK law enforcement. The UK will only have very limited access to analysis and to data produced by Europol relating to live criminal investigations. However, it would not be able to shape the direction of the enforcement agency or have any further input.

The BBC reported: “Successive UK governments have remained strong supporters of the European Arrest Warrant – which came into force in 2004 – despite calls from some Tory MPs for it to be renegotiated or reformed.

“According to the National Crime Agency, other EU members requested the arrest of 14,279 UK-based suspects in 2015-6, up from 1,865 in 2004. The UK made 241 such requests in 2015-6, leading to 150 arrests.”

Being forced to leave the European Arrest Warrant will only serve to make the UK increasingly vulnerable.


MPs must pass the ‘meaningful vote’ amendment

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The House of Lords has voted in favour of an amendment which will give Parliament a meaningful vote if the Government fails to reach a Brexit deal.

The House of Lords voted through the amendment and it was supported by Tory Peers including Michael Heseltine, Chris Patten and Syeeda Warsi who rebelled against their government to vote Dominic Grieve MP amendment through.

The amendment was tabled following news that the Government had reportedly reneged on an agreed compromise made with Grieve in which he was promised a meaningful vote.

It’s disgraceful that the Government knowingly misled one of its own MPs by not only failing to deliver the promised meaningful vote if Brexit fails, but worse still the Government went onto adopt a position which it knew made it impossible to have such a vote. The Government knew this wouldn’t be possible!

The revised amendment will be voted on in the Commons this Wednesday. Currently sources say the Government is confident that the Tory rebels don’t have enough support for it to pass. Once again, I urge all MP’s to search their moral compass and do the right thing and vote in favour of the amendment, so that Parliament is able to play a proper role.

The new amendment stipulates that “ministers must update parliament by 21 January 2019 if there is no prospect of a deal with the EU and then have two weeks to return to the House of Commons with a statement on how the government plans to proceed. MPs would then be given a vote on whether to approve the action in statement.”

If the proposals are so deeply flawed and unworkable then it is only right that Parliament can provide additional scrutiny; it has a duty to resolve the stalemate.

Remain Tory MPs must vote with their conscience

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“Ignore the will of the people at your peril” is the full-page headline in the Daily Express today, with the union flag emblazoned behind it. The Sun asks if it will be “Great Britain or Great Betrayal”.

The headlines concern the 12-hour debate of the 15 amendments from the House of Lords which will take place inside the House of Commons over the next two days.

Of the 15 amendments the Government is to accept one (a completely tokenistic) amendment which states the UK will be able to choose to stay in EU agencies after Brexit. On three further amendments it is offering compromises and the remainder it will simply vote down.

But the area of paramount importance and which is to be debated this afternoon concerns whether Parliament should have a ‘meaningful’ vote on the final withdrawal agreements.

Pressure has been applied to pro remain MPs who have threatened to vote against the Government. They have been warned they face jeopardising May’s negotiating power in Brussels by both colleagues, and the press (see two of the headlines above). And May issued a final plea calling on them to not undermine her negotiating clout.

The Sun’s rather menacing headline suggests that pro remain MPs would be responsible for an apoplectic situation should they seek to secure Parliament the right to a meaningful vote. They claim it would be a ‘great betrayal’.

I can imagine the pressure the pro remain MPs are under. But a vote that doesn’t involve Parliament in a meaningful way is not sufficient and is not acceptable. It is crucial that Parliament has a role on one of the most important decisions the UK is going to take in the immediate future.

Furthermore, the kind of promises that were made in the campaign can’t be met. No discussions currently hint at a deal which will match up to what was promised. So, in such circumstances the House of Lords is right to insist there must be a serious parliamentary debate.

The conclusion to this debate might be that the Government seeks an extension to the negotiating period or that the question should be put to the people again or that it withdraws notification of the intention to leave the European Union which can be done up until the 29 March 2019. All of these scenarios are entirely plausible.

Whatever happens in the next two days Parliament must get its say before the die is cast.

All MPs must search their conscience and do the right thing so that Parliament has a sincere voice and the authority to scrutinise the negotiations going forward.

London’s TV Broadcasters will be forced to relocate by a hard Brexit

Labour Party

Last week’s announcement that the Discovery Channel will be closing its European hub in London may be the start of a much larger trend, if the government continues down the road to a hard Brexit and fails to secure the same terms for EU-wide broadcasters that we currently enjoy.
As an EU member state, TV broadcasters in the UK have benefitted from EU country of origin rules since the 1990s. Put simply, this rule means that if a TV company is licensed by one national authority, in our case OFCOM, it can broadcast to all EU Member States.
The vast majority of international TV companies have their European bases in London, including Discover, Disney, 21st Century Fox, and of course BBC World News. The concentration of creative talent and the ability to do business in English, has attracted US TV  companies in particular to London. Currently OFCOM estimates that over 400 TV broadcasters are licensed to broadcast across the EU from London.
It would therefore seem nonsensical that the government’s position, as set out by Theresa May in her Mansion House speech in March, is to end the UK’s participation in the Country of Origin regime. Instead, the government hopes to secure mutual recognition of broadcasters in much the same way as they want to achieve this for the banking sector.
It is likely that the EU side will see this as cherry-picking. The government wants to end free movement and the jurisdiction of the ECJ, two key pillars in the functioning of the single market, and yet maintain a preferential arrangement for key sectors such as television and banking.
Discovery, for their part, has stated that their decision to close their London base has nothing to do with Brexit uncertainty. However, their motivation to “move to a more agile operational technology model” most likely shows their real intentions. In the absence of commitment to the broadcasting sector from the government, they have put their contingency plan into action.
The government continues to live in fantasy world, negotiating with itself between options which are completely unacceptable to the 27 EU Member States. Until the government comes up with workable solutions, Discovery will not be the only TV company looking into contingency plans.