Category: Brexit

The UK can’t accept backward US food standards – or chlorinated chicken

George Eustice MP (Conservative agriculture minister from 2015 to February 2019) in The Guardian:

The Conservative party had a manifesto commitment to promote British values on animal welfare through any future trade deals we might strike. A modern trade deal is not simply about commerce, it is also about values. There is currently a cross-party consensus that we should enshrine the recognition of animal sentience in statute to underpin all our existing policies and inform new ones. One option might be to suggest that the US introduce a similar piece of legislation at federal level to drive the modernisation of its own laws. We could even send British advisers to Washington to help them do it as part of our trade negotiations.

The international trade secretary, Liam Fox, understandably wants to talk about opportunities for new industries such as services or digital but, in the court of public opinion, if the choice is between the commercial interests of banks or the welfare of chickens, the chickens will win every time. The sound of clucking chickens will never be far from the negotiating table, tugging at our consciences so we might as well get used to it. Unless we deliver on our manifesto commitment, we will give free trade a bad name. We should use the power of the UK to project British values of kindness and compassion in any future trade deals.

My emphasis.   Eustice is a brexiter.  He wants to leave the EU and sign independent trade agreements.  Does he seriously think the prospect of signing a trade deal with the UK will move the US to overturn decades of agricultural lobbying and implement decent animal welfare regulations?

How did we get here?

Richard Cable has a tweet thread on the horrible set of co-incidences that brought us to the current situation.

This Brexit business is a marvel. Genuinely. It’s borderline miraculous. Bear with me. 1/

As a culture, we focus on those finely balanced moments when, against all odds, the stars align perfectly and great things are achieved. You know, Miracle on the Hudson type stuff. 2/

We tend to ignore those equally rare moments when it goes completely the other way and events and people conspire perfectly to turn everything to utter shit. 3/

The conspiracy of circumstances that has led us to this moment is just so wildly improbable, you could probably live multiple lifetimes and never see something like it again. It’s a unicorn riding through a blue moon on Halley’s comet. 4/

The whole show is kicked off by a Conservative PM doing what Conservative PMs never do – take wild gambles. Clue is in the title. 5/

Followed by an exercise in direct democracy, which we hardly ever do, in which a nation collectively overcomes the insanely powerful status quo bias to vote leave. 6/

With a technically decisive margin of victory that is just small enough to be psychologically and emotionally anything but decisive. 7/

The person chosen to implement the deal didn’t actually vote for it. Instead, we get a deeply weird politician whose truncated imagination is only matched by her utter intransigence. When history called for a great conciliator it gave us Theresa May. 8/

Who then did what, until recently, Conservative PMs never do – took a wild gamble and threw away her majority, placing the whole nation in hock to the most reactionary, one-eyed, uncompromising headbangers in British politics, the DUP. 9/

Which simultaneously created an intractable problem over the Irish border that a British govt with a healthy majority would have breezed past, in that typically high-handed and dismissive way the English have always dealt with the Irish. I’m not saying this is a good thing. 10/

Meanwhile, across the chamber you have Corbyn, a leader of the opposition who refuses to lead the opposition, but can’t be removed because last time they tried they botched it so badly, they basically made him leader for life. 11/

As all this unfolds, the EU plays its hand with the same uncompromising, dead-eyed rigidity that helped precipitate Brexit in the first place. A classic and unequal clash of homegrown pragmatism and continental ideology. There’s a reason we don’t do written constitutions. 12/

As a sidebar, this simultaneously delegitimises any and all valid criticism of the EU, kicking any chance of desperately needed reform into the longest of long grass. Don’t worry, I’m sure this won’t come back to haunt us. 13/

So an isolated rump govt negotiates a deal that cannot pass and cannot be renegotiated, in the knowledge that they cannot be replaced because the only thing worse than the current calamity is Corbyn as PM 14/

And with Parliament almost perfectly deadlocked, we’ve blundered into a situation where we’re barrelling towards a choice between civil war, economic disaster and all points in between 15/

The upshot is that we have with two party leaders who command nobody’s confidence but can’t be removed, fighting over a deal that nobody wants but has to be made, against a deadline that nobody can meet but everyone is insisting upon. Like I said, it’s a bloody marvel. 16/

TaxPayers’ Alliance concedes it launched smears against Brexit whistleblower

The Guardian:

The rightwing pressure group the TaxPayers’ Alliance has conceded that it illegally sacked the whistleblower Shahmir Sanni for revealing unlawful overspending in the Brexit referendum campaign, in a case that could have a major impact on how lobbyists are described in the media.

In a development that lawyers have described as “almost unprecedented”, the group has also conceded that it illegally vilified Sanni on the BBC in coordination with a network of other “linked” organisations.

The alliance has accepted all the allegations Sanni made during his action claiming unfair dismissal, wrongful dismissal, direct discrimination and “dismissal by reason of a philosophical belief in the sanctity of British democracy”.

Significantly, it has also conceded that it is liable for what Sanni’s lawyer, Peter Daly of Bindmans, describes as “extreme public vilification”. Sanni had claimed that it was responsible for a smear attack published by the website Brexit Central, and that it coordinated “derogatory statements” made by the head of Vote Leave, Matthew Elliott, to the BBC – calling Sanni a “Walter Mitty fantasist” and “so-called whistleblower” and claiming that he was guilty of “completely lying” – before an official finding by the Electoral Commission into the conduct of the Brexit referendum.

The disclosure is likely to have far-reaching consequences for the way that broadcasters describe lobby groups. The uncontested claim has stated that the TaxPayers’ Alliance is responsible for Elliott’s Brexit Central website as part of nine “linked” high-profile rightwing “thinktanks” that operate in and around offices at 55 Tufton Street in Westminster and coordinate media and other strategy.

Details of the alliance’s relationship with Downing Street and the role of Stephen Parkinson, Theresa May’s political secretary, will now not be heard in court. A separate claim by Sanni against Downing Street is still ongoing. Sanni, who received an award from Gay Times last week, said: “It has proved that the TaxPayers’ Alliance sacked me for speaking the truth. And that there has been a coordinated effort by the Conservative establishment, including the government, to shut me down.

Details of the alliance’s relationship with Downing Street and the role of Stephen Parkinson, Theresa May’s political secretary, will now not be heard in court. A separate claim by Sanni against Downing Street is still ongoing. Sanni, who received an award from Gay Times last week, said: “It has proved that the TaxPayers’ Alliance sacked me for speaking the truth. And that there has been a coordinated effort by the Conservative establishment, including the government, to shut me down.

Chris Milsom, a barrister who specialises in whistleblowing cases, said: “It is incredibly unusual for a respondent to make a complete concession on liability as the respondent has here. To wave a white flag to avoid disclosing documents and giving evidence in court is really unusual. They conceded everything. How does an ostensibly private company come to be working with Downing Street? What is their relationship? Who are their funders?

“If this had been fully ventilated in a public trial we could have found these things out. The effect of these admissions, however, is that Mr Sanni was dismissed both because he blew the whistle on electoral crimes and because of his philosophical belief in the sanctity of democracy. We must now ask: is that an entity that is fit to be on the BBC ostensibly speaking on behalf of all ‘taxpayers’?”

Well, well, well.

 

BBC Newsnight

Tweet:

Last night, an expert on ‘ finances was introduced on as”Remain supporter” Iain Campbell. News to me. I know him as a forensic accountant. I am curious . Is this a new policy? In which case, can we now look forward to “Leave supporter Andrew Neil”?

BBC Newsnight on 8 November 2016.  04:49 in, “We asked accountant Iain Campbell, who’s a remainer, what he thought”.

Dominic Raab under fire over Dover-Calais comments

BBC:

Mr Raab told a technology conference on Wednesday: “We want a bespoke arrangement in goods which recognises the peculiar, frankly, geographic, economic entity that is the United Kingdom.

We are, and I hadn’t quite understood the full extent of this, but if you look at the UK and if you look at how we trade in goods, we are particularly reliant on the Dover-Calais crossing.

“And that’s one of the reasons why, and there’s been a lot of controversy about this, but one of the reasons why we wanted to make sure that we have a very specific and very proximate relationship with the EU to ensure frictionless trade at the border, particularly for just-in-time manufacturing goods whether it’s pharmaceutical goods or perishable goods like food.”

My emphasis.  Raab is Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union.  He’s also the man too lazy to read the Government’s own economic assessments.  But you’d have thought he’d have picked up some basic geography at Oxford etc.

BBC criticised over Arron Banks slot on Andrew Marr show

The Guardian:

The BBC has been criticised for booking Arron Banks, the pro-Brexit billionaire who is the subject of a criminal investigation, to appear on the Andrew Marr show on Sunday.

Banks is being investigated by the National Crime Agency (NCA) after his case was referred to it by the Electoral Commission, which said there were reasonable grounds to suspect Banks was “not the true source” of £8m given to the Leave.EU campaign.

The BBC’s decision provoked widespread condemnation from politicians, lawyers and activists.

Andrew Adonis, a leading remain campaigner, said in a letter to the BBC that Banks’s expected appearance was the result of “a very serious editorial misjudgment, influenced by a culture of accommodation to extreme Brexiteers now deeply embedded within the BBC”.

Tweet:

“A man under criminal investigation would like to come on and do some spin” “Book him” “Why?” “Literally haven’t got a single fucking justification for this one, just do me a favour and book the possibly criminal prick”

Of course, Marr has form – remember the absurd pairing of Isabel Oakeshott and Carole Cadwalladr?  Cadwalladr has done serious investigative journalism on foreign influence in Brexit …and Oakeshott hasn’t.  And then there’s Oakshott’s puzzling behaviour described in Cadwalladr’s tweet:

Flashback! Watching ? Remember when they invited on to attack my investigation? Turns out she KNEW then about ‘ Russian connections. Had known for MONTHS…

 

 

Russian intervention in Brexit

This tweet, noted this exchange (4 mins in) from 21 March 2018 with Senator Mark Warner, top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee in which he says:

Not only Russian attempted interventions in our elections but attempted Russian interventions in the French elections, observations they intervened in the Spanish Catalan elections, the British have come and visited us now because they’ve seen Russian intervention in terms of the Brexit vote.  We in western democracies have to be on our guard.

My emphasis.  Again, perhaps something for the BBC to follow up on?

 

Will Banks’ investigation affect Brexit?

Laura Kuenssberg in a :

Banks probe unlikely to affect Brexit process.

But allegations against Aaron Banks may well increase bitterness in debate that long ago turned sour.

Nick Cohen observes in a  Tweet:

What has been so disgraceful about the BBC’s treatment of the alleged corruption of the Brexit referendum is that it puts journalism last.

Instead of using its resources — which are far larger than any other news organisation — to report and investigate, its reporters and editors pontificate about the consequences of the journalism of others.

Here opines about that the National Crime Agency investigation into is “unlikely now to have a material effect”. It’s not just that she has no possible way of knowing this — BBC journalists can no more see the future than you or I can.

Proper journalists put the story first and worry about the consequences last – if at all. The BBC won’t use its vast resources to cover the Brexit story because all it thinks about is consequences.