Archives for posts with tag: Brexit

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain and the European Union struck a divorce deal on Friday that paves the way for talks on trade, easing pressure on Prime Minister Theresa May and boosting hopes of an orderly Brexit.

 

Source: Factbox – British business organisations react to Brexit talk progress : Reuters

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THE Irish Government deliberately leaked a deal already rejected by Theresa May in order to destabilise the Prime Minister’s Government and derail Brexit negotiations, according to prominent Brexiteer and Conservative backbencher Peter Bone.

 

Source: EXCLUSIVE: Irish Government ‘leaked draft Brexit deal to REMOVE May from Downing Street’ : Express


This is not good news for the disabled and others on low incomes and just proves that you can not trust this Government. On coming into office as Prime Minister Theresa May promised that she would ‘place fairness and social justice at the heart of her premiership’. This we now see was an empty promise and further reduces the trust we all have with regards to our politicians.

At a time when Brexit is a major Government priority, social justice should be, at least, an equal footing.

It now appears that the plight of the disabled and others on low incomes will be made even worse than it is now. We have already seen the punitive cuts to welfare benefits and the assessment processes that are ‘not fit for purpose’.

At a time when our trust in politicians and this Government ,in particular, is extremely low, it is now to be reduced even further.

Does this Government really wish to remove disability and others on low incomes by causing their extinction, by creating conditions that will cause situations where their life survival cannot be maintained. Thus removing many from the welfare system, not by improving their quality of life, but by ending their life.

Source: Theresa May faces new crisis after mass walkout over social policy


A good question for in the Tories austerity campaign there appears to be no room for manoeuvre to allow any reasonable adjustments for disabled people.

Will any existing European Union legislation be maintained into UK law and furthermore will EU legislation coming through be also included. Without these current and forthcoming EU legislations the outlook for disabled people will be even more depressing and unequal as it is already.

All of the UK needs to unify behind ensuring that disabled people now and after Brexit are not abandoned by this Tory Government, as you may also become disabled within your lifetime. Think of others like you would for yourself and your own family, otherwise the life for disabled will be far worse than it is now and now is not as good as it should be.

Britain Isn't Eating

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Source: Julia Hartley-Brewer: Theresa May needs to start making friends fast


GERMAN MEP Hans-Olaf Henkel blamed Brussels for Brexit saying they changed the game after Britain joined the EU.

By ABIGAIL MORRIS

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The MEP and former business chief said the European Union is to blame for Brexit as Brussels ramped up integration after Britain entered the single market.

Appearing on BBC News, the German MEP said: “It is our opinion and our conviction that Brexit is not only the fault, if you wish, of the British.

“No, I think it is the fault of Brussels because Brussels has always done much too much centralisation and harmonisation.”

Hans-Olaf Henkel said Brussels is to blame for Brexit

Mr Henkel went on to question if the UK was the one that actually left, comparing Britain’s EU membership to joining a football club only for Brussels to change the game to golf.

He said: “It’s like Britain having joined a football club and then the club management decided to play golf, then I ask myself who has really left whom.”

The MEP also urged the EU to give the UK the type of deal envisioned by former PM David Cameron.

He added: “We are addressing Brussels and want Brussels to give a deal to Britain, a deal which Cameron wanted and I’m quite sure with such a new deal, the situation in Britain would also change.”

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Mr Henkel also savaged the European Union over its handling of Brexit talks saying it had  “behaved in an absurd and arrogant manner”.

He also said the bloc should break the “deadlock” and look for a different kind of deal.

He said: ““We have absolutely no illusions.”

“Berlin will say ‘No this is the responsibility of Monsieur Barnier in Brussels’. Brussels will say ‘Oh look, it is now up to Britain to make the next move.

“However, I think the situation is so obviously wrong for both that it is necessary to try to change the situation.”

Britain is aiming to break the Brexit deadlock by making progress on the EU’s key Brexit issues – including the Irish border, the financial settlement and citizens’ rights.

Source : ‘Brexit is the FAULT of Brussels!’ German MEP LASHES EU with epic tirade at Eurocrats : The Express


By   Postdoctoral research associate, University of Sheffield

After Brexit, the UK and devolved governments will need to carry out many of the functions that are currently the responsibility of Brussels. These include everything from customs checks to determining agriculture subsidies. Before that happens, much of the civil service will be consumed by managing the leaving process between now and the end of any transition period. The National Audit Office has published a report highlighting the scale of this task.

Ultimately, the UK is undertaking an administrative challenge “more complex than the first moon landing” within a very short space of time. The government is reportedly seeking to employ an extra 8,000 staff by the end of 2018 to help manage the process, with departments recruiting heavily in recent months. However, it is starting from a very low base. Public sector employment as a share of people in work was below 17% in June 2017 – its lowest level since records began in 1999. This suggests that the civil service will be unable to manage Brexit alone and therefore need to rely increasingly on external actors to undertake many of its functions.

Learning from the local government experience

The experience of English local government in recent years shows what can happen when public bodies are given greater freedom but don’t have the resources to take advantage of it. The 2011 Localism Act introduced a “general power of competence” for English councils. This enabled them to carry out any activity that is not expressly forbidden in law. Before the act came into force, local government was only allowed to undertake functions that were explicitly set out in legislation – such as providing social care, education, public transport, or cultural and leisure services. If they stepped over the line, they could be prosecuted and fined – and some were. The act also gave councils more flexibility to decide how to spend the money they received from Westminster.

Local government had lobbied for these changes for many decades, arguing that individual councils were better placed than central government to decide how to respond to local issues. Ministers said the reform represented “a major turning point in the balance of power” and included “new rights and freedoms for communities to take back control”. The immediate parallels with Brexit are fairly obvious.

David Davis: can he afford to take back control? EPA

However, you’d be hard pressed to find many people in local government who think the past six years have been cause for celebration. Most councils have been far too concerned about austerity to enjoy their new found freedoms. Central government funding has been cut by 40% since 2010 at a time when demand for expensive services such as social care is increasing rapidly. Crucially, the increased autonomy handed to councils doesn’t include the right to levy additional taxes. They can also only raise council tax by a significant amount if residents vote in favour in a local referendum.

With limited ability to raise money for the services they are expected to provide, councils have tried out a variety of service delivery arrangements to try and reduce their spending. These include outsourcing, establishing joint ventures with private businesses, or sharing responsibilities for service delivery with other public bodies.

The result of this “austerity localism” is that local government actually has less control over decision-making and service delivery than it did before. Instead, private and voluntary actors have become more influential. As a result, services are more complex and fragmented, and citizens struggle to hold anyone to account for poor performance.

Grenfell Tower is the most high-profile example of how complex contractual arrangements can blur lines of accountability. There have been others however – not least the 25-year contract between Sheffield City Council and Amey to improve the city’s roads. Amey’s decision to fell 6,000 trees as part of this deal has led to widespread local opposition. However, because exiting or changing the contract would be prohibitively expensive, the council has supported Amey’s actions.

Taking back control?

Nearly all of the expert analysis suggests that leaving the EU will cause a major shock to the UK economy, which will result in lower tax revenues for the government. This will mean that resources will be even scarcer than they are at present, at a time when the civil service faces a major increase in demand. Like English councils, therefore, it will struggle to undertake all of this work in-house.

The democratic accountability implications of this are quite profound, if and when outsourced services fail to meet public expectations. For example, if 3m EU nationals apply to remain in the UK after Brexit takes place, and these applications are not processed properly by a private contractor, who will be held accountable when people are wrongly forced to leave? Similarly, who will be responsible if outsourced border protection and customs checks fail to stop terrorists, weapons, drugs or criminals entering the country?

On top of this, the sheer complexity of the Brexit process means that there will be a range of convenient scapegoats whom the government could blame when things go wrong. Rather than “taking back control” of public services, therefore, Brexit is likely to result in more of them being run at arms-length from directly-elected politicians, who will seek to avoid being held responsible for poor performance.

 

Source : Brexit costs could lead to more government outsourcing : The Conversation


By Chris Ham

In the 40 or more years I have worked with and for the NHS, I can’t remember a time when the government of the day has been so unwilling to act on credible evidence of service and funding pressures. On three previous occasions – 1974, 1988 and 2000 – Conservative and Labour governments heeded warnings of an impending crisis, and found extra resources, often substantial, to maintain and improve care. Why then has the current government turned a deaf ear to the entreaties to provide extra funding from the National Audit Office, the Care Quality Commission, the royal medical colleges, and many others?

Against the backdrop of a decade of austerity stemming from the financial crash of 2007, four explanations suggest themselves. The first is that the government is preoccupied with Brexit and has little time to address other pressing issues such as schools’ funding, housing shortages, resources to fight crime, and growing evidence of distress in the NHS and social care. Whereas in ‘normal’ times all these issues would be receiving widespread news coverage and sustained attention in Whitehall, the outcome of the EU referendum means that Brexit is preventing this happening.

The second explanation is that economic uncertainty linked to Brexit has limited the Chancellor’s room for manoeuvre. Specifically, with progress on the Brexit negotiations proceeding slowly, and an increasing possibility of no deal being reached, the Treasury will not want to commit to public spending rises to avoid being boxed in when the outcome of the negotiations is known.

The third explanation is that the government is not persuaded that an NHS crisis is around the corner. Some ministers take an even tougher line, believing that there is considerable scope to increase NHS efficiency and that this will only happen when leaders in the NHS realise that more money will not be found. Arguments that the NHS is a bottomless pit and will use whatever funding is provided and keep on coming back for more may not be a common view among the current crop of ministers but nor is it an exceptional view.

The fourth explanation is that neither the current Prime Minister nor her Chancellor share the commitment to the NHS of their immediate predecessors. David Cameron’s gratitude to the NHS for the care given to his family is a matter of public record and George Osborne’s support was evident in the additional funding made available in the last Spending Review. Both were involved with Jeremy Hunt in the appointment of Simon Stevens as head of NHS England and all of these individuals worked to the same agenda, based on the NHS five year forward view.

The outcome of the referendum tore this alliance asunder and the consequences were evident in the well-publicised spat between Stevens and No.10 earlier this year. Since then a modus vivendi has been re-established although whether it will survive Stevens’ recent warnings about the impact of continuing financial constraints remains to be seen. What is clear is that there are significant risks for the government in ignoring these and other warnings in view of the attachment the public feels towards the NHS and evidence that services are stretched to the limits.

What might unblock the current impasse? When I worked in the Department of Health between 2000 and 2004, I learnt that public attitudes towards the NHS are tracked closely and taken seriously by ministers. Judging by the annual British Social Attitudes (BSA) survey, the public remain positive about the NHS with satisfaction levels near an all-time high. The survey is, however, a lagging indicator, and recent Ipsos MORI polling reveals rising public concern about the NHS and fears that its performance will deteriorate.

If these fears materialise, the government may feel impelled to act but by that stage so much damage will have been done to services that it will be difficult to reverse the decline. Far better to intervene now and find the additional funding The King’s Fund and others have argued is necessary (£4 billion in 2018/19 as a down-payment on meeting a funding gap we estimate at £20 billion by 2022/23 based on current spending plans) thereby demonstrating that the NHS really is safe in this government’s hands.

A former Conservative Chancellor, Nigel Lawson, famously said that to govern is to choose. For Philip Hammond, the moment of choice is approaching rapidly, and on this occasion it will have far reaching implications both for the government and for the public for whom the NHS remains a treasured institution.

 

Source : The Budget: is the government listening? : The King’s Fund


By 

With Basques, Bretons, Bavarians and many more eyeing the outcome of events, could this be the moment to formalise various levels of autonomy?

‘Democracy: freedom for political prisoners’: a protest in Barcelona outside the Generalitat, the Catalan regional government. Photograph: Lluis Gene/AFP/Getty Images

The EU countries may be right that Catalonia is legally a matter of Spanish constitutional law. But they should also be frightened. Catalonia is Europe’s problem.

The imprisonment on remand of eight Catalan politicians, on blatantly political charges, and the Belgian asylum sought by its president, appears to be an engineered confrontation.

Two days ago, the Madrid government reneged on an agreement that it would not suspend the Barcelona government if it did not declare independence and agreed to new local elections next month. Madrid then proceeded with suspension, and Catalonia duly proceeded with declaration – though with no mention of implementation. Madrid immediately arrested those Catalan politicians (and officials) it could find, on charges of rebellion and treason.

So far, so absurd. No poll has yet delivered a clear majority of Catalans for independence. Barcelona has proceeded within accepted democratic norms and without recourse to violence – unlike Madrid in the government’s efforts to stop the recent referendum.

Never in the long and far bloodier fight of the Basques for independence was the Basque leadership ever imprisoned. Catalonia now faces an election next month with the prospect of its entire independence leadership in prison.

Catalonia is being watched, with varying degrees of intensity, by Basques, Bretons, Flemings, Scots, Bavarians, Silesians, Ukrainians, Transylvanians, Venetians, Corsicans and others. Its struggle resonates among increasingly nationalist Poles, Bohemians, Hungarians and Greeks, across Europe’s patchwork of regional sensitivities and long-harboured grievances. Old feuds are rekindled and jealousies revived. Hypocritical Britain cannot talk. It long opposed Irish separatism and denied devolution to Scotland and Wales, while it sent soldiers to aid the break-up of Yugoslavia.

It is hopeless to seek recourse from these woes in statute books and legal niceties. Self-determination has been the essence of Europe’s stability since Woodrow Wilson’s 14-point programme for Europe’s future in 1917. How such determination is defined may be moot: what of the self-determination of Spaniards against that of Catalans? But it is in Europe’s interest to seek that definition, to formulate protocols whereby separatism can be resolved into grades of autonomy. European statehood has long been a “vale of tiers”.

Since the EU itself is inherently centralist, it makes sense for the Council of Europe, the 47-nation organisation which deals with democracy and human rights across the European continent, to undertake such a task, urgently. The EU has worked itself into a political straitjacket, such that few of its member nations would dare hold a referendum on continued membership. This cannot be healthy for the EU or for Europe. The rising tide of identity politics is now the greatest threat to Europe’s free development. Catalonia is not a little local difficulty. It is an awful warning.

 Simon Jenkins is a Guardian columnist

Source:   Catalonia isn’t just Spain’s nightmare – it is Europe’s : The Guardian


Two of the richest regions in Italy have just voted [paywall] for greater autonomy, in what could become a worse crisis than Brexit for the EU.

In two separate non-binding votes, the northern Lombardy and Veneto regions voted in favour of more autonomy by over 90% [paywall]. The votes come soon after the 1 October referendum in favour of independence in Catalonia, Spain. And EU Council President Jean-Claude Juncker recently expressed his fear that the independence crisis in Catalonia could spark a domino effect across Europe.

Déjà vu

The sharp rise in support for Catalan independence can be traced back to a 2010 court decision to overturn the previously approved 2006 Catalan Statute. This statute would have given Catalonia more control over taxes. Many people believe that the rejection of this statute laid the foundations for the current crisis, with Catalans feeling aggrieved that the region pays more to the Spanish state in taxes than it receives in return.

Source: Brexit was bad enough. But this could be even worse news for the EU. | The Canary

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