First vote on UK Conservative Party leadership

Missy reporting from the UK:


On Monday the Conservative Party leadership campaign officially began. Ten MPs officially entered the race, they were:

Boris Johnson, Jeremy Hunt, Michael Gove, Rory Stewart, Esther McVey, Andrea Leadsom, Matt Hancock, Dominic Raab, Sajid Javid, Mark Harper.

This morning was the first round of voting by the Parliamentary Party, after a change of rules a couple of weeks ago candidates must get more than 16 votes from fellow MPs in order to progress with the candidates with the lowest number of votes being eliminated if all are over 16 votes, as opposed to previous rules which stated that only the candidate with the lowest number of votes was to be eliminated at each round regardless of number of votes of second lowest. The new rules mean that multiple candidates can be eliminated at once.

In today’s voting Boris Johnson received a higher number of votes than originally expected, this could be due to some polling this week which shows that Boris is the candidate most likely able to win a General Election.

The results from today’s vote is:
Johnson: 114
Hunt: 43
Gove: 37
Raab: 27
Javid: 23
Hancock 20
Stewart: 19
Leadsom: 11
Harper: 10
McVey: 9

The odds for Johnson winning have been slashed to 1/5.

Gove’s campaign suffered a bit earlier this week after he admitted over the weekend to using cocaine about 20 years ago. The admission came ahead of an unauthorised biography due to be released that details his drug use.

Blowing his own Trump

One of Donald Trump’s biggest fans:

As far as the protests, I have to tell you because I commented on it yesterday.

We left the Prime Minister, the Queen, the Royal Family, there were thousands of people on the streets cheering, and even coming over today there were thousands of people cheering.

And then I heard that there were protests. I said where are the protests, I don’t see and protests.

I did see a small protest when I came, very small.

So a lot of it is fake news I hate to say.

But you saw the people waving the American flag, waving your flag. It was tremendous spirit, and love, there was great love, there was an alliance.

And I didn’t see the protesters until just a little while ago and it was a very very small group of people put in for political purposes, so it was fake news. Thank you.

CNN: Jim Sciutto fact-checks Trump’s ‘fake news’ claim

I think the protests were relatively low key and modest.

But it is clear that not everyone loves Trump as much as much as the President does.

Trump wants UK National Health Service included in trade negotiations

Donald Trump’s visit to the UK was always going to be controversial. He has strongly supported Brexit, something that is dividing the UK. But Trump has upped the ante – he says that when US-UK trade takes start after Brexit (if it ever happens) he wants the UK National Health Service to be opened up to US companies.

Fortune: There’s One Subject in the U.K. That’s as Toxic as Brexit. Trump Just Waded Into It

Once, advocates of the U.K.’s departure from the European Union argued that Brexit would mean more government funding for the country’s National Health Service, or NHS.

Now, President Donald Trump has confirmed the opposite: in trade talks between the U.S. and U.K., which will take place once Brexit has gone into effect, the U.S. wants the U.K. to open up the cherished British public health system to American companies.

“I think everything with a trade deal is on the table… NHS and anything else, a lot more than that,” Trump said at a joint press conference with Prime Minister Theresa May on Tuesday, on the second day of his state visit.

The president was responding to a question about whether he agreed with the U.S ambassador to the U.K., Woody Johnson, who said Sunday that he assumed the NHS “would be on the table” in the imminent trade talks, as the negotiations would account for the entire British economy. And his response has already elicited fury among leading politicians from across the British political spectrum.

The public nature of the NHS, which has been free to use for seven decades, is practically seen as sacred in the U.K., and attempts to change that status are politically toxic. A degree of privatization has been taking place in recent years, but NHS bosses want to reverse the process by squeezing out local for-profit contractors such as Virgin Care and Care U.K.

Further opening up the NHS to American contractors would therefore be an explosive political development. The U.S. ambassador’s comment prompted British Health Secretary Matt Hancock—one of the contenders for May’s job, as she is about to step down—to defend the health service in unequivocal terms.

However it’s hard to see much progress being made on US-UK trade talks at this stage. Brexit looks to be far from resolved, and the Prime Minister who Trump is meeting with, Theresa May, is soon stepping down. The NHS is likely to now feature in the contest for leadership of the Conservative party and the country.

RNZ: Trump praises ‘extraordinary’ US-UK alliance on state visit

US President Donald Trump has said the US and UK have the “greatest alliance the world has ever known”.

That’s what you would expect when the current leaders of the US and UK are the greatest the world has ever known.

The US president met Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage at the US ambassador’s residence, Winfield House. Mr Farage tweeted that it was a “good meeting” and Mr Trump “really believes in Brexit”.

Mr Trump also said he turned down a meeting with Jeremy Corbyn, who addressed protesters in Westminster. Mr Trump said Mr Corbyn was a “negative force”. “I really don’t like critics as much as I like and respect people who get things done,” he said.

Mrs May said the scope of trade talks had to be agreed by both countries.

Asked if the NHS would be included in post-Brexit trade talks, Mr Trump said “everything is on the table”.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock was among several Conservative leadership candidates hoping to replace Theresa May who said they would not allow the NHS to become part of any trade talks. “Not on my watch,” he tweeted.

Perhaps the US will play a Trump card – impose tariffs on the UK unless they hand their health system over to US companies.

Trump’s insulting introduction to London

Plenty of publicity was assured for Donald Trump’s visit to London, as he and the Mayor of London traded insults. Trump also took aim at the mayor of new York. He tweeted as he arrived:

, who by all accounts has done a terrible job as Mayor of London, has been foolishly “nasty” to the visiting President of the United States, by far the most important ally of the United Kingdom. He is a stone cold loser who should focus on crime in London, not me.

Kahn reminds me very much of our very dumb and incompetent Mayor of NYC, de Blasio, who has also done a terrible job – only half his height. In any event, I look forward to being a great friend to the United Kingdom, and am looking very much forward to my visit. Landing now!

I’m not sure about the great friends thing, but this ensures he will keep plenty of bitter enemies. His feud with Khan goes back some time

Washington Post: The long and bitter feud between Trump and London Mayor Sadiq Khan

When presidents embark on prestigious state visits abroad, in the past they were expected to leave their political disputes at home and put on a friendly face for the nation hosting them.

But when President Trump arrived in London on Monday for a long-delayed state visit to Britain, he ignored both customs. Circling back to a long feud with Sadiq Khan, London’s first Muslim mayor and a vocal critic of Trump, the president tweeted [as above].

Khan, his own supporters say, has managed to hit the president where it hurts most, by winning election in a liberal and diverse city on promises that go against Trump’s core policies, granting permission for a “Trump baby” balloon to fly over the skies of London during Trump’s work visit there last year and deploying his own biography to try to prove Trump wrong.

Khan has been provocative, and Trump is easily provoked.

Before Khan was elected mayor, he told The Washington Post’s Karla Adam that Trump was seeking “to divide communities rather than unite them.” Khan repeatedly said in jest that his Muslim faith could pose problems during future U.S. visits.

“I’ll need to rush to come to America before November, because if Trump wins, I’ll be banned from coming,” Khan told The Post.

After becoming mayor, Khan, a Hillary Clinton supporter, doubled down, telling the BBC, “Donald Trump’s ignorant view of Islam could make both our countries less safe: It risks alienating mainstream Muslims around the world and plays into the hands of the extremists.”

Khan comfortably won the London mayoral election in 2016. Initial vote:

  • Shadiq Khan (Labour) 1,148,716 (44.2%)
  • Zac Goldsmith (Conservative) 909.755 (35%)
  • Siân Berry (Greens) 150,637 (5.8%)

Nine other candidates failed to get the 5% required to make the next round. Khan won with 58.8% in the final head to head count with Goldsmith.

In a recent poll Khan was well in front, with 43% support overall and 64% in a head to head with his closest rival.

Trump has now arrived in London:

There are the inevitable tweets:

London part of trip is going really well. The Queen and the entire Royal family have been fantastic. The relationship with the United Kingdom is very strong. Tremendous crowds of well wishers and people that love our Country. Haven’t seen any protests yet, but I’m sure the Fake News will be working hard to find them.

Great love all around. Also, big Trade Deal is possible once U.K. gets rid of the shackles. Already starting to talk!

Trump has some support, but a lot more opposition.

Live by social media, truth by social media.

Independent: Trump fans in London defend ‘hero’ president as thousands prepare to protest

Amid the threat of major protests during his UK state visit, a handful of Donald Trump supporters gathered outside Buckingham Palace to welcome the US leader – calling him a “hero” whose presidency the next British prime minister should try to emulate.

Jerry and Lisa Foster, from Hallendale Beach in Florida, said they wanted to show their support for their president, who was the best since Ronald Reagan.

Those views were echoed by Russell, 48, from Shropshire, who, wearing a ‘make America great again’ hat declined to give his surname because of the animosity he said the cap attracted.

“The beloved Mr Trump is a hero,” he said.

“Those people who are calling for him to be banned from the UK are fascist. And don’t forget, not everyone in the UK is against him. We need a Trump-like figure in Downing Street.”

But: Mass protests planned for Trump’s state visit to the UK

Mass protests have been planned for President Donald Trump’s upcoming state visit to the U.K., just a year after the giant “Trump Baby” blimp sparked controversy in London.

Protest banners were unfurled over London’s Vauxhall bridge bearing the message: “Resist Trump. Resist Racism. Resist Cruelty. Resist Hate. Resist Sexism.”

Organizers of the protests from the “Together Against Trump” organization told ABC News that protests are planned at Buckingham Palace on Monday, when the president will be attending a state banquet with the Queen, and on Tuesday, when he will be visiting Prime Minister Theresa May.

The protest at Buckingham Palace is expected to be a small event, with only 66 people so far registered as “attending” on the Facebook event entitled: Protest at the Palace: Spoil Trump’s Banquet.

However, the protest on Tuesday, beginning in London’s historic Trafalgar Square at 11 a.m. local time, is expected to be a much more dramatic affair. Nearly 8,000 people are registered for the Facebook event, while another 33,000 social media users have said they are “interested” in it as of Sunday morning.

A spokesperson from the “Together Against Trump” group told ABC News that they expect protests to take place throughout the country, but that the event in Trafalgar Square is the main event.

A number of Facebook groups, including the “Stop Trump Coalition” and “Stand up to Trump,” have come together to organize the protests against his state visit, so that the “world will know that people here reject him and his toxic politics.”

Trump’s visit was always going to be controversial and opposed by some.

 

 

New Brexit plan flopping, May faces calls to resign

From Missy:

Theresa May is under growing pressure tonight. It is reported that Theresa May is facing 3 seperate coup attempts tonight. There is incredible anger in the Conservative party over her offer of a Second Referendum, she has now broken every last promise and gone back on her word at every point.

A succession of Cabinet Ministers are expected to have one-on-one meetings with the PM today to tell her not to put her new Brexit deal to the vote, this is seen as tantamount to telling her to quit. Sajid Javid, the Home Secretary, and David Mundell, the Scottish Secretary are believed to be the first to go to the PM telling her they will not support the deal.

A delegation of junior ministers has told the chief whip they will resign if the new Brexit deal goes to the vote. It is unknown how many are in this delegation, but it is speculated that it includes Remainers and Brexit supporters alike, neither are happy wiht this deal as it is seen as appeasing the Labour Party.

Finally, the 1922 committee are meeting tonight to again discuss changing the rules to reduce the time between confidence votes from 12 months to 6 months.

On top of this Macron today has backed Michel Barnier for the position of European Commission President when it comes up after Juncker’s term ends later this year, and he has also said that he will not allow a further extension to Brexit, (though he said this last time and ended up voting for the extension).

Cabinet sources are reporting that May will most likely resign on Monday in a podium moment, after the final results for the EU elections are in. Note: Monday is the early summer Bank Holiday in the UK, so if she is going to make an announcement it may be delayed until Tuesday.

Just a note on the EU elections. Due to different voting days across Europe, and the Proportional nature of the votes the results won’t be known until late on Sunday evening, but it is expected to be a humiliation for the Conservatives, especially after May’s revised Brexit agreement.


Reuters: Time to resign? UK PM May’s final Brexit gambit bombs

British Prime Minister Theresa May was under growing pressure to resign on Wednesday after her final Brexit gambit was rejected across the board by lawmakers and even criticized by some of her own ministers.

May’s future, which she herself had curtailed by offering to resign to get her deal through parliament, was hanging by a thread after she softened her position on a second Brexit referendum and customs arrangements with the European Union.

The calls for her resignation further deepened Britain’s Brexit crisis. Almost three years since Britain voted to leave the EU and just under two months after the scheduled departure, it is not clear when, how or even if Brexit will happen.

In her last pitch on Tuesday to get her divorce deal approved by Britain’s deeply divided parliament, she offered lawmakers a vote on whether to hold a second Brexit referendum — once her legislation passes the first stage — as well as closer trading arrangements with the EU in future as incentives.

But the backlash was swift and fierce.

Both ruling Conservative and opposition Labour lawmakers criticized May’s Withdrawal Agreement Bill, or WAB, legislation which implements the terms of Britain’s twice-delayed departure.

There were some signs of support for May in parliament, but swathes of empty Conservative benches during Wednesday’s debate underlined the fact that many of her fiercest critics had decided to stay away.

“The proposed second reading of the WAB is clearly doomed to failure so there really is no point wasting any more time on the prime minister’s forlorn hope of salvation,” Andrew Bridgen, a Conservative lawmaker, told Reuters. “She’s got to go.”

BBC: Calls grow for Theresa May to resign in bill backlash

Several cabinet ministers have told the BBC that she cannot stay, with one saying it is “the end of the line”.

Others, though, insist Theresa May should push on with her plan to put her Withdrawal Agreement Bill to a vote.

Sources have told the BBC that the chief whip, Julian Smith, has informed backbench MPs that the prime minister is not resigning.

Nevertheless, the BBC’s political editor says it appears the government is almost at breakdown.

May’s government has seemed almost at breakdown for months as May has botched attempt after attempt at putting an acceptable Brexit plan to Parliament.

Having the referendum before any plan had been decided on has proven to be a disaster for Britain. And May’s leadership is proving to be another disaster on top of that.

The problem is, if May is deposed as Prime Minister what then? It’s hard to see how anyone could sort out this mess.


Updates from Missy:

The Chief Whip addressed the 1922 Committee, he apparently told them that the PM was not going tonight. He is also reported as saying that the PM will continue campaigning and is focussed on the EU elections.

The 1922 Committee completed their meeting with no decision made on changing the rules, again it seems they bottled it. It is being reported that the chair of the 1922 Committee will meet with Theresa May on Friday.

May has apparently refused to meet with senior members of the Cabinet today. It is unclear if she will meet with them this week.

UK update on Brexit

Missy has updated what is happening in the UK with Brexit.


So, a lot has been happening in the UK / Europe over the last week, though some has been a re-run of what has been happening for the last year, some is new. Over the next few days I will try to catch everyone up.

Tonight: The Conservatives, or more specifically, Theresa May.

Tonight Theresa May outlined her ‘bold new Withdrawal Agreement’ which will go to Parliament in the first week of June for a vote. This will be the second reading of the Withdrawal Agreement Bill.

I haven’t had a chance to read everything around the ‘bold new agreement’ proposed by May, but from what I can gather it includes a compromise to try and get Labour MPs on side.

May has been trying to negotiate with Labour to come up with an Agreement that could pass in Westminster that she could take back to Brussels, however, last week Corbyn declared that the talks were over and no agreement had been reached.

The main points of the WA that May outlined this afternoon are:
i) Alternative arrangements to stop Irish backstop coming into force
ii) If backstop happens, Great Britain to stay aligned with Northern Ireland
iii) Approve treaties with EU
iv) A new workers’ rights bill
v) Ensure environmental standards the same as EU; set up new independent office of environmental protection
vi) Seek as close as possible to frictionless trade with EU
vii) Work towards common standards of food products with EU
viii) MPs to vote on a customs union compromise
ix) MPs to vote on whether second referendum needed on withdrawal bill
x) MPs to vote on political agreement

There is very little here that is different, and what is different panders to Remainers and Labour. This has turned many who voted for the previous agreement against her. It is expected that she will have a much larger defeat than she did in March.

Many in her party held their nose to vote for her agreement in March believing it was the only way to leave the EU by 29 March, when she broke that promise I think she lost some of the support. May appears to be trying to use the same tactics as previously by threatening no Brexit if MPs do not vote for her deal. The problem she has this time is twofold, her own party are making moves to ensure she is gone by the end of Summer (the leadership race has begun) and the EU elections on Thursday indicate the annihilation of the Conservative Party in Europe.

Over the last few weeks the pressure has come on Theresa May to resign, she stubbornly refuses to resign until her Withdrawal Agreement passes.

Over the last few weeks Theresa May has had several meetings with members of the Parliamentary Parliament, most notably the 1922 Committee. What has come from these meetings is that she will resign by the end of July if her withdrawal agreement passes, though many are working on how they can force her out regardless.

Despite the possibility of her not keeping her word the leadership race has begun.

So far Esther McVey, Boris Johnson, and Rory Stewart have all declared they will run, Andrea Leadsom is considering it. Other contenders are Michael Gove, Amber Rudd, Sajid Javid, Dominic Raab, Jeremy Hunt, Penny Mordaunt, Liz Truss and Priti Patel.

UK Labour policy to trial Universal Basic Income if elected contrary to research

Labour (UK) is promising to Introduce trials of a Universal Basic Income, but recent research concludes: There is no evidence that the project can meet its goals while being economically viable at the same time.

Golriz Ghahraman responded:

Yes! Two things:

1) There’s enough longitudinal research around the world to prove UBI works. No need for a ‘trial’. Let’s just pick the most effective version and apply it.

2) UKGreens had this policy first, but nice to see the big parties following the Green movement
💚😊

The most effective version? I don’t know of anywhere that a country-wide UBI has been tried successfully.

From the Green Party Income Support Policy

Specific Policy Points

  • Work with other parties and the public to develop a proposal(s) for the introduction of a UBI and the changes needed to fund and implement it.
  • Set benefit amounts at a level sufficient for all basic needs of the individual/family.

I don’t know whether any work is being done with Labour towards introducing UBI.  I would be very surprised if the Greens are doing anything with NZ First on one.

Last week from Stuff:  Universal Basic Income is a failure, new report says

A new study on universal basic income (UBI) is challenging the central claim used to promote the scheme: that, if done right, it can help alleviate poverty.

Proponents of the basic income argue that it will help those below the poverty line pay for essentials like food, housing, and healthcare, according to the assessment by the New Economics Foundation (NEF) in the UK.

The NEF reviewed 16 real-life UBI trials to see whether a basic income can really bridge the inequality gap.

Its conclusion: There is no evidence that the project can meet its goals while being economically viable at the same time.

I wonder what Ghahraman’s “There’s enough longitudinal research around the world to prove UBI works” is based on.

Tory leadership contest

Julian Assange arrested at Ecudorian Embassy in London

There have been stories about Julian Assange’s imminent exit from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London after a seven year stay there avoiding legal actions . He has just left the Embassy after Ecuador withdrew his asylum, to be arrested by UK police for he was found guilty of failing to surrender to the court.

BBC- Julian Assange: Wikileaks co-founder arrested in London

Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange has been arrested at the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

Assange took refuge in the embassy in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden over a sexual assault case that has since been dropped.

At Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Thursday he was found guilty of failing to surrender to the court.

He now faces US federal conspiracy charges related to one of the largest ever leaks of government secrets.

The UK will decide whether to extradite Assange, in response to allegations by the Department for Justice that he conspired with former US intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to download classified databases.

He faces up to five years in US prison if convicted on the charges of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion.

Assange’s lawyer Jennifer Robinson said they would be fighting the extradition request. She said it set a “dangerous precedent” where any journalist could face US charges for “publishing truthful information about the United States”.

A Twitter thread on Assange’s court appearance.

Asked his name Assange says “My name is Julian Paul Assange”

The court is told Julian Assange was arrested this morning in two warrants

The court is hearing the history of the Swedish sexual offences case through the UK courts, and how after his appeal failed Julian Assange entered the Ecuadorean embassy in June 2012 in breach of his bail

Assange was arrested this morning on a warrant arising from that breach of bail

The second warrant relates to an extradition request from the US issued in Dec 2017 (issued by the District Judge presiding over today’s case)

The court is hearing how Julian Assange was arrested at 10.15 this morning

Officers tried to introduce themselves but he barged past them. He resisted and shouted “this is unlawful”. He had to be restrained and officers struggled to handcuff him. He shouted again “This is unlawful, I am not leaving” as he was led to the police van.

Julian Assange is told that one charge he faces is that he failed to surrender on 29th June 2012. He pleads “not guilty”

He is told that the US warrant says that between Jan 2010 and July 2010 he conspired with Chelsea Manning to “effectuate” unauthorised disclosure.

The court is now discussing whether Julian Assange has to give evidence to explain why he failed to surrender to bail

Julian Assange will not give evidence

Julian Assange’s lawyer says that District Judge Emma Arbuthnot who heard this case at previous hearings should have recused herself because of “bias”

District Judge Michael Snow tells the defence it is “unacceptable in front of a packed press gallery to traduce the reputation of the senior District Judge”. He says it is “grossly unfair”

District Judge Michael Snow finds Julian Assange guilty of failing to surrender

That was quick, but I guess it’s obvious that’s what he did.

He says Julian Assange’s behaviour is “the behaviour of a narcissist who cannot get beyond his own selfish interest”

He sends Julian Assange to the Crown Court for sentencing as the offence was so serious

The US Justice Dept describes the charge Julian Assange faces as “conspiracy to commit computer intrusion”, saying the charge carries a maximum sentence of 5 years in prison

Summary on Brexit

A summary on what hasn’t been happening about Brexit from Missy:


Due to some matters beyond my control I have not been able to post on the Brexit dramas of the last couple of weeks, so sorry if anyone missed the posts, though to be honest you haven’t missed anything in terms of Brexit as it hasn’t happened yet – despite supposed to have happened on 29 March.

A Quick summary of the main points:

  1.  May has yet again asked for an extension from the EU, she wanted one until 30 June, but has agreed to an extension up until 31 October. I am not sure if this means the UK will have to partake in European Elections (I hope so).
  2. The Government and Labour have been in talks to come up with an agreement that could pass the house, it would most likely include a second referendum and remaining in the customs union (nicely referred to as a customs union so as not to make voters think they aren’t leaving). Though both have reportedly been ruled out by Theresa May (as was extending beyond 29 March, extending beyond 22 May, extending beyond 30 June…. )
  3. Earlier this week a new law was given Royal Consent requiring the PM to go back to the EU to ask for an extension if directed by Parliament, and effectively ruling out the UK voluntarily leaving without a deal, which means the UK are at the mercy of the EU regarding their leaving arrangements. However, I haven’t read the law, and this morning there was discussion about it where a lawyer indicated that it does not require her to follow Parliament’s direction after this extension, and that it just pertained to going back for an extension this time. I don’t know if that is correct, but we can only hope.
  4. A group has taken court action against the Government stating that extending Brexit is in fact illegal under UK law and the UK should have left on 29 March with no agreement.

All in all this seems very much an action by May to try and force Parliament to vote for her deal, it is becoming a bit of a stand off between her and Parliament.

The Conservatives cannot bring another Confidence vote in her leadership until December under their party rules, however, one can hope that enough pressure is applied to her that will force her to quit (though I doubt it). In May there are local body elections, and many campaigning have already stated they are having problems, Conservative candidates are being told they will not get votes due to not having left the EU yet, some Conservative activists and volunteers have gone on strike and are refusing to campaign, and the Conservatives are down 10 points in the polls.