Queen has approved suspension of UK Parliament

From Missy in London:


It’s all on now! The Government has asked the Queen to suspend Parliament shortly after they return from Summer recess with the Queen’s speech to be delivered on 14 October.

All eyes are on the Leader of the Opposition to see if he will call a vote of No Confidence next week, or bottle it again.

BBC:  Parliament to be suspended in September

Boris Johnson said a Queen’s Speech would take place after the suspension, on 14 October, to outline his “very exciting agenda”.

But it means the time MPs have to pass laws to stop a no-deal Brexit on 31 October would be cut.

House of Commons Speaker John Bercow said it was a “constitutional outrage”.

The Speaker, who does not traditionally comment on political announcements, continued: “However it is dressed up, it is blindingly obvious that the purpose of [suspending Parliament] now would be to stop [MPs] debating Brexit and performing its duty in shaping a course for the country.”

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said: “Suspending Parliament is not acceptable, it is not on. What the prime minister is doing is a smash and grab on our democracy to force through a no deal,” he said.

He said when MPs return to the Commons next Tuesday, “the first thing we’ll do is attempt legislation to prevent what [the PM] is doing”, followed by a vote of no confidence “at some point”.

The Privy Council have announced that the Queen has approved the suspension of Parliament.

Note, this is a long overdue suspension of Parliament, the current session is the longest Parliamentary session (time Parliament has sat without a speech from the throne) since the civil war, and is not that unusual.

There is some debate on social media regarding the suspension time, some suggest that it will only be an extra 3 or 4 days as Parliament would have been suspended for the Party Conference season in a couple of weeks, however, others suggest that this close to Brexit Parliament would have voted to continue sitting and not suspend Parliament. It seems the PM has gazumped those that may have tried to sit through the Conference season.

 

Johnson adamant UK will withdraw from Brexit by 31 October, EU not negotiating

Since becoming Prime Minister last month Boris Johnson has been working towards getting the United Kingdom out of the European Union by 31 October.

Negotiations between the UK and EU are at a stalemate, with the EU saying the Withdrawal Agreement is not up for negotiation, .

Attempts are being made by Europhile MPs to stop an exit without the Withdrawal Agreement or to stop an exit altogether.

“It seems all the attempts by Remainers to stop Brexit, or at least dilute it, have been what has led to the likelihood of a clean break.”

From Missy in London:


As everyone knows, Boris Johnson became PM about a month ago, and he has moved full speed ahead. As well as a number of domestic policies, he has been adamant that the UK will be out of the EU by 31 October, to this the Chancellor, Sajid Javid, has released more funds to spend on preparation for leaving with no Withdrawal Agreement, and all departments have stepped up planning.

Johnson has told the EU he is willing to talk with them, with a view to re-negotiating the Withdrawal Agreement, but not until the EU commit to the removal of the backstop. The EU refuse to budge and have stated that the Agreement is not up for negotiation, and only the non legally binding political declaration can be tweaked. So on negotiations they are currently at a stalemate. Whilst some officials, and the Brexit Secretary, have been to Brussels and Europe, Johnson has firmly refused to go, instead he has travelled the country and talked to politicians and people around the UK.

Meanwhile, in the UK Europhile MPs are stepping up their actions to stop an exit without a Withdrawal Agreement, or stop Brexit altogether. Among the actions they have taken is a court case, this has been filed in Scotland as the Scottish courts don’t close for the summer like the English courts do. The court case is to stop the PM from proroguing Parliament in October to force through a ‘no deal’ exit from the EU.

Other actions being looked at include Parliamentary processes, law changes. and a Vote of No Confidence. The last is the most likely action they will take, and is a bit of a gamble on both sides. Johnson currently has a majority of one with the DUP support, and a number of Conservative MPs have indicated they will either abstain or vote against the Government in such a vote, (though some Labour MPs have indicated they would break whip and vote for the Government so it could be balanced out).

If Johnson loses a Vote of No Confidence many are saying he should immediately step aside and let Jeremy Corbyn form a Government, however, by law he has 14 days to try and gain the confidence of the house, after which he can call a General Election, though the opposition also has 14 days to try and gain a majority in Parliament as well. The suggestion put forward yesterday by Jeremy Corbyn was for the Liberal Democrats, SNP and some Conservative MPs support him as a temporary PM to stop Brexit, and then call a GE or second referendum.

The issues with this proposal are threefold:

  1. He requires Conservative MPs to essentially support the installation of a Labour Government, and a hard left Labour Government at that, this will be unpalatable to not only other Conservative MPs, but also Conservative Members and voters. If any Conservative MPs did do this they would essentially be ending their careers. Further, as the Labour Party are currently under investigation for their handling of anti semitism claims, and the accusation that anti semitism is being enabled by the leadership team and their staff, so any Conservative members who vote for Corbyn will be tainted by the anti semitism scandal, (some already are being connected to it by just suggesting they will consider the idea).
  2. Corbyn does not have majority support within Parliament, and a number of his own MPs have said publicly they would not back him in this scenario, it is expected that more Labour MPs won’t back him than potential Conservative MPs will back him, so he won’t have the numbers to pull this off.
  3. Many of the public are more sceptical of a second referendum, with the exception of the hard Remain extremists, most don’t believe it will solve any issues, and even less so after a number of MPs, including the leaders of the Greens and Liberal Democrats, said that unless the vote was in favour of Remain they would not accept or respect the vote. With an attitude like that fewer people actually believe that any vote, except Remain, would be accepted, leaving the country as divided as it is now. On the General Election, there are some that believe Johnson is gearing up for one, and it will most likely be just after 31 October.

Of course, this depends on Corbyn actually calling a vote of No Confidence and not bottling it again. During the Conservative Leadership campaign Corbyn kept saying he would call a No Confidence vote on Johnson’s first day in Parliament, he didn’t because apparently he said he would not have the numbers, nothing has changed in Johnson’s stance, so I am not sure if he would have the numbers still.

One other action that was suggested this week, and whilst not a serious proposition it did come under fire for a lot of ridicule, and that was the suggestion by Caroline Lucas, (Green Party Leader and only MP), for an all Women cabinet of Unity to stop Brexit. Apart from her suggestion amounting to a coup and being unconstitutional and sexist, there was the issue that her Cabinet of Unity was entirely made up of women that think the same as she does, not making it very unifying. Interestingly despite all these issues about it one of the main criticisms was that all of the women were white, and she was heavily criticised for leaving out women from ethnic minorities, and it was this she apologised for whilst doubling down on her idea. For many however, this idea just came across as silly season stuff from an increasingly irrelevant MP during the summer recess.

It has been suggested that the reason the EU has not reached out to the UK, and is not taking Johnson seriously, is because Remain MPs have convinced them that they will win in Parliament and that the UK will not leave the EU, or will leave under the EU’s terms. Of course it might just be that it is August and the EU (and much of Europe) shuts down over August and nothing gets done.

On the other side of the Brexit argument, the Brexit Secretary is set to sign the commencement order to repeal the European Communities Act 1972 within days, bringing it into effect after 31 October, thus ending the supremacy of EU Law, thus meaning that the EU’s rule over the UK will end on 31 October. This has led to some speculating that Johnson might remove the UK from the EU earlier than 31 October, and some have suggested he could do it by the end of August so it is done and dusted by the time Parliament returns in the beginning of September, though I do not think this is the case, I believe that if he is aiming for an earlier date it is likely to be the end of September, but this is also unlikely.

The irony in all of this is that if Gina Miller hadn’t taken the Government to court, to the cheers of Remainers and Remain supporting MPs, and secured a legal ruling that any Withdrawal Agreement had to be ratified by Parliament, the UK would have left under May’s deal and the prospect of leaving without a Withdrawal Agreement would not have entered into play. It seems all the attempts by Remainers to stop Brexit, or at least dilute it, have been what has led to the likelihood of a clean break.

The Secretary of State for Brexit has now signed the Commencement Order which repeals the supremacy of EU law in the UK.

Brexit will happen on 31 October 2019.

Boris Johnson now PM of UK

In the increasingly less united United Kingdom the Conservative Party has chosen Boris Johnson to take over as Prime Minister from Theresa May.

Missy reports:


Anyway, as you will know Boris won the leadership election as expected, today he was officially sworn in as PM by the Queen and immediately set about doing his cabinet reshuffle.

24 July 2019 is becoming known as the summer’s day massacre as Boris culls the cabinet.

So far he has sacked 18 from cabinet.

The big appointments so far are:

Chancellor – Sajid Javid
Home Secretary – Priti Patel

Expected: Dominic Raab to be named Foreign Secretary


Financial Times: Sajid Javid picked as chancellor in first Boris Johnson appointment – latest news

Guardian: Boris Johnson cabinet: Sajid Javid, Priti Patel and Dominic Raab given top jobs – live news

An interesting lineup of names with just ‘Johnson’  being of English origin (the new Prime Minister’s multi-cultural full name being Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson).

Guardian: In full: Boris Johnson’s first speech as prime minister – video

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.

Citing fake excuse Trump cancels UK visit

President Donald Trump has cancelled a visit to the UK that had been planned for next month, blaming it on Barack Obama (in a factually incorrect tweet). Reactions in the UK had caused ructions between the Foreign Secretary and the Mayor of London, and applause from a number of Labour MPs.

It is claimed that Trump is avoiding protests that had been promised.

The Telegraph: Donald Trump cancels UK visit, blaming Barack Obama for a ‘bad embassy deal’, as Sadiq Khan says he ‘finally got the message’

US president Donald Trump has confirmed he will not travel to the UK to open the new American embassy next month, blaming the decision to relocate the building to an “off location”.

Hitting out at former US leader Barack Obama, Mr Trump wrote on Twitter early on Friday that he thought the embassy’s move from Grosvenor Square in the prestigious Mayfair district of central London to Nine Elms, south of the Thames, in a 1.2 billion dollar (£886 million) project was a “bad deal”.

So if it was something already known why did Trump agree to open the embassy in the first place?

In December, US Ambassador Woody Johnson said he was looking forward to welcoming the president when he visited, adding: “I think he will be very impressed with this building and the people who occupy it.”

Mr Trump’s decision not to head across the Atlantic comes despite Mrs May saying that a future visit was still on the cards last week.

In typical fashion Trump made his (factually incorrect) excuse  via Twitter.

Seems like he is using Obama as a scapegoat. And getting things wrong.

Despite Mr Trump publicly blaming his predecessor Obama, the US announced its plans to move to the new embassy site in October 2008 – when George W Bush was in the White House. The new building will open on January 16.

It is being widely surmised that Trump wants to avoid protests promised during his visit.

Mrs May controversially extended the offer of a state visit – officially on behalf of the Queen – when she became the first world leader to meet Mr Trump in the White House following his inauguration last year.

Since then, however, the president has indicated he does not want to take up the invitation if he is going to face mass demonstrations and it had been expected he could make a low-key working visit rather than a trip which involved all the trappings of a state occasion.

Sadiq Khan, the Labour Mayor of London, welcomed the decision and claimed it showed Mr Trump had “got the message” that he would not be welcome in the capital.

But Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, attacked Mr Khan’s response and accused him and Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, of putting the special relationship “at risk”.

Mr Johnson described Mr Khan as a “puffed up pompous popinjay”.

But others also applauded the visit backflip by Trump.

Liberal Democrat Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Jo Swinson said: “News that Trump has thrown his toys out of the pram and cancelled his trip to the UK will be welcomed by all of us who reject his abhorrent views.

“But it’s a disappointing sign of how weak May’s leadership is that she wasn’t brave enough to call the visit off herself.

“The Prime Minister should be ashamed that she was so keen to roll out the red carpet to a man who spreads hate and division at every turn, and goes out of his way to undermine British values.”

Ex Labour leader Ed Miliband:

Labour MP for Tottenham, David Lammy:

Labour MP Stephen Doughty:

Chairman of the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee Tom Tugendhat:

“While I think it’s a shame, I think – if I’m honest – it more reflects the fact that other people criticise in French, Italian, Korean and other languages and we criticise in English, and it’s much easier for him to read English.”

Former Ukip leader Nigel Farage:

“It is disappointing. He has been to countries all over the world and yet he has not been to the one with whom he is closest.

“I would say it is disappointing. Maybe, just maybe, Sadiq Khan, Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour party planning mass protests, maybe those optics he didn’t like the look of.”

Whatever triggered the late withdrawal it has highlighted the unpredictability of Trump, reinforced his reputation for making fake excuses, and caused some division in the UK.

Fox News reported on this briefly – Trump: London visit canceled over Obama administration decision

President Trump has cancelled plans to visit the United Kingdom next month, according to reports out of London on Thursday.

He later blamed a move by former president Obama for the decision to cancel.

That reported quoted Trump’s tweet blaming Obama, but did not mention that the decision to move the US embassy was made while GW Bush was president.

The Nation: interview with Boris Johnson

I’m not sure what the point of his visit was.  He isn’t in a position to commit to anything on NZ trade with the UK, nor with visa conditions.

So Owen doesn’t bother spending long on NZ related issues and goes on the the Middle East, arms supplies to Saudi Arabia and the civil war in Yemen.

That’s a novel approach – that should sort things out pretty quickly.

TRP Adviser 28 July 2017

This week we learned many things.

Boris Johnson is not a complete buffoon, the Greens may come to regret Metiria Turei’s confession and one man party Peter Dunne may be over and out in Ohariu.

The likely next leader of the UK Conservative party has been here for a brief visit. Boris Johnson managed to complete the trip without any major gaffes, though comparing a kiwi hongi to a Gorbals kiss might be considered offensive by some here and by some North of Hadrian’s wall.

The perceived wisdom in the UK is that Johnson is biding his time, waiting for the inevitable coup against Theresa May to begin and trusting that there will be a knock on the door as the hopeful party calls on him to lead at their time of need.

I’m not so sure.

Leading a Government that is going to limp along until the next election is an unenviable task. Whether that vote is called early or the Tory/DUP Government lasts the full term, whoever leads the Conservatives to the polls can expect to lose.

I think that if asked, Johnson will say ‘No, thanks’. It’s all too much like hard work and swanning around the world being witty with the locals is much more fun.

Metiria Turei’s confession to an easily understandable and perfectly forgivable benefit rort is still in the headlines, well past the usual news cycle of a day or two.

I reckon it marks the high tide in the Green’s polling. It’ll be all down hill from here.

It won’t affect their die hard voters, but it will have an impact on waverers in the middle who might have been tempted to go green. If there is one thing about the New Zealand middle class that really stands out, it’s a broad streak of sanctimony.

They’ll forgive the likes of Key and English for their many, many rorts because that was just business. But a beneficiary who bends the rules to survive? To the workhouse with her!

I hear from usually reliable sources that Peter Dunne is in big trouble in Ohariu.

Labour have a near perfect candidate for the seat in former police union boss Greg O’Connor. Ohariu is a fairly conservative, middle of the road electorate and both Dunne and O’Connor fit that mold.

O’Connor has the advantage of being brand spanking new and earnestly keen. Too keen, in fact, having been snapped putting up election signs way too early.

That was an embarrassing start for the Labour candidate, but it doesn’t seem to have hurt him in the electorate. I’m told he has built up a convincing polling lead over Dunne already.

And that’s why Bill English felt the need to publicly tout for Peter Dunne. No coy cup of tea, this time. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

National know they are going to need every scrap of support they can get if they are to form the next Government without having to grovel to grumpy old uncle Winston.

Ohariu could be the seat that decides the very nature of the next Government.

Boris Johnson shows up

British foreign secretary Boris Johnson showed up in New Zealand for a couple of days. Media focussed on his showmanship, but most of the serious stuff will have been done privately.

NZ Herald has little of substance in British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson enjoys ‘beautiful’ hongi during visit to Kaikoura

Barry Soper goes a bit deeper in Don’t be fooled by Boris Johnson’s demeanou

Boris’ thinking when it comes to this country is important, given that he’s widely tipped to succeed Theresa May as Prime Minister if she she’s rolled, which is very much on the cards following her recent disastrous election effort where her majority became a minority. And if that does happen, it’s being speculated the OE right of passage to the UK for young kiwis could again become a reality, in view of the right noises being made about that by Johnson when he was London’s Mayor.

One of the big issues for Kiwis – their London OE.

But in reality noise is all it’s likely to be considering Britain’s anti immigration and pro nationalist stance exemplified by Brexit, before and since, which was championed right from the start by the Foreign Secretary.

So nothing much of substance to see here?

Tracey Watkins: Boris Johnson comes bearing laughs, but what about gifts?

His visit is largely a flag waving one – it’s supposed to demonstrate that the Brits are back after a near absence of importance in the region in recent decades.

It’s also a demonstration to the domestic audience back home that Britain is reconnecting with the Commonwealth to fill the vacuum left by Brexit.

It’s a measure of how far Britain’s influence in the region has waned, however, that Johnson’s counterpart, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, made it to New Zealand first.

Of the two, it’s no mystery which of their visits is more significant for New Zealand. Tillerson’s presence here so early in the life of the Trump administration was a significant and important signal about the state of relations between New Zealand and the US.

Johnson’s visit? Not so much. It’s a given that as a Commonwealth country we would expect relations to be warm between our two countries – though Britain’s commitment has waxed and waned since it joined the European Union.

When did a British Foreign Secretary last visit New Zealand?

In fact, were it not for Johnson’s colourful and flamboyant personality, his visit would merit about as much attention as his predecessors, William Hague in 2013 and Philip Hammond in 2015.

I don’t remember those visits.

But even if Johnson may not be bearing many gifts on his visit downunder, we can enjoy the theatre.

That probably suits the media.

UK & Europe

Topics about the UK, EU and Europe.

UK-EU


BBC: No G7 deal on Russia sanctions over Syria

The UK proposal fails to win support, with the US secretary of state now in Moscow for talks.

BBC: Syria: Boris Johnson denies defeat over sanctions call

The UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has denied he suffered a “defeat” after the G7 group of nations rejected his proposal for sanctions against Russia.

The two-day meeting of foreign ministers was aimed at hammering out a unified approach to Syria before the US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson went to Moscow.

The plan was put forward at the G7 summit in Italy in the wake of a deadly chemical attack the countries say was carried out by Moscow’s ally, Syria.

Italy’s foreign minister said the group did not want to back Russia into a corner and preferred dialogue.

The Lib Dem leader Tim Farron called it a “failure of British diplomacy”.

Mr Johnson denied he had suffered a defeat, saying there was support for sanctions if further evidence of the chemical attack were gathered.

One thing that did appear to unite the group was the future of Mr Assad.

Mr Tillerson summed it up, saying: “It is clear to all of us that the reign of the Assad family is coming to an end.”

UK & Europe

Topics about the UK, EU and Europe.

UK-EU


The Syrian missile attacks have blown up UK-Russian relations.

Guardian: Russia hits back at UK and Boris Johnson over cancelled Moscow visit

Russian officials have launched a scathing attack on the UK over Boris Johnson’s decision to cancel an upcoming trip to Moscow due to increased tensions about Syria, threatening to bring relations to a new low.

The foreign secretary faced criticism at home and abroad on Sunday for postponing the visit, prompting his allies to say critics had put “polls and politics above sorting out a civil war”.

With the repercussions continuing from last week’s chemical weapons attack on civilians in Khan Sheikhun and a retaliatory US strike on a Syrian government airbase, the Russian foreign ministry and embassy in London belittled Britain’s role in the crisis.

The move showed a “fundamental misunderstanding or lack of knowledge of the events in Syria, Russia’s efforts to settle that crisis and the general objectives of diplomacy”, the Russian foreign ministry said. “The decision to call off Johnson’s visit to Moscow confirms once again doubts in the presence of added value in speaking to the UK, which does not have its own position on the majority of present-day issues, nor does it have real influence on the course of international affairs, as it remains ‘in the shadow’ of its strategic partners. We do not feel that we need dialogue with London any more than it does.”

Russia’s embassy in London, meanwhile, said it was “deplorable” that Johnson felt unable to meet his counterpart Sergei Lavrov. It tweeted mocking polls, including one that sought views on Donald Trump “as a wartime leader and Johnson as his lieutenant”.

Not a good sign.

A war of tweets is a new way to carry out international insults diplomacy – Trump already has a legacy.